Daily Current Affairs : 18th & 19th October

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

  1. New Brexit Deal
  2. Global Tuberculosis (TB) Report
  3. Veer Savarkar
  4. Appointment of Chief Justice of India
  5. Aflatoxin – M1
  6. Facts for Prelims : Saharan Silver Ant, A mode-S transponder, Mount Paektu, All Women Spacewalk

1 . New Brexit Deal


Context : Britain secured a Brexit deal with the European Union on Thursday, more than three years after Britons voted to leave the bloc, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson must still win a knife-edge vote in Parliament to get the agreement approved.

About Brexit

  • A blend of “Britain” and “exit”, the word was coined by former lawyer Peter Wilding four years before the vote for the UK to leave the EU took place.
  • The EU, built on the ruins of World War Two to integrate economic power and end centuries of European bloodshed, is now a group of 28 countries which trade and allow their citizens to move between nations to live and work.
  • In the June 23, 2016 referendum, 52 percent of British voters backed leaving while 48 percent voted to remain in the bloc. Prime Minister David Cameron, who called the referendum, resigned immediately afterwards.

Why is it taking so long to leave?

  • The referendum was a simple yes or no vote. It left lawmakers to decide the mechanics of how to leave the EU
  • In order to leave, the UK had to invoke Article 50 of the EU treaty, which outlines the steps for a member state to withdraw.
  • Cameron’s successor Theresa May formally triggered Article 50 in March 2017 which set the clock ticking for the UK to negotiate the terms of its withdrawal by March 29, 2019.
  • The deadline was extended three times, to Oct. 31, 2019 after parliament three times rejected the deal May had struck with the EU. May resigned in June.

Issues faced in the deal

  • Parliament has to ratify the deal agreed by the government. But, some lawmakers favour a “hard” Brexit where the UK withdraws from the EU customs union and single market, that allows member states to act as a trading bloc, to pursue its own trade deals with other countries.
  • “Soft” Brexiteers want to maintain some trade ties with the EU, but are divided themselves as to their extent.
  • Some lawmakers are staunch remainers and some believe the country should hold a second referendum.
  • Sticking Point – Northern Ireland
    • A sticking point to parliament approving a deal has been the border between Northern Ireland, part of the UK, and Ireland, which remains part of the EU.
    • Since the 1998 peace deal, which ended three decades of violence between Irish unionists and nationalists, free trade and movement of people between EU member states has meant there is virtually no border between Ireland and the UK.

About the New Deal

  • Northern Ireland remains in the UK’s customs territory, but all EU rules will apply to goods arriving there in this complex system. There will be no customs checks at a “hard” border on the island of Ireland — they will be done at the point of entry into Northern Ireland.
  • For goods crossing from Great Britain to Northern Ireland that are deemed to be staying there, no EU tariffs will apply.
  • No EU tariffs would be paid on personal goods carried by travelers across the Irish frontier and for a second category of exempted goods that can only be for immediate consumption, rather than subsequent processing.
  • As long as the goods do not cross to Ireland and the EU’s single market, only UK customs tariffs will apply.
  • The Northern Irish assembly will have to give consent after Brexit for the region’s continued alignment with the EU regulatory regime every four years. But there will be no executive veto option by the Democratic Unionist Party, as originally envisaged. Instead, it will require a simple majority agreement.
  • The UK and the EU aim to establish an ambitious and wide-ranging free trade agreement — these talks will form the second stage of EU-UK talks.
    Both sides want to reach a deal on services and allow free movement of capital.
  • They also agree to uphold high standards on environment, climate, workers’ rights and other rules — this was a key concession by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s side.

2 . Global Tuberculosis (TB) Report.


Context : The tuberculosis incidence rate in India has decreased by almost 50,000 patients over the past one year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)-2019 edition of the Global Tuberculosis (TB) Report.

Key Findings of the Report

  • Report notes that in 2017, India had 27.4 lakh TB patients which came down to 26.9 lakh in 2018. Incidence per 1,00,000 population has decreased from 204 in 2017 to 199 in 2018. The number of patients being tested for rifampicin resistance has increased from 32% in 2017 to 46% in 2018. And the treatment success rate has increased to 81% for new and relapse cases (drug sensitive) in 2017, which was 69% in 2016.
  • The report provides a comprehensive and up-to-date assessment of the TB epidemic and progress in the response at global, regional and country levels for India.

Global Scenario

  • The world is not on track to reach the 2020 milestones of the End TB Strategy. The END TB strategy by the WHO aimed to reduce TB by 20 per cent from 2015-18.
  • “The global decline in the total number of TB deaths between 2015 and 2018 was 11 per cent, less than one-third of the way towards the End TB Strategy milestone of 35 per cent decrease by 2020,” the report noted. 

Challenges

  • Severe underfunding
  • Drug resistance remains another impediment to ending TB
  • Fragile health infrastructure and workforce shortage
  • Weak reporting systems 

Global TB targets : SDG 3.3 includes a target of ending the TB epidemic by 2030

The World Health Assembly-approved Global TB Strategy aims for a 90 per cent reduction in TB deaths and an 80 per cent reduction in the TB incidence rate by 2030 compared with 2015 levels. The Strategy established milestones for 2020 of a 35% reduction in TB deaths and a 20% reduction in the TB incidence rate from 2015 levels.

