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Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 4th February 2022

Today Current Affairs: 4th February 2022 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc

 

Scheme Of Assistance To National Sports Federations (NSFs):

 

The Union Government has approved continuation of Scheme of Assistance to National Sports Federations (NSFs) with an outlay of Rs. 1575 crore for XV Finance Commission Cycle (2021-22 to 2025-26).

  • The Scheme of Assistance to NSFs is the flagship Central Sector Scheme.
  • It is the main source of funding for preparation of national teams for all major national and international competitions, including the Olympic Games, Para-Olympics, Asian Games, Para Asian Games, Commonwealth Games (CWG) and other major international tournaments.
  • The outlay in the cycle will be extended to NSFs to train and field national teams for national and international competitions between 2022 and 2026, prime among them, the Commonwealth and Asian Games of 2022, Olympics and Paralympics 2024 and Asian and Commonwealth Games in 2026.
  • The financial support extended by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports through this Scheme will be used by NSFs to conduct national coaching camps, procure sports equipment and consumables, provide training of international standards to athletes etc.

India-Russia Cooperation At The UNSC:

 

The Bilateral consultations on United Nations related issues were held between India and Russia in New Delhi.

  • Russia is set to assume the presidency of the UN Security Council in February, 2022.
  • The discussion came in the backdrop of tensions between Russia and Ukraine over possible eastward expansion by NATO.
  • Earlier, the 21st India-Russia annual summit took place at New Delhi which also included the first 2+2 ministerial dialogue of India’s foreign and defence ministers with their Russian counterparts.
  • Both Sides stresses the importance of reinvigorating multilateralism, with the central coordinating role played by the United Nations in world affairs.
  • Russia welcomed India’s election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council with an overwhelming majority for a two-year term.
  • Russia supports India’s candidacy for permanent membership of a reformed United Nations Security Council and of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
  • Both Sides support the comprehensive reform of the UNSC to reflect contemporary global realities and to make it more representative, effective and efficient in dealing with issues of international peace and security.
  • Both Sides are committed to enhanced cooperation within BRICS.
  • Russia congratulates India on its successful BRICS Chairmanship in 2021, including hosting of the XIII BRICS Summit on 9th September 2021 and adopting the New Delhi Declaration.
  • The role of the New Development Bank (NDB) is recognised by both sides as vital to addressing development challenges, including health and economic impact of the covid-19 pandemic and encouraged the NDB to explore the possibility of financing more social infrastructure projects, including those that use digital technologies.
  • India and Russia recognise the achievements of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in the last two decades of its operation and believe that it has the great potential for further interaction among the SCO Member States.
  • They intend to focus particularly on increasing the effectiveness of countering terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking, cross-border organized crime, and information security threats, in particular by improving the functionality of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure.
  • They are also determined to cooperate within the G20 format and intensify the same on issues of global and mutual interest, keeping in view India’s presidency of the G20 in 2023.
  • Both sides agree that safeguarding of global commons including our oceans, outer space and information space should be based on the principles of transparency, accessibility and upholding international law.

BrahMos Export To Philippines:

 

Philippines has signed a deal with BrahMos Aerospace Private Ltd. for the supply of a shore-based anti-ship variant of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. This is the first export order for the missile, a joint product of India and Russia.

  • The Philippines wants to induct this missile amid tensions with China over the disputed islands in the South China Sea.
  • Several countries have shown interest in acquiring the BrahMos missile. For example, discussions are in advanced stages with Indonesia and Thailand.
  • BrahMos is a joint venture between the Defence Research and Development Organisation of India (DRDO) and the NPOM of Russia.
  • BrahMos is named on the rivers Brahmaputra and Moskva.
  • It is a two-stage (solid propellant engine in the first stage and liquid ramjet in second) missile.
  • It is a multiplatform missile i.e it can be launched from land, air, and sea and multi capability missile with pinpoint accuracy that works in both day and night irrespective of the weather conditions.
  • It operates on the “Fire and Forgets” principle i.e it does not require further guidance after launch.
  • Brahmos is one of the fastest cruise missiles currently operationally deployed with speed of Mach 2.8, which is nearly 3 times more than the speed of sound.
  • Recently, an Advance Version of BrahMos (extended range sea-to-sea variant) was test fired.
  • Following India’s entry into the MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime) club in June 2016, the range is planned to be extended to 450 km and to 600km at a later stage.
  • The BrahMos missile was initially developed with a range capped at 290 km.

