CURRENT AFFAIRS – JULY 2021

CONTENT

 

  1. TERMS IN NEWS
  2. EVENTS IN NEWS
  3. PERSONS IN NEWS
  4. PLACES IN NEWS
  5. INDIA’S COAL PRODUCTION DROPS MARGINALLY BY 2 PERCENT TO 716 MILLION TONNES IN FY’21
  6. INDIA’S GOLD ORE RESERVES
  7. SUPREME COURT QUASHES PART OF 97TH AMENDMENT ON COOPERATIVES
  8. MINISTRY OF CO-OPERATION
  9. POLITICAL CRISIS IN HAITI
  10. UNESCO STRIPS ENGLISH CITY OF LIVERPOOL OF ITS WORLD HERITAGE STATUS
  11. KEY ISSUES IN INDIA’S AGRICULTURE ECONOMY
  12. SOFTWARE WALLET VS HARDWARE WALLET
  13. INDO-PACIFIC BUSINESS SUMMIT
  14. HUMAN-WILDLIFE CONFLICT AMONG GREATEST THREATS TO ANIMAL SPECIES
  15. NITI AAYOG’S SDG INDIA INDEX REPORT 2020-21
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Terms in News

  1. PROJECT PEGASUSIsraeli cyber intelligence solution that enables law enforcement and intelligence agencies to remotely and covertly extract data from virtually any mobile devices, without requiring any interaction by the target user. It can infect devices connected to the internet. In July 2021, Amnesty International, along with 13 media outlets across the globe released a report on how the spyware was used to snoop hundreds of individuals, including Indians. Although, it has claimed that the spyware is sold only to governments, none of the nations have come forward to accept the claims.
  2. EOS-03ISRO’S latest geo-imaging satellite for real-time monitoring of natural disasters like floods and cyclones to be launched this year. In addition to natural disasters, EOS-03 would also enable monitoring of water bodies, crops, vegetation condition, forest cover changes.
  3. SSLVIt stands for Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV). It is a brainchild of ISRO. It is cost-effective, 3 stage and all solid launch vehicle with a payload capability of 500 kg to 500 km planar orbit or 300 kg to Sun Synchronous Polar Orbit.
  4. FEW ELECTRON BUBBLE (FEBs) An electron injected into a superfluid form of helium creates a single electron bubble (SEB) – a cavity that is free of helium atoms and contains only the electron. The shape of the bubble depends on the energy state of the electron. FEBs, on the other hand, are nanometer-sized cavities in liquid helium containing just a handful of free electrons. When there are more than one electron injected in liquid helium, the size of cavity depends upon mutual interactions between electrons, among other factors as well. Scientists study FEBs to understand turbulent flows in superfluids and viscous fluids, or to understand the flow of heat in superfluid helium.
  5. GREEN PASSPORT European Union has implemented the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC) or the ‘Green Passport’, which eases intra-European travel for passengers who have taken one of four vaccines recognized by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) that excludes Indian-made Covidshield and Covaxin, among others. The move led to a sharp protest from India, as well as the African Union, as concerns grow over vaccine passports that discriminate against travelers from developing countries with limited access to vaccines.
  6. ARTIFICIALLY INNERVATED FOAM (AiFOAM or SMARTFOAM) While robots are getting smarter with the advancement in technology, they cannot still touch and feel their surroundings like human beings. A new material invented by researchers, dubbed artificially innervated foam or AiFoam, enables robots to mimic the human sense of touch. Also, it repairs itself when damaged. Smart foam, with the ability to perform these functions, can potentially make robots more intelligent and interactive.
  7. RIGHT TO REPAIR The movement basically demands that manufactures make the spare parts of products sold by them available in the market, giving the consumer the power to get such products repaired from independent repair shops. The movement is also aimed at protection of the environment.
  8. CONJUGATE VACCINE Vaccines are used to prevent diseases by invoking an immune response to an antigen, the foreign part of a bacterium or virus that the immune system recognizes. This is usually accomplished with an attenuated or dead version of a pathogenic bacterium or virus in the vaccine, so that the immune system can recognize the antigen later in life. The B memory cells remember the antigen so that if the body encounters it later, it can activate the immune system to produce T cells and antibodies. Most vaccines contain a single antigen that the body will recognize. However, the antigen of some pathogens does not elicit a strong response from the immune system, so a vaccination against this weak antigen would not protect the person later in life. In a conjugate vaccine, the weak antigen is covalently attached to a strong antigen, thereby eliciting a stronger immunological response to the weak antigen. Recently, Cuba developed the world’s first conjugate vaccine, Soberana-2 for COVID-19.
  9. IMMUNITY DEBTIt refers to weakening of our immunity, due to lack of exposure to pathogens. To reduce the spread of COVID-19, we all followed social distancing norms, frequent hand wash, and wearning of masks. Although that helped us stay safe from COVID-19 but has also resulted in weakening of our immunity.
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Events in News

