Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 20th November 2020

Daily Current Affairs for Government Exams:

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

Contents:

  1. India-Luxembourg Virtual Summit.:
  2. Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge:
  3. .Supercomputer Param Siddhi:
  4. Microwave weapons
  5. The Booker Prize of the year 2020 :
  6. Portal for Land Management System
  7. Other important current affairs

 

 

1.First-ever India-Luxembourg Virtual Summit.:

The Prime Ministers of India and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg have held the first-ever India-Luxembourg Virtual Summit.

  • Both countries have cordial and friendly relations for over more than seven decades since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1948.

Key Points

  • Strengthening India-Luxembourg relationship in the post-Covid-19 world, especially in the areas of financial technology, green financing, space applications, digital innovations and start-ups.
  • Promote Multilateralism: Strengthen cooperation on realising effective multilateralism and combating global challenges like the Covid-19 pandemic, terrorism and climate change.
  • New Initiatives: India welcomed Luxembourg’s announcement to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA), and also invited it to join the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).
  • Agreements Signed at the Summit: Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India International Exchange (India INX) and Luxembourg Stock Exchange. MoU between State Bank of India (SBI) and Luxembourg Stock Exchange.
  • Both these provide for cooperation in financial services, industry maintenance of orderly markets in securities, ESG (environmental, social and governance) and green finance in the local market.
  • MoU between Invest India and Luxinnovation:
    • It provides for support and development of mutual business cooperation, including promotion and facilitation of inbound FDI, coming from or proposed by Indian and Luxembourgish investors.

 

2.Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge:

Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri launched Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge across 243 Cities to ensure that no life of any sewer or septic tank cleaner is ever lost again owing to the issue of ‘hazardous cleaning’.

About:

  • The Challenge, launched on the occasion of World Toilet Day, is aimed at preventing ‘hazardous cleaning’ of sewers and septic tanks and promote their mechanized cleaning.
  • Representatives from 243 cities across the country took a pledge to mechanize all sewer and septic tank cleaning operations by 30th April 2021.
  • The initiative is in line with PM Modi’s vision, who has always placed the safety and dignity of sanitation workers at the core of the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U)
  • The actual on-ground assessment of participating cities will be conducted in May 2021 by an independent agency and results of the same will be declared on 15 August 2021.
  • Cities will be awarded in three sub-categories – with population of more than 10 lakhs, 3-10 lakhs and upto 3 lakhs, with a total prize money of ₹52 crores to be given to winning cities across all categories.
  • The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act (2013) and various judgements of Hon’ble Supreme Court expressly prohibit hazardous cleaning, i.e. manual entry into a septic tank or sewer without protective gear and observing operating procedures.

 

3.Supercomputer Param Siddhi:

India’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) supercomputer Param Siddhi ranked 63rd among top 500 most powerful non-distributed computer systems in the world.

  • Distributed computing is a field of computer science that studies distributed systems. A distributed system is a system whose components are located on different networked computers, which communicate and coordinate their actions by passing messages to one another. The components interact with one another in order to achieve a common goal.
  • In a non-distributed (or co-located) system, all the parts of the system are in the same physical location. In a distributed system, parts of the system exist in separate locations.
  • Param Siddhi is a High Performance Computing-Artificial Intelligence (HPC-AI) supercomputer developed by Department of Science and Technology (DST), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) under National Supercomputing Mission (NSM) at Centre for Development of Advanced Computing.
  • The supercomputer has Rpeak of 5.267 Petaflops and 4.6 Petaflops Rmax.
    In high-performance computing, Rmax and Rpeak are scores used to rank supercomputers based on their performance using the LINPACK Benchmark.
  • The LINPACK Benchmarks are a measure of a system’s floating point computing power.
  • A system’s Rmax score describes its maximal achieved performance, the Rpeak score describes its theoretical peak performance. Values for both scores are usually represented in teraFLOPS or petaFLOPS.
  • A petaflop is the ability of a computer to do one quadrillion floating point operations per second (FLOPS). Additionally, a petaflop can be measured as one thousand teraflops.

