Daily Current Affairs - 23-04-2021

The Government of India recently announced that it will provide five kilo grams of free food grains under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana till June 2021. The free food grains are being provided to those covered under the National Food Security Act, 2013. This is to continue till June 2021.

What is the plan?

Around eighty crore beneficiaries are being provided with free food grains (rice or wheat) at a scale of 5 kg per person per month. This is over and above the monthly entitlements under the National Food Security Act. These are the beneficiaries that are covered under both Antyodaya Anna Yojana and Priority Householders.

The extension of the scheme is to cost an additional Rs 26,000 crores. The Government of India has announced that it will bear all the expenditure. Also, the central assistance is to be provided to states and union territories on account of intrastate transportation.

Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana

Outcome

Criticisms prevail that the scheme failed to distribute grains to the intended recipients. Eleven states distributed less than 1% of food grains and two states failed to distribute any grains.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recently issued guidelines on proning for self-care for COVID-19 patients at home. Under the new guidelines, the ministry has advised the COVID-19 patients to practice proning if they are facing breathing difficulties.

Background

The number of COVID-19 cases in India is increasing rapidly. This has put hospitals under stress. Therefore, the doctors have advised self-monitoring of oxygen levels under new the guidelines. If a patient is facing difficulty in breathing, they can lie face down.

What is Proning?

Guidelines on Proning

Alveolar Units

The Alveoli is the primary structural and functional unit of lungs. There are 500 million alveoli in the human lung. They are tiny sacs.

The oxygen breathed in from the air passes through the alveoli, into the blood and then travels to the tissued through the blood vessels. The Carbon dioxide travels in the blood from the body tissues through alveoli and is then breathed out. Thus, the Alveolar Units play a crucial role in respiration.

The State Bank of India recently revised the growth of India for the Fiscal Year 2021-22 to 10.4%. Earlier, the bank had predicted the growth rate as 11%. SBI has curbed the growth rate of the country due to the increasing COVID-19 crisis.

Suggestions made by SBI report

Economic Losses due to COVID-19

When will conditions normalise in India?

The report has analysed the vaccine drives in other countries. According to its analysis, the infections stabilised in foreign countries after 15% of the population was administered with COVID-19. The report says that India will inoculate its 15% of population only by December 2021.

Japan is to hold its first military drill with French and US troops in May 2021. According to Japan, the exercise is being held as it is concerned about the increasing Chinese actions in the regional waters.

About the exercise

Background

The US President Joe Biden and the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga recently met at the White House. Their conversations mainly centred around “What to do about China?”. During the meet, the leaders agreed to take up issues such as China’s aggressions in East China sea and South China sea. The leaders agreed to work together to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific. Japan has always been open that it is threatened by the vast military resources of China and its territorial disputes.

Major irritant between China and Japan

Japan is mainly concerned about the Chinese claims of Senkaku Islands. The Islands are currently administered by Japan. However, China claims the Island and calls it Diaoyu.

In South China Sea

China claims most of the South China Region, It has drawn an imaginary “Nine Dash Line”. The Chinese claim the regions of South China sea based on this line.

Nine Dash Line of China

The Nine Dash Line is a demarcation line used by China for its claim over South China Sea.  In 1947, China showed a U-shaped eleven dash line in its map. Later two dashes were removed making it a nine-dash line. In 2010, China published a new map that incorporated a tenth dash. In 2013, China extended this line to the east of Taiwan and further extending it to the East China Sea.

The United Nations recently released the Second World Ocean Assessment report. It is the work of hundreds of scientists appointed by the members of United Nations from all over the world. It follows the initial report, “World Ocean Assessment I” published in 2015.

Key Findings of the report

The first World Ocean Assessment report was released in 2015. The report said that Oceans have been degrading seriously due to failure to deal with pressures caused by human activities, aquaculture, fishing, oil and gas, shipping, pollution. According to the World Assessment Report II, these conditions have not changed and are contnuing.

What are Dead Zones in the Ocean?

