Daily Current Affairs - 31-08-2021

IIT Madras is in process of developing an online platform called e-Source that will be used to tackle electronic wastes (e-waste).

Key Facts

What is the need of e-Source initiative?

To formalize e-waste handling and management, a novel open-source solution is needed which is data enriched and leveraging the potential of transparency because, e-waste either completely stripped down to get precious metals and other high-value materials or are dumped in landfills, without exploring potential re-use. Such unscientific recycling methods e-waste are harmful for waste handlers as well as environment.

Waste generation

As per a study, world generates 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste annually.  This amount is expected to double in next 16 years. Such waste is pressing issues in India as well. India is the world’s third-largest producer. It generated 38 percent more e-waste in between 2019-2020.

What waste generation in India is a concern?

because, in India, only 5 percent of e-waste is recycled responsibly.

Features of e-Source

A unique feature of e-Source initiative is that, it will deploy a detection system which uses a combination of image processing and natural language processing techniques in order to get product information and upload it to the database. Furthermore, it can be self-certified by means of prescribed standard protocols.

National Small Industry Day is observed every year on August 30, to recognise the value of small businesses existing in India.

Highlights

Significance of small-scale sector

Small-scale sector plays key role in economic growth of the developing nation like India. Considering the strategic relevance of these sectors, special emphasis is placed on its development. Thus, the trend of government policy assistance for small industry has been beneficial and favourable for the growth of small-scale enterprises.

Background

Ministry of Small-Scale Industries (SSI) had launched a comprehensive policy package for SSI Sector on August 30, 2000. This policy provides significant support to small firms in India. Ministry subsequently agreed to designate August 30 as “SSI Day”. Ministry held an SSI Convention for SSI Entrepreneurs in New Delhi and presentation of National Awards function on August 30, 2001. This program was divided into three parts viz., Inauguration, Distribution of National Awards, and Open House Discussion.

How this day is significant?

Central government has made several efforts to establish small-scale enterprises across India in order to help people in finding work. This day is marked to emphasise on the importance of small-scale enterprises in creating work opportunities for individuals in rural and urban regions. This is because, small businesses are labour-intensive and units of capital engaged in them retain higher proportion of employment. Furthermore, it helps in equitable allocation of economic power.

Fintech services provider, PayU, is set to acquire the Indian digital payments provider, BillDesk for $4.7 billion. This will be one among the largest deals in Indian fintech sector.

Highlights

  1. Payments for domestic and cross border transactions,
  2. Credit solutions for consumers and small businesses,
  3. Strategic investments in innovative fintech companies like Remitly in the US as well as building a full financial services ecosystem in India.

Significance of the move

About BillDesk

BillDesk is an Indian online payment gateway company. It is based in Mumbai. It is a financially independent company and is monitored under the Payments and Settlements Systems Act, 2007 which is regulated and supervised by the Reserve Bank of India. It was founded by Indian entrepreneurs viz., M.N. Srinivasu, Ajay Kaushal and Karthik Ganapathy in the year 2000.

Indian boxers won six gold medals along with nine silver and five bronze medals in the Asian Youth Championship.

Highlights

Background

Five Indian boxers, including one woman, earlier won bronze medals in youth event after they lose in semi-finals. Daksh, Deepak, Abhimanyu and Aman Singh Bisht won the bronze medals. In women’s category, Lashu Yadav won bronze medal.

Last edition of the competitions

Last edition of Asian Youth Championships was held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. India had won 12 medals, including five gold. The gold medallists in youth category were awarded with USD 6,000, silver medallists got USD 3,000 while bronze medallists got USD 1,500.  In the junior competition held along with the Championships, India had won eight gold, five silver and six bronze medals.

Asian Youth Athletics Championships

It is a biennial, continental athletics competition held for Asian athletes. It is organised by the Asian Athletics Association. The first championships were held in 2015. It is a youth category event that is held for athletes aged fifteen and seventeen.

The Indian and Algerian navies conducted their first ever naval exercise off the coast of Algeria on August 29, 2021.

