Daily Current Affairs - 05-01-2021

The Government of India recently released the Draft Arctic Policy.

What is the main objective of the Policy?

The policy ensures that the Arctic resources are explored and used sustainable. Under its policy, India will make sure the it abides by rules and regulations of Arctic Council. India became the observer of Arctic Council in 2013 and its membership as an observer was renewed in 2018 for another five years.

What are the five main pillars of Arctic Policy?

The main five pillars of Arctic Policy are as follows:

Who is to implement the Arctic Policy?

The National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research that operates under the Ministry of Earth Sciences will serve as the nodal agency in implementing the Arctic Policy.

How does Arctic Policy connect India and Arctic region?

The policy envisages to connect the Arctic residents, especially the indigenous communities with those living in the Himalayan regions. The policy aims to create opportunities where the Indian enterprises can be involved to become part of the international commerce businesses and promote traditional indigenous knowledge.

India and Arctic Research

How will Arctic Policy help India achieve its SDGs?

The Arctic Policy has been synchronised and adapted to the Goal 11 of Sustainable Development Goals. The Goal 11 of SDG is “Sustainable cities and Communities”.

More than two hundred engineers and workers have formed the Alphabet Workers Union capping years of growing activism in the company.

What is the main objective of Alphabet Workers Union?

The Alphabet Workers Union will strengthen the growing labour movement at Alphabet and serve as a vehicle for workers to voice their concerns.

Is Alphabet a subsidiary of Google?

No. Alphabet was formed through restructuring Google. Alphabet has now become the parent company of Google and Waymo (a self-driving car company).

What is the stand of National Labour Relation Board on Alphabet?

According to the National Labour Relation Board of the US, Alphabet is conducting unlawful monitoring and questioning of workers. The employees are fired for unionization attempts which is unlawful according to the board.

Why did Alphabet employees form the Union?

The Alphabet Employees have been protesting against several actions of the company. Some of the major issues where the employees protested in large scale against the company are as follows:

Sexual exploitation case

In 2018, Google faced severe condemnation of employees in the sexual exploitation case of women. At that time, more than 20 thousand employees of the company left the work and took to the streets.

Artificial Intelligence controversy

Google employees opposed the Maven project to be held in 2018 with the US Ministry of Defense. In this project, the government wanted to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology for the army. Then more than 3100 employees wrote to the company that Google should not enter the war business.

Transparency issues

There are controversies that Google is secretly working on a search engine for China. When the company openly named it Dragon Fly and brought out that the controversies were true, the employees got angry. They were angered that they were working on search engine projects of China. The employees then asked the company to bring transparency in their work. Dragon Fly was designed to be compatible with China’s State Censorship provisions.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) recently released its Statement on Climate of India during 2020. According to IMD, 2020 was the eight warmest year on record since 1901.

What are the Key Highlights of the Statement on Climate of India, 2020?

What were the Cyclones formed during 2020?

There were five cyclones formed in the North Indian Ocean in 2020. They were Super Cyclonic Storm AMPHAN, Cyclonic Storm BUREVI, Severe Cyclonic Storm NISARGA and Very Severe Cyclonic Storm NIVAR and GATI. Of these cyclones, Nisarga and Gati formed over Arabian Sea and the remaining formed in Bay of Bengal.

Under which Ministry does IMD operate?

Ministry of Earth Sciences.

Where are regional offices of IMD located?

Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Nagpur and Guwahati.

Which regions are under the monitoring of IMD?

Northern Indian Ocean including Malacca Straits, Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, Persian Gulf. It mainly monitors formation of cyclones and issues warnings to these regions.

The Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Shri Kiren Rijiju recently launched the Assam Rifles Public School as a Khelo India Sports School.

Where is Assam Rifles Public School located?

Shillong.

Is Assam Rifles Public School a Khelo India Sports School?

Yes.

What are Khelo India Sports School?

