Daily Current Affairs - 17-05-2021

The Government of India recently allowed free import of tur, moong and urad dal. All the three pulses have been put under non-restricted list. This is because their retail prices increased in the last few weeks due to low stock levels with the traders. Also, the GoI has announced that the import consignments should be cleared strictly before November 30, 2021.

Why the deadline for the norms?

Consignments means a batch goods destined to be delivered to someone. By November 2021, the Kharif harvests of these three pulses will start arriving in the market. If the import is made free during that time, it will affect the farmers income. Only if the free imports are stopped farmers will get reasonable rates above the Minimum Support Price.

Also, this Kharif season, GoI has increased the area of cultivation of pulses. This is to be done under the Special Kharif Strategy, 2021. This means more pulses will be arriving in the markets by November to December 2021. Kharif Season crops predominantly depend on South West Monsoon. They are sown in June and harvested in October.

Current Scenario

Imports of Pulses

India primarily imports these three pulses from Myanmar and African countries.

On May 17, 2021, the Central Bureau of Investigation arrested the Ministers of West Bengal, Subrata Mukherjee, Firhad Hakim, TMC MLA Madan Mitra and Sovan Chattopadhyay (former Kolkata Mayor).

Background

The Calcutta High Court had ordered a CBI probe against the sting operation in Narada Bribery case in March 2017.

The Narada Bribery case in short

In short, in Narada Bribery Case the state ministers were shown taking money in a video footage. These tapes about the ministers were released ahead of 2016 State Assembly polls.

In detail

Is CBI allowed to investigate a crime in a state?

On May 17, 2021, the DRDO released the first batch of 2-DG drugs. The 2-DG was developed by the Defence Research Development Organisation for Emergency Use. 2-DG is 2-Deoxy – D – Glucose. It is to be provided as a supplementary. Around 10,000 doses are to be launched first.

About 2-DG drug

How are 2-DG accumulated in the cells?

The 2-DG is a glucose molecule. It cannot undergo further glycolysis. Glycolysis is the process in which free energy is released. The 2-DG molecules are up taken by the glucose transporters of the cell. The glucose transporters are membrane proteins that facilitate the transport of glucose across plasma membrane. This is how the drug reaches the cells. As it cannot undergo glycolysis it simply stays in the cells. Continuous intake of the drug thus leads to accumulation in the cell.

2-DG as Tumour therapeutic

The cancer cells have higher glucose uptake. Thus, when 2-DG is injected into cancer patients, it acts as a good marker for cancer cells.

The Chinese Government recently announced that it is to add the Synthetic Cannabinoids to the list of banned drugs in the country. This is being done to curb the trafficking and manufacturing of the drug.

What are Synthetic Cannabinoids?

They are human made chemicals. They act on the same brain receptors as that of Marijuana. However, the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention says that their side effects are more severe than that of Marijuana.

Definition

They are a class of molecules that bind to the same receptors as that of the Cannabinoids of the Cannabis plant does.

They are designer drugs. A designer drug is a functional and structural analog of a controlled substance that is designed to mimic the pharmacological effects of the original drug. They are usually smoked or ingested as concentrated liquid in UK and US since 2016.

They are sold under common names such as Spice, K2, Synthetic Marijuana. They are sold under the label “Not for Human Consumption”.

Cannabinoid

It is the primary psychoactive compound of Cannabis. There are 113 different cannabinoids that exhibit varied effects.

Psychoactive Substances in China

The Psychoactive Substances are those that change the functions of nervous system and results in alterations in mood, perception, consciousness, behaviour and cognition.

The Chinese Government is to ban another eighteen new psychoactive substances.

According to the Chinese government, there are 1,047 different and new psychoactive substances that had appeared in 2020. Out of these, 450 were found in the last five years.

Andrea Meza of Mexico was crowned the Miss Universe, 2020. The 69th edition of Miss Universe was held on May 16, 2021 in Florida, United States. It was cancelled for the first time in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Miss Universe, 2020

Andrea Meza beat seventy four contestants from all over the world. Julia Gama of Brazil was the runner up and Janick Maceta of Peru finished third.

Miss India

Miss India Adline Castelino made it to the top four.

Political Statements at the Pageant

Miss Myanmar, Thuzar Wint Lwin grabbed attention when she used her time in the spotlight to draw attention towards the coup in Myanmar. She won the award for best National Costume during that particular competition segment. She wore traditional Burmese patterns and held a sign “Pray for Myanmar”. She was also one of the top twenty one contestants. More than 796 people are dead and four thousand are in prison in Myanmar due to the military coup. There has been huge uproar in the country since February 1, 2021, when the Myanmar Army ousted Aung San Suu Kyi.

