Daily Current Affairs - 27-03-2021

The Red List by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently showed that, African elephants living in forests and savannas are increasingly threatened with extinction. Following which, conservationists have called for an urgent end to poaching.

Highlights

New assessments by IUCN underscore the persistent pressures that two species of elephants in Africa faces due to poaching for ivory and human encroachment. The survey also highlights that, savanna elephant was “endangered” while the smaller, lighter forest elephant was “critically endangered” as highest category before they got extinct from wild. Earlier, IUCN had treated both the species of elephants as “Vulnerable”. But later it separated them on the basis of genetic evidences which highlighted the difference between both the species.

Population of Savanna Elephants

Data from IUCN cited that populations of savanna elephants from Africa are found in a variety of habitats which had decreased by around 60% over last 50 years. Number of forest elephants found in Central Africa had also fallen by 86% in 31 years. Presently, number of both the species of elephant’s accounts for 415,000. However, populations of some forest elephants were rebounding because of successful conservation measures like, measures taken by Gabon and Republic of Congo. As per IUCN, in Kavango–Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area of South Africa, numbers of savanna were also stable or growing.

African elephant

It is a genus with two living elephant species that is, African bush elephant and smaller African forest elephant. Both the species are social herbivores having grey skin but they have different size and colour of their tusks.  They are considered at heavy risk of extinction in the IUCN Red List.  Bush elephant is considered endangered while forest elephant is considered critically endangered. Species are threatened by habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, and poaching for the illegal ivory trade.

ITI centres and international theatre community observes the World Theatre Day annually on March 27th. The day is celebrated to underline importance of theatre arts and how they have played a significant role in the field of entertainment. It also raises awareness regarding changes which theatre brings in life.

Theatre arts

Since the Greeks, Theatre art is one of the most popular forms of entertainment. Theatre art comprises of various forms of fine arts which uses live performers, actors or actresses to present their performance before a live audience regarding real experience in a specific place or on the stage.

World Theatre Day

This day signifies the importance of theatre arts. It highlights how theatre art plays an important role in the field of entertainment and how it brings changes in life.

History

International Theatre Institute (ITI) started observing the World Theatre Day in 1961. Message for the day was written by Jean Cocteau in the year 1962. ITI has more than 85 centres across the world. It encourages schools, colleges, and theatre professionals to celebrate the day.

How this day is celebrated?

This day is celebrated in several ways by 84 ITI Centres across the world. It is also celebrated by theatre professionals, theatres, theatre lovers, academics, theatre universities, and schools.

Author Message

Author of the Message of ‘World Theatre Day 2021’ is Helen Mirren who is one of the best-known and most respected actresses. She has an international career which spans screen, stage and television. She has won many awards for her powerful and versatile performances. She won the Academy Award for her performance in The Queen in 2007.

President of United States, Joe Biden, has invited 40 world leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for a US-hosted virtual summit on climate in April 2021. Summit will be organised to underline the urgency and economic benefits of stronger climate action.

Highlights

Joe Biden will host a two-day climate summit of world leaders. It will start on the occasion of Earth Day on April 22, 2021. In the summit, President will underline US goal to reduce carbon emissions by 2030. the summit is known as “nationally determined contribution” under Paris accord. Apart from Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping and President of Russia Vladimir Putin were invited for the conference. Summit will be a key milestone towards United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November, 2021 in Glasgow. Biden has also invited the heads of other countries which are demonstrating strong climate leadership. Small number of business and leaders of civil will also participate in the summit.

Objective of the Summit

According to White House, the Leaders’ Summit and the COP26 summit will be organised with the objective of catalysing efforts in order to keep the goal of limiting the global temperature at 1.5 degree Celsius. Summit will also underline the examples of how enhanced climate ambition will create good paying jobs, help vulnerable countries to adapt to climate change impacts and to advance innovative technologies. United States will also announce an ambitious 2030 emissions target as “new Nationally Determined Contribution” under the Paris Agreement.  US-hosted summit will reconvene US-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate. This forum will bring together 17 countries which are responsible for 80 per cent of global emissions and GDP.

