September 2019

Daily Current Affairs (04-09-19)

APACHE HELICOPTER

Related Topics: Defence Procurement, Indian Air Force

News

  • Indian Air Force (IAF) has formally inducted eight AH-64E Apache attack helicopters into service at the Pathankot Air Force Station.
  • This new 125 Squadron is called the ‘Gladiators’.

About Apache Helicopter

  • Apache is the most advanced multi-role heavy attack helicopter in the world.
  • It is made by US company Boeing and is used by the U.S. Army and a large number of international defence forces.
  • India is the 16th nation to select the Apache and the AH-64E is the most advanced variant.

Features

  • It has the capability to shoot fire and forget anti-tank guided missiles, air-to-air missiles, rockets and other ammunitions.
  • It has modern Electronic Warfare (EW) capabilities to provide versatility to helicopters in a network-centric aerial warfare.
  • Apache’s rotor mounted radar can transmit battlefield pictures to Airborne Warning and Controls Systems (Awacs) mounted on other aircraft.
  • The helicopter is capable of delivering a variety of weapons which include air-to-ground Hellfire missiles, 70 mm Hydra rockets and air-to-air Stinger missiles.
  • It carries fire control radar, which has 360 degree coverage and nose mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems.
  • It also carries one 30 mm chain gun with 1,200 rounds as part of area weapon sub-system.
  • These helicopters “are day/night, all weather capable and have high agility and survivability against battle damage.”
  • Its cockpit is bulletproof, making it ideal for use against tanks and armoured vehicles.

Significance

  • Apache will be the first pure attack helicopter in India’s possession.
  • While the Russian origin Mi 35 has been operated for years and is now on the verge of retirement, it was an assault chopper that was designed to carry troops into heavily defended territories.
  • The induction of the ‘state of art’ helicopters comes amid ongoing tensions between India and Pakistan after the Indian air strikes on a terrorist facility in Balakot on February 26, 2019.
  • The addition of Apache Attack Helicopter is a significant step towards modernisation of Indian Air Force helicopter fleet.
  • This procurement will enhance the capability of IAF in providing integrated combat aviation cover to the army strike corps.

[Sources: The Hindu, Economic Times]

 

CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE (CKD)

Related Topics: Public Health, Science &Technology

Context

Rising burden of CKD in Kerala and its economic implications on the individuals and the health system seemed to have escaped the attention of policy makers, primarily because of the lack of robust data on the disease in the State.

What is CKD?

  • It is a condition characterized by a gradual loss of kidney function over time.
  • The disease is called “chronic” because the damage to your kidneys happens slowly over a long period of time.

CKD of unknown aetiology (CKDu)

  • Over the past five years, there is a significant increase in young patients with CKD of undetermined cause — a fairly new entity, ‘CKD of unknown aetiology (CKDu)’.
  • It was first reported in 1990s in Central America, where an unusually large number of agricultural workers exposed to very hot and humid weather conditions and dehydration were succumbing to renal failure.
  • It is emerging as a global problem with similar disease patterns being reported from select geographical regions in tropical nations, including Sri Lanka and India.

Contributing Factors

  • The ageing population, the high prevalence of diabetes and hypertension on the one side and the poor control of these conditions are primarily contributing to the rising burden of the disease.
  • Exposure to agrochemicals, heavy metals, and infectious agents, as well as genetic factors and risk factors related to poverty, malnutrition, and other social determinants of health may also contribute to the disease.

CKDu & Climate change

  • There is an unavoidable link between CKDu, heat exposure, dehydration, and other environmental stressors.
  • All geographical regions where CKDu has been reported have undergone substantial climatic and environmental changes in recent times.
  • The fact that CKDu could be a form of heat-stress nephropathy, possibly because of the rapidly changing global temperature and environment conditions, is the focus of the recent issue of New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

Statistics

In India, deaths due to renal failure constituted 2.9% of all deaths in 2010-13 among 15-69 year-olds, an increase from 2.1 % in 2001-03 ( Lancet Global Health, January 2017).

Guidelines by World Health Organisation

Way Forward

  • There is a need for targeted screening programme to identify individuals at high risk of developing CKD and treating them early.
  • Epidemiological studies using standardised definitions of conditions in community and institutional settings are essential to achieving early detection of the disease, appropriate interventions, and improved patient outcomes.
  • Better information is needed on who should be screened for kidney disease.
  • A proper data system on CKD, on the lines of the United States Renal Data System, for analysing CKD prevalence, trends in mortality rate, and patient demographics should be developed.
[Source: The Hindu]

 

JAPAN-INDIA ANNUAL DEFENCE MINISTERIAL DIALOGUE

Related Topics: International Relations, 2+2 dialogue

News

In a significant visit to Japan, defence minister Rajnath Singh held successful meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Japanese defence minister Takeshi Iwaya.

India-Japan Relations

  • The Ministers affirmed their intention to hold the first Foreign and Defence Ministerial Dialogue (2+2) ahead of the Japan-India Annual Summit 2019, for advancing cooperation towards peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Japan-India-U.S. trilateral maritime exercise ‘Malabar 2019 will be held from late September to early October in 2019.
  • Second Japan-India-U.S. trilateral mine-countermeasures exercise (MINEX) was held in July, 2019.
  • The Armies and Air Forces of India and Japan held their first bilateral exercises, ‘Dharma Guardian and ‘Shinyuu Maitri, in 2018.
  • Japan joined the India-US Air Force exercise ‘Cope India as an observer for the first time in 2018.
  • The two countries have made steady progress in Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) based on implementing the arrangement for deeper cooperation between the two Navies.
  • There is a progress on the ongoing negotiations for the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA), which commenced after the summit meeting in October, 2018.

