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Current Affairs 2021

The value of Current Affairs in Civil Service Examinations is enormous. This is the most critical part of both Prelims and Mains Exam. Aspirants should study in depth to understand the significance of current affairs for the Union Public Service Commission. In fact, all the questions in Civil Service Exams are framed around current affairs. Questions are not asked directly for current news and information in the exam. Questions are framed by combining current affairs with practical knowledge. The primary motive behind this type of strategy is to check the ability of correlation a candidate can make to the fact.

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Why current affairs is more important in Civil Service Exam?

Success in Prelims and Mains Exam is directly related to an aspirant’s awareness in current affairs. Preparation of current affairs for UPSC is the key to unlock the exam. It requires practice and revision in a well-connected manner... In such a scenario the preparation of current affairs topics related to India and the world is an important part of your preparations. The students have to be aware of the happening in India and around the world as this portion is an integral part of the general studies paper.

In order to make you ready for the challenges of the Current Affairs preparation, we are covering the current affairs topics on a regular basis. Our current topics are categorised in such a way that it includes; political affairs, current news, science news, general knowledge, government's scheme and policies and international affairs.

We provide you comprehensive topics of preparation that covers not only India's current scenario but also international events. We also cover Indian news headlines and other important international events under the current affairs segment.

For the very purpose of getting you ready for the challenge that is current news and views in India, we are covering the current affairs 2020 on a regular basis. Our hot topics are categorised such that they include political affairs, current news, science news, general knowledge, current government affairs and international affairs. Only studying India's current scenario or political affairs is not sufficient as you have to cover international events and affairs along with the Indian news space, as well as important and current events in the field of science and sports.

Current Affairs Topics 2021

Current Affairs July 11 to July 17

Arts

Ashadhi Bij: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has greeted the people on the auspicious occasion of Ashadhi Bij, the Kutchi New Year.

Key Points:

  • In 2021, it was observed on July 12.

  • Vikram Samvat 2078 started on June 12, 2021, in the Kutch region.

Note: Vikram Samvat is based on the day when the emperor Vikramaditya defeated Sakas, invaded Ujjain and called for a new era.

About Ashadhi Bij:

 

  • It is the Kutchi New Year.

  • This Hindu New Year is observed in the Kutch region in Gujarat.

  • In other parts of Gujarat, Hindu New Year is observed on the day after Diwali that is Kartik Shukla Paksha 1.

  • Ashadi Beej or Ashadhi Bij is observed on the second day of the Shukla Paksha or waxing phase of the moon in Ashada month.

  • Ashadhi Bij is an auspicious day for farming communities.

  • The day is celebrated in North India especially in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and some other places.

  • It is mostly a traditional affair and is a celebration of rains.

  • During Ashadhi-beej, farmers check the moisture in the atmosphere to help predict which crop would do best in the coming monsoon.

  • Ganesha, Goddess Lakshmi and other regional deities are worshipped on the occasion.

Additional Info:

Some of the Traditional New Year Festivals of India:

  • Chaitra Shukla Pratipada: It marks the beginning of the new year of the Vikram Samvat also known as the Vedic (Hindu) calendar.

  • Gudi Padwa and Ugadi: It is celebrated in the month of Chaitra Shukla Pratipada as per the Hindu Lunar Calendar. It is celebrated in the Deccan region including Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

  • Navreh: It is the lunar New Year that is celebrated in Kashmir. It falls on the very first day of the Chaitra Navratras.

  • Sajibu Cheiraoba: It is celebrated by Meiteis (an ethnic group in Manipur) which is observed on the first day of Manipur lunar month Shajibu, which falls in the month of April every year.

  • Cheti Chand: It is celebrated by the Sindhi community. Chaitra month is called ‘Chet’ in Sindhi. The day commemorates the birth anniversary of Ishta Deva Uderolal/Jhulelal, the patron saint of Sindhis.

  • Bihu: It is celebrated three times a year. Rongali or Bohag Bihu is observed in April. It is the Assamese New Year and spring festival. The Rongali Bihu coincides with Sikh New Year- Baisakhi.

  • Baisakhi: It is celebrated as the Indian Thanksgiving Day by farmers. It also has religious significance for the Sikhs community as the foundation of the Khalsa Panth was laid on this day by Guru Gobind Singh.

  • Losoong: Losoong also known as Namsoong is the Sikkimese New Year. It is usually the time when the farmers rejoice and celebrate their harvest. It is mostly celebrated in the month of December every year with traditional gaiety and colour both by the Lepchas and Bhutias.

Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra: One of the biggest festivals of India, Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra for Lord Jagannath was commenced on July 12, 2021

About Jagannath Puri Yatra:

  • Jagannath Rath Yatra called the Chariot Festival in English is associated with Lord Jagannath.

  • It is held at one of the Char Dhams called Jagannath Temple in Puri, Odisha.

  • It is the oldest Ratha Yatra taking place in India and the World, whose descriptions can be found in Brahma Purana, Padma Purana, and Skanda Purana and Kapila Samhita.

  • The festival commemorates Jagannath’s annual visit to Gundicha Temple via Mausi Maa Temple (maternal aunt’s home) near Saradha Bali, Puri.

  • This festival is the most famous Vaishnavite rituals observed in India and abroad.

  • On the occasion, devotees pray to three deities – Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Lordess Subhadra.

  • For this festival, special chariots are built each year.

  • Similar processions or rath yatras are organized at Jagannath temples across the world.

  • During festive public procession of Jagannath devotees visit Puri to see Lord Jagannath in chariot.

How this yatra begins?

  • Images of all the three deities are ceremoniously brought out of inner sanctum (Garbhagriha) from the chief temple in Jagannath Puri.

  • They are placed in a chariot which is then pulled by volunteers from Jagannath puri temple to Gundicha Temple.

Jagannath Temple:

Jagannath Temple is an important Hindu temple.

  • It is dedicated to Jagannath who is a form of Lord Vishnu.

  • The temple is located in Puri, Odisha.

  • The present temple was rebuilt from 10th century onwards.

  • Earlier temple was built by Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva in 12th century CE, who was the first king of Eastern Ganga dynasty, at the same site.

  • The temple is one of the Char Dham.

  • The three images of Jagannath are made up of neem wood, unlike stone and metal icons found in most Hindu temples.

  • These images are ceremoniously replaced every twelve or 19 years with an exact replica.

National Archives of India: Culture Minister G. Kishan Reddy recently announced that the National Archives’ records related to freedom fighters would be digitised within a year as a part of the commemoration of 75 years of Independence next year.

About National Archives of India:

  • The National Archives of India is an Attached Office under the Ministry of Culture.

  • It was established in 1891 at Kolkata (Calcutta) as the Imperial Record Department.

  • Following the transfer of the capital from Calcutta to Delhi in 1911, the present building of the National Archives of India was constructed in 1926 in Delhi.

  • There are over 50 lakhs files/documents presently in the holdings in the National Archives of India.

Books and Authors:

Urdu Poets and Writers - Gems of Deccan: The Vice President, Venkaiah Naidu recently received the book 'Urdu Poets and Writers - Gems of Deccan' authored by senior journalist, Shri J.S. Ifthekhar.

About the Book:

  • ‘Gems of Deccan’ is an anthology of prose and poetry that encapsulates the life and works of 51 outstanding poets and writers of the Deccan region.

  • The book traces the rich literary and cultural traditions of Deccan, right from the time of Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, the founder of Hyderabad, to the present times.

Urdu’s official status in India:

  • Urdu is one of the official languages under the Constitution of India.

  • It is among the 15 Indian Languages written on the Indian Currency notes.

  • It is also one of the official languages in states like Kashmir, Telangana, UP, Bihar, New Delhi and West Bengal.

About NCPUL:

  • The National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL) is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD), Government of India (GoI).

  • It was set up to promote, develop and propagate Urdu language; Council started its operation in Delhi in 1996.

The Great Big Lion: A book titled “The Great Big Lion” is drawn and written by child prodigy Chryseis Knight.

About the book:

  • This book is a story about a lion and two children. It talks about friendship, inclusivity, wildlife conservation and the world of imagination.

  • The book was published by Penguin Random House India’s “Puffin” imprint.

About Chryseis Knight:

  • Chryseis Knight, who is currently residing in Canada, learnt how to read at the age of one.

  • She started writing the story of “The Great Big Lion” in her notebook when she was three years old.

  • She then shared it with her family and became determined to do the artwork with the motivation of getting the book published.

Bonalu: Bonalu is a traditional folk festival celebrated every year in the Telugu month of Ashadham (falling in June/July), in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, and some other parts of Telangana state.

The Bonalu festival was declared a ‘state festival’ by the K Chandrasekhar Rao-led government after the state’s formation back in 2014.

About the festival:

The Bonalu festival involves scores of devotees offering the traditional ‘bonam’ (derived from Bhojanam, meaning meals) to the goddess Mahankali at 25 temples across the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

Additional Info:

Festivals of Telangana:

  • Bathukamma

  • Sammakka Saarakka Jaathara

  • Peerla Panduga

  • Sri Kurumurthy Swamy Jathara

  • Nagoba Jaatara.

Read More

Economics

Retail Direct Scheme: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 12 July 2021 introduced a “RBI Retail Direct facility” scheme.

This facility has been introduced by RBI because till the early July 2021, retail investors did not have direct access to Government Securities (G-Sec) but could get access only through aggregator model at the level of exchanges and the 'Retail Direct Gilt (RDG) account' will allow hassle-free trading in govt bonds for retail investors.

Key Details of RBI's Retail Direct Scheme:

  • RBI’s Retail Direct Scheme is a one-stop solution to facilitate investment in Government Securities (G-Sec) by individual investors.

  • Under this scheme, retail investors will be provided a facility to open and maintain Retail Direct Gilt Account (RDG Account) with RBI.

  • The starting date for the Retail Direct Gilt (RDG) account is yet to be announced by the RBI, but other modalities have been spelt out.

  • This facility was launched as part of continuing efforts towards increasing retail participation in government securities.

Salient features of the scheme:

  • Under the scheme, Retail investors (individuals) will have the option to open & maintain ‘Retail Direct Gilt Account’ (RDG Account) with RBI.

  • No fee will be charged on opening and maintaining account with RBI.

  • Both resident Indian retail investors and non-resident retail investors can now open and maintain a RDG Account wth RBI to access its G-secs platform.

  • The RDG account can be opened singly or jointly with any other retail investor who fulfills the eligibility criteria.

  • The same account will be valid for bidding in primary G-secs auctions as well as secondary market trading in Negotiated Dealing System – Order Matching (NDS-OM).

Note: NDS-OM is the RBI platform for buying and selling G-secs and other money market instruments in the secondary markets.

What are G-secs?

  • G-secs are debt instruments issued by government to borrow money.

  • These instruments are not tax-free.

  • They are the safest form of investment because they are backed by government.

  • Since they are issued by the government they carry no risk of default (risk of losing money), hence, they are called Gilt-edged instruments.

  • They are however, subject to fluctuations in interest rates.

  • It can be issued two categories -

  1. Treasury Bills: They are short term instruments that mature in 91-days, 182-days and 364 days.

  2. Dated Securities: They are long term instruments that mature anywhere between 5 years and 40 years.

About RBI:

  • It refers to the Reserve Bank of India.

  • The RBI is India's central bank, which controls the issue and supply of the Indian rupee.

  • It carries out India's monetary policy and exercises supervision and control over banks and non-banking finance companies in India.

  • RBI was set up in 1935 under the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. It is headquartered in Mumbai.

  • RBI plays an important part in the Development Strategy of the Government of India.

  • The current Governor of RBI is Shaktikanta Das.

Khadi: Khadi and Village Industry Commission (KVIC) has secured trademark registration for its brand name “Khadi” in three countries.

  • The three countries are Bhutan, Mexico and United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Key Details:

  • KVIC obtained trademark registration in Bhutan on July 9, 2021.

  • UAE granted the trademark registration on June 28, 2021 making it the first gulf country to secure the trademark registration for Khadi.

  • Earlier, KVIC received trademark registration for “Khadi” in Mexico in December 2020.

  • Apart from these countries, KVIC’s trademark applications are pending in 40 countries across the world that include the USA, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Japan, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brazil and others.

  • These trademark registrations will prevent any misuse of the brand name “Khadi” globally.

  • KVIC has got registrations in various classes that pertain to Khadi fabric, Khadi readymade garments and village industry products like Khadi soaps, Khadi cosmetics, Khadi incense sticks among others.

  • It is for the first time in the history of KVIC that sustained efforts have been made in the last 5 years to protect the brand “Khadi” which was given to us by none other than Mahatma Gandhi.

Background:

  • KVIC has also had trademark registrations in certain classes of word “Khadi” in five countries – United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Russia and China besides European Union, till date.

About KVIC:

  • Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC)

  • KVIC is a statutory body established in April 1957.

  • It was established during 2nd Five Year plan, under the ‘Khadi and Village Industries Commission Act of 1956’.

  • It works under Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.

  • KVIC seeks to “plan, promote, facilitate, organize and assist in establishing and developing khadi and village industries across rural areas in association with other agencies engaged in rural development.

  • It is headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra.

  • It has its six zonal offices across Delhi, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Kolkata, Mumbai and Guwahati.

Trademark of KVIC:

  • KVIC has exclusive rights to use trademark ”Khadi” and “Khadi India”.

  • National Internet Exchange of India Domain Dispute Policy (INDRP) Arbitration Tribunal had rejected the claim by private entity that “Khadi” is a generic word.

About Khadi:

  • Khadi refers to hand-spun and hand-woven cloth. Raw materials like cotton, silk, or wool can be spun into threads on charkha (traditional spinning implement) to obtain khadi.

  • It was launched in 1920 as a political weapon in Swadeshi movement started by Mahatma Gandhi.

  • Khadi is sourced from different parts of India such as:-

  • Cotton variety is sourced from Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.

  • Silk variety of Khadi is sourced from West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha and North Eastern states.

  • Khadi poly from Gujarat and Rajasthan.

  • Woollen variety is obtained from Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka and Jammu & Kashmir.

RBI Imposes Restrictions on Mastercard: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently imposed restrictions on Mastercard Asia/Pacific Private Limited.

Highlights:

  • The supervisory action has been taken in exercise of powers vested in RBI under Section 17 of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007 (PSS Act).

  • The restrictions were imposed By RBI for adding new domestic customers from 22nd July 2021.

Key Points:

  • MasterCard will not be allowed to add customers, be it for debit, credit or pre-paid cards onto its network as the entity has failed to comply with the directions on Storage of Payment System Data.

  • However, RBI has stated that this order will not impact existing Mastercard customers.

  • The central bank has asked Mastercard to inform all card issuing banks and non-banks to conform to these directions.

Background:

  • On April 6 2018, RBI had issued a circular directing all system providers to ensure that all information related to payments systems operated by them are stored in India.

  • All the firms were given a period of six months to comply and report compliance to RBI.

  • However, foreign card networks were reluctant to store data in India citing various issues.

Previous Restrictions by RBI:

In April 2021, the RBI had imposed restrictions on American Express Banking Corp and Diners Club International Ltd from on-boarding domestic customers from May 1, 2021, citing non-compliance. Earlier, the RBI had also put curbs on HDFC Bank on onboarding new card customers in the wake of tech glitches.

What is the reason for such restrictions?

  • As per Kazim Rizvi, founding director, The Dialogue, the RBI’s decision to restrict entities from onboarding customers is a crucial development to ensure that all payment system operators store or localize their end-to-end transaction data only in India.

About Mastercard Asia/Pacific Private Limited:

  • Mastercard is a major Payment System Operator, which is authorised to operate a card network in the country as per the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007 (PSS Act).

  • Mastercard Asia/Pacific Pte. Ltd. was founded in 1993.

  • The Company's line of business includes providing various business services.

BHIM-UPI in Bhutan: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman along with Finance Minister of Bhutan Lyonpo Namgay Tshering, on 13 July 2021 launched BHIM-UPI in Bhutan via a virtual ceremony.

Note: BHIM-UPI stands for Bharat Interface for Money-Unified Payments Interface.

