Current Affairs Weekly (17-23 May 2021)

National

Operation Samudra Setu II

  • As part of ongoing COVID Relief Operation ‘Samudra Setu II’ launched by the Indian Navy, INS Jalawsha embarked with critical COVID Medical Stores including 3650 Oxygen Cylinders from Brunei and Singapore, arrived in Visakhapatnam.

India ranks 3rd in ‘Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index

  • India has moved up a spot to third position on EY’s Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index owing to an exceptional performance on the solar photovoltaic (PV) front.
  • US and China are in the first and the second spot, respectively.
  • According to the report released recently, India’s solar sector is likely to grow substantially post the COVID-19 pandemic, with generation from solar PV forecast to outdo coal before 2040.

ELDERLINE (14567) becomes operational in several states

  • In order to address the problems of elders in the context of the ongoing COVID pandemic, the Ministry of Social Justice has started state wise call centers in major states under the ELDERLINE project.
  • These call centers can be reached by toll free number 14567. All elders may be advised to use this facility.
  • The ELDERLINE is a facility operationalized with the assistance of Tata Trusts and NSE foundation.

New Delhi ranks 32nd and Mumbai 36th in Global Prime Residential Index by Knight Frank

  • London-based property consultant Knight Frank has ranked New Delhi and Mumbai in 32nd and 36th positions respectively in the Global Prime Residential Index.
  • While Bengaluru moved down by four places in Q1 2021 and is ranked 40; Delhi and Mumbai dipped one places each in the same period.
  • Globally, Shenzhen ranked 1st with 18.9% annual change for the period Q1 2020 – Q1 2021.
  • New York was the weakest-performing global city during the period, with luxury home prices falling by 5.8%. The city is ranked 46th.

4.5 million passengers affected in massive cyber-attack on Air India

  • Air India’s data processor, SITA PSS (Passenger Service System), had in recent months informed the airline about a cyber-attack it faced in February, following which the Indian airline investigated the matter and secured compromised servers.
  • The breach involved personal data, such as name, contact, passport, ticket and credit card details, registered between Aug 2011 and Feb 2021.
  • Personal data of about 4.5 million passengers of Air India was leaked in a cyber-attack on the airline’s data processor.

Ministry of Rural Development launches NMMS app

  • The Rural Development Minister has launched National Mobile Monitoring Software, NMMS app and Area officer monitoring App through Video-Conferencing.
  • The NMMS App permits taking real time attendance of workers at Mahatma Gandhi NREGA worksites along with geotagged photograph, which will increase citizen oversight of the programme besides potentially enabling processing payments faster.
  • Area Officer Monitoring App facilitates them to record their findings online along with time stamped and go-coordinate tagged photograph for all the schemes of Department of Rural Development.

INS Trikand arrives in Mumbai with Covid relief material from Qatar

  • As part of ongoing COVID relief Operation Samudra Setu II, INS Trikand arrived in Mumbai with Covid relief material from Qatar.
  • Meanwhile, Indian Naval Ships Teg, Betwa, Subhadra, Makar, Tarasa and 07 ISVs apart from naval helicopters and aircraft relentlessly continue with their search and rescue operation efforts off the west coast of India in wake of the sinking of Barge P305 in ODA due to havoc wreaked by Cyclone Tauktae.

Innovation Challenge for Indian Language Learning App

  • MyGov has launched the Innovation Challenge to create an app that will enable individuals to learn simple sentences of any Indian language and acquire working knowledge of a language.
  • This Innovation Challenge has been launched to take forward Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of celebrating India’s cultural diversity through greater interaction.
  • The objective is to create an app that will promote regional language literacy, and create greater cultural understanding.

Cyclonic Storm ‘Yaas’ in Bay of Bengal

  • Severe cyclonic storm ‘Yaas’ is likely to make landfall near Dhamra Port in Odisha.
  • Cyclone Yaas is the second ‘severe cyclonic storm’ to have formed close to the Odisha and West Bengal coasts in the month of May since 1980.
  • Cyclone Yaas has been named by Oman under the cyclone naming guidelines by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).
  • Yaas refers to a tree that has a good fragrance and in English the word is similar to Jasmine.

