Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Current Affairs of 11th October -2020

 

1)International Day of the Girl:

  • Launched BY UNICEF every year on 11th October,
  • UNICEF launches an annual campaign with girls to amplify their voices and stand up for their rights.
  • This year’s theme is “My voice, our equal future”, seizing the opportunity to re-imagine a better world inspired by adolescent girls – energized and recognized, counted and invested in.
  • The films being screened too amplify the voice of girls and those who are in the forefront of saving girl child from all kinds of exploitation

 

2) Export of agri commodities:

Export of Agri commodities for the period April-September, 2020 increases by 43.4% as compared to the same period last year

  • Balance of agri trade also significantly positive during April-September 2020
  • The consistent and concerted efforts of the Government to boost agricultural exports are bearing fruit as despite of the on-going

Covid-19 crisis,

  • The export of essential agri commodities for the cumulative period of April-September, 2020 has increased
  • Major commodity groups which have recorded positive export growth during are Groundnut, Refined Sugar, wheat, Basmati Rice and

Non-Basmati Rice

  • Furthermore, balance of trade during April-September 2020 has been significantly positive
  • In order to boost agri exports, the Government announced Agriculture Export Policy, 2018 which inter-alia provides for cluster-based approach for export-centric farming of cash crops like fruits, vegetables, spices, etc. whereby clusters for specific agri products are identified across the country and focused interventions are carried out in these clusters.
  • Eight Export Promotion Forums have been set up under the aegis of APEDA to boost export of agriculture/ horticulture products.
  • The EPFs are created on Banana, Grapes, Mango, Pomegranate, Onion, Dairy, Rice Basmati and Rice Non-Basmati.
  • The EPF are making concerted efforts to identify, document particulars of, and reach out to stakeholders across the entire production/ supply chain of export for increasing these exports significantly to the global market, through various interventions.
  • Recently, the Government has also announced Agri Infra Fund of Rs. 1 lakh crore to improve agri business environment which shall promote agri export in due course.

 

3) CSIR-KPIT demonstrates Hydrogen Fuel Cell fitted car:

CSIR and KPIT have successfully developed a 10 kWe automotive grade LT-PEMFC fuel cell stack based on CSIR’s know-how.

  • The heart of the PEM fuel cell technology includes the membrane electrode assembly, which is wholly a CSIR knowhow.
  • KPIT brought in their expertise in stack engineering which included light-weight metal bipolar plate and gasket design, development of the balance of plant (BoP), system integration, control software and electric powertrain that enabled running the fuel cell vehicle.
  • The fuel cell stack uses extremely thin metal bipolar plates, thus reducing the stack weight by about two-thirds.
  • In 2016, CSIR-NCL and CSIR-CECRI as part of the Industry Originated Project (IOP) category of the New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative (NMITLI) scheme partnered with KPIT for the development of an automotive grade PEM Fuel Cell technology.
  • Hydrogen Fuel Cell (HFC) technology uses chemical reactions between hydrogen and oxygen (from air) to generate electrical energy, eliminating the use of fossil fuels.
  • Further, the fuel cell technology emits only water, thus cutting down the emission of harmful greenhouse gases along with other air pollutants.
  • The technology, with further adoption and use, is poised to make the world a cleaner place with reduced air pollution levels.
  • The FC vehicle is fitted with a Type III commercial hydrogen tank.
  • Its capacity is around 1.75 Kgs of H2 stored at about 350 bar pressure, the FC vehicle should run for approximately 250 Km range under typical Indian road conditions at moderate speed of 60-65 Km/hr.
  • The time has come for renewable energy based on hydrogen as fuel to power transportation in the country. This will not only reduce the petrol, diesel import bill but hydrogen is the cleanest fuel with water as the only by-product.

 

4) Biological plant-virus ‘arms race’ uncovered:

A new study with researchers from National Centre of Biological Sciences (NCBS-TIFR), Bengaluru, has discovered a new step in this arms race between the viruses called Synedrella Yellow Vein Clearing Virus and the plants it attacks.

  • This virus is a representative of the Begomovirus family of viruses.
  • Begomoviruses are a large family with about 400 members. They infect economically important plants and are a major reason for crop loss
  • When the virus attacks the plant, it produces vein-clearing symptoms which make the plant look beautiful.
  • Without BetaC1, a viral protein, the virus will not be able to defeat the host attacks and also will not be able to completely infect the plant, as the virus will not be able to move through the veins of the plant.
  • In turn, the plant develops defence mechanisms to destroy the virus.
  •  It targets the protein called BetaC1 made by the virus which helps in successful infection and intracellular movement within the plant.
  • Plants degrade BetaC1 protein of virus by tagging this protein with another smaller protein called ubiquitin.
  • In their study, the researchers found that, in response, the virus uses the plant’s machinery to create a small modification of the BetaC1 protein.
  • It adds a tiny protein called SUMO to the betaC1 protein in a process termed SUMOylation.
  • BetaC1 hijacks the SUMO pathway machinery of the plants and makes itself a substrate for SUMOylation.
  • Essentially, BetaC1 mimics or tricks the host SUMOylation machinery as if it is one of the host plant protein requiring SUMOylation

 

5) Mullaperiyar dam:

Context: The Tamil Nadu government has rebutted allegations made in the Supreme Court that the Supervisory Committee for Mullaperiyar Dam “abdicated its duties” to evaluate the safety of the structure and water levels.

