Daily Current Affairs - 13-03-2021

The Indian army is all set to procure Made in India “Mobile Integrated Network Terminal (MINT)” systems providing a huge boost to the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan of the government.  The MINT system will enhance the operational communication capability of the Indian Army in accordance with the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan.

Highlights

The Ministry of defence highlighted that; Indian Army is in the process of procuring the MINT systems under the Make II Category of DAP 2020. This system is a portable, lightweight, state of art integrated communication solution comprising of the satellite backhaul and wireless access system to provide the support voice, video and data.

‘Make-II’ category

The ‘Make-II’ category projects which comprises of the prototype development of system, equipment, platform or their upgrades. Such projects are ‘Industry Funded’. the projects could also comprise of the sub-systems or sub-assembly or assemblies or components of the developing systems. This category of the project provides for a focus on the import substitution and innovative solutions. For prototype development purposes under this category, no government funding is provided.

How the contract will be finalised?

As per the evaluation of response submitted by Indian Industry total of eleven firms were issued the Project Sanction Order on March, 12 2021. These firms will not develop the prototype.  Following this, Contract will be placed with one of the firms after they successfully develop the prototype in accordance with the provisions of Buy (Indian-IDDM) of DAP 2020.

Buy (Indian-IDDM) category

It refers to the acquisition of products of the Indian vendor who have indigenously designed, developed and manufactured the product with a minimum of 50 per cent Indigenous Content. The indigenous content is used on the cost basis of base contract price which is the total contract price minus the taxes and duties.

The government discussing and is in process of developing regulations for the personal and non-personal data through the Draft National e-commerce policy. The policy highlights that the government have laid down the principles regarding the usage of data for development of any of the industry where such norms are not in effect. With the draft policy, the government put an adequate safeguard that seeks to prevent misuse and access of data by the unauthorized persons.

Highlights

The draft policy states that, sharing of data for the industrial development will be encouraged and it will also provide for a sharing mechanism to regulate the data. Government will lay down the principles to use data for the purpose of developing any e-commerce, industry, consumer protection, economic security, national security and law enforcement. The draft policy seeks to safeguards the misuse and access of data by any unauthorized persons. The draft highlights that, government recognises the importance of data and needs to use data initiating from India for Indian entities first.

About e-commerce policy

The draft e-commerce policy was drafted and released by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). The e-Commerce Policy lays down several regulating strategies in order to address the issues regarding the data privacy, maintenance of level playing field and sector-Consumer protection.

What was the need for policy?

The average internet usage of the users in India have increased over time. In the year 2014, average monthly data consumption in India stood at just 0.26 GB per person which had increased to 4GB by 2017. This increase in the internet usage means that more data is being generated. Thus, the need for greater regulation was felt by prioritizing the privacy and consumer protection which in turn benefit the domestic economy. This policy was needed to ensure a competition in market in order to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) have released the ‘India FinTech: A USD 100 Billion Opportunity’ report”.

Highlights

The report highlights the findings from the study conducted by BCG and FICCI. The study was conducted to size the value-creation potential and to identify the imperatives for FinTech growth of India.

FinTech Industry in India

The FinTech industry in India is growing at a fast rate. The FinTech players are redefining their business models in different sectors of financial services industry. They are also helping in improving the service delivery and are also contributing to the digital financial inclusion. The dynamic FinTech industry of India has more than 2100 FinTechs out of which 67% were set up in the last 5 years. The total value of the industry accounts to $50-$60 billion. The growth of the industry has not been affected by the pandemic. Amid the pandemic, the industry signifies the emergence of 3 new Unicorns and 5 new Soonicorns since January 2020.

Why fintech industry is a success on India?

The Fintech industry is witnessing a strong growth because of deep-rooted customer demand, strong tech talent, diverse capital flows and enabling policy framework in India.

Internationalization of Indian FinTechs

The report also covers the theme of internationalization of Indian FinTechs. The BCG-FICCI conducted the “BCG-FICCI FinTech Survey 2021” in a bid to develop a close understanding of FinTech industry’s multinational ambitions. As per the survey, 39% of Indian FinTechs surveyed have its presence outside India while 73% of FinTechs are considering international expansion opportunities. The report highlights that, South-East Asia followed by North America were the most sought-after destination for the international expansion.

