Daily Current Affairs - 14-07-2021

Maharashtra government has unveiled the “Maharashtra Electric Vehicle (EV) policy, 2021”.

Key Points

Aim of the policy

Maharashtra Electric Vehicle Policy 2021 was unveiled with the aim of promoting adoption of electric vehicles, its production and strengthening necessary infrastructure. It also seeks to ensure that EVs comprise at least 10% of new vehicles registered by 2025 and 25% electrification of public transport by 2025 in six urban centres namely, Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Amravati, Aurangabad and Nashik. It will also set up 2,500 charging stations in urban areas and highways.

Key Provisions of Policy

State-run NTPC Ltd is to set up India’s largest solar park at Rann of Kutch in Gujarat.

Key points

Background

This solar park project will come against backdrop of reports about NTPC’s plans to list NTPC Renewable Energy Ltd. NTPC has also announced its target to reduce net energy intensity by 10% under its energy compact goals. NTPC has planned to invest ₹1 trillion between 2019 and 2024 in order to become a 130 GW power producer by 2032. Out of this, 60 GW will be generated from renewable energy sources.

Green Energy Parks

Under the ultra-mega renewable energy power parks (UMREPP) scheme, several state-run companies including NTPC have planned to build massive green energy parks in wind & solar resource rich states like Jammu & Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.

NTPC Limited

This Indian-government owned electricity utility was formally known as National Thermal Power Corporation Limited. It engages in business of generation of electricity & allied activities. The company was incorporated under Companies Act 1956 and works under Ministry of Power. It is headquartered in New Delhi.

Supreme Court, on July 12, agreed to hear appeal by Bihar government against the acquittal by Patna High Court of 14 accused in Senari massacre of 1999.

What is Senari Massacre?

In the Senari Village of Jehanabad district, 34 upper caste men were forced out of their homes by cadres of defunct Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) and they were slaughtered near village temple on March 18, 1999. This event is called as Senari Massacre. This massacre was a sequel in prolonged caste war between MCC and private armies of upper caste villagers especially the Ranbir Sena which was led by Barmeshwar Mukhiya. He was jailed in 2012.

Award by Jehanabad court

Jehanabad court sentenced 11 accused to death while three others were awarded the life sentence on November 15, 2016. Three of those convicted then challenged the verdict in High Court.

High Court order

Patna High Court has acquitted all 14 accused on May 21, 2021. Division Bench comprising of Justices Ashwini Kumar Singh and Arvind Srivastava has reversed the verdict of Jehanabad court citing lack of sufficient evidence.

Bihar government’s appeal to SC

Bihar government is now going to present a strong case before the supreme court. Prosecution has told Supreme Court of having 23 witnesses, including 13 eyewitnesses who lost members of their families in massacre.

Case study on Killings in Bihar

Bihar observed killings of over 400 people including several policemen in two dozen caste massacres between 1990 and 200. These killings were the result of bloody war of attrition between MCC and upper caste private armies. One such massacre is “Laxmanpur-Bathe massacre” in Jehanabad in 1997 that resulted into killing of 58 Dalits and OBCs by Ranbir Sena. Last major caste massacre took place in October 2009, when 16 OBC people were killed in Alauli, Khagaria district of Bihar. This caste massacres subsequently opened ways for Left Wing Extremism in the state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going to virtually inaugurate a newly-built five-star hotel on the top of redeveloped Gandhinagar railway station on July 16, 2021.

Background

This project on redevelopment of Gandhinagar railway station and construction of five-star hotel started by Indian Railway Stations Redevelopment Corporation (IRSDC) in January 2017.

About Hotel Project

Other Projects in line

India is all set to sending a 228-strong contingent to Tokyo Olympics, including 119 athletes.

Highlights

2020 Summer Olympics

This international multi-sports event, branded as Tokyo 2020, is scheduled to be held from July 23 to August 8, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Earlier, it was scheduled to take place in 2020 but event was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, event is going to be held largely behind closed doors. No spectators have been permitted under state of emergency. This event retains Tokyo 2020 name even though it has been rescheduled for 2021, for marketing & branding purposes.

How many times Olympic games got postponed?

This is the first time that Olympic Games have been postponed & rescheduled but was not cancelled.

Which country is hosting the event?

Tokyo has been selected as host city. It was selected during 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2013. Japan will be hosting Olympic Games for the second time. First Olympic that Tokyo hosted was in 1964. Thus, Tokyo has become the first city in Asia to host Summer Games twice. Overall, 2020 games will be the fourth Olympic Games to be held in Japan.

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) introduced “RBI Retail Direct facility” scheme on July 12, 2021.

What is Retail Direct Scheme?

Features of the scheme

What is G-secs?

