Daily Current Affairs - 16-03-2021

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) introduced the “Government of NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in the Lok Sabha on March 15, 2021.

Provisions of the bill

The bill proposes that the “Government” in the national capital territory of Delhi means “Lieutenant Governor” (L-G) of Delhi. It provides for the discretionary powers to L-G of Delhi even in matters where the law-making power rests with the Legislative Assembly of Delhi. The proposed bill further seeks to ensure that the L-G is “necessarily granted an opportunity” in order to give opinion before any decision of the Council of Ministers or Delhi Cabinet is implemented. The Bill was introduced in order to amend sections 21, 24, 33 and 44 of Act of 1991.

Background

Delhi is a Union Territory with legislature. The UT was established in the year 1991 in accordance with Article 239AA of the Constitution. This article was inserted by the Sixty-ninth (Amendment) Act, 1991 of the constitution. The existing laws provides that the Legislative Assembly of Delhi has the power to make laws in all matters excluding the police, public order and land.

Section 44 of the 1991 Act

This section of the act states that; all the executive actions of the L-G, whether it is taken on the advice of his Ministers or any other ways, shall be taken in the name of L-G.

Article 239AA

This of the Constitution mandates that the Council of Ministers will aid and advise the L-G in matters where the Legislative Assembly has been empowered to make laws except those matters where the L-G exercises his discretion.

The Marine Aids to Navigation Bill 2021 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on March 15, 2021. The bill was moved by Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Mansukh Mandaviya.

Highlights

This initiative is part of the proactive approach which was adopted by Ministry of Shipping by repealing the archaic colonial laws and replacing them with the modern and contemporary needs in the maritime industry.

Marine Aids to Navigation Bill, 2021

The bill seeks to provide a fresh framework so as to establish and manage the vessel traffic services. It also seeks to use the term “marine aids to navigation” instead of “lighthouse” in order to enable the use of modern forms of aids in the navigation. The bill seeks to replace the nine-decade-old law governing the lighthouses. The bill was introduced in line with the technological changes which are taking place at fast speed in the marine navigation. It also seeks to rename the “Director General of Lighthouse and Lightships” as the “Director General” so as to provide a framework to establish, operate and manage the vessel traffic services and other functions such as wreck flagging, training & certification. The bill also proposes to incorporate technological developments, global best practices and international obligations of India in marine navigation field. The bill also seeks to identify and develop the heritage lighthouses.

Aim of the Bill

The bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha with the aim of repealing the colonial Lighthouse Act, 1927. It also aims to empower the Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships (DGLL) by providing the additional power and functions.

The Finnish telecom equipment maker, Nokia, announced on March 16 that it has partnered with the Microsoft, Amazon web services and Google so as to develop a new cloud-based 5G radio solution. This solution will be developed with its radio access network (RNA) technology. This partnership was gone with objective of developing a new business cases, in three separate statements.

Radio access Network (RAN)

RAN is the part of a mobile telecommunication system. This system implements a radio access technology. RAN resides between a device like computer, mobile phone or any remotely controlled machine. It also provides connection with the core network. Based on the standard mobile phones and other wireless connected devices are called as user equipment, terminal equipment or mobile station etc. The functionality of RAN is typically provided by the silicon chip which resides in both the core network and the user equipment.

Example of RAN

Some of the examples of radio access network types include:

  1. GRAN which stands for GSM radio access network
  2. GERAN which is same as GRAN but it additionally includes the EDGE packet radio services
  3. UTRAN which stands for UMTS radio access network
  4. E-UTRAN which is a Long-Term Evolution (LTE) high speed and low latency radio access network.

Features of RAN

The single handset or phone can be connected to multiple radio access networks simultaneously.  The Handsets which are capable of this feature are called as the dual-mode handsets. For example, a handset can commonly support both GSM and UMTS or “3G” radio access technologies. Such devices also transfer the ongoing call across different radio access networks without any disruption to users.

The Hurun India Wealth Report, 2020 was released on March 16, 2020. The report identifies novel household category in India called the ‘New Middle Class’ which accounts for an average savings of Rs 20-lakh per annum.

New Middle Class

The report highlights that these households have major allocation towards the physical assets like primary residential property and automobiles. As per the report, total number of such cumulative households in India stands at 633,000.

Key Findings of the report

The report further states that, there are around 4,12,000 dollar-millionaire households or affluent households across India which are having the net worth of Rs 7 crore. As per report, the Hurun Rich Listers comprise of the wealth of Rs 1,000 crore. This category of the report comprises 3000 number of cumulative households in India. The ‘Indian middle class’ has the earnings of over Rs 2.5-lakh per annum while they have a net worth of less than Rs 7 crore. The ‘Indian Middle Class’ category accounts for 56400,000 families in India.

