Daily Current Affairs - 17-07-2021

Supreme Court of India announced on July 16, 2021, to implement a system for safe digital transmission of its bail orders to jails across India.

Key Points

Background

Supreme Court took suo motu cognizance, on July 13, 2021, of delay by Uttar Pradesh authorities in releasing 13 prisoners who were granted bail by supreme court on July 8, 2021. Prisoners were juveniles when they were convicted and have been lodged in Agra Central jail for 14 to 22 years in a murder case.

Amicus Curiae

One who is not a party to case but assists court by offering information, expertise, or insight with bearing on issues in any case are known as “Amicus Curiae”.  The decision of considering brief by amicus is subject to discretion of court. This figure originated in Roman Law. Amicus Curiae is a Latin phrase that literally means ‘friend of the court”.

Security Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has introduced a new framework for “expected loss-based rating scale”.

Highlights

Seven level of losses

  1. Lowest expected loss
  2. Very low expected loss
  3. Low expected loss
  4. Moderate expected loss
  5. High expected loss
  6. Very high expected loss and
  7. Highest expected loss.

Standardisation of rating scales

To standardise usage of rating scales, rating agencies have been asked to align their rating scales with rating scales prescribed by financial sector regulator or authority. In case guidelines are absence, rating scales prescribed by SEBI will be followed. CRAs are required to comply with guidelines by March 31, 2022.

Credit Rating Agency

Company that assigns credit ratings and rate a debtor’s ability to pay back debt is known as “credit rating agency”. Agency can rate creditworthiness of issuers of debt obligations, debt instruments and of servicers of underlying debt. But creditworthiness of individual consumers is not rated.

According to Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, Saudi Arabia, women can now register for annual Hajj pilgrimage without male guardian (marham).

Key Points

Background

India had announced same rule in 2017 when Modi government declared that women could go on Haj without a male companion. Muslim women were exempted from mahram and also from lottery system.

Data on number of Hajj

Following the rule of 2017, number of women who performed Hajj without mahram was 1,171 in 2018 which increased to 2,230 in 2019. Pilgrimage was stopped in 2020 because of rising number of coronavirus cases.

How Indian Government is working to empower Muslim Women?

There are several factors suggesting central governments’ efforts towards empowerment of women. On August 22, 2017 triple talaq was abolished putting gender equality as the first place. In 2018, Hajj subsidy was abolished following which in 2019, two lakh Indian Muslims had performed Hajj without subsidy. Removal of Hajj subsidy has helped in saving Rs 700 crore. This money was used to empower women from minority communities by educating them. This effort has resulted into reduction of dropout rate among girls has to 30 per cent from 70 per cent.

The Hajj

It is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, which is considered as holiest city for Muslims. Hajj is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims which is must to carry at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims.

Power Minister, R.K. Singh, released 9th Integrated Ratings for State Power Distribution Utilities in New Delhi on the occasion of on the occasion of 36th Foundation Day of Power Finance Corporation (PFC).

Key Points

Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020

Minister underlined; these rules were notified by government with the objective of focusing on consumer empowerment. This initiative will put consumer at center-stage. It is an important step of improving Ease of Living and Ease of Doing Business in India. Government of India is also supporting States in strengthening Distribution system in order to provide 24×7 power supply across all households with the help of schemes like Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana and Integrated Power Development Scheme.

Power Finance Corporation Ltd. (P. F. C.)

PFC is an Indian financial institution under Ministry of Power. It was established in 1986. PFC works as the financial backbone of Indian Power Sector. It is the 8th highest profit making CPSE and India’s largest NBFC. It is also India’s largest infrastructure finance company.

United States Navy has handed over first two MH-60R Multi Role Helicopters (MRH) to Indian Navy, further strengthening the India-US defence relationship.

Key Points

Significance of Procurement of MH-60R helicopter

Induction of MH-60R helicopters would enhance three-dimensional capabilities of Indian Army. Helicopters would be modified with several unique equipment and weapons. It will provide India with capability to perform anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare missions. India would also be able to perform secondary missions like vertical replenishment, search & rescue and communications relay. India will use enhanced capability as deterrent against regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defence.

