Daily Current Affairs - 08-05-2021

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently released a new video shot by the Perseverance rover. The six wheeled robot has shot the fourth flight of Ingenuity helicopter successfully.

About the video

The duration of the video was three minutes. It showed winds blowing across Jezero Crater. The Perseverance landed from the Mars 2020 on the Jezero crater.

The sounds of the blades of the helicopter were heard softly.

Why was the sound of Ingenuity mild in the video?

In spite of the fact that the blades were rotating at 2,400 rpm, at a distance of eighty metres from the Perseverance rover, its sound was mildly heard. This was mainly because the Martian atmosphere has 1% the density of the earth. This makes everything much quieter in Mars.

The speed of sound on Planet Mars is 240 metres per second. It is slower because of cold temperatures in Mars. The temperature of Mars is around -63 degree Celsius.

Also, the Martian atmosphere is made of 96% of carbon dioxide. It tends to absorb high pitched sounds.

Super Cam

The Super Cam is an instrument on Perseverance. It destroys rocks from a distance. The spectrometer attached to the camera will then study the vapour emerging from the rocks. This reveals the chemical composition of rocks.

Recent Developments of Ingenuity Mission

The Reserve Bank of India recently announced that it is to conduct the first Special Long Term Repo Operation (SLTRO) of Rs 10,000 crores for Small Finance Banks.

What is the plan?

The RBI will conduct the SLTRO for each month starting from May 2021. This is to continue till October 2021. The SLTRO will be valid for three years. All the Small Finance Banks shall participate in the SLTRO. However, these banks should make sure that the amount borrowed from RBI should be lent only to specified segments such as unorganised sectors and small business units.

Background

The Reserve Bank of India recently announced a slew of measures to boost the economy. This included opening of on-tap liquidity window of Rs 50,000 crores at repo rate 4%, asking banks to create COVID Loan Book, etc. Conducting SLTRO for Small Finance Banks is one such measure.

What is Special Long Term Repo Operations?

It is generally called the Long-Term Repo Operations. The Special Long Term Repo Operations is a tool under which RBI provides money to the banks at repo rate. It accepts the government securities as collateral. It is usually provided for a period of one year to three years.

Significance of SLTRO

This is highly beneficial for the banks as they get long term funds at lower rates. This will make the banks to reduce the interest banks for borrowers. Thus, Special Long Term Repo Operations will help Reserve Bank of India to ensure that the banks reduce their lending rates without reducing the policy rates.

The National Financial Reporting Authority is creating a database of companies and auditors.

What is the plan?

As a first step of establishing the database, NFRA is to identify and verify the primary data sources. This is essential because certain data such as Company Identification Number is different from different sources. NFRA is to collect data from the Corporate Data Management division that operates under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and also from other three stock exchanges in India.

NFRA has so far compiled data of 6,500 companies. This includes 5,300 listed companies and 1,000 unlisted companies.

Legal Provisions

The National Financial Reporting Authority is a regulatory body set up under Section 132 of Companies Act.

According to the act, the authority should have a chairperson and maximum of fifteen members. They are appointed by the Central Government.

National Financial Reporting Authority

Why was NFRA established?

The NFRA was established to control the accounting scams increasing in the country. It was essential to create an independent regulator to enforce auditing standards. There was a need to increase investor and public confidence in financial disclosure of companies.

Inception

After the Satyam Scandal that occurred in 2009, the NFRA was recommended by the Standing Committee on Finance for the first time in its 21st report.

Every year, the World Migratory Day is celebrated on second Saturday of May and October. This year, it is celebrated on May 8th. The previous World Migratory Bird Day was celebrated on October 10th.

World Migratory Bird Day

The World Migratory Bird Day is organised by the Convention on Migratory Species, environment for the Americas, Colorado-based Non-Profit Organisation and the African – Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement.

It is also celebrated by the United Nations Environment Programme.

United Nations

The United Nations established the World Migratory Bird Day in 2006. The event was founded under the United Nations Agreement on Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds.

The World Migratory Bird Day is organised by the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), Environment for the Americas and the African – Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA). The CMS and the AEWA are the two international wildlife treaties administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

National Action Plan for Conservation of Migratory Birds

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change launched the National Action Plan for Conservation of Migratory Birds on October 10, 2020. That is on the other World Migratory Day.

The UK scientists recently declared the new COVID-19 strains found in India as the “Variant of Concern”.

What are the criteria to name a virus as “Variant of Concern”?

Various national and international organisations such as CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention), COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium and Canadian COVID Genomics Network use the following criteria:

When one or all these criteria are met, then the variant is named as “Variant of Interest” or “Variant under Investigation”.

After validation or verification, it is named as “Variant of Concern”.

Why is Indian Variant named Variant of Concern?

According to the scientists in the UK, of all the COVID-19 variants, the Indian variant spreads more quickly than its original version. The COVID-19 variant, B.1.617.2, which is also informally called the double mutant variety was first found in India.

UK has reported five hundred cases infected with this variant recently. This grew so rapidly from meagre 202 in a single week.

Current Scenario

The double mutant has spread to more than dozen countries that is forcing them to restrict movements from India.

Concerns

Variants of Interest

The COVID-19 variants such as B.1.617.3, B.1.617.2, B.1.617.1, B.1.617, that are circulating in the US were classified as “Variants of Interest”

The Reserve Bank of India recently constituted a Committee under the Managing Director S Janaki Raman. The committee is to assist the second Regulatory Review Authority.