BHIM-UPI app has been launched in Bhutan in collaboration between the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) and the Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) of Bhutan to enable and implement BHIM-UPI QR-based payments in Bhutan.

Highlights:

  • With this launch, Bhutan has become the first country to adopt India’s Unified Payment Interface (UPI) standards for its Quick Response (QR) code.

  • It is also the second country after Singapore to have BHIM-UPI acceptance at merchant locations.

  • Bhutan will also become the only country to both issue and accept RuPay cards as well as accept BHIM-UPI.

  • During the launch, Sitharaman also carried out a live transaction using the BHIM-UPI app to purchase organic products from a Bhutanese OGOP outlet.

  • The services have started in Bhutan under India’s “Neighbourhood First” policy.

  • She described BHIM UPI as one of the brightest in facilitating digital transactions in India during the pandemic.

About BHIM:

  • It is an Indian mobile payment App to enable fast, secure, reliable cashless payments through the mobile phone.

  • It has been developed by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).

  • It is based on Unified Payments Interface (UPI).

  • It is named after B. R. Ambedkar.

  • It was launched on December 30, 2016.

  • This app facilitates e-payments directly through banks and supports all Indian banks which use UPI.

About Unified Payments Interface (UPI):

  • Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is an instant real-time payment system which allows users to transfer money on a real-time basis, across multiple bank accounts without disclosing details of one’s bank account to the other party.

Significance of launch of BHIM-UPI in Bhutan:

  • The launch of BHIM-UPI in Bhutan has enabled the seamless connection of the payment infrastructures of both countries.

  • During covid-19 induced lockdown, BHIM-UPI became an effective mechanism of payment. In 2020-21, it processed 22 billion financial transactions of worth rupee 41 lakh crore.

  • The app now in Bhutan will also benefit more than 200,000 Indian tourists, businessmen, and Bhutanese citizens who travel to Bhutan each year.

About NPCI:

  • National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is an umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India.

  • It is an initiative of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007.

  • It is a “Not for Profit” Company under the provisions of Section 25 of Companies Act 1956 (now Section 8 of Companies Act 2013), with an intention to provide infrastructure to the entire Banking system in India for physical as well as electronic payment and settlement systems.

RuPay Card Scheme:

  • RuPay is the first-of-its-kind domestic Debit and Credit Card payment network of India.

  • The name, derived from the words ‘Rupee and ‘Payment’, emphasises that it is India’s very own initiative for Debit and Credit Card payments.

  • The card can also be used for transactions in Singapore, Bhutan, UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

About Bhutan:

  • Bhutan officially known as the Kingdom of Bhutan is a landlocked country in the Eastern Himalayas in South Asia.

  • It is bordered by the Tibet Autonomous Region of China to the north and India to the south. Bhutan is geopolitically in South Asia and is the region's second-least-populous nation after Maldives.

  • The Capital of Bhutan is Thimphu.

  • The currency of Bhutan is Bhutanese ngultrum. The current Prime Minister of Bhutan is Lotay Tshering.

Shyam Srinivasan: Federal Bank shareholders have approved the motion of re-appointment of Shyam Srinivasan as managing director and chief Executive officer (CEO) of the federal bank.

Highlights:

  • He will serve for a period of three years from 23rd September 2021 to 22nd September 2024.

  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI) approved his reappointment on July 09, 2021.

  • Srinivasan took over as Federal Bank MD & CEO in 2010 and has been at the helm since then.

About Shyam Srinivasan:

  • Shyam Srinivasan has served as the Managing Director (MD) & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Federal Bank Ltd.

  • He assumed the post of CEO of the bank on 23 September 2010.

  • He has a bachelor of engineering (B.E.) and PGDM degree.

  • He has been conferred with Distinguished Alumnus Award 2017 of IIM Calcutta and Business Standard Banker of the Year 2020 Awards.

  • Srinivasan is among the few foreign bankers who chose to move to smaller Indian banks after fairly long, successful stints in foreign banks (the others include RBL Bank’s Vishwavir Ahuja and DCB Bank’s Murali Natrajan).

About Federal Bank:

  • Federal Bank Limited is a major Indian commercial bank.

  • It has also set up Representative Offices at Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Dubai.

  • It is headquartered in Aluva, Kochi.

  • It was founded on 23 April 1931 by K.P Hormis.

  • This bank handles more than 15% of India’s total inward remittances in 2018.

  • It is also listed in NSE, BSE and London Stock Exchange.

  • It operates through four segments:

  1. Treasury,

  2. Corporate or wholesale banking,

  3. Retail banking and

  4. Other banking operations.

  • It has a branch in first International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) of India at GIFT City.

NARC: The National Asset Reconstruction Company (NARC) recently become a legal entity registered with the Registrar of Companies (RoC) Mumbai finally.

NARC also called as bad bank is finally here in India. It is considered as a one-stop solution for banking systems stressed assets menace.

Note: Bad bank refers to a financial institution that takes over bad assets of lenders and undertakes resolution.

Key Details:

  • It has been created in collaboration with both Indian Banks Association (IBA) and both Public and Private Sector Banks.

  • It is set to approach the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to seek ARC licence.

  • Under the first phase, 22 stressed accounts amounting to Rs 89,000 cr has been identified to transfer to NARC.

  • With this, Rs 2 lakh cr worth of bad loans accounts will be transferred to newly incorporated bad bank.

  • SBI is expected to transfer bad loans worth Rs 20,000cr.

  • PNB will transfer about Rs 8,000cr stressed assets while,

  • Union Bank of India will transfer about Rs 7,800cr NPAs to NARCL.

About NARC:

  • NARC was incorporated on July 7, 2021.

  • It has an authorized capital of Rs 100 cr and paid-up capital of Rs 74.6cr.

  • 16 banks, 12 state-owned and 4 private banks will invest in NARCL.

  • Canara Bank will be sole sponsor of NARL with 12% stake.

  • SBI is going to be second-largest shareholder with 9.9%.

  • NARC will be headed by stressed assets expert from SBI named Padmakumar Madhvani as Managing Director.

  • NARC is having a public sector character.

Background:

  • Finance Minister Nirmala sitharaman, during the 2021-22 Union Budget session had announced the setting of an ARC & Asset Management Company (AMC) for resolution of Non-Performing Assets (NPA) in the Indian Banking Sector.

  • Indian Banks Association (IBA) had filed an application in June 2021 with Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) to incorporate NARCL and India Debt Management Company (IDMCL) to manage bad loans.

What was the need?

  • Total stress in banking system is more than Rs 15 lakh crore.

  • So, the banks are burdened with stressed assets and limited capital which they find it difficult to manage NPAs.

  • Furthermore, the Government can only provide a limited capital.

  • Thus, this bad bank model will help both government and banks to manage NPAs.

ITFS: IFSCA recently issued a framework for Setting up and operating International Trade Finance Services Platform (‘ITFS’).

  • The complete text of the framework can be accessed on the IFSCA website.

Key Details:

  • ITFS is an electronic platform for facilitating the Trade Finance Services at International Financial Services Centres through multiple Financers.

  • The framework will enable exporters and importers to avail various types of trade finance facilities at competitive terms, for their international trade transactions.

  • This will help in their ability to convert their trade receivables into liquid funds and to obtain short term funding.

  • This framework will provide an opportunity to the participants to avail trade finance facilities for trade transactions such as:

  1. Export invoice trade financing

  2. Reverse trade financing,

  3. Bill discounting under letter of credit,

  4. Supply chain finance for exporters,

  5. Export credit (packing credit), insurance/ credit guarantee,

  6. Factoring and any other eligible product, on the ITFS platform

About IFSCA:

  • The International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) was established in April 2020 under the International Financial Services Centres Authority Act, 2019.

  • IFSCA is headquartered at GIFT City, Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

  • It is a unified authority for the development and regulation of financial products, financial services and financial institutions at the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in India.

  • Currently, GIFT IFSC is the maiden international financial services centre in India.

Read More

Defence

Exercise Shield: A Trilateral Table Top Exercise (TTX) – 2021 anti-narcotics and maritime search and rescue exercise, ‘Exercise Shield’, was held between Indian and Sri Lankan Navies and Maldives National Defence Force through virtual mode.

Key Details:

  • The two-day exercise, TTX-2021, was held virtually on July 14 and 15 with the Indian Navy’s Western Naval Command as the lead agency.

  • The exercise is aimed at enhancing mutual understanding and exchange of best practices procedures for countering common transnational crime.

  • This exercise commenced with the opening address by Rear Admiral Gurcharan Singh, Chief Staff Officer (Operations), Western Naval Command, Mumbai.

  • Rear Admiral Prasanna Mahawithana, Director General Operations, Sri Lanka Navy, and Colonel Ibrahim Hilmy, Area Commander- Maldives National Defence Force participated in the inaugural session.

  • The exercise was coordinated by Maritime Warfare Centre, Mumbai.

About TTX-2021:

  • This exercise is a part of ongoing efforts towards strengthening maritime partnership amongst the three countries and further boosts the security environment in the Indian Ocean Region [IOR].

  • It was focused at enhancing maritime security cooperation and mutual understanding, exchange of best practices, procedures for countering common trans-national maritime crimes such as narcotics smuggling, evolving modalities for exchanging information, intelligence and to assist each other in maritime search and rescue.

Significance:

  • Interaction between the three neighbouring countries in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) has also grown significantly in recent years, in consonance with India’s policy of ‘Neighbourhood First’ and vision of ‘Security and Growth for all in the Region (SAGAR).”

  • The exercise gains additional relevance in light of the successful Operation Sagar Aaraksha 2 executed in support of MV X-Press Pearl, the Singapore-flagged cargo ship that caught fire on May 21.

  • The cargo ship MV X-Press Pearl was carrying 1,486 containers of chemicals and cargo when it went up in flames near the Colombo Port. Apart from the 325 metric tonnes of fuel in its tanks, the ship was loaded with 25 tonnes of hazardous nitric acid.

  • The Sri Lankan Navy, Airforce and the Indian Coast Guard jointly doused the fire in an operation that took days. However, the ship sank off the country’s coast on June 17.

  • Environmentalists have dubbed it as one the worst ecological disasters in Sri Lanka’s history.

  • Furthermore, there has been a steep increase in recovery of narcotics in the IOR in recent years and has been a major concern for maritime security agencies.

  • For instance, in April the Navy had recovered over 300 kg of narcotics from a fishing vessel in the Arabian Sea estimated to cost ₹3,000 crore in the international market. Thus, disrupting smuggling routes, which emanate from the Makran coast and flow towards the Indian, Maldivian and Sri Lankan destinations.

Background:

The exercise came as a follow up to India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives agreeing to focus on ways of enhancing maritime security cooperation in the IOR at the fourth National Security Adviser (NSA)-level trilateral meeting held in Colombo in November last year with the participation of India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and the top defence brass from Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

War Memorial of Capt Gurjinder Singh Suri: The Indian Army recently inaugurated a War Memorial of Capt Gurjinder Singh Suri in Gulmarg near the Line of Control (LOC).

Key Details:

  • The war memorial was inaugurated on the occasion of the birthday of Captain Gurjinder Singh Suri, who died during the operation “Birsa Munda” in 1999.

  • Lieutenant Colonel (Col), Tej Prakash Singh Suri (Retd), father of Captain Gurjinder Singh Suri, MVC (Posthumous) was also present on the occasion.

  • Gurjinder Singh Suri was later awarded Maha Vir Chakra (Posthumous).

About the Operation Birsa Munda:

  • Operation Birsa Munda was a punitive raid conducted against a Pakistani post by a Bihar battalion of the Indian Army, in the month of November 1999.

  • This was the time when Operation Vijay had drawn to a close, but the LOC was still active with sporadic incidents of trans Line of Control violence.

  • In a swift and meticulously planned operation, the entire Pakistani post was destroyed, killing 17 Pakistani soldiers.

  • During 1999, Capt Gurjinder Singh Suri was attached to 12 Bihar when the battalion was deployed in the Gulmarg sector of Jammu and Kashmir.

  • It was here at Faulad Post situated at a height of 11,200 feet, on a cold November day that this 25-year old Captain Suri attained martyrdom by sacrificing his life in the defence of the motherland.

About Captain Gurjinder Singh Suri:

  • Captain Gurjinder Singh Suri was born on 4th July 1974 in Ambala district of Haryana in a military family.

  • He was the Son of an army veteran Lt Col T P Singh and Smt Surjit Kaur.

  • His younger brother Randhir Singh who is currently serving Lieutenant Colonel in the Indian Army..

  • His grandfather, Subedar Gurbaksh Singh had participated in overseas campaigns during World War II and also during the wars in 1947-48 and 1962.

  • His father Lt Col TP Singh Suri, a Sikh Light Infantry veteran, took active part in the 1971 war with Pakistan in the Naushera sector of Jammu and Kashmir.

  • He went on to join the National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla, in July 1993 and was commissioned into Army Ordnance Corps in June 1997.

  • Capt Gurjinder Singh Suri, commissioned in Ordnance Corps, while on attachment to 12 Bihar Battalion in their finest innings, did something which made the Ordnance, the logistic arm of the Army and 12 Bihar, the sword arm, proud of this young Khalsa.

  • During 1999, Capt Gurjinder Singh Suri was attached to 12 Bihar when the battalion was deployed in the Gulmarg sector of Jammu and Kashmir.

  • It was here at Faulad Post situated at a height of 11,200 feet that Captain Suri attained martyrdom by sacrificing his life in the defence of the motherland.

  • For his conspicuous act of bravery and supreme sacrifice, Capt Gurjinder was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra posthumously.

  • He was the lone recipient of Maha Vir Chakra, the second highest military decoration for gallantry, during the investiture ceremony on August 15, 2000.

AI-Powered Grievance Management Application: Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh, on 15th July 2021, launched an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered grievance management application in New Delhi.

Key Points:

  • This is the first AI based system developed to improve grievance redressal in the Government.

  • The app has been developed by the Ministry of Defence in the collaboration with IIT-Kanpur.

  • The AI tool developed as part of the initiative has capability to understand the content of the complaint based on the contents therein.

  • As a result, it can identify repeat complaints or spam automatically.

  • Based on the meaning of the complaint, it can categorize complaints of different categories.

Features of the App:

  • This AI-powered application will automatically check out and analyse the complaints of the people.

  • It will help in reducing human intervention, save time and bring more transparency in their disposal.

  • it has the capability to understand the content of the complaint based on the contents.

  • The app can identify repeat complaints or spam automatically.

  • The app will also categorize complaints into different categories.

  • Also, it can inspect geographical analysis of complaints in a category.

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Environment

Bryum Bharatiensis: A group of polar biologists from India stumbled upon a plant species, during an expedition to Antarctica, in 2017.

However, it was only recently, that the scientists could confirm that the plant species had been discovered for the first time.

About Bryum Bharatiensis:

  • On the 36th expedition undertaken by Indian scientists in the icy continent, the scientists from the Central University of Punjab discovered a rare, dark green plant species.

    •  

  • The plant species were found at the Larsemann Hills, overlooking the Southern Ocean, near one of the world’s remotest research stations, Bharati.

  • The novel plant species, discovered by Indian scientists in Antarctica is hailed Bryum Bharatiensis, by the scientists.

  • The plant species was later recognized as mosses.

  • The newly found moss species is named after the Hindu goddess, Bharati, who also lends her name to India’s research station in Antarctica.

  • In addition, it is named so by the scientists to pay tribute to their country of origin, i.e., India.

Traversing the discovery:

  • After strenuous research of five long years, spent collecting, sequencing, and comparing samples of plant DNA, the Indian scientists unanimously reached a conclusion that the discovered species was indeed novel.

  • It is the first time, since the launch of the first research station in Antarctica, four decades ago, that India discovered a new plant species.

  • The breakthrough discovery featured in a peer-reviewed paper which has been accepted in the leading international journal- the ‘Journal of Asia-Pacific Biodiversity.’

Significance:

  • The tedious research being conducted is very significant for India and Science, at large, as it opens new doors for more such studies in the region.

