Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 3rd January 2020

Daily Current Affairs for Government Exams:

Today Current Affairs: 3rd January 2020 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc.

 

Contents:

  1. Restructuring of railways.
  2. New mechanism to reward whistle-blowers.
  3. The number of tiger deaths in 2019 has decreased.
  4. 107th Indian Science Congress.
  5. First National Conference on Intersex Human Rights.
  6. Pariksha pe Charcha.
  7. Northeast monsoon with surplus rain.
  8. Swarna Jayanti Fellowships for 2018-19.
  9. PM Modi pays tribute to Savitribhai Phule on her birthday.
  10. Palau’s first country to ban sunscreen to Protect Coral Reefs.
  11. Bengal Governor Tweets About “Iconic” Lord Curzon Table, Gets Trolled.
  12. Parliamentary Privileges.
  13. Kalapani border issue.
  14. MiG-27.
  15. Other important current affairs.

 

1. Restructuring Of Railways:

The government has decided to trim the Railway Board and merge service cadres.

Railway Board:

  • The Cabinet recently approved the trimming of the Railway Board, the powerful body that governs the Indian Railways. From nine, the Board will now have only five Members.
  • The five members of the Board, other than a Chairman-cum-CEO, will now be the Members Infrastructure, Finance, Rolling Stock, Track, and Operations and Business Development.
  • The Board will also have independent Members, who will be industry experts with at least 30 years of experience, but in non-executive roles, only attending Board meetings.

Indian Railways Management Service (IRMS):

  • The Cabinet also decided to merge all central service cadres of Railways officers into a single Indian Railways Management Service (IRMS).
  • Now, any eligible officer could occupy any post, including Board Member posts, irrespective of training and specialization, since they will all belong to IRMS.

 

2. New mechanism to reward whistle-blowers:

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has come out with a new mechanism to reward whistle-blowers and other informants for sharing information about insider trading cases.

Key Points:

  • It would be mandatory to disclose the source of information. At the same time, confidentiality regarding the identity of the informant would be protected.
  • The reward would be given in case the information provided leads to disgorgement of at least ₹1 crore in accordance with the “Prohibition of Insider Trading (PIT) Regulations”.
  • Disgorgement is the repayment of ill-gotten gains that are imposed on wrongdoers by the courts. This implies that funds that were received through illegal or unethical business transactions are disgorged, or paid back, with interest to those affected by the action.

About Insider Trading:

  • It is the act of trading, directly or indirectly, in the securities of a publicly listed company by any person, who may or may not be managing the affairs of such company, based on certain information, not available to the public at large, that can influence the market price of the securities of such company.

Whistleblowing:

  • According to the Companies Act, 2013, whistleblowing is an action aimed at drawing the attention of stakeholders to instances of unethical practices in an organization.
  • A whistleblower can be anyone who chooses to expose wrong practices and has evidence to support the allegations.
  • They can be either from within or outside the organization—such as current and former employees, shareholders, external auditors, and lawyers.
  • In India, whistleblowers are protected by the WhistleBlowers Protection Act, 2014. The law provides for the protection of their identity and also has strict norms to prevent their victimization.

 

3. The number of tiger deaths in 2019 has decreased :

According to data from the Ministry of Environment, for the first time in the past three years, the number of tiger deaths in a year in the country has been less than 100.

About:

  • There were 84 cases of tiger deaths in the country and 11 cases of seizures (in which a tiger is presumed dead on the basis of body parts seized by authorities). Both put together, the number of tiger deaths in 2019 was 95.
  • Madhya Pradesh, which has the highest number of tigers in the country (526, as per the last census), recorded the most number of cases (31) of tiger deaths. This was followed by Maharashtra, which reported 18 deaths.
  • The data for 2019 on tiger mortality also confirmed 22 cases of poaching and one case of tiger poisoning across the country.
  • In 2018, the number of tiger deaths recorded was 100. The number was 115 in 2017, and 122 in 2016.
  • The last tiger census report, released in July 2019, had placed the number of tigers in India at 2,967, up by a third when compared with the numbers reported in 2014.

 

4. First National Conference on Intersex Human Rights:

Recently, the first national conference on intersex human rights was organized by Srishti Madurai in partnership with Intersex Asia in New Delhi.

