The Supreme Court have put a stay on the dismantling of the INS Viraat that was decommissioned recently. This decision was taken in the backdrop to restore the everlasting glory of this legendary warship of the Indian Navy.
The SC’s stay on the dismantling while hearing a petition filed by a firm. The firm filed the petition seeking a permission to convert INS Viraat into a maritime museum and a multi-functional adventure centre. The centre had informed the Parliament in July 2019 about their decision to dismantle the INS Viraat after holding due consultation with the Indian Navy.
The petition was heard by a bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) S A Bobde.
The bench issued the notice to the Centre and others and asked for their responses on the plea.
This order came from SC after a portion of the legendary vessel has already been scrapped following the government’s decision in December 2020.
The firm that filed the petition has proposed to buy the aircraft carrier for Rs 100 crore.
It was a Centaur-class aircraft carrier in the Indian Navy. The aircraft carrier was the flagship of Indian Navy till 2013 before INS Vikramaditya was commissioned into services. INS Viraat was completed and commissioned in the year 1959 as the Royal Navy’s HMS Hermes. In the year 11984 it was decommissioned. The aircraft carrier was sold to India in the year 1987. Following that, it was commissioned into the Indian Navy on May 12, 1987.The carrier has served the Indian Navy for 29 years and decommissioned in 2017. This was the last British-built ship that was serving the Indian Navy.
The “Major Ports Authorities Bill, 2020” was passed in the Rajya Sabha on February 10, 2021. The bill was passed using the ballot votes. 84 votes were in favour while 44 votes were against it. The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha in September 2020.
Significance of the Bill
The Union minister of state for ports, shipping and waterways, Mansukh Mandaviya, highlighted that the bill will encourage the good competition with in the major private ports.
The bill also boost port land usage and it will amplify competition in port tariffs.
Provisions of the bill
The bill aims to provide more autonomy in decision-making.
It will provide autonomy to the 12 major ports of India, Namely’
Deendayal (erstwhile Kandla) port
New Mangalore port,
Kamarajar (erstwhile Ennore) port,
V O Chidambaranar port,
Paradip port, and
Kolkata (including Haldia) port.
The bill will also professionalise the governance of the port with the formation of boards.
The bill will replace the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963.
It comprises of the provisions of creating a Board of Major Port Authority for each major port that in turn will replace the existing Port Trusts.
Composition of the board
The Board will consist of a Chairperson and a deputy Chairperson. Both will be appointed by the central government following the recommendation of a selection committee. The board will also include one member from each of the respective state governments, Railways Ministry, Defence Ministry, and Customs Department. It will also have two to four independent members. Further, it will include two members who will represent the interests of the employees from the Major Port Authority.
The bill is being criticised and opposed alleging that it is aimed at privatising the ports. The bill will deplete the powers of states with respect to the land use.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has released the first images of the glacier burst that happened in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. The glacial burst has so far caused 32 lives. After the incident, more than hundred people are still missing.
The satellite images show that flash floods were reported in Rishi Ganga and Dhauli Ganga river catchment areas.
The flash floods were caused due to major snow avalanche closer to the Raini village of Chamoli district.
The images show that power plants located at Raini and Tapovan have went through the maximum damage in the glacial burst.
One image shows the deposition of debris in Dhauli Ganga.
Other image shows the damage occurred to the dam infrastructures at Tapovan and Raini.
These images were captured by the ISRO’s advanced earth imaging and mapping satellite CARTOSAT-3.
What caused the glacial burst?
scientists are still investigating about the reason for the glacial burst or the avalanche or the release of the accumulated water. Bu the experts are pointing that climate change can be blame. This is so because, the warming temperatures is resulting into the shrinking of glaciers across the world.
It is an advanced Indian Earth Observation satellite. The satellite has been built and developed by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It replaced the IRS series. The satellite comprises of a panchromatic resolution of 0.25 metres. Thus, it is the imaging satellite having highest resolution in the world. It has Mx of 1 metre with a high-quality resolution.
