Daily Current Affairs - 01-04-2021

The government withdrew its a day before the order of reduction of 40-110 basis points in interest rates of small savings schemes including Public Provident Fund (PPF) and National Savings Certificate (NSC).

What was the announcement?

As per an announcement on March 31, the government announced a sharp cut in the interest rate of PPF, NSC, and others. As per the order, PPF would have fetched an interest rate of 6.4 percent and NSC 5.9 percent. But, the order has been withdrawn on April 1. The present interest rates of the schemes are given below.

Public Provident Fund (PPF)

A Public Provident Fund or PPF will give an interest rate of 7.1 percent (compounded annually). PPF is a long-term tax-saving instrument that provides a fixed rate of interest annually on the amount that you invested during the year. PPF has a lock-in period of 15 years. The interest earned in a PPF account is tax-free. The amount that is deposited during the fiscal year can be claimed under Section 80C.

National Savings Certificate (NSC)

A National Savings Certificate or NSC gives an interest rate of 6.8 percent which is compounded annually but payable at maturity. NSC has a tenure of five years and comes with a fixed rate of interest.

Sukanya Samriddhi Account Scheme

Sukanya Samriddhi Account Scheme will provide an interest of 7.6 percent compounded annually. It is also known as Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana and was launched in the year 2015 as part of the “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” initiative of the government. It can only be opened by the natural or legal guardian of a girl child aged below 10 years.

The account matures after 21 years from the date of opening. If the marriage of the account holder takes place before 21 years, then the operation of the account is not permitted beyond the date of her marriage.

Kisan Vikas Patra

Kisan Vikas Patra is a savings scheme available at the India Post Offices in the form of certificates. The scheme provides a fixed rate and doubles the investment after a predetermined period of time. At present, the interest rate is 6.9% and the time period is 124 months.

Senior Citizen Savings Scheme

Senior Citizen Savings Scheme at present offers an interest rate of 7.4 percent (compounded quarterly). The scheme is available for those over 60 years of age.

The World Economic Forum has released the Global Gender Gap Report 2021. India has seen a decrease in its ranking on the index by 28 places.

Key Points

India and its Neighbours

Iceland has topped the index for the 12th time and is the most gender-equal country in the world. The top 10 most gender-equal countries are Iceland, Finland, Norway, New Zealand, Rwanda, Sweden, Ireland, and Switzerland.

Recently, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in a video message promised to implement Article 244 (A) of the Constitution in order to safeguard the interests of the people in tribal-majority districts of Assam.

What is Article 244(A) of the Constitution?

Article 244(A) of the Constitution allows the creation of an ‘autonomous state’ within Assam in certain tribal areas. It was inserted into the Constitution by the Congress government in the year 1969. It also includes a provision for a Legislature and a Council of Ministers.

How the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution is different from Article 244(A)?

The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution — Articles 244(2) and 275(1) — is a special provision that allows decentralized governance and greater political autonomy in certain tribal areas of the Northeast through autonomous councils that are administered by elected representatives. If we talk about Assam, the hill districts of Karbi Anglong, West Karbi, Dima Hasao, and the Bodo Territorial Region are under the provision of the 6th schedule.

On the other hand, Article 244(A) provides more autonomous powers to tribal areas.

Why is the demand for implementing Article 244(A) in Assam?

Initially, a demand for a separate hill state came up in certain sections of the tribal population of undivided Assam in the 1950s. In the year 1960, several political parties of the hill areas came together to form the All Party Hill Leaders Conference and put forward the demand for a separate state. As a result of these prolonged agitations, Meghalaya was formed in the year 1972.

At that time, the leaders of the North Cachar Hills and Karbi Anglong were also part of this movement. They were given an option to stay in Assam or join Meghalaya. They stayed in Assam on the promise of the Congress government of providing greater powers, including Article 244 (A).

Since then, there has been a demand for implementing Article 244 (A) in the state. In the 1980s, a violent movement also took place for the demand.

