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  • W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 18 May 2019 To 24 May 2019.
    Posted on June 25th, 2019 in Weekly Current Affairs

    W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 18 May 2019 To 24 May 2019.

    1) The United Nation General Assembly (UNGA) passed a non-binding resolution asking United
    Kingdom (UK) to return Chagos Archipelago in Indian Ocean to Mauritius. Key Highlights:
    Background: On February 2019 International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an advisory opinion
    on the legal consequences of separation of Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965 when
    latter was a British colony. It also ruled the UK’s decolonisation of the Indian Ocean islands
    was unlawful. This advisory opinion was endorsed by UNGA. About: The UNGA condemned
    the Britain’s occupation of Mauritius’s remote Chagos Islands in Indian Ocean and passed a
    resolution demanding Britain to withdraw its administration of the Chagos Islands. The 193-
    member world body passed resolution with 116-6 in favour (with 56 abstentions). The vote
    supported a motion which set a six-month deadline for Britain to withdraw from Chagos island
    chain and for islands to be reunified with neighbouring Mauritius. Issue: Chagos Archipelago, a
    group of seven atolls comprises of more than 60 islands in Indian Ocean. It is located about
    500 km south of Maldives. Since 18th century when the French first settled in islands, it had
    been part of Mauritius only. In 1801, all of the islands of French colonial territory in region were
    ceded to British. As per ICJ, in 1965 Britain unlawfully carved up Mauritius (when it was a
    British colony) which Chagos Archipelago was a part of. Thus even after Mauritius gained its
    independence from Britain in 1968 UK retained its sovereignty over islands to form British
    Indian Ocean Territory. UK then forcibly removed entire population of Chagos islands from
    territory between 1967 and 1973, and also prevented them from returning. Since then islands
    have been known by Foreign Office as British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), and being used
    for defence purposes by UK and United States. The US also established a military base on
    island of Diego Garcia which is largest of all islands. Thus, Mauritius claims its sovereignty over
    islands and argues that British claim is in violation of law and of UN resolutions that bans
    dismemberment of colonial territories before independence. ICJ verdict: In February 2019
    International Court of Justice (ICJ), which is the principal judicial body of UN and highest
    international legal authority, upheld that UK Government is under an obligation to end its
    administration over Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible. ICJ also advised that all its
    member states are under an obligation to cooperate with UN in order to complete
    decolonisation of Mauritius. UNGA Resolution: It reaffirmed advisory opinion of ICJ and held
    that Chagos Archipelago forms an integral part of territory of Mauritius. It demanded UK to
    withdraw its colonial administration from Chagos Archipelago unconditionally within a period of
    six months and to also support Mauritius in its quest for restoration of sovereignty over island
    chain. Significance: Although the resolution is not legally-binding, but it still carries significant
    political weight as the ruling came from UN’s highest court and assembly votes also reflected
    world opinion. India’s Stand: India was among 116 nations who voted in favour of resolution.
    India supported draft resolution, submitted by Senegal on behalf of members of Group of
    African States and voted in favour of it, as Mauritius is a fellow developing nation from Africa,
    with which India shares age-old people-to-people bonds. India for long has been supporter of
    all peoples striving for decolonization and has consistently supported Mauritius since beginning
    its quest for restoration of its sovereignty over Chagos Archipelago. India urged all concerned
    nations to reach a mutually agreeable understanding as soon as possible.

    Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 18 May 2019 To 24 May 2019.
    2) Pakistan has successfully test-fired a land-based ballistic missile named ‘Shaheen-II’. The
    impact point of missile was in the Arabian Sea. Key Highlights: Background: On 9 March 2004
    Pakistan successfully test fires a medium-range nuclear-capable ballistic missile Shaheen-II
    from an undisclosed location. Now on 21 May 2019 Pakistan test-fired intermediate-range
    nuclear-capable ballistic missile which could 2,000 km (1,250 miles). About: The test was
    conducted to ensure operational readiness of Pakistan Army’s Strategic Forces Command.
    Shaheen-II is a highly capable missile as it fully meets Pakistan’s strategic needs towards
    maintenance of desired deterrence and stability in region. About Shaheen-II Missile:
    Nomenclature: Shaheen missile series is named after a Falcon (bird) species that lives in
    Pakistan’s mountains. Features: It is a land-based supersonic intermediate-range surface-to-
    surface guided ballistic missile. Warheads: It is capable of carrying all kinds of warheads i.e.
    both conventional (high explosive) as well as nuclear warheads. Range: It is capable of hitting
    targets up to 1,500-2000 kilometers. Thus is capable of reaching major cities in neighbouring
    3) The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers was held in
    Kyrgyzstan capital Bishkek. It was attended by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Key
    Highlights: Background: This was the second SCO Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) meeting
    attended by India as a full member of SCO and was represented by Union External Affairs
    Minister Sushma Swaraj. The last CFM meeting was held in Beijing, China on April 2018.
    About: The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers (CMF) is a
    two-day meeting which was recently held in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic. Objective: The SCO
    CFM meeting in Bishkek reviewed the preparations for forthcoming SCO Summit which is
    scheduled to be held in Bishkek on 13-14 June 2019. It also exchanged views on topical issues
    of international and regional importance. About SCO: Background: The Shanghai Cooperation
    Organisation (SCO) was founded in 2001 at Shanghai summit by presidents of Russia, China,
    Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. SCO succeeded the Shanghai Five
    mechanism which was established in 1996. About: It is a permanent intergovernmental
    international organisation and also a Eurasian, political, economic and security alliance. It
    seeks towards military cooperation between its member states. Function: The alliance is
    primarily centred on security-related concerns of its Central Asian members with main threats
    being separatism, terrorism and extremism. It also works towards counter-terrorism operations,
    intelligence-sharing in Central Asia. Members (8): China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan,
    Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan. India and Pakistan were granted membership in
    2017. Prior to that till 2005 both India and Pakistan were observer at SCO. Observer States (4):
    Iran, Afghanistan, Belarus and Mongolia.
    4) China has delivered the first overhauled multi-role JF-17 Thunder fighter jet the Pakistan Air
    Force (PAF). The delivery was part of a project undertaken by two nations more than a decade
    ago for development and manufacture of the aircraft. Key Highlights: Background- In recent
    years JF-17 has become a mainstay of PAF when after US has restricted its sales of F-16 war
    planes post 1990 arms embargo imposed on Pakistan under Pressler Amendment. Pakistan is
    reported to have over 100 JF-17 planes with more in pipeline. More than a decade ago China
    and Pakistan had begun joint development and manufacture of single-engine light JF-17 jets.
    In 2007 Beijing delivered its first batch and a number of them were later commissioned by PAF.
    After over a decade of use, it was time for first JF-17s to undergo overhauls and first overhaul
    started in November 2017 after a contract was signed between two nations in 2016. About: The
    JF-17s jet were reassembled and delivered to its Pakistani client by Changsha 5712 Aircraft
    Industry Co Ltd under state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) in March.
    This is also the first time that AVIC has overhauled a made-for-export third generation fighter,
    or fourth generation fighter. Although standard, regular maintenance could be done by military
    itself but due to higher complexity an overhaul generally needs to be conducted by designated
    and more capable supplier. Pakistan sent some of its trainees to China, who built close
    communication with their counterpart and it was observed that since standards and procedures
    for overhaul were already established so future overhauls on other JF-17s could be undertaken
    by Pakistani personnel itself. Overhaul Includes: major maintenance, features repairs and
    replacement of old components and also includes airframe and engine. A Block 3 variant of JF-
    17 is also under development which is expected to be much more powerful than the previous
    two blocks due to newly developed active electronically scanned array radar by China.
    Significance: This overhaul marks an important milestone in the ‘JF-17 project’ undertaken.
    This is because it represented trial-and-error phase of project and also provided desired
    experience in establishing standards for other JF-17 overhauls in nearby. Under framework of
    China-Pakistan cooperation Pakistan’s aviation industry will continue to develop. Importance-
    Such an overhaul can ensures flight safety even after years of use. It might also equip aircraft
    with newer technologies that enhance its capability, or prolong lifespan of aircraft. Way
    Forward: Though China has made significant strides in avionics and developed new range of
    war planes including stealth fighters, it is yet to develop engines for its planes, including JF-17
    and mostly rely on Russian supplies. JF17 is part of close China-Pakistan defence cooperation
    which China has become a major supplier of arms to Pakistan. China is also currently building
    four new modern naval warships for Pakistan.
    5) The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) under Ministry of Science and Technology and
    Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), under Prime Minister of India has signed an
    memorandum of understanding (MoU) for supporting a joint collaborative research
    programmes in area of Cancer. Key Highlights on  MoU: About: The MoU for Joint
    Collaboration on Cancer Research was signed between DBT and DAE. The DAE was
    represented by its Tata Memorial Centre, which also functions as coordinating centre on behalf
    of The National Cancer Grid of India. Objective: to work towards common goal of tackling
    cancer and also to bring a quantum change in present scenario of cancer research. Features:
    The clinicians shall work in coherence with Researchers to identify and develop collaborative
    research programmes as well as public health initiatives for public awareness at large.
    Activities: such as intensive workshops on clinical research methodologies, joint clinical
    fellowships and protocol development shall help towards creating a trained manpower
    community and will provide a platform to utilize their acquired skills in best possible manner.
    MoU shall help strengthen various initiatives mandatorily for cancer by: Strategizing and
    prioritizing cancer research. Developing new and affordable technologies. Jointly designing
    and funding clinical trials. Coordinating and collaborating for translational research,
    interventions, training of manpower and infrastructure development.