Highlights

India-Algeria Relations

Both the countries have established diplomatic relationship. Algeria is having an embassy in New Delhi while India set up it in Algiers. They are part of Non-aligned movement. Being a member of African Union, Algeria supports the candidacy of India for a permanent seat in Security Council. Trade between both the countries has increased from US$55 million in 2001 to US$3.4 billion in 2011. Both the countries have also taken steps to increase collaboration in the oil sector.

India’s market in Algeria

Indian car company, Maruti, has a significant market in Algeria. It is the third largest export market for Maruti.

India’s aid to Algeria

India also provided Algeria US $1 million humanitarian aid to help the “victims of the earthquake in Algeria in May 2003. India handed over medicines worth half a million US dollars in April 2004.

Science and technology cooperation

Indian Space Research Organisation launched the Satellite Alsat 2A of Algeria into orbit in July 2010.

Kendrapara district of Odisha, that is crisscrossed by rivers, creeks and water inlets, has become the only district in India where all three species of crocodiles viz., salt-water, gharial and mugger are found.

Key Points

Bhitarkanika river systems

Bhitarkanika river systems are home to saltwater crocodiles. On the other hand; Mahanadi River, Brahmani rivers and their tributaries are inhabited by muggers and gharials. Sighting of the crocodiles is significant because conservation of these species (Muggers and Gharials) has not been as successful as that of the estuarine crocodiles.

Bhitarkanika National Park

This larger national park is located in the northeast Kendrapara district of Odisha. It obtained the status of a Ramsar site in 2002. The area the second Ramsar site of Odisha after the Chilika Lake. The Park is surrounded by Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, Gahirmatha Beach, Marine Sanctuary, separating swamp region as well as mangroves from the Bay of Bengal. Park is home to Saltwater crocodile king cobra, Indian python, black ibis, darters and other species of flora and fauna.

The United Nations Security Council, under the Presidency of India, adopted a resolution on the situation in Afghanistan on August 30, 2021.

Highlights

Taliban in Afghanistan

The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan on August 15, 2021. They captured the country two weeks before the United States was set to complete its troop withdrawal, ending the longest war in US history. This seizing also forced Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to flee to the United Arab Emirates.

United Nations Security Council (UNSC)

UNSC is one among the six principal organs of the United Nations. It is charged with ensuring international peace and security. It also recommends on the admission of new UN members to general assembly and approves any changes in the UN Charter. Some of its power include- establishment of peacekeeping operations, enactment of international sanctions, and authorization of military action. UNSC is the only UN body that can issue binding resolutions on member states.

When it was created?

UNSC was created after World War II to address failings of the League of Nations in maintaining peace across the world.

Member of UNSC

UNSC comprises of fifteen members, out of which five are permanent viz, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. Permanent members can use their veto power on substantive resolution. Remaining ten members are elected on a regional basis and serve for a term of two years. Presidency of the body rotates monthly among its members.

The United States announced the end of its 20-year-old war in Afghanistan before the deadline of August 31, 2021.

Highlights

War in Afghanistan

It was a conflict, took place from 2001 to 2021, in Afghanistan. The war started with the invasion that led to the United States and its allies to topple the Taliban-ruled Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan so that they could deny al-Qaeda a safe base of operations in Afghanistan. War was officially fought by allied NATO & Afghan Armed Forces against Taliban insurgents. The Taliban defeated the Afghanistan Army after majority of NATO forces left the country. This was the longest war in the history of United States.

The Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR) has launched a regular Jungle Tea Toy Train Safari on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Route.

Key Points

Existing toy train services

Tea Toy Train by NFR

Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR) launches tea toy train from Siliguri West Bengal to Rongtong, regularly. Such trains feature a heritage steam engine and view dome dining car. Tourists take in the spectacular views of Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary and surrounding hills from trains.

Significance of the Train

The toy trains are expected to boost the tourism sector in the region. Locals will be having the opportunity to participate in weekend tours regularly.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and IIT Roorkee has developed an app, in a joint venture, that can predict natural disasters.

Highlights

Background

The development of the app is in line with the proposal by the Central Government to simplify the disaster parameters of 2011.

Doppler Radar

Doppler Radar is a specialized radar that make use of Doppler effect to produce velocity data about the distant objects.

Doppler effect

When the source and signal are in relative motion to each other, observer witness a change in the frequency. If they move closer, frequency increases and vice versa. This effect is called as Doppler effect.

