March 31, 2022

Current Affairs
March 31, 2022

IMPORT OF PLASTIC BOTTLES FOR WASTE PROCESSING ALLOWED
After banning the import of plastic waste in 2019, the Environment Ministry has permitted containers made of polyethylene terephthalate, as plastic waste, to be imported for processing.

About:

  • The decision to roll back the ban was taken last year after representations by several industries in the business of processing waste said there was too little waste available for them in India and this was causing them financial losses.

  • An expert committee of the Environment Ministry, last December, recommended that firms which had applied for permission could import polyethylene terephthalate flakes and bottles up to 50% of their production capacity.

  • Polyethylene terephthalate is a category of plastic, and nearly 90% of the domestic supply of containers using them is already recycled.

  • However, this reprieve has not gone down well with environmentalist groups.

Source : The Hindu
Environment

Current Affairs
March 31, 2022

CONSTITUTION (SCHEDULED CASTES AND SCHEDULED TRIBES) ORDER (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2022
The Rajya Sabha approved the Constitution (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2022 to remove the Bhogta caste from the list of Scheduled Castes (SCs).

About:

  • The Bhogta caste will be included instead as a Scheduled Tribe in the State.

  • The Bill also amends the schedule to the Scheduled Tribes order to include the Deshwari, Ganjhu, Dautalbandi (Dwalbandi), Patbandi, Raut, Maajhia, Khairi (Kheri), Tamaria (Tamadia) and Puran communities on the ST list.

Source : The Hindu
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
March 31, 2022

SPACE JUNK
With space junk posing increasing threat to Indian assets in space, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is building up its orbital debris tracking capability by deploying new radars and optical telescopes under the Network for Space Objects Tracking and Analysis (NETRA) project.

About:

  • A space debris tracking radar with a range of 1,500 km and an optical telescope will be inducted as part of establishing an effective surveillance and tracking network under NETRA.

  • The government has given the go-ahead for the deployment of the radar, which will be capable of detecting and tracking objects 10 cm and above in size, he said. It will be indigenously designed and built.

  • Radars and optical telescopes are vital ground-based facilities for keeping an eye on space objects, including orbital junk.

  • Space junk or debris consists of spent rocket stages, dead satellites, fragments of space objects and debris resulting from ASAT.

  • Hurtling at an average speed of 27,000 kmph in LEO, these objects pose a very real threat as collisions involving even centimetre-sized fragments can be lethal to satellites.

  • For protecting its space assets, ISRO was forced to perform 19 collision avoidance manoeuvres (CAM) in 2021, of which 14 were in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and five in the geostationary orbit. The number of CAMs jumped from just three in 2015 to 12 in 2020 and 19 in 2021.

Source : The Hindu
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
March 31, 2022

DELHI MUNICIPAL CORPORATION (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2022
The Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 was passed by Lok Sabha.

About:

  • The Bill seeks to amend the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957 passed by Parliament.

  • The Act was amended in 2011 by Delhi Legislative Assembly to trifurcate the erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Delhi into: (i) North Delhi Municipal Corporation, (ii) South Delhi Municipal Corporation, and (iii) East Delhi Municipal Corporation.

  • The Bill seeks to unify the three corporations. The Bill replaces the three municipal corporations under the Act with one Corporation named the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

  • The Act as amended in 2011 empowers the Delhi government to decide various matters under the Act such as total number of seats of councillors, delimitation of wards etc. The Bill instead empowers the central government to decide these matters.

  • The Act provides that the number of seats in the three corporations taken together should not be more than 272. The Bill states that the total number of seats in the new Corporation should not be more than 250.

  • The Act provides for a Director of Local Bodies to assist the Delhi government and discharge certain functions. The Bill omits the provision for a Director of Local Bodies.

  • The Bill provides that the central government may appoint a Special Officer to exercise powers of the Corporation until the first meeting of the Corporation is held after the commencement of the Bill.

Source : The Hindu
Education

Current Affairs
March 31, 2022

RUBLE
On March 23, Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded that European countries must pay for all natural gas imports in rubles instead of the US dollar or the euro. The European Union imports 40 per cent of its natural gas requirements.

About:

  • The Russian ruble or rouble is the official currency of the Russian Federation. The ruble is subdivided into 100 kopeks.

  • Russia would not accept natural gas payments in currencies that have “compromised”. This list of currencies included dollars and euros.

  • The move to accept payments only in rubles has been done to increase the demand for rubles in the international market.

  • The ruble had been weakening against the dollar in the weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine.

Source : Indian Express
International

Current Affairs
March 31, 2022

BIMSTEC
Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for strengthening the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation), and welcomed the unveiling of the Charter of the organisation that connects the littoral countries of the Bay of Bengal.

About:

  • The summit concluded in Colombo.

  • The signing of the Charter was the main outcome of this summit. Under this Charter, the members were expected to meet once in every two years.

