Daily Current Affairs - 25-02-2021

The militaries of India and Pakistan announced that both sides have agreed to stop cross-border firing along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir. This agreement will come into effect from February 2021.

Highlights

Background

Both India and Pakistan have been in contact on a hotline level since the year 1987. DGMOs of both countries also stay in touch through this established mechanism. The cross-border firing had increased in the region since 2014 along the LoC. SO, both the DGMOs agreed that existing 2003 understanding over the firing will be implemented in letter and spirit now.

India-Pakistan Border Conflicts

Conflicts in 2020

In the year 2020, standoff between both the countries began with the major exchange of gunfire and shelling in November 2020 along LOC. This resulted into the death of 22 including 11 civilians. In November 2020, one Indian soldier was killed in Rajouri and in Poonch. While Pakistan released the data that, In December, 2020 two Pakistani soldiers were killed in Bagsar region of disputed Kashmir region.

Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) and Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on February 25, 2021.

Highlights

About MoU

Apart from that, a Data Exchange Steering Group was constituted for the initiative. The group will meet on regular basis to review the data exchange status. It will also take steps to improve effectiveness of data sharing mechanism.

The Central government has notified the new guidelines on social media regulations on February 25, 2021. It is being called as “Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021”.

Highlights

Why new rules have been framed?

Facts regarding new rules

The United Nations World Food Programmes (WFP) has released its report titled “The State of School Feeding Worldwide on February 24, 2021.

Key Findings of the report

Recommendations by the report

UN World Food Programme

WEP is food-assistance branch of United Nations that was founded in the year 1961. It is the world’s largest humanitarian organization that focuses on hunger and food security. This organisation is also the largest provider of school meals. WEP is headquartered in Rome and also has offices across 80 countries. The organisation has served 97 million people across 88 countries as of 2019. The organisation also provides technical assistance and development aid including building capacity for emergency preparedness and managing supply chains and logistics etc. It is also providing direct cash assistance and medical supplies. It was awarded Nobel Peace Prize in 2020 for its efforts in providing food assistance in the areas of conflict.

The Union Government has announced that the second phase of COVID-19 vaccination will begin from March 1, 2021.

Highlights

How much the vaccination cost?

Phase 1 of the Covid-19 vaccination

The phase 1 of the covid-19 vaccination drive was started on January 16, 2021. This drive was started across 3006 vaccination centres across the country. The first phase was started to vaccinate only the healthcare workers and frontline workers. Under the phase 1, around 1,26,71,163 people have been vaccinated with the first dose of the vaccine so far under. Out of them, around 14 lakh people have received the second dose as well. The vaccination drives also covered those aged above 50 or are suffering from certain medical conditions.

India’s vaccine capacity

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, in January 2021 stated that the vaccine-production capacity of India is the best asset the world has.

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has set up the working group committee so as to relook its information and security guidelines. The need to set up the panel was felt in the aftermath of exponential increase in cyberattacks across the world amid the ongoing covid-19 pandemic.

Highlights

What are those guidelines?

Role of working group committee

Background

The regulators had issued guidelines on cybersecurity in April 2017 under its governance mechanism. The guidelines also included the Board-approved Information & Cyber Security Policy, Information Security Committee (ISC), Cyber Crisis management plan (CCMP) and Appointment of Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).

The chief minister of Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot, have announced a Universal Health Coverage for the state while presenting the state budget of state for 2021-22 on February 24, 2021.

Highlights

Rajasthan Model of Public Health (RMPH)

Primary Healthcare Service

The Universal Health care model will also ensure that primary healthcare services is provided to each citizen within three kilometres or 30 minutes walking distance.

Grievance Redressal

The state government has also planned to launch mechanism for grievance redressal within the healthcare services. It will be launched at every block and district level.

India has started its BRICS Chairship with the inaugural three-day-long Sherpas’ meeting on February 25, 2021.

Highlights

About BRICS

It is the acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. These members are known for their significant influence in the region. The respective government of the BRICS state meet annual formal summits starting from 2009. The 12th BRICS Summit was held by the Russia on November 17, 2020 virtually amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Where does BRICS Stand?

BRICS have a combined area of 39,746,220 km2 and a total population of about 3.21 billion. It accounts for around 26 % of the world land surface and 41% of world population. All the members of BRICS are also the members of G20 grouping. The countries account for around 23% of gross world product (GWP). The Bilateral relations between the BRICS states runs on the principles of equality, non-interference and mutual benefit.

Background

The term “BRIC” is believed to be coined in 2001 by Jim O’Neill who was the then-chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. But this term was actually coined by Roopa Purushothaman. The first meeting of the grouping was held in Yekaterinburg in June, 2009.

The Finance Ministry has announced that, the Central government has signed a loan agreement with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) for the Assam Power Transmission Project.

Key Points

About Assam Power Transmission Project

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is under pressure to consider the India’s proposal of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver on Covid-19 vaccines.

Key Points

Why wealthy nations are opposing the proposal?

The wealthy nations are of the view that, TRIPS Waiver at WTO will choke the innovation at pharmaceutical companies. Because, it will put off their incentive in order to make huge investments for research and development. In turn, this move will be counterproductive in the current pandemic situation because it requires the drug makers to keep on researching to deal with a mutating virus.

Why does India seek TRIPS Waiver?

India put forward the proposal of TRIPS waiver at the WTO because,

  1. The TRIPS Waiver will reduce the cost of vaccines substantially.
  2. It will also make an environment for the free flow of medicines and technology transfer with other countries.

Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

The TRIPS Agreement is a multilateral agreement on intellectual property rights including the patents, copyright, protection of undisclosed information or trade secrets and industrial designs. This agreement came into effect in January 1995.

The parliament of Australia has passed the landmark legislation called the “News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code” on February 25, 2021.

Highlights

Background

The Parliament in Australia had proposed this legislation targeting Google and Facebook. Under this legislation, they are required to make payment negotiations with the media companies in order to use their content.  However, Facebook & Google had pointed out that these media industry were already benefiting from the traffic routed to their websites through these digital platforms.

Facebook’s Stand

Facebook stated that this legislation will cause “unmanageable levels of financial risks as well as the operational risk” for them. Following this, Facebook also blocked the Australian users from reading and sharing local and international news on its platform, recently.  Facebook initiated this move against the legislation and stated that this law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between Facebook and publishers who share news content using the platform.

Google’s Stand

Google already started to ink agreements on the revenue-sharing with the publishers.

Similar International Legislation

The Parliament of France had passed the legislation called the “GAFA Tax” (acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) in 2019. This legislation was passed in a bid to impose a 3% levy on sales which is generated in the country by non-tax paying online giants. Similarly, the European Union passed the “Digital Services Act” and “Digital Markets Act” that seeks to limit the powers of global tech giants such as Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon in the European market. Under it, the larger firms have been designated as ‘digital gatekeepers’ and they are subject to strict regulations in case they violate the market norms.

The ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways informed that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the second edition of the Maritime India Summit (MIS) in the virtual mode on March 2, 2021.

Highlights

Objective of the Summit

The Maritime India Summit is being organised with the objective of pushing India to the forefront of the Global Maritime Sector.

Background

Union Minister of Shipping recently launched a brochure and a website called www.maritimeindiasummit.in for the second edition of Maritime India Summit. This year summit will be held in virtual mode because of COVID-19 pandemic. The registration for exhibitors and visitors for the summit was started on February 11, 2021.

The finance ministry has allowed all the private sector banks to participate in business related to government such as small savings schemes and collection of taxes pension payments.

Highlights

Background

Merger of the PSBs