Issues related to Health & Education
- National Population Register data to be collected in a year
- RBI updates fit & proper norms for PSB boards
- Karnataka’s rice bowl stares at crisis as water level in TB dam sinks
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Tigers in India face lurking threat from virus
Bilateral & International Relations
- 10th Mekong-Ganga Cooperation Ministerial Meeting
Defence & Security Issues
- India successfully test fires Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missile
Science & Technology
- HRD Minister inaugurates tech exhibition at IIT Delhi
- Biotechnology Department will scan 20,000 Indian genomes
- ISRO to set up new centre to protect Indian satellites from space debris
- New mobile app, Meghdoot, launched to assist farmers
Key Facts for Prelims
- French Flying Man crosses English Channel on jet-powered hoverboard
- ‘Machail Mata Yatra’
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Issues related to Health & Education
National Population Register data to be collected in a year
he government has decided to prepare a National Population Register (NPR) by September 2020 to lay the foundation for a citizens’ register across the country, which will be different from the decennial Census and is not linked to the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
About the National Population Register (NPR)
- The National Population Register (NPR) is a Register of usual residents of India.
- The objective of the NPR is to create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country including demographic as well as biometric particulars along with Aadhaar number.
- Additional features of NPR are family linkage, where a person is identified with the household enumerated, and geo-tagging or record of the place of residence.
- As per Section 14A of the Citizenship Act 1955 as amended in 2004, it is compulsory for every citizen of the country to register in the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC).
- A resident is defined for the purposes of NPR as a person who has resided in a local area for the past 6 months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next 6 months or more.
- It is being prepared at the local (Village/sub-Town), sub-District, District, State and National level under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
- The NPR was conducted earlier in two phases in 2010 and 2015.
About National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC):
- The National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) will be a Register of citizens of the country.
- It will be prepared at the local, sub District, District, State and National level after verifying the details in the NPR and establishing the citizenship of each individual.
- The NRIC, therefore, would be a sub-set of the NPR.
RBI updates fit & proper norms for PSB boards
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has tightened the fit-and-proper criteria for directors on the boards of state-run banks, and said the Centre’s nominee director shall not be part of the nomination and remuneration committee (NRC).
Revised ‘Fit and Proper’ Criteria for Elected Directors on the Boards of PSBs
- Members of Parliament, state legislatures, and local governments are not eligible to be members of PSB boards
Nomination and Remuneration Committee (NRC)
- All the banks are required to constitute a Nomination and Remuneration Committee (NRC) consisting of a minimum of three non-executive directors from amongst the board of directors.
- Of these non-executive directors, not less than one-half shall be independent directors and should include at least one member from the Risk Management Committee of the board.
- The Government of India nominee director and the director nominated under Section 19(f) of the SBI Act/Section 9(3)(c) of the Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Act, 1970/1980 cannot be part of the Committee.
Eligibility of Director of PSB
- Candidate should have at least be a graduate and should be between 35-67 years old as on the cut-off date fixed for submission of nominations for election.
- The candidate should have special knowledge or practical experience in areas useful for banks.
- Candidates cannot be board member of rival banks
- The candidate cannot have any business connection with the concerned bank and cannot engaged in activities that might result in a conflict of business interests with the bank.
- Directors who have connection with defaulting firms and links with chartered accountancy firms cannot join the boards of these banks.
- People connected with hire-purchase, financing, money lending, investment, leasing and other para banking activities are not eligible. But “investors of such entities would not be disqualified for appointment as directors if they do not enjoy any managerial control in them”.
- The candidate should not be engaging in the business of stock broking.
- The candidate should not be a member of Parliament, state legislature, municipal corporation, municipality, or other local bodies — notified area council, city council, panchayat, gram sabha or zila parishad.
- Other conditions are that candidate should not be a partner of a chartered accountant (CA) firm currently engaged as a statutory central auditor of any nationalised bank or State Bank of India; or when the firm is engaged as statutory branch auditor or concurrent auditor of the bank in which nomination is sought.
- No person can be elected or re-elected on PSB board if he/she has served as a director in the past on the board of any bank, financial institution, or insurance company under any category for six years.
- An elected director can hold office for three years and is eligible for re-election for six years, either served continuously or intermittently.
Karnataka’s rice bowl stares at crisis as water level in TB dam sinks
At a time when the river Krishna is in spate in north Karnataka, flooding large tracts of land, the situation in the Tungabhadra basin is a complete contrast.
Declining water level:
- While river Krishna’s catchment area on the Maharashtra side of Western Ghats is receiving heavy monsoon rain, catchment area of Tungabhadra (tributary of Kaveri) in Karnataka’s side of the same mountain range is receiving deficient rainfall.