  • With the Charter, the BIMSTEC now has an international personality. It has an emblem, it has a flag. It has a formally listed purpose and principles that it is going to adhere to. It represents significant evolution of the grouping.

  • India will be the “security pillar” of the BIMSTEC. For developing the organisation into a formal structure, the leaders of the member-countries had agreed to divide the working of the grouping into seven segments, with India providing leadership to the security pillar.

  • The Prime Minister called for a Free Trade Agreement among the member countries.

  • The summit saw the declaration of the Master Plan for Transport Connectivity that would provide a framework for regional and domestic connectivity.

  • He mentioned the necessity for coastal shipping ecosystem and electricity grid interconnectivity, as two of the necessary components of the evolving shape of the BIMSTEC.

Source : The Hindu
International

Current Affairs
March 31, 2022

NANAR OIL REFINERY
Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has indicated that the Nanar oil refinery project in Konkan region may be revived as the Maharashtra government was reconsidering its decision about stalling the project.

About:

  • The project, Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemical Limited, was going to be Asia’s ‘biggest oil refinery’, and was proposed to be built at Nanar village in Ratnagiri district in coastal Konkan region.

  • It was supposed to be a joint venture between Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum, and Saudi Arabia-owned Aramco and United Arab Emirates’ National Oil Company.

  • The project was mooted by the Centre and the Maharashtra government in 2014 and it was aimed at bringing development to the backward Konkan region.

  • The project was scrapped ahead of the 2019 Assembly and Lok Sabha elections on the ground that the oil refinery would be detrimental for the environment of Konkan region.

Source : Indian Express
Economy

Current Affairs
March 31, 2022

FUEL CELL ELECTRIC VEHICLE (FCEV)
Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari travelled to the Parliament House in a hydrogen-based Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV), in what could be interpreted as a strong indication of a shift in stance by the Centre that has so far backed conventional battery-powered electric vehicles, or BEVs.

How is this car different from other electric vehicles?

  • Typically, there are four broad categorisations of electric vehicles—conventional hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs), BEVs and FCEVs.

  • FCEVs such as Toyota’s Mirai, Honda’s Clarity and Hyundai’s Nexo use hydrogen gas to power an on-board electric motor.

  • FCEVs combine hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, which runs the motor. Since they’re powered entirely by electricity, FCEVs are considered EVs, but unlike BEVs, their range and refuelling processes are comparable to conventional cars and trucks.

  • The major difference between a BEV and a hydrogen FCEV is that the latter enables a refuelling time of just five minutes, compared to 30-45 minutes charging for a BEV.

  • Also, consumers get about five times better energy storage per unit volume and weight, which frees up a lot of space for other things, while allowing the rider to go farther.

Source : Indian Express
Economy

Current Affairs
March 31, 2022

MES AYNAK
The Taliban regime in Afghanistan has said it would protect the ancient Buddha statues in Mes Aynak, also the site of a copper mine where the Taliban are hoping for Chinese investment.

About:

  • Mes Aynak, also called Mis Ainak or Mis-e-Ainak, is a site 40 km southeast of Kabul, Afghanistan, located in a barren region of Logar Province.

  • Mes Aynak contains Afghanistan's largest copper deposit, as well as the remains of an ancient settlement with over 400 Buddha statues, stupas and a 40 ha (100 acres) monastery complex.

  • The site of Mes Aynak possesses a vast complex of Buddhist monasteries, homes, and market areas.

  • The site's orientation on the Silk Road has yielded a mixture of elements from China and India.

Source : Indian Express
International

Current Affairs
March 31, 2022

APHASIA
Aphasia, a brain disorder that leads to problems with speaking, reading and writing has sidelined actor Bruce Willis and drawn attention to a little-known condition that has many possible causes.

About:

  • Aphasia is an inability to comprehend or formulate language because of damage to specific brain regions.

  • The major causes are stroke and head trauma. Aphasia can also be the result of brain tumors, brain infections, or neurodegenerative diseases, but the latter are far less prevalent.

Source : Indian Express
Health

March 30, 2022

Current Affairs
March 30, 2022

SRI LANKA - INDIA DEFENCE PACTS
A media clarification issued by Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence has brought to light two recent defence pacts it has signed with India that neither side officially announced till date.

About:

  • The recently signed maritime security pacts with the Government of India will not result in hindrance or threat to the national security of Sri Lanka, said a media statement issued by the Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence.

  • It referred to the “the receipt of Floating Dock Facility from the Government of India at no cost” and the provision of “Dornier Reconnaissance Aircraft” by India to Sri Lanka “free of charge”.

  • The Dornier Reconnaissance Aircraft is deployed for maritime surveillance, search and rescue operations and to deliver information to various required platforms.

  • Both pacts were signed on March 16, by the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence from the Sri Lankan side, and an official of the Indian High Commission in Colombo.

  • While both the floating dock, and the Dornier aircraft have figured in bilateral discussions for some time, the actual signing of the agreements a fortnight ago was not officially confirmed until now.

