Insight Current Affairs for UPSC IES – 27 June 2019




Insight Current Affairs for UPSC IES – 27 June 2019

1) NASA confirms presence of Methane on Mars

  • NASA has confirmed that the Curiosity rover, the NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission, recently detected the largest amount of methane ever measured during the mission.




  • Curiosity’s methane reading came to 21 parts per billion units by volume. It is thrice the amount it sniffed out during a surge in 2013.

  • During a follow-up test later, though, scientists found that the methane levels around the rover already dropped sharply.

  • Curiosity detected normal methane levels, that is 1 part per billion by volume, following the sudden elevation.

  • It suggested that the abnormally high values came from transient methane plumes.

  • As Curiosity is not equipped with instruments to determine whether the source of methane is biological or geological, the scientists are yet to figure out a pattern for Martian’s transient plumes.

Methane

  • Methane is a gas formed by both geological and biological processes.
  • It is the main constituent of natural gas. It is a group-14 hydride and the simplest alkane with the chemical formula CH4.
  • The methane concentration in earth’s atmospheric has increased by about 150% since 1750.
  • Methane accounts for 20% of the total radiative forcing from all of the long-lived and globally mixed greenhouse gases.

2) Rachna Khaira won the Journalist of the Year Award 2019

  • Rachna Khaira of The Tribune News Service won the Redlnk Award for Excellence in Indian Journalism Journalist of the Year 2019. She is currently working for The Huffington Post.

Why she was awarded?

  • The award is for her expose during 2018 on functioning of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and its Aadhaar data cache.

  • The investigation that was conducted by Rachna Khaira confirmed that personal data of millions of citizens were at risk of being hacked/traded for a price.

  • The journalists ran a series of sting operations regarding the isssue and it helped to raise serious doubts over government claims that Aadhaar data stored on UIDAI servers was safe and secure.

RedInk Award

  • The Red Ink awards are a set of annual awards which were instituted by The Mumbai Press Club in 2010.
  • The award recognises an individual for his/her excellence in journalistic achievements as assessed by a special jury.
  • These award grants national recognition to journalists by a professional body.

3) Italy will host Winter Olympics 2026

  • The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that the 2026 Winter Olympics will be staged at the Italian venue of Milan/Cortina d’Ampezzo. The Winter Games will happen from 6 February to 22 February in 2026.

  • Italy beat off a bid from Stockholm/Are in Sweden. Italy won the bid by the approval of the IOC members by 47 votes to 34.

  • Italy has twice previously hosted the Winter Olympics twice.

  • It first hosted Olympics in 1956 in Cortina d’Ampezzo and then in 2006 in Turin. It has been estimated that the Games will generate five billion euros ($5.69 billion) and create 20,000 jobs.

  • The 2022 Winter Olympics will be staged in Beijing.

4) Mike Pompeo’s 3 day visit to India

  • US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought to reduce heightened trade tension with India on 26 June, promising a renewed focus on negotiating better ties, but giving few specifics of how they would overcome their disputes over trade and investment.

  • Pompeo arrived in New Delhi on 25 June on a three-day visit after stops in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

5) Trade Disputes

  • The trade disputes have led to higher tariffs by the two countries and created unease over the depth of their security alliance.

  • In particular, the sudden introduction of new e-commerce rules for foreign investors in February angered the Americans because it showed New Delhi was prepared to move the goalposts to hurt two of the largest U.S. companies, discount retailer Walmart, and Amazon.com Inc.

  • Just days before Pompeo’s visit, India slapped higher retaliatory tariffs on 28 U.S. products following Washington’s withdrawal of key trade privileges for New Delhi.

6) Missile S-400

  • India’s ties with Russia and Iran, both now subject to U.S. sanctions, are also a sore point.

  • U.S. pressure has led India to stop buying oil from Iran, a top energy supplier. The United States has also stepped up pressure on India not to proceed with its purchase of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia.

  • However, India has clarified that it will go ahead for S-400 deal for national interest.

7) Entire payment data shall be stored in systems located only in India, says RBI on data localization

  • The Reserve Bank of India on 26 June said all data related to payments must be stored only in India and data processed abroad will have to be brought back to the country within 24 hours.

  • RBI clarified in its FAQs on certain implementation issues raised by the Payment System Operators (PSOs).

  • Clarifying on its April 2018 circular, the central bank also said that while there is no bar on processing of payment transactions outside India, this data shall be stored only in India after the processing.

Background:

  • The central bank had, on 6 April, 2018, asked payment system operators to store data related to payments in India.

8) NITI AAYOG’s Health Index

  • Kerala retained its spot as the healthiest state on the Niti Aayog’s state-wise healthcare rankings while Uttar Pradesh stood at the bottom.

