Daily Current Affairs - 25-06-2021

China has planned to send its first crewed mission to MARS in the year 2033.

Key points

Manned Mission by China

China has planned manned launches to Mars for 2033, 2035, 2037, 2041 and so on. Before the manned missions, China will send robots to Mars that will study possible sites to set up base and to build systems to extract resources there.  Resources would be extracted to study it properly for manned mission.

What are the challenges ahead?

For human habitation on the planet, crews will have to be able to use resources from MARS. For instance, they should be ready for extracting any water beneath planet’s surface, generating oxygen on-site and producing electricity there. China must also develop technology to fly crew back to Earth.

How spacecraft will tap energy?

To reduce travel time to MARS, spacecraft would have to tap energy from nuclear reactions in the form of heat and electricity, besides from traditional chemical propellants.

Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, addressed the Global Investors Roundtable organised by US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) on June 24, 2021.

Highlights

Fiscal Deficit in India

Fiscal deficit was at 9.3 per cent of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) for fiscal year 2020-2021. It was lower than 9.5 per cent estimated by finance ministry in revised Budget estimates.

US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF)

USISPF is a non-profit organization which was set up in 2017 with the objective of strengthening USA-India bilateral and strategic partnership. It aims to strengthen economic and commercial ties between both the countries by policy advocacy. It will lead to boosting economic growth, entrepreneurship, employment-generation, and innovation in order to establish a more inclusive society.

World Drug Report 2021 was released by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). As per the report, 275 million people used drugs across the world in 2020.

Key findings of report

Drugs and COVID-19

Most countries have reported an increase in use of cannabis during covid-19 pandemic. As per surveys of health professionals in 77 countries, 42 per cent asserted that cannabis use had increased.

Which age group is vulnerable?

As per the latest report, about 5.5 percent of population aged 15 and 64 years have used drugs at least once in 2020. While, 36.3 million people (13% of total number of persons who use drugs) suffered with drug use disorders.

West Bengal Cabinet approved the “Student Credit Card scheme” on June 24, 2021. Trinamool Congress had promised to launch this scheme in its election manifesto.

Students Credit Card Scheme

This scheme will be implemented and launched on June 30, 2021. Under the scheme, student can get a soft loan of up to ₹10 lakh with the help of credit card to enroll into higher studies. Loans will be given for higher studies in India as well as abroad. Loans will be given at 4% interest rates. State government would act as guarantor.

Who can get the loan?

Anyone who has spent 10 years in West Bengal can avail loan benefits under the scheme. Loan will be available for undergraduate, postgraduate, doctoral and post-doctoral study. One person is eligible to get loans under scheme till 40 years of age.

How loans can be repaid?

Students will be provided Fifteen years to repay the loan after they get a job.

Background

Similar scheme is run by Bihar government. Bihar government has launched “Student Credit Card Scheme” on October 2, 2016. Under this scheme, interest free loan of up to 4 lakh rupees is provided by state government to the poor 12th pass students of Bihar state to enroll into higher education. It was launched to benefit the students of Bihar with poor background and who are eager to complete their higher education. Loans are provided only to those students who are permanent resident of Bihar.

Central government, state government of Mizoram and the World Bank signed a loan agreement of worth $32 million.

Key points

Mizoram Health Systems Strengthening Project

This project will strengthen governance and management structure of Department of Health & Family Welfare (DoHFW) and its subsidiaries. It will also improve quality & coverage of services delivered by state government health systems. Project would also invest in comprehensive Quality Assurance program, which would enable quality certification of health facilities.

Focus of the project

This project will be launched with the focus on

  1. Strengthening the effectiveness of state health insurance programme
  2. Building synergies with Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY); and
  3. Reducing financial barriers in accessing hospital services
  4. Preventing catastrophic out of pocket expenditure for health by poor families and
  5. Expanding coverage.

Who will benefit?

Mizoram Health Systems Strengthening Project will benefit people across eight districts of the state. It will also benefit health sector staff at secondary and primary level by strengthening their planning & management capacity and building their clinical skills & competencies.

Bio-medical waste management

Project will also invest in improving overall ecosystem for solid & liquid bio-medical waste management. It will include segregation, disinfection, and collection besides safeguarding environment. It will also improve quality of health service and patient safety.

