Today Current Affairs: 16th February 2022 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc
Table of Contents
Grants For Non-Million Plus Cities:
Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance released an amount of 1154.90 crore rupees to four states for providing grants to Urban Local Bodies.
- The States to which grants were released are Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, and Sikkim.
- The grants released are meant for Non-Million Plus cities including Cantonment Boards.
- The 15th Finance Commission in its report for the period from 2021-22 to 2025-26 has divided the Urban Local Bodies into two categories.
- These are Million-Plus urban agglomerations and cities excluding Delhi and Srinagar, and all other cities and towns with less than one million population.
- The 15th Finance Commission has recommended separate grants for them.
- Out of the total grants recommended by the Commission for Non-Million Plus cities, 40 percent is a basic grant and the remaining 60 percent is a tied grant. Basic grants are utilized for location-specific felt needs, except for payment of salary and incurring other establishment expenditures.
- On the other hand, tied grants for the Non-Million Plus cities are released for supporting and strengthening the delivery of basic services.
- Out of the total tied grant, 50 percent is earmarked for ‘Sanitation Solid Waste Management and attainment of star ratings as developed by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
- The remaining 50 percent is tied to ‘Drinking water, rainwater harvesting and water recycling’.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi met former Prime Minister of Kenya Raila Amolo Odinga who is currently in India on a private visit.
- The two leaders share friendly personal relations going back decades. Mr Modi expressed his happiness at being able to meet Mr. Odinga after almost three and half years.
- He recollected his multiple interactions with Mr. Odinga since 2008 in both India and Kenya, as well as the latter’s support to the Vibrant Gujarat Summit in 2009 and 2012.
- Kenya is a country in Eastern Africa.
- Kenya’s capital and largest city is Nairobi, while its oldest city and first capital is the coastal city of Mombasa.
- Kenya is bordered by South Sudan to the northwest, Ethiopia to the north, Somalia to the east, Uganda to the west, Tanzania to the south, and the Indian Ocean to the southeast.
- Kenya has a large minority of Indians and Persons of Indian Origin living there who are descendants of labourers who were brought in by the British to construct the Uganda Railway .
- Kenya and India are members of international fora like United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement, Commonwealth of Nations, G-77 and G-15 and the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation and often cooperate with each other on these fora.
Digital services company Jio Platforms has formed a joint-venture with Luxembourg-based satellite-linked content connectivity solutions provider SES to deliver satellite broadband services across India.
- The joint venture will use multi-orbit space networks that is a combination of GEO (geostationary equatorial orbit) and MEO (medium earth orbit) satellite constellations capable of delivering multi-gigabit links and capacity to enterprises, mobile backhaul and retail customers across the length and breadth of India and neighbouring regions.
- The joint venture will be the vehicle for providing SES’s satellite data and connectivity services in India, except for certain international aeronautical and maritime customers who may be served by SES.
- It will have availability of up to 100 Gbps capacity from SES.
- SES primarily has satellites in the GEO and the MEO, while those of Elon Musk-led Starlink and Bharti Group’s OneWeb are in low earth orbit (LEO).
- While GEO satellites are positioned at an altitude of 36,000 km, MEO and LEO are lower at altitudes of 5,000-20,000km and 500-1,200 km, respectively.
- The altitude of the satellite is directly proportional to the area of earth that it covers. Therefore, the higher a satellite is positioned, the larger an area it covers.
One of the three persons diagnosed with Lassa fever in the UK has died on February 11. The cases have been linked to travel to west African countries.
- The Lassa fever-causing virus is found in West Africa and was first discovered in 1969 in Lassa, Nigeria.
- The fever is spread by rats and is primarily found in countries in West Africa including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and Nigeria where it is endemic.
- A person can become infected if they come in contact with household items of food that is contaminated with the urine or feces of an infected rat.
- It can also be spread, though rarely, if a person comes in contact with a sick person’s infected bodily fluids or through mucous membranes such as the eyes, nose or the mouth. Person-to-person transmission is more common in healthcare settings.
- Symptoms typically appear 1-3 weeks after exposure. Mild symptoms include slight fever, fatigue, weakness and headache and more serious symptoms include bleeding, difficulty breathing, vomiting, facial swelling, pain in the chest, back, and abdomen and shock.
- Death can occur from two weeks of the onset of symptoms, usually as a result of multi-organ failure.
- The best way to avoid getting infected is to avoid contact with rats.
- This means avoiding contact with rats not only in places where the disease is endemic, but also maintaining hygiene in other areas to prevent rats from entering the house, keeping food in rat-proof containers and laying down rat traps, the CDC advises.
