libra-IASToppers-2019
Current Affair Analysis

19th June 2019 Current Affairs Analysis -IASToppers

‘Libra’ cryptocurrency; 2019 Yearbook of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute; New START Treaty; Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI); The AWaRe campaign; Anti-biotic resistance; Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM‐ASIA); Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP); Anthrax; Spores; ‘World Population Prospects 2019’; Solanum Plastisexum; Acute encephalitis syndrome (AES); Matri Shree Media Awards; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
June 19, 2019

Contents

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Human rights, environment activists unsafe in Asia: Report

Issues related to Health & Education

  • What causes AES? What makes Bihar so vulnerable?
  • WHO launches tool for safer use of antibiotics, curb resistance
  • DRDO, JNU scientists develop more potent Anthrax vaccine

Economy

  • India is projected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country around 2027: UN report

Bilateral & International Relations

  • Countries reducing military equipment but modernising arsenals
  • ICG co-hosts 12th ReCAAP ISC capacity building workshop in Delhi from June 19

Science & Technology

  • Facebook launches ‘Libra’ cryptocurrency in bid to shake up global finance
  • Australia’s New Sex-Changing Tomato: Solanum Plastisexum

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Himachal Pradesh makes GPS device must for trekkers
  • Matri Shree Media Awards

For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here

Government Schemes & Policies

Human rights, environment activists unsafe in Asia: Report

According to the report ‘Defending In Numbers’ by Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM‐ASIA), Asia continues to be a dangerous place for defenders of human and environment rights even after 20 years of United Nations Declaration on Human right defenders (HRDs).

Key observation of the ‘Defending In Numbers- Resistance in the Face of Repression’ report:

Key-observation-of-the-IASToppers-2019 Current Affairs Analysis

  • With the theme of ‘Resistance in the Face of Repression’, the reports highlights key human rights violations against HRDs for the period of 2017-2018.
  • Most common forms of violation were: Judicial harassment (327 cases), (Arbitrary) arrest and detention (249 cases) and Violence (164 cases).

Who were the victims?

Report Defending In Numbers

  • 50 per cent of the total cases have been against those fighting for the cause of democracy and access to land and environmental rights.
  • More than 30% cases were against pro-democracy defenders which is the most targeted group of HRDs. The second targeted group was land and environmental right activists.
  • The violations were most common in Philippines (39 cases), Vietnam (23 cases) and India (17 cases).
  • Non-governmental organisations, defenders of women rights and journalists were also heavily targeted in 2017-2018.

Who were the human rights violators?

  • State entities such as the police, the judiciary and armed forces were ranked as the number one perpetrator of harassment and abuse against HRDs.
  • Moreover, businesses in the mining and extractives industries and agri-businesses, which are competing to access natural resources for profit were also harassing land and environmental defenders.

What could be done?

There is a need for,

  • Action to be taken by various stakeholders in order to create a safer and more enabling environment for these defenders.
  • Corporations to comply with the guiding principles for business and human rights while implementing the United Nations ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ framework and other international human rights standards.
  • To asked the government to ensure that all laws comply with international human rights standards and the judicial processes remain transparent.

About the Defending In Numbers report:

  • It is published biannually by Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM‐ASIA).
  • It reviews the situation of human rights defenders (HRD) across Asia.

About Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM‐ASIA):

  • The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) works to promote and protect human rights, including the right to development, through collaboration among human rights organisations and defenders in Asia and beyond.
  • It was founded in 1991 in Manila, the Philippines. Its Regional Secretariat was established in Bangkok, Thailand in 1992. Since then, offices have been opened in Geneva, Jakarta, and Kathmandu.
  • It has 81 members in 21 countries including India.

Key Facts:

  • FORUM-ASIA has established ‘The Asian NGO Network on National Human Rights Institutions’ (ANNI) in 2006.
  • The 41st Regular Session of Human Rights Council will be held in Geneva, Switzerland during June-July 2019.
[Ref: DownToEarth]

 

Issues related to Health & Education

What causes AES? What makes Bihar so vulnerable?