  • It will also be interesting to know how these mosses survive one of the world’s toughest weather in temperatures going as low as -70 degrees.

Concern:

  • However, the discovery is also a matter of concern as it indicates the changing topography of the icy continent, due to the effects of global climate change. “Antarctica is getting greenified.

  • According to Prof Bast in a BBC report, many temperate species of plants that previously could not survive in this frozen continent are now seen everywhere because of the warming up of the continent.

  • Adding to the grave concerns regarding the perils of climate change, the scientists further noticed melting glaciers, crevasse-infested ice sheets, and glacial melt-water lakes on top of ice sheets, during their expedition.

Flash Floods: Flash flood caused by the heaviest rainfall has left dozens dead and several thousand missing in Western Europe.

Record rainfall in Western Europe caused rivers to burst their banks, devastating the region.

Germany:

  • Germany has been the worst affected with fast moving torrents of water inundating entire towns and villages in western and southern parts.

  • The country is experiencing one of its worst weather disasters since World War II.

  • At least 80 people have died and hundreds more are unaccounted for in Germany after some of the worst flooding in decades.

  • The Rhineland-Palatinate state in Germany is one of the worst-affected regions with around 1,300 people "assumed" to be missing in the district of Ahrweiler, as per the local government.

  • Along with the Rhineland-Palatinate state, the German regions of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and Saarland have also been heavily affected.

  • Some 15,000 police, soldiers and emergency service workers are at the scene to aid with search and rescue, while helicopters picked stranded residents from roof tops and tanks cleared roads of fallen trees and debris.

Belgium:

  • Belgium has also reported at least 12 dead after the extreme weather, which political leaders have blamed on climate change.

  • The village of Schuld was almost entirely destroyed. Officials say, a major dam near the Belgian border, the Rurtalsperre, is overflowing slightly.

  • Around 1800 people had to evacuate in the town of Chaudfontaine, in Liège province.

Netherlands:

  • The Netherlands is also badly affected, with further flooding in Luxembourg and Switzerland.

  • The Meuse River in Limburg was predicted to burst out of its banks and reach its highest level in 200 years.

  • Several municipalities in Limburg province have declared a state of emergency making evacuation compulsory.

Luxembourg:

  • The Luxembourg government has set up a crisis cell to respond to emergencies triggered by heavy rains overnight.

  • Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel reported that "several homes" have been flooded and were "no longer inhabitable".

Background:

  • Scientists have repeatedly warned that human-induced climate change would bring pulses of extreme rainfall such as this one.

About Flash Floods:

A flash flood is a rapid flooding of low-lying areas: washes, rivers, dry lakes and depressions.

Cause:

  • It may be caused by heavy rain associated with a severe thunderstorm, hurricane, tropical storm, or meltwater from ice or snow flowing over ice sheets or snowfields.

  • Huge amounts of water flowing in rivers are due to incessant heavy rains and melting of snow, resulting in severe flooding.

  • They can also occur even if no rain has fallen, for instance after a levee or dam has failed, or after a sudden release of water by a debris or ice jam.

  • They can occur within minutes or a few hours of excessive rainfall.

Impact:

  • Flash floods induce severe impacts in both the built and the natural environment.

  • Flash floods can rip through river beds, urban streets, or mountain canyons sweeping everything before them.

  • Especially within urban areas, the effects of flash floods can be catastrophic and show extensive diversity, ranging from damages in buildings and infrastructure to impacts on vegetation, human lives and livestock.

  • An impact severity scale is proposed in 2020 providing a coherent overview of the flash flood effects through the classification of impact types and severity and mapping their spatial extent in a continuous way across the floodplain.

  • Depending on the affected elements, the flood effects are grouped into 4 categories:

  1. Impacts on built environment

  2. Impacts on man-made mobile objects,

  3. Impacts on the natural environment (including vegetation, agriculture, geomorphology, and pollution)

  4. Impacts on the human population (entrapments, injuries, fatalities).

The scale was proposed as a tool on prevention planning, as the resulting maps offer insights on future impacts, highlighting the high severity areas.

Amazon rainforest: The Amazon forests in South America, which are the largest tropical forests in the world, have started emitting carbon dioxide (CO2) instead of absorbing carbon emissions.

Key Details:

  • A significant amount of deforestation in eastern and southeastern Brazil has turned the forest into a source of CO2 that has the ability to warm the planet.

  • Not only the Amazon rainforests, but some forests in Southeast Asia have also turned into carbon sources in the last few years as a result of the formation of plantations and fires.

  • This study was published in science journal, Nature.

  • The study was conducted by making 600 flights over four areas of Amazon.

  • It was led by researchers from Brazil National Institute for Space Research to collect data on amount of carbon dioxide present in atmosphere.

Key Findings:

  • As per research, role of Amazon rainforest as a carbon sink appears to be in decline.

  • According to study, four areas were emitting 410 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.

  • Four regions absorbed roughly 120 million metric tons of carbon.

  • Thus, sections of Amazon were giving off 290 million metric tons as net emissions.

Causes and Impact:

  • Changes in Amazon are being driven by factors such as deforestation, wildfires, and climate change.

  • Emissions were the result of fires, often set intentionally by humans.

  • This could devastate the ecosystem and is a troubling sign for fight against climate change.

  • In 2019, fires in the Amazon were visible from space.

Amazon Rainforest:

  • Alternatively called as Amazon jungle or Amazonia, is a moist broadleaf tropical rainforest in Amazon biome covering major portion of Amazon basin in South America.

  • The Amazon basin is huge with an area covering over 6 million square kilometres, it is nearly twice the size of India.

  • About 5,500,000 km2 areas are covered by rainforest.

  • Territory in this region belongs to nine nations. Majority of forest is contained within Brazil (60% of rainforest).

  • It is followed by Peru (13%), Colombia (10%,) and rest in Bolivia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana and Venezuela.

  • Amazon represents half of Earth’s remaining rainforests and comprises largest & most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest worldwide.

  • The Amazon rainforests cover about 80 % of the basin and as per NASA’s Earth observatory, they are home to nearly a fifth of the world’s land species and are also home to about 30 million people including hundreds of indigenous groups and several isolated tribes.

  • Other than this, the basin produces about 20 per cent of the world’s flow of freshwater into the oceans.

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Indian Policy

Special livestock package: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved implementation of special livestock sector package consisting of several activities by revising and realigning various components of Government of India's schemes for next five years starting from 2021-22.

Key Points:

  • The CCEA approved the implementation in order to further boost growth in livestock sector and thereby making animal husbandry more remunerative to 10 crore farmers engaged in Animal Husbandry Sector.

  • This package envisages Central Government's support amounting to Rs.9800 crore over duration of 5 years for leveraging total investment of 54 thousand 618 crore rupees for five years.

Financial Implication:

The financial commitment of Rs.9800 crore by Government of India over next 5 years starting 2021-22 for these schemes would leverage total investment of Rs.54,618 crore in livestock sector including share of investments by State Governments, State Cooperatives, Financial institutions, External funding agencies and other stakeholder.

Key Details:

As per this, all the schemes of the Department will be merged into three broad categories as Development Programmes.

  1. It includes Rashtriya Gokul Mission, National Programme for Dairy Development (NPDD), National Livestock Mission (NLM) and Livestock Census and Integrated Sample Survey as sub-schemes.

  2. Disease Control programme renamed as Livestock Health and Disease Control (LH & DC) which includes the present Livestock Health and Disease Control (LH & DC) scheme and National Animal Disease Control Programme (NADCP) and Infrastructure Development Fund

  3. The Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development fund (AHIDF) and the Dairy Infrastructure Development Fund (DIDF) are merged and the present scheme for support to Dairy Cooperatives and Farmer Producer Organizations engaged in Dairy activities is also included in this third category.

Significance and Impact:

  • The Rashtriya Gokul Mission will help in development and conservation of indigenous breeds and would also contribute in improving the economic condition of the rural poor.

  • The National Programme for Dairy Development (NPDD) scheme is targeted towards installation of about 8900 bulk milk coolers, thus providing benefit to more than 8 lakh milk producers and 20 LLPD milk will be additionally procured.

  • Under NPDD, financial assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will be availed thus strengthening and creating fresh infrastructure in 4500 villages.

Draft Drone Rules, 2021: The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) on July 15, 2021, issued the updated draft Drone Rules, 2021, for public consultation.

The last date for public consultation on the draft Drone Rules, 2021, is August 5, 2021.

Highlights:

The updated draft Drone Rules will replace the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2021, that were issued on March 12, 2021.

The Draft rules were built on premise of trust, self-certification and non-intrusive monitoring.

Key Details of the Draft Drone Rules 2021:

As per the updated draft Drone Rules, 2021 -

  • The new draft rules suggest the abolition of approvals for certain criteria, reduction of forms to six from 25 and relaxation in granting permission.

  • It proposes the development of drone corridors for cargo deliveries.

  • It will offer safety features such as geo-fencing, real-time tracking beacon. A six-month lead time will be given for compliance.

  • There will be minimal human interface on digital sky platform and most permission will be self-generated.

  • Safety features like ‘No Permission – No Take-off’ (NPNT), real-time tracking beacon, geo-fencing etc. are to be notified in future.

  • It will provide an interactive airspace map with yellow, green, and red zones that will be displayed on the Digital Sky platform.

The yellow zone has been reduced from 45 km to 12 km from the nearby airport perimeter. In the green zone, no flight permission will be required up to 400 ft and up to 200 ft in the area between 8 and 12 km from the airport perimeter.

  • Import of drones and drone components will be regulated by Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).

  • All drone training and testing to be carried out by an authorized drone school.

  • Directorate General of Civil Aviation will prescribe training requirements, oversee drone schools and provide pilot licenses online.

  • Standard operating procedures (SOP) and training procedure manuals (TPM) will be prescribed by DGCA on the digital sky platform for self-monitoring by users.

  • No pilot license required for micro drones (for non-commercial use), nano drones and for R&D organizations.

  • Research and Development entities will not be required to generate certificates of airworthiness, remote pilot license, prior permission, and unique identification number.

  • The Quality Council of India and certification entities authorized by the Council will handle the Issuance of Certificate of Airworthiness.

  • The coverage of drones as per the draft Drone Rules, 2021, has been increased to 500 kg from 300 kg, including drone taxis.

  • Operating drones with no unique identification number will not be allowed unless it is exempted.

  • Drone operators are required generate a unique identification number of drones by providing requisite details on digital sky platform.

  • A Drone Promotion Council will be created to enable a business-friendly regulatory regime.

Significance:

  • The drone attack incident has put focus on security and safety risks associated with drone operations.

  • Therefore, the updated draft Drone Rules, 2021, will facilitate investments in drone technology in India.

  • Further, abolishment of restrictive practices and stringent licence regime for UAS by the government offers flexibility to players in the sectors.

Background:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in June chaired a high-level meeting to discuss the drone attack which took place in Jammu & Kashmir.

  • The was attended with the Home Minister Amit Shah, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval were also present in the meeting.

What is Digital Sky platform?

Digital Sky platform is an initiative by the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA).

This initiative was started for the following purpose:

  • To provide a secure & a scalable platform to support drone technology frameworks like NPNT (No Permission, No Take-off),

  • To provide flight permission digitally

  • To manage unmanned aircraft operations and traffic in an efficient manner.

  • It was designed to enable flight permission digitally and managing unmanned aircraft operations & traffic efficiently.

What is a Drone?

Drone is a layman terminology for Unmanned Aircraft (UA).

The following are the three subsets of Unmanned Aircraft-

  1. Remotely Piloted Aircraft

  2. Autonomous Aircraft

  3. Model Aircraft.

Remotely Piloted Aircraft consists of remote pilot station(s), the required command and control links and any other components, as specified in the type design.

The remotely piloted aircraft have been divided into five categories. They are:

  1. Large: Greater than 150kg.

  2. Medium: From 25kg to 150kg.

  3. Small: From 2 kg to 25kg.

  4. Micro: From 250 grams to 2kg.

  5. Nano: Less than or equal to 250 grams.

SIATP: Union Education Minister and Tribal Affairs Minister jointly launched the ‘School Innovation Ambassador Training Program’ (SIATP) for 50,000 School Teachers on 16th July 2021.

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) had announced that the Board in collaboration with Ministry of Education’s Innovation Cell (MIC) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) will impart training to 50 thousand teachers as Innovation Ambassadors.

About SIATP:

  • The innovative is one of its kind training program for School Teachers.

  • This program aims at training 50,000 school teachers on Innovation, Entrepreneurship, IPR, Design Thinking, Product development, Idea generation etc.

  • The program has been designed by Innovation Cell of the Ministry of Education and AICTE for School Teachers based on its “Innovation Ambassador Training Program for Higher Educational Institution’s faculty members”.

  • The training will be delivered in online mode only.

  • The first batch of this programme will start from 20th of July.

National AYUSH Mission: The Union Cabinet recently approved the continuation of National AYUSH Mission (NAM) as a Centrally-sponsored Scheme from 1st April 2021 to 31st March 2026.

Key Points:

  • Total financial implication will be of Rs. 4607.30 crore.

  • Out of it, Rs 3,000 crore will be Central Share and Rs. 1607.30 will be State Share.

  • The Mission was launched on 15-09-2014.

About:

Centrally Sponsored Scheme of NAM is being implemented by Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India.

It was launched with the following objectives:

  • To provide cost effective AYUSH Services

  • To provide a universal access through upgrading AYUSH Hospitals and Dispensaries

  • To co-location of AYUSH facilities at Primary Health Centers (PHCs), Community Health Centers (CHCs) and District Hospitals (DHs)

  • To strengthen institutional capacity at the State level through upgrading AYUSH educational institutions

  • To set up of new upto 50 bedded integrated AYUSH Hospital

  • To implement AYUSH Public Health programmes

  • To operationalize 12,500 AYUSH Health and Wellness Centres.

Significance of the mission:

  • This scheme is addresses the gaps in health services by supporting efforts of State or UT Governments to provide AYUSH health services or education across India. Under the scheme, special focus is given to specific needs of far-flung areas in order to allocate higher resources in their Annual Plans.

  • Benefits of the scheme:

  • It provides a better access to AYUSH healthcare services by increased healthcare facilities.

  • It facilitates better offering of AYUSH services and better availability of medicines and trained manpower

  • Improvement in AYUSH education through well-equipped enhanced number ofAYUSH Educational institutions,

  • It also focuses on reducing communicable and non-communicable diseases through targeted public health programmes using AYUSH systems of Healthcare.

Note: The National Health Policy 2017 has advocated mainstreaming the potential of AYUSH systems (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sows-rigpa and Homoeopathy) within a pluralistic system of Integrative healthcare.

Section 66A of the Information Technology Act,2000: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has recently asked the States and Union Territories (UTs) to immediately withdraw the cases registered under the repealed-Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

Key Details:

  • This came after the Supreme Court (SC) recently expressed shock that Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 was being invoked even six years after the apex court had struck it down.

  • The Supreme Court has taken a very serious view of the matter.

  • MHA has asked states and UTs to sensitize law enforcement agencies for compliance of order issued by Supreme Court on March 24, 2015.

  • The Government has also directed that if any case has been booked in States and UTs under section 66A of the IT Act, 2000, such cases should be immediately withdrawn.

What’s the issue?

  • The SC recently issued a notice to central government while hearing plea filed by PUCL (People’s Union for Civil Liberties) in which Plea mentioned that even after 7 years of law being struck down, 745 cases are pending and active before district courts in 11 states in which accused persons are being prosecuted for offences under Section 66A of IT Act.

  • The plea was filed after data collated by Internet Freedom Foundation, which was tracking cases under “Zombie provisions”.

  • As per data, even after of March 2015, around 1307 cases were registered under it.

  • Attorney General of India, KK Venugopal, informed in Supreme court that statute books still carry Section 66A of IT Act even though it was declared unconstitutional.

Background:

  • The Supreme Court had struck down section 66A on March 24, 2015 after noting it as “vague and arbitrary”.

  • It was dubbed as “draconian” because it allowed arrest of several innocent persons.

