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    Current Affairs, 06 December 2017


    International Solar Alliance

    With 19 countries ratifying its framework agreement, the International Solar Alliance (ISA) has become the first treaty-based international government organisation to be based in India.


     Significance of this event:

    This marks the culmination of India’s efforts, which had taken a lead role in setting up the ISA—an alliance of 121 sunshine countries situated between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. ISA also signals that New Delhi would employ it as a foreign policy tool to cement its leadership among developing countries.

     Facts for Prelims:

    §  The ISA now has become a treaty based inter-governmental international organisation and it will be recognized by UN legally to become fully functionable.

    §  Guinea became the 15th country to ratify this agreement.

    §  Other prominent intergovernmental organisations in the energy sector include the Vienna-based Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA).


    About ISA:

    The ISA is an Indian initiative, jointly launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the president of France on 30 November 2015 in Paris, on the sidelines of COP-21, the UN climate conference. It aims at addressing obstacles to deployment at scale of solar energy through better harmonization and aggregation of demand from solar rich countries lying fully or partially between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.

    §  The ISA, headquartered in India, has its secretariat located in the campus of the National Institute of Solar Energy, Gurgaon, Haryana.

    §  The Paris Declaration, establishing the ISA, states that the countries share the collective ambition to undertake innovative and concerted efforts for reducing the cost of finance and cost of technology for immediate deployment solar generation assets.

    Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

    Asian Harmonization Working Party (AHWP)


    Context: The 22nd conference of Asian Harmonization Working Party (AHWP) was recently inaugurated at New Delhi. The conference is being conducted by Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) and National Drug Regulatory Authority (NDRA) of India in collaboration with Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.


    The key objective of the event is to develop and recommend approaches for the convergence and harmonization of medical device regulations in Asia and beyond and to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and expertise amongst regulators and the industry.

     About AHWP:

    Asian Harmonization Working Party (AHWP) was established in 1999 as a voluntary non-profit organization of the 30 national regulators of member countries and industry members with a goal to promote regulatory harmonization on medical device regulations in Asia and other regions in accordance with the guidance issued by International Medical Device Regulators Forums (IMDRF). The AHWP works in collaboration with related international organizations such as IMDRF, WHO, International Organization for Standardization (ISO), etc.


    Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

    UN Peace keeping

    Context: The opening ceremony of the Indian UN Peace Keeping Training by Mobile Training Team of CUNPK was recently conducted at the Vietnamese Centre for Peace Keeping located at Thaach Hon, Hanoi. The ceremony was attended by the Indian Mobile Training Team (MTT). This is in the furtherance to the ongoing training assistance being extended to the Vietnamese Centre for Peace Keeping by the Centre for UN Peace Keeping, New Delhi (CUNPK). 




    The need for prospective peace keepers to be well trained before deployment in the mission area is a pre requisite for effective peace keeping. Towards this end, the vast experience gained by the Indian Defence Forces would be of great assistance to the Vietnam People’s Army.


    What you need to know about UN Peacekeeping?

    United Nations Peacekeeping was created in 1948. Its first mission involved the establishment of the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), which served to observe and maintain ceasefire during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

    §  UN Peacekeeping maintains three basic principles: Consent of the parties, impartiality and non-use of Force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate.

    §  The UN Peacekeepers are led by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DKPO). There are currently 17 UN peace operations deployed on four continents.

    §  UN Peacekeepers are from diverse backgrounds, from areas all around the world. They include police, military and civilian personnel. They are often referred to as Blue Berets or Blue Helmets because of their light blue berets or helmets.

    §  The UN Peacekeeping Force won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988.

    §  The United Nations Charter gives the United Nations Security Council the power and responsibility to take collective action to maintain international peace and security. For this reason, the international community usually looks to the Security Council to authorize peacekeeping operations.


    E-technology in the aid of farmers.

    Soil Health Card

    Context: On the occasion of World Soil Day, Soil Health Card mobile App has been launched by the government to help the farmers.


    Key facts:

    The app will benefit field-level workers as it will automatically capture GIS coordinates while registering sample details at the time of sample collection in the field and indicate the location from where the sample has been collected.

    This app works like other Geotagging apps developed for the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana. The app contains farmers’ details including name, Aadhaar card number, mobile number, gender, address, crop details, etc.


    About World Soil Day:

    World Soil Day (WSD) is held annually on 5 December as a means to focus attention on the importance of healthy soil and advocating for the sustainable management of soil resources.

    §  UN General Assembly designated 5 December 2014 as the first official World Soil Day. The date of 5 December for WSD was chosen because it corresponds with the official birthday of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand, who officially sanctioned the event.

