Polity & Governance
- Police, Central cadre under J&K Lieutenant Governor
Issues related to Health & Education
- Africa declared free of wild polio
- Togo first in Africa to end sleeping sickness
- States can apply to UGC for extension of exam deadline: SC
- UN’s guidelines on access to social justice for people with disabilities
- Delhi prisons most packed in the country
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Butterflies are migrating early in Southern India
- World’s Largest Wetland is on fire
Bilateral & International Relations
- EU urges Turkey to stop Mediterranean drilling
Art & Culture
- Channapatna Toys
Key Facts for Prelims
- National Sports Day
- 2020 Online Chess Olympiad
- African baobab
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Polity & Governance
Police, Central cadre under J&K Lieutenant Governor
The Ministry of Home Affairs notified new rules for administration in the UT Jammu and Kashmir that specifies the functions of Lieutenant Governor (LG) and the Council of Ministers (CoM).
What are the new rules?
- Police, public order, All India Services and Anti-corruption will fall under the executive functions of the LG.
- The Chief Minister or the CoM will have no say in their functioning.
- The matters which affect peace and tranquility of the UT or the interest of any minority community, the SCs, the STs and the Backward Classes shall essentially be submitted to the LG.
- This will be done through the Chief Secretary, under intimation to the CM, before issuing any orders.
- The CoM, led by CM will decide service matters of non-All India Services officers, proposal to impose new tax, land revenue, sale grant or lease of government property, reconstituting departments or offices and draft legislations.
- Any matter, likely to bring govt. of the UT into a controversy with Centre or a State govt., shall be brought to the notice of the LG and CM by the secretary concerned through Chief Secretary.
Difference of opinion:
- In case of difference of opinion between the LG and a Minister when no agreement could be reached even after a month, the decision of the LG shall be deemed to have been accepted by the CoM.
- As per the rules, there will be 39 departments in the UT such as school education, agriculture, higher education, horticulture, election, general administration, home, mining, power, Public Works Department, tribal affairs and transport etc.
Issues related to Health & Education
Africa declared free of wild polio
Nigeria is the last African country that has declared free from wild polio.
- Africa has been declared free of the last remaining strain of wild poliovirus and only the vaccine-derived polio virus remains in Africa.
What is polio?
- Polio (or poliomyelitis) is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system.
- Children younger than 5 years old are more likely to contract the virus than any other group.
- Polio is transmitted through contaminated water or food, or contact with an infected person.
- There are three variants of the polio virus, numbered 1 to 3.
- For a country to be declared polio-free, wild transmission of all three kinds has to be stopped.
- For eradication, cases of both wild and vaccine-derived polio infection to be reduced to zero.
- Wild Polio virus is still persistent in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
What is vaccine-derived polio?
- Oral polio vaccine (OPV) contains an attenuated (weakened) vaccine-virus, activating an immune response in the body.
- When a child is immunized with OPV, the weakened vaccine-virus replicates in the intestine for a limited period, thereby developing immunity by building up antibodies.
- In very rare instances, the vaccine-virus can genetically change into a form that behaves more like the wild or naturally occurring virus.
- This means it can be spread more easily to people who are unvaccinated against polio and who come in contact with it and hence can paralyse humans– this is what is known as a circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV).
- India had launched the Pulse Polio immunisation programme in 1995, after a resolution for a global initiative of polio eradication was adopted by the World Health Assembly (WHA) in 1988.
- The last case due to wild poliovirus in the country was detected on January 13, 2011.
- The WHO on February 24, 2012, removed India from the list of countries with active endemic wild polio virus transmission.
- In January 2014, India was declared polio-free after three years on zero cases, an achievement that is widely believed to have been spurred by the successful pulse polio campaign.
- Inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), also called the Salk vaccine, consists of inactivated (killed) poliovirus strains of all three poliovirus types.
- IPV is given by intramuscular or intradermal injection and needs to be administered by a trained health worker.
- IPV produces antibodies in the blood to all three types of poliovirus.
- In the event of infection, these antibodies prevent the spread of the virus to the central nervous system and protect against paralysis.
- In early 2016, India became the first country globally to introduce fractional doses of IPV in childhood immunisation programme in eight states and Union territories.
WHO initiative for Polio Eradication:
- In 1988, the Forty-first World Health Assembly adopted a resolution for the worldwide eradication of polio.
- It marked the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), spearheaded by national governments.
Togo first in Africa to end sleeping sickness
Togo has become the first country in Africa to eliminate sleeping sickness or African Trypanosomiasis.
- According to the WHO, sleeping sickness is currently found in 36 sub-Saharan African countries.
- A disease caused by infection with the protozoa Trypanosoma brucei.
- African trypanosomiasis is transmitted to humans by bites of tsetse fly (found only in rural Africa).
- Early symptoms include fever, headaches, joint pains and itching.
- Later stages may include behavioural changes, confusion and poor coordination.
- Treatment involves drugs to kill the parasites.
States can apply to UGC for extension of exam deadline: SC
The Supreme Court ruled that the State and University cannot promote the students in the final year/terminal semester without holding final year/terminal examination.
