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26th & 27th November Current Affairs

Contents

  1. India thanks Bahrain for “Special care” of Indians
  2. SC on Reservation in Super-specialty Medical Courses
  3. Portal launched: ID for Transgender persons
  4. IRNSS Explained
  5. What are Desalination plants?
  6. Navy inducts two Sea Guardian drones
  7. Land-attack version of the BrahMos test-fired

INDIA THANKS BAHRAIN FOR “SPECIAL CARE” OF INDIANS

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

  • Indian External Affairs Minister has thanked Bahrain for taking “special care” of the Indian diaspora in this Gulf kingdom during the coronavirus crisis.
  • India and Bahrain have agreed to further strengthen their historic ties, including in areas of defence and maritime security.

Details

  • Bahrain appreciated the assistance provided by India during the pandemic through the supply of medicines, medical equipment and medical professionals.
  • Bahrain also expressed satisfaction on the operationalization of the Air Bubble arrangement between the two countries.
  • Both sides affirmed to further strengthen their Covid-19 related cooperation.
  • India renewed invitation to Bahrain for visiting India for the 3rd India-Bahrain High Joint Commission meeting.
  • The agreement to further strengthen their historic ties included areas of defence and maritime security, space technology, trade and investment, infrastructure, IT, FinTech, health, hydrocarbon and renewable energy.

Bahrain–India relations

  • Relations between India and Bahrain go back to about 5,000 years ago, to the period of Dilmun Civilization in Bahrain to the era of Indus valley civilization in India.
  • Ancient Bahraini traders are believed to have carried out a flourishing trade of Bahraini pearls with Indian spices.
  • The Kingdom of Bahrain along with its GCC partners are amongst the world’s most prominent supporters of India’s candidacy for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, and Bahraini officials have urged India to play a greater role in international affairs.
  • India’s total capital investment into Bahrain between January 2003 and March 2018 has been estimated at approximately USD 1.69 billion. Financial services have the highest investment value (40% of total projects), followed by the real estate and hospitality sector.
  • Crude oils, mineral fuels and their bituminous substance, distillation, aluminium, fertilizers, ores/slags/ashes of aluminium, iron and copper, pulp, etc., are imported by India from Bahrain.
  • Mineral fuels and oils, inorganic chemicals, organic or inorganic compounds of precious metals of rare earth, cereals, nuts, fruits, articles of apparel and clothing accessories etc., are exported by India to Bahrain.
  • Approximately 3,50,000 Indians are living in Bahrain currently and around 70% are in the category of unskilled labour.
  • In addition to the predominant blue-collar labour force, there is a sizable number of other professionals who play a vital role in Bahrain’s socio-economic development.
  • In November 2015, Bahrain launched ‘Little India in Bahrain’ project to acknowledge and mark the contribution of the Indian community to the history and progress of Bahrain.

-Source: The Hindu


SC ON RESERVATION IN SUPER-SPECIALTY MEDICAL COURSES

Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Why in news?

Supreme Court (SC) has reserved its order on the state governments providing a 50% in-service reservation for admissions to super-speciality medical courses (Doctorate of Medicine/DM and Master of Chirurgiae/M. Ch.) in government colleges for the academic year 2020-21.

Details

  • In August 2020, the SC allowed states to grant the benefit of reservation of seats to in-service doctors in the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) postgraduate (PG) degree courses.
  • The judgment held that the state has the legislative competence and authority to provide for a separate source of entry for in-service candidates seeking admission to PG/diploma courses in the exercise of powers under Entry 25, List III.
  • In November 2020, Tamil Nadu government allowed counselling and filling of 50% of the super-speciality seats in the government medical colleges with in-service candidates in the state.
  • The seats would be filled with candidates who have cleared NEET-Super Speciality Courses (SS) and the selection committee of the Directorate of Medical Education would prepare the merit list and conduct counselling.
  • The state government argued that there was an acute need for super-speciality qualified doctors both in the medical academia and in practice.
  • After 50% of seats in DM/M. Ch. courses in government medical colleges are allocated to in-service candidates, the rest will be surrendered to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).

Arguments Against

  • Doctors, including PG holders qualified in NEET 2020, challenged the decision saying that there is no concept of any reservation for admission to super-speciality medical courses.
  • Their appeal argued that the State order was contrary to the Postgraduate Medical Education (Amendment) Regulations of 2019, which mandated that the DGHS should be in charge of the admission process.
  • They referred to the verdict in Dr Preeti Srivastava & Anr. versus State of Madhya Pradesh & Ors, 1999 which held that “merit, and merit alone, is the basis for admission at the super-speciality level”.

