30th April 2021 | UPSC Current Affairs
30th April Current Affairs MCQs
The Armenian Genocide
Relevance: International relations
Context: U.S. President Joe Biden has fulfilled a long-pending American promise by recognizing the mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks in 1915-16 as “an act of genocide”, but the move has clearly infuriated Turkey, a NATO ally.
More about the Armenian genocide:
- The Armenian Genocide is regarded as the twentieth century’s first genocide.
- It refers to the Ottoman Empire’s systematic annihilation of Armenians from 1915 to 1917.
- Background: Following the outbreak of the First World War in November 1914, the Ottoman Turks joined the battle, siding with Germany and the Austro-Hungarian empire.
- The Ottoman Turks expected Armenians to support Russia in the war. As a result, the Ottoman Turks launched a massive expulsion of Armenians from the Eastern Front’s border regions.
- Thousands of Armenian intellectuals were arrested and executed by Ottoman Turkish government officials on April 24, 1915. The Armenian Genocide began on this date.
- Armenian families, including small children, were forced to walk for days in the Syrian and Arabian deserts without food, water, or shelter.
- According to reports, 1.5 million Armenians died as a result of the genocide, either as a result of massacres and executions, or as a result of ill-treatment, violence, and starvation.
- The significance of this recognition: The US government’s acknowledgement would have no legal effect on Turkey, other than causing shame and encouraging other countries to recognize the genocide as well.
- The Armenian Genocide is officially recognized by 30 countries, according to the Armenian National Institute.
China’s First Mars Rover Named ‘Zhurong’
Relevance: Science and technology
Context: Recently China has announced the name of its first Mars rover as Zhurong.
More about the News
- China has announced the name of its first Mars rover as Zhurong, which in Chinese tradition means the mythical god of fire and war.
- The solar-powered rover is aboard the Tianwen-1 probe that was launched in July 2020 and reached the red planet’s orbit. It is likely to make a landing attempt in May.
- The rover’s name is in accordance with the Chinese name for Mars — “Huo Xing,” or fire star.
- The Tianwen-1 mission is part of China’s ambitious space plans that include landing a human on the moon.
- After landing on the Martian surface, the probe will be looking for evidence of life such as water, ice and studying the climate and surface with its panoramic and multispectral cameras.
- If successful, China would become the third country after the former Soviet Union and the US to land a robot on Mars.
Agriculture Infrastructure fund scheme
Context: Agriculture Infrastructure Fund has crossed the eight thousand crore mark. The investment will give a boost to several agricultural projects which will unlock value for farmers across the country.
More about the fund
- Aim of the fund: The fund shall provide a medium – long term debt financing facility for investment in viable projects for post-harvest management Infrastructure and community farming assets through interest subvention and financial support.
- The government will be able to direct priority sector lending in the currently unviable projects by supporting through interest subvention, incentive, and credit guarantee. This will initiate the cycle of innovation and private sector investment in agriculture.
- Time Span: The duration of the Scheme shall be from FY2020 to FY2029 (10 years).
- Beneficiaries: Under the scheme, Rs. 1 Lakh Crore will be provided by banks and financial institutions as loans to Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS), Marketing Cooperative Societies, Farmer Producers Organizations (FPOs), Self Help Group (SHG), etc.
- Interest subvention: All loans under this financing facility will have an interest subvention of 3% per annum up to a limit of Rs. 2 crores. This subvention will be available for a maximum period of 7 years. Further, credit guarantee coverage will be available for eligible borrowers from this financing facility under Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) scheme for a loan up to Rs. 2 crores. The fee for this coverage will be paid by the Government.
- Refinance: If required, need-based refinance support will be made available by NABARD to all eligible lending entities including cooperative banks and RRBs as per its policy.
- Sector-specific focus: 24% of total grants – in – aid under the scheme should be utilized for SC/ST entrepreneurs (16% for SC and 8% for ST). Besides this, lending institutions will ensure adequate coverage of entrepreneurs belonging to women and other weaker segments of society.
- Project Management and handholding support: An online platform will be made available in collaboration with participating lending institutions to provide information and loan sanctioning facility.
Relevance: International relations
Context: In Bhutan, Project DANTAK is celebrating its Diamond Jubilee.
