9th April 2021 | UPSC Current Affairs
9th April Current Affairs MCQs
Relevance: International Relations
Context: India has apprised the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Japan for Academic and Research Cooperation and Exchange.
More on News:
- This MoU will enable the National Atmospheric Research Laboratory (NARL)-India and Research Institute for Sustainable Humanosphere (RISH)-Japan to continue their cooperation in areas of atmospheric science and technology.
- NARL and RISH have been collaborating in the area of atmospheric science and technology as well as the exchange of scientists. This arrangement was formalized in 2008 through an MoU.
- The above MoU was renewed in the year 2013. A fresh MOU to promote collaborative research, as per the new guidelines, was signed in November 2020 by both sides and exchanged.
- NARL scientists worked as resource persons in the international school on atmospheric radar conducted by RISH.
Relevance: Government schemes and Initiatives
Context: Ministry of Tribal Affairs and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched the Anamaya, the Tribal Health Collaborative.
- This collaborative is a multi-stakeholder initiative of the Tribal Affairs Ministry supported by Piramal Foundation and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).
- It will converge efforts of various Government agencies and organizations to enhance the health and nutrition status of the tribal communities of India.
- This Collaborative is a unique initiative bringing together governments, philanthropists, national and international foundations, NGOs/CBOs to end all preventable deaths among the tribal communities of India.
- It aims to build a sustainable, high-performing health eco-system to address the key health challenges faced by the tribal population of India.
- It will begin its operations with 50 tribal, Aspirational Districts (with more than 20% ST population) across 6 high tribal population states.
Relevance: Government schemes and Initiatives
Context: Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (AC & FW) has launched the portal Honey Corners.
About Honey Corners:
- It is an initiative of the National Bee Board (NBB) under the National Beekeeping & Honey Mission (NBHM).
- This portal is being developed for online registration to achieve traceability sources of Honey and other beehive products on a digital platform.
- The technical and banking partner for the development of this digital platform is Indian Bank. An MoU between NBB and Indian Bank was signed for this project.
About National Bee Board (NBB):
- NBB has been established by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
- The main objective of the NBB is the overall development of Beekeeping by promoting Scientific Beekeeping in India.
- It aims to increase the productivity of crops through pollination and increase Honey production for increasing the income of the Beekeepers/ Farmers.
- Secretary (AC &FW) is the Ex-Office Chairman of the Board (NBB).
Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for White Goods
Relevance: Government schemes and Initiatives
Context: Union Cabinet has approved the PLI Scheme for White Goods (Air Conditioners and LED Lights.
- The prime objective of the PLI scheme is to make manufacturing in India globally competitive by removing Sectoral disabilities, creating economies of scale, and ensuring efficiencies.
- It is designed to create a complete component ecosystem in India and make India an integral part of the global supply chains.
- The scheme is expected to attract global investments, generate large-scale employment opportunities and enhance exports substantially.
- The PLI Scheme for White Goods shall extend an incentive of 4% to 6% on incremental sales of goods manufactured in India for five years to companies engaged in manufacturing Air Conditioners and LED Lights.
- Different segments have been earmarked for different types of components separately to specifically target global investments into desired areas.
- The Selection of companies for the Scheme shall be done to incentivize the manufacturing of components or sub-assemblies which are not manufactured in India presently with sufficient capacity. Mere assembly of finished goods shall not be incentivized.
- The Scheme is expected to be instrumental in achieving growth rates that are much higher than existing ones for AC and LED industries, develop complete component eco-systems in India, and create global champions manufacturing in India.
- It will also lead to investments in innovation and research and development and up-gradation of technology.
PLI scheme for National Programme on High-Efficiency Solar PV
Relevance: Government schemes and Initiatives
Context: The Cabinet approved the Production Linked Incentive scheme ‘National Programme on High-Efficiency Solar PV Modules’.
- It aims to achieve the manufacturing capacity of the Giga Watt (GW) scale in high-efficiency solar PV modules.
- Solar capacity addition presently depends largely upon imported solar PV cells and modules as the domestic manufacturing industry has limited operational capacities of solar PV cells and modules.
- The National Programme will reduce import dependence in a strategic sector like electricity. It will also support the Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative.
Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji
Context: Prime Minister chaired a meeting of the High-Level Committee (HLC) to commemorate the 400th Birth Anniversary (Prakash Purab) of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji.
About Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji:
- Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji was the ninth Nanak of the Sikh religion.
- He was also the father of the tenth Guru, Gobind Singh.
- He is accredited with continuing the work of the first Guru Nanak and also created 115 poetic hymns which can all be founds in the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhism.
- He is also considered to be the first human rights activist of India.
- He visited Assam in 1670 and played a huge role as a pacifist to bring peace to the region that was torn by war between the Mughals and the Ahoms.
- A high mound built as a monument of peace still stands on the bank of the Brahmaputra River at Dhubri.
- He is remembered for his selfless service to people. He travelled across the country with the teachings of Guru Nanak.
- Anandpur Sahib, the famous holy city and a global tourist attraction in the foothills of the Himalayas, was founded by Guru Tegh Bahadur.
