Daily Current Affairs
19 February 2021

1) Quad meet: India, U.S. call for rule of law in Myanmar

GS 2

Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

 

ABOUT:

  1. India recently joined Australia, Japan and the United States for a ministerial meeting under the quadrilateral grouping during which key issues, including Myanmar, came up for discussion.
  2. External Affairs Minister and U.S. Secretary of State said the military takeover in Myanmar featured in the talks and participants reiterated democratic values for the region.
  3. India also emphasised in its statement that the meeting expressed commitment to “upholding rules-based international order and “peaceful resolution of disputes”.

 

GLOBAL GOOD:

  1. EAM said our positive agenda underlines our shared commitment to global good. Quad members discussed contemporary challenges, especially impact of COVID-19 and exchanged views on issues across the Indo-Pacific.
  2. The leaders referred to the military crackdown in Myanmar, with the U.S. highlighting “the urgent need to restore the democratically elected government in Burma, and the priority of strengthening democratic resilience in the broader region.
  3. Significantly, the U.S. statement referred to Myanmar as Burma, the name that Naypyitaw had stopped using since 1989 after a brutal crackdown against the democratic movement.

 

QUAD:

  1. The quadrilateral security dialogue includes Japan, India, United States and Australia.
  2. All four nations find a common ground of being the democratic nations and common interests of unhindered maritime trade and security.
  3. The idea was first mooted by Japanese Prime Minister in 2007. However, the idea couldn’t move ahead with Australia pulling out of it.

 

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE GROUPING:

  1. Quad is an opportunity for like-minded countries to share notes and collaborate on projects of mutual interest.
  2. Members share a vision of an open and free Indo-Pacific. Each is involved in development and economic projects as well as in promoting maritime domain awareness and maritime security.
  3. It is one of the many avenues for interaction among India, Australia, Japan and the US and should not be seen in an exclusive context.

 

Source- The Hindu

 

2) Hyderabad wins global ‘Tree City’ status

GS 3

BioDiversity

 

ABOUT:

  1. Hyderabad has won a green contest among cities in India, and emerged one of the Tree Cities of the World’.
  2.  That title has been bestowed by the Arbor Day Foundation and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

 

CONSERVATION:

  1. Hyderabad has been selected for its commitment to growing and maintaining urban forestry.
  2. With the recognition, the city joins 120 others from 23 countries, including the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and Australia.
  3. The Municipal Administration and Urban Development Department cited the State government’s Haritha Haram programme and its Urban Forest Parks plan.
  4. The city was evaluated on five metrics: ‘Establish Responsibility’, ‘Set the Rules’, ‘Know What You Have’, ‘Allocate the Resources’, and ‘Celebrate the Achievements’.
  5. City leaders must delegate responsibility for the care of trees to a staff member, a city department, or a group of citizens called a Tree Board.
  6. Hyderabad city is demonstrating leadership in management of its urban trees and is serving as part of the solution to many of the global issues we face today.

 

Source- The Hindu

 

3) Biometric authentication to benefit farmers: Centre

GS 3

e-technology in the aid of farmers

 

ABOUT:

  1. In a bid to cut out the middleman and ensure greater transparency in the procurement of farm produce, the Centre is encouraging the States to deploy biometric authentication of farmers.
  2. The practice, already adopted in Uttar Pradesh and set to be rolled out in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha this year, will aid in tracking the end-use beneficiary.

 

ONLINE PAYMENTS:

  1. The initiative comes at a time when farmers are agitating for a legal guarantee that all their crops will be procured at a minimum support price (MSP) and demanding the repeal of three farm reform laws.
  2. In States such as Punjab and Haryana, where the agitation has been the strongest, middlemen who act as commission agents or arhitiyas are a key part of the procurement process at these mandis.
  3. The Centre had already taken steps to roll out online payments to farmers who sell their produce to the government.

