Current Affairs Analysis

19th February 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Kangaroo mother care benefits infants;Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses; Aditya-L1: Expedition to the Sun; Lagrangian points; Northern European Enclosure Dam; Kala Kumbh; Pakistan retained in FATF’s Grey list; Financial Action Task Force (FATF); What is blacklist and grey list; India-Norway Task Force on Blue Economy; Blue economy; Ra'ad-II: Pakistan’s Nuclear-capable cruise missile; BrahMos cruise missile; New Central Vigilance Commissioner appointed; Central Vigilance Commission; Annual Review meeting on Swachh Iconic Places; Swachh Iconic Places; National Statistical Commission
By IASToppers
February 20, 2020

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • New Central Vigilance Commissioner appointed
  • National Statistical Commission

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Annual Review meeting on Swachh Iconic Places

Issues related to Health & Education

  • Kangaroo mother care benefits infants

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Northern European Enclosure Dam

Bilateral & International Relations

  • Pakistan retained in FATF’s Grey list
  • India-Norway Task Force on Blue Economy

Defence & Security Issues

  • Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses
  • Pakistan’s Nuclear-capable cruise missile

Art & Culture

  • Kala Kumbh

Science & Technology

  • Aditya-L1: Expedition to the Sun

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Polity & Governance

New Central Vigilance Commissioner appointed

Sanjay Kothari, the Secretary to the President has been selected as the new Central Vigilance Commissioner by a high-powered committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Central Vigilance Commission:

  • The Central Vigilance Commission is an-corruption watchdog with autonomous status.
  • It was created in 1964 to address governmental corruption on the recommendations of Shri K. Santhanam Committee.
  • It is free of control from any executive authority and has the responsibility of monitoring all vigilance activities in the Central government.
  • It also advises various authorities in planning, executing, reviewing and reforming their vigilance work.
  • The Central Vigilance Commission is mainly an advisory body and has no adjudicatory functions.

Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC):

  • The Central Vigilance Commission consists of a Central Vigilance Commissioner and two Vigilance Commissioners.
  • CVC and Vigilance Commissioners are selected by a committee headed by the Prime Minister, and comprising the Home Minister and the Leader of Opposition or a leader of single largest opposition party in Lok Sabha as members.
  • CVC is to be appointed by the President of India.
  • He holds the office for 4 years or till the age of 65 years whichever is earlier.
  • The salary, allowances and other conditions of service of the CVC are similar to those of the Chairman of UPSC and that of the vigilance commissioner are similar to those of a member of UPSC and cannot be varied to his disadvantage.
  • After completion of their tenure, they are not eligible for further employment under the Central or a state government.
[Ref: Economic Times, the Hindu]

National Statistical Commission:

The Government of India set up the National Statistical Commission (NSC) on 1st June, 2005.

  • it was set following the recommendations of the Rangarajan Commission, which reviewed the Indian Statistical System in 2001.
  • The NSC has four Members besides a Chairperson, each having specialization and experience in specified statistical fields.
  • The NSC was constituted with a mandate to evolve policies, priorities and standards in statistical matters to improve the functioning of the system.
  • NSC is a recommending body which works closely with the statistical agencies in the central and state government to ensure its implementation.

To know details about Draft Bill seeking autonomy for National Statistical Commission, kindly visit the link:

[Ref: PIB]

Government Schemes & Policies

Annual Review meeting on Swachh Iconic Places

The 3rd Annual Review meeting on Swachh Iconic Places (SIP) was held recently at Baidyanath Dham, Deoghar, Jharkhand.

Initiative of:

  • The SIP is the brainchild of the PM Shri Narendra Modi and is coordinated by the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS), Ministry of Jal Shakti under the Swachh Bharat Mission.

Mission:

  • Thirty Swachh Iconic Places have been selected across the country in three phases, and are implementing their action plans for improving the sanitation facilities and overall cleanliness, focusing on enhancing visitor’s experience and convenience.
  • Key activities being carried out at these sites include Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM), beautification and landscaping of premises and approach areas, construction of sanitation and safe drinking water facilities, rooftop solar panels, battery operated sweeping machines, rejuvenation of water bodies, ban on plastic use, Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs), multi-level parking, illuminated boards, awareness campaigns and IEC interventions among others.  