Most deaths due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur in 2019 have been attributed to hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar.

What-causes-AES-What-makes-Bihar-so-vulnerable--IASTopper-2019

Speculations on causes of AES in Bihar:

  • In Bihar, hypoglycaemia, caused by malnourishment, is attributed as the cause of this disease, as it was found in 98% of patients who are affected with AES.
  • The combination of AES with hypoglycaemia is unique to Muzaffarpur, Vietnam and Bangladesh.

What makes this region so vulnerable to AES?

  • High Malnutrition rates in children (malnourished children are prone to AES infection). As per 2015-16, 48% children aged less than five in Bihar were stunted — the highest in India.
  • Uttar Pradesh and Bihar together account for over 35% of child deaths in India depicting poor health services.
  • Heat, humidity and unhygienic conditions, unique to these areas, together contribute to the rise in AES.

Acute encephalitis syndrome (AES):

  • AES is a broad term involving several infections specifically affecting young children.
  • It is a neurological disorder which affects the brain and the limbic system.
  • In Bihar, it is Locally known as Chamki Bukhar.
  • The disease outbreak is usually reported during monsoons (June-October). But the incidence is also reported during April-June in Bihar.
  • It can manifest into more severe conditions such as very high fever, coma, delirium, seizure and disorientation upon deterioration.

Causes of AES

  • Viruses are the main causative agents in AES cases, although other sources such as bacteria, fungus, parasites, spirochetes have also been reported over the past few decades.
  • Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus is the most common cause of AES in India, attributing 5-35 per cent cases due to JE.
  • Apart from viral encephalitis, severe form of leptospirosis and toxoplasmosis can cause AES.
  • It is also caused by scrub typhus, dengue, mumps, measles, even Nipah or Zika virus.

Presumptions of causes of AES in India

  • There are some assumptions of causes of AES in India. In India, AES outbreaks in north eastern India have been linked to children eating unripe litchi fruit on empty stomachs.
  • Unripe fruit contain the toxins hypoglycin A and methylene cyclopropyl glycine (MCPG), which cause vomiting if ingested in large quantities.
  • This assumption is derived from a common aspect of litchi orchard in both, Bihar’s Muzaffarpur and Vietnam’s Bac Giang which had similar condition of AES.
  • However, litchi and deaths due to AES cannot be associated presently due to lack of confirmation by scientists.
  • Some believe that malnutrition, heat, humidity and poor hygiene are the reasons of AES.

Japanese encephalitis:

  • Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is a flavivirus related to dengue, yellow fever and West Nile viruses.
  • The main reservoirs of the JE virus are pigs and water birds (Ardeidae). It is transmitted mainly through Culex mosquitoes species.
  • Humans do not play a role in JE transmission.
  • In most temperate areas of Asia, JEV is transmitted mainly during the warm season.
  • In the tropics and subtropics, transmission can occur year-round but often intensifies during the rainy season and pre-harvest period in rice-cultivating regions.

Types of AES:

Different types of encephalitis have different causes.

  1. Japanese encephalitis is spread by mosquitoes
  2. Tick-borne encephalitis is spread by ticks
  3. Rabies can be spread through a bite from a mammal
  • There are also primary or secondary encephalitis. Primary or infectious encephalitis can result if a fungus, virus, or bacterium infects the brain.
  • Secondary, or post-infectious, encephalitis is when the immune system responds to a previous infection and mistakenly attacks the brain.

Status of AES in India

  • AES due to JE was clinically diagnosed in India for the first time in 1955 in Tamil Nadu.
  • According to National Vector Borne Diseases Control Programme (NVBDCP), more than 10,000 AES cases were diagnosed in 2018 with 632 deaths across 17 states.
  • India records fatality rate at 6 per cent in AES, but the fatality rises to 25 per cent amongst children.
  • Bihar, Assam, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Tripura are worst affected states of AES.

