Polity & Governance
- Andhra Pradesh assembly passes Kapu reservation bill
Issues related to Health & Education
- 11th Annual MedTech Summit of Biodesign Programme
- Noxeno- a nasal foreign body removal device launched
- 3rd December: International Day of Persons with Disabilities
- Venezuelan President Announces ‘Petro’ Oil-Backed Cryptocurrency
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Kerala plays matchmaker to smallest cow
- Kerala govt mulls promotion of green habitat concept
Bilateral & International Relations
- India re-elected to International Maritime Organisation Council
- Why is the pact on Rohingya important?
Defence & Security Issues
- Latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data
Key Facts for Prelims
- ‘Vigilant Ace’
- World’s first IT campus for differently-abled in Hyderabad soon
- Navy Day 2017
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Polity & Governance
Andhra Pradesh assembly passes Kapu reservation bill
Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly has unanimously passed Kapu Reservation Bill, 2017 to provide 5% quota in education and employment.
- The reservation to Kapu community will be given by including them in Backward Classes list.
- The reservation to existing Backward Castes will not be affected by this decision.
- The state government will now send this bill to the centre.
- The Kapu community has been demanding reservations for decades.
- Before the 2014 elections, present Chief Minister had promised to give quota to community on being elected to power.
- Even the Justice Manjunath commission constituted by present government had recommended reservation to Kapu community.
About Kapu community:
- The Kapu community has 27% population in Andhra Pradesh.
- Kapus are primarily an agrarian community, forming a heterogeneous peasant caste.
Issues related to Health & Education
11th Annual MedTech Summit of Biodesign Programme
The XIth Annual MedTech Summit of Biodesign Programme was held in New Delhi.
- The summit was organised by Department of Biotechnology (DBT) under the Bio Design Programme.
- It was attended by leaders of government organisations, academia, medical device industry, start-ups, hospitals, design, business and engineering institutes from Australia, Finland, Canada, India, Germany, Japan, Singapore, UK and USA.
What is Biodesign programme?
- The Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, is implementing Biodesign programme.
- The aim of the programme is to develop innovative and affordable medical devices as per unmet clinical needs of India and to train the next generation of medical technology innovators in India for bringing such impactful devices to the real world.
- This Program is implemented by Department of Biotechnology jointly at AIIMS and IIT Delhi in collaboration with International partners.
- The Department has authorized Biotech Consortium India Limited for management of its Intellectual Property and other techno-legal activities.
Noxeno- a nasal foreign body removal device launched
During the XIth Annual MedTech Summit of Biodesign Programme, the Union government has launched Noxeno- a nasal foreign body removal device developed by start-up InnAccel Technologies Private Limited, Bangalore.
- The start-up hopes to deploy this device across primary health care centers, community health care centers, clinics and smaller hospitals nationwide by 2020.
What is Noxeno?
- Noxeno is the first dedicated tool for anterior nasal foreign body (NFB) removal that allows doctors in any setting to quickly and safely remove objects that people (mostly children aged 2-10) put into their noses.
Key facts about Noxeno:
- Noxeno has been 100% invented, designed, engineered and manufactured in India.
- Noxeno has an ergonomic handle along with a built-in light source and a hinge. This allows the user to slip behind the NFB and remove it in a matter of seconds by simply squeezing the trigger and pulling the device.
- The modular nature of the system allows for sterilization of the hinge through autoclaving it.
- This reusable device has a target price of around INR 5000, making it both easy to use and cost-effective.
3rd December: International Day of Persons with Disabilities
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is observed every year on December 3 to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development around the globe.
- Theme of the year 2017: “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all”
- International Day of Persons with Disabilities (December 3) is an international observance instituted by United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 1992.
- The observance of the Day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.
- It was originally called “International Day of Disabled Persons” until 2007.
Disability around the globe:
- At least 10% of the world’s population, or 650 million people, live with a disability.
- 20% of the world’s poor are disabled.
- The percentage of children with disabilities not attending school is extremely variable and is between 65 – 85% in some African countries.
- Mortality for children with disabilities may be as high as 80% in countries where under-five mortality as a whole has decreased to below 20%.
