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Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 4th March 2021

Today Current Affairs: 4th March 2021 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc


ICC Investigations Into Israel-Palestine War Crimes:

International Criminal Court (ICC) has launched investigations into the war crimes in Palestinian territories occupied by Israel (West Bank and the Gaza Strip).

  • The decision for investigation is taken after a recent ruling that the court’s jurisdiction extends to territories occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-day Arab- Israeli war.
  • In this war, Israeli forces seized the Golan Heights from Syria, the West Bank & East Jerusalem from Jordan and Sinai Peninsula & Gaza strip from Egypt.
  • The investigation is also expected to cover the 2014 Gaza war, the 2018 Gaza border clashes, and Israeli settlement-building in the West Bank.
  • The inquiry will also look at whether rocket fire by Hamas and other groups from Gaza amounts to war crimes.

About ICC:

  • Governed by an international treaty called ‘The Rome Statute’, the ICC is the world’s first permanent international criminal court.
  • Headquarters: The Hague, Netherlands.
  • It investigates and, where warranted, tries individuals charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression.
  • Through international criminal justice, ICC aims to hold those responsible for their crimes and to help prevent these crimes from happening again.
  • India is not a party to Rome Statute along with the USA and China.

Similipal Biosphere Reserve:

A massive fire broke out in the Similipal Biosphere Reserve in Odisha. The core area of the biosphere was untouched by the fire, however, the fire is threatening damage to its rich biodiversity.

  • It was formally designated a tiger reserve in 1956 and brought under Project Tiger in the year 1973.
  • It was declared a biosphere reserve by the Government of India in June 1994.
  • It has been part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserve since 2009.
  • It is part of the Similipal-Kuldiha-Hadgarh Elephant Reserve popularly known as Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve, which includes 3 protected areas i.e. Similipal Tiger Reserve, Hadagarh Wildlife sanctuary, and Kuldiha wildlife sanctuary.
  • It is situated in the northern part of Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district. Geographically, it lies in the eastern end of the eastern ghat.
  • The biosphere spread over 4,374 sq. km. has 845 sq. km. of core forest (tiger reserve), 2,129 sq km buffer area, and 1,400 sq km of transition space.

Sri Lanka’s West Container Terminal (WCT) Project:

Sri Lanka said it will develop the West Container Terminal (WCT) at the Colombo Port, along with India and Japan.

  • The decision comes a month after the Rajapaksa government ejected the two partners from a 2019 tripartite agreement to jointly develop the East Container Terminal (ECT), citing resistance to “foreign involvement”.
  • While the High Commission of India had “approved” Adani Ports, which was to invest in the ECT project earlier, Japan is yet to name an investor.
  • In the ECT project agreed upon earlier, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) was to hold majority 51%, but in the WCT proposal, India and Japan will be accorded 85% stake, as is the case in the nearby Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT), where China Merchants Port Holdings Company Limited holds 85%.
  • The WCT is adjacent to the China-run CICT and just a couple of kilometers away from the China-backed Port City being built on reclaimed land, making it a strategically desirable spot for India, whose concerns over China’s presence in Sri Lanka are well known.

National Cyber Security Strategy 2020:

A National Cyber Security Strategy 2020 is being formulated by the Office of National Cyber Security Coordinator at the National Security Council Secretariat.

  • Cyber Security is protecting cyberspace including critical information infrastructure from attack, damage, misuse, and economic espionage.
  • The National Security Council (NSC) of India is a three-tiered organization that oversees political, economic, energy, and security issues of strategic concern.

National Cyber Security Strategy 2020:

  • Aim: To improve cyber awareness and cybersecurity through more stringent audits.
  • Impanelled cyber auditors will look more carefully at the security features of organizations than are legally necessary now.
  • There will be table-top cyber crisis management exercises regularly to reinforce the idea that cyberattacks can take place regularly.
  • It does call for an index of cyber preparedness and attendant monitoring of performance.
  • A separate budget for cybersecurity is suggested, as also to synergize the role and functions of various agencies with the requisite domain knowledge.

U.S. thinktank report:

The report “Freedom in the World 2021: Democracy under Siege” was recently released by US think-tank Freedom House.

