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OJAANK IAS ACADEMY

03 May 2022 – Current Affairs

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India Reiterates Achieving Net Zero Emissions by 2070


Why You Should Know?

• India today reiterated its commitment to environmental and climate causes and pointed out that we have launched National Hydrogen Energy Mission and several such initiatives to fulfil India’s commitment at COP 26 of achieving net zero emissions by 2070.

National Hydrogen Mission

• Hon’ble Prime Minister launched the National Hydrogen Mission on India’s 75th Independence Day. The Mission aims to aid the government in meeting its climate targets and making India a green hydrogen hub.
• This will help in meeting the target of production of 5 million tonnes of Green hydrogen by 2030 and the related development of renewable energy capacity.
• Hydrogen and Ammonia are envisaged to be the future fuels to replace fossil fuels. Production of these fuels by using power from renewable energy, termed as green hydrogen and green ammonia, is one of the major requirements towards environmentally sustainable energy security of the nation.
• Government of India is taking various measures to facilitate the transition from fossil fuel / fossil fuel based feed stocks to green hydrogen / green ammonia. The notification of this policy is one of the major steps in this endeavour.

The policy provides as follows :

• Green Hydrogen / Ammonia manufacturers may purchase renewable power from the power exchange or set up renewable energy capacity themselves or through any other, developer, anywhere.
• Open access will be granted within 15 days of receipt of application.
• The Green Hydrogen / Ammonia manufacturer can bank his unconsumed renewable power, up to 30 days, with distribution company and take it back when required.
• Distribution licensees can also procure and supply Renewable Energy to the manufacturers of Green Hydrogen / Green Ammonia in their States at concessional prices which will only include the cost of procurement, wheeling charges and a small margin as determined by the State Commission.
• Waiver of inter-state transmission charges for a period of 25 years will be allowed to the manufacturers of Green Hydrogen and Green Ammonia for the projects commissioned before 30th June 2025.
• The manufacturers of Green Hydrogen / Ammonia and the renewable energy plant shall be given connectivity to the grid on priority basis to avoid any procedural delays.
• The benefit of Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) will be granted incentive to the hydrogen/Ammonia manufacturer and the Distribution licensee for consumption of renewable power.
• To ensure ease of doing business a single portal for carrying out all the activities including statutory clearances in a time bound manner will be set up by MNRE.
• Connectivity, at the generation end and the Green Hydrogen / Green Ammonia manufacturing end, to the ISTS for Renewable Energy capacity set up for the purpose of manufacturing Green Hydrogen / Green Ammonia shall be granted on priority.
• Manufacturers of Green Hydrogen / Green Ammonia shall be allowed to set up bunkers near Ports for storage of Green Ammonia for export / use by shipping. The land for the storage for this purpose shall be provided by the respective Port Authorities at applicable charges.
• The implementation of this Policy will provide clean fuel to the common people of the country.
• This will reduce dependence on fossil fuel and also reduce crude oil imports. The objective also is for our country to emerge as an export Hub for Green Hydrogen and Green Ammonia.
• The policy promotes Renewable Energy (RE) generation as RE will be the basic ingredient in making green hydrogen. This in turn will help in meeting the international commitments for clean energy.

Covid New XE variant

Why You Should Know?

• Week after two unconfirmed cases were reported from Maharashtra and Gujarat, the country’s first case of Omicron sub-variant XE has been confirmed by the Indian SARS-CoV2 Genomics Sequencing Consortium (INSACOG), a network of national testing laboratories set up by the Government.
• As of now, experts say, there is no evidence to suggest that a Covid infection from the XE subvariant is different from those caused by the other Omicron sub-lineages.
• The new sub-variant has been found to be only about 10 per cent more transmissible than the currently dominant BA.2 variant of Omicron, which triggered the third Covid wave in the country in January.
• Indian health ministry says that “Less than a handful of recombinant variants have been detected in the country so far. All of them are from geographically disparate regions. No cluster formation has been seen,”

About Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

• Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
• Most people infected with the virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment.
• However, some will become seriously ill and require medical attention. Older people and those with underlying medical conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, or cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.
• Anyone can get sick with COVID-19 and become seriously ill or die at any age.
• The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is to be well informed about the disease and how the virus spreads.
• Protect yourself and others from infection by staying at least 1 metre apart from others, wearing a properly fitted mask, and washing your hands or using an alcohol-based rub frequently.
• Get vaccinated when it’s your turn and follow local guidance.
• The virus can spread from an infected person’s mouth or nose in small liquid particles when they cough, sneeze, speak, sing or breathe.
• These particles range from larger respiratory droplets to smaller aerosols.
• It is important to practice respiratory etiquette, for example by coughing into a flexed elbow, and to stay home and self-isolate until you recover if you feel unwell.