More about the news:
- The visionary leadership of His Majesty the Third King and then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru resulted in the establishment of Project DANTAK on April 24, 1961. DANTAK was tasked with building the Kingdom’s first motorable roads.
- In 1968, DANTAK finished the road connecting Samdrup Jongkhar and Trashigang. DANTAK Connected Thimphu and Phuentsholing in the same year. Many Bhutanese had also offered their services to DANTAK.
- Construction of Paro Airport, Yonphula Airfield, Thimphu – Trashigang Highway, Telecommunication & Hydro Power Infrastructure, Sherubtse College, Kanglung, and India House Estate is among the project’s other notable ventures.
- DANTAK’s medical and educational facilities in remote areas were often the first in those areas.
- During the construction of essential infrastructure in Bhutan, over 1,200 DANTAK personnel lost their lives.
Context: Russian Defence Minister declared the sweeping maneuvers in Crimea and wide swaths of western Russia over, and ordered the military to bring the troops that took part in them back to their permanent bases.
More about Crimea
- Ukraine and Russia are at odds about Russia’s occupation of the Crimean Peninsula.
Euromaidan (European Square) was a wave of protests and civil unrest in Ukraine that started in November 2013 with demonstrations in Kyiv’s Maidan Nezalezhnosti (“Independence Square”).
- The annexation of Crimea from Ukraine came as a result of Russian military intervention in Crimea in the wake of the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, which was part of broader turmoil in southern and eastern Ukraine.
- In the Kerch Strait, Russia detained 24 Ukrainian naval officers for suspected border breaches last year.
- Ukraine is also pursuing membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union, a development that would be disrespectful to Russia and could stymie efforts to address other Russian tensions.
- The Normandy format, also known as the Normandy contact group or the Normandy Four, is a political group comprised of senior officials from four countries (Germany, Russia, Ukraine, and France) tasked with ending the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.
- Euromaidan Movement
Euromaidan (European Square) was a wave of protests and civil unrest in Ukraine that started in November 2013 with demonstrations in Kyiv’s Maidan Nezalezhnosti
Ways and Means credit
Context: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) decided to continue with the existing interim Ways and Means Advances (WMA) scheme.
More about Ways and Means credit
- The Central Government’s WMA scheme was implemented on April 1, 1997, after the four-decade-old mechanism of ad hoc (temporary) Treasury Bills to fund the deficit was phased out.
- The WMA is a short-term loan facility that enables the central government and state to borrow funds from the RBI to bridge temporary budget deficits.
- The repo rate of the RBI is used to calculate the interest rate on WMA.
- The repo rate is the interest rate at which the Reserve Bank of India loans short-term money to banks.
- The WMA loans are for a period of three months.
- States have a 21-day overdraft facility (to borrow more than the WMA limit).
Types of WMA:
- Ways and Means Advances are divided into two categories: regular and Special.
- The Special WMA, or Special Drawing Facility (SDF), is backed by the state’s government securities as collateral. When the state’s SDF limit is reached, it switches to standard WMA. SDF has a one-percentage-point lower interest rate than the repo rate.
- Under normal WMA, the amount of loans is based on a three-year.
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI)
Relevance: Government bodies
Context: The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has advised insurers to report hospitals levying excess charges or denying cashless facilities to the State governments for appropriate action.
More about the IRDAI
- The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) is the apex body in charge of regulating and improving India’s insurance industry.
- It is a self-contained being. It was created by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act of 1999, which was passed by Parliament. As a result, it is a statutory entity.
- The IRDAI is headquartered in Telangana’s It was headquartered in New Delhi prior to 2001.
- IRDAI is a 10-member body including the chairman, five full-time and four part-time members appointed by the government of India.
- The following are the IRDA’s functions:
- Its main goal is to safeguard the interests of policyholders in India.
- It issues insurance companies in the country with registration certificates.
- It also manages the registration’s renewal, alteration, and cancellation.
- It also establishes regulations to safeguard the rights of policyholders in India.
The mission of the IRDAI
- To protect policyholders’ interests, to oversee, encourage, and ensure the insurance industry’s orderly development, and for matters related or incidental thereto.