    6) The Director Generals of Assam Rifles and Indian Coast Guard signed a ‘Affiliation Charter’
    between 3rd (Naga Hills) Battalion of Assam Rifles and Indian Coast Guard (ICG) Ship
    ‘Shaurya’ at a ceremony held at Laitkor, Shillong. It aims to enhance inter-armed forces
    cooperation between two and utilise each other’s assets for training and sports. Key Highlights-
    Objective: to promote bilateral cooperation between the ICG and Assam Rifles in field of
    exchange of information and personnel and to build-up camaraderie for training in sports,
    adventure and sustainable development. Significance: This affiliation charted will facilitate the
    ‘Sentinels of the North East’ (Assam Rifles) to interact with ‘Sentinels of the Seas’ (Indian
    Coast Guard) on professional as well as social platforms and share their rich experiences and
    best practices. Importance: The two Armed Forces will benefit from motivating one another
    towards common goals. Assam Rifles personnel will be able to understand oddity of Maritime
    Service (ICG) and role played by them in guarding and intercepting anti-national forces and
    non-state actors who are detrimental to maritime and coastal security. Similarly, ICG personnel
    will be able to understand the operational ethos of Assam Rifles while working along the Indo-
    Myanmar border. About Assam Rifles: It is India’s oldest Para Military Force. It has a rich
    history of valour, courage and tradition. It has 46 Battalions deployed at Indo-Myanmar border
    and for countering the insurgency in north east states. 3rd (Naga Hills) Battalion Assam Rifles:
    is oldest battalion of the Para Military force. It was raised in 1835 as ‘The Cachar Levy’ for
    guarding Eastern Frontier of Assam from Brahmaputra river to Cachar Hills and comprised of
    750 personnel of all ranks. At present, the battalion is developed at Kohima (Nagaland capital)
    where in past it bravely fought against Japan in World War-II and stopped their advance into
    India. About ICG Ship ‘Shaurya’: Indian Coast Guard is one of youngest Armed Force under
    Ministry of Defence and is responsible for safeguarding the maritime interest of India. It has
    142 ships & 62 aircraft in total. The ICG Ship ‘Shaurya’ is built indigenously at Goa Shipyard
    Limited. It is a modern state-of-the-art 105 mtrs long Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) which was
    on August12, 2017 and is based in Chennai. The word ‘Shaurya’ means courage. This is thus
    a projection of ICG’s commitment ‘To Serve & Protect’ maritime interest of the country. It is
    extensively developed for Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) surveillance and other duties as
    enshrined in the Coast Guard charter.
    7) The Indian Air Force (IAF) successfully fired aerial version of supersonic BrahMos cruise
    missile from a Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft. Key Highlights- About: The IAF successfully fired
    BrahMos Air Launched Missile from its frontline Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft. Background: Earlier
    on 22 November 2017, the IAF became World’s first Air Force to successfully fire an air
    launched 2.8 Mach surface attack missile of this category on a sea target. Since then this was
    the second such live launch of weapon. Result: The launch from Su-30 MKI aircraft was
    smooth and missile followed desired calculated trajectory before directly hitting land target.
    Safety: The firing was successfully undertaken with dedicated support from Indian Navy which
    ensured that large number of monitoring ship are available for ensuring range safety clearance.
    Significance: The capability of BrahMos missile coupled with superlative performance of Su-
    30MKI aircraft gives IAF its desired strategic reach. Complex Process: The integration of
    missile weapon on aircraft was a very complex process which involved electrical, mechanical
    and software modifications on aircraft. The IAF engineers undertook software development of
    aircraft and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) carried out mechanical and electrical
    modifications on aircraft. Others involved: The dedicated and synergetic efforts of IAF, Defence
    Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and
    BrahMos Aerospace Pvt. Ltd. (BAPL) proved the nation’s capability of undertaking such
    complex integrations. About BrahMos Air Launched Missile: It is a 2.5 ton supersonic air to
    surface cruise missile. It range is close to 300 km, and is designed and developed by BrahMos
    Aerospace Pvt. Ltd. (BAPL). The BrahMos missile provides IAF a much desired capability of
    striking on any target at sea or on land from large stand-off ranges with pinpoint accuracy by
    day or night and that too in all weather conditions.
    8) Flight Lieutenant Bhawana Kanth scripted history by becoming first woman pilot of Indian Air
    Force (IAF) to qualify to undertake combat missions on a fighter jet. About Bhawana Kanth:
    She is from the first batch of women fighter pilots of the IAF and joined the fighter squadron in
    November 2017. For the first time she flew solo in a MiG-21 Bison, in March 2018 and became
    second woman pilot of the Indian Air Force to fly solo. The 25-year-old flew from Ambala Air
    Force Station to achieve the feat. In order to be declared ‘Operational by Day’, a pilot has to
    complete their syllabus which announces them as fit to fly and undertake day operations. She
    has now completed Operational by Day syllabus for carrying out combat missions on Mig-21
    Bison aircraft during day time and thus became first qualified woman IAF fighter pilot to
    undertake missions by day on fighter aircraft. She will soon be allowed to carry out night
    operations once her training for night missions completes. Note: Within a year of government
    decision to open fighter stream for women on an experimental basis, three women namely
    Avani Chaturvedi, Mohana Singh and Kanth were commissioned as flying officers in July 2016.
    The IAF has already selected next batch of its three women trainee pilots for fighter stream.
    9) Supreme Court has reached its full sanctioned strength of 31 with appointment of 4 new judges
    to the apex court. The total sanctioned strength of Supreme Court is 31 (30 + 1), which
    includes 30 Supreme Court Judges and 1 Chief Justice of India (CJI). The length of their term
    is from their joining till they retire at the age of 65. Key Highlights: The Centre has cleared the
    four names recommended by five-member Supreme Court Collegium headed by Chief Justice
    Ranjan Gogoi, for elevation as judges of the apex court. The law ministry issued notification
    regarding appointment after President of India Ram Nath Kovind signed their warrants of
    appointment. Delay: The government initially returned the names of Justices Bose and
    Bopanna to the SC collegium after citing seniority and representation of regions as the
    reasons. But, SC collegium passed a resolution in early May which reiterated its
    recommendation to elevate Justices Bose and Bopanna to apex court and also recommended
    the names of justices B R Gavai and Justice Kant. The collegium observed that nothing wrong
    has been found regarding their conduct, competence or integrity. Importance: As of now,
    Supreme Court was functioning with 27 judges including the Chief Justice of India. After the
    elevation of four new judges, the apex court reached its full sanctioned strength of 31 judges.
    In recent past this is the first time that SC will have its full sanctioned strength. The four newly
    appointed judges are- Justice Aniruddha Bose– His parent High Court is Calcutta HC. He is
    Chief Justice of Jharkhand HC and stands at number 12 in all-India seniority of judges. Justice
    Surya Kant– is incumbent Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh HC. Justice A S Bopanna– His
    parent high court is Karnataka HC. He is Chief Justice of Gauhati HC and stands at number 36
    in all-India seniority of judges. Justice B R Gavai – is a judge of the Bombay High Court. Once
    sworn in, he could become the Chief Justice of India in May, 2025 and will be second Dalit CJI
    after K G Balakrishnan who retired on May 11, 2010.

    Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 18 May 2019 To 24 May 2019.
    10) Jokha Alharthi, an author from Oman won the prestigious Man Booker International Prize for
    her Arabic novel “Celestial Bodies“. About Jokha Alharthi: The Omanis author won Man Booker
    International Prize for her Arabic novel titled “Celestial Bodies”. It is a story of three sisters of a
    desert country confronting its slave-owning past and complex modern world. She became the
    first Arabic language writer to win this award. Alharthi will share her prize money with her UK-
    based translator named Marilyn Booth. About Man Booker International Prize- It is an
    international literary award sponsored by the ‘Man Group’, which is the same organisation that
    gives Man Booker Prize for fiction. It is counterpart to Man Booker Prize for English-language
    novels. Criteria: It is an annual award, given for a single work of fiction in any language. It is
    open to books in any language that have been translated into English and published in the
    United Kingdom in the last year. Cash prize: It carries a cash prize of 50,000 pounds (or US
    $64,000) for winning title, which is shared equally between author and translator.
    11) The International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) was observed on 22 May 2019. The day is
    celebrated every year to increase understanding and awareness about biodiversity issues.
    About International Day for Biological Diversity- Background: The International Day for
    Biological Diversity (IDB) was first created by Second Committee of the United Nations General
    Assembly (UNGA) in late 1993. It designated 29 December, the date when Convention of
    Biological Diversity entered into force as The International Day for Biological Diversity. Then in
    20 December 2000, UNGA adopted its resolution 55/201 and proclaimed 22 May as IDB, to
    commemorate adoption of text of the Convention by Nairobi Final Act of ‘Conference for
    Adoption of Agreed Text of Convention on Biological Diversity’ on 22 May 1992. The
    Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD): is a multilateral treaty and international legal
    instrument for “the conservation of biological diversity” which has been ratified by 196 nations.
    About IBD 2019: For celebration of IBD 2019 the UN Biodiversity Convention partnered with
    Slow Food International. This partnership focuses on biodiversity as foundation of our health
    and food systems. 2019’s IBD celebration focuses on biodiversity as foundation for our food
    and health. Theme: for IBD 2019 was “Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health“. It seeks to
    raise awareness about interconnectedness of our health and food systems with biodiversity. It
    also celebrates the most tangible aspects of biological and cultural diversity, which are ‘Nature
    and Cultures’, through our food and health systems. Worry: The global diet as a whole (what
    people actually eat globally) is becoming more homogenized (similar and integrated), and this
    is a dangerous thing. In the last 100 years, over 90% of crop varieties have disappeared from
    farmers’ fields. Thus, locally-varied food production systems are under severe threat which
    includes related local, indigenous and traditional knowledge. About Slow Food International- It
    is a global network of local communities which was founded in 1989. It work towards
    preventing disappearance of local traditions, local food cultures and counteract the rise of fast
    food culture.