What is a Radar?

Radar, expanded as Radio Detection and Ranging, is a device that uses electromagnetic waves in the microwaves region in order to detect location, range & direction; altitude; intensity and movement of moving & non-moving objects.

How does a Doppler radar work?

Radars emit a beam of energy, called radio waves, from an antenna. When the radio waves strike an object in the atmosphere, energy scatters in all directions. Some of the energy is reflected directly back to the radar. Larger the object deflects the beam as well as amount of energy that the radar receives in return. Weather forecasting department observes the time required for the beam to be transmitted & returned to the radar and see raindrops in the atmosphere & measure their distance from the radar.

The Chief Justice of India (CJI), NV Ramana, will administer oath of office to Nine new judges, including three women on August 31, 2021.

Highlights

Background

A collegium of Supreme Court recommended the names of these nine judges on August 17, 2021 for appointment as judges of the Apex court. President Ram Nath Kovind then signed the warrants of their appointment.

Women Judges

The apex court has appointed very few women judges since its inception. In over 71 years, only eight women judges have been appointed till date. First women judge was M Fathima Beevi, appointed in 1989. Justice Indira Banerjee is the lone serving woman judge in the supreme court after her elevation on August 7, 2018.

Appointment of SC Judges

The President of India appoints the Judges of the Supreme Court. The CJI is appointed by the President following a consultation with judges of the Supreme Court as well as high courts (HCs). Other judges of the SC are appointed by the President following a consultation with the CJI and such other judges of the SC and the HCs. The consultation with CJI is obligatory for appointment of judges other than Chief justice.

Latham’s Snipe shorebird fly non-stop from Japan to Australia twice in a year. The bird takes five days to cover the distance of thousands of kilometres of ocean for their survival.

Highlights

Latham’s snipe

The bird is also known as Japanese Snipe and is scientifically called as Gallinago hardwickii. It is a medium-sized, long-billed, migratory snipe in the East Asian–Australasian Flyway. It is 29–33 cm in length with a wingspan of 50–54 cm. It is 150–230 g in weight.

Features of the bird

The bird is identified as a Gallinago snipe by its cryptically-patterned black, brown, buff and white plumage. However, it is not easy to distinguish from Swinhoe’s and pin-tailed snipe.

Habitat

The bird mainly breeds in Hokkaido in northern Japan and in small proportion in Honshu (eastern Russian mainland).  Historically, it used to breed in Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands. Breeding habitat of the bird in Asia include alpine moorland, rough pasture, young tree plantations, grasslands and cultivated areas.

Migration

They migrate and spend most of their non-breeding season in eastern Australia, where it is the common Gallinago snipe. It has also been recorded on migration in Taiwan, New Guinea and the Philippines. It is a rare straggler to New Zealand.

Status of the bird

This bird is the Least Concern species.  In Australia it was earlier hunted as a gamebird but it is now protected. The bird is listed as “rare” under South Australia’s National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972.

Russia issued a warning about the possibility of rise in cases of West Nile Virus  infections this autumn because mild temperatures and heavy precipitation are the favourable circumstances for mosquitos carrying the virus.

Highlights

What is West Nile virus?

It is a single-stranded RNA virus causing West Nile fever. Virus is the member of family Flaviviridae, which also comprises the Zika virus, dengue virus, as well as yellow fever virus. This virus is primarily transmitted through mosquitoes and mostly by species of Culex. Primary hosts of the virus are birds. Genetically, the virus is related to the Japanese encephalitis family. Humans and horses both exhibit disease symptoms from this virus. First human case of the disease was reported in 1937 in Uganda and now it is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in continental United States.

Origin of the virus

West Nile virus was originated in Africa. It has now spread to Europe, Asia, and North America. Virus is mostly transmitted by mosquito bites, causing a deadly neurological condition in humans.

When does this disease mostly occur?

Most of the West Nile virus cases occur during mosquito season, starts in the summer and lasts until the fall.

Symptoms of the disease

Majority of people (8 out of 10) infected with West Nile virus do not exhibit any symptoms. Some infected people develop fever along with symptoms like headache, body aches, joint pains, rash, vomiting or diarrhoea.