Current Affairs IAS-PCS

Current Affairs (29 March 04 April) 2021

National

India’s biggest floating solar power plant: Ramagundam in Telangana

  • India’s biggest floating solar power plant with a capacity of 100 MW will be set up at Ramagundam in Telangana. The project expected to be opened in May, is being set up at Ramagundam thermal power plant reservoir.
  • The solar project is commissioned by the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC).
  • The world’s largest solar power plant with 600 MW capacity is being set up on Omkareshwar Dam on Narmada river in Madhya Pradesh.
  • The project costing 3,000 crore rupees is expected to start power generation only by 2022-23.

National Policy for Rare Diseases 2021

  • Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan has approved the “National Policy for Rare Diseases 2021” on 30th of March.
  • The Rare Diseases Policy aims to lower the high cost of treatment for rare diseases with increased focus on indigenous research.

‘Shantir Ogroshena -2021’

  • Indian Army will participate in Multinational Military Exercise namely SHANTIR OGROSHENA -2021 in Bangladesh.
  • The nine days exercise will start on the 4th of this month to commemorate the birth centenary of Bangladesh Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and mark glorious 50 years of liberation.
  • The theme of the exercise is Robust Peace Keeping Operations.

TRIFED launches TRIBES INDIA Contest

Tribal Marketing Development Federation Ltd (TRIFED), has launched two interesting competitions, Be the Brand Ambassador of Tribes India and Be a friend of TRIBES INDIA Contest in association with MyGov.in. 

  • These competitions have been launched with the sole objective of promoting tribal craft, culture and lifestyle.
  • Through these innovative contests, awareness about tribal heritage, arts, crafts can be enhanced among the general public.

TRIFED : “Sankalp se Siddhi”-

  • TRIFED under Ministry of Tribal Affairs has launched “Sankalp se Siddhi” – Village and Digital Connect Drive.
  • It is a 100-day drive which was stared from 1st of this month.
  • The main aim of this drive is to activate the Van Dhan Vikas Kendras in these villages.
  • TRIFOOD aims to enhance the income of tribals through better utilization of and value addition to the Minor Forest Produce collected by the tribal forest gatherers.

Digital payments: India leads globally

  • Amid Covid, India was home to the highest number of real-time online transactions in 2020 ahead of countries such as China and the US.
  • Among the top 10 countries, the US was ranked ninth with 1.2 billion transactions.
  • The transaction volume share for instant payments India, among real-time transactions, was 15.6 per cent and 22.9 per cent for other electronic payments in 2020.
  • A UK-based payments system company ACI Worldwide has released the report recently saying that the paper-based payments continued to have a considerable share of 61.4 percent in India.

13.613 million: Estimated population of India in 2021

  • The National Bureau of Statistics under the Ministry of Statistics and Planning and Implementation (MoSPI) has released the “Indian Men and Women” report.
  • The report presents important socio-economic indicators that reflect the gender situation in the country.
  • This is the 22nd issue of the series.
  • The estimated population of India in 2021 is 13.613 million.
  • The sex ratio increased from 933 in 2001 to 943 in 2011.
  • Delhi has the highest increase in the sex ratio, followed by Chandigarh in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • On the other hand, the sex ratios of Daman and Diu have fallen the most.
  • The infant mortality rate dropped from 39 years in 2014 to 32 years in 2018.
  • The literacy rate in India increased from 73 in 2011 to 77.7 in 2017. Rajasthan, UP, has the highest gender gap in literacy rates.
  • By 2020, the proportion of women in the Central Council of Ministers will be 9.26%. In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, there were 437.8 million female voters. Compared with the 2014 general election (397 million), this number is even higher.
  • In Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh states, the highest number of women participating in Panchayati Raj institutions was observed. 

Touch-sensitive watch for the visually impaired by IIT, Kanpur

  • Two researchers from IIT Kanpur have developed a touch-sensitive, tactile, haptic watch that may assist visually impaired individuals study what time it’s by touching the face.
  • The watch makes up for 2 of the disadvantages of watches made for using visually challenged individuals: first, the dearth of privateness in watches that audibly announce the time and second, the massive sizes of contact delicate watches.
  • The prototypes had been developed by Siddhartha Panda, who’s a professor on the Division of Chemical Engineering and the Nationwide Centre for Versatile Electronics at IIT Kanpur, and Vishwaraj Srivastava who’s a Senior Undertaking Affiliate on the Centre.

