Daily Current Affairs

Indian Institute of Technology-Madras and Sony India Software Centre have proposed to host a hackathon called Samvedan 2021.

Highlights

Winners of competition

Winners of the competition will be eligible for entrepreneurial support from IITM-PTF. This competition is also open to industry personnel and academics.

About competition

Sony will use its leading-edge technology in solving India’s problems. Under the competition, each team will a maximum of three members. Challenge will be held in three stages. A total of 75 ideas would be selected for quarter-finals. 25 will make to semi-finals. Out of 25, seven finalists will be selected. Each finalist will receive prizes worth ₹3 lakh. Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation will provide a free spresence boar to each quarter-finalist.

Sony Group Corporation

Sony is a Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation, headquartered in Minato, Tokyo. The company operates as world’s largest manufacturers of consumer and professional electronic products. it is also the largest video game publisher & a largest music companies. Sony is one of the most comprehensive media companies. It is the largest Japanese media conglomerate by size and has overtaken Yomiuri Shimbun Holdings which is a largest Japanese media conglomerate by revenue.

According to Ministry of Commerce & Industry, India Industrial Land Bank will achieve pan-India integration by December 2021.

Key Points

India Industrial Land Bank (IILB)

IILB is a GIS-based portal and acts as one-stop repository of all industrial infrastructure-related information. Land Bank System was developed by Integrating Industrial Information System (IIS) with state GIS (Geographic Information System). It currently comprises of 4,000 industrial parks mapped over an area of 5.5 lakh hectares of land. This portal serves as a decision support system for investors who scouts for land remotely.

What informations are shared on portal?

Information regarding connectivity, infrastructure, natural resources & terrain are shared through this portal. Portal also share plot-level information regarding vacant plots, line of activity, and contact details. Portal also provide information on drainage, forest raw material heat and multilayer of connectivity.

Page view of IILB

IILB has grown in popularity after its website is registering 30 per cent increase in page views per month since April 2021. It has received 55,000 page views in June 2021 as compared to 44,136 page views in May. United States have maximum number of visitors after India. It is followed by Australia, United Kingdom, Singapore, UAE, Germany, and Indonesia.

Federal Bank shareholders have approved the motion of re-appointment of Shyam Srinivasan as managing director and chief executive officer (CEO) of the federal bank.

Highlights

90th annual general meeting of Federal Bank

Federal Bank Limited

It is a major Indian commercial bank in Private Sector. It is headquartered in Aluva, Kochi. It has more than 1,200 branches across different states in India. It has also set up Representative Offices at Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Dubai. It has a customer base of over 10 million, comprising of 1.5 million NRI customers. This bank handles more than 15% of India’s total inward remittances in 2018. This bank is also listed in BSE, NSE and London Stock Exchange. It has a branch in first International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) of India at GIFT City.

Shyam Srinivasan

He was given charge as Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Federal Bank Ltd on September 23, 2010. He is equipped with experience of over 20 years with leading multinational banks across India, Middle East and Southeast Asia.

American Space Agency, NASA’s ICESat-2 discovered Antarctic Meltwater Lakes recently.

Background

Glaciologist Helen Amanda Fricker had made an astonishing discovery in 2007 and found that, a whole hidden network of interconnected lake is found beneath thick Antarctic ice-shelves. She found that, these lakes actively fill and drain. Presence of meltwater beneath ice sheets was known, but such network of an active water system was a breakthrough. She had used data from NASA’s ICESat. This satellite used laser pulses to measure elevation data for ice, clouds & land.

How ICESat-2 was used to map lakes?

ICESat-2 is the successor of ICESat. It was launched by NASA in 2018. This new satellite can gather elevation data with higher precision. Using data from ICESat 2, Fricker has now discovered two new subglacial meltwater lakes under glacial ice of Antarctica. Network of Lakes were mapped high precision.

Significance of the mapping

These maps will help scientists understand water system in Antarctica. They would be able to figure out how these glacial lakes contribute to ocean water. Using these critical measurements scientists would explain & predict appearance & disappearance of Antarctic lakes. For instance, an enormous lake had disappeared in just three days in Amery Ice shelves of Antarctica. So, scientists can calculate how this is caused by global warming and how these lakes will affect movement of Antarctic glaciers. During this movement, ice sheets suffer cracking, crevassing etc which can be measured using space lasers.

