Facts Corner-Part-154

Amazon river dolphins

  • The dolphins of the Amazon river have been listed as “Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in its latest “Red List” published in November 2018.
  • There are two types of Amazon river dolphins namely, the “boto” and the “tucuxi”, which were once considered abundant in the Amazon.
  • The study had warned that freshwater dolphins found in the Amazon River Basin were “dying off fast”, and could face extinction unless they were more vigorously protected against fishing.
  • The primary reason for the decrease in numbers is “Use of flesh and blubber as bait for catfish”, which have become widely available commercially.
  • In May 2018, the IUCN had listed the freshwater dolphins’ status as “data deficient,” meaning not enough was known about their numbers in the wild to assess the degree of threat to the population.
  • Besides the Amazon dolphins, freshwater dolphins in other parts of the world are also facing extreme pressures.
  • In the Indian Subcontinent, the Gangetic or Indus River Dolphin found in the Ganga and Indus River Basins is considered “Endangered” by the IUCN.
  • In China, the Yangtze River dolphin or “baiji”, was declared functionally extinct in 2006 due to human activities like overfishing, dam building, pollution and boat traffic.

UN Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact

  • UN has launched a new framework “UN Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact” to combat the scourge of international terrorism and coordinate efforts across the peace and security, humanitarian, human rights and sustainable development sectors.
  • The framework is an agreement between the UN chief, 36 organizational entities, the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) and the World Customs Organisation, to better serve the needs of Member States when it comes to tackling the scourge of international terrorism.
  • According to the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, the Coordination Committee will oversee the implementation of the Compact and monitor its implementation.
  • It is chaired by UN Under-Secretary-General for counter-terrorism, Vladimir Voronkov.
  • This Task Force will replace the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, which was established in 2005 to strengthen UN system-wide coordination and coherence of counter-terrorism efforts.

Sustainable Water Management

  • The first International Conference under the aegis of National Hydrology Project, Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation is being organised by Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) during 10-11 December 2018 at Indian School of Business (ISB), Mohali.
  • The theme of the conference is ‘Sustainable Water Management’.
  • The aim of the Conference is to foster the participation of and dialogue between various stakeholders, including governments, the scientific and academic communities, so as to: 
    (a) Promote sustainable policies for water management, 
    (b) To create awareness of water-related problems, 
    (c) Motivate commitment at the highest level for their solution and thus promote better management of water resources at local, regional, national and international levels.

National Pension System

  • It is easily accessible, low cost, tax-efficient, flexible and portable retirement savings account.
  • It was launched in 2004 and was initially introduced for new Government recruits (except armed forces).
  • It aims to institute pension reforms in the country and to inculcate the habit of saving for retirement amongst the citizens.
  • Its objective is to provide retirement income to all the citizens. Under it, the individual contributes to his retirement account.
  • It was extended for all citizens of the country from May 2009 including the unorganised sector workers on a voluntary basis.
  • NPS is governed and administered by the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA).
  • Currently, any Indian between the age of 18 to 65 years may voluntarily join the NPS.
  • NRI can open an NPS account, however, contributions made by NRI are subject to regulatory requirements as prescribed by RBI and FEMA from time to time.
  • Recently the Union Cabinet has decided to raise the contribution of the Central Government to the National Pension System (NPS) corpus of its employees from 10% to 14%.
  • This will increase in eventually accumulated corpus of all central government employees covered by NPS.
  • The government also has decided to make NPS fully tax free, making it on par with the provident fund scheme.
  • It has decided to exempt income tax that is applicable on part of NPS corpus that is withdrawn on retirement.
  • At present, while exiting scheme, 60% of corpus could be withdrawn and 20% of withdrawn amount is taxable.

Hand in Hand

  • India and China will resume their joint military drills after a one-year gap in the southwest Chinese city of Chengdu to improve capabilities in fighting terrorism and promote mutual understanding.
  • The opening ceremony of the drills will be held on December 11.
  • The exercises will be held after a gap of one year as both the sides were locked in a 73-day standoff in Doklam in the Sikkim sector of the border in 2017.

