Daily Current Affairs - 01-05-2021

River Litani is the longest river in Lebanon. It has an artificial lake called the Qaraoun lake created by the Litani river dam. Around forty tonnes of fish were recently washed on the banks of the lake due to excessive pollution. The pollution was mainly due to sewage dumping. This has gained an international spotlight. Such a huge disaster is happening for the first time in the region.

Actions

A fishing ban in the reservoir was imposed in 2018. However, the actions were inadequate to stop the pollution.

Litani river

Recent environmental disasters in Lebanon

In April 2021, the volunteers removed sticky tar from the beaches in Lebanon coast after an oil spill.

In August 2020, a huge explosion occurred in Beirut port that devastated the country. It even led to the country’s Prime Minister resigning his office. Here are the Beirut Explosion details:

Battle of Litani River

It was fought on June 9, 1941. It was a battle of second world war. It was fought to advance Beirut. During the war, the Australian troops crossed the Litani river and fought with the Vichy French troops. This was a part of the Syria-Lebanon Campaign, which is British invasion of Vichy French, Lebanon and Syria. Vichy French was an independent ally of Germany.

The Minister of Road Transport and Highways Shri Nitin Gadkari recently announced that the Government of India has set a target of road construction of worth Rs 15 lakh crores in next two years.

What are the plans?

Background

This will help to boost the National Infrastructure Pipeline. Under the National Infrastructure Pipeline, the Union Government aims to provide world-class infrastructure to the citizens and thereby improve their quality of lives. There are 7,300 projects to be implemented under the NIP. The total cost of the project has been estimated as Rs 111 lakh crores.

Recent Developments

The GoI recently approved Rs 1,229.38 crores for the state of Punjab under the Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase I. Under this project, a six-lane greenfield is to be built between Amritsar and Bathinda.

Bharatmala Pariyojana

It was launched to improve the road network in India. It aims to achieve the following:

As of August 2020, 12,413 kilometres of roads have been constructed. The Phase I of the project aims to construct 34, 800 kilometres of National Highways in five years. The timeline of the phase is between 2017 and 2022. The project was approved at an estimated cost of Rs 5,35,00 crores.

The researchers of Poland recently discovered the first embalmed pregnant woman. This is the first time in the history scientists have found a foetus in a mummy. Initially the researchers thought the Mummy was a male priest.

About the Mummy

Warsaw Mummy Project

It was initiated by a group of archaeologists from the University of Warsaw in 2015. It aims to examine the animal and human mummies at the National Museum in Warsaw.

Under the project, the scientists are using X-ray, CT-scan, podoscopy and dactyloscopy to analyse the mummification methods and the state of tissue preservation. These advanced techniques helped in discovering the first pregnant mummy though she was unearthed a century ago.

Note: Podoscopy is footprint examination and Dactyloscopy is fingerprint examination

The Ministry of Finance recently released the first instalment of State Disaster Relief Fund. According to the Finance Ministry, the funds have been released early. The ministry released 50% of the amount, which is Rs 4,436.8 crores. According to the recommendation made by the Finance Commission, the funds were to be released by June 2021. The total amount of SDRF to be released for 2021-22 is Rs 8,873 crores.

State Disaster Response Funds

National Disaster Response Funds

The World largest airplane built by Stratolaunch recently completed its second test flight from Mojave Air and Space Port in California.

About the test flight

Background

Stratolaunch was established by Paul Allen in 2011. He was a co-founder of Microsoft.

Other popular projects of Stratolaunch

Stratolaunch is also developing a reusable hypersonic flight vehicle that shall be used to launch satellites.

Science behind Airplanes

The air wings of the planes are shaped to make the air move faster over the top of the wings. As the air is moving faster, its pressure decreases. This drop in pressure occurs on the top of the wing. This in turn creates a pressure difference between the top and bottom of the wings of the airplane. This difference in pressure creates a force that lifts the wing into the air.

On May 1, 2021, India is celebrating four hundredth Prakash Purab of Guru Tegh Bahadur. He was the ninth Sikh Guru.

Guru Tegh Bahadur

Shaheedi Divas

His martyrdom ( the suffering of death on account of adherence to a cause ) is commemorated as Shaheedi Divas of Guru Tegh Bahadur. It is commemorated on 24th November every year.

Guru Granth Sahib

Golden Temple and Operation Blue Star

The Government of Germany recently announced that it is to return the artefacts called the “Benin Bronzes” to Nigeria. The “Benin Bronzes” are currently held in the museum of Germany.

What are Benin Bronzes?

How are Benin Bronzes made?

They are made using lost-wax casting process. It is a process of making copies from a model. The method had been used in Indus Valley Civilisation as well.

