Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 18th November 2020

Daily Current Affairs for Government Exams:

Today Current Affairs: 18th November 2020 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc

 

Contents:

  1. UNESCO Global Geoparks:
  2. Step Up for TB 2020 Report:
  3. High Court Judge:
  4. 12th BRICS Summit:
  5. Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP):
  6. Other important current affairs

 

1.UNESCO Global Geoparks:

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) is making efforts to get recognition of a geopark for Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) consisting of Erra Matti Dibbalu (red sand dunes), natural rock formations, Borra Caves, and volcanic ash deposits.

  • While there are 161 UNESCO Global geoparks spread across 44 countries, India is yet to have one of its own.

Global geoparks:

  • These are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development.
  • These are managed by a body having legal existence recognized under national legislation.
  • It needs to be noted that UNESCO Global Geopark status does not imply restrictions on any economic activity inside a UNESCO Global Geopark where that activity complies with indigenous, local, regional and/or national legislation.
  • Geoparks are sustained through geo tourism activities like excursions, nature trails, guided tours, hiking and academic meets.
  • Cooperating with the local people (bottom-up approach) living in the geopark area and with other UNESCO Global Geoparks through the Global Geoparks Network (GGN).
  • GGN, of which membership is obligatory for UNESCO Global Geoparks, is a legally constituted not-for-profit organisation with an annual membership fee. It was founded in 2004.
  • A UNESCO Global Geopark is given this designation for a period of four years after which the functioning and quality of each UNESCO Global Geopark is thoroughly re-examined during a revalidation process.

 

2.Step Up for TB 2020 Report:

The “Step Up for TB 2020” report by the Stop TB Partnership and Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has highlighted India’s conservative approach regarding the new medicines for Drug Resistant TB, putting lives of patients including children in danger.

  • The current Pandemic has further aggravated the sufferings of TB patients in the country in terms of disease diagnosis, surveillance and treatment.
  • Founded in 1971, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), sometimes rendered in English as Doctors Without Borders, is an international humanitarian medical non-governmental organization (NGO) of French origin best known for its projects in conflict zones and in countries affected by endemic diseases.
  • It was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999.

Tuberculosis (TB)

  • Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs.
  • Transmission: TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air.
  • Symptoms: Cough with sputum and blood at times, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats.
  • Treatment: TB is treatable and curable disease.It is treated with a standard 6 month course of 4 antimicrobial drugs that are provided with information, supervision and support to the patient by a health worker or trained volunteer.
  • Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a form of TB caused by bacteria that do not respond to isoniazid and rifampicin, the 2 most powerful, first-line anti-TB drugs. MDR-TB is treatable and curable by using second-line drugs.
  • Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) is a more serious form of MDR-TB caused by bacteria that do not respond to the most effective second-line anti-TB drugs, often leaving patients without any further treatment options.
  • Tuberculosis (TB) remains the world’s deadliest infectious disease, killing more than 1.4 million people in 2019, despite being curable.

About the Report:

  • The report presents data on 37 high-burden countries, including India (representing 77% of the global estimated TB incident cases), assessing the extent to which national policies align with international best practices based on World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines and the latest scientific research.
  • This is the 4th edition of this report, which focuses on countries’ policies and practices related to 4 key areas of national TB programmes (NTPs):
    • Diagnosis,
    • Treatment (including models of care),
    • Prevention, and
    • Medicines procurement policies.
  • Findings:
    • There are barriers to policy adoption and implementation across the surveyed countries.
    • The critical medical innovations are reaching very few people who urgently need them.
    • The report emphasised that oral treatment regimens for people with drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) must be prioritised over older, toxic drugs that have to be injected and cause serious side effects.
    • Nearly 1 in 3 people with TB disease is still not diagnosed and notified.
    • Almost 2 in 3 countries surveyed still do not include in their policies urinary TB lipoarabinomannan (TB LAM) testing for people living with HIV.
    • TB LAM is the only rapid point-of-care TB test available, and there is more than enough evidence of its benefits as a lifesaving point-of-care test.

