Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 15th August 2020

Daily Current Affairs for Government Exams:

Today Current Affairs: 15th August 2020 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc

Contents:

  1. Space bricks on the lunar surface.:
  2. Trust vote :
  3. Vikram Sarabhai:
  4. Mauritius declared a national emergency over an oil spill :
  5. Other important current affairs;

1. Space bricks on the lunar surface.:

In a significant step towards space exploration, a team of researchers from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru has developed a sustainable process to make space bricks on the lunar surface.

  • Named as space bricks, it could be used to assemble structures for habitation on the moon surface in the future.
  • The process enables making load-bearing bricks by using lunar soil, bacteria, and guar beans.
  • The process developed now uses urea sourced from human urine, which could be mixed with lunar soil to build structures on the moon.
  • This decreases the overall expenditure considerably. Sending bricks from Earth is not viable as it takes 7.5 lakh rupees to transport one pound of construction material.
  • Since guar gum is used instead of cement, there will be a lower carbon footprint. The bacteria is added to further crystallize the brick in any shape needed.

 

2. Trust vote :

The Congress government in Rajasthan led by chief minister Ashok Gehlot has ended the month-long uncertainty in the state by winning the trust vote in the assembly.

  • The development brings an end to the rebellion by former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot and 18 other MLAs that had threatened the survival of the state government.

Trust vote:

  • A confidence motion, or a vote of confidence, or a trust vote, is sought by the government in power on the floor of the House.
  • It enables the elected representatives to determine if the Council of Ministers commanded the confidence of the House.

Floor test:

  • The floor test is a term used for the test of the majority.
  • If there are doubts against the chief minister, the governor can ask him to prove his majority in the House.
  • In case of a coalition government, the chief minister may be asked to move a vote of confidence and win a majority.

In the absence of a clear majority, when there is more than one individual staking claim to form the government, the governor may call for a special session to see who has the majority to form the government.

  • Some legislators may be absent or choose not to vote. The numbers are then considered based only on those MLAs who were present to vote.

No-confidence motion:

  • A no-confidence motion, or vote of no-confidence, or a no-trust vote, can be sought by any House member to express that they no longer have confidence in the government.
  • According to Article 75 (3) and Article 164 of the Constitution, the Council of Ministers are collectively responsible to the House of the People.

 

3.Vikram Sarabhai:

ISRO pays tribute to Dr. Vikram Sarabhai by announcing that Chandrayaan 2 Orbiter has captured the Moon images of “Sarabhai” Crater.

  • Vikram Sarabhai was born on August 12, 1919.
  • Sarabhai was instrumental in forming India’s future in astronomy and setting up the country’s space research facilities.
  • Based on his persuasion, the Indian government agreed to set up the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR)in 1962. He was the first chairman of the committee.
  • The INCOSPAR was restructured and renamed as the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in 1969.
  • Sarabhai founded the Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad in the year 1947. The laboratory started its operation from RETREAT, Sarabhai’s residence in Ahmedabad. Its first topic of research was cosmic rays.
  • He also set up India’s first rocket launch site in Thumba, a small village near the Thiruvananthapuram airport in Kerala.
  • Vikram Sarabhai was also responsible for bringing cable television to India. His constant contact with NASA paved a way for the establishment of the Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) in 1975.
  • Sarabhai was the mastermind behind building India’s first satellite, Aryabhata.
  • He was one of the founding members of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA).
  • Vikram Sarabhai received the Padma Bhushan in 1966for his contribution to India’s progress. He was also awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1972, posthumously.

 

4. Mauritius declared a national emergency over an oil spill :

A week after Mauritius declared a national emergency over an oil spill near its coast, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth announced it had been cleaned up.

  • A Japanese ship named M V Wakashio, which is owned by Nagashiki Shipping and operated by Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd struck a coral reef resulting in an oil spill of over 1,000 tonnes into the Indian Ocean. The ship was carrying an estimated 4,000 tonnes of oil.
  • Rather than the size of the oil spill, it was the area where it happened which was a cause for concern. The accident had taken place near two environmentally protected marine ecosystems and the Blue Bay Marine Park Reserve, which is a wetland of international importance.
  • Some of the world’s largest oil spills include the Persian Gulf War oil spill of 1991 and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Oil spills affect marine life by exposing them to harsh elements and destroying their sources of food and habitat.
  • Further, both birds and mammals can die from hypothermia as a result of oil spills.
  • Oil destroys the insulating ability of fur-bearing mammals, such as sea otters. It also decreases the water repellency of birds’ feathers, without which they lose their ability to repel cold water.
  • There are a few ways to clean up oil spills including skimming, in situ burning, and releasing chemical dispersants.
  • Skimming involves removing oil from the sea surface before it is able to reach the sensitive areas along the coastline.
  • In situ burning means burning a particular patch of oil after it has concentrated in one area.
  • Releasing chemical dispersants helps break down oil into smaller droplets, making it easier for microbes to consume, and further break it down into less harmful compounds.
  • Natural actions in aquatic environments such as weathering, evaporation, emulsification, biodegradation, and oxidation can also help reduce the severity of an oil spill and accelerate the recovery of an affected area.

