15th July, 2021 - Current Affairs

Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has released reorganized “Drone Rules, 2021” for public consultation.

Highlights

Draft Drone Rules 2021

Three zones in airspace map

Drone Rules 2021 provides for an interactive airspace map with green, yellow, and red zones. These zones will be displayed on digital sky platform. Yellow zone has been reduced to 12 km from 45 km from nearby airport perimeter. In green zones, no flight permission is required up to 400 feet and up to 200 feet in area between 8 to 12 km from airport perimeter.

Digital sky platform

This initiative was started by MoCA to provide a secure & a scalable platform to support drone technology frameworks like NPNT. It was designed to enable flight permission digitally and managing unmanned aircraft operations & traffic efficiently.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully conducted the third long duration hot test of liquid fuel powered, Vikas Engine.

Highlights

Gaganyaan Mission

Gaganyaan Mission is planned by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Under the mission three flights will be sent into orbit. It will comprise of two unmanned flights and one human spaceflight. Gaganyaan system module called Orbital Module will carry three Indian astronauts, including a woman. Spaceflight will move around the Earth for 5 to 7 days at low-earth-orbit at an altitude of 300-400 km from Earth.

Payloads of Mission

The payload of the mission comprises of-

  1. Crew module, which will carry human beings.
  2. Service module, which will be powered by two liquid propellant engines. It will comprise of emergency escape and emergency mission abort.

How it will be launched?

Gaganyaan mission will be launched through a three-stage heavy lift launch vehicle called GSLV Mk III or LVM-3 (Launch Vehicle Mark-3) because it has necessary payload capability.

How astronauts will be Trained?

Human Space Flight Centre of ISRO and Russian government-owned Glavkosmos signed a deal in June 2019 to provide Russian support in selection of candidates, their medical examination and space training.

Delhi government has partnered with tech giant Google to launch a system to enable commuters to access real-time information about buses.

Key Points

Significance of the move

How this project will work?

Once the project is implemented, static & dynamic location data of Delhi buses will be available in real-time. Passenger will get information of all the routes, bus stops, bus arrival & departure times and bus numbers. Delay time will also be updated.

Background

Delhi government had published Open Transit Data in 2018 with technical support of Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi. Open transit data was published to provide real-time data such as geo-coordinates of all bus stops, route maps, timetables and real-time GPS feeds of bus locations. These data could be used by third-party app developers and researchers.

European Union’s executive branch released new legislation to meet its pledge of cutting emissions of gases causing global warming by 55% this decade.

About “Fit for 55” legislation

Endorsement of legislation

Legislation provided that, most of the proposals were built on existing laws and are designed to meet EU’s old goal of 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 as compared to 1990 levels. It must be endorsed by 27 member countries and EU lawmakers.

Aim of the legislation

‘Fit for 55’ legislation was released by EU with the aim of freeing the continent from fossil fuels and take better care of environment by policy design as opposed to being forced into desperate measures at future climatic tipping point.

Paris Climate Deal

EU’s legislation was released in line with the Paris Climate deal. World leaders had agreed six years ago in Paris to make efforts towards keeping global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius, ideally no more than 1.5 degrees C by the end of century.

Social Climate Fund

EU also proposing for creation of “social climate fund” worth several billion euros. This fund will be used to help those who might be hardest hit and support income & investments to tackle energy poverty. It will also cut bills for vulnerable households and small businesses.

Central Government has directed all states and Union Territories to ask police stations under their jurisdiction to withdraw FIRs registered under Section 66 of Information Technology Act, 2000.

Key Points

What is section 66A of IT Act?

Section 66A of IT Act provided for punishment of a maximum of three years in jail and a fine to a person accused of sending “offensive” messages using computer or any other communication device like mobile phone or tablet. This section was used to punish online communications which are considered “offensive & menacing and false to cause annoyance, inconvenience, insult, danger, injury, hatred, criminal intimidation or ill will.”

When did SC Struck this provision?