Indian Railways sets another electrification record

  • Indian Railways has logged highest ever electrification of sections covering 6,015 Route Kilometer (RKM)in single year during 2020-21.
  • It has surpassed the previous highest of 5,276 RKM achieved in 2018-19.
  • The latest Broad-Gauge network of Indian Railways is 63,949 Route kilometre (RKM) and with 740 km of Konkan Railway is 64,689 RKM, out of which 45,881 RKM i.e., 71 % have been electrified by 31.03.2021.

Naval exercise La Perouse in Bay of Bengal

  • India will be joining a French naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal this month.
  • It is the first French naval exercise that Indian Navy will be a part of.
  • The exercise is named as La Perouse. 
  • Japan, Australia, and the United States of America (USA) will also participate in the exercise.
  • As per the French Embassy, two French Navy ships, the Surcouf and the Tonnerre made a port call in Kochi from March 30 to April 1.

States

Free bus travel for women in Punjab

  • Women in Punjab will travel free of cost in all Government-run buses within the state.
  • The cabinet stamped its approval on the scheme which the Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh announced recently.

Kalinga Ratna award for Andhra Pradesh Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan

  • Andhra Pradesh Governor Biswa Bhusan Harichandan has been conferred the ‘Kalinga Ratna’ award for the year 2021.
  • The award instituted by Sarala Sahitya Sansad was presented to Governor Biswa Bhusan Harichandan by M. Venkaiah Naidu, Vice President of India, during the 600th Birth Anniversary of Adikabi Sarala Das and 40th Annual Celebrations of Sarala Sahitya Sansad.
  • The Kalinga Ratna award carried a silver statue of Goddess Saraswati and a copper plaque.

WB contributes highest to small savings schemes

  • West Bengal accounts for the highest collection of about Rs 90,000 crore from small savings schemes such as NSC and PPF among the states and UTs, which is about 15 per cent of the total corpus.
  • It is followed by Uttar Pradesh, the largest state in terms of population, with gross collection of Rs 69,660.70 crore out of the Rs 5.96 lakh crore garnered during 2017-18 (last updated), as per data collated by the National Savings Institute under the Finance Ministry.

 Second biosphere reserve proposed by Odisha

  • The Odisha state government has proposed a second biosphere reserve in the southern part of the state at Mahendragiri.
  • It is a mountain in the Gajapati district of the state. It is at an altitude of 1,501 metres.
  • The area of the proposed 2nd biosphere reserve of the state- Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve is approximately 470,955 hectares.

New cruise service : Gujrat

  • A new cruise service connecting Hazira port in Surat and Diu island was started recently.
  • One-way journey will take 13 to 14 hours’ time. A 300-passenger capacity cruise ship will have 16 cabins.
  • Around four months ago, ropax ferry service connecting Hazira -Surat and Ghogha Bhavnagar was launched.

Manipur sought Centre’s help to douse a forest fireon Shirui Peak

  • The Manipur government has sought Centre’s help to douse a forest fire broken out on Shirui Peak of Siroy Hills in Ukhrul district.
  • The air force is deploying two Mi-17V5 helicopters with bambi buckets to help control and douse the fire at the request of the state government.

International

Protesting against a new legislalation in Britain

  • In the UK, thousands of people have been protesting against a new legislation introduced in the British Parliament called the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021.
  • The government has said that this legislation is no longer considered fit to manage the types of protests we experience today.
  • Therefore, on the recommendation of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, the legislation is being updated to allow the police to safely and effectively manage the highly disruptive protests.
  • This means that the police will be able to impose conditions such as start and finish times and maximum noise levels during static protests. The police can already impose such conditions on marches.

Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU 2020)

The Indian Institute of Science (IISc Bangalore) has secured the top position among the best higher education institutes in India, while Calcutta University became the best varsity in the country, as per the recently published Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU 2020).

