Daily Current Affairs - 04-03-2021

The US government funded NGO “Freedom House” published its annual report on global political rights and liberties recently. The report titled “Freedom in the World 2021 – Democracy under Siege” published the report on political freedom across the world.

Key findings of the report

In the latest report, the status of India as a democracy and free society was downgraded to “partly free”.  Report also says that, it seems India have abandoned its potential to serve as the global democratic leader. It also highlighted that, the downgraded rank of India from upper ranks of free nations will particularly damage the impact on global democratic standards. India has been given a score of 67 out of 100. It further highlights that, the political rights and civil liberties in India has deteriorated since the year 2014 because of increasing pressure on human rights organisations, rising intimidation of academics & journalists, and incidents like lynching.

Background

In the freedom house reports for the year 2018, 2019 and 2020 had rated India as “free” even though its scores were declined during that period from 77 to 71 on a scale of 100.  In the latest report, India had a score of 67 out of 100.

Freedom in world report

The freedom in world report was launched by the freedom house in the year 1973. In the report, it assessed the level of freedom across the countries ranked them on the basis of numerical score and declared the countries as “free”, “partly free” or “not free”. This report if one of the oldest quantitative measures of democracy.

The government of Jharkhand have presented the “Outcome-Based Budget” on March 3, 2021 for the first time. In this budget, all the departments were given specific targets and responsibilities that are required to be completed in a specified time. The results with respect to those targets will be evaluated at the end of financial year 2022.

Highlights

Finance Minister Rameshwar Oroan tabled the Outcome-based budget of worth Rs 91, 277 crores for the financial year 2021-22. The budget was increased from the budget of Rs 86, 370 crores in the year 2019-2020. The government also stated that, in the year 2021-22, fiscal deficit will be equal to Rs 10, 210.87 crores. It accounts for 2.83 per cent of the state’s GDP.

Which departments are included under new budget?

Under the new initiative of fixing responsibility 11 departments like Animal Husbandry, Agriculture, Cooperative, Health, Women & Child Development and Social Security have been included under the outcome-based budget. These departments have already submitted the detailed document regarding the work they have planning to do for the next fiscal year.

Schemes announced during the budget

Under the scheme, a “Universal Pension” scheme was announced for all old age, orphaned and disabled. This will incur an additional budget of Rs 365 crores for state. Similarly, the Health and Family Welfare Department will be working with the objective of increasing number of MBBS seats in light of the operationalisation of medical college in 15 districts. Increasing the number of MBBS seats will act as the “output indicator” which accounts for annual availability of 1,500 MBBS doctors per year once the infrastructure is completed. The budget also announced to establish a “cremation ground for cows” in every division of the state.

Outcome Based Budget

This technique of presenting budget was recommended from the budget 2007- 08. Under this mechanism, each ministry handling a sector are required to present a preliminary outcome budget to the Ministry of Finance. This budget is presented with the objective of establishing correlation between the outlay, output and outcome of the budget.

The ministry of housing and urban affairs released its “Ease of Living Index-2020” on March 4, 2021. It also comprises of the rankings of cities having population of more than a million and a separate ranking for cities having population of less than a million.

Highlights

Under the Ease of Living Index 2020 rankings were announced for cities for which the assessment exercise was conducted in the year 2020. Around 111 cities participated in the assessment exercise.

Key Findings

Ease of Living Index

This index is an assessment tool which evaluates the quality of life and impact of several initiatives for development in urban areas. The index provides for a comprehensive understanding of the participating cities on the basis of quality of life, economic abilities of the city and sustainability & resilience. The assessment is done with the help of residents’ view with respect to the services provided by city administration.

Municipal Performance Index (MPI)

The centre also published the Municipal Performance Index (MPI). In this index, Indore was ranked first in the category of Million-plus cities. It is followed by Surat and Bhopal. While in the ‘less than million category’, New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has been ranked first and is followed by Tirupati and Gandhinagar.

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has declared the year 2023 as “International Year of Millets”. The resolution to declare the year was sponsored by India. The resolution was adopted by consensus and the support of over 70 nations out of 193.

Highlights

This news was shared by the India’s Permanent Representative to US Ambassador, TS Tirumurti. He highlighted that, this is a big step that will promote the ecological and nutritional benefits of millets across the world. The millets will now be promoted as a key component of food basket and effective policy change. The ambassador also expressed his gratitude towards all the co-sponsors of India’s resolution specially the countries like Bangladesh, Senegal, Nepal, Russia and Nigeria besides the members of United Nations.

