Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 16th February 2021

Today Current Affairs: 16th February 2021 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc

 

New Guidelines For The Geo-Spatial Sector In India:

The Ministry of Science and Technology has released new guidelines for the Geo-spatial sector in India, which deregulates existing protocol and liberalizes the sector to a more competitive field.

The new guidelines:

  • The sector will be deregulated and aspects such as prior approvals for surveying, mapping and building applications based on that have been done away with.
  • For Indian entities, there will be complete deregulation with no prior approvals, security clearances and licences for the acquisition and production of geospatial data and geospatial data services, including maps.

Geospatial data :

  • It is data about objects, events, or phenomena that have a location on the surface of the earth.
  • The location may be static in the short-term, like the location of a road, an earthquake event or dynamic like a moving vehicle or pedestrian, the spread of an infectious disease.
  • Geospatial data combines location information, attribute information (the characteristics of the object, event, or phenomena concerned), and often also temporal information or the time at which the location and attributes exist.
  • Applications:
    • Geo-spatial data usually involves information of public interest such as roads, localities, rail lines, water bodies, and public amenities.
    • The past decade has seen an increase in the use of geospatial data in daily life with various apps such as food delivery apps like Swiggy or Zomato, e-commerce like Amazon, or even weather apps.

Present policy on geospatial data:

  • There are strict restrictions on the collection, storage, use, sale, dissemination of geo-spatial data, and mapping under the current regime.
  • The policy had not been renewed in decades and has been driven by internal as well as external security concerns.

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Corruption Perception Index 2020:

India’s rank has slipped six places to 86th among 180 countries in Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released by Transparency International.

  • India was ranked 80th out of 180 countries in 2019.
  • The top countries on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) are Denmark and New Zealand, with scores of 88, followed by Finland, Singapore, Sweden, and Switzerland, with scores of 85 each.
  • South Sudan and Somalia are the bottom Countries with scores of 12 each, followed by Syria (14), Yemen (15) and Venezuela (15).
  • The highest-scoring region is Western Europe and the European Union with an average score of 66.
  • The lowest scoring regions are Sub-Saharan Africa (32) and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (36).
  • In 2020, India’s score is 40 (41 in 2019).

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Increased Foreign Portfolio Investments:

The Sensex has risen 11.36%, post-Union Budget 2021-22 presentation, due to increased Foreign Portfolio Investments (FPIs).

  • Sensex, otherwise known as the S&P BSE Sensex index, is the benchmark index of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) in India.
  • It comprises 30 of the largest and most actively traded stocks on the BSE and is the oldest stock index in India.
  • A stock is an investment that represents a share, or partial ownership, of a company. Corporations issue (sell) stock to raise funds to operate their businesses.

Reasons for Inflow:

  • Increased Liquidity
  • Post Covid Recovery
  • Performing Sectors
    • Sectors like private banks, Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), and Information Technology (IT) have seen foreign flows as Indian companies have exhibited resilience and demonstrated growth post-lifting of the lockdown restrictions.
    • In 2020, the pharma sector was a preferred choice and the sector did very well.
    • The Banking stocks underperformed due to potential Non-Performing Asset (NPA) concerns. Now, the banking stocks are again sought after by the FPIs.

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Set Up Of Digital Intelligence Unit:

The Ministry of Communications has decided to set up a Digital Intelligence Unit (DIU) as a nodal agency to deal with complaints of unsolicited commercial communication (UCC) and cases of financial fraud, especially in the digital payments space.

  • Apart from the DIU a Telecom Analytics for Fraud Management and Consumer Protection (TAFCOP) will also be set up at all the 22 license service area levels.
  • It would also ensure strict compliance of the Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preferences Regulations (TCCCPR) 2018 which provides a revised regulatory framework aimed at regulating ‘unsolicited commercial communication’ (UCC) in India.
  • Recently, the Delhi High Court (HC) ordered the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to ensure “complete and strict” implementation of the regulation issued by it in 2018 for curbing Unsolicited Commercial Communications (UCC).
  • Earlier in November 2020, TRAI had imposed fines of up to Rs 30 crore on telecom companies such as Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, Vodafone Idea, and Reliance Jio Infocomm for not putting enough measures to control UCC, which occurred over their networks between April and June 2020.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had, in its annual report for 2018-19, said frauds related to misuse of credit and debit cards, cloning of identities, and spam amounted to Rs 220 crore in the year. DIU could mitigate this menace.