    §  2017 Theme: ‘Caring for the Planet starts from the Ground’.


    Soil facts- and why is soil important?

    §  Soil is one of the most complex biological materials on our planet. Soil is the network of interacting living organisms within the earth’s surface layer which support life above ground. The nutritional value of the food we eat is directly related to the health of the soil in which it grows.

    §  Carbon is a master variable within the soil that controls many processes, such as development of soil structure, water storage and nutrient cycling. Soil high in organic carbon content enables better rainfall infiltration & retention – providing greater resilience to drought.

    §  Management: Soil erosion within conventional agricultural practices can occur at rates up to 100 times greater than the rate of natural soil formation. Natural processes can take more than 500 years to form 2 centimetres of topsoil. Soils are vulnerable to carbon loss through degradation, but regenerative land management practices can build soil and restore soil health. Therefore, management of agricultural soils should consider the structural, biological and mineral health of the soil (not just N, P, K) to produce nutritionally-dense food.


    About the Soil Health Card Scheme:

    It is a scheme to provide every farmer a Soil Health Card in a Mission mode. It is a scheme under which the Central Government provides assistance to State Governments for setting up Soil Testing Laboratories for issuing Soil Health Cards to farmers.

    §  The scheme will be implemented in all states to promote soil testing services, issue of soil health cards and development of nutrient management practices.

    §  State Governments have adopted innovative practices like involvement of agricultural students, NGOs and private sector in soil testing, determining average soil health of villages, etc., to issue Soil Health Cards.

    §  The state governments will prepare yearly action plan on the issue and the cost will be shared in the ratio of 75:25 between the Centre and states.

    §  The scheme assumes importance as the imbalanced application of fertilisers have caused deficiency of primary nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium), secondary nutrients (such as sulphur), and micro-nutrients (boron, zinc, copper etc.) in most parts of country.


    Soil health cards:

    A Soil Health Card displays soil health indicators and associated descriptive terms. The indicators are typically based on farmers’ practical experience and knowledge of local natural resources.

    The card lists soil health indicators that can be assessed without the aid of technical or laboratory equipment. The card, which will carry crop-wise recommendation of fertilisers required for farm lands, will help farmers identify health of soil and judiciously use soil nutrients.


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

    Railways appoints IRSDC as nodal agency for station redevelopment plan

    Context: Indian Railways has decided to appoint its joint venture company Indian Railway Station Development Corp. Ltd (IRSDC) as the nodal agency for its ambitious station redevelopment programme, in an attempt to expedite the revamp of 400 A1 and A category railway stations. Under the Rs1 trillion station redevelopment plan, Indian Railways plans to revamp 400 railway stations by monetizing 2,700 acres of spare railway land. 




    The appointment of IRSDC, a joint-venture between Ircon International Ltd and Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA), took place following recommendations from a three-member committee of experts, which had submitted its report in November.

    The report recommended IRSDC’s appointment as a nodal agency to ensure a speedy redevelopment process because the firm has shown notable performance in handling its model projects in places such as Gandhinagar and Surat.


    About IRSDC:

    Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Limited (IRSDC) is a Joint Venture company of Ircon International Limited (IRCON) (A Govt. of India Undertaking, under Ministry of Railways) and Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA), a statutory authority under the Ministry of Railways. The core purpose of IRSDC as envisioned is to build world class railway stations that apply state of the art sustainable technologies in delivering delight to the users.


    Indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

    Akash Missile

    Context: Supersonic surface-to-air missile- Akash with indigenous radio frequency seeker was recently test fired from a test range in Odisha. With the successful test firing, India has achieved the capability of making any type of surface to air missile. 


    What you need to know about the Missile?

    §  Akash, the supersonic missile, is the first surface-to-air missile with indigenous seeker to be test fired and is being inducted into the Army as short range surface to air missile.

    §  It has a strike range of about 25 km and carries a 55- kg fragmentation warhead that is triggered by proximity fuse.

    §  It is an all-weather area air defence weapon system for defending vulnerable areas against medium range air targets penetrating from low, medium and high altitudes.

    §  Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the Akash missile system has the capability to neutralise aerial targets like fighter jets, cruise missiles and air-to-surface missiles as well as ballistic missiles.

    §  The system is designed to neutralise multiple aerial targets attacking from several directions simultaneously. The system is autonomous and its operation is fully automated. There is flexibility in deployment.

    §  It uses state-of-the-art integral ram jet rocket propulsion system and the onboard digital autopilot ensures stability and control. Electro-pneumatic servo actuation system controls cruciform wings for agile response and thermal batteries provide onboard power supply.


