Given below are the daily current affairs for 12th Dec. 2020. You can take the daily current affairs quiz here for free.
- POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
- INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
N.K. Singh calls for a fresh look at the Seventh Schedule
Fifteenth Finance Commission chairman N.K. Singh has called for a fresh look at the Constitution’s Seventh Schedule.
The seventh schedule under Article 246 of the constitution deals with the division of powers between the union and the states.
It contains three lists- Union List, State List and Concurrent List.
- The union list details the subjects on which Parliament may make laws while the state list details those under the purview of state legislatures.
- The concurrent list on the other hand has subjects in which both Parliament and state legislatures have jurisdiction. However the Constitution provides federal supremacy to Parliament on concurrent list items in case of a conflict.
Need for a consultative forum:
- He hinted at the need to fill an ‘institutional vacuum’ created by the abolition of the Planning Commission.
- With the abolition of the Planning Commission, many economists and policymakers have argued about an institutional vacuum.
- There is a need for serious consideration for a consultative forum for credible policy dialogue between the Centre and the States.
Co-ordination between Finance Commission and GST Council:
- Stress was laid upon the need for co-ordination mechanism between the Finance Commission and the GST Council as both were constitutional bodies dealing with revenue and struggling with unsettled questions.
- The Finance Commissions look at projections of expenditure and revenue.
- But issues of GST rates exemptions, changes, and implementation of the indirect taxes are entirely within the domain of the GST Council.
- This leads to unsettled questions on the ways to monitor, scrutinise and optimise revenue outcomes.
Reinforcing trust in Fiscal Federalism:
- He highlighted that there is a need for urgent consideration to reinforce trust in fiscal federalism.
- He urged for a review of both the Seventh Schedule and Article 282 of the Constitution so as to give more flexibility to States in implementing centrally sponsored schemes.
Justice Jain committee
- Constituted by the Supreme Court in September 2018.
- Its work is to unravel the rogue officials responsible for the infamous ISRO “frame-up” case of 1994, which destroyed the life and reputation of Nambi Narayanan, one of the country’s prominent space scientists.
What’s the issue?
At the time of his arrest on November 30, 1994, Mr. Narayanan was working on cryogenic engine technology at the premier Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
- The police investigators had accused him of passing on documents and drawings of ISRO relating to Viking/Vikas engine technology, cryogenic engine technology and PSLV flight data/drawings to Pakistan.
What happened at the Supreme Court?
- The Supreme Court dismissed the case in 2018 as a criminal frame-up based on “some kind fancy or notion”. It said Mr. Narayanan’s career was “smothered.”
- The CBI, which took over the probe from the Kerala Police, had promptly filed a closure report in 1996. But Mr. Narayanan fought on to bring his accusers to justice.
- The apex court, in its 2018 judgment, had called the treatment meted out to the scientist while he was in custody “psycho-pathological”.
- The court ordered the Kerala government to pay Mr. Narayanan ?50 lakh in compensation, though it said mere money was not enough to make up for the torture the scientist had endured for 24 years.
- Also, the scientist had said that the prosecution launched by the Kerala police had a “catastrophic effect” on his career and personal life, besides setting back the technological advancement in space research.
- Cryogenic technology involves the use of rocket propellants at extremely low temperatures.
- The combination of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen offers the highest energy efficiency for rocket engines that need to produce large amounts of thrust.
- Specific impulse (a measure of the efficiency) achievable with cryogenic propellants (liquid Hydrogen and liquid Oxygen) is much higher compared to earth storable liquid and solid propellants, giving it a substantial payload advantage.
Why this technology is important for India?
- India is only the 6th country to develop the cryogenic engine after the USA, France, Japan, China and Russia.
- It is important technology for India because India could launch heavy satellites (of weight more than 2500-3000kg) with the help of Cryogenic engines and its critical for the success of GSLV program.
- The technology also holds importance in the context that India was denied this technology in 1990s by the USA when India was making deal with Russian agency to transfer of technology.
