Current Affairs Nov 13

17th ASEAN India Summit

  • India and ASEAN countries said they would explore ways to increase trade between them despite India’s exit from the 15-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.
  • The RCEP free trade agreement, which India walked out from a year ago, is expected to be signed on November 15th, between China, Australia, South Korea, Japan, and ten Association of South East Asian (ASEAN) Nations.
  • In November 2019, India had told the RCEP summit that India was walking out of the Free Trade Agreement after negotiations for more than six years,
  • As it did not address India’s concerns about being flooded by goods from China, trade deficits and need to protect its agricultural and dairy sectors.
  • The remainder of the RCEP countries then continued with the talks minus India, and have decided to sign the FTA, which will encompass about 30% of global trade
  • India had called for an “early review” of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITGA), and “underlined the importance of diversification and resilience of supply chains for post-COVID economic recovery.
  • ASEAN is India’s fourth largest trading partner with about $86.9 Bn in trade between India and the ten ASEAN nations: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

PM Speech

  • PM underlined the centrality of ASEAN in India’s Act East Policy. He noted that a cohesive, responsive and prosperous ASEAN is central to India’s Indo-Pacific Vision and contributes to Security And Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR).
  • He underscored the importance of strengthening convergence between India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative and the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific, to ensure a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific region.
  • He also invited the ASEAN countries to cooperate on various pillars of India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI).
  • Announced a contribution of US$ 1 million to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund.
  • The importance of greater physical and digital connectivity between ASEAN and India and reiterated India’s offer of US$ 1 billion Line of Credit to support ASEAN connectivity.
  • On trade and investment, he underlined the importance of diversification and resilience of supply chains for post-COVID economic recovery.

ASEAN Leaders

  • They acknowledged India’s contribution towards promoting peace and stability in the region and welcomed India’s support to ASEAN centrality.
  • The Leaders also welcomed the adoption of the new ASEAN-India Plan of Action for 2021-2025.

What else it Covers?

  • Regional and international issues of common interest and concern, including South China Sea and terrorism.
  • Both sides noted the importance of promoting a rules-based order in the region including through upholding adherence to international law, especially the UNCLOS.
  • The leaders affirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, stability, safety and security in the South China Sea,and ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight.



Digital Life Certificate

  • The Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions introduced a chargeable doorstep service for submission of Digital Life Certificate (DLC) through postmen, bringing relief to lakhs of Central government pensioners.
  • The India Post Payments Bank of the Department of Posts and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) have launched the initiative of the Department of Pension & Pensioners’ Welfare (DoPPW).
  • The facility to submit life certificate online via Jeevan Pramaan Portal was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November, 2014 to provide a convenient and transparent facility to pensioners for submission of Life Certificate.
  • The IPPB has customised its bank software and dovetailed the same with the Jeevan Pramaan software of MeitY and UIDAI, to provide DLC services at the doorstep of pensioners.
  • This facility shall be in addition to other facilities such as withdrawal of money from bank account, etc. while sitting at home.
  • It is a chargeable service and would be available to all the Central government pensioners across the country, irrespective of their pension accounts being in different banks.


Railway Launches 7 Academic Programmes

  • National Rail and Transportation Institute (NRTI), Vadodra, launched seven academic programmes aimed at creating ‘best skills sets’ in railway infrastructure management, systems and communication engineering and transportation cum supply chain management.
  • Among the launched programmes, there are two B Tech undergraduate programmes, two MBA, and three MSc programmes in the core applied sector.
  • The two B Tech programs are focused on rail infrastructure, rail systems and communications engineering.
  • MBA programs are focused at transportation and supply chain management which are of highest priority in the coming years.
  • MSc programmes are focused on the systems engineering and integration, systems and analytics, policy and economics which are the core areas the nation is looking forward to.
  • MSc programme on systems engineering and integration is offered in association with the University of Birmingham, UK.
  • NRTI has adopted an interdisciplinary approach for research of transport systems, and it is bringing together academicians, scientists, and engineers from various backgrounds, with plans to leverage its academic and industry partnerships and collaborations.


China to Bring Railway Up To Arunachal Border

  • China has begun work on a strategically significant railway line – its second major rail link to Tibet – that will link Sichuan province with Nyingchi, which lies near the border with India’s Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping recently officially “gave the instruction” to being work on the project and called it
  • “A major step in safeguarding national unity and a significant move in promoting economic and social development of the western region.”