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

    New graphene-based battery

    Context: Samsung Electronics has developed core battery technology using graphene to make lithium-ion batteries last longer and charge more quickly, a potential industry milestone if mass produced.

     Significance of this breakthrough:

    Standard lithium batteries require charging time of at least an hour to fully charge, even with quick charging technology, so numerous attempts to explore new innovative materials have been started.

    Among the materials looked at, graphene, a material with high strength and conductivity, has widely become the primary source of interest. In theory, a battery based on the “graphene ball” material requires only 12 minutes to fully charge.


    About Graphene:

    Graphene has been touted in the global electronics industry as a “miracle material” given its strength, electrical conductivity and elasticity, and has been seen as an alternative to lithium-ion batteries since its discovery in 2004. It is a form of carbon that can be used to develop smaller, slimmer batteries but with higher capacity.

    §  Graphene is a carbon material that is one atom thick. Its thin composition and high conductivity means it is used in applications ranging from miniaturised electronics to biomedical devices. These properties also enable thinner wire connections; providing extensive benefits for computers, solar panels, batteries, sensors and other devices.

    §  The potential applications of graphene include water filtration and purification, renewable energy, sensors, personalised healthcare and medicine, to name a few.

    §  Graphene has excellent electronic, mechanical, thermal and optical properties as well. Its uses range from improving battery performance in energy devices, to cheaper solar panels.



    Current Affairs 6th December 2017 - Important Points

    ·         ISA to become a treaty-based International Intergovernmental organization on - 6th December 2017

    ·         Microbes found on ISS resembles homes on Earth: A Study

    ·         India wins first-ever South Asian Regional Badminton Team Championship on - 5th December 2017

    Current Affairs 6th December 2017 – Details


    ISA to become a treaty-based International Intergovernmental organization - 6th December 2017


    India’s global scheme, the International Solar Alliance-ISA will become a treaty-based international intergovernmental organization on 6th December 2017, after formal consent by Guinea, which will be the 15th country to do so.
    The ISA is a scheme that was cooperatively launched by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the then President of France Francois Hollande on 30th November 2015 in Paris, on the sidelines of UN Climate Meeting.
    Based in India, the Alliance focuses at addressing barriers in the deployment of solar energy through better harmonization and aggregation of demand from solar rich nations lying fully or partially in-between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.

    Ratifying Countries
    India, France, Australia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Nauru, Niger, Peru, Seychelles, Somalia, Bangladesh, Comoros, Cuba, Fiji, Guinea, Ghana, South Sudan, and Tuvalu

    Key Details

    ·         The ISA internal Secretariat has been operational as a de-facto company since 25th January 2016.

    ·         Three programs- Scaling Solar Applications for Agriculture Usage, reasonable Finance at Scale, and Scaling Solar Mini-grids - have been initiated.

    ·         The programs focus to help in achieving the complete goal of growing solar energy deployment in the ISA member nations for achieving universal energy access and accelerating economic development.

    ·         ISA has launched plans to initiate 2 more programs: Scaling Solar Rooftops and Scaling Solar E-mobility and Storage.

    ·         The ISA has also been enlarging a common risk mitigating process for de-risking and decreasing the financial cost of solar projects in ISA member nations.

    ·         The process is expected to support diversify and pool risks on mutual public resources and opening significant investments. An international trained group has been working on the outlines of the mechanism and it will be rolled out by December 2018.

    ·         Another major proposal is establishment of Digital Infopedia, which will work as a platform to enable policy makers, Ministers and corporate heads from ISA nations to interact, connect, communicate and cooperate with each another.

    ·         India has suggested meeting ISA Secretariat expenses for initial 5 years.

    ·         The Union Ministry of External Affairs has also set apart US$2 billion for solar assignments in Africa out of Government of India's US$10 billion concessional Line of Credit for Africa.

    ·         Government of France has also set aside Euro 300 million loan for solar concerned projects in ISA member nations.


    Microbes found on ISS resembles homes on Earth: A Study As per the researchers, The International Space Station has a 'very different’ class of microorganisms that are much similar to that of homes other than of humans.
    The result came from Project MERCCURI, a citizen science project that analyzed bacteria found on 15 places on the International Space Station and evaluated them with samples from houses on Earth as well as the Human Microbiome Project.
    According to this study, Earth is covered by mostly harmless microbes and a widely same microbial community on the ISS also.
    The study explain that, the International Space Station is house to approximately 12,554 distinct microbial species and the quantity of species that are closely connected to known human microbes is on par with related form environments on Earth.
    The report also explained that since the ISS is completely coated, the microbes inside the station come from the individual on the ISS and the supplies passed to them.