A recent study finds that, Nano-decoys can bind to and neutralize SARS-CoV-2 viruses.

Key Points

How this therapy will work?

SARS-CoV-2 enters the cell when its spike protein binds to angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor on cell’s surface. LSCs, which is a natural mixture of lung epithelial stem cells and mesenchymal cells, also express ACE2. It making LSCs a perfect vehicle for tricking coronavirus.

How testing was done?

Scientists confirmed that spike protein did bind to ACE2 receptors on decoys in vitro. They then used a fabricated SARS-CoV-2 mimic virus for in vivo testing in mouse model. Decoys were delivered by inhalation therapy. In mice, Nano-decoys remained in lungs for 72 hours after first dose and accelerated clearance of mimic virus.

What are Nano-decoys?

Nano-decoys are cell ghosts. One LSC can generate about 11,000 Nano-decoys. When these Nano-decoys are deployed, they exponentially increase surface area of fake binding sites to trap the virus.

National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and WhatsApp has launched its Digital Skill Champions Programme on June 24, 2021.

Highlights

Under the programme, partnership of NSDC and WhatsApp have identified following areas of collaboration:

  1. WhatsApp Digital Skills Academy, and
  2. Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra (PMKK) and
  3. WhatsApp Business App Training sessions.

Digital Skill Champion Programme

WhatsApp Digital Skills Academy

In this academy, youth from tier III and IV cities will be trained on digital safety and online privacy. Initiative will be launched on a pilot basis across 50 campuses in five states- Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

China will operationalise first electric train in remote Himalayan region of Tibet. The electric train will connect provincial capital Lhasa with Nyingchi.

Highlights

Sichuan-Tibet Railway

Sichuan–Tibet railway is a high-elevation railway under construction. It will connect Chengdu (capital of Sichuan) and Lhasa (capital of Tibet Autonomous Region). It is a 1,629 km long line which is going to cut travel time from Chengdu to Lhasa to 13 hours from 48. This will be the second railway into Tibet after Qinghai-Tibet Railway. It will go through southeast of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, which is one among world’s most geologically active areas.

Three segments of railway

First segment of the railway called Chengdu–Ya’an, came into operation on December 28, 2018. Second segment of railway named Nyingchi–Lhasa, will open June 25, 2021. While final segment called Ya’an–Nyingchi, is expected to complete in 2030.

Why this project was launched?

China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of South Tibet. This claim is rejected by India. Thus, China has launched the project to establish its foot near the region.

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, interacted with participants of Toycathon-2021 through video conferencing.

Key Points

What is Toyconomy?

During the meeting, PM Modi highlighted the importance of toys and game industry in Indian Economy. Toy and Game Industry was termed as ‘Toyconomy’ by him. As per PM Modi, global toy market is about 100 billion dollars out of which India contributes only 1.5 billion dollars. India imports 80% of its toys from foreign countries. Thus, PM highlighted the capacity of this sector in bringing progress & growth to neediest segments of society.

Online gaming in India

PM Modi also asked to explore possibilities across virtual, digital & online gaming in India because cheap data & growth of Internet have led to rural connectivity. He asked to bring about new models of innovation and financing to make Indian toys competitive across the world.

Games on India’s freedom struggle

75th anniversary of India’s Independence will bring huge opportunity for innovators and creators of toy industry. Many incidents, stories of our freedom fighters and their leadership can be used in gaming concepts. Innovators can play a big role in connecting ‘folk with the future’. PM Modi underlined the need of creating interesting & interactive games which can ‘engage, entertain and educate’.

Reliance Industry has announced to launch a new clean energy factory to make solar photovoltaic cells for next three years.

New Clean Energy Business

Purpose of four Giga Factories

Reliance will set up four Giga Factories under “Dhirubhai Ambani Green Energy Giga Complex” to manufacture and integrate all critical components of new energy ecosystem, energy storage battery factory, solar photovoltaic module factory, electrolyser factory and fuel cell factory. These four factories will be set at an investment of Rs 60,000 crore. Reliance will also build solar capacities of 100 GW by 2030.

