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  • Current Affairs 7th December 2018

    Updated : 07-Dec-2018
    Current Affairs 7th December 2018

    Current Affairs 7th December 2018 - Important Points

    • NASA’s spacecraft OSIRIS-REx arrives at its targeted asteroid Bennu after 2-year journey
    • SpaceX successfully launches 64 small satellites using reusable Falcon 9 rocket
    • 80th Session of Policy Commission Meeting of World Customs Organisation held in Mumbai
    • Delhi Government launches Free Pilgrimage Plan for senior residents
    • SC approves Witness Protection Plan 2018; directs Centre, States to enforce the plan by 2019

    Current Affairs 7th December 2018 - Details

    NASA’s spacecraft OSIRIS-REx arrives at its targeted asteroid Bennu after 2-year journey

    NASA’s 1st-ever OSIRIS-REx mission intended to visit asteroid and return-sample of its dust back to Earth successfully reached its destination, Bennu, 2 years after its release. It will utilise its suite of 5 science instruments to observe asteroid for the next 18 months.


    OSIRIS-Rex means Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer. It was released in September 2016 for observing 101955 Bennu, which is a carbonaceous asteroid. It will repeatedly study area around the asteroid to examine for dust plumes and natural satellites and observe its light and spectral properties. It will come back to Earth after gathering some of its gravels by 2023. It will collect 60gms dirt and debris from asteroid surface using its robotic arm without landing and then to Earth for complete analysis of the collected samples.


    Bennu is near to Earth carbonaceous asteroid about the size of a small mountain in the Apollo group. It was found in September 1999 by the LINEAR Project. It orbits near to Earth’s path around the Sun. It is carbon-rich asteroid and supposed to be the type of asteroids that may have chemical building blocks supporting life, along with abundance of water.

    SpaceX successfully launches 64 small satellites using reusable Falcon 9 rocket

    Elon Musk-led SpaceX has effectively released 64 small satellites into low Earth orbit onboard of its reusable and reflow Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This has formed new record in US of launching satellites in single run. It was 3rd expedition of Falcon 9 rocket, marking another milestone in SpaceX’s cost-cutting reusable rocket technology.

    About Satellites

    The 64 small satellites consisted 49 CubeSats and 15 micro-satellites relating to 34 different clients including public, private and university sources from 17 different nations worldwide including South Korea, France and Kazakhstan. The microsatellites weighed few dozen kgs and CubeSats weighed even smaller. Among these launched satellites, 1 was sculpture known as ‘Orbital Reflector’ by artist Trevor Paglen, sent by Nevada Museum of Art and it was non-scientific missions.

    80th Session of Policy Commission Meeting of World Customs Organisation held in Mumbai

    The 80th Session of Policy Commission of World Customs Organization- WCO was organised in Mumbai. It is being organized by World Customs Organization and hosted by Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs, under Union Finance Minister.

    Important Points

    Secretary General, World Customs Organization, other top delegates and customs heads from above 30 nations took part in this conference for discussion on various matters related to customs. Important discussion was on issues concerned trade facilitation, controlling illicit financial flow, performance measurement, challenges of small island economies. Hosting of Policy Commission session will give global presence and leadership role to India in area of customs processes. It will also boost India’s push in facilitating trade.

    World Customs Organisation

    World Customs Organization is independent inter-governmental body with a mission to enhance effectiveness and efficiency of Customs administrations. It was found in 1952 as Customs Co-operation Council. It has HQ in Brussels, Belgium. Above 180 nations are its members including India.

    It is the only international group with competence in Customs matters and defines global standards and events for customs clearances at border and their implementation. It is considered as voice of international Customs community.

    India is member of World Customs Organization since 1971 and has been taking part actively in its various activities. It is part of Asia Pacific region having 33 nations, one of 6 regions.


    • It proposes range of Conventions and other international instruments, along with technical support and training services to its associates.
    • It also actively supports its associates in their endeavours to modernize & build capacity within their national Customs administrations.
    • It also plays crucial role in stimulating development of legitimate international trade and combats fraudulent activities.

