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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 13 & 14 September 2020

Contents

  1. Karnataka’s startup initiative gets recognition
  2. India-China standoff and Nathu La border trade
  3. Singapore Convention on Mediation
  4. India logistics pacts: Russia, U.K. and Vietnam
  5. Any Non-political Organisation can get FCRA exemption
  6. Science behind air-breathing scramjet engine
  7. Reducing India’s cancer burden

KARNATAKA’S STARTUP INITIATIVE GETS RECOGNITION

Focus: GS-III Indian Economy  

Why in news?

  • An initiative of the Centre to encourage competition between States has seen Karnataka come up trumps.
  • Karnataka has been identified as one of the top performers in 2019, alongside Kerala, as per the latest States Startup Ranking Framework, set up by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Details

  • Karnataka was adjudged ‘top performer’ for the second time in succession mostly in recognition of the State’s development initiatives such as futuristic policies to support new and disruptive technologies, the regulatory committee for reviewing the challenges faced by startups working in emerging technologies, ELEVATE, a concept providing comprehensive entrepreneurship platform for startups.
  • The State has also been recognised as an institutional leader, a procurement leader, a champion of regulatory change, and as a progressive player in innovation and incubation.

ELEVATE 100 programme

  • A brainchild of Karnataka State Government, the ELEVATE 100 programme is a combined initiative of the government of Karnataka’s Startup Cell, the Karnataka Biotechnology and Information Technology Services (KBITS).
  • As part of the programme, they not only provide funding support, but also, provide mentorship, idea validation, and market access.

-Source: The Hindu


INDIA-CHINA STANDOFF AND NATHU LA BORDER TRADE

Focus: GS-III Indian Economy, GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

  • Sikkim’s Minister for Industries and Commerce expressed concerns over the future of the border trade through Nathu La.
  • The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, which started via Sikkim a few years ago, was also suspended in 2020.
  • The border trade via the Old Silk Route at Nathu La reopened in 2006, amid expectations of improving relations between the India and China.

The Doklam effect

  • In 10 years from 2006 to 2016, the volume of the trade across the border through Nathu La had multiplied 200 times.
  • However, the long-drawn standoff at Doklam between the Indian and Chinese forces in 2017 had an adverse impact and trade dropped by almost 90%.
  • According to customs officials guarding the Serathang checkpost on the Indian side, trade had to be suspended in 2017 as the Doklam standoff coincided with the trading season.
  • But trade picked up again in 2018 and exports increased.
  • In 2019, the trade declined because of the poor condition of the roads.

Significance

While the volume of the trade may not be huge and only 200 traders are involved in the exercise, political observers believe that the trade at Nathu La has a unique symbolism and underlines the idea of Sikkim — which shares borders with China, Nepal and Bhutan — being a peaceful and tranquil State.

Nathu La

  • Nathu La is a mountain pass in the Himalayas in East Sikkim district.
  • It connects the Indian state of Sikkim with China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.
  • Nathu La is one of the three open trading border posts between China and India; the others are Shipkila in Himachal Pradesh and Lipulekh (or Lipulech) at the trisection point of Uttarakhand–India, Nepal and China.
  • Sealed by India after the 1962 Sino-Indian War, Nathu La was re-opened in 2006 following numerous bilateral trade agreements.
  • The opening of the pass shortens the travel distance to important Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the region and was expected to bolster the economy of the region by playing a key role in the growing Sino-Indian trade.
  • It is also one of the five officially agreed Border Personnel Meeting points between the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army of China for regular consultations and interactions between the two armies to improve relations.

-Source: The Hindu


SINGAPORE CONVENTION ON MEDIATION

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

The Singapore Convention on Mediation came into force on 12th September 2020 and will provide a more effective way for enforcing mediated settlements of corporate disputes involving businesses in India and other countries that are signatories to the Convention.

Details

  • The Singapore convention is also known as the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation and this is also the first UN treaty to be named after Singapore.
  • With the Convention in force, businesses seeking enforcement of a mediated settlement agreement across borders can do so by applying directly to the courts of countries that have signed and ratified the treaty, instead of having to enforce the settlement agreement as a contract in accordance with each country’s domestic process.
  • The harmonised and simplified enforcement framework under the Convention translates to savings in time and legal costs, which is important for businesses in times of uncertainty, such as during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
  • As on September 1, the Convention has 53 signatories, including India, China and the U.S. According to the statement, the Convention, which entered into force on Saturday, would boost India’s ‘ease of doing business’ credentials by enabling swift mediated settlements of corporate disputes.
  • Businesses in India and around the world will now have greater certainty in resolving cross-border disputes through mediation, as the Convention provides a more effective means for mediated outcomes to be enforced.

-Source: The Hindu


INDIA LOGISTICS PACTS: RUSSIA, U.K. AND VIETNAM

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

  • After concluding a logistics support agreement with Japan in recently, India is now working on three such agreements with Russia, the U.K. and Vietnam.
  • Logistics agreements are administrative arrangements facilitating access to military facilities for exchange of fuel and provisions on mutual agreement simplifying logistical support and increasing operational turnaround of the military when operating away from India.