Impact of deficient rainfall:
- Farmers in the Tungabhadra command area face a deep agrarian crisis as the water level of Tungabhadra Reservoir fell down.
- As a result, many farmers have already changed their crop pattern by shifting from paddy cultivation to crops such as chilli that require relatively less water.
- The deficient monsoon and diminished paddy production has pushed the rice industry into crisis forcing many mills to shut down or switch to seasonal operation.
Tungabhadra water command area
- The Tungabhadra command area, consisting of land in Koppal, Ballari and Raichur districts, is popularly known as the “rice bowl of Karnataka”.
- It produces high-quality Sona Masuri rice that is in great demand across the country.
- The premium variety is also popular in Dubai, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and other rice-consuming countries.
About Tungbhadra river:
- Tungabhadra is a major tributary of Kaveri river in southern India.
- It flows through the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
- Tungabhadra is formed by the union of two rivers Tunga and Bhadra and hence the name which originated on the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats.
- The river merges with the Krishna River at Gondimalla, near the famous Alampur in Telangana.
- The locked land that lies in the north of Tungabhadra River between the Tungabhadra and the Krishna River is called the ‘Raichur Doab’.
- The river has immense significance in forming the political & religious history of Hampi city (a world heritage site of Vijayanagara Empire).
- The Hindus consider this river sacred and there is a mention of the river in Ramayana where it is referred to as
- A Tungabhadra Dam is constructed across this River which is a multipurpose dam serving irrigation, electricity generation, flood control, etc. This is a joint project of erstwhile Hyderabad state and erstwhile Madras Presidency when the construction was started; later it became a joint project of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh after its completion in 1953.
- Industrial pollution on its banks generate enormous amounts of effluents. As such, it is one of the most polluted rivers in the country.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Tigers in India face lurking threat from virus
A potential virus, Canine Distemper Virus (CDV), that can be transmitted from CDV-infected dogs living in and around wildlife sanctuaries has started to raise concern among wildlife biologists.
- A recent study published in Threatened Taxa notes that 86% of the tested dogs around Ranthambhore National Park in Rajasthan carried Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) antibodies in their bloodstream.
- This means that the dogs are either currently infected or have been infected sometime in their life and have overcome the disease. This finding points out that there is an increased risk of disease transfer from the dogs to tigers and leopards that live in the park.
- Last year, over 20 lions from the Gir forest succumbed to the viral infection and now a guideline has been prepared by the National Tiger Conservation Authority to prevent the spillover of the disease to wild animals.
What needs to be done?
- The easy way out is prevention. Managing any disease in a wildlife population is extremely difficult. Most dogs are free ranging and not owned by any particular person in the village.
- The government should take the initiative to vaccinate the dogs around wildlife sanctuaries in the country. This would be a good time to vaccinate against rabies as well. It is an investment that requires time and effort but increasing herd immunity will reduce chances of disease spillover to wildlife.
About the Canine Distemper Virus (CDV)
- Canine distemper is a contagious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of puppies and dogs.
- Canine distemper is caused by a single-stranded RNA virus of the family Paramyxoviridae (the same family of the viruses that causes measles, mumps, and bronchiolitis in humans).
- CDV also affects other wild carnivores, including wolves, foxes, raccoons, red pandas, ferrets, hyenas, tigers, and lions.
- The viral infection can be accompanied by secondary bacterial infections and can present eventual serious neurological symptoms.
- The prevalence of this virus and its diversity in the country’s wildlife has not been studied.
- There is no fully treatable cure for canine distemper infection.
CDV in India:
- A recent study shows that 86% of the tested dogs around Ranthambhore National Park in Rajasthan carried CDV antibodies in their bloodstream.
- This finding points out that there is an increased risk of disease transfer from the dogs to tigers and leopards that live in the park.
- In 2018, over 20 lions from the Gir forest was killed due to the CDV viral infection.
- The government should take the initiative to vaccinate the dogs around wildlife sanctuaries in the country.
- A lot of NGOs have started animal birth control programmes which need more support from the government.
- The disease needs to be recognised and more targeted studies need to be initiated to collect baseline data on CDV from wherever they are reported from in wild carnivores.
Bilateral & International Relations
10th Mekong-Ganga Cooperation Ministerial Meeting
The 10th Mekong-Ganga Cooperation Ministerial Meeting (10th MGC MM) was recently held in Bangkok, Thailand.
- During this meeting, new MGC Plan of Action 2019-2022 was adopted.
About the Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC):
- The MGC is an initiative by India and five ASEAN countries, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam for cooperation in tourism, culture, education, as well as transport and communications.
