Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - January 06, 2021 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

Cabinet clears ₹3,000-cr for Paradip Port Project

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.


Context

  • The Union government has approved ₹3,000 crore to upgrade Paradip Port into a world-class port facility by setting up a dock.
  • The port, which is located in Odisha, is one of the 12 major ports under the control of the Centre and handles the cargo of about 115 MT which is likely to increase substantially to about 400 MT by 2030.

Background

  • The decision to set up the western dock was taken to attract large vessels with a capacity of handling 1.5-ton cargo.
  • The port, after the proposed upgrade, can easily handle very large vessels for which an 18-metre draft is required and these ships can dock there resulting in a reduction in logistics cost.

Highlights

  • The need of the hour is to boost EXIM trade in the current global competitive environment and will generate huge job avenues to people.
  • Ports, Shipping and Waterways Ministry informed that the project pertains to deepening and optimization of inner harbour facilities including development of western dock on the build, operate and transfer (BOT) basis under Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode to handle cape size vessels at port.

Source: PIB.

IFSCA becomes associate member of the global lobby group IOSCO

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.


Context

  • International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) said that it has become an associate member of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO).
  • The IOSCO works closely with the G20 nations and the Financial Stability Board (FSB), in setting up the standards for strengthening the securities markets, said IFSCA.

Background

  • The IOSCO Objectives and Principles of Securities Regulation have been endorsed by FSB as one of the key standards for sound financial systems.
  • The membership of IOSCO will provide the IFSCA a platform to exchange information at the global level, and even at the regional level, on areas of common interests.

Highlights

  • The IOSCO platform will enable the IFSCA to learn from the experiences and best practices of the regulators of other well established financial centres, it added.
  • The first International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in the country has been set up at the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) in Gandhinagar.
  • To regulate such institutions, the government established IFSCA on April 27 last year with its head office in Gandhinagar.
  • In December 2019, Parliament passed a bill to set up a unified authority for regulating all financial activities at IFSCs in the country.

Source: Business Standard.

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Lightning Killed 1,771 in 2019 – but Strikes Are Becoming Less Deadly

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Disaster and disaster management.


Context

  • India recorded 1,771 deaths due to lightning between April 1, 2019, and March 31, 2020.
  • Uttar Pradesh reported the most fatalities among India’s states, followed by Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand and Maharashtra, in that order.

Background

  • According to the Annual Lightning Report 2019-2020, released on December 31, 2020, this figure is substantially lower than the figure for 2018.
  • The report is the product of the Lightning Resilient India Campaign – in turn a joint initiative of the Climate Resilient Observing Systems Promotion Council (CROPC); the India Meteorological Department (IMD); the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune; the India Meteorological Society; and an NGO called World Vision India.

Highlights

  • India’s National Crime Record Bureau says 2,389 personsdied by lightning in 2018, and that this cause of death is the single most common reason for deaths by forces of nature (34.2%).
  • Very broadly, there are three forms of lightning: inter-cloud, intra-cloud and cloud-to-ground. Lightning of the last variety kills humans, as well as wild animals and livestock, and can substantially damage property.
  • The Lightning Resilient India Campaign’s mission, which its members shared during the report’s launch, is to lower the deaths due to lightning by 80% before 2023.
  • Their approach “includes carrying IMD’s early warnings timely to the community in an impact-based forecast” creating awareness of the warnings, promoting “lightning safety and protection along with research”, and “simultaneous advocacy for policy and technology interventions through meaningful academia and NGO partnerships,”.
  • The campaign has also created a country-wide network, with help from different state governments, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), IITM, and other organisations and institutions.
  • The network broadcasts early warnings, which are derived from a variety of inputs including radar data, ISRO satellite imagery, air force observations and lightning sensors installed by IITM researchers.

Source: AIR News.

Northeast's First-Ever Ginger Processing Plant In Meghalaya To Become Functional In 2021

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.


Context

  • Northeast's first-ever specialised 'ginger' processing plant at district Ri-Bhoui in Meghalaya is being revived and is likely to become functional in the beginning of 2021, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said.
  • After reviewing the functioning of the North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation (NERAMAC), Singh said that the only Ginger Processing Plant of North East India was established around the year 2004 but has remained non-functional for many years.

Background

  • The NERAMAC has now undertaken the responsibility of reviving it and initiated steps to operationaliae the closed plant through PPP mode.
  • The plant located at the Export Promotion Industrial Park (EPIP), Raja Bhagan, Byrnihat Hatt will not only process ginger but also help in preparing products like waxed ginger, ginger paste, ginger powder, ginger flakes, ginger oil etc.

Highlights

  • Ginger has attained prominence in the recent months because of its reported properties as an immunity booster, and Prime Minister had also referred to this recently.
  • The ginger products to be prepared from the unit, the minister said, will not only be available for domestic consumption but will also have a wider demand outside.
  • It will also fulfil Prime Minister’s call for ''Vocal for Local''.
  • According to the NERAMAC, the north-eastern region produces about 4,50,000 tonnes of high-quality ginger every year but most of it is sold at a low price due to lack of processing and cold storage facilities.
  • The plant in Meghalaya is expected to give the much-needed relief to the ginger growers. 