Apart from Miss Myanmar, Miss Singapore (Bernadette Belle Ong) also made political statements. Her long dress said “Stop Asian Hate”. The United States of all the other countries has seen violence against Asians lately.

About the Beauty Pageant

The Miss Universe is an international beauty pageant run by the Miss Universe Organisation based in United States. It is one of the Big Four International Beauty Pageants. The other three are Miss World, Miss International and Miss Earth.

The Okeanos Explorer is a ship built by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It departed from the Port Canaveral in Florida on May 14, 2021.

Okeanos Explorer

Orpheus

Hadal Zone

Navigation used by Orpheus: Visual Inertial Odometry

The Ministry of Commerce has recently initiated the anti-dumping investigation against China, Vietnam and Thailand. The investigation is against the import of solar cells from these countries. The investigation has been started by the Ministry following the application submitted by the Indian Solar Manufacturer Association.

What is the issue?

The solar cells are the basic ingredients in the manufacturing of solar modules. The solar cells that are being imported from China are 15% to 20% less expensive as compared to that of the solar cells produced in India. This is affecting the business of solar modules produced using locally available raw materials. Ultimately it is increasing the price of domestic solar modules.

Earlier Actions of GoI

The Government of India in 2018 had imposed 25% of safeguard duty on solar imports from Malaysia and China. This was later extended to July 2021 at a rate of 15%. After the imposition of this safeguard duty, the imports from Thailand and Vietnam have increased. Between 2018 and 2020, the import of solar cells from Thailand and Vietnam grew at 5,750% and 800% respectively!

Also, an anti-dumping investigation against the import of solar cells from Malaysia, Taiwan and China was initiated by the Government in 2017. However, it was eventually called off on 2018.

The GoI has introduced Rs 4,500 Production Linked Incentive Scheme for solar module manufacturing.

What is worrying ISMA?

The solar cell and solar module imports will attract a customs duty of 25% and 40% respectively from 2023. With the safeguard duty against Chinese imports of solar cells ending in July 2021, there will be no import barriers.

Current Scenario

As of today, the module making capacity if 10 GW and domestic cell manufacturing capacity is around 3 GW.

Every year, the International Day of Living Together in Peace is celebrated by United Nations and several other organisations in different parts of the world.

About International Day of Living Together in Peace

History

International Day of Peace

The International Day of Peace is different from the International Day of Living Together in Peace. The International Day of peace is also  celebrated by the United Nation. It is clebrated on September 16.

United Nations Peacekeeping Force

It was established in 1945. There are 90,905 active uniformed personnel working under the UN Peacekeeping force. It focuses on peacemaking, peace building, and peace enforcement. They are also referred to as Blue Berets or Blue helmets for their blue-coloured helmets and berets. Beret is a soft round cap.

UN Peacekeeping Funds

It is compulsory for the members of the United Nations to pay their respective share towards United Nations peace keeping. The United Nations approved budget of 6.58 billion USD for peacekeeping operations.

Every year, the International Day of Light is celebrated on May 16 by UNESCO and several other international organisations. The day celebrates the role of light in science, art, culture, education and sustainable development. This year, in 2021, the International Day of Light is celebrated under the following theme:

Why is International Day of Light celebrated on May 16?

Because the first successful operation of LASER was conducted on May 16, 1960 by physicist Theodore Maiman.

Goals of International Day of Light

Light Technologies

Impact on Economy

The photonic technologies have major impacts on world economy. This includes 600 billion Euros of market. The growth in photonics doubled between 2005 and 2011.

Light Pollution

On one hand, the light technologies are growing at faster rate. On the other hand, they are of great disturbances especially to birds. Thus, the light technologies should be used very carefully making sustainable development. The light pollution has increased mainly due to urbanization.

The common light pollution are light trespass, over illumination, glare, light clutter. Light Clutter is excessive grouping of lights. Light trespass is unwanted light entering one’s property.

The gasoline shortages in the US East Coast recently began to ease since the Colonial Pipeline Cyber Attack. Ships and trucks were deployed to fill up the storage tanks after the Colonial Pipeline shutdown. It was the most disruptive cyberattack on record.

US Gas Shortage in 2021

What caused the Gas Shortage 2021?

