UPSC Daily Current Affairs-19th July 2018

www.iasinsights.in; www.iasgyaan.com posts UPSC Daily current Affairs -19th July 2018. This info is taken from News papers, PIB, AIR News and Summarized for your easy understanding.

Daily Current Affairs -19th July 2018

GS-I (Geography)

Govt taking steps to improve accuracy of IMD’s prediction

  • The Government is taking various steps to further improve the accuracy of predictions made by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD).
  • The absolute error of the IMD’s monsoon forecast for seasonal rainfall has shown a significant decrease compared to previous years after the implementation of the new Statistical Ensemble Forecasting System in 2007.
  • The IMD was able to predict the deficient monsoon rainfall experienced during 2014 and 2015 accurately, adding that various measures have been taken to upgrade the IMD forecast system to “further improve prediction accuracy”.
  • Under the Monsoon Mission, a new dynamical prediction system for long range forecasting of Indian monsoon has been implemented by the IMD.

GS-II(Governance)

WCD set to move proposal before Cabinet to make all future child marriages invalid

  • The Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry is set to move a proposal before the Cabinet to make all future child marriages in the country invalid
  • The proposal of the ministry, if approved, would amend the law that allows child marriages to continue till a case is filed in a district court by either of the two contracting parties within two years of becoming an adult, or through a guardian in case of minors.
  • Under the proposal of the ministry, all future child marriages would be made illegal and invalid from the outset.
  • The ministry seeks to amend section 3 of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, under which a child marriage is only voidable at the option of the contracting parties.

What Indian law says about child marriages?

  • Under the Hindu Personal Law and Muslim Personal Board, a girl can seek dissolution of her marriage only if she was married off before the age of 15 years, and she has to apply for dissolution before she is 18.
  • The legal age for marriage in India is 18 for a woman and 21 for a man.
  • In October 2017, the Supreme Court had ruled that “sexual intercourse with a minor wife amounts to rape, as under no circumstances can a child below 18 years give consent, express or implied, for sexual intercourse.

Why to declare invalid?

  • According to a study based on Census 2011, there are 2.3 crore child brides in the country.
  • The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 2015-16 also showed that 26.8 per cent women were married off before they turned 18.
  • According to the NFHS 2015-16, nearly 8% girls in the 15-19 age group had already become mothers or were pregnant at the time of the survey.
  • The World Health Organisation, in a report dealing with the issue of child brides, found that though 11 per cent of the births worldwide are among adolescents, they account for 23 per cent of the overall burden of diseases.
Rajya Sabha MP’s can now speak in 22 Indian languages in House
  • It is announced that the Upper House now has a facility for simultaneous interpretation in all 22 Indian languages after addition of five more languages.
  • Members can now also speak in Dogri, Kashmiri, Konkani, Santhali and Sindhi.
  • Of the 22 scheduled languages, the Rajya Sabha earlier had simultaneous interpretation services for 17 languages including Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.
  • However, members will have to give a prior notice for the interpreter in the secretariat.

RS recent achievement:

  • The Rajya Sabha, for the first time in 66 years, has signed a pact with a parliamentary institution of a foreign nation when it entered into an MoU with the Senate of Rawanda earlier this month.
  • The MoU provides for inter-parliamentary dialogue and parliamentary exchange visits among others.
  • Till now, only Lok Sabha used to enter into such kind of agreements with foreign parliamentary institutions.
Government does not regulate content appearing on social media sites
  • The government does not regulate content on social media and is committed to freedom of speech, expression and privacy of citizens, Minister of State for Electronics and IT S S Ahluwalia informed Parliament
  • Law enforcement and security agencies may take action on a specific case-to-case basis as per law in force.
  • Social media has emerged as a popular online medium or platform to enable users to share ideas and express views or opinions on specific topics and it acknowledges some people misusing it.

GS-II(Law)

Where a man can enter, a woman can go’, CJI observes in Sabarimala case
  • A batch of petitions has challenged the prohibition on women of a certain age group from entering the Sabarimala temple
  • The Bench is hearing the question whether the fundamental right of women to pray at the place of their choice can be discriminated against solely based “on a biological factor (menstruation) exclusive to the female gender.”
  • Article 25 (1) which mandates freedom of conscience and right to practise religion provides woman to pray and is not even dependent on a legislation as it is constitutional right.
  • The Chief Justice noted that the Sabarimala temple drew funds from the Consolidated Fund, had people coming from all over the world and thus, qualified to be called a “public place of worship.”
Draft rules ready for child-friendly courts
  • The Maharashtra state government  told the Bombay High Court on Tuesday that it has prepared draft guidelines for child-friendly courts in the State.
  • A suo motu public interest litigation was filed after the Supreme Court passed certain directions to all high courts to establish child-friendly courts.

