CURRENT AFFAIRS – SEPTEMBER 2021

 

CONTENT

 

  1. TERMS  IN NEWS
  2. PEOPLE IN NEWS
  3. PLACES IN NEWS
  4. SRI LANKA DECLARES ECONOMIC EMERGENCY
  5. US-INDIA STRATEGIC CLEAN ENERGY PARTNERSHIP (SCEP)
  6. INDIAN SPACE ASSOCIATION (ISPA)
  7. NOBEL PRIZE 2021
  8. ICRISAT BAGS AFRICA FOOD PRIZE
  9. IS MSP BASED PROCUREMENT STILL RELEVANT ?
  10. NO SOCIO ECONOMIC CASTE CENSUS (SECC) IN 2021
  11. ATAL MISSION FOR REJUVENATION AND URBAN TRANSFORMATION (AMRUT 2.0)
  12. SWACHH BHARAT MISSION-URBAN (SBM-U 2.0)
  13. BLACKBUCKS
  14. DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO DECLARES MENINGITIS OUTBREAK
  15. GLOBAL INNOVATION INDEX, GII -2021
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Terms  in News

  1. G-23Political group in India that emerged out of a national party and that has been demanding revamp of its leadership on democratic lines.
  2. NFRA – It stands for National Financial Reporting Authority. It is not a statutory body and derives its constitution from Section 132 of Companies Act to make recommendations to the Central Government on the formulation and laying down of accounting standards and auditing policies for adoption by companies or class of companies. It also monitors and enforces the compliance of the accounting as well as auditing standards, and oversees the quality of the service of the professions. It has also been empowered with debarring a firm or a member if found guilty. It came into existence in October 2018, and is located in New Delhi. NFRA consists of one chairman, three full-time members and one secretary. Rangachari Sridharan was appointed as the first chairman of the body. So far, Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) has been regulating the accounting and auditing standards in India. Prima facie, there appears to be a conflict in the roles and responsibilities of NFRA and ICAI. As such, coming of NFRA has led to turf war between the two. It is to be noted  that ICAI is a statutory body established by the Parliament and derives its authority from Chartered Accountants Act, 1949. 
  3. JUDIMAJudima rice wine of the Dimasa tribe from Assam has won the GI tag. A local fermented drink made with rice, Judima derives its name from ‘ju’ which means ‘wine’ and ‘Dima’ means ‘belonging to the Dimasa’.
  4. CYCLONE GULABLow intensity tropical cyclone that caused heavy rains in India’s eastern coast.
  5. NATIONAL CLEAN AIR PROGRAMLaunched by the Union government in 2020, the program seeks long-term, time-bound, national level strategy to tackle the air pollution problem across the country in a comprehensive manner with targets to achieve 20-30 percent reduction in Particulate Matter concentrations by 2024. Under the plan, 122 cities have been identified for Smart Cities Mission which provides city specific action plans to reduce vehicular and industrial emissions.
  6. ZAPADAn exercise of Russian armed forces that focuses primarily on operations against terrorists. Bangladesh,  Pakistan, Sri  Lanka  and China participated as observers, while India actively participated as a member.
  7. AUKUSIt a trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, announced in 2021 for the Indo-Pacific region. Under the pact, the US and the UK will help Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines. AUKUS is an important development because it signifies the capability augmentation of one of India’s closest strategic partners, with whom it has just started a 2+2 ministerial dialogue. A strong and capable Australia is in India’s interests, that of the Quad and the broader Indo-Pacific region. It is also significant because the UK, after going back and forth on China, is now firmly entrenched in the Indo-Pacific in countering China.
  8. FIVE EYESIt is an intelligence alliance since 1943 comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
  9. ADI CASCADEA frog species found in north eastern part of India. These are named so because of their preference for small waterfalls or cascades in flowing hill streams.
  10. HYDROPHOBIC COTTON – Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati, have developed a new class of super-hydrophobic cotton composite with Metal-Organic Framework (MOF) that promise marine oil-spill clean-up in near future. This is a novel, highly porous and water-repellent super-hydrophobic cotton composite material containing MOF, which can absorb oil selectively from an oil-water mixture. The MOF composite has great capability for selective separation of the oils from oil / water mixtures and the separation efficiency lies between 95 per cent and 98 per cent, irrespective of the chemical composition and density of the oils. Besides, the MOF composite is also able to absorb large volumes of oils and can be reused for a minimum of 10 times so that the sorbents can provide more recovery of the spilled oil.
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People in News