A. It had directed the State governments of Haryana and Punjab to ensure payments in e-mode from the upcoming season, and was expecting all the States to follow suit this year.

B. There should not be any intermediaries, farmers should not be given cheques to be encashed. The money should go directly into the farmers’ accounts.

 

TRANSPAPRENCY AND GOVERNANCE:

  1. The next step was the biometric authentication scheme that Uttar Pradesh had already rolled out.
  2. The entire process of procurement has to be made faster.
  3. Once you have data of farmers available and once they are bio-authenticated, the entire details are digitally available to the procurement machinery, the kind of crop he is cultivating, the kind of landholding he has, all the details are available.
  4. This initiative reduced the need for extensive paperwork, prevented leakages and speeded up process of procurement, with payment settlement being completed within 72 hours.
  5. The other advantage is that the farmer gets a receipt for his goods, showing the quantity and the MSP price, so nobody can cheat the farmer.

 

Source- The Hindu

 

4) COVID DIPLOMACY PITCH BY PM: VISA FOR MEDICS , AIR AMBULANCE

GS 2

Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

 

ABOUT:

  1. Prime Minister of India applauded the “spirit of collaboration” among South Asian and Indian Ocean island countries as a valuable takeaway from this pandemic".
  2. Prime Minister suggested recently the creation of a regional platform for collating and studying data on the effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccines, a special visa scheme for doctors and nurses to travel within the region during health emergencies, and a regional air ambulance agreement for medical contingencies.
  3. A workshop on ‘Covid-19 Management: Experience, Good Practices and Way Forward’ is being attended by health leaders, experts and officials of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and India.
  4. All countries, including Pakistan, supported the PM’s proposals. They sought a structured discussion for regional cooperation on these proposals to take them forward.
  5. Prime Minister said: “Today, the hopes of our region and the world are focused on rapid deployment of vaccines. In this too, we must maintain the same cooperative and collaborative spirit.

 

PRIME MINISTER STATEMENTS:

  1. When Covid-19 hit the world last year, many experts voiced special concern about our densely populated region. But, from the very beginning, we all met this challenge with a coordinated response.
  2. In March last year, we were the first to come together for recognising the threat and committing to fight it together.  Many other regions and groups followed our early example.
  3. We created the Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund to meet the immediate costs of fighting the pandemic. We shared our resources — medicines, PPEs, and testing equipment.
  4. And, above all, we shared the most valuable commodity, knowledge, through collaborative training of our health workers.
  5. Through webinars, online courses and IT portals, we shared experiences and learned from each other’s best practices in testing, infection control and medical waste management.
  6. We developed our own best practices based on what worked best for us. Each one of us contributed immensely to this pooling of knowledge and experience.
  7. This spirit of collaboration is a valuable takeaway from this pandemic. Through our openness and determination, we have managed to achieve one of the lowest fatality rates in the world.
  8. PM asked if South Asia can consider creating a special visa scheme for our doctors and nurses, so that they can travel quickly within our region during health emergencies, on the request of the receiving country?”
  9. He also asked if-

A. Civil Aviation ministries can coordinate a regional air ambulance agreement for medical contingencies?

B. the region can create a regional platform for collating, compiling and studying data about the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines among our populations?

C. the region can create a regional network for promoting technology-assisted epidemiology, for preventing future pandemics?

 

SHARING EXPERIENCES:

  1. The Prime Minister also suggested that the countries share successful public health policies and schemes.
  2. From India, Ayushman Bharat and Jan Arogya schemes may be useful case-studies for our friends in the region.
  3. Such collaboration can become the pathway for greater regional cooperation among us in other areas too.
  4. After all, we share so many common challenges – climate change, natural disasters, poverty, illiteracy, and social and gender imbalances. But we also share the power of centuries-old cultural and people-to-people linkages.
  5. If we focus on all that unites us, our region can overcome not only the present pandemic, but our other challenges too.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. If the 21st Century is to be the Asian Century, it cannot be without greater integration among South Asian and Indian Ocean island countries.
  2. The spirit of regional solidarity that South Asia has shown during the pandemic has proven that such integration is possible.
  3. All the countries agreed that there was a need for such cooperation on regional basis to fight such pandemics.

