Daily Current Affairs - 2021

The Indian Air Force (IAF) will participate in the multinational exercise called “Desert Flag” in the United Arab Emirates. The Air Force of India will take part in the exercise along with the forces of the France and United States.

Key Facts

The six Indian Air Force fighter called “Su-30-MKI fighters” took their flight off to participate in the exercise in United Arab Emirates on March 3, 2021. Two C-17s fighters of the IAF would also be joining the Indian team for the exercise in order to help in induction and de-induction. The exercise would take part in the Persian Gulf region.

Significance of the exercise

This is the first major multinational air combat exercise that India would take part in. This exercise is the fourth exercise in which when IAF will participate in last five years after it participated in the “Pitch Black” wargames of Australia in the year 2018, “Blue Flag” of Israel in 2017 and the “Red Flag” of America in 2016.

About Desert Flag

The “Desert Flag” exercise is a multinational exercise that involves the participation from ten countries such as France, United States (US), Bahrain, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.  This year, the exercise will mark the involvement of countries like Jordan, Greece, Egypt and Kuwait as observer states. It will be organised in UAE. Exercise would mark the participation of the fighter jets and heavy-duty airlift aircraft. It is a three week long exercise which will be coordinated by the air warfare centre which is located at the Al Dhafra air base in United Arab Emirates.

The Axis Bank has launched the WhatsApp Banking with the objective of helping and addressing the banking needs of its customers on March 3, 2021. The WhatsApp Banking will help the customer to use the bank anywhere and anytime on the chatting app.

How this service can be availed?

In order to avail the WhatsApp Banking services, the customers are required to initiate a chat with designated Axis Bank number and ask for the details. This service will allow the customers to ask the information with respect to their account balance, credit card payments, recent transactions, fixed & recurring deposit details. The customers can also ask their queries and get it answered or resolved in the real-time.

What information can be asked?

The customer can chat with the Axis Bank on their designated number for their queries and ask the details regarding banking transaction, nearest branch details, loan centre location and ATM centre location etc. The customers can apply to avail various banking services and products. WhatsApp services can also be used to block credit or debit card through the secure end-to-end encrypted messaging platforms.

Axis Bank WhatsApp Banking

The service will be available 24×7 including on the Holidays. It will be available for both customers as well as the non-customers of the bank. The Axis bank have stated that, the service is secure and safe since it works on end-to-end encryption mode. This service was launched by the bank in line with the “Dil Se Open” Philosophy of the bank.  This will help in building the sharper customer focus and a greater convenience by constant innovation.

WhatsApp Payments

It is a peer-to-peer money transfer feature. This feature is only available in India currently. The messaging application had received the permission from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to enter into partnership with the Indian banks to launch its payments services in July 2017. This app now allows its users to make in-app payments & money transfers through Unified Payments Interface (UPI).

The Union Cabinet Chaired by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has approved an agreement between India and Fiji for their cooperation in the field of agriculture and allied sectors.

Highlights

The agriculture pact was signed between Ministry of Agriculture of India and Agriculture Ministry of the Republic of Fiji.  This agreement between the countries will come into force from the date of its signing. It will continue for five years.

About Memorandum of Understanding

The Memorandum of Understanding that was signed in the field of agriculture will help the private sectors of both the countries, India and Fiji, to cooperate in areas which includes the promotion of joint ventures. It will also provide the Exchange of scientific experts, technical trainees, research personnel & specialists; Technology transfer; Development of infrastructure for agriculture; Development of human resources with the help of training officers & farmers through the means of workshops and seminars.

Joint Working Group

Both the countries will also constitute a Joint Working Group in accordance with the MoU. The joint working group will be setting out the plan, procedures and will also be recommending the programmes of cooperation in order to achieve their objective with the help of executing agencies. The group will held the meeting once in every second year.

Significance of the MoU

With the signing of the agreement, the countries will be involved in the promotion of investment and marketing of the agricultural commodities. The agriculture ministries of both the nations have agreed to promote the capacity building in all the areas of agriculture besides establishing a direct trade of agriculture products. The countries would also do the joint planning & development of research proposals and execution of research & programmes projects.

The Union Ministry of Earth Science announced on March 3, 2021 that India have agreed to work in collaboration with Norway in the area of marine spatial planning of the oceanic space for next five years.

