Current Affairs Weekly (22-28 March-21)

National

Co-WIN upgraded to accommodate 1 crore registration

  • The Co-WIN platform, for COVID-19 vaccination registration, has been ramped up to accept one crore registrations and record vaccination of 50 lakh persons dailyfrom April 1
  • The system is operating at four levels — the one that is open to public (for registration), the verification level, platform management (open to hospitals giving the vaccine) and the certificate generation
  • CoWIN is essentially an extension of eVIN.
  • It is a cloud-based IT solution for planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of Covid-19 vaccination in India.
  • CoWIN is essentially an extension of eVIN, electronic vaccine intelligence network), which provides real-time feedback of vaccine stocks, power outages, temperature fluctuations etc.

ID for all land parcels by March 2022

  • This is the next step in the Digital India Land Records Modernisation Programme (DILRMP), which began in 2008 and has been extended several times as its scope grew.
  • It’s due to come to an end next week, but the Department has proposed a further extension to 2023-24.
  • This Department has taken new initiatives under the programme like NGDRS [or the National Generic Document Registration System], ULPIN, linking of court to land records, integration [of] consent based Aadhaar number with land records etc. which necessitated its further extension beyond 2020-21 till 2023-24.
  • Unique Land Parcel Identification Number (ULPIN) is proposed to be rolled out in 10 States during FY 2020-21 and by 2021-22 in the entire country.

India, Bangladesh sign five MoUs in various fields

  • Narendra Modi, paid a State Visit to Bangladesh from 26 to 27 March 2021 to join the celebrations of the Golden Jubilee of the Independence of Bangladesh, the Birth Centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 50 years of establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Bangladesh.
  • Five MoUs were signed between India and Bangladesh in various fields like disaster management, ICT equipment, and sports in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Dhaka.
  • India-Bangladesh Friendship stamps were also released to commemorate the of 50th anniversary of establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations.
  • To mark the 50th anniversary of India-Bangladesh friendship, both sides released respective commemorative postage stamps.
  • It was decided to commemorate 06 December as Maitri Diwas, the day when India recognized Bangladesh in the year 1971.
  • The Indian side announced the establishment of Bangabandhu Chair at the University of Delhi.

Rs. 465 crore as Performance Incentive fund for seven states under JJM

  • Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Sekhawat has approved Rs. 465 crore as Performance Incentive fund for seven states under Jal Jeevan Mission.
  • These states are Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
  • For performance incentive grant, the criteria includes physical and financial progress under Jal Jeevan Mission, functionality of piped water supply schemes and capacity to utilize the fund.

US adds India to list of countries affected by African swine fever

  • In a federal notification issued recently, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said India has been added to the list of regions that we consider to be affected with African Swine Fever (ASF.)
  • Pork and pork products from India, including casings, are now subject to APHIS import restrictions designed to mitigate the risk of ASF introduction into the United States.

Poshan Abhiyan for Senior Citizens under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment

  • The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment aims to launch a Poshan Abhiyan for the Elderly, to provide nutrition support to the indigent elders.
  • The Gram Panchayats and Urban Municipalities are the implementing agencies of the Scheme.
  • The funding for the Scheme is from the Senior Citizens Welfare Fund.
  • According to the ‘Report of Government of India’s Technical Group on Population Projection for India and States’ brought out in July, 2020, till the year 2036, population of senior citizens would be 22.74 crore (14.9%).
  • To ensure dignified ageing, Government of India has been implementing schemes and programmes under ‘National Action Plan for Senior Citizens’, an Umbrella Scheme for Senior Citizens.

116th meeting of the India-Pakistan Permanent Indus Commission

  • The Annual Meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) comprising of Indus Commissioners of India and Pakistan was held on March 23-24, 2021 in New Delhi.
  • Under the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty, signed between India and Pakistan in 1960, the two Commissioners are required to meet at least once every year, alternately in India and Pakistan
  • Discussions continued on designs of two Indian projects, namely, Pakal Dul (1000 MW) and Lower Kalnai (48 MW).
  • Pakistan raised objections to the designs of Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai hydropower plants in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The Pakal Dul Hydro Electric Project (1,000 MW) is proposed on the Marusudar river, a tributary of the Chenab river, in Kishtwar district in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The Lower Kalnai project is proposed in Kishtwar and Doda districts.

