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     1. USA may end zero-tariffs for India

  • Due to the latest downturn in trade ties was India’s new rule on FDI in e-commerce, India could lose a vital U.S. trade concession known as Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) under which it enjoys zero tariffs on $5.6 billion of exports to the United States.

Related Information

Generalized System of Preferences (GSP)

  • India is the world’s largest beneficiary of a scheme Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) that has been in force since the 1970s.
  • GSP is the largest and oldest US trade preference programme introduced in 1976.
  • It is designed to promote economic development by allowing duty-free entry for thousands of products from designated beneficiary countries both developing and developed countries.
  • It is a preferential tariff system which provides for a formal system of exemption from the more general rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
  • Under it, a wide range of industrial and agricultural products originating from certain developing countries are given preferential access to US markets.
  • India’s case, GSP enables duty-free entry of 3,500 product lines in US markets, which benefits exporters of textiles, engineering, gems and jewelry and chemical products.
  • The total US imports under GSP in 2017 was $21.2 billion, of which India was biggest beneficiary with $5.6 billion, followed by Thailand ($4.2 billion) and Brazil ($2.5 billion).
  • The US Congress in March 2018 had voted to renew GSP from 2020.

Topic- GS Paper 2 –International Relation

Source- The Hindu

  1. Successful Flight Test of SFDR
  • DRDO successfully flight tested the second indigenously developed ‘Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR)’ propulsion based missile system.

Related Information

Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet technology

  • It is jointly developed by India and Russia.
  • It will help both India’s surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles to perform better and enhance their strike range, making them more lethal.
  • India can now have the fastest long-range missiles in two categories, providing full-edged and multi-layered aerial protection from hostile attacks.

Difference between SFDR and Conventional Missiles

  • Conventional Rocket Motor based BVRAAMs (Beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile) have a higher burning out rate since it works in the same amount of thrust levels from the moment it is fired, which means it can run out of fuel when it reaches its target in longer range and highly maneuverable targets can outrun the missile in the last phase if missile is fired from a long range.
  • Ramjets, by contrast, maintain their peak energy state for longer, delivering power throughout the flight, providing a high – though slightly slower – average speed and long ranges over a wide operational envelope, from sea level to high altitude.
  • Unlike traditional rocket motor, SFDR can throttle its engine during different phases of flight especially while approaching its target it can throttle up and able to maneuver and attack even fast maneuvering targets.
  • Not only does this mean the SFDR will have more energy to maneuver during the endgame of the engagement, but this capability also drastically increases the size of the missile’s “no escape zone.

Topic- GS Paper 3 –Defence

Source-PIB

  1. Medical devices to be treated as drugs
  • The Centre in a notification aid that medical devices — all implantable devices, CT Scan, PET and MRI equipment, defibrillators, dialysis machines, and bone marrow separators — will be treated as drugs for human beings with effect from April 1, 2020.
  • The decision was taken in consultation with the Drugs Technical Advisory Board.

Related Information

Drugs Technical Advisory Board

  • Drugs Technical Advisory Board is the highest statutory decision-making body on technical matters related to drugs in the country.
  • It is constituted as per the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.
  • It is part of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Topic- GS Paper 2 –Governance

Source- The Hindu

  1. Exercise: Cutlass Express 2019
  • CUTLASS EXPRESS – 2019 a multinational training exercise which aims to improve law enforcement capacity, promote regional security and progress inter-operability between the armed forces of the participating nations for the purpose of interdicting illegal maritime activity in the Western Indian Ocean.
  • It was held recently from 27 Jan to 06 Feb 2019.
  • It was held recently in which INS Trikand, a front-line warship of the Indian Navy, participated.
  • During the exercise, Naval, Coast Guard, and Marine Police personnel from a number of East African countries were jointly trained by mentors from USA, India, and Netherlands, with the support of international organizations like the IMO, Combined Maritime Force (CMF) and European Naval Forces (EUNAVFOR).
  • The exercise was conducted in two phases.
    1. The first called the Command Post Exercise (CPX).
    2. The second phase called the Final Training Exercise (FTX).