Economic aid

  • India has extended $2.4 billion support to Sri Lanka since the beginning of this year, to help the island nation cope with a severe economic meltdown.

  • Since January, India has also signed several key bilateral agreements with Sri Lanka, including the joint development of the Trincomalee Oil Tank Farms, and three major power projects in the north and east, involving the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and the Adani Group, apart from the recent pacts on maritime security.

Source : The Hindu
Defence & Security

Current Affairs
March 30, 2022

SUICIDE RATE IN CAPFs
As many as 156 personnel of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) took their own life in 2021, the highest in almost a decade, according to information provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the Lok Sabha.

About:

  • The CAPFs that comprise various security forces such as the CRPF, CISF, ITBP, SSB, BSF, NSG and Assam Rifles are deployed in various internal security and border guarding duties.

  • From 2012, the total number of CAPF personnel who killed themselves stood at 1,205. The incidents saw a sharp increase in the COVID-19 pandemic-induced lockdown years, with 143 and 156 committing suicide in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

  • From 2012 to 2019, the numbers stood at 118, 113, 125, 108, 92,125, 96 and 129, respectively.

Source : The Hindu
Defence & Security

Current Affairs
March 30, 2022

CONDORS
Indian Navy formally commissioned its second squadron of P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft, ‘Condors’, at INS Hansa in Goa.

About:

  • The Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS) 316, will operate four P-8I aircraft procured as part of the optional clause in 2016 in a deal worth over $1 bn, deliveries of which were completed recently by Boeing.

  • The Defence Ministry has already approved a proposal for procurement of six more P-8Is but that is now under review as part of an overall review of all imports.

  • The squadron has been named ‘Condors’, one of the largest flying land birds with a massive wingspan. ’Condors’ are known for excellent sensory capabilities, powerful and sharp talons and large massive wings symbolising the capabilities of the aircraft and envisaged roles of the squadron.

  • The ‘Game Changer’ aircraft is a potent platform for maritime surveillance and strike, electronic warfare missions, search and rescue, providing targeting data to weapon platforms, time-critical surveillance information to the Army and the Air Force.

Source : The Hindu
Defence & Security

Current Affairs
March 30, 2022

INDIAN RHINOCEROS
The population of the greater one-horned or Indian rhinoceros in the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve has increased by 200 in four years, the latest census of the World Heritage Site’s flagship animal has revealed.

About:

  • The last rhino census conducted in 2018 had put the number at 2,413.

  • This year’s census had a first — the use of drones for the recheck of 26 park compartments where the sample survey was done.

  • The Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis), also called the Indian rhino, greater one-horned rhinoceros or great Indian rhinoceros, is a rhinoceros species native to the Indian subcontinent.

  • It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.

Source : The Hindu
Environment & Ecology

Current Affairs
March 30, 2022

ASSAM – MEGHALAYA BORDER PACT
Assam and Meghalaya have partially resolved a 50-year-old border dispute in six of the 12 sectors along their 885-km boundary.

About:

  • Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and his Meghalaya counterpart Conrad K. Sangma signed a “historic” agreement for a closure in six disputed sectors that were taken up for resolution in the first phase.

  • The pact was inked in the presence of Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi.

  • The six disputed sectors are Tarabari, Gizang, Hahim, Boklapara, Khanapara-Pillangkata and Ratacherra under the Kamrup, Kamrup (Metro) and Cachar districts of Assam and the West Khasi Hills, Ri-Bhoi and East Jaintia Hills districts of Meghalaya.

  • Out of the disputed 36.79 sq. km land, Assam will get 18.51 sq. km of the disputed areas and Meghalaya will get the remaining 18.28 sq.km. About 70% of the inter-State boundary has now become dispute-free with the signing of the agreement.

Source : The Hindu
Geography

Current Affairs
March 30, 2022

INDIA – SRI LANKA RELATIONS
India will set up hybrid power projects in three islands off Jaffna, effectively replacing the Chinese venture cleared by Colombo last year.

About:

  • The MoU for the project was among those signed during a meeting between visiting External Affairs Minister (EAM) S. Jaishankar and his Sri Lankan counterpart G.L. Peiris.

  • It is the third Indian energy project coming up in Sri Lanka’s north and east, after the recent agreements for National Thermal Power Corporation’s solar venture in the eastern Sampur town, and the Adani Group’s renewable energy projects in Mannar and Pooneryn in the north.

  • In January 2021, Sri Lanka’s Cabinet decided to award renewable energy projects in Nainativu, Delft or Neduntheevu, and Analaitivu islands to Chinese firm Sinosoar-Etechwin.

  • India was quick to express concern over the Chinese project coming up in the Palk Bay, barely 50 km off Tamil Nadu. India offered to execute the same project with a grant rather than a loan.

  • Meanwhile, India and Sri Lanka have also agreed to set up a Maritime Rescue Coordination Center. The initiative, involving Bharat Electronics and a $6 million Indian grant, obtained Cabinet approval last week.