Treatment:

  • There is no treatment or cure for Japanese encephalitis. Once a person has the disease, treatment can only relieve the symptoms.
  • However, Hydration and increasing the glucose levels can stabilize the patient.
  • There are 4 main types of JE vaccines currently in use: inactivated mouse brain-derived vaccines, inactivated Vero cell-derived vaccines, live attenuated vaccines, and live recombinant (chimeric) vaccines.
  • Vero cell-derived JENVAC, a single dose inactivated Japanese Encephalitis (JE) Vaccine, was the first vaccine in India that received manufacturing approvals from the Drug Controller General of India.
  • The vaccine was an outcome of public-private partnership mode between the Indian Council of Medical Research and Bharat Biotech.
[Ref: Indian Express]

 

WHO launches tool for safer use of antibiotics, curb resistance

World Health Organization (WHO) launched a global campaign urging governments to adopt ‘AWaRe’ tool to reduce the spread of antimicrobial resistance, adverse events and costs.

AWaRe- a WHO tool for safer use of antibiotics

About WHO’s AWaRe tool:

  • The AWaRe tool was developed by the ‘WHO Essential Medicines List’ to contain rising diseases resistance and make antibiotic use safer and more effective.

The tool classifies antibiotics into three groups:

  1. Access: Antibiotics used to treat the most common and serious infections.
  2. Watch: Antibiotics available at all times in the healthcare system.
  3. Reserve: Antibiotics to be used sparingly or preserved and used only as a last resort.

About the The AWaRe campaign

  • The AWaRe campaign – ‘Adopt AWaRe, Handle antibiotics with care’ – will be launched in June 2019 by Netherlands and Indonesia along with WHO, at the second ministerial conference on ‘Action against Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in Netherlands.

Objective of the campaign:

  • To achieve a 60 % increase in use of antibiotics under the Access group (cheap, narrow-spectrum drugs that target a specific microorganism rather than several) and also lower the risk of resistance from the Watch and Reserve groups.

Significance:

  • Can guide policy to ensure patients keep being treated while also limiting use of the antibiotics most at risk of resistance.
  • Makes it easier for prescribers and health workers to select the right antibiotic at the right time and to protect endangered antibiotics.

Need:

  • More than 50% of antibiotics in many countries are used inappropriately such as for treatment of viruses when they only treat bacterial infections or use of the wrong antibiotic.
  • More expensive treatments and hospital admissions are needed when antibiotics stop working effectively.
  • Vast gaps in access to effective antibiotics experienced by many low- and middle-income countries.
  • Childhood deaths due to pneumonia because of lack of access to antibiotics remain frequent in many parts of the world.
  • Only about one fifth of countries, which have put in place national plans to tackle antimicrobial resistance, are funded and implemented.

What is an antibiotic?

  • Antibiotics, also known as antimicrobial drugs, are drugs that fight infections caused by bacteria in both humans and animals.
  • Antibiotics fight these infections either by killing the bacteria or making it difficult for the bacteria to grow and multiply.
  • Antibiotics only treat certain bacterial infections. Antibiotics do not have any effect on viruses.

What is Anti-biotic resistance?

anti-IASToppers-2019

  • Antimicrobial resistance is the ability of a microbe to resist the effects of medication that once could successfully treat the microbe.
  • In other words, Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them.
  • Antibiotic resistance leads to higher medical costs, prolonged hospital stays, and increased mortality.

Why are bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics?

Why-are-bacteria-becoming-IASToppers-2019

  • Overuse and misuse of antibiotics allows the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
  • Every time a person takes antibiotics, some bacteria are killed, but resistant bacteria are left to grow and multiply. Hence, taking antibiotic repeatedly multiply its growth some resistant bacteria are always left when on take antibiotic.
  • Widespread use of antibiotics for common cold, flu etc. is an example of how overuse of antibiotics can promote the spread of antibiotic resistance.

How do bacteria become resistant to antibiotics?