Uses of CARTOSAT-3
Satellite is used to map the weather, in the cartography or defence, and in the strategic applications
Features of CARTOSAT-3
The satellite has a resolution of 25 cm. It uses 1.2 m optics. The satellite uses the optical devices, adaptive optics, and in-orbit focusing using MEMs. The age of the satellite is 5 years.
The office of the Karnataka Digital Economy Mission (KDEM) was inaugurated in Karnataka.
The office was inaugurated with the objective of increasing the digital economy contribution to Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) by 30 per cent.
Along with the office, the “Beyond Bengaluru” report was also published which will facilitate to achieve the target of increasing the contribution.
The mission was founded on a public-private partnership model. In the mission, the industries like, India Electronics and Semiconductor Association (IESA), NASSCOM, The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) and Vision Group Start-ups have 51 per cent stake.
51 percent stake in industries have been allowed in order to make this office more industry-friendly.
While 49 per cent of the stake has been kept with the government.
The government will act as a facilitator in the “Karnataka digital economy mission office” rather than an authority.
How digital economy would be strengthened?
To strengthen the digital economy, the government will focus to improve the connectivity even to remote parts. It will provide 24/7 electricity in those areas. The government will also reduce the rural-urban divide by creating the needed infrastructure.
Aim of the KDEM
The KDEM is aimed at attracting the investments for the IT or ITeS sector in the state. It also seeks to create 10 lakh jobs by 2025. The office will work to achieve the target with the focus on 5 verticals of IT namely the Innovation & Startups, products & services, Electronic System Design & Manufacturing (ESDM), ‘Beyond Bengaluru’, and ‘Talent Accelerator’. The office has been established with the aim of reaching to the goal of 150 billion dollars in IT exports through the state. It also wants to make Karnataka a 300 billion dollars economy by 2025.
The 18th edition of BioAsia event will be held in between February 22, 2021 to February 23, 2021. It will be organised under the theme: ‘Move the Needle’.
This year, the BioAsia event will focus on Covid-19, pharma, medtech and global health.
The event would comprise of a wide array of panels.
The panel will focussing on how Covid-19 pandemic has resulted into various changes in the life sciences industry.
About BioAsia 2021
The event will provide a platform to discuss on topics of importance for the life sciences industry.
One of the sessions of the event will be focusing on the prospects of Medical Technologies that is becoming the next big opportunity for India.
The medical technologies have the potential to accelerate the journey for India from being an importer to become a large-scale exporter.
The event will also have analysis on the supply chain resilience, access to innovative medicines and innovation & research.
Significance of the event
This event is significant because, India is all set to become the world’s most populous country of the world. With the increase in the population, the burden of disease is also increasing. Thus, this becomes important because, it is attended by the investors, researchers, start-ups, conglomerates and health care representatives who discuss the needs of evolving Life Science industry. Further, the event would give a boost to India’s biotechnology sector.
India’s Biotechnology Sector
India has become the third largest biotechnology destination in the Asia Pacific region. India have more than 500 United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) approved Indian owned biotechnology plants which is the second highest number across the world. The country is also the largest supplier of vaccines of BCG, DPT and measles.
The Government of India has launched a new Central Sector Scheme called the “Formation and Promotion of 10,000 Farmer Produce Organizations (FPOs)”.
The scheme has been launched with a clear strategy and committed resources in order to form and promote 10,000 new FPOs across India.
For the making of FPOs, Rs 6865 crore have been allocated.
Why this scheme has been launched?
The scheme has been launched because, the agriculture sector plays a crucial role in economic development and Nation building. The country is also be at the forefront in the development of agriculture across the world.
Further, India wants to double its agricultural export by 2022.
But, more than 86% of farmers in India are small and marginal. They need the facilities of improved technology, better input, credit, and more markets in order to incentivize them. It would help them to produce better quality commodity.
Thus, if these small, marginal and landless farmers are aggregated into FPOs, it would help them to enhance the economic strength & market linkages of farmers. This in turn will help in enhancing their income.
About FPOs Scheme
This is a Central Sector Scheme which receives funding from Government of India.
FPOs will be developed in produce clusters.
In the FPOs, agricultural and horticultural produces will be grown and cultivated to leverage the economies of scale.
