Section 69A of the Information Technology Act
Why in News?
- Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology issued an order under section 69A of the Information Technology Act blocking access to 43 mobile apps.
- For engaging in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.
- Based on the comprehensive reports received from Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Center, Ministry of Home Affairs.
- Earlier on 29th June, 2020 the Government of India had blocked access to 59 mobile apps and on 2nd September, 2020 118 more apps were banned under section 69A of the Information Technology Act.
What is Section 69A?
- Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, was introduced by an amendment to the Act in 2008. It gives the Central government the power to block public access to any information online — whether on websites or mobile apps.
- Under Section 69A, if a website threatens India’s defence, its sovereignty and integrity, friendly relations with foreign countries and public order, the government can ban it, after following due procedure.
- The detailed procedures to do so are listed under the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009.
- Apart from this, a court may also issue directions for blocking information online.
- The Department of Telecommunications, too, can issue blocking orders to internet service providers, to enforce licensing conditions.
Why in News?
- Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare recently unveiled Sahakar Pragya.
What is it?
- The 45 new training modules of Sahakar Pragya of the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) will impart training to primary cooperative societies in rural areas of the country along with Lakshmanrao Inamdar National Cooperative Research and Development Academy (Linac).
- Enhancing NCDC’s training capacity by 18 fold through an elaborate network of 18 Regional Training Centres across the country by the dedicated, Laxmanrao Inamdar National Academy for Cooperative Research and Development (LINAC) set up and fully funded by NCDC.
- Regional Training Centres will address the need for training of Primary cooperatives, FPO-Cooperatives and Self Help Groups federating.
- NCDC has been created for the purpose of planning and promoting programmes for the production, processing, marketing, storage, export and import of agricultural produce, foodstuffs, industrial goods, livestock, certain other commodities and services like hospital & healthcare and education etc. on cooperative principles.
- It extends financial assistance to cooperatives at all the three tiers, Primary, District and Apex / Multi-State.
- NCDC had earlier launched the SahakarCooptube NCDC Channel with the aim to involve youth in the cooperative movement.
- NCDC has earlier launched various initiatives and programmes like
- SAHAKAR-22 to develop cooperatives in Focus 222 districts, including aspirational districts, Nurturing Primary Level Cooperatives,
- SAHAKAR MITRA – Scheme on Internship Programme,
- YUVA SAHAKAR- Start Up Scheme in Cooperatives and
- AYUSHMAN SAHAKAR- for creation of healthcare infrastructure and services.
7th Meeting of the Joint Trade Committee between India and Myanmar
What they Reviewed?
- Various bilateral issues ranging from trade, investment, banking, connectivity, capacity building and upgradation of border infrastructure.
- Their preparedness to meet the COVID-19 challenges and expanding cooperation in pharma and health sector including traditional medicines.
- Highlighted the strong cultural and commercial ties between India and Myanmar and the priority India attaches to its partnership with Myanmar in accordance with India’s ‘Neighborhood First’ and ‘Act East’ policies.
Both countries agreed
- The current level of bilateral trade is not reflective of the actual potential and expressed commitment in strengthening their economic partnership by facilitating enhanced sectoral collaborations and trade promotion.
- Reviewed the status of connectivity projects and scaling up the infrastructure at the border for strengthening trade.
- Expressed appreciation at the finalization of the Project Agreement on the establishment of a modern Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Tamu (Phase I) under Indian grant-in-aid
- That would enhance bilateral connectivity and trade and agreed to work closely for early establishment of border haats for the benefit of the local communities and promote people to people connect.
Hanging village of Bangladesh
What is it?
- Kalabagi is a coastal village in Khulna district of Bangladesh, located by the Shibsa River, close to the Sundarbans.
- The Sundarbans and the Shibsa River have been the livelihood of the people here.
- In 2009, Cyclone Aila hit coastal areas of the country, killing over hundreds of people and injuring thousands. It was no different in Kalabagi, where people lost their houses and their agricultural land.
