23rd April 2021 | UPSC Current Affairs

23rd April Current Affairs MCQs 

Daily Current Affairs MCQsHistory MCQPolity MCQ Video Series


World Press Freedom Index 2021

Relevance: Reports and indices

Context: The World Press Freedom Index, published by the international profit organisation Reports Without Borders (RSF) released its rankings.

More about the report:

  • Like last year, India was ranked 142 in the list of 180 countries.
  • The World Press Freedom Index, published by the international profit organisation Reports Without Borders or Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF).
  • India, which has seen a steady decline in its press freedom rating since 2016, remains among the countries rated as “bad” for journalism and is described as “one of the most dangerous countries for journalists trying to do their work properly,” according to the study.
  • The most recent index ranks 180 countries, with Norway once again topping the list, followed by Finland and Denmark, and Eritrea at the bottom. China is ranked 177, only ahead of North Korea, which is ranked 179, and Turkmenistan, which is ranked 178.
  • Based in Paris, RSF is an independent NGO with consultative status with the United Nations, UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF).
  • The parameters include pluralism, media independence, media environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency, and the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information.


Khanjar Exercise

Relevance: Military exercises

Context: The special forces of India and Kyrgyzstan have started a two-week military exercise in Bishkek with a focus on counter-terror drills.

More about the Exercise

  • The exercise named, `Khanjar`, was inaugurated at the Special Forces Brigade of National Guards of the Kyrgyz Republic in Bishkek.
  • It is the eighth editions of the India-Kyrgyz Joint Special Forces Exercise.
  • Initiated first in 2011, the two-week-long exercise focuses on high-altitude, mountains and counter-extremism.
  • In 2018, India and Kyrgyzstan signed four agreements, including one to boost defence cooperation and hold annual joint military exercises.
  • The two countries had agreed to expeditiously consider signing an agreement on “combating international terrorism and other crimes”.


National Civil Service Day

Relevance: Polity and governance

Context: Civil Service Day is celebrated annually on April 21 in India.

More about the News

  • National Civil Service Day is celebrated on April 21 every year because, on this day, Sardar Vallabhai Patel inaugurated the All-India Services in 1947.
  • Civil Services refers to the permanent executive branch of the Republic of India.
  • The civil service system is the backbone of the administrative machinery of our country.
  • He was India’s Home Minister. In his inaugural address, he referred to civil servants as India’s “steel frame.”
  • On April 21, 2006, National Civil Service Day was celebrated for the first time in India. Since then, the tradition to celebrate National Civil Services Day has been followed.
  • Civil Service is the service that is responsible for the public administration of the government in India.
  • Civil Service in India today is mainly based on the pattern of the former Indian Civil Service of British India.
  • Even though Warren Hastings laid the foundation of civil service, it was Charles Cornwallis who reformed, modernised, and rationalised it.
  • Therefore, Charles Cornwallis is known as the Father of Civil Service in India.


Mega Food Park

Relevance: Economy

Context: Italy launches the first-ever mega food park & food processing unit in India.

More about the News

  • The pilot project “The Mega Food Park” was launched in virtual mode, with the signing of a Letter of Intent.
  • This is the first Italian-Indian food park project, an initiative in the food-processing field, which is a pillar of the partnership between India and Italy.
  • The project aims to create synergy between agriculture and industry of the two countries and focuses on the research and development of new and more efficient technologies in the sector.
  • With this Italy also aims to explore the great opportunities offered by the Indian market.

Mega Food Park Scheme:

  • Launched in 2008-09 under the Ministry of Food Processing Industries’
  • Aim: To create a mechanism that connects agricultural production to the market by bringing together farmers, processors, and retailers in order to maximise value addition, minimise wastage, increase farmer income, and create employment opportunities, especially in rural areas.
  • Components include:
    • The Scheme is based on the “Cluster” approach and envisions the development of cutting-edge support infrastructure in a well-defined Agri/horticultural zone for the establishment of modern food processing units in the park’s industrial plots with a well-established supply chain.
    • A Mega Food Park usually includes supply chain infrastructure such as collection centres (CC), primary processing centres (PPC), central processing centres (CPC), cold chain, and approximately 25-30 fully established plots for entrepreneurs to establish food processing units.
  • The MFP project is implemented by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) which is a Body Corporate registered under the Companies Act, 2013.


Gaganyaan mission

Relevance: Science and technology

Context: India, France signs an agreement for cooperation on the Gaganyaan mission.

