Current Affairs June – 2022
- INTERNATIONAL ( WORLD)
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INTERNATIONAL / WORLD NEWS
Israel –UAE trade deal
- Recently, Israel signed a free trade deal with the United Arab Emirates, its first with an Arab country, building on their US-brokered normalization of relations in 2020.
- The UAE was the first Gulf country to normalize ties with Israel and only the third Arab nation to do so after Egypt and Jordan.
- Note : With the efforts of USA, Abraham Accords were signed in 2020 which normalized relations between Israel and four Muslim countries—the A.E., Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan. The Abraham accords are named after the patriarch Abraham regards as a prophet in both Judaism and Islam.
India-Sweden Industry Transition Dialogue
- Recently, India and Sweden hosted the Industry Transition Dialogue in Stockholm, as a part of their joint initiative i.e. Leadership for Industry Transition (LeadIT).
- Purpose: To contribute to the UN Conference ‘Stockholm+50’ that will set the agenda for COP27.
- At the dialogue, the Union Environment Minister said that the developed countries with their historical experiences must take lead in the global transition towards net-zero and low carbon industry transition.
What is the LeadIT Initiative?
- LeadIT was launched by the Prime Ministers of Sweden and India with support from the World Economic Forum (WEF) during the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit in 2019, in New York.
- Purpose: Voluntary initiative for promoting low-carbon transition through active participation of private sector companies. Especially in the sectors like Iron & Steel, Aluminium, Cement and Concrete, petrochemicals, fertilisers, bricks, heavy-duty transport.
- Note: Japan and South Africa are the latest members to join the LeadIT initiative. This extends the total membership of LeadIT to 37, including countries and companies together.
Vice President’s foreign tour
- Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu embarked on a three-nation tour to Gabon, Senegal and Qatar. This is the first-ever visit from India at the level of Vice President to all the three countries.
- The visit to Qatar marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
- During his visit to Senegal, three MoUs (Memorandums of Understanding) for cultural exchange, cooperation in youth matters and visa free regime were signed. Both countries are celebrating 60 years of their diplomatic relations.
- Note : Gabon is a country on the west coast of Central Africa. Senegal is a country in West Africa.
- Recently, the Minister of Communications attended the opening ceremony of the World Summit of Information Society (WSIS) 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland, where India showcased its telecom prowess during multilateral & bilateral engagements.
- The participation comes with India contesting the re-election to the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) Council, for the term 2023-2026. India has been a member of ITU, since 1869 and has been continuously participating, actively in the works, and activities of the Union.
- The WSIS Forum is co-organized by ITU, UNESCO, UNDP and UNCTAD, in close collaboration with all WSIS Action Line Facilitators/Co-Facilitators.
Gun control legislation
- The U.S. recently witnessed two episodes of mass shootings in a span of 11 days that killed more than 30 people including elementary school children. About:
- In 2020, U.S. had witnessed 24,576 homicides, of which approximately 79%, or 19,384 incidents, involved the use of a firearm.
- The Second Amendment of the U.S. constitution, which states that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed”, is often attributed as the root cause of all firearm-related violence.
- The U.S. Supreme Court previously held that the amendment protects the right to “keep and bear arms” for selfdefence.
What about India?
- Gun licence applicants in India must be at least 21 years and not convicted of any offence involving violence, of ‘unsound mind’ or a threat to public safety and peace.
- Upon receiving an application, the licensing authority (i.e., the Home Ministry), asks the officer in-charge of the nearest police station to submit a report about the applicant after thorough vetting.
- The Arms Act amended in 2019 reduces the number of firearms that an individual can procure from three to two.
30 years of Israel-India relations
- India and Israel agreed to deepen defence ties as Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister cum Defence Minister Benjamin Gantz met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and held bilateral talks with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi.
- A joint declaration marking 30 years of Israel-India relations was also presented. The declaration reiterated the commitment of both the countries to deepen defence ties.
- Though India officially recognised Israel in 1950, the two countries established full diplomatic ties only on 29th January 1992. As of December 2020, India was among 164 United Nations (UN) member states to have diplomatic ties with Israel.
- Trade in diamonds constitutes about 50% of bilateral trade between India and Israel.
- India is the largest buyer of military equipment from Israel, which, in turn, is the second-largest defence supplier to India, after Russia.
Resumption of train services between India and Bangladesh
- Two years after train services were stopped due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, passenger train services between India and Bangladesh resumed recently.
- The following trains have been flagged off after the resumption of train services: o Bandhan Express from Kolkata to Khulna o Maitree Express from Dhaka to Kolkata o Mitali Express from New Jalpaiguri to Dhaka
- Note : last year, in March 2021, Maitri Setu–a 1.9 km road bridge built over Feni River joining Sabroom in India and Ramgarh in Bangladesh was inaugurated.
Australia-India Water Security Initiative(AIWASI)
- The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs(MoHUA) and the Government of Australia have signed an MoU for Technical Cooperation in urban water management. What is the significance of the MoU?
- The MoU will enable both India and Australia to learn about technological advancements gained by two nations in key areas of urban water security and, it will promote exchange of learning, best practices and capacity building of institutions.
- It will also help promote cooperation between the two countries under Australia-India Water Security Initiative(AIWASI).
What is the Australia-India Water Security Initiative(AIWASI)?
- Established in: 2020
- Aim: To work towards the Water Sensitive City vision, which is based on holistic management of the integrated water cycle.
- The initiative will pair Australia’s expertise in water and urban design with Indian counterpart agencies and institutes – known as a “twinning arrangement”. It will address the increasing challenges associated with providing water and sanitation to cities.
- Phase one of the initiative includes analysis and selection of two locations in New Delhi, employing spatial intelligence analysis and mapping to determine two suitable sites to design and demonstrate exemplar Water Sensitive Urban Design(WSUD) and Nature-Based Solutions.
India-Vietnam defence relations
- Defence Minister Rajnath Singh handed over 12 High Speed Guard Boats to Vietnam during his visit to Hong Ha Shipyard in Hai Phong on June 09, 2022.
- The boats have been constructed under the Government of India’s $US 100 million Defence Line of Credit to Vietnam.
- The initial five boats were built in the Larsen & Toubro (L&T) Shipyard in India and the other seven in Hong Ha Shipyard.
- The Defence Minister is on a three-day official visit to Vietnam. Both sides signed a ‘Joint Vision Statement on India-Vietnam Defence Partnership towards 2030’ to enhance defence cooperation.
- India and Vietnam are marking 50 years of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations.
- Both inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Mutual Logistics Support.
- Both sides on the finalisation of the USD 500 million Defence Line of Credit extended to Vietnam with implementation of the projects under it adding substantially to Vietnam’s defence capabilities and furthering the government’s vision of ‘Make in India, Make for the World.’
Aegean islands row : Greece vs Turkey
- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Greece to demilitarise islands in the Aegean Sea.
- The Aegean Islands are the group of islands in the Aegean Sea, with mainland Greece to the west and north and Turkey to the east; the island of Crete delimits the sea to the south, those of Rhodes, Karpathos and Kasos to the southeast. The vast majority of the Aegean Islands belong to Greece. The only sizable possessions of Turkey in the Aegean Sea are Imbros (Gökçeada) and Tenedos (Bozcaada), in the northeastern part of the Sea.
- Greece and Turkey are NATO allies, but the neighboring countries have a history of disputes over a range of issues, including mineral exploration in the eastern Mediterranean and rival claims in the Aegean Sea.
- Turkey argues the islands were ceded to Greece on the condition they remained demilitarized.
- Greece maintains Turkey has deliberately misinterpreted the treaties and says it has legal grounds to defend itself following hostile actions by Turkey.
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)
- Recently, the OIC condemned and denounced the comments on Prophet Muhammed made by two Indians. Ministry of External Affairs rejected the OIC comments, adding that the views expressed by the individuals did not reflect the views of the Indian government.
- Note : Earlier, India has lashed out at the OIC for being “communal minded” amid the Karnataka hijab row.
- OIC : The OIC claims to be the “collective voice of the Muslim world”. It was established at a 1969 summit in Rabat (Morocco) after what it describes as the ‘criminal arson’ of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. It has 57 member Countries. U. N. members with a Muslim majority can join the organisation. India is not a Member of OIC.
- HQ of OIC : Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (The organisation plans to permanently move its headquarters to East Jerusalem once the disputed city is ‘liberated’).
Thailand decriminalized Marijuana/Cannabis ( )
- Thailand has become the first country in Asia to legalize cultivating and possessing Marijuana but recreational use (Such as smoking) is still banned.
- Reason : Thailand has decriminalized Marijuana with the aim of boosting its agriculture and tourism sectors. Under decriminalization, it is no longer a crime in Thailand to grow and trade marijuana and hemp products, or use parts of the plant to treat illnesses. Cafes and restaurants can also serve cannabis-infused food and drinks — but only if the products contain less than 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the plant’s main psychoactive compound.
- What about Smoking marijuana : tough penalties remain in place under the Public Health Act including up to three months in jail and an $800 fine for smoking cannabis in public.
Which other countries permit the use of marijuana?
- In 2018, Canada became the first G20 country to legalize the recreational use of cannabis.
- Uruguay legalized the recreational use of marijuana for all adults above the age of 18 in 2013.
- Several European countries — including the Netherlands, Spain and the Czech Republic — permit smoking marijuana in public places.
- In the US, the consumption of marijuana is legal in at least 20 states including Washington DC, New York and California.
UNSC 1267 Committee
- India and the US jointly proposed to list Makki, a top LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) Militant, under the UN Security Council’s Al-Qaeda and ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) Sanctions Committee which is also known as the UNSC 1267 Committee. But, China, placed a “technical hold” on the proposal to list Makki and this measure can last for up to six months at a time. UNSC 1267 committee
- It was first set up in 1999, and strengthened after the September, 2001 attacks. It is now known as the Da’esh and Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee.
- Members : 15 (It comprises all permanent and non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council / UNSC).
- The 1267 list of terrorists is a global list, with a UNSC stamp. It is full of Pakistani nationals and residents.
- It is one of the most important and active UN subsidiary bodies working on efforts to combat terrorism, particularly in relation to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State group.
- Sanction measures: If an individual or an organisation is included in the list,it leads to:
- countries to freeze the targeted groups or individual’s assets ban designated individuals from travelling and
- prevent the supply of weapons, technology and other aid.
West Seti Hydropower Project : Nepal
- India’s National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) will be taking over the West-Seti Hydropower Project in Nepal, after China withdrew from it, ending a six-year engagement between 2012 and 2018.
- It is a proposed 750-megawatt Hydropower Project, which is to be built on the Seti river in far-western Nepal, which has remained on the drawing board for the last six decades.
- The project will be a storage scheme generating power round the year. The power will be supplied to India, either for domestic consumption or for the trade through its national grid.
- Snake Island is also known as Zmiinyi or Serpent Island. The island is located 35 km from the coast of the Black Sea, to the east of the mouth of the Danube and roughly southwest of the port city of Odessa. The island is a small piece of rock less than 700 meters from end to end that has been described as being “X-shaped”. The island has been known since ancient times and is marked on the map by the tiny village of Bile that is located on it. This village belongs to Ukraine.
- Why in News : Ukraine has said it has caused significant losses to the Russian military in airstrikes on Zmiinyi Island /Snake Island in the Black Sea.
14th BRICS summit
- Recently, Prime Minister of India attended the 14th BRICS summit which was virtually hosted by China.
- Theme of the 14th BRICS Summit: Foster High-quality BRICS Partnership, Usher in a New Era for Global Development.
- BRICS Plus virtual conference was also held as part of the main meeting with ministers from countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Argentina, Nigeria, Senegal, and Thailand.
Partners in the Blue Pacific(PBP) initiative
- The US and its allies — Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the United Kingdom — have launched the ‘Partners in the Blue Pacific’ Initiative.
- Launched by: The US and its allies — Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the United Kingdom.
- Purpose: It is an “informal mechanism” to support Pacific islands and to boost diplomatic, and economic ties in the pacific region.
- Objectives: 1) To deliver results for the Pacific more effectively and efficiently 2) To expand cooperation between the Pacific and the rest of the world and 3) To focus on bolstering “Pacific regionalism”.
- Priority Areas: The areas where PBP aims to enhance cooperation with the pacific islands include climate crisis, connectivity and transportation, maritime security and protection, health, prosperity, and education.
How is China trying to transform its ties with the Pacific?
- China has signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands in April 2022. This deal has raised serious concerns for the US and its allies as the Chinese will be setting up a military base in the southern Pacific close to the US island territory of Guam and right next to Australia and New Zealand.
- Moreover, China has also signed an agreement called the “Common Development Vision” with the 10 Pacific nations. The agreement speaks about China wanting to work with traditional and non-traditional security and expand law enforcement cooperation with these countries.
48th G-7 Summit : Germany
- The 48th G7 summit is being held in Germany. Germany holds the presidency of the G7 in 2022.
- G7 countries are : UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US.
- The German Presidency has invited Argentina, India, Indonesia, Senegal and South Africa to the G7 Summit.
- Note : Indian Prime Minister invited the G7 Nations to tap into the huge market for clean energy technologies emerging in the country.
Partnership for Global Infrastructure (PGII)
- At the 2022 G7 summit, the participating leaders formally launched the Partnership for Global Infrastructure (PGII).
- Under this, G7 leaders pledged to raise $600 billion in private and public funds over five years (till 2027) to finance needed infrastructure in the developing countries. The target for the U.S. is $200 billion while for rest of the G7 members it is $400 billion by 2027.
- Note : It has been launched to counter China’s flagship trade-and-infrastructure initiative. The PGII is seen as an attempt to check China’s influence in the developing world by delivering game-changing projects to close the infrastructure gap in these countries.
- It is aimed at countering China’s multitrillion-dollar Belt and Road project.
- Benefits for India : U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) will invest up to USD 30 million in Omnivore Agritech and Climate Sustainability Fund.
Decided to ban gold imports from Russia
- The US and other G7 countries banned imports of gold from Russia, seeking to undercut a key source of revenue for Moscow as it wages war in Ukraine.
- Russian gold is a major export that rakes in tens of billions of dollars for Russia.
- It would help to further isolate Russia from the international financial system.
High-grade Lithium discovered in Nigeria
- High-Grade Lithium : The Geological Agency described lithium as high grade because it is found with 1-13% oxide content. Normally exploration begins at levels as low as 0.4%.
- Note: Grade (in %) is a measure of the concentration of lithium in the minerals and or rocks that contain it.
Therefore, the higher the grade the more the economic viability. Higher grades are very rare for metals like lithium.
- Largest Lithium Mine: Greenbushes mine in Western Australia is the largest hard-rock Lithium mine in the world.
- Largest Importers of Lithium: The largest importers of lithium are South Korea, China, Japan, US and Belgium.
What are the uses of Lithium?
- Rechargeable Batteries: Lithium is used in rechargeable batteries for mobile phones, laptops, digital cameras and electric vehicles. The different types of batteries are:
- Alloy making: Lithium metal is made into alloys with aluminium and magnesium, improving their strength and making them lighter. A magnesium-lithium alloy is used for armour plating. Aluminium-lithium alloys are used in aircraft, bicycle frames and high-speed trains.
