Daily Current Affairs - 10-03-2021

The Union Cabinet has approved the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Nidhi (PMSSN) on March 10, 2021 as a single non-lapsable reserve fund.

Highlights

This has been approved for the share of Health from proceeds of Health and Education Cess which is levied under the Section 136-b of Finance Act, 2007.

Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Nidhi

This is a non-lapsable reserve fund for the Health in the Public Account. This fund will comprise of the proceeds from the share of health in the Health and Education Cess. This revenue in the fund will be used for the flagship schemes of the Health Ministry including the National Health Mission, Ayushman Bharat – Health and Wellness Centres, Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana and for the emergency & disaster preparedness and responses in cases of health emergencies. The fund will be administered and maintained by the Ministry of Health & Family welfare.  The fund also includes the emergency & disaster preparedness & responses during the health emergencies. It also seeks to achieve the progress towards Sustainable Development Goals and targets of the National Health Policy 2017. In any financial year, the expenditure on schemes will be incurred from the fund initially and later from the Gross Budgetary Support.

Significance of the fund

This fund is significant because the fund will ensure the enhanced access of the universal and affordable health care with the availability of earmarked resources. It will also ensure that this amount does not lapse with the end of fiscal year.

Why this fund was needed?

Health is an important asset because it helps in achieving the improved developmental outcome. A better health leads to a better productivity. So, this fund was needed so that universal health is ensured for all.

The Indian Navy has inducted into service the third Scorpene-class conventional diesel-electric submarine called INS Karanj on March 10, 2021.

Highlights

The watercraft called INS Karanj was commissioned by the former Navy Chief, Admiral V.S. Shekhawat. He was the Commanding Officer of previous version of the INS Karanj during 1971 India-Pakistan War.

Background

INS Karanj is the part of Six Scorpene submarines which are being built under Project-75. It was built by Mazagon Dock Limited which has also taken up the other projects. The submarine was built under technology transfer from the Naval Group of France for which a dollar 3.75 billion deal was signed in October 2005. But the project is delayed by four years because of delay in construction.

Project-75

Under the project-75, the first submarine of the class called INS Kalvari was commissioned in the month of December, 2017.  The second submarine called INS Khanderi was commissioned in the month of September, 2019. The fourth submarine INS Vela was launched in May, 2019. In the month of November 2020, the fifth submarine called Vagir was commissioned.

Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) modules

The Indian Navy is also looking to install the Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) modules on all the submarines in order to enhance its endurance. However, the plan to install AIP plugs on the fifth & sixth submarines got failed because the indigenous module of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) got delayed.

INS Karanj

It is the third submarine of first batch of the six Kalvari-class submarines. This submarine is a diesel-electric attack submarine which is based on Scorpene class. It has been designed by the French naval defence and energy group and manufactured by Mazagon Dock Limited which is an Indian shipyard. This ship was launched in January 2018 and was delivered to Indian Navy in February 2021.

The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, on March 10, 2021 have urged all the Members of Parliament (MPs) and the public representatives to take part in ‘Amrit Mahotsav’.

About Amrit Mahotsav

The Amrit Mahotsav will start from March 12, 2021 to mark the 75 years of India’s Independence from the British rule. It will start at the Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat. This festival will be organised at the 75 locations for 75 weeks across the country.

Logo of Amrit Mahotsav

The MyGov recently launched a logo design contest for the Amrit Mahotsav so as to commemorate the monumental occasion. To participate in the contest, the artists were required to design a logo on the themes ranging from  Governance, Development, Technology, Reform, Progress and Policy over the years.

Who are eligible for the contest?

This logo contest was open only for the citizens of India. The entry for the contest was free and no qualifications have been prescribed by the government. The entry was closed on February 28, 2021.

How the logo was selected?

The entries received by February 28 will be evaluated by the Selection Committee which was constituted for this purpose. Committee will shortlist the entries and decide the winner if any entry is found suitable. These entries will be judged on the basis of originality, creativity, technical excellence, composition, simplicity, visual impact, artistic merit and how the theme is communicated. The committee will decide one winner, two runners-up regarding which the decision of the committee will be final. The winner will get the prize of Rs 1 lakh, while the two runners-up will get the price of Rs 50,000 and Rs 25,000 respectively.

The scientists are looking for the signs of ancient life on the Red Planet with the help of data gathered by the NASA’s rover Perseverance which is exploring the surface of Mars. Scientists find that the data collected on the mission is much closer to home at the Salda lake located in southwest Turkey.

