Daily Current Affairs - 18-02-2021

INDIA-SINGAPORE CEO FORUM- KEY HIGHLIGHTS

India – Singapore CEO Forum, that was launched in November 2018, again held their meeting. The meeting was organized by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and FICCI on February 18, 2021.

Highlights

India-Singapore Relation

Both the countries work together in the fields of cyber security, disaster relief, education and skill development. These are the pillars where India can learn from Singapore. This partnership will also help India to become Aatmanirbhar. It will provide opportunities to India in order to increase its global footprint. India had recognized Singapore as an important member of the ASEAN grouping.  Singapore is also the largest trade partner of India among the ASEAN countries. Singapore exchange has also partnered with the GIFT city which is India’s first operational smart city.

The Reserve Bank of India has approved the takeover of Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Ltd (DHFL) by Piramal Group on February 18, 2021.

Highlights

Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Ltd. (DHFL)

It is a deposit-taking housing finance company. The company is headquartered in Mumbai. It was established in order to enable the access to the economical housing finance for the lower- and middle-income groups in the semi-urban and rural India. The company is the second housing finance company of India.

What is the issue?

The tech-giant Facebook has recently blocked the Australian users from reading and sharing any local and international news. Facebook has initiated this move in the backdrop of the dispute over new media payment law that Australia has initiated.

Highlights

Implication of the move

Background

The Parliament in Australia has proposed a legislation following which the Google and Facebook will require to make payment negotiations with the media companies for using their content.  However, the Facebook & Google have argued that these media industry were already benefiting from traffic routed to them through the digital platforms. The tech giants also stated that, this legislation result into “unmanageable levels of financial risks as well as the operational risk” for them.

The Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ said that the annual interaction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the students called the ‘Pariksha Pe Charcha’ will be held online is the backdrop of ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Highlights

Background

The first edition of the interaction programe with school and college students was held on February 16, 2018 at Talkatora Stadium, New Delhi.

Pariksha Pe Charcha

It is a contest for students. This initiative was started by the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi in 2018. During the event, the Prime Minister interacts with several students, parents and teachers from entire India. PM share his personal experiences with the young students. During the interaction, he responds to the queries of students, parents as well as teachers. The questions are selected through a competition on a variety of subjects related to examinations in particular. The interaction helps the students to deal with the exam-centric anxiety.

The Scientists have recovered the oldest DNA on record from the teeth of Siberian Mammoths.

Highlights

Background

The remains of the mammoths were discovered in the early 1970s. However, since then, new scientific methods were required to extract the DNA.

Key Facts

About Mammoth

It is the species of extinct elephantid of genus Mammuthus. The mammoth was equipped with the long, curved tusks and a covering of long hair. They were found from the Pliocene epoch to the Holocene some 4,000 years ago. The species existed in Europe, Africa, Asia and North America. They belonged to the family Elephantidae. The family also comprises of two genera of modern elephants and their ancestors.

What is DNA?

It is Deoxyribonucleic acid which is composed of two polynucleotide chains. These chains are coil around each other and form the double helix. The helix carries the genetic instructions for the growth, development, functioning, and reproduction of organisms and viruses. It is a self-replicating material carrying the genetic information of the living organisms.

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) will hold its 3rd ministerial meeting on February 18, 2021.

Highlights

Agenda of the meeting

Background

During the second meeting of Quad in October 2020 former US-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had disapproved China for using the economic power so as to increase its domination in the neighboring countries across South China. He also bought the attention of the grouping to China’s corruption, exploitation and coercion in the neighboring countries.

Quadrilateral Security Dialogue

This grouping is also called as Quad or Asian NATO. It is an informal strategic forum comprising of Japan, United States, Australia and India. The grouping held semi-regular summits, military drills and military information exchanges between the member countries.

The International Solar Alliance (ISA) have planned to launch the World Solar Bank (WSB) at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow that is scheduled for November 2021.

Highlights

Why WSB will be launched?

The WSB will be launched because many member countries of the ISA face the challenge of raising finances on their own. Further, it was launched to assist the 800 million people who do not have access to power.

International Solar Alliance

The ISA was co-founded by India. It was founded at 2015 climate change conference in Paris. It is the first treaty-based international government organization which is headquartered in India. It is the nodal agency to implement the global electricity grid plan of India called “One Sun One World One Grid (OSOWOG)”.

One Sun One World One Grid (OSOWOG)

This plan was launched with the objective of transferring the solar power generated in one region to feed the electricity demands of another region. Under the OSOWOG vision, India aims to replicate its global solar leadership through phased development of a single globally connected solar electricity grid. This would have multiple benefits such as Low cost, Zero pollution.

The Secretary-General of United Nations, Antonio Guterres, has asked the G20 nations to prepare a “Global Covid-19 Vaccination Plan” on February 17, 2020.

