Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission
- The Armistice Agreement which brought to a halt the Korean conflict was drafted in part by the Americans and India’s V.K. Krishna Menon.
- One of the follow-up actions to the Armistice Agreement was the establishment of a Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission (NNRC) which was to decide on the fate of over 20,000 prisoners of war from both sides (North and South Korea).
- India was chosen as the Chair of the NNRC, with Poland and Czechoslovakia representing the Communist bloc and Sweden and Switzerland representing the Western world.
- In August 1932, Ramsay MacDonal, the British PM, announced a scheme of representation of the minorities, which came to be known as the Communal Award.
- Separate electorates were now extended to the depressed classes (Scheduled Castes). Gandhiji was distressed over this extension of the principle of communal representation to the depressed classes and undertook fast unto death in Yeravada Jail (Poona) to get the award modified.
- At last, there was an agreement between the leaders of the Congress and the depressed classes.
- The agreement, known as Poona Pact, retained the Hindu joint electorate and gave reserved seats to the depressed classes.
- BreatheLife is a joint campaign led by the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Environment and the Climate & Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) to mobilize cities and individuals to protect our health and planet from the effects of air pollution.
The BreatheLife Campaign seeks to achieve its objective by
- Connecting cities
- Increasing monitoring
- Accelerating solutions and
- Empowering individuals
Seven Minutes of Terror
- Like all surface missions before it, InSight will have to endure the “seven minutes of terror” – the time it takes for a spacecraft entering the top of Mars’ atmosphere at 6km/s to slow itself to a standstill at the touchdown point.
- NASA’s latest mission to Mars, InSight, will be the first probe to focus its investigations predominantly on the interior of the Red Planet.
- The lander – due to touch down in November – will put seismometers on the surface to feel for “Marsquakes”. These tremors should reveal how the underground rock is layered – data that can be compared with Earth to shed further light on the formation of the planets 4.6 billion years ago.
The African Continental Free Trade Area
- The leaders of 44 African countries have signed a deal to create one of the world’s largest free trade blocs.
- 10 countries, including Nigeria – Africa’s largest economy, have refused to sign the deal, and it will need to be ratified by all the signatories’ national parliaments before the bloc becomes a reality.
- The African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) would remove barriers to trade, like tariffs and import quotas, allowing the free flow of goods and services between its members.
- Trade between African countries is relatively low. It accounts for only 10% of all commerce on the continent – compared with 25% in south-east Asia – according to news agency Reuters.
- Those arriving in the UK between 1948 and 1971 from Caribbean countries have been labelled the Windrush generation.
- This is a reference to one of the many ships – MV Empire Windrush – which brought workers from caribbean countries, as a response to post-war labour shortages, to the UK.
- “Along with others from the Commonwealth, they and their families were encouraged to Britain to help meet acute labour shortages, whether in the National Health Service (NHS) or beyond… Toughening of immigration rules has led to them being penalised and wrongly treated as undocumented illegal immigrants. Shocking stories of families being separated, unable to return to Britain from holidays abroad, denials of life-saving treatment have abounded in recent weeks. While the stories have mostly centred on those from the Caribbean, there are fears that migrants from across the Commonwealth will inevitably have been impacted.”
4 mobile health initiatives
- Kilkari, which means ‘a baby’s gurgle’, delivers free, weekly, time-appropriate 72 audio messages about pregnancy, child birth and child care directly to families’ mobile phones from the second trimester of pregnancy until the child is one year old. Kilakri is being launched in Jharkhand, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and High Priority Districts (HPDs) of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in the first phase.
- Mobile Academy is a free audio training course designed to expand and refresh the knowledge base of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) and improve their communication skills. Mobile Academy offers ASHAs a training opportunity via their mobile phones which is both cost-effective and efficient. It reduces the need to travel – sometimes great distances – and provides them the flexibility they need to learn at their own pace and at times they find convenient. Mobile Academy is being launched in Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand.
- M-Cessation aims at reaching out to those willing to quit tobacco use and support them towards successful quitting through text messages sent via mobile phones.
- Under TB Missed Call initiative, a helpline with a toll free number will provide information, counselling and treatment support services for TB.
Pradhan Mantri Vidya Lakshmi Karyakram
A fully IT based Student Financial Aid Authority has been proposed through the ‘Pradhan Mantri Vidya Lakshmi Karyakram‘, to administer and monitor Scholarship as well Educational Loan Schemes, with a view to enable all poor and middle class students to pursue higher education of their choice without any constraint of funds.
Vidya Lakshmi Portal is a first of its kind portal for students seeking Education Loan. It provides single window electronic platform for students to access information and prepares applications for Educational Loans and Government Scholarships. It provides information on the following:
- Educational Loan Schemes of various Banks
- Common Educational Loan Application Form for Students
- Application for Education Loan to multiple Banks
- Facility for Banks to download Students Loan Applications
- Facility for Banks to upload loan processing status
- Facility for Students to email grievances/queries relating to Educational Loans to Banks
- Linkage to National Scholarship Portal for information and application for Government Scholarships
This initiative aims to bring on board all Banks providing Educational Loans. It is expected that students throughout the country will be benefited by this initiative of the Government, by making available a single window for access to various Educational Loan Schemes of all Banks. The portal has been developed and being maintained by NSDL e-Governance Infrastructure Limited.
e-Incremental Learning Approach
- e-ILA is an online system where programme functionaries will become more effective by learning to plan and execute each task correctly and consistently through methodical and ongoing capacity building… Under POSHAN Abhiyaan, ‘Swasth Bharat Preraks’ will be deployed one in each district for coordinating with district officials and enabling fast and efficient execution of the Abhiyaan across the country.