SC had struck down section 66A on March 24, 2015 after noting it as “vague and arbitrary”. It was dubbed as “draconian” because it allowed arrest of several innocent persons.  It was declared unconstitutional in Shreya Singhal v. Union of India case on March 24, 2015.

Recent plea in SC

Recently, SC issued notice to central government while hearing plea filed by PUCL (People’s Union for Civil Liberties). Plea mentioned that even after 7 years of law being struck down, 745 cases are pending and active before district courts in 11 states in which accused persons are being prosecuted for offences under Section 66A of IT Act. Plea was filed after data collated by Internet Freedom Foundation, which was tracking cases under “Zombie provisions”. As per data, even after of March 2015, around 1307 cases were registered under it. Attorney General of India, KK Venugopal, informed in Supreme court that statute books still carry Section 66A of IT Act even though it was declared unconstitutional.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on July 15, 2021 on the occasion of World Youth Skills Day 2021 and 6th anniversary of Skill India Mission.

Highlights

Programmes to be launched for skill development

About Skill India Mission

Skill India Mission initiative was launched by Government to train over 40 crore Indians in different jobs related to industry. Under this mission, government seeks to create an empowered workforce by 2022 with the help of several schemes and training courses.

Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSS)

Jan Shikshan Sansthans were launched with the aim of providing vocational training to non-literates, neo-literates and school dropouts in rural areas. Vocational training will be provided by identifying skills which might be relevant to market in that region. They were launched with the objective of uplifting rural population economically by providing skills training and enabling local trades to grow & create new opportunities.

India, during SCO meeting in Dushanbe, has called on members of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to act against terrorism and terror financing.

Highlights

India’s call

Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)

SCO, also dubbed as Shanghai Pact, is a Eurasian political, economic & security alliance. Announcement for creating SCO was made on June 15, 2001 in Shanghai, China. This proposal was put forward by leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Which charter led to creation of SCO?

Shanghai Cooperation Organization Charter was signed in June 2002 that formally established the organization. SCO entered into force on September 19, 2003.

Background

Original five members of SCO; China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan; were previously members of Shanghai Five group that was founded in April 1996. Since then, organization has expanded its membership to eight states. Newest members of SCO are India and Pakistan. Both the countries joined as full members on June 9, 2017 at Astana summit of SCO.

Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Russia on cooperation in coking Coal. Coking coal is used for Steel making. MoU was signed between Ministry of Steel (India) and Ministry of Energy (Russia).

Benefits of MoU

Objective of MoU

MoU was signed with the objectives of strengthening cooperation between India and Russia in steel sector. The activities involved in cooperation aims to diversify source of coking coal.

What is Coking Coal?

Coking coal, also known as Metallurgical coal, is a grade of coal which can be used to produce good-quality coke. Coke is an essential fuel and reactant in the process of blast furnace for primary steelmaking. Demand for coking coal is highly coupled to demand for steel. Primary steelmaking companies also comprises of division producing coal for coking in order to ensure a stable and low-cost supply.

Where does it come from?

Coking coal comes mainly from Canada, United States, and Australia.

Characteristics of Coking coal

This coal has low content of ash, moisture, sulphur and phosphorus. It is usually ranked as bituminous. Such coal produces strong, low-density coke when it is heated under low-oxygen environment. Strength and density of coke are particularly important while using it in blast furnace because coke supports part of ore and flux burden inside furnace. Coking coal is different than thermal coal because thermal coal does not produce coke when heated.

Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (India) and Ministry of Health (Denmark) on Cooperation in areas of Health and Medicine.

Benefits of MoU

India- Denmark relations

Both the countries have set up a diplomatic relation by establishing Denmark’s embassy in New Delhi and India’s embassy in Copenhagen. Relation between both the countries are cordial and friendly. It is based on cooperation in the fields of politics, economics, academic and research. Both the countries hold periodic high-level visits.

Background

Foundation for a friendly relationship between India & Denmark was laid by Indian Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. He visited Denmark in 1957 after India’s independence in 1947.

Bottlenecks of relation

Government of India decided to scale down its diplomatic ties with Denmark in 2012 after Denmark refused to appeal in their Supreme Court against decision by its lower court of rejecting extradition of prime accused of Purulia arms drop case, Kim Davy.