Digital Intelligence Unit:

  • Objective: To coordinate with various law enforcement agencies, financial institutions, and telecom service providers in investigating any fraudulent activity involving telecom resources.

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Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary:

Six elephants died of Haemorrhagic Septicaemia (HS) in Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary located in Odisha’s Kalahandi district.

  • Haemorrhagic septicaemia (HS) is a disease which infects animals that come in contact with contaminated water or soil by contagious bacteria (Pasteurella multocida).
  • In this disease the respiratory tract and lungs of the animals are affected, leading to severe pneumonia.
  • It mainly affects water buffalo, cattle and bison with a high mortality rate in infected animals.
  • Recently, around 40 buffaloes had succumbed to the infection in Odisha’s Kendrapara.
  • The disease generally spreads in the period right before and after the monsoons.

Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary:

  • It is spread over 175 square kilometre area in Odisha’s Kalahandi district.
  • Vegetation: Dry Deciduous Forest.
  • Fauna: Mammals: Elephant, Leopard, Gaur, Sambar, Barking deer, Indian wolf, Malabar giant squirrel, Pangolin, etc.
  • Birds: Peacock, Hornbill, Red jungle fowl, etc.
  • Reptilians: Mugger, crocodile, monitor lizard etc.
  • Flora: Sal, Bija, Bamboo, medicinal plants, etc.
  • Water Body: Phurlijharan waterfall is located within the sanctuary.

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Longitudinal Ageing Study In India :

Longitudinal Ageing Study in India (LASI) is a national survey of scientific investigation of the health, economic, and social determinants and consequences of population aging in India. The report was recently released.

Key findings:

  • At least five percent of India’s elderly population (aged 60 years and above) stated they experienced ill-treatment in 2020.
  • Bihar records the highest share of elderly persons ill-treated in India.
  • Among the elderly who felt ill-treated, 77.3 percent complained of verbal/emotional ill-treatment that can harm their self-worth or emotional well-being.
  • The emotional harm that may emerge from verbal or emotional abuse encompasses torture, sorrow, fear, perverse emotional discomfort, loss of personal pride or sovereignty.
  • Among those who reported as experiencing ill-treatment, the victims of physical ill-treatment were the highest in Arunachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh.
  • Elderly respondents experiencing verbal/emotional ill-treatment was the highest in the states of Uttarakhand.

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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala:

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been appointed the new chief of the World Trade Organization, becoming the first woman to ever lead the institution and the first African citizen to take on the role.

Roles and functions of Director General of WTO:

  • The director-general of the World Trade Organization is the officer of the World Trade Organization responsible for supervising and directing the organization’s administrative operations.
  • The Director-General has little power over matters of policy – the role is primarily advisory and managerial.
  • The Director-General supervises the WTO secretariat of about 700 staff and is appointed by WTO members for a term of four years.

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Greta Thunberg toolkit Case:

Activist Disha Ravi Case is in the custody of the Delhi Police for editing and sharing a toolkit with globally known teen anti-climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg.

  • Some others have also been booked for coordinating with pro-Khalistan outfit Poetic Justice Foundation (PFJ) in connection with protest by farmers’ unions over the new farm laws.

Toolkit:

  • A toolkit has become a handy tool in sustaining a movement or campaign in times of social media influences.
  • It is a document created as an explainer on an issue as a guide to everybody who is associated with the campaign or can be roped in to give a fillip to the campaign.
  • It also provides a roadmap of how to take forward the campaign or agitation explaining what needs to be done, when and how.
  • In the present case, the toolkit became an accidental disclosure when Greta Thunberg on February 5 shared a Google document, a “toolkit, inadvertently.
  • She deleted the tweet later, but it became a headline.
  • The toolkit tried to “explain the farmers’ protests” against the Modi government on the Delhi borders over the farm laws passed by Parliament in 2020.
  • After investigations, the Delhi police found that some pro-Khalistani elements were involved in creating disaffection against the country.
  • Disha Ravi is now accused of being a “key conspirator” for preparing and sharing the document.

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Mars Missions:

Two more rovers — NASA’s Perseverance and China’s Tianwen-1 — are set to land on Mars on February 18 and in May 2021 respectively.

NASA’s Perseverance Rover:

  • The most sophisticated mission from an engineering standpoint, NASA’s Perseverance Rover, is en route to Mars and is set to land on Thursday at Jezero Crater, which was likely filled with water in the past.
  • Perseverance is NASA’s 4th generation, Mars Rover
  • The goal is to look for biosignatures in the dried-up lake bed at Jezero Crater.

