Daily Current Affairs - 20-02-2021

The Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan has launched a new scheme that integrates the Passport services with the Digi Locker. With the launch of this scheme, the passport application in India had now been made even easier.

Significance of the move

Passport Seva Program

The passport programme was introduced in the year 2010 to improve the delivery of passport services. Further, this programme has introduced a major digital transformation in the last six years.

DigiLocker

Digilocker is a key initiative under the Digital India Mission. This initiative aims to transform India into the digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. This platform provides citizens a private space on a public cloud which is sharable. It enables the availability of all documents and certificates which has been uploaded on this cloud. This initiative targets at the paperless governance. Since, through this platform, documents can be issued and verified in a digital way.

ePassport

Apart from this, the ministry would also come up with the ePassport for its citizens. The ePassport will increase the security and improve the facilitation of the immigration processes at foreign airports. Further, in the Passport Seva Programme V2.0, the government will make use of emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), chat-bot, Machine Learning, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Analytics. This would ease the citizen experience and service delivery.

The north-eastern states of Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram observed their statehood day. Both of the states received their statehood on February 20, 1987. On this occasion, President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union ministers and chief ministers wished the states.

Arunachal Pradesh

Mizoram

The name of the state is derived from the Mizo word which means land in the Mizo language. “Mizo-ram” means “land of the Mizos”. This state is located in northeast old-Assam region of India. It is a landlocked southernmost state of India.  It shares borders with three states among the Seven Sister States of old Assam that is Assam, Tripura and Manipur. The state also shares an international border with Bangladesh and Myanmar with its total length of 722-kilometre. The state was a part of Assam until year 1972. In the year 1972 it was made a Union Territory. Finally, in the year 1986, the UT was given the statehood in accordance with the 53rd amendment of the Indian Constitution. It became the 23rd state of the India on February 20, 1987.

The Indian and the Indonesian navies held the PASSEX military exercise in the Arabian sea on February 18, 2021. This military exercise was organised in order to enhance the operational interoperability and the overall cooperation.

Highlights

India’s maritime cooperation

Quadrilateral Security Dialogue

It is also called as the Quad or Asian NATO. It is an informal strategic forum comprising of Japan, Australia, United States and India. The grouping held semi-regular summits and military drills involving the member countries. The grouping was established with the aim of ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific region. By the free and open Indo-pacific region it means to make the region free from the China’s growing influence. This grouping was formed in the backdrop of increasing Chinese military assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.

Exercise Malabar

It is a trilateral naval exercise between United States, Japan and India This drill was started in 1992 as a bilateral exercise involving India and United States.  Japan was made a permanent partner in the exercise in year 2015. The exercise is often joined by the non-permanent members like Singapore and Australia. The exercise held a number of activities like fighter combat operations from aircraft carriers, anti-submarine warfare, amphibious operations, diving salvage operations, counter-piracy operations etc.

The Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and the Greenstat Norway signed an agreement to set up the Centre of Excellence on Hydrogen. This agreement was signed some days after India unveiled its national hydrogen mission.

Highlights

Centre of Excellence on Hydrogen (CoE-H)

National Hydrogen Mission

The National Hydrogen Mission was announced by the Finance Minister in her Union budget for 2020-21. This mission was announced with the aim of generating hydrogen from the green power resources.

Hydrogen fuel

It is a zero-emission fuel when burned with oxygen. The fuel can be used in the fuel cells or in the internal combustion engines. It is also be used as fuel for spacecraft propulsion.

The 11th India-European Union macroeconomic dialogue was held in the virtual mode on February 19, 2021.

Highlights

Takeaways from the dialogue

The government of Kerala has sanctioned ₹9 crore for the conversion of conventional anganwadis into “smart” anganwadis with better amenities.

Smart Anganwadi Scheme

Background

The government had decided to construct the unified model for the anganwadis in the state from April, 2019.

Anganwadi scheme

It is a type of rural child care centre that was started in the year 1975 by the Indian government. This scheme runs under the Integrated Child Development Services program. It seeks to combat the child hunger and malnutrition. These centres work in villages where they provide basic health care under the Indian public health care system. The basic health care activities are nutrition education, contraceptive counselling & supply. These centres are also involved in the preschool activities.

Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)

It is a government program that provides food, primary healthcare, preschool education, health check-up, immunization, and referral services of the children aged under 6. The ICDS was launched in 1975. During 1978 it was discontinued but the scheme was again launched by the Tenth Five Year Plan. The Tenth five-year plan linked ICDS scheme to Anganwadi centres.

The Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, inaugurated the Atal Paryavaran Bhavan at Lakshadweep on February 19, 2021.

Highlights

Suheli Par

It is a coral atoll in Lakshadweep. This atoll is an oval-shaped and 17 km long. It is surrounded by a zone of rich marine fauna. It is located South-West of Kavaratti and 76 km to south of Agatti. It is located 139 km to west of Kalpeni and 205 km to NNW of Minicoy island. The Nine Degree Channel runs between these islands. It has an area of 87.76 km2.

Nine Degree Channel

It is a channel in the Indian Ocean located between the Islands of Kalpeni and Suheli Par, and Maliku Atoll. This channel is around 200 km wide and is having a depth of 2597 metres.

Kadmat Island

It is also known as Cardamom Island. It is a coral island that belongs to Amindivi subgroup of islands. It is 9.3 kilometres in length. Coral reef with seagrass and marine turtles which nestle are the marine features of this island.

