Issues related to Health & Education
- Akshay Patra’s school meals project wins BBC World Service Global Champion Award
- CEA Krishnamurthy Subramanian appointed part-time member in IBBI
- VG Kannan Committee constituted
Bilateral & International Relations
- Kimberley Process Intersessional Meeting 2019 in Mumbai
- India slips 5 places to 141 on Global Peace Index 2019
- 16th Asia media summit starts in Cambodia
Science & Technology
- NASA’s OSIRIS-REx comes closer to planetary body
- NASA to shut down Spitzer Space Telescope in 2020
Key Facts for Prelims
- Bug bounty program
- Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award
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Issues related to Health & Education
Akshay Patra’s school meals project wins BBC World Service Global Champion Award
Akshaya Patra, a non-profit organisation running one of the world’s largest school meals project in India, has been awarded the BBC World Service Global Champion Award.
About the BBC’s Global Food Champion Award:
- The award, presented by British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), recognises a person or project who is changing the way the world produces, processes, consumes or thinks about food for the better.
About Akshaya Patra:
- The Akshaya Patra Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation headquartered in Bengaluru which aims to ensure that no child is deprived of education because of hunger.
- Established in 2000, It is the world’s largest (not-for-profit run) Mid-Day Meal Programme serving wholesome food every school day to over 1.76 million children from 15,024 schools across 12 states in India.
- It is operating in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Tripura and Maharashtra.
- Akshaya Patra also aims at countering malnutrition and supporting the right to education of socio-economically disadvantaged children.
- The state-of-the-art kitchens have become a subject of study and have attracted curious visitors from around the world.
- Right from selection of vendors to cooking processes to delivery, the foundation adheres to the Food Safety Management System (FSMS).
- Some of its practices include First Expiry First Out (FEFO) and First in First Out (FIFO) while issuing raw material.
- Uttar Pradesh has highest School dropout with 1.6 million out of school children, followed by Bihar and Rajasthan.
CEA Krishnamurthy Subramanian appointed part-time member in IBBI
Chief Economic Adviser Krishnamurthy Subramanian and former MD and CEO of IDBI Bank B Sriram were appointed part-time members of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI).
About Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI):
The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) was established on October 1, 2016 in accordance with the provisions of The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
- It has been set up by the code to regulate professionals, information utilities (IUs) and agencies engaged in the resolution of insolvencies of companies.
- It is a unique regulator: regulates a profession as well as transactions.
- It functions under Ministry of Commerce.
It has chairman and 10 members. Present chairman is M S Sahoo. There four government-nominated members. Following is the structure of the IBBI.
- One Chairperson
- Three members from Central Government officers not below the rank of Joint Secretary or equivalent.
- One nominated member from the RBI.
- Five members nominated by the Central Government; of these, three shall be whole-time members.
More than half of the directors of its board shall be independent directors.
- It provides a market-determined and time bound mechanism for orderly resolution of insolvency, wherever possible, and orderly exit, wherever required.
- It writes and enforces rules for transactions, namely, corporate insolvency resolution, corporate liquidation, individual insolvency resolution and individual bankruptcy under the Code.
- It seeks to consolidate and amend laws relating to reorganisation as well as insolvency resolution of corporate persons, partnership firms and individuals in a time-bound manner.
- IBBI act as a regulator for overseeing insolvency proceedings and entities such as Insolvency Professionals (IP), Insolvency Professional Agencies (IPA) and Information Utilities (IU) in India.
- IBC covers Individuals, Companies, Partnership firms and Limited Liability Partnerships and handles cases under it using tribunals namely National company law tribunal (NCLT) and Debt recovery tribunal (DRT).
VG Kannan Committee constituted
Recently, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has constituted a high-level committee to review the entire gamut of ATM charges and fees.
- The committee will be headed by VG Kannan, Chief Executive of Indian Banks’ Association (IBA).
Mandate of the committee:
- To examine existing patterns of costs, charges and interchange fees by banks for automated teller machines (ATMs) transactions.
- To review overall patterns of usage of ATMs by cardholders and also assess impact (if any) on charges and interchange fees levied by banks.
