Daily Current Affairs - 06-05-2021

The Climate Action Tracker recently released a report calculating the impacts of the recent US Climate Summit. According to the report, even after implementing the ambitious climate goals of the summit, global temperature will increase by 2.4°C by 2100 as compared to that of pre-industrial levels.

About the report

The report tracked the policies of thirty-six countries and also their climate pledges. These thirty-six countries along with the European Union together accounted for 80% of the world carbon emissions.

The Climate Action Tracker prior to the summit had predicted that the global temperatures are to increase by 2.6°C.

Analysis of the report

According to the report, most of the countries are lagging behind their stated climate targets. At this pace, the global temperature will increase by 2.9°C by 2100. Thus, the countries should increase their voluntary emission targets under the Paris Agreement before Glasgow summit. The Glasgow Summit, COP26 is to be held in November 2021.

Criticality of the Issue

According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world will face severe impacts if the global temperature increases beyond 1.5°C. If this happens, all Himalayan glaciers will vanish, global water stress will double, all coral reefs will die, widespread habitat destruction, extreme summer heatwaves. Above all more than ten million people will be affected by global sea level rise.

Climate Action Tracker

It is an independent scientific analysis that tracks climate actions of governments. It then measures it against the Paris Agreement. It is a collaboration of two organisations, New Climate Institute and Climate Analytics.

An unfamiliar lineament is the major factor behind frequent earthquakes in the Sonitpur area of Assam. According to Geological Survey of India (GSI), the earthquakes in the region are frequent due to the following reasons:

What is Lineament?

Occurrence of Lineament

Local Scale Lineament and Global Scale Lineament

The Local Scale Lineament are associated with impacts that create large craters. On the other hand, Global Scale Lineament are associated with seismic waves. They are formed during large impacts that broke the stressed environment from their parent bodies.

What is Mega lineament?

The Mega Lineament is the term used to describe lineament on continental scale. San Andreas fault, Trans Brazilian Lineament are the mega lineament on the earth. They extend to thousands of kilometres.

Ranchi Mega Lineament

The data from IRS-1A and Landsat 5 were used to analyse the Chotanagapur plateau. It says that the Ranchi Mega Lineament is a potential site for base metal mineralisation. Also, it acts as good ground water conduit. However, Ranchi Mega Lineament is in Zone II in the Seismic Zone map of India. It means that it is in a low-risk zone.

Though it is a mega lineament, it is put in low-risk zone as compared to that of Assam, a very High-Risk Zone (Zone V). This is because, the fractures of Ranchi Mega Lineament are at great depths.

The Global Network Against Food Crises (GNAFC) recently released the “2021 Global Report on Food Crises”. The GNAFC is an international alliance formed by the European Union, United Nations and other governmental and non-governmental agencies.

Key Findings of the report

Africa

Way Forward

With the global population reaching 8.5 billion by 2030, it is important to make food distribution more equitable.

The UDID project is under implementation since 2016. The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities recently made it mandatory for all states and Union Territories to issue a certificate of disability only using UDID portal. This is to come into force from June 1, 2021.

About UDID Project

The Project aims to create a National Database for the Persons with Disabilities. Also, it aims to issue a UDID, that is, Unique Disability Identity Card to each person with disabilities.

Key Features of the Project

The project aims to achieve the following:

Disabilities included in the project

The persons with disabilities included in the project are based on Disabilities Act, 1995. The following disabilities are included in the project:

Data Collected

The Government of India collects only the following details from the person to create the UDID for him:

Benefits of UDID project

The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare recently formulated a special Kharif Strategy. This strategy is to be implemented in the Kharif season 2021.

About the strategy

Intercropping

Implementation of the Strategy

Background

A Biotech firm in the United States, Oxitech, recently launched the most controversial field test of Genetically Modified mosquitos in Florida.

What are these Genetically Modified Mosquitos?