  • The SC in its judgment on 24.03.2015 in the matter of Shreya Singhal Vs. Union of India had declared it unconstitutional.

  • This made Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 null and void with effect from the date of the order, therefore 24.03.2015 and hence no action could be taken under this section.

What is section 66A of IT Act?

  • Section 66A of IT Act provided for punishment of a maximum of three years in jail and a fine to a person accused of sending “offensive” messages using computer or any other communication device like mobile phone or tablet.

  • This section was used to punish online communications which are considered “offensive & menacing and false to cause annoyance, inconvenience, insult, danger, injury, hatred, criminal intimidation or ill will.”

Uttarakhand Rivers Rejuvenation Project: The Executive Committee (EC) of the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) recently approved new projects for the rejuvenation of six polluted river stretches in Uttarakhand.

  • This project was approved at the 36th Executive Committee meeting of the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), chaired by Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Director General, NMCG.

Key Points:

  • The project shall cover the 6 polluted river stretches in the Kumaon region.

  • These 6 Rivers are Bhela, Dhela, Kichha, Kosi, Nandhore, Pilakhar and Kashipur.

About the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG):

  • NMCG is the implementation wing of National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection and Management of River Ganga (referred as National Ganga Council).

  • It was registered as a society on 12th August 2011 under the Societies Registration Act 1860.

  • It acted as the implementation arm of National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) which was constituted under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA),1986.

Note: On 7th October 2016, National Ganga Council has replaced National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) which was constituted under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA), 1986.

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Indian polity

Reconstituted Cabinet Committees: The central government has reconstituted the Cabinet committees, including the one on parliamentary affairs, ahead of the Monsoon Session, scheduled between July 19 and August 13.

The Government has reconstituted Cabinet Committees under the Transaction of Business Rules.

These include -

  1. Appointments Committee of the Cabinet

  2. Cabinet Committee on Accommodation

  3. Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA)

  4. Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA)

  5. Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs

  6. Cabinet Committee on Security

  7. Cabinet Committee on Investment and Growth

  8. Cabinet Committee on Employment and Skill Development.

The members are as follows:-

1. Appointments Committee of the Cabinet:

Composition

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shri Amit Shah, Minister of Home Affairs

  • Appointments committee decides all higher level appointments in the Central Secretariat, Public Enterprises, Banks and Financial Institutions.

2. Cabinet Committee on Accommodation:

Composition

Shri Amit Shah, Minister of Home Affairs, Shri Nitin Jairam Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways; Minister of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Finance; Minister of Corporate Affairs, Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of Railways, Minister of Commerce & Industry.

Special Invitees

Shri Jitendra Singh,Minister of State(I/C) of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region; Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Minister of State in the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Minister of State in the Department of Atomic Energy; Minister of State in the Department of Space, Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State(I/C) of the Ministry of Housing &Urban Affairs; Minister of State(I/C) of the Ministry of Civil Aviation; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry

  • Committee on Accommodation determines the guidelines with regard to the allotment of government accommodation.

3. Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs:

Composition

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Shri Rajnath Singh, Minister of Defence, Shri Amit Shah, Minister of Home Affairs, Shri Nitin Jairam Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways; Minister of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, Shri D.V.Sadananda Gowda, Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Finance; Minister of Corporate Affairs, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of Agriculture &Farmer Welfare, Minister of Rural Development: and Minister of Panchayati Raj, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Communications and Information Technology; and Minister of Law and Justice, Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Minister of Food Processing Industries, Dr. Subrahamanayam Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs, Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of Railways, Minister of Commerce & Industry, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Minister of Steel.

  • Economic Affairs Committee directs and coordinates the governmental activities in economic area.

4. Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs:

Composition

Shri Raj Nath Singh, Minister of Defence, Shri Amit Shah, Minister of Home Affairs, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Finance; Minister of Corporate Affairs, Shri Ramvilas Paswan, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of Agriculture &Farmer Welfare, Minister of Rural Development: and Minister of Panchayati Raj, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Communications and Information Technology; and Minister of Law and Justice, Shri Thawar Chand Gehlot, Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment, Shri Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change; Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Shri Prahlad Joshi, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs; Minister of Coal and Mines.

Special Invitees

Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal, Minister of State Parliamentary Affairs; Minister of State in the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Shri V Muraleedharan, Minister of State Parliamentary Affairs; Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs

  • Parliamentary Affairs Committee will chalk out the schedule of the Parliament sessions, scrutinize non-government business and decide on the bills and resolutions to be presented in the Parliament. This committee alsoknown as Super-Cabinet also looks after the progress of government business in the parliament.

5. Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs:

The Cabinet committee on Political Affairs, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will comprise 12 Union ministers

Composition

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Shri Raj Nath Singh, Minister of Defence, Shri Amit Shah, Minister of Home Affairs, Shri Nitin Jairam Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways; Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Finance; Minister of Corporate Affairs, Shri Ramvilas Paswan, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of Agriculture &Farmer Welfare, Minister of Rural Development: and Minister of Panchayati Raj, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Communications and Minister of Electronics and Information Technology; and Minister of Law and Justice, Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Minister of Food Processing Industries, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Health & Family Welfare; Minister of Science & Technology; and Minister of Earth Sciences, Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of Railways, Minister of Commerce & Industry, Shri Prahlad Joshi, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs; Minister of Coal; and Minister of Mines, Shri Arvind Ganpat Sawant, Minister of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises

  • Political Affair Committee deals with all political matters related to domestic and foreign affairs including Centre-State relations and policy matters concerning foreign affairs that do not have external or internal security implications.

6. Cabinet Committee on Security:

Composition

Prime Minister Narendra Modi,Shri Rajnath Singh, Minister of Defence,Shri Amit Shah, Minister of Home Affairs, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Finance & Corporate Affairs, and External Affairs Minister Dr. Subrahamanayam Jaishankar.

This committee decides all important appointments in the government from the rank of joint secretary and above was also not changed.

  • The Committee on Security decides on all important appointments in the government from the rank of joint secretary to national security issues, defence expenditure of India and matters related to atomic energy.

7. Cabinet Committee on Investment and Growth:

Composition

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Minister of Defence Shri Rajnath Singh, Minister of Defence, Minister of Home Affairs Shri Amit Shah, Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Shri Nitin Jairam Gadkari, Minister of Finance & Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman and Minister of Railways & Minister of Commerce & Industry Shri Piyush Goyal.

  • Committee on Investment will identify the key projects required to be implemented on a time-bound manner in different sectors.

8. Cabinet Committee on Employment & Skill Development:

Composition

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Minister of Defence Shri Rajnath Singh, Minister of Home Affairs Shri Amit Shah, Minister of Finance & Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of Agriculture &Farmer Welfare, Minister of Rural Development: and Minister of Panchayati Raj, Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of Railways & Minister of Commerce & Industry, Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, Minister of Human Resource Development, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum &Natural Gas: and Minister of Steel, Dr. Mahendra Nath Pandey, Minister of Skill development & Enterpreneurship, Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar, MOS(I/C)Labour & Employment and Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State(I/C) of the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs; Minister of State(I/C) of the Ministry of Civil Aviation; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Special Invitees

Shri Nitin Jairam Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways; Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Minister of Food Processing Industries, Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani, Minister of Women & Child Development and Textiles, Shri Prahlad Singh Patel, Minister of State (I/C) Culture, MOS (I/C) Tourism.

Committee on Employment and Skill Development will provide direction to all policies, programmes, schemes and initiatives for skill development aimed at increasing the employability of the workforce.

Note: All the committees are headed by the Prime Minister except two, Parliamentary Affairs Committee and Committee on Accommodation which are headed by the Home Minister.

Piyush Goyal: Union Minister Piyush Goyal is set to be be the Leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha.

He will replace Thaawarchand Gehlot, who is now the Governor of Karnataka.

Highlights:

  • This replacement signals the induction of younger leader for a role which is usually handled by veterans.

  • Piyush Goyal was deputy leader when Gehlot was leader of the house.

  • Thaawar Chand Gehlot has been now appointed as governor of Karnataka.

  • Before becoming a minister in 2014, Goyal was BJP treasurer. He was also engaged in poll management activities.

  • As deputy leader of the House of Elders, Goyal has been an effective floor manager and played a role in passage of key legislations.

About the Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha:

  • Leader of House is the “leader and parliamentary chairperson” of majority party in Rajya Sabha.

  • The Leader is usually either a cabinet minister or another nominated minister.

  • The Leader of the House is responsible for organizing government meetings and business in the House.

Is it a constitutional post?

  • No. Office of leader of the House is not enshrined in constitution.

  • It is provided under Rules of Rajya Sabha.

Rajya Sabha or Council of States:

  • It is the upper house of bicameral Parliament of India.

  • It is a permanent body and is not subject to dissolution.

  • It has a maximum membership of 245 as of 2021. Out of 245, 233 members are elected by legislatures of states and union territories by single transferable votes through Open Ballot.

  • 12 members are nominated by President for their contributions in the fields of art, science, literature and social services.

  • Maximum seating capacity of Rajya Sabha is 250 in which 238 can be elected and 12 are nominated.

  • Article 80 of Constitution provides that, members sit for staggered terms lasting six years.

  • Elections are held every year with about a third of 233 designates up for election every two years.

Note: The Upper House was founded on 3 April 1952 by the Constituent Assembly of India. It is headquartered in New Delhi.

Development of Infrastructure Facilities for Judiciary: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has recently approved the continuation of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) for Development of Infrastructure Facilities for Judiciary.

Key Details:

  • It has been approved for further five years from 01.04.2021 to 31.03.2026.

  • The total cost of the scheme is estimated at Rs 9,000 crore, out of which will be Rs 5,357 crore will be Central share, including Rs 50 crore for the Gram Nyayalayas Scheme.

  • This proposal seeks to help in construction of 3800 court halls and 4000 residential units (both new and ongoing projects) for judicial officers of District and Subordinate Courts, 1450 lawyer halls, 1450 toilets complexes and 3800 digital computer rooms.

  • This will be a new step towards building better courts for a new India.

  • The Cabinet also gave its approval for the implementation of the scheme in a mission mode through National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms with an aim to develop a well-equipped judicial infrastructure to facilitate the administration of justice in a manner that allows easy access and timely delivery of justice to all.

Implementation of the Scheme from 2021 to 2026:

The projects that will be undertaken under the CSS Scheme for the period between April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2026 are as follows:

  1. Construction of 3800 court halls and 4000 residential units for Judicial Officers (JO) in all the District and Subordinate Courtsin all the District and Subordinate Courts with an expenditure of Rs.4500 crores.

  2. Construction of 1450 Lawyers’ Halls in all the District and Subordinate Courts with an expenditure of Rs.700 crore.

  3. Construction of 1450 toilet complex in all the District and Subordinate Courts with an expenditure of Rs.47 crore.

  4. Construction of 3800 Digital Computer Rooms in the District and Subordinate Courts with an expenditure of Rs.60 crore.

  5. Operationalisation of Gram Nyayalayas in implementing states with an expenditure of Rs.50 crore.

Benefits of this scheme:

  • The CSS Scheme will increase the availability of well-equipped Court Halls and Residential Accommodations for Judges / Judicial Officers of District and Subordinate Courts all over the country.

  • The courts are also being provided with better amenities enabling win-win situation for both the judiciary and the lawyers and also to ease of living of common man.

  • Setting up of digital computer rooms will also improve digital capabilities and give impetus to the digitization initiation being pursued as a part of India’s Digital India vision.

  • This will help in improving the overall functioning and performance of the Judiciary. Continued assistance to the Gram Nyayalayas will also give impetus to providing speedy, substantial and affordable justice to the common man at his door step.

Monitoring of the Scheme:

  • Department of Justice has developed an online monitoring system with technical assistance from ISRO.

  • The online monitoring system will enable data collection on the progress of completion of court halls and other measures undertaken.

  • The upgraded “Nyaya Vikas-2.0” web portal and mobile application has been upgraded for monitoring physical and financial progress of CSS judicial infrastructure projects by geo-tagging completed and ongoing projects.

Background:

  • A Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) for Development of Infrastructure Facilities for Judiciary has been in operation since 1993-94.

  • The central assistance is provided to the State Governments / UT Administrations under the Scheme for construction of court halls and residential units for Judicial Officers / Judges of District and Subordinate Courts.

About Gram Nyayalayas:

The Gram Nyayalayas Act, 2008 that came into force from 2 October 2009 was enacted for establishment of Gram Nyayalayas for speedy and easy access to justice system in the rural areas of India.

Jurisdiction:

  • A Gram Nyayalaya has jurisdiction over an area specified by a notification by the State Government in consultation with the respective High Court.

  • The Court can function as a mobile court at any place within the jurisdiction of such Gram Nyayalaya, after giving wide publicity to that regard.

  • They have both civil and criminal jurisdiction over the offences.

  • Gram Nyayalayas has been given power to accept certain evidences which would otherwise not be acceptable under Indian Evidence Act.

Composition:

  • The Gram Nyayalayas are presided over by a Nyayadhikari, who will have the same power, enjoy same salary and benefits of a Judicial Magistrate of First Class.

  • Such Nyayadhikari are to be appointed by the State Government in consultation with the respective High Court.

Sub-Categorization within OBCs: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, on 14 July 2021, approved the Eleventh Extension of the term of the Commission constituted under Article 340 of the Constitution.

  • It has been approved to examine the issue of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in the Central List by 6 months beyond 31st July 2021 and upto 31st January 2022.

Benefits:

  • The proposed extension of tenure and addition in its terms of reference shall enable the “Commission” to submit a comprehensive report on the issue of sub-categorization of OBCs, after consultation with various stake holders.

Implementation:

  • The Order of extension of the term of the “Commission” by 6 months beyond 31.7.2021 and till 31.01.2022 would be notified with the approval of the President.

Background:

  • The Commission was constituted under article 340 of the Constitution with the approval of President on 2nd October, 2017.

  • The Commission, headed by Justice (Retd.) Smt. G. Rohini commenced functioning on 11th October, 2017 and has since interacted with all the States/UTs which have subcategorized OBCs, and the State Backward Classes Commissions.

What is the reason for the extension?

  • The Commission has come to the view that it would require some more time to submit its report since the repetitions, ambiguities, inconsistencies and errors of spelling or transcription etc. appearing in the existing Central List of OBCs need to be cleared.

  • Hence the Commission had sought extension of its term, up to 31st July 2020.

  • However, due to the nationwide lockdown and restrictions on travel imposed on account of COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission was not able to go perform the task assigned to it.

  • Therefore, the term of the Commission is being extended for a period of 6 more months i.e. up to 31.1.2021.

Safe Digital Transmission of Bail Order: The Supreme Court of India on July 16, 2021, announced that a system for safe digital transmission of its bail orders to jails across India.

Key Details:

  • The bail order scheme will be implemented so that authorities do not have to wait for authentic orders to release prisoners.

  • A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana directed the Secretary-General of the Supreme Court to submit a proposal on the safe digital transmission of its bail orders scheme.

  • The bench has directed the implementation of this scheme within a month.

  • The bench has also requested the states to provide information on availability of internet connection in jails across India because the digital transmission scheme would require an internet connection.

  • Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave was appointed as an amicus curiae to aid with implementing the scheme.

Background:

  • On July 13, 2021, the Supreme Court took sou motu cognizance of the delay by the Uttar Pradesh authorities in releasing 13 prisoners who had been granted bail by the apex court on July 8, 2021.

  • The 13 prisoners, who were juveniles at the time of conviction, have been lodged in Agra Central jail for periods from 14 to 22 years in a case of murder.

Definition of Amicus Curiae:

  • One who is not a party to case but assists court by offering information, expertise, or insight with bearing on issues in any case are known as “Amicus Curiae”.

  • The decision of considering brief by amicus is subject to discretion of court.

  • This figure originated in Roman law.

  • Amicus Curiae is a Latin phrase that literally means ‘friend of the court”.

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Sher Bahadur Deuba: The Supreme Court of Nepal, on 12 July 2021 passed an order to appoint Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba as Prime Minister Nepal within two days.

Nepal's Supreme Court also reinstated the dissolved House of Representatives for second time in five months.

