Daily Current Affairs - 04-09-2021

Ladakh adopted two endangered species, snow leopard and black-necked crane, as its State animal and State bird respectively on September 1, 2021.

Key Points

Black-Necked Crane

Black-necked Crane are scientifically known as Grus nigricollis. It is a medium-sized crane found in Asia. It breeds on the Tibetan Plateau and remote parts of India & Bhutan. The crane is 139 cm long with a wingspan of 235 cm and weighs of 5.5 kg. It is whitish-grey in colour along with a black head, red crown patch, white patch to the rear of eye, black upper neck & legs. Some of its populations are known to make seasonal movements. It is respected in Buddhist traditions and is culturally protected in much of its range. In India, Black-necked crane are only found in Ladakh region. It was the State bird of J&K before it was made a UT in 2019.  It is an endangered species.

Snow leopard

Snow leopard is scientifically called as Panthera uncia. It is a felid of genus Panthera and is native to the mountain ranges in Central and South Asia. It has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List as its global population is lesser than 10,000 mature individuals. It is expected to decline by 10% by 2040. Poaching and habitat destruction are the biggest threat to them.

World Social Protection Report 2020-22 was released by International Labour Organisation (ILO) on September 1, 2021.

Key Findings of report

Rich Poor divide

This report examined the impact COVID-19 pandemic on social protection. It found, an additional spending required to ensure minimum social protection for all and reduce the financing gap has increased by 30 per cent since the start of the pandemic. On an average, countries spend approximately 13 per cent of GDP on social protection. However, high-income countries spend 16.4 per cent of GDP on social protection. On the other hand, low-income countries spend just 1.1 per cent.

Social Protection

Social protection comprises of access to healthcare and income security in cases of unemployment, old age, inability to work, and for families with children.

The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) gave approval to another indigenous COVID-19 vaccine candidate called CORBEVAX for two clinical trials.

Highlights

Corbevax Vaccine

This vaccine is also called as BioE COVID-19 vaccine. This COVID-19 vaccine candidate has been developed by Indian biopharmaceutical firm Biological E. Limited (BioE) in collaboration with the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston in United States and American company Dynavax Technologies (DVAX). Vaccine is a protein subunit vaccine. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has already ordered 300 million doses of Corbevax in June 2021.

Who is funding the vaccine?

U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) announced in April 2021 to fund the expansion of BioE’s manufacturing capabilities in order to produce at least 1 billion doses by end of 2022.

Background

Phase I clinical trial was carried in 360 participants in order to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine candidate. Its phase II trial was concluded in April 2021. Permission to conduct phase III clinical trials was given in April 2021.

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, addressed the session of Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) on September 3, 2021.

Key Points

Background

EEF is an international meet, held annually in Vladivostok in order to encourage foreign investments in the resource-rich but underdeveloped Far East region of Russia. Russia has actively engaged India to invest in this region, following which India had announced a $1-billion line of credit for the Far East during EEF 2019.

India-Russia cooperation

Eastern Economic Forum

EEF is an international forum organised each year in Vladivostok, Russia. It is held in a bid to encourage foreign investment in Russian Far East region. It was first held in September 2015, at Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok. This forum is sponsored by the organizing committee appointed by Roscongress.

Amazon India announced the launch of Kisan Store. The store was launched by Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar on September 2, 2021.

About Kisan Store

Language of store

Kisan store will be available in languages like Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, Tamil, and Malayalam.

Mode of Payment

Farmers can buy products listed on store using digital payments.

Amazon Easy store

Amazon also opened up its network of more than 5,000 Amazon Easy stores for farmers to shop with the help of the store owners. Store owners will help the farmers to browse through the store and identify product they like. They will also help then in creating their Amazon accounts, place orders, and checkout to buy.

Agronomy Services

Amazon also launched its agronomy services for farmers. It will provide farmers with timely advice and enable them to make accurate decisions regarding the actions required for their crops.

Aim of the Kisan Store

Amazon India launched Kisan Store with the aim of introducing machine learning technology for better produce and build a robust supply chain infrastructure.

India’s largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) announced on September 3, 2021 that it has raised Rs 4,000 crore through additional Tier 1 (AT1) bonds.

Key Points

Axis Bank Bond

Axis Bank will use these proceeds for green and social projects. It has set an initial price guidance of 4.4% for the bonds. Axis Bank became the second Indian lender in 2021 to tap overseas debt markets to raise funds using AT1 bonds. HDFC Bank also raised $1 billion, recently.

SEBI Rule

SEBI amended the 100-year valuation rule for perpetual bonds, in March 2021. As per new rules, deemed residual maturity period of Basel III AT-1 bonds will be 10 years until March 31, 2022. This period will be increased to 20 and 30 years in subsequent six-month period. According to new rule, from April 2023, residual maturity of AT-1 bonds will become 100 years from the date of issuance of these bonds.

What are AT1 bonds?

AT1 bonds are also called perpetual bonds. They carry no maturity date but are having a call option. The issuer of these bonds may call or redeem the bonds in case it is getting money at a cheaper rate, especially when interest rates are decreasing.

India has become the first Asian Country to launch a Plastics pact on September 3, 2021.

Key Points

Aim of the pact

Plastic waste in India

India generates about 9.46 million tonnes of plastic waste annually. Out of this, 40 per cent are not collected. In India, half of all plastics production are used in packaging and most of it is single use plastic.

Who provide support to plastic pacts?

UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) and WRAP fully support the plastic pact in India. They also support plastics pacts in Europe, US, Australia, and Africa.

Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Pema Khandu, launched two ambitious schemes on September 3, 2021.

