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Current Affairs Analysis

24th March 2018 Current Affairs Analysis -IASToppers

Office of profit; Election Commission; President to disqualify the legislators; Ministry of External Affairs (MEA); ‘Videsh Aaya Pradesh ke Dwaar’; World TB Day; Tuberculosis (TB); Earth Hour 2018; “Give Up to Give Back” initiative; Earth Day; World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF); world’s biological diversity; ‘Commonwealth Big Lunch’; Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS); The Brazzaville declaration; largest tropical peatlands-Cuvette Centrale region in Congo Basin; Peatlands; Global Peatlands Initiative; Chandrayaan-2; The Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO); Space Grade Lithium-Ion Cells; Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery; World’s longest sandstone cave; Krem Puri; Naipunya Rathaams; The Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL); Advanced Offshore Patrol Vessel (AOPV); painting of Tilottama, etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
March 24, 2018

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Office of profit: Delhi HC quashes notification disqualifying 20 AAP MLAs

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Videsh Aaya Pradesh ke Dwaar

Issues related to Health & Education

  • World TB Day 2018

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Earth Hour 2018

Bilateral & International Relations

  • KISS to host ‘Commonwealth Big Lunch’
  • Brazzaville declaration signed to protect world’s largest tropical peatland

Science & Technology

  • ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 launch postponed to October
  • ISRO–BHEL tie up for Production of Space Grade Lithium-Ion Cells

Key Facts for Prelims

  • World’s longest sandstone cave discovered in Meghalaya
  • NAIPUNYA RATHAM
  • SLOPV Project
  • Tilottama

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Polity & Governance

Office of profit: Delhi HC quashes notification disqualifying 20 AAP MLAs

The Delhi High Court has quashed a notification issued by President Ram Nath Kovind disqualifying 20 AAP MLAs for holding offices of profit as Parliamentary Secretaries.

  • The court has reinstated all 20 MLAs, holding that the opinion of the Election Commission of India to the President to disqualify the legislators was “vitiated and bad in law for failure to comply with the principles of natural justice”.

What’s the issue?

  • The Delhi government, led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, appointed the parliamentary secretaries attached to government ministries after coming to power in March 2015.
  • The Election Commission had recommended that 20 MLAs of the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi be disqualified as they held offices of profit while being legislators.

Why was the notification quashed by the court?

  • The High Court noted that the Election Commission failed to give oral hearing and opportunity to address arguments on merits to the AAP MLAs before arriving at its opinion that they held ‘office of profit’.

What next?

  • The court has asked the Election Commission to first decide the “all important and seminal issue; what is meant by the expression ‘office of profit held under the government’.”
  • Then, “re-examine the factual matrix to decide whether the petitioners (MLAs) had incurred disqualification on appointment as Parliamentary Secretaries, without being influenced by the earlier order or observations on the said aspect in this order”.

What is an ‘office of profit’?

  • If an MLA or an MP holds a government office and receives benefits from it, then that office is termed as an “office of profit”.
  • A person will be disqualified if he holds an office of profit under the central or state government, other than an office declared not to disqualify its holder by a law passed by Parliament or state legislature.

What are the basic criteria to disqualify an MP or MLA?

  • Basic disqualification criteria for an MP are laid down in Article 102 of the Constitution, and for an MLA in Article 191.
  • They can be disqualified for: a) Holding an office of profit under government of India or state government; b) Being of unsound mind; c) Being an undischarged insolvent; d) Not being an Indian citizen or for acquiring citizenship of another country.

What is the underlying principle for including ‘office of profit’ as criterion for disqualification?

  • Makers of the Constitution wanted that legislators should not feel obligated to the Executive in any way, which could influence them while discharging legislative functions.
  • In other words, an MP or MLA should be free to carry out her duties without any kind of governmental pressure.
[Ref: The Hindu, Indian Express]

 

Government Schemes & Policies

Videsh Aaya Pradesh ke Dwaar

The External Publicity and Public Diplomacy Division of Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) launched ‘Videsh Aaya Pradesh ke Dwaar’, an engagement programme with regional media in Hyderabad, Telangana.

  • The initiative aims enhance public diplomacy outreach of MEA and its commitment to take objectives of foreign policy to people at grassroot-level.

About Videsh Aaya Pradesh ke Dwaar:

  • The initiative involves MEA’s engagement with regional media based in different cities across the countru to communicate foreign policy priorities in simple terms.
  • It also seeks to highlight benefits accruing to common people through its diplomatic efforts and bring domain of foreign policy closer to people.
  • It is also intends to create pool of media professionals interested in foreign policy and guide them on connecting with MEA.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Issues related to Health & Education 

World TB Day 2018

The World Tuberculosis Day (WTD) is observed every year on March 24 to raise public awareness about the global epidemic of Tuberculosis (TB) and efforts to eliminate the disease.

tb-day-2018 (1)

About World Tuberculosis Day (WTD):

  • WTD is observed to commemorate discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, bacillus (bacteria) causing TB on 24th March, 1882 by German microbiologist Dr Robert Koch.
  • It is one of eight official global public health campaigns observed by the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • 2018 Theme (Campaign): “Wanted: Leaders for a TB-free world”. This year it is second year of a two year “United to End TB” Campaign.
  • WHO has placed special focus on uniting efforts to “Leave no one behind” including actions to address stigma, discrimination, marginalization and overcome barriers to access care.

tb-day-2018

About Tuberculosis (TB):

  • TB is disease caused by bacteria “Mycobacterium tuberculosis” that most often affect the lungs.
  • The disease is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected.
  • It commonly affects the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body. It is the second biggest killer disease worldwide next only to HIV/AIDS.
  • Ending the TB epidemic by 2030 is among the health targets of the Sustainable Development Goals.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Earth Hour 2018

The 12th edition of the Earth Hour was observed across the world on 25 March 2018 to take a global call on climate change.