The largest fuel pipeline of the US was forced to shut down after a gang of hackers attacked the pipeline. They locked the pipeline and demanded for ransom to release them. This disrupted the gas flows in the colonial pipelines located in the Southeast.

Colonial Pipeline

The Colonial Pipeline delivers 45% of fuel to the East Coast of the US. It runs from the Gulf coast to New York metropolitan region. Only the south east region of the US is more dependent on this line. The rest of the country has different sources.

The Democratic Republic of Congo recently handed death sentence to thirty people after clashes between two rival Muslim factions.

What happened?

On the Islamic holiday of Eid, that mark the end of Ramadan month, two Muslim groups clashed in front of the Martyrs stadium in the city of Kinshasa. The fight was over the right to hold Eid celebrations in the stadium.

Kinshasa sees massive celebrations during Eid. The Democratic Republic of Congo holds 10% of Muslim population.

Death Sentence

During the conflict, a policeman was beaten to death. Several others were wounded. The participants were charged of criminal conspiracy and attempted murder. The trial of the rioters began on May 14, 2021 and went till May 15, 2021 continuously. After this, around 30 rioters were sentenced to death.

Current Political Situation in Congo

Congo has been facing humanitarian and health crisis lately. Two eastern provinces were put under the state of emergency recently due to the presence of armed groups. Since the beginning of 2021, armed militia have killed at least 300 people in Congo.

Reasons behind the clashes

It is believed that the extremists group in Congo are behind the clashes as they do not want the groups to pray together. There are armed extremists in the country mainly because Congo is poor and underpopulated in spite of the fact that it is the riches t country in the world.

Congo is poor due to instability from years of wars. This has led to poverty and unemployment. This is the main reason for frequent clashes and fights in the country.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) recently came up with eleven recommendations to stop mass disposal of COVID-19 victims in the Ganges. More than fifty bodies washed up on the Ganges river bank recently.

Legislation

The River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) Authorities order say that no person shall carry a project or process that causes pollution in river Ganga.

What is the issue?

The holy river Ganges is increasingly polluted with the dumping of COVID-19 patients after their death. This is seriously affecting the persons dependent on the river for their day-to-day activities. This is mainly happening for two reasons. One, the river is considered to be holy and the other is that there is shortage of spaces in crematories and grave yards. GoI has launched mobile crematories in some places to solve the issue.

Recommendations made by NHRC

The scientists of Scotland have conducted a detailed study on the Elephant Seals in the northeastern Pacific Ocean.

Key Findings of the Study

The seals migrate to north eastern pacific ocean post breeding season mainly to feed their young ones. It has been found that the female seals spend more than twenty to twenty four hours every day in hunting. The study has found that they choose their hunt very carefully unlike the other deep diving marine animals. They select multitudes (large number) of small fishes to gain the essential body fat. The fat is highly important for the seals to survive in greater depths.

The study has also found that they feed thousand to two thousand times every day.

About the research

About the seals

The Cranes that have been a part of Irish folklore (traditional stories and beliefs) were recently spotted in Ireland. The birds were spotted in the country during their breeding season after three hundred years.

About the Cranes

Why is the sighting important?

Cranes in Irish Culture

The Cranes are deeply connected to the history and culture of Ireland. These birds are central to the popular Ireland folklore such as Book of Kells, Fionn MacCumhaill and St Colmcille.

Why did the cranes become extinct in Ireland?

Cranes usually live in Bogs in Ireland. Bogs are spongy wetlands that accumulate peat. Peat is fossil gasoline used for heating the companies and houses in Ireland. These wetlands take hundreds of years to develop. Also, they act as carbon sinks.

For hundreds of years, these wetlands were drained to extract peat. This resulted in the destruction of the habitat.

The External Affairs Minister of India recently held a discussion with the US Global Task Force on Pandemic Response. He discussed about the priorities of India in vaccines, pharmaceuticals and oxygen.

What are the actions?

About Global Task Force on Pandemic Response

Contributions by US Corporate Sector

The Corporate sector of the US has so far sent 25,000 Oxygen concentrators.

US COVID help to India

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) recently announced that it is to send 100 million USD of aid to India. This includes 440 oxygen cylinders, 960,000 Rapid Diagnostic tests. Also, the US has redirected 20 million COVID-19 doses of AstraZeneca manufacturing supplies to India. Also, the US will provide 20,000 treatment courses of anti-viral drug Remdesivir.