CURRENT AFFAIRS 13
Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of art
forms, literature and architecture from ancient to modern times.
UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and
The Second UNWTO/UNESCO
World Conference on Tourism and Culture is being held in Muscat, Sultanate of
Objective of the
conference: It will bring together, for the second time, Ministers of
Tourism and Ministers of Culture as well as private sector stakeholders and
experts with the objective of building and strengthening partnerships between
the Tourism and Culture sectors and enhance their role in the UN’s 2030 Agenda
for Sustainable Development.
Aim of the
conference: The conference aims to address a wide range of topics,
including governance models, tourism development and protection of cultural
heritage, culture and tourism in urban development and creativity, and
exploring cultural landscape in tourism as a vehicle for sustainable
development in destinations worldwide.
This Conference is
a sequel to the First UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture,
held in Siem Reap, Cambodia in February 2015 and will provide the platform to
reflect upon the Siem Reap Declaration that pledged to explore the synergies of
the tourism and culture sectors to work in harmony for sustainable development.
of this conference:
The United Nations
has declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for
Development, thereby offering a unique opportunity to explore and highlight
tourism’s potential to help transform the world into a place of prosperity and
wellbeing for all. In this context, the second UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on
Tourism and Culture features prominently as one of the official events on the
calendar of activities of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for
What is it?
The World Tourism
Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion
of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.
includes 158 countries, 6 Associate Members and over 500 Affiliate Members
representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations
and local tourism authorities.
What it does?
§ As the leading
international organization in the field of tourism, UNWTO promotes tourism as a
driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental
sustainability and offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing
knowledge and tourism policies worldwide.
§ UNWTO encourages
the implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, to maximize
tourism’s socio-economic contribution while minimizing its possible negative
impacts, and is committed to promoting tourism as an instrument in achieving
the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), geared towards reducing poverty and
fostering sustainable development worldwide.
§ UNWTO generates
market knowledge, promotes competitive and sustainable tourism policies and instruments,
fosters tourism education and training, and works to make tourism an effective
tool for development through technical assistance projects in over 100
countries around the world.
Important Geophysical phenomena.
Why meteoroids explode before reaching Earth
A recent study
found that our atmosphere is a better shield from meteoroids than previously
thought. So far, researchers knew that meteoroids often blew up before they
reach the Earth’s surface, but they did not know why.
meteoroids explode before reaching Earth?
When a meteor
comes hurtling towards Earth, the high-pressure air in front of it seeps into
its pores and cracks, pushing the body of the meteor apart and causing it to
There is a big
gradient between high-pressure air in front of the meteor and the vacuum of air
behind it. If the air can move through the passages in the meteorite, it can
easily get inside and blow off pieces.
Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive
and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government.
Special courts to try politicians
In a decision
intended to end the inordinate delay in the prosecution of politicians in
criminal cases, the Centre has decided to set up special courts to deal exclusively
with cases against 1,581 MPs and MLAs with the aim of disposing of them in a
year. this decision has been conveyed by the centre to the Supreme Court.
What has the
courts would be constituted. Two special courts would handle cases against 228
MPs and the other 10 would be set up in 10 states — Andhra, Bihar, Karnataka,
Kerala, MP, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, UP and Bengal—where the number
of MLAs booked for criminal acts is more than 65. Disposing of 1,581criminal
cases involving political persons within a time frame of one year as directed
by the SC is the aim as well as the objective of the scheme.
There are several
high-profile cases against leaders from almost all political parties—regional
and national where investigations have dragged on for years and those facing
trial have evaded prison.
of this move:
decision could be a setback to politicians who, despite facing serious charges,
have remained members of Parliament and state assemblies due to time consumed
in trials. Such cases will fall in the purview of special courts and their fate
will be decided expeditiously.
Government policies and interventions for development in
various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
manufacturers will have to seek approval from the Department of Heavy Industry
before accepting any proposal to supply electric buses for availing incentives
under the FAME India scheme. The move is aimed at facilitating the smooth roll
out and management of demand incentives for electric buses under the scheme.
