Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - August 26, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

Focus: GS2.

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


Context

  • United Nations observes 23 August every year as “International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition”. 
  • The Day is observed to inscribe the tragedy of the slave trade in the memory of all peoples.

Background

  • The day was designated by UNESCO to memorialize the transatlantic slave trade.
  • It is a day to honour the memory of the men and women who, in Saint-Domingue in 1791, revolted and paved the way for the end of slavery and dehumanization.

About the Highlights

  • It was on the night of 22 and 23 August 1791, in Santo Domingo (today Haiti and the Dominican Republic) that saw the beginning of the uprising that would play a crucial role in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.
  • It is against this background that the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is commemorated on 23 August each year.
  • The Day was first celebrated in a number of countries, particularly in Haiti on 23 August 1998 and at Goree in Senegal on 23 August 1999.

Source: AIR News.

NFL’s Vijaipur unit to produce compost from biodegradable waste

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Context

  • National Fertilizers Limited (NFL), a Miniratna PSU under the Department of Fertilizers Vijaipur (MP) is going to set up an Organic Waste Converter (OWC) Plant.
  • The biodegradable waste collected in the unit shall be transported to OWC where the same shall be segregated from non-degradable parts.
Background
  • It will take around 10 days to convert it into ready to use compost.
  • An initiative towards ‘Swachh Bharat’, the project aims to recycle around 2,000 Kg of the biodegradable waste per day which is generated in the township, including horticulture waste, and convert it into ready-to-use compost.

About the unit

  • The unit plans to utilise this compost as manure thus substituting consumption of fertilizers/ manure used for developments of parks or public places.
  • The compost can also be used by residents in their lawns and kitchen gardens. 
  • ØNFL’s (Vijaipur unit) Chief General Manager (CGM) Jagdeep Shah Singh performed Bhoomipujan of the upcoming organic waste converter plant in the presence of senior officials of the unit.

Source: PIB.

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Open API Service

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.


Context

  • As we move on to the new normal of learning to live with COVID19, Aarogya Setu team has worked on a new innovative feature which is called ‘Open API Service’.
  • In order to help businesses and economy to start functioning while being safe, the Open API Service enables organizations to check the status of Aarogya Setu and integrate it into its various Work from Home features.

Background

  • The Open API Service of Aarogya Setu, addresses the fear/risk of Covid-19 infections and help the people, businesses and the economy to return to normalcy.
  • Aarogya Setu has been powering India’s fight against COVID-19 since its launch on 2nd April 2020.

About the app

  • Aarogya Setu has now emerged as the most downloaded contact tracing App in the world, with more than 15 crore Users.
  • The overwhelming support of the people has enabled Aarogya Setu to aid the efforts of frontline health workers and the Government in COVID-19 mitigation and management efforts.
  • More than 6.6 million Bluetooth contacts have been traced and percentage positive of those who have tested is almost 27%.

About the Highlights

  • Thus Aarogya Setu based Bluetooth contact tracing and testing is very efficient and effective.
  • Similarly, many others have been advised for caution and quarantine and it has led to breaking the chain of spread and has been effective in early detection and ensuring that fatality rates in India are amongst the lowest.
  • The Aarogya Setu ITIHAS interface which uses location data and Aarogya Setu analytics to predict emerging hotspots at Sub Pincode levels has been very effective in helping the health officials and administration to take necessary precautionary steps.
  • More than 30,000 hotspots have been identified at a very granular level of 300 m X 300 m and shared with State Governments and Districts. 
  • Since its launch, Aarogya Setu has continuously innovated and introduced more novel features like e-pass integration, QR Code scanning, sharing of Health status with family/known persons - all of which have been very effective in keeping India and Indians safe in line with the motto of Aarogya Setu – Main Surakshit, Hum Surakshit, Bharat Surakshit.

About Open API Service

  • The Open API Service of Aarogya Setu, can be availed by organizations and business entities, who are registered in India with more than 50 employees, and they can use the Open API Service to query the Aarogya Setu Application in real-time and get the health status of their employees or any other Aarogya Setu User, who have provided their consent for sharing their health status with the organization.
  • The Open API shall only provide the Aarogya Setu status and name of the Aarogya Setu User (with User's consent).
  • No other personal data shall be provided through the API.

Source: PIB.

Power Ministry asks gencos to cap late payment surcharge at 12%

Focus: GS3.

