Daily Current Affairs - 30-04-2021

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation recently launched the joint military exercises in Albania called the “DEFENDER-Europe 21”. Thousands of military forces from the US are participating in the exercise.

About DEFENDER-Europe

DEFENDER Europe 21

NATO

Warsaw Pact

The Warsaw Pact was signed after the integration of West Germany into the NATO. It was signed in 1955. It was signed in Warsaw, Poland. It was signed between the Soviet Union and the seven other countries in the central and eastern Europe. There were no military dealings between them like that of NATO. However, conflicts were fought on ideological basis and also in proxy wars. The largest military engagement of Warsaw pact was the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Albania and Romania did not participate in the invasion. Later Albania withdrew from the pact. (Albania joined NATO in 2009).

The other countries of Warsaw Pact that participated in the invasion were Poland, Soviet Union, Hungary, East Germany and Bulgaria.

The Reserve Bank of India recently joined the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS). By joining the system, RBI is to learn from and contribute to the Global Climate risk management in the financial sector. Ultimately, the apex bank will work with its global partners to support the transition towards a sustainable economy.

Greening the Financial System

Current Functions of NGFS

The NGFS is currently working under the following:

Background

Saudi Arabia recently announced that it is to join Canada, US, Qatar and Norway in forming the Net Zero Producers Forum.

Net Zero Producers Forum

What are the targets of the countries?

Climate Targets of Norway

Norway has signed an agreement with the European Union under the EU Climate Legislation. The agreement has three pieces of legislation. They are as follows:

The European Union has set a target to reduce the green house gases by 55% as compared to that of 1990 levels. Norway is not a member of European Union. However, it is associated with the grouping through its membership of European Economic Area.

The Japanese Government recently awarded the “Order of Rising Sun” to a Bengaluru based Japanese teacher, Shyamala Ganesh.

About Shyamala Ganesh

Order of Rising Sun

Other highest Japanese awards

Order of Chrysanthemum

Order of Paulownia Flowers

Month: Current Affairs - April, 2021

Category: Awards, Persons & Places in News • International Current Affairs

Topics: Dr Manmohan Singh • Japan • Japanese • Shyamala Ganesh

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Comments

  • Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Reply

    Hearty congratulations to Ms. Shyamala Ganesh.

    The International Energy Agency recently released the Global Electric Vehicle Outlook.

    Key Findings of the report

    • Three million new electric cars were registered in 2020. This was 41% higher than those registered in 2019.
    • According to the report, if the governments will ramp up their efforts to meet international climate goals, then the number of global electric vehicles will increase to 230 million by 2030.
    • Currently, there are ten million electric cars on road.
    • Korea has the largest number of hydrogen car distribution in the world.

    Sales of Electric Cars

    The sales of electric cars in 2020 contracted by 16% due to COVID-19. However, it started increasing in the first quarter of 2021. And the sales during the first quarter of 2021 was two and a half times higher than that during the same period in 2020.

    Consumer Spending on Electric Cars

    The consumer spending on Electric Cars in 2020 amounted to 120 billion USD. This has increased by 50% as compared to that of 2019.

    What did the report say about India?

    • According to the report, around 30% of new vehicle sales in 2030 will be Electric in India.
    • The Electric Vehicle penetration in the country will be led by electric three-wheelers and electric two-wheelers.
    • The report also says that the electrification of buses will be lower. It will be 15% of total sale of vehicles by 2030. This is mainly because of easier registration of two-wheelers and three-wheelers under the FAME II scheme.
    • The report also says that only 3% of allocated funds under the FAME II scheme has so far been used for 30,000 vehicles.

    A massive stampede at Meron, a Jewish Pilgrimage site in Israel killed at least 44 people. This was the largest COVID-19 era gathering of Israel.

    About the disaster

    • The stampede occurred at the most reputed tomb of Shimon Bar Yochai. He was a second century sage.
    • The pilgrimage was closed in 2020 due to COVID-19.
    • Though Israel has vaccinated more than 9.3 million population, the restrictions on massive gatherings still remain in place. Only 10,000 people were authorised to gather at the site. However, more than 30,000 arrived at the site.

    Shimon bar Yochai

    • He was a disciple of Rabbi Akiva. The works Mekhilta and Sifre are attributed to him.
    • He was an active participant of the destruction of the second temple.