  • The conference sought a national ban on unnecessary medical surgeries conducted on children with intersex traits and appealed to the Union government to protect their human rights.
  • This demand follows Tamil Nadu’s ban on normative surgeries on infants and children, except in life-threatening situations in August 2019.
  • If the ban will be adopted nationally, India will become the third country to protect the rights of intersex children after Malta and Taiwan.

 

5. 107th Indian Science Congress:

Recently, the Prime Minister has inaugurated the 107th Indian Science Congress.

  • It is scheduled to take place between January 3-7, at the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) in Bengaluru, Karnataka.

Key Points:

  • The theme of the congress for 2019 is “Science & Technology: Rural Development”.
  • Indian Science Congress is a major focal point for scientists, researchers and academicians interested in various aspects of scientific discoveries and technologies.
  • The previous (2019) session 106th edition was held at Lovely Professional University (LPU) in Jalandhar, Punjab.

Indian Science Congress:

  • The Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA) owes its origin to the foresight and initiative of two British Chemists, namely, Professor J. L. Simonsen and Professor P.S. MacMahon.
  • The first meeting of the Congress was held from January 15-17, 1914 at the premises of the Asiatic Society, Calcutta.

 

6. Pariksha pe Charcha:

Pariksha pe Charcha has been rescheduled to 20th January this year in view of festivals of Pongal, Makar Sankranti, Lohri, Onam across the country. The program was earlier scheduled for the 16th of January.

About:

  • Pariksha pe Charcha is a program in which Prime Minister interacts with the cross-section of Students and Teachers from India and abroad to beat exam stress.
  • It is a unique interaction where students, teachers, parents and the Prime Minister will come together to discuss issues related to exams esp. stress-free examination.
  • It was earlier held in 2018 and 2019

 

7. Northeast monsoon with surplus rain:

The IMD says India has just finished a satisfactory northeast monsoon. The northeast, or winter, monsoon has ended on a high, with an overall surplus rainfall being recorded for the season.

  • India witnessed a 30% surplus in total rainfall during the Northeast monsoon in 2019.
  • October to December is recognized as the period for Northeast monsoon by the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
  • In 2019, the Southwest monsoon withdrew late so there was a delay for the onset of the northeast monsoon. Despite this, the southern peninsula received normal or above-normal rainfall during the three months.
  • Rainfall during these three months was evenly distributed, both spatially and temporally, with every week recording normal rainfall throughout the season.
  • 2019 witnessed the rare meteorological coincidence of the northeast monsoon making its onset on the same day as the southwest monsoon withdrew officially.

Two Monsoons of India:

The south-west monsoon (summer monsoon) :

  • Blows from sea to land after crossing the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, and the Bay of Bengal.
  • It brings most of the rainfall in the country, approximately 75% of India’s annual rainfall.
  • It gets its name from the direction in which it travels, from the southwest to the northeast.

The northeast monsoon (winter monsoon):

  • Blows from land to sea.
  • During this period, rainfall is experienced over southern states, mainly Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh along with some parts of Telangana and Karnataka.
  • In areas around Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and along the northeast, precipitation during this period reported is either in the form of rainfall or snowfall.
  • It can be noted that many other parts of the country, like the Gangetic plains and northern states, also receive rain in November and December but this is not due to the northeast monsoon.
  • It is caused mainly by the Western Disturbances, an eastward-moving rain-bearing wind system that originates beyond Afghanistan and Iran, picking up moisture from as far as the Mediterranean Sea, even the Atlantic Ocean.

 

8. Swarna Jayanti Fellowships for 2018-19 :

Swarna Jayanti Fellowships for 2018-19 have been awarded to 14 Scientists associated with projects containing innovative research ideas and with the potential of making an impact on R&D in the respective disciplines.

About:

  • The Swarna Jayanti Fellowships scheme was instituted by the Government of India to commemorate India’s fiftieth year of independence.
  • The awardees are supported by Department of Science & Technology, for fellowship and research.
  • This will cover all the requirements for performing the research and include a fellowship of Rs 25,000/- per month as well as a research grant of 5 lakh Rupees for 5 years in addition to their salary.

 

9. PM Modi pays tribute to Savitribhai Phule on her birthday:

On January 3, 2020, PM Narendra Modi paid his tribute to the Indian Social Reformer Savitribhai Phule.

