Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - July 17, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

Bosnia’s Srebrenica massacre

Focus: GS1.

Topic: History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawing of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society.


Context

On July 11, 25 years on, commemoration services were held at the Srebrenica-Potocari Memorial and Cemetery in remembrance of the victims of the Srebrenica massacre, the ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims.

About the massacre

  • It was the Bosnian Serbs who began the war, seeking to break up Bosnia and unite with next-door Serbia, and since Bosniaks and Serbs lived side by side in many places there was much ethnic cleansing. But this was special.
  • Srebrenica was then a Muslim-majority town, and when Bosnian Serb forces captured it 20,000 Muslims took refuge with the Dutch troops who were there to protect a UN-declared “safe area.”
  • But the Dutch soldiers handed them over to the Bosnian Serb forces.
  • When soldiers talk about having signed a contract of “unlimited liability,” this is what they mean: when the circumstances demand it, you must be willing to lay down your life.
  • In fact, this is what gives dignity to the military profession — but the Dutch soldiers had apparently not read the contract.

About the Highlights

  • Knowing what was coming, most of the Muslim men and boys fled into the woods, but about 2,000 who had taken refuge with the Dutch UN troops were handed over to the Serbs.
  • The Serbs separated those men and boys from the women and girls, chased down most of the men who had fled into the woods, and murdered them all — 8,000 of them.
  • It took 10 days, even with bulldozers to scrape out the mass graves. (Later the Serbs dug up the graves and moved them to better hidden areas, but after 25 years of searching all but 1,000 have been found.)
  • Twenty years later, a special UN war crimes tribunal sentenced the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, to life in prison for genocide.
  • But few of the Bosniaks driven from their homes have been able to go back — and denial reigns in both the Bosnian “Serb Republic” and in Serbia proper.

Source: Indian Express.

Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh as Armenia and Azerbaijan exchange fire

Focus: GS1.

Topic: History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawing of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society.


Context

  • Armenian and Azerbaijani forces clashed ith heavy artillery and drones, leaving at least 16 people killed on both sides, including an Azerbaijani general, in the worst outbreak of hostilities in years.
  • The two neighbours in the South Caucasus have been locked in a frozen conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a region of Azerbaijan that has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a war there ended in 1994.
  • International efforts to settle the conflict have stalled.

About the Background

  • Armenian and Azerbaijani forces have frequently engaged in clashes.
  • The current skirmishes appear to mark the most serious spike in hostilities since 2016 when scores were killed in four days of fighting.

About the clash

  • Turkey, which has close ethnic and cultural ties with Azerbaijan, has voiced strong support to Baku in the conflict.
  • The British House of Commons condemned "the recent actions of Armenia which represent a serious hindrance to the progress of the peace process and which have violated international law as well as the ceasefire agreement signed in 1994".
  • The United States and Russia (which arms both sides in the conflict), who jointly co-chair the Minsk group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe that has tried to negotiate a settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, have called for restraint.
  • N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also expressed worry. His spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric, said in a statement that the U.N. chief “urges an immediate end to the fighting and calls on all involved to take immediate steps to deescalate the situation and refrain from provocative rhetoric.”

Source: Indian Express.

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Karnataka – Tamil Nadu Economic corridor

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.


Context

  • Expert Appraisal Committee of the Environment Ministry has recommended the grant of Environmental Clearance for the development of an economic corridor — the Satellite Town Ring Road (STRR) — between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. 
  • The greenfield highway is part of Bharatmala Pariyojana and will be implemented by the National Highways Authority of India. 

About the Background

  • The new road would provide better, fast, safe and smooth connectivity for commuters between the two States as well as in the region. 
  • The NHAI said that 12,111 trees would be felled for the project and 206 persons would be affected with regard to property and other structures. 

About Bharatmala Pariyojana

  • It is a new umbrella program for the highways sector that focuses on optimizing efficiency of freight and passenger movement across the country. 
  • It bridges critical infrastructure gaps through effective interventions like development of Economic Corridors, Inter Corridors and Feeder Routes, National Corridor Efficiency Improvement, Border and International connectivity roads, Coastal and Port connectivity roads and Green-field expressways. 
  • It is a centrally-sponsored and funded Road and Highways project of the Government of India. 
  • It is both enabler and beneficiary of other key Government of India schemes, such as Sagarmala, Dedicated Freight Corridors, Industrial corridors, UDAN-RCS, BharatNet, Digital India and Make in India. 

About the Highlights

  • Expert appraisal committee exists at the Union as well as state levels (state expert appraisal committee or SEAC).
  • It is formed to advise the government on environmental clearance of development projects. 
  • They are involved at all the stages, except for public hearing.
  • Environmental Impact Assessment is a process of evaluating the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development. 
  • Both EPA and EIA are provided under Environment Protection Act 1980. 

Source: The Hindu.

Plasma air, foot-operated taps in train coaches for post-Covid phase

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.


Context

  • Plasma air purification, a host of hands-free amenities, like foot-operated soap dispensers, titanium di-oxide coating in railways coaches to kill viruses are among some of the new measures that the ministry plans to bring about as it prepares for travel in the post-Covid phase.
  • The first such prototype has been built by the national carrier’s production unit, Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala.

About the Background

Post Covid-Coach will have hands-free amenities like foot operated water tap and soap dispenser, foot operated lavatory door (outside), foot operated flush valve, foot operated latches in lavatory door, outside wash basin with foot operated water tap and soap dispenser and forearm operated handle on compartment door.

