Himalai Celebrating 20th-year celebration, on this eve Himalai extending helping hands to the UPSC-IAS Aspirants of June 2018.

Most important exam oriented Current Affairs Concepts:

1. Maitree 2016

The Indo – Thailand Military Exercise MAITREE concluded at Krabi, Thailand. The exercise had commenced on 15 July 2016 under the aegis of the Royal Thailand Army. 90 soldiers of Indian Army and Royal Thailand Army had participated in the two week long Exercise. The exercise included combined training, familiarization with weapons & equipment used by both the countries, analyzing groupings, drills and tactics while operating in counter terrorism environment and modalities for conduct of Area Domination operations in urban environment apart from operations like Cordon and Search, raids and Seek and Destroy Missions. The combined training was an excellent opportunity to understand and learn from each others’ experiences. During the exercise both the Armies were able to evolve common tactical procedures and drills to enhance inter-operability.

2. World-Largest Petawatt Laser

A laser is a coherent and focused beam of photons; coherent, in this context, means that it is all one wavelength, unlike ordinary light which showers on us in many wavelengths laser stands for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.” Lasers work as a result of resonant effects. The output of a laser is a coherent electromagnetic field. In a coherent beam of electromagnetic energy, all the waves have the same frequency and phase.
The Petawatt laser “LFEX” to deliver up to 2,000 trillion watts in the duration of one trillionth of one second (this corresponds to 1000 times the integrated electric power consumed in the world). By using this high-power laser, it is now possible to generate all of the high-energy quantum beams (electrons, ions, gamma ray, neutron, positron). Owing to such quantum beams with large current, we can make a big step forward not only for creating new fundamental technologies such as medical applications and non-destructive inspection of social infrastructures to contribute to our future life of longevity, safety, and security, but also for realization of laser fusion energy triggered by fast ignition.

3. National Biopharma Mission

It aspires to create an enabling ecosystem to promote entrepreneurship and indigenous manufacturing in the sector.

India has been an active player in the pharmaceutical industry and has contributed globally towards making life saving drugs and low cost pharmaceutical products accessible and affordable for those in need. Be it the Rotavirus vaccine, heart valve prosthesis or affordable insulin, India has been a forerunner in these and many more. Despite, these advances Indian biopharmaceutical industry is still 10-15 years behind their counterparts in the developed countries and faces stiff competition from China, Korea and others. The lacuna primarily exists due to disconnected centers of excellence, less focus on translational research and staggered funding. There was an immediate need felt to focus on consolidated efforts to promote product discovery, translational research and early stage manufacturing in the country to ensure inclusive innovation.

The aim of the Mission is to “Enable and nurture an ecosystem for preparing India’s technological and product development capabilities in biopharmaceuticals to a level that will be globally competitive over the next decade, and transform the health standards of India’s population through affordable product development”

As a flagship program of the Government of India in collaboration with World Bank, it promises to boost the growth curve for domestic biopharma in India by accelerating the translation of research concepts into viable products, supporting clinical validation, enabling sustainable networks for collaboration between industry and academia, and supporting entrepreneurial ecosystem amongst many others.

The Mission will provide a holistic and integrated approach to strengthen and support the entire product development value chain for accelerating the research leads to product development. This will help not only in immediate product development addressing public health needs, but will also help to create an ecosystem which will facilitate development of a continuous pipeline of products.

The Mission to be implemented by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), a Public Sector Undertaking of Department of Biotechnology will bring together expertise from national and international corridors to provide strategic guidance and direction to move promising solutions through the product development value chain.

4. UDAY

Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojna or UDAY. UDAY provides for the financial turnaround and revival of Power Distribution companies (DISCOMs), and importantly also ensures a sustainable permanent solution to the problem.

It is another decisive step furthering the landmark strides made in the Power sector over the past one and a half years, with the sector witnessing a series of historic improvements across the entire value chain, from fuel supply (highest coal production growth in over 2 decades), to generation (highest ever capacity addition), transmission (highest ever increase in transmission lines) and consumption (over 2. 3 crore LED bulbs distributed).

