Daily Current Affairs - 19-01-2021

India and France are to hold Ex-Desert Knight 21 exercise. It is a bilateral air exercise to be held between Indian Air Force and French air and Space Force. The Ex-Desert Knight 21 is to be held in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. Rafale Fighter Jets are to participate in the exercise.

Background

Under the Indo-French Defence Cooperation, the French Air and Space force and the Indian Air Force have so far held six editions of air exercise called “Garuda”. The last of the six exercises was held in Air Force Base Mont-de-Marsan, France in 2019. The Ex-Desert Knight 21 is being held in addition to the Garuda series exercise.

About Ex-Desert Knight 21

The main objective of the exercise is to provide operational exposure and share best practices. From the French Air and Space Force, Rafale Flighter Jets, Multi-role Tanker Transport and around 175 personnel will participate in the exercise. From the Indian Air Force, Su-30 MKI, Mirage 2000 and IL-78 flight refuelling aircraft are to participate in the exercise.

Defence Exercises

The regular defence exercises held between India and France are as follows:

India-France

The three main pillars of India-France strategic partnership are space, defence and civil nuclear cooperation. France has been a continued support of India’s permanent membership at the United Nations Security Council. France had also been a great supporter of India for its membership at the Missile Technology Control Regime, Wassenaar Arrangement, Australia Group and Nuclear Suppliers Group.

India joined the Wassenaar Arrangement as the 42nd member. Also, India joined Missile Technology Control Regime in 2018. India’s entry to NSG is being opposed widely as India is a non-signatory of Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The Indian Mountaineering Foundation recently approved a three-member team of mountaineers led by Arjun Vajpai for winter climbing expedition to Mount Trishul. In India, the mountaineering expeditions are taken up only during pre-monsoon and post-monsoon period. For the first time, the Indian Mountaineering Foundation has approved the concept of winter mountaineering.

Arjun Vajpai

Arjun Vajpai is the youngest Indian to climb Mount Everest at the age of 16 in 2010.

Mount Trishul

The Mount Trishul is a group of three Himalayan peaks that form the shape of a trident. The three peaks are named Trishul I, Trishul II and Trishul III. Mount Trishul is located at a Massif. The massif runs north-south. Massif is a section of earth’s crust demarcated with faults. The Mount Trishul was first scaled by a British mountaineer Tom Georage Longstaff.

Indian Mountaineering Foundation

The Indian Mountaineering Foundation is the apex body that organises rock climbing and mountaineering at high altitudes in the Himalayas. The foundation also promotes environmental protection works in the Indian Himalayas. The Indian Mountaineering Foundation was established in 1957.
It is also the regulatory body for the competitive Olympic sport of Sport Climbing.

Kumaon

Mount Trishul is located in the western Kumaon of Uttarakhand. The people in Kumaon region are called Kumaonis and they speak Kumaoni language. The UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages has placed Kumaoni in the unsafe category. In 2010, a private member bill was introduced to include Kumaoni in the eighth schedule of the constitution.

The Kumaon region is home to one of the highly decorated regiments of Indian Army called Kumaon Regiment. It mainly consists of Ahirs, Rajputs and Brahmins. The regiment traces its origin to eighteenth century. The regiment has fought both the world wars, Indo-Pakistan war of 1971, Indo-Pakistan war of 1965 and also Sino-Indian War of 1962.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Chinese President Xi Jing Ping are to participate in the Davos Agenda Summit. The Davos Agenda Summit is organised by the World Economic Forum. The “Great Reset Initiative” of the World Economic Forum is to be launched during the Davos Agenda Summit.

Objectives

The four major objectives that are to be discussed during the Davos Agenda Summit, 2021 are as follows:

Key Highlights of Davos Agenda Summit, 2021

The following discussions will be the key focus at the Davos Agenda Summit, 2021:

Great Reset Initiative

In 2021, the World Economic Forum has brought up a new twin-summit format in its Davos meeting. One of the meets is the usual Davos Agenda Summit and the other is the new Great Reset Initiative. Just like the Davos Agenda Summit, the Great Reset Initiative will bring the world leaders and will primarily focus on managing direct consequences of COVID-19 crisis. Basically, the Great Reset Initiative is being started to recover global economy from COVID-19 crisis.

