The Indian and French Navies recently conducted the Varuna Naval Exercise in the Arabian Sea. The Varuna, 2021 is a part of the Clemenceau 2021.
About Varuna 2021
The exercise included surface and anti-weapon firings, tactical manoeuvres, rotary wing flying operations including cross deck helicopter landings and air defence and anti-submarine exercises.
The Indian Navy was represented by Stealth destroyer INS Kolkata, INS Talwar, INS Tarkash, Fleet Support Ship INS Deepak, Chetak Integral helicopters and a Kalvari class submarine. Also, the P81 Long range Patrol Aircraft participated.
The French Navy was represented by E2C Hawkeye aircrafts, Rafale-M fighter, Horizon class air defence destroyer Chevalier Paul.
After VARUNA, 2021, the INS Tarkash is to continue its exercise with the French Navy CSG. During the exercise, the navies will conduct advanced surface, air-defence operations and anti-submarine operations.
On February 21, 2021, the French Carrier Strike Group set sail for a long operational deployment called “Clemenceau 21”. With this mission, the French Navy deployed its military presence in areas of strategic interests namely Mediterranean Sea, Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.
As a part of Clemenceau 21, France held the GASWEX with its allies. The other countries that participated in the GASWEX exercise were France, Japan, Belgium and US forces. The exercise was held in the Arabian Sea and in the Gulf of Oman.
What is CSG?
CSG is Carrier Strike Group. They are strategically pre-positioned. It is roughly composed of 7,500 personnel. It includes an aircraft carrier, a destroyer squadron, at least one cruiser, carrier wing of 65 to 70 aircrafts. Occasionally it also includes submarines.
The CSG of Japan that is participating in Clemenceau 21 is Nationale’s Charles De Gaulle.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation recently test fired a series of missile trials. It included the Derby missiles and the Python missiles. The missiles were test fired in Goa and achieved 100% hits.
It is the fifth generation Python missile.
It is an air to air missile built by the Israeli weapon manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defence Systems.
The Israeli Government began manufacturing missiles in the name of “Shafir”. Later as it started exporting missiles it selected a western name “Python” or “Derby”.
The Python-5 is currently the most capable Air to air missile in the inventory of Israel.
It is beyond visual range missile. The Beyond Visual Range missiles are those missiles that are capable of engaging at ranges beyond 37 km.
It features an advanced seeker that includes Electro-Optical and Image Infrared Homing.
The Python 5 is capable to scan for the target area for the hostile aircraft and then locks on for terminal chase.
It was first used in 2006 Lebanon war. It destroyed two Iran made UAVs.
Speed of the missile is Mach 4.
It weighs 11 kilograms
Just like Python, it was also made by Rafael of Israel. In fact, Python 5 is an advanced version of Derby.
It is also a Beyond Visual Range Missile.
It is active radar homing missile. An Active Radar Homing Missile is a missile that contains a radar transceiver to find and track the target autonomously.
On April 27, 2021, the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021 came into effect. The act was passed by the Parliament during the budget session. The act gives more power to Lieutenant Governor (LG).
The act proposed that the word “Government” in National Capital Territory of Delhi meant the LG of Delhi.
It provides discretionary powers to the LG even in matters where the Delhi Legislature is empowered to make laws.
The act seeks to ensure that the LG is granted an opportunity to give his opinion before a decision made by the Council of Ministers is implemented.
The LG opinion should be obtained before the Delhi Government takes action based on decisions taken by the Cabinet.
It bars the Legislative Assembly of Delhi from making rules related to day-to-day administration.
Administration inf Delhi
The National Capital Region is administered with a legislature that came in to existence in 1991. The Delhi Legislature was constituted under Article 239AA of the Constitution. By law, the Delhi Legislature has all powers to make laws in matters except public order, land and police.
The law will take away the autonomy of the Delhi Government.
Supreme Court on Delhi Legislative Assembly
In 2018, the Supreme Court pronounced that the LG’s concurrence is not required on issues other than police, land and public order.
The SC had also said that the LG of Delhi is not like a Governor in other states. He is an administrator.