India-U.S. Defence Relations

India-U.S. Defence Relations has increased steadily since 2008. Defence trade has increased from U.S.$ 1 billion to U.S.$ 18 billion. United States is the second largest arms supplier to India, after Russia. India has procured- C-130 Hercules aircraft, P-8 Poseidon aircraft, C-17 Globemaster aircraft, AH-64 Apache helicopters, CH-47 Chinook helicopters and M777 Howitzer guns. USA also granted “unique Major Defence Partner (MDP)” designation to India in 2016 and Strategic Trade Authorisation-1 (STA-1) status in 2018. India became 37th country globally and third Asian country (after South Korea and Japan) to acquire STA-1 status.

New Zealand chaired special virtual meeting of Asia-Pacific trade group called “Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)”.

Highlights

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

APEC is a forum comprising of 21 Asia-Pacific economies. Member economies of APEC are home to 2.7 billion people and accounts for over half of global GDP. Members accounts for more than 70 percent of Australia’s total trade in goods & services. APEC was founded by Australia in 1989. It was established to encourage growing & prosperous regional economy by – trade & investment liberalisation & facilitation across the border, reducing costs of cross-border trade, economic & technical cooperation, exchanging best practice on trade & investment etc.

Member Nations of APEC

India is not a member of APEC. Its member nations include- Australia, Brunei, Chile, China, Canada, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Chinese Taipei, Vietnam and United States.

Why India is not member of APEC?

India had requested for membership in APEC that received initial support from Australia, United States, Japan, and Papua New Guinea. But officials decided not to allow India because it does not have border along Pacific Ocean while other members do have. In November 2011, India was invited to be an observer for the first time.

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), First case of rare human monkeypox was detected in Texas.

Key Points

About Monkeypox

Monkeypox virus (MPV)

MPV is a double-stranded DNA & a zoonotic virus. It belongs to genus Orthopoxvirus in family Poxviridae. It is one among human Orthopoxviruses that includes variola, cowpox and vaccinia viruses. This virus causes disease similar to smallpox but with milder rash and lower death rate. Monkeypox virus is carried by animals including primates. Virus was first identified in 1958 among crab-eating macaque monkeys by Preben von Magnus in Copenhagen, Denmark. It has also been identified in giant Gambian rat.

With an order notified by Department of justice in Law Ministry on July 16, 2021, nomenclature of ‘Common High Court of UT of Jammu & Kashmir and UT of Ladakh’ has been changed to ‘High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh’.

Highlights

Background

This change was made in line with the enactment of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019. This act was enacted to reorganise the state of Jammu & Kashmir into Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh.

Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019

This act comprises of provisions of reconstituting State of Jammu & Kashmir, including the park of a Kashmir which has been a subject of dispute between India, Pakistan, and China since 1947, into two union territories called Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. This act was enacted on October 31, 2019. Bill for the act was introduced and passed on August 5, 2019 by Minister of Home Affairs, Amit Shah. On August 6, 2019 it was passed by the Lok Sabha and received President’s assent on 9 August 2019. Introduction of this bill was preceded by presidential order under Article 370 revoking special status of Jammu & Kashmir.

High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh

This court is common for union territory of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. It was established on March 26, 1928 by letters patent issued by Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir. It has a sanctioned judge strength of 17 of which13 are permanent judges and 4 are additional judges. Justice Pankaj Mithal is the Chief Justice of Court since January 4, 2021.

As per a study published in science journal, Nature, parts of Amazon rainforest are emitting more carbon dioxide than they absorb.

Highlights

Study was conducted by making 600 flights over four areas of Amazon. It was led by researchers from Brazil National Institute for Space Research to collect data on amount of carbon dioxide present in atmosphere.

Key Findings

Amazon Rainforest

Alternatively called as Amazon jungle or Amazonia, is a moist broadleaf tropical rainforest in Amazon biome covering major portion of Amazon basin in South America. About 5,500,000 km2 areas are covered by rainforest. Territory in this region belongs to nine nations. Majority of forest is contained within Brazil (60% of rainforest). It is followed by Peru (13%), Colombia (10%,) and rest in Bolivia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana and Venezuela. Amazon represents half of Earth’s remaining rainforests and comprises largest & most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest worldwide. About 390 billion individual trees are divided into 16,000 species.