Elum Valley

  • The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province plans to construct a heritage park in Elum Valley, which carries a historical significance to both the Hindus and the Buddhists, to promote religious tourism.
  • Elum Valley is located between the Swat and Buner districts in the province.
  • Elum Valley has been a site of divinity and pilgrimage for both the Hindu and the Buddhist communities.
  • According to Hindu belief, Lord Ram spent time meditating there during his 14 years of exile, while Buddhists believe it to be the site where a previous incarnation of Lord Buddha gave up his life.

Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy (RISE)

  • RISE report is published by World Bank.
  • It rates 133 countries on electricity access, renewable energy, energy efficiency and access to clean cooking.
  • It is to provide useful data to policymakers and help the private sector make informed decisions about investing in energy projects.
  • It charts global progress on sustainable energy policies.
  • The 2018 report finds that the world has seen a huge uptake in sustainable energy policies.

Ensure Portal

  • Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare has recently launched a portal “Ensure” to connect with Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT)
  • It is developed by  NABARD and operated under the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries.
  • The National Livestock Mission consists of a component called Entrepreneurship Development and Employment Generation (EDEG).
  • Under this component, subsidy payment for activities related to poultry, small ruminants, pigs etc. through DBT goes directly to the beneficiary’s account.
  • Ensure online portal was launched to make the DBT better, simpler and transparent.

Lac doll marriage

  • Odisha celebrates its traditional lac doll marriage on the banks of Chilika with pomp and splendour.
  • This lac doll marriage celebrated in wedding season which is a unique union of art and tradition.
  • At a time when celebrity wedding ceremonies are making headlines and catching the fancy of the nation, Odisha celebrated a unique marriage with much pomp and splendour.
  • The marriage was organised in conformity with the Odia tradition of ‘jau kandhei bahaghara (lac doll marriage)’ by ‘Purbasa Lok-kala o Adivasi-kala Sangrahalaya’, an institution and museum at Barkul.
  • ‘Forum for Ganjam’ of Berhampur is also involved in the development of this museum.

Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle

  • Indian Navy has recently inducted deep submergence rescue vehicle which will be operational from April, 2019.
  • Currently India operates conventional submarines of the Sindhughosh, Shishumar, Kalvari classes as well as nuclear powered submarines.
  • The traditional methods of search and rescue by these conventional submarines during an eventuality exposes them to high degree of risk.
  • To overcome this gap, India has acquired a 3rd generation, advanced submarine rescue system considering of a Non-tethered Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) and its associated equipment.
  • It is capable of undertaking rescue from a disabled submarine up to 650 metres depth.
  • The DSRV, operated by a crew of three, can rescue 14 personnel from a disabled submarine at a time.
  • The vehicles are developed by Scotland-based JFD.
  • With this, India joins a select league of navies with the sovereign capability to search, locate and rescue crew from a disabled submarine.

Partners’ Forum

  • It is a global health partnership launched in 2005 to accelerate efforts to reduce child and maternal mortality, improve adolescent, child, newborn and maternal health.
  • It is an alliance of academic & research institutions, health care professionals, NGOs, global financing mechanisms and the private sector.
  • India has recently hosted the forum this year.
  • It is co-hosted by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Partnership of Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH).
  • The previous chapters were held in Johannesburg, South Africa (2014), New Delhi, India (2010) and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (2007).
  • This is the second time India is hosting the Partners’ Forum.
  • Union Health Minister has inaugurated the “Marketplace” at the Forum which is showcasing some of India’s best practices and innovations in reproductive maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health (RMNCH+A).

Financial Action Task Force

  • Israel became a full member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
  • The FATF membership will tag Israel as an attractive country for international investment and improve the status of the Israeli financial sector and its ability to operate in the global economy.
  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 by the Ministers of its Member jurisdictions.
  • The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
  • The FATF is, therefore, a “policy-making body” which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.
  • The FATF has developed a series of Recommendations that are recognised as the international standard for combating of money laundering and the financing of terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

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