Daily Current Affairs - 25-05-2021

A committee was set up by National Green Tribunal (NGT) to submit report on alleged violation of norms in construction of a reservoir across Cauvery river at Mekedatu in Karnataka.

Highlights

NGT bench consisting of Justice K Ramakrishnan took suo motu cognizance of newspaper report regarding the dam. Report states Karnataka proposes to construct a dam across Cauvery river even though proposal was deferred by Cauvery Water Management Authority twice in past because of opposition from Tamil Nadu government.

About Committee

Senior members of Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Limited; Integrated Regional Office of MoEF, Bangalore and Cauvery Water Management Authority are members of the committee.  NGT has directed the committee to ask whether construction activity as alleged in newspaper report has been started before obtaining necessary clearance from Forest Department and MoEF under Forest Conservation Act and EIA Notification, 2006.

Mekedatu Project

The project was approved by Karnataka in 2017.  Rs 9,000 crore worth project started was with the aim of storing and supplying drinking water for Bengaluru city. It will also generate 400 megawatts of power. It is undertaken at deep gorge situated at the confluence of river Cauvery and its tributary Arkavathi.

Why Tamil Nadu is opposing the project?

Tamil Nadu opposes any proposed project in upper riparian unless it is approved by Supreme Court. Further, Karnataka started the project without the consent and clearance which goes against the final order of Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT). In the order, SC held- “no state can claim exclusive ownership to deprive other states of waters of inter-state rivers”.

Minister of Health & Family Welfare and Chairman of WHO Executive Board, Dr Harsh Vardhan, chaired 74th World Health Assembly in virtual mode on May 24, 2021.

Highlights

About World Health Assembly

World Health assembly is key decision-making body of WHO. Assembly is attended by delegations from Member States of WHO. It focuses on specific health agenda, prepared by Executive Board. Primary functions of the assembly include- determining policies of Organization, appointing Director-General, supervising financial policies, and reviewing & approving proposed programme budget. Health Assembly is held in Geneva, Switzerland annually.

Union Ministry of Power has announced to set up a ‘National Mission on use of Biomass’ in coal based thermal power plants. This decision was taken to address issue of air pollution caused due to farm stubble-burning.

National Mission on use of Biomass

Steering Committee

Mission will be administered by Steering Committee which is headed by Power Secretary consisting of all stakeholders, representatives from Petroleum and New & Renewable Energy Ministries.

National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)

NCAP was launched by government to tackle air pollution problem across India in a comprehensive manner. It seeks to achieve 20% to 30% reduction in Particulate Matter concentrations by 2024. It has kept 2017 as base year to compare concentration.

Microsoft recently announced that Internet Explorer 11 desktop browser will be retired on June 15, 2022, for some versions of Windows 10. However, Internet Explorer-based websites and applications will continue to work on new Microsoft Edge (Internet Explorer) mode till 2029.

Why explorer is retiring?

Microsoft is retiring Internet Explorer (IE) because it has been working over “Microsoft Edge with IE mode” to replace Internet Explorer 11 desktop application. Microsoft edge will help in providing more secure, faster and modern browsing experience. Compatibility issues related with Internet Explorer based websites and applications will also be resolved.

Which system will be affected by retirement of IE?

According to Microsoft; MSHTML (Trident) engine, Windows 10 LTSC and Server Internet Explorer 11 desktop applications will not be affected by retirement of IE. Windows 7 Extended Security Updates, Windows 8.1, Windows 10 Server- both SAC & LTSC etc will continue having IE 11 desktop application.

Significance of Microsoft Edge with IE mode

  1. It is more secure, faster, and modern.
  2. It is built on Chromium project.
  3. It provides dual-engine support for modern as well as legacy Internet Explorer-based websites.
  4. It extends supports to ActiveX controls.

Why Microsoft Edge is being preferred?

  1. It enables users to enjoy modern features such as browser tab management including Sleeping tabs feature, Vertical tabs, Edge Collections for favourites etc.
  2. It enhances browser security against malware or phishing attacks by issuing security patches.

About Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer was launched in 1995 by Microsoft. It is a web browsers operating on Windows.

China has again defended its China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, by terming it an economic initiative.

What is the issue?

CPEC is USD 60 billion project of China with Pakistan. While, India do not support the project as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) region of India. China again has disregarded India’s protests stating that project has not affected its principled stand on Kashmir issue.

What is CPEC?

China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, launched in 2013, comprises of several infrastructure projects which are under construction throughout Pakistan. CPEC projects is worth $62 billion project as of 2020. Project was launched to rapidly upgrade required infrastructure in Pakistan and strengthen its economy by constructing modern transportation networks, energy projects, and special economic zones.

Why India opposes this project?

India opposes CPEC project because of upgradation works to Karakoram Highway are happening in Gilgit-Baltistan which is contested between India and Pakistan.

When did India start objecting CPEC?

In the past instances, India did not object to Chinese construction of Karakoram Highway during 1959 and 1979. It also not objected to major upgradation works to Karakoram Highway by China after 2010 earthquake. India started objecting Chinese construction works in Gilgit-Baltistan in 2011 after China complaint about Indian-Vietnamese oil exploration project in disputed South China Sea.

Reserve Bank of India will consider merger of District Central Co-operative Banks (DCCBs) with State Cooperative Banks (StCBs) if the concerned state government will make any proposal.

Highlights

RBI has notified the guidelines for merging DCCBs with StCBs as two-tier Short-term Co-operative Credit Structure (STCCS). Banking Regulation (Amendment) Act, 2020 has also been notified in effect from April 1, 2021 for these banks. Merger of such banks will be finally be sanctioned by Reserve Bank of India.

What are the guidelines?

Who will approve the merger?

Scheme of amalgamation will be approved by requisite majority of shareholders. NABARD in association with RBI will also examine and recommend proposals made by state government.

Stages of approval

Approval will be given in two-stages:

  1. First Stage: ‘In-principle’ approval will be given after completing certain conditions. Later, processes for amalgamation will be initiated.
  2. Second Stage: NABARD and RBI will be approached for final approval along with compliance report.

As per a study, Sniffer dogs can help in prevent spread of Coronavirus by detecting SARS-CoV2. Study found; they can be 88 percent accurate in detecting the virus.

Highlights

How dogs identified virus?

Canine screening trial over specialist medical sniffer dogs detecting coronavirus in humans started in 2020. During the trial, six dogs were trained to recognise smell produced by people with COVID-19 which were undetectable to human nose. Dogs were given worn socks, face masks and t-shirts to recognise the smell.

Are dogs reliable biosensors?

People in negative group, who had common cold viruses, were also made part of the trial to ensure, dogs were able to distinguish COVID from other respiratory infections. The dogs easily detected the disease even when it was caused by different variants.

India has exported first consignment of GI-certified Shahi Litchi from Bihar to United Kingdom by air route on May 24, 2021.

What is GI Tag?

Geographical indication (GI) tag is given to an agricultural, natural or a manufactured product such as handicraft and industrial goods which are originating from definite geographical territory. The tag provides an assurance of quality and distinctiveness, which is essentially linked to place of its origin. It also helps growers to get premium price of product as no other producer can misuse name to sale similar goods.

Registered GIs

Darjeeling tea, Kangra paintings, Tirupati laddu, Nagpur orange and Kashmir pashmina are some of the examples of registered GIs in India.

About Shahi Litchi

Shahi litchi is an agricultural product from Bihar which got the GI Tag in 2018. It was the fourth agricultural product to get GI certification from Bihar in 2018. Other 3 products from Bihar with GI Tag are Magahi Paan, Jardalu mango and Katarni rice. GI registration for Shahi Litchi registered with Muzaffarpur-based Litchi Growers Association of Bihar.