  • She was born on January 3, 1831.
  • Savitribhai Phule Savitribhai is considered as the first female teacher of India.
  • She played a vital role in improving women’s rights in the country.
  • She is also regarded as “Mother of Indian Feminism”. She along with her husband Jyotirao Phule founded the first India’s girls’ school in Pune in 1848.
  • She worked hard to abolish gender discrimination and caste discrimination.
  • She was a prolific Marathi writer. Some of her literary works include Bavan Kashi Subodh Ratnakar, Kavya Phule, Go Get Education.

 

10. Palau first country to ban sunscreen to protect Coral Reefs:

The Pacific Island, Palau has become the first country to ban sun cream that is harmful to corals. The country has banned common ingredients used in cosmetics including oxybenzone.

  • The order of the ban was passed in 2018. However, it comes into effect from January 1, 2020.
  • The Rock Islands in Palau is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • The country has banned 10 ingredients that harm coral reefs. It includes oxybenzone, ethylparaben, Octinoxate, Butylparaben, Octocrylene, methoxymethyl benzylidene camphor, triclosan, benzyl paraben, methylparaben, phenoxyethanol.
  • Palau is made of large volcanic islands and small coral reefs. The country has taken several climatic steps despite its size. Palau was the second nation to ratify the Paris climate agreement after Fiji.

 

11. Bengal Governor Tweets About “Iconic” Lord Curzon Table, Gets Trolled:

Bengal Governor Tweets About “Iconic” Lord Curzon Table, Gets Trolled. The table was apparently used by Lord Curzon to sign papers pertaining to the Partition of Bengal in 1905.

Who was Lord Curzon?

He was a true successor of Lord Dalhousie. He was great imperialist, authoritarian in temperament, ruthless in his ways and wanted to achieve too much at a too great pace.

  • The time of his governorship (1899-1905), was the formative phase of the Indian national movement. Thus he tried to strangulate Indian nationalism and freedom movement by all fair and foul means.
  • He looked at Indians with contempt and insulted and injured their feelings. He described Bengalis as cowards, windbags, impracticable talkers, and mere frothy patriots. He even refused to meet the president of the Indian national congress.
  • The biggest blunder he committed was the partition of Bengal. Although it was a political masterstroke to break growing Indian nationalism among Bengalis, it proved disastrous for the British in the longer-term.

 

12. Parliamentary Privileges:

A Rajya Sabha member has filed a petition with the Chairman of the House seeking to initiate breach of privileges and contempt proceedings against the Chief Minister of Kerala after the Kerala Assembly passed a resolution against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

  • Parliamentary privileges are certain rights and immunities enjoyed by members of Parliament, individually and collectively, so that they can “effectively discharge their functions”.
  • Parliamentary privileges are defined in Article 105 of the Indian Constitution and those of State legislatures in Article 194.
  • When any of these rights and immunities are disregarded, the offense is called a breach of privilege and is punishable under the law of Parliament.
  • Besides, Rule No 222 in Chapter 20 of the Lok Sabha Rule Book and correspondingly Rule 187 in Chapter 16 of the Rajya Sabha rulebook govern privilege.

 

13. Kalapani border issue:

Nepal and India are planning to resolve the Kalapani border issue through dialogue. India has clarified that the latest political map of India reflects the sovereign territory of India.

Background:

  • The issue was raised by Nepal after India published a new political map that showed the creation of two Union Territories in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh after revoking the special status of Kashmir on August 5.
  • Ever since diplomatic sources have maintained that both sides have made conciliatory statements that have so far fallen short of producing a solution to the Kalapani issue.

What’s the issue?

  • In the latest map, India included Kalapani into the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand.
  • Nepal government says that Kalapani is an integral part of the country and that talks are still on between New Delhi and Kathmandu over this “unresolved” area.
  • Foreign secretaries of both countries have been assigned the responsibility to resolve the remaining border-related issues between India and Nepal.

Where is it located?

  • Kalapani is located at an altitude of 3600m on the Kailash Manasarovar route.
  • It borders Uttarakhand in India and Sudurpashchim Pradesh in Nepal.
  • Nepal claims that the river located towards the west of the territory is the main Kali river and thus it falls in its territory, India claims a ridgeline towards the east of the Kalapani territory and hence, includes it in the Indian Union.

Under the treaty of Sugauli signed between Nepal and the British East India Company in 1816, the Kali River was located as Nepal’s western boundary with India. It, however, made no mention of a ridgeline and subsequent maps of the areas drawn by British surveyors showed the source of the Kali river at different places.

This discrepancy has led to the boundary disputes between India and Nepal, with each country producing maps including the territory in their own area to support their claims. The exact size of the Kalapani territory also varies in different sources.

