Daily Current Affairs - 16-06-2021

Recently, WHO tagged B.1.617.2 strain of coronavirus as ‘Delta’ variant, which now has further mutated. Mutated form of Delta variant is being termed as “Delta Plus” or “AY.1” variant.

Key Points

Delta plus variant

Variant B.1.617.2.1 of coronavirus is known as AY.1 which is characterized by acquisition of K417N mutation. Delta plus variant was identified in six genomes in India as of now. Health agency has also confirmed the presence of 63 genomes of Delta variant with the new K417N mutation. However, there is no immediate cause for concern since prevalence of Delta Plus Variant is still low in India.

Cases Worldwide

As per reports, 36 cases of Delta Plus variant were reported in England. Majority of the cases were associated with travel from Nepal, Malaysia, Turkey and Singapore.

US President Joe Biden reached Geneva before his first summit with Vladimir Putin amid the escalation of tension between Russia and USA in recent years.

Highlights

US-Russia Relation

Relationship between United States and Russia is among most critical bilateral relationships worldwide. Both the countries have shared interests in diverse set of areas including nuclear security & non-proliferation, countering terrorism & violent extremism, regional security in Europe & Eurasia, and managing upheaval in greater Middle East. Russia is also an important partner in U.S. efforts to combat climate change and space exploration.

What are the concerns?

United States is critical to Russia as they foil and partner in their efforts to come at global centre stage. Bilateral relations have been rotating between periods of cooperation and confrontation for more than two decades. However, tensions related to conflicts in Ukraine and Syria are troubling the relation.

Google has extended card tokenization by bringing in more banks for card on the Google Pay app.

What is card tokenization?

Card tokenization is a feature which lets users make debit or credit card payments through a secure digital token which is attached to their phone. It does not require to physically share credit or debit card details. Currently, this feature can be availed at about 2.5 million Visa merchant locations. With latest extension, it will allow users to scan and pay at about 1.5 million Bharat QR enabled merchants.

Features of Card tokenization

This feature let users with Near-field communication (NFC) capable devices or phones to make contactless payments. Users would be able to pay their bills and recharge their numbers using credit cards. This feature also works with online merchants and provides seamless OTP experiences without redirecting to 3D Secure sites.

Which banks were using this feature?

Google Pay had earlier rolled out the feature of card tokenization with State bank of India cards, Kotak Mahindra Bank and Axis Bank.

Which banks have been added now?

Google Pay has now added SBI, IndusInd Bank & Federal Bank and Credit cards of IndusInd Bank & HSBC India in the list to use tokenization feature.

Consignment of fibre & mineral rich “Jalgaon Banana” was exported to Dubai on June 16, 2021, marking a major boost to exports.

Key Points

Jalgaon Banana

Jalgaon Banana got GI certification in 2016. It was registered with Nisargraja Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) Jalgaon.

India’s banana export

Banana export from India has been rising sharply because of adoption of farm practices in accordance with global standards. India’s banana exports have increased both in volume as well as value from 1.34 lakh metric tonne in 2018-19 to 1.95 lakh metric tonne in 2019-20. During 2020-21, India has exported banana worth of 1.91 lakh tonne which is valued at Rs 619 crore.

Banana production in India

India is world’s leading producer of bananas with its share of 25% in total output. Leading banana producing states are Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. These states account for about 70% of India’s banana production.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will deliver his keynote address at 5th edition of VivaTech on June 16, 2021. He has been invited as a Guest of Honour to deliver keynote address.

Highlights

VivaTech

It is one of largest digital and start-up events in Europe. It was started in 2016 and is being every year in Paris. Event is jointly organized by Publicis Groupe which is a prominent advertising and marketing conglomerate and Les Echos which is a leading media group in France. It brings together stakeholders from technology innovation and start-up ecosystem. On the occasion exhibitions, awards, panel discussions and start-up contests are organised.

Scientists have created first-ever 3D map of boundary between our solar system and interstellar space called Heliosphere. 3D map was created using data from NASA’s IBEX satellite.

Key Points

What is Heliosphere?

Heliosphere, created by sun, is a vast bubble-like region of space surrounding the sun. It is a cavity formed by Sun in surrounding interstellar medium. Bubble of heliosphere is continuously inflated by solar winds. The solar plasma provides a way to interstellar plasma, outside the heliosphere, permeating Milky Way galaxy. Radiation levels inside and outside the heliosphere differs. Galactic cosmic rays are less abundant it. Thus, planets inside are partly shielded from their impact. Heliosphere is the area under influence of Sun. Its edge is decided by heliospheric magnetic field and solar wind from Sun.

Who coined Heliosphere?

Heliosphere was coined by Alexander J. Dessler. He used this word in his scientific literature, called heliophysics, in 1967. Heliophysics includes space weather and space climate.

Twitter has appointed interim Chief Compliance Officer in India to comply with the Indian government’s new IT rules.

Key Points

Background

When new IT Rules were first brought on May 25, Twitter India had asked government for more time to comply with new IT Rules while WhatsApp & Facebook appointed their respective grievance officers.