    12) The Competition Commission of India (CCI) celebrated its 10th Annual Day on 20 May 2019.
    The date ‘20 May’ marks the notification of substantive enforcement provisions of the
    Competition Act, 2002. About Competition Commission of India- CCI is a statutory body which
    was established under the provisions of Competition Act, 2002. It was established in 2003.
    Composition: It consists of a Chairperson and six Members appointed by the Central
    Government. Function: It is responsible for enforcing the provisions of Competition Act, 2002
    throughout India. To prevent activities that can have an adverse effect on competition. To
    promote and sustain competition To protect interests of consumers. To ensure freedom of
    trade in the markets of India. Importance: CCI is although young body but is a perceptive
    regulator. It has strived to nurture a culture of competition in Indian markets by its credible
    antitrust enforcement and regular engagement with stakeholders. Since 2009, CCI has
    reviewed about 660 merger filings, 1010 antitrust cases and has held more than 700 advocacy
    events. About The Competition Act 2002: It is amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act,
    2007. It provisions include- Prohibiting anti-competitive agreements and also preventing abuse
    of dominant position by enterprises. Regulating combinations such as acquisition, acquiring of
    control, mergers and acquisition (M&A) which can have an adverse effect on competition within
    India. Way Forward: Although the role of Competition Commission of India (CCI) as a Market
    Regulator ensures a level playing field but in increased globalized and inter-dependent world,
    role of the CCI is required to be dynamic.
    13) Indian peacekeeper, Late Jitender Kumar, an Indian Police Officer, is among the 119 military,
    police and civilian personnel who will be honoured with this year’s prestigious UN medal called
    Dag Hammarskjöld Medal for courage and sacrifice in line of duty. About Dag Hammarskjöld
    Medal- About: It is a posthumous award which is given to members of United Nations (UN)
    peacekeeping operations who have lost their life while serving in peacekeeping operations.
    Background: It was established in 22 July 1997 by UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution
    1121, adopted on occasion of 50th anniversary of peacekeeping. The medal is named after
    Dag Hammarskjöld, who was the second Secretary-General of the United Nations. He died in a
    plane crash in 1961 while en route to cease-fire negotiations during Congo Crisis. The first
    Medal was presented to the family of Dag Hammarskjöld in 1998. About Jitender Kumar: Late
    Indian Police Officer Jitender Kumar laid down his while serving in the United Nations
    Organisation Stabilisation Mission (UNOSM) in the Central African country of Congo. He will be
    honoured posthumously with Dag Hammarskjold Medal on observance of International Day of
    UN Peacekeepers (29 May). On behalf of the fallen Indian peacekeeper the medal would be
    collected by Syed Akbaruddin, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador at a
    solemn ceremony which will take place at the UN in New York. India is the 4th largest
    contributor of uniformed personnel (Blue Helmet) to UNPKF. It is currently contributing more
    than 6,400 military and police personnel to UN peace operations in West Asia, Western
    Sahara, Congo, Lebanon, Abyei, Cyprus, Haiti, and South Sudan.
    14) Ahead of International Day of Biological Diversity (celebrated on 22 May), an awareness
    campaign was launched by the name of ‘Not all animals migrate by choice’ to be displayed at
    major airports across India. Key Highlights about Campaign- Objective: To raise awareness on
    illegal wildlife trade. To garner public support for conservation and protection of wildlife,
    prevention from smuggling and for reduction in demand of wildlife products. It also
    complements worldwide action taken on illegal trade in wildlife via UN Environment’s global
    campaign called Wild for Life. Launched By: United Nation (UN) Environment India and Wildlife
    Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) of India. Both WCCB and UN Environment started a
    comprehensive approach with focus on awareness building towards issue of prevention of
    illegal trade, smuggling of wildlife (and wildlife products) through exit points. Inauguration:
    Campaign was inaugurated by Dia Mirza, the UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador (and also
    UN Secretary-General’s SDG Advocate), in presence of officials from Ministry of Environment,
    Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Wildlife Crime Control Bureau of India (WCCB), UN
    Environment, UN agencies and GMR Group. Coverage: In collaboration with Airports Authority
    of India (AAI) and GMR Group, the campaign is set to travel across 22 airports across India
    over the next year. Need: Illegal wildlife trade drives a species to brink of extinction. With a
    thriving organized wildlife crime industry, the crime chains are spreading across world and
    India is also seeing a sharp rise in its illegal trade in wildlife. Thus there is an urgent need for
    awareness, action and stringent law enforcement to curb illegal wildlife trade which is
    threatening biodiversity and conservation in wild. Importance: Conservation is natural to India’s
    ethos. Although, while wildlife faces global threat and India’s flora and fauna’s demand
    continues to rise in illegal global markets, India’s stringent provisions for protection of wildlife
    under its Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972, and efforts towards creating awareness among
    public at large would still have to go a long way to help protect our wildlife. Thus, campaign is
    an important step forward in creating much-needed awareness and regaining public attention
    on wildlife trafficking which threatens very survival of these species. Species covered: In First
    Phase of the campaign, Tiger, Star Tortoise, Pangolin and Tokay Gecko are featured. They
    have been chosen as they are highly endangered because of illegal trading in International
    markets. Second Phase will see more threatened species. Tiger is trafficked for its skin, body
    parts and bones. Pangolin, is most illegally traded wild mammal on the planet. It is trafficked for
    its meat and for its scales which are used in traditional medicines. Star Tortoise is trafficked for
    pet trade and meat. Tokay Gecko is trafficked for its use in traditional medicine, mostly into
    South East Asia (SEA) but mainly Chinese Markets. About Wildlife Crime Control Bureau
    (WCCB): WCCB is a statutory multi-disciplinary body established by Government of India (GoI)
    under Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), to combat organized wildlife crime in India.
    It assists Customs authorities in inspection of consignments of flora & fauna as per the
    provisions laid down in Wild Life Protection Act (WPA), 1972, (the Convention on International
    Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and Export-import (EXIM)
    Policy governing such an item.
    15) The Vice President of India, M. Venkaiah Naidu called for protecting and promoting the
    indigenous Ongole cattle breed. He also released a Compendium on Ongole breed of cattle at
    the Swarna Bharat Trust in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh. Key Highlights: Vice President Naidu
    asserted that cattle wealth was national wealth. He pointed out that Brazil which had imported
    these cattle and now produced hybrid Ongoles is gaining huge revenue through its export. As
    per him, India do not focus enough attention on its own indigenous breed and now the time has
    come for promoting Ongole cattle breed and also to take up research on animal. He asked
    concerned officials to expedite the works at National Kamadhenu Breeding Centre,
    Chintaladevi in Nellore District, Andhra Pradesh. Agriculture: Vice President Naidu observed
    that Indian agriculture is facing many challenges thus stressed need for taking up multi-
    pronged efforts from all concerned stakeholders to making agriculture sustainable, more
    profitable and to double farmer’s income. He also urged farmers to take up in house dairy and
    backyard poultry for fetching additional income source. About Compendium: The Compendium
    released by Vice President Naidu has 1200-page which traces history of animal, from year
    1885 to 2016. It provides information from 13 books and 80 research findings on Ongole
    Cattle. Agricultural scientist, Mullapudi Narendranath and former Joint Director of Animal
    Husbandry Department, Adusumilli Madhusudan Rao were credited for compilation of the
    Compendium. About Ongole Cattle Breed: Nomenclature: The breed derives its name from the
    name of a place called ‘Ongole’, which occupies a small area between Gundlakamma and
    Musi rivers in Andhra Pradesh. It is also nicknamed as ‘Nelore cattle’ as Ongole was once part
    of the Nellore area. Indigenous Breed: Ongole cattle are indigenous to Prakasam District,
    Andhra Pradesh in India. Worldwide Demand: The ongole bull has great demand all over the
    world. In Brazil, population of Ongole off-breed is around several millions. The USA’s famous
    ‘Santa Gertrudis breed’ also have Ongole blood. They are used in bull fights not only in Andhra
    Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, but also in Mexico and some parts of East Africa. Features: They are
    known for their toughness, high milk yield, rapid growth rate, tolerance to tropical heat and
    natural resistance to both foot and mouth disease (FMD) and mad cow disease.
    16) The Malawian soldier Chancy Chitete will be honoured with the United Nation’s (UN) highest
    peacekeeping award, dubbed as “Captain Mbaye Diagne Medal for Exceptional Courage”. He
    will be awarded posthumously in New York, US on May 24 2019. About Chancy Chitete: The
    late UN peacekeeper from Mali is being honoured for his “brave and selfless” action
    demonstrated in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In an operation undertaken November
    2018, he sacrificed his life while saving his fellow comrade ‘blue helmet’ during operation
    against local armed group named Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). The ADF is an armed force
    in DRC which had been terrorizing civilians and disrupting the UN’s ongoing efforts to halt and
    treat spread of the deadly Ebola virus. About UN’s Highest Peacekeeping Award: It is officially
    known as ‘Captain Mbaye Diagne Medal for Exceptional Courage’. It was established in 2014
    and is named after Captain Mbaye Diagne of Senegal, who served with former UN Mission in
    Rwanda (UNAMIR) and saved thousands of Rwandans from death in 1994 genocide. It is
    awarded to uniformed (police, military) and civilian personnel who have demonstrated
    exceptional courage, in face of extreme danger, and fulfilled mandate of their missions in
    service of humanity and United Nations. The awarding of Medal to Chitite, will be the first time
    that the actions of a UN peacekeeper have been found to meet standard set by Captain

    Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 18 May 2019 To 24 May 2019.
