Current Affairs of 31st December 2019

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1. Centre launches web portal to trace stolen/lost mobiles in Delhi

The central government on Monday announced the launch of a web portal, called ‘Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR)’ in Delhi, to facilitate blocking and tracing of stolen/lost mobile phones for the customers in the national capital.

Security of mobile phones should be a national priority as the mobile handset has become an important tool for all online activities, union minister for communications, law and justice and electronics and information technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad has said while launching the portal.

Secretary, telecom and the chairman of Digital Communications Commission, Anshu Prakash, said that tele-density in the country has increased to 242 mobiles for 100 population and the mobile handset has become a means to fulfil all day-to-day requirements. International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) is supposed to be a unique identity of a mobile phone device. IMEI number being programmable, some miscreants do reprogramme the IMEI number, which results in cloning of IMEI causing multiple devices with same IMEI number. If such IMEI is blocked, a large number of mobile phones will get blocked being handsets with same IMEI causing inconvenience to many genuine customers. Thus, there is a need to eliminate duplicate/fake IMEI mobile phones from the network.

2. General Bipin Rawat to be first Chief of Defence Staff

Former Army Chief General Bipin Rawat will be the country’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). CDS will function as a single-point Adviser to the government on matters related to the military and will focus on better synergy between the Army, Air Force and the Navy. General Rawat retired as CDS. Defence Ministry had recently amended the Army, Air Force and Navy rules by bringing in a new clause that allows the Chief of Defence Staff to serve up to a maximum age of 65 years.

3. Sustainable Development Goal Index Released

NITI Aayog today released the second edition of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) India Index, which comprehensively documents the progress made by India’s States and Union Territories towards achieving the 2030 SDG targets.

According to the report, the overall composite score of India improved from 60 in 2018 to 57 in 2019. India succeeded in the areas of power and industry water and sanitation, nutrition and gender equality. The index covered 16 out of 17 SDGs.

The SDG India Index—which has been developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI), United Nations in India, and Global Green Growth Institute—was launched by NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Dr Rajiv Kumar; Members Dr Ramesh Chand and Dr V K Paul; CEO Amitabh Kant; UN Resident Coordinator Renata Dessallien; MoSPI Secretary and Chief Statistician of India Pravin Srivastava; and NITI Aayog SDG Adviser Sanyukta Samaddar.

‘In 2020, the world enters the final decade for achieving the SDGs—the ‘Decade for Action’. And the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change tells us that we have 12 years left to save the planet from the worst effects of climate change.

Kerala achieved the first rank in the composite SDG Index with a score of 70, followed by Himachal Pradesh at 69. Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu ranked at the third position with the score of 67. The biggest improvers since 2018 are UP (which has moved from the 29th position to the 23rd), Orissa (23rd to 15th), and Sikkim (15th to 7th). While Bihar improved its score from 48 in 2018 to 50 in 2019, it still has a long way to go in achieving the targets. The maximum gains been made in Goals 6 (clean water and sanitation), 9 (industry, innovation, and infrastructure) and 7 (affordable and clean energy). All three states that were in the ‘Aspirant’ category (with score/s in the range of 0–49)—Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Assam—have graduated to the ‘Performer’ category (50–64). Five states—Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Goa, and Sikkim—moved up from the ‘Performer’ category to the ‘Front Runner’ category (65–99).

4. NASA astronaut Christina Koch sets record for longest single spaceflight by woman

A NASA astronaut has set a new record for time spent in space, and she still has six weeks to go before she returns to Earth.

Christina Koch has surpassed the record for the single longest space mission by a woman as previously established by NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson in 2017. The 40-year-old Expedition 61 flight engineer exceeded Whitson’s record of 289 days, 5 hours and 1 minute on Saturday (Dec. 28) at 6:16 p.m. CST (0016 GMT on Dec. 29). Koch launched to the space station on March 14 on what was expected to be a typical six-month mission. Then her stay was extended by NASA, in part to collect more data about the effects of long-duration spaceflight. She is now slated to land on Feb. 6, 2020.

5. India State of Forest Report, 2019: Key Findings

The Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javadekar today released the biennial “India State of Forest Report (ISFR)”, in New Delhi. The report is published by the Forest Survey of India (FSI) which has been mandated to assess the forest and tree resources of the country including wall-to-wall forest cover mapping in a biennial cycle. Starting 1987, 16 assessment have been completed so far. ISFR 2019 is the 16th report in the series.

In the present assessment, the total forest and tree cover of the country is 80.73 million hectare which is 24.56 percent of the geographical area of the country.

Some Major Findings

  • Area-wise Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover in the country followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Maharashtra. In terms of forest cover as percentage of total geographical area, the top five States are Mizoram (85.41%), Arunachal Pradesh (79.63%), Meghalaya (76.33%), Manipur (75.46%) and Nagaland (75.31%).
  • The Mangrove ecosystems are unique & rich in biodiversity and they provide numerous ecological services. Mangrove cover has been separately reported in the ISFR 2019 and the total mangrove cover in the country is 4,975 sq km. An increase of 54 sq Km in mangrove cover has been observed as compared to the previous assessment of 2017. Top three states showing mangrove cover increase are Gujarat (37 sq km) followed by Maharashtra (16 sq km) and Odisha (8 sq km).
  • Under the current assessment the total carbon stock in country’s forest is estimated 7,124.6 million tonnes and there an increase of 42.6 million tonnes in the carbon stock of country as compared to the last assessment of 2017. The annual increase in the carbon stock is 21.3 million tonnes, which is 78.2 million tonnes CO2 eq.
  • There are 62,466 wetlands covering 3.8% of the area within the RFA/GW of the country.
  • The extent of bamboo bearing area of the country has been estimated 16.00 million hectare. There is an increase of 0.32 million hectare in bamboo bearing area as compared to the last assessment of ISFR 2017.
  • The total growing stock of India’s forest and TOF is estimated 5,915.76 million cum of which 4,273.47 million cum is inside the forests and 1,642.29 million cum outside. There is an increase of 93.38 million cum of total growing stock, as compared to the previous assessment.
  • The accuracy level achieved in the current assessment is the highest amongst all the previous assessments. The accuracy of forest cover classification has been assessed 93.17% .The accuracy of classification between forest and non-forest classes has been assessed 97.20%.

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