The Sangay volcano of Ecuador was erupted on March 11, 2021 and it ejected the clouds of ash up to the height of 8,500 meters into the sky.

More in news

Following the eruption, the sky in the capital of Chimborazo called Riobamba was overcast with the ash cloud even though the capital city is located around 50 kilometres away from the Sangay Volcano. The Sangay volcano has recorded activity since past few weeks now. the ash from the volcano has also damaged the crops and cattle around the city.

About Sangay Volcano

The Sangay volcano is one among the highest active volcanoes across the world. This is the most active volcano in the Ecuador even though it has erupted only for four times in the past because the eruption of 1934 is still going on. The volcano is the southernmost stratovolcano located in the northern volcanic zone of the Andes. It is around 5230 metre in height. It is home to the significant biological community with fauna like giant otter, mountain tapir, Andean cock-of-the-rock and king vulture. The ecological community of the protected under the Sangay National Park since 1983. The park is a world heritage site.

Background

The volcano was erupted historically in the year 1628. After that, continuous eruptions were reported in between 1728 & 1916 to 1934 & present. It has had frequent eruptions mostly of strombolian type.

Stratovolcano

The volcano comprising of the alternate layers of lava and ash is called as stratovolcano.

Strombolian eruption

The type of volcanic eruption comprising of mild blasts are called as the Strombolian eruption. Such eruptions are having the Volcanic Explosivity Index of 1 to 3. It comprises of ejection of the incandescent cinders, lava bombs and lapilli. It rises up to the altitudes of tens to hundreds of metres.

The Uttar Pradesh government will be organising a three-day “Kalanamak Rice Festival” in the Siddharth Nagar district, Uttar Pradesh. The festival will start from March 13, 2021. This festival is being organised after grand success of “Strawberry Festival in Jhansi” and “Jaggery Festival in Lucknow”.

Highlights

The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, has emphasized to promote the localised production and provide them a market in a bid to create new income opportunities for the farmers. The festival was inaugurated virtually on March 13.

About the Festival

The rice festival event is being organised so as to promote, market and brand the selected products as One District One Product (ODOP) under the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ and ‘Local for Vocal’ campaign. The Kala Namak Rice is grown in this region and is One District One Product of some of the Eastern UP districts. Thus, those who attended the festival would be able to taste dishes made with Kala Namak rice. They can purchase Kala Namak paddy seeds and rice from these stalls. During the festival, the visitors will get to know the historical, nutritional and scientific merits & information regarding the cultivation of Kala Namak Rice. The festival displayed several dishes prepared by the Kalanamak rice at various stalls. The dishes include pulao, kheer, lentils, cumin rice, poha, vegetable, rice-chickpeas, khichdi, idli, fara.

Cultural programs

The festival will also mark the colourful cultural programs in which the local artists and students showcase their talent. The programme will also be providing the progressive farmers, FPOs and self-help groups with information with respect to the cultivation and processing of the product.

About Kalanamak rice

The rice is a geographical indication (GI) tagged rice from Siddharth Nagar district in Uttar Pradesh. It is grown in Siddharthanagar, Deoria, Gorakhpur, Maharajganj, Kushinagar, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Gonda, Bahraich, Balrampur, and Shravasti as ODOP.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) have asked the government of Somalia on March 12, 2021 to organise elections in the country without further delay. This was asked by the UNSC in a resolution which has stressed about the pressing threat of security in Somalia because of al-Shabab and armed opposition groups.

Highlights

The UNSC resolution which was adopted has authorized the African Union to maintain around 20,000-strong force in Somalia until the end of year 2020. This was done in a bid to reduce the threat from extremist groups and enable a federal, sovereign, united and stable Somalia. The resolution was passed with the objective of transferring the security to Somali authorities so that the country lead in 2021 and achieve full responsibility by 2023. The UNSC resolution also stressed upon the importance of capacity building among the Somali forces and institutions and authorize AU force.

