Polity & Governance
- NSCI Safety Awards – 2017
Bilateral & International Relations
- Asia Pacific Regional Workshop of UNCCD
- S. Trade Representative again places India on ‘watch list’
Science & Technology
- NASA’s Hubble captured first image of surviving companion to supernova
- NASA scraps a lunar surface mission
Key Facts for Prelims
- What is Sovereign Credit Rating?
- DAC approves procurement of Nag missile system
- 2017 Saraswati Samman
- 360° Virtual Reality (VR) video on Incredible India
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Polity & Governance
NSCI Safety Awards – 2017
NSCI Safety Awards for the year 2017 were recently awarded.
About the National Safety Awards:
- The NSCI Safety Awards are much coveted national level Awards in the field of occupational safety, health and environment and are given in recognition for effective Safety Management System and excellent safety & health performance by the organizations in Manufacturing, Construction and MSME Sectors during the relevant assessment periods.
- These Awards are adjudged and declared every year by the National Safety Council.
About the National Safety Council:
National Safety Council is a premier, non-profit, self-financing and tripartite apex body at the national level in India.
- It is an autonomous body, which was set up by the Government of India, Ministry of Labour and Employment in 1966 to generate, develop and sustain a voluntary movement on Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) at the national level.
- It was registered as a Society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 and subsequently, as a Public Trust under the Bombay Public Trust Act, 1950.
- To fulfil its objective NSC carries out various activities. These include organising and conducting specialised training courses, conferences, seminars & workshops; conducting consultancy studies such as safety audits, hazard evaluation & risk assessment; designing and developing HSE promotional materials & publications.
Bilateral & International Relations
Asia Pacific Regional Workshop of UNCCD
A four-day Asia Pacific Regional Workshop of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), jointly hosted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and UNCCD Secretariat, to build the capacity of the Asia-Pacific Region to monitor and report on land degradation, was recently held in New Delhi.
About the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification:
- The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is a Convention to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought through national action programs that incorporate long-term strategies supported by international cooperation and partnership arrangements.
- The Convention, the only convention stemming from a direct recommendation of the Rio Conference’s Agenda 21, was adopted in Paris, France in 1994 and entered into force in 1996.
- It is the only internationally legally binding framework set up to address the problem of desertification.
- The Convention is based on the principles of participation, partnership and decentralization—the backbone of Good Governance and Sustainable Development.
- It has 195 parties, making it near universal in reach. In 2013, Canada became the first country to withdraw from the convention.
- To help publicise the Convention, 2006 was declared “International Year of Deserts and Desertification”.
The definition of desertification implies it is degradation that cannot be reversed in a lifetime (around 60 years).[Ref: PIB, The Hindu, Wiki]
U.S. Trade Representative again places India on ‘watch list’
The Office of United States (US) Trade Representative (USTR) has once again placed India on ‘Priority Watch List’ in its annual Special 301 Report on the state of intellectual property protection.
What is Special 301 Report?
- Special 301 Report identifies US trading partners that do not adequately or effectively protect and enforce IP rights or deny market access to its innovators and creators that rely on protection of their IP rights.
- In 2018 Special 301 Report, the USTR has placed 12 countries on its Priority Watch List.
Highlights of the report:
- India continues to remain on the priority watch list for longstanding challenges in its intellectual property framework and lack of sufficient measurable progress. As per the report, the country is also one of the world’s most challenging major economies in the area.
- Other countries on the list are Algeria, Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Indonesia, Kuwait, Russia, Ukraine, and Venezuela.
Why India continues to remain on the priority watch list?
- India remains on the priority watch list this year for longstanding challenges in its IP framework and lack of sufficient measurable improvements, particularly with respect to patents, copyrights, trade secrets, and enforcement, as well as for new issues that have negatively affected US right holders over the past year.
- The longstanding IP challenges facing US businesses in India include those which make it difficult for innovators to receive and maintain patents in India, particularly for pharmaceuticals.
- Among other issues include India’s enforcement action and policies that are insufficient to curb the problem, copyright policies that do not properly incentivise the creation and commercialisation of content, and an outdated and insufficient trade secrets legal framework.
- New and growing concerns, including with respect to reductions in transparency by India’s pharmaceutical regulator through the removal of a requirement that applicants submit information about a product’s patent status, continue to generate skepticism about whether India is serious about pursuing pro-innovation and pro-creativity growth policies.