The Aedes aegypti mosquitos make up only 4% of total mosquito population in Florida. However, they are responsible for all diseases transmitted by mosquitos such as zika, chikungunya, dengue and yellow fever.

Naturally, the male Aedes aegypti mosquitos do not bite. Only the females bite and spread diseases. The researchers have now bioengineered the male Aedes aegypti mosquitos. The bioengineered male Aedes aegypti carries a gene that passes to their offsprings and kills the female progeny alone in early larval stages. The male offspring will not die and will become the carriers of the gene and will pass on to the future generations. As more and more female offspring dies, the population should dwindle.

What is the plan?

The researchers of Oxitech had placed the boxes containing the bioengineered mosquito eggs at six locations in April 2021. The first males are expected to hatch in May 2021. In the next twelve weeks, more than 12,000 males are to exit from these boxes every week. In the second phase, 20 million bioengineered mosquitos are to emerge over a period of sixteen weeks.

The Genetically modified mosquitos carry a gene that makes them glow when exposed to a particular type of light. This will help in identifying the Genetically Modified mosquitos.

Way Forward

The residents of Florida were fighting against this field test over a decade now. And therefore, Oxitech launched the test trials of the mosquitos in Panama, Brazil, Malaysia, and Cayman Islands.

The Environment Protection Agency has recently approved to conduct the trials in Florida. Based on the success of the trials, it is to be extended to the entire US.

The scientists have found the oldest human burial in Africa. The site is 78,000 years old. The cave site was discovered near Kenyan coast. The site is called “Panga ya Saidi”. The remains of a child whose age was two to three years led to the discovery of the cave. The child was put to rest with a pillow.

About the Child

About the site

The community that lived near the site belonged to hunter-gatherer culture. This is because remains of different types of antelope species and other prey were found at Panga ya Saidi. These people used stone tools to scrap and bore holes.

Significance of the site

Both ancient Homo sapiens and Neanderthal practised funerals.

Neanderthal Burial Site

The oldest Neanderthal burial site was discovered in Israel. It is 120,000 years old. It was discovered in the Kebara Cave. It is situated on the western escarpment (steep slope) of the Carmel Range. Kebara is a limestone cave.

In 1982, Kebara 2 was discovered. It is the most complete postcranial Neanderthal skeleton found till date. The Neanderthal (skeleton) was nick named Moshe.

An international team of Palaeontologists (who studies fossils) has identified a new genus and species of hadrosaur. Hadrosaur is also called duck-billed dinosaur. The species has been named as Yamatosaurus izanagii.

About the discovery

The new fossil discovery has provided information about the hadrosaur migration. According to the discovery, they migrated from Asia to North America and vice versa.

The discovery also states that these giant creatures evolved from walking upright to walking on four legs.

Hadrosaurs

The Hadrosaurs are the most commonly found species of all dinosaurs. They are plant eating dinosaur. They lived in the late Cretaceous period, that is, 65 million years ago.

The fossil remains of Hadrosaurs have been found in Europe, North America, Asia and Africa.

The Hadrosaurs are uniquely adopted to chewing. They have hundreds of teeth closely spaced in their cheek. Their ability to chew vegetation was the major factor that led to its diversity.

How is Yamatosaurus different from Hadrosaurs?

In Hadrosaurs, new teeth grew in the dental battery as their teeth wore out or fell out. These new teeth grew next to the older teeth. However, the dental structure of Yamatosaurus was different from that of Hadrosaurs. The Yamatosaurus had one functional tooth in several battery positions and no branched ridges. This shows that they evolved to devour (eat hungrily) different type of vegetation.

Dental Batteries

The Dental Batteries of dinosaurs have three hundred to four hundred teeth. They are formed by the teeth stacking in rows to process foods.

Hoolock Gibbons are lesser apes. They are the second largest of the Gibbons after Siamang. Earlier it was said that India (North East India) is home to two species namely Eastern Hoolock Gibbon and Western Hoolock Gibbon.