Background

The resolution was adopted amid the growing pressure on the President of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, after the scheduled elections in the month of February, 2021 could not take place. The election failed to take place as there was no agreement on how the vote will be carried out. The critics also accused Mohamed of delaying the election because he is seeking a second four-year term.

About Somalia

Somalia is a country in Horn of Africa. The country is bordered by Ethiopia in the west, Djibouti in the Northwest, Gulf of Aden in the north, Indian Ocean in the east, and Kenya in the southwest. It has the longest coastline on the mainland Africa. The country has the estimated population of 15 million and is the most culturally homogeneous country in Africa. 85% of the residents are ethnic Somalis. Official languages of Somalia include Somali and Arabic.

The Panel for Air Quality Management set by the Central government in around the National Capital Region has now been dissolved after five months of its constitution.

Highlights

The Panel was set by the Centre government in the month of October 2020. Now the panel stands dissolved because the ordinance which was passed to set up the panel has lapsed. Ordinance had to be introduced in Parliament within six weeks. But it was not introduced within the prescribed time because of which the ordinance lapsed. The panel was headed by a former secretary in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, M.M. Kutty.

About Panel for Air Quality Management

The statutory authority called the commission for Air Quality Management was set after the President signed the “Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region (NCR) and Adjoining Areas Ordinance, 2020”.  This panel was constituted to monitor the Air Quality in NCR and the Adjoining Areas. This ordinance also dissolved the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA). The ordinance was passed in a bid to consolidate all the monitoring bodies and to bring a uniform platform in order to carry the air quality management in a comprehensive and efficient manner.

Background

The air quality monitoring and management in Delhi NCR region has been done by multiple bodies such as EPCA, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), state pollution control boards and the state governments in Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan & Uttar Pradesh. They are monitored by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEFCC) and Supreme Court. The supreme court monitors the air quality in accordance with ‘M C Mehta vs Union of India’, 1988 case judgement.

Composition of Commission

The Commission was headed by full-time chairperson who happens to be the Secretary to Government of India or the Chief Secretary to State government. It was also composed of the members from various ministries and representatives from stakeholder states. It also comprised of experts from civil society, Indian Space Research Organisation and CPCB.

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi addressed the fourth Global Ayurveda Festival on March 12, 2021 in the virtual mode.

Highlights

On the occasion, the Prime Minister highlighted the growing global interest in Ayurveda. He also appreciated the efforts of those working on Ayurveda across the globe. While highlighting the importance of Ayurveda as a holistic human science and its importance from plants to the plate of human, he highlighted how the demand for ayurvedic products is steadily rising amid the covid-19 pandemic. Thus, he said, this current situation of pandemic is a right time for the Ayurveda & Traditional medicines to become more popular across the world. He also called to take advantage of Ayurveda’s popularity and opportunities which arises by combining traditional with modern medicines.

About 4th Global Ayurveda Festival

The Fourth Global Ayurveda Festival was planned for 16th to 20th May 2020. However, because of Covid-19 pandemic it shifted to 2021 and is being organised in virtual mode from 12th to 19th March 2021. Even during the pandemic, the intended intensity, impact, size, and participation have not been diluted. The even would comprise of live sessions such as plenaries, parallel sessions, symposiums, virtual exhibition, paper presentations and virtual networking. This event is providing space for organizations, institutions, associations, individuals and statutory bodies from the field of Ayurveda to meet, share, know and grow together.

Theme of the festival

Under the event, International Ayurveda Seminar will be organised under the Theme “Strengthening Host Defence System – Ayurveda A Potential Promise”; International Delegate Assembly will be organised under the Theme “Globalizing Ayurveda – Scope, Challenges and Solutions” while the “International Business Meet” will be organised under the Theme “Global Ayurveda Pharmacy – Practices, Possibilities and Policies”.

The National Academy of Letters have announced the names for the “Sahitya Akademi Award 2020 on March 12, 2021. The names were announced during the opening of annual “Festival of Letters” event.

Highlights

The award will be bestowed upon the politician-writer M Veerappa Moily, poet Arundhathi Subramaniam along with other 20 writers. Subramaniam have won the award for her poetry collection called “When God is a Traveller” in English. Veerappa Moily has been named for his epic poetry called Sri Bahubali Ahimsa Digvijayam in Kannada language. The list comprises of seven books of poetry, five short stories, four novels, two plays, and one memoir and one epic poetry in 20 Indian languages. The awards for Nepali, Malayalam, Odia and Rajasthani Languages will be announced later.