More about the News

  • French space agency (Centre national d’études spatiales) CNES said under the agreement, equipment developed by it, tested and still operating aboard the International Space Station (ISS) will be made available to Indian crews.
  • The CNES will also be supplying fireproof carry bags made in France to shield equipment from shocks and radiation, it said.
  • Under the terms of the agreement, CNES will train India’s flight physicians and (the Capsule Communicator )CAPCOM mission control teams in France at the (CADMOS) centre for the development of microgravity applications and space operations at CNES in Toulouse and at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne, Germany.

More about the Gaganyaan Mission

  • It was initially envisaged that the Rs. 10,000 crore Gaganyaan mission aims to send a three-member crew to space for five to seven days by 2022 when India completes 75 years of independence.
  • The first unmanned mission is planned for December 2021.
  • Three flights will be sent into orbit. There will be two unmanned flights and one human spaceflight.
  • The Gaganyaan system module, known as the Orbital Module, will house three Indian astronauts, one of whom will be a woman.
  • For 5-7 days, it will circle the Earth in a low-Earth orbit at an altitude of 300-400 km.
  • Launch: The three-stage heavy-lift launch vehicle GSLV Mk III, also known as the LVM-3 (Launch Vehicle Mark-3), will be used to launch Gaganyaan because it has the necessary payload capability.
  • Agreement with Russia: In June 2019, the ISRO Human Space Flight Centre and the Russian government-owned Glavkosmos signed a contract for training that includes Russian assistance in candidate selection, medical examination, and space training.


Snow leopard

Relevance: Environment

Context: Himachal Pradesh’s high-altitude hilly terrains could be harbouring as many as 73 snow leopards (Panthera uncia), says a recent study based on a scientific enumeration of the elusive animal.

More about Snow Leopard

  • The snow leopard inhabits the higher Himalayan and trans-Himalayan landscape in the five states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • In Himachal Pradesh, the snow leopard’s habitat covers a greater part of the districts of Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur.
  • India has been conserving snow leopard and their habitat through the Project Snow Leopard (PSL).
  • India is also party to the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection (GSLEP) Programme since 2013.
  • For conservation, India has identified three large landscapes, namely, Hemis-Spiti across Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh; Nanda Devi – Gangotri in Uttarakhand; and Khangchendzonga – Tawang across Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Snow leopards are categorized as ‘Vulnerable’ by IUCN and in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.
  • They are listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), revealing the need for the highest conservation status to the species, both globally and in India.
  • Conservation efforts launched by India are:
    1. Project Snow Leopard (PSL): It promotes an inclusive and participatory approach to conservation that fully involves local communities.
    2. SECURE Himalaya: Global Environment Facility (GEF)-United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) funded the project on conservation of high-altitude biodiversity and reducing the dependency of local communities on the natural ecosystem. This project is now operational in four snow leopard range states, namely, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Sikkim.


MeitY has stepped up its vigil against cyberattacks

Relevance: Cybersecurity

Context:  Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) asked the companies to report “any major cybersecurity” incidents to the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) team every week.

More about the News?

  • The exercise was initiated towards the end of last year over triggers like rising potential cyber threats from countries like China, Russia, and Uzbekistan, according to the executive.
  • Following the attacks on Dr Reddy’s Laboratories and Lupin pharmaceuticals and healthcare companies have been on high alert.
  • The number of cyber threats against vaccine makers, especially, has exponentially risen.

Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In)

  • CERT-In was established in 2004 as a functional organization of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
  • It is the nodal agency which deals with cybersecurity threats like hacking and phishing.

Objectives:

  • Preventing cyber-attacks against the country’s cyberspace.
  • Responding to cyber-attacks and minimizing damage and recovery time
  • Reducing ‘national vulnerability to cyber-attacks. Enhancing security awareness among common citizens.

Budapest Convention on Cybercrime:

  • It is the first international treaty that seeks to address Internet and cybercrime by harmonizing national laws, improving investigative techniques, and increasing cooperation among nations. It came into force in 2004. India is not a signatory to this convention.

Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre(I4C):

  • It was established in 2018 to combat cybercrime in India in a comprehensive and coordinated manner. It functions under the Ministry of Home Affairs.


Codex Committee on Spices and Culinary Herbs (CCSCH) 

Relevance: International Relations

Context: The fifth session of CCSCH has taken place recently.

More on News:

  • The CCSCH has been established under Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC).
  • At the present session, the committee has taken into consideration the quality Standards for dried or dehydrated forms of Ginger, Cloves, Saffron and two culinary herbs, Oregano & Basil at step seven.
  • Besides Nutmeg and Chilli peppers & Paprika at step four in the Codex procedure of elaboration of food standards.
  • There are also three proposals for new work, viz. Cardamom, Turmeric and prioritized group standard for spices in the form of dried fruits and berries.