  1. KAMLA BHASIN – An Indian developmental feminist activist, poet, author and social scientist, who passed away recently. She was also the South Asia coordinator of One Billion Rising, which is a global movement to end rape and sexual violence against women.
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Places in News

  1. ZOJILA TUNNELIndia’s longest and highest tunnel at 3,485 meters and Asia’s longest bi-direction tunnel, which would connect the Kashmir Valley with Ladakh. Strategically important Ladakh shares de facto borders with Pakistan and China and currently depends on air supplies for about six months of the year. Indian military planners view the tunnel project as extremely important for Ladakh, since it would provide logistics flexibility to the military and give it operational and strategic mobility.
  2. SENEGALO MAURITANIAN AQUIFER BASIN (SMAB) It is the largest basin in the Atlantic margin of north-west Africa. Aquifer Basin refers to a groundwater flow system that has defined boundaries and may include permeable materials that are capable of storing or furnishing a significant water supply.  More than 24 million inhabitants of the region are dependent on it for drinking water and other needs.  The four West African countries of Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania and Senegal signed a joint declaration to advance transboundary cooperation in the Senegal-Mauritanian Aquifer Basin (SMAB). This would be the first such mechanism in West Africa and pave the way for strengthened collaboration on shared groundwater resources worldwide.
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Sri Lanka declares economic emergency

  1. Sri Lanka has declared economic emergency to control spiralling food prices and declining foreign reserves. This has worried exporters in India as the curbs placed by the island nation on imports and foreign currency may worsen payment problems Indian exporters to Sri Lanka are already facing. While India’s exports and imports may be the first to be affected by the crisis in Sri Lanka, its investments in development projects and areas such as petroleum retail, tourism & hotel, manufacturing, real estate, and financial services may also take a hit if the situation worsens.
  2. Sri Lanka’s economic woes are partly due to the Covid-19 crisis which affected tourism which is one of the primary source of foreign currency earnings. The kind of borrowings Sri Lanka undertook under Chinese influence have also put Sri Lanka under immense economic pressure.
  3. India’s goods trade with Sri Lanka, at an annual USD 3.6 billion, is not huge, but the fact that India has a trade surplus and a significant FDI from Sri Lanka, and a considerable amount invested in development projects, makes India a stakeholder in its neighbour’s recovery.
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US-India Strategic Clean Energy Partnership (SCEP)

  1. The SCEP was launched in accordance with the US-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden at the Leaders’ Summit on Climate held this year.
  2. India and the US have agreed to expand their energy partnership by adding emerging fuels to the list of areas of cooperation that previously included power and energy efficiency, oil and gas, renewable energy and sustainable growth
  3. The aim is to create stronger bilateral cooperation on actions in the current decade to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
  4. India elevated the India-US energy dialogue to a strategic energy partnership in 2018.
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Indian Space Association (ISpA)

  1. Recently inaugurated by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, ISpA is an industry body consisting of various stakeholders of the Indian space domain. It will be represented by leading domestic and global corporations that have advanced capabilities in space and satellite technologies. The members of the organisation include government bodies such as Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and private telecom companies, among others.
  2. It will work towards building global linkages for the Indian space industry to bring in critical technology and investments into the country to create more high skill jobs.
  3. The expansion of the Internet in India is crucial to the government’s dream of a digital India where majority of government services are delivered directly to the customer. Although the government aims to connect all villages and gram panchayats with high-speed Internet over the next 1000 days through BharatNet, internet connectivity in hilly areas and far-flung places of Northeast India are still a challenge. To overcome this, industry experts suggest that satellite Internet will be essential for broadband inclusion in remote areas and sparsely populated locations where terrestrial networks have not reached. As of now, however, satellite communications remains limited to use by corporates and institutions.
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Nobel Prize 2021

