Daily Current Affairs
20 February 2021

1) PANGONG DISENGAGEMENT OVER, OTHER FRICTION POINTS TO BE DISCUSSED TODAY

GS 2

GS 3

India and its neighborhood- relations.

Security challenges and their management in border areas

 

ABOUT:

  1. Making significant headway in attempts to resolve the nine-month military standoff along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, Chinese and Indian troops have completed the first phase of disengagement on the north and south banks of Pangong Tso.
  2. Senior commanders will meet Saturday morning to discuss the pullback of troops from the other friction points in the region.

 

DISENGAGEMENT PROCESS:

  1. The disengagement of artillery, tanks and troops from heights was completed.
  2. “Everything that was agreed upon at the ninth round of talks (on January 24) has been achieved. At Pangong Tso, status quo ante has been achieved.
  3. On the north bank, China has pulled its troops east of Finger 8 (which India says marks the LAC) and India is holding its position behind Finger 3 at the Dhan Singh Thapa post.
  4. All temporary structures, erected by China in the (temporary no-patrolling) stretch between, have been levelled,” a government official said.
  5. India has vacated the heights at Rechin La and Rezang La on the south bank as per the agreement. In fact, China has shown unexpected alacrity in vacating the positions it held. This has raised hopes of results in the forthcoming meetings on outstanding issues,” the official said.

 

KEY ISSUES TO BE DISCUSSED:

  1. The disengagement process that remained partial at Hot Springs and Gogra, apart from the long-standing issue of patrolling rights on the Depsang Plains.
  2. Issue of the CNN (Charding-Ninglung Nallah) area, which includes Demchok, where grazing rights of Indian people have faced opposition from the Chinese in the last three years.
  3. The scheduling of the tenth round of talks means that troops from the two sides have vacated the heights near Finger 4 on the Pangong Tso north bank, and Indian troops have also vacated the heights of Magar Hill, Gurung Hill, Mukhpari, Rechin La and Rezang La in the Chushul sub-sector.

 

INDIA’S SUCCESS:

  1. India was able to place tanks at Rechin La and Rezang La which was unthinkable before. This turned the tables on the PLA and brought them to the negotiating table,” Lt General Joshi said, underlining that vacating these positions would not put India at a disadvantage.
  2. India occupied (the heights) with a purpose to push the negotiations to disengagement in the north bank.

 

Source:  Indian Express

 

2) Development knows no religion, says PM at launch of Kerala projects

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Infrastructure

 

ABOUT:

The Prime Minister said development and good governance do not know caste, gender, religion or language. “Development is for everyone. This is the essence of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas".

 

PROJECTS:

  1. The PM inaugurated the 2000-MW Pugalur (Tamil Nadu)-Thrissur high voltage direct current (HVDC) system through video conference. This is the first power transmission project in the country in which VSC converter technology has been used.

A. The system will facilitate the transfer of a large quantum of power to the state.

B. The HVDC equipment used in this project has been made in India. This will make our Atmanirbhar Bharat movement stronger,’’ he said.

  1. Prime Minister Modi also launched the 50-MW Kasaragod Solar Project and a water treatment plant in Thiruvananthapuram, with a capacity of 75-million litres per day.

 

Source: Indian Express

 

3) Govt. looks at easing e-visa restrictions

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Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

ABOUT:

  1. “The deliberations are on with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Health Ministry regarding e-visa relaxations but would tread cautiously considering the new Covid-19 strain” - Union Ministry of Tourism.
  2. The government is going all out to promote domestic tourism to fill the gap in the tourism sector.
  3. The Ministry of Tourism, as part of its ongoing engagement with industry and its stakeholders, supported the Association of Domestic Tour Operators (ADTOI) for their annual convention at Kevadia, from February 12 to 14. The convention is the first major physical event being organised by the industry post-lockdown.

 

CONDITIONS:

  1. The visa relaxations will be on the sidelines of the annual convention of domestic tour operators in Gujarat’s Kevadia recently.
  2. If the success of the vaccination is established abroad and when there is confidence that the numbers of cases are decreasing.
  3. Centre is taking a very cautious approach in reopening the e-visa facility especially to US, UK and Europe which were worst hit by the pandemic.
  4. “The final decision will depend on a lot of factors, including bilateral arrangements with other countries,” he said, adding that the discussions on easing visa restrictions for international travellers was definitely on and the air bubble arrangement may soon be expanded. There may be a reciprocal visa arrangement with some “safer” countries.

 

Source: Indian Express

 

4) NASA’s Perseverance rover lands on Mars: Will search for signs of life, to collect rock samples

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Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

 

ABOUT:

  1. NASA’s Perseverance rover has successfully landed on Mars, and it is the most advanced rover that the US space agency has sent to the red planet till date.
  2. NASA confirmed the successful touchdown in mission control at its Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California.