Alabama, A History of The Transatlantic Slave Trade

Why You Should Know?

• Recently The Clotilda, the last known slave ship to arrive in the United States from Africa, was scuttled in the Gulf of Mexico close to the mouth of the Mobile river in Alabama after it had offloaded its cargo of 110 captive men, women, and children in July 1860,53 years after Congress had outlawed international slave trade.
• The Alabama Historical Commission confirmed the identity of the wreck in May 2019, and in 2021, researchers announxed that twothirds of the original shipremained intact, inducing theunder-deckhold where the slaves were kept during the six-week journey to America from Benin in West Africa.

The slave trade

• Between the 16th and 19th centuries, as many as 10-12 million Africans were transported to the Americas as part of the transatlantic slave trade.
• Hundreds of slaves were packed like animals into the hulls of the ships for brutal journeys that could last from weeks to even months.
• Usually, pairs of slaves were chained together at the ankle and placed in columns with ropes around their necks. Unhygienic conditions often led to the outbreak of diseases. Historians suggest that 10-15 percent of slaves died during the journey.

The Clotilda

• The slave ship was bankrolled by Timotliy Meaher, a wealthy businessman and landowner from Mobile, Alabama, and captained by one William Foster.
• In early March 1860. Foster sailed for Whydah, a port in the kingdomof Dahomey (now Benin. After purchasing his cargo of slaves, Foster embarked on the return joumey to the US in May.

The scuttling

• Upon reaching the coast of Alabama, the crew and slaves were illegally removed, the ship was set on fire, and deliberately sunk.
• This was done because a federal law of 1807, backed by President Thomas Jefferson, had prohibited the import of new slaves into the US. This law, however, did not seek to curtail the country’s internal trade in slaves.
• An AP report quoted historian Natalie S Robertson as saying Meaher commissioned the Clotilda’s journey so he could win a 1,000 dollar wager that he could continue importing slaves despite the 1807 law.

The slaves

• Since they had been brought illegally, the Clotilda’s cargo could not be classified as slaves. But they continued tube enslaved, and were distributed amongst the financial backers of the voyage.
• Meaher kept 32 of the slaves on his estate near Mobile; the others were sold to various slave owners across Alabama.
• In the decades before the American Civil War of 1861-65, the country had witnessed a cotton boom.
• The cultivation of cotton relied heavily on slave labour, and the demand for slaves continued to grow.
• With imports banned, prices of domestic slaves skyrocketed, and plantation owners demanded the resumption of the global slave trade, and provided incentive for men like Meaher.

Africa Town

• In January 1865, when Abraham Lincoln Was President, Congress passed the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery.
• The former West African slaves purchased some land from Meaher, on which they established Africatown outside Mobile.
• They were joined by other emancipated slaves from nearby areas, and together they established an autonomous community where they retained many of their indigenous CUStoms and spoke in their own language.
• “It’s, of course, a story of resistance,” The New York Times quoted Sylviane A Diouf, author of Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Slave Ship Clotilda and the Story of the Last Africuris Brougfit to America, as saying.
• “They. from Day 1 acted as a community and as a family and they continued to be very active after they became free.”

CHANCES OF THUNDER, RAIN : IMD

Why You Should Know?

• THE PREVAILING heatwave conditions over Rajasthan, Vidarbha in Maharashtra and pockets around Delhi will begin to abate starting Tuesday, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Monday.
• The maximum temperatures over northwest India is set to drop by 3 degrees to 4 degrees Celsius and remain so until Friday, the Met officials said.
• Many places in western Rajasthan and Vidarbha had been recording over 45 degrees Celsius all through last week.

IMD’s Forecast

• Most parts of north and central India regions will be free from heatwave, according to the IMD’s forecast.
• Besides, there are chances of thunderstorms and rain over Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, eastern Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and all states in South India until May 6.
• “This is under the influence of the approaching western disturbance,” and “Rainfall over the southern peninsula will be caused due to wind discontinuity in lower levels.”
• Likewise, central India will also experience a reduction in heat, as the day temperature is set to drop by 2 degrees to 3 degrees Celsius for the next three days, according to IMD.
• However, Maharashtra and Gujarat may continue to experience hotter days this week, with a heatwave forecast on May 5 and 6 over Madhya Maharashtra.
• Around May 6, IMD has forecast the formation of a low-pressure system in the Bay of Bengal. Its course of intensification and likely severity is not certain now, but low-pressure systems developing in May in the Bay of Bengal have strong chances of intensifying into cyclones.
• In view of the development of this low-pressure system, the Met department has said that rainfall over India’s east coast and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands will continue.

