The President of United States, Joe Biden, has revoked the emergency order that was issued by former President Donald Trump to construct the US-Mexico border wall. The order was revoked on February 11, 2021.
The President Biden revoked the order given by former President Donald Trump by announcing that it shall be the policy of the new administration that American taxpayers’ money will not be diverted to construct a border wall now at the United States’ border with Mexico.
The president will also direct a careful review of all the resources that have been appropriated or redirected for this purpose.
What was the issue?
The idea to construct a US-Mexico border was put forward by the former President of United States Donald Trump in 2016 during the presidential campaign trail.
After this, he had been repeatedly asking Mexico to pay for the construction of the border wall.
In the year 2019, the Trump administration had signed the executive order that declared the national emergency so as to build US-Mexico border wall. This order was passed on February 15, 2019. The emergency was announced after repeated clash with the lawmakers with respect to the funding for the project.
Later in 2020, the Customs and Border Protection reported that it had found USD 11 billion as fund in order to construct the wall.
Following that, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenged the USD 2.5 billion in Department of Defense spending that was diverted to the complete construction of the US-Mexico wall.
After that, the proclamation of emergency landed the Trump’s administration in court.
Mexico–United States barrier or border wall
It is a series of vertical barriers at the Mexico–United States border. The border seeks to reduce the illegal immigration from the Mexico to the United States from Mexico. The barrier is not a continuous structure. It is a series of obstructions comprising of the fences or walls. Along the border, security is provided by virtual fence of cameras, sensors, and other surveillance equipment.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has announced an increase in the fares of air travel on February 11, 2021. The fare has been increased up to Rs 5,600.
The government highlighted that the fare hike was necessitated because of the opening of the aviation market.
While, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) said that the fare hike was a routine change.
However, the aviation experts are saying the price has been increased due to increase in prices of fuel.
Upper price band has been increased by 30 percent on 180–210-minute flights. This amount to an increase in price by Rs 5,600. Thus, the price has been increased from Rs 18,600 to Rs 24,200.
Lower band of the price for the shortest route has been increased by 10 percent. This amount to an increase by Rs 200.
The domestic fare band has also been increased. The lower price band of the domestic flights has been increased from Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,200 while the upper price band has been increased from Rs 6,000 to Rs 7,800.
For the highest fare band, the minimum fare has been increased from Rs 6500 to Rs 24200 while the maximum fares have been increased from Rs 18,600 to Rs 24,200.
The ministry of civil aviation had imposed a fixed cap on air travel when the Covid-19 pandemic was at its peak. This price cap has now been removed because the market has now opened up. The government had suspended all the commercial passenger flights in March 2020 because the government had announced a strict nationwide lockdown in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Now, the government has allowed to resume the running of the domestic flights across the country.
Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)
It is the statutory body formed through the Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020. The body investigates the aviation accidents and incidents. It also maintains all the aviation related regulations. The body is headquartered in New Delhi.
The government has shared data on Lok Sabha on February 11, 2021 that India has suffered a huge crop loss on 18.176 million hectares of land.
The crop loss on the 18.176 million hectares land amounts to roughly 8.5 per cent of the total gross cropped area.
The crop loss occurred due to floods in the year 2017 to 2019.
Out of the losses, around 10.68 million hectares of land was affected in 2019 alone.
In 2018, 2.515 million hectares of land were affected while in the year 2017, 4.973 million hectares of cropped area were lost.
The government further highlighted that; the intensity of extreme floods has increased in India. The flood has also impacted the newer areas that were not flood-prone.
As per the data, flood-prone states of Bihar, Assam and Uttar Pradesh observed the extreme floods.
Extreme floods were also witnessed in Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. The floods were caused due to excess or large excess rainfall in the states.
Madhya Pradesh was the hardest-hit in all the states. The states had zero crop loss in 2017 and 2018 but, in 2019 it suffered the highest loss of 6.047 million hectares of land. The state had made the second highest claims in 2019 after Maharashtra under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana for crop insurance by the farmers.
The states of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Assam, Rajasthan and West Bengal also witnessed severe crop loss.
Flood Management and Border Areas Programme (FMBAP) scheme
The minister further highlighted that the Flood Management and Border Areas Programme (FMBAP) scheme was working in the entire country for flood management. Under this scheme, the government has released the central assistance of Rs 6,409.96 crore till March, 2020. This scheme was launched during Eleventh five year Plan period to provide central assistance to the state governments in order to take up the works related to river management, flood control, drainage development, anti-erosion, anti-sea erosion works and restoration of the damaged flood management works. The programme continued till Twelfth five year Plan.