Dead Zone is a common term used for Hypoxia. That is, the areas with reduced level of oxygen. They are those areas where the marine organisms in the ocean face Hypoxia. Hypoxia is a medical condition where the person faces difficulty in breathing.

So far, scientists have found 400 dead zones in the ocean. The largest dead zone is located in the Arabian sea. This covers almost 63,700 square miles in Gulf of Oman.

The India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) recently said the estimated cost to vaccinate all the Indians of age 18 years will be Rs 67,193 crores. This is 0.36% of the GDP of the country.

Key Findings

The GoI recently announced the Liberalised and Accelerated Phase 3 strategy of COVID-19 vaccine. According to the new strategy, all the persons above 18 years of age are eligible to get COVID-19 vaccine. With this, the total size of population eligible for vaccination is 84.19 crores. The population of India is 133.26 crores. The India Ratings and Research says that it will cost Rs 67,193 to vaccinate 84.19 crores of people. The Union Government will incur Rs 20,870 crores of the cost and the state government shall incur Rs 46,323 crores.

Amount spent so far

The Ind-Ra also states that the Union Government has already spent Rs 5,090 crores in procuring 21.4 crores of vaccines from Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India. COVAXIN was procured from Bharat Biotech and COVISHIELD From Serum Institute of India.

Assuming that the wastage to be 5%, the cost of procurement is to come to Rs 62,103 crores.

How can the procurement cost be split between state and the central governments?

If the cost of procurement of vaccines are split between the central and state governments, the amount to be spent by the Union Government on the vaccination will be 0.12% of GDP and the amount to be spent by the State Governments will be 0.24% of GDP.

The maximum impact is likely to be on Bihar. Bihar will have to spend 0.6% of its State Gross Domestic Product (SGDP), Uttar Pradesh will have to spend 0.47% of its SGDP, 0.37% by Jharkhand, 0.36% by Manipur, 0.35% by Assam, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh will have to spend 0.30% of their SGDP.

On March 22, 2021, US President Joe Biden kick started a two-day Earth Day Summit. During the Summit, the President pledged to halve the US emissions by the end of the decade.

Key Highlights

Current Scenario

Background

The Production Gap report of United Nations Environment Programme that was published in 2020 said that the countries should decrease fossil fuel production roughly by 6% a year between 2020 and 2030 to follow the 1.5 degrees consistent pathway. That is, to keep the increase in global temperature within 1.5 degrees Celsius as compare to pre-industrial era.

The US Senate recently passed a bill to help combat the rise of hate crimes against the Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans. The bill will support the local law enforcements in controlling the hate crimes.

Need for the Bill

The COVID-19 increased the hate crimes against the Asian Americans in the US. According to the Federal Crime Data, the hate crimes were at the highest level in over a decade in 2019. This has increased further in 2020 after COVID-19.

The discrimination being reported in the US are Verbal harassment, physical assault, shunning, coughed or spat on, workplace discrimination or refusal of service.

Situation in California

Of all the states, California is facing a greater number of hate crimes. More than six million Asian Americans live in California. They make up more than 15% residents of the state. Between March, 2020 and May 2020, California had reported more than 800 COVID-19 related hate crimes. According to a study, these incidents have now increased by 1200%.

Hate Crimes in India

The Indian Penal Code makes hate crimes punishable. Sections 153 A, 153 B, 295 A, 505 (1), 298 and 505 (2) of the Indian Penal Code says that words spoken or written that promotes disharmony, insults, hatred on the basis of ethnicity, religion, culture, region, community, caste, race, etc is punishable under law.

Other Indian laws that contain provisions related to hate speech are Information Technology Act, 2000, Representation of People Act, 1951 and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

Hate Crimes in India due to COVID-19

In India, the hate crimes against Muslims are increasing due to COVID-19. Rumours are spreading in the country, especially in Jharkhand that Muslim men are deliberately splitting in public places to spread the virus. This has even created group clashes in Gumla district of Jharkhand.