New IT Rule

Indian government notified the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 in February 2021. New rules deal with social media and over-the-top (OTT) platforms. Rules were framed under section 87 (2) of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000. Under the new rules, resident grievance officer will be appointed under larger grievance redressal mechanism. Content on social media platforms will be monitored actively and monthly compliance reports will be made available for Indian users. Authorities in India can now ask these platforms to identify origin of any message.

Latest edition of UNESCO Science Report (USR) was published on June 11, 2021 which is entitled as “race against time for smarter development”.

About USR

Recommendations and Suggestions

Sustainable Development Report was prepared and released by experts from UN Sustainable Development Solution Network (SDSN). The index compares how countries implement 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Key Points

How Finland topped the index?

As per Government, Finland has topped the index based on its achievements with respect to the goals related to poverty reduction, health, education, energy, water, peace, reduction of inequality and rule of law.

What were the challenges for Finland?

Fight against climate change, sustainable consumption, elimination of biodiversity loss, production methods etc are the challenges that Finland faced. Further, covid-19 pandemic has significantly impacted sustainable development.

Which countries have ranked highest?

Top 10 countries in Sustainable development index 2021 are: Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Norway, France, Slovenia and Estonia (in that order).

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

SDGs was adopted in 2015 by all member states of United-Nations. It describes a universal agenda which are applicable to all countries.  It is a successor to Millennium Development Goals. SDG index is framed on the basis of implementation of 17 SDG goals among UN member states in six broad categories- education, skills, health & wellbeing, clean energy & industry, sustainable land use, sustainable cities, and digital technologies. Index is prepared by independent experts at Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and Bertelsmann Stiftung.

NATO leaders have declared China a constant security challenge stating that, Chinese are working to undermine global order.

Key Points

How China Reacted?

Chinese Embassy to United Kingdom said, the G-7 communique “deliberately slandered China and arbitrarily interfered in internal affairs of China”. It also exposed intentions of countries like United States.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

NATO is an alliance of European and North American countries. It was formed after World War II against Russian aggression. This intergovernmental military alliance comprises of 30 European and North American countries. It works in accordance with North Atlantic Treaty that was signed in April 1949. NATO works on the principle of collective defence where its independent member states agree for mutual defence against attack by any external party.

Minister for Road Transport & Highways and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Nitin Gadkari has simplified the of process for registration of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises.

Key Points

About MSMEs

MSMEs are considered as engine of economic growth which are involved in promoting equitable development. They comprise of 90% of total enterprises and generate highest rates of employment growth. They require low investment and have operational flexibility & capacity to develop appropriate indigenous technology.

Significance of MSMEs

How MSMEs grew in India?

Campaigns such as Start-up India, Skill India, Digital India and Make in India were launched with the aim of providing MSME players a level playing field in a bid to enhance productivity. Increasing internet penetration and tie-ups with non-banking finance companies are also facilitating growth in MSME sector.

United Kingdom and Australia has signed a free trade deal on June 15, 2021. This trade deal eliminates tariffs on wide range of goods. This deal was signed following UK’s exit from European Union. With this deal, U.K. seeks to expand links across the world.

Significance of the deal

With which countries UK is having trade deal?

U.K. is having free trade deals with seven of 11 CPTPP members viz., Australia, Chile, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Singapore and Vietnam. Free trade deal with Australia is UK’s first trade deal that was negotiated from scratch since UK left the EU. Deals with Japan and Canada were built on existing agreements struck by EU.

UK-Australia Relation

UK is Australia’s fifth largest trading partner. Goods and services from both the sides is valued at 36.6 billion Australian dollars in a year. UK’s trade with Australia is about 1.2% of its total trade in 2020.

Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)

CPTPP, also known as TPP11 or TPP-11, is a trade agreement among Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Peru and Vietnam. It evolved from Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), that never entered into force because of withdrawal of United States.

National AEFI (Adverse Events Following Immunisation) panel has confirmed first death linked to covid-19 vaccine. A 68-year-old person got severe allergic reaction after he was vaccinated in March who died later.

Key points

What different reactions were observed?

According to Panel, vaccine-product related reactions were expected. Indeterminate reactions are reactions that are occurring soon after vaccination but no clinical trial data shows that, it could have been caused due to vaccine. Unclassifiable events are those which have been investigated but there is not enough evidence to assign a diagnosis. Coincidental events are events reported following vaccination. However, a clear cause associated with such events has been found.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is marked on June 15 every year. The day raise awareness regarding abuses (verbal, physical or emotional) suffered by elderly population across the world.

Theme

This year, theme of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is ‘Access to Justice’.

Background

The day was started being celebrated in June 2006 following a request made to declare June 15 as a special day for elders. However, United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) officially recognised the day in 2011.

Significance of the day

In 2021, the day is more relevant in view of Covid-19 pandemic that has affected millions of lives worldwide. Pandemic is causing fear and suffering for older people. apart from impacting their health, pandemic is making older people vulnerable to poverty, discrimination and isolation. Further, older population are at risk of mortality. UN estimated, 66 percent of people aged 70 and above have at least one underlying condition which is putting them at increased risk of Covid-19 induced complications. Older persons also face age discrimination with respect to medical care, triage and life-saving therapies.