 

13. MiG-27:

On December 27, the Indian Air Force retired its fleet of MiG-27s.

About:

  • MiG-27s Commissioned into the Indian Air Force in 1985.
  • It was due to the jet’s heroics during the Kargil war that the aircraft earned the nickname “bahadur” from Air Force pilots.
  • It is a single-engine, single-seater tactical strike fighter aircraft.
  • Initially developed in the erstwhile Soviet Union and later indigenously manufactured by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in India.
  • The MiG-27 is primarily a ‘ground attack’ aircraft, whose main role is to conduct precision airstrikes in battle while tackling the adversary’s air defenses.

 

Other important current affairs:

1. Indian Railway has announced one integrated Helpline number “139” for any help, inquiry and grievances redressal during travel.

2. The Assam State Zoo cum Botanical Garden and Aaranyak have jointly attained a landmark achievement by successfully hatching a pair of Greater Adjutant chicks in an artificial platform within the zoo enclosure, in the first-ever experiment of its kind in the country.

3. Recently, the Yakshagana committee hosted the 60th annual Yakshagana in the Padmanur village, Karnataka. The committee is officially known as the Sarvajanika Yakshagana Bayalata Samithi and was set up in 1959.It is a multi-faith committee consisting of Hindus, Christians, and Muslims and it hosts Yakshagana every year.

4. The Khelo India Youth Game is to be held between February 10, 2020, and February 22, 2020, in Guwahati, Assam. The Games are conducted annually.

5. The New Delhi World Book Fair organized by the National Book Trust is being held for 42 years now. The trust is an apex body of Government of India functioning under the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The World Book Fair is to be held between January 4, 2020, and January 12, 2020. The fair is organized jointly by the National Book Trust and India Trade Promotion Organization.

6. Ministry of Commerce and Industry has announced that 371 items from China will get strict restrictions from March 2020. The move aims at curbing the import of non-essential items such as plastic goods, toys, furniture, sports.

7. The country’s sugar production has fallen sharply by 30.22% to 7.79 million tonnes (MT) in the first three months of the current marketing year ending September. Sugar production has been pegged lower at 26 MT this year from 33.16 MT in 2018-19. The average sugar recovery in Maharashtra has declined to 10% from 10.5% achieved in the year-ago period due to the loss of sucrose content in the flood-affected sugarcane crop.

8. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan launched the Kerala Real Estate Regulatory Authority. The main aim to boost the confidence of customers and bring in more transparency in the real estate sector.

9. The Union government has set up a 7 members Group of Minister (GoM) headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to review the crop insurance scheme, “Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)”.
The GoM will also make suggestions to improve the insurance scheme according to the needs of the farmers.

10. The 5th Ice Hockey Association of India (IHAI) National Ice Hockey Championship -2020 has begun in Leh, Ladakh on January 02, 2020. In the inaugural match in the Under-20 Boys category between Chandigarh and Haryana, the contest ended in a draw with 4 goals each.

11. Former India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was picked as captain of ESPN Cricinfo’s ODI and Twenty20 teams of the decade, while Virat Kohli was named the leader in Tests.

12. On January 02, 2020, the UP State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) has launched a dedicated women helpline, Damini, a calling, and a WhatsApp service. Which will boost women’s safety in Roadways buses? As an extension of “Nirbhaya Yojana” of the central government a unique number, “81142-77777”, has been subscribed for the helpline. By using this ‘Damini’ helpline women passengers can lodge their complaints by calling or by using WhatsApp service.

13. The entire state of Nagaland has been declared a disturbed area for a period of six months under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, AFSPA.

14. On January 02, 2020, the five-day-long festival of ‘Lai Haraoba’ has begun in Agartala, Tripura. It is a ritualistic festival observed by Manipuri Meitei communities since ancient times.

15. Piyush Jaiswal was awarded the Global Bihar Excellence Award 2019. The award was given to recognize and felicitated Piyuus Jaiswal’s contribution towards social welfare, women empowerment and introducing new talent in the field of arts and culture.

16. The labor ministry has announced to launch a new portal ‘Santusht’ for the speedy redressal of workers as well as employer grievances and ensuring effective implementation of labor laws at the grassroots level.

17. On January 3, 2020, the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) inaugurated the first “Patola Saree” production unit in Gujarat.

 

Sources: The Hindu, India Today, Times of India, PBI.

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