Daily Current Affairs - 09-03-2021

New Zealand has inaugurated its first large vaccination clinic in a bid of scaling up efforts to protect the people from Covid-19 pandemic.

Highlights

The clinic was opened in South Auckland and it will initially target the household members of the border workers. The country has stamped out the community spread of coronavirus. It also considers border workers and their families are most vulnerable to catch the disease from any infectious travelers.

Who will be vaccinated?

As per the Director-General of Health of New Zealand, Ashley Bloomfield, around 150 people will be vaccinated initially per day at the clinic. This number will gradually increase. The health officials have also planned to open two more clinics in Auckland in coming weeks. New Zealand will use the Pfizer vaccine for all inoculations. The country hopes that, it will complete its vaccination programme by the end of 2021.

Pfizer–BioNTech COVID‑19 vaccine

This vaccine is sold under brand name Comirnaty. It is an mRNA based COVID-19 vaccine. German company, BioNTech, initially developed this vaccine later it partnered with the Pfizer to support clinical trials, logistics and manufacturing. The manufacturing license has been given to Fosun in China. The vaccine is composed of nucleoside-modified mRNA which encodes a mutated form of spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. This spike protein is encapsulated in the lipid nanoparticles. It requires two doses with the gap of three weeks. This is the first COVID-19 vaccine that was authorized by the stringent regulatory authority for the emergency use as well as is the first cleared vaccine for its regular use. The vaccine was first authorized by the United Kingdom in December 2020 for the emergency use. Later followed by other countries.

The Defense Research & Development Organization (DRDO) on March 8, 2021 conducted the final development test of Air Independent test of the “Air Independent Propulsion (AIP)”. The test was conducted a day before the INS Karanj attack submarine was inducted into the Indian Navy.  This is a major step which will make the Indian submarines more lethal. While, INS Karanj will be commissioned on March 10, 2021.

Highlights

The Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) allows the submarine to be submerged for a long period under water. This system also makes the sub-surface platform more deadly by turning it quieter than the nuclear submarine. The Indian Navy has planned to retrofit all of its Kalvari class non-nuclear attack with the AIP system in its first upgrade.

Kalvari Class Submarine

The Kalvari class submarine is having the weight of 1615 tonne. The submarine is being built by Mazagon Dockyards Limited in association with the French Naval Group. This submarine is based on the Scorpene design.

Air Independent Propulsion (AIP)

It is any marine propulsion technology which allows the non-nuclear submarine to operate without providing access to the atmospheric oxygen by surfacing or by using the snorkel. This propulsion system can augment or replace the diesel-electric propulsion system which is used in the non-nuclear vessels. The development of AIP technology in India by the DRDO is of huge boost for the Atma Nirbhar Bharat campaign because France, China, United States, United Kingdom and Russia are using this technology. This technology is based on the Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cell. Thus, the AIP fitted submarine does not require surface for charging its batteries and this way it can remain underwater for long periods.

INS Karanj

It is the third submarine of first batch of six Kalvari-class submarines in the Indian Navy. The submarine is a diesel-electric attack submarine which is based on Scorpene class. It has been designed by the French naval defense and energy group. It was manufactured by Mazagon Dock Limited.  It was launched on January 31, 2018 and was delivered to Indian Navy in February 2021. It will be commissioned into service on March 10, 2021.

The Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) has released the list of “Digital Payment Scorecard”. In the list, the State Bank of India (SBI) has topped for the third consecutive months.

Highlights

The digital payment scorecard tracks the performance of the Commercial Banks on several digital parameters. SBI maintained the top remitter bank by recording highest UPI transaction volume which accounted for nearly Rupees 640 million. SBI has also emerged as the largest issuer of debit cards. It issued over 290 million debit cards with a 30% market share with respect to card spends and 29% share with respect to transaction volume. Bank has also made steady progress with respect to increasing payment acceptance infrastructure.

