Polity & Governance
- Lok Sabha takes up all 20 starred questions
Issues related to Health & Education
- India has 96 universities ranked in QS World University Rankings: Asia 2020
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Production of CNG from Stubble
- New U.N. climate report offers ‘bleak’ emissions forecast
- Cabinet approves India’s stand at upcoming UN COP 25 on climate change
- New snake species found in Arunachal
Bilateral & International Relations
- Why Russia faces international sports ban, including Tokyo Olympics
Defence & Security Issues
- India to carry out four military exercises, including with Russia, China, next month
Science & Technology
- A rulebook, bill of rights and ‘Contract’ for the World Wide Web
Key Facts for Prelims
- Exercise Mitra Shakti-VII: 2019
- Minister of Road Transport inaugurates NuGen Mobility Summit-2019
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Polity & Governance
Lok Sabha takes up all 20 starred questions
As many as 20 starred questions were taken up during Question Hour in the Lok Sabha recently, a record since 1972.
Question hour in the Parliament
- Question Hour is the first hour of a sitting session in parliamentary proceedings devoted to questions that raise about any aspect of administrative activity.
- It is a feature of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
- During question hour, the members ask questions and the ministers usually give answers.
Types of questions asked during question hour
- Starred question: It is distinguished by an asterisk mark, which requires an oral answer so that the supplementary questions can follow.
- Unstarred question: It requires a written answer and hence, supplementary questions cannot follow. It is deemed to be laid on the Table of the House by Minister.
- Short notice question: It is asked by giving a notice of less than 10 days and it is answered orally. A member may give a notice of question on a matter of public importance and of urgent character.
- Questions to Private Members: The questions can also be asked to the private member (Under Rule 40 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha) if the subject matter of the question relates to some Bill, resolution or other matter connected with the business of the House for which that member is responsible.
The list of starred, unstarred, short notice questions and questions to private members are printed in green, white, light pink and yellow colour, respectively, to distinguish them from one another.[Ref: Indian Express]
Issues related to Health & Education
India has 96 universities ranked in QS World University Rankings: Asia 2020
India has 96 universities ranked, including 20 brand new entries in the QS World University Rankings: Asia 2020.
Highlights of the QS World University Rankings: Asia 2020
Top 3 institute in Asia
- National University of Singapore
- Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
- University of Hong Kong
Top 3 institute in India
- Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay (34th place)
- IIT Delhi (43rd place)
- IIT Madras (50th place)
- India ranked 1st in Staff with PhD indicator with seven institutions achieving the perfect 100.00 score.
- In the Employer Reputation indicator, which utilises the insights of employers regarding the quality of a university’s graduates, IITB ranks 21st in Asia. There are other four local universities among the top 50 (IITD, IITM, University of Delhi and IIT Kharagpur.
- In the research indicators, India has five universities among the top 50 in the Citations per Paper metric, and six among the top 50 in the Papers per Faculty metric.
About QS World University Rankings:
- The QS World University Rankings is launched by a global higher education company named QS (Quacquarelli Symonds).
- Launched in 2004, World University Rankings is an annual publicationof university rankings which comprises the global overall and subject rankings (in 48 different subjects and five composite faculty areas).
- QS also produces: Graduate Employability Rankings, Best Student Cities, Higher Education System Strength Rankings, Rankings by Location and other Business School Rankings.
Indicators used for QS Ranking
- Academic Reputation, Employer Reputation, Faculty/Student Ratio, Citations per faculty, Citations per paper, Proportion of staff with a PhD, International Faculty Ratio, International Student Ratio, Papers per faculty, International Research Network and Outbound (and Inbound) Exchange
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Production of CNG from Stubble
As part of the SATAT scheme, several PSUs Including Indian Oil Corporation Limited, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited had launched an Expression of Interest (EOI) for procurement of CBG from the entrepreneurs at an assured price.
About Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT)
- Launched 2018, SATAT is aimed at promoting Compressed Bio-Gas (CBG) as an alternative, green transport fuel for efficient management of biomass and organic waste.
- Similar to LNG, the CBG produced under SDATAT can be sold to automobiles as clean fuel, and to domestic, industrial and commercial consumers which are using LPG and other fuels.
