Today Current Affairs: 2nd June 2021 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc
Table of Contents
World No Tobacco Day
Every year, on 31st May, the World Health Organization (WHO) and global partners celebrate World No Tobacco Day (WNTD).
- The theme for World No Tobacco Day 2021 is “Commit to Quit”.
- The WHO has honored Indian Union health minister Harsh Vardhan with Director-General Special award for his efforts to control tobacco consumption in India.
- His leadership was instrumental in the 2019 national legislation to ban E-cigarettes & heated tobacco products.
- In India, over 1.3 million deaths are attributable to tobacco use every year amounting to 3500 deaths per day, imposing a lot of avoidable socio-economic burden.
- In addition to the death and diseases it causes, tobacco also impacts the economic development of the country.
- Smokers face a 40-50% higher risk of developing severe disease deaths from Covid-19.
- As per the WHO study (Published in August 2020) titled “Economic Costs of Diseases and Deaths Attributable to Tobacco Use in India”.
- It has been estimated that the economic burden of diseases and deaths attributable to the use of tobacco in India was as high as Rs. 1.77 lakh crores, amounting to approx 1% of GDP.
The Second Negative Import List: The Defence Ministry:
The Defence Ministry has notified the second negative import list — now renamed as the ‘positive indigenisation list’ — of 108 items that can now be only purchased from indigenous sources. The new list takes the total number on the list to 209.
- The list comprises complex systems, sensors, simulator, weapons and ammunitions like helicopters, next-generation corvettes, Air Borne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) systems, tank engines.
Significance and implications of this move:
- Recognises the potential of local defence industry.
- Invigorate impetus to domestic Research and Development by attracting fresh investment into technology and manufacturing capabilities.
- Provides an excellent opportunity for ‘start-ups’ as also Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
Introduced in August 2020, the negative list essentially means that the Armed Forces—Army, Navy and Air Force—will only procure such items from domestic manufacturers.
- The manufacturers could be private sector players or Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs).
- As per Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India has been the second-largest importer between 2014 and 2019 with US$ 16.75 billion worth of imports during this period.
Bollywood actor Juhi Chawla has moved the Delhi High Court seeking a scientific study on any adverse effects of radio-frequency radiation emitted by cellular telecommunications using 5G technology on ‘health, life, organ or limb of adult or child, or to flora and fauna’ before its official rollout in the country.
- 5G is the next generation of mobile broadband that will eventually replace, or at least augment 4G LTE connection.
Features and benefits of the 5G technology:
- Operate in the millimeter-wave spectrum (30-300 GHz) which has the advantage of sending large amounts of data at very high speeds.
- Operate in 3 bands, namely low, mid and high frequency spectrum.
- Reduced latency will support new applications that leverage the power of 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence.
- Increased capacity on 5G networks can minimize the impact of load spikes, like those that take place during sporting events and news events.
- India’s National Digital Communications Policy 2018 highlights the importance of 5G when it states that the convergence of a cluster of revolutionary technologies including 5G, the cloud, Internet of Things (IoT) and data analytics, along with a growing start-up community, promise to accelerate and deepen its digital engagement, opening up a new horizon of opportunities.
Health risks from 5G:
- To date, and after much research performed, no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies.
- Tissue heating is the main mechanism of interaction between radiofrequency fields and the human body. Radiofrequency exposure levels from current technologies result in negligible temperature rise in the human body.
- As the frequency increases, there is less penetration into the body tissues and absorption of the energy becomes more confined to the surface of the body (skin and eye).
- Provided that the overall exposure remains below international guidelines, no consequences for public health are anticipated.
World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day:
Delegates at the 74th World Health Assembly unanimously adopted a proposal by the United Arab Emirates. to declare January 30 as ‘World Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Day’’.
- Neglected Tropical Diseases are infections that are most common among marginalized communities in the developing regions of Africa, Asia and the Americas.
- Caused by a variety of pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, protozoa and parasitic worms.
- They generally receive less funding for research and treatment than malaises like tuberculosis, HIV-AIDS and malaria.
- Some examples include snakebite envenomation, scabies, yaws, trachoma, Leishmaniasis and Chagas disease.
- It was on this day that the London Declaration on NTDs was adopted, January 30, 2012.
- The first World NTD Day was celebrated informally in 2020.
- NTDs affect more than a billion people globally. They are preventable and treatable.
- However, these diseases — and their intricate interrelationships with poverty and ecological systems — continue to cause devastating health, social and economic consequences.
It Is Time To Define The Limits of Sedition: SC:
The Supreme Court has said, “it is time to define the limits of sedition”.
- The observation was made while dealing with the writ petitions filed by two news channels seeking the quashing of FIR and contempt petitions.
- The Andhra Government had slapped charges against two Telugu news channels — TV5 and ABN Andhra Jyothi for alleged sedition in showing ‘offensive’ speeches of two leaders.
- They said the government’s action is a violation of the earlier SC order (April 30), which restrains the arrest and prosecution against citizens for ventilating grievances with respect to Covid-19 issues.
The court has sought the response of the state government within four weeks on the pleas of the channels which are charged for various offences including the harsh penal offence of sedition.
General observations made by the Court on Sedition:
- It is time we define the limits of sedition.
- Provisions of 124A (sedition) and 153 (promoting enmity between classes) of the IPC require interpretation, particularly on the issue of the rights of the press and free speech.
The sedition law has been indiscriminately used against critics, journalists, social media users, activists and citizens for airing their grievances about the government’s COVID-19 management, or even for seeking help to gain medical access, equipment, drugs and oxygen cylinders, especially during the second wave of the pandemic.