About International Year of Millets

The India-sponsored resolution declared the year 2023 as International Year of Millets. With the adoption, the day now invites the United Nations, members of the united nations and other world organisations to observe the year through several activities with the objective of raising awareness and directing policy attention regarding the health & other nutritional benefits of using millets. These activities should also be highlighting the suitability of millets for cultivation even under the adverse climatic conditions.

About the India’s resolution

India sponsored the resolution to observe the Millet year considering the need of advocating a diversified, balanced, diversified and healthy diets by increasing the consumption and sustainable production of the millets. Also recognises the diversity of millets and their adaptive nature.

Background

The UN General Assembly has proclaimed the “UN Decade of action on Nutrition from 2016 to 2025” in the month of April 2016.  This proclamation recognises the need of eradicating hunger and preventing all the forms of malnutrition from the world. This proclamation provides an integrated flatforms to a wide group who are working in collaboration to tackle the nutrition issues. In the backdrop of this resolution, India proposed the resolution on an International year of Millets which promotes the sustainable food systems.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published the first world report on hearing on World Hearing Day which was observed on March 3, 2021. In the new report, the WHO has highlighted that, one in every four individuals across the world will be experiencing mild-to-profound hearing loss by 2050, which roughly accounts for 2.5 billion people across the world.

Key Findings of the report

WHO’s Limit of disabling hearing loss

The world health Organisation defines the disabling hearing loss as there is a loss greater than the 40 decibels (dB) among the adults and loss more than 30 dB among the children.

Factors for the hearing loss

The healing loss report by WHO highlights several factors that causes healing loss. It includes exposure to excessive noise. Other factors that can cause hear loss include Genetic causes, ageing, certain infectious diseases, chronic ear infections, complications at birth and use of any particular drugs.

The Indian Boxer, Mary Kom, was appointed as the chairperson of the International Boxing Association (AIBA) champions and veterans committee on March 3, 2021.

Highlights

AIBA President Umar Kremlev stated that he is confident that Mary Kom will make significant contribution towards the success of this committee with her vast knowledge and experience.

About AIBA champions and veterans committee

This committee was established in December 2020. It comprises of the most respected boxing veterans and champions from across the world who have achieved some significant goals and are ready to share their experience.

About Mary Kom

Mary Kom is an Indian boxer. She is also a current Member of the Indian Parliament. The boxer was nominated as the member of upper house of the Parliament that is Rajya Sabha on April 25, 2016 by President Ram Nath Kovind.  She has created many histories for India in field of Boxing. She is the only female boxer who have become the “World Boxing Champion” for a record of six times. She is also tagged as the only boxer who have won eight World Championship medals. Further, Mary is the only female boxer who have won a medal in each of first seven World Championships. She is remembered as the only Indian female boxer who qualified for 2012 summer Olympics, in which she won a bronze medal in flyweight 51 kg category.

Awards and honours

The Indian boxer has been honoured with the Padma Vibhushan in the year 2020 which is the second-highest civilian award in India. In 2006, she was awarded with the Padma Shri which is fourth-highest civilian award in India. She was also honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 2013 which is the third-highest civilian award.

The Odisha government will start the first state survey of “social and educational conditions” of people belonging to the backward classes from May 1 to May 20, 2021.

Highlights

In the state of Odisha, there are around 209 communities which are identified as the socially and educationally backward classes (SEBCs). They account for 54% of the Population in Odisha.

Background

The proposal to carry the survey on SEBCs was approved by the Odisha State Commission for Backward Classes (OSCBC) February 26, 2021.

About the Survey

The Survey will be conducted with respect to the social and educational conditions of the people who belongs to the backward classes in the state. It will cover the details like their occupation, and education standard etc. The state minister for SC/ST development stated that this move will be of transformative nature and it will have a transformative impact in the backward population in the state.

What is centre’s take?

The state government had reached out to the Centre and demanded to conduct a socio-economic caste survey along with the general census in 2021. However, this proposal was turned down by the central government.

Significant of the move

The decision by the Odisha government is significant in the light that there is a growing demand of the “Caste-Based Census”. A commission headed by former Delhi Chief Justice G Rohini is working towards the sub-categorisation of the OBCs. But this is unscientific and illegal without obtaining such backward class data or the caste census.

Growing demand of Caste Census

The supreme court of India recently agreed to examine a plea that seeks for directions to the central government to conduct “caste-based” census in the year 2021 in order to collect data on the other backward classes. Following this, the bench comprising of Chief Justice of India, S A Bobde and others have issued notice to centre and the national commission of backward classes.

The researchers from India and United States have found the five new species of shrub frogs. These species of the frog were discovered from the Western Ghats which is a globally recognised biodiversity hotspot.

