Ojaank IAS Academy




23 August 2022 – Current Affairs

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SCO Defence Meet

Paper 2 – International Relations
Why Should You Know?
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Defence Ministers’ Meeting is going to organize in Tashkent, Uzbekistan
In details –
  • Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh is visiting Tashkent, Uzbekistan from 23rd to 25th August, 2022 to attend the Annual Meeting of the Defence Ministers’ of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Member States.
  • During the Annual Meeting, Defence Cooperation issues among the SCO Member States will be discussed and it is expected that a joint communiqué will be issued after the deliberations. Shri Rajnath Singh’s address at the meeting is slated to be held on August 24, 2022.
  • During the visit to Tashkent, Raksha Mantri will meet his Uzbekistan counterpart Lieutenant General Bakhodir Kurbanov, Minister of Defence of the Republic of Uzbekistan, which is also the host country.
  • In addition, meetings are also scheduled with Defence Ministers’ of some other Member countries of SCO on the sidelines of this meeting, where bilateral issues and issues of mutual interest will be discussed.
  • During the stay in Tashkent, Raksha Mantri shall pay homage at the monument of Late Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and meet Indian Diaspora in Uzbekistan.
  • The SCO Defence meeting assumes importance as the defence ministers of Pakistan, Russia and China and all other member countries will be present. This is an annual meeting of the SCO member states who will discuss defence cooperation among all countries as well as focus on fight against terrorism, radicalisation and the humanitarian crisis in war torn Afghanistan.
  • The member countries include Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, India, Russia, China and Pakistan and there are observer countries – Iran, Belarus, Mongolia and Afghanistan. And countries including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Nepal, Turkey, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka have received dialogue partner status.
Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) –
  • Later this year in October, New Delhi is getting ready to host the SCO’s Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) council meet.
  • This will be held in India on October 14. Officials of the member countries including Russia, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are expected to be present. However, what is not clear is the presence of Pakistan.
  • India is the Chair of the Council of RATS of the SCO and has so far chaired 24 rounds of meetings of various groups of the RATS structure and has raised the issue of terror financing.
  • RATS is a permanent organ of the grouping and it promotes cooperation of member states against the evils of extreminism, separatism, and terrorism and is headquartered in Tashkent.
SCO Summit –
  • Next month, the SCO summit will take place in Uzbekistan from September 15 – 17, 2022.
  • As it holds the presidency of SCO where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to attend the meeting.
  • In 2023, India will be taking over the presidency of SCO and all major events related to the grouping will take place in the country.
About SCO –
  • The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is an intergovernmental organization founded in Shanghai on 15 June 2001.
  • SCO is a Eurasian political, economic and security organization.
  • In terms of geographic scope and population, it is the world’s largest regional organization, covering approximately 60% of the area of Eurasia, 40% of the world population, and more than 30% of global GDP.
  • The SCO is the successor to the Shanghai Five, a mutual security agreement formed in 1996 between China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.
  • On 15 June 2001, the leaders of these nations and Uzbekistan met in Shanghai to announce a new organization with deeper political and economic cooperation; the SCO Charter was signed on 7 July 2002 and entered into force on 19 September 2003.
  • The SCO currently comprises eight Member States (China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), four Observer States interested in acceding to full membership (Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia) and six “Dialogue Partners” (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey).
  • In 2021, the decision was made to start the accession process of Iran to the SCO as a full member, and Egypt, Qatar as well as Saudi Arabia became dialogue partners.
  • Since its inception in 2001, the SCO has mainly focused on regional security issues, its fight against regional terrorism, ethnic separatism and religious extremism. To date, the SCO’s priorities also include regional development.
  • The SCO has been an observer in the UN General Assembly since 2005.

