Daily Current Affairs for Government Exams:
Today Current Affairs: 25th September 2020 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc
- SAARC and CICA Meetings:
- Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020:
- Data Sonification::
- Barbados :
- Document on UCBs’ cybersecurity::
- Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act:
- Other important current affairs:
1.SAARC and CICA Meetings:
The Foreign Ministers’ meetings of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) took place in a virtual manner.
- India called the SAARC countries to collectively resolve to defeat the scourge of terrorism, including the forces that nurture, support, and encourage an environment of terror and conflict.
- This was a clear criticism of Pakistan who has been involved in crossborder terrorism.
- Pakistan also made a detailed statement on the resolution of “long-standing disputes”, a veiled reference to Jammu and Kashmir and India’s move to withdraw Article 370.
- Recently, India said that the degree of seriousness of each SAARC member-nation in collectively fighting the Covid-19 pandemic can be gauged by their behavior.
- The statement was in a clear reference to Pakistan’s opposition to India’s leadership in dealing with the crisis in the region.
- The National Security Advisor of India had walked off from a virtual meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in September 2020 after his Pakistani counterpart appeared with a Pakistani version of its map that included Indian territories.
- In 2019, at the SAARC Foreign Ministers’ meeting, Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan had boycotted each other’s speeches.
- The Prime Minister of India had also refused to attend the 19th edition of the SAARC summit, due to be held in Islamabad in 2016, over the issue of Pakistan’s continued support to terror groups in light of Uri attacks.
All SAARC nations built a common stand on the need to cooperate in battling the coronavirus pandemic.
- SAARC initiatives to combat Covid-19: SAARC Covid-19 Information Exchange Platform (COINEX), SAARC Food Bank mechanism, SAARC Covid-19 Emergency Fund.
- India’s Contribution: India has contributed 10 million USD to SAARC Covid-19 Emergency Fund and manufactured essential drugs, Covid protection and testing kits, for countries in the SAARC region
- Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) is a multi-national forum for enhancing cooperation towards promoting peace, security, and stability in Asia.
- The idea of convening the CICA was first proposed by the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan on 5th October 1992, at the 47th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
The First Ministerial Meeting of CICA took place in September 1999.
- It consists of 27 member nations from Asia including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Egypt, India, etc. Japan, Indonesia, the USA, etc. are some of its Observer Nations.
- The Republic of Tajikistan is the CICA Chairman for the period 2018-2020.
2.Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020:
The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020 was passed by the Parliament. The Bill amends the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010.
Provisions of the Bill:
- Prohibition to accept foreign contribution: The Bill bars public servants from receiving foreign contributions.
Public servant includes any person who is in service or pay of the government or remunerated by the government for the performance of any public duty.
- The FCRA 2010 also bars certain persons to accept any foreign contribution.
- These include election candidates, editor or publisher of a newspaper, judges, government servants, members of any legislature, and political parties, among others.
- Transfer of foreign contribution: The Bill prohibits the transfer of foreign contribution to any other person.
The term ‘person’ under the Bill includes an individual, an association, or a registered company.
- The FCRA 2010 allows the transfer of foreign contributions to persons registered to accept foreign contributions.
- Aadhaar for registration: The Bill makes Aadhaar number mandatory for all office bearers, directors, or key functionaries of a person receiving the foreign contribution, as an identification document.
- In the case of a foreigner, a copy of the passport or the Overseas Citizen of India card for identification is required.
- FCRA account: The Bill states that foreign contribution must be received only in an account designated by the bank as an FCRA account in such branches of the State Bank of India, New Delhi.
- No funds other than the foreign contribution should be received or deposited in this account.
- The person may open another FCRA account in any scheduled bank of their choice for keeping or utilizing the received contribution.
- Restriction in the utilization of foreign contribution: The Bill allows the government to restrict the usage of unutilized foreign contributions.
- This may be done if, based on an inquiry the government believes that such a person has contravened provisions of the FCRA.
- Reduction in use of foreign contribution for administrative purposes: The Bill proposes that not more than 20% of the total foreign funds received could be defrayed for administrative expenses. In FCRA 2010 the limit was 50%.
- The Bill allows the central government to permit a person to surrender their registration certificate.
- The government may do so if, post an inquiry, it is satisfied that such person has not violated any provisions of the FCRA 2010, and the management of its foreign contribution has been vested in an authority prescribed by the government.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Chandra X-Ray Center (CXC) has unveiled a new ‘sonification’ project that transforms data from astronomical images into audio.
- It refers to the use of sound values to represent real data.
- It is the auditory version of data visualization.
- In NASA’s Chandra (sonification) project, for instance, data is represented using a number of musical notes.
The birth of a star, a cloud of dust, or even a black hole can be ‘heard’ as a high- or low-pitched sound.