Highlights

Atmanirbhar Krishi Yojana

This scheme is the subsumed version of erstwhile Chief Minister’s Sashakt Kisan Yojana and Chief Minister’s Samuh Yojana. This subsumed scheme gives more thrust and comprises more provision of bank loan. Similarly, the Atmanirbhar Bagwani Yojana is the updated version of Chief Minister’s Sashakt Kisan Yojana.

Significance of the schemes

Both of the schemes are unique because both based on front-ended subsidies. Under the scheme, credit link will be provided to the beneficiaries by the State Bank of India, Arunachal Pradesh Rural Bank (APRB) and Arunachal Pradesh Cooperative Apex Bank. Under the scheme, 45 percent will be provided as government subsidy, 45 percent as bank loan while only 10 percent will have to be borne by the farmer.

How to avail this scheme?

To avail the schemes, no land document such as land possession certificate (LPC) will be required for SHGs. They just require simple certificate like EAC, CO or BDO concerned. Also, there will be no collateral with respect to individual schemes to get loan up to Rs 1.60 lakh. For SHGs, no collateral will be required for loans up to Rs 10 lakhs.

Implementation of the schemes

Schemes will be implemented by:

  1. State level committee headed by the chief secretary and
  2. District level committees headed by the deputy commissioners.

Ayush Ministry launched the campaign called “AYUSH AAPKE DWAR” from some 45 locations across India on September 3, 2021.

Highlights

Aim of the campaign

AYUSH AAPKE DWAR campaign was launched with the aim of distributing medicinal plant saplings to 75 lakh households in India in one year. These medicinal plants include Ashoka, Tejpatta, Stevia, Ashwagandha, Jatamansi, Giloy/Guduchi, Shatavari, Guggulu, Lemongrass, Tulsi, Sarpagandha, Brahmi, Kalmegh and Amla.

Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav

Under the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, various other programs were launched such as- launch of the Y-Break App and distribution of Prophylactic Ayush Drugs.

AYUSH ministry

AYUSH Ministry is dubbed as “Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa-Rigpa and Homoeopathy”. It was set up on November 9, 2014 to develop education, research and propagation of indigenous alternative medicine systems across India. This ministry was renamed as “Ministry of AYUSH” on April 13, 2021. This ministry includes seven traditional systems of healthcare.

Function of the ministry

AYUSH ministry runs various healthcare programs, with primary focus on rural population. It forms an integral backbone of the Ayushman Bharat Yojana. Till date, about 50000 children have been enrolled in ‘Homeopathy for Healthy Child’.

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have developed device to conduct microbial experiments in outer space.

Highlights

Significance of the study

This understanding of how these microbes behave in extreme environments will provide valuable insights for human space missions like ‘Gaganyaan’ that is set to be launched in 2022.

Background

Scientists have been exploring the use of lab-on-chip platforms, in recent years, which combine several inputs into a single integrated chip to conduct experiments. However, there are other challenges to design such platforms for outer space as compared to the lab.

About the new device

The new device uses a combination of Light Emitting Diode (LED) and photodiode sensor, which track the bacterial growth by measuring optical density or scattering of light. It is similar to spectrophotometers used in the lab. It also comprises of separate compartments for different experiments. Each compartment or ‘cassette’ have chamber where bacteria and nutrient medium can be mixed to kickstart growth.

How data is collected?

Data from each cassette is collected and stored separately. Three cassettes are clubbed into single cartridge, which consumes less than 1 watt of power. According to researchers, a full payload that could go in a spacecraft will comprise four such cartridge which are capable of carrying 12 independent experiments.

The Centre is set to sign a tripartite “Karbi Peace Accord” on September 4, 2021.

Highlights

Background

Around 1,040 terrorists from five insurgent groups of Karbi Anglong district ceremonially put down their arms at an event in Guwahati in February, in the presence of then Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. This development further bolstered the ‘terrorism-free Assam’ image of present BJP-led government. Surrendered terrorists belong to Karbi Longri NC Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF), United People’s Liberation Army (UPLA), People’s Democratic Council of Karbi Longri (PDCK) and Kuki Liberation Front (KLF). They had come to surrender their weapons a year after signing of Bodo Peace Accord to end the long-run violence in Bodoland.

Bodoland Region

Bodoland region is an autonomous territorial region, administered by the Bodoland Territorial Council, which is an elected body. Bodo Accord was first signed in 2003 in a bid to maintain peace in the region. In 2020, it was extended by central government.

How these different outfits originated?

These outfits were originated from the core demand of establishing a separate state. Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) is an autonomous district council, which is protected under Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution. Karbi National Volunteers and Karbi People’s Force joined together to form United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) in 1990s. UPDS put down arms and signed a tripartite memorandum of settlement, in November 2011, with Centre and Government of Assam in return of enhanced autonomy and special packages for the KAAC.

Avani Lekhara has become the 1st Indian women to win two Paralympic medals at a single edition of the Paralympics on September 3, 2021.

Key Points

Background

In the 1984 Paralympics, Joginder Singh Sodhi had won multiple medals in single edition of the Games. He clinched one silver and two bronze medals.

Avani Lekhara

She is an Indian Paralympian and rifle shooter who won a gold medal in 10m air rifle standing as well as a bronze medal in 50m air rifle standing at 2020 Paralympics. She is currently ranked at World No 5 in Women’s 10m Air Rifle standing SH1. GoSports Foundation has been supporting her through the Para Champions Programme. She became the first Indian woman to win multiple medals at a single Paralympic Games.

Background

She started her shooting in 2015 after getting inspired by former Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra.  In 2012, a car accident at the age of 11 left her with complete paraplegia. Then, her father encouraged her to join sports. She was trained in archery but she moved to shooting as she found it to be her true passion. Coach Suma Shirur is the key influence behind her success at Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.