    17) The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) Central Board has decided to create a ‘Specialised
    Supervisory and Regulatory Cadre’ within the RBI. Key Highlights: About: The decision to
    create a Specialised Supervisory and Regulatory Cadre within the RBI was taken at the recent
    two-day meeting of Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) Central Board which was held under the
    chairmanship of RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das in Chennai. This was the boards 576th
    Meeting. Objective: The cadre creation came with a view of strengthening the supervision and
    regulation of commercial banks, urban cooperative banks and Non-Banking Financial
    Companies (NBFCs). Importance: The decision for creating an additional oversight mechanism
    was taken in the wake of recent NBFC crisis such as large-scale defaults by IL&FS in 2018
    (which caused on-going liquidity crunch in banking system), failures by credit rating agencies to
    flag risks, alleged lapses by auditors and divergence in asset quality by big banks. Thus the
    supervision cadre would supplement RBI to be better equipped in picking up early warning
    signs. Key Discussions at RBI’s Central Board Meeting- It reviewed the current economic
    situation, global and domestic challenges and various areas of operations of RBI. It reviewed
    the present structure of supervision in RBI in light of growing complexities, diversity and
    interconnections within the Indian financial sector. It also discussed issues related to currency
    management and Banker to Government functions of the RBI. It also discussed the Medium
    Term Strategy document, which covers RBI’s Mission and Vision Statements.
    18) Three-time Formula One (F1) World champion Niki Lauda dies in Vienna at the age of 70. He
    underwent a lung transplant in August 2018. About Niki Lauda: The Austrian national was one
    of the best known figures in motor racing. He was born in Vienna in February 1949 and
    became a motor racing legend. He had won three Formula One (F1) world titles between 1975
    and 1984. He won the title for Ferrari in 1975 and 1977 and McLaren in 1984. He suffered
    horrific injuries at German Grand Prix (GP) in 1976 and will always be remembered for his
    remarkable recovery and return to racing after being badly burned in the crash. He has overall
    competed in 171 races and won 25 of them. After his retirement he actively pursued business
    interests including his own airline later served in senior roles at F1 management as non-
    executive chairman at hugely successful Mercedes team since 2012, where he also helped
    bring British world champion Lewis Hamilton on board.
    19) The United Arab Emirates (UAE) launched ‘Golden Card’ Permanent Residency Scheme in an
    attempt to woo wealthy individuals and exceptional talents from all over the world. Key
    Highlights: About: The “Golden Card” programme was unveiled by UAE Prime Minister Sheikh
    Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum (who is also Dubai’s ruler). The UAE has always opened
    its door to millions of people looking for pursuing their dreams and betterment of lives. The
    Golden Card is UAE’s way to welcome all those seeking to be a part of the UAE’s success
    story and making it a second home. It is introduced keeping in mind that Residents are an
    indispensable part of country and thus will be permanent partners in UAE’s journey. Reason:
    Expatriates in the UAE are usually given limited duration residence permits under a
    sponsorship system. About ‘Golden Card’ Programme: It is open to investors and ‘exceptional
    talents’ like scientists, engineers, doctors, students and artists. The Golden Card offers
    permanent residency and unprecedented benefits to cardholders as well as to their families
    while creating an attractive environment for growth and business. The benefits of PR also
    includes spouse and children of cardholder so as to ensure cohesive social ties. As part of
    initiative, the first group of 6800 investors from more than 70 countries with investments of
    about 100 Billion Dirhams (USD 27 billion), were being given permanent residency. Benefits:
    This new initiative will attract greater foreign investment (FI) and activate local economy,
    making it more efficient and attractive for investors. It will also increase UAE’s competitiveness
    on a global scale and will reaffirm country’s position as a global incubator. The “Golden Card”
    visa includes five categories – General investors who will be granted a 10 year permanent
    residency visas. Real Estate Investors, who can get a visa for 5 year visa. Entrepreneurs and
    Talented Professionals like doctors, researchers and innovators can get 10 years visa. The fifth
    category is ‘outstanding students’. These will also be permitted 5 years permanent residency
    visas. All mentioned categories of visas can be renewed upon expiry. India- UAE: The Indian
    expatriate community is the largest ethnic community in UAE. It constitutes roughly about 30%
    of country’s population, which is around 9 million. Although, most of the Indians living in UAE
    are employed, about 10% of Indian population constitutes dependent family members. This
    Golden Card programme could attract more Indian professionals and businessmen to Gulf
    20) Former Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran is selected for Japan’s Second Highest
    National Award called ‘The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star’. Key Highlights: The
    Government of Japan recently announced in its 2019 Spring Imperial Decorations, that it will
    confer the 72-year-old Former foreign secretary Shyam Saran, ‘The Order of the Rising Sun,
    Gold and Silver Star’. He will be conferred for his contributions in strengthening strategic ties
    and enhancing mutual understanding between India and Japan. About Shyam Saran: He
    served as India’s Foreign Secretary from year 2004 to 2006 during which he played an
    important role in elevating India-Japan relationship to a strategic partnership. During his tenure
    Junichiro Koizumi, (then Japanese Prime Minister) visited India for first time in 5 years. During
    his tenure as Deputy Chief of Mission of Embassy of India in Japan he contributed in
    strengthening mutual understanding between India and Japan. His contributions includes “India
    Festival“, that was held in Japan in 1988. Since 2017 he has worked towards enhancing
    mutual understanding between two countries, by hosting events like an “India-Japan
    Colloquium“. About The Order of the Rising Sun: It is the Japanese government’s Second
    Highest National Honour. It was established by Japanese Emperor Meiji in 1875. It is awarded
    for an exceptional civil or military merit.

    Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 18 May 2019 To 24 May 2019.
    21) On 21 May, the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development was celebrated.
    The year 2019 has been declared ‘International Year of Indigenous Languages’ by UN General
    Assembly, so as to bring awareness to importance of linguistic diversity. Key Highlights-
    Background: In 2001, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
    (UNESCO) adopted ‘Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity’ as a result of the destruction
    of the Buddha statues of Bamiyan in Afghanistan in 2001. Then in December 2002, the UN
    General Assembly (UNGA) in its resolution 57/249, declared 21 May to be World Day for
    Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. Objective: To deepen our understanding of
    values of cultural diversity and to advance four goals of UNESCO ‘Convention on Protection
    and Promotion of Diversity of Cultural Expressions’, adopted in 2005- To support sustainable
    systems and development of cultural governance. To achieve balanced flow of cultural goods
    and services (G&S) and increase mobility of cultural professionals and artists. To integrate
    culture in sustainable development frameworks. To promote human rights and fundamental
    freedoms. Importance of Cultural Diversity: About Three-quarters (77%) of world’s major
    conflicts have cultural dimension. Thus bridging gap between cultures is necessary and urgent
    for peace, development and stability. Cultural diversity is not only a driving force of
    development with respect to economic growth, but it also act as means of leading more fulfilling
    intellectual, emotional, and spiritual life. Cultural diversity is thus an asset that is indispensable
    for poverty reduction and achievement of global sustainable development. UAE and World Day
    for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development: UAE celebrated the day highlighting its
    efforts in promoting tolerance and cultural diversity. The 2019 event coincided with the
    country’s declaration of 2019 as the ‘Year for Tolerance’. The UAE has cultural relations with
    many countries and is also an active member of UNESCO.
    22) The World Bee Day is celebrated every year on May 20. It marks the birthday anniversary of
    beekeeping pioneer Anton Janša. The theme for World Bee Day 2019 was “Save the Bees”.
    About World Bee Day- Background: 20 May was designated as World Bee Day by United
    Nations General Assembly (UNGA) by unanimously passing a resolution proposed by Slovenia
    in December 2017. The resolution called for adoption of specific conservation measures and
    highlighted importance of preservation of bees and their significance for humanity. Objective:
    To raise awareness about importance of bees and pollinators, threats faced by them, their
    contribution to sustainable development and to acknowledge their role in ecosystem. Reason:
    The day 20 May coincides with birth anniversary of Anton Janaa, an 18th century beekeeping
    pioneer. He pioneered modern beekeeping techniques in his native country Slovenia and
    praised bees for their ability to work so hard even while needing so little attention. Value of
    bees: Bees and other Pollinators like bats, butterflies, and hummingbirds allow many plants
    (including food crops) to reproduce. About 33% of world’s food production depends on bees
    thus they are vital for preservation of biodiversity, ecological balance in nature and helpful in
    reducing pollution. Apart from contributing directly to global food security, they are also key to
    conserving biodiversity, which is a cornerstone of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
    They guard and even act as an indicator for emerging environmental risks and signal health of
    local ecosystems, thus act as our allies against climate change. Threat: Bees and other
    Pollinators are increasingly under threat from human activities. Invasive insects, pesticides,
    land-use change and monocropping practices (agricultural practice of growing a single crop
    without rotation) may reduce available nutrients and poses greatest threats to bee colonies.