The weakest link in the value chain is distribution, wherein DISCOMs in the country have accumulated losses of approximately Rs. 3. 8 lakh crore and outstanding debt of approximately Rs. 4. 3 lakh crore (as on March, 2015). Financially stressed DISCOMs are not able to supply adequate power at affordable rates, which hampers quality of life and overall economic growth and development. Efforts towards 100% village electrification, 24X7 power supply and clean energy cannot be achieved without performing DISCOMs. Power outages also adversely affect national priorities like “Make in India” and “Digital India”. In addition, default on bank loans by financially stressed DISCOMs has the potential to seriously impact the banking sector and the economy at large.

Due to legacy issues, DISCOMs are trapped in a vicious cycle with operational losses being funded by debt. Outstanding debt of DISCOMs has increased from about Rs. 2. 4 lakh crore in 2011-12 to about Rs. 4. 3 lakh crore in 2014-15, with interest rates upto14-15%.

UDAY assures the rise of vibrant and efficient DISCOMs through a permanent resolution of past as well as potential future issues of the sector. It empowers DISCOMs with the opportunity to break even in the next 2-3 years. This is through four initiatives (i) Improving operational efficiencies of DISCOMs; (ii) Reduction of cost of power; (iii) Reduction in interest cost of DISCOMs; (iv) Enforcing financial discipline on DISCOMs through alignment with State finances.

Operational efficiency improvements like compulsory smart metering, upgradation of transformers, meters etc. , energy efficiency measures like efficient LED bulbs, agricultural pumps, fans & air-conditioners etc. will reduce the average AT&C loss from around 22% to 15% and eliminate the gap between Average Revenue Realized (ARR) & Average Cost of Supply (ACS) by 2018-19.

Reduction in cost of power would be achieved through measures such as increased supply of cheaper domestic coal, coal linkage rationalization, liberal coal swaps from inefficient to efficient plants, coal price rationalization based on GCV (Gross Calorific Value), supply of washed and crushed coal, and faster completion of transmission lines. NTPC alone is expected to save Rs. 0. 35 / unit through higher supply of domestic coal and rationalization / swapping of coal which will be passed on to DISCOMs / consumers.

Financial liabilities of DISCOMs are the contingent liabilities of the respective States and need to be recognized as such. Debt of DISCOMs is de facto borrowing of States which is not counted in de jure borrowing. However, credit rating agencies and multilateral agencies are conscious of this de facto debt in their appraisals. In line with the above and similar observations of Fourteenth Finance Commission, States shall take over 75% of DISCOM debt as on 30 September 2015 over two years – 50% of DISCOM debt shall be taken over in 2015-16 and 25% in 2016-17. This will reduce the interest cost on the debt taken over by the States to around 8-9%, from as high as 14-15%; thus improving overall efficiency. Further provisions for spreading the financial burden on States over three years, will give States flexibility in managing the interest payment on the debt taken over, within their available fiscal space in the initial few years. A permanent resolution to the problem of DISCOM losses is achieved by States taking over and funding at least 50% of the future losses (if any) of DISCOMs in a graded manner.

UDAY is a shining example of the utilization of the best principles of cooperative and competitive federalism and has been evolved through discussions at the highest levels with multiple States. Adopting UDAY is optional for States, but provides the fastest, most efficient and financially most feasible way for providing 24X7 Power for All. It will be operationalized through a tri-partite agreement amongst the Ministry of Power, State Government and the DISCOM.

UDAY accelerates the process of reform across the entire power sector and will ensure that power is accessible, affordable and available for all. UDAY truly heralds the uday (rise), of a ‘Powerful’ India.

5. MERIT app

Over the last three years, India has rapidly achieved adequacy in terms of availability of power. Now the time has come to shift the focus to optimal utilization of the valuable and scarce energy resources for achieving economy and efficiency in operation. The merit order stack is a common approach to the problem of minimizing the sum of generators’ operating costs while honoring the operational constraints of the available generation to supply the demand in a secure and reliable manner.

