• Current Affairs , 13 December 2019

    • December 13, 2019
    • Posted By : upliftlife
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    1. Rashtrapati Bhavan to host conference of Vice Chancellors / Directors of Central Universities /Institutes of Higher Learning
    2. Land Boundary Agreement (LBA)
    3. Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers allays apprehensions of Urea shortage in Madhya Pradesh; projected demand fully supplied
    4. India Design Council launches two Initiatives to promote Design Education and Standards
    5. Infrastructure projects in North Eastern States
    6. Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill, 2019
    7. Data on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use
    8. Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana
    9. India is the 4th country where this Skills Build platform has been launched
    • Agreement with Kazakhstan for supply of Uranium
    1. Britain General Elections: Voting begins to elect new Parliament
    2. US warns North Korea of consequences of weapons test
    3. Missing Chilean air force plane
    4. Rohingya genocide claim factually misleading: Aung San Suu Kyi
    5. 3rd T20I: India beat West Indies






    1. Rashtrapati Bhavan to host conference of Vice Chancellors / Directors of Central Universities /Institutes of Higher Learning



    • Rashtrapati Bhavan will host a conference of 46 Vice Chancellors/ Directors of Central Universities/Institutes of Higher Learning on December 14, 2019.
    • This is part of regular interactions of the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, with such institutions in his capacity as visitor to 152 Central Universities and institutions of higher learning.
    • During the conference various sub groups will make presentations on issues such as promotion of research; promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship among students; building industry – academia linkages; filling up of vacancies including faculty from foreign universities; creating alumni funding and enhancing alumni activities; completion of major infrastructure projects in a time bound manner.
    • Apart from the heads of 46 institutions of higher learning, the Union Ministers for Chemicals and Fertilizers; Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare; Human Resource Development; Commerce and Industry; and Petroleum and Natural Gas as well as Secretaries of concerned Departments and Chairman AICTE will also attend the Conference.


    1. Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) 


    • More than four years after the historic Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) between India and Bangladesh, a report released by civil rights organisations on the situation in erstwhile enclavesstates that protest and resistance have become an essential part of their survival in India.
    • The situation has not improved. There are marked continuities in the problems that existed in the pre-LBA years, although the nature and context of the problems have perceptibly changed.
    • On India’s part, the spotlight has now shifted from the identity crisis faced by erstwhile enclave dwellers in the pre-LBA situation, to issues of poor governance, as well as conflict of interest between the Centre and the state in the post-LBA years.
    • The intractable discord regarding the implementation of the measures as promised to the new citizens, coupled with lack of coordination between the Centre and the state in India, has apparently transformed the enclaves into hotbeds of local politics.
    • Under the Land Boundary Agreement between, the Bangladeshi enclaves in India and Indian enclaves in Bangladesh were transferred on July 31, 2015.
    • The agreement involved handing over 17,000 acres of land to Bangladesh in return for 7,000 acres in 162 enclaves in West Bengal, Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya.
    • It also required an amendment to the Constitution (the 119th amendment).


    1. Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers allays apprehensions of Urea shortage in Madhya Pradesh; projected demand fully supplied