Overseas investment rules and regulations

Paper 3- Economy
Why Should You Know?
Recently the Indian government notified overseas investment rules and regulations to boost ease of doing business
In details –
  • In line with the amendment in the Foreign Exchange Management Act 2015, Outward Investments Rules have been framed by the Government of India in consultation with the Reserve Bank.
  • and the Foreign Exchange Management (Acquisition and Transfer of Immovable Property Outside India) Regulations, 2015.
  • The Government of India in consultation with the Reserve Bank undertook a comprehensive exercise to simplify these regulations. Draft Foreign Exchange Management (Overseas Investment) Rules and draft Foreign Exchange Management (Overseas Investment) Regulations were also put in the public domain for consultations.
  • Extant regulations pertaining to Overseas Investments and Acquisition and Transfer of Immovable Property Outside India have been subsumed within these rules and regulations.
  • In view of the evolving needs of businesses in India, in an increasingly integrated global market, there is need of Indian corporates to be part of global value chain. The revised regulatory framework for overseas investment provides for simplification of the existing framework for overseas investment and has been aligned with the current business and economic dynamics.
  • Clarity on Overseas Direct Investment and Overseas Portfolio Investment has been brought in and various overseas investment related transactions that were earlier under approval route are now under automatic route, significantly enhancing “Ease of Doing Business”.
New rules –
  • The new rules include overseas investment in International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) by an Indian resident in manner as laid down in the gazette notification.
  • A person resident in India can make contribution to an investment fund or vehicle set up in an IFSC as Overseas Portfolio Investment (OPI), it said.
  • A resident individual may make ODI in a foreign entity, including an entity engaged in financial services activity, (except in banking and insurance), in IFSC if such entity does not have subsidiary or step down subsidiary outside IFSC where the resident individual has control in the foreign entity.
  • A recognised stock exchange in the IFSC shall be treated as a recognised stock exchange outside India for the purpose of these rules, the gazette notification said.
  • An Indian entity may make ODI by way of investment in equity capital for the purpose of undertaking bonafide business activity in the manner and subject to the limits and conditions provided in a schedule in the gazette.

ADB, India sign a Loan Agreement

Paper 2 – International Relations
Why Should You Know?
Recently ADB, India signed a loan to improve water supply and sanitation services in Himachal Pradesh.
In details –
  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India today signed a $96.3-million loan agreement to provide safe drinking water and improve water supply and sanitation services in the state of Himachal Pradesh.
  • The signatories for the Himachal Pradesh Rural Drinking Water Improvement and Livelihood Project were Mr. Rajat Kumar Mishra, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, who signed on behalf of Government of India and Mr. Takeo Konishi, Country Director for ADB in India, who signed for ADB.
  • After signing the loan agreement Mr Mishra stated that the project is aligned with the objectives of the Government of India’s Jal Jeevan Mission which aims to provide piped water to all rural households by 2024 and it will upgrade water supply infrastructure and strengthen institutional capacity to ensure safe, sustainable, and inclusive rural water supply and sanitation services.
  • “ADB’s involvement in the project will provide water management best practices, strengthen institutional capacity, and guide tariff reform,” added Mr. Konishi. “These interventions will address the government’s aim of providing uninterrupted pressurised water supply to households, inclusive sanitation services, strengthening operation and maintenance for sustainable service delivery, and building capacity of relevant staff.”
  • More than 90% of the state’s rural population have access to drinking water, but the water supply infrastructure needs revamping, to result in efficient and improved service quality.
  • The ADB project will connect 75,800 households to the service, providing uninterrupted water supply to about 3,70,000 residents across 10 districts.
  • To improve water supply and sanitation services, the project aims to construct 48 groundwater wells, 80 surface water intake facilities, 109 water treatment plants, 117 pumping stations, and 3,000 km of water distribution pipelines.
  • A pilot fecal sludge management and sanitation programme will also be implemented in Sirmaur District, benefiting 250,000 residents.
  • The project will strengthen the capacity of the Jal Shakti Vibhag of the Government of Himachal Pradesh and gram panchayat (local government) village water and sanitation committees.
  • It will support the state governments water tariff policy reforms and introduce an asset management system at the state-level and district asset management plans.
  • Key project stakeholders and community-based organisations will be trained on water management, including livelihood skills training for women self-help groups.
  • ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members-49 from the region.
About Asian Development Bank (ADB) –
  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a regional development bank. It was established  on  December 19, 1966.
  • The bank comprises members of the UN Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (now UNESCAP) and non-regional developed countries.
  • The bank was founded with 31  members, now ADB now has 68 members.
  • India  is a founding member of ADB.
  • Out of the total members, 49 members are from the Asia-Pacific region, while 19 members are from other regions.  ADB is headquartered in Manila, Philippines.
  • It aims to promote social and economic development in Asia.
  • The ADB was largely designed on the basis of the World Bank and, like the World Bank, it also has a weighted vote system in which votes are distributed on the basis of the capital subscription ratio of the members.
  • As  of December 31, 2019, ADB’s five largest shareholders include Japan and the United States (each  with 15.6% of total shares), the People’s Republic of China (6.4%), India (6.3%) and Australia (5.8%).

