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Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 12th February 2021

Today Current Affairs: 12th February 2021 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc

 

Small Black Holes Discovered In Cluster NGC 6397:

 

The astronomers have discovered a concentration of smaller black holes in the cluster NGC 6397. Small black holes were discovered instead of one massive black hole at the heart of the cluster.

  • The Globular clusters are a dense stellar system that hosts the closely packed stars.
  • Such systems are typically very old. For instance, the cluster NGC 6397 is as old as the universe.
  • NGC 6397 cluster is located around 7,800 light-years away.
  • Thus, it is one of the closest globular clusters to the Planet Earth.
  • This cluster is also known as the Core-Collapsed Cluster because of its very dense nucleus.
  • The precise measurement of the stars in the cluster’s core was made with the Hubble Space Telescope.
    NGC 6397
  • The cluster is also known as Caldwell 86. It is a globular cluster lying in the constellation Ara.
  • The cluster is located around 7,800 light-years from Earth.
  • It comprises around 400,000 stars.
  • The cluster can be observed with naked-eye under good observing conditions.
  • This cluster is one among the at least 20 globular clusters in the Milky Way Galaxy which has gone through the core collapse.
  • Core collapse means the core has contracted to a dense stellar agglomeration.
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India-Australia Circular Economy (I-ACE) Hackathon:

 

With the goal to enable talented innovative students and start-ups from Australia and India to address common national issues through innovative technology solutions, About Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and Australia’s national science agency (CSIRO) kick-started the India-Australia Circular Economy (I-ACE) Hackathon, 2021.

  • I-ACE is supported by the Australian Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER), AIM Atal Incubation Centre network, and various domain experts.
  • A ‘circular economy’ model, which employs not only waste management but reuse, recycling, and responsible manufacture can support the development of new industries and jobs, reducing emissions and increasing efficient use of natural resources.

The four key themes for the hackathon are as follows:

  • Innovation in packaging reducing packaging waste
  • Innovation in food supply chains avoiding waste
  • Creating opportunities for plastic waste reduction
  • Recycling critical energy metals and e-waste
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Seaweed Mission:

Technology Information, Forecasting, and Assessment Council (TIFAC) has launched a Seaweed Mission for commercial farming of seaweeds and its processing for value addition towards boosting the national economy.

The Mission envisages the following activities:

  • Establishing model demonstration farms over one hectare for the cultivation of economically important seaweeds in nearshore and onshore along the Indian coast
  • Establishment of seaweed nurseries for supplying seed material for large scale farming of economically important seaweeds in the country
  • Onshore cultivation for (i) Seedling supply facility (ii) Seaweed cultivation for processing
  • Setting up of processing plant for integrated production of plant growth stimulants (sap) along with industrially important cell wall polysaccharides (phycocolloids) such as agar, agarose, carrageenan, and alginates from fresh seaweeds

Out of the global seaweed production of ~ 32 million tons fresh weight valued around 12 billion US dollars.

  • China produces ~57 %, Indonesia ~28% followed by South Korea, whereas India is having a mere share of ~0.01-0.02%.
  • Despite several advantages, commercial seaweed cultivation has not been taken place in the country at an appropriate scale, as being practiced in South-East Asian countries.
  • By an estimate, if cultivation is done in ≈10 million hectares or 5% of the EEZ area of India, it can provide employment to ~ 50 million people; set up new seaweed industry; contribute to national GDP; ocean productivity; abates algal blooms, sequesters millions of tons CO2; Healthier ocean; bio-ethanol of 6.6 billion liters.
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SAKSHAM (Shramik Shakti Manch):

Technology Information, Forecasting, and Assessment Council (TIFAC) has launched SAKSHAM (Shramik Shakti Manch).

  • It is a dynamic job portal for mapping the skills of Shramiks vis-à-vis requirements of MSMEs to directly connect Shramiks with MSMEs and facilitate placement of 10 lakh blue-collar jobs.
  • The SAKSHAM job portal will help eliminate middlemen/ labour contractor as well as help identification of skill proficiency level and development of Skill Cards for Shramiks.
  • The portal with the demand and supply data uses algorithm and Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools, for geo spatial information on demand and availability of Shramiks, and also provide analysis on skill training programmes of Shramiks.
  • The pilot portal originally initiated with two districts is now being launched as an all India portal.
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MOVCDNER Scheme:

Prime Minister Modi initiated a scheme for the development of commercial organic farming in the region during 2015 which later became to be known as “Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region” (MOVCDNER).

