Daily Current Affairs - 12-04-2021

The Chinese Cyber Regulator recently launched a hotline to report online criticism that defame the ruling Communist Party and its history. The regulator has vowed to crack down “Historical Nihilists” ahead of the hundredth anniversary of the Communist party that falls in July 2021.

About the initiative

The hotline launched will allow people to report fellow netizens who create defaming comments about the ruling communist party and its history. The defaming also includes attacking policies, leadership, defaming political heroes and denying the excellence of advanced socialist culture.

Why is it being referred to Historical Nihilism?

The “Historical Nihilism” has become a phrase used in China to describe scepticism and public doubt over the ruling communist party. This is because people in the country have been strongly criticising several policies of the Chinese Government. In return, the government has been increasing restrictions to bring such criticisms under control. The following are some of the strict and widely criticised control measures of the Chinese Government:

What is Nihilism?

Nihilism is expressing some form of negation towards life or towards fundamental concepts such as existence, knowledge and meaning of life.

The film “Nomadland” won four prizes at the BAFTA awards. BAFTA is British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

About Nomadland

Other BAFATA awards

British Academy Film Awards

Other Biggest Film Awards in the world

The Himalayan kingdom Bhutan has recently completed vaccinating 93% of its adult population in the world.

How did Bhutan succeed in its vaccination programme?

How did Bhutan begin its COVID-19 vaccination programme?

Bhutan is a Buddhist country. The first dose of COVID-19 vaccine was administered to a woman born in the year of the monkey along with Buddhist prayers. This depicts the seriousness of the Bhutanese towards the vaccination. Also, an auspicious Buddhist date was chosen to administer the vaccines. In fact, they waited till March 27th to begin the vaccination!

What is Dessuup?

Dessuup is the highest form of voluntary act in Bhutan. They are trained volunteers wearing an orange uniform. The Dessuup programme was first started in 2011. Under the programme, Bhutan has so far trained 4,457 Bhutanese.

India-Bhutan

India has a major role in the vaccination success of Bhutan. India has been constantly supporting Bhutan in the fields of Defence, Education, Health, Science and Technology.

Bhutan is currently receiving help from the Indian Space Research Organisation to launch its own satellite in 2021. India and Bhutan are to jointly develop INS-2B. As a part of this, Bhutan scientists were trained in India.

India stood by Bhutan during the Doklam crisis. Doklam is a disputed region between China and Bhutan. India does not claim Doklam but supports Bhutan’s claim over the region. During the stand off, India launched Operation Juniper. Under the operation, India sent 270 Indian troops to stop the Chinese troops from constructing a road in the disputed region (dispute between China and Bhutan).

The G20 Finance Ministers recently nodded to the International Monetary Fund to provide fresh Special Drawing Rights to its member countries. The IMF has been permitted to provide SDR of worth 650 million USD to the member countries. This will help boost the reserves of all nations and will avoid pushing low-income countries into further distress.

What are Special Drawing Rights?

What is the issue?

The G20 Finance Ministers including India opposed the general allocation of new Special Drawing Rights by the IMF. This is because this will not ease financial pressures created by COVID-19.

Why is the new SDR being issued?

The new Special Drawing Rights is being issued by the International Monetary Fund to help the least developed and developing countries that are facing high foreign exchange crisis due to COVID-19.

How does SDR help IMF?

The SDR is mainly used as a unit of account for internal accounting purposes. It helps the IMF manage exchange rate volatility of any single currency.

Working of SDR

When SDRs are allocated to an IMF member country, the members are given two positions. They are the SDR allocations and SDR holdings. The countries receive interest on their SDR holdings and pay interest based on their SDR allocations.

On April 12, 2021, India reported 168,912 new COVID-19 cases in the last twenty four hours. With this, the total number of COVID-19 cases in India increased to 13.53 million making India, the second most COVID-19 struck country in the world. Previously, Brazil was the second most COVID-19 hit country in the world. The US remains the most COVID-19 affected country in the world. The number of COVID-19 cases in the US has touched 31.2 million.

Current Scenario of COVID-19 in India

Double Mutant COVID-19 variety

The India SARS-COV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG) recently carried out a genomic sequencing on the latest samples of COVID-19. Accordingly, an increase in the fraction of samples with L452 and E484Q mutations has been discovered. These two mutations in COVID-19 virus have come together and are causing the double mutation problem in India. The double mutant variant of COVID-19 has been named as B.1.617.

