Why in News?
- The U.S. is about to cut its contribution to NATO’s operating budget and Germany is increasing its Payments.
- North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a military alliance established by the North Atlantic Treaty (also called the Washington Treaty) of April 4, 1949, by the United States, Canada, and several Western European nations to provide collective security against the Soviet Union.
- A key provision of the treaty, the so-called Article 5, states that if one member of the alliance is attacked in Europe or North America, it is to be considered an attack on all members. That effectively put Western Europe under the “nuclear umbrella” of the US.
- NATO has only once invoked Article 5, on September 12, 2001 following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in the US.
- As of 2019, there are 29 member states, with Montenegro becoming the latest member to join the alliance in 2017.
- France withdrew from the integrated military command of NATO in 1966 but remained a member of the organization. However, it resumed its position in NATO’s military command in 2009.
Why in News?
- Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways has announced National Highway toll plazas all over India will accept toll only through FASTags.
- The FASTag is a reloadable tag that allows automatic deduction of toll without having to stop for carrying out the cash transaction.
- The tag uses radio frequency identification (RFID) technology and is fixed on the windscreen of the vehicle once active.
- Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) is the use of radio waves to read and capture information stored on a tag attached to an object. A tag can be read from up to several feet away and does not need to be within direct line-of-sight of the reader to be tracked.
- The tag is valid for five years and comes in seven different colours — violet, orange, yellow, green, pink, blue, black. Each colour is assigned to a particular category of vehicles.
- To encourage the use of FASTags, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) refunds 5% of the total monthly transactions.
- Indian Highways Management Company Limited (IHMCL) (a company incorporated by National Highways Authority of India) and National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) are implementing this program.
- FASTag is presently operational at both, national and state highways.
Why in News?
- The European Union’s Parliament has declared a climate emergency, in a symbolic move aimed at increasing pressure on the incoming European Commission to take a stronger stance on climate change.
- The climate declaration was passed ahead of the upcoming United Nations’ COP25 climate summit.
- Similar climate emergency declarations have already been made in several EU member states, including Spain, France and the United Kingdom.
- Outside Europe only Canada, Argentina and Bangladesh have declared a climate emergency.
- The resolution will have more symbolic effect than practical impact, and is designed to pressure EU governments to adopt a commitment for Reducing Emissions.
- It refers to serious and urgent problems that are being caused or likely to be caused by changes in the world’s weather, in particular the world getting warmer as a result of human activity increasing the level of Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere.
4.Assam Govt. to provide Arsenic & Fluoride Free Drinking Water
Why in News?
- Assam Public Health Minister, stated that, the state government will provide arsenic and fluoride free drinking water by March 2021. He also added that arsenic was found in the ground water in 24 districts, while fluoride found in 13 districts.
Assam and Ground Water Contamination:
- The draft report of the Assam State Action Plan on Climate Change (2015-2020) states that Assam has been facing “continued warming of atmosphere” and “erratic rainfall” as a result of which there have been erratic flood and drought conditions since 2003.
- Climatic changes, like erratic rainfall which results in sudden long, dry spells, leads to less runoff water seeping into the ground and rejuvenating the water table.
- Some districts with high concentration of Fluoride, fall in the rain shadow areas of Assam.
- When dilution of aquifers is low (because of erratic rainfall), the concentration (of minerals like fluoride) goes up.This results in increase in concentration of minerals like fluoride, that is pumped up by borewells.
- Excess Fluoride intake can lead to dental fluorosis (stained teeth) and skeletal fluorosis (bent legs), and arsenic intake is known to cause cancer.
5.Loktak Inland Waterways Project
Why in News?
- Ministry of shipping has approved Loktak Inland waterways project in Manipur. The project will give impetus to the development of inland water transport connectivity in the North-eastern states and will also boost the tourism sector in the region.
- Loktak Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Northeast and is located at Moirang in Manipur.
- The lake is famous for the Phumdis – the heterogeneous mass of vegetation, soil and organic matter at various stages of decomposition floating over it.
- Keibul Lamjao National Park, the only floating national park in world is located in the Loktak Lake.
- The park serves as home to one of endangered species – Sangai deer.
- It was designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention in 1990. Later it was also listed under the Montreux Record in 1993.
- The lake is witnessing pressure due to increased human activities in the area.
6.Saudi Arabia Elected to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee
Why in News?
- The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has been elected to the World Heritage Committee for the First Time.
The World Heritage Committee
- The World Heritage Committee is the governing body on World Heritage
- It is composed of representatives of 21 States Parties to the World Heritage Convention who meet annually.
- The Committee is responsible for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, defines the use of the World Heritage Fund and allocates financial assistance upon requests from States Parties.
- It has the final say on whether a site is inscribed on the World Heritage List.
- It examines the reports and asks States Parties to take action when the inscribed site are not being properly managed.
- It also decides on the inscription or deletion of properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Why in News?
- The Astronomers discovered a huge Black hole LB-1 in our Milky Way Galaxy.
- It is discovered using China’s LAMOST telescope.
- It is 15,00 light year away from earth and mass 70 times greater than the sun.
- According to most of the current models of Steller evolution, Black holes of such mass should not exist in our galaxy.
- Steller black holes are usually formed in aftermath of supernova explosion, a phenomenon that occurs when extremely large star burn out at the end of their lives.
- LB-1’s large mass falls into a range known as ‘pair instability gap’ where supernova should not have produced it.
Steller Evolution Model:
- It is the process by which a star changes over the course of time.
