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Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 11th February 2021

Today Current Affairs: 11th February 2021 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc

 

Breach of Privilege:

BJP MP P.P. Chaudhary has issued a breach of privilege notice against Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra in the Lok Sabha for her remarks against a former Chief Justice of India.

  • While speaking on the Motion of Thanks on the President’s address, she has cast some aspersions with respect to the conduct of a judge. So the question is whether the conduct of a judge can be discussed on the floor of the House or not.
  • Parliamentary privilege refers to the right and immunity enjoyed by legislatures, in which legislators are granted protection against civil or criminal liability for actions done or statements made in the course of their legislative duties.
  • The powers, privileges and immunities of either House of the Indian Parliament and of its Members and committees are laid down in Article 105 of the Constitution.
  • Similarly, Article 194 deals with the powers, privileges and immunities of the State Legislatures, their Members and their committees.
  • Generally, any act that obstructs or impedes either House of the state legislature in performing its functions, or which obstructs or impedes any Member or officer of such House in the discharge of his duty, or has a tendency, directly or indirectly, to produce such results is treated as a breach of privilege.
  • It is also a breach of privilege and contempt of the House to make speeches or to print or publish libel reflecting on the character or proceedings of the House or its Committees or on any member of the House for or relating to his character or conduct as a legislator.

Loss of Learning during the Pandemic:

Azim Premji University conducted a field study to assess the impact of Covid- 19 induced lockdown on students.

  • The study was titled ‘Loss of Learning during the Pandemic’.

Key findings:

  • Children missed out on the regular curricular learning they would have acquired had schools remained open.
    They are also ‘forgetting’ what they had learned in the previous year.
  • On average, 92% of students from Classes II to VI have lost at least one specific foundational ability in languages that they may have acquired in previous years. The corresponding figure for mathematics is 82%.
  • Foundational abilities are those that form the basis for further learning Some examples of foundational abilities include reading a paragraph with comprehension, addition, and subtraction.
  • In mathematics, foundation abilities include identifying single and two-digit numbers; performing arithmetic operations; using basic arithmetic operations to solve problems; and reading and drawing inferences from data, among others.

World Sustainable Development Summit:

The 20th edition of the event was inaugurated recently.

  • Theme: Redefining our common future: Safe and secure environment for all.

About the World Sustainable Development Summit:

  • It is the annual flagship event of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).
  • It is the sole Summit on global issues taking place in the developing world.
  • It provides a platform for global leaders and practitioners to discuss and deliberate over climatic issues of universal importance.
  • It strives to provide long-term solutions for the benefit of the global community by assembling the world’s most enlightened leaders and thinkers on a single platform.
  • It is continuing the legacy of the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) which was initiated in 2001 with the aim of making ‘sustainable development’ a globally shared goal.

Crude Oil Price Hike:

The price of Brent crude crossed the USD 60 per barrel mark after over a year. The rise in prices is because of production cuts by oil-producing countries and expectations of improvements in global demand as the Covid-19 vaccine is rolled out across the world.

  • In April 2020, the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude slipped below zero for the first time in history, to a negative USD 40.32 per barrel.
  • Two crude oils that are either traded themselves or whose prices are reflected in other types of crude oil include West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Brent.
  • Recently, OPEC has been working with Russia, as OPEC+ to fix the global prices and supply.
  • In 2016, OPEC allied with other top non-OPEC oil-exporting nations to form an even more powerful entity named OPEC+ or OPEC Plus.

Reasons for Present Price Hike:

  • Limited Supply
  • Rising Demand

Impact on India:

  • Current Account Deficit: The increase in oil prices will increase the country’s import bill, and further disturb its current account deficit (excess of imports of goods and services over exports).
    • According to estimates, a one-dollar increase in crude oil price increases the oil bill by around USD 1.6 billion per year.
    • India imports 80% of its crude oil requirements and the average price of Indian basket of crude oil has already risen to USD 54.8 barrel for January 2021.
  • Inflation: The increase in crude prices could also also further increase inflationary pressures that have been building up over the past few months.
    • This will decrease the space for the monetary policy committee to ease policy rates further.
    • The government had hiked central taxes on petrol and diesel by Rs. 13 per litre and Rs. 11 per litre in 2020 to boost revenues amid lower economic activity.
  • Fiscal Health: If oil prices continue to increase, the government shall be forced to cut taxes on petroleum and diesel which may cause loss of revenue and deteriorate its fiscal balance.
    • The growth slowdown in the last two years has already resulted in a precarious fiscal situation because of tax revenue shortfalls.
    • The revenue lost will erode the government’s ability to spend or meet its fiscal commitments in the form of budgetary transfers to states, payment of dues, and compensation for revenue shortfalls to state governments under the goods and services tax (GST) framework.