- To assess entire range of costs in respect of ATM ecosystem within the country.
- To make recommendations on optimal charge or interchange fee structure and pattern.
- There are around 2 lakh ATMs in India.
Bilateral & International Relations
Kimberley Process Intersessional Meeting 2019 in Mumbai
The Intersessional meeting of Kimberley Process (KP) is being hosted by India from 17th to 21st June, 2019 in Mumbai.
What is Kimberly process?
- The Kimberley Process is an international certification scheme (KPCS) that regulates trade in rough diamonds.
- First implemented in 2003, It aims to prevent the flow of conflict diamonds, while helping to protect legitimate trade in rough diamonds.
- The KP cannot be considered as an international agreement from a legal perspective, as it is implemented through the national legislations of its participants. Also, it is not an international organization as it has no permanent offices or permanent staff.
- The Kimberley Process participants are states and regional economic integration organizations that are eligible to trade in rough diamonds.
- The KPCS prohibits participants from trading with non- KP participants.
- The KP is underpinned by the United Nations mandate.
- KP members are responsible for stemming 99.8% of the global production of conflict diamonds.
- Among six committees of KPCS, India is member of all the Working Groups and Committees except Working Group on Artisanal and Alluvial Production (WGAAP).
- As per the Scheme, each shipment of rough diamonds being exported and imported by crossing an international border be transported in a tamper proof container and accompanied by a validated Kimberley Process Certificate.
- The shipment can only be exported to a co-participant country in the KPCS. No uncertified shipments of rough diamonds are permitted to enter a participant country.
What are the conflict diamonds?
- Conflict diamonds, also known as ‘blood’ diamonds, are rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance armed conflicts aimed at undermining legitimate governments.
- The only current case of rebel forces controlling diamond-producing areas is in Côte d’Ivoire. These conflict diamonds constitute less than 0.1% of the world’s diamond production.
Chair of Kimberly process:
- The position of Chair rotates annually, following validation of the previous Vice Chair. i.e., The Participant selected as Vice-Chair becomes Chair the following year.
- India is one of the founder members of Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and is the Chair of Kimberley Process for the year 2019 with Russian Federation as Vice Chair.
- India had earlier chaired KPCS in the year 2008.
- The Kimberley Process (KP) is open to all countries that are willing and able to implement its requirements.
- Currently, there are 55 participants representing 82 countries, with the European Community counting as a single participant. A total of 54 participants (including the EU) meet the minimum requirements of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme except Central African Republic.
Four observer organizations of KPCS:
- African Diamonds Producers Association (ADPA)
- Civil Society Coalition
- Diamond Development Initiative (DDI)
- World Diamond Council (WDC)
Under the terms of the KPCS, members must:
- Satisfy minimum requirements and establish national legislation, institutions and import/export controls
- Commit to transparent practices and to the exchange of critical statistical data
- Trade only with fellow members who also satisfy the fundamentals of the agreement
- Certify shipments as conflict-free and provide the supporting certification
- In 1998, certain rebel movements in Africa (Sierra Leone, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia) were selling illegally obtained diamonds to fund their wars against legitimate governments.
- With a view to find ways to stop trade in Conflict Diamonds, world’s diamond industry, United Nations, Governments and leading NGOs came together and in 2002 in Switzerland, where the final draft of the Kimberley Process measures was ratified.
- The KPCS came into effect from 1st January, 2003 and evolved into an effective mechanism for stopping the trade in Conflict Diamonds.
Diamond: Key Facts
- Diamonds were created when carbon is put under immense pressure and temperature deep within the earth at distances of 250 miles or even greater.
- Diamonds come from two types of deposits. Primary deposits generally consist of diamond-bearing pipes of a volcanic rock called “kimberlite.” From deep in the earth these deposits were carried to the surface in molten rock, known as magma.
- Secondary deposits, also referred to as alluvial, were formed as a result of erosion of material from primary deposits and contain diamonds that have traveled some distance from their original source.
