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  • W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 20 April 2019 To 26 April 2019.
    Posted on June 25th, 2019 in Weekly Current Affairs
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    W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 20 April 2019 To 26 April 2019.

    1) National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) InSight lander spacecraft has
    detected what’s believed to be a “marsquake” on the Red Planet. NASA scientists are still
    working to confirm the source of the faint trembling. Scientists believe the trembling may not
    be due to wind or movement of the lander’s robotic arm but from below the Martian surface. If
    scientists confirm it would become the first seismic activity ever detected on Mars. NASA’s
    InSight Lander Mission: NASA’s InSight stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic
    Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport is a Mars lander aimed to undertake the first-ever
    thorough checkup since it formed 4.5 billion years ago. Insight Mission will also measure
    tectonic activity and meteorite impacts on Mars. NASA’s Insight is the first outer space robotic
    explorer to study in-depth the “inner space” of Mars: its crust, mantle, and core. Studying
    these internal structures will aid in answering the early formation of rocky planets in our inner
    solar system – Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars – more than 4 billion years ago, as well as
    rocky exoplanets.Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 20 April 2019 To 26 April 2019.
    2) The European Space Agency (ESA) – Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)’s
    BepiColombo mission has successfully completed a series of tests and has completed its
    near-Earth commissioning phase. The BepiColombo mission is now ready for the operations
    that will take place during the cruise and, eventually, for its scientific investigations at Mercury.
    About the Mission: BepiColombo is a joint mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) and
    the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to the planet Mercury. The mission
    comprises of two satellites launched together: Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO)- Mercury
    Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO). The mission will undertake a comprehensive study of
    Mercury, including characterization of its magnetic field, magnetosphere, and both interior and
    surface structure. Launched in October 2018, the mission is expected to arrive at Mercury in
    2025. It will endure temperatures in excess of 350 °C and gather data during its 1-year
    nominal mission, with a possible 1-year extension. Later next year BepiColombo will also
    perform the first of its two flybys of Venus — the second planned for August 2021. The flybys
    of Venus will provide an opportunity to operate some of the instruments on both orbiters and
    to collect scientifically valuable data to further study this fascinating planet while en route to
    the mission’s destination Mercury.
    3) The Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize 2019 was awarded to author Rana Dasgupta for his
    2010 novel “Solo” which is a tale of estrangement and the ultimate failure of material
    existence. It is the second edition of the Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize.
    Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize aims to revive poetry and books that can change lives. An
    amount of $10,000, a Tagore statue and a certificate for contribution to literature will be given
    to the awardee. Indian Poets, novelists and Playwrights writing in officially recognized
    languages or dialects of the Indian subcontinent, including English. Other Awardees:
    Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize for social achievement was awarded to Yohei Sasakawa,
    the World Health Organization Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination, for “his
    incredible efforts to uproot leprosy and great contribution to world peace”.
    Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen was awarded as a beacon of democracy”, the organisers said.
    Rabindranath Tagore Awards: TagorePrize is founded and launched with a strong vision to be
    a platform and a vehicle for improving and inspiring World Peace, Literature, Art and
    Education. The prizes promotes the culture and beauty of literature just as Rabindranath
    Tagore had taught us to, but also, the culture and society of tolerance, harmony and non –
    discrimination.
    4) The Investor Education and Protection Fund (IEPF) Authority in a major success has
    recovered deposits worth Rs 1,514 crore from Kolkata-based Peerless General Finance and
    Investment Company. This money of depositors was pending with the company for the last 15

    years. Investor Education and Protection Fund Authority: Investor Education and Protection
    Fund (IEPF) was established by the central government under Section 125 of Companies Act
    2013. It is a statutory body established under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. The Secretary
    in the Ministry of Corporate Affairs is the Chairperson of IEPF. The authority aims to
    administer the Investor Education and Protection Fund with the objective of promoting
    Investor’s Education, Awareness and Protection. It is empowered to undertake various
    initiatives to fulfil its objectives through Investor Awareness Programmes and various other
    mediums like print, Electronic, Social Media and Community Radio. Further to enhance its
    reach, the IEPF Authority is also in the process of commissioning an online facility to collect
    primary information directly from retail investors about the deposits which have matured and
    are still pending with various entities for repayment or payment of interests.
    5) World Immunization Week 2019 is being observed from 24-30 April with the theme Protected
    Together: Vaccines Work. World Immunisation Week 2019 celebrates Vaccine Heroes from
    around the world from parents and community members to health workers and innovators who
    help ensure we are all protected, at all ages, through the power of vaccines. World
    Immunisation Week: Every year last week of April is observed as World Immunisation Week
    to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease. Objectives:
    Demonstrate the value of vaccines for the health of children, communities and the world.
    Highlight the need to build on immunization progress while addressing gaps, including through
    increased investment. Show how routine immunization is the foundation for strong, resilient
    health systems and universal health coverage. The motto of the World Immunization Week is
    to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease.