Source: Business Standard.

Harsh Vardhan opens new IMD centre in Ladakh

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.


Context

  • Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Earth Sciences, Science and Technology and Health and Family Welfare, inaugurated the India Meteorological Department's centre at Leh in Ladakh via video conferencing.
  • As per an official release, the Union Minister thanked the administration of Ladakh for extending full support and their active cooperation in establishing the Met Centre facility at Leh.

Background

Elaborating on the need for a Met Centre at Leh, Dr Harsh Vardhan said that the Ladakh region has lofty mountains with high slopes and no vegetation and a lot of loose soil and debris making the region vulnerable to various kinds of natural hazards like cloud burst (of 2010), flash floods, avalanches and glacial lake outbursts, among other things.

Highlights

  • To avert losses due to such weather events in future, the Government felt the need to establish a state of the art Meteorological (Met) Centre at Leh in 2020 to strengthen weather-related early warning system in Ladakh.
  • Located at a height of 3500 meters, Meteorological Centre Leh is creating history, as it will be the highest meteorological centre in India.
  • To help the administration and the people of Ladakh, IMD will provide a range of weather forecast services, ranging from short (three days) and medium (twelve days) to extended (one month) period to all the stakeholders on a daily basis for both the districts (Leh and Kargil).
  • Apart from district level forecast, IMD will provide a forecast for important tourist places like Nubra, Changthang, Pangong Lake, Zanskar, Kargil, Drass, Dha-Baima (Aryan valley), Khalsi, among other places.
  • Some of the important services to be made available are highway forecast, forecast for mountaineering, trekking, agriculture, flash flood warning, low and high temperatures among others.

Source: LiveMint.

IIT Hyderabad sets up ‘TiHAN-IIT’ testbed for autonomous navigation systems

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.


Context

  • Union Minister of Education has virtually laid the foundation stone of ‘TiHAN-IIT Hyderabad.
  • It is India’s first Technology Innovation Hub for Autonomous Navigation Systems and Data Acquisition Systems setup by IIT Hyderabad.

Background

  • The hub focuses on addressing various challenges hindering the real-time adoption of unmanned autonomous vehicles for both terrestrial and aerial applications.
  • It was sanctioned and funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) under the National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS).

Highlights

  • The hub’s focus sectors include Intelligent, Autonomous Transportation and Systems, Agriculture, Surveillance, and Environmental & Infrastructure Monitoring.
  • The hub will be available for use by industries, R&D labs, academia conducting research and development in the broad areas of autonomous navigation.

Source: Indian Express.

Union health minister Harsh Vardhan nominated to board of vaccine alliance GAVI

Focus: GS2.                                

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.


Context

Union minister for health and family welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan was nominated by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) as a board member.

Background

“Dr Harsh Vardhan will be representing the South East Area Regional Office (SEARO)/Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO) constituency on the GAVI Board. The seat is currently held by Mr MyintHtwe of Myanmar. Dr Harsh Vardhan will be representing India from 1st January 2021 until 31st December 2023,” Union health ministry said in a statement.

Highlights

  • GAVI is an international organisation that was created in the year 2000 to improve access to new and underused vaccines for numerous vaccine-preventable diseases for children who live in the world’s poorest countries.
  • The GAVI Board normally meets twice a year in June and November or December and holds an annual retreat, normally in March or April. All these meetings are normally attended in person.
  • The GAVI board is responsible for strategic direction and policy-making oversees the operations of the Vaccine Alliance and monitors programme implementation.
  • With membership drawn from a range of partner organisations, as well as experts from the private sector, the board provides a forum for balanced strategic decision-making, innovation and partner collaboration.
  • GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance as part of its mission to save lives, reduce poverty and protect the world against the threat of epidemics, has helped vaccinate more than 822 million children in the world’s poorest countries, preventing more than 14 million future deaths.
  • Dr NgoziOkonjo-lweala currently serves as chair of the GAVI Alliance Board.

Source: Hindustan Times.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. Consider the following statements wrt SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia:
  • The overall aim of the Consortium is to monitor the genomic variations in the SARS-CoV-2 on a regular basis through a multi-laboratory network.
  • This vital research consortium will also assist in developing potential vaccines in the future.
  • It comprises 10 labs namely DBT-NIBMG Kalyani, DBT-ILS Bhubaneswar, ICMR-NIV Pune, DBT-NCCS Pune, CSIR-CCMB Hyderabad, DBT-CDFD Hyderabad, DBT-InSTEM/ NCBS Bengaluru, NIMHANS Bengaluru, CSIR-IGIB Delhi, and NCDC Delhi.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

      A. 1 and 2 only
      B. 2 and 3 only
      C. 1 and 3 only
      D. AOTA

Solution: D

  1. Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) is under the Ministry of:

      A. Human Resource Development
      B. Science and Technology
      C. PMO
      D. NITI Aayog

Solution: B

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