  • Neutralize an antibiotic by changing it in a way that makes it harmless.
  • Push an antibiotic back outside of the bacteria before it can do any harm.
  • Change their outer structure so the antibiotic has no way to attach to the bacteria it is designed to kill.
  • Bacteria can also become resistant through mutation of their genetic material.

How can healthcare professionals help prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance?

How can healthcare professionals help

  • By prescribing an antibiotic only when it is likely to benefit the patient.
  • By prescribing an antibiotic that targets the bacteria that is most likely causing their patient’s illness when an antibiotic is likely to provide benefit.
  • By encouraging patients to use the antibiotic as instructed.
  • By collaborating with each other, office staff, and patients to promote appropriate antibiotic use.

Initiatives of WHO for Antimicrobial resistance:

World Antibiotic Awareness Week

  • It is held every November since 2015 with the theme “Antibiotics: Handle with care”, the global.

The Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (GLASS)

  • It supports a standardized approach to the collection, analysis and sharing of data related to antimicrobial resistance at a global level.

Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP)

  • It is a joint initiative of WHO and Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi).
  • It, by 2023, aims to develop and deliver up to four new treatments, through improvement of existing antibiotics and acceleration of the entry of new antibiotic drugs.

Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (IACG)

  • The United Nations has established IACG to improve coordination between international organizations and to ensure effective global action against this threat to health security.
  • It is co-chaired by the UN Deputy Secretary-General and the Director General of WHO.
[Ref: DownToEarth]

 

DRDO, JNU scientists develop more potent Anthrax vaccine

Researchers from the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), Mysore and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) developed more efficient vaccine against Anthrax disease.

About Anthrax:

DRDO, JNUAnthrax is a serious infectious disease caused by gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria known as Bacillus anthracis.

  • It can be found naturally in soil and commonly affects domestic and wild animals around the world.
  • Anthrax does not spread from person to person and is not considered contagious. Though, it can be transmitted to humans by contact with infected animals or their products.

Types of Anthrax:

Though there are 3 types of official anthrax, the 4th one, ‘Injection anthrax’, is newly identified in northern Europe.

Cutaneous (skin) anthrax:

  • It is the most common form. It is usually contracted when a person with a break in their skin comes into direct contact with anthrax spores.

Gastrointestinal anthrax:

  • It is caught from eating meat from an infected animal.

Inhalation or pulmonary anthrax:

  • It is the most severe form of human anthrax. It is rarest and is caused when a person is directly breaths to a large number of anthrax spores suspended in the air.
  • This anthrax cannot be transmitted from person to person.

Injection anthrax:

  • This new form of anthrax has been identified in heroin-injecting drug users in northern Europe and has not yet been reported in the United States. Symptoms may take days to months before they appear.

How does one get infected with anthrax?

  • Anthrax can happen when people breathe in spores, eat food or drink water that is contaminated with spores, or get spores in a cut or scrape in the skin.
  • Similarly, Domestic and wild animals can also become infected when they breathe in or ingest spores in contaminated soil, plants, or water.

What are Spores?

What are Spores

  • Spores are the single-celled reproductive unit of nonflowering plants, bacteria, fungi, and algae. In other words, it is a reproductive cell capable of developing into a new individual without fusion (mating) with another reproductive cell.
  • While complex plants produce flowers and seeds for reproduction, lower plants (plants that don’t flower) create a single-celled spore for its re-production.
  • Fungi, algae, and even some bacteria all form spores when they want to pass their genes on.
  • Spores thus differ from gametes, which are reproductive cells that must fuse in pairs in order to give rise to a new individual.

Where is anthrax found?

  • Though rare in humans, it is most common in agricultural regions of Central and South America, sub-Saharan Africa, central and south-western Asia, southern and eastern Europe, and the Caribbean.
  • It is more common in developing countries and countries that do not have veterinary public health programs that routinely vaccinate animals against anthrax.