  1. EXERCISE SHIELD A tri-nation anti-narcotics and maritime search and rescue exercise held between Indian, Sri Lankan Navies and Maldives forces to share best practices and fine-tune procedures amid growing instances of narcotics smuggling in the region.
  2. EXERCISE INDRA NAVY – The navies of India and Russia concluded the 12th edition of the biennial maritime Exercise Indra Navy in Baltic Sea.
  3. PASSAGE EXERCISE (PASSEX) – Bilateral exercise between navies of India and UK, held in Bay of Bengal. A passage exercise is normally undertaken whenever an opportunity arises, in contrast to pre-planned maritime drills. Earlier, the Indian Navy had also conducted similar PASSEXs with the Japanese Navy, US Navy and the French Navy.
  4. NATIONAL PLASTIC SURGERY DAYThe concept of observing July 15 as National Plastic Surgery Day in India was created to spread awareness of areas where plastic surgeons can play a great role but are often missed due to lack of awareness.
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Persons in News

  1. SIRISHA BANDLAAn Indian American aeronautical engineer, who recently joined British billionaire Richard Branson and four others on board Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Unity to make a journey to the edge of space. She became the third Indian-origin woman to fly into space after Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams. Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma is the only Indian citizen to travel in space. Virgin Galactic, the business Richard Branson started in 2004, aims to fly private citizens to the edge of space. The trips are designed to permit passengers to experience three to four minutes of weightlessness and observe the curvature of Earth. Jeff Bezoz’s Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX are other pioneers in the space tourism sector. The chief criticism levelled against these billionaire-sponsored private space flights is that the money spent on them could be better spent on other more pressing needs. Supporters of privately funded exploitation of space, however, argue that many nascent technologies such as cars and telephones were once seen as vanity goods too before they eventually became mass products. These trips to space may be used by the billionaires as a marketing exercise to exude confidence in customers about the safety of travel into space.
  2. SHER BAHADUR DEUBANepal’s new Prime Minister who became Nepal’s Prime Minister for a record fifth time. He overtook charge from KP Sharma Oli.
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Places in News

  1. GOGRA AND HOT SPRINGS – Patrolling Point 15 (PP15) in Hot Springs, and PP17A near Gogra Post are area in Ladakh region where Indian and Chinese troops have been at standoff for a while. For India, the area is cut off for several months a year which is not the case with China.
  2. UAE – The ICC Twenty20 World Cup has been shifted from India to UAE. With its three grounds at Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah being in close proximity, the UAE cuts out the need for air travel, and teams can adhere to bio-bubbles in their respective hotels, an essential requirement in these fraught times of a constantly mutating virus.
  3. SATKOSIA GEORGE SANCTUARYIt is located in Orissa. The water bodies of Satkosia are home to muggers, which are covered under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Since 1982, the species has been marked ‘vulnerable’ in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. It is a medium-sized broad-snouted crocodile native to the freshwater habitats. Recently, common palm civet, also known as Asian palm civet, was spotted in the sanctuary after 129 years. The common palm civet is a small mammal found in southern and southeastern Asia. It is both terrestrial and arboreal, and shows a nocturnal activity pattern with peaks between late evening until after midnight.
  4. BUXWAHAThe proposed diamond mine in the Buxwaha protected forest region in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh has been in news for the ecological impact it could have on the region. Diamond mining is a water-intensive process. As such, the project threatens to further deplete the already scarce water reserve of the drought-prone Bundelkhand region. Diamond extraction is not mechanical extraction and requires a lot of chemicals besides water. These chemicals do leak out. If it’s soluble in the water, then even if we treat the water it still remains there. The long-term impact of it is seen on animals, humans and the environment. Also, around 200,000 trees will be felled for the excavation. Environmentalists and local communities have been protesting against the project for over a month.
  5. NATIONAL DOLPHIN RESEARCH CENTRE Coming up in Patna, Bihar for the conservation of the endangered Gangetic river dolphin. Bihar is home to around half of the estimated 3,000 Gangetic dolphins in India. The Gangetic river dolphin is India’s national aquatic animal. It is a Schedule I animal under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. It has been declared an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Gangetic dolphins live in a zone where there is little or no current, helping them save energy. If they sense danger, they can dive into deep waters. The dolphins swim from the no-current zone to the edges to hunt for fish and return. The Gangetic river dolphin is one of four freshwater dolphin species in the world. The other three are found in the Yangtze river in China (now extinct), the Indus river in Pakistan and the Amazon river in South America.
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India’s coal production drops marginally by 2 percent to 716 million tonnes in FY’21