    23) In a recent judgement the Delhi High court (HC) ruled that United Nations Organization (UNO)
    is not ‘State’ in terms of Article 12 of the Indian Constitution and thus it is not amenable to its
    jurisdiction under Article 226. About The Case: Case: The Delhi HC judgment adjudicated the
    petition filed concerning immunity enjoyed by UNO under United Nations (Privileges and
    Immunities) Act, 1947. Petitioner: The plea in case is filed by a former UNO employee who was
    found guilty of misconduct following the findings of Procurement Task Force. He was then
    convicted by a US Federal Court and sentenced to 8 years of imprisonment and 2 years of
    mandatory probation, was later released and deported to India in May 2014. The petition filed
    by him claims that due process was not followed in his case. Course Followed: In November
    2018, the petitioner sought permission of Union Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to initiate a
    legal action against UNO under section 86 of Civil Procedure Code, 1908. This section 86 of
    CPC provides that a foreign State may be sued in any Court once the consent of Central
    government is obtained. The MEA then stated that consent of Union Government was not
    required to initiate legal suit against UNO as it was not foreign State rather only an International
    Organization. MEA although stated that UNO and its officials enjoyed immunity under United
    Nations (Privileges and Immunities) Act, 1947. It also added that as per Section 2 of Article II of
    the Schedule of Act, 1947, UNO enjoys immunity from every kind of legal process except
    insofar as in any particular case it has clearly waived its immunity. The same became subject
    matter of petition filed before the Delhi High Court. Article 12 of Constitution of India: As per it
    the ‘States’ in relation to Part III (Fundamental Rights) of Constitution includes Government and
    Parliament of India (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha), Government and Legislature of each of
    State (Vidhan Sabha and Vidhan Parishad), all local (or other) authorities within territory of
    India or under control of Union of India. Article 226 of Constitution of India: It empowers the
    high courts of India to issue orders, directions or writs, which includes writs in nature of habeas
    corpus, prohibition, mandamus, certiorari, and quo warranto (or any of them) to any concerned
    person or authority, including the government (in appropriate cases).
    24) The University Grants Commission (UGC, the higher education regulator) has directed
    universities and higher educational institutions (HEIs) in India to observe 21 May as Anti-
    Terrorism Day so as to wean youth away from terrorism. Key Highlights- Background: Every
    year 21 May is observed as Anti-Terrorism Day throughout India. It seeks to spread awareness
    among people about dangers of violence and terrorism and its effect on people, society and
    country altogether. Reason: ‘21 May’ marks the death anniversary of former Indian Prime
    Minister Rajiv Gandhi who was assassinated in 1991 at an election rally near Chennai by a
    women suicide bomber from Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, a separatist Sri Lankan
    Tamil outfit). The year 2019 mark 28th death anniversary of Late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
    Objective: to wean youth away from violence and terrorism, and showing them how it is
    prejudicial to national interest. It also seeks to promote harmony, peace and unity across the
    nation. UGC also suggested varsities to undertake activities for the day which includes
    discussions, symposium, debates, pledge taking ceremony and films screening as per the
    recommendations of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India.
    25) PCT Humanity, a charity run by an Indian named Joginder Singh Salaria in the United Arab
    Emirates (UAE), sets a new Guinness World Records for ‘Longest Line of Hunger Relief
    Package’ in Abu Dhabi. Key Highlights: Indian expat Joginder Singh Salaria is the founder of
    PCT Humanity, which set the Guinness world record with Iftar distribution. The PCT stands for
    Pehal Charitable Trust. The Hunger Relief Package efforts were in continuation to vegetarian
    iftar which is held daily by PCT Humanity at premises of Salaria’s company Pehal International
    in Dubai Industrial Park, Abu Dhabi. PCT Humanity’s record-breaking Iftar line contained seven
    meal items spread in a line without keeping any gap which continued for about a kilometre in
    length. The charity was held for hunger relief efforts during the Muslim’s holy month of
    26) Maharashtra Governor V. Rao has promulgated an ordinance to provide reservation benefits in
    admissions to Social and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBCs) in medical education in
    state. Key Points of Ordinance- Reason: In May 2019 the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court
    has put a stay on the 16% quota offered by state to its Maratha community under SEBC
    category for admission in 2019’s postgraduate medical courses. The HC ruled that
    implementation of this reservation for Maratha community under SEBC quota was
    “unconstitutional” and thus will not be applicable to post-graduate medical admission process
    which had already begun. This cancelled admissions already given to students under Maratha
    quota and necessitated fresh admissions. Thus the Maharashtra State Reservation for SEBC
    Amendment and Validation Ordinance, 2019, makes way for 16% reservation for students from
    Maratha community in current academic year itself. It provides reservation of seats for
    admission in educational institutions of state and appointments in public posts and services
    under state. The ordinance promulgated thus upholds admissions given to students under
    Maratha quota under SEBC category in postgraduate medical and dental courses. Courses:
    The reservation to students will be provided in admissions in field of medical education which
    includes medical and dental under-graduate and post graduate courses under SEBC category.
    Covers: The ordinance will provide reservations in favour of candidates belonging to SEBC
    classes for courses commencing from educational year 2019-20. It will also be applicable for
    admissions to other educational courses including under-graduate courses requiring passing of
    NEET or any other National Entrance Test. Article 213: The Governor of an Indian state draws
    ordinance making power from Article 213 of Indian Constitution. This article empowers
    governor to promulgate ordinance on an urgent matter and such ordinance shall have same
    force and effect as an Act of Legislature of the State.

    Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 18 May 2019 To 24 May 2019.
    27) The World Metrology Day is observed every year on 20 May, which commemorates
    anniversary of signing of Metre Convention in 1875. About World Metrology Day: Background:
    The day commemorates anniversary of signing of the international treaty called Metre
    Convention in Paris on 20 May 1875, by which International Bureau of Weights and Measures
    (BIPM) was created. The Convention set the framework for global collaboration in field of
    science and measurement as well as in its commercial, societal and industrial applications.
    Metrology: means ‘the science of measurement’. The Metre Convention: also called ‘Treaty of
    the Metre’ provides the basis for a global coherent measurement system which encourages
    scientific discovery and innovation, international trade, industrial manufacturing and also
    improvement of quality of life and protection of global environment. About World Metrology Day
    2019: The theme for WMD 2019 was “The International System of Units – Fundamentally
    better.” This theme was chosen because in 16 November 2018, the General Conference on
    Weights and Measures agreed to one of the most significant revisions to International System
    of Units (the SI) since its inception. The Research into new measurement methods, including
    those using quantum phenomena, justifies the change made. The International System of Units
    (SI) is now based on a set of definitions each linked to laws of physics and have advantage of
    being able to accept further improvements in measurement science and technology (S&T) to
    meet needs of future users for coming years.
    28) The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has invited nomination for Vayoshreshtha
    Samman 2019 which is the National Awards for Senior Citizens for both Individuals and
    Institutions categories. The nominations should be sent by 31st May 2019. About Vayoshrestha
    Sammans- Background: The series of National Award-Vayoshreshtha Samman awards were
    instituted by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in 2005. In 2013 these were
    elevated to the level of national awards. It is an annual award which is conferred in thirteen
    categories. Nominees: The various Ministries and Departments of Government of India, their
    autonomous organistions, State Government, Union Territory’s (UT) Administration all can
    nominate suitable individuals and institutions for the said National Awards. Awardees: These
    are conferred to eminent senior citizens and Institutions who are involved in providing
    distinguished services for the cause of elderly persons. Awarded on: In general these are
    conferred by the President of India on 1st October each year on the occasion of International
    Day of Older Persons (IDOP).
    29) The 2019 Indo-Myanmar coordinated patrol (IMCOR) is taking place from 20 May to 28 May
    2019. This is the 8th edition of coordinated patrol (CORPAT) between India and Myanmar. Key
    Highlights- Objective: The coordinated patrol (CORPAT) initiative between the Indian Navy and
    Myanmar Navy seeks to address issues of terrorism, human trafficking, poaching, illegal
    fishing, drug trafficking and other illegal activities harmful to interest of both nations.
    Background: The CORPAT series was first started in Mar 2013. Since then it has fostered
    improved professional interaction and enhanced mutual understanding between the two navies
    for maritime interoperability. IMCOR 2019- Time: The Indo-Myanmar coordinated patrol
    IMCOR will be conducted from 20 May 2019 to 28 May 2019. For the ‘Opening Ceremony’ of
    2019 edition, Myanmar Navy Ship namely UMS King TabinShweHtee (773) and UMS Inlay
    (OPV-54) arrived on 20 May 2019 in Port Blair at Andaman and Nicobar Command. Naval
    Participants: It will be undertaken by Myanmar ships viz. UMS Inlay and UMS King
    TabinShweHtee with Indian Naval Ship, INS Saryu. Exercise Undertakes: The patrolling effort
    by participants will be augmented by Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) from both the navies. The
    ships deployed would patrol along International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) between the
    two countries thus, covering a distance of about 725 Kms over a period of four days. During the
    sea phase of coordinated patrol (CORPAT), prior to ‘Closing Ceremony’ of CORPAT onboard
    Myanmar Naval Ship, the deployed ships will also undertake joint drills and maneuvers.