  1. PHYSICS – Scientists Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann and Giorgio Parisi won the 2021 Nobel Prize for Physics for their ground breaking contributions to our understanding of complex physical systems. Complex systems are characterised by randomness and disorder and are difficult to understand. This year’s Prize recognises new methods for describing them and predicting their long-term behaviour.
  2. CHEMISTRY – Two US based scientists, David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian, were awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their discovery of the receptors that allow humans to feel temperature and touch.
  3. As last year, there will be no banquet in Stockholm because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The laureates will receive their medals and diplomas in their home countries.
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ICRISAT bags Africa Food Prize

  1. The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has been awarded the 2021 Africa Food Prize for Tropical Legumes Project that has improved food security across 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
  2. Programs like the Tropical Legumes Project help the millions of smallholder farmers relying on dryland ecosystems to grow more food and become more resilient in the face of climate change. 
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Is MSP based procurement still relevant ?

  1. According to the Shanta Kumar Committee on Minimum Support Prices (MSP), sale at the MSP is resorted to or available only to a few farmers. According to National Sample Survey’s Situation Assessment of Agricultural Households of 2013, only 6 per cent of agricultural households recorded sales of paddy and wheat at the MSP.
  2. However, the above assertion is misleading because it refers to an average across the country, whereas the figure in states where procurement has been implemented is at much higher levels.
  3. Even in states where procurement has been implemented, most of the farmers don’t sell their produce at MSP because of the following reasons,
    1. Lack of awareness of the operation of the scheme.
    2. Absence of local access to system for procurement at MSP.
    3. Unremunerative price, rather than better price than market.
  4. The problem with the MSP is definitely not that it is of marginal or no benefit to farmers, except in a couple of crops and in a couple of s The problem lies in the following –
    1. Inadequate spread of the procurement apparatus to cover more crops and a larger geographical region
    2. Timing of the procurement operations (which are often delayed and too short for farmers to benefit)
    3. The prices offered, which may not be adequately remunerative.
  5. As such, the government must not simply talk about moving away from Mandi supported MSP system towards private sector led open market operations. The need is to overcome the deficiencies in the current system and to strengthen it for the ultimate aim of doubling farmers’ incomes as envisaged by the policy makers.
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No Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) in 2021

  1. The first caste census in India was conducted in 1931. Post-independence, the  Socio Economic Caste Census was started in 2011.  The arguments in favour have been as follows –
    1. The need for caste-wise data to justify the extension of reservations to various communities.
    2. Need to abolish caste derived privileges.
    3. Need to identify the creamy layer among backward classes.
  2. However, the current government has cited numerous administrative, operational and logistical reasons to argue that collecting caste data during the 2021 census is unfeasible and attempting it could endanger the census exercise itself. Some of the reasons cited by the government are-
    1. Difference in caste categories according to Union and state lists.
    2. Inexperience of the census conducting staff to verify the data.
    3. Tendency of people to use different spellings for the same castes, and also to use their clan/gotra names interchangeably.
    4. Use of same castes by lower and upper caste people.
    5. Any such census would harden caste identities, leading to social fragmentation
  3. The government also argues that unlike in the case of the SCs and the STs, there is no constitutional mandate for the Registrar-General and Census Commissioner, India, to provide the census figures of the backward classes.
  4. It is policy decision of the government as to what additional data it wants to collect through census, and the courts cannot dictate the government to include SECC in census.
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ATAL MISSION FOR REJUVENATION & URBAN TRANSFORMATION (AMRUT 2.0)