What is it? With an aim
to promote eco-friendly vehicles, the government had launched the Faster
Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India
(FAME-India) scheme in 2015.
India Scheme is aimed at incentivising all
vehicle segments, including two-wheelers, three wheeler auto, passenger
four-wheeler vehicle, light commercial vehicles and buses. The scheme covers
hybrid and electric technologies like a strong hybrid, plug-in hybrid and
battery electric vehicles.
Facts: FAME India –
Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles in India – is
a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan. The scheme envisages Rs
795 crore support in the first two fiscals starting with the current year. It
is being administered by the Heavy Industries Ministry.
India and its neighbourhood- relations.
India, Australia call for ‘open’ Asia-Pacific zone
Australia highlighted the need to maintain the Asia-Pacific region as a “free”
and “open” zone under recently held the “2+2” dialogue model which includes the
foreign and defense secretaries of both sides. The discussion was the first
meeting of this level since the two sides participated in the quadrilateral
discussion for a new strategic partnership targeting the Asia-Pacific region.
maintain the Asia- Pacific region as a free and open zone:
A free, open,
prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region serves the long-term interests of
all countries in the region and of the world at large. Besides, there is a
growing convergence of strategic perspectives between the India and Australia.
largest economy, India – remains on the outside of the APEC grouping despite a
membership request dating back more than 20 years. India in APEC would help
offset the now-overwhelming influence of the Chinese economy, while also
embedding India in a forum that would nudge it toward further economic reform.
Important International institutions, agencies and fora,
their structure, mandate.
Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank
India will host
the 3rd Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of AIIB at Mumbai on 25th and 26th
June 2018. In this regard, the Government of India and Asian Infrastructure
Investment Bank (AIIB) Secretariat have signed the Memorandum of Understanding
(MoU) to delineate the duties and responsibilities of major stakeholders who
would be involved in organizing the aforesaid Annual Meeting.
The Theme of
the Annual Meeting, 2018 will be “Mobilizing
Finance for Infrastructure: Innovation and Collaboration”.
What is it?
The AIIB was
established as a new multilateral financial institution aimed at providing
“financial support for infrastructure development and regional connectivity in
Asia.” It was founded in October, 2014, and has its headquarters in Beijing.
Its goals are also to
boost economic development in the region, create wealth, prove infrastructure,
and promote regional cooperation and partnership.
Funding: The value of
AIIB’s authorized capital amounts to $100 billion, with almost $30 billion
invested by China. India is not only one of the founding members of AIIB but is
also the 2nd largest shareholder in AIIB.
Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways
New bridges inaugurated in eastern Arunachal
Context: Two crucial
bridges in eastern Arunachal Pradesh have been dedicated to the nation. The bridges
have been built by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
The new bridges
Bridge: It is a 140-metre long-bridge on Roing-Koronu-Paya
road, which is a part of Trans Arunachal Highway. The completion of the
Injupani Bridge will provide an uninterrupted access between Roing & Tezu,
both important district HQs in Arunachal Pradesh.
Bridge: It is 300-metre long pre-stressed concrete balanced
cantilever bridge over the Eze river at Roing in Arunachal Pradesh. The
completion of the Eze bridge has come as a boon for the people of the area,
especially those of Dibang Valley district, as the district remained cut off
from the rest of the country during the monsoons each year.
the control of the Ministry of Defence since 2015, the BRO is engaged in road
construction to provide connectivity to difficult and inaccessible regions in
the border areas of the country.
§ It is staffed by
officers and troops drawn from the Indian Army’s Corps of Engineers, Electrical
and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Military Police and army
personnel on extra regimental employment.
Service and personnel from the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) form the
parent cadre of the Border Roads Organisation.
§ Currently, the
organisation maintains operations in twenty-one states, one UT (Andaman and
Nicobar Islands), and neighbouring countries such as Afghanistan, Bhutan,
Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.
§ The BRO operates
and maintains over 32,885 kilometres of roads and about 12,200 meters of
permanent bridges in the country.
Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways
India is planning
to hold talks with Asean countries to extend the India-Myanmar-Thailand highway
up to Vietnam. As per proposals from India, the highway could be extended to
Vietnam via Laos and Cambodia.
can generate an estimated $70 billion annually in incremental GDP and $20
million in incremental aggregate employment by 2025. Connecting India with the
South eastern countries through a network of road will create jobs, market for
crops grown in hilly regions of the Northeast which will also help growers in
getting better price for their produce.
About IMT highway:
India–Myanmar–Thailand Trilateral Highway is a highway under construction under
India’s Look East policy that will connect Moreh, India with Mae Sot, Thailand
via Myanmar. The road is expected to boost trade and commerce in the
ASEAN–India Free Trade Area, as well as with the rest of Southeast Asia. It is
important to note that the project already missed its first deadline in 2015
and India has consistently faced difficulty in implementing its projects in
The Association of
Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), has 10 member nations Indonesia, Malaysia, The
Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Myanmar
initiatives on Universal Health Coverage Day 2017 launched by - Union
Chopra conferred Mother Teresa Memorial award for social justice
government to recognise political prisoners as - ‘Loktantra Sainani’
Sikh American Gurbir
Grewal nominated to be New Jersey Attorney General on - 12th
DCI, NHAI sign MoU to facilitate supply
of sand on - 12th December 2017
Affairs – Details
New initiatives on Universal Health Coverage Day 2017 launched
by - Union Government
Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare J P Nadda
launched various initiatives to observe Universal Health Coverage Day 2017 on
11th December 2017.
Universal Health Coverage Day is observed every year
on 12th December to commemorate the first unanimous United Nations resolution
calling for countries providing affordable, quality health care to every
the fact that there is a need to improve the quality of care in Labour rooms
especially on the day of birth for maternal and neonatal survival, the Ministry
launched 'LaQshya' Initiative also called 'Labour Room Quality Improvement
was launched as a safe delivery mobile application for health workers who
manage normal and complicated deliveries in the peripheral areas.
is expected to improve the quality of care provided to the pregnant mother in
the Labour Room and Maternity Operation Theatres aiming to prevent undesirable
adverse outcomes associated with the childbirth.
will be implemented in government Medical Colleges (MCs) other than District
Hospitals (DHs), and high delivery load Sub- District Hospitals (SDHs) and
Community Health Centres (CHCs).
is also planning to conduct quality certification of labour rooms and providing
facilities to achieve the outlined targets.
is aiming to minimize preventable maternal and new-born mortality, morbidity
and stillbirths associated with the care around delivery in Labour room and
Priyanka Chopra conferred Mother Teresa Memorial award
for social justice
Indian actor, Priyanka Chopra has been awarded with
the 2017 Mother Teresa Memorial Award for her
contribution towards lending her support towards social causes like her recent
visit to Syria where she met and interacted with refugee children.
She is also UNICEF's Goodwill Ambassador and is known
for supporting various philanthropic activities. Her mother Madhu Chopra
received the award on her behalf. While speaking on the occasion, her
mother said, "I humbly accept the award on her behalf.
She continued by saying that it is justifiable for her
to receive this honourable award and that the actor
would be humbled that her efforts have been recognised by the foundation
believing to help the needy and support the deprived and to raise funds for
those who are impoverished.
Mother Teresa Award
Awards are conferred to honour individuals and organizations promoting peace,
equality and social justice and aim to encourage the cause of justice and
peaceful coexistence, while providing an impetus for society to imbibe these
award is given in honour of Mother Teresa who was one of the greatest social
Rajasthan government to recognise political prisoners as
- ‘Loktantra Sainani’
The state government of Rajasthan has finalised to
recognise political prisoners kept in jails during the
emergency period as ‘Loktantra Sainani’.