    30) The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has laid out its plans to introduce artificial intelligence
    (AI) system in its MCA 21 portal. It will be introduced when Ministry will roll out the Version 3 of
    the MCA 21. Key Highlights- Background: In early 2019, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs
    sought applications from various service providers so as to develop as well as operate
    upgraded version of MCA 21 system. Objective: To make compliance process easier and to
    ensure that routine enforcement activities are done regularly on autopilot basis. Need: The
    main focus of Ministry in introducing AI system is to rationalise all forms filled and to follow
    principle of a single source of truth. This means that one would not be required to fill in the
    known details again, as it will get filled automatically. The MCA also seeks to interlink
    databases so that routine enforcements are done 24×7 on autopilot basis. About MCA 21:
    About: The MCA 21 is one of 31 Mission Mode Projects (MMP) of National e-Governance Plan
    (NeGP) of Government of India. This is first Mission Mode Project to be launched under NeGP
    and is e-governance initiative from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs to meet stakeholder needs
    in the 21st century. Background: The MCA 21 system was first started in 2006. The first phase
    (Phase I: from 2006- December 2012) of e-governance initiative of ministry was implemented
    by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and the ongoing second phase (Phase II: from January
    2013-July 2021) is being implemented by Infosys. Significance: The portal is electronic
    backbone of MCA for distribution of information to all its concerned stakeholders, including the
    investors, regulators and corporates. It protects investors and also offers many important
    services to stakeholders. Function: It regulates corporate affairs in India through Companies
    Act, 1956, 2013 and other allied Acts, Rules and Bills. It also allows electronic filings of various
    documents under Companies Act, 2013. It has also fully automated all processes related to
    compliance and enforcement monitoring under the Act. The portal act as a gateway to all
    guidance, services, and other corporate affairs related information.
    31) Rafael Nadal of Spain defeats Novak Djokovic of Serbia in finals and won men’s singles title at
    Italian Open 2019, held in Rome. This was his ninth title in Rome. Key Highlights- Rafael
    Nadal, the World No. 2 player defeated World No. 1 Novak Djokovic by 6-0 4-6 6-1 in in the
    Italian Open final held in Rome. Rafael Nadal: It was his 81st tournament win but first clay court
    title of year 2019. In Australian Open final in January 2019, Nadal was beaten by Djokovic in
    final and had also lost at semi-final stage in his past four tournaments. Winning Italian Open he
    has now recorded his 34th Masters title. This takes him 34-33 ahead of Djokovic in Masters
    1,000 Series titles and also gives a boost before the French Open (also called Roland-Garros)
    starting on 26 May 2019. About Italian Open: It is a tennis tournament which is held in Rome,
    Italy. It was founded in 1930. The event is also known as Rome Masters (for male edition) or
    Internazionali BNL d’Italia (sponsored name) or Italian Championships. The tournament is
    played on Clay Courts, a type of tennis court which are made of crushed brick, stone, shale, or
    other unbound mineral aggregates. French Open is also played in Clay Courts.
    32) The Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova beats United Kingdom (UK’s) Johanna Konta in finals
    and won women’s singles title at Women’s Tennis Association’s (WTA) Italian Open 2019, held
    in Rome. Key Highlights: Czech world number seven Karolina Pliskova defeated British
    number one Johanna Konta with 6-3, 6-4 in 1 hour 25 minutes. Karolina Pliskova: By defeating
    Johanna Konta in straight sets in final of the Internazionali d’Italia, (in Rome) Pliskova sealed
    her second title of the season since Brisbane International in January 2019. After losing in
    second round in Madrid and Stuttgart, but winning Italian Open’s she now sits at World No.2
    ahead of French Open. She has climbed five places to slot in just behind World No.1 Naomi
    Osaka. With his win 27-year-old Pliskova became first Czech woman to win women’s singles in
    Rome since Regina Marsikova in1978. Johanna Konta: She was first British woman to reach
    Italian Open final since Virginia Wade in 1971. The 28 year old is UK’s Number One player.
    She defeated two World’s top-10 players to reach finals of Italian Open 2019. Even after losing
    at final she has earned a seeding at French Open starting on 26 May 2019. She is up by 16
    places to become World No.26 after a great display. This is her highest ranking since July
    33) NASA has found evidence of a unique mixture of water ice, methanol, and organic molecules
    on Ultima Thule’s surface. This mixture is very different from most icy objects explored
    previously by spacecraft till date. About Ultima Thule: Nomenclature: Its scientific name is
    (486958) 2014 MU69. The words ‘Ultima’ and ‘Thule’ is its nickname. Ultima Thule, is a Greco-
    Latin term which means a distant unknown world. About: It is a trans-Neptunian object located
    in Kuiper belt (a circumstellar disc in outer Solar System). It is the farthest world ever explored
    by mankind. The flyby (close enough to record scientific data) of Ultima Thule is farthest
    exploration of an object till date. It is approximately 6.4 billion km from Earth. Discovery: It was
    discovered in 2014 by astronomers using Hubble Space Telescope as part of their search for a
    Kuiper belt object for New Horizons mission (which was an interplanetary space probe
    launched by NASA). On 1 January 2019 NASA’s New Horizons space probe’s flyby Ultima
    Thule making it the farthest object in Solar System visited by a spacecraft. Significance: The
    discoveries made about Ultima Thule are going to advance theories of solar system formation.
    Key Features: Recently, NASA published first profile of Ultima Thule which reveals details
    about complex space object. Shape: The object is a contact binary, with two distinguishable
    differently shaped lobes. About 36 km long ‘Ultima Thule’ consists of a large (19 km), strangely
    flat lobe (Nicknamed Ultima) which is connected to a smaller (14 km), somewhat rounder lobe
    (nicknamed Thule), at a juncture which is called “the neck.” Both bodies seem to be
    planetesimal aggregates of much smaller building blocks, thus indicate that it could be most
    primitive object in Solar System. The alignment of axes of Ultima and Thule suggests that
    before merger two lobes must have become tidally locked, which means that same sides must
    have always faced each other as they orbited around same point. The largest depression
    found in Ultima Thule is about 8 km wide feature which is nicknamed as ‘Maryland crater’, is
    likely formed from an impact. It has an orbital period of about 298 years and a low inclination
    and eccentricity. Colour: In colour and composition, Ultima Thule resembles many other
    objects found in its area of Kuiper Belt. It is very red even redder even than Pluto (2,400-km
    wide). The reason for its reddish hue is believed to be the modification of organic materials on
    its surface.
    34) The Supreme Court of India has held that a Foreigner Tribunal’s order declaring a person as
    an illegal foreigner will be binding and will prevail over government decision to include or
    exclude name from National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam. Key Highlights- Argument:
    The SC bench constituted of Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi and SC Justice Deepak
    Gupta and Justice Sanjiv Khanna unanimously distinguished between decisions of NRC) and
    of foreigners tribunals and upheld that the tribunal’s order being the quasi-judicial one will
    prevail. Verdict: As per SC the persons whose names are not included in NRC in Assam can
    produce documents including ones related to their family tree and thus seek review of tribunal’s
    decision. As per SC it cannot create an appellate forum for those, declared as illegal foreigners
    by the foreigners tribunal, by using its power under Article 142 of Indian Constitution. Outcome:
    If the name of a person, included in NRC in Assam is deleted on ground that he was a
    foreigner, then principle of ‘res-judicata’ (a judicially decided issue cannot be re-agitated) would
    apply on decision taken by foreigners tribunal. Thus a person who has been declared an illegal
    immigrant cannot seek re-decision (right of appeal) against exclusion or dropping of his name
    in normal circumstances. About Foreigners (Tribunal) Order, 1964- The order was passed by
    Government of India (GoI) under section 3 of foreigners Act, 1946. The GoI can constitute
    foreigners tribunals whenever required to look into question of whether a person is or not a
    foreigner within the meaning of Foreigners Tribunals act, 1946. The Foreigners tribunal shall
    consist of persons having judicial experience as government may think fit to appoint. It has
    powers of a civil court while trying a suit under code of civil procedure, 1908. It includes
    summoning any person, requiring any document and issuing commissions for examination of
    any witness.
    35) The United State recently approved Anti-Ballistic Missile sales to South Korea and Japan. The
    sale is worth more than $600 million and comes in backdrop of mounting tensions with North
    Korea. Key Highlights- Objective: to support national security and foreign policy objectives of
    United States (US) by assisting its key allies. This will not alter basic military balance in region
    and will give them capability to defend itself against a growing nuclear and missile threat from
    North Korea. Reason: Recently in May second week the North Korea reportedly tested two
    short-range missiles which is its second launch in less than a week. Earlier in April also North
    Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised test-firing of a new type of “tactical guided weapon“.
    These tests come amid halted negotiations between the United States and North Korea, which
    US President Donald Trump promised would put an end to North’s missile tests. The US’s
    State Department approved sale of- 92 ‘Standard Missile-2’ (SM-2), which is world’s premier
    fleet-area air defense weapon and used by ships against air threats along with 12 missile
    guidance systems for a total cost of $313.9 million. 160 anti-air AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-
    Range Air-to-Air Missile) missiles and related guidance equipment to Japan for $317 million.
    US and North Korea: In February 2019 second summit between Trump and North Korean
    leader Kim Jong Un was held in Vietnam. It ended with a deadlock, when US side refused
    North Korea’s demands of easing sanctions until Pyongyang takes major steps to end its
    nuclear program.
    36) Naval ships namely INS Kolkata and INS Shakti are participating in SIMBEX-2019. Key
    Highlights- About: SIMBEX (Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise) is an annual bilateral
    naval exercise between India and Singapore. It is being held from 16 May to 22 May 2019.
    Background: SIMBEX was first initiated in 1993, since then it has become an annual affair.
    Over the years it has grown in operational and tactical complexity as well as from traditional
    anti-submarine exercises to more complex maritime exercises. It undertakes anti air or anti
    surface practice firings, air defence operations, advanced tactical exercises, etc. It has stood
    test of time in demonstrating commitment between India and Singapore in enhancing maritime
    cooperation between their navies and bolstering bonds of friendship between the two
    countries. Objective: To aim to enhance interoperability, strengthen mutual trust, and build
    greater synergy to address common maritime concerns among both navies. About SIMBEX-
    2019: For SIMBEX 2019, the Indian Navy has deployed its finest assets Kolkata Class
    Destroyers (INS Kolkata and INS Shakti). Objective: to extend bridges of friendship through
    maritime, economic, and cultural interactions with countries of east and south-east Asia (SEA).
