Important news topics from August 8, 2020 and August 9, 2020, which are critical for UPSC CSE Examination

1. Schizophrenia and its Possible Cause

Recently, the Schizophrenia Research Foundation (SCARF) and Jeevan Stem Cell Foundation, Chennai have carried out a pilot study on people of specific ethnicity with schizophrenia.

  • The study finds an association of specific alleles (variants of specific genes) with the disease.
  • Schizophrenia is the descriptive term for a group of psychotic disorders in which personal, social and occupational functioning deteriorate as a result of disturbed thought processes, strange perceptions, unusual emotional states, and motor abnormalities.

2. 75th Anniversary of Hiroshima Bombing

Japan marked 75 years of the atomic bombing on Hiroshima on 6th August, 2020.

  • Survivors, relatives and foreign dignitaries attend the anniversary of Hiroshima every year to honour victims of the bombings and call for world peace.
  • On 6th August 1945, a US bomber dropped the uranium fission bomb, codenamed Little Boy, on Hiroshima, a city in Japan.
  • Three days later it dropped another bomb codenamed Fat Man, on Nagasaki.
  • The explosion and resultant firestorms are believed to have killed around 80,000 people in Hiroshima and around 40,000 people in Nagasaki.
  • Thousands more died in the following years due to the exposure to radiation from the blast and also from the black rain that fell in the aftermath of the explosions.
  • Long-term effects of the attack included birth defects, malnutrition, cancer and other illnesses
  • This bombing marked the end of World War II, with Japan surrendering to the Allies on 14th August 1945.
    • The Allies were one of the two major alliances during World War-II, led by Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union.
    • The other alliance, Axis was led by Germany, Italy, and Japan.

3. Tsunami Ready Programme: UNESCO-IOC

Recently, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO (also known as UNESCO-IOC) has approved the recognition of two communities of Odisha viz., Venkatraipur and Noliasahi as Tsunami Ready Communities.

  • With this recognition, India has become the first country in the Indian Ocean Region to achieve the honour from the UNESCO-IOC.
    • Odisha is the first state in India to have such recognised communities.
  • Tsunami Ready:
    • It is a community performance-based programme initiated by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO to promote tsunami preparedness through active collaboration of public, community leaders, and national and local emergency management agencies.
    • The main objective of this programme is to
      • Improve coastal community’s preparedness for tsunami emergencies
      • Minimise the loss of life and property
      • Ensure a structural and systematic approach in building community preparedness through fulfilling the best-practice indicators.
    • Tsunami Ready in India is implemented by the National Board (Ministry of Earth Sciences- MoES) under the Chairmanship of Director, Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Centre (INCOIS) with members drawn from MoES, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA), Andaman & Nicobar Islands Directorate of Disaster Management (DDM) and INCOIS.

4. Volcanoes on Venus

According to a recent study, published in Nature Geoscience, Venus is still geologically active.

  • The study identified 37 active volcanoes, in the form of ring-like structures known as coronae, on the surface of Venus.
    • The coronae form when plumes of hot material deep inside the planet rise through the mantle layer and crust.
  • Earlier, it was believed that the surface of Venus had no geological activity. However, scientists have known for some time that Venus has a younger surface than planets like Mars and Mercury, which have cold interiors.
  • The new study will help to identify target areas for future missions such as Europe’s EnVision that is scheduled to launch in 2032 that aims at determining the level and nature of the geological activity and the sequence of events that generated the surface features of Venus.

5. Loya Jirga: Grand Assembly of Afghanistan

Recently, a three-day Loya Jirga-grand assembly has been called in Afghanistan to decide on freeing about 400 Taliban fighters convicted for serious crimes including murder and abductions.

  • It is a mass national gathering that brings together representatives from the various ethnic, religious, and tribal communities in Afghanistan.
  • It is a highly respected centuries-old consultative body that has been convened at times of national crisis or to settle national issues.
  • According to the Afghan Constitution, a Loya Jirga is considered the highest expression of the Afghan people. It is not an official decision-making body and its decisions are not legally binding.
  • However, the Loya Jirga’s decision is seen as final, with the president and parliament expected to respect the ruling.
  • Need for Convening Loya Jirga:
    • The Loya Jirga has been convened after the Afghanistan President refused to release the Taliban prisoners. This threatened the derailment of intra-Afghan talks, tentatively scheduled for 10th August 2020 in Doha.
      • The Taliban has also threatened of more bloodshed if the prisoners are not released.
    • The USA believes that the talks between the Afghanistan government and Taliban will lead to reduction of violence and direct talks, resulting in a peace agreement and an end to the war in Afghanistan.