    First and Second Temples

    • The First temple was built in 1000 BC by King Solomon. It was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar (King of Babylon) when he captured Jerusalem.
    • The time of Second temple is divided into different periods namely the Roman period (63 BC), Hellenstic period (332 BC) and Persian period (586 BC). The temple was destroyed during the Roman period in AD 70.
    • These were Jewish temples. The destruction of the temples are marked in the Jewish calendar as the “day of mourning” called Tisha B’av.

    Meron

    Meron is a town in Israel. It is located on the slopes of Mt Meron. It is famous for annual mass public commemoration of Lag Ba’Omer. Lag Ba’Omer marks the death anniversary of Shimon bar Yochai, the Rashbi.

    The Government of India recently suspended the Char Dham Yatra due to surge in COVID-19. Only the priests are to be allowed to conduct the daily worship and rituals. The Kedarnath is to be reopened on May 17, Gangotri and Yamunotri on May 14 and Badrinath on May 18.

    Char Dham Yatra

    The Char Dham Yatra is visiting four holy places in Uttarakhand. They are Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. These four holy places of Hinduism are to be connected through a highway. The Project Char Dham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojana or Char Dham Mahamarg or Char Dham Highway is to construct the highway.

    Char Dham Pariyojana

    Under the project, the roads are to be widened from 12 metres to 24 metres. It will involve bypasses, tunnels, bridges, viaducts and subways.

    Concerns

    • The roads are to be widened to improve the accessibility to the shrines. However, these areas are under the dry deciduous biome. The project will uproot vegetation in the process of widening the roads. This will be perilous to the biodiversity.
    • The river slopes in these regions are highly dependent on vegetation. Uprooting them will cause landslides and floods.
    • The Slope Vegetation is highly important as it contributes slope stability, reduces pore water pressure, increases resistive force against flowing water through root-cohesion, reduces weight of the soil by absorbing moisture and reduces surface run off.

    Forest loss due to the project

    • Around 508.66 hectares of forest area are to be diverted for non-forestry purpose. More than 33,000 to 43,000 trees will be cut down.
    • Currently, the forest cover of Uttarakhand is growing at the rate of 23 hectares per year. If this rate is maintained then it will take 40-45 years to recover the loss.

    The SpaceX recently launched sixty Starlink Internet Satellites. The satellites were carried by Falcon 9 rocket. It was launched from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station located in Florida.

    SpaceX

    The company has done twelve launches in 2021 alone. The majority of those launches have been its own Starlink satellites. SpaceX has permission to launch as much as 30,000 satellites.

    Starlink Project of SpaceX

    Under the Starlink project, SpaceX aims to build a constellation of 12,000 satellites. The main objective of the project is to provide space based internet services at affordable costs.

    Importance of the project

    Currently there are more than four billion people in the world without internet access. This is mainly due to the incompetent ways of delivering internet. In most of the countries, internet is being delivered through fibre optic cables or wireless networks. These methods are highly challenging in areas with difficult terrain where it is not feasible to set up towers or cables. On the other hand, signals from satellites can overcome these difficulties easily.

    Why does Starlink project use Low Earth Orbit?

    The orbit at a height less than 1000 kilometres from the earth’s surface is called Low Earth Orbit. Satellites in this orbit move at a speed of 11,000 kilometres per hour. They complete one revolution in 24 hours, that is, in the same time the earth rotates its axis. Thus, the satellite in the constellation appears to be stationary. Thus, he can get access to the satellite 24/7.

    The issue is time lag called latency between the server sending data and the user. The data transfer occurs in the speed of light. Thus, longer the distance greater is the time lag. Therefore, the satellites in the constellation should as close to the earth as possible. This is why they are placed in Low Earth Orbit.

    The latency between geostationary orbit and the earth is 600 milli seconds.

    Why does the project need huge number of satellites?

    The major concern with the Low Earth Orbit is that their signals cover relatively small area. Thus, more satellites were required to reach to every part of the planet.

    A Deep-sea mining robot, Patania II got stranded on the Pacific Ocean floor.

    What happened?

    • The Patania II robot was designed to explore rocks rich in Nickel and Cobalt in the Pacific Ocean at a depth of 13,000 feet. The Umbilical cable of the robot got detached when its first trials were near completion. Cobalt and Nickel are essential for low carbon technologies.
    • The recovery of the machine is being planned.
    • The exploration is being held in the Clarion Clipperton Zone of the Pacific Ocean.

    What is the issue?