The state’s cabinet marked to change the name of Rajasthan MISA and DIR Bandi
Pension Rules 2008 to the Rajasthan Loktantra Sainani samman Nidhi 2008 on
12th December 2017.
date, only those people who were hold under MISA and DIR and put in any of the
Rajasthan jails were facilitated with the monthly pension of Rs 12,000 and
a monthly allowance of Rs 1200.
total number of these people is 1050.
after the cabinet’s conclusion, every Rajasthani¸ who was put in any jail in
the nation during emergency time, will also be eligible for the pension.
people will not be required to give the certificate of the respective Jail
Superintendent or Superintendent of Police for availing pension.
only self-declaration has to be submitted.
from this, the state government would be instructing all the district
collectors to invite such Loktantra Sainanis to the programs that will be
held at district level on the Republic Day and Independence Day
Sikh American Gurbir Grewal nominated to be New Jersey
Attorney General on - 12th December 2017
Sikh American Gurbir Grewal on 12th December 2017
became 1st Sikh public prosecutor to be suggested for the post of Attorney
General of New Jersey. Grewal was suggested to the post by Democrat
Governor-elect Phil Murphy.
If Grewal's suggestion is approved by the State Senate, he will be the 1st Sikh
to attain the top state law
enforcement position in the United States. He will also be the 2nd
Indian-American after Kamala Harris, who attained the position in
California before her election to the US Senate.
More about Gurbir Grewal
is the prosecutor of Bergen County, an important district across the river from
New York City. He was authorized by current Republican Governor Chris
has earlier worked as an Assistant Federal Prosecutor in New York and New
to being Bergen County's top law enforcement officer, he served as the former
chief of the Economic Crimes Unit at the U.S. Attorney's Office with former
federal prosecutor Paul Fishman.
also worked as the President of the South Asian Bar Association of New York and
a member of the New Jersey Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association
DCI, NHAI sign MoU to facilitate supply of sand on - 12th
The Dredging Corporation of India signed a MoU with
the National Highways Authority of India on 12th
December 2017 to authorize the availability of sand for highway construction
The Concessionaires working on highways assignments have been facing a scarcity
of sand at various sites. Thus, the agreement focuses to fill this gap by
smoothing the availability of sand for these concessionaires.
accordance aims to smooth the supply of sand for highways construction work.
the MoU, the business intermediaries will ship and stock the sand at different
ports in India and market it across the nation.
The NHAI will smooth the whole process
by showing the availability of sand at different stockyards at the ports.
Did you know?
The Dredging Corporation of India intends to manage dredging operations at
various locations in South East Asia, generating greater volumes of sand.
pollution and its harmful effects on people’s health, the environment, and the
planet have been neglected both by Governments and the international
development agenda. Yet, Air pollution is the largest environmental cause of
disease and death in the world today. Its implications are many.
A report of
the Lancet Commission on pollution and health states that around 19 lakh
people die prematurely every year from diseases caused by outdoor and indoor
A study by
the Indian Journal of Pediatrics shows that the lungs of children who
grow up in polluted environments like Delhi are 10% smaller compared to the
lungs of children who grow up in the U.S. This is nothing short of a public
health emergency. What is needed, therefore, is a comprehensive policy to curb
Main causes of Air pollution
At the heart of
the problem of pollution are carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. About 75% of all
greenhouse gas emissions are CO2 emissions produced through burning fossil
fuels — oil, coal and natural gas — to generate energy.
§ Since the early
2000s, carbon emissions have increased because of high growth in the Indian
§ In 2014, India’s
total carbon emissions were more than three times the levels in 1990, as per
World Bank data.
§ This is because of
India’s heavy dependence on fossil fuels and a dramatically low level of energy
§ In 2015, diseases caused by air, water & soil
pollution were responsible for 9 million premature deaths, i.e. 16% of all
global deaths. Exposures to contaminated air, water and soil kill more people
than smoking, hunger, natural disasters, war, AIDS, or malaria.
§ Pollution disproportionately kills the poor and the
§ Children are at high risk of pollution-related disease,
as exposures to even small amounts of certain chemicals in utero and in early
infancy can result in disease, life-long disability and death.
§ Almost all exposures to pollution are involuntary and
represent a massive global injustice.
§ Pollution is costly
§ The costs attributed to pollution-related diseases will
increase as researchers discover more associations between pollution &
§ Pollution-related diseases reduce GDP in low- to
middle-income countries by up to 2% per year.