Background:

  • The parliament was dissolved by caretaker Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli in May.

  • Nepal was thrown into a constitutional crisis after Mr. Oli lost a confidence vote on the 10th of May.

  • Then, the President of Nepal Bidya Devi Bhandari on the advice of Mr. Oli dissolved 275-member lower house on May 22, 2021 for second time in five months.

  • She also announced snap elections on November 12 and November 19.

Why Parliament was dissolved?

  • The parliament was dissolve by Bidhya Devi Bhandari after considering claims of support by both sides.

  • KP Sharma Oli had claimed to have support of 153 lawmakers including members of Janata Samajbadi Party while, Nepali Congress President Deuba had the support of 149 parliamentarians.

  • Both the claims did not comply because, Nepal’s house of representatives comprises of 275 members.

Political crisis in Nepal:

  • Political crisis in Nepal began in May 2018 when KP Sharma Oli-led CPN-UML & National Communist Party joined hands and decided to serve as joint chairmen of ruling party.

  • CPN-UML was largest party in House of Representatives , however, increasing disputes within the ruling party resulted in split again.

  • After the split, in December 2020, Prachanda-led party expelled Prime Minister Oli as co-Chair and Prachanda was made first Chairman.

  • In 2020, the house of representatives was dissolved which was reinstated again after the order of Supreme Court in 2021.

  • On May 10, 2021 Prime Minister Oli lost vote of confidence and house was dissolved again.

About Article 76 (7) of Constitution of Nepal:

  • President has the power to dissolve House of Representatives or Parliament under Article 76 (7) of Constitution of Nepal.

  • Under Article 76 (7), the Prime Minister of Nepal can dissolve House of Representatives and announce new date to conduct election within six months in case Prime Minister appointed under Clause (5) fails to own vote of confidence or when no member can be appointed as Prime Minister.

About Nepal:

  • Nepal officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal is a landlocked country in South Asia. It is mainly situated in the Himalayas, but also includes parts of the Indo-Gangetic Plain, bordering Tibet of China to the north, and India in the south, east, and west.

  • It is narrowly separated from Bangladesh by the Siliguri Corridor, and from Bhutan by the Indian state of Sikkim.

  • Nepal is a multinational state, with Nepali as the official language.

  • Kathmandu is the nation's capital.

  • The current President of Nepal is Bidya Devi Bhandari.

Ethiopia Parliamentary Elections: In Ethiopia, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Prosperity party won national parliamentary election.

Highlights:

  • National Election Board of Ethiopia announced that the ruling party won 410 seats out of 436 in the federal parliament.

  • This landslide victory assured a second term for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

About:

  • Abiy Ahmed came to power in April 2018 after the former prime minister resigned amid widespread protests.

  • He had taken many steps for political and economic reforms during his tenure but also drawn intense international criticism for his handling of the conflict in the Tigray region has that left thousands of people dead.

About Ethopia:

  • Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country in the Horn of Africa.

  • It shares borders with Eritrea to the north, Djibouti and Somalia (Somaliland) to the northeast, Somalia to the east, Kenya to the south, South Sudan to the west and Sudan to the northwest.

  • The capital and largest city of Ethopia is Addis Ababa.

  • The currency used here is the Ethiopian birr.

Malala Day 2021: The International Malala Day is observed on July 12 to commemorate the birthday of young Pakistani activist, Malala Yousafzai.

Malala Yousafzai is an international symbol, who took the initiative to prioritize female education in her home country, Pakistan.

Malala Day History:

  • The United Nations had designated July 12 in 2013 as Malala Day to honour women and children’s rights around the world.

  • She delivered the speech at the United Nations (UN) headquarters on women's rights and education, calling world leaders to reform their policies and on July 12, which was also her birthday.

  • The speech gained several rounds of standing ovations and and this address led to the declaration of Malala Day by the UN.

About Malala:

  • Malala Yousafzai is a young Pakistani human rights activist.

  • At age 17, Malala was the youngest recipient ever of the Nobel Peace Prize.

  • She was born in Mingora, Pakistan, on July 12th, 1997.

  • As a young girl, Malala Yousafzai was not allowed to go to school as the Pakistani Taliban had banned girls from going to school.

  • However, the young girl refused to stay home and publicly advocated for the right to education for girls from as early as September 2008.

  • In 2009, Malala started a blog and wrote about life under Taliban rule. She also wrote about her desire to go to school. For three years, she and her father advocated for the right for girls to attend school.

  • As Malala Yousafzai became more recognized, the dangers facing her increased and she received numerous death threats.

The attack on Malala:

  • In October 2021, the teenager was attacked by Taliban gunmen after she publicly advocated for the education of girls.

  • She was left critically injured.

  • Nine months after being shot, on her 16th birthday, the fierce girl delivered a speech at UN headquarters on women’s right to education.

Malala Fund:

  • She founded the Malala Fund, a non-profit organization in 2013 along with her father to ensure free, safe, quality school education for girls around the world.

Books:

  • She co-authored her autobiography titled “I Am Malala”, which is an international bestseller.

  • She even published a children's picture book about her life experience in October 2017, which was titled-'Malala's Magic Pencil.'

  • She also wrote another book about herself and the refugee girls she met in her campaigns. The book titled, ‘We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World’, was published in 2018.

She finished her degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Oxford in June 2020.

Awards and Honours:

  • Malala Yousafzai has received numerous national and international honours over the years. Some of which are as follows:

  • Malala Yousafzai jointly won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize along with Kailash Satyarthi, a children’s rights activist from India. At 17 years, Yousafzai became the youngest Nobel laureate.

  • She is the second Pakistani national to receive a Nobel Prize after Abdus Salam who won Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979.

  • She won the Mother Teresa Award for Social Justice in November 2012.

  • She also won the International Children’s Prize in 2013.

  • She won the Simone de Beauvoir Prize, an international human rights prize for women’s freedom, in January 2013.

  • The European Parliament awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in October 2013.

  • She also won the Harvard Foundation’s Peter Gomes Humanitarian Award in September 2013.

  • Yousafzai was honoured with the Anna Politkovskaya Award – Reach All Women in War in 2013.

  • Note: The award has been constituted to remember and honor the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya (1958–2006), who was murdered in Moscow on 7 October 2006 to silence her reporting about the war in Chechnya.

  • She also won the International Prize for Equality and Non-Discrimination in 2013.

  • She was appointed as the UN Messenger of Peace by the United Nations in April 2017. She became the youngest-ever to hold the post.

  • She was also awarded an honorary Canadian citizenship in April and became the youngest person to address the House of Commons in Canada.

  • The UN has declared her as “the most famous teenager in the world” in its Decade in Review report in late 2019.

Right to Repair Movement: The right to repair movement has recently been making waves across the globe.

Key Details:

  • From the United States (US) to Europe, pressure is mounting on manufacturers around the world to give consumers the right to repair their own electronic devices.

  • Activists and organizations around the world argue that these electronic manufacturers are encouraging a culture of ‘planned obsolescence’ — which means that devices are designed specifically to last a limited amount of time and to be replaced. This, they claim, leads to immense pressure on the environment and wasted natural resources.

  • However, it has been facing tremendous opposition and resistance from tech giants like Microsoft, Apple, Tesla, and even Amazon.

Reason for their resistance:

  • In response to this executive order, American companies say they fear for their business.

  • They argue that sharing information in this way would violate the intellectual property of their products.

  • The other main argument is that independent repairers could be harmed when attempting to repair a product or by using it after a faulty repair.

  • They also believe that this will threaten data and cybersecurity.

Background:

  • The US President Joe Biden had recently signed an executive order asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to establish rules to allow consumers to repair their electronic devices under their own conditions. These rules are intended to boost competition in the US economy.

  • The UK, too, introduced right-to-repair rules that should make it much easier to buy and repair daily-use gadgets such as TVs and washing machines.

What is the right to repair movement?

  • The right to repair movement started sometime in the 1950s, at the beginning of the computer era. This movement allows consumers the ability to repair and modify their own consumer electronic devices, where otherwise the manufacturer of such devices requires the consumer to use only their offered services.

  • The main aim of the movement is to get tech companies to make tools, spare parts, and repair manuals accessible to the public.

  • This can help consumers and repair shops fix devices and extend their life span.

Note:

  • The right to repair electronic products in their entirety is a real ecological and economic issue.

  • For years, tech giants and manufacturers have been doing everything to prevent consumers from being able to repair their products.

  • Instead they have favored the purchase of new devices.

Bastille Day: Bastille Day also known as the National Day of France is celebrated on the 14th of July every year.

Key Points:

  • Bastille Day is the common name given in English-speaking countries to the national day of France.

  • In French it is known officially as La Fête Nationale or le 14 juillet.

  • This day marks the fall of Bastille, a military fortress and prison, on July 14, 1789, when an angry mob stormed into it, signaling the beginning of the French Revolution.

  • The first celebration can be traced back to July 14, 1790, exactly one year after the Bastille fell. Since then, it has continued to grow, and large parties are held all over the world.

  • The slogan “Vive le 14 juillet!” (“Long live the 14th of July!”) has continued to be associated with the day.

History:

  • The Bastille was originally built as a fortress guarding the eastern entrance of the city of Paris during the 1300s.

  • It was later used as a French state prison and a place of detention for important persons during the 17th and the 18th centuries.

  • Prisoners who were directly sent there under orders of the king would get no trial or right of appeal, at times including political prisoners who spoke against the rules and laws set by the ruling king. Detained citizens awaiting trial were also held at the Bastille.

  • Despite plans to demolish the building in the late 18th century, the Bastille had come to represent the Bourbon monarchy and the harsh acts carried out by them.

  • It was stormed by an angry mob of revolutionists on July 14, 1789, who then released the seven prisoners being detained at the site. It is largely considered the signal to the French Revolution.

  • Within days of the storming, feudalism was abolished in France and by August the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen” was published.

  • A year later, in 1790, a Fête de la Federation was held to celebrate the fall of the Bastille and to symbolize the unity of the French people during the Revolution.

  • Delegates from across France gathered in Paris to declare their allegiance to a single nation which was an important unifying aspect of the Revolution. 

BRICS Labour & Employment Ministers’ Meeting: The Union Minister for Labour & Employment Bhupender Yadav, on 15 July 2021 chaired the BRICS Labour & Employment Ministers’ Meeting under India’s Presidency.

Ministers of the member countries viz. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa participated in the meeting.

Key Details about the Meet:

  • The BRICS Labour & Employment Ministers’ Meeting was organized by India to exchange views on the impact of Covid-19 on global labour market, enhance information sharing, discuss and agree upon specific areas of cooperation between BRICS Member countries.

  • Discussion on four priority areas of cooperation took place namely:

  1. Promoting Social Security Agreements amongst BRICS Nations;

  2. Formalization of Labour Markets;

  3. Participation of Women in the Labour Force;

  4. Gig and Platform Workers: Role in the Labour Market.

  • The significant aspect of the meeting was the adoption of the BRICS Labour & Employment Ministers’ Declaration.

  • The Ministerial Declaration recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the efforts made to address unemployment, decent work deficits and inequality.

  • It also illustrates the strong determination of BRICS Member countries to recover with stronger national economies, inclusive labour markets and social protection systems.

  • Shri Bhupender Yadav, in his welcome address, stressed the need to enhance the intra-BRICS solidarity and promoting sustained, inclusive, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

  • He highlighted the path breaking reforms by Government of India (GoI) in amalgamation, simplification and codification of its labour laws into four labour codes, namely

  1. The Code on Wages 2019

  2. The Code on Social Security 2020

  3. The Industrial Relations Code 2020

  4. The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code 2020

  • The new Labour Codes provide integrated pathways towards robust formalization of the labour market, increasing participation of women in the labour force and enhancing the role of gig and platform workers in the labour market.

  • The Minister further emphasized the need for the signing of Social Security agreements amongst BRICS nations to promote the welfare of the international migrant workers.

About BRICS:

  • It is the acronym coined for an association of five major emerging national economies which are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Originally the first four were grouped as "BRIC", before the induction of South Africa in 2010.

  • The BRICS members are known for their significant influence on regional affairs.

  • All are also the members of G20. Since 2009, the BRICS nations have met annually at formal summits.

  • BRICS headquarter is situated at Shanghai, China. BRICS members are known for their influence in regional affairs.

World Day for International Justice 2021: The International Justice Day also referred to as Day of International Criminal Justice or International Justice Day, is an international day celebrated throughout the world on July 17 as part of an effort to recognize the emerging system of international criminal justice.

Highlights:

  • The International Justice Day is celebrated by honouring individuals working to advocate the fundamental human rights of victims affected by criminal acts.

  • The day brings together all people who want to support justice, advocate victims' rights, and aid in the prevention of crime that threatens the world's peace, safety, and well-being.

History:

  • On 1 June 2010, at the Review Conference of the Rome Statute held in Kampala (Uganda), the Assembly of State Parties decided to celebrate 17 July as the Day of International Criminal Justice.

  • On July 17, 1998, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), also known as the International Criminal Court (ICC), adopted the Rome Statute and the day also commemorates the adoption of ICC's founding treaty.

  • Established in 1945, the ICJ is the United Nation's principal judicial organ.

  • It is the only principal UN body which is located in The Hague (Netherlands) -outside New York.

Theme for World Day for International Justice 2021

  • The theme for World Day for International Justice 2021 is ‘A Call for Social Justice in the Digital Economy.’

  • This theme has been adopted for 2021 to celebrate the World Day for International Justice.

  • The topic is extremely relevant for this year as with the swift pace of adoption of the digital economy aided by the Covid-19 pandemic, the frequent incidents of internet frauds, breach and theft have also increased manifold.

About International Court of Justice (ICJ):

  • ICJ is the first permanent and independent international judicial institution that is capable of trying individuals accused of the most serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights which include the crime of genocide, a war of crimes, and crimes against humanity.

  • International Criminal Court (ICC) came into being when several states adopted a statute in Rome.

  • This statue is known as the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

  • However, the ICC does not replace the national courts but it is available when a country can't or won't carry out investigations and prosecute perpetrators.

China's Cyber-Security Industry Plan: The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China has drafted a cyber-security industry plan.

The draft comes as Chinese authorities step up efforts to draft regulations to better govern data storage, data transfer, and personal data privacy.

Key Points of the Plan:

  • China’s cyber-security is a three-year action plan to develop China’s cyber-security industry.

  • It is estimated to be worth more than 250 billion yuan ($38.6 billion) by 2023.

  • the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) proposed draft rules calling for all data-rich tech companies with over 1 million users to undergo security reviews before listing overseas.

  • The plan came in the backdrop of a regulatory probe of Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing for violating data privacy laws.

Cybersecurity Law of China:

  • This law, commonly referred to as Chinese Cybersecurity Law, was enacted to increase data localization, data protection, and cybersecurity for national security.

  • It was enacted by Standing Committee of National People’s Congress on November 7, 2016.

  • Law came into force on June 1, 2017.

  • Cybersecurity is recognized as a basic law in China.

  • Thus, puts cybersecurity law on top of pyramid-structured legislation on cybersecurity.

Provisions of Law:

  • The law requires network operators to store data within China.

  • It also allows Chinese authorities to conduct spot-checks on network operations of company. The Law offers principal norms on some of the issues that are not immediately urgent but having long-term importance.

  • It also provides elaborate regulations and definitions on legal liability.

  • For illegal conduct, Law provides for punishments like fines, suspension for rectification, revocation of permits & business licenses.

Is the law applicable to whole country?

  • As specified in local laws as “One country, two systems” principle, this law is applicable to the whole country except its special administrative regions like Macau and Hong Kong as these regions have a high degree of autonomy.

About China:

  • China, officially the People's Republic of China, is a country in East Asia.

  • It is governed by the Communist Party of China.

  • It is a recognized nuclear weapons state and has the world's largest standing army, the People's Liberation Army, and the second-largest defense budget.

  • The capital of China is Beijing.

  • The currency used here is Yuan (CNY) and Renminbi (RMB).

  • The yuan is the unit of account of the country's economic and financial system while Renminbi is the official currency of China where it acts as a medium of exchange.