- Bio-gas is produced naturally through a process of anaerobic decomposition from waste/ bio-mass sources like agriculture residue, cattle dung, sugarcane press mud, municipal solid waste, sewage treatment plant waste, etc.
- After purification, it is compressed and called CBG, which has pure methane content of over 95%.
- Compressed Bio-Gas is exactly similar to the commercially available natural gas in its composition and energy potential.
- With calorific value (~52,000 KJ/kg) and other properties similar to CNG, Compressed Bio-Gas can be used as an alternative, renewable automotive fuel.
Benefits of CBG on a commercial scale
- Responsible waste management, reduction in carbon emissions and pollution
- Additional revenue source for farmers
- Boost to entrepreneurship, rural economy and employment
- Support to national commitments in achieving climate change goals
- Reduction in import of natural gas and crude oil
- Buffer against crude oil/gas price fluctuations
- The Government of India had launched the GOBAR-DHAN (Galvanising Organic Bio-Agro Resources) scheme in 2018 to convert cattle dung and solid waste in farms to CBG and compost.
- It is funded under Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) component of Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin (SBM-G) to benefit households in identified villages. The scheme proposes to cover 700 projects across India in 2018-19.
Compressed Bio-Gas networks can be integrated with city gas distribution (CGD) networks to boost supplies to domestic and retail users in existing and upcoming markets. Besides retailing from OMC (oil marketing company) fuel stations, Compressed Bio-Gas can at a later date be injected into CGD pipelines too for efficient distribution and optimised access of a cleaner and more affordable fuel.
New U.N. climate report offers ‘bleak’ emissions forecast
The 10th Emissions Gap Report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) warned that there’s “no sign” greenhouse gases will hit their zenith anytime soon.
What is Emissions Gap?
- The Emissions Gap, also called Commitment Gap, measures the gap between what is need to be done and what is actually been done to tackle climate change.
- The gap is the difference between the low level of emissions that the world needs to drop to, compared with the projected level of emissions based on countries’ current commitments to decarbonization.
Highlights of 10th Emissions Gap Report
- The world’s emissions have been increasing by about 5% per year for the past decade. That would lead to temperature increases of nearly 4°C by 2100.
- Emissions levels reached 55 GtCO2 in 2018. By 2030, it will rise to double the volumes consistent with limiting temperature increases to 1.5°C.
- To stop temperatures from rising more than 1.5°C, the world needs to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 32 GtCO2e by 2030.
- Efforts to reduce CO2 emissions would have to increase five-fold to reach the 1.5 degrees C target.
- China’s per capita emissions are rising to levels experienced by developed economies. China is still the world’s largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions, with annual emissions now almost double of US, the second greatest source.
- The rankings would change if land-use change emissions were included, with Brazil likely to be the largest emitter.
The report names five key areas for closing emission gap
- At least $1.59 billion annual investment in renewables and more efficient energy use
- Coal phaseout
- Decarbonization of transport
- Decarbonization of industry
- Increased access to electricity for 3.5 billion people
- Some environmental economists have called for a tax on CO2 emissions to incentivize companies to produce energy more sustainably. However, it was unsuccessful.
- One strategy for closing the emissions gap would see renewable sources make up 85% of the world’s electricity mix by 2050.
- The number of countries and cities setting goals to go carbon-neutral has risen since September 2018 from just a handful to about 65. The European Union, for example, aims to be carbon neutral by 2050. Individual countries including Germany, the UK and France have also set zero-emissions goals.
Suggestions for India
- Plan the transition from coal-fired power plants
- Develop an economy-wide green industrialization strategy towards zero-emission technologies
- Expand mass public transit systems
- Develop domestic electric vehicle targets working towards 100 per cent new sales of zero-emission cars
About the Emissions Gap Report
- It is annually published by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It examines the progress of countries to close the gap via their commitments to emissions reduction.
The Report measures three key trend lines:
- The amount of greenhouse gas emissions every year up to 2030
- The commitments countries are making to reduce their emissions and the impact these commitments are likely to have on overall emission reduction
- The pace at which emissions must be reduced to reach an emission low that would limit temperature increase to 1.5 C, affordably
- The top four emitters (China, USA, EU and India) contribute to over 55% of the total emissions over the last decade.
- India’s global emissions was 5.5% in 2018.