Tianwen-1:

  • Tianwen-1, the first mission to Mars from China, successfully underwent orbital insertion on February 10. Tianwen-1 carries an orbiter, a lander, and a rover.
  • China’s approach to landing a rover is somewhat different. Unlike NASA rovers, Tianwen-1 will orbit Mars for a few months before attempting to land in May this year.

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3rd Edition Of The Indian Sign Language (ISL) Dictionary:

Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment will virtually release the 3rd edition of the Indian Sign Language (ISL) Dictionary with 10,000 terms (including 6,000 earlier terms) on 17th February 2021.

  • The Dictionary has been brought out by the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC), an autonomous Institute under the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.
  • The 3rd edition of the ISL Dictionary contains a total of 10,000 terms of everyday use, academic terms, legal & administrative terms, medical terms, technical terms, and agricultural terms.
  • The Dictionary also contains regional signs used in different parts of the country.
  • The 1st edition of the ISL Dictionary was launched on 23rd March 2018 with 3000 terms and the 2nd edition with 6000 terms (including earlier 3000 terms) was launched on 27th February 2019.

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Pilot Pey Jal Survekshan:

Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched a Pilot Pey Jal Survekshan under Jal Jeevan Mission- Urban, JJM-U.

  • It will be conducted in cities to ascertain the equitable distribution of water, reuse of wastewater, and mapping of water bodies with respect to quantity and quality of water through a challenging process.
  • As a first step, the Ministry has decided to launch the Survekshan in 10 cities- Agra, Badlapur, Bhubaneswar, Churu, Kochi, Madurai, Patiala, Rohtak, Surat, and Tumkur.
  • Jal Jeevan Mission Urban is designed to provide universal coverage of water supply to all households through functional taps in all 4,378 statutory towns in accordance with Sustainable Development Goal – 6.
  • The total outlay proposed for JJM (U) is 2 lakh 87 thousand crore rupees which include 10 thousand crore rupees for continuing financial support to AMRUT Mission.

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Sanctuary Lifetime Service Award 2020:

 

S. Theodore Baskaran who is a writer, a historian, a naturalist, and an activist has won the Sanctuary Lifetime Service Award, 2020. The award was instituted by the Sanctuary Nature Foundation.

  • Theodore Baskaran was chosen for the award in light of his dedication to wildlife conservation.
  • He won the award for his writing prowess in English and Tamil contributing towards the conservation discourse. He was also chosen for the award in the backdrop of inspiring the young naturalists.

About S. Theodore Baskaran:

  • He was born in 1940 in Tamil Nadu.
  • He is an Indian film historian and a wildlife conservationist. He completed his school at St.Johns College, Palayamkottai.
  • He obtained his BA (Hons) Degree in History from Madras Christian College in the year 1960.
  • He worked as a Researcher in Tamil Nadu State Archives.
  • Later, in the year 1964, he joined the Indian Postal Service as Divisional Superintendent.
  • He also served as the “Special Officer for War Efforts” during the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971 in Shillong.
  • He is prolific in Tamil. His Tamil works include Vaanil Parakkum Pullelam and Kal Mel Nadandha Kaalam.

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e-Chhawani Portal Launched:

The Defence Minister of India, Rajnath Singh, has launched the e-Chhawani portal

  • With the launch of this portal, the residents of Cantonment areas can now register their complaints with respect to civic issues.
  • The portal would also help in resolving the complaints regarding the civic issues from home.
  • This portal will work with the objective of refining the system and improving the Ease of Living for people.
  • The e-Chhawani project was launched with the aim of providing online municipal services for more than 20 lakh citizens.
  • The services would be provided across 62 Cantonment Boards using the multi-tenancy central platform.
  • The portal can be used to fill online application for renewal of leases and for getting the online registration of births and deaths.
  • It can also be used to fill online applications for water and sewerage connections in a simpler manner.
    Cantonment Board
  • The cantonment board is a civic administration body.
  • It functions under the Ministry of Defence in India.
  • The board is constituted of the elected members, ex-officio members, and nominated members in accordance with the Cantonments Act, 2006.

The cantonments are categorized into four categories:

  • Category I – where the population exceeds 50,000.
  • Category II –where the population stands between 10,000 to 50,000.
  • Category III – where the population stands between 2500 to 10000
  • Category IV – where the population stands below 2500.

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