Topic- GS Paper 3- Defence

Source- Indian Express

  1. Shark Bay: A World Heritage Site at catastrophic risk
  • Shark Bay is a World Heritage-listed marine ecosystem in Australia.
  • It was recently devastated by extreme temperatures when a brutal marine heatwave struck off Western Australia in 2011.
  • A workshop convened by the Shark Bay World Heritage Advisory Committee classified Shark Bay as being in the highest category of vulnerability to future climate change.

Related Information

Shark Bay

  • It is a World Heritage Site in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia. 
  • The combined Shark Bay invertebrate fishery (crabs, prawns and scallops) is the second most valuable commercial fishery in Western Australia.

Under threat

  • This iconic and valuable marine ecosystem is under serious threat due to future climate change, given that the temperate seagrass that underpins the entire ecosystem is already living at the upper edge of its tolerable temperature range.
  • These seagrasses provide vital habitat for fish and marine mammals and help the stromatolites survive by regulating the water salinity.

Topic- GS Paper 3 –Environment

Source- Down to Earth

  1. Scientists perform first ‘in body’ gene editing
  • Scientists have performed the first gene editing inside the body, altering DNA in adults to try to treat a disease.

Related Information

What is Gene editing?

  • Genome editing is a way of making specific changes to the DNA of a cell or organism.
  • An enzyme cuts the DNA at a specific sequence, and when this is repaired by the cell a change or ‘edit’ is made to the sequence.

CRISPR-Cas9

  • It is the most common and cheap and efficient system used for genome editing.
  • CRISPR stands for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats.
  • Cas9 stands for CRISPR-associated protein 9, and is the nuclease part that cuts the DNA.

What can be the benefits?

  • CRISPR could be used to modify disease-causing genes in embryos brought to term, removing the faulty script from the genetic code of that person’s future descendants as well.
  • Genome editing (Gene editing) could potentially decrease, or even eliminate, the incidence of many serious genetic diseases, reducing human suffering worldwide.
  • It might also be possible to install genes that offer lifelong protection against infection.

Topic- GS Paper 3 –Science And Technology

Source- The Hindu

  1. National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah)
  • Parliamentary Standing Committee panel has recommended the Ministry of Home Affairs prepare a detailed and generous rehabilitation-cum-settlement scheme for the cadres of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah), the group that signed a Naga Framework Agreement with the Centre in 2015.

National Socialist Council of Nagaland Khaplang

  • NSCN (K) came into existence in 1988 under the leadership of S.S. Khaplang.
  • It is as an offshoot of NSCN which was established with an objective of forming a sovereign state of Nagalim by unifying all the areas inhabited by the Naga people in Northeast India and Myanmar.
  • Presently NSCN-K is active along the Indo-Myanmar border and has the strength of around 1,000 cadres with several camps across the border in Myanmar.

Greater Nagalim

  • A “Greater Nagalim” comprising “all contiguous Naga-inhabited areas”, along with Nagaland and also included several districts of Assam, Arunachal and Manipur, as also a large tract of Myanmar.
  • The Nagaland Assembly has endorsed the ‘Greater Nagalim’ demand — “Integration of all Naga-inhabited contiguous areas under one administrative umbrella.

Topic- GS Paper 2 –Governance

Source- The Hindu

  1. 22nd Indian Birding fair organized at Jaipur’s Man Sagar Lake
  • The fair was organized by the Tourism & Wildlife Society of India and supported by Jaipur Zoo and some philanthropic bodies and overseas organizations.
  • The fair was dedicated to waders.
  • The Indian subcontinent hosts 84 species of wading birds, 64 of which are migratory.
  • The Wading Birds which are tiny birds mostly confined to the edges of water and are observed feeding across moist surfaces.

Related Information

Man Sagar Lake

  • It is an artificial lake named after Man Singh, the then ruler of Amber and a trusted general of Mughal Emperor Akbar.
  • Man Singh built it in 1610 AD by damming the Dravyavati river.
  • A palace, Jal Mahal, is situated in the middle of the lake.

Topic- GS Paper 3 –Environment

Source- The Hindu

  1. The Great Indian Bustard: Mascot for COP-13
  • The Centre announced that the Great Indian Bustard GIB will be its mascot for the 13th Conference of Parties (COP) of the UN Convention on the conservation of migratory species (CMS) to be held in Gujarat 2020.