- Among different techniques of diamond mining, Riverbed mining is an informal, smaller scale, also known as artisanal digging, which involves the most basic of equipment, such as sieves and pans, to find diamonds.
- More than 12,000 kimberlite deposits have been found worldwide in the last 25 years, yet fewer than 1% have contained enough diamonds to make them economically viable.
- Qatar, Suriname and Republic of Kenya have expressed their commitment to the Kimberley Process but have yet to meet the minimum requirements of the KPCS.
- India produced nearly 41,700 cts(carats) rough diamonds in 2017. It imported nearly 195 lakhs cts of rough diamonds while it exported nearly 45 lakhs cts of rough diamonds in 2017.
- The ca rat (ct) is a unit of mass equal to 200 mg.
- World’s largest gem-quality diamond, the Cullinan diamond was found in South Africa in 1905 weighing 3,106 carats uncut.
- Department of Commerce is the nodal Department and Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) is designated as the KPCS Importing and Exporting Authority in India.
India slips 5 places to 141 on Global Peace Index 2019
India’s rank has slipped five places to 141 among 163 countries on the Global Peace Index 2019.
About Global Peace Index
- The Global peace index (GPI) is produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) annually.
- It ranks 163 countries (99.7 per cent of the world’s population) using 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators.
- It measures the state of peace using three thematic domains:
- The level of Societal Safety and Security
- The extent of Ongoing Domestic and International Conflict
- The degree of Militarisation
Peculiar features of GPI 2019:
- GPI 2019 report includes new research on the possible effects of climate change on peace.
- In addition, this year’s report includes analysis of trends in “Positive Peace: the attitudes, institutions, and structures” that create and sustain peaceful societies.
- As per the index, Iceland remains the most peaceful country (since 2008) and Afghanistan is the least peaceful nation.
- New Zealand, Austria, Portugal, and Denmark are among the top 5 countries respectively followed by Iceland. Syria, South Sudan, Yemen, and Iraq comprise the remaining five least peaceful countries.
- Among three domains of index, Iceland tops in Safety and Security domain and Militarisation domain while Botswana topped in Ongoing Conflict domain.
- In South Asia, Bhutan topped the index, followed by Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh. The Pakistan has been ranked 153rd on the index.
- South Asia’s score for every indicator in ongoing conflict is less peaceful than the global average with improvement in only deaths from internal conflict.
- Three countries- Syria, Afghanistan and Central African Republic incurred the largest economic cost of violence as a percentage of their GDP.
- Ukraine, Sudan, Egypt, North Macedonia and Rwanda showed the largest improvements in peace in the 2019 Global Peace Index.
- Only one country – Georgia is more than 20 per cent more peaceful in 2019 than it was in 2008.
- The average level of global peacefulness improved very slightly for the first time in five years. However, the overall average level of global peacefulness has deteriorated by 3.78 per cent since 2008.
- Among three domains, two domains – Ongoing Conflict and Safety and Security deteriorated while Militarisation improved.
- The Middle East and North Africa region remained the world’s least peaceful region, while Europe remains the most peaceful region in the world.
- Over the last ten years, the average level of global peacefulness has deteriorated by 3.78%.
- Since 2008, the 25 least peaceful countries declined by an average of 11%, while the 25 most peaceful countries improved by an average of 1.8%.
- The global economic impact of violence improved for the first time since 2012, decreasing by 3.3% from 2017 to 2018.
- Seventy-two countries reduced their level of military expenditure as a percentage of GDP.
India specific Highlights:
- India has been ranked at 141st place in GPI 2019 index.
- India has the 7th highest overall natural hazard score.
- India together with Philippines, Japan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Pakistan are the nine countries with the highest risk of multiple climate hazards.
- India along with the US, China, Saudi Arabia, and Russia are the top five countries with the largest total military expenditure.
- The score for internal conflicts fought had the highest rating in both India and Pakistan.
- Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) is headquartered in Sydney, Australia.
16th Asia media summit starts in Cambodia
The 16th Edition of Asia Media Summit (AMS) 2019, held in Siem Reap province of Cambodia in June 2019, deliberated on many issues pertaining to the media and broadcasting industry.