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


Context

  • The power ministry has advised power generation firms and transmission companies to levy the late payment surcharge on discoms at not more than 12 per cent in view of the stress in the sector amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • The rate of late payment surcharge (LPS) in many cases is up to 18 per cent per annum and has adversely impacted discoms during lockdown.

Background

  • The measure aims at easing the financial burden on discoms (power distribution utilities), and would also benefit consumers, a ministry statement said. 
  • In order to alleviate the financial stress in the power system, all generating companies and transmission companies have been advised by Ministry of Power to charge Late Payment Surcharge at a rate not exceeding 12 per cent per annum (simple interest) for all payments made under the Liquidity Infusion Scheme of PFC and REC under Aatmanirbhar Bharat.

About the Highlights

  • In general, the applicable rate of LPS is quite high despite the fact that interest rates in the country have softened over the last few years.
  • The pandemic has adversely affected the liquidity position of all stakeholders of the power sector especially discoms.
  • A number of measures have been taken by the government to mitigate the adverse impact which include rebate on capacity charges, relaxing provisions of Letter of Credit for scheduling of power, Liquidity Infusion Scheme, etc. 
  • One of the measures taken is with regard to LPS, which becomes applicable in case of delayed payments by discoms to generating companies and transmission licensees for power purchase/ transmission of electricity for the period up to June 30, 2020, it said.  
  • This will help consumers by maintaining smooth power supply and reduction in charges despite the difficult times, it added.

Source: LiveMint.

BIS draft standard for drinking water supply

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India's interests, Indian diaspora.


Context

  • The Bureau of Indian Standards has recently prepared a draft standard for the supply system of piped drinking water and has invited comments from water utilities on it.
  • The aim to make process of piped water supply more uniform, especially in rural and underdeveloped areas of the country.

Background

  • The draft ‘Drinking water supply quality management system — requirements for piped drinking water supply service’, is prepared by the BIS’ Public Drinking Water Supply Services Sectional Committee.
  • It outlines process of water supply, from raw water sources to household taps.
  • It has been developed in view of Jal Jeevan Mission for providing safe and adequate drinking water to all rural households by 2024 through tap connections.

About the draft Highlights

  • It outlines requirements for a water supplier or a water utility on how they should establish, operate, maintain and improve their piped drinking water supply service.
  • The process begins with identification of a water source– which can either be groundwater or surface water sources such as rivers, streams or reservoirs.
  • After treatment the drinking water should conform to the Indian Standard (IS) 10500 developed by the BIS.
  • The IS 10500 outlines acceptable limit of various substances in drinking water, including heavy metals such as arsenic, and other parameters like the pH value of water, its turbidity, the total dissolved solids in it, and the colour and odour.
  • The water audit (calculation of amount of water put into distribution against the amount that is consumed) should be conducted on a quarterly basis.
  • Effort should be made by the water agency to bring down the water loss up to 15% of the total water supplied in the system.
  • The water utilities are required to conduct surveys among consumers and obtain feedback on their service as per the draft.

About water supply process

  • The supply system should begin with the identification of a raw water source.
  • Water should then be pumped into the treatment plantand treated to achieve the acceptable drinking standards.
  • After the water is released from the plant, there should be reservoirs in the distribution system for storageof this water, and disinfection facilities to get rid of contamination at any stage of distribution.
  • Pumping stations or boosters, should be provided to maintain adequate pressure throughout the distribution system.
  • Valves and meters and other appurtenancesshall be installed throughout the distribution system as control devices and for water audit.

Source: Indian Express.

Ministry of Agriculture funding start-ups under the innovation and agripreneurship

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

  • The Union Government accords very high priority to the agriculture sector.
  • In order to contribute directly and indirectly to enhancing the income of farmers by providing opportunites to them and to provide employment to youth, start-ups are being encouraged.
Background
  • A component, Innovation and Agri-entrepreneurship Development programme has been launched under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana in order to promote innovation and agripreneurship by providing financial support and nurturing the incubation ecosystem.
  • These start-ups are in various categories such as agro-processing, artificial intelligence, digital agriculture, farm mechanisation, waste to wealth, dairy, fisheries etc.

