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January 08

    NATIONAL

    • Flamingo Festival Held At Pulicat Lake

    It is held every year to promote tourism in Pulicat and Nellapattu..

    Migratory birds from Siberia have been visiting this place.

    Pulicat lake is the second largest brackish water lake in India, after Chilika Lake.The lake encompasses the Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary. The barrier island of Sriharikota separates the lake from the Bay of Bengal and is home to the Satish Dhawan Space Centre.The Buckingham Canal, a navigation channel, is part of the lagoon on its western side.

    Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary is located near Pulicat Lake on the Andhra Pradesh-Tamil Nadu border.

    • Bhima Koregaon Incidence

    Every year on January 1, a large number of Dalits visit a memorial in Bhima-Koregaon(a village near Pune)to mark an 1818 battle in which the East India Company, with Mahar soldiers prominent in its ranks, had defeated the Peshwa(Marathas).Over the years Bhima-Koregaon came to be marked as a site of Dalit valour and repudiation of caste stereotypes.

    The recent violence at Pune was sparked by a disagreement over whether the 200th anniversary of the 1818 Battle of Bhima-Koregaon, between the British East India Company and the Peshwa rulers of the Maratha Confederacy, should be celebrated or not.

    Peshwas were notorious for their oppression and persecution of Mahar dalits. The victory in the battle over Peshwas gave dalits a moral victory a victory against caste-based discrimination and oppression and sense of identity.

    The battlemarked the firm hold of the British Empire in India with the help of dalits.

    With a visit by B.R. Ambedkar in 1927, it got invested with political and spiritual meaning beyond the specifics of the original battle and in a forward-looking politics. This year being the 200th anniversary, the commemoration was always going to be larger and more high-profile.

    • Ozone Layer Depletion

    Once in the atmosphere, CFCs drift slowly upward to the stratosphere, where they are broken up by ultraviolet radiation, releasing the chlorine that catalytically destroys ozone.

    UV radiation breaks off a chlorine atom from a CFC molecule.

    The chlorine atom attacks an ozone molecule , breaking it apart and destroying the ozone.

    The result is an ordinary oxygen molecule and a chlorine monoxide molecule (ClO).

    The chlorine monoxide molecule (ClO) is attacked by a free oxygen atom releasing the chlorine atom and forming an ordinary oxygen molecule.

    The chlorine atom is now free to attack and destroy another ozone molecule . One chlorine atom can repeat this destructive cycle thousands of times

    • Concern Over Lack Of Teachers

    Expressing serious concern over the shortage of teaching staff and delays in key recruitments in higher educational institutions, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resource Development has suggested that students pursuing Ph.D be made to teach some courses at degree level with some financial support to mitigate the “crisis” of faculty shortage

    The total number of sanctioned teaching posts in Central Universities is 16,600 (2,376 professors, 4,708 associate professors, 9,521 assistant professors). Out of these, 5,928 are lying vacant: 2,173 professors, 2,173 associate professors and 2,478 assistant professors

    Food poisoning, a common outbreak in 2017

    Recent data put out by the Union Health Ministry’s Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) has indicated that food poisoning is one of the commonest outbreaks reported in 2017. This is apart from acute diarrhoeal disease (ADD)

    According to the data, 312 of the 1,649 outbreaks reported till the third week of December 2017 were due to ADD and 242 were due to food poisoning

    The IDSP has interpreted that the incidence of ADD and food poisoning is high in places where food is cooked in bulk, such as canteens, hostels and wedding venues

    Food poisoning, also called food-borne illness, is caused by eating contaminated food. Infectious organisms including bacteria, viruses and parasites or their toxins are the most common causes

    • Gravitational Wave Study

    India to set up observatory which is expected to start functioning by 2025

    India’s role in studying gravitational waves — touted as one of the most important discoveries of the recent past — will increase once the proposed gravitational wave observatory is set up in the country, said David Reitze, executive director of Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).

    Gravitational waves are ‘ripples’ in the fabric of space-time, caused by some of the most violent and energetic processes in the universe such as merger of black holes or neutron stars. Its discovery saw three scientists get the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2017

    WORLD

    • Asia-Pacific – A Wider Outlook

    China Angle:

    China is the rising economic and military power in Asia today — the second most important economic power after the U.S. and having the second or third most powerful military. In seeking dominance over Asia, however, it not only has to contend with a strong military and economic U.S. presence in the region, but it also cannot afford to ignore the competition from Japan and India. In mid-2017 in Doklam, India had demonstrated that it was more than capable of standing up to China’s bullying tactics.

    The 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (October 2017) essentially highlighted China’s quest for global leadership and the means to achieve it, including making China’s military ‘world class’, one capable of ‘winning wars’.