ICESat-2

It stands for “Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite”. It is a part of NASA’s Earth Observing System for measuring ice sheet elevation and sea ice thickness. It also measures land topography, vegetation characteristics, and clouds.  This mission was launched on September 15, 2018 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Chinese conservation officials have announced that, Chinese giant Panda is no longer an endangered species.

Key Facts

IUCN Status of Giant Panda

Giant panda was considered “vulnerable” for five years. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) removed giant pandas the list of endangered species in 2016. This decision was challenged by Chinese officials then.

Giant panda

This bear, also known as panda bear, is native to South Central China. Bear is characterised by its bold black-and-white coat and rotund body. Giant panda name is used to distinguish it from red panda. They belong to order Carnivora, but are also folivore. Bamboo shoots and leaves making more than 99% of their diet. They occasionally eat other grasses, wild tubers, or even meat in form of birds, carrion or rodents. They also eat (in captivity) honey, eggs, fish, yams, oranges, bananas or shrub leaves along with specially prepared food.

Habitat of Giant Panda

They live in few mountain ranges of central China, mainly in Sichuan and neighbouring Shaanxi & Gansu. They once lived in lowland areas but have been driven out because of farming, deforestation, and other development. As per 2007 report, 239 pandas were living in captivity inside China and 27 outside country. Number of pandas increased to 49 by December 2014 in captivity outside China.

External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar recently held productive talks with the Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov. Both sides reviewed the progress on broad-ranging cooperation between both the nations on nuclear, space, energy and defence sectors.

Highlights

India-Russia recent cooperation

Cooperation between India and Russia is focused on space, energy, nuclear and defence sectors. Both the countries are working on Kudankulam nuclear power plant project in Tamil Nadu. Concrete first port for unit five of the Kudankulam  plant has taken place. Russia is also the original and strongest partner of India in space sector. Energy cooperation between them has strengthened very significantly in recent years. Energy cooperation is reflected through new potential investments and long-term commitments agreed in the field of oil and gas. Defence military-technical cooperation as well as industrial collaboration has also been strengthened because of Russian interest in Make in India programme.

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) recently released its report titled “A future for all – the need for human-wildlife coexistence”.

Key findings of Report

What does report highlights about India?

Way forward

Human-animal conflict cannot be eradicated completely. However, a well-planned and integrated approaches can be adopted in order to reduce conflicts. It can also lead to a form of coexistence between humans and animals.

Sonitpur Model of India

This model was developed by WWF India in Sonitpur district of Assam where, destruction of forests had led elephants to raid crops. This was causing deaths of humans as well as elephants.  To reduce the conflict, ‘Sonitpur Model’ was developed during 2003-2004. Under this model, community members are connected with state forest department. Community members are given training regarding how to work in field and drive elephants away from crop fields safely. WWF India also developed a low-cost, single strand, non-lethal electric fence in a bid to ease guarding of crops from elephants. As a result of this model, crop losses reduced to zero and Human & elephant deaths also reduced.

·Government-to-government conversations took place during Dialogue in a bid to increase cooperation on four major themes:

Background

· Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had agreed to establish ‘Financial Markets Dialogue in 2020, at tenth Economic and Financial Dialogue (EFD) between both the countries.

· It was to be established to strengthen financial services cooperation and address regulatory barriers for UK and Indian firms.

Bilateral Trade between UK & India

Bilateral trade between UK and India was worth over £18 billion. India was UK’s second-largest source of investment with respect to project volume. Half a million employees are supported by British and Indian investments in both the countries.

2030 Roadmap of India-UK

2030 Roadmap of India-UK was agreed by Prime Ministers Modi and Johnson with the aim of transforming UK-India relationship, specially to build back better from Covid-19 pandemic.

Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City)

GIFT city is a business district located near Ahmedabad in Gujarat. It is the first operational greenfield smart city and international financial services centre in India. It is located on the banks of Sabarmati River. City is designed in a way that residents can walk to work and includes commercial and residential complexes.

National Research Centre on Yak (NRCY) at Dirang in Arunachal Pradesh has partnered with National Insurance Company Ltd. to insure high-altitude yak.

What are the concerns?