Key Findings of the study

The divergence of the Hoolock gibbons from a common ancestor occurred 8.38 million years ago. The split of the western Hoolock Gibbon and the eastern Hoolock Gibbon occurred 1.49 million years ago.

Earlier Misconceptions

An American Naturalist R Harlan described the Hoolock Gibbons for the first time in 1834. The eastern Hoolock Gibbons and Western Hoolock Gibbons were considered as the sub species till 2005. In 2006, the first distribution of Eastern Hoolock Gibbons was published.

The Western Hoolock Gibbons are distributed all over Northeast India, east and south Brahmaputra river and also along Myanmar and Bangladesh. The Eastern Hoolock Gibbons are distributed between Lohit and Dibang rivers in Arunachal Pradesh.

IUCN on Gibbons

According to IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), the presence of Eastern Hoolock Gibbons in India is uncertain.

The IUCN has put the different species of Hoolock Gibbons under the following categories:

Hoolock Gibbons

There are three Hoolock Gibbon speocies. They are Western Hoolock Gibbon, Skywalker Hoolock Gibbon and Eastern Hoolock Gibbon.

The US based rating Agency S and P recently cut the growth forecast of India to 9.8% for 2021-22. In March 2021, the agency expected 11% GDP growth in the country. According to the agency, the second wave might derail the recovery. According the S and P ratings, the fiscal position of the Government of India is already stretched.

Recent RBI measures towards Economic Recovery

Impacts of Second Wave

The middle class of the country were already hit by lock-down induced job losses and salary cuts. The second wave is to deepen these losses.

Restaurant and hospitality businesses in major cities were hit badly. The travel and tourism are the largest employers in India. They contribute to 9% of the country’s GDP. The lockdown restriction and travel restrictions due to the second wave during the recovery phase might increase bankruptcy.

The Governor of Reserve Bank of India Shaktikanta Das recently announced that the apex bank will make the second purchase of Government securities under the G-Sec Acquisition Programme 1.0 on May 20, 2021.

What is the plan?

The RBI is to purchase Rs 35,000 crores of Government Securities in the second purchase. Earlier, the RBI had announced a target of one lakh cores rupees for the GSAP-1.0.

Government Securities

It is a tradeable instrument issued by the Reserve Bank of India to the state government or central government. It can be short term or long term. Short Term Government Securities are the treasury bills with original maturities of less than one year. Long term are bonds with original maturity more than one year.

The Central Government issues both bonds (dated securities) and treasury bills. On the other hand, the State Governments issue only bonds or dated securities.

Factors that affect prices of Government Securities

Recent Developments

The Union Cabinet recently approved the Strategic Disinvestment and transfer of management control in IDBI bank.

Current Scenario

The Government of India recently holds 45.48% stake in IDBI bank, LIC (Life Insurance Corporation) owns 49.24%. In 2019, LIC infused 21,624 crores of rupees into bank. It is the current promoter of IDBI and GoI is the co-promoter.

Background

During the Union Budget 2020-21, the Finance Minister Smt Nirmala Sitharaman announced a target of 2.1 lakh crores of rupees from privatisation and sale of minority stakes in state-owned companies.

What is the plan?

The strategic buyer will infuse funds, best management practices for optimal development, best management practices to generate more businesses without the dependence in Government of India and LIC.

Annual Disinvestment targets missed

As of January 2021, only Rs 14,000 crores were raised through disinvestment as against the target of Rs 2.1 lakh crores.

Why is Disinvestment needed?

There is a pressure to raise sources that will support in economic recovery and will also help meet the expectations in health care. It will eliminate the need for the involvement of Government of India in non-strategic areas.

DIPAM

DIPAM is Department of Investment and Pubic Asset Management. It is the nodal department for strategic sale in the Public Sector Undertakings. Earlier, the Public Sector Undertakings were identified by NITI Aayog.

The Department of Disinvestment was renamed as DIPAM in 2016.