    It is not China’s rise, but the breakdown of the institution of the state, as is evident in Afghanistan and Syria, that poses far more pressing problems for Asia.

    China-Pak-India: The situation has become more complicated as China and Pakistan have further strengthened their axis, which is inimically disposed towards India.

    China can be expected to intensify its moves to displace India as the major partner in relations with many of India’s neighbours — 2017 had already seen China moving in this direction vis-à-vis Nepal, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar. As it is, China has succeeded to some extent in denting India’s long-standing relationship with Russia, having established a strategic congruence with that country.

    China consolidates its takeover of Gwadar (Pakistan) and Hambantota (Sri Lanka) ports. Together with China’s establishment of a base in Djibouti (on the Horn of Africa), India could find itself at the receiving end of China’s ‘Wei-Qi tactics’.

    The most recent National Security Strategy of the U.S. refers to China as a ‘rival’, while welcoming India’s emergence as a ‘strategic and defence partner’.This is certain to ratchet up the rivalry between India and China in the Asia-Pacific region, likely to be further compounded by India’s association with the Quadrilateral(of U.S., India, Japan and Australia).

    North Korea intent on playing increasingly dangerous games and engaging in nuclear sabre-rattling.

    Pakistan Angle:

    In 2017 there was an over 200% increase in ceasefire violations, with infiltration touching a four-year high.

    Major terrorist attack by Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) elements on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp in Avantipur (Pulwama district) in which five CRPF men were killed.

    The treatment meted out to the family of Kulbhushan Jadhav (currently incarcerated in a Pakistani prison) and the fake news that followed their visit provides an index of Pakistan’s cold, calculated and consistent hostility towards India

    The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) continues to remain in cold storage.

    Pakistan has also not refrained from persisting with its proxies like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the JeM in its war with India.

    Afganistan Angle:

    The Afghan state is in real danger of imploding, and this situation could worsen. The latest attack by Mr. Trump on Pakistan’s duplicity in dealing with terrorism could well result in Pakistan adopting a still more perverse and disruptive role here, and providing further encouragement to the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network.

    The current peace talks may well collapse as a result. Any possibility of exerting greater military pressure by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and allied forces may prove futile.

    West Asia Turmoil:

    Syria has almost ceased to be a state. The war here entails major powers like the U.S. and Russia, proxies for certain West Asian countries, a medley of non-state actors, apart from terrorist outfits such as the Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda.

    Intrinsic to the Syrian and West Asian imbroglio is the ongoing war within Islam featuring, at one level, intense rivalry between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran, and at another, the spectre of a split down the line between the Arab and the non-Arab and the Sunni and Shiite worlds.

    The war in Yemen, the disruption within the Gulf Cooperation Council, the nascent upheavals in Saudi Arabia and Iran, and the spectre of de-stabilisation that hovers over much of the region.

    ECONOMY

    • Aadhar Theft – Need Of Data Protection Law

    The UIDAI exposé is another reminderof the need for a robust data protection law.

    Undercover investigations or so-called sting operations occupy a complex and problematical ethical space in journalism, but it is impossible to fault The Tribune ’s exposé, published after accessing Aadhaar’s database of names, numbers and addresses.

    It showcased how easily the database could be breached and it draws attention to the existence of an organised racket to facilitate this.

    Is The Undercover Investigation Unethical/Illegal?

    No.The investigation was written up in the best journalistic tradition — it focussed on how the data were being mined for money, it did not leak any Aadhaar numbers or other details to establish this, and it sought and received a response from shocked officials of the Unique Identification Authority of India before going to print. So it would have been a travesty of justice if The Tribune and the reporter who broke the story were treated as accused in the case where the charges include cheating under impersonation.

    It would have constituted a direct attack on free public-spirited journalism and dissuaded attempts to hold public authorities and institutions accountable for shortcomings and promises.

    Larger Picture

    It is perhaps important to stress that the encrypted Aadhaar biometric database has not been compromised. The UIDAI is correct in stating that mere information such as phone numbers and addresses (much of which is already available to telemarketers and others from other databases) cannot be misused without biometric data. The suggestion that the entire Aadhaar project has been compromised is therefore richly embroidered. But even so, it is obligatory for those who collect such information — whether it is the government or a private player such as a mobile company — ought to see that it is secure and not used for purposes other than that for which it was collected.

    In this digital age, a growing pool of personal information that can be easily shared has become available to government and private entities. India does not have a legal definition of what constitutes personal information and lacks a robust and comprehensive data protection law. We need to have both quickly in place if the Supreme Court’s judgment according privacy the status of a fundamental right is to have any meaning.