The astronomers have discovered a concentration of smaller black holes in the cluster NGC 6397. Small black holes were discovered instead of one massive black hole at the heart of the cluster.
The Globular clusters are a dense stellar system that host the closely packed stars.
Such systems are typically very old. For instance, the cluster NGC 6397 is as old as the universe.
NGC 6397 cluster is located around 7,800 light-years away.
Thus, it I one of the closest globular clusters to the Planet Earth.
This cluster is also known as Core-Collapsed Cluster because of its very dense nucleus.
The precise measurement of the stars in the cluster’s core was made with the Hubble Space Telescope.
The cluster is also known as Caldwell 86. It is a globular cluster lying in the constellation Ara. The cluster is located around 7,800 light-years from Earth. It comprises of around 400,000 stars. The cluster can be observed with naked eye under the good observing conditions. This cluster is one among the at least 20 globular clusters in the Milky Way Galaxy which has gone through the core collapse. Core collapse means the core has contracted to a dense stellar agglomeration.
It is the galaxy comprising of our Solar System. It is a hazy band of light that can be seen in the night sky. It is formed from stars and cannot be individually distinguished with the naked eye. It appears as a band when seen from earth because its disk-shaped structure. The first person to revolve around the band of light was Galileo Galilei. He moved around the individual stars with his telescope in the year 1610.
The Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir and a United Kingdom based space agency have joined hands to work on a collaborative project on the impact-based flood forecasting.
The project is supported by the national space innovation programme (NSIP).
The NSIP programme is undertaken by HR Wallingford in association with the Oxford University, D-orbit and Sayers & Partners (SPL).
This move will help in predicting the fluvial flood risks with respect to the expected loss to life, infrastructure disruption, injuries that occurs to the people, building collapse, and other economic damage.
This move was taken by the administration because currently there is any effective impact-based flood forecasting mechanism in the UT.
Further, the international collaboration to set up the system is specific because it will help in analysing the past flood events.
About the impact-based flood forecasting system
It will also help in identifying the relationships between predicted floods and the impact of the flood.
The system will predict the impact on people, their houses and crops & livestock.
This would help in mitigating the challenges that people face during flood.
The system will also be useful in the efficient and effective contingency planning.
This system uses the earth observation (EO) based information. This makes the system capable of being linked to any existing or future flood flow forecasting system.
Flood forecasting means the use of forecasted precipitation and streamflow data during the rainfall-runoff and streamflow. The mechanism is used to forecast the flow rates and water levels. It can forecast the details from a few hours to few days on the basis of the size of the watershed or river basin. It is an important component of flood warning.
The state of Madhya Pradesh has launched a Police Museum at the police headquarters in Bhind, Madhya Pradesh. It is a unique museum themed on the dacoits to showcase their stories.
The museum contains several unique items that were used by dacoits namely Phoolan Devi and Nirbhay Gujjar.
It also showcases the stills from the making of Bollywood movie ‘Chambal ke Daaku’.
Several other items related to the Chambal dacoits will come up at the police museum.
The museum has not been built to praise and pay respect to the dacoits. But the museum will display their crimes.
The museum will also highlight the sacrifices made by police to prevent any crime of the Chambal Dacoits.
It will showcase around 2,000 digitised police records and material that have been compiled in past five decades recording the crimes of murder, loot and kidnapping by these bandits.
The museum will be set up in four rooms at the Bhind Police headquarters.
It will have images of 28 policemen who were martyred while fighting with the dacoits along with the image of 30 policeman who won the gallantry awards.
It is a geographical and cultural region located in the north-central India. The region is situated along the Chambal and Yamuna river valleys. It covers the areas of the south-eastern Rajasthan, south-western Uttar Pradesh and northern Madhya Pradesh. The region is well known for its Badlands and ravine systems. The region has hosted a huge number of dacoits. It is a part of greater Vindhyan Basin. It is covered by 5 Lakh hectares of Badlands. The region drains the northwest of Central Vindhya Plateau and the south-eastern part of Aravalli Range.
The Karnataka Government recently notified that, the Vijayanagara has become the 31st district of Karnataka officially. The district has its headquarter at Hosapete.
About Vijayanagara District
Vijayanagara is located in Hyderabad-Karnataka region.
The district also be the home to UNESCO World Heritage sites namely the Hampi and Virupaksha Temple.
