Daily Current Affairs For UPSC Civil Services. News analysis – 25 February 2016
India is the world’s largest arms importer for 2011-2015
- India accounted for 14% of the global arms imports in the 2011-2015 time-frame, as revealed by a report on international arms transfers released by a global think-tank, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
- What is SIPRI?:Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament. Headquarters of SIPRi: SWEDEN.
- Highlights of the Report: Top arms importers are: India (14%), China (4.7%), Australia (3.6%), Pakistan (3.3%), Vietnam (2.9%) and South Korea (2.6%). India’s remains three times greater than those of its rivals Pakistan and China.Main suppliers to India are Russia, United States (US), Israel and France.
- Important evaluation in India’s context: This indicates India’s failure to build a strong domestic defense-industrial base (DIB) and Indian arms industry has failed to produce competitive indigenously-designed weapons. India has spent over 120 billion dollars on arms acquisitions over the last 15 years most of them from foreign suppliers.
- In China’s context: Earlier China used to be top on the imports chart but in past few decades it has gradually built a stronger Domestic Industrial B. China is now the world’s third largest arms exporter after United States and Russia. Pakistan is the main importer of Chinese arms exports accounting for 35% of the total imports followed by Bangladesh (20%) and Myanmar (16%). Russia is China’s largest arms supplier accounting for 59% followed by France (15%) and Ukraine (14%).
Haryana is set to become the first state to complete Aquifer mapping:
- Haryana will complete Aquifer mapping for its groundwater resources by May 2016.
- What is an Aquifier?:An aquifer is an underground layer of rock that holds groundwater. Aquifers are filled slowly. For this reason, aquifers can dry up when people drain them faster than they can be refilled—a process called aquifer depletion.
- What is Aquifer mapping: It is scientific mapping of aquifers to asses the groundwater situation.
- Which agency is carrying out Aquifier Mapping in India?: This aquifer mapping is undertaken by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) on the scale of 1:50,000 in 3D. For this purpose, CGWB is using advanced technologies like heli-borne geophysical surveys and sophisticated software for preparing management plans.
- What is the Target: CGWB has set target to complete the aquifer mapping of the entire country by 2022. In the 1st phase (to be completed by 2017), 8 states have been selected for this.The states are Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.
- Why Aquifier Mapping is being done?: The aquifer mapping will eventually help in predicting the groundwater scenario in the country as most of groundwater reservoirs are over-exploited. It will assist the states in estimating the quantity and quality of groundwater in an aquifer and help in assessment of sustainable level of water extraction. It will further help these states for subsequent planning for water use in order to make the country climate change resilient.
- Extra facts about Aquifiers:There are two types of aquifers. An unconfined aquifer is covered by permeable rock and can receive water from the surface. The water table of an unconfined aquifer rises or falls depending on the amount of water entering and leaving the aquifer. It is only partly filled with water.In contrast, a confined aquifer lies between two layers of less permeable rocks and is filled with water. Water trickles down through cracks in the upper layer of less permeable rock, a nearby water source, such as an underground river or lake, or a nearby unconfined aquifer.An artesian well is a type of confined aquifer that flows upward to the Earth’s surface without the need for pumping. The artesian well sits below the water table at the bottom of U-shaped aquifers. Pressure from water in the long sides of the aquifer pushes the water up the well shaft.
Pakistan Parliament becomes the first Parliament in world to run entirely on solar power:
- Pakistan’s Parliament building became the first in the world to completely run on solar power
- Important Point: Parliament of Pakistan is located in Islamabad.
- The project to run parliament building on solar power is a venture supported by China. It was launched in 2015 when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited and addressed the Parliament.The solar panels of parliament have installed capacity 80 Mega Watts (MW) of which 62 MW is sufficient for it while remaining 18 MW will be connected to national grid.Extra points: Israel’s Knesset that partly run on solar power(around 10%).Parliament of Pakistan It is officially termed as Majlis-e-Shoora in Urdu. It is a bicameral legislature that consists of the Senate (upper house) and the National Assembly (lower houses).