- Telescopes in space collect digital data, in the form of ones and zeroes (binary), before converting them into images.
- The images are visual representations of light and radiation of different wavelengths in space, that can’t be seen by the human eye.
- The Chandra project has created a celestial concert by translating the same data into sound. Pitch and volume are used to denote the brightness and position of a celestial object or phenomenon.
- Pitch is related to the frequency of sound waves. Changing the number of vibrations per second changes the pitch.
- Volume, or loudness, is related to the strength, intensity, pressure, or power of the sound. Bigger/amplified vibrations result in bigger/louder sounds.
- The data has been collected by NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory, Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer Space Telescope.
- Thus far, Project Chandra has released three examples – the Galactic Centre, Cassiopeia A, and Pillars of Creation Nebula.
4. Barbados :
Queen Elizabeth II, who is the head of state in the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, including Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, will be dropped as monarch by Barbados next year.
- The Caribbean nation aims to complete the process of becoming a republic before its 55th anniversary of independence from Britain, in November 2021.
- With this, it will become the first country in almost three decades to sever ties with the British royal family and become a republic; Mauritius being the last to do so in 1992.
- Barbados, a former British colony, gained its independence in 1966. Although it is an independent state, Queen Elizabeth remains its constitutional head, as did other self-governing Commonwealth nations such as Canada and Australia.
- The Caribbean nation is, however, expected to remain a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the 54-nation club of mostly former British colonies which is led by the queen and includes India.
- Its current Prime Minister is Mia Mottley, who is the first woman to hold the post in the nation. She was elected in 2018.
5.Document on UCBs’ cybersecurity:
The ‘Technology Vision for Cyber Security for Urban Co-operative Banks (UCBs) 2020-2023’ was recently released by RBI.
- It has been formalized based on inputs from various stakeholders.
- It seeks to enhance the cybersecurity of urban co-operative banks (UCBs).
- Involve more board oversight over cybersecurity.
- Enable UCBs to better manage and secure IT assets.
- Implement an offsite supervisory mechanism framework for UCBs on cybersecurity-related controls.
- Develop a forum for UCBs so that they can share best practices and discuss practical issues and challenges.
Implement a framework for providing awareness/training for all UCBs.
6.Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act:
The Assam government has informed a UAPA tribunal that major extremist outfits of the northeast had contacted Chinese authorities for assistance in their “fight against India”, but the Chinese had refused to provide assistance directly or indirectly.
- The United National Liberation Front of West of South East Asia (UNLFWSEA), a Myanmar-based conglomerate of banned outfits such as the NSCN-K, ULFA-I, NDFB-S, and KLO, had taken a resolution “to take assistance from a third nation” to achieve their goal.
- The conglomerate was formed in 2015. The affidavit is not clear on when it approached the Chinese authorities.
- The tribunal was constituted under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) after the Union Home Ministry extended the ban on the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) in November 2019 for five years.
- On September 22, the tribunal upheld the ban and declared NDFB an “unlawful association for a period of five years”.
The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act:
- Passed in 1967, the law aims at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India.
- The Act assigns absolute power to the central government, by way of which if the Centre deems an activity as unlawful then it may, by way of an Official Gazette, declare it so.
- It has the death penalty and life imprisonment as the highest punishments.
- Under UAPA, both Indian and foreign nationals can be charged. It will be applicable to the offenders in the same manner, even if the crime is committed on foreign land, outside India.
- Under the UAPA, the investigating agency can file a charge sheet in maximum of 180 days after the arrests and the duration can be extended further after intimating the court.
Other important current affairs:
1.A daily wager in Odisha’s Kandhamal district has moved the Lok Adalat against the Prime Minister of India but the hearing is yet to begin.
- He allegedly failed to get an Aadhaar card registered in his name despite various attempts due to technical glitches in taking his fingerprint.
- The term ‘Lok Adalat’ means ‘People’s Court’ and is based on Gandhian principles.
- As per the Supreme Court, it is an old form of adjudicating system that prevailed in ancient India and its validity has not been taken away even in the modern days too.
- It is one of the components of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) system and delivers informal, cheap, and expeditious justice to the common people.
- In view of its growing popularity over time, it was given statutory status under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. The Act makes the provisions relating to the organization and functioning of the Lok Adalats.
2.The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) published the outline for its Artemis program, which plans to send the next man and first woman to the lunar surface by the year 2024.
- The last time NASA sent humans to the Moon was in 1972, during the Apollo lunar mission.
- With the Artemis program, NASA wishes to demonstrate new technologies, capabilities, and business approaches that will ultimately be needed for the future exploration of Mars.
- It stands for Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence, and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction with the Sun.
- The program is divided into three parts:
- Artemis I is most likely to be launched 2021 and involves an uncrewed flight to test the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft.