Benin Expedition of 1897

It was a punitive expedition of British force under Sir Harry Rawson. The troops captured Benin city and put an end the Kingdom of Benin. It was then absorbed into colonial Nigeria.

Other countries on Benin Bronzes

Indian Sculptures in other foreign countries

Kohinoor Diamond in UK

Jagadamba, the Sword of Shivaji Maharaj
Shivaji had three swords. They were Jagdamba, Bhawani and Tulja. The sword Jagdamba was presented by the Prince of Wales, Edward VII when he visited India. The sword is now in Buckingham palace.

Tipu’s Tiger
It is a wooden toy created by Tipu Sultan in the 18th century. It depicts a tiger injuring a European man brutally. When the handle in the side of the toy is turned the tiger makes a roaring sound and the man wails lifting his arms up and down. It in now in Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Ambika Statute
It is a marble statue of Goddess Ambika. It was discovered in the late 19th century. It is now in Britain. There has been huge demand to bring back the statue to the Saraswati temple in Madhya Pradesh.

Royal Jade Wine Cup of Shah Jahan
The cup dates back to 1657. The bottom of the cup features acanthus leaves and a lotus flower. It was one of the elegant treasures of Mughal dynasty. It is now in the possession of Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh throne
Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the leader of the Sikhs. The throne is made of wood and covered with sheets of gold. It was taken by the British after the Second Anglo Sikh war. It is now in Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Sultanganj Buddha
It is a sculpture of Gauthama Buddha. It dates back to 7th century. It is now in Britain.

The United Nations recently released the Global Forest Goals Report, 2021. According to the report, the COVID-19 has increased the challenges faced by countries in managing their forests.

Key Findings of the report

During COVID-19 the forest dependent population faced reduced income, job losses, diminished access to markets and information. Most of the forest dependent population faced difficulty in accessing healthcare and basic services.

Reliance on forests

According to the report,

Key goals as identified by the report

Background

The report provides an overview of the six Global Forest Goals out of the twenty-six targets of National Strategic Plan for Forests. The six goals are as follows:

The United Nations Strategic Plan for forests was created to promote sustainable forest management. It was to be implemented between 2017 and 2030. The main objective of the plan is to increase the forest area in the world by 3% by 2030. That is, to bring 120 million hectares of land under forest cover.

Russia recently produced the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines for animals. The name of the vaccine is Carnivac-Cov. The World Health Organisation recently confirmed the possibility for transmission of virus between humans and virus.

Evidences

In 2020, Denmark killed more than 17 million minks after the country concluded that the virus has passed from humans to minks. In Denmark, the virus transferred to mink from humans. It then transferred back to humans as mutated strains.

About Carnivac-Cov

Response to the COVID-19 animal vaccine

According to Russia, countries such as Lebanon, Kazakhstan, Poland, Greece, Germany, Austria, Iran, Argentina, South Korea have expressed interest in purchasing the vaccine.

Transmission of COVID-19

COVID-19 mainly spreads through human-to-human transmission. However, there is evidence of human to animal transmission. This is possible mainly because it is a zoonotic virus.

Zoonosis

The Ministry of Finance recently announced that it is to provide Rs 15,000 crores to the states for their Capital Expenditure for 2021-22. This is being provided as interest free fifty-year loan to spend on capital projects. Fresh guidelines have been announced in this regard called the “Scheme of Financial Assistance to States for Capital Expenditure”.

About the Scheme

In 2020-21, Rs 12,000 crores was allocated for the scheme and Rs 11,830.29 crores was released to the states.

Part I of the Scheme

The Part I of the scheme is to be implemented in the North Eastern States and Hilly states of India. Around Rs 2,600 crores has been allocated for this part of the scheme. Of this Himachal Pradesh, Assam and Uttarakhand are to get Rs 400 crores each.

Part II of the scheme

Al the other states are included under this part of the scheme. Rs 7,400 crores has been allocated to these states. This fund is to be allocated in proportion to their share of central taxes as prescribed by the fifteenth commission of 2021-22.

Part III of the scheme

Under this part of the scheme, incentives are to be provided to the states for disinvestment of state public sector enterprises and for recycling or monetisation of infrastructure assets. In order to achieve this, Rs 5,000 crores have been allocated.

Benefits

The scheme will help to speed up the National Infrastructure Pipeline projects. It will help the states to settle the pending bills in the ongoing capital projects. Also, the funds provided under the scheme shall be used for new capital projects.

May Day is also called International Workers’ Day or Labour Day. The date, May 1, was chosen to commemorate the Haymarket affair. It occurred in Chicago on 4 May 1886.

First Labour Day in India

The first Labour Day in India was hosted by the Labour Kisan Party in Madras in 1923. It was initiated from the Labour Union Movement.

