Daily Current Affairs - 22-06-2021

Odisha has become the only state in India to have all the three species of crocodiles.

Key Points

  1. Reptile freshwater Gharials at Satkosia in Mahanadi,
  2. Muggers in Bhitarkanika National Park and
  3. Saltwater crocodiles.

Gharials in Odisha

Original Gharials which were introduced in Odisha are dead now. After waiting for 40 years for their numbers to grow naturally, Odisha introduced 13 more Gharials in past three years in the Mahanadi. But only eight survived.

About Gharial

Gharials, also known as gavial or fish-eating crocodile, are crocodilian of family Gavialidae. They are among longest of all living crocodilians. They have been named gharial because of a distinct boss at the end of snout, which resembles an earthenware pot called ghara. Gharials are well adapted to catching fish because of its long, thin snout and 110 sharp & interlocking teeth. They have been listed as critically endangered in IUCN Red List since 2007.

Background

They probably evolved in northern Indian subcontinent. Fossil gharial remains were excavated in Pliocene deposits from Shivalik Hills and Narmada River valley. They currently inhabit rivers in northern Indian subcontinent.

United Nations published its “Annual Report of Secretary-General on Children & Armed Conflict (CAAC)”. As per the report, about 19,300 children, including boys and girls, have suffered from one or more incidents of grave violations in 2020.

Key Findings of report

Impact of Covid-19

Covid-19 pandemic has complicated UN’s efforts to reach out to children in situations of armed conflict. It has increased vulnerability of children to abduction, recruitment & use, sexual violence and attacks on schools & hospitals.

Assam government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Survey of India to implement Svamitva scheme in the state.

Key Points

Svamitva scheme

This scheme was launched on April 24, 2020 on the occasion of National Panchayati Raj Day.  It would provide ‘record of rights’ to village household owners who are possessing houses in inhabited rural areas in villages. This in turn, would enable the villagers to use their property as financial asset to take loans and other financial benefits from banks.

India has planned to tighten rules for e-commerce marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart and has proposed several amendments to Consumer Protection (E-commerce) Rules, 2020.

Background

This decision was taken following complaints from small businesses. They have accused e-commerce marketplace of misusing market dominance and deep discounting by online retailers. Amendments have been proposed at a time when large e-commerce marketplaces like Flipkart and Amazon India are being investigated by Competition Commission of India (CCI) for alleged abuse of market dominance.  CCI probe also focuses on deep-discounting practices that e-commerce marketplaces often come up with.

Proposed Rules

German agrochemicals major Bayer has commercially launched first-ever yellow watermelon variety called “Yellow Gold 48” in India under Seminis brand.

About Yellow Watermelon

Significance of Yellow Gold 48

Yellow Gold 48 is having high yield and income potential which will empower watermelon growers to diversify into new categories. It will also help in growing demand for exotic fruits.  It is the first of its kind yellow flesh watermelon which have moderate to good plant type. It has dark green rind with slight stripes and orange yellow flesh colour. Average weight of the fruit is 2.5 -3 kg.

Israeli military has successfully tested an airborne high-power laser which have the capability to shoot down drones.

Key points

About Israel’s Laser defence system

Laser is a prototype developed with Elbit Systems. It was mounted on a civilian plane and successfully shot down drones in recent test conducted over Mediterranean Sea.

What is a laser weapon?

Laser weapon is a directed-energy weapon which are based on lasers. As of January 2020, directed-energy weapons including lasers are currently at experimental stage despite several R&D. It is yet to be seen if or when laser weapons will be deployed as practical, high-performance military weapons. Laser generates a beam of light which needs clear air or a vacuum to work[5] without thermal blooming.

Challenges with laser weapon

Atmospheric thermal blooming is a major problem. This problem can worsen if fog, smoke, rain, dust, snow, smog, foam like obscurant chemicals is present.

UN committee recommended to add Great Barrier Reef to the list of “in danger” World Heritage Sites. However, this recommendation is opposed by Australia which is blaming political interference.

Key Points

Recommendation was made by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) committee. This committee sits under UNESCO. According to the committee, world’s biggest coral reef system should be added to ‘in danger’ list because of impact of climate change.

Background

Australia has been battling to keep Great Barrier Reef off the “in danger’ for four years. UNESCO noted in 2015 that, outlook for this reef was poor. However, it kept the site’s status unchanged. Since 2015, Great Barrier Reef has experienced three major coral bleaching events because of severe marine heatwaves.

Great Barrier Reef

It is world’s largest coral reef system that comprises of about 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for 2,300 kilometres over an area of 344,400 square kilometres. It is located in Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia. The reef can be seen from outer space. It is world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms. Structure of the reef is composed of and built by tiny organisms called coral polyps. It was selected as World Heritage Site in 1981.