    It will be conducted in Two Phases: Harbour Phase– will be conducted from 16 to 18 May. It
    included various planning conferences, deck reception, courtesy calls to dignitaries of RS
    Navy, simulator based warfare training (war-gaming) and sporting events all onboard INS
    Kolkata. Sea Phase– is scheduled from 19 to 22 may 19. It will be conducted in the South
    China Sea (SCS). It will include various maritime combat exercises like advanced aerial
    tracking, firing on aerial or surface targets, tactical exercises on surface or air scenarios and
    coordinated targeting exercises. Participation: Along with INS Shakti and INS Kolkata,
    Poseidon-8I (P8I) (Indian long range maritime patrol aircraft) will also participate. From
    Singapore side, Royal Singapore Navy (RSN) Ships RSN Steadfast and RSN Valiant, Fokker-
    50 (F-50) (maritime patrol aircraft) and F-16 fighter aircraft will participate. Significance:
    SIMBEX-19 will also conclude two month long deployment of INS Kolkata and INS Shakti in
    South and East China Seas where they recently participated in International Fleet Review (IFR)
    at Qingdao, China (as part of PLA (Navy) 70th anniversary celebrations) and in ADMM-plus
    MS FTX (The ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting – Plus Maritime Security Field Training
    37) The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), recently announced its planned seven mega
    missions, including Chandrayaan-2 (India’s second lunar exploration mission) which will be
    conducted over a period of next 10 years. The ISRO has also prepared a roadmap for next 30
    years. Key Highlights- Out of seven missions Chandrayaan-2, will be flight ready by May 2019
    and its spacecraft will be launched in July 2019. The rest six are classified as: Defined
    Missions – which include XPoSat (to study cosmic radiation in 2020) and Aditya-L1(to the Sun
    in 2021). Undefined Missions – which include missions which are still in planning stage namely
    Mangalyaan-2 (or Mars Orbiter Mission-2 in 2022), Lunar Polar Exploration (or Chandrayaan-3
    in 2024), Venus mission (in 2023), Exoworlds (exploration outside the solar system in 2028).
    About Aditya-L1: Or the ‘Sun Mission’ is scheduled for year 2021. Significance: The payloads
    onboard Aditya-L1 will study solar corona. The Sun’s Corona has an influence on upper
    atmosphere which impacts climate change on earth. Thus it will play a key role in
    understanding and predicting climate change on Earth. Orbit: It will be placed in a halo orbit
    around Sun-Earth Lagrangian point (L1), called ‘libration orbit’. It is about 1% of distance
    between Sun and Earth (about 1.5 million km from Earth) and where gravity of two celestial
    objects equalises. Placing it in such an orbit will allow spacecraft to circle along with earth and
    will result in constantly facing the Sun. About Xposat: The X-ray Polarimeter Satellite (or
    Xposat), is ISRO’s dedicated mission to study polarization. It will be launched launch in year
    2020. It will be a five-year mission and will study cosmic radiation. Payload: It will be carrying a
    payload named ‘polarimeter instrument in X-rays’ (POLIX) made by Raman Research Institute.
    POLIX will study degree and angle of polarisation of bright X-ray sources in energy range 5-30
    keV. Orbit: The spacecraft will be placed in a circular 500-700km orbit.
    38) The Union Government has issued a drought advisory to six southern and western states and
    has asked them to use water judiciously. This was issued amid rising concern of water storage
    in dams of states which dropped to a critical level. Key Highlights- About: The ‘Water’ subject
    falls under the state list mentioned in Indian Constitution and recent drought advisory
    recommends states to use water for drinking purpose only till dams are replenished. Condition:
    The drought advisory is issued to states when water level in reservoirs is about 20% less than
    the average of live water storage figures of past 10 years. Issue: Central Water Commission
    (CWC) which functions as an attached office of Ministry of Water Resources, River
    Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India, monitors total water storage
    available in 91 major reservoirs across country. According to recent figures released by CWC,
    total water storage available is only 22 % (it was 24% in May 2019) of total storage capacity
    (which is 161.993 BCM) of these reservoirs. States: to which drought advisory issued are
    Gujarat, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
    39) The Badminton World Federation (BWF) has launched two new formats of badminton game
    namely, AirBadminton and Triples. In contrast to traditional competitive badminton which is an
    indoor game the Airbadminton is an outdoor game. Key Highlights- Badminton World
    Federation is badminton’s highest governing body. For long outdoor badminton has been one
    of India’s favourite recreational sports. Much like India, globally the amateur participation in
    outdoor games is 40% more than those undergoing structured training on expensive indoor
    wooden courts. Significance: Both have a potential of providing an alternate career to retired
    badminton professionals. Importance: For people interested in AirBadminton infrastructure
    won’t be a hindrance as it can be played in different environments like on sands in beaches,
    grass in parks and even on streets and by lanes. About AirBadminton: It was globally launched
    at Guangzhou in China by Badminton World Federation (BWF). It has new dimensions of court
    and an innovative outdoor shuttlecock called AirShuttle. AirBadminton is designed to be played
    on hard, grass and sand surfaces such as that in playgrounds, gardens, parks, streets, and
    beaches. The aim is that AirShuttle could be used in winds up to 12 kmph. The outdoor format
    will be played barefoot on an approved surface like sand and on courts of smaller dimensions.
    About Triples: In Triples format, badminton match will be played between a team of total three
    players. Each team will mandatory have at least one female athlete. Also, players are not
    allowed to hit returns successively.
    40) The USA’s House of Representatives (lower house of US) Speaker Nancy Pelosi was
    honoured with 2019 John F Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. Key Highlights- About Pelosi:
    She has served in House of Representatives since 1987. She was recognized for putting
    national interest above her party’s interest, for her efforts to pass former President Barack
    Obama’s 2010 health care law (Obama Care) and also for helping Democrats reclaim control
    of U.S. House during 2018 elections. The award was presented at John F. Kennedy
    Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. Previous Honorees: former Presidents Barack
    Obama, Gerald Ford and prominent lawmakers Rep. John Lewis and late Sen. John McCain.
    About John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award: It is an annual award that was created in
    1989 by members of President J.F. Kennedy’s family. It seeks to honor J.F. Kennedy and to
    recognize and celebrate quality of political courage which he admired most. The award
    recognizes a public official (or officials) at local, federal or state level whose actions speaks of
    qualities of politically courageous leadership. It is given in spirit of ‘Profiles in Courage’, which
    was President Kennedy’s 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book. Note: John F Kennedy was the
    35th president of United States. His served from January 1961 till his assassination in
    November 1963.
    41) The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has reduced the prices of 9 non-
    scheduled cancer drugs by up to 87%. This decision is in continuation of nodal agency’s efforts
    to bring down drugs prices. Key Facts- Reason: In February 2019, the government had capped
    about 42 cancer drugs at 30%. This new anti-cancer non-scheduled medicine list is in
    continuation of efforts to curb profiteering on these vital drugs and to make cure of cancer
    affordable for patients as well as for their families. Significance: More than 390 brands and
    about 72 formulations have reduced costs following the NPPA order. This price reduction is
    expected to benefit more than 22 lakh cancer patients in India and will result in annual savings
    of around Rs.800 crore rupees to patients. Details: NPPA, the Drug pricing regulator issued an
    office memorandum which mentioned that: Maximum Retail Price (MRP) of 500 mg
    chemotherapy injection called ‘pemetrexed’ which is used to treat lung cancer, has been
    reduced from Rs.22000 to Rs.2800. MRP of 150 mg ‘Erlotinib’ tablets will now cost Rs.2400
    instead of Rs.8800. NPPA has also approved a formula which restricts trade margin of selling
    price by up to 30%. About NPPA: It was established by a Government of India Resolution in
    1997. It is an office attached to Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP), Ministry of Chemicals &
    Fertilizers. It is headquartered in New Delhi. Function: It is an independent Regulator for pricing
    of drugs. Ito ensures accessibility and availability of medicines to people at affordable prices.
    The NPPA currently fixes price of drugs on National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) under
    schedule-I of Drug Price Control Orders (DPCO). Till date about 1,000 drugs have been price-
    capped by this mode.
    42) The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) appointed committee on ‘suggestions on promoting digital
    payment’ has submitted its report to RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das. The committee was
    headed by Nandan Nilekani, also known as Aadhaar Architect. Key Highlights- Background: In
    January 2019 RBI had set up a five-member panel headed by Nilekani, on deepening digital
    payments with a view of encouraging digitisation of payments and enhancing financial inclusion
    via digitisation. Panel Members: Besides Nandan Nilekani (Infosys co-founder), H R Khan
    (former RBI deputy governor), Kishore Sansi (former MD and CEO of Vijaya Bank), Aruna
    Sharma (former secretary in ministries of IT and steel) and Sanjay Jain (chief innovation officer,
    Centre for Innovation, Incubation & Entrepreneurship (CIIE), IIM Ahmedabad). Tasks
    Undertaken: The panel was tasked to review existing status of digitisation of payments in India,
    identify current gaps in ecosystem and suggest ways to bridge them. It also assessed current
    levels of digital payments in financial inclusion. It undertook cross country analyses with a view
    of identifying best practices which can be adopted in India so as to accelerate digitisation of
    economy and financial inclusion through greater use of digital payments. Way Ahead: RBI will
    examine recommendations given by committee and will link action points, wherever required
    and necessary, in its ‘Payment and Settlement Systems in India: Vision 2019 – 2021‘ for
    implementation. The Payment Systems Vision 2021 was recently released by RBI. It seeks to
    ensure a secure, safe, quick, affordable and convenient, e-payment system with aim of making
    India a ‘cash-lite’ society.