§ The nature of pollution is changing
§ Significant investments in improving access to safe water
and sanitation have greatly reduced water pollution’s impact.
§ However, modern forms of pollution from industry and
transport are at a scale never seen before. These include outdoor air, chemical
and soil pollution, and exposures in the workplace.
How can this
crisis be solved?
Air pollution and
climate change are closely linked and share common solutions.
combustion in higher-income countries and the burning of biomass in
lower-income countries accounts for 85% of airborne particulate pollution and
is a major source of greenhouse gases and other pollutants that drive climate
Remodel the energy
mix Emissions can be curbed only if people are persuaded to move away from
fossil fuels and adopt greener forms of energy.
§ A part of the
carbon revenue thus generated can be used for a systemic overhaul of the energy
mix, which, to a large extent, would address the pressing problem of
§ The Indian
economy’s energy mix needs to be remodelled through investments in clean
renewable sources of energy like solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and
§ Raise the level of
energy efficiency through investments in building retrofits, grid upgrades, and
§ Carbon tax can be
a key policy instrument in helping the country meets the challenges posed
by Air pollution.
There is, however,
a problem with carbon tax. It’s regressive in nature — it affects the poor
more than the rich.
What is the way
‘Tax and dividend’ policy:
According to which the revenue
thus generated is distributed equally across its
citizens and as a result, the poor are more than compensated for the loss,
since in absolute amounts the rich pay more carbon tax than the poor.
Such a policy of
cash transfer, which might work in the West, however, has a problem in the
Instead of a cash transfer, the other part of
the carbon revenue can be used for an in-kind transfer of free electricity to the population that contributes less carbon than the
economy average, and universal travel passes to compensate for the
rise in transport costs and to encourage the use of green public transport.
Such a policy justly addresses the widening
schism between Bharat, which bears the climate impact burden,
and India, which is imposing that burden because of its lifestyle choices.
The level of
carbon tax required for this policy to come into effect is ₹2,818 per metric
tonne of CO2. It will be levied upstream, namely, at ports, mine-heads, and so
on. While the prices of almost all the commodities will rise, the highest rise
in price will be in fuel and energy since the carbon content is the highest in
§ Carbon Tax policy
not only curbs emissions but also delivers on providing more
employment since the employment elasticity in greener forms of energy is
higher than those in fossil fuel-based energy.
§ Higher prices of
commodities according to their carbon content will induce households, including
the rich, to look for greener substitutes.
§ Availability of
free energy also addresses the issue of stealing of electricity, since there
will be no incentive left for those who steal. In India, even in 2014, the
value of electricity stolen through corrupt means amounts to about 0.8% of GDP.
§ Policy also will
give more health benefits as a significant part of more than 3% of India’s GDP
currently spent on pollution-induced diseases will surely come down.
presents a powerful opportunity to save lives and grow economies. Better way to
curb pollution is to tax carbon. Accelerating the switch to cleaner sources of
energy will reduce air pollution and improve human and planetary health.
need to integrate pollution challenges and control strategies into planning
processes. Collaborate on solving pollution with development agencies. Design
and implement programs that reduce pollution, and save lives.
This country will be hosting the 3rd Annual Meeting of Board of Governors of
Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank - India
This state’s government has proposed to bear hospital bills of road accident,
burn & acid attack victims - Delhi
This state has decided to recognise political prisoners held in jails
during the emergency period as ‘Loktantra Sainani’ - Rajasthan
is the ranking of Indian men’s hockey team in the latest listings released by
the International Hockey Federation (FIH) - Sixth
is the ranking of Indian women’s hockey team in the latest listings released by
the International Hockey Federation (FIH) - Tenth
This nation’s President has signed a USD 692 billion defence budget - US •
Initiative launched on the occasion of Universal Health Coverage Day 2017 - Laqshya
This food company ordered recall over salmonella fears - Lactalis
Universal Health Coverage Day (UHCD) is observed every year on - 12 December
This country will host 2021 Champions Trophy and 2023 World Cup - India
This state became the rst in India to oer e-mail IDs in Hindi - Rajasthan
Second UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture was held in - Muscat
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