Today’s Current Affairs: 21st Jul 2023 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc
Table of Contents
Pension Funds To Invest In Sovereign Green Bonds:
The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) will allow pension funds to invest in sovereign green bonds that the government is expected to issue in the second half of the current financial year.
- Sovereign Green Bonds are government-issued bonds used to fund projects that have positive environmental impacts and contribute to sustainability goals.
- It was announced in the Union Budget 2022-23 and the framework for SGrBs was issued by the Ministry of Finance in 2022.
- Investors in these bonds do not bear project-related risks.
- Previously The government raised Rs 16,000 crore from the issuance of Sovereign Green Bonds to fund projects aimed at reducing carbon emissions.
- Currently, there are 10 pension fund managers under the National Pension System, and the move aims to encourage investment in environmentally friendly projects.
- Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority is a Statutory organization.
- It was founded in 2003.
- Its HQ is in New Delhi.
- It is the regulatory body for the overall supervision and regulation of pensions in India.
- It operates under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Finance.
13th East Asia Summit:
India’s External Affairs Minister attended the 13th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and utilized the opportunity to engage in discussions with China’s top diplomat, on the sidelines of the event.
- They discussed outstanding issues along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), emphasizing the importance of peace and the disengagement of troops.
- East Asia Summit was established in 2005 as an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-led initiative.
- The EAS is the only leader-led forum in the Indo-Pacific that brings together all key partners to discuss political, security and economic issues of strategic importance.
- The EAS operates on the principles of openness, inclusiveness, respect for international law, ASEAN centrality, and ASEAN’s role as the driving force.
- The idea of an East Asia Grouping was first proposed by then Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in 1991.
- The first summit was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 14 December 2005.
- The EAS comprises 18 members: the 10 ASEAN countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) and eight dialogue partners (Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States).
Cheetah Reintroduction Project : Use Of Radio Collars
The use of radio collars in the cheetah reintroduction project in Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh, India, has resulted in unexpected setbacks, with cheetahs experiencing neck wounds and septicaemia, an infection of the blood by bacteria.
- Two cheetahs in Kuno died due to suspected septicaemia caused by festering neck wounds from radio collars.
Additional cheetahs, including Oban, Elton, and Freddie, have exhibited similar injuries.
- These setbacks have raised concerns about the use of radio collars in the cheetah reintroduction project.
- This situation has raised concerns among experts familiar with collaring practices in India and Africa.
- Radio collars are used to track and monitor animals in the wild.
- They consist of a collar with a small radio transmitter.
- Collars provide data on animal behavior, migration, and population dynamics.
- They can be combined with GPS or accelerometers for additional information.
- Collars are designed to be lightweight and comfortable for animals.
- Potential risks and challenges, such as injuries or infections, must be managed.
The Cheetah Reintroduction Project:
- In India formally commenced on September 17, 2022, with the objective of restoring the population of cheetahs, which were declared extinct in the country in 1952.
- The project involves the translocation of cheetahs from South Africa and Namibia to Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh.
- 20 radio-collared cheetahs were translocated from South Africa (12 cheetahs) and Namibia (8 cheetahs) to Kuno National Park.
- In March 2023, India announced the birth of 4 cubs to one of the eight cheetahs that were relocated from Namibia.
- The cheetahs underwent a quarantine period and were then shifted to larger acclimatization enclosures.
- Currently, there are 11 cheetahs in free-ranging condition and 5 animals, including a cub, in quarantine enclosures.
- Dedicated monitoring teams ensure round-the-clock monitoring of the free-ranging cheetahs.
- 8 cheetahs have died in Kuno National Park due to natural causes.
- Preliminary analysis by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) indicates that the deaths were natural and not related to other factors like radio collars.
Arhtiyas : To Go On Indefinite Strike
The arhtiyas recently threatened to go on indefinite strike in the major fruit mandis in Himachal Pradesh to protest against the government’s decision to sell apples by weight.
- Arhtiyas” refers to commission agents or middlemen in the agricultural sector.
- Arhtiyas procure agricultural produce from farmers either directly from the farm or at local agricultural markets (mandis).
- They often provide credit to farmers to meet their immediate financial needs, including inputs for the next cropping season or personal expenses.
- Arhtiyas may offer warehousing facilities for the storage of agricultural commodities.
- They facilitate the sale of agricultural produce to wholesale buyers, such as government agencies or private traders, on behalf of the farmers.
- Arhtiyas charge a commission for their services, usually a percentage of the transaction valu The commission rates can vary depending on the region, crop, and prevailing market conditions.
- They play a significant role in the traditional agricultural marketing system, particularly in states like Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.
Henley Passport Index 2023:
The latest ranking published by Henley Passport Index, released recently, puts India’s passport at the 80th spot, moving it up five places from its position in 2022.
Highlights of Henley Passport Index 2023:
- Singapore has topped the passport rankings with visa-free access to 192 global destinations.
- With visa-free access to 190 destinations, three European countries – Germany, Italy and Spain – share the second rank on the list.
- Japan, the previous top-rank holder, slipped down to the third rank. Japan shares the rank with Austria, Finland, France, Luxembourg, South Korea and Sweden.
- With 101, 102 and 103 ranks respectively, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are the world’s weakest passports. Pakistan is on the 100th spot.
- India has climbed seven places to 80th rank from 87 last year.