- Other uses: Lithium oxide is used in special glasses and glass ceramics. Lithium chloride is also one of the most hygroscopic materials known, and is used in air conditioning and industrial drying systems (as is lithium bromide). Lithium in India:
- Researchers at the Atomic Minerals Directorate (under India’s Atomic Energy Commission) have estimated lithium reserves of 14,100 tonnes in a small patch of land surveyed in Southern Karnataka’s Mandya district.
China’s interventions in the Horn of Africa
- China has been investing across the African continent throughout the last decade.
- The emphasis has been on investments and raw materials, but it took a new turn, with the first “China Horn of Africa Peace, Governance and Development Conference” held in Ethiopia.
- This is the first time China aims “to play a role in the area of security”.
- The conference witnessed the participation of foreign Ministries from the following countries of the Horn: Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, South Sudan, and Uganda.
- Horn of Africa : The Horn of Africa is a peninsula in Northeast Africa. The Horn contains such diverse areas as the highlands of the Ethiopian Plateau, the Ogaden desert, and the Eritrean and Somalian coasts.
12thWTO Ministerial Conference
- The twelfth WTO Ministerial Conference held in Geneva, Switzerland after a gap of almost five years. Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal led the Indian delegation in the Conference.
- The key areas of discussions and negotiations in this year’s conference include WTO’s response to the pandemic, Fisheries subsidies negotiations and Agriculture issues including Public Stockholding for Food security.
- Note : India is a founding member of the WTO since 1 January 1995 and a member of GATT since 8 July 1948.
- The Ministerial Conference is the WTO’s top decision-making body and usually meets every two years. All members of the WTO are involved in the MC and they can take decisions on all matters covered under any multilateral trade agreements.
- Curtailing harmful fishing subsidies: The WTO passed a multilateral agreement that would curb ‘harmful’ subsidies on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing for the next four years. Since 2001, member states have been negotiating the banning of subsidies that promote overfishing.
- Critics believe that the fisheries agreement would only restrict and not eradicate subsidies on illegal fishing. After 20 years of delay, the WTO failed again to eliminate subsidized overfishing. This in turn allows the countries to continue to pillage the world’s oceans.
- Exemption for Food Security: Members agreed to a binding decision to exempt food purchased by the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) for humanitarian purposes, from any export restrictions. However, countries would be allowed to restrict food supplies to ensure domestic food security needs.
- Temporary Waiver on Covid 19 vaccines: WTO members agreed to temporarily waive intellectual property patents on Covid-19 vaccines without the consent of the patent holder for 5 years.
- Moratorium on e-commerce transactions: Members agreed to continue the long-standing moratorium on custom duties on e-commerce transmissions. It will be continued until the subsequent Ministerial Conference or until March 31, 2024, depending on whichever comes first. (WTO members had first agreed to not impose custom duties on electronic transmissions in 1998, when the internet was still relatively new. The moratorium has been periodically extended since then).
- India’s stand : India has asked the WTO to review the extension of the moratorium on custom duties on ecommerce transactions. Developing countries faced the brunt of the financial consequences of such a moratorium. From 2017-2020, developing countries lost a potential tariff revenue of around $50 billion on imports from only 49 digital products. World Trade Organization (WTO)
- The World Trade Organization is the only international organization that deals with the rules of trade between countries. The WTO officially commenced in 1995 under the Marrakesh Agreement signed by 124 nations, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Currently, it has 164 members and 23 observer governments (like Iran, Iraq, Bhutan, Libya etc).
- According to its rules, all decisions are taken through consensus and any member can exercise a veto.
- Its aim is to promote free trade, which is done through trade agreements that are discussed and signed by the member states. The WTO also provides a forum for countries to negotiate trade rules and settle economic disputes between them.
Single Nodal Agency(SNA) Dashboard
- The Union Minister for Finance has launched the Single Nodal Agency(SNA) Dashboard of PFMS (Public Financial Management System).
What is SNA Dashboard?
- SNA Dashboard is a major reform initiated in 2021.
- Purpose: It is a system with regards to the manner in which funds for Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) are released, disbursed and monitored.
- Under this system, each state is required to identify and designate an SNA for every scheme. All funds for that State in a particular scheme are now credited in this bank account and all expenses by all other Implementing Agencies involved are effected from this account.
Significance of SNA Model
- Firstly, this model ensures that the allocation of funds to States for the CSS is made in a timely manner and after meeting various stipulations.
- Secondly, effective implementation of this Model has brought about greater efficiency in CSS fund utilization, tracking of funds, pragmatic and just-in-time release of funds to the States; ultimately all contributing to better Cash Management of the Government.
National Air Sport Policy 2022
- The Minister of Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya M Scindia has launched National Air Sport Policy 2022 (NASP 2022).
- Note: Air sports encompasses various sports activities involving the medium of air. These include sports like airracing, aerobatics, aero modeling, hang gliding, paragliding, paramotoring and skydiving etc.
- Aim National Air Sport Policy 2022(NASP 2022): To lay out the vision of making India as one of the top sports nations by 2030 by providing a safe, affordable, accessible, enjoyable and sustainable air sports ecosystem in India.
- Sports Covered: The policy will cover air sports such as aerobatics, aeromodelling, model rocketry, amateur-built and experimental aircraft, ballooning, drones, gliding and powered gliding. It also covers hang-gliding and powered hang-gliding, parachuting (including skydiving, BASE jumping and wingsuit flying), paragliding and paramotoring (including powered parachute trikes), powered aircraft and rotorcraft.
- Four Tier Governance Structure: Under the policy, there will be a four-tier governance structure for air sports in India namely:
- Air Sports Federation of India(ASFI) is the apex governing body
- National associations for individual air sports or a set of air sports, as appropriate
- Regional (e.g. West/ South/ North East etc.) or State and Union Territory level units of the national air sports associations, as appropriate and
- District-level air sports associations as appropriate.
‘Jan Samarth’ Portal launched by Prime Minister
- Jan Samarth is a unique digital portal linking thirteen credit-linked Government Schemes on a single platform. The portal will act as a single platform for loan application and processing under Credit-Linked Government Schemes. The portal will be an ‘end-to-end delivery platform’ and more people will come forward to avail of loans because of the ease of compliance.
- The portal will improve the lives of students, farmers, businessmen, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises entrepreneurs and will also help the start-up ecosystem.
- The idea behind launching this portal is to encourage inclusive growth and development of several sectors.
- Significance: The portal will help reduce turnaround time and facilitate faster sanction of loans to beneficiaries.
Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM)
- Recently, the Centre announced that over 50% of rural households have access to tap water supply.
- Launched in 2019, JJM envisages supply of 55 litres of water per person per day to every rural household through Functional Household Tap Connections (FHTC) by 2024.
- JJM looks to create a jan andolan for water, thereby making it everyone’s priority.
- It comes under Jal Shakti Ministry.
Mission Amrit Sarovar
- launched by Prime Minister on 24th April 2022
- Aim: To develop and rejuvenate 75 water bodies in each district of the country as a part of the celebration of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. In total, it would lead to the creation of 50,000 water bodies of a size of about an Acre or more.
- Participating Ministries/Departments: Department of Rural Development, Department of Land Resources, Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Department of Water Resources, Ministry of Panchayati Raj and Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate change.
- Technical Partner: Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space Application and Geo-informatics(BISAG-N).
- Duration of the mission: The Mission Amrit Sarovar is to be completed by 15th August 2023.
Why in News now : The Union government has asked the Ministry of Railways and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to use the soil/silt excavated from ponds/tanks in all districts across the country under the Amrit Sarovar Mission for their infrastructure projects.
India’s new VPN rules
- Recently, India’s cybersecurity watchdog Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) issued new rules for companies offering virtual private networks (VPNs).
- The new rules require VPN providers to keep a wide range of data on their customers, including contact numbers, email addresses and IP addresses, for five years. What is a VPN?
- A VPN is a service that protects users online by preventing their IP address from being tracked by websites, law enforcement agencies, cybercriminals and others.
- Corporate employees are the most frequent VPN users, mainly for securely accessing company networks.
- A VPN’s primary benefit is that it ensures privacy and creates a safe and secure connection while using a public network such as the internet.
- Simply put, they mask online id, making it difficult for third parties to track, steal and store data.
About the new rules:
- These are drafted by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Government of India.
- It mandates VPN companies to record personal information of their users including names, email id, phone number and IP address for a period of five years and to record and keep their customers’ logs for 180 days.
- The VPN providers also have to record usage patterns, purpose of hiring services and various other information.
- Apart from VPN companies, the new norms are also applicable to data centres, virtual private server (VPS) providers, cloud service providers, Government organisations, etc. However, the corporate entities are not under the scanner.
- A virtual server is a simulated server environment built on an actual physical server.
- It recreates the functionality of a dedicated physical server, but offers higher security than the latter.
- Service providers who do not have a physical presence in India but offer services to the users in the country, have to designate a point of contact to liaise with CERT-In.
- It further mandated that any cybercrime recorded must be reported to the CERT-In within 6 hours of the crime.
- The directives will take effect at the end of June (2022) and if the data is not handed over to the government by then, the entities would face punitive action.
Rationale behind issuing these rules:
- The CERT-In, which acts as a safeguard against cyber-attacks, has identified “gaps” in the way it analyses online threats. For example, non-availability of data hampers analysis and investigation.
- The new rules will enhance overall cyber security posture and ensure safe and trusted internet in the country.
Implications of new rules for VPN providers and their customers:
- With the new rules, the government will have access to customers’ personal information, violating privacy and rendering VPN use obsolete.
- Customers will be required to go through a rigorous KYC process when signing up to use a VPN and will be required to state the reason for using the services.
- In response to CERT-In rules, several VPN providers (like NordVPN), have said that they will either move their servers out of the country or will shut down their physical servers in India and cater to users in India through virtual servers located abroad. Government’s response:
- According to the CERT-In, various stakeholders were consulted before notifying the new rules.
- According to the MeitY, the new rules are the need of the hour to ensure stability and resilience of cyber space and there will be no changes to the rules despite pushback from various stakeholders.
- Union minister for Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari has approved the Draft GSR (general statutory rules) Notification to introduce Bharat NCAP (New Car Assessment Program), wherein automobiles in India shall be accorded Star Ratings based upon their performance in Crash Tests.
What is the purpose of NCAP?
- NCAPs will provide globally reliable information about the crash safety of a vehicle based on certain common criteria and procedures. They are separate from country-specific motor standards.
- Global NCAP: It is a standardised platform establishing cooperation and coordination among NCAPs internationally.
- Regional NCAPs: This takes into account specific local conditions. Due to separate manufacturing origins and quality, the car’s NCAP rating also varies from place to place.
Agnipath Scheme and Agniveers
- The Government has unveiled a new Agnipath scheme for recruiting soldiers across the three services (Army, Airforce, Navy). This new defense recruitment reform has been cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security and will come into effect immediately. The soldiers recruited under the scheme will be called Agniveers.
What is the Agnipath Scheme?
- It is a short-service manpower model under which around 45,000 to 50,000 soldiers will be recruited annually. Of these, 75% will leave the service in four years. 25% will be allowed to continue for another 15 years under permanent commission.
- Eligibility Criteria: The new system is only for personnel below officer ranks (those who do not join the forces as commissioned officers). Aspirants between the ages of 17.5 years and 21 years will be eligible to apply. The recruitment standards will remain the same, and recruitment will be done twice a year through rallies.
- Enrolment to all three services will be through a centralised online system, with special rallies and campus interviews at recognised technical institutes such as the Industrial Training Institutes, and the National Skills.
- Note : the Union government has increased the upper age limit to 23 from 21 for recruitment under the Agnipath scheme for the year 2022.
Educational qualification for Agniveer General Duty : Candidate should have passed Class 10 or Matric.
- Furthermore, they must have 45% marks in aggregate and 33% marks in each subject.
- Educational qualification for Agniveer Technical : Candidates who want to apply for Agniveer (Tech) posts should have passed 10+2 or Intermediate exam in Science with Physics, Chemistry, Maths, and English. Furthermore, they must have 50% marks in aggregate and 40% marks in each subject.
- Post Selection Scenario: Once selected, the aspirants will go through training for six months and then will be deployed for three and a half years. During this period, they will get a starting salary of INR 30,000, along with additional benefits which will go up to INR 40,000 by the end of the four-year service.
- 30% of their salary will be set aside under a Seva Nidhi programme, and the Government will contribute an equal amount every month, and it will also accrue interest. At the end of the four-year period, each soldier will get INR 11.71 lakh as a lump sum amount, which will be tax-free.
- They will also get a INR 48 lakh life insurance cover for the four years. In case of death, the payout will be over INR 1 crore, including pay for the unserved tenure.
- There shall be no entitlement to gratuity and pensionary benefits.
What is the significance of the Agnipath Scheme?
- Leaner and Younger Force: The move will make the permanent force levels much leaner for the over 13-lakh strong armed forces in the country. As only 25% recruits will be allowed to continue for another 15 years under permanent commission. Further, the average age in the forces is 32 years today. It is expected to go down to 26 in 6 to 7 years with the implementation of the scheme.
- Notably, the Indian army in 1978 was more youthful than at present at the level of Other Ranks (ORs), with sepoys comprising 72.6% of a total of 8,45,025 men. Today, the number of sepoys has fallen below 40%. This is not a desirable mix when it comes to physically strenuous deployments, especially in high-altitude areas.
- Reducing Defense Bill: A leaner force and reduced benefits will considerably decrease the defence bill, which has been a major concern for governments for many years. This year’s Budget estimate on defense pension is INR 1,33,826 Crore which is 4.4% of total expenditure (0.6% of the GDP). Pensions made up 28.4% of this year’s defense budget.
- Further, the saved money can be utilized to buy state-of-art technology and equipment which are the backbone of modern warfare. All India, All Class Recruitment: The scheme will ensure ‘All India, All Class’ recruitment to the services. This is significant for the Army, where the regiment system has region and caste bases. These would be eliminated with time to allow anybody from any caste, region, class or religious background to become part of existing regiments. National unity, camaraderie and bonding should not be predicated on caste, community, religion or provincial affiliation but on the more equitable notion of being a patriotic Indian.
- Adhoc Buffer Force: The ex-agniveers could act as an adhoc buffer force who may be called to serve again for boosting national security in times of external/internal threats.
- Economic Benefits: The skills and experience acquired during the 4-year service will allow the soldiers to get employment in various fields. This will also lead to availability of a higher-skilled workforce to the economy which will be helpful in productivity gain and overall GDP growth.
- Global Parity: All major militaries in the world are undergoing reform. There is a trend towards reduction in the number of personnel and emphasis on increasing capital expenditure on modern weapons and equipment.
- The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) underwent a massive demobilization from the 1980s onwards, bringing down total numbers from 4.5 million to about 2 million, with the focus on modernisation. Similarly, in many modern armed forces around the world, the service period ranges from 2 to 8 years with options for active and reservist service.
- The Israeli army has service of 30 months and 22 months respectively for men and women, yet enjoys a reputation for being among the best in the world.
What are the challenges associated with the Agnipath Scheme?
- First, The government hopes to hire 46,000 “agniveer” this year. Although with the age limits, the recruitment may not include those who have been waiting for the hiring freeze since 2020 to end. More than a lakh vacancies have built up in the Indian Army alone over the last two years, but under the new policy, not all may be filled. Second, the Indian Army’s experiments so far with diversity in closed regiments have yielded mixed results. There is a probability that the new scheme may do more harm than good in diversifying the static regiments.
