Daily Current Affairs - 26-05-2021

Environmental DNA (eDNA) of Argentine Ant was successfully detected by researchers. It was detected in surface soil samples collected from Kobe Port Island and Kyoto’s Fushimi District.

What are the concerns?

What researchers suggests?

Researchers suggests, issue of Argentine ant cannot be eradicated by focusing on one species. They found, eDNA analysis effective in providing a useful tool to observe and evaluate invasion, establishment and proliferation of these ant species.

Argentine ant

The ant is native to northern Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia and southern Brazil. It is an invasive species, established across many Mediterranean climate areas. It has been introduced by humans to places like Japan, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Easter Island, Hawaii, Europe and United States. Worker ants are 1.6–2.8 millimetres long. Thus, can squeeze through cracks and holes of 1 millimetre easily. This ant species is counted among 100 worst animal invaders of the world.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed Virtual Vesak Global Celebrations on Buddha Purnima on May 26, 2021. Over 50 most prominent Buddhist religious leaders from across the world also addressed the virtual congregation.

About the event

Virtual Vesak Global Celebration on Buddha Purnima event was organised by Culture Ministry in collaboration with the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC).

About Vesak

It is also celebrated as Buddha Jayanti or Buddha Purnima. It is a holiday observed by Buddhists and Hindus across South and Southeast Asia including Tibet and Mongolia. This festival commemorates birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha in Theravada Tibetan Buddhism and Navayana.

Who was Gautama Buddha?

Gautama Buddha was the founder of world religion of Buddhism. He is revered by most Buddhist schools as a savior. He rediscovered an ancient path to release clinging & craving and to escape cycle of birth & rebirth. His teaching is based on insight into- arising of duḥkha and ending of duhkha. Once the duhkha ends, that stage is called Nirvana.

Background

As per Buddhist tradition, Gautama Buddha was born in Lumbini (Now in Nepal) and raised in Kapilavastu. He obtained his enlightenment in Bodh Gaya under the Peepal Tree and delivered his first sermon in Sarnath.  He died in Kushinagar.

Northern Railway has ordered suspension of wrestler Sushil Kumar after he was arrested by Delhi Police in a murder case.

Why he was arrested?

Winner of Olympic medal, Sushil Kumar, was arrested on May 23 for his involvement in death of a 23 years old wrestler, Sagar Dhankhar, at Chhatrasal Stadium in Delhi. Apart from him, his associate and co-accused Ajay was also arrested.

Where he was posted?

Sushil Kumar was appointed as senior commercial manager in Northern Railway and he was on deputation with Delhi government since 2015. He was posted as an Officer on Special Duty (OSD) at Chhatrasal Stadium to look after development of sports at school level. His deputation was extended in 2020 and he had applied for an extension for 2021. But extension was rejected and Kumar was sent back to his parent cadre, Northern Railway.

About Sushil Kumar

He is an Indian wrestler who carried Indian flag at the opening ceremony of 2012 London Olympics. He won 2008 Olympic medal, which happens to be second medal for India in wrestling. He also received India’s highest honour for sportsperson, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, in 2009. In 2012 London Olympics, he won a silver medal after losing final to Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu.

United Nations is observing “International Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories” from May 25 to 31, 2021.

What is Non-Self-Governing Territories?

According to the UN Charter, a Non-Self-Governing Territory is a Territory “where people have not attained a full measure of self-government.”

Who Identify these territories?

UN Member States had identified a number of non-self-governing-territories under their administration and enlisted them on UN list in 1946. Countries who administer Non-Self-Governing Territories are known as administering Powers. However, because of decolonization process, several territories were removed from the list.

Which UN charter gives the power?

Chapter XI of the UN Charter provides for “Declaration regarding Non-Self-Governing Territories”. The charter provides that, member states who are administering non-self-governing Territories, shall recognize the interests of inhabitants of these Territories are paramount. They should also accept as “sacred trust” and promote their well-being. It also asks member countries to take measures to safeguard and guarantee inalienable rights of peoples in Non-Self-Governing Territories to their natural resources.

Background

Eight UN Member States namely, Belgium, Australia, France, Denmark, New Zealand, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and United States had listed 72 non-self-governing Territories under their administration in 1946. Eight of them became independent before 1959. In 1963, UN approved the revised list of 64 Territories on which 1960 Declaration on Decolonization was applicable. Between 1960 to 2002, 54 Territories acquired self-government. Presently, there remains 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories.