Vijayanagara district has been named after the capital of the Vijayanagar Empire.
The district was established out of the ore-rich Ballari district in accordance with the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964.
The district will comprise of six taluks namely the Hosapete, kotturu, Kudligi, Hagaribommanahalli, Harapanahalli and Hoovina Hadagali.
The Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa had announced his plan of creating a new Vijayanagara district in the month of September, 2019. The Chief Minister had cited it is required to create a new district for the administrative reasons. He was of the view that. Creation of the new district will help in promoting the tourism to the places like Hampi temple. He also said, the move will help in the development of six talukas that are part of the district. Thus, the Karnataka Cabinet formally approved the creation of a new vijayanagara district on November 18, 2020.
The plan of creating the new district was highly criticised and faced opposition from the ruling party. Further, the move was criticised because of the view that division of the Ballari district to create a new district could lead to a linguistic dispute in between Telugu speaking people and Kannada speaking people with in the district.
Hampi or Hampe
It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is located in east-central Karnataka. The site is a pilgrimage centre of the Hindu religion. The Hampi region used to be the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire in 14th century. Hampi-Vijayanagara was the second-largest medieval-era city of the world following Beijing.
The Union Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh, inaugurated 57,000 water structures under the “Jalabhishekam Water Conservation Campaign” on February 11, 2021 virtually from New Delhi.
These water structures were constructed in Madhya Pradesh.
The Water conservation work is being carried in the Madhya Pradesh by the Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan with participation of public in it.
The conservation work will help to achieve the goal of water conservation and build a self-reliant Madhya Pradesh.
The Defence Minister highlighted that the ‘Jalabhishekam’ Campaign is fulfilling the aim of ‘water for every farm and work for every hand’. The campaign would be helpful in the betterment of the villages.
The campaign becomes significant in the light of climate change.
About Water Structure
More than 57000 water structures were constructed during COVID era. The constriction work for the water structure was carried by linking it with the MNREGA scheme.
National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005
It is an Indian labour law and social security measure. The act was passed with the aim to guarantee the ‘right to work’. The act was passed in 2005 by the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. The act seeks to enhance the livelihood security in rural areas. It provides at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year. It provides work to every household in which the adult members volunteer to do the unskilled manual work. The world bank termed this act in its World Development Report 2014 as a “stellar example of rural development”. The act is implemented mainly by gram panchayats. Under the act, involvement of contractors to look after the labours is banned.
Significance of the act
The act provides the economic security and create the rural assets. It also helps in protecting environment and empowering the rural women. The act guarantees 100 days of work this in turn reduces the rural-urban migration. It also mentions the principles and agencies to implement it and list of allowed works. It has also mentioned the financing pattern, monitoring and other measures in order to ensure the transparency and accountability.
The Reserve Bank of India has announced that the Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) will provide USD 400 million to Maldives project. It will provide the fund for the Greater Male Connectivity Project.
The Exim Bank had signed an agreement with the Maldives government to provide the supported Line of Credit of USD 400 million on October 12, 2020.
The Greater Male Connectivity project is the Male to Thilafushi Link project in Maldives.
The agreement under the Line of Credit is effective from January 28, 2021.
The utilisation period of the terminal is 60 months after the completion date of the project.
Greater Male Connectivity Project (GMCP)
The GMCP project was the election promise by the current President of Maldives, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
This project will connect the Gulhifalhu Port and Thilafushi industrial zone with a 6.7-kilometre-long bridge.
This is a landmark project that will streamline the connectivity between the four islands namely, Maldives, Villingili, Gulhifahu and Thilafushi.
It would help in boosting the economic activity and would also generate employment.
It will also promote a holistic urban development in Male region of Maldives.
The relation of India with Maldives was established in the year 1966. India is among those countries that recognized the Maldives after it gained its independence in 1965. Both the countries share an ethnic, linguistic, religious, cultural and commercial links. Currently, the Maldives is home to 25,000 Indian nationals. Both the countries are the founding members of SAARC. India also consider Maldives a part of its ‘Neighbourhood First’ Policy. In the line, India is a part of ‘India First’ policy of Maldives.
The economic relation between both the countries have strengthened significantly after the success of Operation Cactus. India has always provided extensive economic aid for developing infrastructure, health, telecommunications in the country. India also established the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Male.
The Mandarin duck which is a colourful duck from eastern Asia was spotted in Assam recently after 118 years.
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Spotting of the Mandarin has raised hopes for the wetland which was affected by a blowout and inferno at a natural gas well in the year 2020.