Highlights

The American space agency, NASA, stated that the minerals and rock deposits at Salda lake are the nearest match on earth with the deposits on the Jezero Crater where the spacecraft landed. The Jezero Crater is believed to be once flooded with water. The Information which was gathered from Lake Salda would help the scientists to search for the fossilised traces of microbial life which is preserved in the sediment which were deposited around the delta and the long-vanished lake. Scientists are of the view that, these sediments around the lake were eroded from large mounds which are formed with the help of microbes and are called as microbialites.

Lake Salda

It is a mid-size crater lake which is located in southwestern Turkey. It lies within the boundaries of Yeşilova district in Burdur Province. The lake is located at the distance of about fifty kilometres in the west from Burdur. The lake is included in Turkish Lakes Region which is extended across the inner western to southern Anatolia.  It has the area of 4,370 hectares and a depth of 196 meters.

Jezero crater

The crater is located on Mars in Syrtis Major quadrangle. The lake is having the diameter of about 49.0 km. This crater is believed to be once flooded with water. It comprises of the fan-delta deposit rich in clays. From a study of the delta and channels, the scientists had concluded that the lake inside crater was formed during the period when there was continuous surface runoff.

The World Bank has recently published its report called “Connecting to thrive: Challenges and Opportunities of Transport Integration in Eastern South Asia”. As per the report, greater transport connectivity in between India and Bangladesh can increase the national income of both the nations.

Key findings of the report

The report highlights that the seamless bilateral connectivity between the countries have the potential to increase the national income of India by 8% and of Bangladesh by 17%. It further states that, Bangladesh’s exports to India can increase by 182% and India’s exports to Bangladesh can increase by 126% if they sign a free trade agreement. As per the report, if the transport connectivity is increased, it will lead to increase of Bangladesh’s export to India by 297% and India’s exports to Bangladesh by 172 %. The report notes that, presently, Indian trucks are not allowed to transit into Bangladesh because of which the transportation cost for goods into the north-eastern states of India increases.

Significance of the report

The report becomes significant in the context of inauguration of the “Maitri Setu” which is a bridge built across the Feni river on between Tripura (India) and Bangladesh. It is a 1.9 km long bridge which will allow Tripura to access port of Chittagong in Bangladesh.

What the report said about Bangladesh?

The report also said that, Bangladesh is a strategic gateway to India, Bhutan, Nepal, and other East Asia countries. As per the report, Bangladesh can become the economic powerhouse in the region by improving regional trade, transit and logistics network.

Way forward

The World Bank officials stated that, if a transit facility is opened between India and Bangladesh, it will reduce the distance between Agartala and Kolkata to 450 km which currently takes 1600 km to connect.

A World Health Organisation official has recently stated that, vaccine passports for COVID-19 should not be used for international travel because of several concerns like ethical considerations that the coronavirus vaccines are not easily available across the world.

Background

Israel was the first country that introduced a certification system in February 2021. This certification system allows to access certain facilities & events to those who have been vaccinated against Covid-19. This is being termed as “Vaccine Passport”. This passport provides for public facilities like gyms, restaurants and hotels in country. However, the passport also has its bearing on full resumption of the international air travel.

About vaccine passports

The vaccine passport is designed as a “proof of vaccination” that some of the countries has mandated even before Covid-19 pandemic. The travellers coming from several African countries to United States or India are required to provide this certificate as a proof that they are vaccinated against diseases like yellow fever. The vaccine passports are the digital documents and they also function as a proof of vaccination against Covid-19. The vaccine passport will also act as a “digital vaccination record” across the countries. Many countries have started accepting the proof of vaccination in order to bypass quarantine norms however, universally accepted version of vaccine passport is not yet emerged.

Other Proof of vaccination

Several associations and nonprofits are also issuing their own version of proof of vaccination for international travel similar to ones issued by the Israeli government. For instance, the International Air Transport Association which is a global trade body that represents the airlines, is to develop an app called “IATA Travel Pass”. This app will provide a common platform to check for vaccination proof for the airlines and other aviation industry stakeholders. The Non-profit Commons Project is testing an app called CommonPass, which comprises of the vaccination record of passengers.

The tech giant Google is celebrating the 89th birthday of renowned Indian professor and scientist Udupi Ramachandra Rao on March 10, 2021 through its “Google Doodle”. The doodle features a sketch of Professor Rao and having a background of Earth and shooting stars to mark his contributions in the space arena.