Highlights of the Summit
- The summit, which took place in June 2019, was organized by Cambodian Ministry of Information in collaboration with the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD).
- The summit was held under the theme “Media Digitalization Focusing on Developing Markets”.
- The participants discussed numerous approaches to combat fake news including strengthening regulations and ethical standards, building leadership skills for 4th industrial revolution, media literacy initiatives etc.
- ‘Angkor Fake News’ Initiative, a year-long research project to find out appropriate measures to counter fake news, was launched on the sidelines of this summit.
- World Television awards 2019 were given during this summit in the two categories namely Humanity and Science.
- The participants of the summit also agreed to hold a special meeting with the participation of key AIBD partners in Samoa in Oceania in September 2019.
Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD):
- The Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD) is a regional inter-governmental organisation servicing countries of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP) in the field of electronic media development.
- It was established in 1977 under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
- It is hosted by the Government of Malaysia and the secretariat is located in Kuala Lumpur.
- Encourages regional dialogue and cooperation in electronic media policy of the Asia Pacific region
- Provide an Asia-Pacific regional platform for international cooperation in the electronic media development
- Assist member countries in human resource development in the electronic media, consistent with their development needs
- Assist member countries with electronic media consultancy
Founding members (non-voting) of AIBD:
- The International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
- The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
- The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)
- The Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU)
- The AIBD currently has 26 Full Members (countries), represented by 34 organisations, and 67 Affiliate Members (organisations).
- It has total membership of 101 representing 48 countries and regions.
- The 26 full members of AIBD: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, China, Cambodia, Fiji, France, India, Indonesia, Iran, Republic of Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Micronesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam.
- AIBD India is represented by Doordarshan (DD), All India Radio (AIR) and Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Limited (BECIL)
Location of Cambodia:
- Cambodia is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia.
- It is bordered by Thailand to the northwest, Laos to the northeast, Vietnam to the east, and the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest.
- Capital: Phnom Penh
Science & Technology
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx comes closer to planetary body
The US space agency NASA has announced that its asteroid probe OSIRIS-REx set a new record for the closest-ever orbit of a planetary body made by a man-made spacecraft.
- The recent maneuver has placed the spacecraft into an orbit 680 meters above the asteroid Bennu’s surface for about seven weeks.
About the OSIRIS-REx Mission:
- The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS REx) is a planned NASA asteroid study and sample return mission.
Aim of the mission:
- The mission is to study asteroid 101955 Bennu, a carbonaceous asteroid (formerly designated 1999 RQ36) and in 2023 to return to Earth a sample for detailed analysis.
Significance of the mission:
- Material returned is expected to enable scientists to learn more about the time before the formation and evolution of the Solar System, initial stages of planet formation, and the source of organic compounds which led to the formation of life.
Why was Bennu chosen as the target destination asteroid for OSIRIS-REx?
The science team took into account three criteria: accessibility, size and composition.
Scientists at NASA need an asteroid that they can easily travel to, retrieve a sample from and return to Earth, all within a few years’ time. The closest asteroids are called near-Earth objects and they travel within 1.3 Astronomical Units (AU) of the sun. (One Astronomical Unit is approximately equal to the distance between the sun and the Earth: ~93 million miles).
For a mission like OSIRIS-REx, the most accessible asteroids are somewhere between 0.08 – 1.6 AU. Scientists also needed to make sure that those asteroids have a similar orbit to Earth. Bennu fit this criterion.
Scientists at NASA need an asteroid the right size to perform two critical portions of the mission: operations close to the asteroid and the actual sample collection from the surface of the asteroid. Bennu is roughly spherical and has a rotation period of 4.3 hours, which fits size criteria.
Asteroids with small diameters rotate more rapidly than those with large diameters. With a diameter less than 200 meters, an asteroid spins so rapidly that the loose material on its surface (regolith) can be ejected from it. The ideal asteroid has a diameter larger than 200 m so that a spacecraft can safely come into contact with it and collect a sufficient regolith sample. This size requirement reduced the number of candidate asteroids from 192 to 26.