Bhawana Kanth is to become the first woman fighter pilot to take part in the Republic Day parade. She was one among the first women fighter Pilots inducted in Indian Air Force in 2016. The other fighter pilots inducted into the Indian Air Force were Avani Chaturvedi and Mohana Singh.

Bhawana Kanth

In 2019, Bhawana Kanth became the first female fighter pilot of India to qualify to undertake combat missions. She received the Nari Shakti Puraskar from President of India Ramnath Kovind in March 2020.

Republic Day parade, 2021

The Republic Day parade of 2021 will feature the newly acquired Rafale fighter jets. The Rafael Jets will be a part of the Ekalavya formation. The Ekalavya formation will include one Rafale jet, two MiG 29s and two Jaguars.

The fly past is to culminate with a single Rafale jet that will carry out Vertical Charlie formation.The vertical Charlie formation is when an aircraft flies at lower altitude and conducts rolls before stabilizing at higher altitude.

About the Parade

The Republic Day parade marches from Rashtrapati Bhavan till India Gate along the Rajpath. The first Republic Day parade was held in 1950. The chief guest of the first Republic Day parade was the then President of Indonesia Sukarno. Prior to the parade the Prime Minister lays a floral Wrath at Amar Jawan Jyoti. The Amar Jawan Jyoti is a Memorial to the fallen soldiers at the India Gate. Following this 2-minute silence in the memory of the soldiers is observed.

Republic Day parade begins with flag hoisting by the President of India and the Independence Day parade begins with the flag hoisting by Prime Minister of India.

Awards at Republic Day Celebrations

Awards presented during the Republic Day celebrations are Kirti chakra and Ashok Chakra. These awards are presented by the President of India. The Ashok Chakra award is presented on Independence Day as well.

The Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) recently developed a bike ambulance called “Rakshita”. The bike ambulance will attend the evacuation needs of the CRPF personnel during emergency or battle injury. The ambulance was developed by INMAS (Institute of Nuclear and Allies Science) operating under DRDO. The ambulances have been developed on Royal Enfield bikes.

Importance

The Rakshita ambulance will be of great help in the areas such as Sukma, Bijapur and Dantewada where the CRPF cannot take big vehicles or ambulances inside the jungle. These are Naxalite zones with narrow roads.

Naxalism in India

The Left-Wing Extremism is known by other names such as Naxalism and Maoism. The Left-Wing extremists are those who reject parliamentary democracy and aim at waging an armed revolution against the government.

The origin of Left-Wing Extremism in India can be traced back to 1967. It mainly emerged in three areas such as Naxalbari, Khoribari and Phansidewa in West Bengal. The term “Naxalism” has originated from “Naxalbari”. The term Naxalism is used only in India. While in rest of the world, it is termed as Maoism.

Red Corridor

The red corridor is the region in eastern, central and southern parts of India where the Naxalite and Maoist activities are higher. It roughly extends from the India-Nepal border in the north till the fringes of Tamil Nadu. The districts affected by Naxalism and Maoism are the poorest in India. Also, they have very low literacy rate.

Operation SAMADHAN

The Government of India launched Operation SAMADHAN in 2015 to tackle Left Wing Extremism in the country. Operation SAMADHAN stands for S- Smart Leadership, A- Aggressive Strategy, M- Motivation and Training, A- Actionable Intelligence, D- Dashboard Based KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), H- Harnessing Technology, A- Action plan for each Theatre, N- No access to Financing.

Also, the GoI is focusing to build up the infrastructure in these regions. In 2017, Rs 11,000 crores was allocated to build road connectivity in all forty-four Moist affected areas. In 2018, 1,326 kilo metres of road was built in Naxal affected areas of Chhattisgarh.