President of United States, Joe Biden and British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson have asked the democratic countries to provide an alternative to China’s infrastructure strategy called Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Highlights

Both the leaders held the discussions over phone. They discussed the issues including COVID-19 and global health security, China, Iran, climate change, and preservation of political stability in Northern Ireland.

Background

United States and its Quad partners namely Australia, India, and Japan had committed in initial days of March, 2021 to launch another initiative between democratic states to provide up to one billion vaccines across South East Asia and Pacific to cover the vaccine shortages. Trump administration in 2019, had also launched an infrastructure scheme called “Blue Dot Network” to vet projects and boost private-sector led infrastructure development in Indo Pacific region. However, this scheme is not set up to directly finance the projects on its own.

Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

It is a global infrastructure development strategy by Chinese government.  Adopted in 2013, with the objective of investing across 70 countries and international organizations. BRI is a centrepiece of Chinese Communist Party general secretary and Xi Jinping’s foreign policy. This initiative was originally announced by Xi Jinping as “Silk Road Economic Belt” in September 2013 during official visit to Kazakhstan. Belt refers to the proposed overland routes for road and rail transportation passing through landlocked Central Asia along the historical trade routes of Western Regions. While, road refers to the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” or the Indo-Pacific sea routes passing through Southeast Asia, South Asia, Middle East and Africa. This infrastructure project include ports, railroads, roads, skyscrapers, airports, dams and railroad tunnels.

Pakistan has successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable surface-to-surface ballistic missile on March 26, 2021. Missile has a range of 900 kilometres.

Highlights

Pakistan test-fired Shaheen-1A surface to surface ballistic missile with the aim of re-validating various design and technical parameters of weapon system including the advanced navigation system. According to Army’s media wing, missile has a range of 900 kilometres. Missile comprise of a sophisticated and advanced guidance system which makes it a highly accurate missile system. Launch of the missile was witnessed by senior officials from Strategic Plans Division, scientists & engineers of strategic organisations and strategic forces.

Background

Pakistan had successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable surface-to-surface ballistic missile in February 2021 which can strike targets up to 290 kilometres. Launch of Ghaznavi missile was “culmination of Annual Field Training Exercise of Army Strategic Forces Command”.

Shaheen-I

It is a land-based supersonic and short-to-medium range surface-to-surface guided ballistic missile of Pakistan. It was jointly designed and developed by joint venture of NESCOM and National Defence Complex (NDC). Missile has been dedicated and named after a species of Falcon inhabitant of mountains of Pakistan. It is also designated Hatf IV. It has an optimal range of 750 km which is propelled by two-stage solid-fuel rocket motor. It can deliver conventional as well as nuclear payload much faster than liquid fuelled missiles like Ghauri. Missile is believed to be very accurate.

Features of Shaheen-I

This system allows the missile to modify its trajectory, improving accuracy and provides the capability to evade missile defence systems. It is based on terminal guidance system technology. This technology help in improving warhead accuracy by firing small thrusters to adjust trajectory of warheads.  and uses satellite navigation systems to help find the target.

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has extended restrictions on withdrawals and deposits in Punjab & Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank till 30 June, 2021. This decision was taken as central bank is working to finalize an investor for scam-hit multi-state cooperative bank.

Background

Reserve Bank of India had imposed restrictions on Punjab & Maharashtra Bank Cooperative Bank in September 2019 after it came across financial irregularities in the bank. Following that, RBI had curbed all activities of PMC Bank. It also appointed an administrator for next six months and limited withdrawals from accounts of the customers. The restrictions were to expire on March 31, 2021.

Why date was extended?

Reserve Bank of India has extended restrictions following a delay in finalizing prospective investor for PMC bank. It had received binding offers from certain investors to reconstruct with respect to Expression of Interest.

What is the issue?