Asteroids are divided into different types based on their chemical composition. In the visible and infrared light minerals have unique signatures or colors, much like fingerprints. Scientists use these fingerprints to identify molecules, like organics.
The most primitive asteroids are carbon-rich and have not significantly changed since they formed nearly 4 billion years ago. These asteroids contain organic molecules, volatiles, and amino acids that may have been the precursors to life on Earth. Of the 26 asteroids left on the list, only 12 had a known composition, and only 5 were primitive and carbon-rich.[Ref: The Hindu]
NASA to shut down Spitzer Space Telescope in 2020
NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, the youngest member of the “Great Observatory” programme, has completed 15 years in space.
About the Spitzer Space Telescope:
- The Spitzer Space Telescope, made by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is an infrared space telescope.
- It was formerly known as the Space Infrared Telescope Facility.
- It studies the early universe, young galaxies, formation of stars as well as detect dust disks around stars.
- The name of the telescope was made after the Lyman Spitzer who was one of the 20th century’s who was the first person to propose the idea of placing a large telescope in space.
- It is the final mission in NASA’s Great Observatories Program. This programme includes Spitzer Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO) and the Chandra X-ray Observatory.
- Launched in 2003, it was the first to fly in an Earth-trailing orbit. Rather than circling Earth, as Hubble telescope does, Spitzer orbits the Sun on almost the same path as Earth does.
- It was originally built to last for a minimum of 2.5 years, but it lasted for over 5.5 years in cold phase with a supply of liquid helium cooling on board instruments which gave Spitzer very high sensitivity for cold objects.
- It is currently operating in Warm phase since 2009 after its helium supply ran out.
- Spitzer is designed to detect infrared radiation, which is primarily heat radiation.
- Among the three scientific instruments – Infrared Array Camera (IRAC), Infrared Spectrograph (IRS)and Multiband Imaging Photometer for Spitzer (MIPS), of which IRAC is Spitzer’s main instrument is IRAC which is used for finding exoplanets using the “transit” method.
- Spitzer needs to be simultaneously cold and warm to function properly. Hence, it is compartmentalized in two major components – The Cryogenic Telescope Assembly, which contains a telescope in cold environment and the other is the ‘Spacecraft’ which has warm components including solar panels.
Achievements of Spitzer Telescope:
- Discover some of the oldest galaxies in the universe
- Revealed largest ring around Saturn.
- Peer through shrouds of dust to study newborn stars
- Discover most distant supermassive black holes ever
- Find evidence of several rocky collisions in distant solar systems
- Discover planets beyond our solar system — including the detection of seven Earth-size planets orbiting the star TRAPPIST-1
- Helped set the stage for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope set to launch in 2021
- Maps of the Milky Way galaxy was created using Spitzer data from the Galactic Legacy Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire project, or GLIMPSE.
- In 2016, Spitzer entered an extended mission named ‘Spitzer Beyond’ to help prepare for the James Webb Space Telescope by identifying candidates for more detailed observations.
[Ref: The Hindu, Economic Times]
Key Facts for Prelims
Bug bounty program
- A bug bounty program is a deal offered by many websites, organizations and software developers by which individuals can receive recognition and compensation for reporting bugs, especially those pertaining to exploits and vulnerabilities.
- These programs allow the developers to discover and resolve bugs before the general public is aware of them, preventing incidents of widespread abuse.
- Bug bounty programs have been implemented by large numbers of organizations including Mozilla, Facebook, Yahoo!, Google, Reddit, Square, and Microsoft.
- Companies outside the technology industry have also started using bug bounty programs.
Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award
- Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award is given by United Nations International Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF).
Why in news?
- Recently, Actor Priyanka Chopra has been honoured with Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award.
- Priyanka Chopra is known for her contribution to social causes and for being a voice for children’s education.
- She is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
- UNICEF is special program of UN devoted to aid national efforts to improve the health, nutrition, education, and general welfare of children.
- It was established in 1946 to provide relief to children in countries devastated by World War II.
- It was formerly known as United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund.
- It is headquartered in New York City, United States.