The First Forum is an initiative that focuses on covering the latest happenings in a brief format. This is in lieu of the importance of knowledge about current happenings in this fast-changing world.
In the Fifty-Sixth Edition of The First Forum we would be covering the following topics:
1. Politics
2. Society and Culture 
3. Science and Technology

(By Ankita Punjani, Ayush Harlalka, and Divyansh Gupta)


Pakistan appoints 3 senior lawyers in Kulbhushan Jadhav’s Case
The Islamabad High Court has named three senior lawyers as amici curiae in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case as it asked the Pakistan government to give “another chance” to India to appoint a counsel for the death-row prisoner. Kulbhushan Jadhav, the 50-year-old retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage in April 2017. IRead Morendia approached the International Court of Justice against Pakistan for denial of consular access to Jadhav and challenging the death sentence and the ICJ ruled in July 2019 that Pakistan must undertake an “effective review and reconsideration” of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav and also to grant consular access to India without further delay. A two-member bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb appointed the three lawyers as it held a hearing of the petition filed by the Pakistan government to appoint a lawyer for Jadhav.

India rejects Pakistan’s new political map
In a provocative move, Pakistan has unveiled its “new political map” showing the entire Jammu & Kashmir and parts of Gujarat as its territories, drawing the ire of India, which dismissed it as “ridiculous assertions” that have “neither legal validity nor international credibility”. The new map showed Pakistan frontier clearly marked with India with the entire Kashmir as its territory. Read MoreHowever, the part of Kashmir and Ladakh border with China was not marked and described as “Frontier Undecided”. The controversial changes in the map by Pakistan were made a day before the first anniversary of India’s decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019. India rejected the map by issuing a statement under the Ministry of External Affairs. It termed the map as a ridiculous assertion having neither legal validity nor international credibility. “This new effort only confirms reality of Pakistan”s obsession with territorial aggrandisement supported by cross-border terrorism,” MEA said in a statement.

AAP demands CBI enquiry in protest against Punjab government over hooch tragedy
The Aam Aadmi Party in a protest against the Punjab government demanded a CBI probe and resignation of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh over a hooch tragedy that has claimed more than 100 lives. AAP state president Bhagwant Mann along with other MLAs protested by sitting on road after they were stopped near Mullanpur from moving towards the CMs house. Read MoreMann said that the government is trying to cover up the tragedy and no arrests have been made of those who were involved in smuggling of liquor in the state. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal asked the state government to immediately take all the necessary steps to curb mafias. Punjab CM in response slammed the AAP leader and asked him to mind is own business. He further asked him not to exploit any affair of reviving his party’s stake in the state.

Trump signs order restricting H-1B visa holders for federal jobs
U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order restricting H-1B visa workers from replacing Americans by preventing federal agencies from contracting and subcontracting foreign workers. This comes after Trump had earlier suspended many foreign work visas including H-1B till year-end to protect American workers. Read MoreThe order requires employers to prove that they are not replacing any qualified American with foreign skilled workers. Trump’s decision came after the federally-owned Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) decided to outsource around 20% of its tech jobs. Trump said that H-1B should not be used for hiring cheap labour, rather it is to be used for top highly paid talent. He also stressed that his administration will not tolerate firing Americans for cheap labour. Indian IT professionals use H-1B visa to get employed as a foreign worker in speciality occupations that require technical and theoretical expertise. Thousands of employees are hired every year from India and China on H-1B.

Society and Culture

UK to mint coin in remembrance of MK Gandhi
Britain is considering minting a coin to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi, amid growing interest in recognizing the contributions of people from the Black, Asian and other minority ethnic communities. British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak asked the Royal Mint Advisory Committee (RMAC) in a letter to pursue recognition of individuals from those communities. Read MoreIn his letter to the RMAC, Sunak said members of the Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities have made a “profound contribution” and that the committee should consider recognizing it on the UK’s coinage. The RMAC is an independent committee made up of experts who recommend themes and designs for coins to Britain’s finance minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. India celebrates the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi this year.

India celebrates 1st August as Muslim Women’s Right Day
Recently, On 1st August 2020, Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi informed that country observed the 1st Muslim Women Rights Day across India in accordance with the 1st anniversary of the passage of Muslim Women Act (Protetion on Rights on Marriage Act) 2019 on 1st August 2019 which against the act of triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat and help to achieve gender equality for Muslim women as Muslim Women Rights Day. Read MoreMukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Union Minister for Minority Affairs addressed the Muslim women across the nation in a virtual conference organised on the occasion of Muslim women rights day at the National Commission for Minorities office in New Delhi. Muslim women from New Delhi, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Hyderabad participated in the conference.