Earth-hour

  • To mark this day, cities worldwide turned their lights off from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm local time.
  • Earth Hour is also a “part and parcel” of the “Green Good Deeds” movement, in which every individual ought to take small, voluntary green actions to protect and conserve the environment and the earth.

“Give Up to Give Back” initiative:

  • On the occasion of Earth Hour, the World Wide Fund India has made a strong pitch for “Give Up to Give Back”.
  • The “Give Up to Give Back” initiative to inspire organisations, institutions and individuals to make the choice to curb some habits, practices and lifestyles that burden our lives and the environment.
  • It includes taking steps like giving up single-use plastics, giving up fossil fuels, giving up lonely car rides for your employees, give up e-waste.

 

About Earth Hour:

  • Earth Houris a worldwide movement for the planet organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
  • The event is held worldwide annually encouraging individuals, communities, households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. towards the end of March, as a symbol for their commitment to the planet.
  • It was famously started as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Since then it has grown to engage more than 7000 cities and towns worldwide.
  • Today, Earth Hour engages a massive mainstream community on a broad range of environmental issues.

Earth-hour-celebrate

Why do we need earth hour?

  • Global warming and climate change have dominated the scientific discourse in the past more than one decade. With ever rising population of the world, the climate change has put the humankind at a great risk along with other species.
  • Global warming, rising levels of pollution due to ever increasing industrialisation, declining forest cover and rising sea levels are some of the dangers that drastically affect the workings of life on the earth.
  • Though the largest polluters are big industries, the WWF tries to make the masses more and more aware about the impending dangers of adverse climate so that they could put pressure on the respective governments to frame environment-friendly policies and laws.
  • With Earth Hour, the WWF aims to engage people across the globe to adopt more sustainable lifestyle. Turning off lights for an hour is just an annual reminder that if the world does not mend its ways, it will be heading to a dark age, literally.

What’s the difference between Earth Hour and Earth Day?

  • Whereas Earth Hour stands as a climate change initiative where people reduce their electricity usage, Earth Day (April 22) celebrates our natural environment by inspiring people to plant trees, recycle regularly and keep the planet tidy.

About World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF):

wwf

  • It is considered as one of the world’s largest and independent conservation organizations.
  • It was established on 29 April 1961 with the slogan – For a Living Planet.
  • Its primary objective is to stop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature.
  • It seeks to achieve this objective by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful.
  • The WWF has over 5 million supporters in over 100 countries.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

 

Bilateral & International Relations

KISS to host ‘Commonwealth Big Lunch’

Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), Bhubaneswar, in partnership with British Council, India, is hosting the ‘Commonwealth Big Lunch’.

  • KISS is the only organisation from Asia to be selected by British Council to host the Commonwealth Big Lunch.

kiss-and-commonwealth-2018

What is ‘Commonwealth Big Lunch’?

  • British Council is celebrating 70 years of inception in Commonwealth countries.
  • On this occasion, it has organised a mega lunch. The initiative launched by UK PM Theresa May.
  • The motto of the programme is to encourage people to get together to celebrate their Commonwealth connections through food.

About Commonwealth of Nations:

commor-wealth-of-nations

  • It is an international intergovernmental organisation of countries that were mostly former territories of the British Empire and dependencies.
  • It was established by the London Declaration in 1949. Many countries from Africa, Asia, Americas, Europe and the Pacific have joined the Commonwealth.
  • Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of the Commonwealth. She is also the monarch of 16 members of the Commonwealth, known as Commonwealth realms.
  • Membership is based on free and equal voluntary co-operation.
  • Current membership includes 52 counties (including India).
  • The last country to join the Commonwealth was Rwanda in 2009.

commonwealth-of-nations

[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Brazzaville declaration signed to protect world’s largest tropical peatland

The Brazzaville declaration was singed to promote better management and conservation world’s largest tropical peatlands-Cuvette Centrale region in Congo Basin from unregulated land use and prevent its drainage and degradation.

global-peatlands-initiative

 

  • It was signed jointly by Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Republic of Congo and Indonesia on the sidelines of Third Partners Meeting of Global Peatlands Initiative held in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo.
  • The Brazzaville declaration aims to implement coordination and cooperation between different government sectors to protect the benefits provided by peatland ecosystems.
  • It also recognizes the importance of the scientific breakthrough of mapping the world’s largest tropical peatland area.

