December 13 : Current Affairs UPSC : IAS DAILY

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Geminid Meteor Shower 2017

NEWS : One can see the Geminid meteor shower display on December 13 after 10 p.m., and in the early morning hours of December 14.

CONCEPT :

  1. What are meteors and meteoroids? Rocks and dust particles from space that are about to collide with Earth's atmosphere are called meteoroids. Those that enter and streak through the atmosphere are called meteors.

  2. What causes a meteor shower? Usually when comets, which are chunks of ice with a lot of dust, come close to the sun, the ice melts and the dust and rocks are left behind along the orbit of the comet. If Earth, in its yearly motion around the Sun, happens to pass through such a debris trail, the debris enter the Earth’s atmosphere with considerable speed and due to friction in the atmosphere, burn up and give rise to not just a single bright streak in the sky but numerous meteors, called a meteor shower.

  3. Why is the Geminid meteor shower called so? The Geminid meteor shower is so named because the meteors appear to originate from the constellation of Gemini in the night sky. However, it is not a comet but an unusual asteroid called 3200 Phaethon, discovered in 1983.

  4. So this shower is from an asteroid. Now what exactly is an asteroid? Asteroids are rocky bodies going round the Sun, originating from a region between the orbit of Mars and Jupiter. Unlike the planets, their orbits are sometimes extremely elliptical and intersect the orbit of Mars and even Earth

India to grow at 7.2% in 2018: UN

‘World Economic Situation Prospects’ released by U.N. projects India’s growth rate to accelerate from 6.7% in 2017 to 7.2% in 2018 and 7.4% in 2019.

  • FUTURE OF INDIA : It describes the outlook for the country as “largely positive” underpinned by robust private consumption and public investment as well as ongoing structural reforms, despite slowdown in 2017 & effects of demonetisation policy.

  • GROSS FIXED CAPITAL FORMATION declined from about 40% in 2010 to less than 30% in 2017 ; therefore , vigorous public investment in infrastructure is critical in propping up overall investment growth.

  • According to the report, there exists some degree of uncertainty over the monetary policy stance in India. “Subdued inflation, coupled with a good monsoon season, offers scope for additional monetary easing,” it said.

  • FISCAL DEFICIT in India has declined visibly, and it is expected to narrow further to 3.2% of GDP in 2018, it added.

  • GROWTH OF GLOBAL ECONOMY : An upturn in the global economy—now growing by about 3%—paves the way to reorient policy towards longer-term issues such as addressing climate change, tackling existing inequalities and removing institutional obstacles to development, according to the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) 2018.

Jallikattu issue to go to Constitution Bench

Article 29(1) : Though used to protect interests of minorities, it says “any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.”

  • Tamil nadu is definitely a part of India,” Justice Nariman remarked orally.

SCOPE OF ART.29 :

  • Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra : “whether a State can claim constitutional protection under Article 29 (1) for what it thinks is a cultural right” is never been looked into.

  • Justice Rohinton F. Nariman : “This may have a far-reaching effect. So far, nobody has plumbed the depths of Article 29 (1)

  • Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal said people’s support to jallikattu was irrespective of religion or caste. In Ahmedbad St. Xavier’s College Society case in which the court had said Article 29 (1) may well cover the rights of the majority also.

  • PETA contends that the new law violates the five internationally recognised animal freedoms – freedom from hunger, malnutrition and thirst; from fear and distress; from physical and thermal discomfort; from pain, injury and disease; and the freedom to express normal patterns of behaviour.

Why do some whales get stranded along coasts?

Scientists are moving towards unravelling why otherwise healthy dolphins, whales and porpoises get stranded along coasts worldwide.

WHY> It is due to complex combination of multiple environmental factors.[1]

POSSIBLE CAUSES :

  • Just as weather varies on Earth, occasionally bringing thunderstorms and gusty winds, the ever-changing Sun sometimes hurls massive clouds of solar material and magnetic fields into space, called coronal mass ejections, or CMEs.

  • The effects of these eruptions on near-Earth space are collectively known as space weather.

  • Coronal mass ejections can spark powerful geomagnetic storms if they slam into Earth's magnetic field.

  • Cetaceans are thought to use Earth's magnetic field to navigate.

  • Analysis led scientists to consider that while space weather is not a primary driver of strandings, it could be one factor among several.

UNICEF calls for making digital world safer for children

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said little is done to protect the children from the perils of the digital world and to increase their access to safe online content.

World’s Children 2017: Children in a Digital World report -

  • It highlights digital divides and explores current debates about the impact of the internet and social media on children’s safety and well-being.

  • The report explores the benefits that digital technology can offer the most disadvantaged children, including by increasing their access to information; building skills for the digital workplace; and giving them a platform to connect and communicate their views.

  • The report also examines how the internet increases children’s vulnerability to risks and harms, including by misusing their private information, accessing harmful content, and cyberbullying.

  • The report notes that the ubiquitous presence of mobile devices has made online access for many children less supervised, and potentially more dangerous.

  • Moreover, digital networks, like the “Dark Web” and cryptocurrencies, are enabling the worst forms of exploitation and abuse, such as trafficking and “made to order” online child sexual abuse.

  • It also reveals that more than nine in 10 child sexual abuse URLs are hosted in Canada, France, the Netherlands, Russia and the US.

  • The report says that only collective action by governments, the private sector, families and children themselves can help level the digital playing field and make the internet safer and more accessible for children.

[1] Antti Pulkkinen of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland.

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