The Malaysian Government recently unveiled 3.7 billion USD package to help the economy recover from impacts of COVID-19. The package amounts to 1.1% of GDP of Malaysia. The package was announced as the country struggled to curb its third wave of COVID-19 infections.

About the package

The 3.7 billion USD package of Malaysia includes cash support to the poor, wage subsidies, tax breaks. The Malaysian Government is to implement twenty-two initiatives under the new package.

Objectives of the package

The 3.7 billion USD package of the Malaysian Government mainly focuses on the following objectives:

Background

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Malaysian Government had launched four economic stimulus packages. They together amount to 73.2 billion USD. This is more than 20% of the GDP of the country.

Economy of Malaysia

According to International Monetary Fund, Malaysia is the sixth largest economy in the Southeast Asia. The major export of Malaysia is Palm oil. Malaysia is the second largest exporter of palm oil in the world after Indonesia. India is the largest importer of palm oil in the world. India accounts to 23% of total global demand of palm oil.

Prior to COVID-19 pandemic, the Malaysian economy was facing Middle Income Trap. According to World Bank and International Monetary Fund, the Middle-Income Trap faced by Malaysia is mainly due to Bumiputera policies. The Bumiputera or Bumiputra is a term used in Malaysia to describe the indigenous people of Malaysia.

Middle-Income Trap

Middle-Income Trap is an economic situation where a country gets stuck at a level after attaining a certain income level. In such cases, the country will be unable to keep up with more developed economies and will also begin to lose its competitive edge in the export of manufactured goods.

WE Hub recently announced its partnership with i-Hub. I-Hub operates under Government of Gujarat. WE Hub operates under Government of Telangana.

WE Hub

WE Hub is Women Entrepreneurs Hub. It is a startup incubator, that is, it provides an environment for the women entrepreneurs to grow their business. It aims to support women entrepreneurs with solutions, innovative ideas and entitles to focus on emerging areas. It also supports unexplored and under explored sectors along with service sectors. The main goal of WE Hub is to eliminate financial and societal barriers for women.

i-Hub

i-Hub is Student Startup and Innovation Hub. It aims to develop end-to-end innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem in the state of Gujarat. Also, it provides amenities such as futuristic and advanced technology labs, techno-commercial mentoring, networking and regulatory and advisory services. It was created under the Student Startup and Innovation Policy of Gujarat.

Student Startup and Innovation Policy

The Student Startup and Innovation Policy aims to assist student-led startups. It aims to create a common platform for the students to showcase their innovation and set up an end-to-end support system in education institutions.

Student Startup

According to the Student Startup and Innovation Policy, a student startup is a student-led innovation-based startup that was founded by the efforts of one or more students or alumni (not more than five years from graduation).

 Background

These hubs were created to achieve the goals of Startup India mission. The National Startup India action plan aims to support the following:

Startup India was launched in 2015 at Red Fort. It was introduced to develop seventy-five startup support hubs in the country. According to Startup India State Rankings 2019, Gujarat was the best performer. Karnataka and Kerala were ranked as the top performers.

A bird festival is to be organised at Mahananda wildlife Sanctuary in West Bengal. The festival is first of its kind. It is to be organised by Darjeeling Wildlife Division. The Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary has been identified as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area.

Important Bird Area

An Important Bird and Biodiversity Area is identified using internationally agreed set of criteria that are globally important for conservation of bird population. The Important Bird Area concept was developed by Birdlife International.

Currently there are 12,000 Important Bird Area spread all over the world. The thresholds of the Important Bird Areas are set by the respective national governing organisations. In order to be listed under Important Bird Area, the site must satisfy at least one of the following criteria:

A1: Globally threatened species

The site should hold population of bird species listed as Critically Endangered, vulnerable or endangered under IUCN red list.