- It shares the spot with Senegal and Togo, with visa-free access to 57 destinations.
Henley Passport Index 2023:
- The Henley Passport Index is the original, authoritative ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.
- It is published by Henley & Partners, a global citizenship and residence advisory firm, in partnership with the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
- The index includes 199 different passports and 227 different travel destinations.
- The index is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and enhanced by Henley & Partners’ research team.
C295 Transport Aircraft:
Senior Airbus officials recently said that a fully operational factory will be in place in Vadodara in Gujarat by November 2024, from where the first Indian-made C295 military transport aircraft will start rolling out 2026 onward.
- C295 Transport Aircraft is a new-generation tactical airlifter in the light and medium segment that will replace the ageing Avro aircraft of the Indian Air Force.
- It was designed and built by Airbus, a European multinational aerospace corporation.
- It is robust and reliable but also highly versatile in terms of the number of different missions it can perform.
- The aircraft, with a flight endurance of up to 11 hours, can carry out multi-role operations under all weather conditions.
- It has a rear ramp door for quick reaction and para-dropping of troops and cargo.
- Short take-off/land from semi-prepared surfaces is another of its features.
BepiColombo Spacecraft : Collected Data
During a close Mercury flyby, the BepiColombo spacecraft collected data that showed how electrons raining down on the planet’s surface are triggering X-ray auroras.
- BepiColombo is a joint European Space Agency (ESA) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) mission to Mercury.
- The mission was named after Giuseppe “Bepi” Colombo, an Italian mathematician and engineer who made significant contributions to the understanding of Mercury’s orbit.
- Launched on October 20, 2018, BepiColombo is an ambitious and complex mission designed to study Mercury’s surface, composition, magnetic field, and its interaction with the solar environment.
- The BepiColombo spacecraft consists of two main components:
- Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO): The MPO is primarily provided by ESA and is responsible for mapping and studying Mercury’s surface, as well as its composition and topography.
- Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO): The MMO is provided by JAXA and focuses on studying Mercury’s magnetic field and magnetosphere.
- Investigating Mercury’s surface and composition to better understand its geological history and formation processes.
- Studying Mercury’s magnetic field and magnetosphere to gain insights into its internal structure and how it interacts with the solar wind.
- Measuring Mercury’s exosphere (a thin atmosphere) and understanding its composition and dynamics.
Picolinic Acid : Can Block Several Viruses
A new study by researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) and collaborators has revealed that picolinic acid, a natural compound produced by mammalian cells, can block several viruses, including those responsible for SARS-CoV-2 and influenza A.
- Picolinic acid(pyridinemonocarboxylic acid ) in which the carboxy group is located at position 2.
- It is an intermediate in the metabolism of tryptophan.
- It has a role as a MALDI matrix material and a human metabolite.
- It is a conjugate acid of a picolinate.
- The study describes the compound’s remarkable ability to disrupt the entry of enveloped viruses into the host’s cell and prevent infection.
- It is known to help in the absorption of zinc and other trace elements from our gut, but, in its natural form, it stays inside the body only for a short duration, and is usually excreted out quickly.
- It is effective against a variety of enveloped viruses, including flaviviruses like the Zika virus and the Japanese encephalitis virus.
- When the compound was tested in SARS-CoV-2 and influenza animal models, it was found to protect the animals from infection.
- It was also found to reduce viral load in the lungs when given to infected animals.
- In addition, the researchers found that picolinic acid led to an increase in the number of immune cells in the animals.
Bhoomi Samman 2023:
The President of India presented the “Bhoomi Samman” 2023 at a function organised by the Union Ministry of Rural Development in New Delhi
- The 9 state Secretaries and 68 District Collectors were presented with “Bhoomi Samman awards who have excelled in achieving saturation of the core components of Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme (DILRMP).
- Bhoomi Samman Awards aims to acknowledge and encourage outstanding performance in the implementation of the Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme (DILRMP).
- Madhya Pradesh has secured the first position in the field of Digital India Land Records modernization in the country.
- 15 districts of Madhya Pradesh have been awarded Platinum Grading for 100 percent achievement in all the components of Digital India Land Records Management Programme.
- It is a fine example of Centre-State cooperative federalism based on trust and partnership, as the grading system is largely based on reports and inputs of the States/UTs in the core components of computerization and digitization of land records.
- DILRMP is a central sector scheme being implemented by the Department of Land Resources under the Ministry of Rural Development.
- It attempts to build upon the commonalities that exist in the arena of land records in various States to develop an appropriate Integrated Land Information Management System (ILIMS) across the country.
Bura Chapori Wildlife Sanctuary : Illegal Encroachers
Several people injured over clash between forest team and illegal encroachers at Bura Chapori Wildlife Sanctuary.
- Bura Chapori Wildlife Sanctuary is located on the southern bank of river Brahmaputra in the Sonitpur district, Assam.
- It is a part of the Laokhowa-Burachapori eco-system.
- It comprises of a mosaic of wet alluvial grassland, riparian and semi-evergreen forests dotted by wetland and river systems.
- The grassland is also rich in various kinds of medicinal herbs and plants.
- It is home to the Great Indian one-horned rhinoceros, tiger, leopard, wild buffalo, hog deer, wild pig, and elephants.
- It includes the highly endangered Bengal Florican.
- It also makes it an ideal breeding place for several species of migratory birds during the winter season.