About IMD

• Meteorology, as we perceive it now, may be said to have had its firm scientific foundation in the 17th century after the invention of the thermometer and the barometer and the formulation of laws governing the behaviour of atmospheric gases.
• It was in 1636 that Halley, a British scientist, published his treatise on the Indian summer monsoon, which he attributed to a seasonal reversal of winds due to the differential heating of the Asian land mass and the Indian Ocean.
• India is fortunate to have some of the oldest meteorological observatories of the world.
• The British East India Company established several such stations, for example, those at Calcutta in 1785 and Madras (now Chennai) in 1796 for studying the weather and climate of India.
• The Asiatic Society of Bengal founded in 1784 at Calcutta, and in 1804 at Bombay (now Mumbai), promoted scientific studies in meteorology in India.
• Captain Harry Piddington at Calcutta published 40 papers during 1835-1855 in the Journal of the Asiatic Society dealing with tropical storms and coined the word “cyclone”, meaning the coil of a snake.
• In 1842 he published his monumental work on the “Laws of the Storms”. In the first half of the 19th century, several observatories began functioning in India under the provincial governments.
• A disastrous tropical cyclone struck Calcutta in 1864 and this was followed by failures of the monsoon rains in 1866 and 1871.
• India was the first developing country in the world to have its own geostationary satellite, INSAT, for continuous weather monitoring of this part of the globe and particularly for cyclone warning.
• IMD has continuously ventured into new areas of application and service, and steadily built upon its infra-structure in its history of 140 years.
• It has simultaneously nurtured the growth of meteorology and atmospheric science in India. Today, meteorology in India is poised at the threshold of an exciting future.

Newly identified drug for diabetes: IIT Study

Why You Should Know?

• Researchers at IIT Mandi have identified a drug molecule that can be used to treat diabetes.
• The molecule, called PK2, is able to trigger the release of insulin by the pancreas, and can potentially be used as an orally administered medicine for diabetes.
• The findings of the research have been published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

CURRENT TREATMENT:

• Diabetes is associated with insufficient insulin release by the beta cells of the pancreas in response to blood glucose levels.
• The release of insulin entails many intricate biochemical processes. One such process involves protein structures called GLPIR present in the cells.
• In one such process, a hormonal molecule, called GLP1, released after the ingestion of a meal, binds to proteins, called GLP1R. This triggers the release of insulin.
• Current drugs used for the treatment of diabetes, PAI such as exenatide and liraglutide, mimic GLP1 and bind to GLP1R to trigger insulin release.
• However, these drugs are administered as in- NEW RE jections, and they are costly and unstable after administration.
• IIT Mandi find simpler drugs that are stable, cheap, and effective against both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

THE ALTERNATIVE:

• To find alternatives to these commonly used drugs, the research team first used computer simulation methods to screen various small molecules that can bind with GLP1R.
• They identified the molecules PK2, PK3, and PK4 as possessing good binding abilities with GLP1R. Eventually, they chose PK2 because of its better solubility. The researchers then synthesized PK2 in the lab for further testing.
• “We first tested the binding of PK2 on GLP1R proteins in human cells and found that it is able to bind well to GLP1R proteins.
• ORAL OPTION: The researchers found that PK2 was rapidly absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract. which means that it can be used as an oral medication rather than an injection.
• After two hours of administration, PK2 was found distributed in the liver, kidney, and pancreas of the mice, but there were no traces of it in the heart, lungs, and spleen.
• There was a small amount present in the brain, which shows that the molecule may be able to cross the blood-brain barrier. It was cleared from circulation in about 10 hours.

Diabetes

• Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy.
• Most of the food you eat is broken down into sugar (also called glucose) and released into your bloodstream.
• When your blood sugar goes up, it signals your pancreas to release insulin.

EU set to ban Russian Oil

Why You Should Know?

• Recently , The European Union was preparing a ban on Russian oil, with possible exemptions for wary countries, as EU energy ministers on Moscow’s demand that foreign buyers pay for gas in roubles or lose their supply.
• The European Commission is expected to propose a sixth package of EU sanctions this week against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, including an embargo on buying Russian oil – a measure that would deprive Moscow of a large revenue stream, but that has so far divided EU countries.
• Russia supplies 40% of EU gas and 26% of its oil imports.
• To keep the 27-nation bloc united, the Commission may offer Hungary and Slovakia an exemption or a long transition period – with the overall ban likely to be phased in by the year-end.
• Both Hungary and Slovakia are heavily dependent on Russian crude. Hungary has said it would oppose energy sanctions.

The European Union

• The aims of the European Union within its borders are: promote peace, its values and the well-being of its citizens.
• Offer freedom, security and justice without internal borders, while also taking appropriate measures at its external borders to regulate asylum and immigration and prevent and combat crime.

What is the war between Ukraine and Russia?

