IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 11th May 2018
Clean Ganga Mission: ‘70% of Ganga will be cleaned by May 2019’
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment and Ecology; Water Pollution
- Yesterday we read that only about a fifth of the ₹20,000 crore allotted for the National Clean Ganga Mission (NCGM) has been utilised till March 2018.
- In response to it, Union Water Resources Minister said the government will spend ₹8,000 to ₹10,000 crore this year to ensure that at least 70% of the Ganga will be clean by next May (2019).
Person in News: Mahathir Mohamad
Part of: GS Prelims – World/Current Affairs
- Mahathir Mohamad becomes the world’s oldest elected leader (aged 92 years)
- He was sworn in as Malaysia’s Prime Minister
- He had previously ruled the country for 22 years
Place in News: Golan Heights
Part of: GS Prelims – Geography or International Affairs
Observe from the figure/map below the following –
- Sea of Galilee
- Jordan River and Yamuk river
- Surrounding countries –
Important Value Additions:
About Golan Heights
- The Golan Heights, a rocky plateau in south-western Syria, has a political and strategic significance which belies its size. Whoever controls this area has a major strategic advantage.
- Golan Heights is the area captured from Syria and occupied by Israel during the Six-Day War, territory which Israel annexed in 1981.
- Israel unilaterally annexed the Golan Heights in 1981. The move was not recognised internationally.
Why Golan Heights is important?
- Having control of the Golan gives Israel a vantage point from which to monitor any Syrian military movements towards Israel.
- The area is a key source of water for an arid region. Rainwater from the Golan’s catchment feeds into the Jordan River. The area provides a third of Israel’s water supply.
- The land is fertile, with the volcanic soil being used to cultivate vineyards and orchards and to raise cattle. The Golan is also home to Israel’s only ski resort.
Do you know?
- United Nations peacekeepers have been in the Golan Heights since 1974 supervising a ceasefire between Israel and Syria.
- The United States considers the Golan Heights to be Syrian territory held under Israeli occupation subject to negotiation and Israeli withdrawal.
- The United States considers the application of Israeli law to the Golan Heights to be a violation of international law, both the Fourth Geneva Convention’s prohibition on the acquisition of territory by force and United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 (adopted under Chapter VI of the UN Charter).
President Ram Nath Kovind visits Siachen
Part of: GS Prelims
- President Ram Nath Kovind visits Siachen Army base camp (located at an altitude of 18,875 feet)
- First time by a President in 14 years
Important Value Additions:
- Siachen Glacier has been militarized by both India and Pakistan since 1984 as a result of the countries’ conflicting claims over Kashmir, and inadequate attention to achieving a permanent border in the regions’ northernmost reaches.
- The Siachen Glacier occupies the northernmost reaches of Jammu and Kashmir, the disputed territory between northern India and Pakistan.
- The Glacier is part of the Karakorum mountain range.
Do you know?
- Siachen Glacier exhibits a landscape characteristic of the Himalayas, which have been dubbed the “Third Pole” due to their comparability to the Arctic and Antarctic regions.
15th Asia Media Summit 2018
Part of: GS Prelims
- This is the first time the summit has been organised in India.
- The theme is ‘Telling Our Stories Asia and More.’
- Chytrid fungus: Fungus that attacks frogs
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment and Ecology; Biodiversity
- The chytrid fungus — which has caused amphibian declines worldwide and has been recorded in India too — possibly originated in east Asia
- The chytrid fungus has affected around 700 amphibian species worldwide and caused frog declines and even extinctions in many areas.
Animal in News: Walrus
Key pointers about Walrus
- IUCN status: Vulnerable
- The walrus is a large flippered marine mammal with a discontinuous distribution about the North Pole in the Arctic Ocean and subarctic seas of the Northern Hemisphere.
- They are considered to be a “keystone species” in the Arctic marine regions.
This species is subdivided into three subspecies:
- the Atlantic walrus (O. r. rosmarus) which lives in the Atlantic Ocean,
- the Pacific walrus (O. r. divergens) which lives in the Pacific Ocean, and
- O. r. laptevi, which lives in the Laptev Sea of the Arctic Ocean.