TROPEX 21:

Indian Navy’s largest biennial Theatre Level Operational Readiness Exercise (TROPEX 21) is currently underway.

  • The exercise commenced in early January, which will culminate by the third week of February.
  • Theme: ‘Combat Ready, Credible and Cohesive force’.
  • Participants: Indian Navy, Coast Guard, Marine Police of 13 coastal States and Union Territories along with other stakeholders in the maritime domain.
  • ‘Sea Vigil’: ‘In the first phase, the Indian Navy had conducted coastal defence exercise ‘Sea Vigil’ along the entire coastline and Island territories of India on 12-13 January 2021.
  • Exercise Sea Vigil was followed by a large-scale Tri-Service joint amphibious exercise AMPHEX-21.
  • The exercise is being conducted over a vast geographical expanse in the Indian Ocean Region.

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act:

As per the 2019 Crime in India Report compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau:

  • Only 2.2 % of cases registered under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act between the years 2016 and 2019 ended in convictions by the court.
  • The total number of persons arrested and the persons convicted in the years from 2016 to 2019 under the UAPA in the country are 5,922 and 132, respectively.
  • In the year 2019, as many as 96 persons were arrested for sedition (Section 194A IPC) but only two were convicted and 29 persons were acquitted.

About the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act:

  • Passed in 1967, the law aims at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India.
  • The Act assigns absolute power to the central government, by way of which if the Centre deems an activity as unlawful then it may, by way of an Official Gazette, declare it so.
  • It has the death penalty and life imprisonment as the highest punishments.
  • Under UAPA, both Indian and foreign nationals can be charged.
  • It will be applicable to the offenders in the same manner, even if the crime is committed on foreign land, outside India.
  • Under the UAPA, the investigating agency can file a charge sheet in maximum of 180 days after the arrests and the duration can be extended further after intimating the court.

Ambedkar Social Innovation And Incubation Mission (ASIIM) :

The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India has launched Ambedkar Social Innovation and Incubation Mission (ASIIM) under Venture Capital Fund for Scheduled Castes (VCF-SC) on 30th September 2020.

  • The objective is to boost entrepreneurship and innovation among the SC students/SC Divyang youth.
  • The companies/entrepreneurs owned by Scheduled Castes enrolled /registered with Technology Business Incubators (TBIs) are eligible to get maximum capital of Rs.30 lakhs over a period of 3 years i.e. Rs.10 lakhs every year.
  • Financial support of up to Rs.10 lakhs per year for a period of 3 years aggregating to Rs.30 Lakhs shall be provided to eligible applicants as equity funding.

India’s First CNG Tractor:

India is going to launch its first-ever diesel tractor that has been converted to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) on February 12, 2021.

Highlights

  • The CNG Tractor will be formally launched by Nitin Gadkari, the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways.
  • The conversion of the Diesel tractor into the CNG tractor was carried out jointly by Rawmatt Techno Solutions and Tomasetto Achille India.
  • The conversion of diesel to CNG will help the farmers to increase their income.
  • It will lower the costs and help to create job opportunities for the people living in rural India.
  • The CNG tractor will also help the farmer to save more than one lakh rupees on the costs of fuel annually.
  • This in turn will help the farmers to improve their livelihood.

Benefits of converting a tractor to CNG:

  • The benefits of converting the tractor to CNG with respect to farmers are:
    • This retrofitted CNG tractor produces more power or equal when compared to the diesel-run engine.
    • The CNG tractor will reduce the overall emissions by 70 percent as compared to the emission by the diesel tractors.
    • CNG tractors would also help farmers to save up to 50 percent of the fuel cost.

International Day Of Women And Girls In Science:

The world celebrates the International Day of Women and Girls in Science every year on the 11th day of February.

  • The year 2021 marked the 6th International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
  • The day was celebrated under the theme “Women Scientists at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19″.
  • The event was held at the United Nations Headquarters through video conferencing.
  • The event marked the role of women who were at the frontline in the fight against COVID-19.
  • The event also marked the discussion on the important part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development namely gender equality and science.
  • The International Day of Women and Girls was started being observed by the United Nations through a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly that was passed on December 22, 2015.
  • The day is celebrated to recognize the critical role that women and girls play in the field of science and technology.
  • This day is implemented by UNESCO and UN Women.
  • Various intergovernmental agencies, institutions, and civil society partners collaborate with UNESCO and UN Women.
  • The day is observed with the aim to promote women and girls in science.
  • It seeks to promote full and equal access to women and girls for participation in science.