• The Russo-Ukrainian War is an ongoing war between Russia (together with pro-Russian separatist forces) and Ukraine.
• It began in February 2014 following the Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity, and initially focused on the status of Crimea and the Donbas, internationally recognised as part of Ukraine.

Spain says PM’s phone infected by Pegasus

Why You Should Know?

• Recently, Spanish Authorities have detected “Pegasus” spyware in the mobile phones of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Defence Minister Margarita Robles.
• Sanchez’s phone was infected in May 2021 and at least one data leak occurred then.
• The interventions were illicit and external. External means carried out by non-official bodies and without state authorization.
• The announcement followed intense pressure on the leftist coalition government to explain itself after Canada’s digital rights group Citizen Lab said more than 60 people linked to the Catalan separatist movement had been targets of “Pegasus” spyware made by Israel’s NSO Group.

What is the Pegasus scandal?

• Pegasus, spyware made by the Israeli technology company NSO Group, is making headlines again after it was reported that the Israeli police used it for spying on dozens of its own citizens – including senior government officials and protesters rallying up against former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Pegasus Project revelations in India

• In India, the Pegasus Project investigations alleged that the Pegasus spyware was used on ministers, opposition leaders, political strategist and tacticians, journalists, activists, minority leaders, supreme court judges, religious leaders, administrators like Election Commissioners and heads of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
• Some of these phones were later analysed and were confirmed to have been targeted by the Pegasus spyware.
• The Pegasus Project was a collaborative investigative journalism initiative undertaken by 17 media organisations.
• Pegasus is a spyware developed by the NSO Group, an Israeli technology and cyber-arms firm that can be secretly deployed on mobile phones and other devices, which run most versions of Android and iOS.
• Pegasus is capable of reading text messages, tracking calls, collecting passwords, location tracking, accessing the target device’s microphone and camera, and harvesting information from apps.
• Since Pegasus is classified as cyber-arms by the Israeli government, only national governments can purchase the spyware after the authorisation of the Israeli government.
• The Pegasus Project initiative investigated the use of the Pegasus spyware by governments on journalists, opposition politicians, activists and business people.
• A target list consisting of 50,000 phone numbers, which could have been possibly targeted by the spyware, leaked to Forbidden Stories which spawned this investigation.
• 300 of these numbers were from India. The presence of a phone number on the list does not confirm the use of Pegasus and only forensic examination of a phone can confirm if the spyware was present.
• Supreme court appointed a technical committee and asked to submit the phones for investigation of those individuals who suspect snooping by the government.

PURCHASING MANAGERS’ INDEX

Why You Should Know?

• India’s Manufacturing industry clocked a strong start to financial year 2022-23, posting marked and accelerated expansion in new orders and production despite a rise in inflation.
• Rising from 54 in March to 54.7 in April, the seasonally adjusted S&P Global India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) highlighted a solid and faster improvement in operating conditions across the sector.
• A PMI number greater than 50 shows expansion in business activity, and less than 50 indicates contraction.
• PMI is a leading indicator, giving analysts a good sense of the direction of a country’s economy.
• The PMI in manufacturing is obtained based on the results of a survey sent to a set of manufacturing companies,
• According to S&P Global, international sales grew solidly, following a contraction in March.
• Inflationary pressures, meanwhile, intensified, owing to rising commodity prices, the Russia-Ukraine war and greater transportation costs.
• Input prices increased at the fastest pace in five months, while output charge inflation hita 12-month high.

Purchasing Managers’ Index?

• The Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) is a measure of the prevailing direction of economic trends in manufacturing.
• The PMI is based on a monthly survey of supply chain managers across 19 industries, covering both upstream and downstream activity.

Apr power consumption grows 13.6%

Why You Should Know?

• Power consumption in the country grew 13.6 percent year-on-year to 132.98 billion units (BU) in April, showing the impact of the early onset of summers and spurt in economic activities, according to power ministry data.
• Power consumption in April last year was recorded at 117.08 BU, which was higher than 84.55 BU in the same month of 2020.
• On the other hand, the peak power demand met, which is the highest supply in a day, during April this year remained at an all-time high of 207.11 GW.
• The peak power supply stood at 182.37 GW in April 2021 and 132.73 GW in April 2020.
• The power consumption and demand were affected in April 2020 also due to the imposition of lockdown restrictions for curbing the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
• The power consumption in April 2019 (prepandemic period) was 110.11 billion units. Experts are of the view that power consumption and demand rose unprecedentedly mainly because of the early onset of summers and showed that economic activities are pushing commercial and industrial requirements of electricity.

Power Consumption Mean?

• Power consumption is the amount of energy used per unit time.
• Power consumption is of great importance in digital systems.
• The battery life of portable systems such as cell phones and laptop computers is limited by power consumption.


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