Wealthy Households

The Hurun report classifies two broad segments of the wealthy households in India. The first is “lower part” which comprises of the households having the work compensation income, fixed deposits, real estate and equity investments as the primary source of income. The second segment is the “Upper Part” which comprises of inherited wealth, primary business earnings, real estate possessions and an equity investment portfolio as their sources of income.

Business Owner

The report highlights that, business-owner whether a billionaire or international ultra-high net worth individual or an affluent individual allocate major portion of their wealth for their primary business activities.

The Supreme Court of India has given its suggestion in the behalf of the critically endangered Great Indian Bustards after the number of birds falling dead due to collision with power lines is increasing over time. These power line run through the dwindling natural habitats of the Indian Bustards in the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan.

Supreme Court’s Take

The Bench led by Chief Justice, Sharad A. Bobde, will examine whether the overhead power lines could be replaced with the underground cable lines in order to save the heaviest flying birds. The court also found an alternative mechanism that is to install the flight bird diverters in order to guide the birds away from power lines would not be a cost-effective method. In fact, such diverters are of the nature of recurring costs and will cost more than installing and maintaining the underground lines.

Centre’s Take

However, the Attorney General K.K. Venugopal appeared for the Power Ministry and submitted that only low voltage lines can be replaced but not the high voltage cables.

Great Indian bustard

The scientific name of the Indian Bustard is Ardeotis nigriceps. This bustard is found on Indian subcontinent. It is a large bird having a horizontal body and long bare legs. It has an ostrich like appearance. It is one among the heaviest flying birds. The bird was once common along the dry plains of Indian subcontinent. But it reduced to 250 in 2011 which further reduced to 150 in 2018. The bird is listed as “Critically Endangered” and is protected under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 in India.

The Prime Minister of United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, is set to visit India in the month of April, 2021. He was earlier supposed to visit India in January 2021 for the India’s Republic Day Celebrations as the chief guest but he cancelled his visit because of increasing COVID-19 cases in United Kingdom.

Highlights

The British Government also mentioned that, a British aircraft will be deployed in the region in light of the visit of Prime Minister. During the visit, the British government will look towards boosting the United Kingdom’s opportunities and countering the influence of China in the Indo-Pacific region. The government also called the Indo-Pacific region as the geopolitical centre of the world.

India-UK ties

The British Prime Minister will visit India in a big to strengthen India-UK ties and counter China. He also aims to increase the focus on position of the United Kingdom in the world.

UK-China ties

The ties between the UK and China have stressed out because of issues like COVID-19 pandemic and controversial Hong Kong national security law. The relation was further tensed after Britain denied China’s active role in the Britain’s 5G network. This relation is expected to further move to a negative trajectory because of deployment of British aircraft called “Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier” in the South China Sea.

Foreign Policies of UK

The UK highlighted that, the government will lay down the post-Brexit defence and foreign policy priorities of the country with the objective of expanding its influence in Indo-Pacific region. It also seeks to preserve its strong relations with United States. The statement from the government also enlisted that defence of democracy, human rights and safety from the terrorism are the fundamental components of the foreign policy of UK. The statement also highlighted the importance of United Stated and sought to establish the trade deal with it.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) have established an oversight committee on March 15, 2021 comprising of twelve members in order to prevent the unregulated and Unscientific mining in Meghalaya. The committee was established after the NGT observed that rat-hole mining is so often in Meghalaya despite the government has put ban on it.

Highlights

The bench headed by NGT Chairperson, Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, highlighted that the state authorities are bound to work for the protection of scarce natural resources in accordance with the “Public Trust Doctrine”.  The tribunal also highlighted that, the monitoring cannot continue forever, so task needs to be taken by the executive authorities which will then be overseen by the oversight committee.

About Oversight Committee

It will be headed by Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The Regional Officer of the MoEF of Shillong will act as the Member Secretary of this Committee. The member secretary will coordinate with the working of Committee and will deal with day-to-day issues as per the decisions of Committee. This committee will be meeting within one month to take report of the situation and plan for the future actions. The committee will take forward the compliance of the judgment given by the Supreme Court. The committee will also order the Tribunal to prevent the unscientific & unregulated mining. It will also involve in handling the materials which are already mined and other incidental issues. It might undertake necessary measures in order to rejuvenate the contaminated streams and rivers.