  • India will also help develop fisheries harbours in Point Pedro, Pesalai and Gurunagar in the Northern Province, and Balapitiya, south of Colombo, apart from supporting schools in the southern Galle district with computer labs, extending a grant for Sri Lanka’s Unique Digital Identity project.

Source : The Hindu
International

Current Affairs
March 30, 2022

GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT IN ‘FTAs’
The India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), set to come into force on May 1, includes a chapter on government procurement, granting UAE-based companies treatment on par with domestic companies.

About:

  • This is the first instance of India including government procurement in a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

  • The move marks a major shift in India’s stance on government procurement, which had also been a stumbling block in major FTA negotiations, including those with the European Union.

  • Government procurement is estimated to be worth about 20-22 per cent of GDP.

  • India has previously been unwilling to discuss government procurement in bilateral or multilateral trade agreements to protect domestic firms which rely on it.

  • India is also not a signatory to the World Trade Organisations Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), but has been an observer since 2010.

Source : Indian Express
Economy

Current Affairs
March 30, 2022

MATUA COMMUNITY
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed Matua Dharma Maha Mela 2022 at Shreedham Thakurnagar, Thakurbari in West Bengal on the occasion of 211th birth anniversary of Shree Shree Harichand Thakur.

About:

  • Shree Shree Harichand Thakur ji devoted his life for the cause of betterment of the oppressed, downtrodden and deprived persons in undivided Bengal during the pre-independence era.

  • The social and religious movement started by him originated from Orakandi which is now in Bangladesh in 1860 and led to the formation of the Matua Dharma.

  • The Matua community has members on either side of the Bengal border. Today, Matuas constitute the second largest SC population of West Bengal. Government sources put their number at around 17% of the state’s electorate.

  • Matua Dharma Maha Mela 2022 is being organised by All India Matua Mahasangha from 29th March to 5th April 2022.

Source : All India Radio
Social Issues

Current Affairs
March 30, 2022

MARTYR
The Ministry of Defence clarified in Parliament on March 28 that the Indian Armed Forces do not use the term “martyr” for personnel who sacrifice their lives in the line of duty.

About:

  • For almost a decade now, the government has maintained that the word ‘martyr’ does not have any official recognition.

  • The word ‘martyr’ is not used in reference to any of the casualties in the Indian Armed Forces as well as for Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and Assam Rifles personnel also.

  • The words ‘martyr’ and ‘shaheed’ are not defined anywhere by the Government of India.

What is the objection to the word ‘martyr’?

  • The word ‘martyr’ has religious connotations and has been used in history to refer to the sacrifices made by people for their religious beliefs, particularly in Christianity.

  • The word ‘shaheed’, which is used as a Hindustani alternative to the word ‘martyr’, also has religious connotations and is linked to the concept of Shahadat in Islam.

  • Since the armed forces of India are not associated with any one religion and do not lay down their lives for religious principles, the use of such words for their sacrifice has been found wrong in several quarters, including the top brass of the Army.

Source : Indian Express
Defence & Security

Current Affairs
March 30, 2022

RAJ SUBRAMANIAM
Indian American corporate veteran Raj Subramaniam is set to replace Frederick W Smith as the new Chief Executive Officer of the delivery giant FedEx.

About:

  • Subramaniam, 54, joined FedEx in 1991 and was elected to the FedEx Board of Directors in 2020.

  • Originally from Trivandrum, he went to IIT Bombay in 1987 to study chemical engineering and later earned a master’s degree in the same field from Syracuse University in 1989.

  • FedEx Corporation, formerly Federal Express Corporation and later FDX Corporation, is an American multinational conglomerate holding company focused on transportation, e-commerce and services based in Memphis, Tennessee.

  • The name "FedEx" is a syllabic abbreviation of the name of the company's original air division, Federal Express, which was used from 1973 until 2000.

Source : Indian Express
Miscellaneous

March 29, 2022

Current Affairs
March 29, 2022

MICROPLASTICS
A study by researchers from The Netherlands found the presence of Microplastics in human blood.

What are microplastics?

  • Microplastics are tiny bits of various types of plastic found in the environment. The name is used to differentiate them from “macroplastics” such as bottles and bags made of plastic.

  • There is no universal agreement on the size that fits this bill — the U.S. NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and the European Chemical Agency define microplastic as less than 5mm in length.

  • However, for the purposes of this study, since the authors were interested in measuring the quantities of plastic that can cross the membranes and diffuse into the body via the blood stream, the authors have an upper limit on the size of the particles as 0.0007 millimetre.

What were the plastics that the study looked for in the blood samples?

  • The study looked at the most commonly used plastic polymers.

  • These were polyethylene tetraphthalate (PET), polyethylene (used in making plastic carry bags), polymers of styrene (used in food packaging), poly (methyl methylacrylate) and poly propylene. They found a presence of the first four types. 

Source : The Hindu
Environment

Current Affairs
March 29, 2022

SOKOL OIL
India’s ONGC Videsh Ltd. has sold at least one cargo of Russian Sokol oil to India refiners Hindustan Petroleum Corp. and Bharat Petroleum Corp. after failing to draw interest in a tender earlier this month.

