Daily Current Affairs - 03-09-2021

Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, chaired the 24th meeting of Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi.

Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC)

FSDC is an apex-level body that was set by the government of India in order to create a super regulatory body. Its establishment was first recommended by the Raghuram Rajan Committee in 2008. Finally in 2010, Pranab Mukherjee (the then Finance Minister of India) decided to set up this autonomous body to deal with macro prudential and financial regularities of entire financial sector in India. It is not a statutory body. No funds are allocated separately to the council to undertake its activities.

Background

In order to strengthen and institutionalize the mechanism of maintaining financial stability, to enhance inter-regulatory coordination and to promote financial sector development, FSDC was set up as the apex level forum in December 2010.

Function of the FSDC

This council is considered as India’s initiative to be better conditioned in preventing any economic crisis in future.

Members of the council

  1. Governor of Reserve Bank of India
  2. Finance Secretary and/ or Secretary of Department of Economic Affairs
  3. Secretary of Department of Financial Services
  4. Secretary of Ministry of Corporate Affairs
  5. Secretary of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology
  6. Chief Economic Advisor to Ministry of Finance
  7. Chairman of Securities and Exchange Board of India
  8. Chairman of Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority
  9. Chairman of Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority
  10. Chairman of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India
  11. Additional Secretary to Ministry of Finance

India and the United States had signed a Project Agreement for the ‘Air-Launched Unmanned Aerial Vehicle’ in the end of July 2021.

Key Points

Background

The project agreement for the ALUAV is under the Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation Memorandum of Agreement that was first signed between MoD and U.S. DoD in January 2006. Agreement was renewed in January 2015.

Significance of the project

Project agreement is a significant step to deepen the defence technology collaboration in between India and United States by co-developing the defence equipment.

Aim of the DTTI

The Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) was launched with the aim of bringing sustained leadership focus in a bid to promote collaborative technology exchange between both the countries. It also seeks to create opportunities for co-production and co-development of future technologies military forces of India and US. Under the initiative, a Joint Working Groups on land, naval, air, and aircraft carrier technologies have been set up to focus on mutually agreed projects in respective domains. Initiative was announced in 2012 as an ambitious initiative for the co-production and co-development of military systems.

Foreign Secretary of United Kingdom, Dominic Raab, has announced new sanctions against Myanmar on September 2, 2021.

Highlights

U Tay Za – Military ties

U Tay Za is having a close tie with the military because of his connections with the junta leaders. He has always provided support to supply the militias with arms & weapons. This has resulted into

What does this sanction mean?

These sanctions clarify that, UK will take concrete measures to restrict the junta’s access to finance and economic resources. It will also target business networks associated with the military regime.

Why new sanction announced?

New sanction was announced because military junta showed no signs of stopping its brutal attack on the people of Myanmar. Myanmar’s military also operated a successful coup on Myanmar’s government and announced a year-long state of emergency in the country.

How this sanction will impact U Tay Za?

According to UK government, they are freezing all the UK assets that are owned by Htoo Group and U Tay Za immediately. He has also been banned from entering the UK. New sanctions also provide for stopping banks or lenders in Myanmar from providing any financial support to him for personal purposes or his business group. These sanctions will ensure that the supply of arms to Myanmar is stopped.

Newest Mars rover of the American Space Agency, NASA has successfully collected the first rock sample for return to the Earth.

Highlights

About Mars 2020

Mars 2020 is a ‘Mars rover mission’ under the NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. It comprises of rover Perseverance and a small robotic, coaxial helicopter Ingenuity. This mission was launched from Earth on July 30, 2020 on an Atlas V launch vehicle. It touched down the Martian crater Jezero on February 18, 2021. NASA named the landing site of the rover as Octavia E. Butler Landing on March 5, 2021.  Perseverance and Ingenuity have been on Mars for 191 sols (196 total days) as of now.

What is Sol?

Sol is a solar day on Mars. It is the apparent interval between two successive returns of the Sun to the same meridian as witnessed by observer on Mars. Sol is longer than the Earth day by 24 hours, 39 minutes, 35 seconds.

The Shikshak Parv-2021 will be observed from September 5, 2021.

Highlights

  1. Indian sign language dictionary of 10,000 words
  2. Talking books (audio books for visually impaired)
  3. School quality assessment and accreditation framework (SQAAF) of CBSE
  4. NISTHA teachers’ training programme for NIPUN Bharat, and
  5. Vidyanjali portal to facilitate education volunteers, donors and CSR contributors in development of school.

Shikshak Parv-2021

Shikshak Parv-2021 will be celebrated by Ministry of Education (MoE) from September 5 to 17, 2021. It will be organised to recognise the valuable contributions of teachers and to take National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 ahead.