Why to have such child friendly courts?

UN convention on the rights of children and it mentioned that a conducive environment must be created for the victim to express freely and this was also the backbone of the Juvenile Justice Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.

Purpose:

  • The guidelines entail having a glass between the accused and the child where only the accused can see the victim. By taking this step, there will not be any pressure on the child to depose
  • There is a proposal to not have uniforms for judges, lawyers or police officials in court so that the child feels comfortable.
  • The court asked if technology can be used so that the child need not even come to court for the trial. Ex:videoconferencing could be used for children to depose.
Cabinet nod to table bill in Parliament providing death for rapists of girls below 12 years
  • The Union cabinet has approved the bill providing death penalty for those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12 years. The draft bill which was prepared by the Home Ministry will be tabled in the Monsoon Session of Parliament
  • The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018, once approved by Parliament, will replace the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance promulgated on April 21.

Background:

  •  It is following an outcry over the rape and murder of a minor girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir and the rape of a woman in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh.

Bill is all about:

  • The bill stipulates stringent punishment for perpetrators of rape, particularly of girls below 12 years.
  • It also provides minimum punishment in case of rape of women to be increased from rigorous imprisonment of seven years to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment. Death sentence has been provided for rapists of girls under 12 years.
  • In case of rape of a girl under 16 years, the minimum punishment has been increased from 10 years to 20 years, extendable to imprisonment for rest of life, which means jail term till the convict’s “natural life”.
  • The punishment for gang rape of a girl below 16 years will invariably be imprisonment for the rest of life of the convict.
  • In case of rape of a girl under 12 years, the minimum punishment will be 20 years which may go up to life in prison or death sentence.
  • Gang rape of a girl under 12 years of age will invite the punishment of a jail term for the rest of life or death sentence.
  • It also provides for speedy investigation and trial. The investigation in all cases of rape will have to be mandatory completed within two months.
  • A six-month time limit for the disposal of appeals in rape cases has also been prescribed.
  • There will also be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gang rape of a girl under 16 years.
  •  It has also been prescribed that a court has to give notice of 15 days to a public prosecutor and the representative of the victim before deciding bail applications in case of rape of a girl under 16 years of age.

GS-III(Economy)

Government working on another version of UDAN
  • The Civil Aviation Ministry on Wednesday said it had started work on another version of regional air connectivity scheme for tourist destinations.
  • The existing scheme, known as Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN), seeks to connect unserved and under-served airports in different parts of the country.
  • Under the scheme as many as 56 unserved and 17 under-served airports and 31 heliports would be connected.
  • So far, 30 state governments/ Union Territories have signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with the Civil Aviation Ministry for participating in UDAN and providing various concessions to the airline operators.
  • UDAN is a demand-driven scheme where airline operator assesses the feasibility of operation on a particular route and bids under the scheme from time to time.

GS-III(Science and Technology)

ISRO ropes in three partners to assemble 27 satellites
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has roped in three partners to help it assemble 27 satellites at a quick pace over the next three years.
  • ISRO’s  nodal satellites division URSC (U.R. Rao Satellite Centre) signed separate three-year contracts with Alpha Design Technologies P Ltd and its six consortium members; with defense public enterprise Bharat Electronics Ltd; and with Tata Advanced Systems Ltd, Hyderabad.
  • Each partner will work with the URSC to produce three small to medium satellites each year, or a total of 27 spacecraft by July 2021.
  • URSC-ISRO has inked pacts for outsourcing of spacecraft assembly, integration and testing [AIT] activities with multiple vendors.
  • URSC estimates a requirement of around 71 satellites till 2021. It means adding 12 satellites a year or one every month. In 2017, it made a record 12 spacecraft but is unable to cope with a growing demand from new applications. Around 35 Indian spacecraft are active in space and will need to be replaced as they expire over time.
  • URSC unit, ISRO Satellite Integration and Test Establishment or ISITE, will also provide three separate work stations for the three partners.
  • The space agency launches three types of satellites – for communication, Earth observation and navigation.
Scientists decode how mustard plants tolerate salt
  • Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai have decoded how the plant RNA and hormones in mustard plants grown with high salt stress (125-150 milliMolar NaCl).
  • This decoding helps scientists to develop GM crops which are salt resistant.
  • High salinity is one of the major problems in agricultural fields and many countries, including India, use an organic sulphur compound thiourea to minimize the negative effect of salt stress.
  • Anthropogenic factors, irregular irrigation and proximity to the sea can cause high salinity in the agricultural fields and this induces redox imbalance and damages the plant.
  • Various studies have shown that thiourea is a good redox stabilizer as it scavenges multiple reactive oxygen species including hydrogen peroxide.
  • Thiourea based technology can provide easy-cum-affordable solution to the farmers for minimizing abiotic stress induced losses in crop plants.

