Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 20th July 2020

Daily Current Affairs for Government Exams:

Today Current Affairs: 20th July 2020 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc

Contents:

  1. 3rd G20 FMCBG Meeting:
  2. Qatar blockade.:
  3. Solar Orbiter:
  4. Other important current affairs

 

1.3rd G20 FMCBG Meeting:

Recently India has virtually participated in the 3rd G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (FMCBG) meeting under the Presidency of Saudi Arabia.

  • It discussed the global economic outlook amid the evolving Covid-19 pandemic crisis along with other G20 finance track priorities for the year 2020.
  • The first meeting was held in February 2020 at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Key Points

  • G20 Action Plan: The importance and relevance of the G20 action plan was highlighted.
  • It was endorsed in response to Covid-19 in April 2020.
  • It has a list of collective commitments under the pillars of Health Response, Economic Response, Strong and
  • Sustainable Recovery, and International Financial Coordination, aimed at coordinating G20 efforts to fight the pandemic.

India’s Response:

  • India emphasized the need to balance supply-side and demand-side measures in response to Covid-19.
  • It also spoke about the procyclicality of credit rating downgrades by the rating agencies and its deterrent impact on policy options, particularly for Emerging Market Economy (EMEs).
  • Procyclic ratings are stricter during an economic downturn than an expansion. As a result, firms receive overly pessimistic ratings in a recession, relative to during an expansion.
  • International coordination required in addressing the spill-over effects of exit strategies related to covid-19 lockdowns.
  • The spillover effect refers to the impact of unrelated events in one nation on the economies of other nations.
  • G20 Finance Track deliverables: FMCBG discussed the developments on G20 Finance Track deliverables under the Saudi Arabian Presidency. India discussed two such deliverables:
    • First, Enhancing access to opportunities for Women, Youth and Small Market Economies (SMEs) and a menu of policy options on access to opportunity.
    • Second, International Taxation agenda and the intended deliverable of formulating a solution for addressing challenges related to digital taxation.

G-20

  • The G20 is an informal group of 19 countries and the European Union, with representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
  • The G20 membership comprises a mix of the world’s largest advanced and emerging economies, representing about two-thirds of the world’s population, 85% of global gross domestic product, 80% of global investment, and over 75% of global trade.
  • Headquarter: The G20 operates as a forum and not as an organization.
  • Therefore, it does not have any permanent secretariat.

 

2. Qatar blockade.:

Recently, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) refused an appeal by Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) which challenged the authority of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to adjudicate on the legality of the Qatar blockade.

  • ICJ is the top United Nations (UN) court and ICAO is the international aviation agency of the UN.
    UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar are located in the Persian Gulf Region and are the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Qatar Blockade:

  • In June 2017, Qatar’s neighboring Arab nations of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt shut off shipping routes and air space with Qatar for its alleged support for terrorism and its ties with Iran.
  • It severed their diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar.
  • However, Qatar denied supporting Islamic extremism and has openly condemned its isolation as a clear attack on its sovereignty.
  • All four neighbors issued a 13-point list of demands for Doha (capital of Qatar) to comply with in order to restore erstwhile relations.
  • Some of the demands included Qatar closing down news outlets such as Al-Jazeera, end ties with radical Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, scale down ties with Shia-majority Iran and remove Turkish troops stationed in the country.

Since 2017, the blockade of Qatar has included:

  • Closing of its only land border with Saudi Arabia.
  • Stopping Qatari ships from entering ports anywhere in the Saudi coalition.
  • Blocking Qatari planes from flying in their airspace.
  • Expelling Qatari citizens from these countries as part of the measures.

The dispute at the ICJ:

  • Qatar approached the ICAO, alleging that its rights of free passage under the 1944 Convention on Civil Aviation were violated by the blockade.
  • Saudi Arabia and its allies argued that the ICJ should have the authority to settle the dispute instead of the ICAO because the dispute goes beyond the aviation matters.
  • In 2018, the ICAO ruled against the Saudi coalition, holding that it did have jurisdiction to hear the case and its ruling was recently backed by the ICJ too.
  • The blockade still remains in force and the ICAO is expected to deliver its verdict in 2021.
  • The ruling will be in Qatar’s favor and will be a major win for the country and its national carrier, Qatar Airways.