- G20 nations collectively account for 78 % of all emissions. Emissions per capita of India is one of the lowest within the G20.
Cabinet approves India’s stand at upcoming UN COP 25 on climate change
The Cabinet has approved India’s negotiating stand at the upcoming 25th Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The meeting is scheduled to be held in Madrid, Spain (under the Presidency of Chile) from December 2 to 13.
What will be India’s stand at UN COP 25?
- India’s approach will be guided by principles of UNFCCC and Paris Agreement, particularly the principles of Equity and Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capability (CBDR-RC).
- India will stress upon the need for fulfilling pre-2020 commitments by developed countries and that pre-2020 implementation gaps should not present an additional burden to developing countries in the post-2020 period.
- India has emphasised that developed countries should take a lead in fulfilling their climate finance commitments of mobilising $100 billion per annum by 2020.
What is Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR–RC)?
- CBDR–RC principle was adopted at United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, 1992.
- CBDR-RC refers to the different capabilities and differing responsibilities of individual countries in addressing climate change.
- The principle of CBDR–RC is enshrined in the 1992 UNFCCC treaty. Reflecting CBDR-RC, the Convention divided countries into ‘Annex I’ and ‘non-Annex I’. The Annex I refers to developed countries and non-Annex I refers to developing countries. Under the Convention, Annex I countries have a greater mitigation role than non-Annex-I countries.
- CBDR-RC and the annex classifications were codified in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, and Annex I country emissions reductions were legally bound.
New snake species found in Arunachal
Researchers have discovered a new species of non-venomous snake in Arunachal Pradesh, named Trachischium apteii. Experts behind the discovery suggested that due to the burrowing habits of species of this genus, snakes belonging to the group are seldom seen and hence remain poorly studied.
About the newly found Trachischium apteii snake
- It was found from the Tally Valley Wildlife Sanctuary near the town of Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh in July 2019.
- Trachischium apteii was named so to honour the contribution of Deepak Apte, well-known marine biologist.
- Trachischium species are commonly called slender snakes, and are currently known by seven species that are distributed across the Himalayas, and the Indo-Burma and Indo-China regions.
How snake is distinguished Morphologically?
- The snake is distinguished by smooth and dorsal scales arranged in 15 rows throughout the body.
Bilateral & International Relations
Why Russia faces international sports ban, including Tokyo Olympics
A World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) panel has suggested that Russia be banned for four years from competing in international events, including next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
- The move stems from new revelations in a doping programme that Russia has been accused of.
- WADA found evidence of state-sponsored doping during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics held at Russia. It confirmed that Russia developed a system that allowed the Moscow-based doping laboratory to change the doping test results and tamper with the samples collected during that event.
- As a result, the accreditation of Russia’s anti-doping lab was suspended in 2015. Russia was also banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. However, in 2018 WADA lifted restrictions.
- Recently, WADA recommended that Russia face a four-year ban from global sports, including the Tokyo Olympics.
What is Doping?
Doping is defined by WADA as the occurrence of one or more of the following anti-doping rule violations mentioned in the WADA Code.
- Presence of a prohibited substance or its metabolites or markers in an athlete’s sample.
- Use of a prohibited substance/method.
- Refusing to submit to sample collection after being notified.
- Failure to provide whereabouts information or being unavailable for doping control.
- Tampering with any part of the doping control process.
- Administering to administer a prohibited substance/method to an athlete.
- Prohibited Association
Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE)
- Athletes may have illnesses or conditions that require them to take a particular medication or undergo certain procedures.
- In such instances, they may be granted a TUE, which gives them permission to take a substance or use a method. The TUE enables the Athlete to take the necessary medication while competing in sport Events, without resulting in a doping offence.
Prohibited Substances and Methods
- The World Anti-Doping Agency annually updates the List of Prohibited Substances and Methods. The list is the International Standarddefining what is prohibited in-competition and out-of-competition.
- The list also indicates whetherparticular substances are banned in particular sports.
- Anabolic agents
- Peptide Hormones, Growth Factors, Related Substances, and Mimetics
- Beta-2 Agonists
- Hormone and Metabolic Modulators
- Diuretics and Masking Agents
- Manipulation of Blood and Blood Components
- Chemical and Physical Manipulation
- Gene and Cell Doping
About World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)
- WADA was established in 1999 as an international independent agency.