Prevention:

  • There is a vaccine against anthrax, but it is not approved for widespread use because it has never been comprehensively tested in human trials.
  • However, the anti-anthrax vaccines only show its activeness once spores germinate and release toxins.
  • Studies have shown that when inactivated spores are injected in addition to vaccine, the protection against anthrax is enhanced.
  • In areas where domestic animals have had anthrax in the past, routine vaccination can help prevent outbreaks.
[Ref: DownToEarth]

 

Economy

India is projected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country around 2027: UN report

The UN report named ‘World Population Prospects 2019’ has highlighted the higher fertility rates, growing older population and migration as some of the few reasons for the population growth.

World Population Projections 2019 4

About World Population Prospects 2019:

  • The 2019 revision of the World Population Prospects is the 26th edition of the United Nations population estimates and projections.
  • It was prepared by the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat.
  • It presents population estimates from 1950 to 2018 for 235 countries/areas based on the relevant historical demographic trends.
  • The population estimates presented in this report describe two of the four demographic megatrends (population growth and ageing), as well as key trends in human fertility, mortality, and net international migration integral to sustainable development.

World Population Projections 2019 3

Key observations of 2019 Revision of World Population Prospects:

Population Growth:

World Population Projections 2019

  • The largest increases in population between 2019 and 2050 will take place in- India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt and the United States of America.
  • The higher fertility rates, growing older population and migration are few reasons for projections of the population growth.
  • India and Nigeria, together, could account for 23 per cent of the global population increase by 2050.
  • World’s population is expected to increase by two billion people in the next 30 years, from 7.7 billion currently to 9.7 billion in 2050.
  • By 2050, one in six people in the world will be over age 65, up from one in 11 in 2019. The number of persons aged 80 years or over is projected to triple by 2050.
  • The ranking of the five largest countries will remain as it is through the end of the century.
  • In China, the population is projected to decrease by around 2.2 per cent between 2019 and 2050.
  • In 2018, for the first time in history, persons aged 65 years or over worldwide outnumbered children under age five.

Fertility Rates:

  • 40 % of the world’s population lives in intermediate-fertility countries (i.e. India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Mexico, Philippines and Egypt), where women have on average between 2.1 and four births over a lifetime.
  • Global fertility rate, which fell from 3.2 births per woman in 1990 to 5 in 2019, is projected to decline further to 2.2 in 2050.
  • Since 2010, Several countries have experienced a reduction in the size of their populations, caused by sustained low levels of fertility.

Life Expectancy:

  • Life expectancy at birth for the world, which increased from 64.2 years in 1990 to 6 years in 2019, is expected to increase further to 77.1 years in 2050.

Suggestions for Growth of India in context of increasing population:

  • More investment in health, education and women empowerment as they are the key contributors both to slowing down population growth and accelerating development.
  • Utilize the opportunity provided by a large segment of youth while preparing to deal with the health needs of the expanding elderly population.
  • For curbing population growth, the union health ministry in 2017 launched mission Parivar Vikas to increase access to contraceptives and Family Planning services. However, more support from private sector is needed in the area of reproductive health and family planning.
  • The rural access to quality medical service has to be improved along with adequate number of doctors in Government hospitals.

Key Facts:

  • The five most populous countries in 2019 are China (1.43 billion), India (1.37 billion), United States of America (329 million), Indonesia (271 million) and Brazil (212 million).
  • China and India comprises 19 and 18 per cent of total global population respectively.
[Ref: Live Mint, Economic Times]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

Countries reducing military equipment but modernising arsenals

According to the 2019 Yearbook of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), worldwide total nuclear warheads has decreased since 2018 but countries are modernising their nuclear arsenals.

2019 Yearbook of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)

Key observations of the 2019 Yearbook of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute:

  • India has nearly 130-140 other warheads in 2019, same as in 2018.
  • Of all the nuclear weapons, nearly 30% (3,750) are deployed with operational forces and nearly 2,000 of these are kept in a state of high operational alert.
  • Nine nuclear-armed countries (including India) decreased its nuclear weapons by 600 in 2019 (from nearly 13,800 since 2018).
  • The decrease was mainly due to Russia and the US (both accounting for over 90 % of all nuclear weapons) further reducing their strategic nuclear forces pursuant to the implementation of the 2010 Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START).