India Specific Findings:

  • India was criticized for not scaling up the new Disease Resistant (DR)-TB drugs Bedaquiline and Delamanid, needed even more during Covid-19.
  • Pretomanid is the third new drug developed for the treatment.
  • Until March 2020, less than 10% of India’s MDR-TB patients who were eligible for Bedaquiline had received it.
  • This is alarming since India is home to a quarter of the world’s DR-TB patients.
  • India has the highest TB burden in the world. In 2018, 2.15 million TB cases were reported, which is 16% more than in 2017.

 

3.High Court Judge:

President of India in the exercise of the power conferred by clause (1) of Article 217 of the Constitution of India, appointed 28 Additional Judges as Permanent Judges of Allahabad High Court.

Article 217(1) in The Constitution Of India:

  • Every Judge of a High Court shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal after consultation with the Chief Justice of India, the Governor of the State, and, in the case of appointment of a Judge other than the Chief justice, the Chief justice of the High court.
  • Every Judge of a High Court shall hold office, in the case of an additional or acting Judge, as provided in Article 224, and in any other case, until he attains the age of sixty-two years Provided that
    • a Judge may, by writing under his hand addressed to the President, resign his office;
    • a Judge may be removed from his office by the President in the manner provided in clause ( 4 ) of Article 124 for the removal of a Judge of the Supreme Court;
    • the office of a Judge shall be vacated by his being appointed by the President to be a Judge of the Supreme Court or by his being transferred by the President to any other High Court within the territory of India.
  • With a sanctioned strength of 160 judges and the number of cases registered, the Allahabad High Court is the largest of the 25 High Courts in the country.

 

4.12th BRICS Summit:

The Prime minister of India while addressing the 12th BRICS summit held online touched upon issues like terrorism, Covid-19 pandemic and the need for reforms in global bodies.

  • Russia was the host and chair of BRICS this year.

India’s Stand at the Summit:

Terrorism:

  • Need to confront the countries that supported and sponsored terror and ensure that terrorists and those who support and sponsor terrorists should be held guilty and this problem is addressed in a collective manner.
  • India acknowledged the Russian support to the BRICS Counter-Terrorism Strategy and reiterated its support to the strategy.
  • It is well-aligned with the Brasilia Declaration which condemned terrorism in all forms and manifestation.
  • Earlier this year India’s annual resolution on the issue of counter-terrorism was adopted by consensus in the
  • First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) which also strengthened the war against terrorism.

United Nation Security Council (UNSC) Reforms:

  • India raised the issue of credibility and effectiveness of the institutions that were necessary for global governance, and urged for support from BRICS partners.

Covid-19 pandemic:

  • India addressed the issue of cooperation among the BRICS countries on the production of vaccines for Covid-19.
  • Referring to the post Covid-19 economic hardships of the world, India highlighted the importance of BRICS in that scenario.
  • BRICS countries will play a significant role in the recovery of the post Covid-19 world as 42% of the world’s population resides in the BRICS countries and the economies are the major engines of the world.
  • India also highlighted the scope of increasing trade among the BRICS countries.

Aatmanirbhar Bharat:

  • India introduced Aatmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) to the BRICS.
  • India said that the Aatmanirbhar Bharat campaign is based on the subject that a self-reliant and resilient India can become a force multiplier for the post Covid-19 world order.
  • A self-reliant India would make solid contributions to the global value chains.

 

5.Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP):

Contracts for 11 oil and gas blocks offered under the Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) Bid Round-V were signed.

OALP:

  • The Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) replacing the erstwhile New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) was approved in March 2016 and the Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) along with the National Data Repository (NDR) were launched in June 2017 as the key drivers to accelerate the Exploration and Production (E&P) activities in India.
  • Under OALP, companies are allowed to carve out areas they want to explore oil and gas in. Companies can put in an expression of interest for any area throughout the year but such interests are accumulated thrice in a year. The areas sought are then put on auction.
  • The successful roll-out of the HELP regime, followed by OALP Bid Rounds, has led to an increase in exploration acreages in India.
  • The exploration acreage which stood at about 80,000 sq. km. from earlier regimes now stands at approx. 2,37,000 sq. km., post the award of blocks under OALP Round-V.
  • The OALP has helped in removing red-tapism and brought in a quantum jump in the Exploration & Production sector.

 

Other important current affairs:

1.Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison have signed a landmark defense deal in a bid to counter China’s growing influence in the South China Sea and over the Pacific island nations.

  • Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) comes weeks after foreign ministers of the Quad alliance, which includes the US and India, met in Tokyo.
  • The pact allows Japanese and Australian troops to visit each other’s countries and conduct training and joint operations.
  • Australian Prime Minister said that the treaty will strengthen their security ties and facilitate cooperation between defense forces.
  • The two sides also agreed on the need for a framework to allow the Japanese military to protect Australian forces if needed.

2.The second flight test of Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile System (QRSAM) was successfully conducted by DRDO from the Integrated Test Range, Chandipur, off the coast of Odisha.

  • The first in the series test of QRSAM took place on 13th of this month.
  • The second flight test was carried out against the high-performance Jet Unmanned Aerial Target called Banshee, which simulates an aircraft.
  • The system is capable of detecting and tracking targets on the move and engaging targets with short halts. It is designed to give air defence coverage for strike columns of the Indian Army,
  • Propelled by a single-stage solid propellant rocket motor, the sophisticated missile used all indigenous subsystems.
  • The missile is cannisterised for transportation and launch using a mobile launcher which is capable of carrying six canisters missiles.
  • First launch test on 13th November proved the Radar and Missile capabilities with direct hit while today’s test demonstrated the warhead performance on proximity detection.

3.The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to provide information on the existing legal mechanisms to deal with complaints about the content on television channels.

  • Further, it has asked the Centre to create an authority to check fake news and bigotry on air.
  • The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by various organisations who objected to the reporting by certain television news channels and news portals on the Tablighi Jamaat event held in March 2020.
  • The religious gathering emerged as one of the early hot spots of Covid-19 in the national capital.
  • The petitions sought a direction from the court to stop the dissemination of fake news and to identify and take strict action against sections of the media that communalised the incident.
  • In October 2020, the bench asked the Centre to file a response on steps taken to ensure fake news is not circulated through online and electronic media platforms.
  • The government, through the Ministry, filed an affidavit in November and cited its advisories, which maintained that media coverage of the case predominantly struck a balanced and neutral perspective.
  • It held that as a matter of journalistic policy, any section of the media may highlight different events, issues and happenings across the world as per their choice and it was for the viewer to choose from the varied opinions offered by the different media outlets.
  • The court rejected the affidavit as inadequate and asked if the regulatory provisions of the Cable TV Network (Regulation) Act of 1995, meant for cable networks, would apply to TV broadcasts as well.

4.Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a joint venture of PSUs under the Ministry of Power and Department of New & Renewable Energy (DNRE), Goa, have signed an MOU to implement India’s first Convergence Project in the State.

  • Under the MoU, EESL and DNRE will carry-out the feasibility studies and subsequent implementation of decentralized solar energy projects.
  • EESL shall implement the solar energy projects including
    • establishment of 100 MW of decentralized ground-mounted Solar Power projects on government lands to be used for agricultural pumping,
    • replacing approximately 6,300 agricultural pumps with BEE star rated energy efficient pumps and
    • distribute approximately 16 Lakh LED bulbs for rural domestic households.
  • The projects will accelerate the usage of renewable energy sources, especially for agricultural and rural power consumption in the State.

5.The Supreme Court has held that once a court takes cognisance of a corruption case investigated by the CBI, it cannot be set aside for lack of the State government’s prior consent for the probe against some of the accused unless it is shown that it has resulted in prejudice.

  • Two officials of Uttar Pradesh government had earlier contended in the Allahabad High Court that the general consent given by the State government was not enough, and separate consent ought to have been obtained prior to their being investigated.
  • The State of Uttar Pradesh has accorded a general consent for an extension of powers and jurisdiction of the Members of DSPE, in the whole of State of UP for investigation of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
  • However, in case of public servants under the state governments, prior consent is needed from the state concerned even after the general consent given by the state.
  • The Allahabad High Court noted that the Uttar Pradesh government had granted post facto (after the act is done) consent against the two public servants. This very judgement of Allahabad High Court was challenged in the Supreme Court.

6.7th round of Foreign Office Consultations between India and Kazakhstan :

  • During the consultations, the two sides reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral cooperation within the framework of their Strategic Partnership.
  • The consultations covered political, economic and commercial, energy, defense, space, consular and cultural matters.
  • An MoU on “Indian Grant Assistance for Implementation of High Impact Community Development Projects in Kazakhstan” was signed.

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