Polity & Governance
- World Press Freedom Index: India down two ranks to 138
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- New frog species takes historical name of Goa
Science & Technology
- Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Service (INCOIS)
- Gaia creates richest star map of our Galaxy – and beyond
Key Facts for Prelims
- Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP)
- World Immunization Week
- BIS grants first license for Liquid Chlorine on All India Basis
- Seed import-export portal
- CSIR wins National Intellectual Property (IP) Award 2018
- First woman lawyer to sworn in as Supreme Court judge
- Cabinet approves Long Term Agreements for supply of iron ore
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Polity & Governance
World Press Freedom Index: India down two ranks to 138
In recently released World Press Freedom Index (WPFI) 2018 by Reporters Without Borders, India was placed at 138th rank out of 180 nations surveyed worldwide in terms of press freedom in 2017. It was ranked at the 135th in WPFI 2017.
- Published every year since 2002 by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the World Press Freedom Index is an important advocacy tool based on the principle of emulation between states.
About World Press Freedom Index (WPFI):
WPFI is produced by France-based international non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders (RWB), or Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF).
- It ranks performance of countries according to index calculated based upon various parameters.
- These parameters include media pluralism and independence, respect for the safety and freedom of journalists, and the legislative, institutional and infrastructural environment in which the media operate.
- WPFI aims to promotes and defends freedom of information and freedom of the press.
- It does not rank public policies even if governments obviously have a major impact on their country’s ranking. Nor is it an indicator of the quality of journalism in each country.
Press freedom map:
- The press freedom map, which is distributed in print and digital versions, offers a visual overview of the sitution in each country in the Index.
- The colour categories are assigned as follows: good (white), fairly good (yellow), problematic (yellow), bad (red) and very bad (black).
Highlights of the Press Freedom Index 2018:
- In this year’s index, Norway is first for the second year running, followed — as it was last year — by Sweden.
- North Korea continues to rank last.
- India has dropped from rank 136 last year to rank 138 this year. India fared poorly on indicators such as hate speeches, attacks on journalists on social media, trolling them and targeting their reputation.
- Afghanistan (118), Bhutan (94), Nepal (106), the Maldives (120), and Sri Lanka (131), all performed better than India; with Pakistan (139) and Bangladesh (146) performing worse.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
New frog species takes historical name of Goa
Scientists have identified a new species of frog called Fejervarya goemchi in the highland plateaus of the Western Ghats parts of Goa.
- The new species is named after the historical name of the state of Goa.
About Fejervarya goemchi:
- Fejervarya goemchi are large-sized terrestrial frogs.
- They sit next to water bodies making calls to attract females for mating and breeding.
- Though most of these frogs are terrestrial, they need water bodies to survive.
- The new species was found in high elevation areas of laterite plateaus, temporary water bodies and paddy fields of Goa.
Science & Technology
Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Service (INCOIS)
In Kerala, the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) is planning to provide real-time information on the market price of fishes and allied news through the GPS-enabled GEO Augmented Navigation (GAGAN).
GAGAN was develped by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) at a cost of Rs. 774 crore, over 15 years.
- GAGAN will provide augmentation service for the GPS over the country, the Bay of Bengal, South East Asia and Middle East and up to Africa.
- Some of its benefits are improved efficiency, direct routes, increased fuel savings, approach with vertical guidance at runways, significant cost savings because of the withdrawal of ground aids and reduced workload of flight crew and air traffic controllers.
- Gagan works by augmenting and relaying data from GPS satellites with the help of two augmentation satellites and 15 earth-based reference stations.
- The system utilises the satellite-based wide area augmentation system (SBAS) technology which has been developed by Raytheon.
Significance of the system:
India is the fourth country to offer space-based satellite navigation services to the aviation sector.
- The system bridges the gap in the coverage areas of the European Union’s European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) and Japan’s Multi-functional Satellite Augmentation System (MSAS).
- The system would be available for the member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
- It is intended to serve as a low-cost substitute for instrument landing system (ILS) and provide very accurate route guidance for the aircraft to save time and fuel.
- The guided approach landing with the help of GAGAN would immediately benefit nearly 50 airports in India.
About Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS)
- INCOIS is an autonomous organization of the Union Government, under the Ministry of Earth Sciences is a unit of the Earth System Science Organization (ESSO).