About the Committee

The committee will assist the authority to identify areas, guidelines, regulations and returns. It will submit reports periodically to RRA that will provide suggestions and recommendations.

Regulatory Review Authority

In 1999, RBI set up the Regulatory Review Authority to review circulars, regulations, and reporting systems. The authority reviews these parameters based on feedback from banks, public and financial institutions. The RRA 2.0 was established to streamline regulations and reduce compliance burden of regulated entities.

RRA 2.0

RRA 2.0 was established in April 2021. The authority is to function for a period of one year. It will review the regulatory prescription internally. Also, it will examine and suggest changes required in the dissemination process of RBI instructions and circulars.

It will focus on reducing compliance burden. This is to be achieved by simplifying procedures and reducing reporting requirements wherever possible.

It will make regulatory instruction more effective.

Also, it will aid in streamlining reporting mechanism, obviating paper-based submission of returns wherever possible and revoking necessary instructions.

Section 58 of Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934

This section empowers the Central Board of RBI to form committees. The act also empowers them to provide powers and functions to these committees within the jurisdiction of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934.

The RBI is governed by the Central Board of directors. The board is appointed by the Government of India. The board is formed of governor, deputy governors, ten directors nominated by the GoI,

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change recently notified 48.32 square kilo metres around Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary as the Eco Sensitive Zone. Eco Sensitive Zones act as a buffer zone for protected areas. They reduce development pressures around national park or wildlife sanctuary.

Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary

It is home to twelve mangrove species, 167 species of birds such as Flamingos, 45 fish, 67 insect and mammals like jackals and 59 species of butterflies.

The Mangrove forest in the region has been declared as reserve forest under the Indian Forest Act. Also, these mangrove forests are included under Coastal Regulation zone.

Future Plans

Under the notification, highly polluting mining activities and industries are prohibited in the region. However, regulated eco-tourism, construction of hotels and resorts are allowed. Organic Farming, agro-forestry and use of eco-friendly transport is to be promoted.

Eco-Sensitive Zones

They are economically fragile areas in a radius of ten kilometres around the national parks, protected areas and wildlife sanctuaries.

They are notified under Environment Protection Act, 1986. However, the act does not mention the word Eco-Sensitive Zones.

Coastal Regulation zone

They are those areas that are influenced by tides. According to Coastal Regulation Zone rules, 1991, 500 metres of land between high tide line and low tide line is declared as Coastal Regulation Zone.

Reserve Forest

The Reserve Forest are restricted forest that are constituted by the State Government. The local people are prohibited in the reserved forest.

The other types are protected forests and village forests.

The United Nations recently launched the Global Methane Assessment. It was released by Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) and the United Nations Environment Programme. The Climate Clean Air Coalition is a global partnership of governments and non-state partners.

Key Findings

Major Methane Emitters

The majority of methane emissions comes from the three major sectors as follows:

Solutions

The Global Methane Assessment identifies solutions that is capable of reducing methane emissions by 30% by 2030. These solutions mainly target the fossil fuel sector. They are as follows:

Apart from these targeted measures, additional measures such as renewable energy, reduction in food loss and waste, increasing residential and commercial energy efficiency will help to reduce methane emissions

Methane

Methane is a short-lived climate pollutant. It contributes to the formation of ground level ozone.

Outcome

The assessment says that every million tonnes of methane reduced will help in achieving the following:

Every year the World Thalassemia Day is celebrated on May 8. The day is celebrated to encourage the patients suffering from Thalassemia. This year, the World Thalassemia Day is celebrated under the following theme:

Thalassemia Disease

The disease is an inherited blood disorder that is passed from parents to children. When a person gets infected with the disease, his or her body loses the ability to produce haemoglobin. Eventually the red blood cells count reduces. Red Blood Cells are the carriers of oxygen.

The disease is most common in South Asian, African and Mediterranean countries.

Thalassemia Vaccine

Beginning at the age of two months a seven valent Conjugate Pneumococcal Vaccine should be given. At the age of twenty-four months, a 23-valent Conjugate Pneumococcal Vaccine booster should be given.

Later, Pnuemovax booster should be considered every five to ten years.

Thalassemia in India

Every year around 10,000 children are born with Thalassemia. The Thalassemia gene varies from 3% to 15% in northern India, 1% to 3% in southern India. Certain communities such as Lingayat in Karnataka, Koli’s and Agri’s in Maharashtra, Punjabis and Sindhis have higher carrier rate.

Thalassemia Bal Sewa Yojana

The second phase of Thalassemia Bal Sewa Yojana was launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in October 2020. It aims to provide one-time cure opportunity for Sickle cell disease and Thalassemia.

The Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation programme was launched in 2017. It is funded by Coal India CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility).

The Colonial Pipeline company transports about 45% of petrol and diesel in the east coast of US. It was forced to shut down after a cyber attack by a group called “Darkside”. The pipeline originates in the Texas and carries gasoline to the South eastern states of the US.

What happened?

On May 7, 2021, a hacker group called the “Darkside” targeted the pipeline. The hackers did not take control of the pipeline. However, the Colonial shut it down to prevent malware from spreading to the control systems of its industries. The company had paid 5 million USD in cryptocurrency for a software decryption key.

Darkside

Sunburst Cyber Attack

In 2020, a largescale cyber attack called “Sunburst” attacked the National Nuclear Security Administration. The NNSA is responsible for holding US nuclear weapons.

Oil Prices

After the attack, the oil prices increased to 69 USD per barrel.

Colonial Pipeline