SBI’s Transaction

SBI has processed the 6.36 billion transactions on its digital platforms which accounts for 67% of the total transaction volume of the bank. The bank accounts for around 25% market share by the transaction volume of its mobile banking. As per the SimilarWeb, the internet banking service of the SBI “onlinesbi.sbi” was ranked first in terms of online traffic in the category of banking credit and lending.

YONO Platform

The flagship digital payment platform YONO has also boosted the contributed to the digital lending presence. The platform has provided a boost to the digital lending by providing numerous personal loans which accounts to rupee 159.96 billion. This amount was disbursed during the financial year 2020-2021 in April- December 2020.

SBIePay

The Payment Aggregator service of the bank called “SBIePay” also caters to the emerging digital payment needs of big merchants in public sector- Central government departments, state government departments, Autonomous Bodies. It also serves the private sector enterprises.

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) recently notified that the finance ministry has decreased the threshold for mandatory e-invoicing from rupees 100 crores to rupees 50 crores. This new rule will come into effect from April 1, 2021.

Highlights

e-invoicing involves the reporting details of the specified Goods and Services Tax documents to the government-notified portal and to obtain a reference number. The IT systems provider for GST called GSTN claims that there exists not a larger difference between present system and the new one. The registered persons also seek to create the GST invoices on their own accounting or billing or ERP systems. These invoices are reported to the “Invoice Registration Portal (IPR)”. When the reporting is done, the IRP returns the e-invoice with unique Invoice Reference Number (IRN) after the e-invoice is signed digitally and a QR Code id added. This invoice was issued to the receiver along with the QR Code. This GST invoice will be valid only with the valid IRN.

Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC)

It is the nodal national agency which is responsible to administer the Customs, Central Excise, GST, Service Tax and Narcotics in India. This department was established in 1855 by then British Governor General of India. It was established with the objective of administering the customs laws in India. This department is the oldest government departments in India. Currently, the department comes under the Department of Revenue, ministry of Finance.

Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTIN)

The GSTIN software is developed by the Infosys Technologies and the Information Technology network. It is a non-profit organisation which was established to create a sophisticated network which is accessible to the stakeholders, taxpayers and government to access the information from the single portal.

The Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) started to implement the second phase of SMS regulation on March 8, 2021. With this move, the functioning of banks and e-commerce firms were hit and several crucial services were disrupted such as sending of one-time password (OTP) by banks and e-commerce firms for several services.

SMS Scrubbing

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) have recently notified that every SMS content will have to be verified before it is delivered to the users. This process of verifying the SMS content is known as SMS scrubbing. This process was implemented on March 8 after several delays. As this system was rolled out, unverified and unregistered SMS messages were blocked by the telecom operators.

Concerns

The implementation of the SMS regulation hit and halt the process of sending the OTP for several payment services. This implementation was not fine-tuned

Why this new regulation was implemented?

The TRAI highlighted that, unscrupulous telemarketers override the stated preference of subscriber nowadays by claiming the consent which could be obtained surreptitiously. Thus, this new regulation will provide the subscriber with the complete control over their consent. This concept of registered templates for both SMS and voice communication was introduced to prevent the mixing of the promotional messages into the transactional stream. The SMS content will be verified with the help of blockchain method. This method blocks every unregistered SMS.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)

It is a statutory body established under section 3 of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997. It regulates the telecommunications sector in India. TRAI comprises of a Chairperson and more than two full-time members.

The European Union has released its plan called “2030 Digital Compass Plan”. This plan was put forward after the Covid-19 pandemic exposed the 27-countries reliance on the key technologies owned by the Chinese and the U.S. companies. The plan will be presented to the Parliament for the final approval.

Highlights

The plan was released because, the European Union wants to produce the fifth global output of the cutting-edge semiconductors by the end of this decade. EU also seeks to make its first quantum computer in five years. This move is being taken in an effort to cut down its dependence on the technologies coming from the non-European countries.

