20th November UPSC Current Affairs

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Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan in ‘historic’ first visit to Afghanistan

Why In News?
  • Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan met with Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani on his first official visit to Kabul on Thursday, focusing on the ongoing peace talks with the Taliban as well as on building trust and strengthening relations between the two often acrimonious neighbours
India’s Interest in Afghanistan
  • Economic and Strategic Interest: Afghanistan is a gateway to the oil and mineral-rich Central Asian republics.
  • Afghanistan's main advantage is its geography, as anyone who is in power in Afghanistan controls the land routes connecting India with Central Asia (via Afghanistan).
  • Developmental Projects: The massive reconstruction plans for the country to offer a lot of opportunities for Indian companies.
  • Three major projects: the Afghan Parliament, the Zaranj-Delaram Highway, and the Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam (Salma Dam), along with India’s assistance of more than $3 billion in projects, hundreds of small development projects (of schools, hospitals and water projects) have cemented India’s position in Afghanistan.
  • Security Interest: India has been the victim of state-sponsored terrorism emanating from Pakistan supported terrorist group operating in the region (e,g. Haqqani network). Thus, India has two priorities in Afghanistan:
  • To prevent Pakistan from setting up a friendly government in Afghanistan, and
  • To avoid the return of jihadi groups, like al Qaeda, which could strike in India.

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Microsoft’s ‘Pluton’ chip to enhance security in future Windows PCs

Why in News?
  • Microsoft on Tuesday announced its Pluton chip, designed to improve security in future Windows-based computers by plugging some of the critical security issues that make the systems vulnerable to attacks.
  • The company is collaborating with leading chip manufactures like AMD, Intel, and Qualcomm to bring the Pluton security processor to Windows PCs.
  • The heart of operating system security on most PCs lives in a chip separate from the CPU, called the Trusted Platform Module (TPM).
  • The TPM is a hardware component that is used to help securely store keys and measurements that verify the integrity of the system.
  • TPMs have been supported in Windows for more than 10 years and power many critical technologies such as Windows Hello and BitLocker. Given the effectiveness of the TPM at performing critical security tasks, attackers have begun to innovate ways to attack it, particularly in situations where an attacker can steal or temporarily gain physical access to a PC.
  • These sophisticated attack techniques target the communication channel between the CPU and TPM, which is typically a bus interface.
  • This bus interface provides the ability to share information between the main CPU and security processor, but it also provides an opportunity for attackers to steal or modify information in-transit using a physical attack.

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Indefinite strike continues against Bru settlement plan in Kanchanpur

Why in News?
  • The indefinite strike in Kanchanpur in north Tripura against the rehabilitation of the Mizoram Bru refugees continued for the fourth consecutive day on Thursday. Around 80 non-tribal families took shelter in a school as strike caused tension in some interior hamlets.
  • Joint Movement Committee (JMC) is an umbrella group of non-Bru community in Tripura. The JMC comprises the Bengali, Mizo, Buddhist Barua and some other communities.
  • The three organizations included Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples’ Forum, Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples’ Coordination Committee and Bru Displaced Welfare Committee.
  • Bru or Reang is a community indigenous to Northeast India, living mostly in Tripura, Mizoram and Assam. In Tripura, they are recognized as a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group.
  • In Mizoram, they have been targeted by groups that do not consider them indigenous to the state. In 1997, following ethnic clashes, nearly 37,000 Brus fled Mamit, Kolasib and Lunglei districts of Mizoram and were accommodated in relief camps in Tripura.
  • Since then, 5,000 have returned to Mizoram in eight phases of repatriation, while 32,000 still live in six relief camps in North Tripura.
  • In June 2018, community leaders from the Bru camps signed an agreement with the Centre and the two-state governments, providing for repatriation in Mizoram. But most camp residents rejected the terms of the agreement.
  • According to them, the agreement doesn't guarantee their safety in Mizoram.
  • The Centre, the governments of Mizoram and Tripura, and leaders of Bru organizations signed a quadripartite agreement in January (2020) to let the remaining 35,000 refugees who have stayed back to be resettled in Tripura.
  • The rehabilitation package offered included financial assistance of ₹4 lakh and land for constructing a house for each family.

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Govt. announces quota in MBBS, BDS seats under Central pool for children of COVID warriors

Why in News?
  • The Health Ministry has approved a new category for selection and nomination of candidates from ‘Wards of COVID Warriors’ under Central pool MBBS/BDS seats for the academic year 2020-21.
  • COVID warriors are all public healthcare providers including community health workers, who may have to be in direct contact and care of COVID-19 patients and who may be at risk of being impacted by this.
  • Private hospital staff and retired/volunteer/local urban bodies/contracted/ daily wage/ad hoc/outsourced staff requisitioned by States/ Central hospitals/autonomous hospitals of Central/States/UTs, AIIMS and Institutes of National Importance/hospitals of Central Ministries drafted for COVID-19-related responsibilities are all included, the Ministry said.
How admission to medical college is being done?
  • The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET-UG) is an entrance exam for any graduate and postgraduate medical course in India.
  • Medical colleges in a particular state have 85% seats reserved for the native students and 15% (All India Quote) seats for the students from other states.
  • For instance, a student from Delhi wants to pursue MBBS from a college in Mumbai, he would be choosing from 15% seats of the total seats of that college.
How disadvantaged do students become?
  • With NEET and other similar national tests such as the JEE and CLAT, coaching institutes are prospering.
  • Since most of them are in cities, poorer students from rural backgrounds face a disadvantage.
  • The case is similar with students who have studied in the vernacular medium.
  • There is also large-scale variation in the syllabus and standards of the Central Board of Secondary Education and State boards.
  • Besides, the NEET paper was leaked twice in the last four years.
  • Therefore, there is not much confidence in NEET’s fairness and transparency.
  • Also, there is the issue of wrong translation.
  • However, the advantages of NEET include a student having the possibility of giving multiple tests.
  • By this, students would have a chance to qualify without losing a year, if they fail in one test.

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India’s overall spending on health sector ‘low’, says Niti Aayog member

Why in News?  
  • India’s overall spending on the health sector is “low” and the situation must be “corrected”, Niti Aayog Member (Health) V.K. Paul said on Thursday.
How much is the current health allocation?
  • For years, India’s health expenditure as a percentage of GDP has been abysmal at about 1%.
  • As per the National Health Profile, 2019, there has been no significant change in health-care expenditure since 2009-2010.
  • The highest it has been in the decade is 1.28 % of the GDP, and hit the lowest point at 0.98 % in 2014-2015.
  • The report does record that per capita public expenditure on health in nominal terms went up from ₹621 in 2009-10 to ₹1,112 in 2015-16.
  • A 2018 WHO report says that out-of-pocket payments remain common in India which was estimated at 62% of total health expenditure in 2014.

 



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