 

Source- Indian Express

 

5) MODI LAUNCHES CONNECTIVITY PROJECTS IN ASSAM

GS 3

Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc

 

ABOUT:

  1. Prime Minister recently launched multiple initiatives in Assam, including the Mahabahu-Brahmaputra inland waterway project and the foundation stone of two bridges across the Brahmaputra.
  2. PM also laid the foundation stone for two medical colleges and launched the Asom Mala, a major road network project.

 

BRAHMAPUTRA RIVER:

  1. The Brahmaputra is a confluence of brotherhood and togetherness. For years, this sacred river has connected people.
  2. PM referred to the lines of Bharat Ratna Bhupen Hazarika’s song — ‘Mahabahu Brahmaputra Mahamilanar Tirtha, Koto Yug Dhori Aahise Prakashi Samanyar Tirtha’ (The mighty Brahmaptura is on a timeless pilgrimage, assimilating, integration and unifying people of diverse cultures) — to highlight the role of the river in the life in Assam.
  3. But it is also true that for long, work that should have been done to increase connectivity on the Brahmaputra, has not been done,”
  4. That is why connectivity has always remained a challenge, not just in Assam but in the Northeast, too. But now India is steadfastly working in that direction.

 

MAHABAHU-BRAHMAPUTRA INITIATIVE:

  1. To mark the Rs 3,200 crore Mahabahu-Brahmaputra initiative — aimed at improving water transport connectivity — PM inaugurated three Ro-pax vessel operations between Neemati Ghat (Jorhat) and Majuli island, North Guwahati and South Guwahati as well as Dhubri and Hatsingimari.
  2. PM also laid the foundation stone of Inland Water Transport (IWT) Terminal at Jogighopa and various tourist jetties on the Brahmaputra and launched two portals for ease-of-doing-business.
  3. The Ro-Pax service between Majuli and Jorhat would reduce travel time of 11 hours to one hour, while the North and South Guwahati travel time will reduce from three hours to 30 minutes, and to reach Dhubri from Hatisingmari, it will now take three hours, instead of eight.
  4. The PM also laid the foundation stone for a 19-km-long four-lane bridge over the Brahmaputra — which will be India’s longest bridge over a river — that connects Dhubri in Assam and Phulbari in Meghalaya, to be constructed at the cost of Rs 5,000 crore.
  5.  A bhumi pujan, or ground-breaking ceremony, was also performed for a 6.8-km-long two-lane bridge that would connect Kamalabari in Majuli, the world’s largest river island to Neematighat in Jorhat.

 

OTHER PROJECTS:

  1. The Majuli-Jorhat bridge is a bridge of “convenience and possibilities” Majuli residents already have its first helipad, now they will also have a road.
  2. The 8-km-long bridge connecting Kalibari (in Majuli) with Jorhat will be a lifeline for thousands of families.”
  3. The Prime Minister said that while the distance between Meghalaya and Assam was about 250 km by road, the Dhubri-Phulbari bridge will reduce it to “just 19-20 km.”
  4. According to a release from the Chief Minister’s Office, the bridge will reduce travel time from six hours to 20 minutes.
  5. The government also said it will improve connectivity to South Assam’s Barak Valley and reduce distance between the other Northeastern states of Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram and Assam.
  6. The projects like Bhupen-Hazarika Setu, the Bogibeel Bridge or Saraighat Bridge, all have made life easier in Assam.
  7. It has not just strengthened the internal security of the country, but protected the brave soldiers of our nation.