    The robot weighs twenty-five tonnes. It was developed by Global Sea Mineral Resources (GSR). The GSR company was awarded 75,000 square kilometres of contract area in the Clarion Clipperton Zone. This is 2.5 times the size of Belgium. The incident has brought back the focus on Deepsea mining and its environmental impacts to the central stage.

    Clarion Clipperton Zone

    • It is a geological submarine fracture zone that runs 7,240 kilo metres. It is a fracture zone of Pacific Ocean. Fracture zones are created due to plate tectonics. It is a linear oceanic feature that runs thousands of kilometres long. They are formed from the action of offset mid-ocean ridges. Mid-ocean ridge is a sea floor mountain.
    • The Clarion Clipperton Zone is administered by the International Seabed Authority. The Authority has divided the region into sixteen mining claims. Each mine covers 160,000 square kilo metres.
    • According to the International Seabed Authority, the region has 0.27 billion tonnes of Nickel, 0.05 billion tonnes of Cobalt and 0.23 billion tonnes of copper.
    • The region is rich is biodiversity. In 2017, more than 34 new species were discovered in the region.

    Concerns against Deep Sea Mining

    As Clarion Clipperton is highly rich in biodiversity, deep sea mining might have serious impacts on the marine organisms in the region.

    Samudrayaan Project of India

    It is a proposed Deep Sea mining project of India. Under the project, three aquanauts are to reach the deep sea for exploration. The project is to be implemented by the National Institute of Ocean Technology. It is in line with Gaganyaan Mission of ISRO.

    The Government of India recently allowed import of seventeen medical devices to provide relief to the COVID-19 patients. However, the importer should make mandatory declarations under Legal Metrology Rules, 2011.

    Which devices were allowed?

    The Department of Consumer Affairs has allowed the import of the following devices:

    • Nebulizers
    • oxygen concentrators
    • CPAP and BIPAP devices
    • Vacuum Pressure Swing Absorption
    • Pressure Swing Absorption
    • Oxygen Plants
    • Cryogenic Oxygen Air Separation Unit
    • oxygen canister
    • oxygen filling systems
    • oxygen cylinders including cryogenic cylinders
    • Ventilators

    About the Notification

    The notification issued by GoI says that the imported items should comply Rule 33(1) and Rule 6 of the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodity) Rules, 2011. These rules makes it mandatory for the importers to put proper stamping or stickers or online printing revealing required information.

    What are Legal Metrology Rules?

    The Legal Metrology Rules were framed to regulate pre-packaged commodities. Under the rules, the pre packaged commodities have to comply mandatory labelling requirement.

    The laws related to Metrology in India are as follows:

    • Legal Metrology Act, 2009
    • Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011
    • Legal Metrology (General) Rules, 2011

    About Import of Medical Devices in India

    A person having license under the Drug and Cosmetics Act, 1940 can import medical devices in the country. Import, sale, manufacturing and distribution of medical devices are regulated by the same act. The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) governs the regulations of import of medical devices in the country.

    CDSCO

    It is responsible for approval of drugs. However, recently GoI included some of the medical devices under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. Currently, there are thirty seven medical devices regulated under the act.

    The National Commission for Women recently launched the WhatsApp number for pregnant women. The helpline number is 9354954224. It is a “message only” helpline number. It will provide round the clock medical assistance to expectant mothers all over the country. The National Commission for Women has set up a dedicated team to look after the grievances raised from pregnant women on the number.

    National Commission for Women

    • It was established under the National Commission for Women Act in 1992.
    • The body reviews legal and constitutional safeguards of women.
    • The chairperson of the commission is appointed by the Government of India. Also, the other five members in the commission are also appointed by the GoI. These members should have experience in women voluntary organisation, economic development, legislation, administration, etc.
    • Jayanti Patnaik was the first Chairperson of National Commission for Women.

    Functions of National Commission for Women

    • Investigates and examines the matters related to the safeguards of the women as provided by the Constitution of India
    • Presents reports about working on those safeguards
    • Recommends safeguards to enhance conditions of women in the country
    • It takes Suo Moto Notices in matters related to deprivation of women rights

    Concerns

    The National Commission for Women has no legislative powers. It shall only suggest amendments. It does not have the power to choose its own executives. The commission is reliant on financial assistance from the Government of India.

    Pregnant Women in India

    • According to National Family Health Survey 5, anaemia among pregnant women has increased in more than half of the states and union territories.
    • The survey also says that Child marriages have increased in the states of Assam, Tripura and Manipur.
    • The states that have showed increase in teenage pregnancies are Manipur, Tripura, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Nagaland.