Rat Hole Mining

The digging of narrow horizontal tunnels which is usually 3-4 feet in height through which the workers can enter and extract coal is called as the “Rat Hole Mining”.  Each hole just fits one person.

The Rajya Sabha has approved the “National Institute of Food Technology Bill, 2019” on March 15, 2021.

Provision of the Bill

This bill declares the National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management, Kundli in Haryana and Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology, Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu as the “National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management”. Bill also establishes a board of Governors which will act as the principal executive body in the institute.  This board would be responsible for general direction, superintendence,  and control of the affairs in institutes.

Functions of institutes

The bill also provides for the functions of the institutes. The functions include:

  1. To provide instruction, research, and knowledge dissemination in the areas of food science and technology.
  2. To hold the examinations and grant degrees, diplomas, certificates and other academic distinctions and titles
  3. To determine and collect fees & other charges
  4. To institute and make appointments for the academic and other posts excluding Director.

Highlights

While addressing the doubts of the members, the Agricultural minister also said that “Reservation policy will also be applicable on these institutes”. The minister also assured that people who are working in the food technology will be given representation in these institutes. The bill was introduced in the light that, India is currently facing the challenges in food storage, cold chain and processing of the food. As per a report, Further, food worth USD 14 billion is wasted in India while every third child is suffering from malnutrition. Thus, more such institutes are required to manage the entire food chain and skill development & training of the food processing units. Further, the law will create jobs and will make the farmers an entrepreneur.

Background

The “National Institute of Food Technology Bill” was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in the month of February 2019 by the Minister of Food Processing Industries, Ms. Harsimrat Kaur Badal. After that, it was referred to the Standing Committee. Several amendments of the bill were approved by the Cabinet. Following which, the bill is being discussed in the house.

The umbrella entity of the digital payments in India called “National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)” has launched the “UPI-Help” on the BHIM UPI Application. UPI-Help will act as the grievance redressal mechanism on the BHIM application for the users.

Highlights

The application will help the users to check the status of pending transactions and raise complaints against the transactions which have not been processed or in case the money has not reached the beneficiary. Users can also raise complaints against the merchant transactions. Currently, this window is open on BHIM app for the customers of State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, AXIS Bank and ICICI Bank. Other customers including the customers of Paytm Payments Bank, TJSB Sahakari Bank and other participating banks shall also be able to get the benefit of UPI-Help on a later date.

Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM)

It is an Indian mobile payment App. The app has been developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). It is based on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI). The app has been named after B. R. Ambedkar. It was launched on December 30, 2016. The application facilitates the e-payments directly through the banks. It supports all the Indian banks which use UPI and has been built over Immediate Payment Service (IMPS).  The app can be used on all mobile devices.

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)

It is an umbrella non-for-profit organisation that operates the retail payments and settlement systems across India. It was founded in December 2008. It has been registered under Section 8 of Companies Act 2013. The organisation was established by Reserve Bank of India and Indian Banks’ Association. It is owned by a consortium of major banks.

Unified Payments Interface (UPI)

It is an instant real-time payment system which has been developed by National Payments Corporation of India. This interface provides for the inter-bank transactions. It is regulated by the Reserve Bank of India. Around 207 banks are available on UPI, as of December 2020, that accounts for the transaction of 2334.16 million monthly.

The researchers from the US National Institutes of Health have found that, a mosquito protein called AEG12 strongly inhibits the family of viruses which causes dengue, yellow fever, Zika and West Nile. They also noted that the protein also inhibits the coronaviruses.

Key Findings

The researchers further found that the mosquito protein, AEG12, works by destabilising the viral envelope and breaking the protective covering of the virus. It does not affect the viruses which do not have any envelope. The researchers used the X-ray crystallography to solve structure of the protein. It was found that the protein rips out the lipids, that is fat-like portions of membrane which hold virus together, at the molecular level. It shows that, the protein is hungry for lipids which are present in the membrane of virus so it gets rid of some of its lipids. It then exchanges those lipids with the one it prefers.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

NIH is the primary agency of United States government. The agency is responsible for the biomedical and public health research. NIH was established in late 1880s. It is now a part of United States Department of Health and Human Services. Most of the NIH facilities are located in Bethesda, Maryland and nearby suburbs of Washington metropolitan area. The agency conducts its own scientific research using its Intramural Research Program (IRP). It also provides major biomedical research funding to the non-NIH research facilities under its Extramural Research Program. It includes 27 separate institutes and centres of various biomedical disciplines.  The agency is also responsible for several scientific accomplishments such as discovery of fluoride so as to prevent tooth decay, use of lithium to control the bipolar disorder etc.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a virtual summit with his Finland counterpart Sanna Marin on March 16, 2021.