Labour Union Movement

The Labour Union Movement began in response to the attacks of industrial capitalism. In Euorpe, the Labour Union Movement began during the industrial revolution.

How did Labour Movement begin in India?

Labour Day in US

Every year, Maharashtra Day is celebrated on May 1. It commemorates the formation of the state of Maharashtra. It was formed on May 1, 1960.

About Maharashtra Day

The States Reorganisation Act, 1956 redefined the boundaries of Indian states based on the languages. Maharashtra was formed on the basis of this act. Different languages were spoken in the state of Bombay namely Gujarati, Konkani, Marathi and Kutchi.

The Bombay state was divided into Gujarat and Maharashtra in 1960. Gujarat was formed where people spoke Gujarati and Kutchhi. The other region was named Maharashtra where people spoke Konkani and Marathi.

The Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti was at the forefront in the movement to divide Bombay state into two states namely Maharashtra and Gujarat.

About Bombay State

The Bombay state was created at the time of India’s independence. Before independence it was called Bombay Presidency that roughly pertained to the current Maharashtra.

After independence, Bombay state was formed including Vidarbha, current Maharashtra and other princely states such as Baroda.

Samyukta Maharashtra Movement

It is commonly known as Samiti. It was founded in 1956 demanding separate Marathi speaking state between 1956 and 1960.

Formation of Indian States after independence

Under the States Reorganisation Act, 1956 the following states have been bifurcated:

The Karen Rebels recently seized a military post in Myanmar. The post is located close to the border of north western Thailand.

Who are Karen Rebels?

Current Scenario in Myanmar

In February 2021, the Myanmar military took control of the country through a military coup. This ousted the ruling National League for Democracy Party and also the State Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi. The current de facto leader of Myanmar is General Min Aung Hlaing.

ASEAN leaders recently held a summit to call an end for the violence in Myanmar. They have come up with a five -point consensus along with the military leader. India has welcomed ASEAN initiative on Myanmar.

The United Kingdom is to cut its fund to the United Nations Global Family Planning Programme. According to the UN Population Fund, the UK had pledged 154 million Euros. However, now UK is to provide only 23 million Euros.

About the Fund Cuts

In 2020, the UK Government announced that it will reduce its UK aid spending from 0.7% of its National income to 0.5% of its national income. These cuts amount to reduction in more than 4 billion Euros.

The UK fund to the family planning programme of the United Nations include maternal health care for millions of women in the poorest countries and provisions of contraceptives.

Consequences of UK Withdrawal

Around 217 million women want to avoid pregnancies. But they do not have access to modern contraceptives. The fund cut will have serious impacts on them.

The UK funds would have helped to protect 250,000 maternal deaths and child deaths. It would have avoided 14.6 million unintended pregnancies and 4.3 million unsafe abortions. Now these are going to increase.

UK Aid

In 2020, UK spent 14.5 billion Euros in providing international aid. Today, UK is the third biggest donor in the world.

UN Population Fund

It was established in 1967. It is not associated with the UN regular budget. According to UN Population Fund, India will become the most populous country in 2028.

Population in India

India’s population is 1.36 billion. The life expectancy in India is 72 years. This is lower than the world life expectancy of 69 years. The Maternal Mortality Rate in India is 174 per one lakh live births as of 2015. The fertility rate of India is 2.3 births per woman. This is less as compared to the fertility rate of the world which is 2.5.

The Indian scientists recently developed a new Soy Bean variety called the “MACS 1407”. The new variety was developed by the Agharkar Research Institute of Pune along with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

About MACS 1407

What is the plan?

The MACS 1407 Soybean variety is to be made available to farmers in 2022 Kharif season.

Soybean production in India

In 2019, India produced 90 million tonnes of soybean.

Seasons in India

There are three main agricultural seasons in India. They are Kharif, Rabi and Zaid. During the Kharif season, the crops are sown in June and July. They are then harvested in September, October. In Rabi season, the crops are sown in October to November. They are harvested in April, June.

The TRIFED recently signed an agreement with The LINK Fund to work together towards tribal development. TRIFED is Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India

About the Agreement

LINK Fund

Recent developments

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Russian President Vladimir Putin recently agreed to establish “2+2 Ministerial Dialogue”. The “2+2 Ministerial” dialogue is held between the defence ministers and foreign ministers.

About 2+2 Dialogue

India-Russia

What agreements govern India-Russia relations?

In 1971, India and Russia signed the Treaty of Peace and Friendship. This agreement was the manifestation of shared goals between the countries. After the dissolution of Soviet Union in 1991, India and Russia signed the Military-Technical Cooperation Agreement.