- In many low-income and middle -income countries, only 5-15% of disabled people who require assistive devices and technology have access to them.
- People with disabilities are arguably the largest ‘invisible minority’ on the planet. WHO figures say that 15.3% of the world’s population lives with some kind of disability.
- But India’s 2011 census says that only 2.21% of the population have disabilities. Disability activists say this low count is because, in Indian culture, there is a tendency to hide disability.
Efforts for the welfare of Persons with Disabilities:
- UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted in 2006
- 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
- Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction,
- The Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action,
- The New Urban Agenda, and
- The Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development
- Community-based rehabilitation
- Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) [However, the MDGs do not explicitly mention disability]
Venezuelan President Announces ‘Petro’ Oil-Backed Cryptocurrency
Venezuela has launched its own cryptocurrency called Petro to circumvent US-led financial sanctions. It will be backed by the country’s vast natural resource reserves.
- In this regard, the country has approved the creation of BlockchainBase observatory to oversee development and rollout of new cryptocurrency.
- The purpose of Petro will be to advance the country’s monetary sovereignty, to carry out financial transactions and to defeat the financial blockade against the country.
- With the new cryptocurrency, Venezuela hopes it can overcome the economic blockade which the U.S. has put on the country. The blockade has caused the country’s national currency, the Bolivar, to lose around 57% of its value in the last four weeks.
- The value of the new cryptocurrency will be pegged to the country’s vast reserves of oil and gas as well as its mineral wealth, including gold.
- OPEC member Venezuela boasts the largest proven reserves of crude oil in the world, but has struggled against the plunge in oil prices which began in 2014.
- While it’s great to see yet another country deciding to set up a national cryptocurrency, Venezuela will likely garner some friction from the U.S. over the move. The Trump administration has already been railing against Venezuela and its socialist leadership in-between tirades against Iran and North Korea.
What are cryptocurrencies?
- Crypto-currency is a digital currency that allows transacting parties to remain anonymous while confirming the transaction is valid.
- These digital payment systems are based on cryptographic proof of the chain of transactions, deriving their name, Crypto currency.
- These employ cryptographic algorithms and functions to ensure anonymity (privacy) of the users (who are identified by an alphanumeric public key), security of the transactions and integrity of the payment systems.
- “Decentralised Digital Currency” or “Virtual Currency” is also interchangeably used for a crypto currency.
- It is not owned or controlled by any institution – governments or private.
- There are multiple such currencies — Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple are some of the popular ones.
- Crypto-currency can be used for a lot of legal activities — such as booking tickets, buying coffee or fast food, depending of which retailers accept such currency.
- The valuation of the crypto currency Bit coin founded a year later would surge to 2300 USD a unit in less than a decade.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Kerala plays matchmaker to smallest cow
In an effort to conserve the smallest cattle breed in the world – Vechur cow, Muhamma panchayat in Kerala’s Alappuzha district will set up a natural mating centre exclusively for Vechur cattle at Pathiramanal island.
- The ‘super speciality’ Vechur cow reproduction centre is the first of its kind to come up in the State.
- Pathiramanal was once a hotspot for cattle grazing. However, over the years, the place lost its sheen as a sought-after grazing pasture.
About Vechur cow:
- The Vechur cattle are a smaller sized and native Indian breed of Bos indicus cattle.
- The breed was named after the village Vechoor in Kottayam district of the Kerala state in India.
- According to the Guinness Book of Records, the Vechur cattle breed is the smallest cattle breed in the world. The maximum height of a Vechur cow is 91 cms.
- The breed is noted and valued for the larger amount of milk production compared to the amount of food it requires. Proportionate to its body weight, the Vechur cow yields maximum milk in the world.
- The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has listed the Vechur cattle among the Indian breeds in their Domestic Animal Diversity Information System.
- The World Watch List of Domestic Animal Diversity, also published by the FAO, has listed the Vechur cattle under the category of Critical Breeds, meaning nearly extinct.
Kerala govt mulls promotion of green habitat concept
The Kerala government is considering promoting a ‘green habitat’ concept giving thrust to eco-friendly and reusable building materials, natural water storage and solid waste management.