    The Central Empowerment Committee appointed by the Supreme Court recently raised serious concerns of Environmental Impact in Goa. This was related to the double tracking of the railway line between Kulem of Goa and Castle Rock in Karnataka.

    What did the Committee say?

    According to the committee, the Railway project will destroy the fragile eco system of the Western Ghats. The conclusion was made by the committee after examining the proposals cleared by the Standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife on the following projects:

    • Doubling of Railway tracks
    • Four Laning of National Highways
    • Goa-Tanmar Transmission Project

    These projects will cut the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in South Goa.

    Significance of Western Ghats

    Western Ghats is a Biodiversity hotspot and one of the most important wildlife corridor in the country. The Western Ghats act as the huge water tank to six states. There are 13 national parks and several sanctuaries in the Western Ghats. They source major rivers such as Godavari, Cauvery and Krishna.

    Why is the Railways Double tracking the line?

    According to the Railways, the traffic between Goa and Karnataka is projected to increase. The line is mainly used to transport imported coal from Mormugao port to the steel mills in Bellary region.

    Coal is being imported in the port since 1947. Around 14 million tonnes are imported annually.  Currently, the Government of Goa is working to decrease the coal imports in its ports to 8 million tonnes.

    Project Update

    The project aims to double track entire 342 kilometres. Of this, the South Western Railways have completed seven kilometres so far.

    Russia recently expelled diplomats of Latvia, Slovakia, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania, Czech diplomats. It was retaliation from Russia after the countries expelled the Russian diplomats.

    Background

    The Czech Republic ordered Russian staff to leave the embassy. The order was passed based on the accusations that Russian Intelligence Officers were behind 2014 explosion.

    What is 2014 Explosion?

    In 2014, two explosions occurred in a Czech Ammunition depot. Ammunition Depots are military storage units.

    Russia and Czech Republic

    Czech Republic is a member of NATO, European Union and OECD. The relations of the country with Russia after the latter annexed Crimea in 2014.

    Annexation of Crimea

    The political status of Crimea is disputed between Russia and Ukraine. This is called the Crimean issue. In 2014, Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine.

    Baltic Countries

    Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania are called Baltic countries. The region gets its name from the Baltic sea that surrounds the region.  The countries declared independence from Soviet Union in 1991.

    India-Baltic Countries

    The countries Latvia and Lithuania support India in its permanent membership in United Nations. In 2019, Vice President Ram Nath Kovind visited the countries. He addressed the first India-Latvia Business Forum.

    Balkan countries

    • The Baltic countries are different from Balkan countries. The Balkan countries are located in the Balkan Peninsula. It is bordered by Ionian Sea in the southwest, Adriatic Sea in northwest and Ionian Sea in the southwest.
    • They are Bosnia, Albania, Bulgaria, Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia, Romania and Slovenia.
    • The region takes the name after the Balkan Mountains.

    Every year, the Ayushman Bharat Diwas is celebrated on April 30 in India.

    Why is Ayushman Bharat Diwas celebrated?

    The Ayushman Bharat Diwas is celebrated to achieve twin missions. They are to promote health and wellness to the poor and also to provide insurance benefits to them.

    Ayushman Bharat Scheme

    • The Scheme was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April 2018.
    • According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Ayushman Bharat Scheme has so far operationalised 75,532 Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centre. It has fixed a target of 1.5 lakh Health and Wellness Centre by 2022.
    • The beneficiaries are chosen from the Socio-Economic Census Database.
    • It is the largest health cover in the world.
    • It aims to provide five lakh rupees of health cover per family per year.
    • The beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana is from bottom 40% of Indian Population.
    • The scheme also covers fifteen days of pre-hospitalisation and fifteen days of post-hospitalisation. This includes the expenses of medicines and tests.
    • The scheme subsumed the Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme and Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana.
    • The scheme has packages that include knee replacement, bypass and other treatments provided at 15% cheaper than the Central Government Health Schemes.

    Ayushman Mitra

    • The “Ayushman Mitra” initiative was started to provide employment to the unemployed. More than ten lakh jobs were created under the Ayushman Mitra initiative. The Ayushman Mitras were deployed directly in private hospitals and government hospitals.
    • The youth employed under the scheme will receive salary of Rs 15,000. Also, they receive incentive of Rs 50 on every beneficiary.
    • The Ayushman Mitras should provide key information to the beneficiaries. They should inform the state agency after the discharge of the patient.