What is New START Treaty?

  • New START is a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation.
  • It was formally known as ‘Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms’.
  • It was signed in 2010 in Prague and entered into force in 2011. The Treaty’s duration is ten years, unless superseded by a subsequent agreement.
  • New START replaced the 1991 START I treaty, which expired in 2009, and superseded the 2002 Moscow treaty of Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), which terminated when New START entered into force.

Key Provision of this treaty:

  • It limits the deployed strategic nuclear warheads and bombs as well as Deployed and non-deployed Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launchers, Submarine-launched ballistic (SLBM) launchers and bombers.
  • However, it does not limit the number of non-deployed ICBMs and SLBMs, but it does monitor them and provide for continuous information on their locations.
  • The Treaty has a verification regime that include on-site inspections, data exchanges and notifications related to strategic offensive arms and facilities covered by the Treaty.
  • Both countries agreed under the treaty to prohibit systems designed for “rapid reload” of non-deployed missiles.
  • Both nation has the flexibility to determine for itself the structure of its strategic forces within the aggregate limits of the Treaty.
  • The Treaty does not constrain testing, development, or deployment of current or planned U.S. missile defence programs.

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI):

  • Established in 1966, SIPRI is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.
  • Located in Stockholm, it was established on the basis of a decision by the Swedish Parliament which receives a substantial part of its funding from the Swedish Government.
  • The Institute also cooperates closely with several intergovernmental organizations, notably the United Nations and the European Union.

Objectives:

  • Undertake research and activities on security, conflict and peace
  • Provide policy analysis and recommendations
  • Facilitate dialogue and build capacities
  • Promote transparency and accountability
  • Deliver authoritative information to global audiences

 [Ref: Indian Express]

 

ICG co-hosts 12th ReCAAP ISC capacity building workshop in Delhi from June 19

Indian Coast Guard is co-hosting an international workshop in New Delhi to deepen knowledge on issues related to piracy and armed robbery.

Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP1

About the workshop:

  • Indian Coast Guard (ICG) is co-hosting 12th Capacity Building workshop with Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) Information Sharing Centre (ISC) in June 2019.
  • The main objective of this workshop is to share updated situation of piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia and best practices of Asian countries.
  • The workshop also aims to deepen the knowledge of participants on various issues related with piracy and armed robbery such as international laws and prosecution process.
  • This capacity building workshop is organised annually by the ISC and is co-hosted by one of the contracting parties.

About the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP)

 

  • Launched in 2006, it is the first regional Government-to-Government agreement to deal with piracy and armed robbery at sea in Asia.
  • It has 14 Asian nations when it was established, presently 20 countries are members of ReCAAP including India.
  • The ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ReCAAP ISC) was established in Singapore to disseminate the information among the contracting parties and the maritime community.
  • India played an active role in the setting up and functioning of ReCAAPISC along with Japan and Singapore.
  • Indian Government has designated ICG as the focal point within India for ReCAAP.

Objective:

  • To be the information hub for combating piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia.
  • To enhance regional cooperation through information sharing, capacity building and cooperative arrangements in combating piracy and armed robbery against ships.

Member countries:

  • Australia, Japan, Singapore, Bangladesh, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Brunei Darussalam, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, United Kingdom, China, Netherlands, United States of America, Denmark, Norway, Vietnam, India and Philippines.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Science & Technology

Facebook launches ‘Libra’ cryptocurrency in bid to shake up global finance

Facebook has announced a digital currency called Libra that will allow its users to make financial transactions across the globe.

Facebook’s new cryptocurrency- Libra 4

About Libra Cryptocurrency:

Facebook’s new cryptocurrency- Libra11

  • Libra is a digital asset built by Social media company named
  • Libra will be launched in 2020. However, it could not be launched in India.
  • It is connected to a mix of global assets to prevent the level of volatility common in the digital currency space.
  • Users can transact Libra cryptocurrency through a digital wallet named Calibra, which is also being developed by Facebook.
  • However, Libra can face close scrutiny as Facebook is alleged of privacy breach.

