UPSC CA: 7th July 2020

U.K. imposes new human rights sanctions

Context:

  • Britain has announced economic sanctions against individuals and organisations from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and North Korea, under its new powers to punish human rights offenders, 

Key points:

  • Britain had previously imposed sanctions as part of the European Union or under the auspices of the United Nations.
  • Since leaving the EU in January 2020, it has implemented its own version of the U.S.’s Magnitsky Act.
  • This allows authorities to ban or seize assets of individuals guilty of human rights abuses.
  • The U.K. law authorises the British government to prevent sanctioned individuals from entering the country, channeling money through British banks, or profiting from the U.K. economy.
  • The sanctions include 49 individuals and organizations.

 

PLA pulls back from Galwan clash site

Context:

  • India and China have begun the process of disengagement at contentious locations along the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) after three weeks.  

Key points:

  • The disengagement between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) comes after a long and detailed conversation between National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval and Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi.
  • Both are the Special Representatives on the boundary talks.
  • The two military commanders indicated that at first, the de-escalation would take place at all the friction points — Galwan, Pangong Tso, Hot Springs — and then depth areas such as Depsang plains in the north, where China had amassed troops, would be looked into.
  • In the first signs of de-escalation, Chinese troops moved back some distance and dismantled tents at some locations along the LAC.
  • Pangong Tso is one of the most affected areas of the current stand-offs.
  • Special Representatives agreed that “both sides should take guidance from the consensus of the leaders that maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas was essential for the further development of our bilateral relations and that two sides should not allow differences to become disputes.”
  • Therefore, they agreed that it was necessary to ensure at the earliest complete disengagement of the troops along the LAC and de-escalation from India-China border areas for full restoration of peace and tranquillity.

 

Negligence to blame for styrene leak

Context:

  • The high-power committee (HPC) formed by the government to investigate the styrene vapour leak at LG Polymers in Visakhapatnam submitted its report to the Chief Minister.

Key findings of the report:

  • The panel found fault with the management for the lack of proper safety response preparedness at the plant.
  • Poor design of the storage tank, inadequate refrigeration and faulty cooling system, absence of circulation and mixing systems, inadequate measures and parameters, poor safety protocol and inadequate safety awareness were found to be the reasons that led to the accident.
  • Inadequate risk assessment response, poor process safety management system and insufficient knowledge among staff about the chemical properties of styrene during storage conditions were also highlighted.
  • The report also noted that the protocols pertaining to emergency response and safety were not followed by the authorities during the lockdown period.

About Styrene:

  • Styrene is an organic compound with the formula C8H8, which is a derivative of benzene (C6H6). 
  • It is stored in factories as a liquid, but evaporates easily and hence has to be kept at temperatures under 20°C.
  • It is the main raw material for synthesis of polystyrene, which is a versatile plastic that is used to make parts of various appliances such as refrigerators or micro-ovens, automotive parts and parts of computers and also to manufacture disposable cups and in food packaging. 
  • Styrene is also used as an intermediate to produce copolymers (polymers derived from one or more species of monomers such as styrene) and engineering plastics compounds. 

 

FAO issues locust alert for India

Context:

  • India, which is tackling the worst locust attack in 26 years, should remain on “high alert” during the next four weeks, said by The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Key points:

  • Rajasthan is the most affected State in the country.
  • The other affected states are Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Bihar.
  • The Indian government has stepped up efforts and is using equipment such as drones and Bell helicopters to control the menace.

 

Kawasaki Disease

Context:

  • Around the world, children with Covid-19 infection have often shown some symptoms similar to those associated with a rare illness called Kawasaki disease.

Key details:

  • It typically affects children aged under five with symptoms like red eyes, rashes, and a swollen tongue with reddened lips often termed strawberry tongue and an inflamed blood vessel system all over the body.
  • There is constant high fever for at least five days, it also affects coronary functions in the heart.
  • The causes of Kawasaki Disease are not yet Known.
  • In Covid-19 cases, even adolescents are presenting these symptoms.
  • Steroids remain a key treatment to reduce inflammation.

 

Phobos

Context:

  • Recently, The Mars Colour Camera (MCC) onboard ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission has captured the image of Phobos, the closest and biggest moon of Mars.

Key points:

  • According to ISRO, the violent phase that Phobos has encountered is seen in the large section gouged out from a past collision (Stickney crater) and bouncing ejecta.
  • Shklovsky,Roche, and Grildrig are other craters.
  • Phobos is one of the two natural satellites of Mars, the other being Deimos.
  • It is the innermost and larger than the other one(seven times as massive as the outer moon, Deimos).
  • Both moons were discovered in 1877 by American astronomer Asaph Hall.
  • Phobos is a small, irregularly shaped object with a mean radius of 11 km. 
  • It is largely believed to be made up of carbonaceous chondrites.
  • It is so close that it orbits Mars much faster than Mars rotates, and completes an orbit in just 7 hours and 39 minutes.

 

Kisanrath App

Key points:

  • It is an app launched by the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare.
  • Developed by the National Informatics Centre.
  • It will facilitate farmers and traders to identify suitable transport facilities during coronavirus lock down for the movement of farm produce.
  • The App will allow transportation of farm produce from farm gate to mandi and from one to another mandi.
  • It will ensure seamless supply linkages between farmers, FPOs, APMC mandis and intra-state and inter-state buyers.

 

Winter grade diesel for Ladakh

Key points:

  • Winter diesel is a specialised fuel specifically for high altitude regions and low-temperature regions such as Ladakh, where ordinary diesel can become unusable.
  • It was introduced by IOCL last year.
  • It contains additives to maintain lower viscosity. It has higher cetane rating — an indicator is the combustion speed of diesel and compression needed for ignition— and lower sulphur content, which would lead to lower deposits in engines and better performance.