- Third, ex- agniveers may have to face hardships in getting employment after 4 years of service. Especially when meaningful employment opportunities in significant or adequate numbers still elude an ever-increasing number of graduates. Further, ‘trained-to-kill’ soldiers being demobilized every year could prove dangerous if they remain jobless and frustrated. Many believe it may lead to militarisation of society.
Fourth, Many experts believe that shorter duration service could compromise on training, morale and commitment in comparison to the permanent recruits. Critics argue that agniveers may turn out of to be risk-averse with the bulk looking to secure an alternate career. Moreover, the Government should have tested this scheme as a pilot, before scaling it up further.
POLITY (Articles, Acts or Sections in News)
New proposal put forward by CEC
- Recently, the newly appointed Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar has asked the Ministry of Law & Justice to limit the seats from which a candidate can contest to just one.
- Note : As per Section 33(7) of the RPA (Representation of the People Act), 1951, one candidate can contest from a maximum of two constituencies. (More constituencies were allowed until 1996 when the RPA was amended to set the cap at two constituencies).
- As part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations, the special remission would be granted to a certain category of prisoners. These prisoners would be released in three phases — August 15, 2022, January 26, 2023 and August 15, 2023.
Prisoners to qualify for premature release under the scheme
- The prisoners who would qualify for premature release under the scheme are:
- women and transgender convicts of ages 50 and above and male convicts of 60 and above
- These convicts must have completed 50% of their total sentence period without counting the period of general remission earned.
- physically challenged or disabled convicts with 70% disability and more who have completed 50% of their total sentence period, terminally ill convicted prisoners who have completed two-thirds (66%) of their total sentence and poor or indigent prisoners who have completed their sentence but are still in jail due to non-payment of fine imposed on them by waiving off the fine.
- Persons who committed an offence at a young age (18-21) and with no other criminal involvement or case against them and who have completed 50% of their sentence period would also be eligible.
Prisoners excluded from the scheme
- Persons convicted with death sentence or where death sentence has been commuted to life imprisonment orpersons convicted for an offence for which punishment of death has been specified as one of the punishments.
- Persons convicted with sentence of life imprisonment, convicts involved in terrorist activities or Persons convicted under: Terrorist and Disruptive (Prevention) Act, 1985, Prevention of Terrorist Act, 2002, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, Explosives Act, 1908, National Security Act, 1982, Official Secrets Act, 1923, and AntiHijacking Act, 2016.
Committee to examine the cases of eligible persons
- The States and the UTs were told to constitute a State-level screening committee to examine the cases of eligible persons.
- This committee would comprise the Home Secretary, Law Secretary, Director or Inspector-General of Prisons.
- Both the President and the Governor have been vested with sovereign power of pardon by the Constitution.
- Under Article 72, the President can grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person.
- Remission : In remission, the nature of the sentence remains untouched, while the duration is reduced i.e., the rest of the sentence need not be undergone. The effect of the remission is that the prisoner is given a certain date on which he shall be released and in the eyes of the law he would be a free man. However, in case of breach of any of the conditions of remission, it will be cancelled, and the offender has to serve the entire term for which he was originally sentenced.
- Neo-banks are online-only financial technology (fintech) companies that operate solely digitally or via mobile apps. Simply put, neo-banks are digital banks without any physical branches. RazorpayX, Jupiter, Niyo, Open,etc are the examples of top Neobanks of India.
What is the difference between Neo Banks and traditional Banks?
- Firstly, in India, Neobanks don’t have a bank licence of their own but rely on bank partners to offer licensed services. That’s because the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) doesn’t allow banks to be 100% digital yet (though some foreign banks offer digital-only products through their local units).
Secondly, Neo-banks are disrupting the traditional banking system by leveraging technology and artificial intelligence (AI) to offer a range of personalised services to customers. On the other hand, traditional banks follow an omni-channel approach i.e. having both physical (through branches and ATMs) and digital banking presence to offer a multitude of products and services.
Can Neo Banks replace Traditional Banks?
- Not entirely. Neo-banks offer only a small range of products and services as compared to a whole gamut of services that traditional banks offer.
- Besides, since neo-banks are highly digital-focused, they may not be able to cater to the banking needs of non-techsavvy consumers or people from the rural parts of the country, who believe in face-to-face interaction with their financial custodians. As of 2020, India had a smartphone penetration rate of just about 54%. What are the challenges that they face?
- Regulatory hurdles: Since the RBI doesn’t yet recognise neobanks as such, officially customers may not have any legal recourse or a defined process in case of an issue.
- Impersonal: Since neobanks don’t have a physical branch, customers don’t have access to in-person assistance. Limited services: Neobanks generally offer fewer services than traditional banks.
Advantages of Neobanks?
- Low costs: Fewer regulations and the absence of credit risk allow neobanks to keep their costs low. Products are typically inexpensive, with no monthly maintenance fees.
- Convenience: These banks offer customers the majority (if not all) of banking services through an app.
- Speed: Neobanks allow customers to set up accounts quickly and process requests speedily. Those that offer loans may skip the usual time-consuming application processes in favour of innovative strategies for evaluating credit.
- Transparency: Neobanks are transparent and strive to provide real-time notifications and explanations of any charges and penalties incurred by the customer.
- Deep insights: Most neobanks provide dashboard solutions with highly enhanced interfaces and easy to understand and valuable insights for services such as payments, payables and receivables, and bank statements.
Tokenisation of Debit and Credit Cards
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has extended the card-on-file (CoF) tokenisation deadline by three months to September 30, 2022, in view of various representations received from industry bodies.
- Card-on-file, or CoF, refers to card information stored by payment gateway and merchants to process future transactions. Tokenisation
- It refers to the replacement of actual card details with an alternate code called the “token”, which shall be unique for a combination of card, token requestor (i.e. the entity which accepts a request from the customer for tokenisation of a card and passes it on to the card network to issue a corresponding token) and device (referred hereafter as “identified device”).
- Under tokenisation services, a unique alternate code is generated to facilitate transactions through cards.
- This essentially means that a customer’s card information will no longer be available on any Merchant, Payment Gateway, or 3rd party that helps in the processing of digital transactions today.
Benefits of Tokenization
- Transaction safety: Tokenization reduces the chances of fraud arising from sharing card details.
- Easy payments: The token is used to perform contactless card transactions at point-of-sale (PoS) terminals and QR code payments.
- Data storage: Only card networks and card-issuing banks will have access to and can store any card data.
PLFS for 2020-21
- Recently the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) for 2020-21 released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation(MOSPI) What are the Highlights of PLFS?
- Unemployment Rate: It shows that the unemployment rate fell to 4.2% in 2020-21, compared with 4.8% in 201920. The rural areas recorded an unemployment rate of 3.3% and urban areas recorded an unemployment rate of 6.7%.
- Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR): The percentage of persons in the labour force (that is, working or seeking work or available for work) in the population increased from 40.1% in the previous year to 41.6% during 2020-21.
- Worker Population Ratio (WPR): It increased from 38.2% of the previous year to 39.8%.
- Migration Rate: The migration rate is 28.9%. The migration rate among women was 48% and 47.8% in rural and urban areas, respectively.
What is the Periodic Labour Force Survey?
Considering the importance of the availability of labour force data at more frequent time intervals, the National Statistical Office (NSO) launched the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) in April 2017.
“Payments Vision 2025”
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has come out with “Payments Vision 2025” with an objective to provide every user with safe, secure, fast, convenient, accessible and affordable e-payment options.
- It builds on the initiatives of Payments Vision 2019-21.
- The Payments Vision 2025 document is presented across the five anchor goalposts of Integrity, Inclusion, Innovation, Institutionalisation and Internationalisation.
- Theme “Payments Vision 2025” : E-Payments for Everyone, Everywhere, Everytime (4Es).
Direct tax collection increased
- The figures of Direct Tax collections for the Financial Year 2022-23, as of mid-June Show that net collections representing an increase of 45% over the collections of the preceding year.
- The largest share in Net Direct Tax collection is of Corporation Tax then Personal Income Tax (PIT).
Twin Deficit Problem
- The finance ministry in its ‘Monthly Economic Review’ cautioned the re-emergence of the twin deficit problem in the economy, with higher commodity prices and rising subsidy burden leading to an increase in both fiscal deficit and Current Account Deficit (CAD).
ONDC (Open Network for Digital Commerce)
- The idea of ONDC was conceived and has been widely discussed since April 2020, soon after the first wave of COVID. During this time, ensuring essential supplies across containment zones was found to be a challenge. Therefore a need was felt to alter the current digital commerce approach of ‘scaling what works’ to a new approach of ‘what works at scale’.
- On December 31, 2021, ONDC was incorporated as a private sector, non-profit (Section-8) company to democratize e-commerce in India and offer alternatives to proprietary e-commerce sites.
- ONDC was incubated by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) at the Quality Council of India. A nine-member advisory council, including Nandan Nilekani from Infosys and National Health Authority CEO RS Sharma, counseled the government on the measures required to design and accelerate the adoption of ONDC.
What is Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC)?
- ONDC is a non-profit company whose network will enable the display of products and services from all participating e-commerce platforms in search results across all apps on the network. For example, if both Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart integrate their platforms with ONDC, a user searching for a Bluetooth headset on Amazon would also see results from Flipkart on the Amazon app. (Presently, buyers and sellers have to be on the same app for a transaction which happens through the same platform. For example, a buyer needs to go to Amazon, to buy a product from a seller on Amazon. But under ONDC, it is envisaged that a buyer registered on one participating ecommerce site (for example, Amazon) may purchase goods from a seller on another participating e-commerce site (for example, Flipkart)).
- ONDC is a globally first-of-its-kind initiative that aims to democratize digital commerce. The ONDC will provide equal opportunities to all marketplace players, including consumers. It moves from a platform-centric model (where the buyer and seller must use the same platform or application to be digitally visible and do a business transaction) to an open network.
- It is based on open-sourced methodology, using open specifications and open network protocols, and is independent of any specific platform. It is a neutral platform that will set protocols for cataloging, vendor match, and price discovery on an open source-basis, like the Unified Payments Interface (UPI).
What is the current status of ONDC?
- ONDC has been rolled out in 5 cities – Delhi NCR, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Shillong, and Coimbatore. The operations are presently focused on retail and restaurants and facilitating real-time transactions. The open network will lateron extend to other categories like travel and mobility.
- Based on the pilot exercise and after the network stabilizes, ONDC will be expanded to 100 cities and towns across India by October 2022. The goal is to accommodate 30 million sellers and 10 million merchants online.
Who are the key stakeholders in ONDC?
- 20 government and private organizations have confirmed investments worth INR 2.55 billion (US$ 33.34 million). Several public and private sector banks, such as HDFC, Kotak Mahindra, Axis Bank, State Bank of India (SBI), and Punjab National Bank (PNB), have picked up stakes in ONDC.
Around 80 firms are working to integrate market players with the ONDC platform. Start-ups like Flipkart’s logistics arm eKart Logistics, hyperlocal delivery startup Dunzo, and payment service provider PhonePe, are in the process of integrating with ONDC.
What is the significance of ONDC?
- Boost E-Commerce transactions: It will help in enhancing the volume as well the value of e commerce transactions. The Government estimates that India’s e-commerce market was worth more than US$ 55 billion in gross merchandise value in 2021 and will grow to US$ 350 billion by the end of this decade. This target seems much more achievable with ONDC.
- Promotes Competition: According to the Government, existing platforms work in silos and are tightly controlled, keeping out many small players. At present, Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart control more than 60% of the market. However, ONDC will increase competition and foster innovation by start-ups through the display of products and services from all participating e-commerce platforms. Further, it will limit opportunities for selected sellers to receive preferential treatment. This preferential treatment is a common accusation against major ecommerce companies. It will also help to end predatory pricing, especially in high-margin, high-value products.
- Freedom of Choice: It is expected to make e-commerce more inclusive and accessible for consumers. They can potentially discover any seller, product or service by using any compatible application/platform, thus increasing their freedom of choice.
- Cost Reduction for Sellers: ONDC would enable small businesses to use any ONDC-compatible applications instead of being governed by specific platform-centric policies. This will provide multiple options to small businesses to acquire what’s needed to be discoverable over the network and conduct business, without having to pay deep cuts to aggregator platforms.
- Attracts Investment: Businesses are expected to benefit from transparent rules, lightweight investment, and lower cost of business acquisition. It is also expected that the time-to-market as well as time-to-scale shall also be substantially reduced. All this will help in attracting greater investment in the e-commerce space.
Crisis of Salt Industry
- The Salt Industry is facing enormous challenges in meeting the demand and handling the crisis faced by salt farmers and workers. Salt Industry in India
- India ranks third in the production of salt in the world next to the USA and China. Sea salt constitutes about 70% of the total salt production in the country. Salt manufacturing activities are carried out in the coastal states of Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Orissa, West Bengal Goa and hinterland State of Rajasthan. Gujarat produces about 28.5 million tonnes of salt per year which is more than 80% of the country’s total production.
- In Himachal and Rajasthan, salt is harvested by mining (Rock salt) while in other states including Gujarat, salt is produced through a solar-evaporation process of seawater. Government of India’s role in the Salt Industry
- Salt is a central subject listed as item number 58 of the Union List of the 7th Schedule of the Constitution. It is listed as a mining industry. The Government of India has de-licensed the Salt Industry by deleting provisions relating to Salt in the Central Excise & Salt Act, 1944. The Salt Commissioner’s Organization plays a facilitating role in the overall growth and development of the Salt Industry in the country.
What are the problems the Salt Industry is facing currently?
- Classification of Salt Industry: Currently, Salt Industry is listed as a mining industry and is governed by the Ministry of Industries & Mines.
- However, the Indian Salt Manufacturers Association(ISMA) has demanded the classification of salt production as an agricultural activity under the Ministry of agriculture. This is because mining produces hardly 0.5% salt while 99.5% of salt is produced either from sea water or from subsoil water and the whole process is done by seeding, farming and harvesting.
- Demand for MSP for Salt: Unseasonal rains and floods are resulting in demand for Minimum Support Prices for the Salt industry.
- No Wage or Social Security: Salt companies have replaced cooperatives and they decide the wages of these workers and the production of farmers. Most of them are migrant labourers with no minimum wages or social security.
What should the government do to solve the problems in the Salt Industry?
- Government should set up a separate nodal agency with common rules and regulations regarding salt production.
- Minimum wages and social security must also be ensured with a uniform policy for the entire country.
India’s first liquid Nano urea plant at Kalol, Gujarat
- The Prime Minister has officially inaugurated the country’s first liquid nano urea plant at Kalol, Gujarat.
What is Liquid Nano Urea ?
- It is essentially urea in the form of a nanoparticle. Urea is chemical nitrogen fertilizer, white in colour which artificially provides nitrogen, a major nutrient required by plants.
- Purpose: It has been developed to reduce the burden of urea subsidy, reduce the unbalanced and indiscriminate use of conventional urea, increase crop productivity and reduce soil, water, and air pollution.
- Developed by: Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative (IFFCO)’s Nano Biotechnology Research Center (NBRC) at Kalol.
What are the advantages of Liquid Nano Urea over Conventional Urea?
- Higher Efficiency: While conventional urea has an efficiency of about 25%, the efficiency of liquid nano urea can be as high as 85-90%.
