Daily Current Affairs - 14-06-2021

India has started “Extension of Hospitals” project in several states to bridge the gap in major health infrastructure to fight against Covid-19 in India.

Key points

What is the need of this project?

Amid the second wave of Covid-19, hospitals infrastructures were under immense pressure. Thus, innovative modular hospitals will be coming up as huge relief.

Project ‘Extension Hospitals’

To initiate the project, Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA) has invited private sector companies, donor organizations, and individuals. They will support the initiative along with several other projects of national importance. About 50 hospitals have been selected across the states where highest number of Covid-19 cases were reported.

MediCAB Hospitals

MediCAB hospitals have been developed by Modulus Housing which is a start-up incubated at IIT-M. This will enable building a 100-bedded extension facility within 3-weeks. MediCAB hospitals have been designed with a dedicated zone of Intensive Care Units (ICUs) which can accommodate several life-support equipment and medical devices. These portable hospitals have durability of around 25 years. They can be shifted for any disaster response in less than a week in future.

First phase of project

Under the first phase, 100 bedded hospitals will be commissioned at Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh; Amravati, Pune & Jalna in Maharashtra; Mohali in Punjab while, 20-bed hospital will be established at Raipur in Chhattisgarh. One each of 20, 50, and 100-beds will be commissioned in Bengaluru.

Recently, Coast Guard have enforced laws and started operation Olivia to protect Olive Ridley turtles in Odisha

What is Operation Olivia?

Operation Olivia was started by the Indian Coast Guard (ICG), first in early 1980s. This operation helps in protecting Olive Ridley turtles every year when they start nesting along Odisha coast for breeding in months of November to December. Under it, round-the-clock surveillance is conducted from November till May through Coast Guard assets like Fast patrol vessels, Interceptor craft, Air cushion vessels and Dornier aircraft.

Current scenario

In between November 2020 to May 2021, Coast Guard has devoted 225 ship days and 388 aircraft hours. They have protected 3.49 lakh turtles.

Who enforces these laws?

These laws and operation are enforced by the Coast Guard which gets power under Orissa Marine Fisheries Act. Efforts are made at various levels such as:

  1. Enforcement of use of Turtle Excluder Devices (TED) by trawlers in waters surrounding nesting areas.
  2. Prohibition of using gill nets as turtle approaches to the shore to curtail turtle poaching.

About Olive Ridley

Olive Ridley turtles are listed as vulnerable under International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Sea turtles found in India have been included in Schedule I of Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. They are also listed in Appendix I of Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Fauna and Flora. Their mass nesting is called as arribada. Gahirmatha, Astaranga coast, mouth of Devi river and Rushikulya are four arribadas sites off the Odisha Coast in India. Apart from that, Hope Island of Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh is also preferred for mass nesting.

A Pune-based start-up firm, Thincr Technologies India Private Limited, has developed an 3D-printed Masks coated with anti-viral agents called virucides.

About 3D-printed masks

Background

This project received financial support from TDB in May 2020 for finding a novel solution to fight COVID-19. In July 2020, an agreement was signed to develop the masks

How masks were developed?

Masks were developed with support from Merck Life Sciences. Coating formulation has been utilized to coat fabric layer and 3D printing principle was employed to bring uniformity of coating. This coated layer can be incorporated as an additional layer in other masks. Masks comprises of reusable filters, developed using 3D printing.

44th meeting of Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council was chaired by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on June 12, 2021. Several changes in GST rate have been made which would be applicable till September 30, 2021.

What decisions were taken?

Background

Last meeting of GST Council was held on May 28, 2021 which had recommended full exemption from IGST on several specified COVID-19 related goods like medical oxygen, oxygen concentrators etc. Following the meeting, Council decided to constitute a Group of Ministers (GoM) to recommend on rates for individual items.

UN Children’s agency, UNICEF has warned about 33,000 severely malnourished children in Tigray region of Ethiopia who are at high risk of death.

Background

Tigray region has been devastated because of fighting between government forces and rebels in which about 1.7 million people displaced since conflict started in November 2020.

UNICEF Study

Ceasefire

United States and European Union have jointly asked all warring parties to agree for a ceasefire and to allow aid to reach millions who are in need. They urged to prevent large-scale famine by means of a ceasefire.

What is the issue?

In November 2020, Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed, had ordered ground and air military operation in Tigray. Operations were launched after accusing Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) (one the Ruling party) of attacking on federal army camps. This conflict has killed about thousands of people and left about five million in need of aid. Actual tensions between Ethiopian government and Tigray People’s Liberation Front started with appointment of Abiy Ahmed as prime minister of country in 2018.