Six Indian sitesin tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites

  • Six Indian sites, including the temples of Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, the Ganga ghats in Varanasi, and the Satpura Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, have been added to the tentative list of UNESCO’s world heritage sites, the Ministry of Culture, recently announced.
  • The sites on the tentative list are: Satpura Tiger Reserve, Iconic riverfront of the historic city of Varanasi, Megalithic site of Hire Benkal, Maratha Military Architecture in Maharashtra, Bhedaghat-Lametaghat in Narmada Valley- Jabalpur, and temples of Kanchipuram.

SAMVEDNA

  • With an objective of providing psychological first-aid and emotional support to children affected during COVID-19 Pandemic, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)is providing Tele-Counselling to children through SAMVEDNA (Sensitizing Action on Mental Health Vulnerability through Emotional Development and Necessary Acceptance).
  • It is a Toll-Free Helpline launched to provide psycho-social mental support for Children affected during COVID 19 Pandemic.

INS Rajput decommissioned

  • The Indian Navy’s Kashin-class destroyer INS Rajput, the first warship to be fitted with long-range BrahMos missile, was decommissioned recently after 41 years of service.
  • The destroyer, built by the erstwhile USSR and commissioned on May 4, 1980, had the distinction of being part of both the Western and Eastern fleets.
  • INS Rajput was constructed in the 61 Communards shipyard in Nikolaev (now Ukraine) under her original Russian name “Nadezhny”, meaning “hope”.

 ‘YoungWarrior’ movement to fight Covid-19 in India

  • The UNICEF has launched’YoungWarrior’ – a pan-India movement to engage 5 million young people across the country to address the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

State

Uttarakhand govt announces Vatsalya Yojana for children orphaned due to Corona

  • Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat has announced Chief Minister Vatsalya Yojana for orphaned children who have lost their parents due to Covid-19.
  • Under the scheme, the State Government will make arrangements for their maintenance, education and training for employment up to the age of 21 years.
  • Chief minister said that such orphaned children of the state will be given a maintenance allowance of 3000 rupees per month.

Karnataka ranks first in executing Ayushman Bharat

  • Karnataka stands at first place when it comes to establishing health and wellness centres (HWC) under the Ayushman Bharat programme to provide comprehensive primary health care in rural areas.

Jharkhand ranks first in implementation of Smart City Mission schemes

  • Jharkhand has reached the first position in the recent ranking released by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs based on the progress of the implementation of the Smart City Mission’s schemes running in different 100 cities of the country’s 36 states and union territories.
  • At the same time, state capital has risen to twelfth position in terms of progress of the ongoing mission plans in 100 cities.

Anti-love jihad Billin Gujarat

  • Gujarat Governor Acharya Devvrat has given his assent to eight important Bills, including the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which has been projected as the “anti-love jihad” Bill.
  • The Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill 2021 proposes punishment of 3-10 years in jail for forcible or fraudulent religious conversions through marriage.

Online portal: Jagrut Tripura

  • Recently, the Tripura Government has launched an online portal named Jagrut Tripura.
  • It will help the people of the state avail benefits from the various schemes that has been launched by the State as well as the Central Government.

Haryana first state to reimburse GST on Covid-related donations

  • Haryana became the first state in the country to allow reimbursement of goods and services tax (GST) paid on Covid-related donations made to the state and state-run facilities.

Haryana makes Covid-19 treatment free for BPL patients in private hospitals

  • The government of Haryana has announced that the state government will bear all expenses of COVID-19 patients belonging to below poverty line (BPL) category undergoing treatment in private hospitals.

International

US imposes visa restrictions on Ethiopia and Eritrea

  • The United States has announced restrictions on economic and security assistance provided to Ethiopia and Eritrea over fighting in Tigray.
  • Visas will also not be issued to those thought responsible for the crisis.
  • Restrictions targeted “current or former Ethiopian or Eritrean government officials, members of the security forces, or other individuals — to include Amhara regional and irregular forces and members of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) — responsible for, or complicit in, undermining resolution of the crisis in Tigray

Ana near Bermuda: First named Atlantic Storm of 2021, 

  • Ana is the first named storm in the Atlantic this year, though hurricane season doesn’t officially start until June 1.
  • The first named Atlantic storm of the season Ana is posing no threat to land.
  • According to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, subtropical storm Ana is drifting northeast over the Atlantic Ocean after bringing rain to Bermuda.