Is Assam Rifles Public School the first Khelo India Sports School in the North East?

Yes.

How many Khelo India Sports Schools are there in India?

Currently, there are nine Khelo India Sports Schools in India. Out of these five are managed by Paramilitary and Defence forces.

Why was Assam Rifles Public School designated as the Khelo India Sports School?

The Assam Rifles Public School had a good track record in sports and academics, sufficient space to develop sports facilities, adequate lodging and boarding. Also, it has good inclination to develop Olympic sports under the inter-ministerial partnership between the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. For these reasons, the Assam Rifles was designated as the Khelo India Sports School of India.

What is Khelo India?

The Khelo India was launched in 2018. It aims to improve sports culture in the country. The Khelo India was launched by consolidating the Rajiv Gndhi Khel Abhiyan, National Sports Talent Search System and Urban Sports Infrastructure Scheme. The programme promotes “sports for all” and also “sports for excellence”.

On January 5, 2020, the Supreme Court allowed the Central Vista Project to go ahead.

What is the Central Vista Project?

The Central Vista project aims to renovate 86 acres of land in the Lutyen’s Garden in New Delhi. It includes Landmark structures of Indian government such as Rashtrapati Bhavan, Parliament, India Gate and North and South Block.

What is the background of recent Supreme Court judgement on Central Vista project?

In April 2020, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court challenging the centre’s decision to renovate the 86 acres of Lutyens Garden. According to the petitioner, the decision violated the Right to Life of citizens guaranteed under article 21. This is because the plan deprived people of open and green spaces. Also, the petition argued that the plan violated the Master plan of Delhi 2021.

What were the actions of Supreme Court in response to the petition against the central Vista project?

The Supreme Court heard the challenge on the basis of three main Grounds.  They were violations of Municipal Law, change of land use and violations of environmental law.

Why is a new Parliament required?

The current Parliament was built in 1927. It was not intended to house a bicameral legislature. Rather it was built to house Legislative Council. Also, the current Parliament House signifies an Imperial origin. It is not in accordance with the aspirations of independent Indian citizens.

The current parliamentary Complex was built by the British. There are International examples of Building New parliamentary structures immediately after independence. For instance, USA constructed its capitol building within 25 years of its independence. The existing building does not abide by safety norms and is not earthquake proof. The 2001 parliamentary attack is the best example questioning the safety of the current parliamentary building.

The Government of India is to construct the largest floating solar energy project in the world. The project is to be constructed at Omkareshwar Dam on Narmada river. The project will begin its power generation by 2022 to 2023.

What is the energy capacity of the project?

600 megawatts of solar energy.

What is the estimated cost of the project?

Three thousand crores of Rupees

Which international organisations are to provide financial assistance to the project?

International Finance Corporation and World bank.

Which Indian organisation is to provide financial assistance to the project?

Power Grid.

What are the key features of the project?

What is floating solar power plant?

The floating solar power plant refers to solar panels installed on structures that float on surface of the water.

What are the two types of floating Solar Power Plant?

What are the advantages of floating Solar Power Plant?

The Chinese billionaire, Alibaba founder, Jack ma has not been seen in public since October 2020. At the same time the billionaire had hit out against the ruling communist Regime in China.

What is the issue?

The speculation around the founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma recently peaked after he failed to appear in the final episode of his own Talent Show Africa’s business heroes.  The show aimed to provide a space to the African entrepreneurs in competing for 1.5 million USD price. Jack ma was replaced by an Alibaba executive in the finals of the show.

What are the recent Chinese government actions against Jack ma and his Enterprises?

What are Alibaba’s investments in India?

The investment of Alibaba in India includes Paytm, food delivery startup Zomato, online retailer Snapdeal, online grocer big basket, Logistic firm Xpressbees.

Who is Jack Ma?