Indian Coast Guard Ship ‘Vajra’ commissioned to the Indian Coast Guard

  • Indian Coast Guard Ship ‘Vajra’ was commissioned by General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff today at Kattupalli in Chennai.
  • This is the sixth in the series of seven Offshore Patrol Vessel constructed by M/s Larsen & Toubro Ltd.

Double mutant’ Covid variant found in India

  • Health authorities have said they have found a new variant of the novel coronavirus with “double mutation”, which has infected 206 people in Maharashtra and some more in six other states.
  • The health ministry said that there are four major variants of the coronavirus that have been found in India—three foreign and a new indigenous one.
  • The most common of them all is the UK variant—found in 736 people in 18 states.

Tribal TB Initiative’ in pursuit of TB Mukt Bharat

  • Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan recently launched ‘Tribal TB Initiative’ in pursuit of TB Mukt Bharat.
  • The government has already increased the Budget allocation for TB in India a four-fold in the last five years.
  • The Union Territories of Lakshadweep and district of Badgam in Jammu and Kashmir have been declared TB Free on World TB Day this year.

India TB Report 2021

  • According to the India TB report released by the Health Ministry, in 2020, there were 18.05 TB notifications, which was a fall of 24% from 2019 due to the disruptions caused by the pandemic.
  • The report said 20,892 (42%) of patients were initiated on a shorter MDR-TB regimen at the time of diagnosis.
  • This is a significant decline from 2019 [71% were initiated on the shorter MDR-TB regimen].

India’s second COVID-19 wave could last up to 100 days

  • The State Bank of India in a report said that the business activity Index has declined in the recent weeks with the latest value at 101.7.
  • The research report titled ‘Second wave of infections: The beginning of the end?’ notes the spike in coronavirus cases as over 2.5 million cases are likely to be reported in the second wave that may last upto 100 days.

Khelo India Scheme extended to 2025-26

  • Khelo India Scheme has been extended to 2025-26, Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju announced in Rajya Sabha.
  • The Ministry has decided to extend Khelo India scheme from 2021-22 to 2025-26.
  • An amount of Rs 657.71 crore has been allocated in the Budget Estimate (B.E.) for the year 2021-22 under the Khelo India Scheme.
  • The first Khelo India Games were held in 2018.

India sends 2,00,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to UNPKF

  • India delivered on its promise of 2,00,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines for the United Nations Peacekeeping Force (UNPKF) worldwide, sending a shipment bound for Copenhagen.
  • The cargo of AstraZeneca Covishield vaccines produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII) in Pune was sent despite the government’s decision to reduce exports in view of the need for vaccines domestically.

Indo-Korean Bilateral Friendship Park in Delhi

  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh along with his South Korean counterpart Suh inaugurated the Indo-Korean Bilateral Friendship Park in Delhi Cantonment recently to commemorate the contribution of Indian peacekeepers during the Korean War in 1950-53.
  • This Friendship Park has been built to commemorate the contribution of Indian peacekeepers during the Korean War in 1950-53.

Supreme Court refuses to Stay Sale of Fresh Electoral Bonds

  • The Supreme Court recently refused to stay the sale of electoral bonds before Assembly elections in crucial States like West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.
  • The judgment came on an urgent application moved by NGO Association for Democratic Reforms, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, to stay the sale scheduled between April 1 and 10.
  • The electoral bonds were introduced with the Finance Bill (2017). On January 29, 2018 the Narendra Modi-led NDA government notified the Electoral Bond Scheme 2018.
  • The bonds are issued in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 100,000 and Rs 1 crore (the range of a bond is between Rs 1,000 to Rs 1 crore). These will be available at some branches of SBI.
  • The electoral bonds are available for purchase for 10 days in the beginning of every quarter. The first 10 days of January, April, July and October has been specified by the government for purchase of electoral bonds. An additional period of 30 days shall be specified by the government in the year of Lok Sabha elections.
  • The electoral bonds will not bear the name of the donor.
  • Any party that is registered under section 29A of the Representation of the Peoples Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) and has secured at least one per cent of the votes polled in the most recent General elections or Assembly elections is eligible to receive electoral bonds.