About:

  • Indian companies are snapping up Russian oil as it is available at a deep discounts after some companies and countries shunned purchases from Moscow due to sanctions against Russia for its Ukraine invasion.

  • India, the world’s third-biggest oil consumer and importer, has not banned Russian oil imports.

  • ONGC Videsh has a stake in Russia’s Sakhalin-1 project and sells its share of the oil from the project through tenders. In the tender earlier in March, ONGC Videsh did not get any bids for the Sokol crude oil cargo for May loading.

  • The sources said HPCL and BPCL had been able to offer a discounted price for the cargo. The two refiners will pay ONGC in rupees.

Source : The Hindu
Economy

Current Affairs
March 29, 2022

ELEPHANT DEATHS
The Union Environment Ministry has constituted a “permanent” coordination committee that includes representatives of the Ministries of Railways and Environment to prevent elephant deaths on railway tracks.

About:

  • This was stated by Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav in the Lok Sabha.

  • Yadav said that 19 elephants were killed across the country on railway tracks in 2018-19, 14 in 2019-20 and 12 in 2020-21.

  • A Standing Committee on the Railways in 2013 had recommended restricting the speed of trains at vulnerable locations to reduce collisions. This translated into trains slowing down to 50 kmph or less in vulnerable locations.

Several steps were taken to reduce the number of elephants deaths, the Minister noted. These included –

  • making permanent and temporary speed restrictions in identified elephant corridors and habitats,

  • making underpasses and ramps for movement of elephants at identified locations,

  • providing fencing at selected locations,

  • erecting signs to warn train drivers about identified elephant corridors,

  • sensitising train crew and station masters to avoid train collisions with elephants and

  • clearing vegetation on the sides of track within railway land.

Source : The Hindu
Environment

Current Affairs
March 29, 2022

ZOJILA TUNNEL
Authorities are on an overdrive to build a strategic Zojila tunnel in Kashmir to reduce travel time to Ladakh where China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is aggressively pushing its territorial claims along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

About:

  • It could be one of the very few development projects in India to be completed ahead of its deadline which was fixed for November 2026.

  • Officials say the tunnel will be opened for movement of the armed forces in September 2024 if the PLA created any disturbance along the border.

  • The need for the Zojila tunnel was first felt during the 1999 Kargil war and the recent incursions by China made it an urgent necessity.

  • The tunnel will provide logistics flexibility and operational mobility to the Indian Army as it will reduce the travel time on Zojila Pass from 3.5 hours to 15 minutes.

  • Zojila tunnel, which marks the end of the conifer-clad mountains of Kashmir Valley, will connect Sonamarg in Kashmir with Minamarg in cold desert Ladakh.

  • To be built at a cost of Rs 2,600 crore, the horseshoe-shaped Zojila tunnel will be India’s longest street burrow and the highest tunnel at 3,485 metre.

  • the tunnel will reduce the distance between Baltal to Minamarg from 40 km to 13 km. The Zoji La project consists of 18-km tunnels and 17-km roads, three vertical shafts, and four bridges.

  • Presently, the Zojila Pass that connects Kashmir’s capital city Srinagar to Ladakh is motorable only for six months only as the accumulation of snow makes it inaccessible during winters.

  • It creates inconveniences for civilians in Ladakh who have to stockpile the ration before winter sets in.

Source : The Hindu
Geography

Current Affairs
March 29, 2022

CONSTITUTION (SCHEDULED TRIBES) ORDER (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2022
The Lok Sabha passed a Bill to include the Darlong community as a sub-tribe of the Kuki tribe on the list of Scheduled Tribes of Tripura.

About:

  • Moving the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2022, in the Lok Sabha, Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda said the Union government was working towards betterment of living conditions of the tribal communities.

  • During the debate, Opposition members made a strong pitch for comprehensive legislation for inclusion of various castes from the States into Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) rather than doing it in a piecemeal manner.

Source : The Hindu
Social Issues

Current Affairs
March 29, 2022

FLEET CARD- FUEL ON THE MOVE
The Indian Air Force (IAF), along with Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. (IOCL), has introduced a “Fleet Card- Fuel on the Move” for its varied fleet of vehicles.

About:

  • Availability of Fleet Card will permit the convoy to refuel at any IOCL fuel station thus increasing the pace of movement and reducing the lead time for readiness at operational locations across the nation.

  • Personnel and other resources which are now involved in fuel management within the IAF can now be re-allocated towards other operational tasks.

  • This in line with the Shekatkar Committee recommendations of improving the Teeth to Tail ratio with the armed forces.

  • The ‘Fleet Card’ was launched by IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhari at Headquarters Western Air Command, Subroto Park. The headquarters was earmarked as lead agency in the implementation and execution of the “Fuel on Move” concept.