About 2030 Digital Compass plan

The 2030 plan highlights the importance of semiconductors which are used in the connected cars, internet-linked devices, smartphones, high performance computers and artificial intelligence. The semiconductors are significant because there exists a global shortage which is shutting down car factories across the world. So, with this policy, the EU proposes for the production of cutting-edge and sustainable semiconductors in Europe to at least 20% of the world production in value. This plan also recommends for investing into the quantum technologies. EU is of the view that, quantum technologies will be a game changer in order to develop the new medicines and to speed up the genome sequencing. The EU has also aimed that, by 2025, Europe will have its first computer with quantum acceleration. This is making ways for Europe to boost the quantum capabilities by 2030. The plan also called for 10,000 climate-neutral facilities to help Europe in developing its own cloud infrastructure by 2030.

Aim of the Plan

It also seeks to double the unicorns, or companies with $1 billion valuation. The plan also aims for covering all the European households with the Gigabit network by 2030. It also seeks to cover all populated areas by 5G.

The State of Odisha has decided to set up the dedicated “District Investment Promotion Agencies (DIPA)” in 30 districts of the state. The DIPA will help in promoting and facilitating the investment in the state.

Significance of the move

The state of Odisha has observed the significant industrial development in last two decades. This large-scale increase in the investment has necessitated the stronger facilitation and handholding of the industrial projects at the level of districts. This industrial development will help in creating the employment opportunities for youth.

About DIPA

The District Investment Promotion Agencies will be set up in 30 districts of the state. It will operate under the leadership of respective District Collector and other constituent members senior district officials such as SPs, DFOs and line Department officials. The District Collector will be supported by the team of professionals to provide the investment facilitation, project monitoring and to promote the local entrepreneurship. It will be established at the District Collectorate. DIPA will work as an extended arm of IPICOL. It will be set up in phased manner from April 2021 to December 2021. Performance of the DIPAs will be look after by the “State Level Single Window Clearance Authority”.

Key Role of DIPA

DIPA will perform the following key roles:

  1. To facilitate and handhold the entrepreneurs during project implementation.
  2. To promote the enterprises in order to create large-scale employment.
  3. To promote the investment providing boost to the local strengths of respective districts.
  4. To ensure the early resolution of the investor grievances.
  5. To create the land bank for the fast project implementation.
  6. To closely monitor the implementation of the power supply, major road and water supply projects. These projects in turn will facilitate the industrialization and economic growth.
  7. To set up large and MSME projects in each district.

The Delhi government presented the budget for financial year 2021-2022 on March 9, 2021. The government presented a ₹69,000-crore budget which was themed on patriotism.

Highlights

Budget was presented by the Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia. While presenting the budget, he announced that the government has decided to celebrate 75th Independence Day of India. The Delhi government will hold programmes from March 12, 2021 which will last for 75 weeks.

Key Highlights of the Budget

The Deputy Chief Minister announced that, under the “Deshbhakti Budget”, government has proposed to allocate Rupees 45 crores in order to install high masts so as to hoist the national flag at 500 places in Delhi. The Deshbhakti period will be organised in the city schools. The budget highlights that, the government seeks to increase the per capita income of the Delhi in order to reach to the level of Singapore by year 2047. The government will also allocate rupees 10 crores for the programmes on Bhagat Singh’s life during the Deshbhakti celebrations. This year’s budget accounts for the budget outlay of more than 6.1 percent than the budget presented for financial 2020-21.

Economy of Delhi

Economy of Delhi is the 13th largest in all the states and union territories. The nominal GSDP of Delhi was estimated at rupees 6.86 lakh crores for the fiscal year 2017-18. In the year 2014-15, the growth rate was 9.2%. In the year 2017-18, the tertiary sector had contributed about 85% of the GSDP in Delhi while the secondary and primary sectors contributed 12% and 3% respectively. The services sector had recorded the annual growth of 7.3%. National Capital Territory is the largest commercial centre in the north India. The recent estimates, as of 2020, the economy of Urban area in Delhi was accounted for dollar 295 billion.