 Importance of the project for China

  • Like the Qinghai-Tibet railway line, which in 2006 connected Lhasa to the hinterland, this will be the second such route linking the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) to the hinterland.
  • It will run right up to Nyingchi near the border with India, which it will link to both Lhasa and Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan.
  • The entire line will run from Chengdu to Lhasa, connecting the two capitals of TAR and Sichuan and cutting the journey from 48 hours to 13 hours.
  • It will help “transport advanced equipment and technologies from the rest of China to Tibet and bring local products out”.
  • If a scenario of a crisis happens at the border, the railway can act as a ‘fast track’ for the delivery of strategic materials.

Earlier developments

  • The first segment of the line within Sichuan province, from Chengdu to Yaan, was completed in December 2018. Work on the 1,011 km-section from Yaan to Nyingchi, which was formally launched this week, and will be finished in 2030.
  • The 435 km section from Nyingchi-Lhasa segment has been under construction since 2015, and will be finished by the end of next year.
  • This includes a 525 metre-long bridge across the Yarlung Zangbo River, as the Brahmaputra is called in Tibet, which has been built at a height of 3,350 metres.
  • Makes it the world’s highest concrete-filled steel tube arch railway bridge.



Moody’s narrows 2020 GDP contraction to 8.9%

  • Rating agency Moody’s Investors Service has revised upward its forecast for India’s GDP for calendar year 2020 to an 8.9% contraction from its earlier projection for a contraction of 9.6%.
  • Similarly, India’s GDP forecast for calendar year 2021 has been revised upwards to 8.6% growth from the 8.1% projected earlier, the agency said in its latest global macro outlook report.
  • India’s economy had the biggest contraction, 24% year-over-year in the second quarter, as a result of a long and strict nationwide lockdown.

Agency Forecasts

  • A gradual improvement in economic activity over the coming quarters, if the steady decline in new and active COVID-19 cases since September is maintained.
  • However, slow credit intermediation will hamper the pace of recovery because of an already weakened financial sector.
  • The agency stressed that geopolitical and trade risks would remain a key focus in the year ahead as the relationship between the U.S. and China, had deteriorated.
  • Moody’s does not believe that the Biden administration would differ materially with regard to these issues.
  • Overall, G-20 economies were expected to collectively contract 3.8% in 2020, followed by 4.9% growth in 2021 and 3.8% growth in 2022.
  • The agency expects pandemic management to improve over time, allowing for steady normalisation of social and economic activity.
  • Hence, the virus is expected to become a less important macroeconomic concern throughout 2021 and 2022.


India Makes Progress in Vaccination Coverage

  • India has made significant progress in its vaccination coverage to prevent child pneumonia and diarrhoea deaths, according to the latest annual Pneumonia and Diarrhoea Progress Report released by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC).

Findings of Report

  • The world’s health systems are falling short of ensuring that children have access to prevention and treatment services.
  • But India has achieved the global target of 90% coverage for three of the five vaccines whose coverage is monitored in the report.

What are these Vaccines?

  • These vaccines are Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus (DPT) vaccine, Measles-containing-vaccine first dose, Haemophilus influenzae type B, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), and rotavirus vaccine.

India’s Improvements

  • India’s coverage of rotavirus vaccine increased by 18 percentage points (35% rotavirus coverage in 2018 expanded to 53% in 2019).
  • Coverage against pneumococcal pneumonia increased by 9 percentage points (6% PCV coverage in 2018 expanded to 15% in 2019).

100-day agenda

  • In 2019, India completed the “100-day agenda” — an unprecedented national scale-up of rotavirus vaccine.
  • It will help protect 26 million children born each year against life-threatening cases of rotavirus diarrhoea.

10 Indicators to Track Progress, from the latest available data on how countries are delivering key interventions. It includes

  • Breastfeeding, Immunisation, Care-seeking and antibiotics, Oral rehydration solution (ORS), and Zinc supplementation — shown to prevent pneumonia and diarrhoea deaths.
  • Of the 15 focus countries included in the report, India is one of just four countries that exceeded targets for exclusive breastfeeding.
  • However, nearly every country included in the report lagged in access to treatments against pneumonia and diarrhoea.
  • India failed to reach all four targets for treatment, the report stated, adding that the treatment for diarrhoea had the lowest coverage, with only 51% of children receiving ORS and 20% getting zinc.
  • Although there was progress in India in 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic threatens the hard-won gains because of disruptions caused in routine health services like immunisation and access to medical oxygen, the report stated.




