Daily Current Affairs - 28-06-2021

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully flight-tested a new generation nuclear-capable ballistic missile Agni P on June 28, 2021.

Key Points

About Agni P Missile

It is a new generation advanced variant of Agni class missiles. It is a canisterised missile having a range of 1,000 and 2,000 kms. Missile can hit targets up to a range of 2000 kms. It is very short and light as compared to with other missiles in this class. This new nuclear-capable missile is fully made up of composite material.

Agni-I missile

It is a single stage, solid fuel, road & rail mobile and a Short-range ballistic missile developed by DRDO under Integrated Guided Missile Development Program. It is a single-stage missile which was developed after Kargil War to fill gap between 250 km range of Prithvi-II missile and 2,500 km range of the Agni-II. Missile was first launched from a road mobile launcher at Integrated Test Range (ITR) from Wheeler Island, on 25 January 2002. It is a 15 meter tall Agni-I missile, weighing 12 tonnes and is capable of carrying conventional and nuclear warheads of 1,000 kg.

Lebanese troops were deployed in northern city of Tripoli on June 27, 2021 to take positions across major state institutions following a night of protests and riots against worsening living conditions in the country.

Ground situation

Riots have left several protesters and 10 soldiers injured. Protests were reported throughout Lebanon after its 20-month economic crisis worsened. World Bank described this crisis as one of the worst crisis in 150 years. Economic crisis is coupled with political deadlock which has left Lebanon without any government since August 2020.

Lebanon Economic crisis

Lebanese Economic or liquidity crisis is an ongoing financial crisis in Lebanon. It was started in August 2019. Crisis further exacerbated by spread of COVID-19 pandemic in Lebanon and 2020 Beirut port explosion. As a result, Lebanon has been suffering severe shortages of vital products like fuel, medicine and medical products.

Background

Lebanese pound has been pegged to U.S. dollar at a rate of 1,507.5 LBP per USD in 1997. In August 2019, black market exchange rate reached 1,600 LBP per USD while it increased to 3,000 LBP per USD in April 2020 and 15200 LBP per USD in June 2021. USD black market exchange rate is fluctuating continuously due to devaluation of Lebanese pound. On June 27, Lebanon’s currency reached to 18,000 LBP against U.S. dollar. Pound has lost 90% of its value since this crisis started.

About Lebanon

Lebanon is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered by Syria in north & east, Israel in south and Cyprus in west across the Mediterranean Sea. It is location at crossroads of Mediterranean Basin and Arabian hinterland as a result of which, the country has a rich history and cultural identity of religious diversity. It I one of the smallest countries in Asia. Arabic is the official language.

A consignment of Dragon Fruit, was exported to after sourcing it from farmers of Tadasar village in Sangli District, Maharashtra.

About Dragon Fruit

  1. White flesh with pink skin,
  2. Red flesh with pink skin, and
  3. White flesh with yellow skin.

Background

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme, in July 2020, mentioned about dragon fruit farming in arid Kutch region of Gujarat. He congratulated farmers of Kutch for cultivation of fruit and for ensuring India’s self-sufficiency in production.

Renaming Dragon Fruit

Gujarat government renamed dragon fruit as “Kamalam” in January 2021. Government has applied for a patent to change its nomenclature from Dragon Fruit to “Kamalam”. Name was changed as the government did not find dragon fruit proper.

About Sangli district

Sangli is the largest district of Maharashtra. Industrial town of Kirloskarwadi is located in Sangli District. Industrialist Laxmanrao Kirloskar started his first factory in the city. This city is known as sugar bowl of India because of its high sugarcane productivity. It is also popular as a political power house of Maharashtra. District is often referred as Heaven of Farmers.

Amazon Web Services has acquired encrypted messaging app called Wickr. This messaging app was founded in 2012.

Impact of the move

Wickr app is an encrypted messaging app which has been popular with journalists and whistle-blowers. It is not yet clear how this move will impact app`s popularity for free users. This acquisition was partially influenced by need to preserve information security while working remotely.

About Amazon Web Services

About Wickr

It is an American software company, headquartered in New York City. Company is best known for its instant messenger application of name Wickr. It has developed several secure messaging apps on the basis of different customer needs including Wickr Me, Wickr Pro, Wickr Enterprise, Wickr RAM. Wickr instant messaging apps allow users to send & receive end-to-end encrypted & content-expiring messages. App is available on iOS, Android, Windows, Linux operating systems and Mac.

According to South Asia’s largest hospitality company, Indian Hotels Company (IHCL), iconic brand Taj has been rated as the Strongest Hotel Brand across the World by Brand Finance.

Key Points

How Taj emerged as strongest hotel brand?

Taj was given an overall Brand Strength Index of 89.3 out of 100 and AAA rating for employee satisfaction, customer familiarity, corporate reputation and world-class customer service. Hotel 50 2021 report also highlights about company’s successful implementation of R.E.S.E.T 2020 strategy. This strategy provided a transformative framework and helped the Taj brand surmount pandemic related challenges.