Crude Palm Oil (CPO):
With a view to check any further rise in the prices of domestic edible oils due to rise in the prices of edible oils globally, the Government of India has reduced the agri-cess for Crude Palm Oil (CPO) from 7.5% to 5% with effect from 12th February, 2022.
- After reduction of the agri-cess, the import tax gap between CPO and Refined Palm Oil has increased to 8.25%.
- The increase in the gap between the CPO and Refined Palm Oil will benefit the domestic refining industry to import Crude Oil for refining.
- Another pre-emptive measure taken by the Government to check the prices of edible oils is to extend the current basic rate of import duty of zero percent on Crude Palm Oil, Crude Soyabean oil and Crude Sunflower Oil upto 30th September, 2022.
- The rate of import duty on Refined Palm Oils at 12.5%, Refined Soyabean oil and Refined Sunflower Oil at 17.5% will remain in force up to 30th September, 2022.
- The above steps will augment the earlier measure taken by the Government viz. the stock limit order dated 3rd February, 2022 vide which the Government had specified the stock limit quantities on edible oils and oilseeds for a period upto 30th June, 2022 under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.
Medaram Jathara 2022:
The Ministry of Tribal Affairs has sanctioned ₹2.26 Crores for various activities pertaining to Medaram Jathara 2022.
- Medaram Jatara is the second-largest fair of India, after the Kumbh Mela, celebrated by the second-largest Tribal Community of Telangana- the Koya tribe for four days.
- This year it is being celebrated from 16th-19th February, 2022.
- The activities for which funds have been sanctioned by the Union Tribal Affairs Ministry include promotion of Medaram, Tribal Culture and Heritage, inclusive of the execution of the protection wall to the Sanctum of Chilakalagutta and Murals on the walls and the Cultural Complex – Model Koya Tribal Village in the premises of Museum.
- Considering the footfall of the festival and its auspicious significance, the Jathara was declared a State Festival in 1996.
India-Australia Interim Trade Agreement:
India and Australia have announced that they are set to conclude an Interim Trade Agreement in March 2022 and a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) 12-18 months thereafter.
- The agreement will cover “most areas of interest for both countries” including goods, services, rules of origin, sanitary and phytosanitary measures and customs procedures.
- Earlier, India, Japan and Australia have formally launched the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI).
- An interim or early harvest trade agreement is used to liberalise tariffs on the trade of certain goods between two countries or trading blocs before a comprehensive FTA (Free Trade Agreement) is concluded.
- Government’s emphasis on interim agreements may be tactical so that a deal may be achieved with minimum commitments and would allow for contentious issues to be resolved later.
- The problem, though, is that these early harvest schemes potentially target the low-hanging fruits, leaving the tougher goods and services for later.
- This strategy can lead to significant delays in wrapping up the mode broad-based FTAs, which could potentially lead to impediments.
- India had concluded an early harvest agreement with Thailand in 2004 but has not been able to conclude a comprehensive FTA with the country.
- India also has a trade agreement with Sri Lanka dealing with goods but was not able to conclude an agreement on services and investments.
- Early harvest agreements that do not graduate into full-scale FTAs are exposed to legal challenges from other countries that are members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
- It is often beneficial to negotiate the entire deal together, as an early harvest deal may reduce the incentive for one side to work towards a full FTA.
- Bilateral trade between the two countries stood at about USD 12.5 billion in Financial Year (FY) 21 and has already surpassed USD 17.7 billion in the first 10 months of FY22.
- India has imported merchandise worth about USD 12.1 billion from Australia in the first 10 months of the fiscal and has exported merchandise worth USD 5.6 billion in the same period.
- Key imports from Australia include coal, gold and Liquified Natural Gas while key exports to the country from India include diesel, petrol and gems and jewellery.
Intensified Mission Indradhanush 4.0:
The Ministry of Health virtually launched Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) 4.0.
- India is implementing the largest immunisation programme globally where it annually covers more than three crore pregnant women and 2.6 crore children through the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP).
- It will ensure that Routine Immunization (RI) services reach unvaccinated and partially vaccinated children and pregnant women.
- Children up to two years will be covered in this drive.
- While the pace of routine immunisation has slowed down due to Covid-19 pandemic, IMI 4.0 will immensely contribute in filling the gaps and make lasting gains towards universal immunisation.
- Three rounds of IMI 4.0 will be conducted in 416 districts, including 75 districts identified for Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav across 33 States/UTs.
- These districts have been identified based on vaccination coverage as per the latest National Family Health Survey-5 report, Health Management Information System (HMIS) data and burden of vaccine-preventable diseases.
Universal Immunisation Programme:
- The Immunization Programme in India was introduced in 1978 as ‘Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI) by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
- In 1985, the Programme was modified as ‘Universal Immunization Programme (UIP)’. UIP prevents mortality and morbidity in children and pregnant women against 12 vaccine-preventable diseases.