G C Murmu has been chosen as the External Auditor of Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Key Highlights

About G C Murmu

OPCW

The House of Representatives in the US recently passed a bill to make Washington DC, the fifty first US state. The Washington DC Admission bill is being passed for the second time in a year. The bill will create the state of “Washington, Douglas Commonwealth”. It has been named after Frederick Douglass.

Statehood Movement in Columbia

The District of Columbia Statehood Movement aims to make the Columbia District a US state. This will provide the taxpayers with voting representation in the Congress. Eventually they will receive full control over the local affairs. Currently, the Columbian district is under the direct jurisdiction of the US Congress.

How can the Statehood be achieved?

The Statehood shall be achieved in the US if the US Congress passes a law. The Article IV of the US Constitution empowers the US Congress to admit new states to the Union by passing a law.

About Columbia

If Columbia becomes a state, it will rank 49th in population. But in terms of GDP, it will rank first. And also, first in terms of median household income.

Frederick Douglass

He was the first African American to be nominated for Vice President of USA. He was a social reformer, orator and abolitionist. He once served as a slave in Maryland. He escaped slavery and became a national leader of the Abolitionist movement. The Abolitionist movement sought to end slavery in the US.

Ethiopia recently declared Emergency in the southern part of Amhara region as violence broke out in various parts. The violence in Ethiopia has been increased and insecurity is extending beyond war hit Tigray regions of Ethiopia ahead of National Elections planned in June.

What is the issue?

The violence in the region began after an ethnic Oromo Imam was shot dead outside a mosque. This increased the clashes between the Ethnic Oromo civilians and the Amhara Security forces. The Amhara region is dominated by the ethnic Amhara group. On the other hand, the Oromo Special Zone is populated by the Oromos. The Oromos are numerically dominant.

What is the issue between Amhara and Oromo?

Till 1991, the Ethiopian politics was dominated by Amhara. However, the Oromo was the largest ethnic group in the country. This created an ethnic conflict between the groups. Due to the conflict, many moved to the US as refugees, asylees and permanent residents.

Ethiopia Crisis

The Tigray region of Ethiopia is ruled by the powerful Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). In 2018, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed made peace with Eritrea for which he won Nobel Peace Prize in 2019. TPPLF sees Eritrea as its enemy.

In August 2020, Abiy postponed the general elections to 2021 citing COVID-19 pandemic. The TPLF accused him of power grab and held elections in Tigray region in September 2020. This increased the tensions.

Ethnic Divide in Ethiopia

The Tigray people make up 6% of the Ethiopian populations. The Oromos share 34% and the Amhara share 27%.

 

The S&P Global Ratings recently said that the Indian Economy is to grow at 11% in 2021-22. Earlier, S&P had predicted that India will grow at 10%.

Key Findings

The S and P currently has a BBB rating on India.

What is BBB rating?

BBB is Better Business Bureau. It was founded in 1912. It is a non-profit trust that focuses on advancing market places. It has more than 106 independent organisations from USA and Canada. It is not affiliated to any governments. It provides an A+ through F grade system. The grades offer confidence of BBB that business is operating in a trustworthy manner. Around 400,000 local businesses are affiliated to BBB rating.

S&P Global Ratings

It is an American credit rating agency. It publishes financial research and analysis on bonds, stocks, and commodities. It is considered as the largest of the “BIG THREE” credit rating agencies. The “BIG THREE” credit rating agencies are Moody’s Investors, Fitch Rating and the S and P Ratings (S and P is Standard and Poor’s).

The Supreme Court recently asked the Government of India to submit a National Plan on the COVID-19 situation. Supreme Court took a Suo moto cognisance and issued a notice to the central government on the supply of COVID-19 supplies such as oxygen, COVID care essentials and medicines.

Why did SC step in?

There are several high court hearings underway regarding COVID-19 preparedness. Some are even dictating lock down rules. Thus, SC has stepped in to control the actions of these courts and to establish that the lock down protocol and imposition should be left to the central and state governments. The courts shall only observe and guide them.