Source : The Hindu
Defence & Security

Current Affairs
March 29, 2022

CORAL BLEACHING
The management authority of the world’s largest coral reef system, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, confirmed on March 25 that the reef is experiencing a mass coral bleaching event.

Coral reefs

  • Corals are marine invertebrates or animals not possessing a spine. Each coral is called a polyp and thousands of such polyps live together to form a colony, which grows when polyps multiply to make copies of themselves.

  • Corals share a symbiotic relationship with single-celled algae called zooxanthellae.

  • The algae provides the coral with food and nutrients, which they make through photosynthesis, using the sun’s light. In turn, the corals give the algae a home and key nutrients. The zooxanthellae also give corals their bright colour.

  • Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest reef system stretching across 2,300 km. It hosts 400 different types of coral, gives shelter to 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of mollusc.

Coral Bleaching

  • Coral Bleaching happens when corals experience stress in their environment due to changes in temperature, pollution or high levels of ocean acidity.

  • Under stressed conditions, the zooxanthellae or food-producing algae living inside coral polyps start producing reactive oxygen species, which are not beneficial to the corals.

  • So, the corals expel the colour-giving zooxanthellae from their polyps, which exposes their pale white exoskeleton, giving the corals a bleached appearance. This also ends the symbiotic relationship that helps the corals to survive and grow.

Source : The Hindu
Environment

Current Affairs
March 29, 2022

MALABAR REBELLION
The Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR) has deferred its decision on a recommendation to remove the 1921 Malabar Rebellion martyrs, including Variamkunnaathu Kunhahamad Haji and Ali Musliyar, from the list of India’s freedom fighters.

About:

  • The panel was of the view that the rebellion that took place at Malabar was a one-sided attack on Hindus. Just two Britishers were killed during the unrest and hence the rebellion could not be considered as part of the freedom struggle.

  • The subcommittee had recommended the removal of the Malabar Rebellion leaders, mostly Muslims, from the list. This is viewed by some as an attempt to distort history.

Do You know?

  • The Malabar rebellion or Mappila riots occured between August 1921 and 1922 in the southern part of the Malabar district of the Madras Presidency (now part of Kerala).

  • The uprising was by the Mappila peasantry (mainly Muslims) against the prevailing feudal system in the region controlled by upper-caste Hindus, whom the British had also appointed in positions of authority for their support.

Source : The Hindu
History

Current Affairs
March 29, 2022

UNESCO’s CITY OF LITERATURE
Kozhikode was proposed by the Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA) to be branded as a ‘City of Literature’ with the help of UNESCO.

About:

  • It is among the six places that the KILA plans to develop as ‘Creative Cities’. Thiruvananthapuram is vying for the title ‘City of Peace’, Kollam ‘City of Biodiversity’, Kochi ‘City of Design’, Thrissur ‘City of Learning’, and Kannur ‘City of Craft and Folk Arts’.

  • UNESCO's City of Literature programme is part of the wider Creative Cities Network.

  • The Network was launched in 2004, and now has member cities in seven creative fields.

  • The other creative fields are: Crafts and Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Media Arts, and Music. A city designated as ‘Creative City of Literature’ must have a sufficient number of institutions taking care of its literary life.

Source : The Hindu
International

Current Affairs
March 29, 2022

CRIMINAL PROCEDURE (IDENTIFICATION) BILL, 2022
The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022, that would allow the police and prison authorities to collect, store and analyse physical and biological samples, including retina and iris scans, was introduced in the Lok Sabha.

About:

  • The Bill also seeks to apply these provisions to persons held under any preventive detention law.

  • The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) will be the repository of physical and biological samples, signature and handwriting data that can be preserved for at least 75 years.

  • The Bill seeks to repeal the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 whose scope was limited to recording finger impressions and footprint impressions of limited category of convicted and non-convicted persons and photographs on the order of a magistrate.

Criticism

  • Opposition members termed the Bill “unconstitutional”.

  • Opposition members argued that the Bill was beyond the legislative competence of Parliament as it violated fundamental rights of citizens, including the right to privacy.

  • The Bill, which implied use of force in collection of biological information, could also lead to narco analysis and brain mapping, and claimed that it violates Article 20 (3) of the Constitution as well as the Supreme Court judgment in the K.S. Puttaswamy case.

Source : The Hindu
Polity & Governance

March 28, 2022

Current Affairs
March 28, 2022

U.S – EU LNG DEAL
The U.S. President Joe Biden struck a deal with the European Union to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) to meet the continent’s energy needs. The deal comes amidst efforts by European countries to wean themselves off Russian energy exports in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war.

About:

  • Under the U.S.-EU LNG deal, the United States will supply 15 billion cubic meters (bcm) of LNG to the EU this year. Further, the EU will import additional LNG of at least 50 bcm until 2030 from the U.S.

  • This is expected to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian energy exports and thus neutralise the Kremlin’s influence on Europe to a significant extent.

  • It should be noted that Europe has been at the mercy of Russian energy exports which has limited its response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine due to the fear that Russia could cut off its energy exports to Europe.