Science & Technology
NASA’s Hubble captured first image of surviving companion to supernova
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has captured the first image of a surviving companion to a supernova, a compelling evidence that some supernovas originate in double-star systems.
- Seventeen years ago, astronomers had witnessed a supernova go off 40 million light-years away in the galaxy called NGC 7424, located in the southern constellation Grus, the Crane.
- The image of the companion star was seen in the fading afterglow of that supernova, called SN 2001ig.
- SN 2001ig is categorised as a Type IIb stripped-envelope supernova. This type of supernova is unusual because most, but not all, of the hydrogen is gone prior to the explosion.
About the Hubble Space Telescope:
- The Hubble Space Telescope is a large telescope in space. NASA launched Hubble in 1990.
- It was built by the United States space agency NASA, with contributions from the European Space Agency.
- Hubble is the only telescope designed to be serviced in space by astronauts.
- Expanding the frontiers of the visible Universe, the Hubble Space Telescope looks deep into space with cameras that can see across the entire optical spectrum from infrared to ultraviolet.
NASA scraps a lunar surface mission
NASA has cancelled Resource Prospector Mission, a mission to assay the resources that may be available to humans on the moon.
About the Resource Prospector Mission:
- The Resource Prospector mission would have sent a rover to the moon’s polar regions to learn about water and other deposits on and just beneath the lunar surface.
- The Resource Prospector mission consisted of a lander and a solar-powered rover equipped with a drill. The rover would have scouted the lunar surface, digging up soil for analysis.
Significance of the mission:
- Scientists know that water ice exists on the moon, but the Resource Prospector would have provided scientists with a more complete understanding of these deposits.
- Such knowledge is crucial in expanding a human presence on the moon. Lunar ice can potentially be melted and split into oxygen and hydrogen, providing a local source of water, oxygen and rocket propellant.
- Not only would this help make human activities more self-sustaining, but it would also dramatically reduce launch costs, because much of these vital resources could be produced on site.
Key Facts for Prelims
What is Sovereign Credit Rating?
- A sovereign credit rating is credit rating of country or sovereign entity.
- It gives investors insight into level of risk associated with investing in particular country, including its political risk.
- At request of country, credit rating agency evaluates country’s economic and political environment to determine representative credit rating.
- Obtaining good sovereign credit rating is usually essential for developing countries in order to access funding in international bond markets.
- Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s (S&P) are big three international credit rating agencies controlling approximately 95% of global ratings business
DAC approves procurement of Nag missile system
- In a boost to indigenisation and in realisation of India’s growing technological prowess, the DAC has approved procurement of Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO’s) designed and developed NAG Missile System (NAMIS) at the cost of Rs 524 crore.
- The NAG missile is a third generation anti-tank guided missile, which has top attack capabilities that can effectively engage and destroy all known enemy tanks during day and night.
- The system includes a third generation Anti-Tank Guided Missile, the NAG, along with the Missile Carrier Vehicle (NAMICA).
2017 Saraswati Samman
- Gujarati poet, playwright and academic Sitanshu Yashaschandra has been selected for the 2017 Saraswati Samman for his collection of verses titled Vakhar.
About the Saraswati Samman award:
- Saraswati Samman is the annual award given to an outstanding literary work in any Indian language mentioned in Schedule VIII of the Constitution and published in 10 years preceding the specified award year.
- It is the highest recognition in the field of Indian literature in the country and carries a citation, a plaque and award money of ₹15 lakh.
- The award, now in its 27th year, is presented by the KK Birla Foundation, a literary and cultural organisation that also gives the Vyas Samman for Hindi, and Bihari Puraskar for Hindi and Rajasthani writers of Rajasthan.
- Harivansh Rai Bachchan was first recipient of this award for his autobiography published Dashdwar Se Sopan Tak written in four volumes.
360° Virtual Reality (VR) video on Incredible India
- Google Arts & Culture in partnership with Ministry of Tourism has unveiled 360-degree virtual reality (VR) video for global ‘Incredible India’ tourism campaign.
- As part of it, Google Arts & Culture will provide users with immersive 360-degree view of India’s heritage, festivity, spirituality and adventure.