- Since then, the people of Kalabagi have been in extreme crisis.
- The continuous natural calamities made the people of Kalabagi adapt to extreme situations.
- Thus they started hanging their houses in order to withstand the high tides.
UP Clears Ordinance against Love Jihad
What in News?
- The Uttar Pradesh Vidhi Virudh Dharm Samparivartan Pratishad Adyadesh, 2020 or the UP Unlawful Religious Conversion Prohibition Ordinance, 2020.
- Uttar Pradesh government gave its nod to an ordinance that makes religious conversion a non-bailable offence inviting penalties up to 10 years in prison if found to be effected for marriage or through misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or other allegedly fraudulent means.
Violation of the provisions of the law
- Invite a jail term of not less than one year extendable to five years with a fine of ₹15,000.
- In case of a minor woman or a woman from the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribes communities was converted through the said unlawful means, the jail term would be a minimum of three years and could be extended to 10 years with a fine of ₹25,000.
Key Features of Act
- Strict action, including cancellation of registration of social organisations conducting mass conversions.
- Mass conversions would invite a jail term of not less than three years up to 10 years and a fine of ₹50,000.
- In case of conversion done by a woman for the sole purpose of marriage, the marriage would be declared null and void.
- the burden to prove that a conversion was not done through misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement, fraudulent means or for marriage would be on the person converting or those who facilitated it.
- A person seeking to convert to another to another religion for marriage would have to inform the district magistrate two months prior to it through a prescribed form.
- The ordinance also makes ‘forced conversions’ non-bailable offences to be tried by a Class I Magistrate court.
- A well-known leaf-cutting ant grows its own body armour using biominerals, a protective power previously unknown in the insect world.
- This makes the ants almost unbeatable in battle.
- It is seen in the natural world in crustaceans like lobsters as well as in other marine animals — sea urchin spines contain calcium carbonate for example — but it has not previously been found in insects.
- Researchers, while investigating the relationship between the fungus-growing ant species Acromyrmex echinatior and antibiotic-producing bacteria that helps them protect their crops.
- They noticed that the larger worker ants, known as majors, have a “whitish, granular coating” over the surface of their bodies.
- Discovered it was a biomineral layer that develops as the ants mature, increasing the hardness of their exoskeleton and covering nearly the entire body.
- It also helps protect them against infection from the disease-causing fungus Metarhizium anisopliae, which might otherwise spread quickly through their dense colonies.
New Zealand’s Chatham Islands
Why in News?
- Almost 100 pilot whales have died in a mass stranding on New Zealand’s remote Chatham Islands.
- The animals had to be put down “due to the rough sea conditions and almost certainty of there being great white sharks in the water which are brought in by a stranding like this”.
About Chatham Island
- The Chatham Islands was the site of New Zealand’s largest recorded mass stranding, when 1,000 beached themselves in 1918.
- Pilot whales grow up to six metres (20 feet) long and are the most common species of whale in New Zealand waters.
- The causes of mass strandings remain unknown despite scientists studying the phenomenon for decades.
- Theories include pod members following a sick leader ashore, shoreline geography that scrambles the animals’ sonar, the presence of predators and extreme weather.
National Science Film Festival, 2020
Why in News?
- The tenth edition of prestigious science film festival got off.
Who Organised it?
- VigyanPrasar, an autonomous agency under the Department of Science and Technology, has been organizing this festival as a part of its science popularization endeavour.
- This year, jointly organized Vigyan Prasar, and the Tripura State Council of Science and Technology, Govt. of Tripura.
- The festival offers a unique platform to showcase the science films made by professionals, amateur and student filmmakers under various themes.
What Scheduled for this year
- A total of 115 shortlisted films selected by the ten-member jury will be screened during the festival.
- These include films in Hindi, English, Urdu, Malayalam, Kashmiri, Bengali, Marathi, Punjabi and Tamil languages.