Highlights

The Earth Science Ministry highlighted that the first project steering committee meeting with representatives of both the counties was held successfully. The ministry also stated that the two countries have made a plan to ensure that human activities in sea take place in a safe, efficient and sustainable manner. The human activities will be taken in the areas including transportation, energy, aquaculture, tourism and fisheries. As per the Indian ministry, Lakshadweep and Puducherry have been identified as the sites for this project.

India-Norway Collaboration

The officials from both the countries also decided to extend their support for the sustainable ocean resources utilisation so as to advance the economic and social development in the coastal areas. The ministry informed that, as initiative called “Marine Spatial Planning (MSP)” will be implemented for India through the National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR) by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES). MSP initiative will help in developing the multiple economic sectors and stakeholders in coastal areas of India.

Background

The agreement regarding the marine spatial planning between both the countries is a part of the Indo-Norway Integrated Ocean Initiative in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding which was signed between them in the year 2019.

About NCCR

National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR) is the project directorate under the Ministry of Earth Sciences. It was set up to develop and improve the capabilities of countries to address the challenging problems which are prevailing in the coastal regions of India. It provides a long-term organisational framework in order to do the research activities. Earlier, NCCR had also developed successful coastal management plans for states like Goa, Chennai, and Gulf of Kachchh.

A Himalayan mammal is the newest creatures that has been spotted in the state of Assam.

About Himalayan Serow

The Himalayan serow looks like somewhere between a goat and an antelope. It was spotted in the Manas Tiger Reserve which is having the area of 950-sq. km on December 3, 2020. This animal is a high-altitude dweller which is usually found around 2000 to 4000 metres above the sea level.  The Himalayan serow is a subspecies of mainland serow. The species is native to the Himalayas. The Himalayan serow was previously considered its own species as Capricornis thar. It is mostly blackish along with the flanks, hindquarters. The upper legs of the species are rusty red in colour while the lower legs are whitish. The specie has been listed in CITES Appendix I.

Mainland Serow

The scientific name of the mainland serow is Capricornis sumatraensis. The serow is a native to the China, Himalayas and Southeast Asia. The serow is having the guard hairs on its coat which are bristly or coarse. The hairs cover the layer of fur which is closest to the skin of serow. The animal also has a mane which runs from horns to middle of dorsal aspect serow in between the scapulae that covers the skin. The males are characterised by the horns and are light-coloured. It is six inches in length and curve slightly towards to the back of the animal. The mainland serow grow up to six feet long. The adult serow weighs around 150 kg.

Manas National Park

It is a national park which is UNESCO Natural World Heritage site. It is also a Project Tiger reserve, an elephant reserve and the biosphere reserve. It is located in the state of Assam in the foothills of Himalaya. The reserve is in contiguous with Royal Manas National Park of Bhutan. It is known for its rare and endangered endemic wildlife including hispid hare, Assam roofed turtle, pygmy hog and golden langur.

The National Water Mission’s (NWM) campaign called “Catch the Rain” will be launched in states and is set to nudge the stakeholders.

About the campaign

The campaign has the tagline “Catch the rain, where it falls, when it falls”. The campaign will help in creating the appropriate Rain Water Harvesting Structures (RWHS) which are suitable for the climatic conditions and subsoil strata before the monsoon make its fall. The campaign will run the drives to make check dams, rooftop RWHS, water harvesting pits, desilting of tanks to increase its storage capacity and removal of encroachments. It will also help in removing obstructions in channels, repairs to step-wells etc. All these activities will be taken up by active participation of people.

How these activities will be facilitated?

The government has requested the state governments to open Rain Centres in each district, collectorates or Municipalities or Gram Panchayats in order to facilitate these activities. These centres will have a dedicated mobile phone number during this period. The centres will be manned by an engineer or a person who is well trained in the RWHS. The centre will act as a technical guidance centre in all the district and raise awareness as to how to catch the rain, when it falls, where it falls.

Aim of the campaign

The campaign will be launched with the aim and effort to ensure that buildings in the district have rooftop RWHS so that maximum quantity of rain water falling in any compound is impounded within it. It also seeks to ensure that, no or only limited water flows out of the compound. This would help in improving soil moisture and rising the ground water table. Further, it will reduce the accumulation of water on the roads in urban areas.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has released the monthly climate summary on March 2, 2021. As per the IMD Report, India has recorded its second warmest winter during the months of January and February 2021 after the year 1901.

Highlights

The IMD has stated that, minimum temperature recorded in past two months was 15.39 degrees Celsius as opposed to normal temperature of 14.59 degrees Celsius while the maximum period for the same period was 27.47 degrees Celsius. It also states that, winter of 2016 have the record for warmest ever winter in India. As per IMD, 2021 winter was the third warmest after 2016 and 2009 winters in terms of mean temperature.

