CURRENT AFFAIRS


25th Sep, 2020

 

Standards for Safety Evaluation 0f Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles

The Standards for Safety Evaluation of Hydrogen Fuel Cells vehicles were recently notified.

Ministry: The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

The motor vehicles of Category M and Category N, running on compressed gaseous hydrogen fuel cell, shall be in accordance with AIS 157:2020, as amended from time to time, till the corresponding Bureau of Indian Standard Act, 2016, specification is notified.

Also, the hydrogen fuel specification for fuel cell vehicles will be in accordance with ISO 14687.

They were notified through an amendment to Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989.

These standards are also at par with the available international standards.

This would facilitate the promotion of Hydrogen Fuel Cell based vehicles in India.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell based vehicles are energy efficient and environment friendly.


 

World Rhino Day

World Rhino Day was celebrated on September 22.

Objective: Generating awareness about the threats faced by Rhinoceroses all over the world.

World Rhino Day was first announced by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) – South Africa in 2010.

It celebrates all five species of rhino – Black, white, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan rhinos.

It also generates awareness of issues regarding their well-being.

Threats: Poaching, urbanization and pollution.

It is the only large mammal species in Asia to be down-listed from endangered to vulnerable in the IUCN Red list in 2008.

Indian Environment Ministry has launched the National Rhino Conservation Strategy in 2019 to conserve the greater one-horned rhinoceros.

This is a first of its kind for the species in India which aims to work for the conservation of the species.

Objectives: 

(1) Strengthening protection;

(2) Expanding the distribution range;

(3) Research and monitoring;

(4) Adequate and sustained funding.

India is home to the largest number of Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros in the world

Its population is in the range of 3000 animals in Assam, West Bengal and UP.


 

MPs Suspended for unruly behaviour

Eight Rajya Sabha MPs were recently suspended for unruly behaviour in the House.

Rule Number 373 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business: It deals with the Power of the Speaker who, under his discretion, may direct MP to withdraw immediately from the House for the remainder of the day’s sitting.

Rule 374: The Speaker may name a Member who disregards the authority of the Chair or abuses the rules of the House by persistently and wilfully obstructing the business thereof.

Rule 374A: It is invoked by Speaker for automatic suspension of member of the House – for five consecutive sittings or the remainder of the session, whichever is less in the event of grave disorder occasioned by a Member

Unlike the Speaker, the Rajya Sabha Chairman does not have the power to suspend a Member.


 

Special Report on Sustainable Recovery released

Special Report on Sustainable Recovery’ was recently released.

Presented by: International Energy Agency (IEA) and NITI Aayog

It is a part of IEA’s flagship World Energy Outlook series.

It proposes a number of actions that could be taken over the next three years to revitalize economies and boost employment while making energy systems cleaner and more resilient.

According to report, Post the 2008–09 financial crisis, green measures accounted for around 16% of the total stimulus measures.

To recover from the pandemic, it is important to be more ambitious and decisive towards clean investments.

Key sectors for creating jobs: Electricity, transportation, buildings, industry and sustainable biofuels and innovations.

The International Energy Agency is an intergovernmental organisation established in the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1974 in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis.

It is Headquartered in Paris, France.


 

Queen Elizabeth II to be dropped as monarch by Barbados

Queen Elizabeth II, who is the head of state in the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms will be dropped as monarch by Barbados in 2021.

Barbados aims to complete the process of becoming a republic before its 55th anniversary of independence from Britain, in November 2021.

With this, it will become the first country in almost three decades to sever ties with the British royal family and become a republic.

Barbados, a former British colony, gained its independence in 1966.

Although it is an independent state, Queen Elizabeth remains its constitutional head.

It shall remain a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Commonwealth of Nations is the 54-nation club of mostly former British colonies which is led by the Queen, and includes India.


 

World Risk Index 2020 released

According to the World Risk Index (WRI) 2020, India is ‘poorly prepared’ to deal with ‘climate reality’, due to which it is vulnerable to extreme natural disasters.

Among continents, Oceania is at the highest risk, followed by Africa and the Americas.

World Risk Index

It is part of the World Risk Report 2020 released by the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), Bundnis Entwicklung Hilft and the University of Stuttgart in Germany.

It is calculated on a country-by-country basis, through the multiplication of exposure and vulnerability.

It describes the disaster risk for various countries and regions.

It is released annually since 2011.

It indicates which countries are in the greatest need to strengthen measures for coping with and adapting to extreme natural events.


 

New Brucellosis Vaccine by ICAR

Brucella abortus S19Δ per vaccine is developed recently by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s -Indian Veterinary Research Institute (ICAR-IVRI) for brucellosis prevention in the dairy sector.

Brucellosis

It is a bacterial zoonotic disease caused by various Brucella species.

It mainly infect cattle, swine, goats, sheep and dogs.

It is also known as Malta fever or Mediterranean fever.

