Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - September 14, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

Unicef report says Child Mortality Rate in India has declined substantially

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

                                         

Context

  • Country's child mortality rate has declined substantially between 1990 and 2019.
  • According to the new mortality estimates released by UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the World Bank Group, the under-five mortality rate (deaths per 1,000 live births) in India declined to 34 in 2019 from 126 in 1990.

About the Highlights

  • The country registered a 4.5 per cent annual rate of reduction in under-five mortality between 1990-2019.
  • The number of under-five deaths in India dropped from 3.4 million in 1990 to 824,000 in 2019.
  • The infant mortality rate (deaths per 1,000 live births) in India declined from 89 in 1990 to 28 last year. 

 Source: AIR News.

76% patents filed in India are by foreign Cos

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.


Context

  • About 76% of patents filed in India over the past 13 years have been by foreigners residing outside the country.
  • The number of Indian patents over the period has been steadily decreasing, but a majority of them are still courtesy foreign firms.

Background

  • The data has been revealed in the Science & Technology Indicators (STI 2019-20) which was released by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) on August 24.
  • According to the STI 2019-20, 5.1 lakh patent applications were filed in the country between 2005-06 and 2017-18, with most coming from outside the country.

 About the Highlights

  • Of the total 5.1 lakh applications, nearly 1.4 lakh patent applications were from the US alone.
  • The country accounted for about 27% of all applications over the 13-year period.
  • The number of patents from India has been steadily increasing, rising from 4,521 in 2005-06 to 15,550 in 2017-18.
  • The corresponding figures for patents filed by foreigners and companies based abroad were 19,984 and 32,304.
  • Among Indian states, Maharashtra has the highest (3,820) number of patents in 2017-18, followed by Tamil Nadu (2,742) and Karnataka (2,022).
  • In Indian research and development organisations, the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) facilities have consistently been ahead of the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research in filing patents.

Source: Times of India.

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More than 1 billion people face displacement by 2050

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Disaster and disaster management.


Context

  • More than 1 billion people face being displaced within 30 years as the climate crisis and rapid population growth drive an increase in migration with "huge impacts" for both the developing and developed worlds, according to an analysis.
  • Compiled by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), a think-tank that produces annual terrorism and peace indexes, the Ecological Threat Registeruses data from the United Nations and other sources to assess eight ecological threats and predict which countries and regions are most at risk.

Background

  • Numerous countries most at risk from ecological threats are also predicted to experience significant population increases, such as Nigeria, Angola, Burkina Faso and Uganda.
  • These countries already struggle to address ecological issues.
  • The report drew on data from worldwide organizations like the United Nations, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the IEP's prior research on countries' resilience levels.

About the Highlights

  • The world population is predicted to reach close to 10 billion people by 2050.
  • Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen have ongoing conflicts and are "highly exposed to ecological threats", meaning they "are already trapped in a vicious cycle where competition for scarce resources creates conflict and conflict in turn leads to further resource depletion", the report says. Over 6.4 billion people now live in countries facing two or more threats.
  • It judged Pakistan to be the country with the largest number of people at risk of mass migration, followed by Ethiopia and Iran, adding that in such countries "even small ecological threats and natural disasters could result in mass population displacement".
  • "Now they are also going to be facing increased stress on their water and food supplies".
  • At the same time, many countries globally cut their aid budgets substantially over the past few years.
  • Changes in climate, especially the warming of global temperatures, increases the likelihood of weather-related natural disasters such as droughts, as well as increasing the intensity of storms and creating wetter monsoons.
  • Asia Pacific has had the most deaths from natural disasters with over 581,000 recorded since 1990.
  • In Europe, flooding is recorded as the most common natural disaster, accounting for 35 per cent of recorded disasters in the region.
  • 16 countries including Sweden, Norway, Ireland, and Iceland, faced no threat.
  • The world had 60% less fresh water available than it did 50 years ago, while demand for food was predicted to rise by 50% by 2050 and natural disasters were only likely to increase in frequency because of the climate crisis. 

Source: The Guardian.

India, Japan sign key pact for reciprocal provision of supplies, services between defence forces

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India's interests.


Context

  • India and Japan have signed a key agreement for reciprocal provision of supplies and services between their defence forces, which is expected to drive closer military cooperation and contribute to regional security.
  • The Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) between Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and India’s armed forces was signed by Japanese ambassador Satoshi Suzuki and defence secretary Ajay Kumar in New Delhi.

Background

  • “The agreement establishes a framework such as the settlement procedures for the reciprocal provision of supplies and services between the Self-Defense Forces of Japan and the Indian armed forces,” said a statement from Japan’s foreign ministry.
  • The agreement is expected to facilitate “smooth and prompt provision of supplies and services” between the two sides, promote closer cooperation between the Self-Defense Forces of Japan and India’s armed forces, and enable them to actively contribute to international peace and security, the statement said.