- He resisted the conversion of Kashmiri pundits and non-Muslims to Islam during the Mughal era in the 17th century.
- As a result, he was publicly beheaded on the orders of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
- Rakab Ganj Sahib is the resting place of the ninth guru of Sikhism — Guru Tegh Bahadur.
- Guru Tegh Bahadur’s Martyrdom Day is also observed as Shaheed Diwas every year on November 24.
Oxygen enrichment unit
Relevance: Science and Technology
Context: Council of Scientific and Industrial Research -Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CSIR-CMERI) has transferred the oxygen enrichment unit technology to M/s. Zen Medical Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
About Oxygen enrichment unit:
- It has been developed by the CSIR-CMERI.
- It is a device, which concentrates the oxygen from the air around us by selectively removing nitrogen to supply oxygen-enriched air.
- The concentrated Oxygen is delivered to the patients, having respiratory diseases, through an oxygen mask or nasal cannula.
- The device may be used in remote places, homes, or hospital-like facilities for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD), chronic hypoxemia, and pulmonary edema.
- It may be used as an adjunct treatment for severe sleep apnea (in conjunction with a continuous positive airway pressure unit).
- It is capable of delivering up to 30 LPM Oxygen enriched air, which is absent in the other commercially available units. The machine can regulate flow with an accuracy of 0.5 Ipm.
- This facility will help in High Flow Oxygen Therapy, which is proven to be a better method in the treatment and management of COVID-19 patients.
- The commercially available Oxygen Enrichment Units generally work till 8000 ft from sea level.
- With an optional plug-in module, this unit can work up to the altitude of 14000 ft with a penalty on flow rate thereby making it very handy for the usage of the high altitude terrain battlefield in contingencies.
Central Vigilance Commission(CVC)
Context: The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has modified the guidelines about the transfer and posting of officials in the vigilance units of government organizations.
More about the News
- The tenure may be extended to three more years, albeit at a different place of posting.
- The CVC, in its order, said the undue long stay of an official in a vigilance department had the potential of developing vested interests, apart from giving rise to unnecessary complaints or allegations.
More about CVC
- CVC is the main agency for preventing corruption in the Central government. It was established in 1964 by an executive resolution of the Central government.
- Its establishment was recommended by the Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption.
- Thus, originally the CVC was neither a constitutional body nor a statutory body. Later, in 2003, the Parliament enacted a law conferring statutory status on the CVC.
- The CVC has been designated as the agency to receive and act on complaints or disclosure on any allegation of corruption or misuse of office from whistle-blowers.
- The CVC is a multi-member body consisting of a Central Vigilance Commissioner (chairperson) and not more than two vigilance commissioners.
- They are appointed by the president by warrant under his hand and seal on the recommendation of a three-member committee consisting of the prime minister as its head, the Union minister of home affairs, and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
- Removal: The president can remove the Central Vigilance Commissioner or any vigilance commissioner from the office under the following circumstances:
- If he is adjudged an insolvent; or
- If he has been convicted of an offence which (in the opinion of the Central government) involves moral turpitude; or
- If he engages, during his term of office, in any paid employment outside the duties of his office; or
- If he is (in the opinion of the president), unfit to continue in office because of the infirmity of mind or body; or
- If he has acquired such financial or other interest as is likely to affect prejudicially his official functions.
- In addition to these, the president can also remove the Central Vigilance Commissioner or any vigilance commissioner on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.
Context: Reserve Bank of India governor, while detailing the first bi-monthly monetary policy statement of fiscal 2021-22, announced three significant changes for prepaid instruments (PPI), such as mobile wallets and prepaid cards.
More about the News
- The significant changes include:
- Interoperability: Interoperability is the ability of customers to transact across commercially and technically independent payment platforms. According to the RBI notification, the interoperability of wallets had to happen in three stages. One, wallet companies would join the Unified Payments Interface (UPI). Two, wallets would be able to transfer money to bank accounts on UPI, and three, wallet companies will be allowed to issue prepaid Rupay cards.
- Wallet limits doubled: RBI has regulations on different types of PPIs. RBI considers “fully Know Your Customer(KYC)” when the issuer verifies documents and conducts in-person verification. For such wallets, users could load up to ₹1 lakh every month. The central bank has increased the limit for such full KYC wallets to ₹2 lakh from ₹1 lakh at present.
- PPIs for Cash Withdrawal: Until now, only bank-issued PPIs were allowed for cash withdrawal. In the latest monetary policy, RBI has changed this. Now, users of PPIs like wallets and prepaid cards issued by non-banks would be able to withdraw cash.
- These measures are in conjunction with the mandate for interoperability, will give a boost to migration to full-KYC PPIs, and would also complement the acceptance infrastructure in Tier III to VI centers.
National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)
Context: National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) on Thursday announced the formation of its wholly-owned subsidiary firm – NPCI Bharat BillPay Ltd. (NBBL).
More about NPCI
- It is an umbrella organization for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India.
- It is an initiative of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007.
- It has been incorporated as a “Not for Profit” Company under the provisions of Section 25 of Companies Act 1956 (now Section 8 of Companies Act 2013).