National Awards to Teachers

President Ram Nath Kovind will confer the National Award to Teachers through a webinar on September 5. For the award this year, an online self-nomination process was followed through a three-tier selection process at district, state and national level. During the event, a documentary film on each of the 44 awardee teachers will also be shown.

History of National Awards

National Awards to Teachers were first established in 1958 in order to recognise excellence and commitment of teachers towards shaping the minds and future of the youth. From the mid-60s onwards, September 5 was selected as a fixed date for the function to commemorate the birthday of Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (former President of India).

Theme of the webinars

The theme of webinars has been divided into nine sub-themes such as

  1. Technology in Education: NDEAR,
  2. Foundational Literacy and Numeracy: A Prerequisite to Learning

On September 2, 2021, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) awarded a 5-star ‘Eat Right Station’ certification to the Chandigarh Railway Station.

Highlights

Which body is responsible for food supply?

Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation (IRSDC) is the body responsible for food supply to the Railways. It also looks after the upgradation of railway stations. IRSDC has selected the Chandigarh Railway station to upgrade it on the line of World Class Railway Station.

Eat Right Station certification

The ‘Eat Right Station Certification’ was the part of the ‘Eat Right India’ movement. It is a large-scale effort made by FSSAI to transform food system in India in order to ensure safe, healthy and sustainable food for all Indians. As per IRSDC, Eat Right India adopts a mix of regulatory, capacity building, collaborative, and empowerment approaches in ensuring that the food is suitable both for people as well as planet.

Which stations have got this certification?

Chandigarh Railway Station has become the fifth station in India to receive this certification. Other stations with this certification include- Anand Vihar Terminal Railway Station in Delhi, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai, Mumbai Central Railway Station in Mumbai and Vadodara Railway Station in Vadodara.

New Development Bank (NDB) by BRICS group of nations has added United Arab Emirates, Uruguay and Bangladesh as the new members on September 2, 2021.

Key Points

This first batch of new members were added to the bank as part of its expansion drive.

New Development Bank

New Development Bank was Launched in 2015 by the BRICS Members- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. It was formerly referred as “BRICS development bank”. It is headquartered in Shanghai. The first regional office of the NDB was set up in Johannesburg, South Africa while second regional office was established in 2019 in Brazil, followed by in Russia.

Function of the Bank

The bank mobilises resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in the member countries as well as in other developing nations. It complements the existing efforts made by multilateral and regional financial institutions towards global growth and development.

Membership expansion

NDB started it membership expansion and started formal negotiations with prospective members in 2020. Admission of the UAE, Uruguay and Bangladesh as Bank’s first new member countries, was approved after a round of successful negotiations.

NDB’s capital and projects

The Bank has an authorised capital of USD 100 billion. It is open for subscription by members of the United Nations. NDB has approved about 80 projects in all of its member countries which amount to portfolio of USD 30 billion. Projects in areas of transport, water & sanitation, digital infrastructure, clean energy, social infrastructure and urban development are within the scope of NDB.

China developed a prototype miniature helicopter for the purpose of surveillance work on future Mars missions.

Key Points

China’s Rover

China landed its Mars rover in May 2021. It was the China’s first-ever mission to the planet. It became the second country after the United States to land such mission on Mars.

Perseverance Mission

It is UAS’s advanced rover that landed on the Mars in February 2021. In April, Ingenuity made its inaugural flight from NASA rover. It rose about 3 metres (10 feet) above the surface. This was the first successful deployment of a powered aircraft on a planet other than Earth. In making the flight, challenge for 1.8kg Ingenuity was the thin atmosphere of Mars. Atmosphere of MARS is just 1 percent of the density of Earth’s atmosphere. To compensate for the lack of aerodynamic lift, Ingenuity was equipped with rotor blades that are larger (1.2 metres tip to tip) and spin more rapidly than for an aircraft of its size on Earth.

According to Pune-based researchers, Indian Royal Jelly was found to surpass top-quality sellers like produced in Thailand and Taiwan.

Highlights

What is Royal Jelly?

Royal Jelly is a pearl white or pale yellow-coloured cohesive mixture of honey and secretions from hypopharyngeal & mandibular glands of worker honeybees. It comprises of 60-70 percent moisture or water, 1-10 percent lipids, 0.8-3 percent minerals, 9-18 percent proteins, 7 percent sugar etc. It is used as food for young larvae and adult queen honeybees.

How it is produced?

Royal jelly is produced artificially by encouraging bee colonies to produce queen bee, that is grown outside its natural habitat. Larvae in the queen cells are fed with royal jelly. It is harvested when maximum amount gets accumulated on the larva turning 5 days old.

Extraction of royal jelly

Extraction of royal jelly is done with the help of manpower who are specially trained in extraction and excellent larvae grafting skills.