Python-5 air-to-air missiles
Relevance: Science and Technology
Context: Tejas Aircraft Adds 5th-Generation Python-5 Air-to-Air Missile.
What is Python- 5?
- Python-5 is a fifth-generation air-to-air missile (AAM) manufactured by Rafael Advanced Defence Systems of Israel. The missile can engage enemy aircraft from very short ranges and near beyond visual range.
- It has a speed of Mach 4 and an operational range of more than
- It is a dual-use missile suitable for air-to-air and surface-to-air missions. It integrates a fifth-generation imaging seeker, modern software, advanced infrared counter-countermeasure (IRCCM) and flight control systems.
- It weighs 105kg. It can carry an 11kg high explosive fragmentation warhead equipped with an active laser proximity fuse.
- It is also equipped with the lock-on-before launch (LOBL) and lock-on-after launch (LOAL) In LOAL mode, the target information is transmitted from the launch aircraft to the missile.
- Tejas is a single-engine, fourth-generation, multirole light fighter designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in collaboration with the Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC) of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.
- It has a maximum payload capacity of 4000 kg and can attend the maximum speed of Mach 1.8.
- The range of the aircraft is 3,000km.
- Tejas is an indigenously manufactured Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). Notably, this is among the world’s smallest and lightest multi-role fighter aircraft belonging to the Supersonic class.
- Tejas has many advanced features like Beyond Visual Range Missile capabilities, Air-to-Air Refuelling and Air-to-Ground weapons.
Context: Several houses and buildings were damaged after an earthquake of magnitude 6.4 on the Richter scale hit Assam.
What is an earthquake?
- An earthquake is what happens when two blocks of the earth suddenly slip past one another. The surface where they slip is called the fault or fault plane. During an earthquake, vibrations caused by the breakage of rock along a fault zone radiate outward from the point of rupture. The instrument used to record and measure these vibrations is called a
- The location below the earth’s surface where the earthquake starts is called the hypocentre, and the location directly above it on the surface of the earth is called the
What Causes Earthquakes?
- Tectonic plates are constantly moving due to convection currents triggered by molten lava inside the earth’s crust. This constant movement leads to either the plates sliding against each other or drifting away from each other.
- When these plates move against each other, there is a point where they interact this point is known as a fault line. This fault line is sometimes known as a fracture in the earth’s crust.
- The moment the plates begin to move, the potential energy, commonly known as stored energy, is released from the hypocentre. The outcome is an earthquake.
Types of Earthquakes
- Tectonic Earthquakes– The tectonic plates are capable of moving slowly and gradually. The movement of these plates occurs in different forms; towards each other, away from each other, sliding past each other or colliding with each other. A huge tremor occurs when 2 moving tectonic plates slide over one another. This type of earthquake is known as a tectonic earthquake.
- Volcanic Earthquakes– These are less prevalent. They typically take place before or after an eruption.
- Explosion Earthquakes– These are caused by nuclear explosions. They are, essentially, man triggered kinds of earthquakes and represent the biggest impact of modern-day nuclear war.
- Collapse Earthquakes- They are sometimes referred to as mine bursts. Collapse earthquakes are instigated by the pressure generated within the rocks. This kind of earthquake leads to the collapse of the roof of the mine instigating more tremors.
What is the Richter scale?
- The Richter magnitude scale was developed in 1935 by Charles F. Richter of the California Institute of Technology as a mathematical device to compare the size of earthquakes.
- The magnitude of an earthquake is determined from the logarithm of the amplitude of waves recorded by seismographs.
- On the Richter scale, magnitude is expressed in whole numbers and decimal fractions.
- In theory, the Richter scale has no upper limit, but, in practice, no earthquake has ever been registered on the scale above magnitude 8.6.
Context: Saudi Arabia has launched the Saudi Green Initiative and Middle East Green Initiative
About the Saudi Green Initiative
- The Saudi Green Initiative aims to raise the vegetation cover, reduce carbon emissions, combat pollution and land degradation, and preserve marine life.
- It aims to reduce carbon emissions by more than 4% of global contributions, through a renewable energy programme that will generate 50% of Saudi’s energy from renewables by 2030.
- As part of the initiative, 10 billion trees will be planted in the Kingdom.