Spain and Morocco in diplomatic crisis

  • A diplomatic rift has deepened between Spain and Morocco after thousands of undocumented migrants attempted to enter Spanish territory in the northern African country.
  • Thousands of migrants entered Ceuta, one of two Spanish enclaves situated on the northern coast of Morocco recently.
  • Ceuta is a coastal city of North Africa.
  • The city is a Spanish possession on Moroccan coast.
  • Developments in the city of Ceuta is one of biggest crisis affecting the relation between both the countries since 2002.
  • In the year 2002, a territorial dispute occurred over an uninhabited island on Moroccan coast.

UK launches third booster dose trial of seven Corona vaccines

  • In a first, the UK has launched a new clinical trial that will assess the efficacy of a third ‘booster’ dose of seven different Covid-19 vaccines on patients’ immune responses.
  • The trial will assess Covid-19 vaccines of Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Novavax, Valneva, Janssen and Curevac.
  • The trial, named Cov-Boost, aims to begin in June and recruit 3,000 people of all ages who had their first dose in December or January, to test if this is worthwhile.

US President Joe Biden signs anti-hate crime legislation

  • United States President Joe Biden has signed an anti-hate crime legislation recently.
  • It directs federal law enforcement to address a rise in violent attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders during the coronavirus pandemic in the USA.

NASA’ first mobile robot to the Moon

  • NASA is planning to send its first mobile robot to the Moon in late 2023 in search of ice and other resources on and below the lunar surface.
  • Data from the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, would help the agency map resources at the lunar South Pole that could one day be harvested for long-term human exploration at the Moon.
  • Running on solar power, VIPER will need to quickly maneuver around the extreme swings in light and dark at the lunar South Pole.

G20 Global Health Summit in Rome

  • On 21 May 2021 in Rome, the European Commission and Italy, as chair of the G20, co-hosted the Global Health Summit.
  • The Declaration sets out a series of mutual reinforcing principles and commitments that will guarantee us to improve preparedness, a coordinated response, resilience to and recovery from the current pandemic, and a better preparation for possible future health emergencies.

Russia, China to built their biggest Nuclear Power Project

  • China and Russia have agreed to jointly build units 7 and 8 of the Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant and Units 3 and 4 of the Xudapu Nuclear Power Plant in China.
  • This is the biggest China and Russia Nuclear Energy Cooperation project to date and it also represents the highest level of cooperation between the two sides.

Israel- Hamas ceasefire

  • A Ceasefire came into force May 21 in Gaza Strip, bringing halt to fiercest fighting between Israel and Hamas.
  • The Egypt brokered ceasefire ended the 11-day fighting.
  • The development came a day after US President Joe Biden urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to seek de-escalation, and amid mediation bids by Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations.

EU parliament ‘freezes’ China trade deal 

  • Members of the European Parliament has voted to freeze discussions on an investment deal with China until Beijing removes the retaliatory sanctions it imposed on EU lawmakers.
  • The motion stalls the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI).
  • According to the motion, any consideration of the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, as well as any discussion on ratification by the European Parliament, has justifiably been frozen because the Chinese sanctions are in place.
  • The motion also demanded that China lifts the sanctions before dealing with CAI, without prejudice to the final outcome of the CAI ratification process.

Economy

India’s First Agriculture Export Facilitation Centre in Pune

  • The Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture (MCCIA) has launched India’s first agro-export facilitation centre in Pune.
  • The new Facilitation Centre will work as a one-stop-centre for the exporters in the agricultural sector as well as boost agricultural exports from the region, as per global standards.

India second largest insurance-technology market in Asia-Pacific: Report

  • India is the second-largest insurance technology market in Asia-Pacific.
  • It accounts for 35 percent of the $3.66 billion insurtech-focused venture capital invested in the region, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

Govt raises subsidy on DAP fertiliser by 140% to Rs 1,200 per bag

  • A historic decision was taken to increase the subsidy for DAP fertiliser from Rs 500 per bag to Rs 1,200 per bag, which is an increase of 140%.
  • Last year, the actual price of DAP was Rs 1,700 per bag. In which the Central Government was giving a subsidy of Rs 500 per bag. So, the companies were selling fertilizer to farmers for Rs 1,200 per bag.
  • The Central Government spends about Rs 80,000 crore on subsidies for chemical fertilisers every year.
  • With the increase in subsidy in DAP, Government of India will spend an additional Rs 14,775 crore as subsidy in Kharif season.
  • This is the second major decision in the farmers’ interest, after directly transferring Rs 20,667 crore in Farmers’ account under PM-KISAN on the day of Akshay Tritiya.