- Gets Directly absorbed by plant: Conventional urea fails to have the desired impact on crops as it is often applied incorrectly and the nitrogen in it is vaporized or lost as a gas. On the other hand, liquid nano urea is sprayed directly on the leaves and gets absorbed by the plant.
- Higher Shelf Life: Liquid nano urea has a shelf life of a year and farmers need not be worried about “caking” when it comes in contact with moisture.
- No Burden of Urea Subsidy: Liquid nano urea produced by IFFCO comes in a half-litre bottle priced at Rs 240, and carries no burden of subsidy currently. By contrast, a farmer pays around Rs 300 for a 50-kg bag of heavily subsidized urea.
Maharashtra overtook UP in Sugarcane production
- Maharashtra has once again the top sugar producer state in India after five years. It has overtaken Uttar Pradesh in sugar production.
- The overall production of sugar by Maharashtra accounts for 138 lakh tonnes for the year 2021-22.
- The total sugar produced by the Uttar Pradesh in the year 2021-22 accounts for 105 lakh tonnes.
- Sugarcane is a water intensive crop which needs a huge water supply which farmers from Maharashtra were getting properly through rainfall, water reservoirs, network of canals and from groundwater. Maharashtra has been receiving more than sufficient rainwater since 2019 during the south-west monsoon season.
- Data regarding actual production of the sugarcane in the state of Maharashtra was not quite accurate. Keeping this in mind the concerned administration tried to make corrections in the recorded data of the sugarcane production. This ultimately resulted in increased acreage under the sugarcane production from 11.42 lakh hectare to 12.4 lakh hectares.
Minimum Support Price
- Recently, the Centre has approved the Minimum Support Prices (MSP) for the Kharif season 2022-23, stating that the rates are at least 1.5 times of the weighed average cost of production.
- The rates for 14 Kharif crops have been increased, the hikes ranging from 4% to 8%.
- The MSP is the rate at which the government purchases crops from farmers, and is based on a calculation of at least one-and-a-half times the cost of production incurred by the farmers.
- MSP is a “minimum price” for any crop that the government considers as remunerative for farmers and hence deserving of “support”.
- Simply MSP is the minimum price paid to the farmers for procuring food crops. MSP is announced by the Government at the beginning of the sowing season. They are recommended by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) and approved by Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.
Crops under MSP:
- The Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices (CACP) recommends MSPs for 22 mandated crops and fair and remunerative price (FRP) for sugarcane.
- CACP is an attached office of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
- The mandated crops include 14 crops of the kharif season, 6 rabi crops and 2 other commercial crops.
- In addition, the MSPs of toria and de-husked coconut are fixed on the basis of the MSPs of rapeseed/mustard and copra, respectively.
Procurement under MSP:
- The Food Corporation of India (FCI) is the nodal agency for procurement along with State agencies.
- FCI establishes purchase centres for procuring food grains under the price support scheme.
- While, the State government decides on the locations of these centres with the aim of maximizing purchases. Formula for calculating MSP:
For calculating MSP, the CACP considers factors such as cost of production, change in input prices, market price trends, demand and supply, and a reasonable margin for farmers.
- The CACP projects three kinds of production cost for every crop both at the state and all—India average level. These three production costs includes:
- A2: It covers all paid-out costs directly incurred by the farmer in cash and king on seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, hired labour, leased-in land, fuel, irrigation etc.
- A2+FL: It includes A2 plus an imputed value of unpaid family labour.
- C2: It is a more comprehensive cost that factors in rental and interest forgone on owned land and fixed capital assets, on top of A2+FL.
New series of coins
- The Prime Minister has released a special series of Rs 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 coins.
- These coins will have the ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ They will not be commemorative coins and will be part of the circulation.
- Significance: These coins will remind people of the goal of ‘amrit kal’ and motivate people to work towards the development of the country.
HISTORY, ART AND CULTURE
Martial Art forms in India
- Recently, in Kashmir, a maulvi stepped in to save thang-ta, a martial law practice. Thang Ta is a martial art technique highly prevalent in the state of Manipur. The city of Srinagar has as many as 20 Thang-Ta clubs.
- Mohammad Iqbal, who is now a renowned Thang-Ta coach, has fielded a team from Jammu and Kashmir at the Khelo India Youth Games which are being held in Panchukla.
- Thang-Ta is a traditional martial art form from Manipur.
- Thang-Ta literally means ‘sword and spear’. It is one aspect of Huyen Langlon (art of war or method of safeguarding). Its other aspect is Sarit Sarak that involves unarmed combat.
Other Martial Art Forms in India
|Martial Art form||State|
|Lathi Khela||West Bengal|
|Musti Yuddha||Varanasi in U.P.|
|Mallakhamb||Madhya Pradesh (state sport of MP)|
|Kathi Samu||Andhra Pradesh|
- Recently, Prime Minister inaugurated the Sant Tukaram Shila Mandir in the temple town of Dehu in the Pune district. Shila Mandir is a temple dedicated to a slab of stone (shila) on which Sant Tukaram meditated for 13 days.
Who was Sant Tukaram?
- Sant Tukaram Maharaj was a 17th-century Bhakti saint and Marathi poet from Maharashtra. He is best known for his devotional poetry called Abhanga and community-oriented worship with spiritual songs known as kirtans. His work is central to the Warkari sect spread across Maharashtra. He is also credited with starting the Wari pilgrimage. His message about a casteless society and his denial of rituals had led to a social movement.
Holy Relics of Lord Buddha
- In a special gesture towards the people of Mongolia, four Holy Relics of Lord Buddha are being taken from India to Mongolia for an 11-day exposition as part of celebrations of Mongolian Buddha Purnima.
- The Holy Relics will be displayed at the Batsagaan Temple within the premises of Gandan Monastery in Mongolia.
In India, these Holy Buddha Relics are currently housed in the National Museum. These relics are known as the ‘Kapilvastu Relics’ since they are from a site in Bihar first discovered in 1898, which is believed to be the ancient city of Kapilvastu.
APPOINTMENTS and RESIGNATIONS
Parameswaran Iyer : CEO , NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog Earlier he served as Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
He succeeded Amitabh Kant and will take charge on 1 July 2022. K.K. Venugopal :
- re-appointed as the country’s top law officer (Attorney General ) for a period of three months.
Eknath Shinde : Chief minister of Maharashtra,
Alok Kumar Choudhary : Managing Director (MD) of State Bank of India (SBI).
- He replaced Ashwani Bhatia who retires on May 31, 2022.
N J Ojha : appointed as ombudsman for a two-year term under the MNREGA Scheme.
Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai (Former Supreme Court judge ): head of the Press Council of India (PCI).
- She had recently served as the chairman of the Delimitation Commission on Jammu and Kashmir, which was
established to redesign the Union Territory’s assembly constituencies. Ruchira Kamboj :
- Currently Indian ambassador to Bhutan, has been appointed as the next Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations at New York.
Anil Khanna : acting President of Indian Olympic Association (IOA).
- The Delhi High Court has ordered that Narinder Dhruv Batra cannot continue as the President of the IOA and appointed Anil Khanna as acting president.
Nitin Gupta : Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT)
S S Mundra : chairman BSE (Bombay Stock Exchange). He was former Deputy Governor of RBI. Tapan Kumar Deka : Director of Intelligence Bureau.
Samant Kumar Goel : re-appointed as Chief of R&AW
Rajesh Gera : Director-General, National Informatics Centre (NIC)
Dinkar Gupta : Director General, National Investigation Agency (NIA)
Zulfiquar Hasan : Director-General of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) S L Thaosen : Director-General of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) Ferdinand Marcos Jr : 17th President of the Philippines.
Dr Swati Dhingra : first Indian-origin woman to be appointed as an external member of the Bank of England’s interest ratesetting committee.
Akash Ambani : Mukesh Ambani’s eldest son Akash Ambani took over as chairman of Jio Infocomm’s board. Mukesh Ambani has resigned as the company director effective from 27 June.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Bharat Drone Mahotsav 2022 : New Delhi
- Recently, India’s biggest Drone Festival – Bharat Drone Mahotsav 2022 was inaugurated in New Delhi by the Prime Minister.
What are Drones / Unmanned Aircraft (UA) ?
- Originally developed for the military and aerospace industries, drones have found their way into the mainstream because of the enhanced levels of safety and efficiency they bring. A drone’s autonomy level can range from remotely piloted (a human controls its movements) to advanced autonomy, which means that it relies on a system of sensors and LIDAR detectors to calculate its movement. What are the Applications of Drone Technology?
- Agriculture: In the agriculture sector, micronutrients can be spread with the help of drones. It can also be used for performing surveys for identifying the challenges faced by the farmers.
- Defence: Drone system can be used as a symmetric weapon against terrorist attacks. Drones can be integrated into the national airspace system. Deployment of drones for combat, communication in remote areas, counter-drone solutions can be done.
- Healthcare Delivery Purposes: Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) devised Drone-Based Vaccine Delivery Model, i-drone. Telangana and North-east states have been approved to use this drone technology for delivering vaccines in remote areas.
Monitoring: The drone technology in the SVAMITVA scheme launched by the Government of India, within less than a year, has helped about half a million village residents to get their property cards by mapping out the denselypopulated areas.
- Drones can be used for real-time surveillance of assets and transmission lines, theft prevention, visual inspection/maintenance, construction planning and management, etc
- They can be used for anti-poaching actions, monitoring of forests and wildlife, pollution assessment, and evidence gathering.
- Law Enforcement: Drones are also significant for the law enforcement agencies, the fire and emergency services wherever human intervention is not safe and the healthcare services.
- In 2021, the govt notified liberalized drone rules with the aim to encourage R&D and to make India a drone hub.
- The government also approved a Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for Drones and their components with an allocation of Rs. 120 crore for three financial years.
West Nile Virus
- The Kerala health department is on alert after the death of a 47-year-old from Thrissur due to the West Nile Virus.
- The West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne, single-stranded RNA virus. It is a member of the flavivirus genus and belongs to the Japanese encephalitis antigenic complex of the family Flaviviridae.
- First Case: The virus was first isolated in a woman in the West Nile district of Uganda in 1937.
— Currently, the virus is found commonly in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, North America, and West Asia.
- Vector: Culex species of mosquitoes act as the principal vectors for transmission.
- Source of Transmission: It is transmitted by infected mosquitoes between and among humans and animals, including birds, which are the reservoir host of the virus.
- It can also spread through blood transfusion, from an infected mother to her child, or through exposure to the virus in laboratories.
- Note: To date, no human-to-human transmission of WNV through casual contact has been documented.
- Symptoms: The disease is asymptomatic in 80% of the infected people. The rest develop what is called the West Nile fever. In these 20% cases, the symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, body aches, nausea, rash and swollen glands. Severe infection can lead to encephalitis, meningitis, paralysis and even death. Severe infection may even cause neurological diseases.
- Treatment: Treatment often involves hospitalization, intravenous fluids, respiratory support and prevention of secondary infections. No vaccine is available for humans.
International Liquid Mirror Telescope (ILMT)
- India has commissioned an International Liquid Mirror Telescope(ILMT) in Devasthal, Uttarakhand.
- Built by: Astronomers from India, Belgium, Canada, Poland and Uzbekistan.
- Location: It is located at an altitude of 2450 meters at the Devasthal Observatory campus which is owned by Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), Nainital in Uttarakhand. ARIES is an autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
- Purpose: The telescope will help in surveying the sky, making it possible to observe several galaxies and other astronomical sources just by staring at the strip of sky that passes overhead.
– For this, the telescope employs a 4-meter-diameter rotating mirror made up of a thin film of liquid mercury to collect and focus light.
- Duration: The ILMT will operate every night for five years and carry out daily imaging except between June and August monsoon months, as a precaution to protect the instruments from humid conditions.
- Significance: It is the first liquid mirror telescope in the country and the largest in Asia.
- Note: ILMT will be the third telescope to be operating from Devasthal after the 3.6-metre Devasthal Optical Telescope (DOT) — the largest in India commissioned in 2016 — and the 1.3-metre Devasthal Fast Optical Telescope (DFOT) inaugurated in 2010.
Electric Vertical Take off and Landing (eVTOL) Aircraft
- In news : While speaking at “India@2047” conclave, the Union Civil Aviation Minister, Jyotiraditya Scindia said that India is in ‘conversation’ with several eVTOL players who were ‘keen on setting up production centres’ in the country, implying a futuristic vision for India.
About eVTOL aircraft
- Definition: eVTOL uses electric power to hover, take off, and land vertically. Instead of conventional fossil fuels, they are powered by batteries, although some designs use hydrogen fuel cells.
- Description: It is a low-altitude urban air mobility aircraft capable of carrying only a few passengers- six seaters and eight seaters.
- Technology used: Most eVTOLs deploy distributed electric propulsion technology which involves integrating a complex propulsion system with the airframe. There are multiple motors for various functions, e.g. to increase efficiency and ensure safety.
- Evolution: This is technology that has grown on account of major advances in electric propulsion (progress in motor, battery, fuel cell, electronic controller technologies etc.) and also fuelled by the need for new vehicle technology that ensures urban air mobility (UAM).
- Applications: Air Taxi, Delivery, Medical assistance (EMS), Cargo Transport, Recreation.
- Launch: Israeli startup has recently introduced a full-scale protoype of an eVTOL, to be used as a personal flying car.
- Scope: In the near future, these eVTOLs will enhance “on-demand” mobility for intra- and intercity transportation, improving connectivity between metropolitan city centers and airports.
Advantages of eVTOL
- Cost Effective: eVTOL is cost efficient as there will be no requirement of runway and other infrastructure in air transport. They are also vastly cheaper than helicopters
- Curtail GHG emission: According to the Air Transport Air Group (ATAG), global aviation produces around 2% CO2 emissions. eVTOL being electric powered aircraft does not require fossil fuels, thus limiting greenhouse gas emission and fulfilling the climate change commitment.
- Prevent vehicular congestion: Urban air mobility (air taxi) will reduce road traffic
- Upgradation of electric mobility technology: eVTOL may push for new Investments, research and development in electric vehicles technology in India. Challenges in eVTOL aircraft
- Semi-autonomous: As current eVTOL technology so far is a mix of unpiloted and piloted aircraft, the areas in focus include “crash prevention systems” which use cameras, radar, GPS (global positioning system) and infrared scanners.
- Safety issue: There are also issues such as ensuring safety in case of power plant or rotor failure. Aircraft protection from cyberattacks is another area of focus.
- Terrain: The navigation and flight safety and the use of technology when operating in difficult terrain, unsafe operating environments and also bad weather is concerning.
Possibility of Use of artificial lights against Malaria
- A study has demonstrated that artificial lights can be used as a weapon to fight against malaria.
- Light regulates much of the timing of biological events like when birds breed, lions hunt – and humans’ sleep patterns. While species have been exposed to changes in climate cycles over the eons, the timing of day and night has remained relatively constant owing to the rotation of the earth. This means that all life on the planet has evolved with regular day-night cycles.
- Melatonin hormone is a gene responsible for regulating the sleep-awake cycles. It is found in plants as well as animals. However, rapid change in the natural sleep cycles has been observed on account of the increased use of artificial light. For instance, nearly 80% of the world’s people now live under artificially lit skies. What role can Artificial Light play in the fight against malaria?
