Daily Current Affairs | 14th June 2020

Nepal Parliament Passed Political map

Nepal’s Parliament on 13 June 2020 unanimously voted to amend the Constitution to update the country’s new political map, laying claim over three strategically key areas along the border with it. In a show of unprecedented national unity, Opposition parties including the Nepali Congress, Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal and Rastriya Prajatantra Party voted in favour of the bill to amend Schedule 3 of the Constitution to update the national emblem by incorporating the controversial map featuring new areas of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura along Nepal’s border with India.

  • India last month reacted angrily to Nepal showing the three areas as Nepalese territory in the new map and cautioned the country that saying such “artificial enlargement” of territorial claims will not be acceptable to it. India has been maintaining that these three areas belong to it.
  • India has said it deeply values its friendly ties with Nepal and the multi-faceted bilateral partnership has expanded and diversified in the recent years. Indian Army chief Gen M M Naravane on 13 June 2020 said the relationship between the two countries has always been strong and will remain so in the future.
  • As soon as Nepal’s Parliament meeting started on 13 June 2020 afternoon, lawmakers from different political parties took part in deliberations on the bill. All 258 lawmakers who were present in the House voted in favour of the amendment bill.
  • A two-thirds majority was required in the 275-member House of Representatives or the lower house to pass the bill.
  • The endorsement of the lower house will now pave way for the government to expedite the process to replace the political map in Nepal’s national emblem.
  • Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba said that Nepali people have stood united on the issue of nationality and territorial integrity. As per the Sugauli Treaty of 1816, the land east of Mahakali river belongs to Nepal.
  • The government had registered the bill in the Parliament on May 22 and Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Shivamaya Tumabahangphe presented it before the House on May 24.
  • On June 9, the Parliament unanimously endorsed a proposal to consider the Constitution amendment bill to pave way for endorsing the new political map amid the border row with India. 
  • Now, the bill will be sent to the National Assembly where it will undergo a similar process. The ruling Nepal Communist Party commands two-thirds majority in the National Assembly.
  • The ties between India and Nepal came under strain after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a 80-km-long strategically crucial road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand on May 8.
  • Nepal reacted sharply to the inauguration of the road claiming that it passed through Nepalese territory. India rejected the claim asserting that the road lies completely within its territory.
  • Nepal last month released the revised political and administrative map of the country laying claim over the strategically key areas, more than seven months after India published a new map in November 2019.

Why is Lipulekh pass important? 

  • The region juts into the Himalayas and is connected to the other side of the mountain range through the Lipulekh pass, which has been used for centuries by Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims and tourists on their way to Kailash Mansarovar.
  • The nearby markets have been used by various mountain communities.
  • The Himalayas have several passes that connect the Gangetic region with the Tibetan plateau but Lipulekh is strategically located as it is nearest to the heart of the Indian state or the National Capital Region and can be of particular concern in case of an armed conflict with China.


Two more coronavirus symptoms added

 Two more symptomsanosmia and ageusia have been added to the list of previous seven coronavirus symptoms by the Health ministry. Anosmia refers to the loss of smell, while ageusia refers to the loss of taste. According to Health Ministry these two symptoms have been reported before the onset of the respiratory symptoms. The other seven symptoms include fevercoughfatigueshortness of breathexpectorationmyalgia and rhinorrheasore throat and diarrhea.