GS-III(Health)

Three in five HIV-carriers now have access to drugs: UN 

  • Almost three in five people infected with HIV, or 21.7 million globally, took antiretroviral therapy in 2017 — a new record for anti-AIDS drug access, the UN AIDS said.
  • There were 36.9 million people living with the immune system-attacking virus in 2017, of whom 15.2 million were not getting the drugs they need — the lowest number since the epidemic exploded, the joint UN programme on HIV/AIDS reported.
  • The number of people on antiretroviral therapy (ART) grew from 19.4 million in 2016 to 21.7 million last year — up from a mere 6,11,000 in the year 2000 and 2.1 million in 2005.

Concerns

  • Hailing progress in curbing new infections and deaths, the agency nevertheless lamented the mounting human toll: almost 80 million infections and 35.4 million lives lost since the first cases became known in the early 1980s.
  • Progress made to date risks being halted, even reversed, if funding and world attention is allowed to dwindle, the agency warned.
  • In 2017, about $20.6 billion was available for AIDS programmes in low-and middle-income countries which funded about 56% from their own budgets.
  • Under Donald Trump, the U.S. administration — a major funder of AIDS programmes historically, has threatened to cut spending.
  • Despite more than three decades of research, there is no cure or vaccine and HIV-positive people have to take lifelong treatment that can be expensive and have nasty side-effects.
  • ART inhibits the virus and can limit its spread between people — mainly through sex — but does not kill it.
  • UNAIDS reported large variation between world regions in the battle against the killer virus.
  • In West Asia and north Africa, for example, less than a third of people with HIV have access to ARV, only 36% of those in eastern Europe and central Asia, and 40% in west and central Africa.
  • For west and central Europe and North America, the number is 78%, with about 1.7 million out of 2.2 million infected people on ARV.
  • In east and southern Africa — home to 53% of people living with HIV in the world — deaths declined by 42% from 2010 to 2017, thanks largely to the widespread rollout of treatment.
  • However, there has been no reduction in AIDS-related mortality in eastern Europe and central Asia since 2010, and deaths from AIDS-related illness increased by 11% in the West Asia and North Africa.

India lags in routine immunization programme

  • An estimated 19.9 million infants worldwide did not receive routine services such as three doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP3) vaccine in 2017.
  • Around 60% of these children live in 10 countries — Afghanistan, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa.
  • This was revealed in a report released by the World Health Organization and UNICEF on immunisation estimates.

Statistics

  • It noted that global vaccination coverage — the proportion of the world’s children who receive recommended vaccines — has remained the same over the past few years.
  • Besides this, an additional 4.6 million infants were vaccinated globally in 2017 compared to 2010 due to global population growth.
  • The report stated that more efforts are needed to reach universal immunisation coverage.
  • Of the 19.9 million infants who are not fully vaccinated with DTP3, almost eight million or 40% live in fragile or humanitarian settings, including countries affected by conflict.
  • And about 5.6 million of them live in just three countries — Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan, where access to routine immunisation services is critical to achieving and sustaining polio eradication.

New vaccines

  • Meanwhile, newly available vaccines are being added as part of the life-saving vaccination package. These include ones that offer protection against meningitis, malaria and even Ebola.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract and can cause cervical cancer, other types of cancer, and genital warts in both men and women. The HPV vaccine was introduced in 80 countries in 2017.

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