High-altitude yaks are feeling the climate change heat in Himalayan belt. Climate change and inexplicable changes in weather pattern have been reported from yak rearing areas across India. As a result, countrywide population yak has been decreasing at an alarming rate. In 2019, about 500 yaks died in single spell of heavy rainfall in northern Sikkim. That caused a heavy financial burden on owners. As per a report, number of yaks in India has declined by 24.7% between 2012 and 2019.

How Insurance policy will help?

Yak population in India

Total yak population in India is 58,000. Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir have 26,000 Yaks, followed by 24,000 in Arunachal Pradesh, 5,000 in Sikkim and 2,000 in Himachal Pradesh. Some 1,000 Yaks are there in West Bengal and Uttarakhand.

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued an advisory to banks and other financial institutions to be prepared for year-end transition from London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor).

Transition from Libor

Global transition from Libor became necessary because banks were manipulating rate in 2007-08. Following the incident, investigation was led by Financial Services Authority (FSA) of Britain.

Highlights

Background

In August 2020, RBI issued a ‘Dear CEO’ letter to all commercial banks sensitizing them regarding the need to be prepared for Libor cessation.

London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR)

LIBOR is an interest-rate average which is calculated on the basis of estimates submitted by leading banks in London. LIBOR was earlier called as BBA Libor (British Bankers’ Association Libor or trademark BBA LIBOR).  Responsibility for administration of LIBOR is with Intercontinental Exchange. It is primary benchmark for short-term interest rates across the world. Libor will be phased out by end of 2021. So, market participants are being encouraged to transition towards other risk-free rates.

How Libor rates are calculated?

Libor rates over tenors are calculated as averages of rates polled by major banks. This rate is then used to price debt instruments and derivatives such as currency swaps and interest rate swaps.

Uttar Pradesh government is set to release its new policy on population control for 2021-30. It will be released on July 11, on the occasion of World Population Day.

Highlights

Fertility Rate in Uttar Pradesh

Total fertility rate in Uttar Pradesh is 2.7 per cent. It should ideally be less than 2.1 per cent. Most of the states have achieved the ideal fertility rate, except Bihar and UP. 2011 census has tagged Uttar Pradesh as most populous state of India followed by Maharashtra and Bihar.

Objectives of the policy

Department of Biotechnology (DBT) & National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG) has created a first of its king database of genomic variation in oral cancer. NIBMG made this database accessible to public. Database is being called as dbGENVOC.

About dbGENVOC

  1. 24 million somatic and germline variants which have been derived from whole exome sequences of 100 oral cancer patients & whole genome sequences of 5 oral cancer patients.
  2. Somatic variation data from 220 patient samples were collected from USA and analyzed by TCGA-HNSCC project.
  3. Variants were identified by community approved best practice protocol and were annotated with the help of multiple analytic pipelines.

Oral Cancer in India

Oral cancer is most prevalent form of cancer among men across India because of tobacco-chewing. Tobacco-chewing changes the genetic material of cells in oral cavity, which in turn changes precipitate oral cancer.

About DBT

Department of Biotechnology (DBT) works under Ministry of Science and Technology. It boosts and augments development of biotechnology ecosystem across India.

About NIBMG

National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG) was established as an autonomous institution under Department of Biotechnology. This is the first institution in India to conduct research, training, translation & service and capacity-building in the area of Biomedical Genomics. It is located in Kalyani, West Bengal.

Supreme Court of Israel upheld a controversial law on July 8, 2021. This law defines the country as ‘nation state of Jewish people’.

Highlights

Opponents’ view

Arab Citizens in Israel

Arab citizens in Israel have right to vote and are well-represented in many professions. However, they suffer from widespread discrimination in areas like housing and job market.

Jewish state law of 2018

2018 law was approved by Knesset (Israel’s parliament).  This law defines Israel as “nation-state” of Jewish people. As per the law, “fulfilling the right to national self-determination in Israel is unique to Jewish people.” The law descended Arabic from an official state language to one with “special status.

Implications of Law

Passage of law prompted vocal opposition from country’s Arab minority, especially among Druze Israelis, serving in military. Several Arab rights groups and civil society organizations appealed in court to strike down this law.

Court’s view

Court is of the view that, equal rights are granted to all citizens of state, including minority groups. Right to national self-determination does not rejects recognized personal or cultural rights. According to court, law did not detract from status of Arabic language.