Other Awardees

In the “Poetry Category” the award was bestowed upon Harish Meenakshi (Gujarati), RS Bhaskar (Konkani), Anamika (Hindi), Irungbam Deven (Manipuri), Nikhileshwar (Telugu) and Rupchand Hansda (Santali). In the “Novel Category” Imaiyam (Tamil), Nanda Khare (Marathi), Mahesh Chandra Sharma Gautam (Sanskrit), and Sri Hussain-ul-Haque have been named as winner. While, Apurba Kumar Saikia (Assamese), Hiday Koul Bharti (Kashmiri), Dharanidhar Owari (Bodo),Gurdev Singh Rupana (Punjab) and Kamakant Jha (Maithili) have won the award for short stories.

Selection procedure

These books were selected following the recommendations made by a jury of three members of the concerned languages. They made their final decision in accordance with the procedure which was set down for this purpose. Under it, the Executive Board declared the Awards based on unanimous selections made by jurors or selection made in accordance with the majority vote.

Sahitya Akademi Award

It is a literary honour in India. It is conferred by Sahitya Akademi which is India’s National Academy of Letters. The award is conferred to the most outstanding books of literary merit which is published in any 24 major Indian languages including Hindi, English and other 22 languages of the Eighth Schedule of Constitution.  The award includes a casket comprising of an engraved copper plaque, a shawl and amount of Rs 1,00,000.

The foreign secretary of India stated on March 12, 2020 that the Leaders of the United States, India, Australia and Japan have agreed to pool finance, manufacture and distribute the capacity in order to send 1 billion coronavirus vaccines across Asia and in the Indo-Pacific region to assist them by the year 2022.

Highlights

The “Quad” group comprising of four nations have the objective of expanding the global vaccinations in a counter to growing vaccination diplomacy of China in the Southeast Asia and across the world. Among the four countries in the Quad group, India is the largest vaccine maker across the world. This will help in speeding up the process of post pandemic recovery. This collaboration among the grouping will not impact the production of Vaccines for 1.4 billion people of India. Thus, the India’s formidable vaccine production capacity will further be expanded with the help of US, Japan & Australia.  This way, the Quad will be a positive force for achieving the global good and peace in the region.

How this group will collaborate?

Under the agreement, India will be using its manufacturing capacity in order to make U.S. vaccines. For that matter, the financing will be coming from U.S. International Development Finance Corporation and Japan Bank for International Cooperation. On the other hand, Australia will be financing the training. The country will also provide the last-mile logistical support to distribute the vaccines in the Southeast Asia, Pacific Islands and countries in across the Indian Ocean.

What are the concerns?

This initiative might be hampered because of the export restrictions provided by the United States on the critical raw materials which are required for vaccine supply chain of India. This is the only bilateral concern that exists between India and US with respect to the “QUAD Partnership on covid-19 vaccines”.

All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has released the approval process handbook for academic year 2021-22.

Highlights

The AICTE Handbook highlights that; Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics will continue to  be important subjects for core streams of engineering such as mechanical engineering. However, for streams such as Textile Engineering, Agriculture or Biotechnology, students will be given an option of not studying these three subjects in class 12th. Those who does not opt for these subjects will have to make up through bridge courses in college.

What does the rule say?

The rule is all set to be implemented from the academic year 2021-22. As per the rule, the students who are seeking admission to certain engineering courses like Textile engineering etc will have to pass 10+2 by taking any of the three subjects out of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, Electronics & IT, Computer science, Technical Vocational Subject, Information practices, Biotechnology, Agriculture, Engineering and Business studies. The new rule also mandates that, the unreserved category students will have to score 45% marks and the reserved category should score 40% marks in order to pass the class 12th level.

Alternatives suggested

Since, Maths, physics and Chemistry will not be compulsory for students of class 12 to opt for streams like Textile engineering, Agriculture or Biotechnology. So, the AICTE have suggested to introduction a bridge courses in maths and physics in the engineering colleges in order to strengthen base of these subjects in initial semesters for the students coming from diverse backgrounds.