 

ABOUT PERSEVERANCE:

  1. The Perseverance rover is first in this journey and different and from any other Mars mission because this one will try and collect Mars sample, which would later be brought back to Earth.
  2. Getting these samples back to Earth won’t happen before 2031, and NASA is collaborating with its various centres and the European Space Agency (ESA) in order for this mission to succeed.
  3. The rover is focused on astrobiology, or the study of life throughout the universe.
  4. Perseverance is the size of a car, 203-day journey and is about the size of a car, and weighs 2,263-pound (1,026-kilogram). It is the largest one that NASA has sent to the planet till date.
  5. The rover has seven primary science instruments. It also has the most cameras ever sent to Mars, and has a “complex sample caching system”, according to NASA.
  6. Mastcam-Z is a pair of zoomable science cameras on Perseverance’s head. These can create high-resolution, colour 3D panoramas of the Martian landscape, according to NASA.
  7. The rover also has an ‘Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’ on its belly, which will “attempt the first powered, controlled flight on another planet.

 

PERSEVERANCES IS SEARCHING FOR SIGNS OF LIFE

  1. The Mars rover is not just collecting sample rocks to bring back to Earth, but it is also the first rover actively looking for sciences of microbial life on the planet.
  2. The rover landed at the Jezero crater, believed to be an ancient lakebed and river delta. (According to NASA’s press statement, scientists have determined that 3.5 billion years ago, Jezero crater had its own river delta and was filled with water. Hence, this area could be vital in the search for signs of ancient microbial life.)
  3. It will undergo several weeks of testing from NASA’s Mission control and after that it will explore the Jezero Crater on Mars, where it landed.
  4. Another instrument on Perseverance will try and manufacture oxygen out of the thin air. This one is called Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment or MOXIE. (This is crucial because the planet’s atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide and future human missions will need

 

Source: Indian Express.

 

5) Sun shines at night in remote Nagaland village bordering Myanmar.

GS-3:

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

 

About:

  1. Mon District Administration in collaboration with Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE) completed the electrification of Shinnyu village under Mon district in Nagaland using solar power.
  2. GHE is a social impact initiative that has been working on sustainable development for remote communities since 2013. Partnering the local administration, it has set up solar energy projects in more than 100 remote villages in Ladakh and 21 villages in the Garo Hills of Meghalaya.

 

Shinnyu:

  1. Shinnyu was set up in 1977 and recognised by the State government in 2002 but it has virtually remained cut off in the absence of proper road infrastructure.
  2. The Power Department tried to electrify the village in 2013-14 but the project was abandoned due to logistical problems.

 

Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE):

  1. Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE) engages travelers and businesses to build resilient communities through sustainable development and climate positive travel.
  2. Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE) is one of the world’s first organizations using tourism and technology to bring solar energy to remote communities.
  3. Global Himalayan Expedition conducts “Impact Expeditions” to remote Himalayan villages and uses a portion of the expedition fee to fund the capital cost of the hardware, transportation, installation and training of village-scale solar micro-grids.
  4. Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE) works towards providing clean energy access through solar power to remote communities and has also won the United Nation Global Climate Action Award 2020.

 

Source: The Hindu

 

6) ‘GO ELECTRIC’ CAMPAIGN’

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Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

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

 

About:

  1. Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways launched the “Go Electric” Campaign to spread awareness on the benefits of e-mobility and EV Charging Infrastructure as well as electric cooking in India.
  2. The electric fuel is a major alternative for fossil fuels which have an import bill of Rs. 8 lakh Crore ,When its compared to conventional fuels the electric fuel has low cost, reduced emissions and it is also indigenous developed product .

 

Significance:

  1. Go Electric Campaign is an important initiative that would help in reducing the import dependence of our country in the coming years and would be an important step towards a cleaner and greener future.
  2. The campaign is aimed at creating awareness at PAN-India level and is expected to boost the confidence of Electric Vehicle manufacturers.
  3. The industry displaying different electric vehicles including e-buses, e-cars, 3-wheelers, and 2-wheelers apart from available charging options such as Fast Chargers and Slow Chargers.

 

Nodal Agency:

  1. To implement the ‘Go Electric’ campaign at National and State level, Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) will extend technical support to the State Designated Agencies (SDAs).
  2. As a Central Nodal Agency, BEE will provide content and details to State Designated Agencies and other partners to ensure uniformity of information.

 

Promotion under campaign:

  1. Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), under the aegis of the Ministry of Power has been mandated to undertake an awareness drive for promoting Public Charging, e-mobility & its ecosystem.
  2. To implement the ‘Go Electric’ campaign at National and State level, BEE will extend technical support to the State Designated Agencies (SDAs).

 

Sources: PIB