Daily Current Affairs - 21-08-2021

India’s highest herbal park, at a height of 11,000 feet, was inaugurated near Indo-China border at Mana village in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand.

Aim of the high-altitude herbal park

This high-altitude herbal park was inaugurated with the aim of conserving various medicinally and culturally important alpine species and to conduct research on propagation and habitat ecology of these species.

Where it was developed?

The Park has been developed on the area of three acres in Mana Village. The land was given by Mana Van Panchayat. It was developed by the Research Wing of Uttarakhand Forest Department.

How it was developed?

This Park was developed in three years under Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) scheme of the central government.

About the Herbal Park

Herbal Park comprises of 40 species which are found in high altitude alpine areas in Indian Himalayan region.  Many of these species are categorized as endangered and threatened in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list as well as by the State Biodiversity Board. Park comprises of several important medicinal herbs also. Park was inaugurated by the Sarpanch of Mana Van Panchayat.

Four sections of park

Park has been divided into four sections:

India and Russia have signed a deal to immediately procure AK-103 Rifles on August 20, 2021.

Key points

Modernization plan

Under the modernization plan, Indian army is purchasing a huge number of light machine guns, battle carbines and assault rifles which will replace its ageing and obsolete weapons.


This development came four years after the Indian Army started the process to acquire around seven lakh rifles,44600 carbines and 44,000 light machine guns in 2017. India and Russia had inked major deal to manufacture AK-47 203 rifles in India in September 2020.

Highlights of the deal

This rifle will be manufactured under the joint venture Indo-Russia Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL).  Cost of a single rifle will be nearly USD 1100, including the cost of setting up of manufacturing unit as well as the cost of technology – transfer.

About AK-47 203

It is the latest and most advanced version of AK-47 rifle. It is a modernize 200 series AK-103 variant. This rifle will replace Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) 5.56×45 mm assault rifle, which was in use since 1996.

Indo-Russia Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL)

IRRPL is a rifle-manufacturing facility in Korwa village of Amethi district in Uttar Pradesh. This factory will manufacture the AK-203 variant of the rifles. This factory was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019. It is a joint-venture of Ordnance Factory Board of India and Kalashnikov Concern of Russia. Rosoboronexport is also holding a minority stake. OFB has 50.5% majority stake, Kalashnikov has 42% while Rosoboronexport has 7.5% stake in IRRPL.

According to the UN food agency, World Food Programme (WFP), out of 39 million people, 14 million people are facing severe hunger in Afghanistan.

Key points

World Food Programme (WFP)

WEP is the food-assistance branch of United Nations and the world’s largest humanitarian organization. It largely focuses on hunger and food security. WEP is also the largest provider of school meals. It was founded in 1961 with its headquarter in Rome. It also has offices across 80 countries. Organisation has served about 97 million people in 88 countries as of 2019.

Function of WEP

Besides emergency food relief, WFP provided technical assistance and development aid like building capacity for emergency preparedness and response, promoting social safety programs, managing supply chains & logistics and strengthening resilience against the climate change. It is also major provider of direct cash assistance and medical supplies.

Goal of WEP

WFP, as an executive member of the United Nations Development Group, aims to fulfil the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) with focus on achieving SDG 2 for zero hunger by 2030.

India has approved the ratification of the Kigali Agreement to the Montreal Protocol in order to phase down Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

What it means for India?

India now requires to reduce its HFCs usage by 80% by 2047. China and the US have to achieve the same in 2045 and 2034.

Key Points

Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol

It is an international agreement that seeks to gradually reduce consumption and production of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). This is a legally binding agreement that has been designed to create rights and obligations in international law.


Montreal Protocol was originally created in order to preserve and restore the ozone layer. Protocol was an agreement in between participating countries in order to do away with ozone depleting gases. Under the agreement, HFCs were used to replace the banned substances as they have zero impact on the ozone. But HFCs are powerful greenhouse gases that contributes towards climate change. Thus, Kigali amendment added HFCs to the list of chemicals that countries are required to phase out.