What did the Supreme Court say?

The Supreme Court said that the right to impose lock down should be reserved with the states and not with the courts. The Supreme Court recently stayed an order issued by the Uttar Pradesh High Court to impose lock down in several cities in the state.

About the Notice Issued

The Supreme Court has issued a notice to the centre on four issues. They were on supply of essential drugs, supply of oxygen, power to declare lock down and method of vaccination.

Suo Motu Cognizance

Suo Moto Cognizance is when an Indian Court takes a case on its own. The Suo Moto Cognizance has been awarded to the courts under Article 32 and Article 226 of the constitution.

Article 32

The Article provides powers to the Supreme Court to issue directions, orders, writs to enforce rights conferred to the court. In simple terms, Article 32 empowers the Supreme Court to issue Suo Moto Cognizance.

Article 226

The article empowers the High Courts to issue to persons, authorities, orders, directions, mandamus, quo warranto, prohibition.

NASA recently launched the SHIELDS Mission from the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. The Mission is to study light from interstellar particles in the heliosphere.

What is SHIELDS?

SHIELDS is Spatial Heterodyne Interferometric Emission Line Dynamics Spectrometer. It will fly to a height of 300 kilo metres. At this height SHIELDS can see light from particles beyond the solar system.

Local Bubble

The planets, gas, asteroids and every single matter in the neighbourhood of the earth is located in a cluster of gas called Local Bubble. This bubble is 300 light years long. It encompasses hundreds of stars including the sun. According to the scientists, the solar system is to move out of the Local Bubble in 50,000 years. Till date, research has led only to learn an outline about Local bubble. This mission will help to learn what exactly is happening inside them.

Heliosphere in the Local Bubble

The magnetic bubble created by the sun is called Heliosphere. The heliosphere moves through the Local Bubble at 52,000 miles per hour. Particles from interstellar space fall on the heliosphere.

What will SHIELDS Study?

 

Indian Women have created history at the AIBA 2021 Youth World Boxing Championship. A total of eight Indians entered the finals. Of this, seven were women. All the women finalists finished on top.

Achievements

Men’s Section

Ankit Narwal won bronze in 64 kg. Similarly, Bishwamitra Chongthom and Vishal Gupta won bronze medal in 49 kg and 91 kg respectively.

AIBA

AIBA is International World Boxing Championships. It organises AIBA Women World Boxing Championship and AIBA World Boxing Championships biennially.

On April 22, 2021, India and the United States launched the US-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership during the Leaders’ Summit. The US President hosted the Leaders Summit on Climate. The world leaders from around forty countries attended the summit.

About the Partnership

US Targets

During the Summit, the US announced that it has set an ambitious target of reducing the greenhouse gas emissions by 50% to 52% in 2030 as compared to that of 2005 level. This was double the 2015 goal set by the former President of the US Barack Obama. The successor of Obama, Donald Trump had withdrawn from Paris Agreement. According the US, these steps will help the country achieve net zero emission by 2050.

The US recently re-joined the Paris Agreement.

Other announcements in the Summit

Every year the World Book and Copyrights Day is celebrated on April 23 by UNESCO. UNESCO is United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. This year, to celebrate the World Book and Copyright Day, UNESCO has created “Bookface Challenge”.

About World Book and Copyrights Day

The first World Book and Copyrights Day was celebrated in 1995. The UNESCO Prize for Children’s and Young People’s Literature in the Service of Tolerance is awarded on this day. Also, the day will increase the understanding of copyright laws and other measures that protect intellectual properties.

Why on April 23?

The UNESCO decided to celebrate the World Book and Copyrights Day on April 23 as it is the death anniversary of William Shakespeare, Miguel de Cervantes and Inca Garcilasco de la Vega.

World Book Day in different regions

World Book Capital

Every year UNESCO and other international organisations select World Book Capital for a one-year capital. This year Tbilisi of Georgia has been selected as the World Book Capital.