It will also improve the market access for members.
Further, “One District One Product” cluster will be created to promote specialization.
Under this scheme, the formation & Promotion of FPOs will be done with the help of Implementing Agencies (IAs).
Implementing Agencies (IAs)
There are presently nine implementing agencies namely,
Small Farmers Agri-Business Consortium (SFAC),
National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD),
National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC),
North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Limited (NERAMAC),
Small Farmers Agri-Business Consortium Haryana (SFACH),
National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED),
Watershed Development Department (WDD)- Karnataka
Tamil Nadu-Small Farmers Agri-Business Consortium (TN-SFAC) and
Foundation for Development of Rural Value Chains (FDRVC)- Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD).
These IAs will engage the Cluster Based Business Organizations (CBBOs) to aggregate, registered and provide the handholding support to each FPOs. The support will be provided for a period of 5 years.
The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have unveiled the ambitious 10-year space program of his country on February 9, 2021.
The space programme comprises of a mission to the moon, developing internationally viable satellite systems and sending Turkish astronauts into space.
The mission is being seen as part of President’s vision to place the Turkey in the expanded regional and global role.
Turkey is also aiming to send the Turkish citizens into space with the international cooperation.
The country will work with other countries to build a spaceport.
It also seeks to create a “global brand” with respect to the satellite technology.
Turkey had established its Turkish Space Agency in the year 2018.
The space agency in Turkey was established with the aim to come hand in hand with the other countries with respect to space programs.
Turkey’s Moon Mission
The President further announced, that Turkey have planned to send its first satellite to the moon in 2023 to mark the centennial of establishment of Turkish republic.
The first stage of the moon mission will be completed with international cooperation.
The second phase of the mission will use the Turkish rockets.
The announcement that the President made is however being criticised because the space programme would require vast sums of money at a time when its economy is suffering. On the other hand, it is being praised because the space programme will create jobs for researchers.
Turkish Space Agency (TSA)
TSA is a government agency that does the national aerospace research in Turkey. The agency was established through the presidential decree on December 12, 2018. The agency is headquartered in Ankara. It works under the parent head of Ministry of Science and Technology of Turkey.
The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change has published its new research in Lancet Planetary Health Journal recently. The report has highlighted the benefits of adoption of the Paris Agreement to health.
It highlights that the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are in consistent with the Paris Agreement.
The Paris Agreement aims to limit the warming to below 2°C.
The report also focuses on the crucial and overlooked incentive to tackle the climate change.
The study was carried in countries that represent 50 per cent of the world’s population namely, China, Germany, Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Africa, Nigeria, United Kingdom and United States. These countries also account for 70 per cent of the world’s emissions.
Key findings of the report
The signatories of the Paris agreement are updating and revising their NDCs in the backdrop of COP26 of 2021.
However, the NDCs are not that strong globally to achieve the Paris agreement. Thus, there is a risk of global temperature rise more than 3°C.
The report further highlights that the adoption of the policies which are in consistent with the aim of the Paris Agreement and with the prioritisation of the health can help in saving around,
4 million lives as a result of better diet
6 million lives as a result of cleaner air, and
1 million lives as a result of increased exercise.
The report mentioned that, though the direct benefits of the carbon mitigation are in long-term but the health co-benefits of the climate policies have the immediate positive benefits.
It says, If India follow the commitments of the Paris agreement, then it can save 4.3 lakh lives as a result of cleaner air and 17.41 lakh lives as a result of better diet.
Thus, the health benefits of the strengthened Nationally Determined Contributions commitments can be achieved by the direct climate change mitigation along with the supporting actions. Both of the measures together can help in reducing the exposure to harmful pollutants. It would also help in improving the diets and enabling a safer physical activity. There are countries who have benefitted from dietary improvements. For instance, in Germany 188 deaths were avoided per 100,000 of population; In USA 171 per 100,000 deaths were avoided while in China 167 per 100,000 deaths were avoided; report highlights.