    • The Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers, Shri D.V. Sadananda Gowda has allayed apprehensions of Urea shortage in Madhya Pradesh.
    • “There has appeared certain news regarding shortage of urea from some part of Madhya Pradesh. The news of urea shortage does not match up with the actual data. We have ensured that sufficient quantity of urea is available across the country including Madhya Pradesh during current Rabi season till date”
    • Madhya Pradesh State Minister of Farmers’ Welfare and Agricultural Development, Horticulture and Food Processing, Shri Sachin Subhash Yadav called on Shri Gowda today and thanked him for the continued support extended by the Central Government in ensuring availability of urea.
    • “I spoke to the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh yesterday regarding this issue, and conveyed him that sufficient quantities have already been made available in the State. I also assured him that 15 urea rakes are in transit for MP which will reach the State in next 2-3 days. This will be able to take care of the demand”, said Shri Gowda.
    • Shri Gowda said the current crisis may be due to the problems at ground level distribution network. “Recently the State Government has decided to distribute 80% of urea through Cooperatives and 20% through private dealer network. This ratio was previously 50:50”, he said. It is understood that due to this decision there is a heavy rush at the state Markfed outlets which is being reported as shortage.
    • “The distribution of urea within the State is responsibility of State Agriculture Department, the mandate of DoF (Department of Fertilizers) is to ensure overall availability at State level. Nonetheless, we will continue to work with the State Government in every possible way to ensure that farmers get adequate amount of urea on time”, he added.
    • The Minister said urea availability in the State of Madhya Pradesh is comfortable. “The same has also been reported upon by representatives of State Government during recent weekly video conferences with officers of my Department”.
    • During current month of December, as against monthly requirement of 4.25 Lakh Metric Tonnes (LMT) assessed for Madhya Pradesh, availability of 7.08 LMT has been ensured till December 11, 2019. This also includes opening stock of 5.80 LMT at the beginning of December. As on date, the DBT sales registered during December month are 2.98 LMT and the closing stock available in the state is 4.10 LMT.
    • During the current Rabi 2019-20 season (October 2019 to March 2020) the Urea requirement of Madhya Pradesh is 15.40 LMT (0.4 LMT reserved allocation) as assessed by the Department of Agriculture Cooperation & Farmers (DAC&FW) in consultation with the representatives of Madhya Pradesh State Government during the Zonal conference held on 11thSeptember, 2019. It is learnt that now the Agriculture Department of Madhya Pradesh has requested DAC&FW for enhancement of Rabi requirement from 15.40 LMT to 18 LMT.
    • Shri Gowda said he has assured Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shri Kamal Nath that the additional demand for Urea will also be met.
    • The Minister said ensuring timely availability of fertilizer to farmers is prime concern of our Government. “As in-charge of Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers, I monitor fertilizer availability situation with officers of my Ministry on daily basis. I also urge everybody to please refer to our fertilizer dashboard at urvarak.nic.in website which has information about state-wise availability of fertilizer”, Shri Gowda said.
    • The present Rabi season in Madhya Pradesh started with a comfortable urea opening stock of 5.96 LMT [which was more than the 1/3rd of the total seasonal requirement of the state (Source: DoF dashboard eurvarak.nic.in). Against the urea requirement of 10.12 LMT till date, the availability ensured by DoF is 14.23 LMT till date.



    1. India Design Council launches two Initiatives to promote Design Education and Standards



    • The India Design Council (IDC) launched the Chartered Designs of India (CDI) and the Design Education Quality Mark (DEQM) in New Delhi.
    • These two initiatives of IDC and National Institute of design, Ahmedabad will help to address the 5 challenges of scale, quality of design, quality of education for design, raising the priority for design in industry and design for public purpose.
    • As Design Education gains momentum in India, it is necessary that commissioners of Design projects and designers are able to distinguish qualified professional designers as against hobbyists and non-professionals. India has a growing design ecosystem that has resulted in growth both in employment of creative skills and impact in the service sector. Creative manufacturing and design innovation will be the key drivers in the Make in India initiative of 2020 and beyond and further strengthening the brand “designed in India”.
    • India Design Council is an autonomous body of the Government of India established under the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry. It is a national strategic body for multi-disciplinary design and is involved in promotion of design to make India a design enabled country.
    • In 2007, India became one of the few countries to adopt a National Design Policy (NDP) and to enable the policy implementation the Government of India announced establishment of IDC in March 2009. IDC is mandated to implement the NDP and is committed to work towards raising the standards of design education in India and ensure that it meets global benchmarks. IDC is working with other government agencies, the design community, industry and educational institutions to promote design in business, society and public service.
    • The two initiatives launched today will aid and support the profession of design and help in growing the profession and to establish professional standards. The DEQM will benchmark design education programmes on predetermined standards and will accord Design Education Quality Mark to institutions that meet the provisions of the published standard. The DEQ Mark will be granted to institutions which undergo the review process and meet or exceed the expectations for quality and standards as prescribed in the Quality Code.
    • The Quality Mark will communicate to everyone that an institution has a guaranteed minimum level of quality and standards and has undergone a third party, neutral review process. The Quality Mark includes a trademark-protected logo, which could be used by the recipient institutions in all forms of internal and external communication.
    • The Quality Mark will help students to choose the right design programme from a wide choice, help prospective employers understand the standing of the design institute and communicate to the society about the adherence of Quality Code by the design institute.
    • The second initiative launched today of the CDI is envisaged as an institution that will establish and uphold the professional standards of design practice in India. The focus of CDI is the “Professional Designer” identified by a design qualification and or experience. CDI is a cohesive platform that adheres to the design practice to standards in professional design competence, ethics and service.