  • According to a health ministry document transmission from one person to other occurs through close contact via the respiratory droplets that are released when the infected person talks, sneezes or coughs.
  • India has seen an increase in the number of coronavirus cases reported in the country with the overall tally now over the 3 lakh mark.
  • Delhi, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are three most affected states in the country with more than 175,000 cases.
  • The health ministry in its report titled ‘Clinical Management Protocol: Covid-19‘ has said that Covid-19 patients reporting to various treatment facilities have reported signs and symptoms including fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, expectoration, myalgia, rhinorrhea, sore throat, diarrhoea.
  • The ministry quoting data of Integrated Health Information Platform/ Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme portal case investigation forms for Covid-19, said that the details on the signs and symptoms reported (as on June 11) are — fever (27 per cent)cough (21 per cent)sore throat (10 per cent)breathlessness (8 per cent)weakness (7 per cent)running nose (3 per cent) and others 24 per cent.
  • According to an expert, even though the symptom is not specific to Covid-19 as one may suffer from loss of smell and taste when they have flu or influenza, it could be one of the early signs of the onset of the disease and prompt detection may help in early treatment.
  • The US’ national public health institute the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had in early May incorporated “a new loss of taste or smell” in the list of Covid-19 symptoms.
  • According to the Indian Council of Medical Research’s revised testing strategy for Covid-19 issued on May 18, all returnees and migrants with symptoms of influenza-like illness (ILI) are to be tested within seven days of the onset of the trails.
  • All hospitalised patients who develop ILI symptoms and frontline workers involved in containment and mitigation of Covid-19 having such symptoms will also be tested for Covid-19 through the RT-PCR test.
  • Symptomatic ILI patients living in coronavirus hotspots or containment zones, all patients of severe acute respiratory infection (SARI), symptomatic healthcare workers also are eligible for testing as per the guidelines.


UN accuses Iran for attacks on Saudi oil facilities

 The United Nations on 12 June 2020 said that it had determined that Iran was the source for several items in two shipments of arms seized by the United States and for debris left by attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil installations and an international airport, according to a new report. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said some of the items seized by the US in November 2019 and February 2020 “were identical or similar” to those found after the cruise missiles and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia in 2019.

 He said in a report to the UN Security Council obtained by The Associated Press that some items seized by the US in international waters off Yemen are not only Iranian but may have been transferred in a manner inconsistent with the council resolution that endorsed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

  • The secretary-general was reporting on the implementation of the 2015 resolution enshrining the nuclear agreement aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. 
  • It includes restrictions that took effect on Jan. 16, 2016, on transfers to or from Iran of nuclear and ballistic missile material as well as arms
  • The Security Council is scheduled to discuss the resolution’s implementation on June 30, and the U.S. is expected to press for the UN arms embargo against Iran, which is part of it, to be extended indefinitely before it expires in October.
  • President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the nuclear agreement in May 2018 and re-imposed US sanctions that had been eased or lifted. American officials contend Iran is working to obtain nuclear-capable missiles, which the Iranians deny.

Iran denies involvement in attacks

  • Iran’s Foreign Ministry dismissed the report and said in the statement that the UN might have prepared the report under the “political pressures” of the United States.
  • ZarifIranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the United States has no right to “abuse” the UN to vilify Iran.
  • Its statement said the UN lacks the capacity, expertise, and knowledge to conduct such a sophisticated and sensitive investigation, adding that the report reproduces exact claims by the United States. 
  • In essence, the U.S. is sitting in the driver’s seat to shape the so-called ‘assessment‘ regarding the Iranian connection to the attacks. With no doubt, such reports will not help the peace and security of the region.
  • Iran strongly advises the UN Secretariat not to move in the direction of the US-prepared scenario seeking to prevent the removal of (a UN) ban on (selling conventional) arms to Iran.


New head of human spaceflight mission

The US space agency has selected new head for its human spaceflight mission as it successfully sent two astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) on board a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the US soil, and now aims to land humans on the Moon by 2024. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has selected Commercial Crew Program Manager Kathy Lueders to be the agency’s next associate administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate

  • Since 2014, Lueders has directed NASA’s efforts to send astronauts to space on private spacecraft, which culminated in the successful launch of Demo-2 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30.
  • Lueders gives us the extraordinary experience and passion we need to continue to move forward with Artemis and our goal of landing the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024.
  • The International Space Station (ISS) is a multi-nation construction project that is the largest single structure humans ever put into space
  • Its main construction was completed between 1998 and 2011, although the station continually evolves to include new missions and experiments. It has been continuously occupied since Nov. 2, 2000.
  • The ISS includes contributions from 15 nationsNASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia) and the European Space Agency are the major partners of the space station who contribute most of the funding; the other partners are the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.
  • The space station flies at an average altitude of 248 miles (400 kilometers) above Earth. It circles the globe every 90 minutes at a speed of about 17,500 mph (28,000 km/h)
  • In one day, the station travels about the distance it would take to go from Earth to the moon and back.
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