49-year-old, Naftali Bennett has become new Prime Minister of Israel. He is a religious-nationalist and a multi-millionaire former tech entrepreneur who has also served as defence minister.  With this win, he has ended 12 unbroken years of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the helm.

Who is Naftali Bennett?

He is son of American-born parents who speaks perfect English. He is a religious Jew who began life with his parents in Haifa. He kept moving between North America and Israel for military service, law school and private sector. He is an ultra-nationalist and & hard-right leader. He served in elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit after which he went to law school at Hebrew University. He co-founded an anti-fraud software company called Cyota in 1999.  Cyota was sold to U.S.-based RSA Security in 2005.

What drove Bennett to politics?

Bennett had a bitter experience of Israel’s 2006 war against Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. This incident drove him to politics.

How Israel’s relation with India will change now?

India and Israel share a strong bilateral tie since 1950 with Indian PM Jawaharlal Nehru reiterating his position to recognise Israel as a state. Presently, India is the largest buyer of Israeli military equipment while Israel is second-largest defence supplier to India after Russia. India is the third-largest Asian trade partner and tenth-largest trade partner overall of Israel. India’s relationship with Israel has grew during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration even though India abstaining from voting against Israel in United Nations on several resolutions. It is expected to grow with same pace in new regime as well.

Madhya Pradesh will launch ‘Yuva Shakti Corona Mukti Abhiyan’ to raise awareness among people on covid-19 pandemic.

Yuva Shakti Corona Mukti Abhiyan

Covid-19 cases in Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh is at 26th position in India in terms of corona infection. State is witnessing less than 500 cases in 24 hours for some days now. Not a single case has been reported in twenty districts. Bhopal, Indore and Jabalpur witnessed cases in double digits. State is carrying about 80 thousand tests daily while the recovery rate has reached 98.3 percent.

Office of Principal Scientific Adviser to Government has initiated ”Project O2 for India” with the aim of ensuring supply of critical raw materials like zeolites, Manufacturing of compressors and setting up of small oxygen plants.

Background

This project was initiated in aftermath of second wave of COVID-19 which witnessed an increase in demand for medical oxygen across the country. Thus, it is important to meet the current demand as well as manufacture medical oxygen to ensure adequate supply of oxygen for future needs.

About Project O2 for India

This project has been launched by office of Principal Scientific Adviser to enable stakeholders who are working to augment India’s ability to meet surge in demand for medical oxygen. Under the project, a National Consortium of Oxygen will be set up which would enable adequate national level supply of critical raw materials like zeolites. It would also set up small oxygen plants, manufacture compressors and final products like oxygen plants, concentrators & ventilators. Consortium will look forward to provide immediate short-term relief as well as work to strengthen manufacturing ecosystem in long-term.

Committee of experts

Committee of experts has been constituted to evaluate critical equipment like concentrators, oxygen plants and ventilators from India-based start-ups, manufacturers and Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

Manufacturing and supply consortium

It includes Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Tata Consulting Engineers (TCE), IIT Kanpur, IIT Delhi, IIT Hyderabad, IIT Bombay and more than 40 MSMEs.

Novak Djokovic has won his 19th Grand Slam title in French open 2021 in Men’s single category at Roland Garros in Paris.

Key facts

Novak Djokovic

Born on 22 May 1987, Novak is a Serbian professional tennis player who is currently ranked as world No. 1 by Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). He has been No. 1 for record total of 325 weeks.  He has won 19 Grand Slam men’s singles titles and 84 ATP singles titles. It also includes a record nine Australian Open titles and a record 36 Masters events which he shares with Rafael Nadal. He is the only player who have won all Big Titles on all four Grand Slam tournaments, all nine ATP Masters events and ATP Finals.

French Open

French Open, also known as Roland Garros, is a major tennis tournament organised for two weeks at Stade Roland-Garros in Paris, France. It starts in late May each year.  Tournament and venue have been after French aviator Roland Garros. It is a clay court tennis championship tournament.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to address a high-level virtual conference on desertification, land degradation and drought at UN on 14th June 2021.

Key points

Why land degradation is cause of concern?

As per United Nations, one-fifth of earth’s land area (more than 2 billion hectares) worldwide is degraded. It also includes more than half of all agricultural land. If land degradation continues with this pace and we do not change how we manage soil, over 90 percent land would be degraded by 2050. This will negatively impact one-fifth of the planet’s land area and livelihoods of 3.2 billion people, which accounts for 40 percent of global population. Land degradation also accelerates climate change & biodiversity loss and contributes to droughts, wildfires, involuntary migration & emergence of zoonotic infectious diseases. Thus, this conference becomes significance to raise awareness and initiate preventive measures.