Taj Hotels

It is a chain of luxury hotels, which is subsidiary of Indian Hotels Company Limited. It is headquartered at Express Towers, Nariman Point in Mumbai. Hotel was incorporated by founder of Tata Group, Jamsetji Tata, in 1903. Thus, it is a part of Tata Group. The company operates 100 plus hotels and hotel-resorts. 84 are operating in India while 16 in other countries like Malaysia, Maldives, Bhutan, Nepal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, UK, UAE, USA and Zambia.

Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL)

IHCL is an Indian hospitality company. It manages a portfolio of hotels, jungle safaris, resorts, palaces, spas and in-flight catering services. It was founded in 1868 by Jamsetji Tata and is a subsidiary of Tata Group conglomerate. IHCL has more than 196 hotels in 80 locations in India and world.

As per Karnataka government, work on ‘Bengaluru Suburban Rail Project’ will start in month of September 2021. Project is expected to be completed by 2026.

Highlights

Background

Bengaluru Suburban Rail Project  was proposed by Karnataka government in 1983. It was first proposed by an expert team from Southern Railway (then Bengaluru was under purview of Southern Railway). Its proposal was submitted as Karnataka’s first Transportation Survey which was commissioned by the then Chief Minister R Gundu Rao.

Aim of the project

Project was proposed with the aim of linking Bengaluru to its suburbs, satellite townships and surrounding rural areas by rail-based rapid-transit system. It is expected air-conditioned and metro-like trains will run across the network. It will also provide a fast, safe and more comfortable mode of travel to rural and urban commuters.

Who will implement the project?

This project will be implemented by Rail Infrastructure Development Company, Karnataka, (K-RIDE) which is a joint venture of government of Karnataka and Union Ministry of Railways.

Areas covered under this project

This project will span across a rail network of 148.17 kilometres. A total of 57 stations planned across four corridors. It will connect Karnataka capital to its outskirts in six directions. Four corridors have been named after regional flowers of Bengaluru viz, Sampige (Champa), Parijata (Prajakta), Mallige (Chameli), and Kanaka (Priyardarsha).

As per Chinalysis report, Indians who are known to traditionally invest in gold are now investing into cryptocurrency.

Key Findings

Concerns

This investment has increased even though Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is not inclined towards digital currency. RBI had banned banks from supporting cryptocurrency transactions in 2018 following several digital currency frauds. However, in March 2020, Supreme Court struck down the ban and prompted RBI to notify that its earlier order has been reverted.

About Cryptocurrency

It is a digital asset which is designed to work as a medium of exchange where individual coin ownership records are stored in ledger in the form of computerized database. Strong cryptography is used to secure transaction records, control creation of additional coins and to verify transfer of coin ownership. It does not exist in physical form and is usually not issued by any central authority. Such currencies use decentralized control. When a cryptocurrency is minted or created prior to issuance or when it is issued by a single issuer, it is considered centralized.

First Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin is the first cryptocurrency released as open-source software in 2009. It is the first decentralized cryptocurrency.

First Country to legalise bitcoin

Recently, El Salvador has become first country to formally adopt bitcoin as legal tender.  Its proposal was put forward by President Nayib Bukele which was later approved by Congress.

Government has allowed private companies to establish & operate rocket launch sites within and outside the country. However, it is subject to prior authorisation from government.

Key Points

Significance of the policy

These reforms announced by Government is aimed to unlock the potential of space sector in India. It expects to attract entrepreneurs to invest in cost-effective & quick turn-around space transportation systems. It is comprehensive policy covering all aspects of space transportation like launching, launchpads and re-entry.

European Space Agency is set to hire and launch world’s first physically disabled astronaut.

Key points

It is going to be 22-member space programme for which decennial recruitment call for astronauts.  It received 22,000 applicants. Space mission will ESA’s 7-billion-euro budget mission and is a third of NASA’s. Seven or eight launches in a year are dwarfed by 40 launches by United States.

How Space Missions are evolving?

Space is developing fast. Different space agencies are refashioning their outlining plans to refresh space missions.  Founder of Amazon, Bezos hopes, will become the first man to go into space on his own rocket in July 2021. This highlights the role that tech billionaires are playing in space field which was once dominated by public agencies.

European Space Agency (ESA)

ESA is an intergovernmental organization comprising of 22 member states. The agency, established in 1975, is dedicated to exploration of space. It is headquartered in Paris. Its space flight programme includes human spaceflight, launch & operation of unmanned exploration missions to other planets & Moon, Earth observation, science & telecommunication etc.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

NASA is an independent agency of U.S. engaged in civilian space program, aeronautics and space research. It was established in 1958 by replacing the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). Most of the US space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including Apollo Moon landing missions, Space Shuttle and Skylab space station. It also supports the International Space Station and look after the development of Orion spacecraft.

International Day Against Drug Abuse is observed on June 26 every year to raise awareness among people regarding dangerous effects of drugs and it’s illicit trafficking.

Significance of the day

Drug abuse and mental health go hand in hand. People addicted to drugs not only put their physical health at stake but also give rise to severe mental issues. Thus, the day becomes significance to make aware people of harmful impact of drugs.