- But in the past, it was seen that the increase in immunization coverage had slowed down and it increased at the rate of 1% per year between 2009 and 2013.
- To accelerate the coverage, Mission Indradhanush was envisaged and implemented since 2015 to rapidly increase the full immunization coverage to 90%.
Mission Indradhanush (MI):
- It was launched to fully immunize more than 89 lakh children who are either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated under UIP.
- It provides vaccination against 12 Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (VPD) i.e. diphtheria, Whooping cough, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, hepatitis B, meningitis and pneumonia, Haemophilus influenzae type B infections, Japanese encephalitis (JE), rotavirus vaccine, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) and measles-rubella (MR).
- However, vaccination against Japanese Encephalitis and Haemophilus influenzae type B is being provided in selected districts of the country.
- Mission Indradhansuh was also identified as one of the flagship schemes under Gram Swaraj Abhiyan and Extended Gram Swaraj Abhiyan.
Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI):
- It was launched in October 2017.
- Under IMI, greater focus was given on urban areas which were one of the gaps of Mission Indradhanush.
- It focused to improve immunisation coverage in select districts and cities to ensure full immunisation to more than 90% by December 2018 instead of 2020.
Intensified Mission Indradhanush 2.0:
- It was a nationwide immunisation drive to mark the 25 years of Pulse polio programme (2019-20).
- It had targets of full immunization coverage in 272 districts spread over 27 States.
- It aimed to achieve at least 90% pan-India immunisation coverage by 2022.
Intensified Mission Indradhanush 3.0:
- IMI 3.0 was launched in 2021.
- Focus of the IMI 3.0 was the children and pregnant women who had missed their vaccine doses during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Beneficiaries from migration areas and hard to reach areas were targeted as they might have missed their vaccine doses during Covid-19.
Earth Observation Satellite EOS-04:
Indian Space Research Organisation’s earth observation satellite EOS-04 and two small satellites (INSPIREsat-1 and INS-2TD) were successfully placed into the intended orbit by the PSLV-C52 rocket.
- This launch was the 54th flight of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket, and the 23rd of its most powerful XL-version that has six strap-on boosters.
- Earth observation satellites are the satellites equipped with remote sensing technology. Earth observation is the gathering of information about Earth’s physical, chemical and biological systems.
- Many earth observation satellites have been employed on sun-synchronous orbit.
- Other earth observation satellites launched by ISRO include RESOURCESAT- 2, 2A, CARTOSAT-1, 2, 2A, 2B, RISAT-1 and 2, OCEANSAT-2, Megha-Tropiques, SARAL and SCATSAT-1, INSAT-3DR, 3D, etc.
- EOS-04 weighing 1,710 kg and with a mission life of ten years designed to provide high quality images under all weather conditions for applications such as Agriculture, Forestry and Plantations, Soil Moisture and Hydrology and Flood mapping.
- It will complement the data from Resourcesat, Cartosat and RISAT-2B series of satellites that are already in orbit.
- The first of these newly named satellites, EOS-01, launched in November 2020, is in orbit right now. EOS-02, a micro-satellite to be flown on a new launch vehicle called SSLV (Small Satellite Launch Vehicle) is yet to be launched, while launch of EOS-03 had ended in a failure in August, 2021.
- It will be placed in a sun synchronous polar orbit of 529 km, is a radar-imaging satellite which would have made it a part of the RISAT series earlier.
- In fact, it would replace the RISAT-1 which was launched in 2012 but has been non-functional for the last few years.
- RISATs use synthetic aperture radars to produce high-resolution images of the land.
- One big advantage that radar imaging has over optical instruments is that it is unaffected by weather, cloud or fog, or the lack of sunlight.
- It can produce high-quality images in all conditions and at all times, making it suitable for surveillance.
Repo Rate Unchanged:
The six-member Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) kept key policy rates – Repo rate, Reverse repo rate and the Bank rate – unchanged and retained the accommodative policy stance.
- This is the tenth consecutive time that the repo rate has remained unchanged. The central bank had last revised the policy rate on 22nd May 2020.
- Global central banks, including the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank (ECB) have turned hawks and are also expected to hike rates soon.
- Monetary Policy Committee is a statutory and institutionalized framework under the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, for maintaining price stability, while keeping in mind the objective of growth.
- The Governor of RBI is ex-officio Chairman of the committee.
- The MPC determines the policy interest rate (repo rate) required to achieve the inflation target (4%).
- An RBI-appointed committee led by the then deputy governor Urjit Patel in 2014 recommended the establishment of the Monetary Policy Committee
- It has been retained at 4% to boost growth.
- This means banks won’t hike lending and deposit rates and EMIs on loans will remain unchanged.