As per the recently published Shanghai Ranking, the other top higher educational institutions in the country are

  • Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-Madras)
  • University of Delhi
  • Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-Delhi)
  • Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-Kharagpur)
  • Jawaharlal Nehru University
  • Aligarh Muslim University

Top four in the overall rankings

  1. Harvard UniversityCambridge, United States
  2. Stanford University Stanford, United States
  3. University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
  4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)Cambridge, United States

2021 Global Gender Gap Index

  • The World Economic Forum has released the Global Gender Gap Report 2021. India has seen a decrease in its ranking on the index by 28 places.
  • India has been ranked 140th among 156 countries on the index. With this, India became the third-worst performer in South Asia.
  • As per the index, India has closed 62.5% of its gender gap to date.
  • In 2020, India was ranked 112th among 153 countries.
  • The decline also took place on the economic participation and opportunity subindex.
  • The report highlighted that India’s gender gap on this dimension widened by 3% this year, leading to a 32.6% gap closed till date.
  • Most of the decrease has been seen on the political empowerment subindex, where India regressed 13.5 percentage points.

Astronomers show first image of a black hole’s magnetic fields

  • Astronomers working in collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and Harvard College Observatory have obtained a new view of the supermassive black hole at the centre of galaxy M87 or Messier 87.
  • These are the same astronomers who gave the world its first true glimpse of a black hole in 2019.
  • This time they have captured the polarised light swirling around the same anomaly’s magnetic fields.
  • These new observations are key to understanding how a galaxy can project streams of energy thousands of lightyears outward from its core.

Japan’s famed cherry blossoms bloom early as climate warms

  • Japanese Cherry Blossoms, famously known as “Sakura” have reached their peak bloom earlier than predicted.
  • Sakura season usually begins in April, but this year it came more than two weeks early.
  • The blooming season was declared when officials noted five flowers on the shrine’s Yoshino cherry trees.
  • Experts have suggested that climate change is the underlying cause of this early-flowering.
  • Sakura are a symbol of spring in Japan and when they bloom, the entire country rejoices.
  • This year, the spring season in Kyoto was warmer than before that led to cherry blossoms in the city blooming at the earliest in 1,200 years.

Carnivac-Cov: World’s first animal vaccine

  • The world’s first animal vaccine against the novel coronavirus has been named as Carnivac-Cov.
  • According to the experts, the immunity will last for 6 months after the vaccination.
  • As per Russian scientists, the use of this vaccine can prevent the development of virus mutations in animals.
  • Carnivac-Cov vaccine for animals has been developed by a unit of Rosselkhoznadzor (Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance).

India, Mauritius FTA to come into effect from Apr 1

  • India and Mauritius signed the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA), a kind of free trade pact recently.
  • Now several Indian products will enjoy the benefit of greater market access at concessional duties in Mauritius as the free trade agreement signed between the two countries will come into effect from April 1.
  • Both sides have completed their internal legal procedures and the India-Mauritius CECPA will enter into force on 01 April 2021.

WHO report on COVID 19

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a report on the global tracing of Covid-19 origins.
  • A total of 34 experts from the WHO and China jointly conducted 28-day research from January 14 to February 10 in Wuhan, China.
  • According to the report, Covid-19 introduction through an intermediate host is “likely to very likely,” introduction through cold/food chain products is “possible,” and introduction through a laboratory incident is “extremely unlikely”.

Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process in Dushanbe

  • Recently, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar reached Tajikistan’s capital recently to take part in the 9th Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process (HoA-IP) ministerial conference on Afghanistan.
  • The conference is a part of the Istanbul Process.
  • The conference was held in Dushanbe.
  • The Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process (HoA-IP) was launched on 2 November 2011.

Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant in Bangladesh

  • India made a deal with Bangladesh where Indian companies will develop the transmission lines of Bangladesh Rooppur Nuclear power plant.
  • It is an under-construction 2.4 GWe nuclear power plant in Bangladesh.
  • It is being constructed at Rooppur (Rupppur) in the Pabna District of Bangladesh, on the bank of Padma River.

Cargo ship ‘Ever Given’ freed from Suez Canal

  • The cargo ship ‘Ever Given’, which has blocked Suez Canal from March 23, has been freed from the channel’s shoreline and seen its course corrected by 80 per cent.
  • The news has brought cheers amid expectations that traffic in the canal would soon resume, causing a fall in crude prices.