  • The scheme started with an average annual allocation of Rs. 134 crore during last five years has so far covered 74,880 ha area.
  • To double the impact the allocation has now increased to Rs. 200 crores per year with a target to cover an additional 1.00 lakh ha area under 200 new FPOs over a period of 3 year period.
  • The scheme besides growing and value-adding the traditional crops is also aiming to bring in high-value crops under contract farming models.
  • Transformation of farmer clusters into Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs) ensures the emergence of the new breed of organic agri-enterprises.
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Centre vs Twitter:

The government of India reprimanded Twitter (micro-blogging website) for not complying with its order to block more than a thousand accounts for the alleged spread of provocative content and misinformation on the farmers’ protest.

Current Issue:

  • The Centre has issued notice to the micro-blogging site after it restored more than 250 accounts that had been suspended earlier on the government’s ‘legal demand’.
  • The government wants the platform (Twitter) to comply with its earlier order of 31st January 2021 by which it was asked to block accounts and a controversial hashtag that spoke of an impending ‘genocide’ of farmers for allegedly promoting misinformation about the protests, adversely affecting public order.
  • The micro-blogging site reinstated the accounts and tweets on its own and later refused to go back on the decision, contending that it found no violation of its policy.
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Report By Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour:

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour in its report “Social Security and Welfare Measures for Inter-State Migrant Workers” praised Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) for providing sustainable livelihood to the unskilled workers including the inter-state migrant labourers.

Standing Committees Observation:

MGNREGS:

  • The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 provides for a specific and significant welfare provision, constitutive of the very idea of citizenship.
  • There is no “better scheme” to provide “sustainable livelihood” to unskilled workers.
  • Over 7 crore households (10.43 crore individuals) have already availed of the scheme and 330 crore person days have been created till February 2021 during the current financial year. This is the highest for any year since the inception of the scheme in 2006.

Migrant Workers:

  • 1.08 crore migrant workers returned to their home states during the pandemic.
  • The absence of reliable and authentic data/information on the numbers of the migrant workforce and their movement back to their home States following the outbreak of the Pandemic has apparently impacted the relief and rehabilitation measures.
  • There were a number of appreciable initiatives launched by the Government (eg: Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana), which are aimed at benefiting the Migrant Labour.
  • However, no guidelines were issued nor enforced for distribution of relief material to stranded Migrant Labourers.
  • No element of Social Audit prescribed.
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Jalabhishekam Water Conservation Campaign:

 

The Union Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh, inaugurated 57,000 water structures under the “Jalabhishekam Water Conservation Campaign” on February 11, 2021, virtually from New Delhi.

  • These water structures were constructed in Madhya Pradesh.
  • The Water conservation work is being carried in Madhya Pradesh by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan with the participation of the public in it.
  • The conservation work will help to achieve the goal of water conservation and build a self-reliant Madhya Pradesh.
  • The Defence Minister highlighted that the ‘Jalabhishekam’ Campaign is fulfilling the aim of ‘water for every farm and work for every hand’.
  • The campaign would be helpful in the betterment of the villages.
  • The campaign becomes significant in the light of climate change.
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Vijayanagara: The 31st District Of Karnataka:

The Karnataka Government recently notified that, the Vijayanagara has become the 31st district of Karnataka officially. The district has its headquarter at Hosapete.

  • Vijayanagara is located in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region.
  • The district also is home to UNESCO World Heritage sites namely the Hampi and Virupaksha Temple.
  • Vijayanagara district has been named after the capital of the Vijayanagar Empire.
  • The district was established out of the ore-rich Ballari district in accordance with the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964.
  • The district will comprise of six taluks namely the Hosapete, kotturu, Kudligi, Hagaribommanahalli, Harapanahalli, and Hoovina Hadagali.

Background:

  • The Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa had announced his plan of creating a new Vijayanagara district in the month of September 2019.
  • The Chief Minister had cited it is required to create a new district for administrative reasons.
  • He was of the view that the creation of the new district will help in promoting tourism to the places like Hampi temple.
  • He also said the move will help in the development of six talukas that are part of the district.
  • Thus, the Karnataka Cabinet formally approved the creation of a new Vijayanagara district on November 18, 2020.
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National Coal Index:

The Ministry of Coal has started the commercial auction of coal mines on a revenue share basis using the National Coal Index (NCI).

Key Points

  • It is a price index that reflects the change of price level of coal in a particular month relative to the fixed base year.
  • The base year for the NCI is Financial Year 2017-18.
  • Prices of coal from all the sales channels of coal, including import, as existing today are taken into account for compiling the NCI.
  • The amount of revenue share per tonne of coal produced from auctioned blocks would be arrived at using the NCI by means of a defined formula.
  • NCI is composed of a set of five sub-indices:
    • Three for Non-Coking Coal and two for Coking Coal.
      The three sub-indices for Non-Coking Coal are combined to arrive at the Index for Non-Coking Coal and the two sub-indices for Coking Coal are combined to arrive at the Index for Coking Coal.
    • Thus, indices are separate for Non-Coking and Coking Coal.
  • As per the grade of coal pertaining to a mine, the appropriate sub-index is used to arrive at the revenue share.
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