About the Highlights

  • It had earlier been expected the pact would be signed during a summit between Abe and Modi this year.
  • However, the holding of the summit has been thrown into doubt by Abe’s decision last month to step down on health grounds.
  • The agreement will cover the reciprocal provision of supplies and services during joint exercises and training missions, UN peacekeeping operations, humanitarian relief operations, operations to cope with disasters in the territory of both parties or a third country, and evacuation of nationals of India and Japan from overseas in exigencies.
  • The supplies and services covered by the pact include food, water, transportation, including airlift, petroleum, clothing, communications and medical services, use of facilities, spares and components, and repair and maintenance services.
  • The agreement will remain in force for 10 years and will be automatically extended for periods of 10 years unless one of the parties decides to end it.
  • India has similar agreements with the US, Australia, France, Oman and Singapore.
  • Abe, Japan’s longest serving prime minister, listed actions taken by India and Japan for realising the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific and the elevation of the special strategic and global partnership between the two countries among the key achievements in bilateral relations. 

Source: Hindustan Times.

Rajiv Mehrishi Committee

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


Context

  • Central Government has formed a three-member committee to examine calls for relief on interest banks are charging on loan instalments deferred during the moratorium period due to COVID-19. 
  • Rajiv Mehrishi is the chairperson of the committee. He is a former Comptroller and Auditor General.
Background 
  • The other two members are: Ravindra H Dholakia, a former professor at IIM Ahmedabad and B Sriram, a former managing director at State Bank of India and IDBI Bank.
  • The committee will measure the impact on the economy on the ‘waiving of interest and waiving of interest’.
About the Highlights
  • The terms of reference of the committee shall be as under:
  • Measuring the impact on the national economy and financial stability of waiving of interest and waiving of interest on interest on the COVID-19 related moratorium.
  • Suggestions to mitigate financial constraints of various sections of society in this respect and measures to be adopted in this regard. 

Source: AIR News.

BJP unit registers under U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


Context

  • The FARA requires “agents representing the interests of foreign powers in a political or quasi political capacity [to] disclose their relationship with the foreign government and information about related finances”.
  • The BJP has become the first mainstream political party from India to have named itself as a foreign principal of an organization in the United States, after the Overseas Friends of the BJP (OFBJP) registered under the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) under the U.S. Department of Justice.
  • The registration was done on August 27, 2020, according to the registration statement filed by the OFBJP. 

Background

  • The FARA requires “agents representing the interests of foreign powers in a political or quasi political capacity [to]disclose their relationship with the foreign government and information about related finances”.
  • Under activities and services, the OFBJP says that it “primarily engages in support of the Principal (BJP) on its own initiative and receives no compensation for its efforts. Registrant does engage in regular communication with officials of the BJP and from time to time acts under the direction or at the request of BJP officials when planning events or distributing materials with the U.S..”

Highlights

  • Most other entities from India registered under this Act are legal, lobby or public relations firms engaged by the Indian Embassy or the tourism department.
  • An unknown political party from India, (Democratic Party of India) and a TV channel are also registered.
  • Pakistan’s ruling Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League (N) as well as Bangaldesh’s opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) are some of the other political parties from the South Asian neighborhood with FARA registration.
  • The BJP has denied that they received any such notice.
  • The DoJ also published for the first time the names of more than a dozen entities who had been made to register or stop activity on behalf of the foreign entities, along with the names of more than a dozen entities who had been made to register between 2017-19.

Source: The Hindu.

Five star villages scheme

Focus: GS2.                                

Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.


Context

  • The Department of Posts has launched a scheme called Five Star Villages, to ensure universal coverage of flagship postal schemes in rural areas of the country.
  • The scheme is being launched on pilot basis in Maharashtra, and based on the experience – it will be implemented nation-wide.

About the scheme

  • The Five Star Villages Scheme seeks to bridge the gaps in public awareness and reach of postal products and services, especially in interior villages.
  • All postal products and services will be made available and marketed and publicized at village level under this scheme.
  • Branch offices will function as one-stop shop to cater all post office – related needs of villagers.

About the Highlights

  • If a village attains universal coverage for four schemes from the above list, then that village gets four-star status; if a village completes three schemes, then that village get three-star status and so on.
  • The scheme will be implemented by a team of five Gramin Dak Sevaks who will be assigned a village for marketing of all products, savings and insurance schemes of the Department of Posts.
  • The team of Gramin Dak Sevaks will conduct door-to-door awareness campaign on all schemes, covering all eligible villagers. Wide publicity will be given by displaying the information on notice board of Branch Office.
  • The scheme progress and target achievement will be closely monitored at Circle, Regional and Divisional levels.

Source: PIB. 

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Test your Knowledge

  1. Consider the following statements wrt SAROD-Ports:
  1. SAROD-Ports consists members from Indian Ports Association (IPA) and Indian Private Ports and Terminals Association (IPTTA).
  2. SAROD-Ports will advise and assist in settlement of disputes through arbitrations in the maritime sector, including ports and shipping sector in Major Port Trusts, Non-major Ports, including private ports, jetties, terminals and harbours.
  3. ‘SAROD-Ports’ is similar to provision available in Highway Sector in the form of SAROD-Roads constituted by NHAI.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

    A. 1 and 2 only
    B. 2 and 3 only
    C. 1 and 3 only
    D. AOTA

 Solution: D

  1. Living Planet Report is released by:

      A. World Bank
      B. WWF
      C. UNESCO
      D. WEF

  Solution: B



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