Details

  • Following the agreement with Japan in September 2020, , India now has military logistics agreements with all Quad countries, Australia, Japan and the U.S., significantly improving interoperability as they also operate several common military platforms.
  • The agreements with the U.K. and Vietnam are under discussion and the agreement with Russia, the Reciprocal Logistics Support (ARLS), is expected to be signed during the bilateral summit.
  • The agreement with Russia gives India access to Russian facilities in the Arctic region which is seeing increased global activity as new shipping routes open up and resources become available, officials said earlier. India has recently announced investments in the Russian Far East.
  • The utility of the agreements will be visible at the next edition of the Malabar trilateral naval exercise.
  • Recently, India and Australia signed the long pending Mutual Logistics Support (MLSA), elevated their partnership to Comprehensive Strategic partnership and also announced a joint declaration on a shared vision for maritime cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.
  • India and Japan have already signed an implementing arrangement for deeper cooperation between the Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF).
  • India has signed several logistics agreements in recent years beginning with the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Understanding (LEMOA) with the U.S. in 2016, and the Navy has been the biggest beneficiary of them.
  • After India signed foundational agreement Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) with the U.S., it got access to encrypted communication systems for seamless communication.
  • There has been a sharp increase in India’s maritime interactions with the Quad countries on a bilateral basis centred around information sharing for improved Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) in the Indian Ocean Region and Indo-Pacific.

-Source: The Hindu


ANY NON-POLITICAL ORGANISATION CAN GET FCRA EXEMPTION

Focus: GS-II Governance  

Why in news?

The Home Ministry has clarified that it has the power to exempt in the public interest “any person or association or organisation” not being a political party or a candidate for election from the provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010.

Details

  • According to the Ministry, Parliament had given powers to exempt any association or organisation, not being a political party, from receiving contributions under the FCRA.
  • Using these powers, the Centre had issued an order under which the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) was exempted from all FCRA provisions.
  • Similarly, the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund) was granted exemption through a Central government order.
  • Six other organisations, including the Overseas India Development Foundation and Bharat Ke Veer, have been extended similar FCRA exemptions.
  • The Central government has also exempted all such entities which were created by a Central Act or a State Act and also compulsorily audited by CAG (Comptroller &Auditor General) from all provisions of the FCRA
  • This exemption category was “further expanded” by a notification that exempted entities created by Central or State government orders or any entity “fully controlled and owned” by the Central or State governments from FCRA requirements and audit by the CAG.

-Source: The Hindu


SCIENCE BEHIND AIR-BREATHING SCRAMJET ENGINE

Focus: GS-III Science and Technology

Why in news?

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) performed a major technological feat when it flew a cruise vehicle at a hypersonic speed of Mach six for 20 seconds.

Details

  • The DRDO called the cruise vehicle Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV).
  • The centrepiece of the HSTDV was the indigenously developed air-breathing scramjet engine, which formed the HSTDV’s propulsion system.

How is it powered?

  • In an air-breathing scramjet engine, air from the atmosphere is rammed into the engine’s combustion chamber at a supersonic speed of more than Mach two.
  • In the chamber, the air mixes with the fuel to ignite a supersonic combustion but the cruiser’s flight will be at a hypersonic speed of Mach six to seven.
  • So, it is called supersonic combustion ramjet or Scramjet.

Indigenous technology

  • The DRDO’s missile complex in Hyderabad, comprising the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), the Research Centre, Imarat (RCI), and the Advanced Systems’ Laboratory (ASL) developed all the technologies needed for the mission.
  • Mastering the air-breathing scramjet technology will lead to the development of hypersonic missiles, faster civilian air transportation and facilities for putting satellites into orbit at a low cost.

-Source: The Hindu


REDUCING INDIA’S CANCER BURDEN

Focus: GS-III Science and Technology

Why in news?

  • The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research (NCDIR) National Cancer Registry Programme Report has estimated that the number of cancer cases in India in 2020 is almost 14 lakhs.
  • India has seen a steady rise in cancer cases over many decades.

Details

  • A 2017 report showed that India’s cancer burden increased 2.6 times between 1990 to 2016, and deaths due to cancers doubled during the time.
  • Almost two-thirds of these cancer cases are at late stages.
  • In men, the most common cancers are of the lung, oral cavity, stomach and oesophagus, while in women, breast, cervix, ovary and gall bladder cancers are the most common.
  • Tobacco use (in all forms) is a major avoidable risk factor for the development of cancer in 27% of cancer cases.
  • Other important risk factors include alcohol use, inappropriate diet, low physical activity, obesity, and pollution.
  • It is estimated that nearly 50%-60% of cancer cases can be avoided by tackling the known risk factors effectively.

Significance

Reducing cancer is a prerequisite for addressing social and economic inequity, stimulating economic growth and accelerating sustainable development, as causes loss of lives and also has a tremendous socioeconomic impact.

Progress made so far

  • India is committed to achieving a one-third reduction in cancer-related deaths by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals, and it has made considerable progress.
  • India has improved in some areas, such as personal hygiene, which are distant drivers of cancer.
  • Government programmes such as Ayushman Bharat, Swasthya Bharat, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Poshan Abhiyaan and Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana and initiatives such as FSSAI’s new labelling and display regulations and drug price control can encourage inter-sectoral and multi-sectoral action.
  • Other initiatives such as the National Health Policy, the National Tobacco Control Programme, and the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke are also paving the way for progress.

Way Forward

  • We need to focus on three key aspects: risk reduction, early detection and programmatic and policy solutions.
  • Community empowerment through a multisectoral approach that brings together government, private practitioners and civil society to increase health literacy and promote certain behaviour can go a long way in reducing potential risk factors.
  • Improved awareness can also prevent stigma attached to the disease.
  • We need to ensure that health systems are strengthened so that there is greater access to screening and vaccination, early detection, and timely, affordable treatment.
  • Population health approaches are also relevant for large-scale impact and programmatic and policy-level solutions need to be driven by data.
  • Making cancer a notifiable disease could be one of the ways to help drive this research further by providing greater access to accurate, relevant data that can drive policy decisions.

-Source: The Hindu

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