    Delhi Government launches Free Pilgrimage Plan for senior residents

    Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal on December 5th, 2018 released the 'Mukhyamantri Tirth Yatra Yojana' offering free travel packages for senior residents from Delhi to 5 religious circuits. 1,100 senior residents from every constituency of Delhi will be able to avail this facility at one go.

    The plan was sanctioned by the Delhi Government on July 9th, 2018. Earlier, the Delhi Cabinet had on January 8th, 2018 sanctioned the Revenue Department's proposal to start with the Mukhyamantri Tirth Yatra Yojana.

    Keys facts and figures 

    • 1100 senior residents from each Assembly Constituency would now avail free pilgrimage every year and the expenditures for which will be borne by the government. 
    • On an average, the plan will incur a cost of Rupees 7000 per pilgrim. The pilgrimage time duration will be of two nights and three days.
    • Any resident of Delhi above 60 years of age will be eligible for the plan. The aspirant can also take along an attendant above the age of 20 years, if the he/his spouse is above 70 years. The spending of the attendant will also be tolerated by the Delhi government. 
    • There is no income criterion but preference will be given to economically weaker sections on 1st-come-1st-serve basis. Employees of central, state and local government or autonomous bodies are not entitled for the plan. 
    • Those selected for pilgrimage will be covered with an insurance of Rupees One lakh each. The aspirant will have to give a self-certificate that all data being given by them is correct and they have not availed the plan in the past.

    Various Routes under this Plan

    1. Delhi-Mathura-Vrindavan-Agra-fatehpur Sikri-Delhi
    2. Delhi-Haridwar-Rishikesh-Neelkanth-Delhi
    3. Delhi-Ajmer-Pushkar-Delhi
    4. Delhi-Amritsar-Bagha Border-Anandpur Sahib-Delhi
    5. Delhi-Vaishno Devi-Jammu-Delhi

    SC approves Witness Protection Plan 2018; directs Centre, States to enforce the plan by 2019

    The Supreme Court on December 5th, 2018 sanctioned the Witness Protection Plan 2018 and instructed the Central/State Governments to enforce the same in letter and spirit.

    The bench comprising Justice A.K.Sikri and Justice S Abdul Nazeer found that the plan will become “law” under Article 141/142 of the Constitution till the acting of parliamentary and state legislations on the subject.

    The Witness Protection Plan 2018 was designed by the Home Ministry on the inputs received from 18 States and UTs, 5 state legal services authorities and open sources including civil society, 3 high courts as well as from police personnel.


    The plan intends to make sure that the investigation, prosecution and trial of criminal offences does not turn out to be prejudiced as witnesses are intimidated/frightened to put evidence without protection from violent or other criminal accusation.

    Essential features

    • Identifying categories of threat acuities and to make a “Threat Analysis Report” by the head of the police.
    • Types of protection including ensuring that the witness and suspect do not come face-to-face during investigation, identity protection, modification of identity, relocation of witness.
    • Where the threat encompasses to life of witness/his family members during investigation, trial/ afterward.
    • Where the threat extends to safety, reputation/belongings of the witness/his family associates, during the investigation, trial/afterward.
    • Where the threat is modest and ranges to harassment of the witness/his family associate’s, reputation/belonging during the investigation, trial/ afterward.
    • The witnesses, categorised under the plan, can lodge application for looking for protection order before the competent authority of the related district where the offence is committed.
    • This competent authority will be led by District and Sessions Judge, with head of the police in the district as member and head of the prosecution in the district as its member secretary.
    • The authority, when receives an application, has to call for a ‘Threat Analysis Report’ from the ACP or DSP in charge of the related Police Sub-Division.
    • The authority is also authorized to order protection measures grounded on the ‘Threat Analysis Report’ including identity protection, change of identity and relocation of witnesses.

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