 

3.Solar Orbiter:

The European Space Agency has released the closest pictures ever taken of the Sun captured by the Solar Orbiter that was launched in February this year.

  • The spacecraft completed its first close pass of the Sun in mid-June when it flew within 48 million miles of the Sun with 10 instruments turned on to snap the closest pictures of the giant star to date.
  • There are mini-flares on the sun that the scientists are calling “campfires”
  • Size: These campfires are millionths of the size of the Sun’s massive flares that are routinely observed by Earth telescopes.
  • These small flares could have something to do with the healing process that makes the corona, the Sun’s outer atmosphere, far hotter than its surface.
    Insta Concepts:

Solar Flares:

  • It is a large explosion of magnetic energy in the Sun’s atmosphere which causes an intense burst of increased brightness.
  • Flares occur in active regions around sunspots.
  • During solar flares, the Sun releases bursts of energetic particles that enhance the solar wind that constantly emanates from the star into the surrounding space.
  • When these particles interact with Earth’s magnetosphere, they can cause magnetic storms that can disrupt telecommunication networks and power grids on the ground.

Corona:

  • The solar corona is the outermost layer of the Sun’s atmosphere that extends millions of kilometres into outer space.
  • Its temperature is more than a million degrees Celsius, which is orders of magnitude hotter than the surface of the Sun, a ‘cool’ 5500 °C.
  • After many decades of studies, the physical mechanisms that heat the corona are still not fully understood, but identifying them is considered the ‘holy grail’ of solar physics.

Solar Orbiter Mission:

  • Solar Orbiter is a space mission of international collaboration between ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA.
  • The spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket in February 2020.
  • It was selected as the first medium-class mission of ESA’s Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 Programme.
  • This is the first mission that will provide images of the sun’s north and south poles using a suite of six instruments on board that will capture the spacecraft’s view.
  • It is a seven-year mission and will come within 26 million miles of the sun.
  • It will be able to brave the heat of the sun because it has a custom titanium heat shield coated in calcium phosphates that it can endure temperatures up to 970 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Other important current affairs:

1. The first International Chess Day is being celebrated on 20 July.

  • On 12 December 2019, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 20 July as World Chess Day to mark the date of the establishment of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) in Paris in 1924.
  • Under the initiative of FIDE, July 20 has been observed as International Chess Day by chess players around the world since 1966.
  • An early game similar to chess called Chaturanga originated in Northern Indian Subcontinent during the Gupta period (~ 319 – 543 CE) and spread along the Silk Roads west to Persia.
  • Chatrang, and later Shatranj, was the name given to the game when it arrived in Sassanid Persia around 600 CE.

2. According to the records of the 1960 boundary talks, the Chinese troops have gone beyond China’s own territorial claims at Pangong Tso Lake and Galwan Valley.

  • The records also raise questions on recent statements from Indian officials that China is not present anywhere on Indian territory.
  • The 1960’s documents show that the Chinese claim over the Pangong Tso Lake was at near Finger 8, around 8 km east of where China now says the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is. Now the Chinese troops are at Finger 4.
  • The Fingers refer to mountain spurs on the bank of the Lake, and run from 1 to 8, west to east
  • The documents show that, in the Galwan Valley, the LAC ran east of the bend of the Galwan river, called the Y-nallah, which is now claimed by China.

3. An oil and gas exploration company has helped geologists discover a series of faults at the foot of the Himalaya.

  • This fault system lies in the southeastern region of Nepal and has the potential to cause earthquakes in the densely populated country.
    Significance of these findings:
  • This network of faults shows that the Himalayan deformation reaches further [about 40 kilometers further south] than we previously thought.
  • It highlights the need to look below the surface, and further afield, to fully understand earthquakes and structures within the Himalaya.
  • The newly discovered system doesn’t appear to extend into India, but seismic waves from an earthquake occurring on them might affect regions of India near the border.
  • However, other similar faults might be present elsewhere along the southern edge of the Himalaya and might extend beneath northern India.