- Juice jacking is a term used to describe a cyber attack wherein malware might be installed on to, or data surreptitiously copied from, a smart phone, tablet or other computer device using a charging port that doubles as a data connection, typically over USB.
- Sophia, the latest robot from Hanson Robotics, created history on October 25 when she became the first non-human to be granted full citizenship in Saudi Arabia.
- The doe-eyed robot, introduced herself at Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative, calling herself ‘special’ and displaying a range of emotions from anger to sadness.Sophia didn’t just make international headlines but also raised questions about the future relationships between humans and robots, and the rights that she holds.
- Sophia uses AI to become more empathetic with each conversation.
- Recently, she also described Ireland as a ‘magical place full of rain and crazy people’ in a media interview at the Web Summit in Lisbon.
- Though not all conversations come easy to her yet, she is all for having discussions on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain.
- ‘Ocean Seven’ is a swimming marathon consisting of seven channel swims and is considered to be on par with the Seven Summits (mountaineering challenge). The arduous task challenges a swimmer to swim across world’s most difficult seas.
- Indian swimmer Rohan More created history after becoming the youngest individual in the world to complete the Ocean Seven challenge. He is also the first Asian to complete the challenge.
List of Ocean’s Seven Channel Swims
- The Irish or North Channel: between Ireland and Scotland
- The Cook Strait: between New Zealand’s North and South Islands
- The Moloka’i or Kaiwi Channel: between Hawaiian islands of Moloka’i and O’ahu
- The English Channel: between England and France
- The Catalina Channel: between Santa Catalina Island and Los Angeles
- The Tsugaru Strait: between the Japanese islands of Honshu and Hokkaido
- The Strait of Gibraltar: between Spain and Morocco
National Productivity Council
- NPC is a national-level autonomous organization under the administrative control of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion to promote productivity culture in India.
- Established as a registered society in 1958 by the Government of India, it is a tripartite non-profit organization with equal representation from the government, employers and workers’ organizations, apart from technical and professional institutions including members from local productivity councils and chamber of commerce on its Governing Body.
- Besides providing training, consultancy and undertaking research in the area of productivity, NPC also implements the productivity promotion schemes of the Government and carry out the programmes of the Tokyo based Asian Productivity Organization (APO), an inter-governmental body of which the Government of India is a founder member.
- “Industry 4.0 Leapfrog Opportunity for India” was the theme for the National Productivity Week-2018.
- A Track-2 dialogue that brings together former diplomats and military officials of India and Pakistan.
- India and Pakistan recently held the dialogue after a long gap, indicating a probable shift in views on both sides towards such an initiative.
- The initiative this time was taken by Pakistan, which wanted this dialogue to happen in Islamabad.
- These dialogues have for some time been happening in third countries.
- Marine acoustic research vessel INS Sagardhwani is riding a wave of history that charted the course of oceanographic research in the Indian Ocean.
- The Kochi-based ship, operated by the Navy and equipped with eight scientific laboratories, recently joined an international campaign to revisit the first major interdisciplinary ‘International Indian Ocean Exploration (IIOE)’ undertaken by 13 countries with 46 vessels in the 1960s.
- Indian Naval Ships Kistna and Varuna had taken part in the expedition held under the United Nations. Kistna, a frigate which was converted for ocean surveys for want of a dedicated vessel for the purpose, had conducted 29 cruises carrying scientists from various organisations, including the then fledgling Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL), a DRDO laboratory which now owns the state-of-the-art Sagardhwani.
- The massive drive also covered a large part of the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, including the coastal seas. Sagardhwani’s present cruise retraces certain routes followed by Kistna in its mission that lasted till 1965. Between November 17 and 20, Sagardhwani followed the sixth cruise track of Kistna in the southern Bay of Bengal in 1963.
International Indian Ocean Exploration
- IIOE-2, as the ongoing commemorative expedition is known, is organised by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) under the UN.
- It hopes to furthering the scientific community’s understanding of the Indian Ocean biophysical variability in response to monsoon and human activity. A total of 52 nations are taking part in IIOE-2, carrying out oceanographic research in designated areas in the Indian Ocean.
- IIOE-1 was a watershed event for ocean research in India, NPOL director S. Kedarnath Shenoy said. “Four Indian vessels, including two small trawlers, from Kochi, had taken part in it. But it triggered the formation of several ocean-based research institutions in India like the NIO, NIOT, INCOIS and NCAOR & ocean studies departments in various universities. The event was among the factors instrumental in rechristening the Indian Naval Physical Laboratory in 1968 to NPOL as we are known today.”