On April 28, 2021, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the agreement signed between Government of India and the Government of UK. The agreement was signed on Customs Cooperation and Mutual Administrative Assistance in Customs matters. India and UK have been signing several trade related agreements after the latter moved out of European Union.
About the Agreement
The Agreement will provide a legal framework to share intelligence and information between the customs department of the two countries.
It will help to ensure if Customs laws are abided.
It will also help in prevention and investigation of custom offences.
Also, the agreement will help in exchange of information about origin of goods traded between the countries, customs value, tariff classification, etc. It is important to learn about these information as they are included in the calculation of customs duty.
How are Customs Duties calculated in India?
The Customs Duties are calculated based on the following factors:
Place of acquisition of goods
Place where the goods were made
Material of the goods
Dimensions and Weight of the goods
Customs Duty in India
The Customs Duty in India is imposed under Customs Act, 1962 and Customs Tariff Act, 1975. The Indian Tariff System is based on the Harmonised System of Nomenclature.
Types of Customs Duties in India
Basic Customs Duty: Levied under Customs Act, 1962
Additional Customs Duty: It has been subsumed by GST now.
Protective duty: Levied to protect indigenous goods
Social Welfare Charges
Customs Handling Fee
The Asian Development Bank recently released its Asian Development Outlook, 2021. According to the report, India is to grow at 11%. The Asian Development Bank recently released its Annual outlook. The outlook says that ADB has provided a financial support of 1.5 billion USD to India to fight against COVID-19
Key Findings of the report
According to ADB, the South Asia is expected to rebound at 9.5% in 2021. The South Asian region had contracted by 6% in 2020. The growth of the region will moderate to 6.6% in 2022.
The economic growth of Asia is to rebound at 7.3% in 2021. The region faced a contraction of 0.2% in its growth in 2020. In 2022, its growth rate is to be 5.3%.
The countries such as China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taipei are expected to meet an increased growth rate of 7.7% in 2021 and 5.6% in 2022. The report classifies these countries as newly industrialised countries.
The GDP of East Asia is expected to grow at 7.4% in 2021 and at 5.1% in 2022.
Report about China
The GDP of China is to expand to 8.1% in 2021 and will reach a moderate value of 5.5% in 2022.
Strong exports of China is to boost the economic activity of the country in 2021.
Reasons of recovery
The progress in production and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines helped Asia in reaching the current state. However, significant new outbreaks might undermine the growth of the region.
The following challenges are faced by the Asian Economies:
Increasing Geopolitical tensions
Financial turmoil from tightening financial conditions
Long term scarring. This includes learning losses due to school closures
On April 28, 2021, seven back-to-back earthquakes occurred in Assam and other north eastern states. The first shocks were of 6.4 magnitude. Later, the jolts were at 3.2 to 3.4 magnitude in Richter scale. Roads were cracked and buildings tilted in Sonitpur and Nagaon.
About the Epicentre
The Epicentre of the earthquake was located at a depth of 17 km. The epicentre was located 9 km away from the town of Dhekiajuli of Assam.
National Center for Seismology
It is the nodal agency that monitors earthquake activity in India
It maintains a National Seismological Network of 115 stations. Each station holds a separate equipment.
Apart from monitory, the center also performs Seismic Hazard Microzonation and seismological research.
Causes of the Assam Earthquake
The entire Himalayas are prone to Earthquakes. This is because the Indian tectonic plate is continuously wedging into the Eurasian plate at a speed of 44 millimetres per year. These motions build up stress and trigger earthquakes.
While the entire Himalayas are prone to earthquakes, the high-intensity earthquakes occur in North Eastern India and thus these regions are classified under Zone V.
Waves generated during Earthquakes
Every earthquake occurring in the planet generates three different types of waves called P-waves, S-waves and L-waves. The P-waves are longitudinal waves. They are analogous to sound waves. The S-Waves are transversal waves and are analogous to light waves. The L-waves are surface waves. They originate when the P-waves of the earthquake hits the surface of the earth.
The World Health Organisation recently announced that it will provide 4,000 Oxygen Concentrators to India to help the country in its fight against COVID-19.
Help from other countries
The following countries stepped forward to help India to combat against the Oxygen shortage:
The UK recently sent 495 Oxygen Concentrators and 140 ventilators to India.