INSACOG is a group of ten national laboratories that have come together under Ministry of Health to address COVID-19 issues. The laboratories under INSACOG carry out testing process to map the genetic code of the virus. So far, the double mutant variety has been found in eight countries. They are UK, Australia, Singapore, US, etc.

How serious is the problem?

If the double mutation occurs in the spike protein of the virus, then the chances of the virus escaping the immune system is high.

The Union Education Minister Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank recently presented the AICTE Lilavati Awards, 2020 in New Delhi. The awards were presented based on the theme “Women Empowerment”. The winners were selected by AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) in six sub themes.

Winners of Lilavati Awards, 2020

The winners selected in six sub themes were as follows:

About Lilavati Awards

Other GoI initiatives to empower women

Month: Current Affairs - April, 2021

Category: Awards, Persons & Places in News

Topics: AICTE • lilavati award • Women Empowerment

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  • Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Reply

    Hearty congratulations to all the distinguished winners of Lilavati Awards, 2020.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration programme will land the first person of colour on the moon as a part of its Artemis Programme. In addition, NASA will also land first woman on the moon under the programme.

    Key Highlights

    NASA had finalised around 18 astronauts under its Artemis Programme. It included the Indian American Raja Chari. However, NASA is yet to announce the first two crew members of the Artemis programme. NASA has now planned to include a person of colour in the crew. With this, NASA will be landing the first person of colour on the moon under the programme. Currently, NASA faces huge funding problems. This has been one of the major obstacles in implementing the mission. NASA has requested 24.7 billion USD of funding for 2022.

    Artemis Programme

    • Artemis Programme is an international human space flight programme funded by the US Government.
    • The main objective of the programme is to launch a manned mission to the south pole region of the moon by 2024.
    • The programme is predominantly carried out by NASA. The other international partners in the programme are JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), Italian Space Agency, UK Space Agency, UAE space Agency, Brazilian Space Agency, Australian Space Agency, State Space Agency of Ukraine, Canadian Space Agency, and the European Space Agency.
    • The total cost of the programme is estimated to be 35 billion USD.
    • The programme is to be implemented in three parts. They are as follows:
      • Artemis I: To be launched in 2021 and is an uncrewed flight. It will test the Space Launch System and the Orion spacecraft.
      • Artemis II: It is the first crewed flight test and is targeted to be launched in 2023.
      • Artemis III: It will land astronauts on the south pole of moon in 2024.

    The Chilika Development Authority and the State Wildlife Wing recently carried out an annual dolphin census in the Chilika lake. According to the report of the census, the overall Irrawaddy dolphin population in the lake has increased from 146 to 162 in 2021.

    What are the reasons behind the increase in Irrawaddy Dolphins population?

    • The main reason behind the increase in the population of the Endangered Irrawaddy Dolphin population is the persistent enforcement by the Chilika Development Authority (CDA). The authority has taken strict actions against the encroachment in the Chilika lake. Around 25,223 hectares in the lake were under illegal prawn gheries.
    • In 2019, the Odisha High Court ordered to demolish prawn gheries in the wetlands of the state.
    • Since 2018, the CDA has freed up 15,163 hectares from encroachment.
    • Also, restriction on tourism in 2020 due to COVID-19 gave the dolphins an inviolate space.

    Key Findings of the Census

    • The census found 342 dolphins of three species in the lake. There were only 62 of these species the previous year.
    • Around 281 humpback dolphins and twenty-two bottle nose dolphins were sighted by the survey.

    Irrawaddy Dolphins

    • The Irrawaddy Dolphins have been listed under Endangered category in the IUCN Red List.
    • The Dolphin distribution in Chilika lake is the highest single lagoon population.
    • These dolphins are mainly found in three rivers namely Mekong (China), Irrawaddy (Myanmar) and Mahakam (Indonesian Borneo).

    Chilika lake

    • It is the world second largest lagoon.
    • In 1981, the lake was designated as the first Ramsar site of India.
    • The main attraction of the Chilika lake is the Irrawaddy Dolphins. They are often spotted off the Satpada island.
    • The Nalabana island in the lake was declared as bird sanctuary in 1987.

    Iran recently launched Advanced Nuclear Centrifuges at the Natanz Nuclear Plant to mark its National Nuclear Technology Day.