What are Peatlands?

  • Peatlands are wetlands that contain mixture of decomposed organic material, partially submerged in layer of water, lacking oxygen.
  • The complex biodiversity of peatlands means they are home to variety of species. Their high carbon content makes them uniquely vulnerable to incineration if they are drained.
  • They are globally important carbon store. The unregulated exploitation of peatlands can potentially be detrimental to environment and to climate, as it could release carbon emissions that have been locked in for millennia.
  • The Cuvette Centrale region in Congo Basin is world’s largest natural tropical peatlands, which are about size of England. It stores three years equivalent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

About Global Peatlands Initiative:

  • GPI is multi-partner United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) initiative launched at the Global Landscapes Forum in Marrakesh in 2016.
  • It is effort by leading experts and institutions to save peatlands as the world’s largest terrestrial organic carbon stock and to prevent it being emitted into the atmosphere.
[Ref: Economic Times]

 

Science & Technology

ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 launch postponed to October

The Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO) has postponed launch of India’s second lunar mission ‘Chandrayaan-2’ from April 2018 to October-November 2018 as experts have suggested more tests.

About Chandrayaan-2 mission:

chandrayaan-2-mission

  • Chandrayaan-2 is an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan-1 mission.
  • The mission includes an Orbiter, a Lander and a Rover.
  • The Orbiter spacecraft will be launched from Sriharikota will travel to the Moon and release the Lander, which will in turn deploy a tiny Rover to roam the lunar surface.
  • It will be launched on board of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk III (GSLV-F10).
  • The mission includes soft-landing on Moon and moving a rover on its surface. The soft-landing on the lunar surface of the moon will be most complex part of Chandrayaan 2 mission. Only the US, Russia and China have been able to soft-land spacecraft on lunar surface.
  • All three project components will be sending data and pictures to Earth.[Ref: The Hindu, Live Mint]

 

ISRO–BHEL tie up for Production of Space Grade Lithium-Ion Cells

What is Li-Ion battery?

  • Lithium-ion battery or Li-ion battery is type of rechargeable battery that contains several cells.
  • Each cell consists of cathode, anode and electrolyte, a separator between electrodes and current collectors.
  • In it, lithium ions move from negative electrode to positive electrode during discharge and back when charging.
  • Li-ion battery use intercalated lithium compound as one electrode material.

Advantages of Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery:

  • The lithium-ion battery is light weighted and is one-third the weight of lead acid batteries.
  • It is nearly 100% efficient in both charging and discharging as compared to lead battery which has 70% efficiency.
  • It completely discharges i.e. 100% as compared to 80% for lead acid.
  • The rechargeable lithium-ion battery has life cycle of 5000 times or more compared to just 400-500 cycles in lead acid.
  • It also maintains constant voltage throughout the entire discharge cycle whereas voltage in lead acid battery drops consistently throughout its discharge cycle.
  • It is much cleaner technology and is safer for environment as it does not have environmental impact as lead acid battery.

Why in news?

  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has entered into Technology Transfer Agreement (TTA) with Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) to transfer technology for manufacturing space grade Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) cells.

Significance of this technology transfer:

  • This Li-ion cell Technology Transfer will enable BHEL to produce space grade Li-Ion cells which can meet the country’s space programme requirements. This technology can also be adopted to cater to the Li-Ion cell requirement for other national needs.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

 

World’s longest sandstone cave discovered in Meghalaya

  • The world’s longest sandstone cave named Krem Puri was discovered near Laitsohum village in Mawsynram area in East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya.
  • The cave is 24,583 metres (24.5 km) in length and is known for its complex cave systems hidden under its undulating hills.
  • The cave system has fossils of dinosaurs, especially the Mosasaurus, a giant reptile that lived 66-76 million years ago.
  • Krem Puri underground cavern is more than 6,000 metres longer than world record-holder Cueva Del Saman in Edo Zulia, Venezuela.

 

NAIPUNYA RATHAM

  • Andhra Pradesh Government launched multi-utility vehicle NAIPUNYA RATHAM or World on Wheels to bring technology to remote corners.
  • As part of the Smart village Smart Ward Programme, the Naipunya Rathaams will facilitate and look to improve digital literacy, digital skills and create an awareness on various government schemes that are underway in the new state of Andhra Pradesh.

 

SLOPV Project

  • The Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL) has delivered second Advanced Offshore Patrol Vessel (AOPV) to Sri Lanka Navy.

Advanced-Offshore-Patrol-Vessel-(AOPV)--2018 (1)

  • The SLOPV Project for building two large size ships is one of the most significant defence cooperation between India and Sri Lanka.
  • The project is one of the largest export contracts being executed by India’s state-owned shipbuilder GSL for any friendly country.

 

Tilottama

  • Renowned Indian painter Raja Ravi Varma’s untitled painting of Tilottama was sold for $795,000 (around Rs 5 crore) at Sotheby’s Modern and Contemporary South Asian art auction in New York.
  • Tilottama, as name suggests is painting of celestial nymph (apsara) from Indian mythology depicted partially undressed in red saree, flying to heavens. In the painting, her one hand is raised and other holding together her floating saree.
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