Which countries have ratified this amendment?

121 states and the European Union have ratified the Kigali Amendment as of July 2021. India is the new entrant to the list. US has not ratified the amendment but pledged in April 2021 to do so.

China passed a new Online Privacy Law on August 20, 2021 with the aim of preventing businesses from collecting any sensitive personal data.


New law was passed in the backdrop of China facing an uptick in internet scams. Companies like ride hailing giant Didi and gaming behemoth Tencent in regulators’ have been accused of over misuse of personal data in recent months.

About the new rule

What are the concerns?

China has always been accused of harnessing big tech to accelerate repression in northwestern Xinjiang province and elsewhere. New rules are also expected to further rattle China’s tech sector.

Aim of the new law

The new law was passed with the aim of protecting those who “feel strongly that their personal data is being used for user profiling and by recommendation algorithms or in setting prices”. New law will prevent companies from setting different prices for same service on the basis of clients’ shopping history.

How it was framed?

New law has been modelled on the basis of European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. This EU law is considered as world’s strictest online privacy protection laws.

King of Malaysia has appointed Ismail Sabri Yaakob as the prime minister of the country on August 20, 2021.

Key Points

Who is Ismail Sabri bin Yaakob?

He is a Malaysian politician, who has been appointed as 9th Prime Minister of Malaysia since August 2021. From July 2021 to August 2021, he served as the 13th Deputy Prime Minister. He was also the Minister of Defence in the Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration and a Member of Parliament (MP) for Bera constituency since March 2004. He has become the shortest-serving Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia as he served only for 40 days. He is also a member and Vice-President of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).

Parliament of Malaysia

It is the national legislature of Malaysia, running on the basis of Westminster system of Parliament. It is a bicameral parliament comprising of three components:

  1. Dewan Rakyat (the House of Representatives)
  2. Dewan Negara (the Senate)
  3. Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King)- Head of State

Location of Parliament

The Parliament sits in Malaysian Houses of Parliament which is located in the national capital, Kuala Lumpur.

World Mosquito Day 2021 was observed on August 20, to raise awareness and alertness regarding the diseases caused by mosquitoes.  The day also remembers Sir Ronald Ross who discovered a link between female mosquitoes and malaria.

Concerns regarding Mosquitoes

Theme of World Mosquito Day 2021

In the year 2021, World Mosquito Day was observed under the theme “Reaching the zero-malaria target”.

Background of World Mosquito Day

The day is celebrated to remember Sir Ronald Ross for his discovery on Malaria. In the year 1897, British doctor Sir Ronald Ross had discovered that female mosquitoes called Anopheles mosquitoes are the ones who transmit malaria parasites among humans. He found that, female Anopheles mosquitoes are responsible for spreading the malarial parasite. It can also lead to killing an individual. This discovery was made on August 20. Thus, the Mosquito Day is observed on August 20 since 1930s.

Significance of the Day

This day is significant because it highlights and focus on efforts made by healthcare officials, NGOs, and others who have contributed towards fighting against the illness caused by malaria. The day also raise awareness among people regarding the diseases caused by mosquitoes.

Facebook India has launched a new initiative called the “Small Business Loans Initiative” on August 20, 2021.

Key Facts

Aim of the initiative

Facebook launched this initiative with the aim of making business loans more easily accessible to small businesses. It also seeks to reduce the credit gap within India’s MSME sector.

Why this initiative was launched?

As per “Future of Business” survey that was conducted by Facebook in association with OECD & World Bank in 2020, a third of operational SMBs on Facebook in 2020 found cash flow as one of their primary challenges. So, to provide them with loans, this initiative was launched.

Interest on Loan

Through the partnership between Facebook and Indifi, small businesses advertising with Facebook can be given loans at a predefined interest rate of 17-20 per cent per annum. This initiative will also enable small businesses to get loans without collateral by means of a quick online application.

President of UN Security Council & External affairs minister (EAM) of India, S. Jaishankar, slammed at China for terror stand. He chaired the UNSC Briefing on “Threats to International Peace & Security Caused by Terrorist Acts” on August 19, 2021.