National Supercomputing Mission

  • The Mission envisages empowering our national academic and Research and Development (R&D) institutions spread over the country by installing a vast supercomputing grid comprising more than 70 high-performance computing facilities.
  • Launched in 2015, this seven-year mission was allocated Rs 4,500-crore.
  • These supercomputers will also be networked on the National Supercomputing grid over the National Knowledge Network (NKN).

 

4.Microwave weapons”:

The Indian Army has dismissed reports that said that China had used microwave weapons in eastern Ladakh as “fake” and “baseless” with a senior officer terming it part of the psychological operation from across the border.

  • Beijing and New Delhi have been engaged in a stand-off in Ladakh since May over the Line of Actual Control.
  • “Microwave weapons” are supposed to be a type of direct energy weapons, which aim highly focused energy in the form of sonic, laser, or microwaves, at a target.
  • A number of countries are thought to have developed these weapons to target both humans and electronic systems.
  • China had first put on display its “microwave weapon”, called Poly WB-1, at an air show in 2014.
  • The United States has also developed a prototype microwave-style weapon, which it calls the “Active Denial System

 

5.The Booker Prize of the year 2020 :

The Booker Prize of the year 2020 was won by Douglas Stuart for his debut novel “Shuggie Bain”.

  • The shortlist of Booker Prize consisted of five more titles such as Burnt Sugar.
  • The Burnt Sugar was published in India as “Girl in White Cotton”.
  • It also included “The New Wilderness” by Diane Cook, “The Shadow King” by Maaza Mengiste, “This Mournable Body” by Tsitsi Dangarembga, “Real Life” by Brandon Taylor and “The Shadow King” by Maaza Mengiste.
  • Apart from these authors, the event also witnessed the participation of former US President Barack Obama.
  • He recently published the first volume of his book “A Promised Land”. The book was written by Obama during his tenure as the President of United States (2009-17).

About Booker Prize

  • The Booker Prize is a literary prize awarded annually for the best novel.
  • The prize is awarded to novels written in English and published in Ireland or UK.
  • It was formerly known as “Booker-McConnell Prize” (1969-2001) and Man Booker Prize (2002-2019). In 1997, Arundati Roy of India won the Booker Prize for her Novel “The God of Small Things”.
  • The Booker Prize carries 50,000 pounds of cash money.
  • Douglas Stuart who won the 2020 Booker Prize was the only British author on the US-dominated shortlist. Douglas was born in Glasgow.

International Booker Prize

  • It is awarded to books that are translated into English and published in United Kingdom.
  • The 2020 winner of International Booker Prize is Marieke Lucas Rjineveld for the book “The Discomfort of Evening”. It was translated by Michele Hutchison.

 

6.Portal for Land Management System:

The Defence Minister Shri Rajnath Singh launched a portal for defence land management system.

  • The system will bring in transparency, speed and efficiency in dealing with land management.
  • The portal has been integrated with GIS (Geographical Information System) based tools.
  • This will improve the decision-making process by removing unnecessary communication between the stakeholders.
  • Defence Land encroachment is a major issue in defence land management.
  • Encroachments on Defence lands
    • Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Maharashtra are the three states that have reported highest encroachments on defence lands in the three years (2017-20).
    • These states are followed by Assam, Sikkim and Andhra Pradesh.
  • The Defence lands are managed by the Directorate General Defence Estates.
  • Impacts of Encroachments of Defence Lands
    • The encroachments of defence lands are more common near airfields of Indian Air force. Such encroachments have contributed to 10% fighter jet accidents.
  • Reasons of encroachments of Defence Lands
    • Increased urbanization, abandoned airfields and airfields in the vicinity of civil pockets and increase in population are the major reasons of encroachment of defence lands.
  • The Government of India is strengthening defence land management system through digitisation of land records, demarcation, survey, land audit, verification and inspection under the Cantonment Executive Officers.

 

 

Other important current affairs:

1.The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to impose a 30-day moratorium on Chennai-based Lakshmi Vilas Bank Ltd (LVB).

  • LVB was placed under the prompt corrective action (PCA) framework in September 2019 considering the breach of PCA thresholds as on 31st March, 2019.
  • The RBI has specified certain regulatory trigger points, as a part of prompt corrective action (PCA) framework, in terms of three parameters, i.e. capital to risk weighted assets ratio (CRAR), net non-performing assets (NPA) and Return on Assets (RoA), for initiation of certain structured and discretionary actions in respect of banks hitting such trigger points.
  • After taking into consideration various developments, the RBI had come to the conclusion that in the absence of a credible revival plan, with a view to protect depositors’ interest and in the interest of financial and banking stability, there is no alternative but to apply to the Central Government for imposing a moratorium under section 45 of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.