- It was launched in 2000 at Vientiane, Laos.
- Both the Ganga and the Mekong are civilisational rivers, and the MGC initiative aims to facilitate closer contacts among the people inhabiting these two major river basins.
- Mekong River Basin countries are Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
Defence & Security Issues
India successfully test fires Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missile
India successfully test-fired a Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missile (QRSAM) with 30-kilometre range from a test range off the Odisha coast. The missile met all the desired parameters.
Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missile (QRSAM):
- The QRSAM was jointly developed by the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) and Bharat Electronics Limited.
- The QRSAM is being developed for the Indian Army with search and track on move capability with very short reaction time.
Features of QRSAM:
- It uses solid-fuel propellantand has a range of 25-30 km.
- It has electronic counter measures against jamming by aircraft radars.
- It is capable of engaging multiple targets.
- The systems are equipped with indigenously developed phased array radar, Inertial Navigation System, Data Link and RF (Radio Frequency) seeker.
- The first all-weather weapon systemis capable of tracking and firing with precision.
- It can also be used as an anti-sea skimmerfrom a ship against low flying attacking missiles.
- It is a truck-mounted missile with capable of 360-degree rotation.
- QR-SAM unit is 3 times lighterthan Akash Missile unit which is medium range mobile surface-to-air missile defense system.
Air Defence Systems comes in following categories
- Quick reaction Range Surface to Air Missile (QRSAM)
- Short Range Surface to Air Missile (SRSAM)
- Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM)
- Long Range SAM (LRSAM)
Science & Technology
HRD Minister inaugurates tech exhibition at IIT Delhi
Union Human Resource Development Minister, inaugurated the TechEx – technology exhibition at IIT Delhi.
About the TechEx exhibition:
TechEx was organized to demonstrate products and prototypes developed under the two flagship schemes of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) namely:
- IMPacting Research, INnovation and Technology (IMPRINT)
- UchhatarAvishkar Yojana (UAY)
TechEx is a unique effort, which offers an excellent platform to the researchers to showcase their work and inspire them to do their best in their respective domains.
About IMPRINT India Programme:
- Impacting Research Innovation and Technology (IMPRINT) India Programme is joint initiative of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc).
- Launched in launched in November 2015, it seeks to develop road map for research to solve major engineering and technology challenges in 10 technology domains relevant for country.
- These domains include health care, information and communication technology, energy, sustainable habitat, nano‐technology hardware, water resources and river systems, advanced materials, manufacturing, security and defence, and environment and climate.
- These domains are distributed among IITs Kharagpur, Kanpur, Bomaby, Rookree, Madras and IISC, Bengaluru.
- These projects are funded jointly by MHRD and the participating ministry in the ratio of 50:50.
Objectives of IMPRINT
- Identify areas of immediate relevance that requires innovation in the society.
- Ensure higher funding for research for identified areas.
- Measure outcomes of innovation and research efforts and its impact on people’s standard of living.
- It will motivate technical institutions to conduct research in areas where the country is heavily dependent on foreign technology.
- Under IMPRINT-I Programme, 142 projects at cost of Rs. More than 300 crores are already under implementation.
- IMPRINT- 2 is implemented jointly by MHRD and Department of Science & Technology (DST).
- Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) in the Department of Science & Technology (DST) is the nodal agency for implementing the IMPRINT-2 initiative.
Important features of IMPRINT-2
- Average cost of the approved projects will be around Rs. 2 Cr.
- MHRD and DST are equal partners to steer the scheme
- IMPRINT-2 is open to all MHRD funded HEIs / CFTIs (Higher Education Institutions/ Centrally Funded Technical Institutes)
- Projects with industry support is mandatory
- 27 ministries of GoI remain partners of IMPRINT-2
About Uchhatar Avishkar Yojana (UAY)
- UchhatarAvishkar Yojana (UAY) was announced in 2015, with a view to promoting innovation that directly impacts the needs of the Industry and improves the competitive edge of Indian manufacturing.
- The scheme focusses on a viable industry-academic collaboration where industry shares a part of the cost of research.
- UAY projects are funded jointly by MHRD, participating ministries and the industry in the ratio of 50:25:25.
[Ref: The Hindu, India Today]
Biotechnology Department will scan 20,000 Indian genomes
The Department of Biotechology (DBT) plans to scan nearly 20,000 Indian genomes over the next five years, in a two-phase exercise, and develop diagnostic tests that can be used to test for cancer.
About the India’s first human genome mapping project:
The Indian genome project will be executed in two phases.
1st phase: It involves sequencing the complete genomes of nearly 10,000 Indians from across the country and capture the biological diversity of India.