- Artificial light can alter mosquito biology. For instance, the malaria-transmitting mosquito species “Anopheles” is a nocturnal (night time) feeder. Using artificial light, these mosquitoes can be tricked to behave as if it’s daytime. For example, a short pulse of Light Emitting Diode (LED) light, is commonly used in homes as “downlights” or reading lamps. This can delay the onset of biting by hours in Anopheles. This can in turn reduce biting rates and malaria transfer.
Breakthrough in cure of cancer
- The science behind the cancer cure, and the therapy’s future in India
- In a medical trial, 12 patients in the United States were completely cured of rectal cancer without requiring any surgery or chemotherapy.
- The trial used a monoclonal antibody called dostarlimab every three weeks for six months for the treatment of a particular kind of stage two or three rectal cancer.
- The therapy in the trial used PD-1 blockades, allowing T cells to kill cancer cells. PD1 is a type of protein that regulates certain functions of the immune system, including by suppressing T cell activity, and PD1 blockade therapy looks to release the T cells from this suppression.
Findings of the study
- Immunotherapy: The trial showed that immunotherapy alone without any chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or surgery that have been staples of cancer treatment could completely cure the patients with a particular kind of rectal cancer called ‘mismatch repair deficient’
- No surgery needed: Though PD1 therapy was already in use, but earlier it was used post-surgery, but the study has shown that a surgery may not be required.
- Note : Monoclonal antibodies like dostarlimab are laboratory-made antibodies design to fight specific illnesses. Dostarlimab is specifically designed to block a particular protein involved in cancer cells called PD-1. According to the experts, ‘Dostarlimab’ is a drug with laboratory-produced molecules acting as a substitute for antibodies in the human body.
Can such treatment be available in India?
- India also has a couple of PD1 blockades available, although not the one used for the study in US trial.
- Cost is believed to be a major hurdle. For instance, an immunotherapy treatment can cost around Rs 4 lakh per month, with patients needing the treatment for six months to a year.
- Hence, that’s why experts have said that precision medicine such as immunotherapy drugs for particular types of cancers is still at a nascent stage in India. It would take at least ten years for it to become commonplace.
Unified Geologic Map of the Moon’
- The United States Geological Survey(USGS) in partnership with NASA and the Lunar Planetary Institute has released ‘The unified Geologic Map of the Moon’.
- The map has been created with the help of the information gathered from six Apollo-era regional maps. It also uses data from recently held satellite missions to the Moon. The map showcases the Moon in a 1:50,00,000-scale size. What is the significance of this map?
- This new map will serve as the blueprint of the Moon’s surface geology for future human missions.
- It will help to understand the surface of the Moon. It will also help researchers learn the history behind the formations located on the Moon’s surface.
Biotech startup expo – 2022
- The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated the Biotech Startup Expo – 2022 at Pragati Maidan, Delhi. He also launched Biotech products e portal.
- The expo is being organised by the Department of Biotechnology and Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) to mark the completion of ten years of BIRAC.
- Theme: ‘Biotech Startup Innovations: Towards AatmaNirbhar Bharat’.
- Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister said that India’s bio-economy has grown 8 times in the last 8 years. “We have grown from $10 billion to $80 billion. India is not too far from reaching the league of top-10 countries in Biotech’s global ecosystem”, he said.
- India is among the top 12 destinations for biotechnology globally and 3rd largest biotechnology destination in the Asia Pacific region. The country is also the world’s third-largest producer of recombinant Hepatitis B vaccine and second-largest producer of BT cotton (genetically modified pest resistant plant cotton).
- India’s Biotech sector is categorised into Biopharmaceuticals, BioIndustrial, Bioagriculture, BioIT & BioServices.
Tiangong Space Station
- The Tiangong space station is a Chinese space station being built in low Earth orbit between 340 and 450 kilometers above the earth. It is part of China Manned Space Program and is the country’s first long-term space station.
- China is going to operationalize its new Tiangong multi-module space station for at least ten years.
- China launched an unmanned module named “Tianhe“, or “Harmony of the Heavens” for its permanent space station in 2021 that it plans to complete by the end of 2022.
- Why in news: Recently, China’s strategically significant space station project entered the final phase as three astronauts entered the orbiting module of the Tiangong Space Station. They were launched into the designated orbit by the Shenzhou-14 spacecraft.
Ramsay Hunt Syndrome
- Recently, Pop singer Justin Bieber has been diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome.
- Cause : Ramsay Hunt Syndrome/ Herpes Zoster Oticus is caused by reactivation of varicella zoster virus that has previously caused chickenpox and shingles in the patient.
- This virus belongs to the herpesvirus group and can stay in the body as a latent infection.
- Antiviral therapies and corticosteroids (anti-inflammatory drug) are commonly used to treat the condition.
Rising cases of Lumpy Skin Disease in India
- Lumpy Skin Disease: It is an infectious disease in cattle caused by a virus of the family Poxviridae, also known as the Neethling virus.
- Vector: Blood-feeding insects such as mosquitos and flies act as mechanical vectors to spread the disease. The outbreak of the disease is associated with high temperature and high humidity.
- Origin: Lumpy skin disease was first seen as an epidemic in Zambia in 1929. In India, the case was first reported from Odisha in August 2019.
- Symptoms: The disease is characterized by fever, enlarged superficial lymph nodes and multiple nodules on the skin and mucous membranes. Infected cattle also may develop edematous swelling in their limbs and exhibit lameness.
- Mortality Rate: Morbidity varies between 2 and 45% and the mortality rate is usually less than 10%.
- Note : Morbidity is the state of being unhealthy for a particular disease or situation, whereas, mortality is the number of deaths that occur in a population.
- Treatment: There is no treatment for the virus, so prevention by vaccination is the most effective means of control.
- Implications: The virus has important economic implications since affected animals tend to have permanent damage to their skin, lowering the commercial value of their hide.
Critical Information Infrastructure (CII)
- The Information Technology Act of 2000 defines Critical Information Infrastructure as a computer resource, the incapacitation or destruction of which shall have debilitating impact on national security, economy, public health or safety. The government, under the IT Act of 2000, has the power to declare any data, database, IT network or communications infrastructure as CII to protect that digital asset. Any person who secures access or attempts to secure access to a protected system in violation of the law can be punished with a jail term of up to 10 years.
- Why In News : Recently, the Union Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) has declared IT (Information Technology) resources of ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India) as ‘critical information infrastructure’.
- In a study published in the journal Nature, researchers have claimed that Black Death originated in modern-day northern Kyrgyzstan around 1338-1339 – nearly 7-8 years before it ravaged large parts of the world.
- If this study is correct, it would mean that the Black Death spread through trading routes and not, as some historians have argued, through warfare a century prior.
- The term Black Death refers to the bubonic plague that spread across Western Asia, Northern Africa, Middle East and Europe in 1346-53. It was caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis and was spread by fleas that were carried by rodent hosts.
- Deaths due to Black Death disease: it is estimated that around 60-65% of Europe’s population or 52 million people died due to the plague.
- The Ministry of Defence has signed a contract with the Hyderabad-based Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL) for the supply of the Astra Mark-1 for deployment on fighter jets of the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.
- The Astra Mk-1 is a beyond visual range(BVR) air-to-air missile (AAM).
- Note: BVM missiles are capable of engaging beyond the range of 20 nautical miles or 37 kilometres. AAMs are fired from an airborne asset to destroy an airborne target.
- Developed and designed by: The Defense Research and Development Organization(DRDO) for deployment on fighter jets like Sukhoi-30 MKI and Tejas of the IAF and the Mig-29K of the Navy.
- Range: 110 km. o The range for Astra Mk-1 is around 110 km. o The Mk-2 with a range over 150 km is under development and Mk-3 version with a longer range is being envisaged.
- One more version of Astra, with a range smaller than Mk-1 is also under development.
- Speed: The missile can travel at speeds more than four times that of sound and can reach a maximum altitude of 20 km making it extremely flexible for air combat.
Significance: AAMs with BVR capability provides large stand-off ranges to fighter aircraft. This can neutralize adversary airborne assets without exposing themselves to adversary air defence measures.
- Note: Stand-off range means the missile is launched at a distance sufficient to allow the attacking side to evade defensive fire from the target.
- Recently, India successfully conducted the night trial of surface-to-surface nuclear-capable short-range ballistic missile Prithvi-II.
- About: Prithvi-II is an indigenously developed Surface-to-Surface Missile Short-Range Ballistic Missile (SRBM), which has a range of around 250 km-350km and can carry a one tonne payload. Prithvi II class is a single-stage liquid-fueled missile that has warhead mounting capability of 500 kg-1000kg. The missile is a proven system and is capable of striking targets with a very high degree of precision. The state-of-the-art missile uses an advanced inertial guidance system with manoeuvring trajectory to hit its target. It was initially developed for the Indian Air Force as its primary user and was later inducted into the Indian Army as well.
- While the missile was inducted into India’s Strategic Forces Command for the first time in 2003, it was the first missile developed under the IGMDP.
- Developed by: Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of India under its Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).
- IGMDP : IGMDP was an Indian Ministry of Defence programme to research and develop a comprehensive range of missiles. The project started in 1982–1983 under the leadership of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. This Programme made Dr APJ Abdul Kalam the missile man of India. The integrated guided missile programme was complete in, 2008.
- Five Missiles Developed under the IGMDP : PRITHVI (Short range surface-to-surface ballistic missile, AGNI (Medium to intercontinental surface-to-surface missile), TRISHUL (Short range low-level surface-to-air missile), AKASH (Surface-to-air missile having a range of up to 25 Km and multi-target handling system), NAG (Third generation “fire & forget”, “top attack” anti-tank missile)
- A joint military training exercise Ex SAMPRITI-X between India and Bangladesh is being conducted at Jashore Military Station in Bangladesh from 5th to 16th June 2022.
Khaan Quest 2022 : Mongolia
- Khaan Quest 2022 is a multinational peacekeeping operations exercise conducted in Mongolia.
- It consists of a United Nations Peacekeeping Mission command post exercise, a UN PKO (PeaceKeeping Operation) Mission field training exercise, at the Mongolian Armed Forces’ Five Hills Training Area.
- Indian Army is represented by a contingent from the Ladakh Scouts.
- Nomadic Elephants is the other Military Exercise which is conducted between the India and Mongolia.
38th IND-INDO CORPAT
- The 38th India-Indonesia Coordinated Patrol (IND-INDO CORPAT) is being conducted in the Andaman Sea and Straits of Malacca.
- The two Navies have been carrying out CORPAT along their International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) since 2002.
Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2022
- It is one of the largest biennial multilateral Naval Exercises led by the United States(US). It was first conducted in 1971.
- Venue : it is being held Near Hawaiian Islands and Southern California (from 29 June to 4 August 2022) Aim: To enhance interoperability and build trust among Navies of friendly foreign countries.
- Theme for 2022: ‘capable, adaptive, partners.’
- Participating Countries: 27 countries including India are participating in the current edition of the multidimensional exercise. Note: India for the first time participated in the Exercise RIMPAC in 2014.
- INS Satpura and one P8I maritime patrol aircraft from the Indian Navy are participating in this exercise. o INS Satpura is an indigenously designed and built 6000-tonne guided missile stealth frigate equipped to seek and destroy adversary in air, surface and underwater. It is currently on an extended operational deployment in the 75th year of India’s Independence.
- P-8I is a long-range, multi-mission maritime patrol aircraft being manufactured by Boeing for the Indian Navy.
Other Military Exercises by India
|Name of Exercise||Country|
|Mitra Shakti||Sri Lanka|
|Maitree Exercise||India & Thailand|
|Vajra Prahar||India & US|
|Yudh Abhyas||India & US|
|Shakti Exercise||India & France|
|Dharma Guardian||India & Japan|
|Surya Kiran||India & Nepal|
|SIMBEX||India & Singapore|
|Exercise LAMITYE||India & Seychelles|
- Indian Navy’s stealth Frigate, INS Talwar is presently deployed for Operation-Sankalp commemorating the 3rd continuous year of Indian Navy’s presence in the Gulf.
- Note : Indian Navy had commenced Maritime Security Operations code named Operation SANKALP in the Gulf Region in Jun 2019 to ensure safe passage of Indian Flag Vessels transiting through the Strait of Hormuz.
- Vertical Launch Short Range Surface to Air Missile (VL-SRSAM) was successfully flight-tested by the Defence Research & Development Organization(DRDO) and the Indian Navy from an Indian Naval Ship at Integrated Test Range(ITR), Chandipur off the coast of Odisha. What is VL-SRSAM?
- VL-SRSAM is a ship-borne weapon system developed by the Defence Research and Development
Organization(DRDO) for deployment in the Indian Naval warships.
- Purpose: It is meant for neutralising various aerial threats at close ranges including sea-skimming targets. o Note: Sea skimming is a technique of flying as low as possible (always below 50 meters from sea level).
This will make it hard to detect the flying object by radar, and infrared detection techniques in ships.
Further, it will reduce the probability of getting shot down while approaching a target.
- Range: It can strike a target at the range of 40 to 50 km and at an altitude of 15 km.
- Features: The missile has been designed based on the Astra missile, which is a Beyond Visual Range Air to Air missile.
- VL-SRSAM is a canisterised based missile system. Hence, it is stored and operated from specially designed compartments. In the canister, the inside environment is controlled, thus making its transport and storage easier and improving the shelf life of weapons.
- Significance: The launch of this indigenous missile system will further strengthen the defensive capabilities of the Indian Navy.
- India has successfully tested the indigenously-designed Abhyas – a High-speed Expendable Aerial Target (HEAT) from the Integrated Test Range (ITR), off the coast of Odisha (Chandipur).
- Abhyas is Designed and developed by: Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) of DRDO
- Purpose: It offers a realistic threat scenario for practice of weapon systems.Hence, it can be used as an aerial target for evaluation of various missile systems (during trials).
Features of Abhyas:
- It is powered by a gas turbine engine to sustain a long endurance flight at subsonic speed.
- It is equipped with a MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems)-based Inertial Navigation System (INS) for navigation along with the Flight Control Computer (FCC) for guidance and control.
- The vehicle is programmed for fully autonomous flight and their check-out is done using a laptop-based Ground Control Station(GCS).
- The system is equipped with Radar Cross-Section(RCS) and infrared signatures which can be used to simulate a variety of aircraft for the practice of anti-aircraft warfare and also for the testing designed to target aerial targets.
RANKING AND REPORTS
ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE INDEX 2022
- The newly released Environmental Performance Index (EPI) 2022, measured by Yale and Columbia universities, ranks India at the bottom position among 180 countries.
The EPI is an international ranking system of countries based on their environmental health.
- It is a biennial index (once every 2 years) , first started in 2002 as the Environment Sustainability Index by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and Columbia University Center for International Earth Information Network.
- EPI 2022 uses 40 performance indicators to assess and rank 180 countries. The 40 indicators are under the broad categories of climate change performance, environmental health, and ecosystem vitality. The indicators “measure how close countries are in meeting internationally established sustainability targets for specific environmental issues”.
How poor is the EPI assessment of India?
- With a rank of 180 and a score of 18.9, India has fallen from rank 168 and a score of 27.6 in 2020. India comes after Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Myanmar, the poorest performers. Denmark tops the list with a score of 77.9.
- Denmark (score of 77.9) tops the 2022 rankings with United Kingdom and Finland in 2nd and 3rd place respectively.
- The Environment Ministry of India has issued a rebuttal saying the indicators used in the assessment are based on “unfounded assumptions”.
- Previous rank of India : India was ranked 168th in EPI-2020, with a score of 27.6.