- It was established in 1999 and is headquartered in Pragathi Nagar, Hyderabad.
- Its mandated is to provide the best possible ocean information and advisory services to government agencies, society, industry and the scientific community through sustained ocean observations and constant improvements through systematic and focussed research.
Gaia creates richest star map of our Galaxy – and beyond
ESA’s Gaia mission has produced the richest star catalogue to date, including high-precision measurements of nearly 1.7 billion stars and revealing previously unseen details of our home Galaxy.
- Preliminary analysis of this phenomenal data reveals fine details about the make-up of the Milky Way’s stellar population and about how stars move, essential information for investigating the formation and evolution of our Galaxy.
Gaia is an ambitious mission to chart a three-dimensional map of our Galaxy, the Milky Way, in the process revealing the composition, formation and evolution of the Galaxy.
- The mission relies on a huge human collaboration to make sense of a large volume of highly complex data.
- It demonstrates the need for long-term projects to guarantee progress in space science and technology and to implement even more daring scientific missions of the coming decades.
- Launched on December 19, 2013, the Gaia satellite both rotates and orbits around the Earth, while surveying the sky with its two telescopes.
- Gaia will provide unprecedented positional and radial velocity measurements with the accuracies needed to produce a stereoscopic and kinematic census of about one billion stars in our Galaxy and throughout the Local Group. This amounts to about 1 per cent of the Galactic stellar population.
Key Facts for Prelims
Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP)
- The Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) – endorsed by 194 Member States of the World Health Assembly in May 2012 – aims to prevent millions of deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases by 2020 through universal access to immunization.
- Despite improvements in individual countries and a strong global rate of new vaccine introduction, all of the GVAP targets for disease elimination—including measles, rubella, and maternal and neonatal tetanus—are behind schedule.
World Immunization Week
- World Immunization Week is celebrated from 24th- 30th of April by the World Health Organization (WHO) in order to increase awareness about vaccination.
- Theme: “Protected together, #VaccinesWork”.
- It aims to highlight the collective action needed to ensure that every person is protected from vaccine- preventable diseases.
BIS grants first license for Liquid Chlorine on All India Basis
- Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) granted First Licence to M/s Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals Ltd for Liquid Chlorine on All India basis.
- This is the First Licence granted on All India basis.
- License for Liquid Chlorine will facilitate industry to get a quality product with Standard Mark under BIS Certification Marks scheme.
About Liquid Chlorine:
- The product is in liquid form and stored in metal containers.
- It is usually used as a gas obtained by evaporating the liquid from the metal container.
- It is used mainly in paper, pulp, textile bleaching, water sterilization and manufacture of chemicals.
Seed import-export portal
- The Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has launched seed import-export portal to facilitate export-import of seeds and planting material.
- It has been developed for making trade process easy.
- The ministry has removed all prohibitions imposed on export of seeds of different varieties to encourage export of seeds.
- It also has made import export policy flexible and transparent for ascertaining availability of high quality seeds to farmers found out everywhere in world.
- The import export of seeds and planting material is controlled under Import Export Policy 2002-2007.
CSIR wins National Intellectual Property (IP) Award 2018
- The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was awarded National Intellectual Property (IP) Award 2018 in category “Top R&D Institution/Organization for Patents and Commercialization”.
- The National IP Award is awarded annually by Indian Intellectual Property Office (under Ministry of Commerce and Industry) in various categories on outstanding innovators, organizations and companies in fields of patents, designs, trademarks and geographical indications on the occasion of World IP Day (26 April).
First woman lawyer to sworn in as Supreme Court judge
- Senior lawyer Indu Malhotra will be the first woman lawyer to be directly appointed as a Supreme Court judge.
- Of the top court’s 24 judges, only one is a woman, Justice R Banumathi. She was elevated to the top court in August 2014.
- Justice Banumathi was the sixth woman to become a Supreme Court judge.
- Justice Fathima Beevi was the first in 1989.
Cabinet approves Long Term Agreements for supply of iron ore
- Union Cabinet has approved renewal of long-term agreements (LTAs) for export of iron ore of grade +64% Fe content to Japan and South Korea for another five years (2018 to 2023) through state-owned trading firm MMTC.
- India has been exporting iron ore to Japan for almost past six decades and it has been consistent component of India’s bilateral relations with Japan.