ICAR-Central Tuber Crops Research Institute (CTCRI) have found CASSAVA as a raw material for bioethanol production to meet Ethanol Blending Petrol (EBP) programme target of 2025 by India.

Key Points

Pas biofuel crop

Its starch is having a unique physicochemical and functional properties which finds extensive applications in food and industrial sectors. Agricultural residues of cassava like peels, stems and leaves are the potential feedstock for 2G bioethanol production.

Production of Cassava in India

Cassava, also known as Tapioca, production in India is estimated to be 4.98 million tonnes. Tamil Nadu, followed by Kerala accounts for major amount of production. Its cultivation is also extending towards non-traditional areas like Maharashtra in order to meet projected demand for starch.

National Policy on Biofuels 2018

This policy ensures the availability of biofuels to meet demand of 20 per cent ethanol produced from molasses, sugarcane juices & biomass in form of grasses & agricultural residues, sugar-containing materials like sugar beet, & sweet sorghum or starch-containing materials like rotten potatoes, corn, cassava, and damaged food grains.  India has a target to produce 1,016 crore litres of ethanol for its blending programmes.

Olympics organisers has capped the number of spectators at 10,000 for each venue in the 2020 Tokyo Games following the warnings of experts that event without fans will be a least risky option during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Key Points

2020 Summer Olympics

It is officially called as Games of XXXII Olympiad and also known as Tokyo 2020. It is an upcoming international multi-sport event which will be held from July 23 to August 8, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Earlier, it was scheduled to from July 24 to August 9 2020. But it was postponed in March 2020 because of COVID-19 pandemic. Event will not allow international spectators. Even though it has been rescheduled for 2021, it retains Tokyo 2020 name for marketing and branding purposes. This was the first time that Olympic Games have been postponed and rescheduled.

Key Facts to remember

2020 Games will be the second time that Japan has hosted Summer Olympic Games. First Summer Olympic was held in Tokyo in 1964. This also makes Tokyo, the first city in Asia to host Summer Games twice. 2020 games will be the fourth Olympic Games to be held in Japan. Japan also hosted Winter Olympics in 1972 at Sapporo and in 1998 at Nagano.

Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Lofven, has become country’s first prime minister to lose a no-confidence vote.

Key Points

Political Crisis in Sweden

Political crisis in Sweden was triggered by a project to reform its rent controls and open door for landlords to freely set rents for new apartments. However, this project is still in its preliminary stages. This project is being seen as odds with Swedish social model and as a threat to tenants.

The Riksdag

Swedish Parliament is called as Riksdag. It is the national legislature and supreme decision-making body of Sweden. Riksdag has been a unicameral legislature since 1971. It is having 349 members who are elected proportionally and serving for a fixed four-year term. Constitutional functions of Riksdag are enumerated in instrument of Government and its internal workings are mentioned in Riksdag Act.

As per the recommendations of a 13-member expert committee headed by cardiologist Devi Prasad Shetty, detection of COVID-19 can be done through throat gargle for children.

Key points

Impact of Third wave on Children

As per estimates, about 3.4 lakh children aged up to 18 years are likely to hit by peak of third wave in State.

Recommendations of the committee

New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) has selected weightlifter Laurel Hubbard to contest women’s +87 kg category. Weightlifter will be the first transgender athlete to compete at Olympics.

Key Points

About Laurel Hubbard

Hubbard is a New Zealand weightlifter who has been selected to compete at 2020 Summer Olympics. She will be the first transgender athlete to compete in Olympic Games after gender transition. Before her gender transition, Hubbard had set New Zealand junior records in 1998 in newly established M105+ division with snatch 135 kg, clean & jerk 170 kg. However, these records were later surpassed by David Liti. Hubbard transitioned to female and became Laurel Hubbard in 2012.  She won a silver medal at 2017 World Championships and gold in 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa. She also competed at 2018 Commonwealth Games but a serious injury set back her career.

Researchers from Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati have found way for better water management policies in India through Virtual Water analysis. This study was led by IIT-Guwahati professor Anamika Barua.

Virtual Water

Virtual Water Analysis

Results obtained from study of IIT Guwahati will help in bridging knowledge governance gap to mitigate water scarcity in Virtual Water flows assessment. As per the study, states with chronic water scarcity, planning & implementation of sustainable agriculture are crucial to achieve water and food security. Study finds that, pressure on freshwater resources in water parched states can be reduced by diversifying production areas by using Virtual Water flows analysis to produce agro-climatically suitable food grains.

Background

Concept of Virtual Water was first conceived in 1990s to understand how water-stressed countries can provide people with essential items like water-intensive products including food, clothing, and shelter.

Aim of Virtual water flows assessment

Assessment is done with the aim of inducing sustainable use which can lead to water security. It will also address the gap between science & policy on water scarcity by analysing water flows hidden in agriculture products which are moving across states in India. It can also help in framing evidence-based water policies and establishing link between hydrological-economic-institutional aspect of water scarcity.