Why 2021 winter was warmer?

In the winter season, easterly winds were dominant which kept the minimum temperatures above normal. Most of the western disturbances passed along the extreme northern regions such as Jammu and Kashmir. Thus, it failed to bring cold weather in the northern plains. Some of the cold winds got obstructed by the moisture-laden easterlies. These factors contributed to the warm winter this year. Further, less than five cold wave events were developed in the north India region this winter season. This resulted into prolonged fog conditions.

Conditions in Southern India

The southern states namely, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry experienced an extremely wet January in 2021. The rainfall departure for the southern peninsula during the winter season is 246 per cent more than the normal. This resulted an increase in the mean temperature figures of India. The IMD report further states that, South Peninsular India recorded the fourth wettest winter season in which the rainfall was recorded as 56.1 mm both in January and February.

The Union Government has amended the “Insurance Ombudsman Rules, 2017” on March 2, 2021.

Highlights

The ombudsman rules were amended with the objective of improving the working of ‘Insurance Ombudsman mechanism’. This will help in facilitating the resolution of the complaints with respect to the deficiencies in insurance services in a cost-effective and impartial manner on time.

What are those amendments?

Who is an ombudsman?

Ombudsman is an official who is appointed to investigate the complaints regarding the service or on an administrative authority. The ombudsman is usually appointed by governments however, the private companies can also appoint them. The Indian government has appointed ombudsman to resolve the grievances with respect to income tax, banking and insurance.

The Governor of Haryana, Satyadev Narayan Arya, has approved a bill to reserve 75 per cent jobs in Private sector jobs for the people of the state. Reservation will be provided in every company, trust and society. Thus, the “Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act, 2020” has now come into force in the State of Haryana from March 2, 2020.

Background

The state assembly had passed the “Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Bill, 2020” in the year 2020. The bill seeks to provide a quota for local people for the jobs in private sector offering the monthly salary of less than rupee 50,000. The state government have passed this bill stating that the reservation will be socially, economically and environmentally desirable. Further, to provide reservations in private sector jobs for locals was main election promise of the Jannayak Janata Party. This party in in power with its alliance with BJP after winning 10 seats out of 90 seats.

Key provisions of the bill

The bill which was tabled by the Deputy Chief Minister of Haryana, Dushyant Chautala, provides for following provisions:

  1. The bill provides for the private sector companies to compulsorily reserve 75% of the jobs for the people with a salary up to 50,000 in the state.
  2. The bill also comprises of a clause that companies can invoke if they do not find any suitable candidates. In such cases, companies can hire people from outside. However, for this purpose, they need to inform this to the government.
  3. As per the bill, the companies are required to register the details of the employees who are getting Rs. 50,000 of salary per month. If the companies failed to do so within three months, they will attract penalties.

The world is observing and celebrating the World Wildlife Day 2021 on March 3, 2021. The day is being celebrated under the Theme- Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet. This theme was decided by United Nations.

Significance of the day

The day is celebrated in order to raise awareness with respect to the issue around the wildlife. The day seeks to make people realize the importance of forests and ecosystems. It also seeks to raise awareness on how sustainable lifestyle is beneficial for livelihood. It raises the awareness regarding the wild animals & plants and discusses the threats the wild animals are facing. The day highlights the urgency that governments, private sector, civil society and individuals needs to take by adding their voices and taking actions so as to help in the conservation of the wildlife. It also highlights the issues like poaching, pollution, urbanization, destruction of wildlife habitat and the manners in which humans can contribute towards the conservation efforts.

Background

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has passed a resolution at its 68th session on December 20, 2013. In its resolution UN 68/205, the UNGA decided to proclaim the March 3 as World Wildlife Day 2021. This proclamation was suggested by Thailand. March 3 was chosen because the day marks the “adoption of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)”. The CITES was adopted on March 3, 1972 to raise awareness and benefit the fauna and flora.

About CITES

This convention is also known as Washington Convention. It is a multilateral treaty that seeks to protect the endangered plants and animals. The convention was drafted after the adoption of a resolution in 1963 during a meeting of members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The convention came into force in 1975.

India has launched the “Real-time Vessel Tracking System” in order to help the seafarers and fishermen as and when they need. This system has been named as “Sagar-Manthan: Mercantile Marine Domain Awareness Centre (MMDAC)”.