  • The findings were published in Niti Aayog’s report titled ‘Healthy States Progressive India: Report on Rank of States and UTs.’

  • Kerala was followed by Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra in terms of overall performance in the health sector.

  • While Gujarat, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh stood at fourth, fifth and sixth spots, the report ranked Haryana, Rajasthan and Jharkhand as the top three states in terms of incremental performance.

Least Performing States

  • Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttrakhand and Odisha were worst performing states.

  • Rajasthan was the only previous state which improved its tally as it gained 6.3 points.

What is Health Index?

  • The health index is a composite score incorporating 23 health indicators such as neonatal mortality rate, sex ratio at birth, average occupancy for an officer (in months), proportion of vacant health care provider positions in public health facilities etc.

  • The government’s think tank had first come out with its state-wise health rankings in in February 2018.

  • The index, known as Health Index-2017, measured the annual and incremental performance of states and union territories over financial year 2014-15 (base year) to 2015-16 (reference year).

9) APEDA Organizes Buyers – Sellers Meet in Manipur

  • Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) in association with North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation (NERAMAC) organised the second Conference cum International Buyers-Sellers Meet in Imphal, Manipur in June 2019.

  • This conference in Imphal provided a platform for B2B and B2G meetings with international buyers, exporters and progressive farmers / growers to explore opportunities and prospects from the North East Region particularly from Manipur. 20 international buyers from South East Asia, Gulf countries and neighbouring countries participated in this event and interacted with Indian exporters.

  • The North East Region (NER) is diverse and has huge potential that can be capitalised considering its agricultural and horticultural produce, strategic location, neighbouring the South East Asian countries.

  • According to APEDA, India’s total agricultural product exports is valued at 38 billion USD for the financial year 2017-18, out of which 50% is contributed through APEDA’s products.

10) International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking: June 26

  • Every year, the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is observed on June 26 to raise awareness about drug abuse and illegal drug trade.

Theme of 2019 day – Health for justice. Justice for Health.

  • According to the UN, the theme aims at integrated nature of the rights and health-based approaches which are both highlighted in this ministerial declaration.

About a day

  • The day observed by the United Nations was established by General Assembly on December 7, 1987. This day is being marked since 1989.

  • As per the UN, this day is an expression of its determination to strengthen action cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse.

  • This day shows the issue of illicit drugs present in the society and how individuals, communities and various organization all over the world can come together to sweep it out.

11) 20 years of Kargil war

  • Commemorating 20 years of the Kargil War, the IAF turned the Gwalior air base virtually into a conflict theatre on June 24, with dramatic reenactment of some of the milestones of the operation in 1999.

  • In a symbolic ‘recreation’ of the Tiger Hill attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Drass-Kargil area, the air force used the Mirage 2000 aircraft and explosives were blown up on a ‘model hill’ to recreate the crucial events of the war. Several gallantry award winners, both serving and retired, who had participated in ‘Operation Vijay’, are attending the event.

Kargil War 1999

  • The Kargil War was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan that took place between May and July 1999 in the Kargil district of Kashmir and elsewhere along the Line of Control (LOC). In India, the conflict is also referred to as Operation Vijay which was the name of the Indian operation to clear the Kargil sector.

  • The cause of the war was the infiltration of Pakistani soldiers disguised as Kashmiri militants into positions on the Indian side of the LOC. The victory for India came at a very high price. The official death toll for India was 527 and for Pakistan, it was between 357 and 453.

  • Kargil Vijay Diwas, celebrated on 26th July, commemorates India’s emphatic victory against Pakistan and honours the war heroes. On this day in 1999, the Indian Army successfully took control of posts at a treacherous high altitude and glaciated terrain across the Himalayas in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, after fighting for 60 days.

12) Korean ambassador signs agreement for providing assistance in prosthetic limbs sector

  • Korean Ambassador to India Bong-kil Shin launched ‘Jaipur Foot Korea’ on June 24. It is a collaborative initiative between Korea and Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti (BMVSS), a prosthetic limb organisation.

  • Under this agreement, Korea will provide financial and technical assistance to further research and development collaboration in the med-tech sector specifically in the area of prosthetic limbs, bionic arms, 3-D printing-based Flat foot solution and mobility solutions.

  • The agreement will open up access to Korean med-tech students to join the various prosthetic fitment camps in various countries and participate in certificate programmes offered by Jaipur Foot. The agreement will also open up opportunities for overseas development assistance and grants from the Government of Korea and donations from private institutions and corporations from Korea to India.

  • South Korea (officially the Republic of Korea) is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korean Peninsula and sharing a land border with North Korea. Its capital is Seoul and Currency is Korean Republic won.

Insight Current Affairs for UPSC IES – 26 June 2019