Daily Current Affairs - 23-08-2021

Egypt closed its main border crossing point with Gaza Strip on August 23, 2021 because of tensions with Hamas rulers.

Key Points

Background

Closure of border was the result of violence that erupted on August 21 after a protest organized by Hamas. Hamas organized the protest to draw attention towards Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the territory. Some 24 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli shooting.

About Gaza Strip

Gaza Strip is a self-governing Palestinian territory located on the eastern coast of Mediterranean Sea. It shares its border with Egypt on the southwest for 11 kilometers and with Israel on the east & north for a 51 km. Gaza and the West Bank are claimed by sovereign State of Palestine. Both the territories are separated from each other by Israeli territory. However, since Battle of Gaza in June 2007, Gaza Strip has been governed by Hamas, which is a Palestinian fundamentalist militant Islamic organization. It came into power after the elections in 2006.

About Hamas

Hamas is a Palestinian Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist, a militant, and a nationalist organization. It comprises of a social service win called Dawah, and a military wing called Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. It holds a majority in the parliament of Palestinian National Authority. United States, Canada, European Union, Israel and Japan have designated Hamas as a terrorist organization.

According to the committee of experts, set up under National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), the third Covid wave that could peak around late October.

Key Points

Findings of the report

Report on second wave

According to report, about 60- 70 per cent children got hospitalised due to Covid had co-morbidities during second wave of covid-19. It notes that low immunity among children was primary cause behind many developing Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome.

Israel launched antibody testing for children aged as three in order to get the exact number of unvaccinated youths who have developed antibody against coronavirus.

Key Points

Serological survey in Israel

The national serological survey of Israel focuses on pupils aged between three and 12 who are not yet eligible for the vaccination. They account for nearly 1.5 million in number. This largest serological operation of Israel conducted by a free 15-minute test. Test will be done by finger pin-prick.

Aim of the tests

Mass covid-19 antibody tests will be carried with the aim of discovering how many children developed strong antibody protection against coronavirus. Children with sufficient antibodies would not be forced to quarantine when they will be exposed to a Covid patient. Thus, it aims to limit school-year disruptions.

Who is conducting the survey?

This survey is being conducted the health ministry, education ministry and army’s Home Front command.

First country to launch vaccine

Israel was among the first countries to launch a vaccination drive in mid-December 2020 by an agreement with Pfizer. Under the agreement, Israel obtained millions of paid vaccine doses and in return it shared data on effectiveness of vaccines. Now, Israel is moving forward with a third, or booster shot for everyone over 40.

PayPal Holdings Inc has launched crypto buying and selling in the United Kingdom.

Key points

PayPal cryptocurrency services

PayPal’s service in UK

PayPal’s service in the UK will be rival of established cryptocurrency exchanges like Coinbase Global Inc and fintech startups like Revolut. In UK, customers will be able to buy bitcoin, ether, litecoin and bitcoin cash by using the PayPal wallets online or on mobile app.

PayPal Holdings, Inc

It is an American multinational financial technology company.  It operates an online payments system across countries supporting online money transfers. It serves as an electronic alternative for traditional paper methods like checks and money orders. PayPal operates as the payment processor for online vendors, auction sites, as well as commercial users. It also charges a fee for providing the service. It was established as Confinity in 1998. In 2002, it went public by means of initial public offering.

The central government is considering to ban both factions of the Hurriyat Conference under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for funding terror.

Highlights

About the Hurriyat Group

Hurriyat Organisation came into existence in 1993. It was an organisation comprising of 26 groups. It also comprised of People’s Conference and Awami Action Committee. In the year 2005, it got diving into two factions-

  1. Moderate group- it was led by Mirwaiz and
  2. Hardline- it was headed by Geelani

National Investigation Agency (NIA)

NIA is counter-terrorist task force in India. It is empowered to deal with terror related crimes without requiring any special permission from the states. It was established under the enactment National Investigation Agency Act, 2008 by the Parliament on December 31, 2008 in the aftermath 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai. It is headquartered in New Delhi along with branches in Guwahati. Hyderabad, Lucknow, Kochi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Raipur and Jammu. It also maintains a NIA Most Wanted list.

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA)

UAPA is an Indian law which was enacted with the aim of preventing unlawful activities associations in India. Main objective of UAPA was to make powers available to deal with activities against integrity and sovereignty of India.

According to the data released by Agriculture Ministry on August 22, 2021 Area under kharif crops such as paddy witnessed a marginal decline of 1.55 per cent at 1,043.87 lakh hectares in the ongoing monsoon season.

Highlights

About Kharif crops

Kharif crops are also called as monsoon crops or autumn crops. They are domesticated plants which are cultivated and harvested across India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It is cultivated during monsoon season in Indian subcontinent, lasting from June to November. These crops are generally harvested from third Week of September to October. Major kharif crops in India include Maize, Rice, and Cotton.

Background

World Kharif have their origins in Arabic language. It was started being used in India with the ascent of Mughal Empire in the Indian subcontinent. Kharif means “autumn” in Arabic.

Kharif crop in India

Rice is the most significant Kharif crop in India, growing in rain-fed areas with hot and humid climates. It requires a temperature of 16–20 °C for the growing season and 18–32 °C for ripening. Rainfall of 150–200 centimetres and a flooded field is required during the growth period.

The navies of India, US, Australia and Japan are all set to conduct the Malabar Naval Exercise from August 26, 2021.