All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)

AICTE is a statutory body and a national-level council for the technical education. It works under the Department of Higher Education. The council was set up in the month of November 1945. It was earlier an advisory body. The council was given the statutory status in the year 1987 by an Act of Parliament.

The Jharkhand cabinet has approved the employment policy of mandating the private sector units to reserve 75 per cent of jobs, with the salary up to Rs 30,000 per month, for local people. Before Jharkhand, Haryana government had also approved a similar policy.

Highlights

This new policy mandating 75% reservation will be announced by the Chief Minister Hemant Soren on March 17 in the Assembly session. This decision was taken by CM after he visited Delhi to discuss the draft Jharkhand Industrial & Investment Promotion Policy, 2021. Various proposals were approved during the Cabinet meeting on March 12.

Unemployment in Jharkhand

The unemployment rate in the Jharkhand had gradually fell to 11.3 per cent in the month of January 2021. The economic survey report also states that, the unemployment rate was increased to 59.2% in the month of May 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic cases were at the peak. The unemployment rate was 10.6% in the month of January 2020.

Concerns

The government had cited that the major problem that might encounter the implementation of local reservation policy is to identify the beneficiaries. The definition of ‘Jharkhandi’ is vague and had led to the resignation of former Chief Minister Babulal Marandi in the year 2002.

Domicile policy

The state of Jharkhand had notified the Relaxed Domicile Policy in the year 2016. The new polity had listed six ways in which one could be treated as a domicile of Jharkhand. But the policy was criticised as it was not giving priority to the tribals.

Tribals in Jharkhand

The tribes of Jharkhand comprise of 32 tribes inhabiting in the state. These tribes were originally classified on the basis of their cultural types by the Indian anthropologist, Lalita Prasad Vidyarthi. He classified the tribals as stated below:

  1. Hunter-gatherer type which comprised of Korwa, Birhor, Hill Kharia
  2. Shifting Agriculture comprising of Sauria Paharia
  3. Simple artisans who were the tribes like Lohra, Mahli, Karmali, Chik Baraik
  4. Settled agriculturists who were the tribes like Munda, Santhal, Ho, Oraon, Bhumij.

Scheduled Tribe (ST) population of Jharkhand

The State accounts for 7,087,068 ST population as per 2002 census which is 26.3 per cent of the total population. They are primarily rural as 91.7 per cent of them live in villages. The state has currentky Jharkhand has 32 tribal groups such as Munda, Oraon, Santhal, Gond, Kol, Asur, Banjara, Chero, Ho, Kora, Bhumij eyc.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has launched the sounding rocket called RH-560 on March 12, 2021. The rocket was launched in order to study “attitudinal variations” in the neutral winds and plasma dynamics.

Highlights

The RH-560 rocket was launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) Sriharikota Range (SHAR). ISRO highlighted that the sounding rockets are one or two-stage solid propellant rockets. These rockets are used to probe the upper atmospheric regions and conduct the space research. The rockets would also serve as easily affordable platforms which can test or prove the prototypes of new components or subsystems for use in the launch vehicles and satellites. ISRO had started launching the indigenously made sounding rockets from the year 1965.

GISAT-1

ISRO had recently announced that it has planned to launch an earth observation satellite on March 28, 2021 which will provide the near real-time images of borders. This would also enable a quick monitoring of natural disasters. The satellite called GISAT-1 will be lifted into space by the “GSLV-F10 rocket” from Sriharikota spaceport. The rocket will be placing the spacecraft in the geosynchronous orbit and later it will be positioned in the geostationary orbit with the help of onboard propulsion system. This orbit is about 36,000 kms above the earth’s equator.

Amazonia-1

In the month of February 2021, the space organisation had launched the primary satellite called Amazonia-1 of Brazil along with the 18 co-passenger satellites with the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C51) from sriharikota spaceport. This was the first satellite of the year 2021 by ISRO amid the covid-19 pandemic. This is also the first commercial mission of New Space India Limited (NSIL) which is undertaking this mission with the help of Spaceflight Inc. of United States of America (USA).