  • The current President of china is Xi Jinping.

Bashar al-Assad: Syrian President Bashar Assad was sworn in 17 July 2021 for a fourth seven-year term.

Key Highlights:

  • He was re-elected in a landslide victory with 95.1 per cent of the votes.

  • The win delivers Assad seven more years in power and lengthens his family's rule to nearly six decades.

  • His father, Hafez al-Assad, led Syria for 30 years until his death in 2000.

  • Mr. Assad was facing symbolic competition from two candidates — former Deputy Cabinet Minister Abdallah Saloum Abdallah, and Mahmoud Ahmed Marei, head of a small, officially sanctioned opposition party.

  • Mr. Assad’s victory comes as the country is still devastated by the conflict.

  • Fighting has subsided but the war is not over. An economic crisis is getting worse in a country where over 80% of the population lives below the poverty line and the local currency is in a free fall.

About Syria:

  • Syria, officially the Syrian Arab Republic, is a country located on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea in southwestern Asia.

  • It borders Lebanon to the southwest, the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest.

  • Its capital and largest city is Damascus.

  • The currency used here is Syrian pound.

  • The current President of Syria is Bashar al-Assad.

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National

NEIFM as NEIAFMR: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on 14 July 2021 gave the approval for changing the nomenclature & mandate of North Eastern Institute of Folk Medicine (NEIFM) as North Eastern Institute of Ayurveda & Folk Medicine Research (NEIAFMR).

Key Details:

  • The proposal to change the nomenclature and mandate of NEIFM to NEIARMR was approved keeping in view the need for imparting quality Education and Research in Ayurveda & Folk Medicine at Pasighat, Arunachal Pradesh.

  • The consequential changes will also be carried out in the Memorandum of Association & Rules and Regulations.

Significance:

  • The inclusion of Ayurveda within the mandate of the Institute seeks to be highly beneficial for the people of North East region for imparting quality education and research in Ayurveda and Folk medicine.

  • The institute will also provide opportunities for students of Ayurveda and Folk medicine not only in India but also the neighboring countries such as Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, Mongolia, China and other Central Asian countries.

About North Eastern Institute of Folk Medicine (NEIFM):

  • The NEIFM, Pasighat was established for systemic research, documentation and validation of traditional folk medicine and health practices of the region.

  • The institute was established with the following objectives:

  1. To function as an apex research centre for all aspect of Folk Medicine,

  2. To create an interface between traditional healers and scientific research, survey, documentation validation of folk medicine practices, remedies and therapies for possible usage in public health care and future research etc.

Kisan Sarathi: The Central Government, on 16 July 2021 launched digital platform named’ Kisan Sarathi.’

Highlights:

  • The platform Kisan Sarathi was launched to facilitate farmers to get 'right information at right time' in their desired language.

  • This digital platform was jointly launched by Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw through video conference on the occasion of 93rd ICAR Foundation Day.

  • The Minister asked the ICAR Scientists to take-up research on new technological interventions in the area of transportation of farmer’s crop from their farm gate to warehouses, markets and the places where they want to sell with minimum damage.

About Kisan Sarathi:

  • Through this digital platform, the farmers can avail personalized advisories on agriculture and allied areas directly from scientists of Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVKs).

  • This initiative of Kisan Sarathi will empower farmers with the technological interventions and reach farmers in remote areas.

About ICAR Foundation Day:

  • Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) celebrated its 93rd foundation day virtually on 16 July 2021.

  • The ICAR has played a pioneering role in ushering Green Revolution and subsequent developments in agriculture in India through its research and technology development, therefore making a visible impact on the national food and nutritional security.

  • It has played a major role in promoting excellence in higher education in agriculture.

Theme of 2021:

This Year, the day was celebrated on the theme - “Yoga for Well-being”.

Key Details:

  • The Indian Council of Agricultural Research has been recognizing and rewarding the institutions, scientists, teachers, farmers and agricultural journalists every year.

  • On the occasion of the foundation day, Shri Tomar announced awards in various categories and released the publications of ICAR in the presence of Union Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Shri Parshottam Rupala, Union MoS for Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare Shri Kailash Choudhary and Ms. Shobha Karandlaje.

  • The ICAR conferred 16 Awards in 4 major categories during the occasion. The awards are

  1. National Award for outstanding contributions for Agricultural Institutes

  2. National Award for outstanding contributions in Agricultural Researches

  3. National Award for Application of Agricultural Technologies” and

  4. National Award for Innovation and Technology Development by Farmers

  • The dignitaries virtually felicitated about 60 Awardees in 16 different categories. The Awardees included

  • 4 ICAR Institutes

  • 1 All India Coordinated Research Project

  • 4 Krishi Vigyan Kendras

  • 39 Scientists

  • 11 Farmers

  • Apart from the Awards, the Hindi Rajbhasha Awards in the various categories were also conferred during the occasion.

About ICAR:

  • ICAR was established on 16 July 1929 as a registered society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.

  • It is an autonomous body responsible for coordinating agricultural education and research in India under the Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), Ministry of Agriculture.

  • The Union Minister of Agriculture serves as its president.

  • Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s headquarters is in New Delhi.

COVID Teeka Sank Surakshit Van, Dhan aur Uddyam: Shri Arjun Munda, Minister of Tribal Affairs, today, virtually launched the nationwide campaign 'COVID Teeka Sang Surakshit Van, Dhan aur Uddyam.'

Key Points:

  • This campaign is being launched in partnership with UNICEF (United Nations Children's Emergency fund) and WHO (World Health Organization) to increase the COVID-19 vaccination of 10.5 crores tribal people in India.

  • It will help in beating “infodemic” against coronavirus vaccine and myths, rumors, disinformation & misinformation that are adding to infodemic.

  • It focuses on reassurance, pride & self-efficacy and promotes ‘Livelihoods with Health’ in tribal areas.

  • This campaign seeks to make the Van Dhan Vikas Kendras and villages to be the first in respective states to be declared COVID free and free of all restrictions.

  • The campaign will leverage the 45,000 Van Dhan Vikas Kendras (VDVK) of the Tribal Co-operative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED).

Note: TRIFED is a national level cooperative body under the administrative control of Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India (GoI).

  • The campaign is an important step at vaccinating the tribal people to ensure that the tribal areas are not impacted by the third wave of the pandemic.

Implementation:

  • The ground-level workers in villages, SHGs, traditional village headsmen, and the Van Dhan Kendras will be the focal points to implement the campaign.

Objectives:

  • The main objective of this campaign is at keeping the tribal communities safe from COVID-19 and enables them to continue with their livelihood activities.

  • The goal of the campaign is to spread awareness among more than 50 lakh tribals about the free COVID-19 vaccination available at nearby centres and that getting vaccinated protects them from hospitalization and death.

The 3 Js of the Campaign:

The campaign will be focusing on three key areas:

  1. Jeevan (Life): Every life and livelihood is precious and vaccination is key to life.

  2. Jeevika (Livelihood): Vaccination will help in continuing Van Dhan Vikas Kendra and livelihood activities without any fear of contracting the disease. It will also save hospitalization and other opportunity costs.

  3. Jaagrookta (Awareness): Simplification of registration process for vaccination, place, accessibility to different people and age groups, including women & elderly population.

Significance of Campaign:

  • This campaign will leverage strength and network of Self-Help Groups and other common points like Haats & Bazaars, Common Service Centres, fertilizers outlet centres, VDVKs & milk collection points.

How this campaign will run?

  • The Campaign will be run by using wall paintings comprising tribal motifs in a bid to promote vaccine uptake and COVID Appropriate Behaviour.

  • It will also use non-traditional partnerships and community reach such as involvement of traditional leaders like tadvis/patels, incentivizing adoption of vaccines using local health structures in order to vaccinate Tribal population.

About Van Dhan Yojana:

  • The Van Dhan Scheme is an initiative of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and TRIFED.

  • The scheme was launched on 14 April 2018 to create livelihood generation for tribal gatherers and transform into entrepreneurs.

  • This scheme is implemented through Ministry of Tribal Affairs as Nodal Department at the Central Level and TRIFED as Nodal Agency at the National Level.

  • At State level, the State Nodal Agency for MFPs and the District collectors are envisaged to play a pivot role in scheme implementation at grassroot level.

  • Locally the Kendras are proposed to be managed by a Managing Committee (an SHG) consisting of representatives of Van Dhan SHGs in the cluster.

  • Under Van Dhan Yojana Van Dhan Vikas Kendra (VDVK) is established for providing skill upgradation and capacity building training and setting up of primary processing and value addition facility.

  • Each VDVK cluster set under the scheme contains 15 tribal SHGs (Self help groups) i.e. about 300 beneficiaries per cluster and the Government provides Rs. 15 lakhs for each cluster.

About TRIFED:

  • It refers to Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India.

  • TRIFED is a national-level apex organization.

  • It functions under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

  • It was founded in 1987.

  • It works towards marketing development of tribal products and provides marketing support to the products made by tribals through a network of retail outlets.

  • It is a component of the ‘Mechanism for Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) & Development of Value Chain for MFP’.

  • The idea is to set up tribal community-owned Van Dhan Vikas Kendra Clusters (VDVKCs) in predominantly forested tribal districts.

  • The current Managing Director of TRIFED Pravir Krishn

MoU on coking Coal: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Russia on cooperation in coking Coal.

The MoU was signed between Ministry of Steel (India) and Ministry of Energy (Russia).

Note: Coking coal is used for Steel making.

Benefits of MoU:

  • The MoU will help India reduce its dependence on far-located countries like Australia, South Africa, Canada and the US for sourcing of coking coal.

  • It will benefit the entire steel sector by reducing their input cost as Russia is geographically closer compared to the said countries.

  • This will lead to reduction in cost of steel in the country and promote equity and inclusiveness.

  • The MoU will provide an institutional mechanism for co-operation in the coking coal sector between India and Russia.

Objective of MoU:

The main objective of the MoU is strengthening cooperation between the Govt. of India and Govt of Russia in the steel sector.

The activities involved in the cooperation are aimed at diversifying source of coking coal.

What is Coking Coal?

  • Coking coal, also known as metallurgical coal, is used to create coke, one of the key irreplaceable inputs for the production of steel.

  • Coke quality is largely influenced by coal rank, composition, mineral content and the ability to soften when heated, become plastic, and resolidify into a coherent mass. Bituminous class coals of high, medium, and low volatile rank that possess these properties are called “coking” coals.

  • This coal has low content of ash, moisture, sulphur and phosphorus.

  • High quality coking coals are in great demand by steel producers, who need these coals to make high quality coke to maximise the productivity of their blast furnace operations.

Note: Coking coal is different than thermal coal because thermal coal does not produce coke when heated.

MoU with Denmark: The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi recently approved Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (India) and Ministry of Health (Denmark) on Cooperation in areas of Health and Medicine.

Benefit of the MoU:

  • The MoU will strengthen the bilateral ties between both India and Denmark in the health sector through joint initiatives, development of research and technology development.

  • It will also help in improving the public health status of the people of both the countries.

India-Denmark relations:

  • Foundation for a friendly relationship between India and Denmark was laid by the Indian Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

  • He visited Denmark in 1957 after India’s independence in 1947.

  • Both the countries have set up a diplomatic relation by establishing Denmark’s embassy in New Delhi and India’s embassy in Copenhagen.

  • Relation between both the countries is cordial and friendly.

  • It is based on cooperation in the fields of politics, economics, academic and research. Both the countries hold periodic high-level visits.

  • However, in 2012, Government of India (GoI) had decided to scale down its diplomatic ties with Denmark when it refused to appeal in their Supreme Court against decision by its lower court of rejecting extradition of prime accused of Purulia arms drop case, Kim Davy.

History:

About Tranquebar:

  • Tranquebar, a town in southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu was a Danish Colony in India from 1620 to 1845.

  • It was sold, along with the other Danish settlements in India, to Great Britain in 1845.

  • Nicobar Islands were also colonized by Denmark and were sold to British in 1868.

Foundation Day of NABARD: Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar addresses a webinar on 40th foundation day of National Bank For Agriculture And Rural Development (NABARD).

About NABARD:

  • It was established on 12 July 1982.

  • It is an apex regulatory body for overall regulation and licensing of regional rural banks and apex cooperative banks in India.

  • It is under the jurisdiction of Ministry of Finance, Government of India(GoI).

  • It was established on the recommendations of B.Sivaraman Committee to implement the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development Act 1981.

Objective:

  • Promoting agriculture and rural development through participative financial and non-financial interventions, innovations, technology and institutional development for securing prosperity.

Functions and activities:

  • NABARD provides refinancing facilities to Commercial banks, State co-operative banks, Central Co-operative banks, Regional rural banks and Land Development banks.

  • It provides refinance assistance for agriculture, promoting rural development activities.

  • It also provides all necessary finance and assistance to small scale industries.

  • GoI created the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) in NABARD in 1995-96, with an initial corpus of Rs.2,000 crore.

  • It supervises State Cooperative Banks (SCBs), District Cooperative Central Banks (DCCBs), and Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) and conducts statutory inspections of these banks.

  • NABARD is also known for its ‘SHG Bank Linkage Programme’ which encourages India’s banks to lend to self-help groups (SHGs).

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People In News

Rahul Gupta and Atul Gawande: President Joe Biden on 14 July 2021 announced his intent to nominate 11 individuals including two Indian-Americans to serve in key roles.

  • According to the statement by White House the nominated persons are - Gabe Camarillo, Alan Estevez, Lisa Wang, Jeff Lane Flake, Kent Doyle Logsdon,Chester John Culver, Rich Trumka Jr, James A Diossa, Terrence K Wright, with two Indian-Americans Rahul Gupta and Atul Gawande.

Key Roles:

  1. Rahul Gupta is the nominee for Director of National Drug Control Policy.

  2. Atul Gawande is the nominee for Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for Global Health, United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

  3. Gabe Camarillo is the nominee for Under Secretary of the Army, Department of Defense

  4. Alan Estevez for Under Secretary for Industry and Security, Department of Commerce

  5. Jeff Lane Flake for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Turkey

  6. Kent Doyle Logsdon for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Moldova

  7. Lisa Wang for Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, Department of Commerce

  8. Chester John Culver for Member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation

  9. Rich Trumka Jr for Commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission

  10. James A Diossa for Member of the Board of Trustees of the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation

  11. Terrence K Wright for Member of the Board of Trustees of the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation.

About Rahul Gupta:

  • Rahul is the son of an Indian diplomat.

  • He was born in India and grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC.

  • He is a national and global thought leader and a driver of innovative public policies on health issues.

  • Dr Gupta serves as an advisor to several organizations and task forces on local, national and international public health policy.

  • He also led the development of the state's Zika action plan and its preparedness efforts during the Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak.

About Atul Gawande:

  • Atul Gawande is also founder and chair of Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health systems innovation at Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and of Lifebox, a nonprofit organization making surgery safer globally.

  • During the coronavirus pandemic, he co-founded CIC Health, which operates COVID-19 testing and vaccination nationally, and served as a member of the Biden transition COVID-19 Advisory Board.

  • In addition, Atul has been a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine since 1998 and written four New York Times best-selling books: Complications, Better, The Checklist Manifesto, and Being Mortal.

Awards:

Bahrain Keraleeya Samajam (BKS)’s Literary Award: Journalist and playwright Omchery N N Pillai has been selected for the Bahrain Keraleeya Samajam (BKS)’s Literary Award for 2021.

“His enormous contributions as a whole to Malayalam language and literature are remarkable, which ultimately led to this award.

The award was announced by the BKS president P V Radhakrishna Pillai, general secretary Varghese Karackal and literary wing secretary Firoz Thiruvathra.

The Jury was headed by the novelist M Mukundan. Literary critic Dr K S Ravikumar, writer and Kerala Chief Secretary Dr V P Joy, and Radhakrishna Pillai were part of the jury.

The award constitutes a cash prize of `50,000 and a citation acknowledging the achievement.

The award ceremony will be held later in Delhi.