Range: The walrus is circumpolar in its range but they are found in geographically separate areas. The Pacific walrus is found in the Bering, Chukchi, and Laptev Sea, while the Atlantic walrus inhabits the coastal regions of northeastern Canada and Greenland.
TOPIC:General Studies 2:
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population
- Important aspects of governance
Can having a DNA database increase rape case convictions?
- According to the National Crime Records Bureau, only about a quarter of rape cases ended in conviction in 2016.
- Since identifying the rapist is the first step to serving justice, government is of the belief that India needs a sex offenders’ database or a DNA database of those accused and charged with rape.
- India has developed a draft Bill for such a DNA database and the Andhra Pradesh government even announced that it has signed up with a private agency for collecting DNA from all its citizens.
Based on experience in other countries, building such a database is not easy, does not always offer justice, and is an ethical landmine of sorts. (says experts)
Experts who routinely use DNA databases express serious concerns about DNA databases and profiling.
- DNA identification technologies have advanced so much that even minor genetic differences, such as those among family members, may be used to distinguish individuals and identify a person from his or her unique DNA.
- However, planting of DNA in a crime scene, misinterpretation of tests, and errors in analyses have all taken place in cases where DNA has been used to implicate a suspect, resulting in the miscarriage of justice. Besides, everybody leaves traces of DNA in numerous places, as cells are shed, leading to ridiculous mistakes.
- Protecting innocent people’s privacy and their civil liberties and rights are the main concerns.
- DNA information could be misused just as their personal information and profiles are being misused by many data mining companies.
- There are instances of Police department involving in unethical and unlawful collection of DNA samples without warrants. Such samples later get included in forensic DNA databanks, thus violating people’s civil liberties.
Some people have said that having everyone’s DNA in the database would be a good thing, since anyone can be apprehended if matched to a crime scene. But experience with the U.K. and U.S. databanks has shown that having more innocent people’s DNA stored increases the chances of a false positive and has not increased the chances of finding a guilty match.
Regarding a DNA database for India, at the very least, the following should be ensured:
- It is absolutely essential that the people from whom DNA is taken give their informed consent.
- Taking DNA secretively should be prohibited.
- A court order should be required for obtaining DNA without informed consent and the DNA should only be compared with the crime scene DNA for the suspect.
- Those who are cleared for a crime should not have their DNA information stored.
- DNA gathered from offenders should be destroyed after identification so that such information is not used for profiling in future.
- A court order should be necessary to access medical records for genetic data.
Connecting the dots:
- According to the National Crime Records Bureau, only about a quarter of rape cases ended in conviction in 2016. Can having a DNA database of all citizens help increase convictions of rape accused?
TOPIC:General Studies 2:
- India and its neighbourhood- relations.
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
Scaling up of India-Nepal bilateral relationship
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be visiting Nepal from 11-12 May.
This visit is taking place approximately a month after Nepalese Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli visited New Delhi.
These back-and-forth visits indicate that India and Nepal are working towards scaling up their bilateral relationship.
Modi was the first Indian PM to visit Nepal after a gap of 17 years in 2014. The upcoming visit will be his third, also a record for any major leader. Most importantly, this is the first time any top Indian leader will start a Nepal tour from a city other than Kathmandu.
To reaffirm the shared cultural heritage between the two countries-
- Modi will be the first Indian prime minister to visit the Sita temple in Janakpur, the mythical birthplace of Sita at the Madhesi heartland, in the Terai region.
- He will also visit Muktinath (Mustang district) in the northern part of Nepal. The Muktinath temple is revered by both Hindus and Buddhists.
By visiting cultural destinations in Nepal’s south as well as north, Modi will be emphasizing the depth of cultural linkages between the two nations.
Significance of the visit:
- For those in Janakpur and around, it is an opportunity to put the city on the world tourism map as Modi will kick-off the Ramayana circuit.
The two PMs will also inaugurate a bus service between Janakpur and Ayodhya (UP), the mythical birthplace of Rama.
- For Modi and Oli this will also be an opportunity to give India-Nepal relations a renewed push.
- In the year 2015, India-Nepal relations hit a low over the promulgation of the constitution and the Madhesi agitation.