Key Points


In January 2021, S. Jaishankar had proposed an eight-point action plan that was aimed at collectively eliminating the scourge of terrorism.

United Nations Security Council (UNSC)

UNSC is among principal organs of the United Nations (UN) that has been charged with ensuring international peace and security. It recommends admission of new UN members to the General Assembly. It also approves any changes to UN Charter. It has been vested with powers like establishing peacekeeping operations, authorizing military action and enacting international sanctions. It is the only UN body to issue binding resolutions on member states.


UNSC was created after World War II after the League of Nations failed to maintain world peace. First session of UNSC was held on January 17, 1946.

Members of UNSC

UNSC comprises of five permanent members- China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Permanent members enjoy the veto power on any substantive resolution. Remaining ten members are elected on a regional basis who serve for a term of two years. Presidency of UNSC also rotates monthly among its members.

Assam government has announced COVID relief package for helpers, drivers and priests.

Key Points

Other key decisions by government

Allocation for drivers

Because of closure of inter-district movement in past three-month, long-distance buses are not playing. As a result, driver and helper are facing financial hardship. Thus, an amount of Rs 10000 will be provided to each of them. This benefit will reach to some 60,000 people.

Covid-cases in Assam

According to the chief minister, state government has effectively controlled the second wave of COVID-19 and is prepared for the third wave. In last 99 days around 1.22 Crore doses of vaccine have been administered amount to 1.5 lakh per day. Positivity rate in state has also come down to one percent and less.

A genome sequencing government consortium of Laboratories in India, INSACOG, stressed that breakthrough infections of coronavirus cases in India comprise a high proportion of Delta variant.

Key Points

Delta variant in India

Delta variant is driving the pandemic across several countries. China and Korea are also witnessing new highs. Korea reported that, new surge is due to Delta plus K417N mutation. In between March to May 2021, Delta variant caused a deadly second wave India that wreaked havoc on the health infrastructure and hospitals. In India, new cases of AY.1, AY.2, AY.3 (Delta Plus) are being witnessed from July samples collected from Maharashtra at a frequency of 1 per cent. However, none of these sub-lineages have a growth advantage over Delta parent lineage. Thus, Delta variant is a major Variant of Concern in India this time.

Active cases in India

Daily coronavirus cases India have reduced significantly since the peak of second wave in May. Active cases have come down to 3,63,605, lowest in 150 days. R Value, or Reproduction rate in India has also dropped to 0.89.

The Drug Controller General of India (DGCI) has approved ZyCoV-D vaccine by Zydus Cadila for Emergency Use Authorization.

Key Points

Who developed ZyCoV-D?

Zydus Cadila developed this vaccine in partnership with the Department of Biotechnology under Mission COVID Suraksha. It will be implemented by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC).

About ZyCoV-D

It is a three-dose, DNA plasmid-based COVID-19 vaccine. When it is injected into body, it produces spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and evoke an immune response. It thus, plays a key role in protection from disease and viral clearance.

Can the vaccine deal with mutations?

Plasmid DNA platform of the vaccine is based on plug-and-play technology. It can be easily adapted to deal with mutations among virus.

Efficacy of the vaccine

The Phase-3 Clinical Trials for the vaccine was conducted in over 28 thousand volunteers. Result showed primary efficacy of 66.6 per cent in symptomatic RT-PCR positive cases. This was the largest vaccine trial in India for COVID-19, as of now.  Vaccine had already exhibited robust immunogenicity, tolerability and safety profile in adaptive Phase I and 2 clinical trials. Phase 1, 2 and 3 clinical trials were monitored by an independent Data Safety Monitoring Board.

About Zydus Cadila

Zydus Cadila is also known as Cadila Healthcare Limited. It is an Indian multinational pharmaceutical company with its headquarter in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. This company is primarily engaged in manufacturing generic drugs. Ramanbhai Patel founded this company in 1952.