The Joe Biden administration in United States is all set to re-join the UN Human Rights Council. The United States had withdrawn from the council in the year 2018 under Presidency of the Donald Trump
Donald Trump withdrew from the world body’s main human rights because of its disproportionate focus on Israel.
Israel had received the largest number of critical council resolutions so far with respect to any other country.
So, the Trump administration discussed the issue with the body’s membership.
The members include Cuba, China, Russia, Eritrea and Venezuela. All these countries have been accused of human rights abuses.
About UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR)
UNHRC is an inter-governmental body within the UN system.
The agency is involved in strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights across the world.
It looks after the situations of human rights violations and recommends on the situations.
The council was created in the year 2006 by the UN General Assembly Resolution 60/251.
The first session of the council took place in 2006 three months after its establishment.
The agency is involved in discussing all the thematic human rights issues.
The UNHRC was created after replacing the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR).
The council comprises of the 47 UN Member States. The member states are elected by the UNGA by a direct and secret ballot.
The UNHRC held three regular sessions in a year. The session lasts for a total of 10 weeks. The session take place for four weeks in the month of March, three weeks in the month of June and three weeks in the month of September. The sessions are held at the UN Office Geneva in Switzerland.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has put a probe called Hope in the orbit around the MARS. By doing so, UAE has become the fifth country to launch the spacecraft into the orbit of MARS after United States, Soviet Union, Europe and India.
The spacecraft had left the Earth seven months ago.
It then made a braking manoeuvre in order to be captured by Mars’ gravity on February 9, 2021.
With the successful launch of spacecraft in orbit, UAE scientists can now study the planet’s atmosphere.
The spacecraft carries three instruments with it to observe how neutral atoms of Oxygen and Hydrogen leak into space. The hydrogen and oxygen came into the MARS’ atmosphere are the remnants from Mars’ once abundant water.
The Hope spacecraft will bring the spectacular, high-resolution, full-disk images of MARS.
Emirates Mars Mission
It is a UAE Space Agency space exploration mission to Mars. In the process UAE had launched the Hope orbiter 19 July 19, 2020. The orbiter reached Mars on February 9, 2021. It was launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. The orbiter was launched with the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H-IIA launch vehicle which is a Japanese launcher.
Design and Development
The design, development, and operations of the MARS mission are led by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC). It was developed by MBRSC in collaboration with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulde. The mission was also developed with the help of Arizona State University (ASU). Lastly, the spacecraft was assembled at the University of Colorado.
Purpose of the Mission
The space mission will carry the study on daily and seasonal weather cycles and weather events such as dust storm in the lower atmosphere. It will study how weather varies in different regions on the MARS. The spacecraft also seeks to study why the planet is losing the hydrogen and oxygen into space.
India and Afghanistan have inked the deal to build a dam, called Sahtoot dam, in order to supply water to the Kabul City. Following the deal, the prime minister of India called for a ceasefire in Afghanistan in order to end a spike in violence.
Prime minister Modi expressed his concern over increase in violence in Afghanistan.
President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, also stated that both the countries want a terrorism free region.
President Ghani sought guarantees for stability in Afghanistan.
About Sahtoot Dam
It is a proposed dam in the Kabul river basin.
Construction of the dam will provide drinking, irrigation and Environmental water in the Kabul province of Afghanistan.
The dam will be completed at the cost of about US$120 to $305 million.
This dam will be constructed by India.
The design of the dam will be completed by Iranian firm. For this, the ministry of water and power have inked an agreement with the Poyab Company of Iran.
The dam will be constructed in order to provide potable water to around 2 million residents of Kabul.
It will provide waters to irrigate 4000 hectares of land in Charasiab and Khairabad districts of Kabul.
Further, the dam will provide drinking water to a New City at Deh Sabz.
Shahtoot dam is the second major dam which will be built by India in Afghanistan. India has also built the Friendship Dam or Salma dam which was inaugurated in June 2016.
In order to start the project, External affairs minister of India, S Jaishankar and the Afghan counterpart Haneef Atmar have signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) to build the Lalandar or Shatoot dam.