Litchi Production in India

Bihar tops in production of litchi because it has a favourable climate. Litchi is produced in districts of Vaishali, Muzaffarpur, Champaran, Samastipur, Begusarai and other adjoining areas. India is second largest producer of litchi in the world while China is first.

According to director of World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, covid-19 pandemic is being sustained by a “scandalous inequity” in vaccine distribution. Thus, he has set new targets to protect people in poorest nations.

Vaccine Inequality

Many countries are burdened with second wave of covid-19. More cases have been reported in 2021 so far, than they were reported in whole 2020. Number of deaths is soon going to overtake last year’s total. In the midst, vaccine is not being distributed equally. According to WHO chief, 75% of all vaccines has been administered in just 10 countries.

How WHO is distributing vaccines?

WHO and GAVI Vaccine alliance are running COVAX facility. Under this initiative, 72 million vaccine doses have been delivered to 125 countries and economies since February 2021. It just covered 1% of their population.

What are new targets?

WHO has asked the developed countries to donate vaccine doses to COVAX so that, it can cover vaccination for 10% of populations by September 2021 and 30% by December 2021. Thus, it has set a target of vaccinating 250 million more people in four months. He also asked vaccine manufacturers to provide COVAX the first right of refusal on new stock of vaccines, or to provide 50% of their volumes to COVAX in 2021.

India and Israel have inked a three-year joint work programme which will continue till 2023. Joint work programme was initiated with the aim of enhancing cooperation in agriculture.

Background

India and Israel have completed four similar joint work programmes successfully.

About New Work Programme

India Israel Agricultural relation

“India and Israel started the bilateral relations in agriculture sector in 1993. So, new programme is 5th Indo-Israel Agriculture Action Plan (IIAP).

Significance of Indo-Israel Agriculture Action Plan

These action plans are playing a significant role in doubling farmers’ income. It has improved productivity and quality of horticulture which boost farmer’s income.

Centres of Excellence (CoEs)

29 CoEs are operational in 12 states of India. They produce about 25 million vegetable seedlings, about 3,87,000 quality fruit plants. CoE also providing training to about 1.2 lakh farmers about latest technology which can be used in horticulture.

National Health Authority (NHA) has inked Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Telangana government to implement Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana across the state immediately.

Highlights

Ayushman Bharat Scheme

This scheme was launched with the aim of providing free access to healthcare to 50 crore people in India who can access primary care services from a family doctor. Under the Ayushman Bharat Scheme, beneficiaries get free healthcare coverage of up to Rs 5 lakhs per family per year. Coverage is provided for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation. Beneficiaries can avail these Health services in any of 22,000 empanelled public and private hospitals across India as scheme is portable.

National Health Authority (NHA)

NHA is responsible for implementing public health insurance scheme called Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY). NHA was set up to implement PM-JAY at national level. On similar line, State Health Agencies work in form of a society the trust and has been set up with full operational autonomy to implement this scheme.

First phase of India’s first mission mode e-governance project, MCA21 was launched on May 24, 2021 by Minister of State for Finance & Corporate Affairs, Anurag Thakur. This version of MCA21 is data analytics driven.

About MCA21 Version 3.0

MCA21 version 3.0 was highlighted during budget 2021-2022. This project makes use of new technologies to streamline corporate compliance and experiences of stakeholders. It will be implemented in two phases for which second and third phase will be launched in October 2021. First phase of the project consists of new email services for MCA officers, revamped website, eBook and eConsultation.

Aim of the Project

Version 3.0 of MCA 21 was launched to:

What is MCA21?

It is an online portal of corporate affairs ministry. Launched in 2006, the portal has made all the information related to company, accessible to stakeholders and general public.

MCA21 Mission Mode Project

This e-governance initiative was launched in 2002 by Ministry of Corporate Affairs, after facing the challenge of providing service to about 7.5 lakh corporate entities. It is one among 31Mision Mode Projects of National e-Governance Plan. Project is being implemented by Tata Consultancy Services under Build Own Operate and Transfer (BOOT) model.