    Key Highlights

    On April 10, 2021, Iran celebrated its National Day on Nuclear Technology. The celebrations were held in several Nuclear sites of Iran. As a part of the celebrations, Iran began operating IR-6 Centrifuges. Also, Iran unveiled more than hundred nuclear industry innovations on the same day. Iran also unveiled the assembly of the first protype of IR-9S and IR-9-1 B Centrifuges. The capacity IR-9 Centrifuges are more than fifty to sixty times higher than the old centrifuges of Iran.

    Nuclear Centrifuge

    A Centrifuge is used to separate particles suspended in a medium. In a Nuclear Centrifuge, Uranium-235 is separated from Uranium-238. It is basically enrichment of Uranium or making it an ideal fuel for the nuclear reactor.

    Significance

    The Nuclear Fuel used in nuclear reactor must have higher concentration of Uranium-235 isotope than that of its natural form, that is, Uranium-238. The Uranium-235 is more radioactive than Uranium-238. There are currently 2,000 tonnes of enriched Uranium in the world. They are predominantly used for preparing nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency aims to control and monitor supplies of enriched Uranium to ensure safe nuclear power generation.

    JCPOA

    Under the Joint comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the 2015 Nuclear Agreement, Iran is restricted to use only certain number of Uranium enrichment centrifuges of IR-1 till 2025. However, in May 2018, the US Government under Donald Trump abandoned the agreement and reimposed sanctions on Iran.

    Way Forward

    The current US Government under Joe Biden has pledged to return to JCPOA. However, it demands Iran to fully comply with its commitments.

    The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) tied up with the Gamapp Sportswizz Tech Private Limited to launch “LITTLE GURU” application. It is a specialized mobile application for learning Sanskrit.

    About “Little Guru”

    • Little Guru is a gamified application.
    • It teaches Sanskrit in an interactive platform. This makes learning easier.
    • The app was launched during the celebrations of the 71st Foundation Day of ICCR.
    • It is world’s first Gamified Sanskrit learning application.
    • It will help people to learn Sanskrit in an easy manner based on competition, games, peer to peer interactions, etc.

    Significance of the Application

    • The application is of great help to the Indian Diaspora wishing to stay connected with their roots.
    • It will also help number of students and faculties associated with Sanskrit Universities located all over the world.

    ICCR role in India-China relations

    • The ICCR has provided scholarships to more than three hundred Chinese students. The aim of these scholarships is to promote cultural, intellectual, and academic exchanges between India and China.
    • There are several Chinese kids learning Indian culture in the country. During the 71st foundation celebrations of ICCR, Chinese kids of age 6-7 years who are learning Indian dance forms in India performed Indian dances. Their dance performances were based on the theme “Azadi ka Amrit”.

    Azadi ka Amrut

    The idea of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav was launched by PM Modi in March 2021. It is a series of events organized by the Government of India to commemorate the 75th anniversary of independence. It was launched 75 weeks ahead of the 75th anniversary. It was launched on March 12, 2021 to commemorate 91 years of Dandi March.

    Noura al Matroushi has been named as the first Female Astronaut of UAE.

    First Female Astronaut of UAE

    Noura al-Matroushi was selected as the first female astronaut of UAE from four thousand other applicants. She is to be trained with NASA for future space exploration missions. Noura is to be accompanied by Mohammed al-Mulla. Both astronauts are to be trained with Johnson Space Centre of NASA located in Houston, Texas.

    About Noura al-Matroushi

    Noura was born in 1993. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the UAE University. She is currently working as an engineer at the National Petroleum Construction Company. She acted as the Vice President of the Youth Council of the company. Noura is also a member of American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

    Space plans of UAE

    UAE does not have any manned mission in near future. However, the country has plans to send unmanned space mission to the moon in 2024. Also, UAE has launched “Amal Satellite” to the Mars in 2020.

    First UAE astronaut to enter space

    In 2019, Hazza al-Mansoori was the first UAE astronaut to enter the space. He spent eight days at the International Space Station.

    First Muslim Woman to enter space

    Noura is the first Arab woman to enter space. However, the first Muslim woman to enter space was Anousheh Raissyan. She was also the first Iranian woman to enter space. She is an Iranian American telecommunications entrepreneur. In 2006, she paid 20 million USD to travel to the International Space Station as a self-funded tourist.