- The First World Conference on Doping in Sport held, in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1999, produced the Lausanne Declaration on Doping in Sport.
- Pursuant to the terms of the Lausanne Declaration, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was established in 1999.
- WADA was set up as a foundation under the initiative of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
About the International Olympic Committee (IOC)
- The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is a not-for-profit independent international organisation.
- It was created in 1894 before two years of the first Olympic Games of the modern era in 1896.
- The IOC is the supreme authority of the Olympic Movement.
- The three main constituents of the Olympic Movement are the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Sports Federations (IFs) and the National Olympic Committees (NOCs).
Functions of IOC
- IOC acts as a catalyst for collaboration between all parties of the Olympic family, from the NOCs, the IFs, the athletes, Worldwide Olympic Partners, broadcast partners and United Nations (UN) agencies.
- On this basis, it ensures the regular celebration of the Olympic Games and supports all affiliated member organisations of the Olympic Movement.
Defence & Security Issues
India to carry out four military exercises, including with Russia, China, next month
India will carry out major military exercises with several countries, including Russia and China, in different frontiers next month.
Future military exercise of India
‘Indra’ tri-services with Russia
- The first Indra tri-services exercise with Russia was held in October 2017 at Vladivostok in eastern Russia, which was the first international tri-service exercise India held with any foreign country.
‘Hand in Hand’ with China
- Indian Army will carry out the ‘Hand in Hand’ with China’s at Umroi, Meghalaya in December. It is at the company level (having 100-120 infantry troops).
- The Hand in Hand comes in the backdrop of the Him Vijay exercise held in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh in October 2019.
‘Mitra Shakti’ with Sri Lanka
- The 7th edition of Mitra Shakti will be held in Pune in December. It is aimed at building better relations, focussing on training for counter insurgency and counter terrorism operations in urban and rural environment.
‘Surya Kiran’ with Nepal
- A company level exercise with Nepal to be conducted in December.
Science & Technology
A rulebook, bill of rights and ‘Contract’ for the World Wide Web
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, has announced a “Contract for the Web” — aimed at saving the future of his invention, which is now almost an essential condition for human existence.
What is the Contract for the Web?
- Contract for the Web aims to create a global plan of action for all stakeholders to commit to building a “better” Web.
- The Contract consists of nine principles: three each for governments, private companies, and individuals and civil society to endorse.
- It has been created by representatives from over 80 organisations, including governments, companies, civil society activists, and academics.
Key principles of Contract
- Ensure everyone can connect to the Internet
- Keep all of the Internet available, all of the time
- Respect and protect people’s fundamental online privacy and data rights
- Make the Internet affordable and accessible to everyone
- Respect and protect people’s privacy and personal data to build online trust
- Develop technologies that support the best in humanity and challenge the worst
- Be creators and collaborators on the Web
- Build strong communities that respect civil discourse and human dignity
- Fight for the Web so that it remains open and a global public resource for people everywhere, now and in the future
Key Facts for Prelims
Exercise Mitra Shakti-VII: 2019
The 7th edition of India-Sri Lanka joint training exercise, Exercise MITRA SHAKTI– 2019 is scheduled to be conducted at Foreign Training Node (FTN), Pune. The sixth edition of the exercise was held in Sri Lanka.
About Mitra Shakti exercise
- The aim of this exercise is to build positive relations between armies of India and Sri Lanka with focus on sub unit level training for counter insurgency & counter terrorism operations in urban and rural environment under United Nations mandate.
Minister of Road Transport inaugurates NuGen Mobility Summit-2019
Minister of Road Transport inaugurated NuGen Mobility Summit-2019 at International Center of Automotive Technology (ICAT), Manesar in Haryana.
About ICAT Manesar
- International Centre for Automotive Technology (ICAT) Manesar is a division of NATRIP Implementation Society (NATIS) under the Department of Heavy Industries, India.
- It provides services for testing, validation, design and homologation of all categories of vehicles. It assists the automotive industry in adopting cutting edge technologies in vehicle evaluation and component development.
About National Automotive Testing and R&D Infrastructure Project (NATRiP):
- NATRiP aims at creating core global competencies in Automotive sector in India.
- It facilitates seamless integration of Indian Automotive industry with the world as also to position the country prominently on the global automotive map.