National e-Governance Plan (NeGP)

NeGP initiative was launched by government to make all government services available to citizens using electronic media.  It was formulated by DeitY (Department of Electronics and Information Technology) in collaboration with DARPG (Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances).

First lunar eclipse of 2021 will take place on May 26, 2021. It will be a super lunar event because supermoon, lunar eclipse and blood moon, all will occur at once.

Highlights

Eclipse will visible partially in India, at a few places in eastern part. It can be well observed in Australia, United States, western South America, Pacific and South-East Asia. As per NASA, this lunar eclipse will happen because of a series of celestial event.

What is a supermoon?

When full or new moon coincides with perigee of Moon to the Earth, super moon event occurs. It is called as super moon, because close proximity of moon makes it bigger and brighter in appearance than usual. Though, difference between super and normal moon is hard to notice.

What is lunar eclipse?

When Earth’s shadow covers all or part of moon, lunar eclipse event happens. This event only happens during full moon. Lunar eclipse happens twice a year during which, moon comes in same horizontal plane as the Earth and Sun.

What is a full moon?

When Moon and Sun are on opposite sides of Earth, full moon happens. This makes it possible to observe entire lit-up side of the moon.

What is a red moon?

When moon gets completely covered by Earth’s shadow, it appears dark. It does not get completely black but appears red. Because of this red colour, total lunar eclipses are called as red or blood moons.

Forest Department of Odisha has witnessed an adult Gharial surrounded by 28 hatchlings at Satkosia gorge in Mahanadi river which is considered as southernmost limit of gharials’ home range in India.

How is it significant?

Forest department has been trying for 15 years to increase the population of gharials in their natural habitat in Odisha. For long, the State Forest Department has been trying to increase the population of gharials in their natural habitat in Odisha. However, it yielded desired result. Thus, sight of mated gharials and their hatchlings becomes significant.

The Gharial

Gharial, also called as gavial or fish-eating crocodile, is a crocodilian of family Gavialidae. It is one among longest of all living crocodilians. Mature females are 2.6–4.5 m long while and males are 3–6 m long. They are called as Gharial because they have a distinct boss at the end of snout, resembling an earthenware pot or ghara. They are well adapted to catching fish.

Background

It is believed that gharial evolved in northern Indian subcontinent. Because, Fossil gharial remains were collected from Pliocene deposits in Shivalik Hills and Narmada River valley.

Natural Habitat

Currently, Gharials inhabit rivers in northern plains of Indian subcontinent. They are most thoroughly aquatic crocodilian. They leave water only for basking and building nests on moist sandbanks.

Concerns

Population of gharial is declining dramatically since 1930s. they are limited to only 2% of its historical range now. Loss of habitat is occurring because of sand mining and conversion of agriculture, decreasing fish resources etc. Though, India and Nepal started conservation programmes with focused on reintroducing captive-bred gharials. But they are listed as ‘critically endangered’ in IUCN Red List since 2007.

Recently, India Biodiversity Awards 2021 were presented on the occasion of International Day for Biological Diversity on May 22.

Who are the winners?

What are India Biodiversity Awards?

The India Biodiversity Awards initiative was started jointly by ministry of environment, forest & climate change; National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2012. It recognizes and honour outstanding models from grassroot level for biodiversity conservation, sustainable use of biological resources and governance.

Why KRAPAVIS Won?

KRAPAVIS won the prestigious award for its support to communities in restoring water harvesting structures, recharge wells & water tables. It also helped to plant million trees of local varieties in Orans.

Contribution of Shaji

Mr. Shaji was conferred the award as he conserves about 200 tuber crops such as greater yam, elephant foot yam, lesser yam, arrowroot, sweet potato, Chinese potato and colocasia, in his farm. He has received State awards seven times for his contribution.

Why was KNCTS honoured?

KNCTS was established on December 11, 1998. Sanctuary was awarded as it helps in maintaining biodiversity in Khonoma area which is inhabited by several endemic plants and animals.