Ex-Chief Justice of India HL Dattu selected as new Chairman of NHRC:
- He was selected by a committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
- What is NHRC?: National Human Rights Commission. The NHRC is the national human rights institution, responsible for the protection and promotion of human rights, defined by the Protection of Human Rights Act 1993
- How chairman of NHRC is appointed?: Under the provisions of Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, President appoints the Chairman and members of the NHRC on the recommendation of the high-powered committee headed by the Prime Minister.
- How many members are there in NHRC?:The NHRC (National Human Rights Commission) consists of:A Chairperson who should be a retired Chief Justice of India1 Member who is, or has been, a Judge of the Supreme Court of India1 Member who is, or has been, the Chief Justice of a High Court
Naval Exercise IBSAMAR 2016 between India, South Africa, Brazil starts in Goa
- IBSAMAR stands for India-Brazil-South Africa Maritime.
- Important point: This is the 5th edition.For the first time, this exercise is being held in India. All the previous editions were held in South Africa since it began in 2006.
INS Arihant passes deep sea tests:
- India’s first indigenously built nuclear armed submarine INS Arihant has successfully passed several deep sea diving drills as well as weapons launch tests.
- These tests makes it ready for formal induction into the Indian Naval fleet.
- Facts about INS Arihant: INS Arihant’s design is based on the Russian Akula-1 class submarine. It is powered by 83 MW pressurised light water reactor built with Russia’s help.
- Currently, Indian Navy operates the INS Chakra, a nuclear-powered submarine which is leased for 10 years from Russia in 2012.
World’s 1st fast-acting Anti-Rabies drug to be launched in India:
- World’s first fast-acting anti-rabies drug Rabies Human Monoclonal Antibody (RMAb) will be launched in India.
- Who has developed RMAb?: Jointly developed by Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) and US-based MassBiologics of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
- What is RMAb?: RMAb drug is a human IgG1 monoclonal antibody that instantly deactivates rabies virus by specifically binding to a conformational epitope of G glycoprotein of the virus. It is 25% cheaper compared to the existing expensive human rabies immunoglobulin (hRIG) treatment.
- What is its advantage?: It has advantage of automatically precluding the chances of transmitting blood-borne infections that are present in rabies immunoglobulin vaccines.
- What is the technology behind RMAb?: The drug has been manufactured using recombinant DNA technology that includes inserting DNA encoding antigen (such as a bacterial surface protein) to the microbial DNA of cells in the body to stimulate immune response.
Rare Falcated Duck sighted in Goa
- Birdwatchers for first time have sighted Falcated Duck in Goa which is considered as rare vagrant migrant bird species to the south of India.For first time it was sighted in Tamil Nadu in 2012 and second time in Akola (Maharashtra) in January 2015.
- What is Falcated Duck?: Falcated Duck is a migratory bird, breeding in Russia and north China in summers and in winter migrate towards north of India.
- Why it is important?: Falcated Duck is classified as near threatened by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
World population of this species is about 89,000 individuals as per the recent estimates.
- What are the threats to Falcated Duck?: Threats faced globally: Loss of habitat and hunting. They require coastal wetlands for survival. Loss of habitat especially wetland ecosystem in their winter migratory region is also a cause for concern.
India will host 3rd Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation:
- It will be third such conference on tiger conservation to be hosted by India that will see the participation of all 13 tiger range countries (TRCs).
- Which are the 13 Tiger range countries?: They are Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam.In this edition of conferences participating TRCs will share their (i) good practices and success stories in conserving tigers (ii) success stories in conserving tigers.
- Extra facts: The first edition of Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation was held in Hua Hin, Thailand in 2010 and second edition was held in Thimphu, Bhutan in 2013.
- What is the Tiger population in India?: India is home to nearly 70% of the world’s tiger population and according to the 2014 tiger census, there are 2,226 tigers in the country.There are 48 tiger reserves in India which are governed under Project Tiger which is administered by the National Tiger Conservation Authority.State-wise, Karnataka has the highest number of tigers (406) followed by Uttarakhand (340), Madhya Pradesh (308), Tamil Nadu (229), Maharashtra (190), Assam (167), Kerala (136) and Uttar Pradesh (117).
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