The UN Political Declaration on TB in 2018 includes 4 new global targets

  • Treat 40 million people for TB disease in the 5-year period 2018-22 (7 million in 2018)
  • Reach at least 30 million people with TB preventive treatment for a latent TB infection in the 5-year period 2018-22
  • Mobilize at least US$13 billion annually for universal access to TB diagnosis, treatment and care by 2022
  • Mobilize at least US$2 billion annually for TB research

TB Facts

  • Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs. Tuberculosis is curable and preventable.
  • About one-quarter of the world’s population has latent TB, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria but are not (yet) ill with the disease and cannot transmit it.
  • The highest burden of TB in 2018 is in 8 countries: Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and South Africa.
  • Brazil, China, the Russian Federation and Zimbabwe, which all have high TB burdens, achieved treatment coverage levels of more than 80 per cent.

3 . Veer Savarkar


Contributions of Veer Savarkar

  • He was born in 1883 near Nasik, Maharashtra. He called 1857 revolt as the first war of independence.
  • He founded Abhinav Bharat Society and Free India Society. He also formed a youth organization Mitra Mela, 
  • He was a member of Hindu Mahasabha, he also served as its president. He was also a member of India House.
  • He opposed the Quit India movement in 1942
  • He endorsed the idea of Hindu Rashtra
  • He wrote the book” Joseph Mazzini- Biography and Politics, Hindutva and The Indian War of Independence
  • In the year 1964, Savarkar declared his wish to attain Samadhi and started hunger-strike on February 1, 1966 and passed away on February 26, 1966. He believed that his purpose of life is solved as India has gained Independence.
  • In 2002, Port Blair airport at Andaman and Nicobar’s Island was renamed after Veer Savarkar International Airport.

4 . Appointment of Chief Justice


Context : Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi Thursday in a letter to Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad recommended Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde as his successor. Justice Bobde will have a tenure of one year and five months as CJI till April 23, 2021.

Constitutional Provision regarding Appointmenr

  • The Constitution of India includes no details about how the Chief Justice of India is to be appointed.
  • Article 124(1) says that there “shall be a Supreme Court of India consisting of a Chief Justice of India” , but is silent on the criteria or procedure for appointing a CJI.
  • The only provision in the Constitution which mentions anything about the appointment of a CJI is Article 126 — which deals with the appointment of an acting CJI.
  • In the absence of any Constitutional provision or statute, we have to look to convention and custom to determine who will be the next CJI

Convention

  • When the current/incumbent CJI retires (all Supreme Court judges retire at the age of 65) the senior-most judge of the apex court among those remaining becomes the CJI.
  • This is not a question of age, but depends on when a judge was appointed to serve on the Supreme Court. The longer a judge has been part of the Supreme Court, the more senior he or she is.

Procedure in case of same appointment date

  • Which judge was sworn in first — which was used to determine who would be CJI w
  • Which judge has had more years of high court service; or
  • If one of the judges was nominated from the Bar directly (like Justices Rohinton Nariman or Indu Malhotra), while the other(s) have previously served as a high court judge, the person with experience as a judge will be given preference.

Procedure for Appointment

The seniority convention tells us who should become the next CJI, but how this is to be done is laid out in the Memorandum of Procedure (MOP) between the government and judiciary.

  • Ministry of Law & Justice will seek the recommendation of the outgoing CJI as to who should be the next CJI.
  • The CJI should recommend the “senior-most judge of the Supreme Court considered fit to hold the office”. However, if there are any doubts as to the fitness of the senior-most judge as per convention, the CJI needs to consult the Collegium to decide if a different judge needs to be recommended.
  • After receipt of the CJI’s recommendation, the law minister will forward the recommendation to the prime minister, who then advises the President as to this recommendation.
  • The President administers the oath of office for the new CJI.

5 . Aflatoxin


Context : Milk samples from Telangana, followed by Madhya Pradesh and Kerala, accounted for the highest number of cases of adulteration, according to a national milk sample safety quality survey released by the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI)

Key Findings of National Milk Sample Safety Quality Survey

  • The study noted that processed milk, including that of major brands, failed to meet the prescribed quality norm in 37.7% of the total samples tested, and in the safety parameters too, 10.4% of the processed milk samples were non-compliant.
  • 10.4% of the total processed milk samples (of 2,607) failed to comply with the FSSAI norm as contaminants like aflatoxin-M1, antibiotics and pesticides were found. In case of raw milk, non-compliance was at an even higher rate of 47% of the total samples of 3,825,
  • In terms of quality, the survey found that 37.7% of the total sample of processed milk did not comply with quality parameters because the presence of contaminants such as fats, Maltodextrin and sugar were above permissible limits.

Aflatoxin

  • Problem of Aflatoxin-M1 is more dominant in processed milk than raw milk.
  • Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Kerala were top three States where Aflatoxin residue was found the most, noted the report. In large doses, aflatoxins can be life threatening, usually through damage to liver
  • Aflatoxin-M1 comes in the milk through feed and fodder that are currently not regulated in the country, and it is for the first time that such a detailed survey of the presence of this residue in milk has been done in India. There is no proper lab to test this residue in the country.

6 . Facts for Prelims


Saharan Silver Ant

  • Saharan silver ant is the fastest of the world’s 12,000 known ant species.

A mode-S transponder

  • A mode-S transponder is an electronic address which is unique to a country and each plane.
  • These are assigned under different categories — IAF, civilian aircraft and AAI’s ground equipment.

Mount Paektu

  • Mount Paektu or Changbai (in Chinese) is a volcanic mountain that last erupted over 1,000 years ago.
  • It is situated at the border between DPRK and China and for centuries has been considered sacred by the Koreans since they treat it to be the spiritual origin of the Korean kingdom, where the founder was born.
  • At a height of about 9,000 feet, it is also the highest peak in the Korean peninsula.

All Women Spacewalk

  • NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch carried out the first all-women spacewalk in history. Their mission was to carry out repairs on the International Space Station.
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