Scientists have recently detected the signs of a hidden structure inside the core of Planet Earth. This sign has the potential to change the long-standing narrative of what lies at centre of Earth. This layer is being termed as the ‘fifth layer’.

Highlights

As per the long-standing narrative, there exists four layers namely; crust, mantle, outer core and inner core. The scientists have also spotted reportedly some changes in the structure of iron within the inner core. These changes suggests that a new ‘boundary line’ is stretching for about 650 kilometres from centre of the Earth.

About the fifth layer

The Daily Mail reports that, the researchers are getting the sign of fifth layer for more than a decade. However, the detection was proved near to impossible. The researchers are suspecting about the fifth after they studies the travel time data of the seismic waves which are travelling inside the Earth. The data was captured by the International Seismological Centre. Following the data, the scientists and researchers used their new algorithm in order to search and discover the evidence of changes in structure of inner core of the Earth. Though it is difficult to detect the minute changes, the researchers somehow demonstrate that two separate cooling events occurred in the history of the planet.

What does the study imply?

This research study also implies that in the earliest phase of the Earth’s evolution that is around 4.56 billion years ago, Earth underwent a dramatic and several unknown events. Though, these studies were indirect, the geologists determined that the Earth’s inner core reaches the temperatures of more than 5,000 degrees Celsius. This is also relatively smaller in area accounting only 1% of the total volume of Earth.

The Indian space agency, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in collaboration with the US space agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has completed the development of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) which has the capability of producing extremely high-resolution images for joint earth observation satellite mission.

About NASA-ISRO SAR (NISAR)

It is a joint collaboration for the dual-frequency L-Band and S-Band SAR for the earth observation. NISAR is the first satellite mission which will use two different radar frequencies called L-band and S-band. These radar frequencies will be used to measure the changes in Earth’s surface less than a centimetre across. This mission will be launched in the year 2022 from the Sriharikota spaceport of ISRO in Andhra Pradesh. The payload was shipped from the Ahmedabad-based Space Applications Centre (SAC) to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of NASA.

ISRO-NASA Collaboration

NASA is providing the L-band SAR for the mission. SAR is a sophisticated information-processing technique that is used to produce high-resolution images. It is a high-rate communication subsystem for the GPS receivers, science data, payload data subsystem and a solid-state recorder. On the other hand, ISRO is providing the S-band radar, spacecraft bus, launch vehicle and other launch services associated with the mission. ISRO is aimed at making global measurements of the causes & consequences of the land surface change with the help of radar imaging. S-band SAR payload was flagged off by Secretary of the Department of Space & ISRO Chairman, K Sivan on March 4, 2021.

Background

The space agencies, NASA and ISRO has inked a deal to develop and launch the NISAR satellite on September 30, 2014.

Application of NISAR

NISAR mission will provide a means of highly spatial and temporally complex processes such as ecosystem disturbances, ice sheet collapses and natural hazards like volcanoes, landslides, earthquakes and tsunamis. It will also measure the changing ecosystems of Earth, dynamic surfaces & ice masses. The mission will also provide information regarding the biomass, natural hazards, groundwater and sea level rise.

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the all-women art exhibition titled as “Akshya Patra” was inaugurated on March 9, 2021 at the Lalit Kala Akademi.

Highlights

This art exhibition is being organised at the Rabindra Bhavan Galleries and will conclude on March 20, 2021. The art exhibition will showcase around 250 artworks form across the 12 countries. It also includes the art work of those created by 29 talented female artists who attended three-day all women’s national art camp at the Garhi Studios. This is a multi-dimensional art show which exhibits the art works of budding, young as well as senior artists. The art exhibition will bring about both the Indian and the international participants to the fore tribal, international, contemporary, and Avante Garde art practices around the globe. This art exhibition has been themed around many faces and benefactions of Mother Nature.