Jack Ma is an English school teacher turned entrepreneur. As of July 2020, his net worth was of 48.2 billion USD and is the second wealthiest person in China. In 1994, Jack ma started his first company Hangzhou Haibo translation agency. In 1995, he started a website call China Yellow Pages with the help of his friends. In 1999 he launched Alibaba. In 2012 the online transaction volume of Alibaba exceeded 1 trillion Yuan. He founded a business school in 2016. He stepped down from the board of Alibaba in September 2019.

Vietnam recently started to buy food grains, especially rice, from India due to its attractive prices. Vietnam has started to import rice from India in spite of the fact that the country (Vietnam) is the third biggest exporter of rice in the world.

Why did Vietnam begin to import rice from India?

At what price will India export rice to Vietnam?

The Indian traders are to export 70,000 tonnes of rice at around 310 USD per ton to Vietnam. India is to export broken rice to Vietnam during January and February, 2021.

How is stockpiling of rice in Vietnam inducing rice imports from India?

Why did the international market value of Indian Rice increase?

India is offering broken rice at 381 USD to 387 USD per ton. On the other hand, Vietnam is offering broken rice at 500 USD to 505 USD per ton. This attractive price of Indian rice has increased its demand from Asian and African countries. It is expected that the other Asian countries like Thailand are to shift towards India for rice imports.

What is the current scenario of paddy cultivation and exports in Vietnam?

The total output of Vietnam in 2020 fell by 1.85 % compared to 2019.  Also, the rice exports of Vietnam in 2020 have fallen by 3.5% as compared to 2019.

The National Human Rights Commission recently made recommendations to achieve Zero Manual Scavenging in the country.

Why were the recommendations made?

According to the National Human Rights Commission, several States make tall claims that they have achieved zero manual scavenging and Nil sanitary latrines. However, based on regional workshops held by the National Human Rights Commission the claims are far from the truth. Therefore the commission has recommended certain regulations to be followed while reporting by the concerned authorities.

 What are the recommendations?

The Government of India recently launched the 40th Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica.

Which ministry launched the Indian scientific expedition to Antarctica?

Ministry of Earth science.

 Which vessel has been deployed for the 40th Indian scientific expedition to Antarctica?

Ice class vessel MV Vasiliy Golovin.

 What are the main objectives of the 40th Indian scientific expedition to Antarctica?

The expectation will e take a team of 40 members to Antarctica and return by April 2021. XL Indian Antarctica expedition has been Limited due to existing challenges of covid-19. It will mainly focus on ongoing scientific projects on ocean observations, climate change, electric and magnetic flux measurements, geology, Re supplying of food, environmental monitoring, fuel, and accomplish the return of the winter crew.

When did the Indian scientific expedition to Antarctica begin?

1981.

What is the name of the Indian Research base stations in Antarctica?

Dakshin Gangotri, Bharti, Maitri.

What is the role of Dakshin Gangotri in Antarctica?

It was the first permanent settlement of India built in 1983. It was excavated in 1989 and is being used as supply base and transit camp .

What is the role of Maitri?

It was the second permanent settlement of India in Antarctica. The station is located close to Lake Priyadarshini. It accomplished the mission of geomorphological mapping of Schirmacher Oasis.

What is the role of Bharti ?

It was established in 2015. It will collect evidence of Continental break up to reveal the 120-million-year-old Ancient History of Indian subcontinent.

Who manages the Indian research base stations in Antarctica?

National Centre for polar and ocean research located in Goa.

Is India a signatory to Antarctic treaty?

Yes. The Indian Antarctic program was launched in 1981 after India signed the Antarctic treaty .

 What is Antarctic treaty?

The Treaty was signed in 1961. Currently there are 54 signatories to the Treaty. It is an arms control Treaty signed during cold war.

The TRIFED (Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India) operating under Ministry of Tribal Affairs signed a memorandum of understanding with Akhil Bhartiya vanvasi Kalyan Ashram to setup TRIFOOD parks in Madhya Pradesh.