Lakshadweep

This group of islands is located 200 to 440 km off the southwestern coast of India. It is administered as a union territory and a district of India. It has a total surface area of 32 km2. It comprises of 10 subdivisions. The capital of the island is Kavaratti. This region comes under jurisdiction of Kerala High Court.

India and Ethiopia have signed two agreements on February 20, 2021. These agreements are related to visa facilitation and leather technology.

Highlights

India-Ethiopia Relation

The bilateral relation between India and Ethiopia has its foundation in the civilizational ties and cultural bonds. The relation between both the countries dates back to about 2,000 years of history.

Trade Relation

India is amongst top development, trade and investment partner in Ethiopia. India is also the third most important trading partner for Ethiopia. India’s exports to 11% of all the imports in Ethiopia which mainly comprises primary and semi-finished iron and steel products. India also exports drugs & pharmaceuticals, machinery & instruments, plastic chemicals, metal, transport equipment and electrical materials. While, India imports cotton, pulses and spices that annually amounts to US $ 30 million. In 2018-19, the bilateral trade between both the countries stood at USD 1.28 billion. Out of this, Indian exports to Ethiopia stood at USD 1.23 billion and imports stood at USD 55.01 million.

Other cooperation

Further, Ethiopia is one of the largest recipients of concessional Lines of Credit by India among all the African countries. India is also the second largest foreign investor in the country. Around 40% of the Indian investment is done in the field of agriculture. India also plays a major role in the field of education, Science & Technology and Defence.

The United States has officially re-joined the Paris climate accord on February 19, 2020. It has joined the deal again after 107 days it left.

Highlights

Background

In the year 2019, the Donald Trump administration had announced its withdrawal from the Paris accord. This order came into effect on November 4, 2020. the day after the election, because of provisions in the agreement.

Paris Climate Agreement

It is an agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This agreement was signed in 2016 and deals with the climate change mitigation, adaptation, and finance. This agreement was negotiated by the representatives of 196 states. It was signed at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in France. The agreement was later adopted by consensus in December 2015. Currently, 190 members of the UNFCCC are parties under the agreement. Countries like Turkey, Iran, and Iraq are not parties to it.

Goals under Paris Agreement

Under the Paris Agreement, there is a long-term goal of keeping the average temperature to well below 2 °C above the pre-industrial levels. It also seeks to put efforts in order to limit the increase to 1.5 °C. This will help in reducing the risks and impacts of climate change. The agreement further aims to increase the ability of parties so as to adapt with the adverse impacts of climate change. It also seeks to make the flow of finance towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.

The Union Health Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan, has launched the Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) 3.0.

Highlights

Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) 3.0

Mission Indradhanush

Intensified Mission Indradhanush

This mission was launched in 2017 to reach child aged under two years and pregnant women who were left uncovered under the routine immunisation programme. Under this mission, greater focus was given on urban areas which was left under the Mission Indradhanush.

The agriculture ministry was allowed to use drones for the purpose of remote sensing data collection under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).

Highlights

Uses of Drones in Agriculture

Drones collect the raw data and translate it into useful information. Thus, they can be used to monitor following parameters in agriculture:

  1. It can monitor the crop health such as damage made by pests and change in the colour of crops because of pest infection.
  2. It can also look after vegetation indices such as anomaly detection, leaf area, yield, treatment efficacy and phenology.
  3. It can monitor the plant height and density.
  4. It can identify water-stressed parts of the field or the orchard that needs watering.
  5. It can also perform soil analysis and nutrient availability for a better plant nutrient management.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)

UAV is also known as a drone or a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS). It is an aircraft which runs without any human pilot on board. It is a component of the unmanned aircraft system (UAS).  The flight of UAV is operated either under remote control by human operator or by onboard computers autonomously.

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)

This scheme was launched in February 2016. It is an insurance service for farmers to secure their yields. This scheme was launched under the theme if “One Nation–One Scheme”. It replaced the two schemes namely the National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS) and Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS). The scheme was launched with the aim of reducing premium burden on farmers. It also seeks to ensure early settlement of crop assurance claim.

The Divya Coronil medicine by Patanjali has received the certification from AYUSH Ministry in accordance with the WHO certification norms.

Highlights

Background

Patanjali had launched the Coronil tablets in June 2020. It was developed at Haridwar-based Divya Prakashan Patanjali Research Institute. The Patanjali group had claimed that the drug cures the Covid-19 in seven days. But, AYUSH Ministry then put a ban on Patanjali from selling it as a “cure”. The ministry had asked the details regarding the trials. Apart from that, the Rajasthan government also sent a notice to NIMS Hospital in Jaipur where the trials were conducted on Covid patients.

What are the implications of certification?

As per the Certificate of Pharmaceutical Products (CoPP) certification, the drug can be exported to 158 countries. It also allows the World Health Organisation to inspect manufacturer at intervals. Most of the competent authorities from the importing countries require that the CPP should be issued by country of origin.

Certificate of pharmaceutical product

It is a certificate which is issued as per the recommended of World Health Organization (WHO) in the specified format. This certification establishes the status of pharmaceutical product. It also gives status to the applicant in the exporting country. The certification is issued for a single product. The content of CPP comprises of understated data:

  1. Exporting country or certifying country
  2. Importing country or requesting country
  3. Name, dosage form and composition of the product
  4. Information on registration, licensing and marketing status of product in exporting country
  5. Number of product license and date of issue
  6. Appended summary of technical basis on which product has been licensed
  7. Appended current product information
  8. Details on the applicant for the CPP.