The Tariff Policy, 2016 provides that the States/DISCOMs shall follow merit order for procurement of power and there should be uniformity in merit order mechanism. During the Power Ministers’ conference held at Vadodara in Oct, 2016, it was decided to constitute a Committee to examine the status of implementation of Merit Order Dispatch, issues involved therein and for ensuring proper dispatch of renewable energy sources while following the merit order principle.

Most states follow merit order operation; however, details in this regard need to be made transparently available. Hence, there was a need to have a mechanism to quantify deviation from merit order and check its reasonableness. The adherence to merit order optimizes the power procurement cost and benefits both utility and ultimate consumer.

In this direction, a web portal and mobile apps for Merit Order Despatch of Electricity (MERIT) have been developed in association with POSOCO. The app displays extensive array of information regarding the merit order such as daily state-wise marginal variable costs of all generators, daily source-wise power purchases of respective states/UTs with source-wise fixed and variable costs, energy volumes and purchase prices. The app also gives information regarding reasons for deviation from merit order such as must run conditions, transmission constraints etc.

The advantages of MERIT app are as follows:
 Empowerment of the Consumer and participative governance
 Transparent information dissemination pertaining to marginal variable cost and source wise purchase of electricity
 Promotes economy and efficiency in operations
 Helps understand the utility portfolio and its complexity
 Optimization of the power procurement costs
 Facilitates renewable integration and handling of the variability and uncertainty of renewables
 Indication of supply side reliability, adequacy, and co
 The flexibility in utilization of domestic coal scheme envisages transferring coal to more efficient IPPs generating stations, leading to lower generation costs and ultimately lesser cost of electricity for the consumers.

6. El Niño

El Niño means The Little Boy, or Christ Child in Spanish. El Niño was originally recognized by fishermen off the coast of South America in the 1600s, with the appearance of unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean. The name was chosen based on the time of year (around December) during which these warm waters events tended to occur.

The term El Niño refers to the large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate interaction linked to a periodic warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific.

Typical El Niño effects are likely to develop over North America during the upcoming winter season. Those include warmer-than-average temperatures over western and central Canada, and over the western and northern United States. Wetter-than-average conditions are likely over portions of the U. S. Gulf Coast and Florida, while drier-than-average conditions can be expected in the Ohio Valley and the Pacific Northwest. The presence of El Niño can significantly influence weather patterns, ocean conditions, and marine fisheries across large portions of the globe for an extended period of time.

a) La Niña
La Niña means The Little Girl in Spanish. La Niña is also sometimes called El Viejo, anti-El Niño, or simply “a cold event.”

La Niña episodes represent periods of below-average sea surface temperatures across the east-central Equatorial Pacific. Global climate La Niña impacts tend to be opposite those of El Niño impacts. In the tropics, ocean temperature variations in La Niña also tend to be opposite those of El Niño.
During a La Niña year, winter temperatures are warmer than normal in the Southeast and cooler than normal in the Northwest.

7. Change in No-Detention Policy

Section 16 of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 stipulates that ‘No child admitted in a school shall be held back in any class or expelled from school till the completion of elementary education’. Thus, the policy covers elementary stage of schooling covering classes 1 to 8.