- Science and technology, environment, agriculture, renewable energy, water management, health and drugs and technological innovations are some of the most explored themes in the submitted films.
- The entries include documentaries, biography, short films, docu-dramas, science fiction and animation films.
International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women: 25th November
- International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is a United Nations designated day observed every year on November 25.
- The 2020 campaign theme is ‘FUND, RESPOND, PREVENT, COLLECT’.
- ’16 Days of Activism’ against Gender-Based Violence (GVB) campaign starts from 25th Nov and ends on December 10.
- The UN Women is working closely with violence survivors, activists, all the stakeholders and people from every walk of life to fund, reach-out and respond faster.
In view of the pandemic, the UN stressed on these important pointers-
- FUND essential services on gender-based violence and women’s organisations working on the issue in all COVID-19 response efforts
- PREVENT gender-based violence and provide stimulus to a zero-tolerance policy
- RESPOND to survivors’ needs for services like hotlines, shelters, amid the pandemic
- COLLECT data to improve services, programmes and policies.
3D Printed Swabs
Why in News?
- In September, researchers published the results of clinical trials on an innovation: 3D printed nasal swabs as an alternative to commercial swabs to test for Covid-19.
- Since then, hospitals worldwide have used the original files to print swabs in tens of millions.
- The cost of materials per 3D-printed nasal swab ranges from 26 to 46 cents; commercial swabs cost about $1 each.
- The 3D printing process takes up to 15 hours depending on the printer.
- The printed swabs are rinsed in isopropyl alcohol, cured and hand-inspected for defects.
- Each swab is then sterilised in an autoclave and packed in a test kit.
Why in News
- Prime Minister held a video conference with heads of all the states and Union territories to discuss their preparedness on Covid-19 vaccination programme in India, expected to take place early next year, and also sought their suggestions on its priority beneficiaries.
- During the conference, it was informed that the government is using eVIN – Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network in association with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to identify primary beneficiaries and vaccine distribution networks.
What is eVIN?
- Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network is an indigenously developed technology that digitises vaccine stocks and monitors the temperature of the cold chain through a smartphone application.
- The innovative eVIN was first launched across 12 states in 2015 to support better vaccine logistics management at cold chain points.
- eVIN supports the central government’s Universal Immunization Programme by providing real-time information on vaccine stocks and flows, and storage temperatures across all cold chain points across states and UTs.
Who will guide the vaccine introduction to all states/ UTs?
- A National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC) has been formed as the highest group that will guide the strategies for vaccine introduction.
Land-attack Version of Brahmos Supersonic Cruise Missile
Why in News?
- India “successfully” test fired the surface-to-surface supersonic cruise missile BrahMos as part of a series of planned trials of the weapon, known for its precision strike capabilities.
Range & Speed
- The range of the new land-attack version of the missile has been extended to 400 km from the original 290 km but its speed has been maintained at 2.8 Mach or almost three times the speed of sound.
- BrahMos Aerospace, an India-Russian joint venture, produces the lethal weapon that can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft, or from land platforms.
Varunastra, a Heavy Weight Torpedo
Why in News?
- DRDO flagged off the first Varunastra, the heavy weight torpedo that was delivered to the Indian Navy.
- Varunastra, the heavy weight torpedo, has been designed and developed by NSTL, Visakhapatnam.
- Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), being the production agency, is manufacturing Varunastra at its Visakhapatnam Unit for the Indian Navy.
- This product is also being offered for export.
- BDL is associated with DRDO for its various missile programmes and it is the production agency for Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile (QRSAM), for which, trials were conducted successfully recently.
- BDL is also the production agency for Astra Air- to- Air Missile System and has commenced manufacturing of these missiles.
- These missile systems are developed indigenously by the DRDO for the Indian Air Force.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Investor Map
Why in News?
- The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Invest India has launched a Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Investor Map for India.
What is it?
- Laying out 18 Investment Opportunity Areas (IOAs) in six SDG enabling sectors.
