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India cuts off UN Panel after report on J&K by OHCHR

Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?

  • India has informed the UN Human Rights Council that iti will no longer entertain any communication with the HRC’s Special Rapporteurs on its report.
  • The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has released a report on Human Rights Situation in Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan occupied Kashmir in 2018
  • The Special Rapporteurs have sent 34 communications including 20 requests for visits to Jammu and Kashmir but India has not responded to any.
  • The report from the UN body came at the same time a report from two NGOs in the State on the alleged cases of torture was released in Srinagar, which was endorsed by a former UN Special Rapporteur.


What is the UN Human Rights Council?

  • The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe.
  • The council is elected by the UN General Assembly through direct and secret ballot.
  • Members of the Council serve for a period of three years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms.
  • The Bureau of the Council consists of five people – one President and four Vice-presidents – representing the five regional groups. They serve for a year, in accordance with the Council’s annual cycle.
  • The Council has a Universal Periodic Review mechanism which serves to assess the human rights situations in all United Nations Member States,
  • There is a Advisory Committee which serves as the Council’s “think tank” providing it with expertise and advice on thematic human rights issues.
  • There is also a Complaint Procedure which allows individuals and organizations to bring human rights violations to the attention of the Council.
  • India is currently a member of the council and its term expires in 2021


What is the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)?

  • The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights) is the leading UN entity on human rights. The General Assembly entrusted both the High Commissioner and her Office with a unique mandate to promote and protect all human rights for all people.
  • The High Commissioner for Human Rights is the principal human rights official of the United Nations. The High Commissioner heads OHCHR and spearheads the United Nations’ human rights efforts.
  • The High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) provides assistance to Governments, such as expertise and technical trainings in the areas of administration of justice, legislative reform, and electoral process, to help implement international human rights standards on the ground.


Boeing University Innovation Leadership Development programme launched by Boeing

Paper : Prelims Specific, General Studies 2

Why in news?

  • Boeing has launched a programme called Boeing University Innovation Leadership Development Programme (BUILD) for university students, faculty and early-stage start-ups.
  • It will help innovators convert their ideas into viable business offerings that have the potential to shape the future of Indian aerospace and defence.
  • It has partnered with seven incubators for the same – IIT Delhi, IIT Gandhinagar, IIT Bombay, IIT Madras, IISc Bangalore, T-Hub Hyderabad and KIIT Bhubaneshwar to select finalists for BUILD boot camps.


NGT pulls up NMCG for not providing proper action plans

Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • The National Green Tribunal has pulled up the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) for not providing “concrete action plans” pertaining to the rejuvenation of the Ganga in stretches where the river crosses the States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
  • Highlighting urgency of the matter, the Bench said, “Every drop of pollution in the river Ganga is a matter of concern. The attitude of all the authorities has to be stringent and depict zero tolerance to pollution of river Ganga. No amount of wealth generation or commercial activities can get priority over cleanliness of Ganga.”


What is the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)?

  • The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) is the implementation wing of National Ganga Council which was set up in October 2016 under the River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) Authorities order 2016.
  • The aim is to clean the Ganga and its tributaries in a comprehensive manner
  • NMCG has a two tier management structure and comprises of Governing Council and Executive Committee. Both of them are headed by Director General, NMCG. Executive Committee has been authorized to accord approval for all projects up to Rs.1000 crore.
  • Similar to structure at national level, State Programme Management Groups (SPMGs) acts as implementing arm of State Ganga Committees.
  • The Director General(DG) of NMCG is a Additional Secretary in Government of India. For effective implementation of the projects under the overall supervision of NMCG, the State Level Program Management Groups (SPMGs) are, also headed by senior officers of the concerned States.



Updated definition of the ‘kilogram’ accepted by the world

Paper : Prelims Specific, General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • The world has adopted a new standard definition of the Kilogram discarding the old definition that was derived from the weight of a block of a platinum-iridium alloy housed at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in France
  • The kilogram, symbol kg, is the SI unit of mass. It is defined by taking the fixed numerical value of the Planck constant hto be 6.62607015×10−34 when expressed in the unit J⋅s, which is equal to kg⋅m2⋅s−1, where the metre and the second are defined in terms of c and ΔνCs.


How is the kilogram defined now?

  • The new definition relates the kilogram to the equivalent mass of the energy of a photon given its frequency, via the Planck constant.
  • This incredibly small number has to be measured by a very sensitive Kibble balance that uses a powerful magnetic field to do its work.


Why was a new definition adopted?

  • The earlier definition relied on the weight of a block called Le Grand K that was stored in Paris, France.
  • If it lost mass, perhaps by being scratched, or gained some through a fingerprint, say, the definition of the kilogram would alter.
  • By comparing Le Grand K with copies that are distributed globally, it was clear that, despite the efforts to protect the precious cylinders, their mass did change.
  • Thus, to present a more accurate and reliable definition, it was changed.



Shanghai Cooperation Organization Council of Foreign Ministers Meet being held

Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?

  • Indian and Pakistani Foreign ministers will take part in the Council of Foreign Ministers of the SCO being held in Bishkek
  • The two day meeting will begin from today. This will be the second CFM meeting that India will be attending as a full member of SCO.


About the Shanghai Cooperation Organization


  • Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a Eurasian political, economic and military organisation, which was founded in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan in the year 2001.
  • The aim of SCO is to establish cooperation between member nations on:
  1. Security-related concerns
  2. Resolving border issues
  3. Military cooperation
  4. Intelligence sharing
  5. Countering terrorism
  6. Countering American influence in Central Asia
  • Apart from the founding members , Uzbekistan joined the group later as a permanent member.
  • India and Pakistan are the newest inclusion to the Organisation and it added another 1.45 billion people in the SCO making the group cover around 40 per cent of the global population.
  • The Council of Heads of State is the top decision-making body in the SCO. This council meets at the SCO summits, which are held each year in one of the member states’ capital cities.
  • The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), headquartered in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, is a permanent organ of the SCO which serves to promote cooperation of member states against the three evils of terrorism, separatism and extremism. The Head of RATS is elected to a three-year term. Each member state also sends a permanent representative to RATS.


Government looking to divest 25% in RailTel

Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?

The Government is looking to divest up to 25% in the Railtel Corporation.

What is disinvestment?

  • Disinvestment is the action of an organization or government selling or liquidating an asset or subsidiary.
  • There are different methods for the sale of shares. If the government is selling just minority shares, say, less than 50% of the shares in a PSE, it will continue to the owner of the PSE. In most cases, the government is retaining the majority shares while selling only a minor proportion of the shares. This is called token disinvestment or minority stake disinvestment
  • Strategic disinvestment would imply the sale of substantial portion of the Government shareholding of a central public sector enterprise (CPSE) of upto 50%, or such higher percentage as the competent authority may determine, along with transfer of management control.
  • The proceeds from disinvestment are stored in the Public Account under the head National Investment Fund (NIF)
  • The disinvestment process is overseen by the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), Ministry of Finance