Country’s First Graphene Innovation Centre:

 

The Kerala government announced that the country’s first Graphene Innovation Centre would come up in Thrissur, Kerala.

  • It is a joint venture of Digital University of Kerala, Centre for Materials for Electronics Technology (C-MET) and Tata Steel Limited.
  • Earlier in 2020, the researchers from the City University of Hong Kong had produced a laser-induced form of graphene masks that inactivate the coronavirus species.

Graphene Innovation Centre:

  • An Innovation Center is a cross-functional plan that creates a safe haven for new ideas.
  • With opportunities for individual and group collaboration across time zones and continents, it’s a place that fosters a culture of innovation through the creation, sharing, and testing of ideas.
  • The India Innovation Centre for Graphene would come up in Thrissur at a cost of Rs 86.41 crore.
  • Of the 86.41-crore, the Union Government would provide Rs 49.18 crore and private business houses Rs 11.48 crore.
  • The state government would provide the basic infrastructure for the project. The Centre would help attract investors to develop graphene products.
  • The project would give a major fillip for scientific research as well as the state’s industrial sector.
  • Kerala’s human resources capital could be effectively exploited by the proposed Centre, which would help Kerala to emerge as a knowledge-based economy.

Graphene:

  • Graphene is a one-atom-thick layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice. It is the building-block of Graphite, but graphene is a remarkable substance on its own with a multitude of astonishing properties.
  • It is the thinnest, most electrically and thermally conductive material in the world, while also being flexible, transparent and incredibly strong.
  • Often referred to as a wonder material for its extraordinary electrical and electronics properties, graphene could replace Indium and thereby bring down the cost of OLED (organic light-emitting diode) screens in smartphones, studies have shown.

Winter Olympics:

 

The Russian President, Pakistan Prime Minister and five Presidents from Central Asia will reach China for the opening of the Winter Olympics.

  • The Russian President will discuss the ongoing crisis with Ukraine with the Chinese President.
  • China has close relations with Russia but has been largely silent on the crisis in Ukraine amid a build-up of Russian forces along its borders.
  • The Pakistan Prime Minister is expected to discuss investments from China and speed up the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) plan.
  • China has also declared that it sought to discuss developing communications satellites for Pakistan and to cooperate on the construction of the Pakistan Space Centre.
  • Due to the alleged human rights voilations in the Xinjiang province of China, the US, the UK, Canada and Australia have announced a “diplomatic boycott” of the games.

Winter Olympics:

  • Winter Olympics is the premier competition for sports that are played on ice or snow.
  • It is held every four years and features participants from across the world.
  • Ice skating, ice hockey, skiing and figure skating are some of the popular sports that are played at the Winter Games.
  • The first Winter Olympics were held in 1924 in Chamonix, France.
  • Winter sports were initially played at the Summer Olympics, with the 1908 London Olympics hosting four figure skating events and Antwerp 1920 having figure skating as well as ice hockey.
  • However, in 1924, a separate event was created for winter sports, called the International Winter Sports Week.
  • It was held in Chamonix, France – the host country for the 1924 Summer Olympics.
  • Two years later, the International Winter Sports Week in Chamonix was officially recognised as the first Winter Olympic Games.
  • This years’ edition of the Winter Olympic Games will be held in Beijing, China from 4th February to 20th February 2022.
  • India has been participating in the Winter Olympics since 1964.

Safforn Bowl Project:

 

Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Jitendra Singh informed Lok Sabha about the Safforn Bowl Project.

  • North East Centre for Technology Application and Reach (NECTAR) under Saffron Bowl project has identified few locations in Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya for saffron cultivation.
  • In Arunachal Pradesh, there is a good growth of organic saffron with flowers. In Meghalaya, sample plantations were grown at Cherrapunji, Mawsmai and Lalingtop sites.
  • The total cost of the whole project is Rs. 17.68 lakhs for Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya. Out of which, a tentative amount of Rs.6.00 lakhs has been earmarked for Barapani (Meghalaya) site.

The following sites have been identified in Meghalaya under the said project:

  • Barapani,
  • Cherrapunji,
  • Mawsmai,
  • Shillong, and
  • Lalingtop

World Wetlands Day:

 

Union Minister for Environment, Bhupender Yadav, addressed the national level celebration of World Wetlands day 2022 held at Sultanpur National Park, a Ramsar site of Haryana.