It is endemic in India causing huge economic losses to dairy industry due to:

(1) Infertility;

(2) Abortion;

(3) Birth of weak off springs;

(4) Reduced productivity


 

Hundreds of long-finned pilot whales die

Over 450 long-finned pilot whales have died in Australia’s largest recorded mass-stranding event.

The whales were beached at a remote beach in Tasmania’s west coast.

Beaching

It refers to the phenomenon of dolphins and whales stranding themselves on beaches.

There are around 2,000 strandings each year worldwide, with most resulting in the death of the animal.

Whales strand themselves on beaches either singularly or in groups.

While individual strandings are mostly attributed to injury or sickness, it is not clear why exactly whales beach themselves in groups.

Long-finned pilot whales

Scientific Name: Globicephala melas

These are one of two species of pilot whale, along with short-finned pilot whales.

These prefer deep temperate to subpolar oceanic waters.

They have been known to occur in coastal waters in some areas.

They have been documented near the Antarctic sea ice and associated with the colder Benguela and Humboldt Currents, which may extend their normal range.

Protection Status: (1) CITES: Appendix II; (2) IUCN: Least Concern


 

CAG Survey Report on School Toilets

Recently, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has flagged irregularities in the construction of toilets in schools by Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) in an audit report tabled before Parliament.

The CAG audit conducted a physical survey of a sample of 2,695 toilets built by CPSEs in 15 States.

Out of the 1,967 schools surveyed, 99 schools had no functional toilets while 436 had only one functional toilet.

Thus, the objective of providing separate toilets for boys and girls was not fulfilled in 27% of the schools.

Norm for daily cleaning (at least once a day) not followed: 75% of toilets

No running water facilities inside: 72% of constructed toilets

No hand washing facilities: 55% of the toilets

Almost 40% of toilets were non-existent, partially completed or unused.

There are 10.8 lakh government schools in the country. Overall, more than 1.4 lakh toilets have been built by 53 CPSEs, with significant support coming from power, coal and oil companies as part of the Swachh Vidyalaya Abhiyan.

Swachh Vidyalaya Abhiyan:

Launched by: Ministry of Education in September 2014.

Aim: To have separate toilets for boys and girls in all schools all over India.

The programme norms required the CPSEs to build toilets with running water and hand washing facilities.


 

Science & Technology Indicators, 2019-20

According to the latest Science & Technology Indicators (STI) report for 2019-20, India performs very dismally in the field science & technology innovation.

Released by: Department of Science and Technology (DST).

In these 13 years, just 24% of patent claims came from Indians.

Reasons for Dismal Performance

Poor investment in research and development (R&D)

The poor state of higher education.

Lack of employable personnel, who lack skills and the aptitude in a variety of fields.

Lack of conducive environment for start-ups.


 

Non-utilisation of Cesses & Levies

Recently, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) told Parliament that the Centre has only transferred 60% of the proceeds from cess/levies in Fiscal Year 2018-19 to the relevant

Reserve Funds and retained the balance in the Consolidated Fund of India (CFI).

Cesses and levies collected are required to be first transferred to designated Reserve Funds and utilised for the specific purposes intended by Parliament.

Funds collected through Central taxes along with cesses and other levies go to the CFI.
Taxes and surcharges in CFI are parked in a divisible pool and 42% of the total is given to States as devolution.

Consolidated Fund of India

It was constituted under Article 266 (1) of the Constitution of India.

Composition:

All revenues received by the Centre by way of taxes (Income Tax, Central Excise, Customs and other receipts) and all non-tax revenues.

All loans raised by the Centre by issue of Public notifications, treasury bills (internal debt) and from foreign governments and international institutions (external debt).

All government expenditures are incurred from this fund except exceptional items which are met from the Contingency Fund or the Public Account.

No amount can be withdrawn from the Fund without authorization from the Parliament.

The CAG audits the fund and reports to the relevant legislatures on the management.

Cess

Cess is a form of tax levied over and above the base tax liability of a taxpayer.

Surcharge

A surcharge is an extra fee, charge, or tax that is added on to the cost of a good or service, beyond the initially quoted price.


 

Women Officers as Observers

In a first, two women officers have been selected to join as ‘Observers’ (Airborne Tacticians) in the Indian Navy’s helicopter stream.

Sub Lieutenant (SLt) Kumudini Tyagi and SLt Riti Singh would be the first set of women airborne tacticians in India who would operate from the deck of warships.

Earlier, entry of women was restricted to the fixed wing aircraft that took off and landed ashore.


 

Yamin Hazarika Award

Historian-author Rana Safvi has been conferred Yamin Hazarika award.

It is an award instituted in memory of Yamin Hazarika.

She was the first woman from the Northeast to join the central police service.

Rana Safvi, who has published several books on culture, history, and monuments of India, was chosen for her “contribution to the syncretic culture of India”.

The award is given every year by a collective of women professionals since 2015.


 

G4 Foreign Ministers Meeting

Recently, Foreign Ministers from the Group of 4 (G4), consisting of India, Brazil, Japan and Germany, participated in a virtual meeting.

G4 is a group of countries that are seeking permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).


 






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