- Aimed at aiding India’s journey at fulfilling the goals at a time when Covid-19 pandemic has caused a large scale disruption in countries’ plans to realise them.
- The SDG Investor Map, maps the overlaps and gaps between public sector priorities and private sector interest,
- Aiming to bridge the gap between private-sector investment and public sector support
- For 6 SDG-enabling sectors that include education, healthcare, agriculture and allied activities, financial services, renewable energy & alternatives and sustainable environment.
- Asian and Pacific nations are increasingly leveraging space technology and geospatial information to respond to challenges on the ground, including efforts to contain the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
- It means data that has a geographic component to it.
- This means that the records in a dataset have locational information tied to them such as geographic data in the form of coordinates, address, city and PIN code.
- Geospatial Practices for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific 2020 was released recently, by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).
Reports Key Points
- None of the UNESCAP member nations were on track to fully achieve the SDGs in the next decade.
- It is vital, now more than ever, that countries are leveraging past, present and emerging technologies, including geospatial technologies, for achieving the SDGs and ensuring that no one is left behind.
- Report included 100 best practices from over 25 countries in the Asia-Pacific region including India.
- These underline the importance of using space technology and the geospatial information to support the SDGs.
Praise for India
- The report cited the role being played by ‘BHUVAN’, India’s national geo-portal developed and hosted by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in combating COVID-19.
- It also appreciated the water resource information system led by ISRO.
- India was also been appreciated for making significant progress in responding to the demands of today’s cities by incorporating robust space technologies and Geographic Information System into the urban planning, transport management and traffic navigation techniques.
UN Hygiene Fund
Why in News?
- The United Nations earlier this month launched the Sanitation and Hygiene Fund to provide accelerated funding to countries with the heaviest burden of diseases stemming from lack of sanitation services and have the least ability to respond to them.
- Aims to raise $2 billion over the next five years for these countries.
- The fund is hosted by the UN Office for Project Services, which provides technical advice and project implementation to the UN and its partners.
The objectives of the Fund are:
- Expanding household sanitation
- Ensuring menstrual health and hygiene
- Providing sanitation and hygiene in schools and healthcare facilities
- Supporting innovative sanitation solutions
A joint monitoring programme report
- Released by UNICEF titled Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2000-2017: Special focus on inequalities
- Found that while significant progress was made toward achieving universal access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), there were huge gaps in the quality of services provided.
- The report revealed that since the turn of the century, 1.8 billion people would have gained access to basic drinking water services, but vast inequalities in accessibility, availability and quality prevail.
- An estimated four billion people worldwide do not have access to safely managed sanitation services, and until they do, the world cannot meet the goals of inclusive and sustainable development by 2030.
- The tree tomato is so popular in Nagaland that the state government got a certificate for Geographical Indication (GI) for it in 2015.
- This certificate is provided to products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities innate to that origin.
- The tree tomato in Nagaland meets these requirements because it has a long history of cultivation and several specific organoleptic characteristics related to taste and colour that evolved over time.
- Tree tomato (tamarillo) or Solanum betaceum, has its origin in South America.
- Since the Naga tree tomato is usually grown in kitchen gardens and farmers raise the seedlings from the mature old plants, the purity of the crop in the state has been maintained.
- The tree tomato is high in pectin fibre, a natural preservative that can be used to make jellies, jams and chutney.
- The pectin level is as high as 5 per cent, which is higher than apples (1.0-1.5 per cent), apricots (1.0 per cent), cherries (0.4 per cent), oranges (0.5-3.5 per cent) and carrots (1.4 per cent).
- It is also rich in antioxidants, vitamins A and C, and is an excellent source of calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium.
- In comparison to regular tomatoes, the tree tomato is richer in carbohydrates, protein, minerals and fibre but contains lesser fat.
- It is attributed with medicinal properties, too.
- It helps control high blood pressure and brings down cholesterol levels.
Que- Which gulf country recently opens up its economy and allows 100% foreign ownership of firms
b) Saudi Arabia