- Saudi Arabia is working towards raising the percentage of its protected areas to more than 30% of its total land area, representing roughly 6,00,000 sq km, exceeding the global target of 17%.
About Middle East Green Initiative
- As part of the Middle East Green initiative, Saudi Arabia will work with the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and regional partners to plant an additional 40 billion trees in the West Asian region.
- It represents 5% of the global target of planting one trillion trees and reducing 2.5% of global carbon levels.
- Saudi Arabia will be sharing its expertise and know-how with its neighbouring countries to reduce carbon emissions resulting from hydrocarbon production in the region by 60% and globally by 10%.
- The aim is to start implementing the plan in the fourth quarter of 2021 and continue for the next two decades.
- Saudi Arabia will convene an annual summit called the Middle East Green Initiative which will host leaders from the government, scientists and environmentalists to discuss the details of implementation.
- In partnership with participating countries, innovative methods will be researched to irrigate trees from treated water, cloud seeding and other purpose-driven solutions such as planting native trees which requires support for three years to grow and will then be able to survive on their own with natural irrigation.
About Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)
- The GCC was established by an agreement concluded on 25 May 1981 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
- The GCC is a political and economic union of Arab states bordering the Gulf. Its 6 members are the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain.
- The GCC Headquarters are in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
- The GCC Charter states that the basic objectives are to have coordination, integration and inter-connection between the Member States in all fields, strengthening ties between their peoples, formulating similar regulations in various fields such as economy, finance, trade, customs, tourism, etc.
Advanced Chaff Technology
Relevance: Science and Technology
Context: Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) develops Advanced Chaff Technology to safeguard naval ships from missile attack.
About Advanced Chaff Technology
- Chaff is an electronic countermeasure technology used by militaries worldwide to protect naval ships or other sensitive targets from radar and radio frequency (RF) guiding mechanisms of the enemy missile.
- The chaff rockets deployed in the air reflect as multiple targets for the missile guidance systems and deflecting adversary missiles, thus protecting their assets.
- Chaff is thin pieces of aluminium, metallized glass fibre or plastic, which either appears as a cluster of primary targets on radar screens or swamps the screen with multiple returns.
- DRDO’s facility Defence Laboratory Jodhpur (DLJ) has indigenously developed three variants of this critical technology, namely Short Range Chaff Rocket (SRCR), Medium-Range Chaff Rocket (MRCR) and Long Range Chaff Rocket (LRCR).
- A small quantity of chaff material, when deployed in the air, acts as a decoy and deflects the enemy’s missiles, thereby keeping India’s ships safe.
Difference between chaff and flares:
- Both chaff and flares are defensive countermeasures deployed by military aircraft. The purpose is to confuse radar-guided or infrared-guided anti-aircraft missiles fired so that they could be diverted.
- Chaff is composed of much small aluminium or zinc coated fibres stored on-board the aircraft in tubes. In case the aircraft feels threatened by any radar tracking missiles, chaff is ejected into the turbulent wake of air behind the plane.
- Flares however are useful in distracting the heat seeking missiles. Mostly magnesium pellets are ejected from the tubes to ignite while being followed by an aircraft behind. The flares burn at more than 2000 Fahrenheit and emit high amounts of infrared light.
- DRDO is the R&D wing of the Ministry of Defence, with a vision to empower India with cutting-edge defence technologies and a mission to achieve self-reliance in critical defence technologies and systems, while equipping our armed forces with state-of-the-art weapon systems and equipment following requirements laid down by the three Services.
- DRDO was formed in 1958 from the amalgamation of the then already functioning Technical Development Establishment (TDEs) of the Indian Army and the Directorate of Technical Development & Production (DTDP) with the Defence Science Organisation (DSO). Today, DRDO is a network of more than 50 laboratories.
- DRDO is India’s largest research organisation. It has a network of laboratories engaged in developing defence technologies covering various fields, like aeronautics, armaments, electronics, land combat engineering, life sciences, materials, missiles, and naval systems.
Relevance: Science and Technology
Context: PM CARES to fund 1 lakh portable oxygen concentrators.
What are Oxygen Concentrators?