2.Prime Ministers of India and Bhutan will virtually launch RuPay Card phase-2 in Bhutan on 20th of this month.

  • The two Prime Ministers had jointly launched phase-1 of the project during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bhutan in August last year.
  • The implementation of phase-1 of RuPay cards in Bhutan has enabled Indian visitors in Bhutan to access ATMs and points of sale terminals across Bhutan. The phase-2 will now allow Bhutanese cardholders to access RuPay network in India.

3.The Government of India, the Government of Meghalaya and the World Bank signed a $120 million project to improve and modernise the transport sector of state of Meghalaya.

  • The project will improve about 300 km of strategic road segments and stand-alone bridges by using innovative, climate resilient, and nature-based solutions.
  • It will also support innovative solutions such as precast bridges to reduce both time and cost of construction.
  • MITP will help Meghalaya develop reliable, climate resilient and safe roads which is crucial for the economic development of the state. About half of the 5,362 habitations in the state lack transport connectivity.
  • This operation will also support state government’s “Restart Meghalaya Mission” to revive and boost development activities affected due to COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The $120 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has a maturity of 14 years including a grace period of 6 years.

4.The Prime Minister has inaugurated the Bengaluru Tech Summit via video conference which was also attended by the Prime Minister of Australia.

  • It is India’s flagship event which will deliberate on the key challenges emerging in the post-pandemic world with focus on the impact of prominent technologies.
  • It will also provide a platform for discussion to encourage disruptive technologies.
  • Disruptive technology is an innovation that significantly alters the way that consumers, industries, or businesses operate. It sweeps away the systems or habits it replaces because it has attributes that are recognizably superior.
  • Examples: e-commerce, online news sites, ride-sharing apps, and Global Positioning System (GPS).
  • Theme for 2020: Next is Now.
  • Focus: Innovations in the domains of Information Technology and Electronics and Biotechnology.

5.The Union Minister of Education virtually launched the Lilavati Award-2020.

  • The award has been named after the 12th century book called “Lilavati”. The book was written by the mathematician Bhaskara II.
  • Lilavati was the daughter of Indian Mathematician Bhaskara II.
  • It is AICTE’s (All India Council for Technical Education) Innovative education program to empower women.
  • All the stakeholders (especially the girl students) in AICTE approved institutions would get an opportunity to present a solution to the prevalent issues of gender discrimination, such as illiteracy, unemployment, economic and nutritional disparities, maternal mortality, human rights, etc.
  • Theme: Women Empowerment
  • Objective: To create awareness about issues like sanitation, hygiene, health, nutrition, literacy, employment, technology, credit, marketing, innovation, skill development, natural resources and rights among women.
  • Areas Covered: Women’s health, self defense, sanitation, literacy, entrepreneurship and legal awareness.
  • Benefit: Ensures the participation of women and enables them to hold higher positions in educational institutions.
  • Prize: In each sub-category, the top three winners will be awarded with certificates as well as prize money. The first prize winner will get Rs 1 lakh, the second winner will get Rs 75,000 and the third winner will get Rs 50,000.

6.A 500-million dollar loan agreement was signed between the Union government, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, National Capital Region (NCR) Transport Corporation Limited and the New Development Bank (NDB) for the Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS).

  • Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System. It is an 82.15 km long, under-construction, semi-high speed rail corridor connecting Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut.
  • It is one of the three rapid-rail corridors planned under Phase-I of Regional Rapid Transport System (RRTS) project of National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC).
  • The Project will provide a fast, reliable, safe and comfortable public transport system in the NCR.
  • The project will serve as a demonstration for developing high-capacity rapid urban transit corridors in other urban areas of India.
  • High-speed connectivity will result in balanced economic development across the region, leading to economic benefits to all strata of society and many nodes of development rather than all economic activity happening at one place.
  • It will help in reducing traffic congestion and total emissions from the transport sector in NCR.

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