Daily Current Affairs - 20-01-2021

Virgin Orbit recently launched its LauncherOne rocket to the orbit. This is the first successful flight of the rocket. Earlier an unsuccessful launch attempt was made in May 2020.


Sun Synchronous Orbit

The Sun synchronous Orbit is nearly a polar orbit around a planet. In this orbit, the satellite passes over a given point at the same local mean solar time. That is, it maintains the same relationship with the sun every year. This orbit is generally used for spying and imaging.


The CubeSats are miniature satellites for space research. They are made of multiple cubic modules that are of 10 cm × 10 cm × 10 cm size.

ElaNa 20

The launch of ten CubeSats by LauncherOne is a part of ElaNa Mission. ElaNa is Educational Launch of Nanosatellites. The mission made partnerships with the universities in the US to launch research satellites called CubeSats. ElaNa 1 was launched in 2011. It carried three CubeSats. LauncherOne is the 20th mission of ElaNa programme.


LauncherOne was launched by Air Launch to Orbit method. In this method, the rockets are launched at an altitude from a conventional aircraft. The aircraft carries the rocket to the low earth orbit and the rocket is then launched from there. This reduced the mass, thrust and cost of the rocket as compared to the conventional vertical rocket launches.

Iran and six other countries have lost their voting rights in the United Nations General Assembly as they had not paid their dues. The other countries that lost their voting rights were Niger, South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Congo Brazzaville, Central African Republic and Libya. On the other hand, three other countries such as Comoros, Somalia, Sao Tome and Principe will be allowed to vote despite of their missing dues.

Article 19 of UN Charter

According to the Article 19 of the UN Charter, a member shall have no voting rights if it has arrears in the payment of its financial contributions to the UN. The Charter provided two years of grace period. That is, if the arrears are pending for more than two years, then the voting rights are suspended.


Iran owes 16.2 million USD to the United Nations. According to Iran, the US sanctions is troubling the country in paying its contribution to the UN.

United Nations Budget Contributions

The US is the highest contributor of the UN. The United States contributed 22% of the UN budget, China contributes 12%, Japan contributes 8.574% and Germany contributes 6.090%. These four countries together finance 49% of the entire UN budget.


India is one among the thirty-four United Nations members to pay the budget dues on time. In January 2020, India paid 23, 396, 496 USD to the United Nations as its contribution.

Determination of UN Budget

Every three years, the UN Members collectively decide on the formula called “Scales of Assessment”. The formula decides how much currency should each member contribute to the UN regular budget and to peace keeping operations.

The formula is highly complicated. It begins with the Gross National Income of the country. Later adjustments are applied taking account where the country is relative to average global income per head. A ceiling and a minimum floor is applied to Least Developed Countries.

The top palm oil producers for the first time are looking for opportunities to run an advocacy campaign in Europe. The largest oil producers of the world Indonesia and Malaysia have sent proposals to hire an advocacy firm to run campaign in Europe through the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries.

What is the issue?

According to the European Union, the producers of palm oil primarily Malaysia and clear vast areas of biodiversity rich rainforest in South East Asia exploiting migrant workers. The Union is to ramp up legislations on deforestation as a part of European Green Deal. This could restrict the use of palm oil in fuel and food. Therefore, the CPOPC dominated by Indonesia and Malaysia are looking for opportunities to launch campaigns to change the perceptions of European countries.


The European Union had finalised a rule in 2019 to phase out palm oil from renewable fuel by 2030 mainly due to deforestation concerns.

Malaysia and Indonesia account to 85% of the global palm oil output. Indonesia alone produces 60% of world’s palm oil. India and China are the biggest buyers of palm oil.

Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries

It is an intergovernmental organisation. It was established in 2015. Indonesia and Malaysia are the founding fathers of the Council of Palm Oil Producing countries. The council aims to promote and strengthen cooperation in oil palm cultivation. It enhances welfare of oil palm stakeholders. It addresses the impediments to palm oil trade. The six main focus areas of cooperation of the council are sustainability of palm oil, research and innovation, productivity of small holders, industrial cooperation towards value added production, trade policy issues and technical regulations and standards.

European Green Deal

The European Green Deal is a set of policy initiatives of the European Union to make Europe climate neutral by 2050.

The researchers from the University of California recently predicted that the future climate change will cause an uneven shifting of the tropical rain belt. This might threaten food security for billions of people.

Key Findings

According to the study, the shift of the tropical rain belt over the Indian Ocean and Eastern Africa will result in drought stress in south eastern Africa and Madagascar. Also, it will increase the flooding in southern India. The southward creeping of the tropical rain belt over the Atlantic Ocean and eastern Pacific Ocean will cause greater drought in Central America.

Tropical Rain Belt

The tropical rain belt is the region around the tropics that receives abundant rainfall. It is largely the manifestation of the ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone).

During October to March, the tropical rain belt lies in the southern hemisphere of the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific Ocean. The northern tropics are dry during this period. Between April and September, the tropical rain belt occurs in the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere goes dry then.