- Depending on the mass of the star, its lifetime can range from a few million years for the most massive to trillions of years for the least massive, which is considerably longer than the age of the universe.
- Some stars are in unstable stage in which their dimensions, temperature, and luminosity change cyclically over periods of hours or days.
- They are called Cepheid variables serve as standard candles for distance.
- Some stars blow off their outer layers to produce planetary nebulas.
- The expanding material can be seen glowing in a thin shell as it disperses into the interstellar medium while the remnant core, initially with a surface temperature as high as 100,000 K (180,000 °F), cools to become a white dwarf.
- The maximum stellar mass that can exist as a white dwarf is about 1.4 solar masses and is known as the Chandrasekhar limit.
- More-massive stars may end up as either neutron stars or black holes.
- It is abbreviated as PN or plural PNe, is a type of emission nebula consisting of an expanding, glowing shell of ionized gas ejected from red giant stars late in their lives.
- It is also called as degenerate dwarf, is a stellar core remnant composed mostly of electron-degenerate matter. A white dwarf is very dense: its mass is comparable to that of the Sun, while its volume is comparable to that of Earth.
- It is the smallest and coolest kind of star on the main sequence. Red dwarfs are by far the most common type of star in the Milky Way, at least in the neighbourhood of the Sun, but because of their low luminosity, individual red dwarfs cannot be easily observed.
- It is a type of star that pulsates radially, varying in both diameter and temperature and producing changes in brightness with a well-defined stable period and amplitude.
8.Global Migration Report 2020
Why in News?
- India continues to toped the Global Migration report 2020.
- India is the largest country of international migration with 17.5 million across the world.
- It receives the highest remittance from United States followed by United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
Global Migration Report:
- It is released by International Organization of Migration
- It provides an object and balance account of migration globally.
- It can inform our own work, be it in studies, research and analysis, policymaking, communication, or migration practice.
- India have the largest number of migrants living abroad followed by Mexico and china.
- United States remain the top destination country for migration.
- India, China and Mexico are the top three remittance recipient countries.
- Other migration destinations are France, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
- Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Myanmar, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen have led to massive internal displacement in the last two years
- Syria has the highest internally population of displaced people followed by Colombia and the Congo.It also the top refugee-originating country followed by dwarfing Afghanistan.
- It also provides data on impact of climate and weather disasters, the report notes that Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines contributed to the fact that 3.8 million people were newly displaced there at the end of 2018, the largest number globally.
9.Unlawful Activities Preventions Act (UAPA)
Why in News?
- Central Government extended ban on insurgent outfit United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA).
- The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) banned the ULFA which was indulging in illegal and violent activities intended to disrupt the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India in furtherance of its objective of ‘liberating’ Assam
- The government declared the ULFA and all its wings as “unlawful association” in exercise of the powers conferred by the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
- The UAPA is an upgrade on the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act TADA, which was allowed to lapse in 1995 and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) was repealed in 2004.
- It was originally passed in 1967 under the then Congress government led by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
- Till 2004, “unlawful” activities referred to actions related to secession and cession of territory. Following the 2004 amendment, “terrorist act” was added to the list of offences.
Unlawful Activities Preventions act, 2019:
- The proposed amendments to the existing Act redefine “Who may commit terrorism “, establishing that under the Act, the Centre may designate an organisations as a terrorist organisation if it commits or participates in acts of terrorism, prepares for terrorism, promotes terrorism, or is otherwise involved in terrorism.
- The Bill also additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds.
- The Bill also paves the way for the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to seize property as part of investigations into terror cases.
- At the same time, while the existing Act provides for investigation of cases to be conducted by officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or
- The proposed amendment additionally empowers the officers of the NIA to investigate cases — of the rank of Inspector or above.
- Further, the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005) has also been added in the Second Schedule through this Amendment.
Need for Amendments:
- It is often accused that UAPA Act assigns absolute power to the central government to declare someone as terrorist.
- Terrorism is not just fostered by the gun. Terrorism is also the spread of hate and radicalism.
- If the bill is passed, a person can be declared a terrorist when they take part in terror activities, or provide funds, or harbor a terror theory and then spread it among youth.
10.Li-Ion Cell Technology
Why in News?
- ISRO has transferred its indigenous technology to produce space-grade Li-Ion cells to Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL).
- The agreement for the technology transfer was signed between ISRO and BHEL in March 2019.
- This production facility is primarily targeting to meet Li-Ion Cell requirements for ISRO and other strategic sectors.
- BHEL can also produce and sell Li-Ion cells for meeting other national/commercial applications by suitably modifying the space-grade cell which can lead to cost reduction.
- BHEL is in the process of establishing the Li-Ion production facility near Bangalore in Karnataka.
- Various equipment (both indigenous and imported) for establishing this facility are procured and being commissioned.
- ISRO has already provided all technical documentation for establishing the production plant as well as hands-on training in various production activities for BHEL staff at ISRO’s facilities.
11. Exercise Him Vijay
Why in News?
- Indian Army undergoing its biggest transformation has started its biggest mountain assault exercise.
Exercise Him Vijay:
- The Indian Army Conducts routine military exercises every year.
- It was one such endeavour. It was conducted to validate operational capabilities of our combat formations.The exercise is to test mobility, communication and coordination of such huge body of fast-moving troops in difficult terrain.
- Indian Army is metamorphosing itself to incorporate changes for modern and quick and short war, added the Army officer.
- During the last three years and the current year, about 72 joint exercises were conducted by Army, 39 by Navy, 21 by Air Force and 2 Tri-Service Exercises were conducted.