Tianwen-1:

A Chinese spacecraft named Tianwen-1 has successfully entered orbit around Mars on February 10, 2021.

  • The probe entered the MARS Orbit after making the journey of 6 and a half months from the Earth.
  • This mission is China’s first independent mission on the red planet.
  • After reaching near the orbit, the robotic probe initiated and completed its 15-minute burn of the thrusters.
  • The burning of the thrusters slowed down the speed of the spacecraft so that it could be captured by the gravity pull of the MARS.

The objective of the mission

  • Tianwen-1 mission will attempt to send a landing capsule that is carrying a 240-kilogram rover in a rapid seven-minute descent.
  • The rover will be sent to the northern hemisphere of Mars called Utopia Planitia.
  • After the rover is landed successfully, the solar-powered rover will be exploring the Martian surface for 90 days.
  • The rover will study the soil and study if any signs of ancient life, is present there.
  • It would also trace the sub-surface water and ice using the ground-penetrating radar.

NPCI PayAuth Challenge Hackathon:

The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has announced to launch the ‘NPCI PayAuth Challenge’. It is a global-level hackathon that will be organized to get the alternatives of the authentication of Unified Payments Interface (UPI) transactions. One such alternative option is the use of biometric while making transactions.

  • NPCI PayAuth Challenge hackathon is supported by APIX.
  • APIX is the first cross-border and open architecture API marketplace of the world besides being a sandbox platform.
  • Sandbox platform is used to test or run the programs without impacting the application for which the test is being conducted.

NPCI PayAuth Challenge

  • This hackathon is being organized with the objective of exploring the feasibility of alternative payment authentication mechanisms.
  • It also seeks to study the user behavior towards the authentication mechanisms.
  • The motive is to find alternate solutions such as Biometric verification and similar innovations in order to authorize the payments on the UPI platform.
  • To explore the options, the NPCI has invited the Fintech, solution providers, and developers to submit their unique solutions.
  • The solution should be simple and should integrate the innovative technology into UPI.
    The hackathon will be a global contest for individuals and enterprises.
  • It will offer technology solutions in payments which are especially suited for start-ups.

Financial Literacy Week 2021:

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has launched the Financial Literacy Week (FLW) for the year 2021. The literacy week started from February 8 and will conclude on February 12, 2021.

Financial Literacy Week (FLW)-2021

  • This year, the Financial Literacy week will focus on ‘Developing the credit discipline and encouraging availing of the credit from the formal financial institutions as it is required’.
  • During the week, similar activities will be conducted all across the country.
  • Some special financial literacy programs will also be organized by all the banks and financial literacy centers on the selected subjects.
  • In the year 2021, this year the bank is organizing the week to spread awareness regarding the credit facilities which are provided by the bank.
  • This topic was chosen by the bank because credit score is an important issue of the banking sector.
  • Through this program, the banks will spread awareness about various types of credit or loan facilities including home loan, business loans, vehicle loans and Kisan Credit Card, etc.

About FLW:

  • The financial literacy week is organized by the central bank since 2016.
  • This event is organized by the bank to spread awareness among the people on different issues with respect to banking services.
  • In the year 2020, the FLW focussed on the ‘Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises’.
  • In the year 2020, the event was organized to raise awareness among the people about the formalization, discounting of receivables, rehabilitation of stressed units, collateral-free loans, and timely repayment of the loan. It also organized a month-long centralized mass media campaign.
  • In the year 2019, it focused on Farmers’ while in the year 2018 it focussed on ‘Consumer Protection’.

World Pulses Day:

The “World Pulses Day” is observed on February 10 every year since 2018. This day is dedicated to the importance of pulses. In the year 2021, the day was celebrated under the theme: “Nutritious Seeds for a Sustainable Future.”

Highlights

  • On this occasion, the big event was held virtually in New York.
  • The event was held with the main focus on raising awareness and recognizing the contribution of pulses in maintaining sustainable food systems and healthy diets.
  • The day comes under the second goal of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal which is “Zero Hunger.”
  • The day also includes the objectives of the United Nations Agenda 2030.
  • The day is observed to urge the people to grow the pulses besides its consumption.
  • Pulses are highly nutritious and it plays a very important part in making the diet healthy for humans. But there are sections of people who do not have access to pulses and there are some people who do not know the nutritional value and health benefits of the pulses.
  • Thus, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations established and dedicated this day in the year 2018 with the aim of increasing awareness as well as access to pulses.
  • On the occasion of world pulses day, people are requested to consume and donate pulses.
  • They are also asked to raise awareness around them.

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