Daily Current Affairs - 03-07-2021

Government has asked National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to launch platform for electronic vaccine vouchers.

What are Electronic Vaccine Vouchers?

Role of NPCI

NPCI is in the process of short-listing banks in order to issue these vouchers. Banks will offer vouchers as a payments service in partnership with technology service providers.

How these vouchers will be generated?

NPCI seeks to deliver these vouchers as QR code to smartphones and as a code to feature phones. One mobile can be used to deliver vouchers for entire family.

Advantage of Vouchers

With the help of these vouchers, hospitals will get the payments for vaccination instantly into their bank account. Although, the platform was developed for vaccines, it can be used for any form of targeted direct benefit transfers. It will eliminate the need of subsidies and providers would not face any problem in recovering payments from government.

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)

NPCI is an umbrella organisation that operates retail payments and settlement systems under the parent head of Reserve Bank of India.  It was founded in December 2008. It is a not-for-profit organisation registered under Section 8 of Companies Act 2013. It was  established by Reserve Bank of India and Indian Banks’ Association.

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has notified new norms for interest on the amount left unclaimed with bank after a term deposit matures.

Highlights

Types of Deposits in India

Banks works as the custodians of public money. It mobilizes the deposits of public. There are two types of deposits namely, Time Deposits and Demand Deposits.

What are Time Deposits?

When money is deposited for a fixed tenure is called as time deposit. Such money cannot be withdrawn before its maturity which is fixed at a particular time. It is also called as “Term deposits”. ‘Fixed Deposit’ is the most common example of time deposit. Time deposits are also eligible for interest payments. Interest rate of the time deposit depends on the tenure and amount of deposit. Interest rate varies from bank to bank. Interest rate is usually higher for time deposits with long maturity time.

Types of time deposit

Time deposits is of three types:

  1. Fixed deposits, where fixed rate of interest is paid at a fixed & regular intervals
  2. Re-investment deposits, where Interest is compounded quarterly and paid on maturity.
  3. Recurring deposits, where fixed amount is deposited at regular intervals for fixed term. Repayment of principal & accumulated interest is done at the end of term. These deposits usually target the persons who are salaried or receive regular income. Such deposits are opened for 6 months to 120 months.

What are Demand deposits?

When funds deposited is withdrawn by customer at any time without any advanced notice to banks, are called as demand deposit.

As per a cybersecurity researcher, ransomware attack had paralysed networks of at least 200 US companies on July 2, 2021.

Key Points

What is Cyberattack?

It is an attack in computers and computer networks to expose, alter, disable, destroy, steal or gain information by gaining its unauthorized access in order to make unauthorized use of asset. Cyberattack is an offensive maneuver which targets computer information systems. Attacker is a person or process who attempts to access data, functions, or other restricted areas. Cyberattacks is the part of cyberwarfare or cyberterrorism. It can be employed by sovereign states, groups, individuals, society, or organizations. Product that facilitates cyberattack is called cyberweapon.

Range of cyberattacks

Cyberattacks ranges from installing spyware on personal computer to make attempt to destroy infrastructure of country.

How cyberattacks can be prevented?

Cyberattacks can be prevented using User behavior analytics and SIEM. User behavior analytics (UBA) is a cybersecurity process used to detect insider threats, targeted attacks, and financial fraud. Security information and event management (SIEM) is the subsection of computer security where software products & services combine security information management (SIM) and security event management (SEM). SIM & SEM provides real-time analysis of security alerts which are generated by applications and network hardware. SIEM was coined by Mark Nicolett and Amrit Williams in 2005.

Union Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of Information & Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar congratulated Invest India has been awarded world’s most innovative Promotion Agency 2021 by OCO Global.

About Invest India

Invest India is the national Investment Promotion & Facilitation Agency of India. It was established in 2009 as non-profit venture of Department for Promotion of Industry & Internal under Trade Ministry of Commerce and Industry. It focuses on sector-specific investor which helps in targeting & developing new partnerships in order to enable sustainable investments across India.