  • Gas prices in Europe rose sharply even before the Russian invasion and a drop in supplies from Russia could make the situation even worse. This has left the EU vulnerable, so much that the West hasn’t imposed sanctions on EU’s energy imports from Russia.

  • Europe relies on Russian exports to meet about 40% of its natural gas requirements and about a quarter of its crude oil needs. Germany and many countries in Eastern Europe depend on Russia to meet more than 80% of their natural gas needs.

Source : The Hindu
International

Current Affairs
March 28, 2022

ONLINE VOTING FOR NRIs
On March 25, 2022, Union Minister for Law and Justice in response to a question in the Lok Sabha stated that the government was exploring the possibility of allowing online voting for non-resident Indians (NRI).

About:

  • The minister’s statement on easing voting for NRIs comes in the wake of a proposal made by the Election Commission of India (ECI), that wrote to the Law Ministry in November 2020, to extend the facility of postal ballots to eligible NRIs for the various State Assembly elections to be held in 2021.

  • The ECI then, had proposed amending the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, in order to allow this facility. The postal ballots were to be sent to NRIs electronically after which they will send the ballots back, after choosing their candidate, via post.

How can overseas voters currently vote in Indian elections?

  • Prior to 2010, an Indian citizen who is an eligible voter and was residing abroad for more than six months , would not have been able to vote in elections.

  • This was because the NRI’s name was deleted from electoral rolls if he or she stayed outside the country for more than six months at a stretch.

  • After the passing of the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2010, eligible NRIs who had stayed abroad beyond six months have been able to vote, but only in person at the polling station where they have been enrolled as an overseas elector.

  • Just as any resident Indian citizen above the age of 18 years) is eligible to vote in the constituency where she/he is a resident, overseas Indian citizens are also eligible to do so.

How has the existing facility worked so far?

  • From merely 11,846 overseas voters who registered in 2014, the number went up to close to a lakh in 2019.

  • But the bulk of these voters (nearly 90%) belonged to just one State — Kerala.

Source : The Hindu
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
March 28, 2022

VARIABLE REFRESH RATES (VRR)
Google is said to be testing support for variable refresh rates (VRR) in the Chrome OS 101 Dev Channel, according to a report by About Chromebooks. The feature could improve gaming experience on Chromebooks.

About:

  • Refresh rate is the number of times a display is capable of refreshing in a second.

  • It is measured in hertz (Hz). So, a 30 Hz or a 60 Hz display can refresh 30 or 60 times per second, respectively. The higher the refresh rate, the better the quality of viewing experience.

  • Displays with over 120 Hz can deliver a smoother and more comfortable viewing experience. This is necessary while playing video games or watching videos.

  • VRR supports a wide range of refresh rates, allowing its refresh rate to change in real-time based on the frames-per-second (FPS) rate coming from a source device such as a gaming console.

  • VRR is also termed as dynamic refresh rate or adaptive refresh rate by different device makers.

  • VRR is designed to eliminate syncing issues that arise when the refresh rate of a display does not match with the FPS of the content from a source device. Issues such as screen-tearing, judder (wobbling effect) and lag are common when refresh rate and FPS are not synchronised.

Source : The Hindu
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
March 28, 2022

SPACE ECONOMY
A collaboration between two premier research and educational institutions in Thiruvananthapuram has shed light on India’s “space economy”.

About:

  • According to researchers from the Centre for Development Studies (CDS) and the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST), the size of India’s space economy, is estimated at a figure of ₹36,794 crore (approximately $5 billion) for the financial year 2020-21.

  • The estimated size, as a percentage of the GDP, has slipped from 0.26% in 2011-12 to 0.19% in 2020-21, they found.

  • Space applications accounted for the major chunk of this evolving economy, constituting 73.57% (₹27,061 crore) of it in 2020-21, followed by space operations (₹8,218.82 crore or 22.31%) and manufacturing (₹1,515.59 crore or 4.12%).

  • The study also found that the space budget as a percentage of the GDP slipped from 0.09% in 2000-01 to 0.05% in 2011-12, and has remained more or less at that level since then.

  • In relation to GDP, India’s spending is more than that of China, Germany, Italy and Japan, but less than of the U.S. and Russia.

Source : The Hindu
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
March 28, 2022

LOCAL FOR GLOBAL
After his ‘vocal for local’ pitch, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his 87th edition of the Mann ki Baat radio broadcast, made a call for ‘local for global’ while lauding the quantum jump in exports of Indian products.

About:

  • Praising India for achieving the export target of $400 billion, Mr. Modi said that at first instance, it might come across as a matter related to the economy, but more than that, it was related to the capability of India, the potential of India.

  • Our export figures stand at 400 billion dollars today and this means that the demand for items made in India is increasing all over the world.

  • Today new products from all corners of the country were reaching foreign shores, let they be leather goods from Hailakandi in Assam or handloom products from Osmanabad, or fruits and vegetables from Bijapur, he said.