- Section 124A of the IPC states, “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the government established by law in shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.”
Horticulture Cluster Development Programme (CDP):
To ensure holistic growth of horticulture, Union Minister of Agriculture launched the Horticulture Cluster Development Programme (CDP).
- In a pilot phase, the programme will be implemented in 12 horticulture clusters covering 11 States/UTs out of the total 53 clusters selected for the programme.
- It is a central sector programme.
- It will be implemented by the National Horticulture Board (NHB) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.
- The programme aims at growing and developing identified horticulture clusters to make them globally competitive.
- The programme will benefit about 10 lakh farmers and is expected to attract an investment of Rs. 10,000 crore when implemented in all the 53 clusters
- The programme will address all major issues related to the Indian horticulture sector including pre-production, production, post-harvest management, logistics, marketing and branding.
Indian Institute of Technology, Ropar (IIT Ropar) in Punjab has developed “AmbiTAG”- India’s first indigenous temperature data logger for cold chain management.
- AmbiTag is a first-of-its-kind IoT device that records real-time ambient temperature during the transportation of perishable products, vaccines and even body organs and blood.
- That recorded temperature further helps to know whether that particular item transported from anywhere in the world is still usable or perished because of temperature variation.
- This information is particularly critical for vaccines including Covid-19 vaccine, organs and blood transportation.
- Shaped as USB device, AmbiTag continuously records the temperature of its immediate surroundings “from -40 to +80 degrees in any time zone for a full 90 days on a single charge.
- The device has been developed under Technology Innovation Hub – AWaDH (Agriculture and Water Technology Development Hub) and its Startup ScratchNest. AWaDH is a Govt of India project.
Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme For KSM/Drug Intermediates and API
The Department of Pharmaceuticals has accorded approvals under Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for Promotion of Domestic Manufacturing of critical Key Starting Materials (KSMs)/ Drug Intermediates and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs).
- The Department of Pharmaceuticals has launched this scheme with an objective to attain self-reliance and reduce import dependence in critical Bulk Drugs – Key Starting Materials (KSMs)/ Drug Intermediates and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs).
- This will be achieved by promotion of their domestic manufacturing by setting up greenfield plants with minimum domestic value addition in four different Target Segments with a total outlay of Rs.6,940 cr. for the period 2020-21 to 2029-30.
- Setting up these plants will make the country self-reliant to a large extent in respect of these Bulk drugs.
- The disbursal of production linked incentive by the Government over the six years period would be up to a maximum of about Rs.6,000 cr.
GDP Contracted By 7.3% In 2020-21:
India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contracted by 7.3% in 2020-21, as per provisional National Income estimates released by the National Statistical Office. GDP growth in 2019-20, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, was 4%.
- The Gross Value Added (GVA) in the economy shrank 6.2% in 2020-21, compared to a 4.1% rise in the previous year.
- Only two sectors bucked the trend of negative GVA growth — agriculture, forestry, and fishing, which rose 3.6%, and electricity, gas, water supply, and other utility services (up 1.9%).
- GVA for trade, hotels, transport, communication, and broadcasting-related services saw the sharpest decline of 18.2%, followed by construction (-8.6%), mining and quarrying (-8.5%), and manufacturing (-7.2%).
- Though this is the bleakest performance on record for the economy, the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2020-21 helped moderate the damage, with a higher-than-expected growth of 1.6% in GDP.
- This marked the second quarter of positive growth after the country entered a technical recession in the first half of the year.
- GDP had contracted 24.4% in April-June 2020, followed by a 7.4% shrinkage in the second quarter. It had returned to positive territory in the September to December quarter with a marginal 0.5% growth.
Second Positive Indigenisation List:
Ministry of Defence (MoD) has notified the ‘Second Positive Indigenisation List’ of 108 items to promote indigenization in the Defence sector and defense exports.
- This will give a further boost to indigenization with the active participation of the public and private sectors for fulfilling the twin objectives of achieving self-reliance and promoting defense exports.
- All the 108 items will now be procured from indigenous sources as per provisions given in Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020.
- The second list (enclosed) lays special focus on weapons/systems which are currently under development/trials and are likely to translate into firm orders in the future.
- The ‘Second Positive Indigenisation List’ comprises complex systems, sensors, simulator, weapons and ammunitions like Helicopters, Next Generation Corvettes, Air Borne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) systems, Tank Engines, Medium Power Radar for Mountains, MRSAM Weapon Systems etc.
- This second list is planned to be implemented progressively with effect from December 2021 to December 2025.
- In August 2020, the ‘First Positive Indigenisation’ List comprising 101 items was notified.
- At that time, it was also highlighted that more such equipment would be identified progressively to facilitate and encourage defence manufacturing in the country.
Index Of Eight Core Industries (ICI) For The Month Of April 2021.:
The Office of Economic Adviser, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade released the Index of Eight Core Industries (ICI) for the Month of April 2021.
- ICI measures combined and individual performance of production in selected eight core industries viz. Coal, Crude Oil, Natural Gas, Refinery Products, Fertilizers, Steel, Cement, and Electricity.
- The Eight Core Industries comprise 40.27 percent of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP).
- The combined ICI stood at 126.7 in April 2021, which increased by 56.1 percent (provisional) as compared to the Index of April 2020.
- This high growth rate in April 2021 is largely due to the low Index base in April 2020 consequent to the low industrial production across all sectors caused by nationwide lockdown imposed to contain the spread of Covid-19 last year.
- The growth rate of ICI during April-March 2020-21was (-)6.5% (P) as compared to the corresponding period of last FY.