Objective of the concept:
- To introduce maximum eco-friendly and reusable materials in the construction.
What is the ‘green habitat’ concept?
Under the ‘green habitat’ concept, an alternative and sustainable architecture practice would be promoted in place of the existing conventional mode of construction.
- The buildings, under the concept, are planned to be designed in such a way that natural sunlight and wind would be used to maximum and the usage of electricity reduces to the minimum.
- A rainwater harvesting or natural water storage system would be a sure feature of such ‘green’ buildings, where even kitchen and drainage water would be recycled and reused for other household purposes.
Need of such concept:
- Not only the danger posed by unscientific construction practices, but also the scarcity of conventional building materials is a reason to draw up an alternative green habitat concept.
How to implement such concept?
- Laws and legislation alone are not enough to implement the green habitat concept. A thorough grassroot level campaign is inevitable to create awareness about this among public and inculcate a green culture among them.
Bilateral & International Relations
India re-elected to International Maritime Organisation Council
India has been re-elected to the Council of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) under Category “B” at the recently held 30th session of the Assembly of the IMO in London.
- With re-election in IMO, India will continue to engage with the international maritime community to further her maritime interests and promote the welfare of her citizens.
About International Maritime Organization (IMO):
The International Maritime Organization (IMO), known as the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO) until 1982, is a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for regulating shipping.
- The IMO was established in Geneva in 1948 and came into force ten years later, meeting for the first time in 1959.
- Headquartered in London, United Kingdom, the IMO has 171 Member States and three Associate Members.
- The IMO’s primary purpose is to develop and maintain a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping and its remit today includes safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping.
- IMO is governed by an assembly of members and is financially administered by a council of members elected from the assembly.
- The IMO’s structure comprises the Assembly, the Council, the Maritime Safety Committee, the Marine Environment Protection Committee, the Legal Committee, the Technical Cooperation Committee, and the secretariat, headed by a Secretary-General.
- Member organizations of the UN organizational family may observe the proceedings of the IMO. Observer status is granted to qualified non-governmental organizations.
- The IMO Council has a crucial role to play in deciding various matters in relation to the global shipping industry, including its work programme strategy and budget.
- Members of the Council consist of 40 member states, elected by its Assembly including 10 members in category A with the largest interest in providing international shipping services; 10 members in category B with the largest interest in international seaborne trade and 20 members in category C with special interests in maritime transport or navigation.
India and IMO:
- India has been one of the earliest members of the IMO, having ratified its Convention and joined it as a member-state in the year 1959.
- India has had the privilege of being elected to and serving the Council of the IMO, ever since it started functioning, and till date, except for two years for the period 1983-1984.
Why is the pact on Rohingya important?
Bangladesh and Myanmar recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement to begin the repatriation of more than 6,20,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled to Bangladesh in the past few months.
- Further, a joint working group including officials from Bangladesh, Myanmar and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) will be set up in three weeks, and Myanmar would begin to repatriate the refugees within two months, by January 23, 2018.
What had led to the exodus?
- Since August, when the Myanmar military began a crackdown on Rohingya villages in Rakhine after a series of terror strikes on army camps, the numbers that have escaped burning homes and alleged atrocities by the authorities, have risen rapidly, with most seeking shelter across the border in Kutupalong camp of Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazaar.
- The UN has condemned the violence as a case of “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide”, putting pressure on Myanmar’s leadership to end it.
How did China help?
- Talks between Bangladesh and Myanmar appear to have been guided not by international agencies, but by China.
- China had announced that it favoured a “three-step” solution, comprising a ceasefire in Rakhine, a bilateral repatriation deal for the Rohingya to Myanmar and long-term solutions including the economic development of the Rohingya areas.
Why is China interested?
- Beijing has deep interests in Rakhine, especially in the Kyaukpyu Port, with oil and energy pipelines to Yunnan province forming part of a $10 billion economic zone in its Belt and Road Initiative.
- While on the one hand, China has protected the Myanmar regime from international sanctions at the UN thus far, it has tied itself to the success or failure of the repatriation agreement, on which the fate of the Rohingya now rest.
What is Myanmar’s stand?