What are the key highlights of the Memorandum of understanding?

According to the MoU, TRIFED and  Akhil Bhartiya vanvasi Kalyan Ashram will together implement Van Dhan Yojana. This is to be achieved through mobilization of self help groups, TRIFOOD parks, Van Dhan Vikas Kendra. They will together provide machinery and equipment, identify self help groups, organised training and building infrastructure. They will also focus on other activities such as Horticulture, fisheries, floriculture, animal husbandry and craft. They will mainly work to to improve the livelihood of tribals.

What is TRIFOOD?

The TRIFOOD is a joint initiative of Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Ministry of food processing industry and TRIFED. It was launched under Van Dhan Yojana in August 2020. The TRIFOOD Parks are food processing centres. They will aim to promote value addition to the minor forest produce.

What are the main functions of TRIFOOD?

The TRIFOOD Parks will procure raw materials from Van Dhan Kendras. They will then be processed and sold across the country through the tribes India outlets.

Who decides the minimum support price for minor forest produce?

Ministry of Tribal Affairs. It is revised once in three years by the pricing cell constituted under the ministry.

Who decides the minimum support price of food crops?

The minimum support price of food crops other than the minor forest produce is set by Commission for agricultural costs and prices operating under Department of Agriculture and cooperation.

The minimum support price are set twice a year for 24 commodities.

Do the minimum support prices have legal backing?

There are no laws in India that protect or support the minimum support prices.

The Indian Space Research Organization recently released the plan for the decade. The plan included reusable satellite launch vehicle, heavy lift rocket and semi-cryogenic engine.

What are the key highlights of the ISRO Decade plan?

ISRO is to complete its moon mission Chandrayaan-3, the solar mission Aditya-L1 and first Indian Data Relay Satellite in the decade 2021-2030. Also, the space agency will complete the first developmental flight of the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle.

The Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre will help to boost the Semi-Cryogenic Propulsion capability. With this, the Indian rockets will be able to carry 5.5 tonnes to the Geostationary Transfer Orbit.

What is Aditya Mission?

The Aditya-L1 mission is the first Indian scientific expedition to the sun. the Aditya space probe will be placed at a point in space called the L1 Lagrange point and hence the name Aditya-L1 mission. The mission will study the photosphere, chromosphere, corona of the sun. It will also study solar winds, solar emissions and solar flares and Coronal Mass Ejections.

What is Chandrayaan-3?

It is the planned third lunar mission of the ISRO. It is very much similar to Chandrayaan-2. Under Chandrayaan-2 mission, the lander failed to land on the lunar surface as it crashed towards the ground. The Chandrayaan-3 is thus a mission repeat. The Chandrayaan-3 is to include only Rover and lander. It will not have an orbiter.

What is Indian Data Relay Satellite?

India is to launch India Data Relay Satellite System series to track the space assets and enable communication between space-to-space assets. The IDRS is important to track the Indian satellites and stay in touch with then. ISRO has planned to launch three of the satellites in the series. Each satellite will cover a third of the earth.

The Asian Development Bank recently signed an agreement of 100 million USD modernize and upgrade the power distribution in Bengaluru city.

Key Highlights

The 100 million USD loan is to be used to enhance the quality and reliability of electricity supply in Bengaluru city under the Bengaluru Smart Energy Efficient Power Distribution Project. Also, the loan will be used to install 2,800 km of fiber optical cables. These fiber optical cables are to be laid in parallel to the underground distribution cables. This parallel laying of the electrical and communication lines will help to reduce technical and commercial losses by 30%.

The fiber optical cables are to be used for smart metering systems and distribution automation system in the distribution grid. Also, the project will install 1,700 automated ring main units to control the distribution line switch gears.

Bengaluru Smart Energy Efficient Power Distribution Project

ADB Loan Approvals

The Asian Development Bank is mainly assisting India in transport and power projects of India helping towards modernization of the country.