Ireland announced that it is preparing to send 700 oxygen concentrators to India.
Saudi Arabia recently shipped 80 tonnes of Oxygen to India.
Under the Mega Vayu initiative of Amazon, 8,000 oxygen concentrators and 500 BiPAP machines are to be airlifted from Singapore.
Australia is to send 500 ventilators, 100,000 goggles, 500,000 P2 and N95 masks, 100,000 pairs of gloves and 20,000 face shields.
The United States is sending in a range of emergencies such as vaccine materials, oxygen-related supplies and therapeutics.
Amazon has joined hands with Temasek Foundation, ACT Grants and other partners to help India in its fight against oxygen shortage under the Vayu initiate. Under the initiative, 500 BiPAP machines and 8,000 oxygen concentrators will be transported from Singapore. Also, 1,500 concentrators are to be donated.
Google recently announced that they will help India in its relief aid. The Google is to provide financial aid of Rs 135 crores through UNICEF and Give India. These aids are to be distributed to the needy through these international organisations.
The Ethereum has donated Rs 4.5 crores.
Xiaomi announced that it will donate Rs 3 crores for oxygen cylinders.
One plus is to help India in amplifying COVID-19 emergencies through its social media reach.
A Space Mining Startup of China recently launched NEO-01. It is a robotic platform launched into the low earth orbit. It will conduct experiments on space debris removal technique.
The NEO-01 robot was launched on Long March 6 rocket.
It was launched to observe the small celestial bodies in deep space.
The robot will now conduct experiments to clear space debris.
It is to use large net to capture space debris. After capturing, it will burn the debris using electric propulsion system.
China-US hidden war in the project
The NEO-01 was developed by Origin Space. The company is based in Shenzen. The company claims itself as the first Chinese company dedicated to explore and utilise space resources. According to the company, NEO-01 will pave way for asteroid mining. These objectives of resource mining are in contradiction to Outer Space Treaty of the US.
According to 1967 Outer Space Treaty, no nation can claim the sovereignty of outer space. Also, no nation shall extract resources from space for commercial exploitation.
In 2015, the then US President Barack Obama signed a law that allowed the US companies to mine on celestial bodies. In 2020, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced a Lunar Mining Initiative. The initiative will offer to buy lunar rocks that are extracted by private companies. NEO-01 is seen as a counter move of China to the US.
There are 3,000 defunct satellites in the orbit of the earth. Also, there are millions of smaller pieces of space debris that can cause serious damage to the other active satellites. The debris range from bolts, paint flecks to frozen satellite coolants.
The Ct Value in a RT-PCR test is cycle Threshold value. This value determines if a patient is COVID-19 positive or not.
Why is it in news?
The State Government of Maharashtra recently asked the Indian Council of Medical Research if it was advisable to treat a person as COVID-19 negative if his Ct value was more than 24.
What is the issue?
The ICMR documents mention different Ct Values. Also, there are divergent views among the National Centre for Disease Control and also among Niti Aayog.
What is the right Ct value for a person to test COVID-19 positive?
The ICMR recently announced that the right Ct value for a person to become COVID-19 positive is 35. If the Ct value of a person is less than 35, he is COVID-19 positive and if it is greater than 35 then he is COVID1-19 negative.
What is Ct value?
In a RT-PCR test, the RNA extracted from the swab is converted into DNA. The DNA is then amplified. The amplification is done to create multiple copies of the genetic material. This is done to improve the ability of the test to detect the virus.
The amplification takes place in cycles. At first cycle, one copy of the DNA becomes two. In the second cycle two copies become four and so on.
The Ct value is the number of cycles after which the virus was detected.
If the number of cycles is low, then the viral load is high. Because, the virus was detected in very few cycles.
The significance of the problem
The Maharashtra State Government had asked if the Ct value can be fixed at 24. This means that the persons with Ct values 24-35 will not be considered positive. On the other hand, the bench mark of 35 means that more patients are considered positive. Lowering the threshold may lead to missing infectious persons.
Global Ct value
Globally, the accepted Ct value is between 35 and 40.