    Earlier Immunization Week activities were observed on different dates in different regions of
    the world. Immunization Week was observed simultaneously for the first time in 2012, with the
    participation of more than 180 countries and territories worldwide after the World Health
    Assembly endorsed World Immunization Week during its May 2012 meeting.
    6) In the backdrop of the US refusal to extend the sanctions waiver for India to import crude from
    Iran, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has taken steps necessary steps to end the
    imports from Iran. Even though India has urged the US to restore the sanction waivers it has
    decided to not to proceed with the purchase as the oil trade cannot happen in anticipation.
    Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has stated that a robust plan for an adequate supply of
    crude oil to Indian refineries is in place. It has been stated that shortfall will be met through
    alternate supply sources available in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and Mexico. Meeting the
    Shortfall: India which is the world’s third-biggest oil consumer meets more than 80 per cent of
    its oil needs through imports. In 2017-18, Iran was India’s third-largest supplier after Iraq and
    Saudi Arabia and about 10 per cent of total needs were met through imports from Iran. India
    can avail optional volumes (over and above the term contracts) from a number of suppliers
    which it can exercise to make up for any shortfall from Iran. India also plans to avail the route
    of spot market to source crude. But the cause of concern is more related to prices in India.
    When President Trump had first pulled out of the nuclear deal, oil shot up to over USD 85 a
    barrel and it fell to near USD 50 after the US administration unexpectedly granted the waivers.
    7) Indonesia has released a special commemorative stamp on the theme of Ramayana to mark
    the 70th anniversary of the establishment of its diplomatic ties with India. About the Stamp:
    The stamp is designed by renowned Indonesian sculptor Padmashri Bapak Nyoman Nuarta.
    The stamp features a scene from Ramayana in which Jatayu valiantly fought to save Sita. It is
    a specially signed version of the stamp will be on display at the Philately Museum in Jakarta.
    India-Indonesia Bilateral Relations:India and Indonesia have shared close cultural and
    commercial contacts spanning back to two millennia. The Hindu, Buddhist and later Muslim

    Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 20 April 2019 To 26 April 2019.
    faith travelled to Indonesia from the shores of India. The Indonesian folk art and dramas
    portray great influence from the great epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. The shared
    culture, colonial history and post-independence goals of political sovereignty, economic self-
    sufficiency and independent foreign policy had a unifying effect on the bilateral relations. The
    foundation of the Non-Aligned Movement at the Asian-African Conference held in Bandung in
    1955 and the adoption of India’s ‘Look East Policy’ in 1991, provided avenues for rapid
    development of bilateral relations in political, security, defence, commercial and cultural fields.
    The diplomatic relations have further received uplift with the Act East policy.
    8) The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has sold its entire stakes in the National Bank for Agriculture
    & Rural Development (NABARD) and National Housing Bank (NHB) for Rs 20 crore and Rs
    1,450 crore respectively. Disinvestment by RBI: The decision to divest its entire stake was
    taken based on the recommendations of the second Narasimham Committee. The committee
    had stated that RBI could not own those entities which are regulated by it. The government
    now holds a 100 per cent stake in both NHB and NABARD. Earlier in June 2018, the
    government had bought out the entire 59.7 per cent stake in SBI from the Reserve Bank. The
    RBI in 2010 divested 71.5% of 72.5% of its shares in NABARD and the remaining of were
    divested in February similarly RBI which held 100% in NHB, which was divested on 19 March
    2019.
    9) Government’s Think tank Niti Ayog has agreed to the proposal of the Dental Council of India
    which had sought to allow dentists to practice as general physicians after a bridge course. The
    proposal was in the backdrop of the call by the Prime Minister’s office to explore
    unconventional methods to address the shortage of doctors in the country, particularly in rural
    areas. Proposal of Dental Council of India: The Dental Council of India had sent a similar
    proposal to the Medical Council of India last year. The proposal sought- A bridge course of 3
    years post Bachelor of Dental Science (BDS). The admission would be either through a
    common entrance exam or through cumulative marks secured in the BDS course, or even a
    combination. The syllabus curriculum, scheme of examination, method of evaluation, degrees
    and registration all these criteria will be the same as recommended for MBBS. IMA opposes
    the Proposal: Indian Medical Association has vehemently opposed the proposal. Stating the
    figures the IMA has said that 63,250 MBBS graduates come out of 494 medical colleges every
    year and India has only 23,729 post-graduate seats. Unemployment among medical
    graduates is a cause for concern. The IMA has called the policy has flawed.
    10) StartupBlink has ranked 100 countries for startup environment of countries globally. The
    rankings were based on the data from over 61,000 startups, more than 500 accelerators, and
    over 1,400 coworking spaces registered on its platform along with data gathered from its
    global partners including Crunchbase, SimilarWeb etc. The rankings were based on the
    impact startups have been able to make in the country, how many startups and support
    organisations are there such as accelerators, coworking spaces, startup events along with
    technology infrastructure, red tape, bureaucracy, etc. Findings of the Report: The US, the UK,
    Canada, Israel, and Australia have been ranked in top5 in the rankings. India was ranked 17th
    in the rankings and has climbed 20 spots (rank 37) from the previous ranking. China was
    ranked 27th. Estonia (13), Ireland (14), and Germany (9) were ranked ahead of India for their
    startup ecosystems. The challenge before India is to improve the overall quality of startups
    and increase the number of unicorns than currently exist. In the ranking of cities, Bengaluru
    stood at 11, New Delhi at 18 and Mumbai at 29. San Francisco Bay, New York, London, Los
    Angeles, and Boston topped the ranking among the cities.

    Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 20 April 2019 To 26 April 2019.
    11) The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has distributed over 3,100 special kits SAECKs for
    collecting blood and semen samples, besides other evidence, to carry out immediate
    investigations into sexual assault cases among states and Union Territories. SAECK: Sexual
    Assault Evidence Collection Kits (SAECKs) or ‘rape investigation kits’ are specially designed
    kits to carry out the immediate medico-legal investigation. SAECKs also aid in furnishing
    evidence in sexual assault and rape cases. The Kit comprises of essential items that will aid in
    furnishing evidence such as blood and semen samples in sexual assault and rape cases, thus
    helping the prosecution to gather evidence against the accused. These kits are also expected
    to help law enforcement agencies in ensuring effective investigation in a timely manner for
    better prosecution and convictions in sexual assault cases. The kit comprises of a set of test
    tubes and bottles, which mention contents and specifications together with instructions on
    collection of evidence from the crime scene. The SAECKs are being procured with financial
    support under the Central government’s Nirbhaya Fund and the Ministry of Home Affairs has
    procured 3,120 SAECKs and distributed these to the states and UTs.
    12) The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has said that in order to curb fake, sub-standard
    and expired drugs drug names and expiry date during tendering will be in Hindi/regional
    language along with English. In the beginning, the proposal will be implemented for Iron
    tablets and polio drops as they are the drugs most commonly administered to children at
    government centres. The Health Ministry has stated that if the rollout is successful and the
    feedback encouraging, then the proposal could be extended to other medicines. The
    government has taken the step to ensure that those seeking drugs under government
    schemes have access to all the requisite information about them. The decision to incorporate
    regional languages was taken as per the advisory of the Drugs Technical Advisory Board
    (DTAB). Drugs Technical Advisory Board: Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) is the
    highest statutory decision-making body on technical matters related to drugs in the country. It
    is constituted as per the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. It is part of the Central Drugs
    Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
    13) Reports suggest that the US could terminate the sanctions waivers it granted to some
    importers of Iranian oil after it re-imposed sanctions on Iran last year. Ending of Sanction
    Waiver: Reports indicate that the US has already communicated to seven countries viz.
    Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Italy, Greece, China and India- that they will no longer be
    exempt from US sanctions if they continue to import oil from Iran after their waivers end on
    May 2. The ending of sanction waiver is part of the US strategy to exert maximum pressure
    and isolate Iran. The US has stated it wants to deprive the outlaw regime of the funds that it
    has used to destabilise the Middle East for decades and incentivise Iran to behave like a
    normal country. The news of the ending of sanctions waiver exerted upward pressure on
    global prices of crude. Further. US has stated that the US along with Saudi Arabia and UAE
    have agreed to take timely action to assure that global demand is met as all Iranian oil is
    removed from the market.
    14) The Ministry of Finance has asked all the departments to undertake a review of government
    guarantees given by respective ministries to their Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs)
    or entities. Review of Government Guarantees: The review will look into aspects like whether
    the discharge of repayment obligations or interest obligations as per terms of the loan
    agreement and covenants and conditions met. Further, the details of CPSEs or entities on due
    guarantee fee paid on time to the government should also be submitted. Why there is a review
    of Government Guarantees? Guarantees are contingent liabilities which have the potential to
    impact the financial performance of the government. Further, the FRBM Rules stipulates that
    the government cannot guarantee more than 0.5 per cent of the GDP of the respective

    Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 20 April 2019 To 26 April 2019.
    financial year to CPSE/entities. Hence the Ministry of Finance has requested all ministries and
    departments to prioritised guarantee requirement for 2019-20 to include only such proposals
    where the loan agreement can be signed and guarantee agreement can be executed during
    the year.
    15) Iran and Pakistan have agreed to set up a joint border reaction force following to counter the
    increasing number of deadly attacks by militant groups on their frontier. Border Reaction
    Force: Border rapid reaction force would be set up for combatting terrorism since increased
    tensions over attacks on both sides of the frontier is causing heavy casualties. The Iran-
    Pakistan border skirts the volatile southeastern Iranian province of Sistan-Balochistan which
    has been the scene of frequent attacks on Iran’s security forces. Iran- Pakistan relations have
    been strained in recent months and both sides have been accusing each other of not doing
    enough to stamp out militants allegedly sheltering across the border. Hence together with
    increasing cooperation between border forces and intelligence agencies, both nations have
    decided to form a joint quick reaction force on the border of the two countries for fighting
    terrorism.
    16) The Arab League has pledged to pay $100 million a month to the Palestinian National
    Authority to plug the resulting gaps since Israel has blocked tax transfers earlier in the year.