In pursuance of a resolution adopted in the 59th meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) held on 6th June, 2012, a Sub-Committee was constituted for assessment of implementation of Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) in the context of No-Detention provision in the RTE Act, 2009. The Sub-Committee submitted its report in August, 2014. The report of the Sub-Committee was placed before CABE in its meeting held on 19. 8. 2015, wherein it was decided to request all States/UTs to share their views on the No-Detention policy. 28 States have shared their views on the No Detention policy out of which 23 States have suggested modification to the No Detention policy.

i. There should be an examination at Class 5. It should be left to the States and UTs to decide whether this exam will be at the school, block, District or State Level.
ii. If a child fails then allow the child an opportunity to improve. There should be additional instruction provided to children and the child should be given an opportunity to sit for another exam. If the child is unable to pass the exam in the second chance, then detain the child.
iii. At Classes 6 and 7, there should be a school based exam for students.
iv. At Class 8, there should be an external exam. In case the child fails, the child should be given additional instruction and then appear for an improvement exam. If fails again then detain. The matter regarding amendment to Section 16 of the RTE Act, 2009 is under the active consideration of this Ministry.

8. The ITU mission

The ITU mission: bringing the benefits of ICT to all the world’s inhabitants ITU’s mission is to enable the growth and sustained development of telecommunications and information networks, and to facilitate universal access so that people everywhere can participate in, and benefit from, the emerging information society and global economy. The ability to communicate freely is a pre-requisite for a more equitable, prosperous and peaceful world. And ITU assists in mobilizing the technical, financial and human resources needed to make this vision a reality.

A key priority lies in bridging the so called Digital Divide by building information and communication infrastructure, promoting adequate capacity building and developing confidence in the use of cyberspace through enhanced online security. Achieving cybersecurity and cyberpeace are amongst the most critical concerns of the information age, and ITU is taking concrete measures through its landmark Global Cybersecurity Agenda.

ITU also concentrates on strengthening emergency communications for disaster prevention and mitigation. While both developing and developed countries are equally vulnerable to natural disasters, poorer nations are hardest hit because of their already fragile economies and lack of resources.

Whether through developing the standards used to create infrastructure to deliver telecommunications services on a worldwide basis, through equitable management of the radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits to help bring wireless services to every corner of the world, or through providing support to countries as they pursue telecommunication development strategies, all the elements of ITU’s work are centred around the goal of putting every human being within easy and affordable reach of information and communication and to contribute significantly towards economic and social development of all people.

ITU remains dedicated to helping the world communicate.

9. UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

122 countries adopted treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons but USA, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan , North Korea, Israel neither took part in negotiation nor cast their vote

Preamble
The States Parties to this Treaty, Determined to contribute to the realization of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, Deeply concerned about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from any use of nuclear weapons, and recognizing the consequent need to completely eliminate such weapons, which remains the only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons are never used again under any circumstances.

Mindful of the risks posed by the continued existence of nuclear weapons, including from any nuclear-weapon detonation by accident, miscalculation or design, and emphasizing that these risks concern the security of all humanity, and that all States share the responsibility to prevent any use of nuclear weapons, Cognizant that the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons cannot be adequately addressed, transcend national borders, pose grave implications for human survival, the environment, socioeconomic development, the global economy, food security and the health of current and future generations, and have a disproportionate impact on women and girls, including as a result of ionizing radiation.

Acknowledging the ethical imperatives for nuclear disarmament and the urgency of achieving and maintaining a nuclear-weapon-free world, which is a global public good of the highest order, serving both national and collective security interests.

Mindful of the unacceptable suffering of and harm caused to the victims of the use of nuclear weapons (hibakusha), as well as of those affected by the testing of nuclear weapons.

Recognizing the disproportionate impact of nuclear-weapon activities on indigenous peoples, Reaffirming the need for all States at all times to comply with applicable international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

Basing themselves on the principles and rules of international humanitarian law, in particular the principle that the right of parties to an armed conflict to choose methods or means of warfare is not unlimited, the rule of distinction, the prohibition against indiscriminate attacks, the rules on proportionality and precautions in attack, the prohibition on the use of weapons of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering, and the rules for the protection of the natural environment.

Considering that any use of nuclear weapons would be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, in particular the principles and rules of international humanitarian law,
Reaffirming that any use of nuclear weapons would also be abhorrent to the principles of humanity and the dictates of public conscience.

Recalling that, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, States must refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations, and that the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security are to be promoted with the least diversion for armaments of the world’s human and economic resources.