  • Supervisory Committee constituted by the top court in 2014 has “delegated” its duties to a sub-committee.
  • The State explained that the sub-committee is chaired by the Executive Engineer, Central Water Commission (CWC), with headquarters in Kochi.
  • It has members from both Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
  • The sub-committee periodically inspects the dam, collects data on seepage, collects water samples from the lake and seepage water, conducts water quality tests on them and so on and reports the details to the Supervisory Committee.
  • Mullaperiyar dam is a dam on the Periyar river in the Indian state of Kerala the dam is built at the Confluence of Mulla and Periyar rivers the Dam is located in Kerala on the river Periyar but is operated and maintained by the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu although Periyar river has a total catchment area of 5398 km with 14 kilometer downstream from the dam in Tamilnadu, the catchment area of the Mullai Periyar Dam itself lies entirely in Kerala and thus not an interstate river
  • However, by the principle of estoppel it is considered otherwise estoppel may prevent someone from bringing a particular claim
  • Legal doctrines of estoppel are based in both common law and equity
  • The tension between the two States over the issue has persisted since The 1960s, with Kerala citing concerns regarding the dam’s safety and arguing for the reduction of the dams water levels

 

6) Winged Infiltrators:

  • The butterfly Spialia zebra was found in Dungarpur district of Rajasthan miles south of its known home comprising Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab province of Pakistan.
  • The dragonfly Atratothemis reelsi was recorded in southern Arunachal Pradesh’s Namdapha Tiger Reserve, about 1,170 km west of its previously known nearest locality of Xiaoqikong Park in China’s Guizhou Province.
  • “The zebra skipper or Spialia zebra has added to the richness of Rajasthan’s orchid belt comprising Phulwari Ki Nal Wildlife Sanctuary and Sita Mata Wildlife Sanctuary

 

7) Namdapha National Park:

  • Is a large protected area in Arunachal Pradesh of Northeast India.
  • With more than 1,000 floral and about 1,400 faunal species, it is a biodiversity hotspot in the Eastern Himalayas.
  • The national park harbours the northernmost lowland evergreen rainforests in the world at 27°N latitude.
  • It also harbours extensive dipterocarp forests, comprising the northwestern parts of the Mizoram-Manipur-Kachin rain forests Eco region.

 

8) Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme – SGBs:

Context: SGBs are government securities denominated in grams of gold. They are substitutes for holding physical gold. Investors have to pay the issue price in cash and the bonds will be redeemed in cash on maturity. The Bond is issued by the Reserve Bank on behalf of the Government of India.

Features of SGB Scheme

  • The quantity of gold for which the investor pays is protected, since he receives the ongoing market price at the time of redemption/ premature redemption.
  • The SGB offers a superior alternative to holding gold in physical form. The risks and costs of storage are eliminated.
  • Investors are assured of the market value of gold at the time of maturity and periodical interest. SGB is free from issues like making charges and purity in the case of gold in jewellery form.
  • Persons resident in India as defined under Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 are eligible to invest in SGB.
  • Eligible investors include individuals, Hindu Undivided Families, trusts, universities and charitable institutions.
  • The Bonds are issued in denominations of one gram of gold and in multiples thereof.
  • Minimum investment in the Bond shall be one gram with a maximum limit of subscription of 4 kg for individuals, 4 kg for Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) and 20 kg for trusts and similar entities
  • The Bonds bear interest at the rate of 2.50% (fixed rate) per annum on the amount of initial investment.
  • Interest will be credited semi-annually to the bank account of the investor and the last interest will be payable on maturity along with the principal.
  • Bonds are sold through offices or branches of Nationalized Banks, Scheduled Private Banks, Scheduled Foreign Banks, designated Post Offices, Stock Holding Corporation of India Ltd. (SHCIL) and the authorized stock exchanges either directly or through their agents.
  • The nominal value of Gold Bonds shall be in Indian Rupees fixed on the basis of simple average closing price of gold of 999 purity, published by the India Bullion and Jewelers Association Limited, for the last 3 business days of the week preceding the subscription period.
  • On maturity, the Gold Bonds shall be redeemed in Indian Rupees and the redemption price shall be based on simple average closing price of gold of 999 purity of previous 3 business days from the date of repayment, published by the India Bullion and Jewelers Association Limited.
  • Though the tenor of the bond is 8 years, early encashment/ redemption of the bond is allowed after the fifth year from the date of issue on coupon payment dates. The bond will be tradable on exchanges, if held in demat form. It can also be transferred to any other eligible investor.
  • Interest on the Bonds will be taxable as per the provisions of the Income-tax Act, 1961.
  • The capital gains tax arising on redemption of SGB to an individual has been exempted.
  • The indexation benefits will be provided to long terms capital gains arising to any person on transfer of bond.

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