  • He attributed the success of “Make in India” drive to farmers, artisans, weavers, engineers, small entrepreneurs and MSME sector, among others, and pitched for making the local ‘global’ and augment the prestige of Indian products further. 

Source : The Hindu
Economy

Current Affairs
March 28, 2022

SURFACE-TO-AIR MISSILES
Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully test-fired two Army-version Medium Range Surface-to-Air Missiles (MRSAMs) from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur in Odisha.

About:

  • The flight tests were carried out as part of live-firing trials against high-speed aerial targets.

  • The missiles intercepted the targets and destroyed them completely, registering direct hits at both the ranges. The first missile hit a medium-altitude long-range target and the second a low-altitude short-range one.

  • This MRSAM version is developed jointly by the DRDO and the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) for the Army.

  • The system comprises multi-function radar, mobile launcher system and other vehicles.

Source : The Hindu
Defence & Security

Current Affairs
March 28, 2022

INDIA, UAE TRADE PACT
The free trade agreement between India and the UAE is likely to come into effect from May 1 this year, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said.

About:

  • Under this, domestic exporters of as many as 6,090 goods from sectors such as textiles, agriculture, dry fruits, gem and jewellery would get duty-free access to the UAE market.

  • The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) was signed by India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in February which aims to boost bilateral trade to $100 billion in the next five years from current $60 billion.

  • The two countries have agreed to set up a technical council on Investment, Trade Promotion and Facilitation, as part of the agreement signed.

  • Overall, the UAE is offering duty elimination on over 97% of its products which account for 99% of Indian exports here in value terms.

  • Immediate duty-free access covers all labour-intensive sectors such as gems and jewellery, textiles and apparel, agricultural and fish products, leather, footwear, and sport goods, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, and many engineering products.

  • Currently, India is exporting about $26 billion worth of goods to the UAE, almost 90% of them will get total tariff (or customs duty) elimination on Day 1 itself. Going forward, the rest of the 9.5% (about 1,270 goods) will also get zero duty.

Source : The Hindu
International

Current Affairs
March 28, 2022

MBBS SEATS
The number of undergraduate medical seats has increased from 51,348 before 2014 to 89,875 seats as of date, which is an increase of 75% while the number of medical postgraduate seats has gone up by 93% from 31,185 seats before 2014 to 60,202, Union Minister for Health informed Lok Sabha.

About:

  • The doctor-population ratio was 1:834 in the country assuming 80% availability of registered allopathic doctors and 5.65 lakh AYUSH doctors.

  • Also, there were 2.89 lakh registered dentists, 32.63 lakh registered nursing personnel and 13 lakh Allied and Healthcare professionals in the country.

  • Health was a State subject and the primary responsibility to fill the vacancies of health personnel in government hospitals lay with the State government concerned.

  • There were 13,01,319 allopathic doctors registered with the State Medical Councils and the National Medical Commission as on November, 2021.

Source : The Hindu
Education

Current Affairs
March 28, 2022

ODF PLUS VILLAGES
India has crossed a milestone of 50 thousand open defecation-free (ODF) Plus villages.

About:

  • ODF plus village is defined as “a village which sustains its Open Defecation Free (ODF) status, ensures solid and liquid waste management and is visually clean.”

  • Among the top performing States are Telangana with 13 thousand 960 ODF Plus villages followed by Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh.

  • Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen Phase-II was launched in February 2020 with the aim to ensure that all villages in the country can declare themselves as ODF Plus by the end of 2024.

  • The mission towards becoming ODF Plus has several components including biodegradable waste management including the GOBARdhan Scheme, Grey water management, Plastic waste management and Faecal sludge management.

  • ODF Plus villages have been divided into three categories, Aspiring, Rising, and Model, to showcase their progress.

Source : All India Radio
Environment

Current Affairs
March 28, 2022

MALDIVES - INDIA RELATIONS
India’s External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar was on a two-day official visit to the Maldives till March 27, where he engaged in the review of the progress of various areas of bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

About:

  • During the visit, the National College of Policing and Law Enforcement (NCPLE) in Addu City, was inaugurated in the southernmost atoll of the Indian Ocean archipelago, that was established under Indian grant assistance.

  • The establishment of the police academy had, till recently, been India’s largest grant-funded project prior to the Greater Male Connectivity Project for which India extended a $400 million line of credit in 2020.

  • In addition to the inauguration of this academy, an MoU was signed between the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy (SVPNPA), the prestigious training institute in Hyderabad, and the Maldives Police Service.

Comment

  • On the domestic level in the Maldives, the training academy would help strengthen law enforcement abilities to counter drug trafficking and growing Radicalisation, a major concern in the country.

  • Defence security cooperation between India and the Maldives has been happening for some time now and a large number of their personnel travel overseas for training, including to India.

  • the Colombo Security Conclave, a trilateral maritime security grouping of India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, where intelligence sharing is also a part of this trilateral security cooperation.

Source : Indian Express
International
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