    1. Infrastructure projects in North Eastern States



    • The broad objective of the North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme (NESIDS) is to ensure focused development of North East Region by providing financial assistance for projects of (a) physical infrastructure relating to water supply, power, connectivity to enhance tourism and (b) social sector for creation of infrastructure in the areas of primary and secondary sectors of education and health.
    • The sanctioning of the projects under NESIDS began in F.Y. 2018-19. Normally, the completion period of a project is 2-3 years from the date of sanction, however, it varies from project to project.
    • The details of funds released under the scheme, State-wise, are given below. Further releases would depend upon the pace of implementation of the projects.
    • This information was provided by the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh in written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha



    1. Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill, 2019


    • The Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Ministry of External Affairs, Dr. Subhrahmanyam Jaishankar, on December 9, 2019. The Bill provides for prevention of maritime piracy and prosecution of persons for such piracy related crimes.  Key features of the Bill include:
    • Applicability of the Bill: The Bill will apply to all parts of the sea adjacent to and beyond the limits of the Exclusive Economic Zone of India.  Exclusive Economic Zone refers to the area of sea to which India has exclusive rights for economic activities.
    • Piracy: The Bill defines piracy as any illegal act of violence, detention, or destruction committed against a ship, aircraft, person or property, for private purposes, by the crew or passengers of a private ship or aircraft.  Such acts may be carried out on the high seas or in any place outside the jurisdiction of India.  Inciting or intentionally facilitating such acts would also qualify as piracy.  It also includes any other act that is considered piracy under international law.
    • Piracy also includes voluntary participation in the operations of a pirate ship or aircraft. This includes a ship or aircraft which is either: (i) intended to be used for committing any act of piracy, or (ii) has been used to commit an act of piracy, and is still under the control of the persons guilty of such act.
    • Offences and penalties: An act of piracy will be punishable with: (i) imprisonment for life; or (ii) death, if the act of piracy includes attempted murder, or causes death.  An attempt to commit, aid, abet, or procure for an act of piracy, or directing others to participate in an act of piracy will be punishable with up to 14 years of imprisonment, and a fine.  Offences will be considered extraditable.  This means that the accused can be transferred to any country for prosecution with which India has signed an extradition treaty.  In the absence of such treaties, offences will be extraditable on the basis of reciprocity between the countries.
    • Arrest and seizure: A ship or aircraft under the control of pirates may be seized, persons aboard may be arrested, and the property on board may also be seized.  The seizure may be carried out only by: (i) a warship or military aircraft of the Indian Navy, (ii) a ship or aircraft of the India Coast Guard, or (iii) ships or aircrafts on government service, and authorised for such purpose.
    • Designated Court: The central government, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court, may notify the Sessions Courts to be the Designated Courts under this Bill.  It may also notify the territorial jurisdiction of each Designated Court.
    • Jurisdiction of the Court: The Designated Court will try offences committed by: (i) a person in the custody of the Indian Navy or Coast Guard, regardless of his nationality, (ii) a citizen of India, a resident foreign national in India, or a stateless person.  Further, the Court may try a person even if the person is not physically present in the Court.
    • The Court will not have jurisdiction over offences committed on a foreign ship, unless an intervention is requested by: (i) the country of origin of the ship, (ii) the ship owner, or (iii) any other person on the ship. Warships and government ships employed for non-commercial purposes will not be under the jurisdiction of the Court.
    • Presumption of guilt: The presumption of guilt will be on the accused if: (i) the accused is in possession of arms, explosives and other equipment which were used or intended for use in committing the offence, (ii) there is evidence of use of force against the ship’s crew or passengers, and (iii) there is evidence of the intended use of bombs and arms against the crew, passengers or cargo of a ship.