Components of the scheme

  • Agripreneurship Orientation - 2 months duration with a monthly stipend of Rs.  10,000/- per month.  Mentorship is provided on financial, technical, IP issues etc.
  • Seed Stage Funding of R-ABI Incubatees – Funding upto Rs. 25 lakhs (85% grant & 15% contribution from the incubatee).
  • Idea/Pre-Seed Stage Funding of Agripreneurs – Funding up to Rs. 5 lakhs (90% grant and 10% contribution from the incubatee).

About the Highlights

  • Activx Animal Health Technologies branded as Vetzz, is a network of Veterinary Doctors which provides immediate connect with customers i.e animal owners via real time tele consultation and doorstep visits.
  • SNL Innovations -  InnoFarms provides fruit and vegetable pulp processed directly at the farm using an in-house developed monoblock fruit processing platform (on-wheels) to convert fruits to pulp with shelf life of up to 1 year with complete traceability from farm to customer. 
  • EF Polymer developed an Eco-Friendly Water Retention Polymer with an aim to solve the water scarcity crisis for farmers.
  • This startup made a super absorbent polymer designed to absorb water in the soil, retain it for a long time, and supply to the crops as required.
  • Among the start-ups that have been selected are several start-ups led by women such as A2P Energy Solution that uses AI to track waste bio-mass and then works with farmers to collect it.
  • On one side it generates additional income for farmers and on the other side A2P converts the collected biomass into Next Gen biofuels like energy pellets, green coal and bio oil.
  • Kyari Innovations is working on mitigating human wildlife conflict pan India and internationally.
  • They have created an innovative product called ANIDERS- Animal Intrusion Detection and Repellent System.
  • This device works like a mechanized scarecrow that can protect farmlands from animal intrusions.
  • Agsmartic Technologies, has a vision to improve crop yield by precise irrigation and disease management though a data driven approach by using AI, IoT and computer vision.
  • Their product Croplytics® is a combination of hardware and software solution that integrates ground sensor data and satellite imagery to translate data into actionable information for creating a precise model for irrigation.

Source: PIB.

The Perseids meteor shower

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.


Context

  • The Perseids meteor shower is going to be active from August 17-26.
  • The annual celestial event is considered the best meteor shower, thanks to the many bright meteors and fireballs shooting through the sky making it easy for people to watch it from Earth.

About meteor showers

  • Meteors are bits of rock and ice that are ejected from comets as they manoeuvre around their orbits around the sun.
  • For instance, the Orionids meteors emerge from the comet 1P/Halley and make their yearly presence in October.
  • Meteor showers, on the other hand, are witnessed when Earth passes through the trail of debris left behind by a comet or an asteroid.
  • When a meteor reaches the Earth, it is called a meteorite and a series of meteorites, when encountered at once, is termed as a meteor shower.
  • According to NASA, over 30 meteor showers occur annually and are observable from the Earth.
  • As meteors fall towards the Earth, the resistance makes the space rocks extremely hot and, as meteorites pass through the atmosphere, they leave behind streaks of glowing gas that are visible to the observers and not the rock itself.

About the Highlights

  • The Perseids meteor shower peaks every year in mid-August.
  • It was first observed over 2,000 years ago.
  • The Perseids occur as the Earth runs into pieces of cosmic debris left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle.
  • The cloud of debris is about 27 km wide, and at the peak of the display, between 160 and 200 meteors streak through the Earth’s atmosphere every hour as the pieces of debris, travelling at some 2.14 lakh km per hour, burn up a little less than 100 km above the Earth’s surface.
  • The comet Swift-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1862 by Lewis Swift and Horace Tuttle, takes 133 years to complete one rotation around the sun.
  • The last time it reached its closest approach to the sun was in 1992 and will do so again in 2125.
  • Every time comets come close to the sun, they leave behind dust that is essentially the debris trail, which the Earth passes through every year as it orbits around the Sun.

Source: Indian Express.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. Consider the following statements:
  1. Australia will become the first country to require Facebook and Google to pay for news content provided by media companies under a royalty-style system that will become law this year.
  2. The move comes as the tech giants fend off calls around the world for greater regulation, and a day after Google and Facebook took a battering for alleged abuse of market power from US lawmakers in a congressional hearing.
  3. Google said the regulation ignores "billions of clicks" that it sends to Australian news publishers each year.

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. Magnetic hyperthermia-mediated therapy is related to:

       A. non-invasive cancer treatment
       B. invasive cancer treatment
       C. Typhoid
       D. COVID-19

Solution: A

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