According to International Monetary Fund (IMF), Emerging-market nations’ struggle to move out of covid-19 pandemic-induced economic crisis can hurt developed nations. It said, crisis has “Ricochet impact” on the developed and advanced economies.

Highlights

IMF suggests that, developed nations should doing all to ensure better & equitable access to vaccines and equitable recovery. Poorer nations are facing the risk of increasing interest rates even though, their economies aren’t growing.

What is Ricochet Impact?

Ricochet means rebound, bounce, or skip off from surface, particularly in projectile cases.

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

This international financial institution is headquartered in Washington, D.C. It comprises of 190 countries. They work together to boost global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, promote high employment, facilitate international trade, and sustainable economic growth. It also takes measures to reduce poverty across the world. It was set up in 1944 but started functioning in 1945 at Bretton Woods Conference. IMF pays an important role in management of balance of payments issues and international financial crises.

Security and Exchange Board of India is considering to appoint auditors in a bid to conduct forensic audits of financial statements of listed companies to strengthen its efforts towards curbing frauds.

Highlights

In recent times, SEBI has already conducted forensic audit of several companies. To initiate the process, SEBI has invited applications from eligible chartered accountant firms to take up assignments on forensic audit of financial statements of listed companies.

Background

In October 2020, SEBI had asked several listed firms to disclose information about initiation of forensic audit in October 2020, because gaps were there in the availability of information.

What is forensic auditing?

Forensic auditing investigates if the concerned firms are engaged in financial reporting misconduct. The process applies different skills and methods to determine if there is financial fraud of not. It looks for Economic damage calculations, Bankruptcy, insolvency, Money laundering, Tax Fraud, Securities fraud, Business valuation and Computer forensics.

Does RBI allow Forensic Auditing?

Yes, Reserve Bank of India has also made forensic audits compulsory for large advances and accounts restructuring.

Who can be Forensic Auditor?

Forensic auditors or accountants is not different than financial accountants. But they have some special skills to detect fraud & document it. Thus; any graduate candidate, with at least one year experience in banking & financial sector; will have to clear Certified Banking Forensic Accountant exam to become forensic auditor.

As the New IT (Digital Media) Rules of India came into force, WhatsApp has sued the Indian government in Delhi Court and asked to block regulations.

Why WhatsApp sued?

WhatsApp sued the government because, it is believed, law will compel social media units to break privacy protections. Thus, the lawsuit has asked Delhi High Court to declare “one of the new rules” is a violation of privacy rights as per Indian constitution because it requires social media companies to identify “first originator of information” if the authorities ask. Further, if WhatsApp starts identifying the wrongdoers it will break encryption policy of the app.

Background

Indian government has implemented the “new Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021”. New guidelines were released in February and provided three months’ time to social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Koo, Instagram and Twitter to comply with it.

New IT Rules 2021 for digital media platforms

According to new rules, now resident grievance officer will be appointed under larger grievance redressal mechanism. There will be active monitoring of content on social media platforms and monthly compliance reports will be made for Indian users. Now, authorities in India can also ask these platforms to identify the origin of any message.

Union Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, is to set up One-Stop Centres (OSCs) in 10 missions across 9 countries. It will be set to curb the cases of violence against women.

In which countries OSCs will be set up?

One OSC will be set up each in Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, UAE, Qatar, Canada, Australia and Singapore. TWO OSCs will be set up in Saudi Arabia. Apart from that, 300 OSCs will be set up across India.

Who will operate the OSCs?

All OSCs will be supported by Women and Child Development Ministry while, Ministry of External Affairs will operate it.

Existing OSCs

Currently, about 701 One Stop Centres are operating in country since 2015 across 35 states & Union Territories. Through these centres, three lakh women have been provided assistance since in 2015.

What is One Stop Centre Scheme?

This centrally sponsored scheme, funded through Nirbhaya Fund, launched in 2015 by Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) to address the problem of violence against women. Scheme was launched under umbrella scheme “National Mission for Empowerment of Women” and “Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana”. These centres help in providing an integrated support and assistance to women affected by violence in private as well as public spaces.

World Health Organization along with three other international bodies have set up a team of experts who will help in developing a global plan on preventing the spread of diseases from animals to humans.

One Health High-Level Expert Panel

This initiative was launched by France and Germany in 2020, but held its first meeting in May 2021. The panel will advise WHO, World Organization for Animal Health, Food & Agriculture Organization, and United Nations Environment Programme on developing “risk assessment & surveillance frameworks” and help in establishing a “good practices to prevent and prepare for zoonotic outbreaks like Covid-19”.