    Project MERCCURI
    MERCCURI is known as Microbial Ecology Research Combining Citizen and University Researchers on the International Space Station. It is an alliance between UC Davis and other organizations, including Science Cheerleader, a group of present and former professional cheerleaders pursuing jobs in science and mathematics.


    India wins first-ever South Asian Regional Badminton Team Championship on - 5th December 2017

    India won the 1st-ever South Asian Regional Badminton Team Championship in a title fight against Nepal in Guwahati, Assam on 5th December 2017.
    India, who was the favorites, beat Nepal 3-0. The Indian team passed into the final without losing any match and continued their good performance with Aryaman Tandon, who beaten Nepal’s Dipesh Dhami 21-9, 21-15 in the boys' singles match, to give India an early plan.
    India's victory was further doubled with Ashmita Chaliha’s straight success of 21-9, 21-6 over Rashila Maharjan in the girls' singles match.
    In the boy’s doubles match, the duo of Arintap Dasgupta and Krishna Prasad defeated the Nepalese pair of Dipesh Dhami and Nabin Shrestha to fix the win for India. Though Nepal started well by winning the 1st game 21-19, Indians came back stronger and won the next 2 games 21-14, 21-11.

    While the team championship is over, the individual competition is planned to start from 6th December 2017.


    The government needs to re-examine the proposed financial resolution legislation

    Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has wisely sought to allay fears about a “bail-in” clause in the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill, 2017. Introduced in Parliament this August, it has caused great anxiety about the safety of funds parked by millions of households in bank deposits — fears that it will enable banks to be ‘bailed in’ by depositors’ funds rather than being ‘bailed out’ by taxpayers (or potential buyers). The government has promised a ₹2.11-lakh crore recapitalisation plan for public sector banks that are now taking haircuts on defaulted loans being put through the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code. When banks, in turn, face collapse, the fear is that depositors could face similar haircuts or write-downs on the value of their savings in the bank and perhaps be issued securities instead. This provision in the FRDI Bill is purportedly with an eye on resolving bankruptcy scenarios among financial entities, some of which could be too big to fail or systemically important. On Friday, Mr. Jaitley said a ‘lot of corrections’ could still take place; the Bill is currently being reviewed by a parliamentary committee whose report will be considered by the Cabinet. The Bill proposes the scrapping of the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (set up in the early 1960s in the aftermath of the collapse of two banks), which guarantees repayment of bank deposits up to ₹1 lakh in case a bank is liquidated. A new Resolution Corporation under the Finance Ministry will steer financial entities out of the woods and offer a similar cover for deposits. The silence of the Bill on the extent of deposits to be guaranteed is a key source of concern, and may necessitate the need to revisit the existing ₹1 lakh deposit guarantee, which hasn’t been revised since 1993.

    The need for a specialised regime to cope with large financial firms on the verge of going bust is well-understood especially since the global financial crisis of 2008. As a resolution tool for stressed financial firms, the bail-in clause has been the subject of much debate, but it remains the least well-established across the world. Even the committee framing the FRDI law has noted that it should typically be used where continuing a firm’s services is considered vital but its sale is unviable — not as a lazy default option. If lenders don’t believe that a bail-in plan would salvage a firm, triggering the clause could end up causing a run on the bank instead of preventing one. With its thrust on initiatives such as the Jan Dhan Yojana and demonetisation, the government has nudged more people towards the formal banking system. To ensure that those gains are not lost, the government must communicate more clearly the rationale behind the bail-in provision, and the circumstances in which it may ultimately be used, if at all. Most importantly, it must enhance the amount of bank deposits that will remain safe under the new dispensation.


    One Liners

    This country has won the _rst-ever South Asian Regional Badminton Team Championship - India

    • According to twitter, this world leader is the most tweeted about on the micro blogging site - Donald Trump

    • This world leader had the most-like tweet of the year 2017 - Barack Obama

    • This planet’s moon may have similar plate tectonics as Earth - Jupiter

    • The 6th ‘International Tourism Mart’ (ITM) was inaugurated in this which state – Assam

    • India has conducted successful test launch of this surface to air missile with indigenous radio

    frequency seeker - Akash

    • This Indian state has become the _rst one to pass a bill awarding death to those found guilty of raping girls aged 12 and below - Madhya Pradesh

    • The International conference on climate change was held in this nation – Nepal

    • The 61st death anniversary of this social reformer, who played a huge role in Fighting against

    untouchability and in drafting the Indian constitution, was commemorated on 6 December - B R Ambedkar


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