Echo and Bifrost: Japan

  • Facebook has planned to put two undersea Internet cables to connect Southeast Asia to North America, to increase data capacity and improve the internet authenticity.
  • The Two Cables are named as “Echo” and “Bifrost”.
  • The cables will connect Singapore, Indonesia and North America.
  • Echo is being installed in partnership with Google and Indonesian telecommunications’ company XL Axiata.
  • It is scheduled to be completed by 2023.
  • Bifrost is being built in partnership with Indonesia’s Telin and Singapore’s Keppel, and is planned to be completed by 2024.

Economy

6-digit HSN code mandatory: Finance Ministry

  • According to Finance Ministry With effect from the 1st April, 2021, GST taxpayers will have to furnish HSN (Harmonised System of Nomenclature Code), or Service Accounting Code (SAC) in their invoices, as per the revised requirement.
  • HSN is Harmonised System of Nomenclature. It was adopted by World Customs Organization in 1988.
  • It is a six-digit code that classifies various products. India adopted the HSN coding system in 1986 (even before WCO) mainly to classify commodities for Customs and Central Excise
  • HSN codes for goods at 6 digits are universally common. Therefore, common HSN codes apply to Customs and GST.
  • Accordingly, codes prescribed in the Customs tariff are used for the GST purposes too.

Pakistan restarts import of sugar & cotton

  • Pakistan has announced that it will start importing sugar and cotton from India.
  • The announcement came after nearly a two-year ban on Indian imports by Islamabad, and hints at a possible revival in bilateral trade between the two countries.
  • India is the world’s biggest producer of cotton and the second-largest sugar-producing country.

Atal Innovation Mission launches ‘AIM-PRIME’

  • In a major push towards deep technology and driving the country to become a digitally transformed nation, Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog has launched AIM-PRIME (Program for Researchers on Innovations, Market-Readiness & Entrepreneurship).
  • It is an initiative to promote and support science-based deep-tech start-ups& ventures across India.
  • In this regard, AIM has joined hands with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to launch this nationwide programwhich will be implemented by Venture Center – a non-profit technology business incubator.

World Bank raises India’s FY22 GDP forecast to 10.1% from 5.4% earlier

  • The World Bank has raised its forecast for India’s financial year 2021-22 growth to 10.1%, substantially higher than the 5.4% it had projected in January.
  • However, World Bank has not ruled out the possibility of uncertainty due to rising cases and inflation.
  • Reflecting on the uncertainty on account of the pandemic, the World Bank chose to provide a range for its prediction, ranging from 7.5% to 12.5% due to “significant uncertainty at this stage about both epidemiological and policy developments

Person/place

Shashikala: Veteran actress Shashikala passed away at her residence in Mumbai recently. She was 88 years old. More popularly known by her first name, Shashikala Om Prakash Saigal had acted in over 100 movies. She began her career with a small role in the 1945 release Zeenat.

Lieutenant General Walter Anthony Gustavo ‘Wag’ Pinto: Popularly known as ‘Victor of Basantar’Pune Lieutenant General Walter Anthony Gustavo “WAG” Pinto, former General Officer in the Indian Army, passed away at the age of 97.For his major General role in the Indo-Pak war of 1971, he was awarded the prestigious Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM).

Appointed/Elected

Agnes Callamard: Amnesty secretary general

  • Agnes Callamard, a French human rights expert who led a United Nations’ investigation into the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, has been appointed the new leader of Amnesty International.
  • Founded in London in 1961, Amnesty has offices in more than 70 countries and calls itself the world’s largest non-governmental human rights organisation.

Sports

Asian Weightlifting Championships: Mirabai Chanu to Lead Indian Challenge in women’s 49kg category

  • Former world champion Mirabai Chanu will lead the Indian challenge in women’s 49kg category at the upcoming Asian Weightlifting Championships to be held at Tashkent in Uzbekistan from April 16 to 25.
  • While 26-year-old Mirabai is the star attraction in the women’s category, the 18-year-old Jeremy Lalrinnuga is the best bet in men’s section.

2023 Men’s Boxing World Championships to be held in Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent

  • The 2023 men’s boxing World Championships will be held in Uzbekistan capital Tashkent. International Boxing Association (AIBA) President Umar Kremlev confirmed Tashkent as the host city during a visit to Uzbekistan.
  • The city of Tashkent is awarded the 2023 AIBA Men’s boxing World Boxing Championships after the successful bid presentation by the Boxing Federation of Uzbekistan.
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