PMC Bank is undergoing regulatory actions and investigation over alleged irregularities in certain loan accounts particularly, the loans given to financially stressed real estate player Housing Development & Infrastructure (HDIL). Crisis in the bank first came to light in September 2019 following which RBI placed curbs on the activities of bank for six months. RBI also limited the amount a customer could withdraw from their account to Rs 1,000 first and later to Rs 25,000. Enforcement Directorate has also filed a money laundering case on PMC Bank scam.

About PMC Bank

PMC bank was founded in 1984. It has 137 branches across seven states. 81 branches are located in Thane, Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, and Palghar regions.  10 are in Pune while 12 in rest of the regions in Maharashtra. Small businesses, housing societies and institutions are its primary customers.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has revised the schedule launch of geo imaging satellite GISAT-1 on board GSLV-F10 rocket after a minor issue occurred with the spacecraft.

Highlights

The spacecraft was scheduled to be launched on March 28. But due to minor issue, it will now be launched on April 18 from Sriharikota spaceport.  Originally, it was scheduled to be launched on March 5, 2020 but it was postponed due to technical reasons.

Geo Imaging Satellite or GISAT

GSAT is an Indian imaging satellite class for the geostationary orbit. It comprises of a high temporal resolution which helps in providing near real time imaging along with fast revisit capability besides real time monitoring. Two identical satellites will be providing resolution in range of 42 to 318 m. It will also carry multi-spectral multi-resolution imaging instruments. GISAT-1 is first state-of- the-art agile earth observation satellite. It will be placed in a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit by GSLV-F10.

Capabilities of satellite

Weighing about 2268 kg, the satellite will facilitate near real-time observation of Indian sub-continent at frequent intervals, under cloud-free condition. It will produce selected field image in every 5 minutes. It will provide image of entire Indian landmass every 30 minutes at 42 m spatial resolution.

Features of GISAT-1

Satellites comprises of a 700 mm Ritchey–Chretien telescope based on design of Cartosat-2A. It has also installed Array detectors in Visible and Near-InfraRed (VNIR) and Short Wave-InfraRed (SWIR) bands.

Earth Observation Satellites

Earth Observation Satellites of ISRO has successfully establish many operational applications across the country. There are large number of users who utilise the space-based inputs for several purposes at Central as well as State level. Some important missions of ISRO which has enabled unique applications of space-based imaging include Cartosat-1, Cartosat-2, Resourcesat-1, Resourcesat-2, Oceansat-1, Oceansat-2, Risat-1, Megha-Tropiques, INSAT series, SARAL, Scatsat etc.

Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Dr Harsh Vardhan, addressed the 7th annual summit of NATHEALTH in virtual mode on March 26, 2021. The summit focused on ‘Indian Health system expansion in post-COVID era’.

Highlights

While addressing the summit the minister reiterated the commitments of government for fulfilling goal of Health for all. He noted that, “Health for All” is a top priority for current Government and to institutionalize the approach towards this goal, government has launched the “National Health Policy” in 2017. The primary vision of policy-framework is to attain highest possible level of health and well-being for all irrespective of all age groups. To attain this vision, the policy emphasizes on preventive & promotive aspects of health and providing universal access to good quality healthcare services. Government also launched Ayushman Bharat program with the objective of providing Universal Free Access to primary health care, promoting health and wellbeing.

Union Budget 2021-22

Union Budget 2021-22 also identifies Health as one of the six main pillars to drive growth. So, it has adopted a holistic approach towards health and wellbeing with a financial allocation of Rs 2,23,846 crore in 2021-22. It accounts for an increase by 137% over 2020-2021. To achieve the objectives of policy, government is working towards increasing health expenditure by 2.5 % of GDP 2025. Government is also encouraging State Governments to increase State sector health spending to 8% of State’s GDP.

