Prelims Revision

  1. National space agency ISRO and its French counterpart CNES entered into an agreement to set up a joint maritime surveillance system in the country in May, 2019. The two nations will explore putting up a constellation of low-Earth orbiting satellites that will identify and track movement of ships globally – and in particular those moving in the Indian Ocean region where France has its Reunion Islands. The two agencies have put up two climate and ocean weather monitoring satellites Megha-Tropiques (of 2011) and SARAL-AltiKa (2013) that are considered a model. “This fleet will be augmented with the launch of Oceansat-3-Argos mission in 2020 along with a joint infrared Earth-observation satellite,” the CNES said.
  2. An Indian brown mongoose (Herpestes fuscus), a small carnivore, has been seen at the Biligiriranganabetta Tiger Reserve (BRT) in Chamarajanagar district of Karnataka, a release said. This is the first time this species has been recorded anywhere outside Virajpet taluk in Karnataka. The animal has a dark brown coat with fine stripes and black legs, unlike its cousin the common grey mongoose which is greyish in colour.
  3. The Union Cabinet has recently approved an ordinance to return faculty reservations in higher education institutions to the earlier “200-point roster system”, whereby the University or college as a whole is considered as a unit, rather than each department. A number of teachers and student unions, Dalit and Adivasi rights groups and political parties had been agitating for such a decision for over a year, arguing that the 13-point roster system, which considered each department as a separate unit, effectively phased out reserved positions, especially in smaller departments.
  4.  As part of the reforms at the World Health Organisation (WHO), Soumya Swaminathan has been moved from the position of Deputy Director-General to chief scientist heading the division created to strengthen the organisation’s core scientific work and ensure the quality and consistency of its norms and standards. Previously, she was one of the three Deputy Director-Generals supporting the Director-General in overseeing all programmes. She was the first Indian to hold the post.
  5.  India recently sealed a $3-billion deal with Russia for leasing a nuclear-powered attack submarine for the Indian Navy for a period of 10 years. Under the pact, Russia will have to deliver the Akula class submarine, to be known as Chakra III, to the Indian Navy by 2025. It will be the third Russian submarine to be leased to the Navy.
  6. Under Section 4 (1) of the Lokpal Act, the Selection Committee of Lokpal consists of the Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, Leader of the Opposition (LoP), the Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court judge nominated by him and an eminent jurist. In the absence of an LoP, the leader of the single largest party in Opposition in the 16th Lok Sabha would be a ‘special invitee’. The appointment of Lokpal Chairperson or members would not become invalid “merely by reason of any vacancy in the Selection Committee.”
  7.  The Union Cabinet recently approved a new hydroelectric policy aimed at boosting the sector, including according large hydro projects the status of renewable energy projects. So far, only smaller projects of less than 25 MW in capacity were categorised as renewable energy. With the removal of this distinction, large hydro projects will be included as a separate category under the non-solar renewable purchase obligation policy. Under this policy, power purchasers will have to source a portion of electricity from large hydro projects. The new policy had increased the debt repayment period for hydro projects to 18 years from the current 12 years with the provision to introduce an escalating tariff of 2%. Apart from that, the policy also provides for additional funds separately for infrastructure development as well as separate funds for the costs of flood moderation. India has a hydro-power potential of 1,45,320 MW, of which only about 45,400 MW has been utilised so far.
  8. ‘Digi Yatra’ – with ‘Digi Yatra’ (to be implemented tentatively by June-July, 2019), flyers at Indira Gandhi International airport can directly head to security check in just 15 seconds with the help of ‘digi-tokens. The e-tokens, valid for 1-3 months, allow a passenger to directly head for security checks or to the baggage drop facility after they enter the airport. The initiative is being implemented by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The passenger could also use the facility through a mobile application. To avail the service, the flyer has to register through the app and create an ID. During registration, the flyers will have to submit their ID proofs as per requirement. The details will be accessed by the CISF officials to issue token numbers. Once the passengers reach the airport, a smart face recognition camera will scan their face and their information, which will then be matched with the one available with the airlines. Once the basic information like the PNR, name, phone number and ticket number matches, a token will be issued automatically. The token will give passengers access into the terminal building. The entire process is expected to take around 10-15 seconds per passenger.
  9. Pugwash conference – The Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs is an international organization that brings together scholars and public figures to work toward reducing the danger of armed conflict and to seek solutions to global security threats.
  10. Italy has planned to endorse the Belt and Road Initiative. This is the first such move by a G7 member.

Categories: POINT IAS

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