Daily Current Affairs - 18-06-2021

Union Cabinet has approved the Inland Vessels Bill, 2021, which will replace Inland Vessels Act, 1917.

Key Provisions of the bill

Inland Water Transport in India

India has about 14,500 km of navigable waterways comprising of rivers, canals, backwaters and creeks. It is a fuel-efficient and environment-friendly mode of transportation. Under National Waterways Act 2016, 111 waterways have been declared as National Waterways.

World Competitiveness Index was compiled by Institute for Management Development (IMD) which examine the impact of COVID-19 on economies worldwide.

Key Points

About IMD World Competitiveness Ranking

This index ranks 64 economies and assesses extent to which any country promotes prosperity of its people. This index started ranking countries 33 years ago by measuring countries well-being through hard data and survey responses from executives. It is released by IMD World Competitiveness Center.

BRICS Nations

Among BRICS, India (43rd) is ranked second after China (16th). India is followed by Russia (45th), Brazil (57th) and South Africa (62nd).

How India’s rank improved?

India witnessed improvements in government efficiency factor because of relatively stable public finances amid covid-19 pandemic. As per the report, qualities like investment in innovation, welfare benefits & leadership, digitalization have helped countries to get higher ranks.

15th edition of Global Peace Index (GPI) was announced by Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) Sydney.

Key Points

How countries were ranked?

India and its neighbor

Union government has reduced tariff value for import of edible oil including palm oil by USD 112 per tonne.  This move will lead to reduction in domestic prices.

Key Points

Significance of the move

This move will help in softening the edible oil prices in domestic market as with reduction in import tariff, customs duty on base import price would also reduce.

Import of edible oils

In India, there is a big gap between domestic production and consumption of edible oils. This leads to massive imports. India’s two-third of edible oil demand is fulfilled through imports. According to data of Solvent Extractors’ Association of India, overall import of edible and non-edible oils during November 2020 to May 2021 have increased by 9 percent to 76,77,998 tonnes. With rise in imports, retail prices of edible oils have also increase while, domestic edible oil prices have increase two fold in past year.

Government has approved its decision to dissolve Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and replaced it by seven new Defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs). which will oversee 41 ordnance factories in India. These seven entities will be 100 per cent owned by government.

Purpose of restructuring

Ordnance Factory Board (OFB)

OFB, consisting of Indian Ordnance Factories, is a Government agency working under department of defence production (DDP) of Ministry of Defence (MoD). It is engaged in research, development, testing, production, marketing and logistics of the product range across air, land and sea systems. It comprises of 41 ordnance factories, 9 training institutes, 3 regional marketing centres and 4 regional controllerates of safety. Now, OFB will be replaced by 7 new Defence PSU.

Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot inaugurated 14 Cross-Disability Early Intervention Centers at 7 National Institutes and 7 Composite Regional Centers (CRCs).

What is the purpose of these centers?

Centers will provide services like screening, identification, rehabilitation, counselling and therapeutic for different disabilities under one roof in a contiguous manner. It will help in identifying children with disabilities or infants who are vulnerable to develop a disability and provide them early assistance to ensure optimal development of the child.

First Phase

In the first phase, 14 cross-disability centers were launched in our institutions. By 2022, such centers will be set up in all CRCs across 25 States and Union Territories. 14 Early Intervention Centers have been started in Dehradun, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Secunderabad, Cuttack, Chennai, Surendranagar, Bhopal, Lucknow, Patna, Rajnandgaon, Nellore, and Kozhikode.

Background

Existing National Institute and CRCs have been providing rehabilitation services to differently-abled. But national institutions have been working only for specific disabilities. With the launch of cross disability Early Intervention Centers, all types of disabilities will be identified and medical & rehabilitation services will be provided under one roof.

Data on Children with disabilities

As per 2011 Census, there are 20 lakh children with disabilities in age group of 0-6 years. They belong to the categories of visually impaired, hearing impaired, locomotor disability. Thus, about 7 percent of children in this age group suffer from one or other form of disability. Numbers are expected to increase with enactment of Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 as it has 21 categories in disability category instead of 7.

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought was observed on June 17, 2021 to raise awareness on land degradation, desertification and drought. Theme of the day for year 2021 was ” Restoration, Land, Recovery”.

Highlights

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

United Nations observe this day on June 17, every year. Its purpose is to raise awareness on existing desertification and drought and highlighting methods to prevent desertification & recovering from drought. This day was proclaimed by a United Nations General Assembly Resolution on January 30, 1995 following the day when United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification was drafted.

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

This day seeks to protect planet from degradation through sustainable consumption & production and sustainably managing its natural resources. It also takes urgent action on climate change to support the needs of present and future generations.

SDG Goal 15

This SDG focuses on “Life on Land”. It officially reads as “Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt & reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss”.

Citizens and Environmentalists are fighting against the proposal to clear over 6,000 trees in Singanayakanahalli to construct a lake under Hebbal-Nagawara Valley Project by Minor Irrigation Department in Karnataka.

Key Points

Forest Department, in a recent notification, proposed to felled 6,316 trees to develop Singanayakanahalli lake, Yelahanka hobli, because they are coming in way of this project.

Hebbal-Nagawara Valley Project

What is the issue?