Key Points

About Malabar Exercise

Malabar exercise is an annual naval exercise between the navies of India, Japan, Australia and the USA. It is held alternately in the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean.

Background

Malabar exercise was started as a bilateral naval exercise in 1992 in between India the USA in 1992. In 2015, it was expanded into a trilateral format by including Japan. In November 2020, Australia also agreed to join the exercise on India’s request.

Aim of the exercise

The Malabar exercise is conducted annually with the aim of supporting free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. It also remains committed to a rule based international order. It also seeks to achieve interoperability with an emphasis on humanitarian assistance, anti-submarine warfare, gunnery training, surface war manoeuvres, counter-terror operations, and aerial surveillance.

How Australia was included?

The issue of inclusion of Australia in Malabar was discussed at the Quad foreign ministers meet in Tokyo in October 2020. Following the meeting, India invited Australia to join. This decision was taken with the goal of enhancing the ability of India, Japan, Australia and USA to work jointly towards bringing peace and stability across Indo-pacific region.

Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, will inaugurate India’s first smog tower at Baba Kharak Singh Marg in Connaught Place (CP), Delhi.

Smog tower at CP

Smog tower at Anand Vihar

Central government will build a 25-metre-tall smog tower at Anand Vihar. It is likely to become operational by August 31.

Who have designed the tower?

Kurin Systems is developing a 12-metre-tall smog tower in Delhi. The tower is dubbed as Kurin City Cleaner. Tower at CP as well as Anand Vihar will comprise of 1,200 air filters developed by experts at the University of Minnesota, United States. This university also helped in designing a 100-metre-high smog tower in Xian, China.

Background

This project was approved by Delhi cabinet in October 2020. It was approved after The Supreme Court directed the central government in January 2020 to construct a smog tower in order to reduce pollution at Anand Vihar and Delhi government to install it at Connaught Place in three months.

What is smog tower?

Smog towers are structures that are designed as large-scale air purifiers in order reduce air pollution particles. Prototype for such structure was built in 2017 in Beijing (China) by Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde. A 100-metre tower was built in Xi’an, Shaanxi in 2018 in a bid to tackle pollution.

USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and USDFC (U.S. International Development Finance Corporation) are sponsoring a US $50 million loan portfolio guarantee to the Kotak Mahindra Bank (KMBL).

Key Facts

About the loan programme

Other supporters of programme

About DFC

U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is a development bank of America. It partners with private sector to extend finance solutions to the challenges that developing world are facing today. It invests across sectors such as healthcare, energy, critical infrastructure and technology. It also provides financial support to small businesses and women entrepreneurs with the objective of creating jobs.

NTPC Ltd commissioned the largest floating solar PV project in Visakhapatnam. It is a 25 MW project on reservoir of Simhadri thermal power station.

Key Facts

This is the first solar project that was set up under the Flexibilisation Scheme. This scheme was notified by the Central Government in 2018.

About the floating solar PV project

Significance of the project

This project is significant in a manner that, it will help in lighting around 7,000 households. It will also ensure that at least 46,000 tons of CO2 are avoided every year for the entire lifespan of this project. It will save 1,364 million litres of water per annum which can be used to meet the yearly water requirements of 6,700 households.

Other projects by NTPC

NTPC has also planned to set up a hydrogen-based micro-grid system at Simhadri on a pilot basis. NTPC has also become the first energy company of India to declare its energy compact goals under the UN High-level Dialogue on Energy (HLDE).

About NTPC’s capacity

NTPC has a total installed capacity of 66900 MW. This group has 71 power stations comprising of 29 renewable projects. It has a set target of installing 60 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy (RE) capacity by 2032. Over 17 GW of capacity, including 5 GW of renewable energy projects, are under construction.

According to a new report by UNICEF, Children in India are at extreme high risk of impacts of climate crisis.

Key Findings of report

CCR-about Index

These findings were published in UNICEF’s report titled: “’The Climate Crisis Is a Child Rights Crisis: Introducing the Children’s Climate Risk Index” (CCRI). CCRI is the first focussed report on children by UNICEF. The index ranks countries on the basis of children’s exposure to climate and environmental shocks like cyclones and heatwaves including the vulnerability to those shocks on the basis of their access to essential services.

High-risk in India

Index has placed India among one of the 33 extremely high-risk countries where flooding and air pollution are repeated environmental shocks. Such shocks lead to the socio-economic adverse consequences for women and children.

On August 21, 2021; Exercise Konkan 2021 was held in English Channel in between INS Tabar and HMS Westminster.

Key Points

About Konkan exercise

The naval exercise Konkan 18 is held in between the navies of India and United Kingdom. It is based on the long-term strategic relationship between them. This exercise provides a platform for the Navies to periodically conduct exercise at sea and in harbour in order to build interoperability and share best practices.

Background

The bilateral Konkan exercise started in 2004 and has now grown in scale.

INS Tabar

INS Tabar is the third Talwar-class frigate in Indian Navy, which was commissioned on April 19, 2004 in Kaliningrad, Russia. Captain Mahesh Mangipudi is the current Commanding Officer (CO) of INS Tabar. It reached the home-port of Mumbai on July 31, 2004. INS Tabar is assigned to Western Naval Command of Indian Navy, which is headquartered in Mumbai. This warship can handle air or surface or subsurface missions and defend herself.

HMS Westminster

It is a Type 23 frigate of the Royal Navy, which was launched on February 4,1992. It has been named after Dukedom of Westminster.