G-secs are debt instruments issued by government to borrow money. These instruments are not tax-free. They are the safest form of investment because they are backed by government. Risk of default associated with g-secs is almost nil. They are however, subject to fluctuations in interest rates. It can be issued in-

  1. Short term- such a treasury bills for 91-days, 182-days and 364 days
  2. Long term- with bonds maturity of one year or more.

United State President Joe Biden has signed an executive order for Federal Trade Commission to curb restrictions imposed by manufacturers limiting consumers’ ability to repair their gadgets on their own terms. Before US, United Kingdom had also introduced right-to-repair rules making it easier to buy & repair daily-use gadgets like TVs and washing machines.

What is right to repair movement?

The right to repair movement traces its origin to dawn of computer era in 1950s. Since then, activists and organisations worldwide have been calling for right of consumers to be able to repair their own electronics and other products under the ‘right to repair movement’. This movement seeks get companies to make spare parts, tools and information on how to repair devices that are available to customers. They also want the repair shops to increase lifespan of products & keep them from ending up in landfills.

Background

Activists started this movement after arguing that these electronic manufacturers are encouraging a culture of ‘planned obsolescence’. It means, devices are designed to last a limited amount of time & to be replaced. This led to an immense pressure on environment and wasted natural resources.

Why manufacturing is a cause of concern?

Manufacturing of an electronic device is a highly polluting process. It uses polluting sources of energy like fossil fuel, which adversely impact environment. As per a report of New York Times, mining & manufacturing materials used to make an iPhone roughly makes 83 percent of its contribution towards heat-trapping emissions in atmosphere throughout its life cycle. Such emission is about 57 per cent for average washing machine.

Response of electronic manufacturers

Companies like Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Tesla, have been lobbying against right to repair movement arguing that “opening up their intellectual property to third party repair services” or “amateur repairers” will lead to exploitation. It will also impact safety & security of their devices.

Nepal has inked a USD 1.3 billion deal with Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN) of India to develop a 679-megawatt hydropower project in eastern Nepal.

Key Points

Background

679-megawatt Hydropower project is the second mega project undertaken by India after USD 1.04 billion 900-MW Arun-3 hydroelectric project in Nepal.

Build–own–operate–transfer (BOOT) Model

BOOT model is a form of project delivery method. It is usually used for large-scale infrastructure projects. Under such model, a private entity receives a concession from public sector to design, finance, construct, own, and operate a facility under contract. This helps the project proponent to recover its investment, operating and maintenance expenses of the project. This model is usually used in public–private partnerships. First BOT model was used for China Hotel which was built in 1979 by Hong Kong listed conglomerate Hopewell Holdings Ltd.

About Lower Arun Hydro Electric Project

This project has the capacity of 679 MW of electricity. It is located in Sankhuwasabha and Bhojpur districts of Province 1. It will be constructed in downstream of ongoing Arun-3 SHEP and upstream of proposed Sapta Koshi High Dam project. It will be developed on Arun River in Sankhuwasabha District of Province 1 in East Nepal. Project will be developed with the aim of assisting people who live closer to hydropower project by uplifting their socio-economic levels by generating employment for locals and boosting local trade & industries.

Arun River

It is the largest trans-Himalayan River that passes through Nepal. River drains into Sapta Kosi river system. In Tibet, it is known as Men Qu in upper reaches and as Peng Qu for most of its course towards north of Himalayan crests.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently published its “State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021 report”. Report provides a grim reminder of impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Food security.

Highlights

Key Findings of the report

Associated Concern

Overall decline in food intake has increased hunger levels in 2020. It thus made primary Sustainable Development Goal of ending hunger by 2030 impossible.

What is a healthy diet?

As per World Health Organization (WHO), “a healthy diet comprises a balanced, diverse and appropriate selection of foods eaten over a period of time”. Such diet protects against malnutrition in all forms & non-communicable diseases like diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Global Food Policy Report 2021

This report is published by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). As per report, impacts of rising poverty and reduced livelihoods are reflected in rising food insecurity & decreasing diet quality. This in turn have devastating consequences for health & nutrition in low- and middle-income countries.

Bhutan has become first country to adopt Unified Payment Interface (UPI) standards of India for its quick response (QR) code.

Key Points

Significance of the move

BHIM-UPI is a significant achievement of India in area of fintech. During covid-19 induced lockdown, BHIM-UPI became an effective mechanism of payment. In 2020-21, it processed 22 billion financial transactions of worth rupee 41 lakh crore. In the line, this partnership among NPCI and RMA, is going to benefit 200,000 tourists from India who travel to Bhutan every year.

About NPCI

NPCI is an umbrella organisation involved in operation of retail payments and settlement systems in India. It was launched by Reserve Bank of India and Indian Banks’ Association to create a robust payment and settlement infrastructure.

Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM)

It is an Indian mobile payment App developed by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). It is based on Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and named after B. R. Ambedkar. It was launched on December 30, 2016. This app facilitates e-payments directly through banks and supports all Indian banks which use UPI.

About Unified Payments Interface (UPI)

UPI is built over Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) infrastructure that allows user to instantly transfer money in real-time. It allows users to transfer money in multiple bank accounts without revealing bank account details to other party.

Coal India Ltd (CIL) has appointed Accenture Solutions Private Ltd as consultant, for digitalisation of mine process across seven select opencast mines of CIL. This move aims to accelerate performance and enhance output.

Key points

Aim of the move

Primary aim of the move is to fit together and use available data analytic techniques in order to raise mine productivity & efficiency. Productivity & efficiency would be raised from planning, project monitoring, operations till despatch etc.

What are these High yielding mines?

Seven mines have been identified as high yielding mines namely, Kusmunda, Gevra, Jayant, Dudhichua, Dipka of South Eastern Coalfields Ltd (SECL) and Nigahi and Khadia of Northern Coalfields Ltd (NCL). All these mines jointly accounted for 32 per cent (188 mt) of total coal output of 596 mt by CIL during FY21.

Significance of the move

This is a first of its kind initiative, utilising digitalisation to boost coal output. It will be enabled in seven select mines to transform entire business value chain of mining operations.

Debate on bifurcation of Tamil Nadu to carve out “Kongu Nadu Region” has emerged because of clash of terminologies after DMK government addressed Centre as ‘Union government’ in the spirit of constructive collaboration and state autonomy.

Highlights

About Kongu Nadu

Kongu Nadu is a commonly used name for part of the western Tamil Nadu region. It is neither a place with a PIN code nor a name given formally to any region. This place is referred in Tamil literature.  to as one among five regions of ancient Tamil Nadu.  Sangam literature also mentions of ‘Kongu Nadu’ in as a separate territory. In present day Tamil Nadu, this term is informally used to refer a region comprising of districts of Nilgiris, Tirupur, Coimbatore, Karur, Erode, Namakkal and Salem besides, Oddanchatram & Vedasandur in Dindigul district and Pappireddipatti in district of Dharmapuri.

How this name was derived?

Name ‘Kongu Nadu’ is derived from Kongu Vellala Gounder that is an OBC community living across these districts.

Significance of the region

Kongu Nadu region comprises of prominent businesses and industrial hubs at Salem, Tirupur, Namakkal, and Coimbatore. This area is considered an AIADMK stronghold, and where BJP’s influence is limited & concentrated.

Indian Navy received 10th anti-submarine warfare aircraft P-8I from US-based aerospace company, Boeing.

Key Points

About P-81 aircraft

P-81 is a patrol aircraft and an integral part of Indian Navy’s fleet. Aircraft has surpassed 30,000 flight hours since its induction in 2013. It is a long-range, multisession maritime patrol aircraft. It was delivered by Boeing for Indian Navy to replace ageing Tupolev Tu-142 aircraft of Indian navy. P-81 is a variant of P-8A Poseidon multi-mission maritime aircraft (MMA) and is operated by US Navy.

Significance of P81 aircraft

This aircraft was designed to protect vast coastline and territorial waters of India. It has the capability to conduct anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (AsuW), maritime patrol, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

Role of Boeing

Boeing Company is an American multinational corporation involved in designing, manufacturing and selling airplanes, rockets, rotorcraft, satellites, telecommunications equipment, and missiles across the world. Boeing extends its support to India’s growing P-8I fleet by providing training to crews, spare parts, ground support equipment and field service representative support. It also provides an integrated logistics supports which enables a high state of fleet readiness at lowest possible cost.

World Health Organisation (WHO) has released two new companion reports, providing first global recommendations that will help in establishing human genome editing as a tool for public health.

Highlights

Significance of Human Genome Editing

Potential benefits of human genome editing are:

  1. New strategies for diagnosis, treatment & prevention of genetic disorders
  2. New avenues of treating infertility
  3. New ways of promoting disease resistance
  4. Contribution towards development of vaccine and enhanced knowledge of human biology.

How Genome Editing can address diseases?

Somatic gene therapies involve modification in patient’s DNA to treat or cure any disease. This technique has been successfully used to cure HIV, sickle-cell disease and transthyretin amyloidosis. It could also improve treatment for cancers.

Is genome editing risky?

Yes, some risks exist with this technique. For instance, germline and heritable human genome editing alter genome of human embryos. It can be passed on to subsequent generations to modify descendants’ traits.

WHO’s recommendations

Reports recommends on governance and oversight of human genome editing across nine discrete areas such as human genome editing registries, international research & medical travel; education, engagement & empowerment; illegal, unregistered, unethical or unsafe research and intellectual property.  It also focuses on systems-level improvements which is required to build capacity across India to ensure safety & efficacy of human genome editing.