- Artemis II will be the first crewed flight test and is targeted for 2023.
- Artemis III will land astronauts on the Moon’s the South Pole in 2024.
3.The scientists have developed a bio-decomposer technique called ‘PUSA Decomposers’ for converting crop stubble into compost.
- Delhi and many other North Indian States are covered with smoke during winters due to stubble burning in the neighboring States by the farmers.
- PUSA Decomposers:
- The decomposers are in the form of capsules made by extracting fungi strains that help the paddy straw to decompose at a much faster rate than usual.
- The fungi helps to produce the essential enzymes for the degradation process.
4.The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and NITI Aayog will organize a Mega Virtual Summit on Artificial Intelligence (AI), RAISE 2020- ‘Responsible AI for Social Empowerment 2020,’ from October 5-9, 2020.
- RAISE 2020 is a first of its kind, a global meeting of minds on Artificial Intelligence to drive India’s vision and roadmap for social transformation, inclusion, and empowerment through responsible AI.
- This includes using AI in areas like Health, Agriculture, Education, Skilling, Mobility, Fintech, Research, Inclusive AI, Future of Work, among others.
- The event will witness participation from global industry leaders, key opinion makers, Government representatives, and academia.
- It will also feature some startups working in AI-related fields.
5.Malayalam poet Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri was conferred the 55th edition of the Jnanpith Award.
- The Award has achieved the recognition of the highest literary award of the country.
- English along with other Indian languages is considered for the Award.
- The Award is open for only Indian citizens and is given annually.
- The prize carries a cash award of Rs. 11 lakhs, a citation, and a bronze replica of Vagdevi (Saraswati), the goddess of learning.
- It is sponsored by the cultural organization Bharatiya Jnanpith.
- In 2019, author Amitav Ghosh was felicitated with the 54th Jnanpith Award.
- He became the first English language writer to become a Jnanpith laureate.
6.TIME Magazine’s list of ‘100 Most Influential People of 2020’ includes five Indians who have made waves in the last one year.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been featured in TIME Magazine’s annual list of the world’s 100 most influential people for the fourth time since he took office in 2014. He was named under the category of ‘Leaders’.
- Professor Ravindra Gupta spearheaded a study that led to the second man in history being cured of HIV in London, last year. He is a professor of clinical microbiology at Cambridge University. He is on the list under the ‘Pioneers’ category.
- Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai is in the list under the category of ‘Titans’.
- Ayushmann Khurrana was the only Indian actor to make it to the list this year. He was named under the ‘Artist’ category.
- The 82-year-old Bilkis Bano, who came to be known as the “Dadi of Shaheen Bagh”, was a defining presence at the prolonged protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) at the small neighborhood of Shaheen Bagh in southeast Delhi. She is on the list under the category of ‘Icons’.
7.Flight Lieutenant Shivangi Singh is set to become India’s first woman fighter pilot to fly the Rafale aircraft that was formally inducted into the Indian Air Force on September 10.
- Shivangi Singh, who hails from Varanasi, is currently being trained to fly IAF’s newest fighter based in Ambala.
- She is undergoing conversion training to fly the Rafale jet and will soon join the Ambala-based No. 17 squadron, also known as “Golden Arrows.”
- The officer, who is one of IAF’s 10 women fighter pilots, joined the air force in 2017. After joining IAF, she has been flying the MiG-21 Bison aircraft.
8.Historian-author Rana Safvi has been conferred the Yamin Hazarika award, an award instituted in memory of Yamin Hazarika, the first woman from the Northeast to join the central police service.
- Rana Safvi, who has published several books on culture, history, and monuments of India, was chosen for her “contribution to the syncretic culture of India”.
- The award is given every year by a collective of women professionals since 2015.
- Previous winners are author Indrani Raimedhi, athlete Tayabun Nisha, actor Moloya Goswami, environmental activist Purnima Devi Barman and social activist Hasina Kharbhih.
- Hailing from Assam, Yamin Hazarika was selected for the NCT of Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli Police service (DANIPS) in 1977.
- She held the post of assistant commissioner of Police in Chanakyapuri (Delhi) and went on to become deputy commissioner of police (Crime against Women Cell) in the national capital.
- In 1998, she was posted in Bosnia as part of the UN peacekeeping force. But she succumbed to cancer at the age of 43 in 1999.
9.The Centre has permitted five States to borrow an additional ₹9,913 crore through open market borrowings to meet expenditure requirements amid falling revenues due to the COVID-19 crisis.
- These States are A.P., Telangana, Goa, Karnataka, and Tripura.
- The permission was accorded after these States met the reform condition of implementation of ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ system.
- The Centre had, in May, allowed an additional borrowing limit of up to 2% of Gross State Domestic Product to States for FY21 with certain conditions.