Storage of Royal Jelly

Royal jelly is stored at sub-zero temperatures just after production, during packaging as well as consumer’s end. Preferred temperature to store fresh royal jelly is below –20 degrees Celsius. In order to remove the moisture, Freezee drier  (a special machine) is required. India currently has three machines, which were imported from Germany.

According to a report titled “Protected Areas in Central Africa 2020”, Central Africa can develop itself sustainably if the resources are shared equitably and its environment is protected.

Highlights

Economic Growth in Central African Countries

Concerns with natural ecosystems

Natural ecosystems in central African region have been exposed to: Wildlife poaching, Increase in mining permits, Expansion of transhumant pastoralism, Exploitation of timber & fuel wood, Industrial agriculture & family farming as well as land conflicts.

Protected areas

There are about 206 protected areas in this region that cover 799,000 square kilometres. It accounts for 14.8 per cent of the land area and five per cent of the marine exclusive economic zone in the central African countries.

Steps taken by countries

Countries have been taking several initiatives. 24 African countries have adopted “Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) standards”. EITI initiative was launched with the aim of promoting more inclusive and transparent management of mineral resources by improving the governance systems. EITI has also bringing in transparency in the sector.

Mu Variant’ of the coronavirus was first identified in Colombia in January 2021. Now, the World Health Organization (WHO) is monitoring this variant of interest.

Mu Variant

What are the concerns?

Concerns are raising over the emergence of new virus mutations because infection rates are increasing globally again due to highly transmissible Delta variant. Cases are rising especially among the unvaccinated regions and the regions where covid-19 measures have been relaxed.

Mutation among virus

All viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, mutate over time. Most of the mutation has little or no effect on properties of the virus. However, there are certain mutations which can impact the properties of virus, how easily it spreads, severity of the disease, and its resistance to vaccines & drugs.

Variant of concern

WHO has currently designated four Covid-19 variants of concerns. It includes Alpha variant, which is present in 193 countries, as well as Delta variant, which is present in 170 countries. Now, Mu variant was added to the list which is currently being monitored along with four others.

About Mu variant

Mu variant is also known as lineage B.1.621 or VUI-21JUL-1. It was first detected in January 2021 in Colombia. WHO designated it as ‘Variant of interest’ on August 30, 2021. Cases of the Mu variant were reported in South America and Europe.

Singapore has introduced a “Vaccinated Travel Lanes”, for the fully vaccinated travellers.

Highlights

Reopening of international travel in the backdrop of Covid-19 is not going to be a straightforward affair. Countries have been experimenting several concepts in order to allow the movement of passengers between nations such as air bubbles, travel corridors, vaccine passports, and traffic light system. Vaccinated Travel Lane is the new addition to the list.

About Vaccinated Travel Lanes

These lanes are basically an extension of travel corridors. However, these are meant only for fully vaccinated travellers.

Which country introduced it?

Vaccinated Travel Lanes are introduced by Singapore. As of now, Singapore has established it with two jurisdictions viz., Germany and Brunei Darussalam. Thus, Singapore is allowing fully vaccinated passengers from these two countries to arrive for any travel purpose without any quarantine requirements.

How this concept will work?

Singapore will designate specific flights for these lanes to work. Window to apply for Vaccinated Travel lanes opened from September 1 and such flights will run from September 8 onwards. Citizens and permanent residents of Singapore do not need to apply for it in order to travel back home under this mechanism.

Who are the eligible travellers?

In order to apply, travellers are required to be fully vaccinated. Persons will be considered fully vaccinated 14 days after receiving the full dose of vaccine authorised by WHO for emergency use. It include Covishield vaccine by Serum Institute of India.

Recently, a mystery fever was reported from parts of Uttar Pradesh. It claimed about 40 lives, mostly children in one week. This viral fever was identified as Scrub typhus.

Highlights

What is scrub typhus?

Scrub typhus is a re-emerging Rickettsial infection. This vector-borne disease has been earlier reported in India and other South Asian countries. This disease is marked by fever and rashes. It also affects the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, respiratory system, renal system and gastrointestinal systems. In complicated cases, it could lead to pneumonia, meningo-encephalitis, gastro-intestinal bleeding, acute renal failure, and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

Background

This disease has been named “scrub” after the type of vegetation that harbours the vector. Typhus is a Greek word with meaning “fever with stupor” or smoke. This disease took the form of an epidemic during World War II in some countries while during the Second World War, it emerged as the most dreaded disease among soldiers of the Far East. In India, this fever out in an epidemic form during Second World War in Assam and West Bengal.

How does it cause?

Scrub typhus fever is caused by a bacterium called Orientia tsutsugamushi. The name of the bacterium is of Japanese origin. The word “tsutsuga” means illness and “mushi” means insect. This disease spreads through bites of infected chiggers or larval mites. Bite marks are found on the armpit, genitalia or neck.