    7. Data on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use

    • The National Crime Record Bureau under the Ministry of Home Affairs has informed that a total number of 874, 750 and 778 people have died during 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively due to drug overdose in the country.
    • The national survey was conducted to generate estimates for eight categories of psychoactive substances: Alcohol, Cannabis, Opioids, Cocaine, Amphetamine Type Stimulants (ATS), Sedatives, Inhalants and Hallucinogens.
    • India is home to six crore alcohol addicts, more than the population of 172 world nations including Italy.
    • Alcoholism is a condition that requires medical attention, but unfortunately only less than 3% of the people with drinking problem get any treatment.
    • Addictions: More than 3.1 crore Indians (2.8%) have reported using cannabis products, Bhang, Ganja, Charas, Heroin and Opium, in last one year. Unfortunately only one in 20 drug addicts gets treatment at a hospital.
    • Country liquor accounts for 30% of the total liquor consumption, and Indian made foreign liquor also account for the same amount.
    • In Punjab and Sikkim, the prevalence of cannabis use disorders is considerably higher (more than thrice) than the national average.
    • At the national level, Heroin is most commonly used substance followed by pharmaceutical opioids, followed by opium (Afeem).
    • Less than 1% or nearly 1.18 crore people use sedatives, non medical or non prescription use. However, what is more worrying that its prevalence is high among children and adolescents. This problem of addiction of children is more prevalent in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi and Haryana.
    • It constituted Narco-Coordination Centre (NCORD)in November, 2016 and revived the scheme of “Financial Assistance to States for Narcotics Control”.
    • In 2017, the government approved new Reward Guidelines with increased quantum of reward for interdiction or seizure of different illicit drugs.
    • For effective coordination with foreign countries, India has signed 37 Bilateral Agreements/Memoranda of Understanding.
    • Narcotics Control Bureau has been provided funds for developing a new software i.e. Seizure Information Management System (SIMS) which will create a complete online database of drug offences and offenders.
    • The government has constituted a fund called “National Fund for Control of Drug Abuse”to meet the expenditure incurred in connection with combating illicit traffic in Narcotic Drugs; rehabilitating addicts, and educating public against drug abuse, etc.
    • The government is also conducting National Drug Abuse Survey to measure trends of drug abuse in India through Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment with the help of National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre of AIIMS.
    • The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has drafted National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction (2018-2023)for addressing the problem of drug and substance abuse in the country, dumping a long-pending draft policy on the matter.


    8. Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana

    • Senior Citizens, belonging to BPL category and suffering from any of the age-related disability/infirmity Low vision, Hearing impairment, Loss of teeth and Locomotor disability.
    • What assistance is provided? Assisted-living devices which can restore near normalcy in their bodily functions, overcoming the disability/infirmity manifested. They are free-of cost.

    What assistance is provided? Assisted-living devices which can restore near normalcy in their bodily functions, overcoming the disability/infirmity manifested. They are free-of cost.

    Funding: This is a Central Sector Scheme, fully funded by the Central Government. The expenditure for implementation of the scheme will be met from the “Senior Citizens’ Welfare Fund “.

    Other key facts:

    • In case of multiple disabilities/infirmities manifested in the same person, the assistive devices will be given in respect of each disability/impairment.
    • Beneficiaries in each district will be identified by the State Governments/UT Administrations through a Committee chaired by the Deputy Commissioner/District Collector.
    • As far as possible, 30% of the beneficiaries in each district shall be women.