    The Arab League has taken the measure to ensure Palestine can be isolated from the political
    and financial pressure it faces. Why did Israel freeze tax transfers to Palestine? In February
    2019, Israel decided to put into effect on Sunday a law passed by the Israeli Parliament in July
    2018 calling to freeze funds transferred to the Palestinian Authority. Israel had accused
    Palestine of transferring the money provided by Israel to terrorists who were detained in Israel
    as well as to their families and to released prisoners. But Palestine sees the transfer as a kind
    of welfare system for families who have lost a breadwinner. Israel which collects taxes on
    behalf of the Palestine Authority says that the terror salaries are encouraging further violence.
    Arab League: Arab League is a regional organization of Arab states in and around North
    Africa, the Horn of Africa and Arabia. The league aims to “draw closer the relations between
    member States and co-ordinate collaboration between them, to safeguard their independence
    and sovereignty, and to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab
    countries”. At present, the League has 22 members but Syria’s participation has been
    suspended since November 2011, as a consequence of government repression during the
    Syrian Civil War.
    17) African Nation, Malawi will be undertaking large scale pilot tests for the world’s most advanced
    experimental malaria vaccine in a bid to prevent the disease that kills hundreds of thousands
    across Africa and Asia every year. Vaccine for Malaria: Vaccine for Malaria under the trade
    name Mosquirix has been developed by British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline in
    partnership with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative. Four successive doses of the vaccines
    must be administered on a strict timetable for it to work. Even though the potential vaccine
    does not give full protection against the mosquito-borne disease, it is the furthest along in
    development and so far the most effective. The pilot tests aim to immunize around 120,000
    children aged 2 and below to assess the effectiveness of the pilot vaccine and whether the
    delivery process is feasible. Malaria which spreads to people through the bites of infected
    female Anopheles mosquitoes has killed 435,000 people in 2017 alone and the majority of
    them were children under 5 in Africa.
    18) A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the Ministry of AYUSH and
    Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for cooperation in research and education
    in areas of traditional systems of medicine and its integration with modern science. About the

    Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 20 April 2019 To 26 April 2019.
    MoU: The MoU was aimed to bring both Ministry of Ayush and CSIR under an umbrella
    understanding for pursuing focused R&D efforts in the domain. Under the MoU, Both
    organizations shall jointly endeavour to pursue:  R&D covering. Fundamental research.
    AYUSH specific diagnostic tools; linking microbiome, gene expression and Prakriti; multi-
    ingredient herbal formulations, including their standardization. Exploring modern scientific
    methods for integration with traditional Indian Systems of Medicine (ISM). Linking disease
    signatures. Furthering the collaboration in preserving and protecting traditional knowledge
    related to the Indian systems of healthcare, through the existing TKDL platform. Development
    of international standardized terminologies (disease-morbidity codes) in Ayurveda, Siddha and
    Unani (ASU), Database on Medicinal plants, Foods, etc. Enhancing the collaboration through
    joint R&D efforts ranging from fundamental science to validation and thereafter product
    development, will significantly help in the growth of the Indian contributions to the traditional
    medicines sector, not only nationally but internationally as well. The MoU also includes the
    pursuit of Data mining & analytics and Artificial Intelligence to enable and facilitate concepts
    such as “Traditional knowledge inspired drug discovery and development” and “Food as
    Medicine”.
    19) The Indian Navy has launched its third guided missile destroyer, INS Imphal at Mazgaon
    Docks as part of its Project 15B. INS Imphal: INS Imphal has been designed indigenously by
    the Indian Navy’s Directorate of Naval Design, New Delhi. INS Imphal spans 163 metres in
    length, 17.4 metres at beam, and launch weight of 3037 tonnes can displace 7300 tonnes.
    INS Imphal is propelled by our gas turbines to achieve speeds in excess of 30 knots. INS
    Imphal destroyers incorporate new design concepts for improved survivability, sea keeping,
    stealth and ship manoeuvrability. Enhanced stealth features have been achieved through
    shaping of hull and use of radar transparent deck fitting, which make these ships difficult to
    detect. INS Imphal ships will be equipped to carry and operate two multiple role helicopters.
    Project 15B: Project 15Bravo (Project 15B) is aimed at adding state-of-the-art warships to the
    naval fleet. INS Vishakhapatnam was the first Project 15B ship and was launched in April
    2015, while the second ship, INS Mormugao, was launched in September 2016. Ships built
    under project 15B are packed with an array of state-of-the-art weapons and sensors, including
    multi-functional surveillance radars and vertically launched missile system for long-distance
    engagement of shore, sea-based and air targets.