 

Other important current affairs;

1. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has launched the ‘SRIJAN’ portal which is a one-stop-shop online portal that provides access to the vendors to take up items that can be taken up for indigenization.

  • pursuant to the Atmanirbhar Bharat announcement, the Department of Defence Production has developed an indigenization portal, srijandefence.gov.in, as ‘opportunities for Make in India’ in Defence, which will give information on items that can be taken up for indigenization by the private sector.
  • On this portal, DPSUs/OFB/SHQs can display their items that they have been importing or are going to import which the Indian Industry can design, develop and manufacture as per their capability or through a joint venture with OEMs.
  • The Indian Industry will be able to show their interest. The concerned DPSUs/OFB/SHQs, based on their requirement of the items and their guidelines & procedures will interact with the Indian industry for indigenization.

2. The Supreme Court has found lawyer Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt of court for two tweets which it said had shaken the “very foundation of constitutional democracy”.

  • The hearing on the quantum of punishment will be held ‪‪on 20 August.
  • the tweets:
    • Bhushan’s first tweet pertained to a picture of Chief Justice SA Bobde in which he is seen sitting on a high-end motorcycle.
    • In the second tweet, Bhushan gave an opinion on the role of last four chief justices of India in the context of the state of affairs in the country.

3. Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde has said that the government should consider amending the Official Languages Act of 1963 to include more vernacular languages in governance, and not just confine it to Hindi and English.

  • The court was hearing an appeal filed by the Union of India challenging the legality of a Delhi High Court judgment of June 30 to translate the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification of 2020 into all 22 vernacular languages in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
  • Article 348 (1) of the Constitution of India provides that all proceedings in the Supreme Court and in every High court shall be in the English Language until Parliament by law otherwise provides.
  • Under Article 348 (2), the Governor of the State may, with the previous consent of the President, authorize the use of the Hindi language or any other language used for any official purpose of the State, in the proceedings of the High Court having its principal seat in that State provided that decrees, judgments or orders passed by such High Courts shall be in English.

4. Health agencies in the United States and Canada have put out alerts asking its citizens to discard onions supplied by California-based Thomson International Inc, linking a salmonella bacteria infection with the bulb.

  • The salmonella bacteria reside in animals.
  • When it enters a human body it causes salmonellosis, an infection that attacks the intestine, and can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, vomiting, bleeding in stool, and nausea.
  • The symptoms of the infection last anywhere between 2 and 7 days. However, bowel function could sometimes take months before returning to normalcy. In some cases, it spreads the infection from the intestine to the bloodstream.
  • The infection hits children, below the age of five, and senior citizens the worst.
  • Salmonella can transmit to humans through contaminated water or food.

5. A Price Monitoring and Resource Unit (PMRU) has been set up in Karnataka under the aegis of National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Government of India.

  • PMRU will function at the State level under the direct supervision of the State Drug Controller for increasing outreach of NPPA.
  • PMRUs are societies registered under the Societies Registration Act having its own Memorandum of Association/ Bye-laws.
  • The Board of Governors of PMRU includes the representatives from the Central Government and State Government concerned and other stakeholders.
  • NPPA, under its Central Sector Scheme named Consumer Awareness, Publicity and Price Monitoring (CAPPM), has already set up of PMRUs in 12 States/ UTs. NPPA has plans to set up PMRUs in all the 36 States/ UTs. The expenses of PMRUs, both recurring and non-recurring are borne by NPPA under the Scheme.
  • The primary function of PMRUs is to assist NPPA in the monitoring of prices of drugs, ensuring the availability of drugs, and raising consumer awareness.

6. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) approved a dividend payment of Rs 57,128 crore to the government.

  • The RBI board approved the transfer of Rs 57,128 crore as surplus to the central government for the accounting year 2019-20 while deciding to maintain the contingency risk buffer at 5.5%.
  • The decision was taken at the 584th meeting of the Central Board of the RBI chaired by governor Shaktikanta Das.
  • Earlier in the Union Budget, the government had budgeted Rs 60,000 crore as dividend from the central bank as well as state-run financial institutions.
  • This push from the Reserve Bank comes at a time when the government is staring at a record high fiscal deficit of Rs 6.62 lakh crore in the April-June period as the coronavirus affected the Centre’s revenue targets.

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