- With this technology India does not have to depend on the other space agencies.
- It will not just help ISRO probe deeper into space but will also bring it extra revenue, enabling it to make commercial launches of heavier satellites. By providing the cost effective and reliable services India can tap the Asian and African space markets, which are looking towards India on this front.
Not all Indian droughts are caused by El Nino
As per latest findings, nearly six out of 10 droughts, in non-El Nino years, that occurred during the Indian summer-monsoon season in the past century may have been driven by atmospheric disturbances from the North Atlantic region.
- In 2014, India saw a 14% rainfall deficit — or a drought — that wasn’t linked to El Nino and before that in 1986 and 1985.
Factors that influence these droughts:
- These droughts are a consequence of a sudden and steep drop in rainfall in late August.
- Winds in the upper atmosphere are interacting with a deep cyclonic circulation above the abnormally cold North Atlantic waters. The resulting wave of air currents, called a Rossby wave, curved down from the North Atlantic squeezed in by the Tibetan plateau and hit the subcontinent around mid-August, suppressing rainfall and throwing off the monsoon that was trying to recover from the June slump.
What is El Nino?
- El Nino is a climatic cycle characterised by high air pressure in the Western Pacific and low air pressure in the eastern.
- During this event, there is a warming of the sea surface temperature in the eastern and central equatorial Pacific Ocean.
- It is one phase of an alternating cycle known as El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO).
What causes El Nino?
- El Nino sets in when there is anomaly in the pattern.
- The westward-blowing trade winds weaken along the Equator and due to changes in air pressure, the surface water moves eastwards to the coast of northern South America.
- The central and eastern Pacific regions warm up for over six months and result in an El Nino condition.
Plasmodium ovale and other types of malaria
A not very common type of malaria, Plasmodium ovale, has been identified in a jawan in Kerala.
Types of malaria:
- Malaria is caused by the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito, if the mosquito itself is infected with a malarial parasite.
- There are five kinds of malarial parasites Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax (the commonest ones), Plasmodium malariae, Plasmodium ovale and Plasmodium knowlesi.
Symptoms include fever for 48 hours, headache and nausea, and the treatment modality is the same as it is for a person infected with P vivax. P ovale is no more dangerous than getting a viral infection.
New cross-sector initiative for universal health coverage
What’s in News?
The Lancet Citizens’ Commission on Reimagining India’s Health System, a cross-sector initiative to develop a citizens’ roadmap to achieving universal health coverage (UHC) in India over a period of ten years.
- The Lancet Citizens’ Commission was launched to develop a roadmap to achieve universal health coverage and to submit it to the government of India by 15 August 2022.
- The initiative is the result of collaboration with the world’s leading international medical journal, The Lancet, and Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University.
- The Commission will be guided by four principles:
- UHC covers all health concerns.
- Prevention and long-term care are key.
- The concern is financial protection for all health costs.
- Aspiring for a health system that can be accessed by all who enjoy the same quality.
PM, Uzbek President discuss Afghan projects
India and Uzbekistan virtual summit.
- India and Uzbekistan plan to cooperate on connectivity projects in Afghanistan.
- They will participate in a trilateral dialogue with Iran.
- Both addressed the need to fight terrorism and shared the same vision on the future of the Afghanistan peace process.
- The two sides signed a Dollar Credit Line Agreement between the Export-Import Bank of India and the Uzbekistan Government and several Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) including in the areas of renewable energy and information technology on the sidelines of the meeting.
- India also confirmed the approval of a $448- million Line of Credit for four developmental projects in Uzbekistan in the areas of “road construction, sewerage treatment and information technology”.
- Specific projects under the Line of Credit are being identified at present.
Note: The first joint military exercise between the armed forces of India and Uzbekistan took place in 2019.