Tribal Affairs Minister, Arjun Munda, launched “COVID Teeka Sank Surakshit Van, Dhan aur Uddyam” campaign.

About the campaign

Three key J’s of campaign

Campaign provided for 3 key J’s:

  1. Jeevan (Life) – Every life and livelihood is precious and vaccination is key to life.
  2. Jeevika (Livelihood) – Vaccination will help in continuing Van Dhan Vikas Kendra and livelihood activities without any fear of contracting the disease. It will also save hospitalization and other opportunity costs.
  3. Jaagrookta (Awareness) – Simplification of registration process for vaccination, place, accessibility to different people and age groups, including women & elderly population.

Significance of Campaign

Campaign will leverage strength & network of Self-Help Groups and other common points like Common Service Centres, fertilizers outlet centres, Haats & Bazaars, VDVKs & milk collection points.

How this campaign will run?

Campaign will use wall paintings comprising tribal motifs in a bid to promote vaccine uptake and COVID Appropriate Behaviour. It will use non-traditional partnerships and community reach such as involvement of traditional leaders like tadvis/patels, incentivizing adoption of vaccines using local health structures in order to vaccinate Tribal population.

United States government has released an online hub for victims of ransomware attacks.

Key Points

Background

This website was launched in the backdrop of ransomware attack against Colonial Pipeline Co. that led to widespread shortages at gas stations along East Coast of United States. Justice Department later helped Colonial Pipeline in recovering $2.3 million in cryptocurrency ransom it paid to hackers. Also in 2020, around $350 million in ransom was paid to cyber criminals. Amount has increased by 300% increase as compared to 2019.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a malware from crypto virology, threatening to publish victim’s personal data or block access to it unless some ransom is paid. Some simple ransomware only locks the system, which can be reversed. Advanced malware uses technique called cryptoviral extortion, that encrypts victim’s files and demands a ransom payment to decrypt them.  Ransomware attacks are carried using a Trojan, that user is tricked into downloading or opening it when it arrives through email attachment. WannaCry worm (a ransomware) travelled automatically to computers without user interaction.

Central Government has notified jurisdiction of Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) & Godavari River Management Boards (GRMB), Seven years after their constitution under Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act.

Key Points

Signification of notification

This notification by Ministry of Jal Shakti is significant in light of escalation of dispute between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana with respect to project works and hydel generation at three reservoirs namely, Srisailam, Nagarjuna sagar and Pulichintala.

Dispute between Andhra and Telangana

Andhra has been demanding notification for boards’ purview for long while Telangana has been opposing it claiming that handing over operation of projects without providing clarity on states’ share of water will be meaningless.

Function of KRMB

KRMB has been mandated with task of regulating supply of water and power generated from projects and its components having regard to awards made by Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT).

Function notified for CISF

Centre’s notification also authorises Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) to assist KRMB in its day-to-day management of the projects and other works of security assigned by KRMB on terms & conditions laid down by Central government.

Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad have developed India’s First Rapid Electronic and Artificial Intelligence-powered COVID-19 test called COVIHOME. This test can be performed at an affordable cost at home.

About COVIHOME test kit

Efficiency of Test Kit

CSIR-Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology (CCMB) performed validation of rapid RNA electronic diagnostic device to detect SARS-Cov-2 virus in swab samples with in-house samples and hospital samples following the advice of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Samples were confirmed for positivity or negativity by RT-PCR method. Report confirmed kit’s efficiency as 94.2%, sensitivity as 91.3%, and specificity as 98.2%.

Cost of the kit

Each of test kit costs about Rs 400 now. But mass production of testing kit will help in reducing its cost to Rs 300 per test after ICMR’s approvals.

Objective of development

This test kit was developed with the objective of breaking transmission chain by providing affordable and fast testing.

Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad (IITH)

IITH is a public technical and research university in Sangareddy district of Telangana. Institute was founded in 2008 among eight young IITs. It was established by Ministry of Human Resource Development in accordance with Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Act, 2011. Government of Japan had financially and technically assisted in setting up the institute. It started functioning on August 18, 2008 from its temporary campus in Ordnance Factory Medak. In July 2015, institute moved to 576-acre permanent campus in Sangareddy.