Highlights

WHO’s COVAX Scheme

Amid the COVID-19 infections crossing 100 million cases, the World Health Organisation’s COVAX scheme has signed the deal with Pfizer-BioNTech for 40 million doses of coronavirus vaccine for the poorer countries. The chief of WHO also stated that 150 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine will be delivered under COVAX in the first quarter of 2021 after getting clearance from WHO. However, under the COVAX initiative, vaccinations will begin delivering if the UN health agency can make a supply agreement for the vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and emergency use listing of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine candidate with this pace, this COVAX initiative would deliver at least two billion doses by the end of 2021.

The Institute of International Finance (IIF) has reported that, the world has never been more indebted before and the debt will further rise in the year 2021 with more borrowing ahead amid the covid-19 led economic crisis.

Key Findings of IIF

Institute of International Finance (IIF)

It is the trade group for global financial services industry. IIF was established in the year 1983 by 38 banks of leading industrialized countries. It was created in the aftermath of the international debt crisis of 1980s. The group now represent around 450 firms across 70 countries. The members of the IIF include asset managers, commercial & investment banks, sovereign wealth funds, insurance companies, central banks, hedge funds and development banks. The group supports the financial industry in managing the risks.

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has approved the signing of a comprehensive economic cooperation and partnership agreement (CECPA) between India and Mauritius. This approval was given on February 17, 2021.

Comprehensive Economic Cooperation agreement

Significance of the agreement

India-Mauritius Trade Relation

India exports cereals, cotton, petroleum products, pharmaceuticals, electrical machinery, and clothing accessories to Mauritius currently. While, Mauritius export pearls, iron & steel, precious or semi-precious stones, optical instruments, photographic instruments and precision instruments. The bilateral trade between both the countries has reduced to USD 690 million in 2019-20. In the year 2018-19 the trade stood at USD 1.2 billion in 2018-19.

Mauritius

It is an island nation in the Indian Ocean with its capital at Port Louis. Its distance is about 2,000 kilometers off the southeast coast of African continent in the east of Madagascar. It comprises of the main island that is Mauritius, Agalega, Rodrigues, and St. Brandon. The islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues along with the Reunion island makes the part of Mascarene Islands.

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi will virtually launch ‘Mahabahu-Brahmaputra’ initiative in Assam on February 18, 2021.

Highlights

Mahabahu-Brahmaputra initiative

Ro-Pax Service

The Ro-Pax services will the launched in the state under the Mahabahu-Brahmaputra initiative. The RO-Pax Vessel operations will help in reducing the travel time. It will also facilitate the connectivity between banks. It will also reduce the distance travelled by road.

Dhubri Phulbari Bridge

The PM will also lay the foundation stone for a four lane Dhubari Phulbari bridge. This bridge will be constructed on NH-127B. The bridge will start from the Srirampur on NH-27 which is the East-West Corridor. It will terminate at Nongstoin on NH-106 in the state of Meghalaya. It will be constructed over the Brahmaputra River connecting Dhubri in Assam to Phulbari, Tura, Rongram, and Rongjeng in Meghalaya. Total cost of the project would be 4997 crores.

India is all set to host the virtual health secretary-level meeting with the member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). The virtual meeting will be held on February 18, 2021. During the meeting the members will discuss the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Pakistan has also been invited to attend the meeting.

Highlights

Background

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also proposed a Coronavirus Emergency Fund COVID-19 crisis. for the SAARC region in March 2020 during a video conference of the SAARC Heads of State.

Coronavirus Emergency Fund

India’s Support to the neighbors

India was and is still at the forefront in the fight against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. India has also emerged as the country with the highest number of vaccinations. So, India is also at the forefront in providing the indigenously developed COVID-19 vaccines to the countries either as gift or on commercial line.  India has recently gifted five lakh doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Afghanistan, 20 lakh doses to Bangladesh, 17 lakh doses to Myanmar, Five lakh doses to Sri Lanka, 1.5 lakh doses to Bhutan, one lakh doses to each of Mauritius & Maldives, ten lakh doses to Nepal and fifty thousand doses to Seychelles.

About SAARC

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) grouping comprises of the countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Maldives, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Nepal. It was founded on December 8, 1985. It is headquartered at Kathmandu, Nepal. It comprises of 3% of world’s area.

The Hyundai Motor Group have designed a walking car concept robot. It is being called as TIGER which stands for transforming intelligent ground excursion robot. The robot comprises of the wheels having capability to adapt to navigate in the challenging terrain. The ultimate mobility vehicle (UMV) uses its ability to walk when it gets stuck or when required to travel in the difficult terrain not only on Earth but on other planets as well.

About TIGER X-1

Background

The first UMV by the Hyundai Motor Group was launched at the 2019 consumer electronics show. It comprises of the features like moveable legs. It could Elevate and was designed to carry the passengers.

Hyundai Motor Company

It is a South Korean multinational automotive manufacturer. It is headquartered in Seoul. The company was established in 1967.