4. There have been considerable discussions in scientific circles on the importance of vitamin D in these days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • It is produced when sunlight (or artificial light, particularly in the ultraviolet region of 190-400 nm wavelength) falls on the skin and triggers a chemical reaction to a cholesterol-based molecule, and converts it into calcidiol in the liver and into calcitriol in the kidney.
  • Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning that it dissolves in fats and oils and can be stored in your body for a long time.
  • It is known to help in having the right amount of calcium in the bones, catalyze the process of protecting cell membranes from damage, preventing the inflammation of tissues, and helping stop tissues from forming fibers and weakening bones from becoming brittle, leading to osteoporosis.
  • Vitamin D deficiency can affect COVID-19 high-risk patients, particularly those who are diabetic, have heart conditions, pneumonia, obesity, and those who smoke.
  • It is also associated with infections in the respiratory tract and lung injury.

5. Scientists have discovered a new species in the eastern Indian Ocean (near Indonesia) called ‘Bathynomus raksasa’, a ‘supergiant’ Bathynomus, and which has since been described as the “cockroach of the sea”.

  • The Bathynomus raksasa is a giant isopod in the genus Bathynomus.
  • The giant isopods are distantly related to crabs, lobsters, and shrimps (which belong to the order of decapods), and are found in the cold depths of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.
  • The “cockroach of the sea” has 14 legs. It measures around 50 centimeters (1.6 feet) in length, which is big for isopods, which normally do not grow beyond 33 cm (just over a foot). Isopods that reach 50 cm are referred to as supergiant’s.
  • The only member of the isopod species that exceeds the raksasa in size is the Bathynomus giganteus, which is commonly found in the deep waters of the western Atlantic Ocean.
  • Significance of discovery: It is the first ‘supergiant’ isopod species to be discovered in the eastern Indian Ocean. The discovery takes the number of known giant isopods to 20.

6.DRDO has developed P7 Heavy Drop System which is capable of para dropping military stores up to 7-ton weight class from IL-76 aircraft.

  • P-7 Heavy Drop System is used for Para drop of military stores (vehicle/ ammunition/ equipment) of 7 Ton weight class.
  • Heavy Drop System (P-7 HDS) for IL-76 Aircraft consists of a
    • a multi-stage parachute system (comprising of 5 Main canopies, 5 Brake chutes, 2 Auxiliary chutes, 1 Extractor parachute) and
    • platform (a metallic structure made up of Aluminium/steel alloys).
  • It has been developed successfully with 100% indigenous resources. P-7 HDS has been inducted in the Army.

7. Income Tax Department has rolled out new Form 26AS with an aim to assist Tax payers in filing quick and correct Income Tax Return (ITR)

  • The earlier Form 26AS used to give information regarding tax deducted at source and tax collected at source relating to a PAN, besides certain additional information including details of other taxes paid, refunds and TDS defaults.
  • But now, Form 26AS has been revamped to an ‘Annual Information Statement’ which will carry additional details on taxpayer’s financial transactions as specified in the Statement of Financial Transactions (SFTs) in various categories.
  • This will help the taxpayers recall all their major financial transactions so that they have a ready reckoner to enable them while filing the ITR. This will facilitate voluntary compliance, tax accountability, and ease of e-filing of returns.

8. The alleged torture of a father-son duo in Sattankulam town in Tamil Nadu has once again given rise to the demand for a separate law against torture.

  • It is therefore essential to examine whether the existing law is inadequate to deter incidents of custodial torture.
    What constitutes torture?
  • Torture is not defined in the Indian Penal Code, but the definitions of ‘hurt’ and ‘grievous hurt’ are clearly laid down.
  • Though the definition of ‘hurt’ does not include mental torture, Indian courts have included psychic torture, environmental coercion, tiring interrogative prolixity, and overbearing and intimidatory methods, among others, in the ambit of torture.
  • Voluntarily causing hurt and grievous hurt to extort confession are also provided in the Code with enhanced punishment.
  • DK Basu v. State of West Bengal case: The Court has issued guidelines that the police must follow in all cases of arrest and detention.
  • Nilabati Behera v. State of Orissa case: The Court made sure that the state could no longer escape liability in public law and had to be compelled to pay compensation.
  • Similarly, the Court has held in many cases that policemen found guilty of custodial death should be given the death penalty.

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