Anti pollution helmet

Paper 3 – Science & Technology
Why Should You Know?
Anti-pollution helmet developed by a Delhi-based startup
In details –
  • An anti-pollution helmet developed by a Delhi based startup can help 2-wheeler riders breathe clean air. The helmet developed by Shellios Technolabs has a Bluetooth-enabled app that lets the rider know when the helmet requires cleaning.
  • The startup received seed funding from the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and was incubated at Science and Technology Entrepreneur Park (JSSATE-STEP) Noida. 
  • They had signed commercialization deals with leading Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) for the helmet. The product, at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) level 9 has been granted utility patent and  is now being sold in all parts of the country priced at Rs. 4500/-. The end-users of the product include individual riders all over India and for the next version, Shellios has partnered with Royal Enfield Motorcycles to commercialize the product.
  • The founders of Shellios Technolabs hit upon the idea on realizing the challenges faced by bikers during the air quality crisis that Delhi faces in the winter months.
  • “We were disturbed by the health impacts of the air quality situation on the people on the roads, especially the millions of two wheeler riders who were having prolonged daily exposures and that too, to a double whammy of particulate matter and vehicular emissions in the air that they breathe,” said Amit Pathak, one of the founders.
  • The helmet titled PUROS is integrated with air purifying accessories which include the patented innovations of the startup — a Brushless DC (BLDC) blower fan, High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter membrane, electronic circuit, and microUSB charging port integrated into the helmet. The purifying system set at the back of the helmet picks up all particulate matter coming from outside and cleans the air before it reaches the biker
  • Following all mandatory standards stipulated by the government, the 1.5 Kg helmet ensures exposure reduction by more than 80% as measured using a controlled environment.

Emergency weapons through Make in India route

Paper 3- Security
Why Should You Know?
Government grants permission to defence forces to buy emergency weapons through Make in India route
In details –
  • Government has granted permission to defence forces to buy emergency weapons through Make in India route. The approval was given at a meeting chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on 22 august, 2022.
  • These emergency powers give the defence forces the freedom to acquire any new or in-service equipment on a fast-track basis as per requirement.
  • The equipment in these deals will be delivered within a time frame of 3 months to one year. Notably, with these powers, the armed forces have to spend funds on deals from their own budget and don’t necessarily have to take the Defence Ministry’s approval for the same.
  • The Defence forces have benefitted from these powers as the IAF and the Army received ‘Heron’ unmanned aerial vehicles which proved very useful for surveillance in Ladakh as well as in the Northeast.
  • Other acquisitions include missiles which can hit ground targets like bunkers from a long distance. The armed forces are set to buy a long list of equipment under this deal including both, ingenious and foreign manufactured products.
About Heron drone –
  • The Heron or IAI Heron (Machatz-1) is a medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by the Malat (UAV) division of Israel Aerospace Industries.
  • It is capable of Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) operations of up to 52 hours’ duration at up to 10.5 km (35,000 ft).
  • It has demonstrated 52 hours of continuous flight, but the effective operational maximal flight duration is less, according to payload and flight profile.
  • The Heron can carry an array of sensors, including thermographic camera (infrared) and visible-light airborne ground surveillance, intelligence systems (COMINT and ELINT) and various radar systems, totaling up to 250 kg (550 lb). The Heron is also capable of target acquisition and artillery adjustment.
  • An advanced version, the Heron TP, is also known as the IAI Eitan.