Related Information

Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS)

  • It was formed in order to protect the migratory species throughout their range countries under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme.
  • It is also referred to as the Bonn Convention, it provides a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats.
  • Under this convention, migratory species threatened with extinction are listed on Appendix I and Parties strive towards strictly protecting these animals, conserving or restoring the places where they live, mitigating obstacles to migration and controlling other factors that might endanger them.
  • Migratory species that need or would significantly benefit from international co-operation are listed in Appendix II of the Convention.

India and Migratory Species

  • India has also signed non-legally binding MOU with CMS on the conservation and management of Siberian Cranes (1998), Marine Turtles (2007), Dugongs (2008) and Raptors (2016).
  • India is a temporary home to several migratory animals and birds.
  • The important among these include Amur Falcons, Bar-headed goose, Black-necked cranes, Marine turtles, Dugongs, Humpbacked Whales, etc. 
  • The Indian sub-continent is also part of the major bird flyway network, i.e, the Central Asian Flyway (CAF) that covers areas between the Arctic and Indian Oceans, and covers at least 279 populations of 182 migratory waterbird species, including 29 globally threatened species.
  • India has also launched the National Action Plan for the conservation of migratory species under the Central Asian Flyway.

Topic- GS Paper 3 –Environment

Source- Indian Express

  1. 13th edition of Petrotech 2019
  • India launched the third bidding round under its open acreage licensing policy (OALP), at the 13th edition of Petrotech 2019, a strategic hydrocarbon event held in New Delhi.

 PETROTECH 2019

  • PETROTECH 2019 is India’s flagship biennial international oil and gas conference and exhibition.
  • It is Asia’s largest oil and gas event.
  • The theme of PETROTECH 2019 is – Shaping the New Energy World through Innovation and Collaboration
  • This global event aims at bringing Energy Ministers, professionals, industry leaders, -academicians and domain experts from the energy sector on a common platform.
  • It also showcases the strengths & potential of Indian Hydrocarbon industry to the world besides providing a vibrant platform for sharing of experience, exchange of ideas, knowledge and technological development across various segments of the hydrocarbon industry.

Topic- GS Paper 2 –Governance

Source- Business Line

  1. Asiatic Lion conservation in Gujarat’s Gir
  • The Ministry of Environment launched a three-year Asiatic Lion Conservation Project in collaboration with the state of Gujarat.
  • The project will focus on better management of the lion habitat, disease control and veterinary care for them.
  • The project aimed to protect over 600 lions in the state’s Gir sanctuary in its first year.

Asiatic lion

  • Its range is restricted to the Gir National Park and environs in the Indian state of Gujarat.
  • IUCN: Endangered
  • CITES Appendix I

Threats

  • Currently exists as a single subpopulation, and is thus vulnerable to extinction from unpredictable events, such as an epidemic or large forest fire.
  • Poaching

Topic- GS Paper 3 –Environment

Source- The Hindu

  1. Assam govt announces “Arundhati Scheme”
  • Under this Scheme, Assam Government is Going to Provide 10gm (1 Tola) Gold to EWS Category Brides of the State.
  • Rs. 300 Crore is allocated to this Scheme in the recently announced state Budget

Who are the Beneficiaries of this Scheme?

  • The Annual income of the Bride Family Should not exceed Rs. 5 Lakhs.
  • The benefit to be Given at the Time of Marriage
  • Marriage Should be Registered under Assam’s Special Marriage Rules of 1954.

Topic- GS Paper 2 –Government Scheme

Source- TOI

   13. Himalayan Cloud Observatory set up in Tehri to monitor cloud activities

  • A Himalayan Cloud Observatory has been set up in Tehri district to receive forecast and monitor cloud burst incidents in the Himalayan region and help minimize the damage.
  • The Observatory has been established in the SRT campus Badshahithaul and is currently in the testing period.
  • Cloudburst incidents are very frequent in the hilly areas of Uttarakhand, resulting in a huge loss of life.
  • This is the second observatory in the country to monitor cloud activities by the Indian Science and Technology Department and IIT Kanpur that can function in high-altitudes.

Topic-GS-3- Environment

Source-Business Standard 

UPSC Current Affairs in Hindi PDF 11.02.2019

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