- States are empowered under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 to override University Grants Commission exam guidelines in order to protect human lives amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
- In case of a disaster, the priority of all authorities under the DMA is to immediately combat the disaster and contain it to save human life.
- However, the State Governments or State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) under Disaster Management Act, 2005 has no jurisdiction to take a decision that the students of final year/terminal students should be promoted on the basis of earlier year assessment and internal assessment.
University Grants Commission:
- UGC of India is a statutory body set up by the UGC Act 1956 under the Ministry of Education. (Formerly Ministry of Human Resource Development).
- It is charged with coordination of standards of higher education.
- Headquarters: New Delhi.
- UGC has set up a Consortium for Academic and Research Ethics (UGC-CARE) to continuously monitor and identify quality journals across disciplines.
Functions of UGC:
The three primary functions of UGC include:
- Overseeing distribution of grants to universities and colleges in India,
- Providing scholarships and fellowships to beneficiaries and
- Monitoring conformity to its regulations by universities and colleges.
UN’s guidelines on access to social justice for people with disabilities
The United Nations has released its first-ever guidelines on access to social justice for people with disabilities.
- To make it easier for persons with disabilities (PwDs) to access justice systems around the world.
- Principle 1: All PwDs have legal capacity and no one shall be denied access to justice on the basis of disability.
- Principle 2: Facilities and services must be universally accessible to ensure equal access to justice without discrimination of PwDs.
- Principle 3: PwDs including children with disabilities, have the right to appropriate procedural accommodations.
- Principle 4: PwDs have the right to access legal notices and information in a timely and accessible manner on an equal basis with others.
- Principle 5: PwDs are entitled to all substantive and procedural safeguards recognized in international law on an equal basis with others, and States must provide necessary accommodations to guarantee due process.
- Principle 6: PwDs have right to free or affordable legal assistance.
- Principle 7: PwDs have the right to participate in administration of justice on an equal basis with others.
- Principle 8: PwDs have rights to report complaints and initiate legal proceedings concerning human rights violations and crimes, have their complaints investigated and be afforded effective remedies.
- Principle 9: Effective and robust monitoring mechanisms play a critical role in supporting access to justice for PwDs.
- Principle 10: All those working in the justice system must be provided with awareness-raising and training programmes addressing the rights of PwDs.
Definition of a person with a disability (PwD):
As per the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (adopted in 2007):
- Persons with disabilities are those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.
Discrimination on the basis of disability:
- Any distinction, exclusion or restriction on the basis of disability for impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise of all human rights and fundamental freedoms in political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.
- It includes all forms of discrimination, including denial of reasonable accommodation.
[Ref: Indian Express]
Delhi prisons most packed in the country
As per National Crime Records Bureau Delhi’s prisons are the most crowded and violent in the country.
- Delhi was on top of the chart with the highest prisoner occupancy in the country at 174.9%.
- It housed 7,508 more prisoners than its given capacity of 10,026.
- Rajasthan has the highest number of prisons for women (7) but Delhi has the highest number of women inmates.
- Delhi prisons spent the highest on food and medical care — Rs 18,620 spent per prisoner on food and Rs 9,684 on medical care in 2019-20.
- Uttar Pradesh was on top with a total expenditure of Rs 349.55 crores and Delhi at second place with Rs 310.02 crore on prison inmates in 2019-2020.
National Crime Records Bureau:
- NCRB is an Indian government agency responsible for collecting and analyzing crime data as defined by the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Special and Local Laws (SLL).
- NCRB is headquartered in New Delhi and is part of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India.
- NCRB was set-up in 1986 to function as a repository of information on crime and criminals so as to assist the investigators in linking crime to the perpetrators.
- To empower Indian Police with Information Technology and criminal Intelligence to enable them to uphold law and protect people.
- To provide leadership and excellence in crime analysis particularly for serious and organized crime.
- Create and maintain secure sharable National Databases on crimes and criminals for law enforcement agencies and promote their use for public service delivery.
- Collect and process crime statistics at the national level and clearing house of information on crime and criminals both at National and International levels.
- Lead and coordinate development of IT applications and create an enabling IT environment for Police organizations.
- National repository of fingerprints of all criminals.
- To evaluate, modernize and promote automation in State Crime Records Bureau and State Finger Print Bureau.
- Training and capacity building in Police Forces in Information Technology and Finger Print Science.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Butterflies are migrating early in Southern India
The annual migration of butterflies from the hill ranges of Eastern Ghats towards Western Ghats is an early phenomenon this year (2020).
- The change in rainfall pattern (good rains), considerable increase in number of sunny days, favourable conditions on feeding ground may be the major reasons for the earlier migration.
- Usually, butterfly migration in south India begins in October-November, with the onset of the northeast monsoon, and in April-June, just before the arrival of the southwest monsoon.
- The southwest monsoon is the season for the breeding of butterflies in the plains of south India, after which they migrate.
Southwest (summer) monsoon:
- Southwest summer monsoon is the main monsoon season (June-September), which brings widespread rain across the country.
- South West monsoon is the rain bearing seasonal winds that flow from Arabian Sea to the main land of India from the South-West direction.