About Omchery N N Pillai:

Omchery hails from Vaikom in Kottayam and he started his public career as a journalist at ‘Malayala Rajyam’.

Being a resident of Delhi for the past seven decades, he has been promoting Malayalam and Malayalam literature among Keralite expats,”

As a playwright, he contributed many works, including Thevarude Aana and Pralayam, to modern Malayalam

Commonwealth Points of Light award: He is Hyderabad’s hunger activist who recently won the Commonwealth Points of Light award.

He has been feeding thousands of people everyday as part of his food drive ‘Hunger Has No Religion’.

He was conferred with this top UK award for his drive that helps to feed 1,500 people on a daily basis.

The award is for those ‘outstanding individuals who are making a change in their community.

Orbituaries:

Surekha Sikri: The National Award-winning actor Surekha Sikri passed away on July 16, 2021, due to cardiac arrest at the age of 75.

Surekha Sikri, the three-time National Award-winning actor, is best known for her majestic performances in ‘Mammo’, ‘Tamas’, ‘Badhaai Ho’, 'Zubeida', 'Salim Langde pe mat Ro', and popular daily soap ‘Balika Vadhu’.

She was last seen in Netflix's anthology 'Ghost Stories' (2020) in the story which was directed by Zoya Akhtar.

Danish Siddiqui: He was a Pulitzer Prize-winning Indian photojournalist who passed away on July 13, 2021.

He was killed in a clash while reporting a fight between Afghan troops and the Taliban in Spin Boldak district of Kandahar province in Afghanistan.

He was employed with the international news agency Reuters.

He was a recipient of the prestigious Pulitzer Prize with six others working as a photographer with Reuters news agency in 2018.

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Places In News

Population Policy for 2021-2030: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath recently launched the State’s population policy for 2021-2030.

Highlights:

  • The new policy was unveiled on the occasion of World Population Day.

  • The UP government is implementing this policy keeping in mind all sections of the society.

  • The unveiling of the policy comes days after a draft of the population control bill was put up on the state law commission website.

  • The Uttar Pradesh State Law Commission has prepared a proposed draft bill for population control, under which a two-child norm would be implemented and promoted.

About the new population policy:

  • In the new population policy, a target has been set to bring the birth rate to 2.1 per thousand populations by 2026 and to 1.9 by 2030.

  • Provisions have been made for ensuring health services for all and for paying special attention to pregnant women, infants, sick newborns and children who are severely malnourished.

  • The new policy aims at the following:

  1. Decrease in the total fertility rate from 2.7 to 2.1 by 2026 and 1.7 by 2030,

  2. Increase modern contraceptive prevalence rate from 31.7% to 45% by 2026 and 52% by 2030,

  3. Increase male methods of contraception use from 10.8% to 15.1% by 2026 and 16.4% by 2030,

  4. Decrease maternal mortality rate from 197 to 150 to 98, and infant mortality rate from 43 to 32 to 22, and under 5 infant mortality rate from 47 to 35 to 25.

  • Targeting stabilization, the draft of the policy also said the State would attempt to maintain a balance of population among the various communities.

About Uttar Pradesh (UP):

 

  • Uttar Pradesh is a state in northern India.

  • It was created on 1 April 1937 as the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh during British rule and was renamed Uttar Pradesh in 1950.

  • Its Capital city is Lucknow.

  • The Chief Minister and the Governor of Uttar Pradesh are Yogi Adityanath and Anandiben Patel respectively.

Projects of Science city Ahmedabad: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 16 July 2021 virtually inaugurated multiple Railway projects and 3-new attractions at Science city Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

Key Details:

As per the official release by the Railway Ministry, the Railway projects include the following:

  1. Newly redeveloped Gandhinagar Capital Railway station

  2. Gauge converted cum electrified Mahesana – Varetha line

  3. Newly electrified Surendranagar – Pipavav section.

The Vadnagar Railway Station which is part of the Vadnagar – Modhera – Patan heritage circuit has been redesigned by Indian Tourism giving it a heritage look with aesthetic stone carvings.

He also flagged off two new trains i.e

  1. Gandhinagar Capital – Varanasi Superfast Weekly Express

  2. MEMU service trains between Gandhinagar Capital and Varetha.

He inaugurated the newly built modern railway station of Gandhingar and a five star hotel atop the railway station.

About Gandhinagar Capital Railway Station:

  • Gandhinagar Capital Railway Station has also been termed as the ‘Marvel of Technology and epitome of passenger’s comfort’ by the Ministry of Railways.

Key Features:

  • State of art external façade and landscaping

  • Divyang friendly station

  • Spacious entrance lobby with ticketing facility

  • Theme-based lighting

  • Escalators and lifts

  • Waiting hall at platforms for around 500 passengers

  • Centralised AC multipurpose waiting lounge

  • Dedicated exclusive art gallery with live LED wall display lounge

  • Inter-faith prayer hall

  • Adequate parking facility

  • Platforms well-connected with subways

Other Projects:

PM Modi also inaugurated an aquatic gallery, a robotic gallery and Nature Park in the Science City, Ahmedabad.

Aquatic gallery:

  • The aquatic gallery will spread over an area of 15,000 sq meters. It will be the largest aquarium in India.

  • It will have 68 tanks, showcasing the 188 marine species including penguins.

  • A key attraction of the aquatic gallery will be a 28 meter long unique walkway tunnel.

  • The gallery has been developed in collaboration with Marine Scape Eo-aquarium, New Zealand.

Robotic Gallery in Science City:

  • PM Modi also inaugurated the Robotic Gallery which will take the visitors through the history of evaluation of robots.

  • It will be an interactive gallery that will showcase the pioneers of robotic technology and will also provide a platform for visitors to explore the evolving field of robotics.

  • A huge replica of the transformer robot will be at the entrance of the gallery.

  • The unique attraction will be the welcoming humanoid robot that will be able to communicate with visitors expressing emotions such as joy, surprise, and excitement.

Nature Park:

  • The nature park in Gujarat will have many beautiful features such as a chess garden, fog garden, sculpture park, selfie points, and open labyrinth.

  • The nature park will also include an interesting labyrinth designed for the children.

About Gujarat:

  • Gujarat is a state on the western coast of India most of which lies on the Kathiawar peninsula.

  • The state is bordered by Rajasthan to the northeast, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu to the south, Maharashtra to the southeast, Madhya Pradesh to the east, and the Arabian Sea and the Pakistani province of Sindh to the west.

  • Its capital city is Gandhinagar.

  • The Governor and Chief Minister of Gujarat are Acharya Devvrat and Vijay Rupani respectively.

Ladakh and Sikkim: Ladakh administration recently signed a tripartite MoU with Sikkim State Organic Certification Agency (SOCCA).

  • On behalf of the Administration of Union Territory of Ladakh, the MoU was signed by the Executive Councillor, Agriculture, LAHDC, Leh, Stanzin Chosphel, Secretary, Agriculture, Ravinder Kumar, Deputy Commissioner and CEO, LAHDC, Leh, Shrikant Suse with the representatives of SSOCA and Agriculture Department, Leh.

  • The tripartite MoU has been signed regarding the implementation of Prampragat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) and Mission Organic Development Initiative (MODI) in the Ladakh region.

Objective:

  • The main objective of this MoU is to get the organic certification after a tie-up with the Government of India (GoI).

Key Points:

  • The MoU is aimed at making Ladakh a certified organic UT by 2025 which will be completed in three phases.

  1. In the first phase, 85 villages have been identified with an aim to convert 5000 hectares of land into organic.

  2. In the 2nd phase, 82 villages will be covered with an area of 10000 hectares and

  3. Under the 3rd phase, the department has selected 79 villages which will cover the remaining areas.

  • Sikkim is the first state that is 100 per cent organic with all of its farmland certified organic. The use and sale of chemical fertilizers and pesticides are banned in Sikkim.

About SSOCA:

  • Sikkim State Organic Certification Agency (SSOCA) is an autonomous organization established under the Sikkim Government.

  • SSOCA registered under society act vide registration no:E21/Gtk/2458, dated:31st December,2015 with the financial support of Government of Sikkim.

  • The Government of Sikkim assigned work to SSOCA to certify Organic Production and processing system in the State and country as per National and International Organic Standards.

  • The SSOCA intends to provide an institutional mechanism for inspection and certification of organic production, processing and trade in India.

  • Organic Inspection and Certification

  • Forest and Wild Products (Non - Timber)

  • Voluntary Certification Scheme for Medicinal Plant Produce (VCSMPP)

  • Participatory Guarantee System (PGS)

  • India Good Agriculture Practices (INDGAP) Certification

Geographical Area of Operation of SSOCA

  • SSOCA operates from Extreme North of the Country to the Extreme South i.e its work is extended from the region of Ladakh to Kerala and Arunachal Pradesh to Gujarat.

  • Its geographical area of operation is throughout India.

  • Currently, SSOCA is operating its work in UT Ladakh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, North Eastern States of India, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Goa & Kerala.

  • In the near future SSOCA is intending to extend its geographical area of operation globally.

  • And in near future SSOCA is intending to extend its geographical area of operation globally.

About Ladakh:

  • Ladakh is a region administered by India as a union territory, and constituting a part of the larger region of Kashmir, which has been the subject of dispute between India, Pakistan, and China since 1947.

  • Until 2019, Ladakh was a region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

  • In August 2019, the Parliament of India passed an act by which Ladakh became a union territory on 31 October 2019.

  • The capital of Ladakh is Leh, Kargil.

  • The current Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh is Radha Krishna Mathur.

  • About Sikkim:

  • Sikkim is a state in northeastern India.

  • It borders China in the north and northeast, Bhutan in the east, Nepal in the west, and West Bengal in the south.

  • It is the least populous and second smallest among the Indian states and is also located close to India's Siliguri Corridor near Bangladesh.

  • Sikkim became the 22nd state of the Indian Union on 16 May 1975.

  • Gangtok is the capital of Sikkim.

  • The current Governor and the Chief Minister of Sikkim are Ganga Prasad and Prem Singh Tamang respectively.

Rudraksh: Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi recently inaugurated the International Cooperation and Convention Centre – Rudraksh in Varanasi.

Objective:

The objective of the project is to provide opportunities for social and cultural interactions between people at the international convention centre.

Key Points:

  • This project has been constructed with Japanese assistance.

  • It is ideal for holding international conferences, exhibitions and music concerts and other events.

  • The gallery is done up with murals depicting Varanasi's art, culture and music.

  • As many as 108 Rudraksha have been installed at this convention centre.

  • Its roof is shaped like a Shiva Linga.

About Varanasi:

  • Varanasi also known as Benares or Banaras is a city on the banks of the river Ganges in northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, India.

  • The city dates back to the 11th century B.C. It is regarded as the spiritual capital of India. The city draws Hindu pilgrims who bathe in the Ganges River’s sacred waters and perform funeral rites.

  • Along the city's winding streets are some 2,000 temples, including Kashi Vishwanath, the “Golden Temple,” dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.

Note: According to Hindu mythology, Varanasi was founded by Shiva, one of three principal deities along with Brahma and Vishnu.

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Science and Technology

Virgin Galactic: On 11th July 2021, British Billionaire, Philanthropist, Business Tycoon Richard Branson wrote a new chapter in the space age by becoming the first billionaire to fly into space after Historic Space Flight on board a Virgin Galactic spacecraft called ‘VSS Unity’ from New Mexico in the US.

Highlights:

  • The space baron made the flight aboard his rocket venture, Virgin Galactic, nine days before Amazon founder Jeff Bezos makes his own trip to the fringes of outer space.

  • The Business Tycoon was accompanied in space by the vehicle’s two pilots, Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci, and three Galactic employees – Beth Moses, Colin Bennett, and Sirisha Bandla.

  • Along with Branson, Aeronautical engineer Sirisha Bandla also created history on Sunday.

Note: Bandla became the third Indian-origin woman to fly into space on Sunday Virgin Galactic’s first fully crewed suborbital test flight from New Mexico. She currently holds the position of Vice President of Government Affairs and Research Operations at Virgin Galatic.

About the space flight:

 

  • VSS Unity space plane was hauled aloft by a carrier aircraft up to a height of 45000 feet or 13,700 meters where it detached from it. Thereafter, the space plane’s rocket engine came to life helping the team ascend to about 290,000 feet or a peak altitude of around 53 miles (85 kilometers), beyond the boundary of space.

  • The 1.5-hour flight allowed the passengers to experience a few minutes of weightlessness while admiring the curvature of Earth from the ship’s 17 windows.

  • The 6-member crew aboard the VSS unity spent around an hour in space before returning back to earth.

About Virgin Galactic:

Virgin Galactic is a British-American spaceflight company that operates in the United States. It was founded by Richard Branson and his Virgin Group retains a 24% stake.

It is developing commercial spacecraft and aims to provide suborbital spaceflights to space tourists.

The race towards Space Tourism:

  • Billionaires of the 21st Century are in a race to gain an advantage in the niche Space Tourism market.

  • Both companies i.e. Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Bezos’s Blue One, visualize businesses catering to wealthy tourists who are willing to pay for a short period of weightlessness and an unforgettable view of the Earth and heavens.

  • As per media reports, Tesla Founder Elon Musk, the owner of  SpaceX also plans to launch commercial operations as part of his space venture soon.

National Plastic Surgery Day: National Plastic Surgery Day celebrated on 15 July every year will now be celebrated as World Plastic Surgery Day.

Highlights:

  • The announcement was made in a statement released on July 13, 2021 by the Association of Plastic Surgeons in India (APSI).

  • Starting from 2021, 15 July every year will be observed as World Plastic Surgery Day.

  • The decision comes after the current President of the APSI, Dr Rakesh Khazanchi, spoke about the National Plastic Surgery Day’s success in India at the World Council of Leaders.

  • World Council of Leaders is a meeting of the Presidents of Plastic Surgery Associations of various countries, organized by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

  • Appreciating the concept, all presidents agreed to celebrate July 15 as World Plastic Surgery Day.

Background:

  • In 2011, the concept of National Plastic Surgery Day was first introduced by Dr S Raja Sabapathy, the President of the APSI.

  • He conceptualized the idea of celebrating the day and chose July 15 as the appropriate date. On the day of the inauguration in 2011, all the plastic surgeons in the country did one free surgery to help countless people.

  • The first National Plastic Surgery Day was observed on 15 July 2011.

  • Since then, every year on this day, plastic surgeons across the country commemorate the day by doing free operations, conducting camps and awareness meetings, writing their experiences or starting new services.

  • Every Plastic Surgeon on that day does something to increase awareness about the speciality.

History:

Origin of Plastic Surgery:

  • Plastic surgery originated in India.

  • Sushruta or Susruta (c. 7th or 6th century BCE), an ancient Indian Physician and Surgeon is known as the Father of Indian surgery and Father of Plastic Surgery.

  • He is known for his pioneering operations and techniques and for his influential treatise Sushruta-samhita (Sushruta's Compendium), the main source of knowledge about surgery in ancient India.

  • Sushruta Samhita is considered the oldest text in the world on plastic surgery and is highly regarded as one of the Great Trilogy of Ayurvedic Medicine; the other two being the Charaka Samhita, which preceded it, and the Astanga Hridaya, which followed it.

About ASPI:

  • Association of Plastic Surgeons in India (APSI) is a section of the Association of Surgeons of India (ASI).

  • The ASPI was inaugurated by Sir Harold Gillies at Nagpur, in December 1957.

  • The current President of ASPI is Dr. Rakesh k. Khanzanchi.

Soberana 2: Cuba recently announced that it has developed world’s first conjugate Covid-19 vaccine Soberana 2 (Sovereign 2).

Key Points:

  • When the Soberana 2 vaccine is delivered with booster shot of Soberana Plus, it is 91 percent effective against symptomatic Covid-19 cases.

  • If this vaccine is approved, Cuba will become first Latin American country to manufacture and produce vaccine against Covid-19.

  • Soberana 2 is one of the three vaccines in Soberana series.

  • It was developed by Finlay Institute in collaboration with Centre for Molecular Immunology and National Biopreparations Centre.

  • Four other vaccines are also being developed in Cuba.