Recently in February 2021, around 1,040 militants of five militant groups of Karbi Anglong district laid down arms at an event in Guwahati in the presence of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.

A new report titled Forest Governance by Indigenous and Tribal Peoples has been released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean (FILAC).

Key Points

Titled territories suffer lower deforestation, emit less carbon

As per one of the studies analyzed in the FAO/FILAC report, the deforestation rate inside indigenous woodlands where the land property has been ensured is 2.5 times lower than outside such areas in Brazil, 2 times less in Colombia, and 2.8 times lower in Bolivia.

In these three countries, the titled collective territories were found to avoid between 42.8 and 59.7 million metric tons (MtC) of CO2 emissions each year. These combined emissions were equal to taking between 9 and 12.6 million vehicles out of circulation for one year.

As per the FAO/FILAC report, the costs involved in securing indigenous lands are 5 to 42 times lower as compared to the average costs of avoided CO2 through fossil carbon capture and storage for both gas-fired and coal power plants.

Indigenous and tribal peoples are invaluable agents against climate change

It should be noted that around 45% (half) of the intact forests in the Amazon Basin are present in indigenous territories. The area of intact forest decreased by only 4.9% between the years 2000 and 2016 in the region’s indigenous areas. However, in the non-indigenous areas, the decline was 11.2%.

The Odisha state government has proposed a second biosphere reserve in the southern part of the state at Mahendragiri. It is a mountain in the Gajapati district of the state. It is at an altitude of 1,501 metres. Mahendragiri is also the second-highest peak in the state.

Key Points

Similipal Biosphere Reserve

Similipal Biosphere Reserve is the first biosphere reserve of Odisha. It was notified on May 20, 1996. It has an area of a 5,569-square kilometre.

Scientists have developed a new technique for tracking the huge bubbles of gas threaded with magnetic field lines that are ejected from the Sun, disrupting space weather and causing satellite failures, geomagnetic storms, and power outages.

Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs)

The ejections from the Sun are technically called Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs). These cause several disturbances to the space environment and thus forecasting their arrival time is very crucial. The forecasting accuracy is however hindered by limited CME observations in interplanetary space.

Computer Aided CME Tracking Software (CACTus)

CMEs Identification in Inner Solar Corona (CIISCO)

Aditya-L1

Aditya-L1, the first solar mission of India, will observe the lower region of the solar corona. Thus, implementation of CIISCO on the Aditya-L1 data will provide new insight into the CME properties in this less explored region.

The first animal vaccine against the novel coronavirus in the world has been registered in Russia. It was announced by the country’s agriculture safety watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor.

Key Points

All about Carnivac-Cov

Covid-19 Cases in Russia

Coronavirus cases in Russia rose by 8,711 to 4,528,543 on 29 March.  Russia already has 3 Covid-19 vaccines for humans to deal with the pandemic. The most popular vaccine used for humans is Sputnik V. Moscow has also given emergency approval to two others, CoviVac and EpiVacCorona.

The Union Cabinet has approved a production-linked incentive scheme for the food processing industry with an outlay of Rs 10,900 crore.

Key Points

The selected applicants for the scheme will have to invest in plant and machinery in the first two years – 2021-2022 and 2022-2023.

Indian Army has closed its Military farms on March 31 after 132 years of service. Military farms are the farms that were formed with an aim to supply hygienic cow milk to troops in garrisons across British India.

Key Points

Project Freiswal

They established “Project Freiswal” in association with the Ministry of Agriculture. Project Freiswal is credited to be the largest cattle cross-breeding programme in the world. These farms also teamed up with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in the development of bio-fuel.

Odisha will celebrate its 85th foundation day of the state on April 1. The day is also known as ‘Utkal Divas’. The day marks the date when the state became independent in the year 1936.

Key Points

Odisha

As of 2019, the state has 30 districts. It is the 8th largest state of the country by area and 11th largest by population. The neighboring states of Odisha are Andhra Pradesh to the south, Chhattisgarh to the west, and West Bengal and Jharkhand to the north.