Pradhan Mantri Atma Nirbhar Swasthya Yojana

This scheme was launched with the aim of strengthening health systems to meet challenges of covid-19 pandemic and future pandemics. It also seeks to strengthen the expanding & building robust IT enabled surveillance systems in order to track and contain spread of diseases. Several components of the scheme include training & mentoring, Critical Care Blocks for advanced treatment, establishing new Regional Centres for Disease Control and strengthening the network of public health labs. These components cater to the needs for emergency response.

World Development Report: Data for Better Lives was released on March 24, 2021. It examines tremendous potential and risks of changing data landscape for people living in lower income countries.

Recommendations of report

World Development Report: Data for Better Lives provides five recommendations over development:

  1. New Social Contract for Data: Global South experts recommends that different stakeholders like civil society and academia, are key to help in improving transparency and contribute towards development.
  2. Increase Data use to Realize Value: The experts also flagged gaps in understanding data and its governance in developing contexts. So, they recommend that efforts should be made to improve data literacy and expand access for all specially, the vulnerable groups.
  3. Equitable access: The experts raised concerns on how public and private systems for data do not capture poor people or vulnerable groups. So, it recommends, marginalized people need a better representation across data systems.
  4. Protect people from data misuse: Experts further recommends on issues related to governance arrangements and systems using which data flow so as to ensure that they are safe, ethical and secure.
  5. Integrated national data systems. Experts further highlight difficulties for countries which are suffering from poverty, fragility and poor governance in designing high-quality data systems. So, they recommend for increased investments in physical and human capital to have integrated national data systems.

The report further proposes several ways in which data can be used more effectively so as to improve development outcomes through program design, better public policies and service delivery to improved market efficiency and private sector growth led job creation.

World Development Report

It is a flagship publication from World Bank published since 1978. The report is considered as an invaluable guide for economic, social, and environmental state of world.

Global Wind Report 2021 was published by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) on March 25, 2021.

Highlights

Though, 2020 was a record year for global wind power industry, but this report warns that there is a need to install new wind power capacity three times faster by next decade in order to achieve global climate targets & limit global warming to below 2°C above the pre-industrial levels. In the year 2020, 93 GW of new capacity were installed. It is a 53% year-on-year increase. But this is not sufficient to ensure that world will achieve net zero emission target by 2050.

Key Findings of report

Climate Emergency approach

GWEC has called the policymakers to take ‘climate emergency’ approach to eliminate red tape and reform administrative structures to speed up and streamline licensing and permits for projects. It has also asked to increase investments in grid, ports and other infrastructure which are required to ramp up installations.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has joined hands with Indian Institute of Space Science & Technology (IIST) for futuristic research orbit.

Highlights

Partnership between ISRO and IIST is similar to partnership between Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and US Space Agency NASA for futuristic research orbit. JPL is funded by NASA while managed by California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

ISRO-IIST Partnership

ISRO and IIST have joined hands to carry research activities. To coordinate joint research activities a dedicated framework has now been framed with capacity building programme office (CBPO). CBPO is located at ISRO headquarters.

Advanced Space Research Group

An advanced space research group has been constituted in order to identify application-oriented research projects which are important to ISRO centres and matches with interests of IIST faculty. Apart from that, empowered overseeing committee has been set up to review and approve proposals. It comprises of a mix of two years, three-five years, and seven-year projects which would be pursued by IIST.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)

NASA’s JPL was founded by Caltech faculty. It is a leading centre to carry robotic exploration of solar system. It also carries earth-orbit and astronomy missions. Workforce of JPL includes a diverse population of scientists, technologists, engineers, developers, designers, safety experts, communicators and business administrators.

Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST)

IIST is situated at Thiruvananthapuram. It is a Deemed to be University under Section 3 of UGC Act 1956. It is an autonomous body functioning under Department of Space of Government of India. This institute was constituted by keeping in mind the need for high quality manpower in Indian Space Research Organization. IIST is first of its kind institute in India which offer a high-quality education at undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and post-doctoral levels. It was inaugurated on September 14, 2007 by Dr. G. Madhavan Nair.