Garba Dance

Paper 1 – Art & Culture
Why Should You Know?
Recently India nominated GARBA to be inscribed on UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list
In details –
  • India has nominated the dance form Garba to be inscribed on UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list.
  • UNESCO( United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Director Eric Falt said that after the inclusion of ‘Durga Puja’ on the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage representative last year, India has now nominated ‘Garba’ for 2022.
  • He said, the next meeting of UNESCO is in November & hopefully there will be yet another beautiful Indian festival Garba inscribed on UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list.
  • India was elected by UNESCO to serve on the distinguished Intergovernmental Committee of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in July. India garnered a whopping 110 votes from 155 State Parties that finalised its selection.
About Garba dance –
  • Garba is a form of dance which originates from the state of Gujarat in India.
  • The word garba comes from the Sanskrit word for womb and so implies gestation or pregnancy — life.
  • Garba is performed in a circle as a symbol of the Hindu view of time.
  • Traditionally, the dance is performed around a clay lantern with a light inside, called a Garbha Deep (“womb lamp”). This lantern represents life, and the fetus in the womb in particular.
  • The dancers thus honor Durga, the feminine form of divinity. Traditionally, it is performed during the nine-day Hindu festival Navarātrī, Either the lamp (the ” garbha Deep) or an image of the Goddess, Durga (also called Amba) is placed in middle of concentric rings as an object of veneration.
  • Modern Garba is also heavily influenced by Dandiya Raas, a dance traditionally performed by men. The merger of these two dances has formed the high-energy dance that is seen today. Both men and women usually wear colorful clothes while performing garba and dandiya.

Mithila Makhana

Paper 1 – Geography
Why Should You Know?
Union Government has given GI tag to Mithila Makhana.
In details –
  • The Central Government has given GI tag to Mithila Makhana. With this, the growers will get maximum value of Makhana product.
  • This decision will benefit more than five lakh farmers of Mithila region of Bihar.
  • It is noteworthy that If a product gets GI tag, no person or company can sell similar material under the same name.
  • This tag is valid for ten years and can be renewed later. Other benefits of GI registration include legal protection to that material, prevention of unauthorized use and promotion of exports.
  • According to the GI registry certificate, it is certified that the GI has been registered in the name of Mithilanchal Makhana Utpadak Sangh.
What is GI tag?
  • A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.
  • In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place.
  • A GI is primarily an agricultural, natural or a manufactured product (handicrafts and industrial goods) originating from a definite geographical territory.
  • Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness, which is essentially attributable to the place of its origin.
  • There is a proper process of registration of GI products which includes filing of application, preliminary scrutiny and examination, show cause notice, publication in the geographical indications journal, opposition to registration, and registration.
  • Any association of persons, producers, organisation or authority established by or under the law can apply. The applicant must represent the interest of the producers. It is a legal right under which the GI holder can prohibit others from using the same name.
  • The famous goods which carry this tag include Basmati rice, Darjeeling Tea, Chanderi Fabric, Mysore Silk, Kullu Shawl, Kangra Tea, Thanjavur Paintings, Allahabad Surkha, Farrukhabad Prints, Lucknow Zardozi and Kashmir Walnut Wood Carving.