 

Source- Indian Express

 

6) Software Defined Radio (SDR) for Indian Army under Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan

GS 3

Challenges to internal security through communication networks

 

ABOUT:

  1. To arm the soldiers with advantages offered by technology and equip him to fight a war in the Net–Centric battle space, present radios are to be replaced soon by indigenously developed Software Defined Radio (SDR).
  2. SDR will have enhanced data transmission capability, enhanced voice clarity and data transmission accuracy in spectrally noisy environments, support multiple waveforms, greater system security and better communication survivability in clear and secure mode to meet the operational requirements of the Indian Army.

 

COMMUNICATION ESSENCE:

  1. Communication is vital and critical to all military operations. The Combat Net Radio (CNR) is the mainstay of communications for the Indian Army in the battlefield.
  2. The contemporary CNR equipment in the Indian Army supports voice communication only and has limited or no data transmission capability.
  3. Indian Army is in the process to revamp its communication systems by procuring Very/Ultra High Frequency (V/UHF)Manpack SDRs under Make-II category. 
  4. After successful evaluation of vendor responses, Project Sanction Order (PSO) has now been issued to 18 Indian vendors to start prototype development.
  5. The contract will be placed with one of the firms post successful development of prototype as per provisions of Buy (Indian-IDDM) category of DAP 2020.
  6. Development of V/UHF Manpack SDR under Make-II will be a game changer for Indian Army.
  7. It is in sync with the “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” policy of the Government which will lead to “Self Reliance” in advanced communication systems.

 

Source- PIB

 

7) We see Hydrogen as the future energy, says Shri Dharmendra Pradhan

GS 3

Indigenization of technology and developing new technology

 

ABOUT:

  1. Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas & Steel signed the Statement of Intent between IndianOil Corp. Ltd. and M/s Greenstat Hydrogen India Pvt. Ltd., a subsidiary of Greenstat Norway for setting up of Centre of Excellence on Hydrogen.
  2. This association aims to develop a Center of Excellence on Hydrogen (CoE-H) including CCUS and Fuel Cells by IndianOil and M/s Greenstat for clean energy in cooperation with Indo-Norwegian Hydrogen Cluster companies/organizations.

 

CENTER OF EXCELLENCE ON HYDROGEN (COE-H):

  1. The CoE-H will facilitate transfer and sharing of technology, know-how and experience through the green Hydrogen value chain and other relevant technologies including hydrogen storage and fuel cells.
  2. The CoE-H will be a vehicle for promoting R&D projects in Green and Blue Hydrogen between Norwegian and Indian R&D institutions/universities.
  3. Working closely with Industry and Governments on both sides, CoE-H will be levering its intellectual strengths in developing cost-efficient and scalable and sustainable technological solutions.
  4. The CoE will also pilot fuel cell research. The institute will also act as a think-tank towards developing codes and standards for best industrial practices, safety, product protocols and regulations in the area of hydrogen and fuel cells.
  5. The partnership between IndianOil and Greenstat will actively assist partners/stakeholders to develop business models based upon feasibility studies besides facilitating consultancies to industry, utilities and regulators on hydrogen storage, hydrogen production, refueling stations, fuel cells and CCUS technologies.

 

HYDROGEN- FUTURE ENERGY:

  1. Government of India is giving to exploration of new and emerging forms of energy.
  2. India is the third-largest energy consumer with growing energy demand, making it the place to be, for any energy entrepreneur in any part of the globe.
  3. Prime Minister had highlighted the importance of niche renewable technologies like hydrogen in the renewable energy mix. Pursuant to that, launch of the National Hydrogen Energy Mission was announced in the budget 2021-22.
  4. The National Hydrogen Energy Mission aims to lay down the Government of India’s vision, intent and direction for hydrogen energy, strategies and approaches for realizing the vision.
  5. A pilot project for blending hydrogen with compressed natural gas for use as transportation fuel is running at Rajghat Bus depot in Delhi.
  6. Under this pilot, 50 buses in Delhi are plying on blended Hydrogen in Compressed Natural Gas and result are extremely encouraging.

 

Source- PIB