  • World Wetlands Day is observed every year on February 2nd all over the world.
  • It is celebrated to raise global awareness about the vital role of wetlands for people and our planet.
  • This day also marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on February 2, 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar.
  • This year’s theme of World Wetlands Day is “Wetlands Action for People and Nature”, which highlights the importance of actions to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands for humans and planetary health.
  • Two new Ramsar sites (Wetlands of International Importance), Khijadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat and Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary in U.P were also announced on the occasion by Shri Yadav.
  • India now has a network of 49 Ramsar sites covering an area of 10,93,636 hectares, the highest in South Asia. Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary in UP provides a safe wintering and staging ground for a large number of species of the Central Asian Flyway.
  • Khijadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat is a coastal wetland with rich avifaunal diversity providing a safe habitat to endangered and vulnerable species.

National Wetland Decadal Change Atlas

  • On the occasion, “National Wetland Decadal Change Atlas” prepared by the Space Applications Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad was also released highlighting the changes which have happened in Wetlands across the country in the past decade.
  • The original Atlas was released by SAC in 2011 and has over the years been used extensively by all the State Governments also in their planning processes.

Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS):

 

The Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) will be extended to cover the next fiscal as well, with expanded guarantee cover of Rs 5 lakh crore, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her budget presentation.

  • An additional guarantee amount of Rs 50,000 crore has been announced for the hospitality sector.
  • Under ECLGS, which is for helping companies tide over liquidity crunch resulting from Covid-19 curbs, banks provide additional loans to existing borrowers without asking for extra collateral.
  • To encourage banks, these loans are fully guaranteed by the government against credit losses.
  • This scheme will be key to ensure that MSMEs impacted by intermittent lockdowns in states get funding to stay afloat.
  • Sanctions and disbursements under the facility are relatively faster since lenders have the Central government guarantee in case of default against these loans.
  • Hotels, restaurants, canteens, caterers, marriage halls, tour operators, as well as amusement parks and theatres can avail the facility.
  • Accounts that are classified as non-performing assets or where overdues have crossed 60 days (SMA-II) are not eligible.

Retrospective Amendment To The Income-Tax Act:

 

The Union Budget 2022-23 brought in some amendments to the Income Tax Act that would be effective retrospectively.

  • Making a retrospective amendment to the Income-tax Act from 2005-06, the Budget has clarified that cess and surcharge will not be allowed to be claimed as deductions in the form of expenditure, a practice that some companies and businesses were resorting to in the absence of legal clarity.
  • Citing some court rulings over the years that had given benefit to taxpayers in claiming cess as expenditure and not tax, the tax department said the retrospective amendment is being done to correct the anomaly.
  • The court rulings differentiated between income tax and education cess on income tax, and in absence of a specific disallowance for ‘education cess’, courts had taken a view beneficial for taxpayers in many cases.
  • In order to nullify the effect of such court rulings and to consider such rulings against the intention of the law, a clarificatory amendment has been introduced in the income tax law, providing that any surcharge or education cess on income tax shall not be allowed as business expenditure.
  • The Budget has allowed exemption of the amount received for medical treatment and on account of death due to Covid-19 retrospectively from April 1, 2020.
  • Separately, gifts and freebies to doctors shall not be treated as business expenditure under section 37 of the Income-tax Act.

What Is Coal Gasification?

 

The Delhi-based non-profit, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), has raised concerns about the Union Government’s announcement on coal gasification projects in the Budget 2022-23.

  • The budget proposed four pilot projects for coal gasification and conversion of coal into chemicals required for the industry.
  • According to CSE, the process of coal gasification is not attractive from a climate change point of view.
  • Coal gasification is a process in which coal is partially oxidised with air, oxygen, steam or carbon dioxide to form a fuel gas.
  • This gas is then used instead of piped natural gas, methane and others for deriving energy.
  • In-situ gasification of coal – or Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) – is the technique of converting coal into gas while it is still in the seam and then extracting it through wells.
  • Production of Syngas: It produces Syngas which is a mixture consisting primarily of methane (CH4), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen (H2), carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapour (H2O).
  • Syngas can be used to produce a wide range of fertilizers, fuels, solvent and synthetic materials.
  • Steel companies typically use coking coal in their manufacturing process.
  • Most of the coking coal is imported and is expensive.
  • To cut costs, plants can use syngas, which comes from coal gasification plants in the place of coking coal.
  • It is primarily used for electricity generation, for the production of chemical feedstocks.
  • The hydrogen obtained from coal gasification can be used for various purposes such as making ammonia, powering a hydrogen economy.

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