- The ten core promoter banks are State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Canara Bank, Bank of Baroda, Union Bank of India, Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Citibank, and HSBC.
- In 2016 the shareholding was broad-based to 56 member banks to include more banks representing all sectors.
- To consolidate and integrate the existing multiple systems into a nationwide uniform and standard business process for all retail payment systems.
- To facilitate an affordable payment mechanism to benefit the common man across the country and propel financial inclusion.
NPCI Bharat BillPay Ltd. (NBBL)
- The new entity came into effect on April 1, 2021.
- The brand under the new entity – Bharat BillPay – offers various recurring payment services to customers, including bill payments for electricity, telecom, DTH, gas, education fees, water, and municipal taxes.
Asian desert dust enhances Indian summer monsoon
Context: A new study now details how dust coming from the deserts in the West, Central, and East Asia plays an important role in the Indian Summer Monsoon.
More about the News
- Dust swarms from the desert when lifted by strong winds can absorb solar radiation and become hot.
- This can cause heating of the atmosphere, change the air pressure, wind circulation patterns, influence moisture transport, and increase precipitation and rainfall.
- A strong monsoon can also transport air to West Asia and again pick up a lot of dust. The study says this is a positive feedback loop.
- Not just the dust from West Asia, the Iranian Plateau also influences the Indian Summer Monsoon.
- The hot air over the Iranian Plateau can heat the atmosphere over the plateau, strengthen the circulation over the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula and increase dust emission from West Asia.
- The dust aerosols from deserts in West China such as the Taklamakan desert and the Gobi Desert can be transported eastward to eastern China and can influence the East Asia summer monsoon.
- And in the southwest United States, some small deserts influence the North African monsoon.
- Some studies have found that the anthropogenic aerosols emitted from the Indian subcontinent can decrease summer monsoon precipitation, while others found that absorbing aerosols such as dust can strengthen the monsoon circulation.
Context: Even as parts of the country experience a heatwave, the India Meteorological Department has warned that maximum temperatures in most parts of India will be above normal between April and June.
More about the News?
- A heatwave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature that occurs during the summer season in the North-Western and South Central parts of India.
- Heatwaves typically occur between March and June, and in some rare cases even extend till July.
- Criteria for Heat Waves
- The heatwave is considered when the maximum temperature of a station reaches at least 40°C for Plains and at least 30°C for Hilly regions.
- If the normal maximum temperature of a station is less than or equal to 40°C, then an increase of 5°C to 6°C from the normal temperature is considered to be a heatwave condition.
- Further, an increase of 7°C or more from the normal temperature is considered a severe heatwave condition.
- If the normal maximum temperature of a station is more than 40°C, then an increase of 4°C to 5°C from the normal temperature is considered to be a heatwave condition. Further, an increase of 6°C or more is considered a severe heatwave condition.
- Additionally, if the actual maximum temperature remains 45°C or more irrespective of normal maximum temperature, a heatwave is declared.
- Reasons for Heats waves in India
- Increased effect of paved and concrete surfaces in urban areas.
- Urban heat island effects
- Higher daily peak temperatures.
- High intensity of UV rays in the medium-high heatwave zone.
- Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra were facing “extreme” heat conditions having experienced the longest spell of dry weather this year.
- Heat Waves has not been notified as a Disaster as defined under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 by the Government yet. Heatwave is not even notified in the list of 12 disasters eligible for relief under National/ State Disaster Response Fund norms.
SARS-CoV-2 VOI(variants of interest)
Relevance: Science and technology
Context: Around the world, cases of infection with new variants of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 have been rising. Three of them are of particular concern and were first detected respectively in the UK, South Africa, and Brazil.
What is a SARS-CoV-2 VOI?
- A SARS-CoV-2 isolate is a VOI if:
- it is phenotypically changed (it has a different structure and properties) compared to a reference isolate, or has a genome with mutations that lead to amino acid changes associated with phenotypic implications; and
- it has been known to cause community transmission/multiple Covid-19 cases or has been detected in multiple countries.
What is the variant first detected in the UK?
- It is known as B.1.1.7 or VOC 202012/01, it first emerged in the UK last December.
- In the B.1.1.7 variant are multiple mutations in the spike protein.
- One mutation, called N501Y, makes the variant more effective at binding to the ACE2 receptor (the human protein that serves as the entry point for the coronavirus).
- Other significant spike protein mutations are D614G, A570D, P681H, H69/V70 deletion, and Y144 deletion.
What is the variant from South Africa?
- First detected in South Africa last October 2020, it is called 501Y.V2 or B1.351.
- This one is defined by nine changes in the spike protein in comparison to the reference — the “Wuhan-1 D614G spike mutant”.
- Concerns associated with it are that the spike mutations could lead to antigenic changes that are detrimental to monoclonal antibody therapies and vaccine protection.
What is the variant from Brazil?
- This is called P.1, a branch of the B.1.1.28 lineage.
- Public Health England has designated this too as a variant of concern as it shares some mutations with the South Africa variant, such as E484K and N501Y.
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