7th annual summit of NATHEALTH

  • Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare addressed the 7th annual summit of NATHEALTH focusing on ‘Indian Health system expansion in post-COVID era’ through a video conference recently.
  • The vision behind the policy-framework has been to attain the highest possible level of health and well-being for all, across all age groups.
  • Health has also been identified in Budget 2021-22 as one of the six main pillars to drive growth.

International

Giant container ship remains stuck across Egypt’s Suez Canal

  • A giant container ship got stuck across Egypt’s Suez Canal after attempts to dislodge it and more than 300 ships are stuck on either side of the blockage.
  • The Ever Given has been wedged in the canal – one of the world’s busiest trade routes.

Indo-US naval exercise PASSEX in Bay of Bengal

  • India and the US kicked off a two-day naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal recently.
  • Indian Navy deployed its warship Shivalik and long-range maritime patrol aircraft P8I in the ‘PASSEX’ exercise while the US Navy was represented by the USS Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group.

Adult use of marijuana legalised in New York

  • New York lawmakers passed a bill to legalize adult use of marijuana, which will make it the 15th state in the United States to allow recreational use of the drug.

Pakistan test-fires nuclear-capable Shaheen 1-A surface-to-surface ballistic missile

  • Pakistan conducted a successful flight test of the nuclear-capable Shaheen 1-A surface-to-surface ballistic missile recently.
  • The missile has a strike range of 900 kilometres.

Biden to host virtual Climate Summit for world leaders in April

  • President of United States, Joe Biden, has invited 40 world leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for a US-hosted virtual summit on climate in April 2021.
  • According to White House, the Leaders’ Summit and the COP26 summit will be organised with the objective of catalysing efforts in order to keep the goal of limiting the global temperature at 1.5 degree Celsius.

Saudi Arabia proposes ceasefire plan to Yemen’s Houthi rebels

  • Saudi Arabia has offered Yemen’s Houthi rebels a nationwide ceasefire in a series of proposals aimed at ending the brutal six-year war in the country, including the partial lifting of the blockade on Sana’a international airport and some seaports.
  • The Saudi-led coalition entered Yemen’s war in March 2015 as the Houthis threatened to take Yemen’s port city of Aden and completely overrun the country’s internationally recognized government.

Taiwan introduces water rationing amid rising drought concerns

  • Taiwan will from next month ration water for more than one million households in the centre of the island because of a drought.
  • Taiwan has begun rationing water supplies to more than one million households as it tackles the island’s worst drought in years.
  • The shortage is due to reduced rainfall, leaving water levels in reservoirs far below capacity.

India ranks 40th on International Intellectual Property Index

  • India ranked 40 among 53 global economies on the latest annual edition of the International Intellectual Property (IP) Index released recently.
  • Released annually by the US Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Centre (GIPC), the Index evaluates Intellectual Property rights in 53 global economies from patent and copyright policies to commercialisation of IP assets and ratification of international treaties.
  • India ranked 40th in 2020, scoring 38.4 out of 100 on a set of 50 intellectual property-related indicators.
  • India’s overall score has increased from 36.04 per cent (16.22 out of 45) in the seventh edition to 38.46 per cent (19.23 out of 50) in the eighth edition.

New Zealand passes Miscarriages Bereavement Leave Law

  • New Zealand’s parliament has passed legislation giving mothers and their partners the right to paid leave following a miscarriage or still birth, becoming only the second country in the world to do so.
  • The bereavement allowance gives employees three days leave when a pregnancy ends with a stillbirth without having to tap into sick leave.

World’s First Ship Tunnel proposed in Norway

  • An engineering project billed as the world’s first ship tunnel is slated for construction in Norway.
  • The tunnel will run underneath the mountains in Norway’s Stadhavet peninsula. It will measure 1,700 metres long, 37 metres high and 26.5 metres wide when complete.