Forever chemicals

Paper 3- Environment
Why Should You Know?
A recent study published in Environment Science and Technology has found that rainwater from many places across the globe is contaminated with “forever chemicals” , lets know about it
In details –
What are PFAs?
  • According to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), PFAs are man-made chemicals used to make nonstick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant fabrics, cosmetics, firefighting forms and many other products that resist grease, water and oil.
  • Since most PFAs do not break down, they remain in the environment for long periods of time. Some of these PFAs can build up in people and animals if they are repeatedly exposed to the chemicals.
Health risks-
  • The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists a variety of health risks that are attributed to PFA exposure, including decreased fertility, developmental effects in children, interference with body hormones, increased cholesterol levels and increased risk of some cancers.
  • Recent research has also revealed that long-term low-level exposure to certain PFAs can make it difficult for humans to build antibodies after being vaccinated against various diseases.
  • While there is no known method that can extract and remove PFAs from the atmosphere itself, there are many effective, albeit expensive, methods to remove them from rainwater that has been collected through various rainwater harvesting methods.
  • One way to do this would be to use a filtration system with activated carbon. The activated carbon will need to be removed and replaced regularly. Also, the old contaminated material must be destroyed.
  • Recently, Science reported a cheaper method that EPA researchers led by William Dichtel and Brittany Trang stumbled upon by chance.
  • The researchers first placed a PFA compound in a solvent called DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide). They then mixed it with sodium hydroxide (lye) in water.
  • They found that when this mixture was heated up to boiling temperature, the PFA compound began to degrade. However, this method doesn’t work for all PFAs and only works for certain PFA subsets.
  • The scientists are now looking at ways to scale up their technique to include different types and also large amounts of PFAS.

Green Energy projects

Paper 1 – Natural Resources
Why Should You Know?
IREDA signs MoU with MAHAPREIT to provide loans for Green Energy projects
In details –
  • Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd. (IREDA) signed an MoU with Mahatma Phule Renewable Energy and Infrastructure Technology Ltd. (MAHAPREIT), a wholly owned subsidiary of MPBCDC (49% owned by Govt. of India and 51% owned by Govt. of Maharashtra).
  • In accordance with the MoU, IREDA will offer financing facilities to MAHAPREIT for the Renewable Energy projects to be implemented for state utilities, local bodies and the infrastructure of Renewable Energy Parks.
  • Under this collaboration, IREDA will also undertake Techno-Financial due diligence of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency & Conservation projects for MAHAPREIT.
  • IREDA established a specialised Business Development and Consultancy division two years ago to meet the growing demand in the RE sector.
  • This is the ninth MoU inked by IREDA in the last two years to provide consultation services for the sustainable development of the country.
  • SJVN, NHPC, TANGEDCO, NEEPCO, BVFCL, THDCIL, GSL, and CIPET have signed MoUs with IREDA to enhance their techno-financial expertise for green energy projects and IREDA has already started work on most of the MoUs.
About IREDA?
  • Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA) is formed in 1987 as a statutory and autonomous organisation under Government of India and administratively controlled by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
  • The organisation is formed for promoting, developing and extending financial assistance for setting up projects relating to new and renewable sources of energy and energy efficiency/conservation.
Aims and Policies –
  • Financing Renewable energy projects.
  • Supporting green power capacity.
  • Financing the setting up of solar manufacturing units

International Astronomy & Astrophysics Olympiad

Paper 2 – Education
Why Should You Know?
India ranks 3rd at International Astronomy & Astrophysics Olympiad with 3 golds, 2 silvers
In details –
  • India secured the third rank in medal tally at the 15th International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA).
  • India held the third position jointly with Singapore with students winning three gold and two silver medals.
  • The 15th International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA) 2022 held in Kutaisi, Georgia, from 14 to 21 August, 2022.
  • The team was accompanied by two leaders: Prof. Sarita Vig (Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram), Prof. Ajit Mohan Srivastava (Institute of Physics, Bhubaneswar), and two Scientific Observers: Dr Shriharsh Tendulkar (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai) and Mr Tejas Shah (Fr. Agnel Multipurpose School & Jr. College, Navi Mumbai).
  • Dr Tendulkar was himself a gold medallist at the International Astronomy Olympiad in 2002 and 2003 (overall topper in the latter).
  • There were 209 students from 37 main and 6 guest teams participating in this year’s IOAA. In addition, 24 students from 6 countries participated in the online mode.
  • This year’s competition was originally scheduled to be held in Kyiv, Ukraine; it was shifted to Kutaisi, Georgia in March 2022 due to the war in Ukraine.
  • In the medals tally India was placed jointly in the third position along with Singapore, behind Iran’s official team (5 golds) and guest team (4 golds, 1 silver).
  • In all, 28 gold, 38 silver and 55 bronze medals were awarded at this IOAA. Raghav Goyal won a special prize for the best solution to the most challenging theoretical question.

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