  1. Out of the total production of 716 million tonnes, production of non-coking coal was 671 tonnes while production of coking coal was 45 tonnes.
  2. Chhattisgarh registered highest coal production, followed by Orissa and Madhya Pradesh.
  3. Jharkhand is the top producer of coking coal (~99 percent of the total production of coking coal)
  4. Coal-based power contributes more than 70 percent of the power generated in the country.
  5. The quality of coal is determined based on its coking properties, ash content, moisture content and impurities. Coking coals are those varieties of coal which on heating in the absence of air (process known as Carbonisation) undergo transformation into plastic state, swell and then re-solidify to give a Cake. On quenching the cake results in a strong and porous mass called coke. Steel Grade coke is the highest quality coking coal with ash content less than 15 percent. Primarily, Bituminous coal has the highest coking properties. Non coking coal does not soften and form cake like coking coal during carbonisation in the coke oven. It has a higher ash content and also used in industries like cement, fertilizer, glass, ceramic, paper, chemical and brick manufacturing. It is to be noted that although Anthracite is a high quality low ash coal, it does not have coking properties.
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India’s Gold Ore Reserves

  1. India has 500 million tonnes of gold ore reserves as of April 1, 2015, according to National Mineral Inventory data.
  2. The largest reserves of gold ores are located in Bihar (44 percent), followed by Rajasthan (25 percent), Karnataka (21 percent).
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Supreme Court quashes part of 97th amendment on Cooperatives

  1. It struck down parts of Part IX-B of the Constitution dealing with terms for running cooperative societies. These provisions were passed by Parliament without getting them ratified by state legislatures as required by the Constitution. Considering the fact that cooperatives fall in the State list of the Constitution, Part IX B (which consists of Articles,243ZH to 243ZT) has significantly and substantially impacted state legislatures’ exclusive powers over its co-operative sector. However, it did not strike down the portions of Part IX-B of the Amendment concerning ‘Multi State Co-operative Societies (MSCS)’.
  2. OTHER PROVISIONS OF THE 97TH AMENDMENT ACT
    1. The word ‘cooperatives’ was added after ‘unions and associations’ in Article 19(1)(c) under Part III of the Constitution.This enables all the citizens to form cooperatives by giving it the status of fundamental right of citizens.
    2. A new Article 43B was added in the Directive Principles of State Policy(Part IV) regarding the promotion of cooperative societies.
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Ministry of Co-operation

  1. The Ministry of Co-operation is a ministry under the Government of India which was formed in July 2021. The ministry provides a separate administrative, legal and policy framework for strengthening the cooperative movement in the country.
  2. Before the creation of this ministry, the objectives of this ministry were looked after by the Ministry of Agriculture.
  3. Co-operative societies, being a subject of State List under the Seventh schedule of the Constitution, many experts raised concerns that, creating such a ministry at the central level would increase the power in the hands of the union government.
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Political crisis in Haiti

  1. Haiti, the world’s first independent Black-led republic, after slaves successfully revolted against Napoleon Bonaparte’s forces in 1803, has a long, painful history of foreign interventions, coups, dictatorships and not-so-successful democratic experiments. In 2010, the country was battered by a devastating earthquake that killed at least 300,000 people.
  2. Jovenel Moïse, Haiti’s 53-year-old President, promised a new beginning by strengthening institutions and ending corruption, and won the election in the first round itself. But under his administration, the political and economic situation in Haiti further deteriorated. He was recently assassinated amidst political unrest in the country.
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UNESCO strips English city of Liverpool of its world heritage status