Activists are questioning the need and logic of removing such huge number of trees.

Hebbal Lake

The lake is located in Bangalore at the mouth of National Highway 7, near the junction of Bellary Road and Outer Ring Road. These lakes were created in 1537 by Kempe Gowda. It was formed by damming natural valley systems. It spreads over an area of 75 ha with plans for extending it up to 143 ha.

A new species named “Stygarctus Keralensis” has been identified in Kerala. This tiny & tough species of Tardigrades has been named after Kerala.’’

Tardigrades

Tardigrades are small specie which are commonly called as ‘water bears’ and ‘moss piglets’. They are so tiny that require high-end microscopes to study them. They are also the hardiest animals on Earth despite their size. They were first described by German zoologist Johann August Ephraim Goeze in 1773. He called these species as kleiner Wasserbar.

Stygarctus keralensis

This new tardigrade species belongs to genus Stygarctus. They are the first taxonomically described marine tardigrade from Indian waters. Stygarctus keralensis was discovered from Vadakara in north Kerala. They are the eighth species named under genus Stygarctus. They grow up to the length of 130 micrometers (0.13 mm) and are found on mountain tops as well as deep sea. They have survived five mass extinctions. They get involved in curious process dealing with environmental stress called ‘cryptobiosis’ which brings their metabolic activities to reversible standstill.

Stygarctus

Stygarctus is a genus of tardigrades of family Stygarctidae. It was named in 1951 by Erich Schulz. Greek Styx and arktos.

India has extended a USD 100 million Line of Credit to Sri Lanka to finance projects in solar energy sector.

Key Points

India-Sri Lanka Relation

India has become the first country to sign deal with Sri Lanka on vision of President of Sri Lanka to fulfil 70 per cent of its national power requirements using renewable energy sources by 2030.

International Solar Alliance (ISA)

89 countries, including Sri Lanka, signed the Framework Agreement of ISA, jointly launched by Narendra Modi and former French president Francois Hollande. ISA seeks to bring together the countries in promoting large-scale deployment of solar energy and to overcome challenges involved with technology, finance and capacity.

Solar Power Generation in India

Solar power generation in India has increased to 34.6 GW in 2021 from 2.6GW in March 2014. India has launched National Solar Mission with the aim of increase it further to 100 GW.

According to Power and Renewable Energy Minister R K Singh, a committee will be set up comprising of members from all relevant Ministries to implement Roadmap on Energy Efficiency and low carbon technologies.

Highlights

Mission ROSHANEE

This mission has been developed by Bureau of Energy Efficiency along with Mission UNNATEE. Both the missions lay down Sector wise action plan for period 2021-2030. Mission ROSHANEE envisages several activities in the field of energy efficiency across different sectors of economy. It aims to reduce CO2 emissions by more than 550 million tonnes by 2030.

UNNATEE

UNNATEE is a working document comprising of short term and long-term action plans to lower energy intensity.

Union Cabinet has approved ‘Deep Ocean Mission’ proposed by Ministry of Earth Sciences to conduct study on biodiversity, impact of climate change and to establish an offshore marine station in order to explore source of thermal energy.

Highlights

Which countries conduct such mission?

Such technology and expertise is currently available with five countries Russia, US, France, Japan and China. India will be sixth country to have it now.

Deep Ocean Mission

It is an Indian initiative to undertake deep ocean exploration. It focuses on India’s exclusive economic zones and continental shelf. Mission comprise of various manned and unmanned submersibles to explore sea bed. Main aim of this mission is to explore & extract polymetallic nodules which are composed of minerals such as nickel, manganese, copper, cobalt and iron hydroxide. These metals are useful in manufacturing electronic devices, smartphones, solar panels and batteries.

Japan is going to make a vaccine passport available from next month for Japanese travellers in a bid to relaunch tourism and business trips abroad.

Highlights

Digital Vaccine Passport in EU

European Union is working on digital vaccine passport for summer of 2021 to reboot tourism and attract tourists. EU version of certificate will comprise of information on whether a person has been vaccinated or had the virus, tested negative or had been recovered.

What is vaccine passport?

Vaccine passport, also known as immunity passport or immunity certificate, is a document in paper as well as digital format. The certificate attest whether its bearer is immune to a contagious disease or not. This public certification can be taken by governments to mitigate an epidemic. It is different than a vaccination record or vaccination certificate verified by medical records of the clinic. Concept of immunity passports has drawn attention during COVID-19 pandemic as a way forward to contain pandemic and permit faster economic recovery.

US President Joe Biden is to sign a law to make June 19 or “Juneteenth” a national holiday. This holiday will be recognized by federal government to commemorating end of slavery after American Civil War.

Highlights

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth, combination of June and nineteenth, is observed on June 19 every year. It is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of end of slavery in America. The day is recognized as holiday in 47 US states and District of Columbia. Juneteenth is also known as Emancipation Day or Juneteenth Independence Day.

Background

Juneteenth celebration started in 1866 from state of Texas, with community-centric events like cookouts, parades, prayer gatherings, historical & cultural readings and musical performances. While, era of “Modern Juneteenth Movement” started in 1994 from New Orleans in Louisiana with objective of greater recognition of Juneteenth.