Recalling also the first resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations, adopted on 24 January 1946, and subsequent resolutions which call for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Concerned by the slow pace of nuclear disarmament, the continued reliance on nuclear weapons in military and security concepts, doctrines and policies, and the waste of economic and human resources on programmes for the production, maintenance and modernization of nuclear weapons.

Recognizing that a legally binding prohibition of nuclear weapons constitutes an important contribution towards the achievement and maintenance of a world free of nuclear weapons, including the irreversible, verifiable and transparent elimination of nuclear weapons, and determined to act towards that end.

Determined to act with a view to achieving effective progress towards general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.

Reaffirming that there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.

Reaffirming also that the full and effective implementation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which serves as the cornerstone of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, has a vital role to play in promoting international peace and security.

Recognizing the vital importance of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and its verification regime as a core element of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime.

Reaffirming the conviction that the establishment of the internationally recognized nuclear-weapon-free zones on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among the States of the region concerned enhances global and regional peace and security, strengthens the nuclear non-proliferation regime and contributes towards realizing the objective of nuclear disarmament.

Emphasizing that nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of its States Parties to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination.

Recognizing that the equal, full and effective participation of both women and men is an essential factor for the promotion and attainment of sustainable peace and security, and committed to supporting and strengthening the effective participation of women in nuclear disarmament.

Recognizing also the importance of peace and disarmament education in all its aspects and of raising awareness of the risks and consequences of nuclear weapons for current and future generations, and committed to the dissemination of the principles and norms of this Treaty.

Stressing the role of public conscience in the furthering of the principles of humanity as evidenced by the call for the total elimination of nuclear weapons, and recognizing the efforts to that end undertaken by the United Nations, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, other international and regional organizations, non-governmental organizations, religious leaders, parliamentarians, academics and the hibakusha.

10. G20

The Group of Twenty (G20) is the premier forum for its members’ international economic cooperation and decision-making. Its membership comprises 19 countries plus the European Union. Each G20 president invites several guest countries each year.
G20 leaders meet annually. In addition, Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meet regularly during the year to discuss ways to strengthen the global economy, reform international financial institutions, improve financial regulation and implement the key economic reforms that are needed in each member economy. Underpinning these meetings is a year-long program of meetings among senior officials and of working groups coordinating policy on specific issues.

The G20 started in 1999 as a meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis. In 2008, the first G20 Leaders’ Summit was held, and the group played a key role in responding to the global financial crisis. Its decisive and coordinated actions boosted consumer and business confidence and supported the first stages of economic recovery. G20 leaders have met nine times since 2008.

The G20 is an apt model for global cooperation in today’s world. Its response to the global financial crisis is a testament to the impact G20 members can make when working together. The G20 introduced trillions of dollars in fiscal stimulus packages worldwide, which saved or created millions of jobs that would otherwise have been destroyed. It also put in place measures to limit the collapse of financial markets and helped maintain consumer and business confidence.

Over the past six years, the G20 has framed the world’s efforts to restore growth and build the resilience of financial institutions and national economies. It led the world out of an economic crisis and through the initial stages of the recovery. With the world now free from immediate economic crisis, the G20 can increasingly shift its attention to driving practical actions that will lead to sustained global growth.

The challenges that now confront the global economy are less pressing and urgent than those faced at the height of the global financial crisis but they are no less important.

In 2015, the global economy continues to produce far less than it would have if the crisis had not occurred; there are tens of millions fewer jobs and global trade growth is still too slow. While always remaining vigilant to risks and vulnerabilities, the G20 is now more focused on improving the future of the global economy.

The G20 is supported by international organisations, including the Financial Stability Board, the International Labour Organisation, the International Monetary Fund, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Nations, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization. These and several other organisations are invited to attend key G20 meetings.

G20 also works with its official engagement groups, the B20, C20, L20, T20 and Y20, comprising business, civil society, organised labour, academia and youth.

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