Key Facts

The five species of the frogs belong to Old World tree frog of family called Rhacophoridae. These species were discovered by researchers from Kerala Forest Research Institute, University of Delhi and University of Minnesota. This discovery is part the long comprehensive study on Shrub frogs of genus Raorchestes in the Western Ghats. The research was carried out for the period of 10 years. The new species were identified and were distinct on the basis of several criteria including the external morphology of frog, calling pattern, DNA, and behaviour.

About Research

The findings of the research were published in the article called ”An integrative approach to infer systematic relationships and define species groups in shrub frog, with description of five new species from the Western Ghats, India”. The research was carried under the leadership of Delhi University Professor Biju.

About Shrub Frog

The report highlights that, the new species called Raorchestes drutaahu of the Shrub Frog was discovered from Kadhalar in Idukki district and Siruvani in Palakkad district in the state of Kerala. While one other species called Raorchestes kakkayamensis or the Kakkayam Shrub Frog was discovered only around the Kakkayam dam. Third species called Raorchestes keirasabinae or Keira’s Shrub Frog was discovered in Agasthyamalai and Anamalai hills in western ghats. The fourth species called Raorchestes sanjappai is a green shrub frog. It was found in the Wayanad region of northern Kerala. It has been named after Dr M Sanjappa who is an Indian Botanist and former Director of Botanical Survey of India. The last species which was discovered is Raorchestes vallikkannan or the Silver-eyed Shrub Frog. It was found in Siruvani hills and areas surrounding Silent Valley National Park.

The Starship Prototype of the SpaceX was exploded shortly after it made its successful landing on March 3, 2021 for the first time after a high-altitude flight test.

Key Facts

The reason for the explosion of the prototype was not immediately clear. However, it was being referred “Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly” by the company.

Background

SpaceX test flew the Starship rocket Serial Number 10 (SN10) and it has aimed to launch the prototype at the height of 10 kilometres or at around 32,800 feet altitude. The rocket was not carrying any passengers on board because it was a development vehicle and it flies autonomously. The last two prototypes namely the SN8 and SN9 reached to the high altitudes in December 2020 and February 2021 but they slammed into ground at Boca Chica in Texas and got exploded. Each of these three test flights lasted for around six minutes.

SpaceX Starship system

It is a fully reusable, two-stage-to-orbit heavy-lift launch vehicle. It is developed by SpaceX. The system comprises of a booster stage called Super Heavy. The second stage of the vehicle is called as Starship. The second stage of the vehicle was designed as a long-duration cargo. The system also comprises of a passenger-carrying spacecraft. It will serve as second stage as well as the in-space long-duration orbital spaceship. the development of engine for this system was started in 2012 while the starship development started in 2016. This is a self-funded private spaceflight project. Testing of the second stage Starship started in 2019.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) stated that, India will commemorate the ‘Chabahar Day’ on March 4, 2021 on the margins of the ongoing Maritime India Summit 2021 which is being held in Delhi from March 2 to March 4.

Highlights

The virtual event will witness the participation of ministers from Afghanistan, Iran, Armenia, Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. During the event; The ministerial level opening session will be addressed by the external Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar while a keynote address by be given the Minister of State (Independent Charge) Mansukh Mandaviya, for the Ministry of Ports, Shipping & Waterways. Ministerial-level opening session would be followed by two webinar sessions namely the ‘Boosting Business through Trade Promotion and Regional Connectivity’ and ‘Development of Port Infrastructure: Unleashing Opportunities’.

Chabahar Port

It is a seaport in Chabahar which is located in south-eastern Iran in the Gulf of Oman. The port serves as the only oceanic port of Iran. The port comprises of two separate ports namely the Shahid Beheshti and Shahid Kalantari. The port was first proposed by last shah of Iran in the year 1973. The first phase was opened in 1983 during the Iran–Iraq War.

India-Iran deal on port

India and Iran first agreed further develop the Shahid Beheshti port in the year 2003. But this plan did not get success because of several sanctions against Iran. Both the countries signed a bilateral agreement In May 2016 again. Under the agreement, India would refurbish one berth at Shahid Beheshti port, and also reconstruct a 600-meter-long container handling facility at it. The port also seeks to provide an alternative trade route for India in between India and Afghanistan. This is because the port is 800 kilometers closer to border of Afghanistan than the Karachi port. This port has strategic advantage and high potential of providing connectivity between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and other Commonwealth countries.

The Office of Principal Scientific Adviser of the Government of India has launched the “Swachhta Saarthi Fellowship” under the “Waste to Wealth” Mission on March 3, 2021.