Danish Colony in India

Tranquebar was a Danish Colony in India from 1620 to 1845. Tranquebar is a town in southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It was sold, along with the other Danish settlements in India, to Great Britain in 1845. Nicobar Islands were also colonized by Denmark and were sold to British in 1868.

Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved continuation of National AYUSH Mission (NAM).

Key Points

About National AYUSH Mission

National AYUSH mission is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme. It is being implemented by Ministry of AYUSH. It was launched with following objectives:

  1. To provide cost effective AYUSH Services,
  2. To provide a universal access by upgrading AYUSH Hospitals & Dispensaries,
  3. To co-locate AYUSH facilities at Primary Health Centers (PHCs), Community Health Centers (CHCs) & District Hospitals (DHs)
  4. To strengthen institutional capacity at State level by upgrading AYUSH educational institutions
  5. To set up of up to 50 bedded integrated AYUSH Hospital,
  6. To implement AYUSH Public Health programmes and
  7. To operationalize 12,500 AYUSH Health and Wellness Centres in order to provide services of holistic wellness model.

Significance of the mission

This scheme is addressing the gaps in health services by supporting efforts of State or UT Governments to provide AYUSH health services or education across India. Under the scheme, special focus is given on specific needs of far-flung areas in order to allocate higher resources in their Annual Plans.

Benefits of AYUSH Mission

Union minister for commerce, consumer affairs and food & textiles, Piyush Goyal, is set to replace Thaawar Chand Gehlot as leader of House in Rajya Sabha.

Highlights

Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha

Leader of House is the “leader and parliamentary chairperson” of majority party in Rajya Sabha. Leader is usually either a cabinet minister or another nominated minister. Leader of the House organizes government meetings and business in House.

Is it a constitutional post?

No. Office of leader of the House is not enshrined in constitution. It is provided under Rules of Rajya Sabha.

Rajya Sabha or Council of States

It is the upper house of bicameral Parliament of India. It has a maximum membership of 245 as of 2021. Out of 245, 233 members are elected by legislatures of states and union territories by single transferable votes through Open Ballot. 12 members are nominated by President for their contributions in the fields of art, science, literature and social services. Maximum seating capacity of Rajya Sabha is 250 in which 238 can be elected and 12 are nominated. Article 80 of Constitution provides that, members sit for staggered terms lasting six years. Elections are held every year with about a third of 233 designates up for election every two years.

Parliament of Pakistan has passed a bill to criminalise torture and prevent custodial killings by police or other government officials on July 12, 2021.

Highlights

Torture & Custodial Death (Prevention & Punishment) Bill, 2021

Provision with respect to fine

As per bill, fine will be paid to victim or their legal heirs. If fine is not paid, public servant will face additional imprisonment of up to three years & five years

Adani Group led by Gautam Adani has completed the takeover of ‘Mumbai International Airport’ from GVK group.

Key points

Airports operated by Adani Group

Adani Group

An Indian multinational conglomerate, headquartered in Ahmedabad, was established by Gautam Adani in 1988. It was founded as a commodity trading business under name Adani Enterprises Limited. Its diverse businesses include port management, airport operation, mining, electric power generation & transmission, renewable energy, natural gas, food processing and infrastructure. The group is carrying operations at 70 locations in 50 countries. Group became third Indian conglomerate to cross $100 billion in market capitalization in April 2021.

UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Secretariat released first official draft of a new post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

Key points

Key provisions of framework

Framework calls for:

Four Goals for 2050

Draft framework proposes four goals in order to achieve humanity “living in harmony with nature,” by 2050.

  1. To enhance the integrity of all ecosystems by increasing 15% in area, connectivity and integrity of natural ecosystems.
  2. Contributions of Nature to people have been valued, maintained or enhanced by conservation & sustainable use that supports global development agenda to benefit all.
  3. Benefits from utilization of genetic resources are shared fairly and equitably by increasing monetary and non-monetary benefits shared, for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
  4. Gap between available financial and other means of implementation is closed.