2nd Phase: About 10,000 “diseased individuals” would have their genomes sequenced.
- Then, these vast data would be compared using machine learning (ML) techniques to identify genes that can predict cancer risk, as well as other diseases that could be significantly influenced by genetic anomalies.
- The data generated can be accessed by anyone through a proposed National Biological Data Centre envisaged in a policy called the ‘Biological Data Storage, Access and Sharing Policy’.
- 22 institutions, including those from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) would be involved in the exercise.
About Indian Genome Variation initiative:
- The Indian Genome Variation initiative is a network program initiated in 2003 and tenured for 5 years, by six constituent laboratories of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), with funding from Government of India.
- These laboratories are involved in studies related to asthma, diabetes, neuropsychiatric disorders, cancer, as well as other infectious diseases and drug metabolism.
- Apart from the CSIR laboratories, a key participant in the project is the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Kolkata.
- The project also involves active participation of the Anthropological Survey of India that has helped in the identification of the various Indian subpopulations.
- The project also has collaborations with the Centre for Genomic Application (TCGA) and SilicoGene Informatics Private Limited along with LabVantage, India.
- Discover informative on single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), copy number variations (CNVs) and repeats in over 1000 genes of bio medically important metabolic and genetic networks and also genes of pharmacogenetic relevance
- Build an SNP and repeat polymorphism database of the Indian population (IGVdb)
- Construct haplotype (a group of genes in an organism generated together from a single parent) maps
- Apply haplotype maps for disease association studies and pharmacogenetics
- Determine Functional consequence of informative markers
What is Whole-genome sequencing (WGS)?
- Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) is the process of determining the complete DNA sequence of an organism’s genome.
- Genomic information has been instrumental in identifying inherited disorders, characterizing the mutations that drive cancer progression, and tracking disease outbreak
- Many countries have undertaken genome sequencing of a sample of their citizens to determine unique genetic traits, susceptibility (and resilience) to disease.
- There is interest among private and public companies in sequencing genomes due to the declining costs for the process.
Key Whole-Genome Sequencing Methods:
- Large Whole-Genome Sequencing
- Small Whole-Genome Sequencing
- De Novo Sequencing
- Phased Sequencing
ISRO to set up new centre to protect Indian satellites from space debris
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) laid the foundation stone for the Space Situational Awareness Control Centre in Bengaluru.
About the Space Situational Awareness Control Centre
- It will be located in
- It will carry out all activities related to Space Situational Awareness & Management (SSAM) including protection of Indian space assets from inactive satellites, pieces of orbiting objects, near earth asteroids and adverse space weather conditions.
- It would also assimilate the tracking data of inactive satellites from indigenous observation facilities and generates useful information from bare observations through analysis.
- Space Situational Awareness & Management (SSAM) has become an internationally significant area due to the rise of manmade space debris and the increased collision threat with operational spacecraft.
New mobile app, Meghdoot, launched to assist farmers
The Ministries of Earth Sciences and Agriculture have launched a mobile application named Meghdoot, that will provide location, and crop and livestock-specific weather-based agro advisories to farmers in local languages.
About the Meghdoot Mobile App:
- It has been developed by the India Meteorological Department, Indian Institute of Tropical meteorology and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.
Features the Mobile app:
- Provide forecast relating to temperature, rainfall, humidity, and wind speed and direction, which play critical roles in agricultural operations
- Provide advisories to the farmers on how to take care of their crops and livestock.
- Provide information in the form of images, maps and pictures to help the farmer to have a clearer picture.
Key Facts for Prelims
French Flying Man crosses English Channel on jet-powered hoverboard
French inventor Franky Zapata succeeded in crossing the English Channel on a jet-powered hoverboard he designed in just over 20 minutes.
Location of English Channel:
The English Channel is a part of the Atlantic Ocean.
- It separates Britain from northern France and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.
- It is approximately 350 miles long, and at its narrowest in the Strait of Dover.
- It is today one of the busiest shipping lanes on the planet.
- English Channel, along with Irish Sea, were formed during the last Ice Age period.
- The English Channel has helped Britain and Ireland defend themselves from outside invaders, namely the German Army during World War II.
- International Maritime Organization decided to install the first radar-controlled Traffic Separation Scheme in the world in the Channel to prevent accidents.
‘Machail Mata Yatra’
- It is a 43-day-long Pilgrimage happens in month of August only every year.
- Thousands of devotees from across the country visit the scenic Paddar valley, also famous for its sapphire mines, during the yatra and pay obeisance at the holy shrine of goddess Durga in Machail village of Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir after trekking a 30-km arduous route.
Why in news?
- Recently, the yatra was suspended on Saturday due to security reasons.