Functions of the Panel

Panel will look after the potential transmission risks in food production & distribution, urbanisation & construction of infrastructure, international travel & trade and activities leading to biodiversity loss & climate change.

Why this panel was set up?

Panel was set up in the backdrop of outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. It is believed that, coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2 virus was originated in wildlife trading networks in China and southeast Asia. Closest genetic match of coronavirus has been found in bats.

What are Zoonotic Outbreaks?

Zoonotic disease or Outbreak is an infectious disease, transmitted between species from animals to humans or from humans to animals.

NASA has set up a new Earth System Observatory which will help in mitigating climate change, forest fires and hurricanes. It will also support real-time agriculture.

Purpose of New Earth System Observatory

Each satellite in the observatory will be designed uniquely and will complement the others. Each will work in tandem to produce holistic 3-dimensional view of Earth, from bedrock to atmosphere. Observatory will study clouds & weather, aerosols, water supply, and surface & ecosystems of Earth.

Status of the observatory

Currently, NASA has initiated formulation phase for First integrated part of the observatory. In first integrated parts, two different radar systems will be bought by NASA in collaboration with Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). Radar systems can measure changes in surface of Earth, less than a half-inch.

What is Earth System Observatory?

It is a program by US Space Agency, NASA consisting of series of artificial satellite missions and scientific instruments in Earth orbit. It is designed for long-term global observations biosphere, land surface, atmosphere, and oceans. Satellite component of this program was launched in 1997.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

It is an independent agency of U.S. federal government, running civilian space program, aeronautics and space research. It was established in 1958 and succeeded National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA).

Guillermo Lasso, a conservative, assumed presidency of Ecuador on May 24, 2021 and has become first right-wing leader in 14 years in Ecuador.

Highlights

Rejuvenation of an economy that has contracted by 7.8 percent in 2020 and the overall debt stands at 63 percent of GDP is the major challenge before the new President. Apart from that, Ecuador is battling economic and health crises as covid-19 has infected about 420,000 people and killed more than 20,000.

Where is Ecuador located?

Ecuador is a country in northwestern South America. It is not a landlocked country and is surrounded by Colombia to the north, Peru to the east & south, and Pacific Ocean to the west. Galapagos Islands in Pacific is also a part of Ecuador. Quito is the capital city of Ecuador. Spanish is the official language. It is a founding member of United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement and Organization of American States. It is the first country in world to recognise rights of nature or ecosystem rights through Constitution of Ecuador in 2008.

Guillermo Alberto Santiago Lasso Mendoza

He is a banker, businessman, writer and politician who recently became 47th  president of Ecuador. He is the first center-right president in two decades.

A new species of plant, called African violet, was discovered by Indian Institute of Science education and research (IISER), Bhopal.

Key Points

About African violet plants

They are the flowering plants in genus Saintpaulia of family Gesneriaceae. These plants are native to higher elevations in tropical eastern Africa. They are widely grown horticulturally and are characterised by small perennial herbs having thick, hairy, ovate leaves. Leaves are dark green and have long stems. These plants are bilaterally symmetric comprising of five petals. They can be white, violet or pink in colour.

Background

Genus Saintpaulia was named to honour Walter, Freiherr (baron) von Saint Paul-Illaire who was a German colonial official and discovered the genus in 1892 in German East Africa (now Tanzania).

About IISER Bhopal

It was established by Ministry of Human Resource & Development (now, Ministry of Education) in 2008. Institute has been ranked 26 in Times Higher Education 2021 Rankings.

United Kingdom launched the process to start free trade talks with India followed by launch of a 14-week consultation process with business representatives to get their views on prospective Free trade deal.

Highlights

Background

India and the UK had announced to start talks on enhanced trade partnership following a summit between Prime minister Narendra Modi and Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of UK on May 4, 2021. The trade deal will be worth 1 billion pounds and is expected to create about 6,500 job opportunities in UK.

What is Free Trade Agreement?

It is an agreement between two or more countries through which countries agree on certain obligations affecting trade in goods & services, intellectual property rights and protections for investors. It reduces the trade barriers and protects interests competing abroad.

Significance of FTA

  1. It reduces or eliminate tariffs on products originating in countries following FTA norms.
  2. It protects and enforce intellectual property rights among FTA partner country.
  3. It helps in maintaining Product Standards among partners.