6. Anganwadi Services

Right to Food Campaign has given a memorandum to the Minister for Women and Child Development to resume provision of hot-cooked meals and ensure implementation of anganwadi services.

  • The Right to Food is recognised as a part of Right to Life and Personal Liberty (Article 21) by the National Human Rights Commission.
  • The Directive Principles of the State Policy in Article 39a, requires the State to direct its policies towards securing that all its citizens have the right to an adequate means of livelihood.
  • The National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, gives the right to food but it is not universal.
    • It legally entitles up to 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population to receive subsidized food grains under the Targeted Public Distribution System.
  • In People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India & Others case (2001), the Supreme Court explicitly established a constitutional human right to food and determined a basic nutritional floor for India’s impoverished millions.

7. Future of News in India Report

Recently, the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy (Delhi based independent think-tank) released a report examining the future of news in India.

  • The worsening economic health of print journalism threatens its ability to credibly inform the public and act as an institutional check upon power.
  • The environment of digital news operates in a vacuum of regulation. The emergence of a post-truth paradigm in public communications and the widespread proliferation of misinformation are barriers to realising the benefits of digital news distribution.
    • Post-truth includes circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.

8. Food System Vision 2050 Prize

The Rockefeller Foundation has selected Naandi Foundation (a Hyderabad based non-profit organisation), as one of the top 10 ‘Visionaries’ in the world for the Food System Vision 2050 Prize.

  • Naandi was recognised for its Arakunomics model.
  • The organisation was recognised for the application of Arakunomics model in regions of Araku (Andhra Pradesh), Wardha (Maharashtra) and New Delhi, leading to the Food Vision 2050 that follows an “ABCDEFGH” framework centring on: Agriculture, Biology, Compost, Decentralised decision-making, Entrepreneurs, Families, Global Markets, and ‘Headstands (implying innovation)’.
  • Arakunomics is a new integrated economic model that ensures profits for farmers, quality for consumers through regenerative agriculture.
    • It is based on work with tribal farmers in Araku for nearly 20 years.
    • This economic model is a tribute to the tribal farmers of Araku region for the world class coffee produced and launched in Paris in 2017, as well as for the high carbon landscape transformation they did in over 955 villages, thereby planting 25 million trees.

 8.1. Regenerative Agriculture

  • “Regenerative Agriculture” describes farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle.
  • The key to regenerative agriculture is that it not only “does no harm” to the land but actually improves it, using technologies that regenerate and revitalise the soil and the environment

9. TRIFED celebrated its 33rd Foundation Day and launched its own virtual office.

10. Rashtriya Swachhata Kendra

The Prime Minister iinaugurates Rashtriya Swachhata Kendra (RSK) on 8th August, 2020.

  • RSK is an interactive experience centre on the Swachh Bharat Mission.
    • It will introduce future generations to its successful journey as the world’s largest behaviour change campaign.
    • It will showcase the core elements of the mission and anecdotes on the journey of the country from Satyagraha to Swachchagrah.
    • It will impart information, awareness and education on Swachhata (sanitation) and related aspects.
    • The installations at RSK will include audio visual immersive shows, interactive LED panels, hologram boxes, interactive games etc.
  • Rashtriya Swachhata Kendra (RSK) was first announced on the occasion of the centenary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi‘s Champaran Satyagraha.

11. First Kisan Rail

The Indian Railways has introduced the first “Kisan Rail” from Devlali (Maharashtra) to Danapur (Bihar), plans of which were announced in the Budget 2020-21.

  • Kisan Rails are the first ever multi commodity trains.
    • Earlier, Indian Railways had run single commodity special trains like Banana Specials etc.
  • These trains with refrigerated coaches will help in bringing perishable agricultural products like vegetables, fruits to the market in a short period of time.
  • The Devlai-Danapur train (a weekly service) is expected to reduce transportation costs by Rs. 1000 per tonne compared with roadways and reduce travel time by around 15 hours.
  • Aggressive marketing is being done with local farmers, loaders, Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) and individuals.