Peace and Stability in Indo-Pacific Region

  • The Ministers recognised that peace and stability of the Indian and Pacific Oceans are crucial for ensuring prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region and the entire world.
  • They had a frank exchange of views on the current security situation in the Indo-Pacific region, including developments on the Korean Peninsula and in the South China Sea.
  • They shared views on exploring cooperation with countries in the Indo-Pacific region through various initiatives that would further the shared vision of peace and stability.

[Source: The Hindu]

 

STEERING COMMITTEE ON FINTECH

Related Topics: FinTech, Virtual Banking System

News

Steering Committee on Fintech constituted by the Ministry of Finance, Department of Economic Affairs has submitted its Final Report to Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

About the Committee

  • It was formed in March 2018 under the chairmanship of the Economic Affairs Secretary.
  • The mandate of the committee is to consider various issues relating to the development of the fintech sector in India, and how fintech can be used to enhance the financial inclusion of micro, small and medium enterprises.

What’s in the Report?

  • The report outlines the current landscape in the Fintech space globally and in India and studies the various issues relating to its development.
  • The report makes recommendations focusing on how fintech can be leveraged to enhance financial inclusion of MSMEs with a view to making fintech related regulations more flexible and generate enhanced entrepreneurship.

Recommendations

  • Department of Financial Services and the Reserve Bank of India may examine the suitability of ‘virtual banking system’ in the Indian context.
  • Comprehensive legal framework for consumer protection should be put in place keeping in mind the rise of fintech and digital services.
  • Eliminate discrimination in access to payment infrastructure to non-banks as compared to banks, with a view to enhance competition and innovation.
  • Improve the debt financing in India by developing a marketplace model by reforming the current peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms.
  • Insurance companies and lending agencies should be encouraged to use drone and remote sensing technology for crop area, damage and location assessments to support risk reduction in insurance/lending business.
  • Department of Financial Services(DFS) should work with PSU banks to bring in more efficiency to their work and reduce fraud and security risks.
  • NABARD should take immediate steps to create a credit registry for farmers with special thrust for fintech use along with core banking solutions (CBS) by agri-financial institutions, included cooperative societies.
  • Fast adoption of regulation technology (or RegTech) by all financial-sector regulators. This will make ensuring compliance with existing regulations easier, quicker, and effective for everyone.
  • Special drive for modernisation and standardisation of land records by setting up a dedicated National Digital Land Records Mission based on a common National Land Records Standards with the involvement of State Land and Registration departments, to make available land ownership data on an online basis to Financial Institutions.

What Is Fintech?

  • Fintech, the word, is a combination of “financial technology”.
  • It is used to describe new tech that seeks to improve and automate the delivery and use of financial services. ​​​
  • At its core, fintech is utilized to help companies, business owners and consumers better manage their financial operations, processes, and lives by utilizing specialized software and algorithms that are used on computers and, increasingly, smartphones.

[Source: The Hindu, Investopedia]

 

FACTS OF THE DAY

NATIONAL ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE RESOURCE PORTAL (NAIRP)

IIT Kharagpur has collaborated with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to develop a resource portal to promote learning and development in the artificial intelligence (AI). It is powered by Amazon SageMaker, a cloud machine learning platform. NAIRP is aimed at making the search for AI learning resources simpler and more accessible to learners, practitioners and researchers in India. The initiative has got funding from the Ministry of Human Resources Development, as part of the National Digital Library of India (NDLI) project which is being spearheaded by the premier institute.

ASSOCIATION OF WORLD ELECTION BODIES (A-WEB)

Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora has assumed Chairmanship of AWEB for the term 2019-21 as India took over the Chair from Romania. India was unanimously nominated to be the Vice-Chair of AWEB at the last General Assembly held at Bucharest in 2017. A-WEB is the largest association of Election Management Bodies (EMBs) worldwide. It was established on October 14, 2013 in Song-do, South Korea. The permanent secretariat of A-WEB is located at Seoul.

FACE RECOGNITION TECHNOLOGY

Facebook’s face recognition technology will now be available to all users with an option to opt out, while deciding to discontinue a related feature called ‘Tag Suggestions’.Face recognition, which was available to some Facebook users since December 2017, notifies an account holder if their profile photo is used by someone else or if they appear in photos where they have not been tagged. Tag Suggestions, which used face recognition only to suggest a user to tag friends in photos, has been at the center of a privacy related lawsuit since 2015.

CAPITAL INFUSION IN IDBI BANK

Cabinet has approved a one-time capital infusion of ₹4,557 crore into IDBI Bank in a bid to help the bank return to profitability. The Life Insurance Corporation of India, which owns a 51% stake in the bank, will infuse another ₹4,743 crore in IDBI. The infusion is expected to help IDBI raise further capital on its own and come out of the Reserve Bank of India’s Prompt Corrective Action framework next year. The infusion will be through recapitalisation bonds. The government will infuse the capital into the bank and the bank will buy the recapitalisation bonds from the government on the same day, with no impact on liquidity or the current year’s Budget.

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