Related Constitutional Provisions about Reservation

  • Article 16(4) empowers the state to make any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the state, is not adequately represented in the services under the state.
  • By way of the 77th Amendment Act, a new clause (4A) was added to Article 16, empowering the state to make provisions for reservation in matters of promotion to Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe employees if the state feels they are not adequately represented in services.

-Source: The Hindu


PORTAL LAUNCHED: ID FOR TRANSGENDER PERSONS

Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Why in news?

The Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry launched a national portal for transgender persons to apply for certificates and identity cards.

Details

  • The portal would help transpersons in applying for certificate and ID cards digitally without having to visit any government office, a Ministry statement said.
  • Under the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, transpersons can apply for an ID card based on their self-perceived identity.

National Council for Transgender Persons

  • The National Council for Transgender Persons is India’s First and is a Statutory Body since it is formed under Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019.
  • The Main aim of the National Council for Transgender Persons is to mainstream the transgender community’s concerns, focusing on livelihood issues as well as to raise awareness about the trans community, so that transgender persons are accepted within families and in the larger society.
  • Another aim is to ensure that transgender welfare boards are set up in all States and essential needs of the transgender community, like housing, food, healthcare and education are met.

Functions of the National Council for Transgender Persons

  • Advising the Central government on the formulation of policies, programmes, legislation and projects with respect to transgender persons.
  • Monitoring and evaluating the impact of policies and programmes designed for achieving equality and full participation of transgender persons.
  • Reviewing and coordinating the activities of all the departments.
  • Redressing grievances of transgender persons.
  • Performing such other functions as prescribed by the Centre.

Composition

  • Its chairperson will be the Union Minister of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • It will consist of Representatives from five states or Union Territories (one each from the north, south, east, west and northeast regions, on a rotational basis) and Five members of the transgender community (one each from the north, south, east, west and northeast regions).
  • The council will also have joint secretary-level members from the Ministries of Health, Home, Minority Affairs, Education, Rural Development, Labour and Law.
  • In addition, there will be a member from the Department of Pensions (Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions), NITI Aayog, National Human Rights Commission and National Commission for Women.

Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016

  • The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, defines a transgender person as one who is partly female or male; or a combination of female and male; or neither female nor male.
  • Additionally, the bill states that the person’s gender must not match the assigned gender at birth.
  • Every transgender person in the country must obtain an identity certificate which will be used as the proof of recognition of identity as a transgender person and to avail all the rights under the Bill.
  • The identity certificate would be granted by the District Magistrate on the recommendation of a Screening Committee.
  • The screening committee for recommending the certificate would comprise a medical officer, a psychologist or psychiatrist, a district welfare officer, a government official, and a transgender person.
  • The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 prohibits discriminating with transgender people in education, employment, healthcare and other areas.
  • The Bill directs the central and state governments for providing welfare schemes to the Transgender community in these areas.
  • The Bill also provides for the punishment of up to two years’ imprisonment and a fine for offences like compelling a transgender person to beg, denial of access to a public place, physical and sexual abuse, etc.

-Source: The Hindu


IRNSS EXPLAINED

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has recognised the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) as a component of the World-Wide Radio Navigation System (WWRNS) during its 102nd session held virtually.

Details

  • India has become the fourth country in the world to have its independent regional navigation satellite system recognised by the IMO as a part of the World-Wide Radio Navigation System (WWRNS).
  • The other three countries that have its navigation systems recognised by the IMO are the USA, Russia and China.
  • The IMO has accepted IRNSS as an alternative navigation module in Indian waters. It was in use only on a pilot basis earlier but now all merchant vessels are authorised to use it, even small fishing vessels.
  • The navigation system can now replace GPS in the Indian Ocean waters upto 1500 km from the Indian boundary.

Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System

  • IRNSS is an independent regional navigation satellite system developed by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
  • The main objective is to provide reliable position, navigation and timing services over India and its neighbourhood.
  • IRNSS is a regional and not a global navigation system.
  • Unlike the widely used GPS which includes 24 satellites, NavIC has 8 satellites and their range is within India and its adjoining regions extending up to 1,500 km from the country’s border.
  • Technically satellite systems with more satellites provide more accurate positioning information. However, compared to GPS which has a position accuracy of 20-30 metres, the NavIC is able to pinpoint location to an estimated accuracy of under 20 metres.

The IRNSS constellation was named as “NavIC” (Navigation with Indian Constellation) by the Prime Minister, which provides two types of services:

  1. Standard Positioning Service (SPS) is meant for the general public.
  2. Restricted Service (RS) is an encrypted service meant for authorised users and agencies.

-Source: Indian Express


WHAT ARE DESALINATION PLANTS?

Focus: GS-III Science and Technology

Why in news?

  • Maharashtra announced the setting up of a desalination plant in Mumbai which will process 200 million litres of water daily (MLD), and will help in overcoming the water shortage faced by Mumbai in the months of May and June.
  • Maharashtra will be the fourth state to experiment with Desalination Plants.