- An oxygen concentrator is a medical device that concentrates oxygen from ambient air. Atmospheric air has about 78 percent nitrogen and 21 percent oxygen, with other gases making up the remaining 1 per cent.
- The oxygen concentrator takes in this air, filters it through a sieve, releases the nitrogen back into the air, and works on the remaining oxygen.
- This oxygen, compressed and dispensed through a cannula, is 90-95 per cent pure. A pressure valve in concentrators helps regulate supply, ranging from 1-10 litres per minute.
How are concentrators different from oxygen cylinders and Liquid medical oxygen (LMO)?
- Oxygen concentrators are the easiest alternatives to cylinders but can only supply 5-10 litres of oxygen per minute (critical patients may need 40-50 litres per minute) and are best suited for moderately ill patients.
- Concentrators are portable and unlike LMO that need to be stored and transported in cryogenic tankers, need no special temperature. And unlike cylinders that require refilling, concentrators only need a power source to draw in ambient air.
About PM CARES Fund
- The Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund were created on 28 March 2020, following the COVID-19 pandemic in India. The fund will be used for combat, and containment and relief efforts against the coronavirus outbreak and similar pandemic like situations in the future.
- Donations to PM CARES Fund would qualify for 100% exemption under the Income Tax.
- Donations to PM CARES Fund will also qualify to be counted as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) expenditure under the Companies Act, 2013.
- PM CARES Fund has also got exemption under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 and a separate account for receiving foreign donations has been opened.
- To undertake and support relief or assistance of any kind relating to a public health emergency or any other kind of emergency, calamity or distress, either man-made or natural, etc.,
- To render financial assistance, provide grants of payments of money or take such other steps as may be deemed necessary by the Board of Trustees to the affected population.
Constitution of the Trust:
- Prime Minister is the ex-officio Chairman of the PM CARES Fund and Minister of Defence, Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Finance, Government of India are ex-officio Trustees of the Fund.
- The Chairperson of the Board of Trustees (Prime Minister) shall have the power to nominate three trustees to the Board of Trustees who shall be eminent persons in the field of research, health, science, social work, law, public administration and philanthropy.
- Any person appointed a Trustee shall act in a pro bono capacity.
Relevance: Health-related issues
Context: Breakthrough infections amongst fully vaccinated healthcare workers in Kerala is emerging as a new concern.
What are Breakthrough infections?
- Vaccines are hailed to be the greatest weapons against the invisible enemy SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19. However, there remains a bleak possibility that the virus may find a way to attack those who have already been inoculated. This scenario is known as ‘vaccine breakthrough infection’ where the pathogen infiltrates the immune response generated by the vaccines.
- The chances of infection after full vaccination are relatively less. In India, just 0.04% of such re-infection cases have been reported so far, according to the country’s apex medical body the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Why do breakthrough infections happen?
- No vaccine is 100% effective against any viral disease. Hence, all types of vaccine, be it Moderna or Pfizer or Covaxin and have small chances of causing breakthrough infection. In addition, it must be noted that vaccines are a shield against severe forms of COVID-19 and not an infection. They reduce the chances of disease-related mortality and help patients recover fast.
- It takes at least two weeks for vaccines to develop an immune response after getting the shots. Therefore, during this period, the chances of contracting the virus are equivalent to the person who has not received the shots.
- There are also chances that the emerging mutant forms of the coronavirus may trigger infection again and evade the defence response induced by vaccines.
- The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi, the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research, is one of the oldest medical research bodies in the world.
- The ICMR is funded by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. The Council’s research priorities coincide with the National health priorities, such as control and management of communicable diseases, fertility control, maternal and child health, control of nutritional disorders, etc.
- ICMR continues to provide extramural funding to strengthen research capabilities within the institutes of the council as well as other research institutes, medical colleges and Non-Governmental Organizations for various research projects.
- Mission of ICMR:
- Generate, manage and disseminate new knowledge.
- Increase focus on research on the health problems of the vulnerable, the disadvantaged and marginalized sections of the society.
- Harness and encourage the use of modern biology tools in addressing the health concerns of the country.
- Encourage innovations and translation related to diagnostics, treatment, methods/vaccines for the prevention of diseases.
- Inculcate a culture of research in academia especially medical colleges and other health research institutions by strengthening infrastructure and human resources.
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