States

Asia’s largest tulip garden opens to public in Srinagar

  • The Asia’s largest tulip garden was thrown open on March 25 in Srinagar, with around 4,000 visitors enjoying the bloom of the 25% of the 15 lakh flowers planted over 30 hectares located at the foothills of the Zabarwan Range.
  • The garden has 62 varieties of tulips. They stay in bloom from three to four weeks.

28th “Hunar Haat” inaugurated at Panaji, Goa

  • Goa Chief Minister Dr. Pramod Sawant inaugurated 28th “Hunar Haat” of indigenous artisans and craftsmen at Kala Academy, Campal, Panaji recently.

Affordable Rental Housing Scheme for Students, Urban Migrants in Uttar Pradesh

  • The Uttar Pradesh government will start an affordable rental housing scheme for the students, poor people living in cities and the urban migrants.
  • Under the state government’s affordable rental housing scheme, students, urban migrants, poor labourers, those belonging to economically weaker section (EWS), low-income groups including factory workers and people associated with hospitality will be the beneficiaries.

Economy

The Finance Bill, 2021

The Lok Sabha passed the Finance Bill, 2021 to give effect to the financial proposals of the Central Government for the financial year 2021

Some major proposals under the Bill as summarised as follows:

  • The bill provides 10-year income-tax exemption to National Bank in order to Finance the Infrastructure and Development.
  • The Bill also proposes to amend the Income Tax Act, 1961; Life Insurance Corporation Act, 1956; the Securities Contracts ((Regulation) Act, 1956; the Central Sales Tax Act, 1956; the SEBI Act, 1992; etc.
  • Government has raised the limit for tax exemption on interest earned on provident fund contributions by employees to 5 lakh per annum in specified cases as against 2.5 lakh rupees proposed in the Budget.
  • The tax-free limit is now being amended to a maximum of 5 lakh rupees per annum.

Shaheed Bhagat Singh Smarak

  • To commemorate 90 years of the martyrdom of our national icons of the Indian National Movement -Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar and Shivaram Rajguru, a memorial – Shaheed Bhagat Singh Smarak -was inaugurated virtually by Union Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ at the Delhi University.

Awards/Honours

Asha Bhosle wins 2020 Maharashtra Bhushan award

  • Eminent singer Asha Bhosle has been selected for Maharashtra Bhushan award, the state government’s highest honour.
  • A committee chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray decided to select Bhosle for the award for the year 2020.

Harsh Mariwala is EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2020

  • Marico Industries’ Founder-Chairman Harsh Mariwala has been named EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2020 and will represent India at the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year Award in June.
  • Prathap Chandra Reddy, founder and executive chairman of Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd. was given the lifetime achievement award.

Persons/Places

Mahinder Giri: The range officer of Rajaji Tiger Reserve is the only ranger from Asia to win the prestigious International Ranger Award for his contribution towards conservation.The award has been announced for 10 professionals across the world by the International Union for Conservation of Nature IUCN and World Commission on Protected Areas WCPA.

Anil Dharker: Noted journalist and author died in Mumbai recently.He was the founder and director of the Mumbai International Literary Festival.

Beverly Cleary:The celebrated children’s author whose memories of her Oregon childhood were shared with millions died in US on March 25, 2021 at the age of 104.

Justice NV Ramana:He has been recommended as the next (48th) chief Justice of India. Presently, Justice Ramana is the senior-most Supreme Court judge.

Appointed/Elected

Denis Sassou Nguesso re-elected

Denis Sassou Nguesso has been re-elected president of the Republic of the Congo with 88.57 percent of the vote.

Saurabh Garg, new CEO of UIDAI

Senior bureaucrat Saurabh Garg has been appointed as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). Garg is at present serving in his cadre state Odisha.

Sports

ISSF World Cup: India wins gold in 25m rapid fire pistol

  • India’s Vijayveer Sidhu and Tejaswani won the gold medal in the 25m rapid fire pistol mixed team event of the ISSF World Cup at Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range in New Delhi on March 27, 2021.
  • Silver was also won by Indian team of Gurpreet Singh and Ashok Abhidnya Patil.

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