Social media platform, Twitter, has partnered with first payments operator, Razorpay for its Tip Jar feature.

Highlights

What is Tip Jar feature?

Tip Jar Feature allows Twitter users to pay creators for content. Twitter announced the tie-up with Razorpay on June 24, 2021. This Tip Jar feature is currently available to “select users”.

How this feature will help users?

Integration of Razorpay with Twitter will allow Twitter users to pay creators using credit & debit cards, along with UPI, net-banking & payment wallets in India.

Who can avail this feature?

In the initial phases, only limited group will be able to avail option to add Tip Jar to their profile. This group includes creators, journalists, experts, public figures, and community leaders.

Significance of the feature

It is the first among several ways for creators to monetise their content and earn money from their supporters. Everyone can send tips to applicable accounts on Twitter via third-party payment service

Global rating agency, S&P, has cut India’s growth forecast for fiscal year 2021-2022 to 9.5 per cent. Earlier, it was kept at 11 per cent.

Highlights

Further Risks

Further covid-19 pandemic waves are a risk for the growth as only about 15 per cent of the India’s population has received one vaccine dose so far.

GDP growth projection by other agencies

GDP growth in fiscal year 2021-2022 was estimated to be in double digits earlier. But a severe second wave of pandemic has made various agencies to cut growth projections. RBI has reduced India’s growth forecast to 9.5 per cent for 2021-2022 from earlier estimate of 10.5 per cent. Moody’s has projected India’s growth to 9.3 per cent for 2021-22. World Bank had also reduced GDP growth forecast to 8.3 per cent from 10.1 % for same period.

According to Education Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Adimulapu Suresh, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has sanctioned funds of Rs 1,860 crore to implementation of SALT programme.

What is SALT Programme?

SALT programme stands for “Supporting Andhra’s Learning Transformation” programme. This programme was launched with the aim of improving learning outcomes, quality of teaching practices and school management in basic education. This aim would be achieved by transforming government schools into vibrant and competitive institutions.

Focus areas of SALT Programme

Apart from improvement in basic education etc, the programme focuses on reforming curriculum, improving classroom practices, professional development of teachers and preparing students to be fit for global competitive by introducing English as medium of instruction across State-run educational institutions.

International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)

IBRD is an international financial institution. It was established in 1944. It is headquartered in Washington D.C., United States. It is the lending arm of World Bank Group. It offers loans to middle-income developing countries. It is the first of five member institutions that forms World Bank Group. IBRD and International Development Association (IDA), are collectively known as World Bank because they share same leadership and staff.

Warren Buffett, chairman & chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, resigned as a trustee of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Who is Warren Buffett?

Buffett had been a big contributor to the Gates Foundation. He is an American business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. He currently holds the position of chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. He is one of the most successful investors in worldwide with a net worth of over $100.6 billion. He is the world’s seventh-wealthiest person. He created Buffett Partnership Ltd in 1956.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF)

BMGF is a merging of William H. Gates Foundation and Gates Learning Foundation. It is an American private foundation which was founded by Bill and Melinda Gates. It was launched in 2000. Foundation is reported to be second largest charitable foundation across the world as of 2020. It holds about $49.8 billion in assets. Primary goals of foundation are to enhance healthcare & reduce extreme poverty worldwide and to expand educational opportunities & access to information technology. Key individuals of foundation are Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett (who resigned now), Chief Executive Officer Mark Suzman and Michael Larson.

Department of Women & Child Development in Kerala has decided to expand Kaval Plus programme to five districts, after the success of this pilot project in two districts of Kerala.

What is Kaval Plus Programme?

Background

This programme was launched in December 2020 in two districts of Kerala, namely Thiruvananthapuram and Palakkad. This scheme was launched because, 15 homes of Children in Kerala account for about 500 inmates and leave 96% of high-risk children in need of support unprotected in community.

Early identification system

An early identification system will also be launched under the programme using community-level workers like Asha and Anganwadi workers.

Who implements the project?

This project is being implemented with help and support of NGOs who have experience in working with children. Two NGOs are selected in each district by a committee of district child protection officer, CWC representative and protection officer. These NGOs will not work in silos but in association with child protection agencies.