Key findings:

  • Freedoms in India have reduced resulting in India being classified as ‘partly free’.
  • India’s score was 67, a drop from 71/100 from last year downgrading it from the free category last year.
  • The government and its State-level allies continued to crack down on critics during the year.
  • The private media are vigorous and diverse, and investigations and scrutiny of politicians do occur. However, attacks on press freedom have escalated dramatically under the Modi government, and reporting has become significantly less ambitious in recent years.
  • Security, defamation, sedition, and contempt of court laws have been used to quiet critical media voices.
  • Revelations of close relationships between politicians, business executives, and lobbyists on one hand and leading media personalities and owners of media outlets, on the other, have dented public confidence in the press.
  • The U.S. dropped three points over one year, down to 83/100.
  • The United States will need to work vigorously to strengthen its institutional safeguards, restore its civic norms and uphold the promise of its core principles.
  • China, classified as ‘not free’, dropped a point from last year going down to 9/100.
  • The malign influence of the regime in China, the world’s most populous dictatorship, was especially profound in 2020

Spectrum Auctions:

The telecom spectrum auctions concluded after bidding for a day and a half, with the Centre garnering ₹77,814.8 crore in revenues.

  • The amount exceeded the expectations of the government as well as analysts, as telcos focused on renewing expiring spectrum and consolidating holdings in select bands.
  • The Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio was the biggest bidder, acquiring 488.35 MHz of spectrum for ₹57,122.65 crore, followed by Bharti Airtel, which bid for 355.45 MHz of spectrum for ₹18,698.75 crore. Vodafone Idea bid for only 11.8 MHz of airwaves for ₹1,993.4 crore.
  • The spectrum will be assigned to bidders for a period of 20 years.
  • In the auction — the first in nearly five years and among the shortest, with participation from only three players — a total of 2308.80 MHz of spectrum across seven bands and worth about ₹3.92 lakh crore was put up for sale.
  • Bids were received for 855.60 MHz, or 37%, of the spectrum. No bids were received for the premium 700 MHz and 2500 MHz bands. The 700 MHz band remained unsold during the 2016 auctions as well due to the high prices.
  • Reliance Jio acquired spectrum in all 22 telecom circles, across 800 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2300 MHz bands, and its owned spectrum footprint had increased by 55% to 1,717 MHz.

Himalayan Serow:

Himalayan serow was spotted in the Manas Tiger Reserve in Assam. It was spotted close to the border with Bhutan in Manas’s Bansbari-Mathanguri forest.

  • The Himalayan serow is a subspecies of the mainland serow native to the Himalayas.
  • Common name: Himalayan Serow
  • Scientific name: Capricornis sumatraensi thar.
  • Local name: Jingal, Yemu.
  • Description: An appearance of a goat with a long, donkey-like ears, and a habit of standing with forelegs astraddle, make the Serow and ungainly goat antelope. Its coarse coat(long hair longer than the Goral) varies from black to red.
  • IUCN status: Near threatened.
  • It is listed in CITES Appendix I.

The merger of the Lok Sabha TV (LSTV) and the Rajya Sabha TV (RSTV):

After nearly two years of work, the merger of the Lok Sabha TV (LSTV) and the Rajya Sabha TV (RSTV) has been finalised and will be replaced by Sansad TV.

  • Retired IAS officer Ravi Capoor was appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sansad TV.
  • Mr. Capoor’s mandate is also to work out the nitty-gritty of the merger, including the integration of the assets and manpower.
  • In November 2019, a committee headed by former Prasar Bharati Chairman Surya Prakash was set up.
  • It submitted a report in February 2020.
  • The Surya Prakash panel held a meeting with Members of Parliament from different political parties and they strongly recommended the continuation of the live telecast.
  • Under the banner of Sansad TV, the LSTV would continue to telecast live the House proceedings and the RSTV that of the Upper House.
  • During the inter-session period and beyond the working hours of Parliament, both will telecast common content to a large extent.
  • The LSTV platform would telecast programmes in Hindi, while RSTV would do so in English.

Amendment In Insurance Ombudsman Rules:

The government has amended insurance ombudsman rules.

As per the new rules:

  • Insurance brokers are now covered under ombudsman rules.
  • Policyholders are now allowed to file online complaints.
  • The scope of complaints has been enlarged to ombudsmen from only disputes earlier to deficiencies in service on the part of insurers, agents, brokers, and other intermediaries.
  • The ombudsman may use video-conferencing for hearings.

About Insurance Ombudsman:

  • The Insurance Ombudsman scheme was created by the Government of India for individual policyholders to have their complaints settled out of the court system in a cost-effective, efficient, and impartial way.