    20) The Services have lifted the Santosh Trophy, beating Punjab 1-nil in the final at Ludhiana. On
    their way to finals, Punjab had defeated Goa 2-1 and Services had defeated Karnataka 4-3 in
    the semis via a penalty shootout. Santosh Trophy Football: The Santosh Trophy is a football
    knock-out competition contested by the regional state associations and government
    institutions under the All India Football Federation (AIFF) which the Football governing body
    in India. Santosh Trophy tournament is held every year with 31 teams divided into groups t
    qualified for the tournament proper through the preliminary round. The tournament started in
    1941 and is named after the president of the Indian Football Association (West Bengal’s
    football association) at the time, Sir Manmatha Nath Roy Chowdhary of Santosh. The runner-
    up trophy was donated by an ex-IFA president, S.K. Gupta. The trophy is known as the Kamla
    Gupta Trophy. The third-place trophy, the Sampangi Cup, was donated by the Karnataka
    State Football Association.

    21) The Egyptians are voting for the constitutional amendments which were overwhelmingly
    approved by the Egyptian Parliament. Amendments Proposed: The amendments extend
    presidential terms from four to six years. The amendments incorporate a transitional article
    which would give the “current president” the right to two new terms totalling 12 years. The

    Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 20 April 2019 To 26 April 2019.
    president would be allowed to pick the heads of judicial bodies and to oversee a new council
    charged with looking after the affairs of judges. The amendments confer a political role for the
    army to “protect” the constitution, democracy and the “civilian” nature of the state — code for
    preventing rule by Islamists. The amendments introduce one or more vice presidents, revive
    the Senate and enshrine a 25 per cent quota for women in parliament’s lower, legislative
    chamber. Criticisms against the Amendments: The sweeping constitutional changes show that
    Egypt is sinking deeper into dictatorship even though the supporters insist they are crucial for
    cementing stability. The amendments effectively serve to destroy the constitutional separation
    of powers, concentrating all authority into the president’s hands and solidifying his
    authoritarian rule. The amendment would formalise the military’s already considerable
    influence over public life. The referendum comes eight years after a pro-democracy uprising
    ended Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade autocratic rule, and nearly six years after el-Sisi led a
    popular military overthrow Egypt’s first freely elected but divisive Islamist president,
    Mohammed Morsi.
    22) Asian Tea Alliance, a union of five tea-growing and consuming countries was launched in
    Guizhou in China. The members of the alliance are the Indian Tea Association, China Tea
    Marketing Association, Indonesian Tea Marketing Association, Sri Lanka Tea Board and
    Japan Tea Association. Objectives of the Alliance: To work towards enhancing tea trade,
    cultural exchanges, technology exchanges as well as globally promoting tea. To work towards
    enhancing global consumption of tea, while creating a sustainability agenda for the future of
    Asian tea. Earlier, Indian Tea Association and China Tea Marketing Association had signed
    an MoU to promote green and black tea consumption in major tea markets of Europe, the US,
    Russia and West Asia, besides India and China.
    23) Earth Day 2019 observed on 22nd April 2019 marks the 49th annual Earth Day. Earth Day
    2019 is observed with the theme Protect Our Species. The theme Protect Our Species aims to
    highlight that nature’s gifts to our planet are the millions of species. But unfortunately, human
    beings have irrevocably upset the balance of nature. As a result, the world is facing the
    greatest rate of extinction and the rapid extinction of species in our world today is the result of
    human activity. The Earth Day 2019 through the theme Protect our Species urges people to:
    Educate and raise awareness about the accelerating rate of extinction of millions of species
    and the causes and consequences of this phenomenon. Achieve major policy victories that
    protect broad groups of species as well as individual species and their habitats. Build and
    activate a global movement that embraces nature and its values. Encourage individual actions
    such as adopting a plant-based diet and stopping pesticide and herbicide use. Earth Day:
    Earth Day was formally proposed by John McConnell at UNESCO conference on Environment
    in 1969. Later in 1971, a proclamation was signed to observe international Earth Day annually
    on the Vernal Equinox by UN Secretary-General U Thant and was first celebrated in 1970.
    Since April 22nd  it is celebrated every year in more than 193 countries and the celebrations
    are coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network. Earth Day celebrations are a way to
    remind humans of the environmental deterioration caused by them and advise them to turn off
    the electronic devices that are not in use or taking public transport to reduce the emission
    levels. It recognises that Earth and its ecosystems provide its inhabitants with life and
    sustenance.
    24) International NGO, Reporters without Borders has released the World Press Freedom Index
    2019. The index is based on the assessment of the countries’ press freedom records in the
    previous year. The report is partly based on a questionnaire which asks questions about
    pluralism, media independence, environment and self-censorship, legislative framework,
    transparency, and infrastructure. World Press Freedom Index 2019: The World Press

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    Freedom Index 2019′, topped by Norway which is followed by Finland, Sweden, Netherlands
    and Denmark. The 2019 index finds that hatred against journalists has degenerated into
    violence, contributing to an increase in fear around the world. India has dropped two places on
    a global press freedom index to be ranked 140th out of 180 countries and the report indicates
    an increased sense of hostility towards journalists across the world, with violent attacks in
    India leading to at least six Indian journalists being killed in the line of their work last year. The
    report notes that at least six Indian journalists were killed in connection with their work in
    2018. Violence against journalists including police violence, attacks by Maoist fighters and
    reprisals by criminal groups or corrupt politicians is one of the most striking characteristics of
    the current state of press freedom in India. The murder of journalists highlighted the many
    dangers that Indian journalists face, especially those working for non-English-language media
    outlets in rural areas. South Asia in general features poorly on the index. Pakistan has
    dropped three places to 142, and Bangladesh has dropped four places to 150. In Africa,
    Ethiopia (up 40 at 110th) and Gambia (up 30 at 92nd) have significantly improved from last
    year’s Index. Both Vietnam (176th) and China (177th) have fallen one place and Turkmenistan
    (down two at 180th) is now last, replacing North Korea (up one at 179th). The report
    concludes that the number of countries regarded as safe, where journalists can work in
    complete security, continues to decline, while authoritarian regimes continue to tighten their
    grip on the media.