The belt shifts roughly between the equator and the fifteenth parallel north (south) latitude. Near these latitudes one dry and one wet season occurs. On the other hand, there are two wet and two dry seasons in the equator as the belt passes through the equator twice.

Abundant rain in Tropical Rain Belt

The air in the tropics warm up quickly. The warm air rises up. As the hot air rises, the cold air occupies the vacant spaces. As more and more cold air replaces the warm air, the tropics lose their ability to hold moisture. As a result, the excess moisture turns into rain showers and thunderstorms. This is the main reason for abundant rain in the tropics

Intertropical Convergence Zone

The region is called Doldrums by the sailors because of its windless weather. This is the region where the south east and north east trade winds converge.

Thales, a French Multinational Company has signed an agreement with the Bharat Dynamics Limited, a Government of India enterprise to jointly work on STARStreak Air Defence System

STARStreak Air Defence System

Advantages of STARStreak Air Defence System

Disadvantages of STARStreak Air Defence System

The US president elect Joe Biden is expected to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline project.

Keystone pipeline system

The keystone pipeline system is an oil pipeline system in the United States and Canada. It was commissioned in 2010 and is owned by the Government of Alberta and TC Energy. The pipeline runs from the Western Canadian sedimentary basin in Alberta to the Refineries in Texas and Illinois.

What is the issue?

Recently a proposed fourth phase of the keystone pipeline system attracted opposition from environmentalists over climate change and fossil fuels. In 2015, President Obama delayed the implementation of the 4th phase of the project. In 2017, President Trump permitted the completion of the pipeline. In 2021, President elect Biden has planned to cancel the project.

Environmental Concerns

The major environmental concern raised against the project is that the pipeline spill will threaten Ogallala aquifer. Ogallala aquifer is one of the largest freshwater reserves in the world. It supports more than 2 million people by providing drinking water to them. Also, the aquifer supports 20 billion USD of agricultural activities. It is located beneath The Great Plains in the United States.

Oil Spills in Keystone Pipeline System

In 2016 more than 400 barrels of oil leaked from the keystone pipeline network due to weld anomaly. In 2017 the pipeline leaked more than 9600 barrels of oil. In 2019, the pipeline spilled more than 9000 barrels of oil.

Oil Sand Concerns

The environmental organisations also opposed the project due to its transportation from Oil Sands. The oil Sands are technically called bituminous sands. These are unconventional petroleum deposits. They occur naturally in the mixture of sand, water, and clay. The petroleum in oil sands is highly viscous. Large quantities of natural bitumen deposits are found in Russia, Venezuela, Canada and Kazakhstan.

The major concern of extracting Petroleum from oil sands is that it releases 17% more greenhouse gas emissions than the conventional oil extraction.

The United States scientists have developed a new rapid COVID-19 test to measure mitochondrial DNA in the blood sample of the COVID-19 patients. The test will be highly helpful to identify people at the highest risk of the virus.

About the test

The mitochondrial DNA is a unique type of genetic material that normally resides inside the energy factories of the cells. However, in COVID-19 patients the mitochondrial DNA is spilling out of the body cells into the bloodstream. This leads to cell death. Eventually the COVID-19 patients go into hyperinflammatory death.

According to the scientists, the spill out of mitochondrial DNA is the main reason for tissue damage and eventual organ failure especially in lungs, kidney and heart in COVID-19 patients.

Mitochondrial DNA

The Mitochondrial DNA is located in the mitochondria of the body cells. Mitochondria converts chemical energy in food into Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). The ATP provides energy for muscle contraction and nerve impulse propagation.

The mitochondrial DNA is inherited from the mother.

Apart from humans, the mitochondrial DNA is also found in algae and fungi.


Mitochondria is called the power house of the cell. They are membrane bound organelle. It functions as the digestive system of a cell. It promotes growth of new cells and cell multiplication. It is found in both plant cell and animal cell.


The violent death of cells is called necrosis. It is common in COVID-19 patients. Necrosis is a form of cell injury that results in premature death of cells. This occurs when too little blood flows into the tissue.

Reactive Oxygen Species

The major side effect of COVID-19 is inducing mitochondrial reactive oxygen species. The Reactive Oxygen Species are highly reactive chemical molecules. They are formed due to electron acceptability nature of oxygen. Some of the Reactive Oxygen Species are superoxide, peroxides, hydroxyl radical, alpha-oxygen.

Israel has been recently banning the human rights groups in the country that called Israel to be an apartheid state.


Apartheid is a system of institutionalized racial segregation.

Israel and Apartheid Analogy

Israel is being criticized to be an Apartheid State for its actions against Palestinians. The actions of Israel occupying the West Bank region is criticized as being apartheid.

West Bank Occupation

Israeli occupation of the West Bank began in 1967 during a six-day war and is continuing till date. The status of West Bank as an occupied territory has been affirmed by the International Court of Justice. Israel cites Balfour Declaration for retaining West Bank.