The Chandler Good Governance Index is released by the Chandler Institute of Governance headquartered in Singapore. The index is prepared based on seven pillars namely leadership and foresight, strong institutions, robust laws and policies, attractive market place, financial stewardship, helping people rise, global influence and reputation.
Finland topped the ranking following Switzerland, Singapore, Netherlands, Denmark and Norway.
Pakistan was ranked at 90th place, Sri Lanka at 74th and Nepal at 92nd.
Among BRICS countries China ranked 140th, Brazil at 67th, Russia at 48th, South Africa at 70th.
It recommends “Pracademics” in Government. Pracademics is rigorous understanding of research and data with a practical sense of what governments need to do to succeed.
About Chandler Good Governance Index
It aims to strengthen public institutional capacity through research, training and advise. Also it supports governments and public officers world wide in building the nation.
Good Governance in India
India celebrates Good Governance Day on December 25.
The Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievance and Pensions releases Good Governance Index assessing the initiatives of State Governments and Union Territories.
The National E-Governance Plan of India aims to make all the government services accessible to the common man.
The Right to Information Act, 2005 ensure transparency in governance.
NITI Aayog has been established. It is a policy commission established to achieve sustainable development goals with cooperative federalism.
UN Good Governance
The United Nations identifies Good Governance under eight characteristics. They are Consensus oriented, Effective and Efficient, Follows the rule of law, Participatory, Accountable, Responsive, Transparent, Equitable and Inclusive.
The Reserve Bank of India recently laid down set of instructions to improve the corporate bank governance.
The post of MD and CEO shall not be held by the same person for more than 15 years. However, they can be reappointed after a cooling period of three years. During the cooling period, the individual shall not be appointed or associated with the bank or its group entities directly or indirectly.
The MD or the CEO shall not hold these posts more than twelve years. However, in extraordinary circumstances, they shall be allowed to continue till 15 years.
The guidelines are not applicable to the foreign banks whose branches are operating in the country.
The maximum age limit of the Chairman or the Non-Executive Director has been fixed at 75 years.
The fixed remuneration for the Non-Executive Directors shall not exceed Rs 20 lakhs. Remuneration is the money paid for work.
Significance of the Guidelines
In 2020, RBI released a discussion paper on governance in commercial banks in India. The changes are being made based on this.
According to RBI, the growing size of financial systems in India makes it essential to strengthen governance standards in the banks. The current system where the management of the banks play the role of an agent of the board and the board in turn plays the role of agent of shareholders has led to poor allocation of resources and poor protection of depositors. Thus, these changes are important.
Why are the guidelines needed?
Recently, the space vacated by the public sector banks have been taken by the private sector banks.
Inadequate system of checks prevails at the private banks of the country.
The lenders are at risk of default rates though there has been overall improvement in asset quality.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute recently released its “Trends in world Military Expenditure” report. According to the report, the top military spenders in the world are the United States, China and India. These three countries alone contributed 62% global military expenditure.
Key Findings of the Report
In 2020, the US spent 778 billion USD on its military. While China and India spent 252 billion USD and 72 .9 billion USD respectively.
The military expenditure of India has grown by 2.1% and that of China has grown by 1.9%. The military Expenditure of US has grown by 4.4%.
Globally, the military expenditure increased to 1981 billion USD as compared to that of 2019. This is 2.6% increase. On the other hand, the global GDP shrank by 4.4% according to the International Monetary Fund.
Military Spending in terms of GDP
The US spent 3.7% of its GDP on military.
India and China spent 2.9% and 1.7% of their GDP respectively.
Region wise military spending
The military spending in Oceania and Asia increased by 2.5% as compared to that of 2019. It was 47% higher as compared to that of 2011.
Other top military spenders
The other countries that spent large amount on building their military were as follows:
Russia: 61.7 billion USD
UK: 59.2 billion USD
Saudi Arabia: 57.5 billion USD
Germany and France spent around 53 billion USD each.
Military Spending diverted to Pandemic
While countries were increasing their expenditure on military, some countries reallocated their planned military expenditure towards the pandemic. They were South Korea and Chile. Some other countries like Russia, Brazil spent less amount than their initial military budgets.