    25) The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has undertaken an indigenous
    genetic mapping effort to educate a generation of students on the “usefulness” of genomics.
    About the Project: Under the Project, nearly 1,000 rural youth from the length and breadth of
    India will have their genomes sequenced by the CSIR. The project is an adjunct to a much
    larger government-led programme which is still in the works to sequence at least 10,000
    Indian genomes. Those recruited as part of genome-sample collections are representative of
    the country’s population diversity and the bulk of them will be college students, both men and
    women, and pursuing degrees in the life sciences or biology. Genomes will be sequenced
    based on a blood sample. Every participant would be given a report and would be informed
    whether they carry gene variants that make them less responsive to certain classes of
    medicines. Genome Sequencing: Genome refers to an organism’s complete set of DNA,
    including all of its genes. Each genome contains all of the information required to build and
    maintain that organism. Genome sequencing refers to figuring out the order of the DNA
    nucleotides, or bases, in a genome.
    26) The scientists have detected the first molecule to ever form from stray atoms in the universe.
    The first such molecule was helium hydride, a combination of helium and hydrogen. The
    discovery is a first step in unlocking the mystery of the universe’s chemistry. About the
    Discovery: The research was published in the journal Nature. The researchers used the
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) SOFIA, the world’s largest
    airborne observatory, to detect helium hydride in NGC 7027, a planetary nebula about 3,000
    light-years away from Earth. SOFIA: Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy
    (SOFIA) is a Boeing 747SP jetliner modified to carry a 106-inch diameter telescope. Scientists
    for long had held that around 100,000 years after the big bang, helium and hydrogen
    combined to make a molecule called helium hydride for the first time. But scientists could not
    find HeH+ in space and it was unproven.  The discovery brought a long search to a happy
    ending and eliminates doubts about our understanding of the underlying chemistry of the early
    universe.
    27) Indian Navy warships INS Kolkata and tanker INS Shakti will take part in the Chinese
    international fleet review to be held at Qingdao on April 23. The International Fleet Review is

    Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 20 April 2019 To 26 April 2019.
    being held by China to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army’s
    Navy. More than 60 countries are expected to join the commemorative event on 23 April.
    International Fleet Review: International Fleet Review is a parade of naval ships, aircraft and
    submarines, and is organised by nations to promote goodwill, strengthen cooperation and
    showcase their naval capabilities. International Fleet Review provides an ideal platform for the
    world’s navies to showcase their prowess and indigenous ship designing and shipbuilding
    capabilities in the global arena. India had conducted a similar International Fleet Review off
    Visakhapatnam in 2016, which witnessed an overwhelming participation of 50 navies with
    nearly 100 warships. INS Kolkata is an indigenously built stealth guided missile destroyer
    equipped with state-of-the-art weapons and sensors to address threats in all dimensions of
    naval warfare whereas INS Shakti is a fleet support ship. INS Shakti is one of the fleet ship
    capable displacing over 27,000 tonnes and capable of carrying 15,000 tonnes of liquid cargo
    and over 500 tonnes of solid cargo including victuals and ammunition. The participation of
    Indian Ships is aimed at projecting the Indian Navy’s indigenous shipbuilding capability
    together with showcasing India’s strength in the waters and its reach and sustainability.
    28) The London School of Economics (LSE) has announced the establishment of the Amartya
    Sen Chair in Inequality Studies to honour the Nobel laureate who has also served as the
    Professor of Economics at LSE. Amartya Sen Chair in Inequality Studies: Amartya Sen Chair
    in Inequality Studies is a living embodiment of the LSE’s enduring commitment to working for
    the betterment of society through research, education and public engagement. Amartya Sen’s
    theories of justice, equity and well-being transcend disciplines, build bridges to real-world
    policy and practice, and inspire generations to improve the human condition. Hence by
    naming a chair after him, LSE is recognising one of the world’s great thinkers on social equity.
    Amartya Sen was awarded Noble Prize in the year 1998 for his works in Welfare Economics.
    Welfare Economics: Welfare economics focuses on the optimal allocation of resources and
    goods and it evaluates how the allocation of these resources affects social welfare. This
    relates directly to the study of income distribution and how it affects the common good.
    Welfare economics is a subjective study that may assign units of welfare or utility to create
    models that measure the improvements to individuals based on their personal scales.