A2: Restricted range species

The site should be an Endemic bird Area. The Endemic Bird Area is identified by the Birdlife International as those habitats that contains restricted bird species that are endemic to them. Around 218 Endemic Bird Areas have been identified by the Birdlife International. Endemic means the species is native to a single geographic location and not found elsewhere.

A3: Biome-restricted range species

The site should hold restricted biome species. The site should form a set of selected adequate representation of all species in that biome. That is, the species living in the site should be endemic and should be found only in that particular biome (not anywhere else in the world).

A4: Congregations

This applies to waterbirds, seabirds and wetland birds. This has been created based on Ramsar Convention.

Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary

It is located in the foothills of Himalayas between Teesta and Mahananda rivers. It was provided the status of sanctuary mainly to protect Indian bison and Royal Bengal Tiger.

The Jammu and Kashmir Government recently sought GI tag for Gucchi mushroom. The Gucchi mushrooms are highly expensive and are full of health benefits. 500 grams of Gucchi mushrooms cost Rs 18,000.
Recently, GI Tag was provided to Saffron of Jammu and Kashmir.

About Gucchi mushrooms

Gucchi mushroom is a species of fungus belonging to the family Morchellaceae. They are pale yellow in colour with large ridges and pits on their cap. They are raised on a large white stem. The Gucchi mushrooms are locally called “Thuntoo”.

The Gucchi mushrooms prefer soil with limestone base. They also grow in acid soils. The Gucchi mushrooms are usually found in early spring.

They are referred to “May Mushrooms” in North America.

The time of fruiting of the mushrooms varies locally from February to July. In Canada, they appear only after June.

Expensive

The Gucchi mushrooms cannot be cultivated commercially. They grow in the conifer forests of Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. It takes months for the villagers to collect these mushrooms, dry them and bring them to the market. The Gucchi mushrooms grow in clusters on logs of decaying wood, humus soil and leaves. They may not grow in the same spot the next season. This makes the process of collection more tedious. Due to these reasons, the Gucchi mushrooms are highly expensive.

The Guchhi mushrooms cannot be cultivated commercially for their nature of germination. They germinate and grow in low temperature soil. They usually appear after fires. The fruiting of Gucchi mushrooms require alkaline conditions produced by wood ash mixed with water. These criteria make commercial cultivation of Gucchi highly challenging.

Health Benefits

The Gucchi mushrooms are rich in vitamins, potassium and copper. They are also rich in Vitamin-D. further they are rich in antioxidants that prevent health issues such as heart diseases and diabetes.

The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently invited PM Modi to attend G7 summit. UK has invited Australia and South Korea as well. Earlier, UK had proposed the idea of D10. D10 includes members of G7 and India, Australia and South Korea.

About G7

G7 was originally formed in 1975. The members are USA, Canada, Germany, France, Japan, Italy, UK. Russia was formally inducted as a member of the group in 1998. With this G7 became G8. However, when Russia moved its troops into eastern Ukraine and conquered Crimea in 2014, the other G8 countries criticized Russia heavily. They subsequently suspended Russia from G8. With this, the G8 again became G7 in 2014.

For a country to become the member of G7, it must hold high net national wealth and high Human Development Index.

Working of G7 summit

The G7 annual summit is presided over by leaders of its member countries on rotational basis. The summit is an informal gathering that is held for two days. During the summit, the leaders discuss global issues. The ground work of the summit is done by the “Sherpas”. Sherpas are the personal representatives or members of ambassadors of G7 members.

Importance of G7

The decisions taken at G7 have huge impact globally as the members are the major economic powers. They represent 58% of global net wealth. However, the decisions taken at G7 are not legally binding but has strong political influence.

Five of the seven members of G7, US, Italy, Japan, France, Germany have the largest proven reserves of gold.

Criticisms

G7 attracts thousands of protestors. The protestors claim that G7 has no representatives from Africa and other middle eastern countries. The protest groups use worldwide platform as a stage to loby and campaign on issues that are important to them. Also, several claim that G7 is increasing the gap between the developed and developing countries and is making the fight against poverty more difficult.