On June 12, 2021 Google Doodle celebrated Italian astrophysicist and scientific disseminator Margherita Hack using an animated graphic on her 99th birth anniversary. The doodle shows “Hack sitting on her chair and looking into her telescope”.

Who was Margherita Hack?

Margherita Hack was an Italian astrophysicist and scientific disseminator. She discovered asteroid 8558 Hack in 1995 which was named in her honour. She was born on June 12, 1922, in Florence. In between 1964 to 1992, she was full professor of astronomy at the University of Trieste. She was the first Italian woman to administrate Trieste Astronomical Observatory. She worked at many American and European observatories and was a member of working groups of European Space Agency (ESA) as well as NASA. She died in 2013 when she was 91.

Awards and honours

Margherita Hack was awarded with Targa Giuseppe Piazzi in 1994 for her scientific research. She also received Cortina Ulisse Prize for scientific dissemination in 1995. She was honoured with title of Dama di Gran Croce, which is the highest award given by Italian government.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has approved a policy on declassification of War histories.

Key Points about new policy

Will all reports on wars be public?

Committee will take a view on earlier wars and operations. Compiled history on wars and operations will be consumed internally first, within five years. After that, the committee may decide to publicly release whole or parts of it based on the sensitivity of subject.

About Committee to be constituted

As per policy, a committee will be constituted which will be headed by Joint Secretary of MoD.  It will comprise of representatives of Services, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and prominent military historians for compilation of war & operations histories. History Division of the committee will be responsible to coordinate with various departments while compiling, for approval & publishing of war and operations histories.

Background

Proposal of having war histories written with clear cut policy on declassification was recommended by Kargil Review Committee headed by K Subrahmanyam and N.N. Vohra Committee to analyse lessons learnt and prevent future mistakes.

World Day against Child Labour was observed on June 12 to raise awareness regarding detrimental consequences of the Child Labour.

Theme

The day was celebrated under theme- ‘Act Now: End Child Labour.’

Child Labour

Child labour is always-evolving menace which the world is dealing since ages. Factories and companies across the world employ young children to carry out manual labour which can be harmful at times. As per International Labour Organization (ILO), child labour ‘reinforces intergenerational poverty, threatens national economy and undercuts rights guaranteed by Convention on Rights of the Child.’

About World Day against Child Labour

It is a holiday sanctioned by International Labour Organization (ILO). The day was first launched in 2002 with the aim of raising awareness and activism to prevent child labour. It was rooted on by ratifying ILO Convention No. 138 on minimum age for employment and ILO Convention No. 182 on worst forms of child labour. The day is held every year in a bid to foster movement against child labour worldwide. It brings together governments, local authorities, civil society, workers and employers’ organizations to put forward child labour problem and define guidelines to help child labourers.

Pulitzer Prize 2021 was recently conferred recently. Megha Rajagopalan, an Indian-origin journalist, has won this top journalism award of USA on June 11, 2021.

Highlights

Pulitzer Prize

This prize is awarded since 1942 for a distinguished example of reporting on international affairs. Till 1947, this award was called as Pulitzer Prize for Telegraphic Reporting – International. It is an award for achievements in newspaper, magazine and online journalism, musical composition and literature within the United States. It was established by provisions in the will of Joseph Pulitzer.  These prizes are awarded yearly in twenty-one categories. Winners receive a certificate and a US$15,000 cash award.

Megha Rajagopalan

She is a journalist who won Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting 2021 on her reports on China’s mass detention camps for Uighurs Muslims in Xinjiang Province. She had graduated in 2008 from Philip Merrill College of Journalism at University of Maryland.

Ministry of Heavy Industry has announced major amendments in ongoing FAME-II scheme. Ministry has fixed incentives for India-made electric two-wheelers.

Highlights

What are the recent amendments?

Earlier, subsidy rate for electric two-wheelers was Rs 10,000/kWh. It has been increased to Rs 15,000/kWh, which is nearly 40 percent of vehicle cost.

Procurement of EVs

Central government will procure electric buses and three-wheelers on large scale. EESL will be directed to procure three lakh electric rickshaws and has been told to aggregate demand for electric buses across nine major cities namely, Surat, Pune, Mumbai, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Delhi and Bengaluru.

FAME India Scheme

This scheme was launched with the aim of incentivising vehicle segments including 2-Wheeler, Passenger 4-Wheeler Vehicle, 3-Wheeler Auto, Light Commercial Vehicles and Buses. It also covers Hybrid & Electric technologies such as Mild Hybrid, plug in Hybrid, Strong Hybrid and Battery Electric Vehicles. This scheme is monitored by Department of Heavy Industries. It has four focus areas viz., Technology development, Demand Creation, Charging Infrastructure and Pilot Projects.