Sustainable Development Report 2022 released
- It is a global assessment of countries’ progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It is published by a group of independent experts at the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).
- Countries are ranked by their overall score. The overall score measures the total progress towards achieving all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) The score can be interpreted as a percentage of SDG achievement. A score of 100 indicates that all SDGs have been achieved.
- The 2022 SDG Index is topped by Finland, followed by three Nordic countries –Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
- India is ranked 121 out of the 163 countries.(It was ranked 117 in 2020 and 120 in 2021).
QS World University Ranking 2023
- Recently, QS World University Ranking 2023 was released.
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) of the US is the top university for the 11th consecutive year.
- The second place went to the University of Cambridge, followed by Stanford University
- Indian Institutions: The Indian Institute Science (IISC) was ranked highest followed by IIT Bombay and IIT Delhi. The total number of Indian institutes among the top 1,000 globally has risen to 27 from 22.
Special 301 Report 2022
- Released by: Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR)
- Purpose: To identify trading partners that do not adequately or effectively protect and enforce Intellectual Property (IP) rights or otherwise deny market access to U.S. innovators and creators that rely on the protection of their IP rights.
- The report places countries into: o Priority Watch list countries -These are those countries that are having serious intellectual property rights deficiencies and require increased United States Trade Representative(USTR) attention.
Countries in this list are : Argentina, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Russia and Venezuela.
o Watch List countries – These countries are having serious intellectual property rights deficiencies but are not yet placed on the Priority Watch list.
Other important facts
- Indian patents are governed by the Indian Patent Act of 1970.
- India became a party to the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement following its membership to the World Trade Organization on 1st January, 1995.
SIPRI Year Book 2022
- Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has released the findings of SIPRI Yearbook 2022. key findings
- Globally: The nine nuclear-armed states—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea)—continue to modernize their nuclear arsenals.
Russia and the USA together possess over 90% of all nuclear weapons. However, in 2021, the number of nuclear warheads in both countries declined, but this was mainly due to the dismantling of discarded warheads, which the military had already abandoned years ago.
- China had 350 nuclear warheads in January 2021 as well as January 2022.
- India: India had 160 nuclear warheads as of January 2022. India has expanded its nuclear stockpile from 156 in January 2021 to 160 in January 2022.
- Note : Pakistan with 165 nuclear warheads also appears to be expanding its N-arsenal.
- Note: Neither India nor Pakistan share official data on their nuclear stockpile.
- Global Military Expenditure: Global military expenditure rose for the seventh consecutive year in 2021 to reach US$2113 billion, exceeding $2 trillion for the first time.
- Importers and Exporters of Major Arms: The five largest arms exporters in 2017-21 are – the United States, Russia, France, China and Germany. They accounted for 77% of the total volume of exports of major arms.
- The top 5 arms importers—India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Australia and China— together received 38% of total global arms imports in 2017–21.
- The region that received the largest volume of major arms supplies in 2017–21 was Asia and Oceania, accounting for 43% of the total.
Food safety index
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India(FSSAI) has released the State Food Safety Index(SFSI) 2021-22.
|What is the State Food Safety Index(SFSI)?
How are States assessed and ranked?
World Mental Health Report
- Released by : World Health Organization (WHO)
Highlights of the report
- WHO has called for more action on addressing mental health issues worldwide, especially now that the ‘Covid19’ pandemic has been cited as contributing to worsening mental health.
- Almost a billion people, 14% of whom were adolescents, were living with some form of mental health issues in 2019. For some, this resulted in dying by suicide which accounted for one in 100 deaths, with more than half of them happening before the age of 50.
- Depression and anxiety spiked 25 % in the first year of the pandemic (2020).
- All 194 WHO member states have adopted the Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2030 but progress has been slow.
PGI-D (Performance Grading Index for Districts)
- The Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSE and L), Ministry of Education (MoE) has released the Performance Grading Index for Districts (PGI-D) for 2018-19 and 2019-20.
What is the Performance Grading Index for Districts(PGI-D)?
- Aim: To assess the performance of the school education system at the District level by creating an index for comprehensive analysis.
Parameters: The index comprises a total weightage of 600 points across 83 indicators which are grouped under 6 categories: 1) Outcomes, 2) Effective Classroom Transaction, 3) Infrastructure Facilities & Student’s Entitlements, 4) School Safety & Child Protection, 5) Digital Learning and 6) Governance Process.
- Categorisation of Districts: The index grades the districts into ten grades: o Highest achievable Grade is Daksh which is for Districts scoring more than 90% of the total points in that category or overall.
Second grade is ‘Utkarsh’ (81% to 90% score) o The lowest grade in PGI-D is called Akanshi-3 which is for scores upto10% of the total points.
- Significance: The index is expected to help the state education departments to identify gaps at the district level and improve their performance in a decentralized manner. No district achieved the ‘Daksh’ rating in both years.
- Three districts from Rajasthan (Sikar, Jhunjhunu, and Jaipur) have scored more than 80% in school education performance and achieved the ‘Utkarsh’ grade which is the second highest grade. Best performers :
- Rajasthan has the highest 24 districts in this grade, followed by Punjab (14), Gujarat (13), and Kerala (13).
- The districts with the lowest scores (1 out of 50) in this category were: o South Salmara-Mankachar (Assam), Alirajpur (Madhya Pradesh), North Garo Hills and South Garo Hills in Meghalaya, and Khowai (Tripura) in 2019-20.
Other observations made by the report
- Schools across India performed poorly under the category of digital learning.
- Around 61% of districts of the country had very little exposure to digital learning due to limited availability of computers, Internet facilities and teachers trained to handle technological tools in schools.
- There is also a clear rural-urban divide in the area of digital learning. For instance, while districts in cities like Chandigarh and Delhi scored between 25 and 35 out of 50, places like Bihar’s Araria and Kishanganj scored as low as 2.
Annual World Competitiveness Index 2022
|Released by :
‘India’s Booming Gig and Platform Economy’ : NITI Aayog
- NITI Aayog launched a report titled ‘India’s Booming Gig and Platform Economy’.
- According to the report, India’s gig workforce is expected to expand to 2.35 crore by 2029-30.
- The report estimates that in 2020–21, 77 lakh (7.7 million) workers were engaged in the gig economy. They constituted 2.6% of the non-agricultural workforce or 1.5% of the total workforce in India.
What is Gig Economy and Gig Worker?
- Gig Economy is the evolving economic model wherein the firms hire workers on a part-time flexible basis rather than as full time employees. The Code on Social Security, 2020 defines gig workers as those engaged in livelihoods outside traditional employer-employee relationship.
- The workers work as freelancers or independent contractors. They generally have flexible and adaptable working hours based on individual preferences.
- The jobs in gig economy typically require interacting with the users through online platforms e.g., the drivers engaged with cab hailing platforms (Uber, Ola etc.), delivery workers engaged with restaurant aggregators (Zomato, Swiggy etc.), or tutors delivering lectures over online platforms. The workers engaged in such jobs are called Gig Workers.
- Gig Workers can be broadly classified into two categories — platform and non-platform-based (a) Platform workers are those whose work is based on online software apps or digital platforms. (b) Nonplatform gig workers are generally casual wage workers and own-account workers in the conventional sectors, working part-time or full time.
- The Gig workers can also be classified on the basis of skills. These are high-skilled, medium-skilled and lowskilled According to the NITI Aayog Report, at present, about 47% of the gig work is in medium-skilled jobs, about 22% in high-skilled jobs, and about 31% in low-skilled jobs. Trends show that the concentration of workers in medium skills is gradually declining and that in low skills and high skills is increasing.
What are the advantages of Gig Economy?
- Benefits to Gig Workers: Gig workers have the flexibility to work according to their convenience and availability. There are less restrictions related to fixed work-hours, attendance etc. Workers have some flexibility in choosing their work hours. Some workers take gig jobs on a part-time basis to supplement their income from regular jobs.
- Cost Efficiencies for Companies: The companies are able to save costs on hiring full time employees. They are able to provide services more economically to the users.
- Jobs for Low-skilled workers: Gig economy provides jobs to many low and semi-skilled workforce with minimum conditions.
- Gain Experience: It enables the young undergraduates to gather valuable work-experience before joining formal employment.
- Economical: Many gig workers work remotely and save costs (e.g., on office commute).
What are the disadvantages of Gig Economy?
- Job Security: Most gig workers work on a day-to-day basis, and can be terminated from their jobs without any notice. Many gig workers were laid off during the pandemic.
- Lack of Benefits: Gig workers have no social security benefits like ESI, PF or insurance. They have no paid leaves so failure to work means loss of wage. Gig/Platform workers are not covered in all the labour codes, specifically the ‘Code on Wages, 2019’ which prescribes minimum wages for various jobs. There is no wage regulation and the workers are at the mercy of aggregators.
- Work Conditions: Most workers have to put in long hours of work in order to make the job viable. A large components of workers’ wages consists of incentive which coerces workers to work for long hours. This reduces the advantage of ‘flexible work’ in gig economy. There is lack of transparency on incentive structures.
SCHEMES and Programmes in News
- The Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment has launched the “SHRESHTA”- Scheme. Nodal Ministry: Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
- Full-Form: Scheme for Residential Education for Students in High Schools in Targeted Areas (SHRESHTA)
- Objective: To provide high-quality education for meritorious but poor Scheduled Castes(SC) students in CBSEaffiliated reputed residential schools across the country.
- Eligibility: The students belonging to Scheduled Castes studying in class 8th and 10th in the current academic year are eligible for availing of the benefits of the scheme.
- However, students belonging to marginalized income groups within the SC community are eligible only if their parental annual income is up to Rs.2.5 Lakh.
- Selection Process: Students are selected through a transparent mechanism through a National Entrance Test for SHRESHTA (NETS). The test is conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) for admission in classes 9th and 11th.
- Successful candidates, after following the e-counseling process, are given admission to the school of their choice anywhere in the country for their academic persuasion.
- Significance of the Scheme: The Scheme will be beneficial for SC students who could not reach for higher quality education. It will also bring a drastic change for the betterment of their life.
‘Nanhi Pari’ Programme
- Launched by : Northwest Delhi district administration
- Nanhi Pari programme aims to provide a one-stop solution to parents, eliminating their need to visit various offices to obtain documents. Under the programme, essential services such as the provision of a birth certificate, Aadhaar card registration and opening a bank account for girls are completed and delivered in government hospitals in the district before the mother and baby are discharged. The programme will also help in getting registration of baby girls and mothers under various schemes such as the Sukanya Samriddhi Account scheme, the Ladli scheme and Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana at the hospital itself.
- Significance : Parents would not have to go from here to there, trying to avail themselves of essential schemes.
Operation Mahila Suraksha
- Under the Operation Mahila Suraksha, Railway Protection Force (RPF) has arrested more than 7000 persons who were traveling unauthorizedly in the coaches reserved for women.
- RPF also rescued girls/women from becoming the victims of human trafficking (Operation AAHT).
- Operation Mahila Suraksha: The pan-India drive “Operation Mahila Suraksha” was launched from 3rd to 31st May 2022 to ensure women’s security. Other Such Operation:
- With an objective of providing enhanced safety and security to lady passengers travelling by trains for their entire journey a pan India initiative “Meri Saheli” is also operational.
Bharat Gaurav Scheme
- India’s first private train, under the Bharat Gaurav scheme has been flagged off from Coimbatore.
- Launched in November 2021, under the scheme, trains now have a third segment for tourism. Till now, the Railways had passenger segments and goods segments.
- These trains are not regular trains that will run as per a timetable but will be more on the lines of the Ramayana Express being run by the IRCTC.
- Aim: To showcase India’s rich cultural heritage and magnificent historical places to the people of India and the world.
What are the key features of this initiative?
- Indian Railways has allocated 190 trains for this initiative.
- Eligibility: These trains could be taken on a lease by any private player, state government or Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation(IRCTC) and run them on theme-based circuits.
- Themes: The service provider can decide themes like Guru Kripa trains for covering Sikh culture’s important places, Ramayana trains for destinations connected with Lord Shri Ram among others.
- Registration Fee: For interested players, the process has been made easy with one-step, transparent online registration. The registration fee will be Rs 1 lakh.
- The operator has the freedom to decide the route, the halts, the services provided, and most importantly, the tariff.
Tenure of Lease: The tenure of right to use is a minimum of two years and a maximum of 10 years.
- The basic motive of the project is to train over 1 lakh construction workers, through fresh skilling and upskilling programmes.
- The project NIPUN is an initiative of the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA).
- This project is running under the flagship programme of the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM)
- Note : NIPUN is creating a future labour force for the construction industry which will propel innovation and largescale development in the country. The construction sector is on track to become the largest employer by 2022, and it will require 45 million more qualified workers over the next ten years.
- Note : Project NIPUN is different from NIPUN Bharat Mission.
- NIPUN Bharat Mission : The Ministry of Education has launched a National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy (NIPUN Bharat), for ensuring that every child in the country necessarily attains foundational literacy and numeracy (FLN) by the end of Grade 3, by 2026-27. It was launched in 2021 as part of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
- Dak Karmayogi is an e-learning portal of the Department of Posts.
- Launched by : Department of Posts, Ministry of Communications.
- Aim: To enhance the competencies of Gramin Dak Sevaks ((Rural Postal Service) and departmental employees by training them on a number of Government to Citizen(G2C) services for enhanced customer satisfaction.
- The trainees can access the uniform standardized training content online or in blended campus mode to enable them to effectively deliver a number of G2C services for enhanced customer satisfaction.
- The training videos and quizzes on the portal are also available in 12 Indian languages to help postal trainees to access training content in vernacular languages.
- Significance: This portal has been developed under the vision of ‘Mission Karmayogi’, which was conceptualized by the Prime Minister with a view to bring efficiency in the actions of all the employees of the Government of India and transform the efficiency of bureaucracy with ‘Minimum Government’ and ‘Maximum Governance’. What is the Meghdoot Award?
- The Meghdoot Award was introduced in 1984 by the Department of Posts.
The award is conferred to recognize the good performance of employees of Department of Posts. The award is conferred in eight categories.
- Ministry of Defense inaugurated PayRoll Automation for Disbursement of Monthly Allowances (PADMA), an automated Pay & Allowances module for the Indian Coast Guard.
- PADMA is an automated platform leveraging latest technology which will provide seamless and timely disbursal of Pay & Allowances to around 15,000 Indian Coast Guard personnel.
- This module has been developed under the aegis of the Defense Accounts Department and will be operated by Pay Accounts Office Coast Guard, Noida.
- The launch marked the beginning of the Centralized Pay System (CPS), the foundation of which is being laid down by the Defense Accounts Department Headquarters to provide one stop pay accounting solutions for all organizations under the Ministry.
- Launch of PADMA will strengthen the Digital India Vision. Also, it is an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative as the entire module has been designed and developed by Indian entrepreneurs assisted by domain experts.
What is a Centralised & Decentralized Payment System?
- Centralized Payment Systems in India are Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) and National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) systems, both owned and operated by the Reserve Bank.
- The decentralised payment systems will include clearing houses managed by RBI (Cheque Truncation System (CTS) centres as well as other banks (Express Cheque Clearing System (ECCS) centres and any other system as decided by RBI from time to time. Other facts regarding digitization :
- Recently, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved to digitise around 63,000 Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS).