Swachh Iconic Places (SIP):

  • Phase I Iconic sites:  1. Ajmer Sharif Dargah; 2. CST Mumbai; 3. Golden Temple, Amritsar; 4. Kamakhya Temple, Assam; 5. Manikarnika Ghat, Varanasi; 6. Meenakshi Temple, Madurai; 7. Shri Mata Vaishno Devi, Katra, J&K; 8. Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri; 9. The Taj Mahal, Agra; 10. Tirupati Temple, Tirumala.
  • Phase II Iconic sites: 1. Gangotri; 2. Yamunotri; 3. Mahakaleshwar Temple, Ujjain; 4. Char Minar, Hyderabad; 5. Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assissi, Goa; 6. Adi Shankaracharya’s abode Kaladi in Ernakulam; 7. Gomateshwar in Shravanbelgola; 8. Baijnath Dham, Devghar; 9. Gaya Tirth in Bihar; 10. Somnath Temple in Gujarat.
  • Phase III Iconic sites: 1. Sree Dharma Sastha Temple; 2. Mana Village, Uttarakhand; 3. Vidur Kuti Temple, Uttar Pradesh; 4. Shri Sarveshwar Mahadev Temple; 5. Shri Nag Vasuki Temple; 6. Kanvashram, Uttar Pradesh; 7. Ema Keithel, Manipur; 8. Hazarduari Palace, West Bengal; 9. Pangong Tso; 10. Sri Raghvendra Swamy Mutt Mantralayam.
[Ref: PIB]

Issues related to Health & Education

Kangaroo mother care benefits infants

Kangaroo mother care (KMC) or the intervention where babies are placed in skin-to-skin contact with their mothers and exclusively breast fed has been recommended worldwide for stable low-birthweight newborns.

What do statistics say?

  • Studies have shown that keeping the baby in contact with the mother improves survival in babies (less than 2 kg weight at birth) when compared to standard hospital care.
  • However, global data show that barely 5% receive such care.
  • Kangaroo mother care improved survival by 30% and 25%, in babies till 28 days and six months of age, respectively.
  • About 97% of the world’s low-weight babies are born in developing countries, and India accounts for about 40% of this, implying an urgent need of effective interventions.

KMC has three parts:

1. Skin-to-skin contact:

  • The more skin-to-skin contact between the baby’s front and the mother’s chest, the better.
  • Skin-to-skin contact should ideally start at birth, but is helpful at any time and should ideally be continuous day and night.

2. Exclusive breastfeeding:

  • Direct suckling by the baby from the breasts is all that is needed for most mothers and babies.
  • It also promotes growth and development of the child and increases mother child bonding, and also reduces stress in both mother and baby,

3. Support to the dyad:

  • Whatever is needed for the medical, emotional, psychological and physical well-being of mother and baby is provided to them, without separating them.
  • This might mean adding ultramodern equipment if available, or purely intense psychological support in contexts with no resources.
[Ref: The Hindu, KMC]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Northern European Enclosure Dam

A research paper has proposed to build a huge Northern European Enclosure Dam (NEED) enclosing all of the North Sea in order to protect 25 million people and important economic regions of 15 Northern European countries from rising seas as a result of climate change.

The Proposal:

  • The scientists have proposed the construction of two dams of a combined length of 637 km.
  • The first between northern Scotland and western Norway, measuring 476 km and with an average depth of 121 m and maximum depth of 321 m.
  • The second between France and south-western England, of length 161 km, and average depth of 85 m and maximum depth of 102 m.
  • According to the scientists, separating the North and Baltic Seas from the Atlantic Ocean may be the “most viable option” to protect Northern Europe against unstoppable sea level rise (SLR).
  • They have also identified other regions in the world where such mega-enclosures could potentially be considered, including the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Irish Sea, and the Red Sea.

Rationale:

  • While NEED may appear to be “overwhelming” and “unrealistic”, it could be “potentially favourable” financially and in scale when compared with alternative solutions to fight SLR, the paper claims.
  • The researchers classify the solutions to SLR into three categories of: taking no action, protection, and managed retreat — and submit that NEED is in the second category.
  • NEED will have the least direct impact on people’s daily lives, can be built at a “reasonable cost”, and has the largest potential to be implemented with the required urgency to be effective.

Viability of the project:

  • The researchers have estimated the total costs associated with NEED at between € 250 billion and € 550 billion.
  • If construction is spread over a 20-year period, this will work out to an annual expense of around 0.07%-0.16% of the GDP of the 15 Northern European countries that will be involved.
  • Construction costs would be higher for the UK, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium, amounting to roughly 0.15%-0.32% of their GDP annually for 20 years because of their vulnerability, awareness of SLR, or both.
  • However, the construction will “heavily impactmarine and terrestrial ecosystems inside and outside the enclosure, will have social and cultural implications, and affect tourism and fisheries, the paper says.
[Ref: Indian express]

Bilateral & International Relations

Pakistan retained in FATF’s Grey list

The International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG) of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommended that Pakistan be retained on the “Grey List”, given its failure to completely implement the 27-point action plan to check terror financing.

Background:

  • Pakistan was placed on the Grey List by the FATF in June 2018 and was given a plan of action having 27 points to comply by October 2019, or face the risk of being placed on the black list with Iran and North Korea. However, FATF had extended deadline till February 2020.