    Need for the scheme:

    With more than 70% of the 104 million elderly living in the rural hinterland, any serious initiative to improve the lot of senior citizens must incorporate adequate budgetary support for social welfare spending on the relevant programmes.

    • With the number of the elderly in India set to surge by 2050 to almost 300 million, or about a fifth of the population, governments need to make more comprehensive efforts to address the problems of elderly.


    1. India is the 4th country where this Skills Build platform has been launched


    • It is a digital platform developed by IBMenabling holistic learning and aligning it with Skills India initiative by Government of India.
    • Launched by Directorate General of Training (DGT), under the aegis of Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE).
    • As part of the programme, a two-year advanced diploma in IT, networking and cloud computing, co-created and designed by IBM, will be offered at the Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) & National Skill Training Institutes (NSTIs).
    • The digital platform will provide a personal assessment of the cognitive capabilities and personality via MyInnerGenius to the students.
    • They will then learn foundational knowledge about digital technologies, as well as professional skills such as resume-writing, problem solving and communication.
    • Students will also receive recommendations on role-based education for specific jobs that include technical and professional learning.
    • This initiative is part of IBM’s global commitment to create a job-ready workforce and to build the next generation of skills needed for new collar careers.






    1. Agreement with Kazakhstan for supply of Uranium


    • A Contract was signed with M/sJSC NAC Kazatomprom, Kazakhstan on 08.07.2015 for procurement of 5000 MT of Uranium Ore Concentrate (UOC) spread over a period of 5 years during 2015 to 2019 at an indicative total cost of Rs.3156 crore, with an option to procure additional quantity of 500 MT of UOC per year for four years from 2016 to 2019, on mutually acceptable terms.
    • As per the contract with M/s JSC NAC Kazatomprom, the balance quantity of 1500 MTU is scheduled to reach India in December 2019.
    • The status of uranium supplies from other countries such as Canada, Argentina, Namibia, etc., is furnished as below:
    • Status of Uranium supplies from various countries
    Sl. No Date of Contract Firm’s name Total Quantity to be procured as per contract Status of Contract
    1.  17.12.2008 M/s. AREVA, France 300 MT ‘U’ in the form of UOC Contract stands executed
    2. 11.02.2009 M/S.JSC TVEL, Russia 2000 MT ‘U’ in the form of Natural UO2pellets Contract stands executed
    3. 11.02.2009 M/S.JSC TVEL, Russia 58 MT ‘U’ in the form of Enriched UO2 pellets Contract stands executed
    4. 03.03.2015 M/S.JSC TVEL, Russia 42 MT ‘U’ in the form of Enriched UO2 pellets Contract stands executed
    5. 31.12.2018 M/s. JSC TVEL, Russia 56.67 MT ‘U’ Enriched UO2 pellets Contract stands executed
    6. 15.04.2015 M/s. Cameco Inc., Canada


    3000 MT ‘U’ in the form of UOC and additional quantity of 2500 MT ‘U’ with mutual agreement Balance quantity 1000MT ‘U’ scheduled to be received in December-2019 and 1000 MT ‘U’ to be received in 2020
    7. 18.01.2019 M/s. NMMC, Uzbekistan 1100 MT ‘U’ in the form of UOC Supplies will start from 2022
    • This information was provided by the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh in written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha




    1. Britain General Elections: Voting begins to elect new Parliament

    • Voting for the general election is underway to elect new parliament in Britain  Polling will close at 10 pm local time.
    • A snap general election was called to break the Brexit deadlock that has gripped Britain ever since the 2016 referendum vote to leave the European Union, EU.
    • A total of 3,322 candidates are contesting the 650 seats of Parliament this year. Britain’s impending exit from the EU played a key role in the campaign this time.
    • Prime Minister Boris Johnson from the Conservative party has called for a big majority so that he can swiftly pull Britain out of the EU next month.
    • On the other hand, the main opposition Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn promises a new referendum on Brexit as well as a re-nationalisation of utilities.