BIODIVERSITY , ENVIRONMENT & GEOGRAPHY
Cheetah Relocation in India
- India will be soon releasing cheetahs from South Africa and Namibia into the wild at Kuno Palpur in Sheopur district of Madhya Pradesh. It will initiate India’s ambitious plan of transcontinental relocation of cheetahs.
- The country’s last spotted cheetah died in Chhattisgarh in 1947 and it was declared extinct in the country in 1952. The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) some years back prepared a cheetah reintroduction project.
Community Forest Resource
- Chhattisgarh has become only the second state in the country to recognise Community Forest Resource (CFR) rights of a village inside a Kanger Ghati National Park.
- While CFR rights are an important empowerment tool, getting a consensus amongst various villages about their traditional boundaries often proves a challenge.
- In 2016, the Odisha government was the first to recognise Community Forest Resources (CFRs) inside the Simlipal National Park.
Stockholm +50 Conference
- ‘The 1972 United Nations Conference on the Environment’ or ‘The Stockholm conference’ recently completed its 50 years. To commemorate this, the Stockholm +50 conference is scheduled to be held in Sweden.
About the 1972 Stockholm conference:
- The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm was held from 5th –16th June, 1972. The theme was ‘Only One Earth’. Total 122 countries participated in the conference. 70 out of 122 participant countries which were developing and poor countries adopted the Stockholm Declaration. The Stockholm Declaration contained 26 principles that marked the beginning of a dialogue between developed and developing countries. It was the first world conference to make the environment a major issue.
- The idea of the Stockholm Conference was first proposed by Sweden. That’s why it’s also termed the “Swedish Initiative”.
- One of the major results of the Stockholm conference was the creation of the ‘United Nations Environment Programme’ (UNEP).
- Indira Gandhi was the only head of government other than that of the host country Sweden to attend and speak at the meeting.
In her speech in the conference, she brought forward the connection between ecological management and poverty alleviation.
In India Parliament passed the following acts to give effect to the Stockholm convention:
- The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, o The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, o The Forest Conservation Act, 1980.
- The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, o The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, o The Forest Conservation Act, 1980.
- Recently, a new species of dragonfly ‘Platygomphus benritarum’ discovered in Assam has been named after two women for their pioneering work in the northeast.
- It has been named after Monisha Behal, a founder member of Northeast Network (NEN) and Rita Banerji, founder of Green Hub.
Burmagomphus chaukulensis : a rare dragonfly spotted in Kerala.
Eco-sensitive Zone (ESZ)
- Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) directed that every protected forest, national park and wildlife sanctuary across the country should have a mandatory eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of a minimum one km starting from their demarcated boundaries.
- The court held that in case any national park or protected forest already has a buffer zone extending beyond one km, that would prevail.
- In case the question of the extent of buffer zone was pending a statutory decision, then the court’s direction to maintain the one-km safety zone would be applicable until a final decision is arrived at under the law.
- The court directed that mining within the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries shall not be permitted.
- It held the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Home Secretaries of States responsible for the compliance of the judgement.
- Eco Sensitive Zone (ESZ) :The Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) are areas in India notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), GoI around Protected Areas, National Park and Wildlife sanctuaries.
- Purpose: The purpose of declaring ESZs around national parks, forests and sanctuaries is to create some kind of a “shock absorber” for the protected areas. These zones would act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to those involving lesser protection. Earlier limit :
- The Centre had while coming out with February 2011 guidelines on ESZ had prescribed a 10-kilometre boundary based on responses received from states and UTs. The Court was conscious of the fact that a uniform ESZ for all national parks and sanctuaries would not be feasible as it noted special cases such as Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai and Guindy National Park in Chennai which are situated very close to the metropolis.
World’s First Fishing Cat Census conducted at Chilika Lake, Odisha
- Conducted by: Chilika Development Authority(CDA) in collaboration with The Fishing Cat Project(TFCP).
- Significance: This is the world’s first population estimation of the fishing cat, which has been conducted outside the protected area network.
- Method : A total of 150 camera traps were deployed in two phases with each fixed in the field for 30 days. Spatially Explicit Capture Recapture (SECR) method was used.
- Findings of the Census: The Census has found that Chilika Lake which is Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon has 176 Fishing Cats.
- Note : The Chilika Lake in Odisha is Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon. About fishing cat:
- About twice the size of a typical house cat, the fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) is a feline known to even dive to catch fish. Wetlands are the favorite habitats of the fishing cat.
- They are found in 10 Asian countries but have stayed undetected in Vietnam and Java since the last decade or so.
- In India, fishing cats are mainly found in the mangrove forests of the Sundarbans, on the foothills of the Himalayas along the Ganga and Brahmaputra river valleys and in the Western Ghats.
- The globally threatened cats are found in wetlands in major South and Southeast Asian river basins starting from the Indus in Pakistan till the Mekong in Vietnam and in Sri Lanka and Java. Protection Status of Fishing Cat :
- IUCN Red List: Vulnerable. Despite multiple threats, the Fishing Cat was recently downlisted to “Vulnerable” from “Endangered” in the IUCN Red List species assessment.
CITES: Appendix II
- Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I
Heavy Metal Pollution
- Recently, the Center for Science and Environment has reported that rivers of India are facing severe metal pollution. Three out of every four river monitoring stations in India have observed alarming levels of heavy toxic metals such as lead, iron, nickel, cadmium, arsenic, chromium and copper.
- Heavy Metals: Heavy metals may be defined as elements with an atomic number larger than 20 and an atomic density greater than 5 g cm-3 that must possess metal-like characteristics. Example: arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, manganese, mercury, nickel, uranium etc.
- There are two kinds of sources through which the heavy metals enter into the environment.
CAQM bans coal in Delhi-NCR
- Recently, the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) has issued directions to ban the use of coal in industrial, domestic and other miscellaneous applications in the entire Delhi-NCR region from 1st January 2023. This step is taken to bring down greenhouse gas emissions in Delhi NCR.
- Note : Delhi is among the world’s most polluted capital cities. According to the pollution index, on average, the AQI in the capital, its neighboring cities – Gurgaon, Noida, and Ghaziabad – is in the 300-400 level mark.
- Scientists have found Microplastics — plastic pieces smaller than a grain of rice — in freshly fallen Antarctic snow for the first time. They identified 13 different types of plastics and the most common was polyethylene terephthalate(PET) mostly used in soft-drink bottles and clothing. This was found in 79% of the samples.
Where did Microplastics come from in Antarctica?
- Microplastics may have travelled thousands of kilometres through the air, however, it is likely that the presence of humans in Antarctica has established a microplastic ‘footprint’. What is the impact of these findings?
- Harmful Species can enter Antarctica: Microplastics can have harmful substances stuck onto their surfaces such as heavy metals, and algae. So they can provide a way in which harmful species can make it into some remote and sensitive areas that otherwise wouldn’t get there.
- Increase Impact of Global Warming: Microplastics may also be increasing the impact of global warming. Snowfields, ice caps and glaciers around the world are already melting fast and scientists say dark-coloured microplastics deposited at these locations can make things worse by absorbing sunlight and enhancing local heating.
- Increase Landslides and Avalanches: Fast-melting glaciers on mountain ranges in different parts of the world are increasingly becoming hazards, leading to landslides and avalanches and causing glacial lakes to burst their banks.
- Threat to Water Supply: The rapid thinning and retreat of glaciers also poses a threat to water supplies and agriculture in mountain regions around the world.
Glischropus meghalayanus : new species of bamboo-dwelling bat
- Recently, Scientists have discovered a new species of bamboo-dwelling bat near the Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary, Meghalaya.
- Bamboo-dwelling bats are a particular kind of bat living in the internodes of bamboo with specialised morphological characters that help them to adapt to the life inside a bamboo plant. It is small in size and has a dark brown colour with sulphur yellow belly.
Formation of Theri Desert
- There are a couple of theories regarding the formation of Theri Desert, the most plausible being the role of south west monsoonal winds.
About Theri Deserts
- Theri Desert is a small desert situated in the Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu.
- The desert consists of Red Sand Dunes (The red dunes are called theri in Tamil).It consists of sediments dating back to the Quaternary Period and are made of marine deposits.
- They have very low water and nutrient retention capacity. The dunes are susceptible to aerodynamic lift. This is the push that lets something move up. It is the force that is the opposite of weight. Mineral Composition
- The analysis of the red sand dunes in Theri desert reveals the presence of heavy and light minerals. These include Ilmenite, Magnetite, Rutile, Garnet, Zircon, Diopside, Tourmaline, Hematite, Goethite, Kyanite, Quartz, Feldspar, and Biotite.
- The iron-rich heavy minerals like ilmenite, magnetite, garnet, hypersthene and rutile present in the soil had undergone leaching by surface water. They were then oxidised because of the favourable semi-arid climatic conditions. Hence, it was due to these processes that the dunes are red-coloured.
Bedti-Varada Interlinking Project Karnataka
- Environmental groups in Karnataka have criticized the Bedti-Varada Interlinking Project in Karnataka calling it unscientific and a waste of public money.
- The Bedti-Varada project was envisaged in 1992 to supply drinking water.
- The plan aims to link the Bedti, a river flowing west into the Arabian Sea, with the Varada, a tributary of the Tungabhadra River, which flows into the Krishna, which in turn flows into the Bay of Bengal.
- A massive dam will be erected in the Gadag A second dam will be built on the Pattanahalla river in Sirsi, Uttara Kannada district. Both dams will take water to the Varada via tunnels.
- The project thus envisages taking water from the water surplus Sirsi-Yellapura region of Uttara Kannada district to the arid Raichur, Gadag and Koppal districts.
Why are activists opposing the project?
- Difficult to redirect river: It is difficult to redirect a westward-flowing river to flow eastward.
- Rain-fed Rivers: In early summer, the Bedti and Varada rivers begin to dry up. Hence, interconnecting these rivers under the pretext of providing drinking water despite knowing well that they do not flow all year is wrong.
- Environmental Impact: Over 500 acres of forests will be lost. The end result will be that there will still be no water. Moreover, the Bedti valley has been designated as an active biodiversity zone by IUCN.
- Impact Livelihoods: The Bedti and Varada rivers are also lifelines for thousands of farmers in the Malenadu region, the foothills of the Western Ghats, in addition to fishing communities along the coast.
‘living land’ Charter
- Recently, the Commonwealth members have agreed to voluntarily dedicate ‘living land’ in their respective countries to future generations, in line with the strategy set for the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. The ‘Living land’ charter was announced at the conclusion of the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali (Rwanda). What is it ?
- The non-binding ‘Living Lands Charter’ mandates that member countries will safeguard global land resources and arrest land degradation while acting against climate change, biodiversity loss and towards sustainable management. The Living Lands Charter helps to encapsulate the combined effort to hold the global average temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Commonwealth governments have been asked to submit their emission reduction targets by 23rd September, 2022.
UNESCO’s King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize 2021
- Central Institute of Educational Technology (CIET), a constituent unit of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has been awarded the UNESCO’s King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize.
- CIET has been awarded by UNESCO for use of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) in Education under a comprehensive initiative called PM eVIDYA.
What is PM eVIDYA?
- Launched in: 2020 by the Ministry of Education
Purpose: It is a comprehensive initiative which unifies all efforts related to digital/online/on-air education to enable multimode access to education.
What is the Central Institute of Educational Technology (CIET)?
- CIET is a constituent unit of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).
- Established in: 1984 with the merger of the Center for Educational Technology(CET) and the Department of Teaching Aids(DTA).
- Aim: To promote utilization of educational technologies viz. radio, TV, films, Satellite communications and cyber media either separately or in combinations.
What is the King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize?
- Established in: 2005 by UNESCO with the support of the Kingdom of Bahrain.
- Aim: To reward individuals and organizations that are implementing outstanding projects and promoting the creative use of technologies to enhance learning, teaching and overall educational performance in the digital age.
- Former West Indies captain, Daren Sammy has been conferred with the Sitara-i-Pakistan Award for Services to Pakistan.
BOOKS and Auhors
|‘Bhartiya Samvidhan: Ankahi Kahani’ :||Ram Bahadur Rai|
|“Gautam Adani : The Man Who Changed India”||RN Bhaskar|
|Ashtang Yoga||Dr Sonu Phogat.|
OBITUARY / DEATHS
KK (Krishnakumar Kunnath) : famous Bollywood singer
Bhajan Sopori : Santoor maestro and Padma Shri awardee (he was great-grandson of Pandit Shankar Pandit)
Anjalai Ponnusamy : Freedom fighter and a member of Rani Jhansi Regiment ( the women’s regiment) of the Indian National Army.
Hari Chand : Long distance runner , two-time Olympian and a double Asian Games gold medallist.
Men’s Hockey Asia Cup 2022
- Held in Jakarta, Indonesia
- Winner : South Korea, Runner up : Malaysia, Third : India
Note : India defeated Japan 1-0 to win bronze. 2022 French Open (Lawn Tennis)
- It was held at the Stade Roland Garros in Paris, France and played on outdoor clay courts.
- Iga Świątek won the women’s singles event, capturing her second French Open crown.
- Rafael Nadal won the men’s singles event, capturing his record-extending 14th French Open title. 2022 Wimbledon Championships (Lawn Tennis)
- It is an annual event held in Wimbledon, London. It is played on Grass court.
- The ladies’ singles title was won by Elena Rybakina (Kazakhistani Tennis player), who defeated Ons Jabeur in the final.
- Novak Djokovic became the first player in history to win 80 matches in all four Grand Slams when he defeated Kwon Soon-woo 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Centre Court his 80th win in Wimbledon.
Khelo India Youth Games 2021
- Hosts Haryana won the Khelo India Youth Games (KIYG) 2021 title with 52 gold medals. § Maharashtra and Karnataka remain in second and third place respectively.
Ranji trophy 2022 (cricket)
- Madhya Pradesh wrote history as they won their maiden Ranji Trophy title, beating tournament heavyweights Mumbai by 6 wickets in the final at the M.Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.
Other Sports news:
- With 84 International Goals, Indian Men’s football team captain, Sunil Chhetri becomes joint 5th highest goalscorer .
- Rahul Srivatshav P of Telangana has become India’s 74th Grandmaster (Chess).
- Indian women’s cricket team captain, Mithali Raj (39 years old), hailing from Jodhpur, Rajasthan, announced her retirement from all forms of International cricket. (Taapsee Pannu-starrer “Shabaash Mithu” is her biopic /bollywood movie to be released soon).
1 June : World Milk Day
- World Milk Day is a day established by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in 2001 to recognize the importance of milk as a global food.
- Theme: This year’s theme will highlight the work already being done to accelerate climate action and help reduce the dairy sector’s impact on the planet. Using the World Milk Day platform, awareness of the messaging and action will be raised towards Dairy Net Zero.
- India’s scenario : India is the world’s largest milk producer, with 22% of global production, followed by the United States of America, China, Pakistan and Brazil. The top 5 milk-producing states are: Uttar Pradesh (14.9%), Rajasthan (14.6%), Madhya Pradesh (8.6%), Gujarat (7.6%) and Andhra Pradesh (7.0%).
5 June : 50th World Environment Day
- It is the biggest international day for the environment. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the nodal agency that organises and supports events across the world.
- Theme for 2022 : Only One Earth. This theme is same as of the first World Environment Day in 1973.
- The year 2022 marks the 50-year anniversary of the 1972 Stockholm Conference. And this year’s host country is Sweden, the place from where it all started.