Financial Action Task Force (FATF):

  • FATF is an inter‐governmental policy making body with ministerial mandate to establish international standards for combating money laundering and terrorist financing.
  • It was created in 1989 at the behest of the G7, and is headquartered at Paris, France.
  • The FATF’s decision making body, meets three times per year.
  • The FATF is a policy-making body and has no investigative authority.
  • It does not address issues related to low tax jurisdiction or tax competition.

Functions:

  • FATF monitors the progress of its members in implementing necessary measures,
  • Reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and counter-measures, and
  • Promotes the adoption and implementation of appropriate measures globally.
  • In collaboration with other international stakeholders, the FATF works to identify national-level vulnerabilities with the aim of protecting the international financial system from misuse.

Participants:

  • A large number of international organizations participate in the FATF as observers, each of which has some involvement in anti-money laundering activities.
  • Organizations such as Interpol, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and World Bank are observers.

What is blacklist and grey list?

  • The FATF identifies countries with weak measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing in two FATF public documents that are issued three times a year: Grey list and Black list.
  • Those that have deficiencies in their Anti-Money Laundering /Countering Financing of Terrorism regimes, but they commit to an action plan to address these loopholes are put in grey list and those that do not end up doing enough are put in black list.
  • Once a country is blacklisted, FATF calls on other countries to apply enhanced counter measures and increasing the cost of doing business with the country.

Why Pakistan is retained in Grey List?

  • All deadlines given to Pakistan to check terror funding had ended, it failed to complete its action plan in line with an agreed timeline of February 2020 and failed to check terror funding risks emanating from its jurisdiction.
  • Pakistan was only able to address 14 of 27 points in action plan to check terror financing.
  • India has been maintaining that Pakistan extends regular support to terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Hizbul Mujahideen, whose prime target is India, and Pakistan has been given ultimatum to control funding to these terror groups responsible for a series of attacks in India.
  • The country will remain in the grey list till next meeting of FATF in June 2020.

Consequences of grey listing:

  • With Pakistan’s continuation in the ‘Grey List’, it will be difficult for the country to get financial aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the European Union, thus further enhancing problems for the nation which is in a precarious economic situation, making Prime Minister Imran Khan’s term even more difficult.
  • If Pakistan fails to comply with the FATF directive, there is every possibility that the global body may put the country in the ‘Black List’ along with North Korea and Iran.
[Ref: Indian Express, The Hindu]

India-Norway Task Force on Blue Economy

India’s Minister for Earth Sciences and Norway’s Minister for Climate and Environment opened the India-Norway Task Force on Blue Economy for Sustainable Development recently.

Initiatives taken:

  • A new collaboration on Integrated Ocean Management & Research.
  • Projects on combating Marine Litter.
  • India-Norway Joint Task Force on Blue Economy to mobilise relevant stakeholders from both Norway and India at the highest level.

Blue economy:

  • According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem.
  • European Commission defines it as- all economic activities related to oceans, seas and coasts. It covers a wide range of interlinked established and emerging sectors.
  • It is a widely used term around the world with three related but distinct meanings
  • the overall contribution of the oceans to economies,
  • the need to address the environmental and ecological sustainability of the oceans, and
  • the ocean economy as a growth opportunity for both developed and developing countries.

Challenges:

  • It comprises a range of economic sectors and related policies that together determine whether the use of ocean resources is sustainable.
  • An important challenge of the blue economy is to understand and better manage the many aspects of oceanic sustainability, ranging from sustainable fisheries to ecosystem health to preventing pollution.
  • Secondly, the blue economy challenges us to realize that the sustainable management of ocean resources will require collaboration across borders and sectors through a variety of partnerships, and on a scale that has not been previously achieved.

Location of Norway:

  • Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic country in North-western Europe.
  • Norway is bordered by Finland and Russia to the north-east, and the Skagerrak strait to the south, with Denmark on the other side.
  • Norway has an extensive coastline, facing the North Atlantic Ocean and the Barents Sea.
  • Capital: Oslo
  • Currency: Norwegian krone
[Ref: PIB]

Defence & Security Issues

Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses

The Union government has decided to rename well-known think tank Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) as ‘Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses’.

Manohar Parrikar:

  • The decision has been taken to honour the commitment and legacy of late Manohar Parrikar, former Defence Minister and Padma Bhushan awardee.
  • His biggest contribution was towards the implementation of the long-standing One Rank One Pension (OROP) demand for the Armed Forces.

Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA):

  • IDSA is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Defence.
  • It was established as a registered society in New Delhi in 1965.
  • It is an Indian think tank for advanced research in international relations, especially strategic and security issues, and providing training to civilian and military officers of the Indian government.
  • It is dedicated to objective research and policy relevant studies on all aspects of defence and security.
  • IDSA is governed by an Executive Council, whose members are distinguished personalities from various walks of life and which is headed by a President (ex-officio position).
  • The Defence Minister chairs the executive committee of the institute’s society.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Ra’ad-II: Pakistan’s Nuclear-capable cruise missile

Pakistan conducted a successful flight test of the air launched nuclear-capable cruise missile Ra’ad-II with a range of 600 km recently.

Key facts:

  • The missile significantly boosts the military’s ‘deterrence capability’ on land and at sea.
  • Pakistan’s development of the Ra’ad could be seen as an attempt to match India’s BrahMos cruise missile, according to the US-based Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, non-profit organisation.

BrahMos cruise missile:

  • BrahMos is a two-stage air to surface missile with a flight range of around 300 km.
  • The missile has liquid ramjet or the second stage engine that takes the missile closer to 3 Mach speed in cruise phase.
  • Stealth technology and guidance system with advanced embedded software provides the missile with special features.
  • The missile has supersonic speed all through the flight, leading to shorter flight time, ensuring lower dispersion of targets, quicker engagement time and non-interception by any known weapon system in the world.
  • It operates on ‘Fire and Forget Principle’, adopting varieties of flights on its way to the target.
  • It is a joint venture between the Defence Research and Development Organisation of India (DRDO) and the NPOM of Russia.
[Ref: Economic times]

Art & Culture

Kala Kumbh

Kala Kumbh – Handicrafts Thematic Exhibition has started on 14th February, 2020 and will continue till 23rd February 2020 at major cities like Bengaluru, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai in March 2020.

Objective:

  • To promote Geographical Indication (GI) crafts and heritage of India.

Initiative of:

  • Kala Kumbh is an initiative of Ministry of Textiles.
  • The exhibitions have been sponsored by Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH).

Significance of the fest:

  • The visitors will be able to see a wide variety of handicrafts and GI products.
  • As the artisans are the backbone of Indian handicraft sector and possess inherent skill, technical and traditional craftsmanship.
  • So, by buying these handicrafts people can directly contribute in the improvement of the livelihood of these artisans and also create awareness of the rich heritage of the country.
[Ref: PIB]

Science & Technology

Aditya-L1: Expedition to the Sun

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is also preparing to send its first scientific expedition to study the Sun named Aditya-L1.

Aditya- L1 mission:

  • The mission is expected to be launched early in 2021.
  • It will observe the Sun from a close distance and try to obtain information about its atmosphere and magnetic field.
  • Aditya L1 is a 400 kg-class satellite, that will be launched using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) in XL configuration.

Mission Objective:

  • The space-based observatory will have seven instruments on board to study the Sun’s corona, solar emissions, solar winds and flares, and Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), and will carry out round-the-clock imaging of the Sun.

Collaborative effort of:

  • The mission will be undertaken in collaboration between various labs of ISRO, along with institutions like the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bengaluru, Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune, and Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER), Kolkata.
  • Aditya L1 will be ISRO’s second space-based astronomy mission after AstroSat, which was launched in September 2015.

Challenges:

  • The distance of the Sun from Earth (about 149 million km on average, compared to the only 3.84 lakh km to the Moon).
  • The super-hot temperatures and radiations in the solar atmosphere makes the solar mission challenging.

Rationale of the mission:

  • Every planet, including Earth and the exoplanets beyond the Solar System, evolves — and this evolution is governed by its parent star.
  • The solar weather and environment, which is determined by the processes taking place inside and around the sun, affects the weather of the entire system.
  • Variations in this weather can change the orbits of satellites or shorten their lives, interfere with or damage onboard electronics, and cause power blackouts and other disturbances on Earth.
  • Hence, knowledge of solar events is key to understanding space weather.

Lagrangian points:

  • Continuous solar observations are needed to learn about and track Earth-directed storms, and to predict their impact.
  • Every storm that emerges from the Sun and heads towards Earth passes through L1, and a satellite placed in the halo orbit around L1 of the Sun-Earth system has the major advantage of continuously viewing the Sun without any occultation/eclipses.
  • L1 refers to Lagrangian/Lagrange Point 1, one of five points in the orbital plane of the Earth-Sun system.
  • Lagrange Points, named after Italian-French Mathematician J. L. Lagrange, are positions in space where the gravitational forces of a two-body system (like the Sun and the Earth) produce enhanced regions of attraction and repulsion.
  • These can be used by spacecraft to reduce fuel consumption needed to remain in position.
  • The L1 point is home to the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory Satellite (SOHO), an international collaboration project of NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).
  • The L1 point is about 1.5 million km from Earth, or about one-hundredth of the way to the Sun.
  • Aditya L1 will perform continuous observations looking directly at the Sun.
[Ref: Indian express]

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