2021 theme of day

This year, International Day against Drug Abuse was observed under the theme ‘Share Facts on Drugs, Save Lives’. Its motive is to combat misinformation by sharing real facts on drugs ranging from health risks & solutions for world drug problem to evidence-based prevention, treatment & care.

Background

International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is a United Nations International Day to fight the menace of drug abuse and illegal trading of drug. It is observed on June 26, since 1989. Date 26 was selected to commemorate Lin Zexu’s dismantling of opium trade in Humen, Guangdong on June 25, 1839 before First Opium War in China. The day was instituted by General Assembly Resolution 42/112 of December 1987.

Drug Abuse in India

Menace of drug addiction is spreading fast among youth of India. The reason for this is, India is sandwiched between two largest Opium producing regions of world namely, Golden triangle and Golden crescent. Golden triangle comprises Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos while golden crescent comprises Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. As per the report of All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in 2019, alcohol is the most abused substance in India. About 5 crore Indians used cannabis and opioids when survey was conducted in 2018.

Government has decided to extend adoption of electric vehicles ‘Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles in India Phase II (FAME Phase II)’ by 2 years.

Highlights

Background

These amendments were made in the scheme because it faced criticism for being ineffective in lifting share of EVs in Indian market. As per data, only 5 per cent or about Rs 500 crore of allocated Rs 10,000 crores has been spent to make green mobility affordable. Only 58,613 e2Ws were sold under the scheme across states against the target of 10 lakh units by March 2022. With the latest amendment, EV industry will get more time to extend benefits to customers and achieve target under scheme.

FAME Scheme

This scheme is a part of National Electric Mobility Mission Plan. Scheme was launched to encourage electric vehicles by providing subsidies. This scheme aims to incentivise all vehicle segments. It was launched in two phases. Phase 1 was started in 2015 & ended on 31st March, 2019. While, phase II was started from April 2019 and will end in 2024 (Earlier to end in 2022). Scheme is monitored by Department of Heavy Industries under Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises.

National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP)

Under the NEMMP, government targeted to achieve 6-7 million sales of electric and hybrid vehicles across India by 2020. This plan aims to achieve national fuel security by promoting hybrid and electric vehicles.

Odisha government and United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) have partnered to improve household food and nutritional security.

Key Points

Empowering Women

Sustainable livelihoods will improve household food and nutritional security. It will lead to holistic empowerment of women. Collaboration between Odisha government and WFP will support Women’s Self-Help Groups (WSHGs) by providing them technical assistance and capacity development. It will directly contribute to long-term food security and develop a replicable model. Partnership will also focus on creating livelihood opportunities, improve household nutritional security and increase participation of women in decision making fulfilling the core objectives of Department of Mission Shakti.

Objective of partnership

Partnership was done do improve linkage of women’s groups with government procurement systems. It will increase awareness on entitlements, build capacity of women’s groups, develop monitoring tools and undertake evaluations to improve functioning of SHGs.

UN World Food Programme (WFP)

WEP is a food-assistance branch of United Nations. It is world’s largest humanitarian organization, focusing on hunger & food security and is the largest provider of school meals. WEP was founded in 1961 with headquarter in Rome. It has served 97 million people across 88 countries, as of 2019.  It was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2020 for its efforts of providing food assistance in areas with conflict and to prevent use of food as weapon of war & conflict.

Ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) has expanded the definition of small and medium sized companies (SMCs).

Highlights

Which companies are classified as SMCs?

Exemptions available to SMCs

Significance of the move

This move will promote ease of doing business for firms which are included under definition of SMC.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

SMEs are businesses whose personnel numbers are kept below certain limits. SMEs sometimes outnumber big companies by wide margin and employ more people. For instance, Australian SMEs accounts for 98% of all Australian businesses, produce one-third of GDP and employ 4.7 million people. SMEs are also responsible for driving innovation and competition across different sectors.

Goa has become the first Rabies-free state of India. According to Chief Minister, Pramod Sawant, state has not reported a single rabies case in last three years.

Highlights

Mission Rabies

It is a charity, initially founded as an initiative by Worldwide Veterinary Service (WVS). It is a United Kingdom-based charity group which assists animals. Mission Rabies works with ‘One Health approach’ which is driven by research to eliminate dog bite transmitted rabies disease. It was launched in September 2013 with the objective of vaccinating 50,000 dogs against rabies in India.  Rabies has estimated to kill 59,000 people annually. Mission Rabies teams have vaccinated 968,287 dogs since 2013. Organisation has worked in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Goa, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, and Assam.

About Rabies

As per WHO, Rabies is a vaccine-preventable viral disease that occurs in about 150 countries and territories. Dogs act as the source of majority of human rabies deaths. Dogs are responsible for contributing up to 99% of rabies transmissions to humans. In Asia and Africa regions, low awareness regarding the need of health care after dog bite takes lives of about 55000 people per year. India is endemic for rabies with the burden of 36% of world’s deaths. 30-60% of reported rabies cases and deaths in India occur in children aged under 15 years because bite often go unrecognized and unreported.