At least 100 killed and thousands injured in the Lebanese capital following a massive blast
A massive blast in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, killed at least 100 and injured 4000 people. The number of deaths is expected to increase way beyond 100 in the aftermath of the explosion of 2750 tons of unsafely stored ammonium nitrate for more than six years at the capital’s port. Read MoreAccording to the reports, a small blast took place earlier followed by the massive explosion that sent shock waves as far as 200kms and was measured 3.3 on the Richter scale. The governor of Beirut said that close to 300,000 people are left homeless. President Michel Auon has released an emergency fund of $66 million and declared a two-week state of emergency. The country is going through an economic and political crisis and the hospitals are already overwhelmed by the patients from coronavirus pandemic. Emergency medical aid has been dispatched to Lebanon from several countries for immediate support. Ammonium nitrate is known to be the cause of numerous explosions over the decades.

24 Million Students may never return to school: UN
According to the United Nations, 24 Million students in 180 countries may drop out of school from pre-primary to university level due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. More than a billion children from over 160 countries have been affected by the disruption in the system and are missing school this year. Read MoreThe UN Secretary-General warned that the pandemic which is likely to increase the educational financing gap by 1/3rd could waste human potential and undermine decades of progress. Children not returning to education after school closures will be even more where girls become vulnerable to violence, pregnancy and child marriage. Severe loss of learning in the foundational years will be observed even in students who do not drop out. According to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the loss of 3 months of learning in Grade 3 might result in 72% of students falling far behind and increase drop out ratio by Grade 10.

Science and Technology

SpaceX Demo2 mission NASA astronauts make a historic return to earth
The SpaceX Dragon Capsule carrying Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken who were a part of Demo2 mission came down in the Gulf of Mexico just south of Pensacola on Florida’s Gulf coast. A recovery vessel moved in to pick up the vehicle and extricate the men. The touchdown marks the first crewed US water landing since the final outing of an Apollo command module 45 years ago. Read MoreThe Dragon capsule launched to the space station at the end of May on a Falcon 9 rocket, also supplied by SpaceX. NASA says contracting out to service providers in this way will save it billions of dollars that can be diverted to getting astronauts to the Moon, as part of its Artemis program, and afterward to Mars. Hurley’s and Behnken’s mission served as an end-to-end demonstration of the astronaut “taxi service” the company, owned by tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, will be selling to Nasa from now on.

NASA’s Perseverance Rover Is Carrying First Spacesuit Materials to Mars for testing
NASA is preparing an advanced strategy to send the first astronauts to the surface of Mars. In this process, however, major concerns remain unanswered as to what suit should be worn on Mars, where the thin atmosphere allows more radiation from the Sun and cosmic rays to reach the ground. Amy Ross, an advanced spacesuit designer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, is in the process of developing new suits for the Mars missions. Read MoreHer designed prototypes accompany the payload of recently launched Mars Rover, Perseverance. Five small pieces of spacesuit material will be studied by an instrument aboard Perseverance called SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals). The materials, including a piece of helmet visor, are embedded alongside a fragment of a Martian meteorite in SHERLOC’s calibration target. SHERLOC will get the spectra, or composition, of these spacesuit materials and then the results of those tests, will be compared with the tests conducted in ultraviolet vacuum chambers on earth.

Water beetles live after being excreted by a frog, says study
Water beetles, “Regimbartia attenuate”, can actively escape through the digestive system after being swallowed by frogs, found Shinji Sugiura from Kobe University. It travels from the throat to the stomach and intestines and comes out of the frog’s butt well and alive. In the study, 90% of the beetles were out alive within six hours with one beetle taking only six minutes to escape. Read MoreSugiura fixed some beetles legs together to conclude whether the beetles were escaping alive or not and found that none of the immobilized beetles found their way out. The beetle’s aquatic lifestyle and ability to breathe underwater via air pockets helped it survive digestion and prevent suffocation. Since frogs don’t have teeth, they take two days to defecate the carcass and depend entirely on intestinal acids for the breakdown.

Dinosaur diagnosed with bone cancer for the first time ever
For the first time, Centrosaurus, a plant-eating dinosaur that was earlier believed to have a badly malformed leg when its fossils were unearthed has been diagnosed with cancer. The malformation is believed to be the manifestation of osteosarcoma, aggressive bone cancer in the 76 million-year-old dinosaur. Read MoreDavid Evans, a researcher of the study, said that the lower leg bone contained a massive gnarly tumour larger than an apple. This find shows that all living beings are affected by many of the same diseases regardless of their size and cancer has existed since time immemorial, Evans added. Researchers used high-resolution CT scans and examined it under a microscope to conclude their finding as most tumours take place in soft tissue and minimal evidence is present in the fossil record.

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