About the Highlights

  • The coaches will also be equipped with copper-coated handrails and latches. 
  • Copper degrades the virus that lands on it within a few hours.
  • Copper has anti-microbial properties.
  • When the virus lands on copper, the ion blasts the pathogen and destroys the DNA and RNA inside the virus.
  • The first two coaches that rolled out from the unit also have fixtures coated with titanium dioxide and the provision for plasma air equipment in AC ducts to sterilise interiors using ionised air.
  • This plasma air equipment will sterilise the air and surfaces inside the AC coach using ionised air to make the coach Covid-19 and particulate matter resistant.
  • This provision will also improve the ion concentration from 100 ions/cm3 to more than 6000 ions/cm.
  • In addition to this, the coaches will also have a Titanium Di-oxide coating.
  • Nano structured Titanium Dioxide Coating functions as photoactive material.
  • This is eco-friendly water-based coating that kills viruses, bacteria, mould, and fungal growth and most importantly enhances indoor air quality.

Source: Hindustan Times.

KAZI 106F

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Context

  • ‘Kazi 106F’, described as the country’s only Golden Tiger, has emerged as the social media sensation right after its picture tweeted by an IFS officer went viral.
  • Kazi 106 F, the tigress, resides in world heritage Kaziranga National Park of Assam.
  • It is also known as ‘Tabby tiger’ or ‘Strawberry tiger’.

About the Agouti genes

  • The skin of tigers is orange-yellow with black stripes and whitish abdominal region.
  • The yellowish background is controlled by a set of ‘agouti genes’ and their alleles and the black colour stripes are controlled by ‘tabby genes’ and their alleles.
  • Suppression of any of these genes may lead to colour variation in tiger.
  • Agouti genes interacts with the pigment cells to produce yellow to red or brown to black expression.
  • This interaction is responsible for making distinct light and dark bands in the hairs of animals such as the agouti here same is happening in our tigress – Kazi 106 F.

About the Highlights

  • In a recently conducted tiger census by photo trapping method, Kaziranga National Park recorded 121 Tigers.
  • The park holds the proud distinction of being home to country highest density of tigers.
  • The state of Assam has four tiger reserves to its credit, the Kaziranga National Park, The Manas National Park, Orang Natioanl Park and Nameri National park.
  • The state had just 70 tigers in 2006, and has thus recorded over 250% growth.
  • The research team of Kaziranga is of the opinion that the golden tiger is an adult now and must have given birth.
  • It shall be interesting to know whether the cub carry the “Same golden hue”.

Source: Indian Express.

HRD Minister releases guidelines for online education ‘Pragyata’

Focus: GS2.

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


Context

  • Union HRD Ministry released the guidelines for Digital Education.
  • The ministry has recommended a cap on the screen time for students.

About the Background

  • As per the guidelines, online classes for pre-primary students should not be for more than 30 minutes.
  • It further mentions that two online sessions of up to 30-45 minutes each should be conducted for classes 1 to 8 and four sessions for classes 9 to 12.

About the Guidelines

  • The PRAGYATA guidelines include eight steps of online education that is, Plan, Review, Arrange, Guide, Yak (talk), Assign, Track, and Appreciate.
  • The guidelines outline suggestions for administrators, school heads, teachers, parents, and students in the following areas:
    • Need assessment
    • Concerns while planning online and digital education like duration, screen time, inclusiveness, balanced online and offline activities, etc level-wise
    • Modalities of intervention including resource curation, level-wise delivery, etc.
    • Physical, mental health, and wellbeing during digital education
    • Cyber safety and ethical practices including precautions and measures for maintaining cyber safety
    • Collaboration and convergence with various initiatives

Source: Hindustan Times.

Non-Personal Data

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.


Context

  • A government committee headed by Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan has suggested that non-personal data generated in the country be allowed to be harnessed by various domestic companies and entities.
  • The nine-member committee, while releasing the draft report, has kept time till August 13 for the public to send suggestions.
  • It has also suggested setting up of a new authority which would be empowered to monitor the use and mining of such non-personal data.

About non-personal data

  • In its most basic form, non-personal data is any set of data which does not contain personally identifiable information.
  • This in essence means that no individual or living person can be identified by looking at such data.
  • For example, while order details collected by a food delivery service will have the name, age, gender, and other contact information of an individual, it will become non-personal data if the identifiers such as name and contact information are taken out.
  • The government committee, which submitted its report has classified non-personal data into three main categories, namely public non-personal data, community non-personal data and private non-personal data.
  • Depending on the source of the data and whether it is anonymised in a way that no individual can be re-identified from the data set, the three categories have been divided.

About the Highlights

  • All the data collected by government and its agencies such as census, data collected by municipal corporations on the total tax receipts in a particular period or any information collected during execution of all publicly funded works has been kept under the umbrella of public non-personal data.
  • Any data identifiers about a set of people who have either the same geographic location, religion, job, or other common social interests will form the community non-personal data.
  • For example, the metadata collected by ride-hailing apps, telecom companies, electricity distribution companies among others have been put under the community non-personal data category by the committee.
  • Private non-personal data can be defined as those which are produced by individuals which can be derived from application of proprietary software or knowledge.

Source: Indian Express.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. Consider the following statements wrt United Nations Economic and Social Council:
    1. The UN Charter established ECOSOC in 1945 as one of the six main organsof the United Nations.
    2. The Council consists of 54 Members States.
    3. They are elected yearly by the General Assembly for overlapping five-year terms.

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: A

2. Consider the following:

  • They are elected yearly by the General Assembly for overlapping three-year terms.

    Spike missile is from:

           A. Russia
           B. United States
           C. Israel
           D. China

    Solution: C

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