Desalination Plants

  • Desalination is the process of removing salts from water to produce water that meets the quality (salinity) requirements of different human uses.
  • A desalination plant turns salt water into water that is fit to drink. Most commonly used technology for the process is reverse osmosis.

Reverse Osmosis

  • An external pressure is applied to push solvents from an area of high-solute concentration to an area of low-solute concentration through a semi-permeable membrane.
  • The microscopic pores in the membranes allow water molecules through but leave salt and most other impurities behind, releasing clean water from the other side.

Advantages

  • It can extend water supplies beyond what is available from the hydrological cycle, providing an “unlimited”, climate-independent and steady supply of high-quality water.
  • It can provide drinking water in areas where no natural supply of potable water exists.
  • As it generally meets or exceeds standards for water quality, water desalination plants can also reduce pressure on freshwater supplies that come from areas (over exploited water resources) that need protecting.

Disadvantages

  • Costly to build and operate desalination plants as the plants require huge amounts of energy.
  • The environmental impact is another disadvantage to water desalination plants. Disposal of the salt removed from the water is a major issue.

In India

  • Use of Desalination Plants in India has largely been limited to countries in the Middle East and has recently started being used in parts of the United States and Australia.
  • In India, Tamil Nadu has been the pioneer in using this technology, setting up two desalination plants near Chennai in 2010 and then 2013.
  • The other states that have proposed these plants are Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.

-Source: Indian Express


NAVY INDUCTS TWO SEA GUARDIAN DRONES

Focus: GS-III Internal Security Challenges, Science and Technology

Why in news?

  • The Indian Navy has inducted two MQ-9B Sea Guardian unarmed drones procured from the U.S. on lease.
  • The recently released Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020 has introduced an option for leasing military platforms.

Details

  • As part its force restructuring to offset budgetary constraints, the Navy has been looking to induct more unmanned solutions, both aerial and underwater.
  • As part of this, the requirement of additional P-8I maritime patrol aircraft has been cut down from 10 to six and was to be offset by procurement of long endurance drones.
  • The drones are on lease for one year. All planning, execution and operations will be with the Indian Navy. The Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) will play a support role for maintenance as laid down in the agreement.
  • A tri-service proposal to procure 10 Unmanned Aerial vehicles (UAV) for each Service from the U.S., including armed drones has been in the pipeline for some time but has been delayed due to budgetary considerations.
  • The Guardian, which is the maritime variant of the Predator MQ-9 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), has a maximum endurance of 40 hours and a maximum flying altitude of 40,000 feet. It has a 3600 maritime surveillance radar and an optional multimode maritime surface search radar.

Unmanned aerial vehicle

  • An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is an aircraft without a human pilot on board.
  • UAVs are a component of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS); which include a UAV, a ground-based controller, and a system of communications between the two.
  • The flight of UAVs may operate with various degrees of autonomy: either under remote control by a human operator or autonomously by onboard computers referred to as an autopilot.
  • Compared to crewed aircraft, UAVs were originally used for missions too “dull, dirty or dangerous” for humans.

-Source: The Hindu


LAND-ATTACK VERSION OF THE BRAHMOS TEST-FIRED

Focus: GS-III Internal Security Challenges, Science and Technology

Why in news?

India has successfully test-fired a land-attack version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Features of New Land-attack Version

  • The range of the missile has been extended to 400 km from the original 290 km but its speed has been maintained at 2.8 Mach or almost three times the speed of sound.
  • The test was done in a “top-attack” configuration – In top attack mode, the missile is required to climb sharply after launch, travel at a certain altitude and then fall on top of the target.
  • Most modern missiles, including BrahMos, can be fired in both top-attack and direct attack modes – In direct attack mode, the missile travels at a lower altitude, directly striking the target.

BrahMos Missile

  • BRAHMOS is a joint venture between the Defence Research and Development Organisation of India (DRDO) and the NPOM of Russia.
  • Brahmos is named on the rivers Brahmaputra and Moskva.
  • It is a two-stage (solid propellant engine in the first stage and liquid ramjet in second) air to surface missile with a flight range of around 300 km.
  • However, India’s entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) has extended the range of the BRAHMOS missile to reach 450 km-600km, a shade above its current MTCR capped range of 300 km.
  • Brahmos is a multiplatform i.e., it can be launched from land, air, and sea and multi capability missile with pinpoint accuracy that works in both day and night irrespective of the weather conditions.
  • It operates on the “Fire and Forgets” principle i.e., it does not require further guidance after launch.
  • Brahmos is one of the fastest cruise missiles currently operationally deployed with speed of Mach 2.8, which is 3 times more than the speed of sound.

-Source: The Hindu

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