2018-CGS-13: April 14-30, 2018

Part-A: Glossary of Important Terms in News – 2016-2018: Part-III of IV

301. 1992 Code of Conduct

India and Pakistan have mutually agreed to resolve matters related to the treatment of diplomats and diplomatic premises, in line with the 1992 ‘Code of Conduct’ for treatment of Diplomatic/Consular personnel in India and Pakistan

The Code provides for “smooth and unhindered functioning” of the diplomatic and consular officials of the two countries in conformity with the international laws without violating their privileges and immunities.

The Code also says that the two countries should not resort to intrusive and aggressive surveillance and actions such as verbal and physical harassment, disconnection of phone lines.

302. 2002 AJ129: Asteroid

2002 AJ129 is a Mercury-crossing asteroid. It has the ninth-smallest perihelion of all numbered asteroids, after asteroids such as 2000 BD19, 2004 UL, and 2008 XM.

It makes close approaches to all of the inner planets and asteroid 4 Vesta. The asteroid is estimated to be between 0.5–1.2 kilometers (0.3–0.7 mi) across. In January 2018, there was much media hype about this asteroid being classified as a potentially hazardous asteroid, although there is no known threat of an impact for hundreds if not thousands of years. The media has compared the size of the asteroid to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

303. 4G network on moon

Vodafone plans to create the first 4G network on the moon to support a mission by PT Scientists . The company has appointed Nokia as its technology partner for the 4G network

Vodafone testing indicates that the base station should be able to broadcast 4G using the 1800 MHz frequency band and send back the first ever live HD video feed of the Moon’s surface, which will be broadcast to a global audience via a deep space link that interconnects with the PTScientists server in the Mission Control Centre in Berlin.

Vodafone’s network expertise will be used to set up the Moon’s first 4G network, connecting two Audi lunar quattro rovers to a base station in the Autonomous Landing and Navigation Module (ALINA). Nokia, through Nokia Bell Labs, will create a space-grade Ultra Compact Network that will weigh less than one kilogram –the same as a bag of sugar.

304. Advanced Ultra Super Critical (AUSC) Technology

AUSC refers to an advanced power generation system that works on higher temperatures (around 700°C) and pressure, thus achieving a great improvement in efficiency, reducing coal consumption and CO2 emissions. In August 2016, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CEEA) had given its approval for the development of AUSC technology for thermal power plants for three government entities. Power generation from coal-fired power plants contributes to about 38% of CO2 pollution in the atmosphere. AUSC technology which is still in research stage will help in 20% reduction in CO2 emission at source combined with 20% saving in coal consumption compared to sub-critical plants.

AUSC technology will enable Indian industries to design, manufacture and commission higher efficiency coal-fired power plants with indigenously developed technology. This will be the first time large power plant equipment will be manufactured without any technological collaboration or licensing agreement with foreign companies. Use of this technology in all future large coal-fired power plants will ensure energy security for the country for a longer period as well as greener environment.

305. African Continental Free Trade Area

The African Continental Free Trade Area is the result of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among all 55 members of the African Union. If ratified, the agreement would result in the largest free-trade area in terms of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization.

African heads of state gathered in Kigali, Rwanda in March 2018 to sign the proposed agreement. Forty-four of the 55 members of the African Union signed it on 21 March 2018.

The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) is a continent-wide free-trade agreement brokered by the African Union (AU) and initially signed on by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018.

The agreement initially requires members to remove tariffs from 90% of goods, allowing free access to commodities, goods, and services across the continent.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the agreement will boost intra-African trade by 52 percent by 2022. The proposal will come into force after ratification by 22 of the signatory states.

306. Air-Breathing Electric Thruster (ABET)

The European Space Agency (ESA) is building Air-Breathing Electric Thruster (ABET) that can possibly extend the working life of satellites by years and even help with interplanetary travel using just the air around it as a propellant.

This Air-Breathing Electric Thruster (ABET) does not operate in complete vacuum, but works in low Earth orbit (LEO) – altitude of 2,000 km or less– notes the ESA.

At LEO, the air is scarce, but not entirely absent. In fact, there is enough air to cause a drag on spaceships and satellites. This is why there are on-board engines installed on satellites to correct course every time it moves out of position. An air-breathing engine works by collecting the sparse air at the edge of the atmosphere.

307. Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems (ASICS)

The fifth edition of the Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems (ASICS) by Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy spans 23 Indian cities. The cities were scored based on the quality of laws, policies, institutions and institutional processes that together help govern them

ASICS groups questions into four categories: urban planning & design; urban capacities & resources; transparency, accountability & participation; and empowered & legitimate political representation. The report addresses five major issues, and suggests solutions at the local body, State and Central government levels.

The findings of the report include: 

  • Pune scored 5.1 out of 10 (all questions are scored on a scale of 0-10). This is in stark contrast to cities in developed countries. For instance, London and New York scored 8.8 on the same scale.
  • Indian cities has a weak urban planning framework, and the problem can be addressed by a well-made and executed spatial development plan. It is difficult to do, considering there is only one urban planner in Indian cities for every 4 lakh citizens
  • Another problem is stability of finances. On average, the cities assessed generated only 39% of the funds they spent, with several cities unable to even cover staff salaries.
  • Lack of skilled staff and poor management of human resources.
  • Fragmentation of governance and low levels of empowerment of mayors and councillors is another key roadblock to good governance.
  • Absence of platforms where citizens can participate in civic matters in their neighborhoods.

The report is a mirror for the poor condition of urban governance in India. The narrative of decentralization needs to broaden itself in India to accommodate local governments and further to developing of structural mechanisms for the active involvement of the citizens in the governance. This will aid in achieving the ideal of inclusive governance. [Reference]

308. Ashgabat Agreement

Ashgabat Agreement aims at establishment of International Transport and Transit Corridor between the Iran, Oman, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. It was signed in April 2011 and is named after  capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat.

It establishes international transport and transit corridor between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf countries. Pakistan is also its member since October 2016.

Recently India has joined Ashgabat Agreement which envisages facilitation of transit and transportation of goods between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf to significantly boost up trade and investment. It was informed by Turkmenistan, as depository state of the Agreement that all its four founding members.

309. Aspirational Districts Programme

‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ programme aims to quickly and effectively transform these districts. Under this program the Government identified 115 backward districts for rapid transformation by 2022.

The broad contours of the programme are Convergence (of Central & State Schemes), Collaboration (of Central, State level ‘Prabhari’ Officers & District Collectors), and Competition among districts driven by a mass Movement. With States as the main drivers, this program will focus on the strength of each district, identify low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement, measure progress, and rank districts.

After several rounds of consultations with various stakeholders, 49 key performance indicators have been chosen to measure progress of the districts. NITI Aayog in partnership with the Government of Andhra Pradesh has created a dashboard for monitoring the real-time progress of the district.

310. Aviation Sector Skill Council

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