Function of Invest India

Invest India partners with substantial investment promotion agencies and multilateral organizations. It works actively with several Indian states in a bid to build capacity and bring in global best practices across investment targeting, promotion and facilitation areas. It focuses on sector-specific investor targeting and development of new partnerships for a sustainable investment.

Investment promotion agency (IPA)

IPA is a government agency whose mission is to attract investment in country, state, region or city. IPA do this function by using marketing activities by raising awareness regarding location of attractive destination for investment.  It has four core functions viz., Investment generation, Image building of FDI hosting country, Project management and aftercare services. It plays an important role in attracting investment for developed countries. Its function is similar to the chamber of commerce or business consulting corporation.

Chamber of commerce

It is a form of business network and a local organization of businesses. Its goal is to strengthen the interests of businesses. They elect a board of directors or executive council to set policy for chamber. This board or council hires a President, CEO, or Executive Director.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has given its approval to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education in order to provide technical assistance for satellite TV classrooms across India in a bid to bridge learning gap that arose due to COVID-induced lockdown.

Key Points

Background

Earlier, Vinay Sahasrabuddhe-led parliamentary panel sought help from ISRO scientists in order to provide technical assistants so as to start satellite TV classrooms for students who reported learning gap in school syllabus because of COVID pandemic.

Satellite TV in India

INSAT is a major catalyst for expansion of television coverage across India. Satellite television covers 100% area and 100% population. Terrestrial coverage is more than 81 percent of Indian land mass and 92 percent of population. Doordarshan is the user of INSAT satellites to provide television services across country. Currently, 33 Doordarshan TV channels are operating by C-band transponders of INSAT-3A, INSAT-3C, and INSAT-4B. All these Satellite TV channels are digitalised.

Satellite Television services operated by Doordarshan

Satellite Television services operated by Doordarshan include National networking service (DD-1), DD News (DD-2), DD-Urdu, DD-Sports, DD-India, DD-Bharati and DD-HD.

NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) has got extension for two more years.

Key Points

Background

NASA has been surveying sky daily to find potential hazards and exploring asteroids in order to help in unlocking secrets of formation of solar system. With the help of ground-based telescopes, about 26,000 near-Earth asteroids have already been discovered.  So, NASA is working to enhance observations with space-based capabilities like NEOWISE.

About NEOWISE

NEOWISE was originally launched as Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission in December 2009. This space telescope surveyed entire sky in infrared wavelengths and detected asteroids, dim stars, and faintest galaxies. It completed its primary mission after it depleted its cryogenic coolant. Mission was put into hibernation in February 2011. These observations were again resumed in December 2013. In 2013, this space telescope was repurposed by NASA’s Planetary Science Division as “NEOWISE”, which is being used to identify asteroids and comets throughout the solar system.

Uses of NEOWISE

How size of the asteroids is determined?

When asteroids are heated by Sun, they warm up & release this heat as faint infrared radiation. Scientists can reveal the size of asteroid by studying this infrared signature and then compare it to measurements of observations made by optical telescopes fixed on ground.

Who manages the NEOWISE Project?

NEOWISE project is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory located in Southern California and University of Arizona which supported by NASA.

Ministry of Health has approved the recommendation of National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) for Pregnant women to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Highlights

Background

India’s Covid vaccination program comprises of recommendations from experts in field of public health, immunization, disease control and information technology. This programme provides priority on strengthening India’s health care system on the basis of scientific & epidemiological evidence. It seeks to protect most vulnerable population groups. Earlier, all groups except pregnant women were eligible for Covid vaccination. Now, vaccination programme has been expanded to even pregnant women.

Covid during pregnancy

As per reports, Covid infection during pregnancy results in rapid deterioration of health of pregnant women. They are at a higher risk of severe diseases. Infection might affect fetus too. Pregnant women with COVID-19 infection are also at the higher risk of preterm birth. It also led to several adverse pregnancy outcomes like high chances of neonatal morbidity. Other factors of covid-19 infection during pregnancy include pre-existing co-morbidities, advanced maternal age, and high body mass Index.

National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG)

NITAG is an advisory committee comprising of multidisciplinary groups of experts who are responsible to provide information related to vaccines to national governments. These information helps in making evidence-based decisions regarding vaccine and immunization policy.  NITAG in each country have different names. For Instance, in United States it is called as Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), in UK it is called as Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and it is called as National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) in India.

Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises has launched six Technology Innovation Platforms on July 2, 2021. These  platforms were launched by Union minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Prakash Javadekar, in virtual mode. These technology platforms will focus on development of technologies for globally competitive manufacturing across India.

Who developed these platforms?

Platforms have been developed by IIT-Madras, International Centre for Automotive Technology (iCAT), Central Manufacturing Technology Institute (CMTI), BHEL, HMT and Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) in association with IISc, Bangalore.

Why these platforms were launched?

What are Tier 1 Companies?

Tier 1 companies are largest, wealthiest, and most experienced in industry. This tier is very exclusive. Tier one contracts are in hundreds of millions and even billions price range.

What are Tier 2 companies?

Tier 2 companies are also called as Mid-tier companies. They are the players in construction industry. They are in between tier 1 and 3. Tier 2 companies take projects on commercial basis rather than residential.

What are Tier 3 Companies?

Tier 3 companies take on projects around million-dollar range. They take projects like residential jobs including rebuilding & refurbishing; Small-scale commercial work like building or refurbishing petrol stations, supermarkets, offices etc.

Minister of MSME, Nitin Gadkari, announced on July 2, 2021 about revised guidelines for MSMEs which has included retail and wholesale trade under Micro, Small & Medium (MSME) Enterprises.

Key Facts

Significance of the move

What RBI had announced?

RBI had announced that, MSMEs with aggregate exposure of up to Rs 25 crore and classified as standard can avail this restructuring scheme without being downgraded to another category of asset by March 31, 2021.

Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)

CII is a non-governmental trade association and advocacy group headquartered in New Delhi. It was founded in 1895. It engages business, academic, political, and other leaders of society in shaping regional, global, and industry agendas. CII is a membership-based organisation.

Union Government has extended superannuation age of IPO-bound LIC Chairman to up to 62 years.

Key Points

What changes have been made?

As per notification, if Central Government appoints Chairman for a term of office extending beyond sixty years of age, or extends the term of office to a period beyond sixty years, he shall not superannuate till such terms are completed or till he attains age of sixty-two years, whichever is earlier.

Background

Central government had approved a nine-month extension to LIC Chairman M R Kumar from June 30, 2021 to March 13, 2022, recently in the backdrop of insurer’s proposed initial public offer towards end of fiscal year 2021-2022.

IPO in LIC

Finance Minister during her budget speech said, Initial Public Offer (IPO) of LIC would be floated in 2021-22 under the government’s target of Rs 1.75 lakh crore disinvestment. Government has already amended Life Insurance Corporation Act, 1956 and Finance Act 2021 in order to facilitate the public offer. Under the amendment, government significantly increased authorised capital of LIC to Rs 25,000 crore from Rs 100 crore which will facilitate listing. Life Insurance Corporation Act, 1956 mandates, authorised share capital of LIC will be Rs 25,000 crore divided into 2,500 crore shares of Rs 10 each.

Union Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) has approved 14 applicants under Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for IT hardware products.

Highlights

PLI Scheme for IT Hardware provides an incentive of 4% to 2% on net incremental sales over base years of Financial Year 2020.

What are those targeted segments?

Who were the applicants?

Significance of the move

Approved companies under the PLI scheme are likely to lead to a total production of more than ₹1.61 lakh crore in next 4 years. Out of the total production, companies approved under IT Hardware companies’ category have proposed for a production of ₹84,746 crore. Scheme will bring additional investment in IT Hardware manufacturing of about ₹2,517 crore.

What is PLI Scheme?

It is an outcome & output-based scheme in which incentives are paid only if manufacturers make goods. It provides for cash incentives for five to seven years. It covers all the sunrise and important sectors under it. Sectors covered under the scheme include networking products, automobile, advanced chemistry, food processing, and solar PV manufacturing.

India and majority members of OECD and G20 Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion & Profit Shifting adopted a high-level statement that outlines a consensus solution in a bid to address tax challenges that are arising from digitalisation of economy.