Lalit Kala Akademi

It is also known as the National Academy of Art. It is the national academy of fine arts in India. This Academy is an autonomous organisation which was established in the year 1954 at New Delhi. It was established and founded by the Union Ministry of Culture. It is headquartered at the Ravindra Bhawan, New Delhi. This academy promotes and propagates the understanding of Indian art across the globe. It also provides scholarships and a fellow program besides sponsoring & organising the exhibitions across the world. The academy also publishes a bilingual journal. The academy confers the National Art Awards in India and Asia in which a shawl, a plaque and 1 lakh rupees are provided to awardee.

The Central Silk Board (CSB) under the Ministry of Textiles and the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a “convergence model” in order to implement the “Agro-forestry in silk sector” under the “Sub-Mission on Agroforestry (SMAF) Scheme”.

Key Points

The MoU was signed in the presence of Union Minister of textile and Women & Child Development, Smriti Irani and the Minister of State for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Parshottam Rupala. On the occasion, Smriti Irani stated that, India will become self-reliant in silk production within next two years.

Convergence Model

The convergence model in the silk sector will be implemented with the aim of incentivizing the farmers so as to implement the “sericulture-based Agroforestry models”. In this way, the farmers would be contributing to Make in India and Make for World vision of Prime Minister. This model will add another dimension to the agroforestry in order to get the faster returns and support the production of varieties of silks.  The initiative of formalizing the collaboration in the sericulture sector is targeted to increase the size of sericulture host plants like Asan, Arjuna, Som, Soalu, Mulberry, BadaKesseru and Phanat. to be cultivated both as block plantations and border or peripheral plantations on farmlands. The Central Silk Board will be the agency that will promote Agroforestry in silk sector.

Central Silk Board

It is a statutory body which was established under the Ministry of Textile in 1948 by the Act of Parliament.

Sub-Mission on Agroforestry (SMAF) Scheme

The SMAF Scheme was launched in the year 2016-2017. Since then, the scheme is being implemented by the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare (DAC & FW) in accordance with the recommendation of National Agroforestry Policy 2014. India was the first country that launched this comprehensive policy. The SMAF Scheme is implemented in the states which have liberalized the transit regulation to transport the timber.

Switzerland has voted on March 7, 2021 in favour of the proposal to ban the full facial coverings such as burqa and niqab in almost all the public places. This controversial proposal was passed following a public referendum which was supported by around 51.21 percent of voters. This proposal of banning the full-face coverings in public was tabled by groups like right-wing Swiss People’s Party.

Highlights

This referendum means that, full facial covering will be banned in all publicly accessible places in Switzerland such as in the countryside, on the streets, in public transport, in public offices like shops, restaurants. However, the full-face covering will be allowed at the places of worship and other such sacred sites. covering face will be allowed for health & safety reasons as well besides in the situations where covering face is the local custom like in carnivals.

Will tourists be exempted?

The proposal banning to cover the full face, which was proposed by the Swiss Federal Government, states that there will not be additional exceptions like for the tourists.

How the world is responding?

This proposal of banning full face cover does not mention Islam specifically but it is being referred to as ‘burqa ban’ among the media. This proposal was also widely criticised by the Civic groups, Human rights groups, Swiss Federal Government and the Swiss religious organizations. This proposal was also criticised by the ‘Swiss Council of Religions’ by stating that “human right to religious freedom also protects the religious practices like dress code”. The Swiss Council of Religion represents the major religious communities in of Switzerland. Further, the Swiss Federal Council, which serves the federal government as well as the Swiss Parliament, also rejected this initiative and had urged people to vote against this proposal.

Background

The referendum to ban full-face coverings in Switzerland was passed after several debates. France became the first European country that banned burqas and niqabs in public places in the year 2011. The European Court of Human Rights had upvoted this ban in the year 2014.