Key Points

In the virtual summit, both the leaders will cover entire spectrum of the bilateral relationship. They will also exchange their views on the regional and global issues of the mutual interest. The virtual summit will also provide a blueprint for future expansion and diversification of the India-Finland relationship.

India-Finland Relation

India and Finland share a warm and friendly relations which is based on the shared values of the freedom, democracy and rules-based international order. The countries share a close cooperation in the areas of education, trade & investment, science & technology, innovation and Research & Development. The countries have also collaborated for the joint development of a Quantum Computer using the Artificial Intelligence in order to address the societal challenges. Further, more than 100 Finnish companies actively operate in India in sectors including elevators, telecom, machinery and energy. Also, around 30 Indian companies operate in Finland in sectors including IT, auto-components and hospitality.

Background

The diplomatic relations between both the countries were established in the year 1949. Following that, Hugo Valvanne became the first envoy of Finland to visit India. He presented his credentials to the Governor-General C. Rajagopalachari. After India became republic on January 26, 1950, he again presented his credentials to the first Indian President Rajendra Prasad. Finland has established its embassy in New Delhi and consulates in Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai and Kolkata while India has an embassy in Helsinki which is jointly accredited to Estonia.

Economic Relation

The Bilateral trade between both the countries was around US$1.247 billion in the year 2014-15 and by 2016-17 it reached to US$1.284 billion. In the year 2016, Finland was the 60th largest trade partner of India across world while it was 10th largest within the European Union. In the similar manner, India was the 23rd largest trade partner of Finland and the fifth largest within Asia.

The World’s highest Bridge called the “Chenab Bridge” has completed a major milestone after the engineers completed the arch bottom of the bridge on March 14, 2021. The bridge is being called as the Indian Railways’ engineering marvels. The arch upper of the Chenab bridge is in making and will be completed soon.

Highlights

The special bridge is being built across river Chenab. The river is having a central span of 467 metre. It is being built at the height of 359 metre from river bed. The bridge is even higher than the Qutub Minar in Delhi which is 72 metres in height and the Eiffel Tower in Paris which is having the height of 324 metres. The maximum design wind speed of the bridge is 266 kmph.

How the bridge is being constructed?

The arch of the bridge across the river is being built by novel method of construction using the cable car. Two cable cars which are having the capacity of 20 MT and 37 MT work in tandem on cables which are connected to specially constructed high towers called Pylons. The two towers are located at the Kauri end and the Bakkal end across the gorge. The special bridge will be using 327051 MT structural steel. Presently, the excavation & earthwork of the 10.03 lakh cubic meter, all the foundation work of the bridge & its substructure is completed.

Chenab Bridge

It is an Indian railway steel and concrete arch bridge being built in between the Bakkal and Kauri in Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir. The base support of the bridge was completed in November 2017 after which the construction of main arch started. The Deck height that is height above river bed is 359 metre while the height above river surface is 322 metre. The total length is the bridge is 1315 metre. This bridge is having the widest span in the Indian Broad gauge railway network.

The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal, informed the Parliament that AYUSH ministry is holding consultations with the stakeholder to explore the setting up of an AYUSH Export Promotion Council (EPC). The government is also exploring the procedural steps which would be involved in setting up the council.

Highlights

In a reply, the minister said that, the “Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI)” has been tasked to coordinate with the Department of Commerce and the Indian Industry members who have shown their interest in forming the corpus for AYUSH export promotion council. Ministry of AYUSH has also set up a task force to expand the trade classification, quality control and standardization of Indian Systems of Medicine (ISM) & Herbal Products. The recommendations provided by the task force are under examination by the government current.

HS Codes

The minister also highlighted that, most of the products of Ayurveda, Homoeopathic, Siddha, Unani systems, Sowa Rigpa, Medicinal plant products and Herbal Products are not identified under the specific HS Codes. Thus, the government is taking several steps to standardize the of HS Code for AYUSH in order to achieve price and quality competitiveness which in turn will boost the exports. HS Code is an International Harmonised Commodity Description & Coding System and an international nomenclature to classify the products. This code allows the participating countries to classify the traded goods on common basis for the purposes of customs.

Why this council is being set up?

The AYUSH product is gaining popularity across the world because of which the exports of AYUSH products have also increased. Thus, there is a need to upscale the AYUSH sector so as to meet the growing demands from India and world. Thus, the export promotion council is being set up to manage the export related aspects of the AYUSH Products.