Key Points

  1. First pillar is about reallocation of additional profit share to market jurisdictions and
  2. Second pillar comprises of minimum tax and subject to tax rules.

How will it impact India?

Pillar I of OECD and G20 two-pillar solutions of addressing tax challenge seeks to show a special purpose nexus rule and profit allocation formula to reallocate a part of super normal profits of largest and most profitable and multinational groups in market countries like India and China. The outcome will have quantitative benefits on India as it will ensure that India gets its fair share of corporate tax on earnings from market it provides to MNEs. Pillar II is the most significant step towards the race to bottom. Global Min tax rule will ensure that countries like India gets massive market for MNEs without providing tax safe harbor. This development has the potential to significantly contain practice of treaty shopping.

Treaty Shopping

In treaty shopping, companies or individuals attempt to indirectly access benefits of tax treaty between two jurisdictions without being resident any of those jurisdictions.

United States military has left Afghanistan’s Bagram airfield after nearly two decades.

Key Points

Background

US president Joe Biden had promised for withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan completely by September 11. Current withdrawal of 2,500-3,500 US troops from Bagram airbase is an indication of the follow-up on that promise. Now, United States harbours around 6,500 troops in Afghanistan to protect American embassy in Kabul. However, they have not yet divulged when last US soldier will leave Afghanistan for security reasons.

Bagram Airfield

It is also known as Bagram Air Base and is located near ancient city of Bagram. It was largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan. Its distance from Parwan Province is 11 kilometres. It has a single runway which is capable of handling large military aircraft including Lockheed Martin C-5 Galaxy and Antonov An-225. It was staffed 455th Air Expeditionary Wing of U.S. Air Force.

455th Air Expeditionary Wing

It is a provisional United States Air Force unit in the Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Most personnel were located at Air Force Village known as Camp Cunningham First predecessor of this wing was organized in 1943 as 455th Bombardment Group. After training in United States, they are deployed to Mediterranean Theater of Operations and to participate in strategic bombing campaign against Germany.

Maana Patel has become the first female and only the third swimmer from India to qualify Tokyo Olympics 2021 ticket.

Key points

Maana Patel

She was born on March 18, 2000. She is an Indian backstroke swimmer from Ahmedabad, Gujarat. She started at the age of seven. At 13, she clocked 2:23.41s in 200m backstroke at 40th Junior National Aquatics Championship in Hyderabad.  In 2019, she won six medals (1 gold, 4 silvers, 1 bronze) at 10th Asian Age-group Championships, Bangalore. She has won 11 international, 61 national and 75 state level medals; as of 2016.

Backstroke or back crawl

It is one among four swimming styles used in competitive events which are regulated by FINA. This style is swum on the back. This swimming style has an advantage of easy breathing. However, swimmers are not able to see where they are going. It marks a different start from other three competition swimming styles. It is similar to an upside-down front crawl or freestyle.

2020 Summer or Tokyo Olympics

This event will start from 23rd July to 8th August 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Originally it was scheduled from 24 July to 9 August 2020. But it was postponed and rescheduled for the first time amid covid-19 pandemic. 2020 Games will be the second time that Japan has hosted Summer Olympic Games. First being also in Tokyo in 1964. Tokyo has become the first city in Asia to host Summer Games twice.

Sports Ministry has decided to recognise WAKO India Kickboxing Federation as a National Sports Federation (NSF) to promote and develop sport in India.

Key Points

Why this recognition is significant?

This recognition is significant to be fully included and accepted in Olympic movement.

Indian Association of Kickboxing Organisations (IAKO)

IAKO is the national federation of kickboxing in India. It was established in 1993 to control and promote kickboxing activities in India. It promotes amateur kickboxing and professional kickboxing across the states, union territories and special armed force. IAKO is the first martial arts federations which has been recognised by School Games Federation of India.

World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (WAKO)

WAKO is an international organization of kickboxing. It certifies the governing body of amateur kickboxing to develop support & govern amateur level and hold world championship events. It sanctions the champions of kickboxing. WAKO is the only organisation across the world which is recognised by GAISF (Global Association of Sports Federations) and IOC (International Olympic Committee).