  1. The step has been taken due to construction of new buildings in the city.
  2. The only other sites stripped previously of the title are
    1. Wildlife sanctuary in Oman in 2007 after poaching and habitat loss
    2. Dresden Elbe valley in Germany in 2009 when a four-lane bridge was built over the river.
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Key issues in India’s agriculture economy

  1. While the government fixes the rate, called minimum support price or MSP, at which it buys crops such as wheat and paddy from farmers, it also provides subsidies to help export certain other crops such as sugar. The issue is that government’s minimum support prices for agriculture crops are way higher than domestic market prices and international rates, which could create a big economic crisis for the country.
  2. The country has surplus rice and wheat and there is a problem of storage of these grains.
  3. India imports a huge quantity of edible oil as India’s oilseed production is not up to the mark.
  4. WAY FORWARD
    1. Excess food-grains need to be diverted to production of bio-fuel.
    2. Cropping pattern needs to be changed to reduce land acreage of surplus crops such as wheat and rice.
    3. Research needs to focus on increasing the productivity of oilseeds.
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Software Wallet vs Hardware Wallet

  1. Both are ways to store your digital currency such as bitcoin, or say digital dollar.
  2. Software wallets are non-physical programs that you download onto your computer. This wallet is encrypted and requires a password to access the digital currency you have stored in it. Hardware wallets, also known as cold storage, are physical devices resembling an external drive that are separate from online exchange platforms. These require you to plug into a computer or digital device to access your wallet. You connect to internet, and transfer your digital currency into your hardware wallet. Your digital currency will no longer be stored on online servers but on your local device. Hence, hardware wallets are more secure than software wallets.
  3. Software wallets can be accessed from anywhere through internet, while hardware wallets can be accessed only on physical device where they are installed.
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Indo-Pacific Business Summit

  1. A three day virtual conference organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), in partnership with the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. The first edition was held in July 2021 with participants from 21 countries.
  2. Indo-Pacific Business Summit is a step toward boosting the economic partnership and deepening business linkages among the countries of the region. This summit is vital to India and its significance can be explained through three aspects.
    1. First, it is a step toward economic recovery from COVID-19, when the disruption of global supply chains has become a matter of concern.
    2. Second, it is an opportunity for India to reduce doubts in the minds of other nations regarding its vision of the Indo-Pacific as a free, open, and inclusive region.
    3. Third, it is a possible attempt toward forging a strong and viable alternative to Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which India opted out last year.
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Human-wildlife conflict among greatest threats to animal species

  1. Conflict between humans and animals is one of the main threats to the long-term survival of some of the world’s most iconic species, according to a new report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
  2. India will be most-affected by human-wildlife conflict because it has the world’s second-largest human population as well as large populations of tigers, Asian elephants, one-horned rhinos, Asiatic lions and other species. We have already been witnessing a large number of elephants getting killed by electrocution or railway accidents. At the same time, thousands of people have lost their lives as a result of conflict with wild animals.
  3. Completely eradicating human-wildlife conflict is not possible. However, well-planned, integrated approaches to managing it can reduce conflicts and lead to a form of coexistence between people and animals.
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NITI Aayog’s SDG India Index Report 2020-21

  1. The index has been constructed using 115 indicators across 16 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).
  2. India’s score stood at 66/100.
  3. Among states, Bihar has the lowest score in SDGs, while Kerala has the highest score.
  4. Among UTs, and overall, Chandigarh has the highest score of 79/100.
  5. Goal wise Leaders –
    1. No Poverty – Tamil Nadu
    2. No Hunger – Chandigarh, followed by Kerala
    3. Good Health – Delhi, followed by Gujarat
    4. Quality Education – Kerala, followed by Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh.
    5. Gender Equality – Andaman Nicobar Islands, followed by Puducherry, and Chhattisgarh.
    6. Clean Water – Lakshadweep and Goa
    7. Industry, Innovation, Infrastructure – Gujarat
    8. Reduced Inequality – Chandigarh, followed by Meghalaya and Tripura
    9. Sustainable Cities – Chandigarh, followed by Punjab
    10. Climate Action – Andaman Nicobar Islands, followed by Orissa
    11. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions – Puducherry and Uttarakhand
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