  1. Some of the salient features of the first phase of the mission are
    1. First launched in 2015.
    2. Total outlay of INR 1 lakh crore.
    3. Covered 500 major cities covering 60 percent of the urban population.
  2. Second phase of AMRUT mission was launched recently. Some  of the key objectives are –
    1. Total outlay of INR 3 lakh crore.
    2. Seeks to make 4700+ towns/cities water secure by providing 100 percent coverage of water supply to all households.
    3. Seeks to promote circular economy of water through formulation of City Water Balance Plan.
    4. Seeks to promote Aatma Nirbhar Bharat through encouraging Startups and Entrepreneurs. 
    5. Seeks to promote GIG (part-time or contract based work) economy for youth & women who cannot otherwise participate full time jobs.
    6. Makes it mandatory for cities having million plus population to take up PPP (Public Private Partnership) projects worth minimum of 10 percent of their total project fund.
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SWACHH BHARAT MISSION-URBAN (SBM-U 2.0)

  1. Some of the salient features of the first phase of the mission are
    1. First launched in 2014.
    2. Sought to eliminate open defecation in all statutory towns. As a result of the mission, urban India was declared open defecation free in 2019.
    3. Sought 100 percent scientific management of municipal solid waste in all statutory towns. In the area of scientific waste management, waste processing in India has gone up over four times from 18 percent in 2014 to 70 percent today.
    4. Sought to bring behavioural change through Jan Andolan.
  2. Second phase of SBM mission was launched recently. Some  of the key objectives are –
    1. Total outlay of INR 1.4 lakh crore.
    2. To sustain the sanitation and solid waste management outcomes of the first phase of SBM.
    3. To make all statutory towns open defecation free (ODF+).
    4. To include scientific management of Liquid Waste Management in cities with population less than 1 lakh.
    5. To achieve at least 3-star Garbage Free certification for all cities.
    6. To achieve well-being of sanitation and informal waster workers.
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Blackbucks

  1. Recently, a census carried out by the Odisha State Forest Department revealed that Odisha’s blackbuck population has doubled in the last six years. Also, it was in news that Bihar is planning conservation program for them.
  2. Blackbucks are native to India and Nepal. The blackbuck inhabits grassy plains and thinly forested areas where perennial water sources are available for its daily need to drink. Herds travel long distances to obtain water. It is not found on hills nor in thickly wooded tracts.
  3. It is considered to be the fastest animal in the world next to Cheetah.
  4. It is a diurnal antelope (active mainly during the day).
  5. Gestation is typically six months long, after which a single calf is born. The lifespan is typically 10 to 15 years.
  6. Protection Status:
    1. Wildlife Protection Act 1972: Schedule I
    2. IUCN Status: Least Concern
    3. CITES: Appendix III
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Democratic Republic of the Congo declares meningitis outbreak

  1. Meningitis is inflammation of brain and spinal cord membranes, typically caused by an infection.
  2. It is usually caused by a viral infection but can also be bacterial or fungal. Meningitis is a largely preventable disease through vaccination.
  3. The largest burden of meningococcal disease occurs in an area of sub-Saharan Africa known as the meningitis belt.
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Global Innovation Index, GII -2021

  1. The GII is launched by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a specialised agency of the United Nations.
  2. The index ranks world economies according to their innovation capabilities and consists of roughly 80 indicators grouped into innovation inputs and outputs.
    1. Innovation inputs: Institutions; Human capital and research; Infrastructure; Market sophistication; Business sophistication.
    2. Innovation outputs: Knowledge and technology outputs; Creative outputs
  3. The world’s most-innovative economy in 2021 is Switzerland followed by Sweden and the USA.
  4. India ranks 46th among the 132 economies featured in the GII 2021. Among Asian countries, Singapore ranked 8th, China ranked 12th, and Japan ranked 13th.
  5. India performed better in innovation outputs than innovation inputs.
  6. Mauritius ranked first among African countries.
  7. The sub-Saharan Africa region performed the best in the ‘institutions’ category. This is based on the political, regulatory and business environment for strengthening institutions. 
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