- The signing came as a surprise to many because the Myanmar government led by the National League for Democracy as well as its military leadership have thus far been categorical about not accepting more repatriation, and have denied any wrongdoing by the security forces.
- The signing of the deal also came at a time when Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi faced international criticism for not stopping the violence, and several awards and honours given to her for her work in restoring democracy have been revoked over the past month.
What lies ahead?
- According to the deal, Myanmar has committed not to delay sending those repatriated back to their original homes, but this task will be made more difficult by the fact that that many of the Rohingya villages have been burnt down.
- Also of concern is the stipulation that those who will be accepted by Myanmar must show their Myanmar-issued identity cards, not just their Bangladesh-issued refugee cards.
- Finally, international human rights agencies have warned that refugees cannot be forced to return while threat of violence against them persists, even as they process the trauma borne of the atrocities they fled from.
Defence & Security Issues
Latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh released the annual publication of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), “Crime in India 2016”.
Highlights of the NCRB data:
- Total number of cybercrimes recorded in India in 2016 increased marginally by 6.25% over the year before.
- Among cities, Mumbai topped in the number of cases of cybercrimes followed by Bengaluru.
- Among states, Uttar Pradesh recorded the maximum number of incidences of cybercrime recorded.
- Uttar Pradesh accounted for 9.5% of total crimes reported in the country, while Delhi reported the highest crime rate (974.9) for the year 2016
- West Bengal reporting the highest number cases of human trafficking in the country.
- Haryana, which has the lowest sex ratio in the country, topped in the number of cases registered against those practising sex-determination tests in 2016.
- Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of crimes against women.
- Odisha virtually recorded no crime against foreigners.
About the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB):
- National Crime Records Bureau is an attached office of Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
- It was established in 1986 with a mandate to empower Indian Police with information technology solutions and criminal intelligence to enable them to enforce the law effectively.
- It is responsible for collecting and analysing crime data as defined by the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
- It facilitates Investigating Officers with updated IT tools and information in Investigation of Crimes.
- The MHA has entrusted NCRB with a renewed mandate for the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) Project.
- NCRB has won Digital India Award 2016 for digitizing and uploading ‘Crime in India’ on Opensource Govt. Portal since 1967.
- NCRB has been training Indian and Foreign Police Officers from more than 20 countries since 1990 and till date more than 40,000 Police Officers have been trained.
- Various applications developed by NCRB include Crime & Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), Finger Prints Science, ‘Vahan Samanvay’, ‘TALASH’, Mobile Apps Citizen Complaint, View FIR, Locater, Automated License Plate Reader and NCRB Publications of ‘Crime in India’, ‘Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India’ and ‘Prison Statistics India’.
Key Facts for Prelims
- The United States of America and South Korea launched their largest-ever joint aerial drill called ‘Vigilant Ace’.
- The Joint drill has been designed to enhance readiness and operational capability of the two sides.
- It also aims to ensure peace and security on the Korean peninsula.
- The move comes a week after North Korea confirmed that it had successfully tested its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile as a part of its illegal weapons programme that has raised global tensions.
World’s first IT campus for differently-abled in Hyderabad soon
- The Telangana Government is going to set up the world’s first Information and Technology (IT) Campus for differently-abled persons (divyangs) in state capital Hyderabad.
- On the occasion of World Disability Day (WDD), state Government has signed agreement with Vindhya E-Infomedia Private Limited to set up IT campus to focus on creating employment opportunities for persons with disabilities (PWDs).
- The proposed campus spread over 10 acres, will come up in the IT Park developed by the State government near Hyderabad International Airport.
- It will have all amenities like training, residential facility and delivery centers.
- The campus which will cater to various clients both domestic and international, is aimed to provide training and employment for 2,000 people in the next five years.
Navy Day 2017
- India celebrates Navy Day on 4th December to celebrate Navy’s role in 1971 Indo-Pakistan war when missile boats carried out a daring attack on Karachi harbour.
- The mission titled as Operation Trident commenced on the same date. Operation Trident had also resulted in first use of anti-ship missiles in the Arabian Sea region.
- Indian Navy is one of most potent maritime forces in the world and the most lethal in Indian Ocean.