16th November UPSC Current Affairs

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Israeli military strikes Hamas targets in Gaza after rocket firing

Why in News?
  • The Israeli military struck Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip early Sunday after militants fired two rockets from the Palestinian territory. In a statement, the military said fighter jets, attack helicopters and tanks hit Hamas underground infrastructure and military posts. Two rockets were launched into Israel, with one reaching the southern Israeli city of Ashdod and the other stretching into central Israel.
Why Israel and Palestine are fighting?
  • Though both Jews and Arab Muslims date their claims to the land back a couple thousand years, the current political conflict began in the early 20th century.
  • Jews fleeing holocaust in Europe wanted to establish a national homeland in what was then an Arab and Muslim majority territory in the Ottoman Empire.
  • However, the Arabs resisted, seeing the land as rightfully theirs.
  • Fatah is the largest faction of the multi-party Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) closely identified with the leadership of its founder Yasser Arafat.
  • Hamas is a Palestinian Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist organization.
  • In the 2006 parliamentary election, Fatah lost its majority in the Palestinian parliament to Hamas.
  • This led to a conflict between Fatah and Hamas, with Fatah retaining control of the Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank, while Hamas dominated Gaza.
Note : Hamas is seen as a terrorist organisation by several international actors, including the US, Israel and the European Union.

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First batch of Sputnik V vaccine to arrive in Kanpur medical college for Phase 2, 3 trials

Why in News?
  • The first batch of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for COVID-19 is likely to reach Kanpur’s Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Medical College by next week wherein the vaccine’s Phase 2 and Phase 3 human clinical trials will be conducted.
The Vaccine
  • The vaccine has been called Sputnik V, named after the first artificial Earth satellite, Sputnik-I launched by the Soviet Union.
  • The russian vaccine has outrun other Covid-19 vaccines like Oxford-AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer which are still in trials.
  • The vaccine is based on the DNA of a SARS-CoV-2 type adenovirus, a common cold virus.
  • The vaccine uses the weakened virus to deliver small parts of a pathogen and stimulate an immune response.
  • The vaccine is administered in two doses and consists of two types of a human adenovirus, each carrying an S-antigen of the new coronavirus, which enter human cells and produce an immune response.

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After Deepavali, toxic air in Delhi, many towns of North India

Why in News?
  • As Delhiites on Deepavali night violated a ban on bursting of firecrackers, the overall air pollution of the city shot up to about eight times the safe limit and the air quality which was already in the ‘severe’ category on Saturday further worsened on Sunday morning, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data.
About Air Quality Index
  • The AQI is an index for reporting daily air quality.
  • It tells you how clean or polluted your air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you.
  • The AQI focuses on health affects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air.
  • AQI is calculated for eight major air pollutants: Ground-level ozone, PM10, PM2.5, Carbon monoxide, Sulphur dioxide, Nitrogen dioxide, Ammonia, Lead.
  • There are six AQI categories, namely Good + Satisfactory, Moderately polluted, Poor, Very Poor, and Severe.
System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR)
  • Indigenously developed by: Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune
  • Run by: India Meteorological Department (IMD).
  • Objective:
  • (1) To provide Real-time air quality index on 24×7 basis with colour coding along with 72-hour advance weather forecast;
  • (2) To issue Health advisory to prepare citizens well in advance.
  • Parameters monitored: Pollutants: PM1, PM2.5, PM10, Ozone, CO, NOx (NO, NO2), SO2, BC, Methane (CH4), Non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC), Black Carbon, VOC’s, Benzene and Mercury.
  • Meteorological Parameters: UV Radiation, Rainfall, Temperature, Humidity, Wind speed, Wind direction, solar radiation.

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Asia forms world's biggest trade bloc, a China-backed group excluding U.S.

Why in News?
  • Fifteen Asia-Pacific economies formed the world's largest free trade bloc on Sunday, a China-backed deal that excludes the United States, which had left a rival Asia-Pacific grouping under President Donald Trump.
  • The signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) at a regional summit in Hanoi, is a further blow to the group pushed by former U.S. President Barack Obama, which his successor Trump exited in 2017.
  • The deal was signed on the sidelines of an online ASEAN summit.
  • For the first time, China and Japan reached a bilateral tariff reduction arrangement, achieving a historic breakthrough
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a mega-regional economic agreement being negotiated since 2012, between ASEAN and Free Trade Agreement (FTA) member partners.
  • It aims to cover the trade in goods and services, investment, economic and technical cooperation, intellectual property and dispute resolution.
India has dropped out of the RCEP in November 2019 in ASEAN+3 summit.

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Leaders pay tributes to Birsa Munda, greet Jharkhand on Foundation Day

Why in News?
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tributes to tribal leader Birsa Munda on his birth anniversary on November 15 and said his contribution to the freedom movement and social harmony will always inspire the countrymen.
Birsa Munda
  • Born in 1875 in the Munda tribe. He is often referred to as ‘Dharti Abba’ or the Earth Father.
  • He led the rebellion that came to be known as Ulgulan (revolt) or the Munda rebellion against the British government-imposed feudal state system.
  • He awakened the masses and sowed the seeds of revolt in them against the landlord as well as the Britishers.
  • He organized masses to stop paying debts/interest to moneylenders and taxes to the British. By this, he led a revolt to bring an end to Victorian rule and the establishment of Munda Rule in Jharkhand (erstwhile Bengal Presidency region).
  • He formed two military units- one for military training and armed struggle, the other for propaganda. He combined religion with politics and traveled across villages giving discourses and building a politico-military organization.
  • His struggle against the exploitation and discrimination against tribals led to the passing of the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act in 1908 which restricted the passing of land from the tribal people to non-tribals.

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NLC India Limited posts decline in net profit

Why in News?
  • NLC India Ltd. (NLCIL), a Navratna company under the Ministry of Coal, posted a decline in net profit for the quarter ended September 30, 2020.
NLC India Limited (NLCIL)  
  • NLCIL was formerly the Neyveli Lignite Corporation Limited.
  • It is a 'Navratna' company of the Government of India in the fossil fuel mining sector in India and thermal power generation.
  • It annually produces about 30 million tonne lignite from opencast mines at Neyveli in the state of Tamil Nadu and at Barsingsar in Bikaner district of Rajasthan state.
  • The lignite is used at pithead thermal power stations to produce electricity.
  • Lately, it has diversified into renewable energy production.
  • It has installed 1404 MW solar power plant to produce electricity from photovoltaic (PV) cells and 51 MW electricity from windmills.
  • It was incorporated in 1956, and it is under the administrative control of Ministry of Coal.




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