Arm Imports of India
According to the report, the arm imports of India came down to one third in 2016-20 as compared to that of 2011-15. Still India remained the second highest arms importer after Saudi Arabia. In the decline of arms imports of India, Russia was the affected supplier. Russia had eventually increased it arms exports to Algeria, Chin and Egypt replacing India.
The report also state that US, Russia, France, Germany and China were the top five arms importers in 2016-20.
Top Arms Imports
The arms imports of Egypt and Qatar increased by 136% and 361% respectively.
The middle east arms imports increased by 25%
The top arms exporters were US, France and Germany.
Warheads in India
The deployed warheads are missiles located on bases with the operational forces. That is, they are ready to use. The other warheads are those that are reserved or stored awaiting dismantlement. For India, the report gave a figure of 130-140 in “other warheads”.
The researchers at the Centre for Palaeogenetics, Stockholm showed that the populations of Sumatran Rhinoceros displayed low levels of inbreeding.
About the Genome Study
In order to investigate their inbreeding levels, the researchers had sequenced the genomes from 16 rhinos on Sumatra and Borneo. The findings that the rhinos are facing low levels of inbreeding was based on this genome sequencing.
Currently, the rhinos in Sumatra and Borneo are facing high genetic diversity and low inbreeding levels. The low inbreeding levels are due to small population size.
The researchers found that the frequency of potentially harmful mutations was high. This means that closely related parents produced offspring that suffer from genetic diseases.
The researchers will now study the sequenced genome to estimate their inbreeding levels, frequency of potentially harmful mutations and genetic variations.
According to the researchers, the future study will reveal about potentially harmful mutations hidden in the genomes of these rhinos.
The researchers suggest that the only solution to the problem of extinction faced by the rhinos is to increase their population size. Also, the genes of Sumatran Rhinos and the Borneo rhinos should be exchanged.
The IUCN classifies Sumatran and Borneo rhinos as Critically Endangered.
World Wild Life Funds: There are only eighty Rhinos left in Sumatra and Borneo
Five Different Species of Rhinos: Black Rhino, Greater One-Horned Rhino, Sumatran Rhino and Javan Rhino. They are spread across India, Bhutan, Nepal, Malaysia and Indonesia and thus these countries are called Asian Rhino Range countries
Of the five species, only Great One-horned rhino is found in India.
Greater One Horned Rhino has been placed under “Vulnerable” category in IUCN Red list of Threatened species.
The Central Bureau of the United States recently announced that the population of the United States has increased by 7.4%. This is the second slowest growth of US Population since the Great Depression.
The Census Bureau recently released the first set of data on US population. The complete demographic data of the country is expected to be released by August 2021. Based on this, the 1.5 trillion USD federal funds will be distributed to the local communities across the country.
The population of the United States increased to 331,449,281 in 2020. This is 7.4% increase and the second slowest in the history of US.
The allocation of seats to the US Congress is based on the census.
The recently released data shows that migration in the US has been increasing lately. For instance, New York and California have lost a Congressional seat each. So did Pennsylvania and New York.
On the other hand, Montana, Florida and North Carolina have seen enough growth to add a congressional seat.
Texas received two additional seats. Colorado and Oregon gained new seats.
The 2010 census showed the US population is shifting towards the South and the west.
How are the seats allocated in the US Congress?
US Congress has two chambers. One is the House of Representatives and the other is the Senate. There are fifty states in the US. Each state elects two senators for a period of six years. The US is divided into 435 congressional districts. A region is made district when it reaches a population of 750,000 and will receive a representative.
Each district elects a representative to the House of Representatives for a period of two years. When the threshold population decreases then the district will lose its representation at the House of Representation. For instance, in the recent US Census 2020, New York lost a house seat as it had 89 people short to the threshold of 750,000.
Women in the US Congress
In 2021, around 142 women are to hold seats in the US Congress. This is 26.5% of 535 members. Around 24% women serve at the US Senate and 27.1% serve in the US House of Representatives.
The first US Census was held in 1790.
What is the system in India?
In India, each state is allotted with a particular number of seats in the Lok Sabha in such a way that the ratio between the Number of representatives from the state and its overall population is uniform throughout the country.
Each state is divided into constituencies based on the fact that the ratio between the population of each constituency and the number of seats is uniform throughout the state.