- The southwest monsoon brings most of the rainfall in the country – approximately 75% of India’s annual rainfall.
Northeast (winter) monsoon:
- The India Meteorological Department (IMD) recognises October to December as the time for the northeast monsoon.
- Northeast monsoon is as permanent feature of the Indian subcontinent’s climate system as the summer monsoon.
- The winter monsoon blows from land to sea.
- During this period, rainfall is experienced over just five of the 36 meteorological divisions in the country including Tamil Nadu (and Pondicherry), Kerala, Andhra Pradesh (Rayalaseema) and some parts of Telangana and Karnataka.
World’s Largest Wetland is on fire
The Pantanal region in Brazil is burning due to man-made fires.
- The world’s largest wetland is burning with the worst fires in the last 15 years.
- It has vegetation compacted under the marshy flood water which continue to smolder long (burn slowly with smoke but no flame) after the visible flames die down.
- The temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius made fire unstoppable and strong winds resulted in multiple firebreaks.
- The Pantanal in Brazil is a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its unique biodiversity.
- It is a natural region encompassing the world’s largest tropical wetland area, and the world’s largest flooded grasslands.
- The region spreads in more than 150,000 sq. km in Brazil and also extends into Bolivia and Paraguay.
- Roughly 80% of the floodplains are submerged during the rainy seasons, nurturing a biologically diverse collection of aquatic plants.
- The region is rich with tapirs, pumas, capybaras and jaguars.
Bilateral & International Relations
EU urges Turkey to stop Mediterranean drilling
The European Union urged Turkey to halt its drilling activities in contested waters in the Mediterranean Sea.
- The EU officials have been asked to speed up work aimed at blacklisting some Turkish officials linked to the energy exploration.
- There are tensions between Turkey and Greece over Turkey’s drilling work near the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.
- One-thirds of Cyprus is effectively under Turkish occupation.
- Turkey doesn’t recognize the divided island of Cyprus as a state and claims 44 % of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone as its own.
- Both Cyprus and Greece are the member nations of the European nation.
- EU could purpose sanctions on Turkey which include asset freezes, travel bans and Economic sanctions.
- It could be extended with Turkish vessels deprived access to European ports, supplies and equipment.
- Cyprus was split along ethnic lines in 1974 when Turkey invaded in the wake of a coup by supporters of union with Greece.
- Turkey is not a member of European Union and is negotiating its accession to the Union.
- Greece and Turkey have come to the brink of war three times since the mid-1970s, including once over drilling exploration rights in the Aegean Sea.
Location of Mediterranean Sea:
- Mediterranean Sea is an intercontinental sea that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean on the west to Asia on the east and separates Europe from Africa.
- It has often been called the incubator of Western civilization.
- The Mediterranean Sea, including the Sea of Marmara, occupies an area of approximately 2,510,000 square km.
- The western extremity of the Mediterranean Sea connects with the Atlantic Ocean by the narrow channel of the Strait of Gibraltar.
- To the northeast the Mediterranean is connected with Black Sea through the Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Bosporus.
- To the southeast it is connected with the Red Sea by the Suez Canal.
Art & Culture
The toy artisans of the ‘toy city’ Channapatna, Karnataka are facing hard times.
Problems faced by the artisans:
- Lack of incentives or source of earning.
- New generation unwilling to enter the traditional sector.
- Shrinking demand of toys.
- Artisans taking odd jobs to survive during COVID-19.
About Channapatna toys:
- The manufacture of toys in Channapatna goes back at least 200 years.
- It has been traced to the era of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan in the 18th century.
- The toys have smooth quality and bright colours of the products.
- They are laced with vegetable dyes and colours, free of chemicals, so safe for children.
PM Modi recalled the sacrifice of Imam Hussain on the day of Ashura.
- Ashura is the 10th day of Muharram and is celebrated as annual commemoration of Imam Hussain’s martyrdom.
- Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar.
- The day of Ashura on 10th Muharram is observed to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain.
- It is the day when Imam Hussain Ibn Ali, grandson of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him), and his followers were martyred in 61 Hijri or in the Battle of Karbala in 680 AD, present-day Iraq.
- The day is part of the Mourning for Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims fast during this day.
Key Facts for Prelims
National Sports Day
- National Sports Day is organised on August 29 annually in India since 2012.
- It is celebrated to honour the hockey legend – Major Dhyan Chand.
- Major Dhyan Chand was known as ‘Wizard of Hockey’ worldwide.
- He won three Olympic gold medals and was awarded Padma Bhushan (1956).
2020 Online Chess Olympiad
- India and Russia were declared joint winners of the 2020 Online Chess Olympiad after the final was marred by internet disconnection and server malfunction.
- This was the first time FIDE (the international chess federation) was holding the Olympiad in an online format, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Armageddon is the final decisive clincher and at the Online Chess Olympiad. It is similar to a Super Over in cricket or a penalty shootout in hockey or football.
- The African baobab or the tree of life can live for over a thousand years.
- A recent study finds that the species has 168 chromosomes.
- This study will be useful in genetic conservation efforts of the species.
- The tree yields fodder, medicinal compounds and many such products.