The Mandarin duck was spotted by the team of avian specialists in the Maguri-Motapung Beel of Tinsukia district in eastern Assam.
Mandarin duck is the habitat of eastern China and southern Japan. It landed in Assam too by accident.
The duck does not come regularly to India. But some of the ducks may join other migratory birds and follow their migration path.
The spotted duck accompanied a flock of Indian spot-billed duck that was migrated either to China or Japan.
The last Mandarin duck was spotted in Assam in the year 1902.
The scientific name of mandarin duck is Aix galericulata. It is a perching duck species which is native to the East Palearctic. The duck is medium-sized with 41–49 cm in length and 65–75 cm of wingspan. The duck is closely related to North American wood duck.
Population of the duck
The ducks were once widespread in East Asia region. But they were exported on large-scale so the population reduced in the eastern Russia and China. Further, the destruction of its forest habitat further accelerated the reduction in population so much so that the population reduced below 1,000 pairs in each of Russia and China. Japan has an estimated population of around 5,000 pairs.
The duck usually prefers the dense breeding grounds. It usually breeds into the shrubby forested edges of rivers and lakes in low-lying areas. It can also breed in valleys at altitudes of 1,500 m. It also breeds in marshes, flooded fields, and open rivers during winters. The duck prefers fresh water but are also seen wintering in the coastal lagoons and estuaries.
The Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) have launched a job portal called SAKSHAM to map the skills of workers as required by the MSMEs. It also launched a Seaweed Cultivation Mission.
About SAKSHAM Portal
TIFAC highlighted that the Saksham portal will help in eliminating the middlemen and labour contractors.
It will also help to identify the skill proficiency level.
The portal will also help in the development of skill cards for ‘shramiks’ (workers).
This initiative will facilitate the placement of 10 lakh blue-collar jobs across India.
The portal will directly connect the workers with MSMEs and eliminate the need of the middlemen or labour contractors.
This portal will also reduce the hardship of workers to find the jobs in nearby MSMEs.
The portal is significant because it would help the labourers to find work who were compelled to return to their native place amid the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Seaweed Cultivation Mission
The Seaweed Cultivation is also called as the kelp farming. It is the practice of cultivating and harvesting the seaweed. The process comprises of management of naturally found batches in the simplest form. While in the advanced form, the process comprises of fully controlling the life cycle of the algae.
As per the estimate of the department, if seaweed cultivation is done in 10 million hectares or in the 5% of the Exclusive Economic Zone area in India, it would help in providing employment to 50 million people.
Thus, with this objective, TIFAC will showcase a model, in collaboration with other in-line ministries, of the commercial farming of seaweeds and its processing. Seaweed Cultivation would help in boosting the economy.
Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC)
It is an autonomous organization. It was set up in the year 1988. It works under the Department of Science & Technology. The organisation works in the technology domain and assess technology trajectories. It strives for the development of technology by leveraging the technology innovation
Goa has become the 6th State in the country that have successfully completed the Urban Local Bodies reforms.
These Urban Local Bodies reforms were set up by the Department of Expenditure.
Finance Ministry highlighted that the state of Goa will now eligible to mobilise the additional financial resources of 223 crore rupees with the help of Open Market Borrowings.
Apart from Goa, five other states namely Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Manipur and Telangana have already completed the Urban Local Bodies reforms.
These five states have also been granted a total additional borrowing permission of ten thousand 435 crore rupees.
What are the reforms?
The Department of Expenditure have set following reforms:
Under the reforms, the states are required to notify floor rates of property tax in ULBs in accordance with the guideline rates for property transactions.
The states are also required to notify the floor rates of user charges with respect to the provision of water-supply, drainage and sewerage.
State will also launch a system of periodic increase in the floor rates of property tax or the user charges with respect to the price increases.
Apart from these reforms, the centre has also identified four citizen centric areas for reforms namely, the Implementation of One Nation One Ration Card, Urban Local body or utility reform, Ease of doing business reform and Power Sector reforms.
What are the implications?
After undertaking the reforms,
Goa has become eligible to get the additional reform linked borrowing.
It will now be granted permission to mobilise financial resource of RS 2,731 by the Department of Expenditure.
What is the aim of Urban Local Bodies reforms?
Reforms in Urban Local Bodies and the urban utilities reforms are being undertaken with the aim of strengthening the finance of the Urban Local Bodies in States. These reforms would enable the ULBs to provide better public health and sanitation services to its citizens.