    43) India recently handed over two Mi-24 attack helicopters to Afghanistan. The helicopters were
    formally handed over by Indian Ambassador to the acting Minister of National Defence of
    Afghanistan at Kabul Air Force base. Key Highlights- Background: Under a tripartite agreement
    in 2018, India had agreed to finance purchase of four attack helicopter from Belarus and then
    deliver them to Afghanistan. This is the second time that India agreed to transfer lethal military
    equipment to Afghanistan. In December 2016 India had gifted four Mi-25 (Mi-24D) helicopters
    drawn from the inventory of the Indian Air Force and three Cheetah utility helicopters
    manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to the Afghan Air Force (AAF). In past
    India has also transferred non-lethal equipment, including vehicles, communication equipment,
    transport choppers & medical supplies to Afghanistan. About: The helicopters delivered are a
    replacement for four attack helicopters which India gifted to Afghanistan in 2015. Soon
    remaining two will be sent as replacement. Objective: to strengthen Afghan air force against
    battling an increasing deadly Taliban insurgency in the backdrop of the United States (US)
    looking to exit war-torn country (after 17-year stay). Importance: The handover of Mi-24 comes
    at crucial time for Afghanistan, which is looking for alternative sources of funds and weapons to
    steady and sustain its defence forces in case of US exit and eventual consumption of
    international funds. India has pledged and donated more than $3billion in aid and
    reconstruction efforts to Afghanistan. Signifance: The Mi-24 helicopters will enhance
    effectiveness of Afghan National Defence and Security Force and will boost capability of
    Afghan Air Force (AAF) in combating rising terrorism in country. It will also bolster war-torn
    country’s capability in fight against terrorism and counter insurgency. Mi-24: It is a large
    helicopter gunship thus can be used for assault. It can also be used for transport missions as it
    can ferry up to eight people. Being a attack helicopters, it is designed to take on fortified enemy
    positions and locations prone to heavy ground fire to flying in troops.
    44) A comprehensive training strategy called National Training Workshop of Master Trainers to
    impart training to trainers engaged in upcoming 7th Economic Census was held at Indian
    Habitat Center in the New Delhi. It was organized by Ministry of Statistics and Program
    Implementation (MoSPI). Key Highlights- Objective: to impart training to Master trainers
    (enumerators and supervisors) engaged in Seventh Economic Census (7th EC). Implementing
    Agency:Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation (MoSPI) has partnered with
    Common Service Centre, CSC e-Governance Services India Limited (CSC SPV), a Special
    Purpose Vehicle under Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) for
    implementation. Training: The participants were trained on key concepts and definitions,
    processes, digital platform and application to be used for enumeration (supervision and data
    capture) in field during 7th Economic census. Reason: An Information Technology (IT) based
    digital platform for validation, data capture, report generation and distribution will be used in
    upcoming Economic Census. The fieldwork for 7th EC will be commencing from June 2019. 7th
    Economic Census 2019: It is being conducted by MoSPI to provide disaggregated information
    (numerical or non-numerical information collected from multiple sources) on various structural
    and operational aspects of all establishments in country. After the National Training Workshop
    of Master Trainers in New Delhi similar exercise will be undertaken across India. During month
    of May and June 2019 over 6000 State and District level training workshops will be organized.
    About Economic Censuses: It is a complete count of all establishments and units located within
    geographical boundaries of country. Background: The first Economic Census was undertaken
    in 1977. The 2nd edition was carried out in 1980 followed by 3rd EC in 1990. The 4th EC took
    place in 1998 while 5th EC was held in 2005. The Sixth edition of Economic Census was
    conducted in 2013. Objective: It provides detailed information on operational and economic
    variables, activity wise, and other characteristics like number of establishments, type of
    ownership, source of finance, number of persons employed, etc. The details about
    establishments across country include their distribution at all-India, State, district, village and
    ward levels. This is used for comprehensive analysis of structure of economy (macro, micro,
    regional levels) and for benchmark purposes. Significance: The database so collected also
    serves as a sampling frame for drawing samples for socio economic surveys by Government
    and research organizations. This information is used for micro level or decentralized planning
    and to assess contribution of various sectors of economy in gross domestic product (GDP).
    45) The joint meetings of three conventions on chemicals and waste namely Basel, Stockholm and
    Rotterdam conventions was held in Geneva, Switzerland. Key Highlights- About: The 14th
    meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to Basel Convention (COP 14) was held along
    with the 9th meeting of the COP to Rotterdam Convention and the 9th meeting of the COP to
    Stockholm Convention in Geneva, Switzerland, from 29 April to 10 May 2019. Theme of 2019
    meetings was- “Clean Planet, Healthy People: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste”.
    India and COP: An Indian delegation of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
    (MoEFCC), and along with other ministries namely Agriculture Ministry, Chemicals and
    Fertilizer Ministry, and Electronics and Information Technology Ministry (MeitY) participated in
    the joint meetings and set a tone at COP. In Basel Convention on Control of Transboundary
    Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, two important issues were mainly
    discussed and decided i.e. technical guidelines on e-waste and inclusion of plastic waste in
    Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure. India’s Stand: In view of growing consumption of
    electronic equipment and waste across world, India highlighted that technical guidelines
    provision in name of re-use, repair, refurbishment and failure leads to possibility of e-waste
    dumping from developed world to the developing countries. So, Indian delegation strongly
    objected the proposed decision on these guidelines during plenary and did not allow it to be
    passed by conference of parties (COP). Outcome: On final day of COP, a modified decision
    was adopted in which all concerns raised by India were incorporated. This thereby opened a
    window for further negotiations and corrections in draft technical guidelines on e-waste. In
    Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP), COP decided to list “Dicofol” in
    Annex A (Elimination) without any exemption. The “PFOA”, (Perfluorooctanoic acid) was also
    listed with some exemptions in Annex A of Stockholm Convention. In Rotterdam Convention on
    Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in
    International Trade, two new chemicals named Phorate and HBCD (hexabromocyclododecane)
    were added in list for mandatory Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure in international trade.
    Key Facts: The Basel, Stockholm and Rotterdam conventions are multilateral environmental
    agreements, which share common objective of protecting human health and environment from
    hazardous chemicals and wastes.
    46) Indian Navy successfully conducted test firing of Medium Range Surface to Air Missile
    (MRSAM) on the Western Seaboard. Key Highlights- About: The Indian Navy undertook its
    maiden cooperative engagement firing of Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM) and
    has achieved a significant milestone in enhancing its Anti Air Warfare Capability. These
    Surface to Air Missiles are for now fitted onboard Kolkata Class Destroyers (comprised of INS
    Kolkata, INS Kochi and INS Chennai) and in future would be fitted on all major warships of the
    Indian Navy. Undertaken by: The firing trial was carried out jointly by the Indian Navy, Israel
    Aerospace Industries and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
    Undertaken on: The firing was undertaken on Western Seaboard by Indian Naval Ships (INS)
    Kochi and INS Chennai in which the missiles of both ships were controlled by one ship to
    obstruct different aerial targets at extended ranges. Significance: By proving this cooperative
    mode of engagement and successful conduct of test, Indian Navy has now become a part of a
    select group of Navies that have this niche capability. This capability further enhances combat
    effectiveness of Indian Navy thus providing an operational edge over potential adversaries.
    About MRSAM: It is Medium Range Surface to Air Missile which i.e. it is capable of engaging
    multiple aerial targets at range of more than 50 km. It is manufactured by Bharat Dynamics
    Limited, India. It is jointly developed by DRDL Hyderabad (a DRDO Lab), in collaboration with
    Israel Aerospace Industries. It is designed to provide Indian defence force with air defensive
    capability against a variety of aerial threats at medium ranges.
    47) The United States President Donald Trump has proposed rolling out of a new immigration plan
    named ‘merit-based immigration system’. The announcement was made in his recent
    immigration policy address speech in Rose Garden at White House. Key Highlights- About:
    The new ‘merit and point based immigration policy’ recently proposed by US President Trump
    will replace the existing green cards (given by US) with ‘Build America’ visa. Criteria: As per
    President Trump under the proposed system of merit-based immigration, the permanent legal
    residency would be given based on the individual’s points for their age, civic sense, job
    opportunities and knowledge. Besides this all immigrants applying will be required to pass a
    civics exam prior to admission and learn English. Benefits: The proposals will significantly
    increase quota for highly-skilled workers from existing nearly 12% to 57%. The merit-based
    immigration system will stand to benefit all the foreigners, including thousands of Indian skilled
    workers and working professionals wo are waiting to get permanent legal residency or Green
    Cards. Difficulty: The proposals would still have to be approved by Congress where currently
    Democrats (opposition party to Trump’s Republican Party) control the lower house.
    Background: Every year United States issues about 1.1 million green cards, which gives
    foreign nationals life-time permission to work and live in US and also act a path to citizenship in
    five years. Currently most of cards are issued based on family links and diversity visa which
    favours applicants with family ties to the US. Under this current system only a small section of
    green card is given to people who are highly skilled and professionals. Also President Trump
    has always taken a hard line view on immigration starting from 2016. Even in early 2019 he
    declared a national emergency on the US southern border (US-Mexican border), claiming of
    building the wall to halt all illegal migration.

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