Balfour Declaration

It was a public statement made by the British Government during the first World War. Under the Balfour Declaration the British extended its support for the establishment of a national home for Jewish people in Palestine. The Balfour declaration is the founding document of Mandatory Palestine that later became Israel and Palestine.

The Balfour Declaration is considered as the principal cause of the ongoing Israeli-Palestine conflict.

Israel-Palestine Conflict

The establishment of Palestine as the national home of Jews by the Balfour declaration created tension in the region between the Jews and the Arabs. The conflict widened after the 1947-1949 Palestine war. It further increased after Israeli military occupation of Palestinian territories in 1967 after a six-day war.

The United Nations has called for “Two State Solution” to end the Israel-Palestine conflicts.

Two State Solution

According to the Two State solution, one would be a state of Jews and the other would be the state of Palestinian Arabs. The idea however is rejected by the Arabs.

Current Scenario

More than 83% of world countries have recognized Israel as a sovereign state. Recently, UAE, Sudan and Bahrain normalized their ties with Israel.

The Government of India recently announced that the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose is to be celebrated as “Parakram Diwas”. Parakram Diwas means Courage Day. Netaji was born on January 23, 1897.

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose

Netaji in Indian independence struggle

Month: Current Affairs - January, 2021

Category: Awards, Persons & Places in News • Important Days & Events Current Affairs • Persons in News

Topics: Independence • Indian National Army • Netaji • Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose • Parakram Divas • Parakram Diwas • Persons in News

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  • Siddhartha

    This just tokenism . Some Work here, some work there.
    Its High tike for this Govt to Declasssfy all the Intelligence files on Netaji and let his death mystery be over for once and all

    The NITI Aayog is to launch the second edition of India Innovation Index. The Index ranks states of the country based on how they support innovation. The first edition of India Innovation Index was launched in 2019.

    About India Innovation Index

    The India Innovation Index was developed on the lines of Global Innovation Index. It attempts to create an extensive framework for the continuous evaluation of the innovation environment of the states and union territories in India.

    The index is calculated as the average of scores of two dimensions namely enablers and performance. The enablers provide the innovative capacities of the states and the performers give the benefits derived by the nation from the state’s innovation. The enablers are human capital, investment, business environment, knowledge workers and safety and legal environment. The performance parameters are knowledge diffusion and knowledge output.

    Importance of India Innovation Index

    India has huge opportunities and potential to become the innovation leader of the world. The Innovation Index will act as an evaluator of innovation in the country. This will help to channelize the improvement of innovation environment. Also, it will promote competitive federalism among the states.

    India Innovation Index, 2019

    Karnataka emerged as the topper in overall rankings in the category of major states in India Innovation Index, 2019. Maharashtra performed the best in the dimension of Enablers. Sikkim topped the ranking in north eastern states category and Delhi topped the list in the category of Union Territories.

    Way forward

    There is a need to improve the capability of top rung education institutions in the country to produce greater innovation outputs. Also, the spending on research and development should be increased with greater collaboration between the educational institutions and industries. A collaborative platform with innovators, investors and researchers will strengthen industry-academia linkages and will ease the technology transfer processes.

    The Global Firepower Index ranks the countries based on their potential military strength. India was ranked fourth in the index. The Global Firepower Index ranked 138 countries. The countries were evaluated based on prolonged offensive and defensive military campaigns.


    • The United States topped the index with 904 attack helicopters and eleven aircraft carriers. Also, the country has sixty-eight submarines and 40,000 armoured fighting vehicles.
    • The US was followed by Russia with 189 fighter aircrafts and 538 attack helicopters. Russia has 13,000 tanks and 64 submarines.
    • China was ranked third with 1,200 combat aircrafts and 327 attack helicopters and seventy-nine submarines. Also, China has 35,000 armoured vehicles.
    • India was ranked fourth in the Global Firepower Index with 542 combat aircraft, 17 submarines, 4,730 tanks and 37 attack helicopters.
    • Japan was ranked fifth in the Global Firepower Index with 2 helicopter carriers, 27 destroyers.
    • South Korea was ranked sixth in the world and North Korea was ranked 28th.

    About Global Firepower Index, 2021

    The Global Firepower Index is calculated using fifty individual factors from geography to logistical capability. It also includes manpower, land forces, airpower, natural resources, naval forces, logistics and financials. Under manpower, the factors considered are total population, paramilitary, reaching military age annually, active reserves and active services. Under equipment, the factors considered are trainer fleet, aircraft fleet strength, helicopter fleet, attack fleets, rocket projectors, tank strength, towed artillery, aircraft carriers, naval fleet strength, destroyers, submarines, coastal patrol craft, frigates, mine warfare craft, coastal patrol craft and tanker fleets. The finance factors include external debt, defence budget, reserves of foreign exchange and gold and purchasing power parity.


    Pakistan was ranked the tenth most powerful country in the Global Firepower Index.  Pakistan has surpassed Israel, Indonesia, Iran and Canada in terms of military power. Currently Pakistan dedicates 7 billion USD from its annual budget for defence purposes.