Union Jal Shakti Minister inaugurates 5th India Water Impact Summit (IWIS) with focus on Arth Ganga-River conservation synchronized development
- 5th India Water Impact Summit (IWIS), organised by the National Mission for Clean Ganga and Center for Ganga River Basin Management and Studies (cGanga)
- The theme being comprehensive analysis and holistic management of local rivers and water bodies with a focus on Arth Ganga – river conservation synchronised development.
- The India Water Impact Summit is an annual event where stakeholders get together to discuss, debate and develop model solutions for some of the biggest water-related problems in the country.
- 5th IWIS will forge greater interaction between investors and stakeholders in the water sector and promote international cooperation between India and many foreign countries for water and river management.”
- It will bring together various stakeholders to discuss, debate and develop model solutions to some of the biggest water-related issues in the country.
- As part of Gyan Ganga initiative, engagement with scientists and researchers at the national and international level has been witnessed.
- Summit will try to discuss and address issues of Agriculture, Human Habitation, both urban and rural, on banks of rivers, Tourism, Energy and Flood Management.
- The summit has intentions to work towards implementation of the Prime Minister’s vision of Arth Ganga on the ground
- It was said that river conservation itself is an economic activity giving employment to many and is contributing to the GDP.
Need for water use efficiency.
- Two back to back weak monsoons has meant that 330 million people — a quarter of the country’s population — are affected by a severe drought. With nearly 50 per cent of India grappling with drought-like conditions, the situation has been particularly grim this year in western and southern states that received below-average rainfall.
- According to the Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) report released by the NITI Aayog in 2018, 21 major cities (Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and others) are racing to reach zero groundwater levels by 2020, affecting access for 100 million people.
- There is a huge scope of water conservation both at the demand-side and supply-side management. The summit endorsed “5 R’s” for wastewater management which are recycled, reuse, reduce, recharge (groundwater) and respect (for water).
- To be launched by Maharashtra Social Justice Department.
- It is a digital platform which will provide for free the tools required by differently-abled people.
- MahaSharad stands for Maharashtra System of Health Rehabilitation and Assistance for Divyang.
Ramanujan Prize for Young Mathematicians 2020
Why in News
The Ramanujan Prize for Young Mathematicians 2020 has been awarded to Dr. Carolina Araujo, Mathematician from the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IMPA), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
- She received the Prize for her outstanding work in algebraic geometry. Her work area focuses on birational geometry, which aims to classify and describe the structure of algebraic varieties.
- The Ramanujan Prize for Young Mathematicians from developing countries has been awarded annually since 2005.
- It was originally instituted by the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), the Niels Henrik Abel Memorial Fund, and the International Mathematical Union (IMU).
- The participation of the Abel Fund ended in 2012.
- ICTP: Founded in 1964 by the late Nobel Laureate Abdus Salam, it seeks to accomplish its mandate by providing scientists from developing countries with the continuing education and skills that they need to enjoy long and productive careers.
- IMU: It is an international non-governmental and non-profit scientific organization, with the purpose of promoting international cooperation in mathematics.
- It is a member of the International Science Council (ISC).
- The ISC was created in 2018 and is an international non-governmental organization bringing together the natural and social sciences and the largest global science organization of its type.
- It has its office in Paris, France.
- India is a member country.
- IMU Secretariat is located in Berlin, Germany.
- The Department of Science and Technology of the Government of India (DST) has agreed to fund the Prize, starting with the 2014 Prize.
- It has been supported by DST in the memory of Srinivasa Ramanujan, a genius in pure mathematics who was essentially self-taught and made spectacular contributions to elliptic functions, continued fractions, infinite series, and analytical theory of numbers.
- In India, 22nd December is celebrated as National Mathematics Day in the memory of Srinivasa Ramanujan.
- It is awarded to a researcher from a developing country who is less than 45 years of age on 31st December of the year of the award, and who has conducted outstanding research in a developing country.
- Researchers working in any branch of the mathematical sciences are eligible.
- The Prize carries a USD 15,000 cash award.
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