Science and Environment

COVID-19 Treatment: Plasma therapy discontinued, Remdesivir next?

  • The Covid National Task Force recently dropped Plasma therapy from India’s Covid treatment protocol.
  • A day after Plasma therapy was dropped from India’s Covid-19 treatment protocol, another widely-used anti-viral medication, Remdesivircan soon be dropped from the list of possible treatments of Covid-19.
  • The WHO chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan had opposed the use of Ivermectin also except in clinical trials.
  • Hydroxychloroquine: The most-talked about anti-malarial drug since the early days of the pandemic, has been widely dismissed by the medical community.
  • However, it continues to be in India’s Covid treatment protocol for mildly infected Covid patients.

DIPCOVAN: Indigenous Covid-19 antibody detection kit

  • The Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences (DIPAS), a laboratory of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), has developed an antibody detection-based kit ‘DIPCOVAN’.
  • It requires just 75 minutes to conduct the test without any cross reactivity with other diseases. The kit has a shelf life of 18 months.
  • It will be used in Covid-19 epidemiology studies such as sero-surveys.

World’s largest iceberg breaks off from Antarctica

  • Recently, a huge iceberg, the world’s largest, has broken off from an ice shelf in Antarctica and is floating through the Weddell Sea.
  • Called A-76 and roughly the shape of Manhattan but more than 70 times bigger, it is currently the largest berg in the world.
  • It takes the place as the world’s largest from the A-23A iceberg – approximately 3,880 sq km in size – which is also in the Weddell Sea.

SPOT (Scalable and Portable Testing)-New COVID-19 Saliva Test invented

  • The US scientists has invented a new COVID-19 Saliva Testing method called SPOT.
  • SPOT is Scalable and Portable Testing.
  • The test is very much similar to that of the RT-PCR. But it uses Reverse Transcriptase Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification (RT-LAMP).
  • RT-LAMP is a one-step nucleic acid amplification method.

Iran launches its supercomputer Simorgh

  • Iran launched a supercomputer called Simorgh.
  • This supercomputer is a hundred times more powerful than previous Iranian supercomputers.
  • The supercomputer is named after a bird named Simurgh like a phoenix.

Persons/places

Laxman aka Vijay Patil: Renowned musician Laxman aka Vijay Patil in Ram-Laxman duo passed away in Nagpur.Ram-Laxman was a pair of Ram aka Surendra Hendre and Vijay Patil aka Laxman.Their debut film was ‘Agent Vinod’ for Rajshri productions.

OP Bhardwaj: India’s national boxing coach from 1968 to 1989 and also served as a national selector, passed away recently.He was boxing’s first Dronacharya Awardee coach.

Srikumar Banerjee: Former Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and a veteran Nuclear Scientist passed away on May 23, 2021, due to a heart attack post recovering from COVID-19.He was known as a leading global expert regarding the usage of specialized alloys in nuclear processes.

Sunderlal Bahuguna: Eminent environmentalist and Chipko movement pioneer Sunderlal Bahuguna died at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Rishikeshafter battling Covid-19 for several days. He was 94.Bahuguna is best remembered for the slogan “ecology is the permanent economy”.

Shakti Mazumdar: Member of the Indian contingent at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, boxer Shakti Mazumdar passed away after suffering a heart-attack at his home in Kolkata.

Tashi Yangjom: She holds the title of the first Indian woman climber to scale Mount Everest in 2021. Tashi Yangjom is from Arunachal Pradesh and trained at the National Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports (NIMAS) in Dirang, one of India’s leading adventure sport institutes.

Sports

2022 FIFA under-17 Women’s World Cup to be held in India

  • The 2022 FIFA under-17 Women’s World Cup will be held in India from October 11 to 30, 2022.
  • India was set to host the 2021 U-17 Women’s World Cup before it was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • This global event will be the second FIFA tournament to be hosted by India after the FIFA under-17 World Cup in 2017, which broke the record for being the most attended youth World Cup in FIFA’s history.

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