Who was Udupi Ramachandra Rao?

Udupi Ramachandra Rao was an Indian space scientist. He also worked as the chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation. The scientist was also the Chairman of Governing Council of Indian Institute for Space Science and Technology (IIST) at Thiruvananthapuram, Physical Research Laboratory at Ahmedabad and Nehru Planetarium at Bengaluru. He is remembered as the “India’s Satellite Man”. He died in the year 2017. He was born in a village of Karnataka on March 10, 1932. He started his career as a cosmic-ray physicist and as a protege of Dr Vikram Sarabhai who is regarded as the father of India’s space program. He then worked as a professor and conducted experiments on Pioneer and Explorer space probes of NASA. He returned to India in 1966 and lead the 1975 launch of India’s first satellite called “Aryabhata”. This satellite is one among 20 satellites the professor developed. The satellite transformed the rural India by providing advanced communication and meteorological services.

Awards and honour

Professor Rao was awarded with the Padma Bhushan by Government of India in the year 1976, and he was conferred with the Padma Vibhushan in the 2017. Professor was inducted into Satellite Hall of Fame, Washington in March 2013 at the ceremony organised by the Society of Satellite Professionals International. Thus, he became the first Indian to be inducted into Satellite Hall of Fame. The professor was also inducted in International Astronautics Federation (IAF) in May 2016 and became the first Indian again to achieve this honour.

The International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) and worldwide organisation of film archives and museums from across the globe will confer the prestigious 2021 FIAF Award to Amitabh Bachchan at a virtual showcase on March 19, 2021.

Highlights

The 78-year-old actor was nominated for the award by the FIAF affiliate Film Heritage Foundation which is a not-for-profit organisation founded by Shivendra Singh Dungarpur a filmmaker & archivist. This foundation is dedicated to preserve, restore, document, exhibit and study the film heritage of India. The award will be given to him by filmmakers Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan. Both are the previous recipients of the award. Amitabh Bachchan will be honoured for his dedication and contribution to the preservation of the film heritage.

International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF)

FIAF was founded in the year 1938 in Paris by Cinematheque Francaise and by Museum of Modern Art in New York City. It brings together the leading institutions working in the field of moving picture heritage across the world. Its affiliates describe those institutions as “defenders of the twentieth century’s own art form”. FIAF are dedicated to collect, rescue, preserve and screen the moving images which are valued as works of art & culture as well as a historical document. It comprises of 172 film heritage institutions in 80 countries as of November 2020.

FIAF Award

FIAF award celebrates the personality who is external to FIAF archival community. It honours those personalities whose experience with respect to the cinema comply with the objectives and goals of the Federation. This award was created in the year 2001.

The government has put a “Draft Excise Policy” in public domain with respect to the government’s proposal to allot the retail liquor vends through e-auction. This move was taken by the government in order to generate more revenue for the exchequer in the Union territory. It will also remove the possibility of cartelization and monopolistic practices.

Excise Policy 2021-22

This policy will be finalized soon by the government. This policy has been drafted with the aim of rationalizing the number of taxes or duties and other levies. This will help in optimizing the revenue for common good and encouraging the transition from high alcoholic content beverages to low. It will also bring about a greater social consciousness regarding the harmful effects of consumption of liquor and alcoholic beverages. Finally, it will check bootlegging or smuggling of liquor in Union Territories from neighbouring States or Union Territories.

Provisions of the policy

According to the Excise Policy, the vends will be allotted for the period of one year in accordance with the provisions of J&K Excise Act and Rules. Further, total number of shops which will be allocated will be the same as the existing numbers of shops. The policy also comprises no provisions for increasing the number of vends to be auctioned.

How the vends will be allocated?

The vends will be allotted in those areas where these shops are operational currently. Vends will be allotted through e-auction portal in a secured and transparent manner. One can apply for any number of locations for vends, but they will be allocated only one location to negate the cartelization and monopolistic practices. Further, the bidder must be above the age 21 and should have a domicile of Jammu & Kashmir. The bidder should not be convicted or charge-sheeted for any offence in accordance with J&K Excise Act.

China and Russia have recently signed a planetary pact. This plan for a joint lunar space station was unveiled on March 9, 2021.

Highlights

This pact was signed between the countries because Russia seeks to regain the glory of space pioneering which was there in the Soviet times while China geared up its own extra-terrestrial ambitions. Russia was once the one among the top countries of space travel. It has a record of sending the first man into space. But, the cosmic ambitions of Russia dimmed the glory because of poor financing and corruption. The glory of Russia has been captured by China and the United States. Both of these countries have achieved major success in space exploration and research.