About CCSCH:

  • To develop and expand worldwide standards for spices and culinary herbs, and to consult with other international organisations in the standards development process CCSCH was formed in 2013.
  • It was formed with the support of more than a hundred countries with India as the host country and Spices Board India as the Secretariat for organising the sessions of the committee.
  • Since its inception, the CCSCH has been successful in developing harmonised global Codex standards for spices and herbs.
  • In its past four sessions, the committee developed and finalized standards for four spices, viz. dried or dehydrated forms of black/white/green pepper, cumin, thyme, and garlic.

About CAC:

  • It was set up in
  • It is an intergovernmental body established jointly by the UN’s Food and Agriculture.
  • Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
  • It has been established within the framework of the Joint Food Standards Programme to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in the food trade.


Leaders’ Summit on Climate

Relevance: International Relations

Context: Prime Minister has participated in the Leaders’ Summit on Climate.

More on News:

  • Nearly 40 other world leaders had participated in the Summit.
  • This represented countries which are members of the Major Economies Forum (India is a member), and those vulnerable to climate change, among others.
  • The Leaders had exchanged views on climate change, enhancing climate actions, mobilising finance towards climate mitigation and adaptation, nature-based solutions, climate security as well as technological innovations for clean energy.
  • The Summit is a part of a series of global meetings focusing on climate issues, being held in the run-up to COP26 in November 2021.

Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF):

  • The Forum, launched in 2009 by US President Barack Obama, is aimed at facilitating candid dialogue among major emitting countries, both developed and developing, to garner the political leadership needed to advance efforts against climate change.
  • The following are the Members of MEF: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the EU, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russian Federation, South Africa, the UK and the US.


Global Youth Mobilization Local Solutions campaign

Relevance: International Relations

Context: United Nations agencies and youth organisations have launched a unique campaign to involve the youth of the world in building their lives impacted by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

 About Global Youth Mobilization Local Solutions campaign:

  • It has been launched on April 19, 2021.
  • It is mandated to fund youth in communities impacted by the pandemic to take up innovative programmes to rebuild lives.
  • It will use exclusively for this campaign and not involve the usual procedures adopted for such funding under the UN systems.
  • Young people around the world will be able to apply for funding to support innovative Local Solutions to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic


Travel Bubble

Relevance: International Relations

Context: Sri Lanka has decided to postpone launching the proposed “travel bubble” with India, in the wake of the recent surge in Covid-19 cases in India.

About Travel Bubble:

  • It is also known as travel bridges or corona corridors.
  • It is a bilateral arrangement to open the borders to citizens of select countries and does away with the waiting period for travellers from certain countries where the novel coronavirus has been contained.
  • So for instance, an arrangement between say Italy and Spain, where Covid-19 has been contained, could see citizens from either country travel between the two nations without being compulsorily quarantined.
  • It naturally follows that the establishment of a travel bubble between two or more countries depends on the confidence each has in the other to contain the spread of the virus.


Boao Forum for Asia

Relevance: International Relations

Context: The Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2021 was held in Boao, south China’s Hainan Province.

About Boao Forum for Asia (BFA):

  • It initiated by 25 Asian countriesand Australia.
  • It is a non-profit organisation that hosts high-level forums for leaders from government, business and academia in Asiaand other continents to share their vision on the most pressing issues in this dynamic region and the world at large.
  • BFA is modelled on the World Economic Forumheld annually in Davos, Switzerland. Its fixed address is in Boao, Hainan province, China, although the Secretariat is based in Beijing.
  • The forum, sometimes known as the “Asian Davos”, takes its name from the town of Boao, located in China’s southern Hainan province, which has been the permanent venue for its annual conference since 2002.
  • The Forum is committed to promoting regional economic integration and bringing Asian countries even closer to their development goals.


Beyond the Pandemic: Building back better from crises in Asia and the Pacific

Relevance: International Relations

Context: United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) in its report- Beyond the Pandemic has analysed the socio-economic impact of Covid 19 in Asia and Pacific Countries.

About Report:

  • The report said providing a basic social protection package would require an investment of 2 per cent to 6 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), which many countries can afford.
  • Currently, many countries invest less than 2 per cent of GDP on social protection, while the average investment across countries in the Asia Pacific is about 5 per cent or less than half the global average of 11 per cent of GDP.
  • In the poorest households in Indonesia, the Maldives, the Philippines and Sri Lanka, this basic social protection package would increase purchasing power by around 50 per cent
  • Therefore countries need to extend coverage to everyone, while also ensuring that benefits are sufficiently high to make a difference in people’s lives.
  • In the context of India, it said that RBI’s bond buys helped India during a pandemic, and Kerala’s public health service has ‘excellent reputation.


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