- Repo rate is the rate at which the central bank of a country (RBI in case of India) lends money to commercial banks in the event of any shortfall of funds. Here, the central bank purchases the security.
Reverse Repo Rate:
- It has been retained at 3.35%.
- Reverse repo rate is the rate at which the RBI borrows money from commercial banks within the country.
- The Bank Rate unchanged at 4.25%.
- It is the rate charged by the RBI for lending funds to commercial banks.
Marginal Standing Facility (MSF) Rate:
- This rate has also been retained at 4.25%.
- MSF is a window for scheduled banks to borrow overnight from the RBI in an emergency situation when interbank liquidity dries up completely.
- The RBI has projected a 5.3% consumer price (retail) inflation for the current financial year 2021-22 (FY22) despite rising crude oil prices.
- The Consumer Price Index (CPI) monitors retail prices at a certain level for a particular commodity; price movement of goods and services at rural, urban and all-India levels.
- The change in the price index over a period of time is referred to as CPI-based inflation, or retail inflation.
- Retail inflation for the next fiscal (FY23) is projected at 4.5%, below the earlier projections.
- The MPC noted that inflation is likely to moderate in the first half of 2022-23 and move closer to the target rate, thereafter providing room to remain accommodative. Timely and apposite supply side measures from the government have substantially helped contain inflationary pressures.
- An accommodative stance means the MPC is willing to either lower rates or keep them unchanged.
- The central bank has projected the real GDP growth at 7.8% for the next financial year (2022-23).
- Real GDP is a measurement of economic output that accounts for the effects of inflation or deflation.
- The difference between nominal GDP and real GDP is the adjustment for inflation. Since nominal GDP is calculated using current prices, it does not require any adjustments for inflation.
What Is ‘Chintamani Padya Natakam’?
The Andhra Pradesh government has banned a 100-year-old play named ‘Chintamani Padya Natakam
- The play was written in 1920 by playwright Kallakuri Narayana Rao, who was also a social reformer.
- The play is about Chintamani, a courtesan and a devotee of Lord Krishna, who finds salvation by singing bhajans.
- She is courted by Subbi Shetty, a businessman from the Arya Vysya community, who loses his wealth and family due to his attraction to Chintamani.
- The play is exhibited across the state, mainly in rural areas, during festivals and fairs.
- The original play had a social message, but over the years, it has been modified purely for entertainment.
- Much of the play sees central character Subbi Shetty made fun of, especially for losing all his wealth to his vices.
- Also, the content and dialogues are offensive, and the Central character is always portrayed as a short and dark-coloured person.
- Due to the way Shetty’s character is portrayed, the entire community is stigmatised.
- The Arya Vysya community has been petitioning governments for several years to ban the play, saying it portrays them in a negative light.
Haryana Prevention Of Unlawful Conversion Of Religious Bill, 2022:
The Haryana government is set to enact legislation to prevent unlawful religious conversions.
- So far Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh have enacted legislations to prevent unlawful religious conversions.
- Haryana Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religious Bill, 2022 Aimed at prohibiting religious conversions which are affected through misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage or for marriage by making it an offense.
- The Bill provides for greater punishment for such conversions in respect of minor, women, Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
- It also provides for that the burden of proof as to whether a conversion was not affected through misrepresentation, use of force, under threat, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage or for marriage for the purpose of carrying out conversion lies on the accused.
- Every individual converting from one religion to another shall submit to the prescribed authority a declaration that the conversion affected through was not misrepresentation, use of force, under threat, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage or for marriage and such authority shall make an inquiry in such cases.
HelioSwarm And MUSE:
NASA has selected two science missions – the Multi-slit Solar Explorer (MUSE) and HelioSwarm – to help improve our understanding of the dynamics of the Sun, the Sun-Earth connection, and the constantly changing space environment.
- These missions will provide deeper insights into our universe and offer critical information to help protect astronauts, satellites, and communications signals such as GPS.
- The MUSE mission will help scientists understand the forces driving the heating of the Sun’s corona and the eruptions in that outermost region that are at the foundation of space weather.
- The mission will offer deeper insight into the physics of the solar atmosphere by using a powerful instrument known as a multi-slit spectrometer to observe the Sun’s extreme ultraviolet radiation and obtain the highest resolution images ever captured of the solar transition region and the corona.
- The HelioSwarm mission is a constellation or “swarm” of nine spacecraft that will capture the first multiscale in-space measurements of fluctuations in the magnetic field and motions of the solar wind known as solar wind turbulence.
- The Sun’s outermost atmospheric layer, the heliosphere, encompasses an enormous region of the solar system.
- Solar winds spread through the heliosphere, and their interactions with planetary magnetospheres and disruptions such as coronal mass ejections affect their turbulence.