- (World Environment Day is hosted by a different country each year. For example, India hosted the 45th celebration of World Environment Day under the theme ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’).
- History : The idea of WED can be traced back to a warm June in Stockholm, Sweden, 50 years ago (1972). That’s when the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment took place. Widely regarded as the first global environment summit, it was here that the idea of a World Environment Day was formalized, with the first one held in 1973. Since then, the annual event, which falls on June 5, has helped both celebrate the planet and put a spotlight on the perils it is facing.
- On the Occasion of 50th World Environment Day , India launched ‘Lifestyle for the Environment (LiFE) Movement’.
- LiFE Movement : The idea of LiFE was introduced by India during the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow in 2021. The idea promotes an environmentally conscious lifestyle that focuses on ‘mindful and deliberate utilisation’ instead of ‘mindless and wasteful consumption’.
India Achievement in Conserving the Environment so far
- Increase in Forest Cover: The total forest cover is 21.71% of the total geographical area in 2021, compared with 21.67% in 2019 and 21.54% in 2017.
- Installed Electric Capacity: India’s commitment to reach 40% of installed electric capacity from non-fossil fuelbased sources has been achieved, 9 years ahead of schedule.
- Ethanol Blending Target: The target of 10% ethanol blending in petrol has been achieved 5 months ahead of the November 2022 target. This is a major accomplishment given that blending was hardly 1.5% in 2013-14 and 5% in 2019-20.
- Renewable Energy Target: The country’s installed Renewable Energy (RE) capacity stands at 150.54 GW (solar: 48.55 GW, wind: 40.03 GW, Small hydro Power: 4.83, Bio-power: 10.62, Large Hydro: 46.51 GW) as on 30th Nov. 2021 while its nuclear energy based installed electricity capacity stands at 6.78 GW. India has the 4th largest wind power capacity in the world.
7 June : World Food Safety Day.
- 2022 Theme: Safer Food, Better Health
- The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) jointly facilitate the observance of World Food Safety Day, in collaboration with Member States and other relevant organizations. It was first celebrated in 2019, to strengthen the commitment to scale up food safety made by the Addis Ababa Conference and the Geneva Forum in 2019 under the umbrella of “The Future of Food Safety”.
13 June : International Albinism Awareness Day
- Theme 2022 : “United in making our voice heard”.
14 June : World Blood Donor Day
The host nation for World Blood Donor Day 2022 is Mexico.
- Theme : “Donating blood is an act of solidarity. Join the effort and save lives”. 15 June : World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD)
- It was officially recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 66/127 in 2011.
- Theme for 2022 : Digital Equity for All Ages.
- Aim: To raise awareness about the plight of elderly people who are abused and harmed.
17 June : World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought Theme 2022 : Rising up from drought together.
On this day, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) organized Desertification and Drought Day.
17 June : World Crocodile Day
20 June : World Refugee Day
- Theme 2022 : whoever, whatever, whenever. Everyone has got a right to seek safety.
- Note : Recently, the 2022 annual Global Trends Report was published by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
- Global Overview of this report : Globally 100 million people were forced to flee their homes last year due to violence, human rights abuses, food insecurity, the climate crisis, war in Ukraine, and other emergencies from Africa to Afghanistan. The largest displacements in the context of disasters in 2021 occurred in China (6.0 million), the Philippines (5.7 million), and India (4.9 million).
- India: Nearly five million people in India were internally displaced due to climate change and disasters in 2021.
20 June : World Refugee Day
21 June 2022 : 8th International Day of Yoga (IDY)
- Theme 2022: ‘Yoga for Humanity’.
- The idea of International Day of Yoga (IDY) was proposed by India during the opening of the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), held in 2014. The UN proclaimed 21 June as IDY by passing a resolution in December, 2014.
- The first Yoga Day celebrations in 2015 at Rajpath in New Delhi created two Guinness World Records. It was the world’s largest yoga session with 35,985 people. 84 nationalities participated in it.
23 June : International Olympic Day
- The day marks the foundation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
- Theme 2022 : “Together For A Peaceful World.”
26 June : International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking or World Drug Day Theme: Addressing drug challenges in health and humanitarian crises.
- The focus of United Nations Office On Drug And Crime (UNODC) is to spread awareness about it so that a world free of drug abuse can be created.
- UNODC World Drug Report 2022 was released on the occasion of the world Drug Day. 27 June : International MSME Day
|Theme for 2022 : Resilience and Rebuilding: MSMEs for Sustainable Development.
About MSME : Micro-Small and Medium-Sized
Enterprises are the organizations that do not usually employ more than 250 employees, however, are responsible for creating more than two-thirds of all jobs globally.
The MSMEs Department, Government of Odisha has been awarded first prize in the category “National MSME Award 2022 to States/UTs for outstanding contribution in the promotion and Development of MSME Sector”.
Bihar and Haryana were second and third respectively.
29 June : National Statistics Day
- Theme for 2022 : ‘Data for Sustainable Development.
- This day is celebrated to honour the work and contribution of late Professor and Scientist Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis in the field of Statistics and economic planning.
- Note : Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis was a world-renowned Indian statistician who founded the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) in 1932. Mahalanobis also served on India’s first Planning Commission.
- The Ministry of Culture and Sahitya Akademi are organizing Unmesha, an International Literature Festival in Shimla as part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations, with the support of the Department of Art and Culture, Government of Himachal Pradesh. UNMESHA is the largest literature festival in the country.
- Himachal Pradesh becomes the first Indian state to approve a policy for drones
- The Himachal Pradesh government gave nod to a drone policy as it seeks to enable the use of drones and similar technology for different public services in the hill state. The ‘Himachal Pradesh Drone Policy 2022’ was approved by the chief minister Jai Ram Thakur. The policy envisions creating a holistic drone ecosystem built upon the foundation of Governance and Reforms Using Drones (GARUD).
Other States :
- Menar Village in the Udaipur district is set to be notified as Rajasthan’s new wetland. This will pave the way for getting the Ramsar site status for this village. The village has two lakes – the Brahma and Dhandh. These lakes play host to more than 150 species of local and migratory birds in the winter season. (Note: At present, Rajasthan has two wetlands recognised as Ramsar sites – Keoladeo Ghana in Bharatpur district and Sambhar Salt Lake in Jaipur district).
- In Rajasthan, a Special Health Care Abhiyan ‘Anchal’ has been launched in the Karauli district for pregnant women.
- Karnataka government has launched the ‘Kashi Yatra’ scheme. The Kashi Yatra project, which offers a cash assistance of Rs 5,000 to each of the 30,000 pilgrims willing to conduct a pilgrimage to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.
- India’s first centralised AC railway terminal (Sir M Visvesvaraya Railway Terminal) in Bengaluru becomes operational.
- Bhogeshwara, reportedly the elephant with the longest tusks in Asia, died of natural causes at the age of 60. The wild elephant, also known as Mr Kabini, was found dead in the Gundre range of Karnataka’s Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
- A heritage centre to showcase the role of the Indian Air Force in various wars and its overall functioning will come up at Chandigarh.
- National Food laboratory of FSSAI Inaugurated in Raxaul, Bihar. Under the bilateral agreement between Indo-Nepal, this laboratory was established to reduce the time of testing of food samples imported from Nepal to Raxaul.
- Arunachal Pradesh : Wildlife scientists and conservationists in Arunachal Pradesh flagged threats to local biodiversity from the proposed Etalin hydroelectric (3,097 MW) project in Dibang Valley. Dibang is a tributary of the Brahmaputra River which flows through the states of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.
- The Government of Tamil Nadu is developing a biodiversity park in the Sirumalai Hill Range in Dindigul district. The main aim is to create awareness for the sustainable management of the ecologically sensitive area.
- Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, MK Stalin launched the Ennum Ezhuthum scheme to bridge the learning gap that was caused due to the COVID pandemic among students aged below eight.
- Tamil Nadu replaced Bihar and West Bengal to become the largest state in terms of outstanding portfolio of microfinance loans.
- Recently, the National Conference on Cyber Safety and National Security concluded in New Delhi.
- Recently, the Madhya Pradesh government has proposed to open 292 hectares for mining in five stretches on Chambal and its tributary Parvati rivers.
- Assam has become the 36th State/UT to implement the One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC) scheme. With this, the ONORC plan is successfully implemented in all 36 states, and Union Territories, making food security portable throughout the country.
- Four-day Ambubachi Mela (fair) takes place at the Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati, Assam.
- President Ram Nath Kovind has paid tributes to Sant Kabir and inaugurated Sant Kabir Academy and Research Centre and Swadesh Darshan Yojana at Kabir Chaura Dham, Maghar, Uttar Pradesh.
- Blue Duke has been declared as the State Butterfly of Sikkim.
Sital Sasthi is a sacred Hindu festival is being celebrated in Odisha. This week-long special festival highlights the marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
- Andhra Pradesh launched ‘14400 app’ to report corrupt officials.
- The country’s first-ever, ‘Balika Panchayat’, has started in five villages of Gujarat’s Kutch district. The initiative aims to promote the social and political development of the girls and ensure their active participation in politics.
- Jammu and Kashmir will host the 2023 meetings of the G20. India will hold the G-20 presidency from December 1, 2022, and convene the first G20 leaders’ summit in 2023.
- Delhi Airport or Indira Gandhi International Airport has become the first airport in the country to run entirely on hydro and solar power from this month in a major step toward achieving the ambitious goal of becoming a Net Zero Carbon Emission Airport by 2030.
MISCELLANEOUS (in News)
- Agriculture Minister, Narendra Singh Tomar has launched the country’s first homegrown COVID-19 vaccine “Anocovax” for animals, developed by Haryana-based ICAR-National Research Centre on Equines (NRC).
- Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman has inaugurated the National Museum of Customs and GST “Dharohar” in Goa
- Recently, the 2021 Report on International Religious Freedom (IRF) was released by the US Department of State. The report is distinct from the IRF report released by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
- Recently, at the 47th meeting of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council (held in Srinagar) , chaired by Union Finance Minister, officials approved hiking the rates for some goods and services. (The GST Council was set up by the President as per Article 279A (1) of the amended Constitution).
- Recently, a new biomass-based boiler technology was launched in India (Kurukshetra, Haryana) that claims to accommodate all kinds of agricultural residue as fuel and can be greener and may also help reduce the burden of stubble burning. (Note : Around 2.6% of the country’s electricity demand is met by biomass).
- Recently, the Tracking SDG 7 – The Energy Progress Report 2022 was released which showed that the RussiaUkraine war and Covid-19 crisis have considerably slowed down efforts towards attaining the Seventh Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 7) target. (SDG 7 has a target of universal access to clean and affordable energy by 2030).
- The United Nations has changed the Republic of Turkey’s country name at the organisation from “Turkey” to “Türkiye”, following a request from Ankara for the change.
- Recently India and Russia celebrated the 75th anniversary of their diplomatic relations.
- Recently, the 24th ASEAN-India Senior Official’s Meeting (SOM) was hosted in Delhi. (India and ASEAN celebrated the 30th anniversary of their Dialogue Relations).
- According to a study, the region around the northern Barents Sea in the Arctic region has been warming two to two-and-a-half times the average warming of the Arctic region and five to seven times the warming in the rest of the world. Such intense warming has never been observed in the Arctic region before. This is leading to the phenomenon of Atlantification.
- The Election Commission ordered the deletion of 111 registered unrecognised political parties that it found to be “non-existent” and referred three of the parties to the Department of Revenue for legal action for “serious financial impropriety”. This was the second such action in the recent past against registered parties that have been found violating the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
- Scientists have recorded Four Species of Azooxanthellate Corals under the Genus Truncatoflabellum (Scleractinian: Flabellidae) for the first time from Indian waters. They are found from the Waters of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. They are Azooxanthellate corals, which are a group of corals that do not contain zooxanthellae and derive nourishment not from the sun but from capturing different forms of plankton.
- Recently, the Minster of Home Affairs and Cooperation has addressed a conclave, organised by the National Federation of Urban Cooperative Banks and Credit Societies (NAFCUB), emphasising the needed Reforms for Urban Cooperative Banks (UCB). (The NAFCUB is an Apex Level Promotional body of Urban Cooperative Banks and Credit Societies Ltd. in the Country. Its objective is to promote the urban cooperative credit movement and protect the interest of the Sector).
- Sachin Tendulkar will continue as United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) ‘Goodwill Ambassador’ for a record 20th year, working for the welfare of underprivileged children.
- Indian cricket star Virat Kohli has crossed the 200 million followers mark on the social media site Instagram. (Portugal football star Cristiano Ronaldo tops the chart with 451 million followers, ahead of Argentina football captain and FC Barcelona legend Lionel Messi with 334 million followers).
- Russia has overtaken Saudi Arabia to become India’s second-biggest supplier of oil behind Iraq as refiners snap up Russian crude available at a deep discount following the war in Ukraine. (After the U.S. and China, India is the world’s third-largest consumer of oil, over 85 per cent of which is imported).
- Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida attended NATO summit in Madrid. He became Japan’s first leader to join a top meeting of NATO. ( Japan is a key U.S. ally but not a member of NATO).
- Single-use plastics, particularly those made of polystyrene and expanded polystyrene, will be illegal to produce, import, stock, distribute, sell, and use starting on July 1, 2022, nationwide (India).
- Khuvsul Lake National Park of Mongolia has been added to the World Network of Biosphere Reserve of UNESCO.
- South Korea sent its first satellite into orbit using a homegrown / domestic rocket ‘Nuri’.
- China launched Three New Yagon-35 remote Sensing Satellites
- Shanan Dhaka, from Sundana village of Rohtak, has secured the first rank in the examination for admission to the country’s first women’s NDA batch.
- The Commonwealth of Nations now has 56 member nations after the admission of Togo and Gabon as new members.
Slow Fashion Movement
- Slow Fashion is an approach to producing clothing which takes into consideration all aspects of the supply chain and in doing so, aims to respect people, the environment, and animals. It also means spending more time on the design process, ensuring that each piece of apparel is quality made.
- Responsible production and consumption — the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 12 — has become an increasingly important conversation within the ‘slow fashion’ movement, especially since the 2013 Rana plaza Tragedy in Bangladesh.
- On 24th April 2013, the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which housed five garment factories, killed at least 1,132 people and injured more than 2,500. It brought the attention of the international community and consumers towards the conditions of workers and sustainable fashion.
- Prime Minister has launched Vanijya Bhawan.
- Vanijya Bhawan is the new premises of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. It is constructed near the India Gate (New Delhi).
- It will be used by the two departments under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry i.e. Department of Commerce and the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). NIRYAT Portal
- Prime Minister has launched NIRYAT (National Import-Export Record for Yearly Analysis of Trade) Portal.
- NIRYAT Portal is developed as a one-stop platform for the stakeholders to get all the necessary information that is related to India’s foreign trade.
- India exported a total of USD 670 billion- Rs. 50 lakh crores in 2021. Exports are vital to a country’s progress.
“India State Support Program for Road Safety”
- The World Bank has approved a $250 million loan to support the “India State Support Program for Road Safety”. The programme will be implemented in seven states namely: Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
- Lancet report: According to the latest Lancet Study, steps to check speeding can save 20,000 lives annually in India.
- According to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways’ 2020 report there were a total of 1,31,714 deaths due to road accidents in India. Speeding accounted for 69.3% of deaths.