Significance:

  • It will allow consumers to send money to each other as well as potentially pay for goods and services using this currency instead of their local currency.
  • It is being touted as a means to connect people via mobile phones who do not have access to traditional banking platforms.

Facebook’s new cryptocurrency- Libra 2

What is cryptocurrency?

  • A cryptocurrency is a form of digital asset that relies on a peer-to-peer network of users.
  • Cryptocurrencies rely on distributed ledger technology which enables the authentication of transactions without them needing to be handled by a central authority.
  • For that reason, they are outside the control of governments and are unregulated.

How are Cryptocurrencies used?

  • Cryptocurrency is fundamentally a decentralised digital currency transferred directly between peers and the transactions are confirmed in a public ledger, accessible to all the users.

Facebook_s new cryptocurrency- Libra 3

  • The process of maintaining this ledger and validating the transactions, better known as mining, is carried out in a decentralised manner.
  • The underlying principle of the authenticity of the present to historical transactions is cryptographic proof, instead of trust; different from how it happens in the case of traditional banking systems.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Australia’s New Sex-Changing Tomato: Solanum Plastisexum

A team of scientists is describing a new species of bush tomato from the remote Australian Outback. which has amazed biologists because of the unusual variability of its flower form.

Solanum plastisexum; Australia’s new sex-changing tomato

What is naturally occurred in plants?

There are three types of sex in individual or solitary flowers:

  1. Male flower or Staminate
  2. Female flower or Pistillate or Carpellate
  3. Bisexual Flower or Hermaphrodite or Monoclinous
  • A bisexual flower has both male and female sexual parts, but a diclinous or unisexual flower has either a pistil (or carpel) or a stamen only.

What is unique about Solanum plastisexum?

  • Solanum plastisexum exhibits “breeding system fluidity” i.e., it has no stable sexual expression.
  • In other words, this plant changes its sex by its own. Its sexual expression is
  • Till now, the reason behind this phenomenon have not been identified.

About Solanum Plastisexum:

  • Solanum plastisexum is a species of bush tomato from the Australian monsoon tropics.
  • It is little plant with gray-green leaves with purple flowers.
  • It is also known as the Dungowan bush tomato in reference to Dungowan Station where it was collected.

Changing binary sexuality in plants and animals:

  • Living organisms, including plants and animals, often exhibit diverse sexual forms, such as the lizard is a female-only species. Another example is of Clown fish which are born male and can transform into females later in life.
  • On the other side, Plants are especially fluid and might have flowers with only male or only female parts, or both, or reproductive systems that function differently from the way they appear.

Key Facts:

  • Solanum is a large and diverse genus of flowering plants, which include three food crops of high economic importance, the potato, the tomato and the eggplant.
[Ref: Indian Express]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

Himachal Pradesh makes GPS device must for trekkers

  • The Himachal Pradesh (HP) government has made it compulsory for trekkers to carry a GPS (Global Positioning System) device to tackle any exigency. 

Himachal Pradesh makes GPS device must for trekkers

Why?

  • According to BIS seismic zonation map, Himachal Pradesh falls in Zone IV (High Damage Risk Zone) and Zone V (seismically the most active region).
  • Being a disaster-prone state, it is essential for Himachal Pradesh to pay special heed to disseminating weather advisories as well as installing early warning systems in state.
  • It is also important to restrict trekking and other yatras undertaken in state during adverse weather.

Matri Shree Media Awards

Matri Shree Media Awards

  • Twenty-nine journalists from print and electronic media were felicitated with Matri Shree Media Awards for their contribution towards journalism.
  • The Matri Shree Media Awards was constituted during the Emergency.
  • It has been awarded annually to 25 outstanding candidates in print journalism as well electronic media.
  • Since 2000, Indian filmmakers were also eligible to receive the prestigious awards.
  • The first award was presented to journalist Lala Jagat Narayan.

 

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