How is Soberana 2 administered?

  • Soberana 2 vaccine is administered in three dose regimens.

  • It comprises of two shots of Soberana 2 and one shot of Soberana Plus.

  • It is administered in 0-28-56-day regimen.

About the Vaccines:

  • All the five vaccines in Cuba, are protein vaccines.

  • These vaccines were developed using the protein derived from SARS-CoV-2 virus.

  • This virus binds to human cells and trigger an immune response.

  • Soberana 2 is unique among Cuban vaccines as it only kind of “conjugate vaccine” combining receptor-binding domain of virus with deactivated form of tetanus.

Vaccine Production in Cuba:

  • Cuba produces 60-70 percent of medicines which are consumed domestically and vaccinates against 13 diseases with 11 vaccines.

  • 8 of the vaccines are produced in Cuba itself.

What is a conjugate vaccine?

  • The type of vaccine combining weak antigen with strong antigen as a carrier so that an immune system strongly response to a weak antigen, is called as conjugate vaccine.

  • Such vaccines are used to prevent diseases by building an immune response to antigen (foreign part of virus or bacteria) recognized by immune system.

About Cuba:

  1. Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba, is a country comprising the island of Cuba, as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos.

  2. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet.

  3. Havana is the largest city and capital.

  4. The currencies used here are Cuban peso, Cuban convertible peso.

  5. The current President of Cuba is Miguel Díaz-Canel.

Hubble telescope: NASA was able to successfully switch to a backup computer on the Hubble observatory following weeks of computer problems.

Key Points:

  • NASA has returned the science instruments on the Hubble Space Telescope to operational status, and the collection of science data will now resume.

  • This will be the first science data collected since the payload computer experienced a problem on June 13, which placed the instruments in a safe configuration and suspended science operations.

  • The Hubble team has been investigating the cause of the payload computer problem since it first occurred.

  • On July 15, 2021, the team switched the spacecraft to backup hardware.

Background:

On June 13, Hubble shut down after a payload computer from the 1980s that handles the telescope’s science instruments suffered a glitch.

About the Hubble Space Telescope:

  • The Hubble Space Telescope is a large telescope in space.

  • NASA launched Hubble in 1990.

  • It was built by the United States space agency NASA, with contributions from the European Space Agency.

  • Hubble is the only telescope designed to be serviced in space by astronauts.

  • Expanding the frontiers of the visible Universe, the Hubble Space Telescope looks deep into space with cameras that can see across the entire optical spectrum from infrared to ultraviolet.

  • The Hubble Space Telescope makes one orbit around Earth every 95 minutes.

Achievements:

  • Hubble has been observing the universe for over 31 years.

  • It has taken over 1.5 million observations of the universe, and over 18,000 scientific papers have been published with its data.

  • It has contributed to some of the most significant discoveries of our cosmos, including the accelerating expansion of the universe, the evolution of galaxies over time, and the first atmospheric studies of planets beyond our solar system.

  • It has helped in discovering the moons around Pluto.

  • Evidence regarding the existence of black holes has emerged based on the observations through Hubble.

  • The birth of stars through turbulent clouds of gas and dust has also been observed.

  • The hubble telescope made observations of six galaxies merging together.

  • On Februry 11, 2021, the Hubble made observations of small concentrations of black holes.

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Sports

Euro Cup 2020: Italy has won the Euro Cup 2020 champions after shootout win over England last night.

Highlights:

  • Italy beat England 3-2 on penalties after the Euro 2020 final ended 1-1 following extra time at Italy beat England 3-2 on penalties after the Euro 2020 final ended 1-1 following extra time at Wembley to secure their second European Championship title.

  • Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was the hero for the Azzurri in the shootout, while substitutes Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka failed to convert from the spot for England.

  • Azzurri had last won continental title back in 1968.

  • It was the first final to be decided on penalties since Czechoslovakia beat West Germany in 1976.

  • Italy had lost in the final in 2000 and 2012.

  • This is the first major international trophy won by Italy since their 2006 FIFA World Cup win.

About UEFA European Football Championship:

  • European Championship, formally UEFA European Championship, also called Euro, in football (soccer), a quadrennial tournament held between the member countries of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).

  • The European Championship is second in prestige to the World Cup among international football tournaments.

  • The first final of the European Championship (then known as the European Nations’ Cup) took place in 1960 after two years of preliminary contests between 17 national football clubs.

  • In 1960 the Euro final tournament consisted of four teams, but it expanded to eight teams in 1980 and 16 teams in 1996.

Background:

  • The idea for a pan-European football tournament was first proposed by the French Football Federation's secretary-general Henri Delaunay in 1927, but it was not until 1958 that the tournament was started, three years after Delaunay's death.

  • In honour of Delaunay, the trophy awarded to the champions is named after him.

About UEFA:

  • Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is the administrative body for football, beach soccer and futsal in Europe.

  • It is among 6 continental confederations of world football’s governing body FIFA.

  • It comprises of 55 national association members. Apart from representing national football associations of Europe.

  • It runs nation & club competitions such as UEFA European Championship, UEFA Nations League, UEFA Europa League, UEFA Europa Conference League, UEFA Champions League, and UEFA Super Cup.

  • It also controls the prize money, regulations and media rights for these competitions.

Wimbledon Women’s Single 2021: World no. 1 Ashleigh Barty clinched her maiden Wimbledon title after beating Karolina Pliskova in three sets (6-3 67(4) 63) on July 10, 2021.

Highlights:

  • Barty has become the first Australian woman to win Wimbledon women’s singles title since 1980.

  • Ashleigh Barty's victory comes 50 years after her idol, Australian Evonne Goolagong Cawley, won her first Wimbledon title.

  • The Wimbledon Champion Ashleigh Barty received her Wimbledon women’s singles trophy from the Duchess of Cambridge, who is the Royal Patron of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC).

Key Facts about Ashley Barty:

  • Ashleigh Barty (born 24 April 1996) is an Australian professional tennis player and former cricketer.

  • She has become the 3rd Australian woman in the Open Era to win the Wimbledon singles title, after Margaret Court and Evonne Goolagong.

  • Overall, this is her 2nd major title and 4th title of the season.

  • She is currently ranked no. 1 in the world in women’s singles by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and the second Australian singles No. 1 after Evonne Goolagong.

  • She has also featured among the top 10 players in doubles with her career-high ranking being world no.5.

  • She has won 12 singles titles and 11 doubles titles on the WTA Tour, including two Grand Slam singles titles- 2019 French Open and 2021 Wimbledon Championships and one Grand Slam doubles title at the 2018 US Open with CoCo Vandeweghe.

  • Barty began playing tennis at the age of four and had a promising junior career, reaching a career-high ranking of world No. 2 after winning the girls’ singles title at Wimbledon in 2011.

  • She also finished as the runner-up in three Grand Slam doubles events with veteran Casey Dellacqua, including at the Australian Open when she was only 16 years old.

  • In 2014, Barty decided to take an indefinite break from her tennis career.

  • She ended up playing cricket during this time, joining the Brisbane Heat for the inaugural Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) in 2015 despite having no formal training in the sport.

  • However, she returned to tennis in 2016 and had a breakout year in singles in 2017, as she won her first WTA title at the Malaysian Open and rose to world no. 17 rank despite having never been ranked inside the top 100 before her time off.

  • Barty then won her first Premier Mandatory and Grand Slam tournament titles in doubles in 2018 along with Casey Dellacqua before accomplishing the same feat in singles in 2019.

About Wimbledon:

  • Wimbledon is the oldest and the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world.

  • It has been held at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London, since 1877.

  • The game is played outdoors on grass courts.

  • Wimbledon is one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments.

  • The others are Australian Open, the French Open and the US Open.

Wimbledon 2021: World No 1 Novak Djokovic has won his 20th Grand Slam by defeating Matteo Berrettini to win Men’s Final.

Highlights:

  • After going down in the first set 6-7, Djokovic came back strongly to win the last three sets with 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 against first-time finalist Matteo Berrettini to secure his 6th Wimbledon Title.

  • By winning this title he has equaled the record of the most Men’s Grand Slams Singles Titles.

  • The Serb Tennis Legend now joins Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer as players to have won most singles titles in men's tennis (20 each).

About Golden Slam on the Radar:

  • In the tennis world, Golden Slam is a rare achievement that not many can dream of achieving.

  • When a player wins all the four tournaments which are part of the Gland Slams, s/he has to also win an Olympic Gold in the same calendar year.

  • Given that Olympics are held only every 4 years, there are not many players who get a chance to win a Golden Slam.

Golden Slam hope for Djokovic:

  • With the 3 Grand Slams for the year i.e. Australian Open, French Open and now Wimbledon, already in the bag, Djokovic who is also on the Olympics team will give him an opportunity to win a Golden Slam.

  • However, to do so, he will have to win a Gold Medal in Tokyo Olympics 2020 and thereafter also win US Open.

Chris Gayle: Chris Gayle on July 13, 2021, became the first batsman in history to score 14,000 runs in T20.

Highlights:

  • The landmark achievement came during the third T20I of West Indies vs Australia when the ‘Universe Boss’ took the Caribbean side to a comfortable 6 wicket victory.

  • The 41-year-old player reached the milestone of 14,000 runs in the 20 over game with a six-off Adam Zampa.

  • He smashed 67 runs off 38 balls while chasing the target of 142 set by the Australian team.

  • The West Indies player had not done well for the team in the first two games of the West Indies vs Australia series, as he scored 4 and 13 runs respectively.

  • Chris Gayle also went on to register a half-century on the occasion and celebrated another huge landmark of his cricketing career in style.

Chris Gayle -Records:

  • Chris Gayle, while heading into the match had scored 13,971 runs in 430 matches of T20I format at an average of 37.55 runs.

  • The player has now scored a total of 22 hundreds and 86 half-centuries.

  • In T20 format, Gayle has over 1,000 fours to his name as well as over a thousand sixes.

  • His highest score in the format is an unbeaten 175 against the now-defunct franchise of Indian Premier League, Pune Warriors India, in the 2013 season when he was playing for the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

  • Chris Gayle is also the top-scoring batsman for West Indies in T20 International (T20I).

Top 5 players to score in T20Is:

  1. Chris Gayle (West Indies) - 14,000 runs

  2. Kieron Pollard (West Indies) - 10,836 runs

  3. Shoaib Malik (Pakistan) - 10,741 runs

  4. DA Warner (Australia) - 10,017 runs

  5. Virat Kohli (India) - 9992 runs

Background:

The Australian Cricket Team has been touring the West Indies in June and July 2021 to play three One Day International (ODI) and five T20 International (T20I) matches.

Wimbledon Junior Men’s Title: Indian-American Samir Banerjee has won the Wimbledon Junior Men`s title at Number 1 Court.

Highlights:

  • He defeated Victor Lilov of America by 7-5, 6-3 in the Junior Men`s finals to lift the trophy at All England Club.

  • For the first time since 2014, and only the second time since 1977, there was an all-American conclusion to the boys` singles event.

  • Banerjee is the first American junior champion at Wimbledon since Reilly Opelka in 2015, and 12th overall.

  • Banerjee is from New Jersey and Lilov comes from North Carolina.

Notably, both 17-year-olds were unseeded for The Championships.

Note:

  • The American teenager has had a stunning start to his journey on the ITF tour as he has won 5 titles, all of them on clay, so far. He has reached the final of 10 of the 17 tournaments he has featured in so far.

Cristiano Ronaldo: Portugal captain and modern-day great Cristiano Ronaldo won the Euro 2020 Golden Boot after finishing as the top-scorer in the tournament.

Highlights:

  • Cristiano Ronaldo, 36, won the Euro 2020, Golden Boot, as no one from England or Italy managed to surpass his tally in the tournament final at Wembley on 11th July 2021.

  • He scored five goals for Portugal.

  • Ronaldo also featured in a record fifth European Championship.

  • Ronaldo also became the leading goal-scorer in the history of Euros during the tournament, with his 14th strike.

  • Meanwhile, with 109 goals, he had equalled Iran striker Ali Daei as the top scorer in international football as well.

  • Czech Republic’s Patrik Schick also ended the tournament with five goals but the award went to Ronaldo via the tie-breaker of assists.

Euro 2020:

  • Italy beat England in the final to lift their second European Championship title.

  • Italy ended hosts England's dream to win the Euro 2020 at the Wembley Stadium on 11th July 2021.

  • Azzurri defeated England 3-2 on penalties after the normal 90-minute action had finished at 1-1 and even extra time was not able to break the deadlock.

Deepak Kabra: Deepak Kabra has become the first Indian to be selected for judging the gymnastics competition of the Olympic Games.

Highlights:

It is a life goal achieved for the man who knew he wouldn't have made it there as an active gymnast because of his not-so-strong fundamentals.

Kabra will be seen officiating the men's artistic gymnasts at the Tokyo Games, which gets underway on July 23.

About Deepak Kabra:

  • The 33-year-old from Maharastra took to the sport quite late and soon realised his fundamentals were not strong enough to make it big as an athlete.

  • The 2010 Commonwealth Games in India was his first international assignment.

  • Kabra went on to become the first Indian judge to officiate in the 2014 Asian Games and Youth Olympics.

  • He also officiated as a judge in the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games in 2018, Youth Olympics in Argentina, besides other international events such as World Cups.

  • He has already officiated in around 20 major events so far.

Indian Gymnasts in Tokyo Olympics 2020:

  • Indian gymnastics will be represented in Tokyo by Pranati Nayak, who had claimed a bronze medal on vault at the 2019 Asian Artistic Gymnastic.

  • Deepa Karmakar remains India's biggest name in gymnastics with her fourth-place finish in women's vault finals in the Rio Games.

Hindustani Way: Titled 'Hindustani Way' is a cheer song for the Indian contingent bound for Tokyo 2020.

Key Points:

  • Indian Singer Ananya Birla collaborated with music maestro AR Rahman to launch a cheer song for Indian sports personalities as they gear up for Tokyo Olympics.

  • This song has been sung by Ananya and composed by Rahman.

  • Minister of Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur launched the song on 13th July 2021.

About the song:

  • The video of the song follows a family from 1996 to the present day as they cheer for Indian sports personalities across different Olympic seasons.

  • The video features archival footage from Atlanta (1996), Athens (2004), Beijing (2008), London (2012), Rio (2016) and some exclusive training footage of this year’s contingent.

  • The archival footage features winning moments of Leander Peas, Vijender Singh, Abhinav Bindra, Mary Kom, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik, among others.

Tokyo Olympics 2020:

  • The Tokyo Olympics was originally scheduled for 2020 but was postponed due to the pandemic.

  • The event will finally kick off on July 23.

Babar Azam: Pakistan Captain Babar Azam has become the quickest to 14 ODI centuries reaching the milestone in 81 innings at Edgbaston, Birmingham in the third ODI against England.

Highlights:

  • Azam also became the second Pakistan captain to score an ODI century on English soil.

  • Only Imran Khan had previously hit a century in England when he registered an unbeaten 102 against Sri Lanka in World Cup 1983.

  • This also makes the Pakistan skipper the first-ever Pakistan skipper to score an ODI century against England in England.

  • On the list of quickest to 14 ODI centuries, the 26-year-old is followed by Hashim Amla (84 innings), David Warner (98 innings), Virat Kohli (103 innings) and Quinton de Kock (104 innings).

FIDE Chess Cup 2021: Indian Grandmasters R Praggnanandhaa and Adhiban Baskaran have registered win in the first game of the two-game mini-match in the second round of the FIDE chess World Cup.

Among other Indians, P Harikrishna, Vidit Santosh Gujrati and Aravindh Chithambaram were held to draws in the first game of the second round.

FIDE Women’s World Cup 2021:

  • In the women’s event, Padmini Rout and Sarasadat Khademalsharieh shared honours in the first game of the second-round match, while D Harika scored a win over Medina Warda Aulia of Indonesia in 48 moves.

  • India’s Bhakti Kulkarni and Natalija Pogonina were involved in a draw.

  • Top-seed and world champion Magnus Carlsen got his campaign off to a smooth start with a win against Sasa Martinovic.

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