Russia-China collaboration

The Russian space agency Roscosmos stated that, it had signed a pact with the National Space Administration (CNSA) of China with the objective of developing a complex of experimental research facilities which have been created on either surface or in the orbit of Moon. Under the collaboration, Russia’s first modern lunar lander called “Luna 25” has been scheduled to launch on October 1, 2021.

Manned Space flights

Russia will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of its first-ever manned space flight. The country had sent Yuri Gagarin into space in April 1961. In 1963, it again sent the first woman, Valentina Tereshkova, into space. The United States also launched its first manned space flight following Russia in May 1961. Russia sent Alan Shepard into space on the Mercury-Redstone 3 flight.

China’s biggest international pact

China has launched in 2020, the Tianwen-1 probe to Mars which is currently orbiting it. Again, in December 2020 it successfully brought the rock and soil samples from Moon back to Earth. In the line, this joint lunar space station pact is the largest international space cooperation project for China.

The department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has highlighted that, the government is planning to ease and scrap the thousands of compliance burdens for the companies. It will be done in two phases by August 15, 2021.

Background

In a webinar organised in the first week of March 2021, Prime Minister Modi had promised the industry leaders to reduce the India Inc’s burden by scraping the 6000 compliance requirements.

Highlights

The scrapping of the compliance burden is the part of government’s efforts to improve ease of doing business and ease of living in the light of Covid-19 pandemic. In order to achieve this, DPIIT is focussing on four issues namely;

  1. To relax the compliance burden
  2. To remove the archaic laws
  3. To decriminalising several civil offences and
  4. To simplify citizen-government interface.

DPIIT has also announced to launch a regulatory compliance portal which will act as the bridge between citizens, industries and government so as to reduce the compliances.

About the compliance

The DPIIT assessment highlights that, around 4000 compliance requirements are in the states’ domain and while some 2000 compliance requirements are in centre’s domain. Under the first phase of the initiative those compliance needs would be taken up for which the abolition would not require any amendment in the laws or scrapped laws. First phase will be completed by March 31. While in the second phase, those compliance requirements would be taken up for which legislative changes are required to scrap them. This phase will be completed by August 15.

Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT)

It is a central government department works under the aegis of Ministry of Commerce and Industry. DPIIT is responsible to formulate & implement the promotional & developmental measures for the growth of industrial sector.  The department look after the overall industrial policy while several individual administrative ministries are responsible for production, distribution, development and planning of specific industries. DPIIT was named in its current form on January 27, 2019 by changing the name of “Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion”.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published its interim Economic Outlook on March 9, 2021. It has projected that the Indian economy will grow at the rate of 12.6% in Financial Year 2022. This will be the highest among G20 countries.

Highlights

The economic outlook is aided by the additional fiscal support after covid-19 pandemic pushed Indian economy into recession after almost 40 years. The report highlights that, recovery in activity continued in fourth quarter of 2020 despite there were new virus outbreaks and tighter containment norms in some economies. The Global output was around 1% lower than it was before the covid-19 pandemic.

Key Findings of the report

The report highlights that, several large emerging-market economies are rebounding relatively fast. Strong fiscal & quasi-fiscal measures, recovery in manufacturing & construction and several other activities have moved above the pre-pandemic levels in Turkey, China and India. These activities have helped these economies in recovering. OEC has projected India’s growth will be increased by 4.7 percent from 7.9% in December 2020. For the financial year 2021, the report estimated a contraction in economy by 7.4 percent as opposed to 8 percent contraction estimated by the Indian government.

Other reports on India’s growth

The rating agency Crisil Ltd has also projected that the Indian economy will grow at 11% in the Financial Year 2022. This growth will be driven by flattening of covid-19 affliction curve, vaccination programme and investment-focused government spending.

World Economic Outlook

Economic Outlook is the twice-yearly analysis, published by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It comprises of economic analysis and the forecasts for future economic performance of the member countries of OECD. The main version of the report is published in English however, it is also published in French and German languages. Apart from the economic outlook, OECD also publishes Monthly Economic Indicators to complement the Economic Outlook.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCDE)

It is an intergovernmental economic organisation comprising of 37 member countries. It was founded in the year 1961 to look after the economic progress and the world trade. It is also an official United Nations observer.