- Oli, who assumed power in October 2015, emerged as the most popular leader of Nepal, accusing Delhi of enforcing a nearly six-month-long ‘blockade’ between end 2015 and early 2016, in support of Madhesis.
- In April, the Nepalese PM made his first foreign tour to India. Apart from entering a host of bilateral agreements, including the ambitious river transport deal; Oli promised cooperation for India-sponsored projects. This was an important step as Indian projects had suffered during Oli’s first term between October 2015 and August 2016 and China had taken advantage of that.
Reasons behind revival:
- The left alliance government in Nepal, headed by Oli, enjoys a strong presence in the national parliament as well as in provincial governments. Given the current domestic political stability, there is greater confidence in Nepal’s external engagements.
- There seems to be a growing recognition in India as well as in Nepal that deterioration in relations between the two countries, with close socio-economic-cultural relations, is not desirable.
- There is a strong opinion that India is reaching out to Kathmandu because of China’s growing presence in Nepal.
- Some also suspect a Chinese hand behind Nepal’s thaw in relations with India. Beijing can connect Kathmandu by rail from the Northern border but the Belt and Road will be incomplete, if not unviable, until India grants connectivity.
Given its location, Nepal would play one major power against the other to maintain its autonomy.
Even during the Cold War, Nepal received assistance from the US and its allies, as well as from the erstwhile Soviet Union.
Like India, which sought to use its non-alignment policy to benefit economically from both camps during the Cold War, Nepal also deployed its foreign policy for economic gain from all powers.
Given Nepal’s power asymmetry with India and China, it seeks to swing between the two nations to maintain autonomy.
- While China does not have people-to-people interactions on a par with India, it has a long history of deploying overseas assistance to Nepal.
In the 1960s and 1970s, it was involved in developing the Kodari-Kathmandu road and Kathmandu-Pokhara road.
- Unlike the earlier projects, recent proposed Chinese projects, such as the proposal to build a railway line connecting Tibet with Kathmandu, will have significant geopolitical as well as geo-economic implications for India.
Acceleration of Indian projects:
In his second term, Nepalese PM Oli has made concerted efforts to improve ties.
- In the last few months the Nepalese government cleared hurdles for the Rs. 5,723-crore Arun-III (900MW) hydel project.
- Recenty, the Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd got the much awaited generation license and both the leaders will soon lay the foundation stone for the project.
- Nepal has also promised all cooperation to India’s plan to build a rail link to Kathmandu. A survey will be launched soon in this regard.
- India-sponsored Raxaul-Birgaunj integrated check-post became operational last month. Work has also started for the laying of an oil pipeline to Nepal.
PM Modi’s visit to Nepal will significantly improve ties after the relationship hit the low in 2015.
Connecting the dots:
- India and Nepal are working towards scaling up their bilateral relationship. Comment.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
Q.1) Who is considered to be the world’s oldest elected leader?
- Joko Widodo
- Mahathir Mohamad
- Elizabeth II
- Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad
Q.2) The area known as ‘Golan Heights’ sometimes appears in the news in the context of the events related to
- Central Asia
- Middle East
- South-East Asia
- Central Africa
Q.3) Consider the following statements:
- Sea of Galilee is between Syria and Lebanon
- Golan Heights is a grassland plain in south-western Syria but annexed by Israel
- Rainwater from the Golan’s catchment feeds into the Jordan River.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
- 1 and 2 only
- 3 only
- 1, 2 and 3
Q.4) Siachen Glacier is part of –
- Pir Panjal Range
- Karakoram Range
- Zanskar Range
- Ladakh Range
Q.5) Consider the below map:
Identify the mountain ranges marked 1, 2, 3 and 4 respectively:
- Ladakh, Zaskar, Karakoram and Pir Panjal
- Karakoram, Zaskar, Pir Panjal and Ladakh
- Ladakh, Pir Panjal, Karakoram and Zaskar
- Karakoram, Ladakh, Zaskar and Pir Panjal
Q.6) Which of the following species are known as the ‘Panda of the sea’?
- King Penguin
- Vaquita porpoise
- Indian Dugong
Q.7) Consider the below statements about United Nations Security Council Resolution 242:
- United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 deals with Six-Day War.
- It was adopted under Chapter VI of the UN Charter.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
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