Significance of the project
The project is significant for both the countries. It shows the India’s continuing commitment to support Afghanistan. The signing of the agreement becomes more significant in the backdrop of the troubled peace process with the Taliban and the violence that targets journalists, officials and civil society activists across the country. It also shows India’s strong and long-term commitment of the socio-economic development in Afghanistan.
India and Afghanistan are close neighbours and strategic partners. Both the countries have committed for a region free from terrorism and extremism. India also supports the “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled” peace process to negotiate with the Taliban.
Recently, a committee was set up by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) on the request of some insurers. The committee has recommended to introduce the index-linked insurance policies (ILIPs).
Index-linked insurance policies (ILIPs)
The returns coming from the ILIPs will be linked to benchmark indices.
ILIPs are the Insurance products linked with the benchmark indices. It includes 10-year Sovereign Bond Index, Sensex or Nifty etc.
The ILIPs linked with the government bonds are less risky while those linked with the equity-based indices will go through the fluctuation in returns in accordance with the stock market performance.
ILIPs are the alternative or complementary option to the current conventional guaranteed products such as annuities and savings products.
It can also be used as the unit-linked insurance plans (ULIPs) with respect to the volatile markets and stressed interest rates.
The ILIPs can be regarded as a life insurance policy under Section 10(10D) and taxability of the Insurance Policy Act.
Significance of the ILIPs
The ILIPs offer a greater transparency. Index-linked products can fit in between the traditional products with less transparency and the Unit-linked products with higher transparency. In the ILIPs the investment risks will be completely borne by the policyholders as in the cases of Unit-Linked products.
Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI)
It is an autonomous, statutory body. It regulates and promotes the insurance and re-insurance industries of India. The body was established under the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999. Its headquarters are in Hyderabad, Telangana. The headquarter moved from Delhi to Telangana in 2001. IRDAI comprises of 10-member namely the chairman, five full-time members and four part-time members who are appointed by the government of India. Presently, Dr. Subhash C. Khuntia is the chairman of the body.
Unit Linked Insurance Plan (ULIP)
It is a product offered by insurance companies. The product provides the investors both the insurance and the investment under an integrated plan. The policy holders can customize the investment plan according to them. In India, the first ULIP was launched by the Unit Trust of India (UTI).
In the Union Budget 2021-2022, total of Rs.913.43 crores have been dedicated to the Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR). This amount to 32% increase in the revised estimate of budget 2020-21.
How Rs 913.43 crores have been distributed?
Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (RGSA)-
Out of the Rs. 913.43 crores, Rs.593 crores have been provided under the Scheme Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (RGSA).
Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
The aim of the scheme is to strengthen Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The primary focus of the scheme is on its convergence with Mission Antyodaya by the capacity building of the rural local governments.
The main components of the scheme include the infrastructure facilities such as Panchayat Bhawans, trained manpower, computer & broadband connectivity.
It also seeks to provide the quality training to the elected representatives and other functionaries of the PRIs.
200 crores has been allocated for scheme-SVAMITVA.
It seeks to provide the ‘record of rights’ to village household owners.
It will also issue the property cards for the property owners through survey of village areas.
Survey would be done using the drone technology by Survey of India.
Pilot phase of SVAMITVA
For the pilot phase of the scheme, Budget Outlay of Rs.79.65 crore have been allocated.
In this phase, the scheme is under implementation in 9 States namely, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Haryana, Punjab, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh.
Under it, Drone Survey has been completed in about 23,300 villages by the end of January 2021.
In 1432 villages, the property cards have been prepared and distributed or is under distribution to about 2.30 lakh property holders.
Continuous Operating Reference System (CORS) network
Under the SVAMITVA scheme, 210 CORS are being set up in Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. SVAMITVA Scheme aims that the CORS network reaches all across the Country by 2022. The CORs networks are used by any State agency or Department namely, the Revenue Department, Public Works Department, Gram Panchayat (GP), Agriculture, Rural Development Department, Education, Drainage & Canal, Water, Electricity, Health etc. to survey the works and implementation of schemes. This network uses the GIS based applications to survey the works. It overhauls the traditional survey system in the rural areas. The network provides accuracy up to 5 centimetre-level in real-time.