    29) The active volcano of Indonesia Mount Agung has erupted again, spewing volcanic ash into
    the sky to a height of 2km. Two other volcanoes popular with tourists Mount Bromo in East
    Java and Mount Merapi in Yogyakarta also continues to erupt. Mount Agung: Mount Agung is
    an active volcano in Bali of Indonesia. Mount Agung stratovolcano is the highest point on Bali;
    it dominates the surrounding area, influencing the climate, especially rainfall patterns. The
    most important temple on Bali, Pura Besakih, is located high on the slopes of Mount Agung.
    Mount Bromo: Mount Bromo is an active volcano and part of the Tengger massif, in East
    Java, Indonesia. The name Bromo is derived from Javanese pronunciation of Brahma,
    the Hindu creator god. Mount Merapi: Mount Merapi is an active volcano located on the border
    between Central Java and Yogyakarta provinces, Indonesia. The word Merapi can be
    translated as the Mountain of Fire.  Meru means “mountain” and api means “fire”.
    30) The Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee of the National Mission for Transformative Mobility
    led by Niti Aayog chief executive officer Amitabh Kant has decided to incorporate localisation
    conditions to avail benefits under the FAME-II Scheme. The Inter-Ministerial Committee of the
    National Mission For Transformative Mobility was formed following a cabinet decision to
    promote clean and sustainable mobility initiatives in the country. It consists of secretary of
    nine stakeholder ministries and director general of the Bureau of Indian Standards as its
    members. Decision of the Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee: The steering committee has
    mandated that only companies that meet the 50% localisation threshold will be eligible for the
    incentives that will be available under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and
    Electric Vehicles (FAME-II) scheme to boost electric mobility as well as the ‘Make in India’
    initiative. The decision has been taken to ensure that the tax payer’s money is not used to
    subsidise imports and encourage local manufacturing. In the discussions held with the
    automotive manufacturers while the two-wheeler makers have expressed their inability in
    meeting the criteria for 50% localisation citing their limitations, the makers of electric buses
    have agreed to localise.

    Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 20 April 2019 To 26 April 2019.
    31) The Civil Services Day 2019 was not observed on 21st April 2019 due to Lok Sabha elections.
    The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances has stated that the Civil
    Services Day will be celebrated once the new government takes over or may even consider
    clubbing this year’s celebrations with the next year’s programme. Civil Services Day: Every
    year April 21st is observed as Civil Services Day since it was on this day Sardar Vallabh Bhai
    Patel, addressed the first batch of civil servants in Independent India at the Metcalf House
    where he referred to civil servants as the ‘steel frame of India’. On Civil Services Day
    bureaucrats rededicate themselves to public service. On the occasion of the Civil Services
    Day, ‘Prime Minister Award for Excellence in Public Administration’  instituted with a view to
    acknowledge, recognise and reward the extraordinary and innovative work done by officers of
    Central and State Governments towards the welfare of common citizens will be bestowed on
    the civil servants.
    32) Antares rocket built by Northrop Grumman lifted off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on
    Virginia’s Eastern Shore carrying the Cygnus Cargo Spacecraft to the International Space
    Station. Cygnus Cargo Spacecraft: The spacecraft has successfully separated from the rocket
    and was flying on its way to the space station. Key facts about the Cygnus Cargo Spacecraft:
    The Spacecraft carried about 7,600 pounds of supplies and scientific experiments to the
    station. Few of the instruments will be used to examine astronaut’s health in microgravity. The
    instrument will perform on-orbit detection and quantification of cell surface molecules on a per
    cell and assess soluble molecule concentration in a liquid sample such as blood, saliva, or
    urine, thus sparing sample freezing and storing. The experiments will also scrutinise ageing-
    like changes in many astronauts on the space station, including changes to their arteries, and
    examine effects of spaceflight on the function of antibody production and immune memory. A
    NASA study has stated that long-duration spaceflight may change astronauts’ gene
    expression and pose other health risks. Hence it is necessary to take actions to prevent any
    damage to astronauts in a planned three-year space journey to Mars in 2030s.
    33) The United States Department of Justice has released the special counsel Robert Mueller’s
    report. The report looks into alleged Russian collusion in the 2016 Presidential elections which
    saw incumbent US President Donald Trump rise to power. What did the Mueller Report Say?
    The report titled “Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential
    Election” makes the following observations: The Report says that it was unable to clear
    US President Donald Trump in the matter, stating that the President’s action and intent
    “present difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct
    occurred. President Trump’s campaign team knew they would benefit from Russia’s illegal
    actions to influence the action, but did not take criminal steps to help. The report states that
    the Russian government-sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential
    election, but did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded in those
    schemes. The report has stated that Mueller declined to subpoena the President because it
    would “delay” the investigation.