    The Department of Science and Technology recently launched nationwide mass awareness campaign called the “COVID-19 Vaccination Awareness Campaign”. The campaign will bust myths about COVID-19 vaccination. To achieve this, the Department launched information packages in eleven languages including Hindi and English. The main objective of the campaign is to make COVID-19 immunization programme successful.

    About the Campaign

    • The campaign is to be organized by Indian National Young Academy of Science.
    • The campaign is to be held using the mobile application COVACNEWS. The application was created by INYAS to ensure that the information about COVID-19 reaches the people. Also, it aimed at removing misconceptions about COVID-19.

    INYAS

    • INYAS is the only recognized young scientist academy of India.
    • INYAS is also the first young scientist academy in the country.
    • It was founded in 2014.
    • INYAS was established by Indian National Science Academy Council in 2014.
    • The main aim of INYAS is to promote Science Education and networking among young scientists in the country.

    Young Scientists Programmes in India

    The Government of India has lately been launching several initiatives to create young innovative minds in the country.

    • The Atal Tinkering Labs were launched under Atal Innovative Mission to inculcate scientific desire and boost innovative skills among students in their early stages of life.
    • The Indian Space Research Organization had launched the Young Scientist Programme. The main aim of the programme is to inculcate space research passion in young minds.
    • The Defence Research Development Organisation launched five young scientist laboratories. They are in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Kolkata. These labs will work on technologies that hold importance in the development of futuristic defence systems such as Quantum technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Asymmetric Technologies, and Smart materials.

    The Government of India is to launch National Programme on Artificial Intelligence. Under the programme, high value data sets in Public Sector Units are to be identified. These data will then be put under an Artificial Intelligence control framework. The framework will provide access to the appropriate units. This is being done to increase the safety of the data and its accessibility.

    What is the plan?

    Under the National Programme on Artificial Intelligence, a Centre for Transformational Artificial Intelligence to tap the data in various models is to be made available for the Artificial Intelligence model.

    The Government of India has also planned to launch Digital India 2.0. This will boost National Programme on Artificial Intelligence.

    Digital India 2.0

    • The main aim of Digital India 2.0 is to take cybersecurity, digital service offerings and infrastructure to next level.
    • Under Digital India 2.0, the Government of India will develop indigenous cybersecurity products and robust digital infrastructure.
    • It will also aim to create robust Direct Benefit Transfer.
    • A Nationwide Enterprise Architecture is to be established under Digital India 2.0.

    Role of MSMEs in the plans

    • Both Digital India 2.0 and the National Programme on Artificial Intelligence will be implemented in such a way that they support MSMEs and startups in the respective fields.
    • To achieve this, the MSME Ministry will set up Rs 1,000 crores of fund. The fund will provide access capital to these companies.
    • To help the startups in the field, the Department of Electronics and Information Technology will set up Digital Product Fund. The fund will be invested in startups through incubators and accelerators.

    The Ministry of Finance recently notified changes in Post Office Savings Account Scheme, 2019. The ministry notified that a beneficiary of Government welfare scheme can open a basic savings bank account with any post office in the country.

    What are the changes introduced?

    • The accounts can be opened in an India Post Payment Bank or a Scheduled Commercial Bank.
    • The deposit required to open this account is NIL.
    • The account shall be opened by a beneficiary of any Government Welfare Scheme. The account shall also be opened by a beneficiary who is a minor. However, it is mandatory for the minor to assign a guardian.
    • The Basic Savings Accounts that were opened under Post Office Savings Account Rules, 1981 are not covered under the new notification.

    What are the rules in operating Basic Savings Account?

    The Basic Savings Account is very much like that of the Basic Saving Bank Deposit Account. However, the Basic Savings Account has certain conditions of operations. They are as follows:

    • The beneficiary can open the Basic Savings Account only in a post office or in a bank.
    • According to the RBI Guidelines to the Basic Savings Bank Deposit Accounts, the users can deposit or withdraw money from these accounts any number of times in a month. On the other hand, in a Basic Savings Account, withdrawal can be made only four times per month.

    Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Account

    The accounts opened under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana are Basic Savings Account. So far 42.2 crores of such accounts have been opened. They currently hold Rs 1.45 lakh crores of balance.

    Post Office Savings Account

    The Post Office Savings Account is also a Basic Savings Account. It shall be opened with a minimum amount of Rs 500. It allows to deposit a minimum of Rs 10 and there is no maximum deposit limit.