    1. US warns North Korea of consequences of weapons test


    • The United States has warned North Korea of consequences if it goes ahead with its threat of a weapons test in the New Year.
    • At the UN Security Council, US ambassador Kelly Craft voiced concern that North Korea is indicating it would test intercontinental ballistic missiles which are designed to attack the continental United States with nuclear weapons. She said missile and nuclear testing will not bring Pyongyang greater security.
    • Hinting at further sanctions, Craft said if events prove otherwise Security Council must be prepared to act accordingly.
    • Earlier, North Korea vowed an ominous Christmas gift if the US does not come up with concessions by the end of the year.
    • Craft ruled out meeting North Korea’s demands for an offer in the year’s final weeks, saying the United States and the Security Council have a goal, not a deadline. But she said the United States wanted to work toward a deal and they are prepared to be flexible in how they approach this matter.


    1. Missing Chilean air force plane


    • Rescuers have recovered wreckage from the Chilean air force plane that went missing on Monday. This was confirmed by Chile’s military and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro yesterday.
    • Chilean officials said the wreckage was found floating 19 miles from where the C-130 Hercules cargo plane with 38 people on board, last made contact. The wreckage was spotted in a body of water known as the Drake Passage. The plane was en route from Chile’s southern city of Punta Arenas to the Antarctic.
    • Air Force Commander Eduardo Mosqueira told reporters the located debris could be part of the remains of the sponges of the internal fuel tanks.
    • Brazil’s President Bolsonaro tweeted that a Brazilian navy vessel had recovered more wreckage as well as personal items that may belong to the passengers.
    • Search vessels and planes from the United States, Uruguay and Argentina were also combing nearly 385 square miles around the plane’s last known position in the Drake Passage lying south of Cape Horn and north of Antarctica.


    1. Rohingya genocide claim factually misleading: Aung San Suu Kyi


    • Myanmar’s state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday defended the Myanmar government against the allegations of the genocide of Rohingyas at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague.
    • She called the allegations as an incomplete and misleading factual picture of the situation in Rakhine state. She said that Myanmar’s security forces responded to the attacks by the insurgent group Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) in October 2016 leading to the death of nine police officers and hundreds of civilians. This armed conflict led to the exodus of Muslims from Rakhine into Bangladesh.
    • In her 25-minute long defence Aung San Suu Kyi said that Myanmar will not tolerate any human rights violation and the government is working to fix the domestic accountability.
    • She conceded that in some cases the armed forces may have used disproportionate force violating international humanitarian law and civilians suffered in the conflict. However, she said that Myanmar’s own judicial system was investigating any possible crimes and reach its own conclusion.
    • The ICJ is hearing the case filed by Gambia on behalf of the OIC accusing Myanmar of genocide and calling for provisional measures against Myanmar to protect further persecution of the Rohingyas.
    • The hearing started on Tuesday with Gambia presenting its case. It will conclude on Thursday when both the countries will get a chance to present their points in the second round of hearing.









    1. 3rd T20I: India beat West Indies by 67 runs

    • India beat West Indies by 67 runs to win the third and final T20 International at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai yesterday. With this victory, India won the three-match series by 2-1.
    • Batting first, India made 240 for 3 in the stipulated 20 overs. K L Rahul scored 91 off 56 balls. Rohit Sharma played a power-packed innings of 71 runs, including five sixes and six boundaries. Skipper Virat Kohli gave the finishing touch to the Indian innings with a scintillating unbeaten knock of 70 runs off 29 balls. He hit seven sixes.
    • In reply, the West Indies managed 173 for 8 in 20 overs, with Kieron Pollard scoring 68 off 39 balls. West Indies had defeated India by eight wickets in the second T-20 at Thiruvananthpuram on Sunday. India beat West Indies by six wickets in the first T-20 in Hyderabad on Friday. India and West Indies will now play three ODIs starting from Sunday.


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