Highlights

The system was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Maritime India Summit-2021. While inaugurating the system, the Prime Minister highlighted that the India is developing “Mega ports with world-class infrastructure at Paradip, Vadhavan, and Deendayal Ports”. He also said that domestic waterways are cost effective and environment friendly way of transporting the freight. So, India aims to operationalise 23 waterways by 2030”. He further stated that, the “Eastern Waterways Connectivity Transport Grid” that establishes the regional connectivity with Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Bhutan will also be strengthened in order to boost the effective regional trade and cooperation.

About Sagar-Manthan: MMDAC

The Vessel Tracking System have the capability of tracking the Indian vessels on the global level. It can also be used to track foreign vessels within 1,000-km of the coastline of India. Vessel will be operated by DG Shipping. It can provide help in the emergency cases. The system also comprises of the elements of security. In order to develop the security elements, the DG Shipping collaborated with the Indian Navy. India will also be sharing this system with the countries like Sri Lanka and Maldives.

Maritime India Summit 2021

Maritime Summit is one of the largest virtual summits across the world. It is a three-day summit. The summit observed the participation of 1.7 lakh participants from around 100 nations. Summit will be marked by the presence of the ministers from 8 countries, 50 global CEOs and around 160 speakers and 115 international speakers of 24 nations. For the summit, around 1 lakh participants coming from 50 countries have registered online.

Eastern Waterways Connectivity Transport Grid (EWaCTG)

This project was launched with the aim of providing a seamless connectivity between the National Waterway-1 and National Waterway-2 through Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) routes. It will also be developing an economic corridor of 4,200 km of waterways and coastal shipping in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and North-Eastern States of India. The project seeks to establish a way for regional integration among the five countries namely Bhutan, Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

India has made a fresh proposal at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for the establishing the mechanism of true vaccine internationalism. India has also warned developed nations who are blocking proposal of temporary waiver of the intellectual property obligations.

Highlights

India warned them that even if they vaccinate all the citizens, they will be at the risk of sluggish recovery in case the infection continues to spread with same pace in the emerging markets. With that, India has called for the immediate start of text-based negotiations so as to work out on the modalities for TRIPS waiver.

Background

The WTO General Council also received a status report from Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) council regarding the proposal that was put forward by India and South Africa. Both the countries had put the proposal for a temporary waiver from some provisions of the TRIPS agreement in October, 2020.  This was done in a bid of the prevention, containment and treatment of the Covid-19 pandemic.

How the world is reacting?

The waiver proposal was co-sponsored by 57 members mainly comprising of the developing countries and Least Developed Countries. Many of the countries have supported it on the floor. However, developed nations & members like United States (US), European Union (EU), Switzerland and Japan are opposing the proposal.

Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

TRIPS is an international legal agreement between the members of World Trade Organization (WTO). The agreement establishes a minimum standard regarding the regulation different forms of intellectual property (IP) by national governments. The agreement was negotiated in between 1989 & 1990 at the end of the Uruguay Round of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). TRIPS is administered by WTO.

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)

It is a legal agreement between those countries who wants to promote the international trade by reducing the trade barriers like tariffs.

The Governor of Tripura, Ramesh Bais, has inaugurated the “Udaipur Science Centre” on February 28, 2021 at Udaipur in Tripura.

Key Facts

The Udaipur Science Centre was developed at the cost of Rs 6 crore. This amount is funded by both the Ministry of Culture, Govt of India and Department of Science, Technology & Environment, Tripura Government. With the establishment of the science centre, the National Council of Science Museums (NCSM) has also set-up science centres across the north eastern states.

National Council of Science Museums (NCSM)

It is an autonomous organisation working under parent head of the Ministry of Culture. NCSM is the largest chain of science centres or museums which works under a single administrative umbrella across the world. The organisation comprises of 24 own science centres or museums, training centre and one R & D laboratory. It has been built in order to coordinate all the informal science communication activities in the arena of museum. The first science museum was the “Birla Industrial and Technological Museum (BITM)” that works under CSIR 43. It was opened in May 1959. The second museum was established in July 1965 and was named as Visvesvaraya Industrial & Technological Museum (VITM). In the 1970s a Union Planning Commission was constituted after the popularisation of science and technology thorough science museums.

Birla Industrial & Technological Museum (BITM)

It is a unit under National Council of Science Museums (NCSM) located at Gurusaday Road, Kolkata. It was set up by the industrialist Ghanshyam Das Birla at BITS, in Pilani. It depicts primarily the industries and business enterprises of Birlas. It was opened for public in 1954.