About the Swachhta Saarthi Fellowship

The Swachhta Saarthi Fellowship initiative was launched with the objective of recognizing the students, self-help groups, community workers, sanitary workers and municipal workers who are engaged in tackling enormous challenge of waste management in a scientific and sustainable manner. Under the fellowship programme, the government will be providing awards under three categories as stated below:

  1. Category-A– This category will be open to School students of standards 9th to 12th who are engaged in the waste management community work.
  2. Category-B– This category is open to UG, PG and Research Students engaged in the waste management community work.
  3. Category-C: This category of the fellowship is open to the Citizens who are working in the community and through Self Help Groups, municipal workers or sanitary workers who are working beyond the specifications of their job requirements.

Waste to Wealth Mission

The “waste to wealth mission” was launched with the objective of identifying, developing and deploying technologies in order to treat the waste to recycle materials, extract worth and generate energy. This mission is one among the nine-national mission of the “Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC)” of the Prime Minister. It will also assist and augment the Smart Cities project and Swachh Bharat Mission in a bid to create circular economic models which are financially viable for waste management. This will in turn help in streamlining the waste handling across the country.

E-waste to Wealth Technology

The Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi has developed a zero-emission technology that will manage and recycle the e-waste into wealth. The technology uses the e-waste as the Urban Mine for recovering the metal and producing energy. Under the methodology, e-waste is shredded and pyrolyzed into the liquid and gaseous fuels which leaving behind a solid fraction which is rich in metal.

The Western Railway zone of the Indian Railways has introduced the “Mobile Train Radio Communication (MTRC) system”. This system will play a significant role of preventing the train accidents by effective communication.

About MTRC System

The Mobile Train Radio Communication system is a technologically advanced and effective communication system. This system provides for an instant and constant interaction of train crew with the station master as well as the Control Centre. This system can connect the calls in 300 milliseconds which is the lowest time used by any other system. This system has been introduced for the first time in India. MRTC also acts in a similar way for the Air traffic control (ATC) for aircrafts. It has been installed in the 105 rakes if the western railways.

Function of MTRC

The MTRC system will help in tracking, monitoring and aiding to establish the communication between trains and control room by using the train number and cab number code. Thus, the system will ensure that there is smooth movement of rakes. It will also help in preventing the adverse events. It will also help in providing the real time information regarding the train operation during monsoon period.

Design and approval

The provision of a new Digital MTRC system was sanctioned at an outlay of Rs. 5.98 crore which also provides two years warranty and five years Annual Maintenance Charges (AMC). The design and approval for the new Towers was given by IIT and Western Railways headquarter.

Technology used in MTRC

MTRC System is a Terrestrial Trunk Radio (TETRA) based Digital technology. It employs the TDMA on the Air Interface and Internet Protocol based Network Architecture.

Features of MTRC system

The MTRC system have the feature of the Single touch dialling to call Two Section Train Controllers, EMU Controller, Dy. Train Controller and to make Emergency call. It also provides for Automatic Call Answer for the Cab Radios of the Motorman and Guards.

Wipro Limited has announced that it has joined an initiative by the World Economic Forum (WEF) called “Partnering for Racial Justice in Business initiative”. This partnership will help in cross-pollinating ideas with the other industry leaders and help in developing industry standards and best practices.

Partnering for Racial Justice in Business initiative

This initiative will help in promoting a culture of inclusion, diversity, justice and equity for the people coming from different racial backgrounds at the workplace. The initiative aims to drive action & accountability for companies in order to confront racism at the systemic level, to set new global standards to achieve the “racial justice” in business, and to accomplish important policy changes for the purpose of inclusion & advancement of the professionals with the under-represented racial & ethnic groups.

Wipro Limited

It is an Indian multinational corporation which is tasked with providing information technology, consulting services and the business process services. The corporation is headquartered in Bangalore, Karnataka. Wipro has separated its non-IT businesses in the year 2013 and established the privately owned Wipro Enterprises. Wipro was incorporated in December 1945 by Mohamed Premji in Maharashtra as “Western India Palm Refined Oil Limited”. Later it was abbreviated as Wipro. The company was initially a manufacturer of vegetable and refined oils in Amalner, Maharashtra in British India. It used to supply products under the trade names such as Camel, Kisan and Sunflower. In 1970s & 1980s, the company shifted its focus to IT and computing industry after the death of Mohamed Premji.

World Economic Forum (WEF)

This international NGO was founded in 1971. It is based in Switzerland. The forum is committed to improve the state of the world by engaging into the business, academic, political and other leaders of society in order to shape the industry, regional and global agendas.