    34) Nepal’s first satellite NepaliSat-1 was launched into space from the Virginia-based station of
    the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the US. NepaliSat-1: NepaliSat-
    1 will start rotating around the Earths orbit to collect information about the country’s
    topography and Earths magnetic field. The satellite also bears the Nepal flag and logo of
    Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST). The satellite is equipped with a 5MP
    camera to capture Nepal’s topography and a magnetometer to collect data related to the
    Earth’s magnetic field. The images and data will be sent by satellite to the ground station at
    NAST. The satellite was developed by two Nepalis Abhas Maskey and Hariram Shrestha at
    Japan’s Kyushu Institute of Technology. Along with NepaliSat-1, Sri Lanka’s first satellite,
    Raavana 1was also launched into space. Raavana 1 marked the entry of Sri Lanka into
    space.
    35) President of Israel Reuven Rivlin has formally handed Benjamin Netanyahu his letter of
    appointment to start building a coalition government following last week’s general election.
    President has stated that during his consultation with the political parties elected to the
    incoming 120-seat parliament 65 MPs have recommended you Benjamin Netanyahu as PM
    whereas 45 members supported his main rivals from the Blue and White alliance led by ex-
    military chief Benny Gantz and the 10 members of the Arab parties recommending nobody.m
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is likely to build a coalition of 65 seats comprising Likud
    (35 seats), the ultra-Orthodox Shas (8), United Torah Judaism (8), Union of Right-Wing
    Parties (5), Yisrael Beytenu (5) and Kulanu (4). The opposition is expected to comprise Benny
    Gantz’s Blue and White party (35), Labor (6), Hadash-Ta’al (6), Meretz (4) and Ra’am-Balad
    (4). For the fifth time, Benjamin Netanyahu is going ahead with the task of putting together the
    government of Israel. Netanyahu will have 28 days to form a government, with the possibility
    of a two-week extension at the discretion of the president.
    36) The Christian community is observing Good Friday on April 19 to commemorate the crucifixion
    and death of Jesus Christ on Calvary. Good Friday is also referred to as Black Friday, Great
    Friday, Easter Friday or Holy Friday. Good Friday coincides with the beginning of the Jewish
    festival of Passover. Significance of the Day: Even though the term Good Friday is not present
    in the Holy Bible, the Christian religious text portrays the story of how Jesus was betrayed by
    Judas which led to his arrest. Jesus was beaten by the Roman soldiers after being nailed to a
    cross which he was asked to carry to his site of the crucifixion. Even though the term ‘Good’
    associated with Good Friday is a contradiction to the events of this day, people believe that
    the term is associated with the words ‘pious or holy’. Good Friday is followed by Easter
    Sunday, the day on which Jesus was resurrected from death.
    37) Madras High Court has dismissed two writ petitions filed against the Presidential decision to
    rescind the Lok Sabha poll notification for the Vellore parliamentary constituency in the wake
    of complaints of large-scale distribution of cash to voters. Why the Lok Sabha Polls in the
    Vellore Constituency was cancelled? Lok Sabha election to the Vellore constituency was
    cancelled following the recovery of a huge amount of cash allegedly from a DMK candidate’s
    office. The Election Commission had decided to cancel the polls after the district police had
    filed a complaint against the accused, Kathir Anand (DMK Candidate from Vellore) as well as
    two party functionaries on the basis of a report from the Income Tax department on April 10.
    Observation made by the Madras High Court: Writ petitions were filed by AIADMK candidate
    A.C. Shanmugam and independent candidate K. Sugumar, who sought a direction to the
    Election Commission (EC) to conduct polls for the Vellore constituency along with 38 others in
    the State on 18th April. The Supreme Court rejected the petitioners claim that the Constitution
    does not confer upon the President any power to countermand an election and, therefore, a
    gazette notification issued by the Union Ministry of Law and Justice notifying the decision of
    the President to rescind the poll notification should be declared ultra vires. The High Court
    pointed out that it was the EC that had made the recommendation for countermanding the
    polls to the President by exercising powers conferred on it under Article 324 of the
    Constitution, Section 21 of the General Clauses Act of 1897 and other enabling powers aimed
    at ensuring the conduct of free and fair elections. It was the President who had notified the
    polls on March 19 on the basis of a recommendation made by the EC and by exercising
    powers conferred on him under Section 14 of the Representation of the People Act of 1951.
    Hence President was right in rescinding the notification on the basis of EC’s subsequent
    recommendation.
    38) The government has issued orders to suspend the Line of Control (LoC) trade between
    Jammu & Kashmir and Pak Occupied Kashmir (PoK). Why did the government suspend LoC
    trade? The LoC trade was initiated to facilitate the exchange of goods of common use
    between local populations across the LoC in Jammu & Kashmir. On the contrary, the reports
    indicated that Cross LoC trade routes were being misused by the Pakistan based elements for
    funnelling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency etc. NIA probes also indicated that a
    significant number of trading agencies engaged in LoC trade are operated by persons closely
    associated with banned terror organisations involved in fueling terrorism/separatism.The
    notification by the Ministry of Home Affairs has stated that it has decided to suspend LoC
    trade at Salamabad & Chakkan-da-Bagh in Jammu & Kashmir. Further, a stricter regulatory
    and enforcement mechanism is being worked out & will be put in place in consultation with
    various agencies and the issue of reopening of LoC trade will be revisited thereafter.

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