Disinvestment and Strategic Disinvestment

Disinvestment is dilution of Government’s stake in public enterprises. Strategic disinvestment is transferring the end control to some other entity.

The Ministry of Aviation (Government of India) recently allowed twenty entities to conduct Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BLVOS) flights of drones.

What is Beyond Visual Line of Sight?

It is the distances where the drones and UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) operate outside the normal visible range. It is the second stage in the testing of drones. In the first phase of testing, the drones are operated within the visual line of sight.

What is the plan?

If two stages of testing is complete, the permitted entities will seek permission for further clearance to explore the possibility of vaccine delivery using drones.

Recent Developments

About BLVOS

Delivering COVID-19 vaccine through drones

The Indian Armed Forces have been using drone to deliver payloads since 2000. The major challenge in transporting COVID-19 vaccines through drones is maintaining low temperature during the transportation of vaccines.

Way Forward

India has the potential to use up to five UAVs or drones per district. There are 718 districts in India and thus 3,600 drones can be deployed to distribute the vaccines.

The Ministry of Labour and Employment recently notified Section 142 of the Social Security Code, 2020. The Section covers applicability of the Aadhhar.

Why was Section 142 notified?

The notification will enable the Ministry of Labour and Employment to collect Aadhaar details from the beneficiaries of various social security schemes. This includes migrant workers as well.

Why are Aadhaar details collected?

The National Informatics Centre is creating a National Database for unorganised workers. The portal aims to collect data of migrant workers as well. This data will be used by various schemes of the Government. An inter-state migrant worker can register himself in the portal by submitting Aadhaar alone.

Section 142

It says that Aadhaar details are compulsory for an employee or unorganised person or any other person to get benefits of government schemes. The benefits can be in kind of cash for medical sickness, availing services of career centre, maternity benefits, receiving payment as insured person, etc.

Social Security Code

The Social Security Code was introduced in 2019. The main objectives of the code was to club the existing laws. It introduced universal social security for unorganised workers and also health and insurance benefits for gig workers.

It merged eights existing laws. This included Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, Employment Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952, Employees State Insurance Act, 1948, Compensation Act, 1923.

It also established a social security fund and also tapped the corporate social responsibility fund to offer medical, disability and pension benefits to the unorganised sector workers.

The Reserve Bank of India recently opened an on-tap liquidity window of Rs 50,000 crores.

What is the plan?

Under this step, the banks can provide lending support to vaccine manufacturers, importers of vaccines, pathology labs, hospitals and dispensaries, suppliers of vaccines, logistics firms, etc.

COVID Loan Book

The COVID Loan book is an account of loans provided by the banks under this new window.

Technical Explanation: The banks can open COVID loan book. They can park their surplus liquidity to the size of COVID Loan Book with the RBI. This is to be done at reverse repo rate.

In Simple Terms:

Parking the funds means depositing the money in the bank. Under the new step, the banks can deposit the surplus money in RBI.

How will COVID Loan Book help in economic recovery?

RBI pays interest to these banks for the money deposited by them. In May 2020, the Indian Bank made 3.1 billion USD only by parking the funds with the RBI.

Lenders are comfortable keeping their funds in safe places even the earning from such means are meagre. This is the main reason for the banks to park their funds with RBI.

However, the banks parking funds with RBI has been increasing lately. It recently hit record high of seven lakh crores of rupees per day.

At this point of time, when economy is under recession, the banks should lend more to help in economic recovery. On the contrary, the banks are depositing the funds with RBI. Are the banks at fault? NO. The situation due to COVID-19 crisis and lock down is such that the banks are earning more by parking funds than by lending money to the people. This so called earning more is “meagre”. Still, it is higher than that earned by lending money.

Now, RBI has to push banks to lend more money. That is why the condition of “Can Park funds till COVID Loan Book” has been brought in. This will compel the banks to lend more money to the market. In turn will boost the economic growth.