Energy Efficient Smart Screens

  • Indian scientists have developed an eco-friendly smart screen from groundnut shells that could help not only in preserving privacy but also in energy conservation by controlling light and heat passing through it and reducing air conditioning load.

How it Works

  • In the smart screen application, liquid crystal molecules were confined in a polymer matrix.
  • The matrix was built using cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) which were prepared from discarded groundnut shells.
  • The refractive index of the liquid crystal molecules along a particular direction were altered by the application of an electric field.
  • In the absence of the electric field, there was a mismatch between refractive indices between those of the polymer and the liquid crystal, leading to the scattering of light.
  • Upon application of a few volts of an electric field, the liquid crystal molecules underwent a direction change resulting in the matching of refractive indices, and the device became transparent almost instantaneously.
  • When the field was turned off, the system quickly recovered the scattering state.
  • This reversible change between the two states available at the flip of a switch occurred over thousands of cycles, with essentially no change in contrast or switching speed.

Principle on which Device Works

  • The device employed the same principle that causes fog on winter mornings.
  • This happens only when the water droplets are of right size, and it can co-exist along with air.
  • The incoming light sees these two as materials of different refractive indices and thus gets scattered, giving a foggy appearance.
  • Similarly, the polymer and the liquid crystal should co-exist in the right size to create the required optical properties for the smart screen.
  • The device could be developed from any cellulose or agricultural waste, due to certain properties of groundnut waste, the smart screen developed from groundnut waste has been found to be most efficient.




Skill India Commences Training of 3 Lakh Migrant Workers

  • Demand-driven skilling is being conducted under Centrally Sponsored and Centrally Managed (CSCM) component of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) 2016-2020.
  • Over 200 training partners are delivering trainings across 116 districts in6 states
  • Guided by Prime Minister’s Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan (GKRA), the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) has begun skill training of 3 Lakh migrant workers from the identified 116 districts across Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand.
  • The initiative aims to empower migrant workers and rural population in the post-COVID era through demand-driven skilling and orientation under Centrally Sponsored and Centrally Managed (CSCM) component of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) 2016-2020.
  • In collaboration with the concerned District Collectors/District Magistrates/ Deputy Commissioners, MSDE is rolling out the programme across these districts for skill training within 125 days.
  • National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), under the aegis of MSDE, is executing the training programme through existing Training Providers and Project Implementing Agencies operating under PMKVY 2016-20 or state schemes.
  • 5 lakh migrant workers are being trained under Short Term Training (STT) programme, and another 1.5 lakh migrant workers are slated to be certified under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) scheme.
  • The objective of Short Term Training (STT) underSkill India’s flagship PMKVY scheme is to provide skill training to either school/college dropouts or unemployed youth for various sectors and job roles.






Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY)

  • The new scheme is similar to the earlier scheme of Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY) which was implemented up to March 2019 to incentivise new employment.
  • PMRPY was announced in August 2016, with the government providing for full employers’ contribution of 12% (EPF and Employees’ Pension Scheme), for a period of three years for new employees registered with the EPFO on or after April 1, 2016, and earning up to Rs 15,000 per month.
  • The government also announced additional outlay for employment under the earlier announced scheme of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Rozgar Yojana.
  • The government had earlier identified 116 districts across six states where at least 25,000 workers have returned in each district to provide employment to migrant workers for 125 days by bringing together nearly 25 schemes and frontloading the work and money allotted for the whole year.

What has the FM announced for construction and infrastructure?

  • FM announced an additional outlay of Rs 18,000 crore for the PM Awas Yojana (PMAY) – Urban.
  • This would help 12 lakh houses to be grounded, and 18 lakh to be completed.
  • This will not only help meet the housing need in urban areas, the revival of stalled projects will also lead to an increase in economic activity and job creation in the construction sector.
  • FM also announced a reduction in the earnest money deposit and performance deposit on government tenders (also applicable to PSEs).
  • While it reduced the performance security on contracts to 3 per cent from around 5-10 per cent, she said that EMD will not be required.
  • Relaxations have been provided until December 31, 2021.
  • It will free up the capital of contractors, and will enhance their financial ability to carry out the project.
  • The government also announced Rs 6,000 crore of equity in the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) to support debt financing totalling Rs 1.1 lakh crore by 2025.
  • NIIF Strategic Opportunities Fund has set up a debt platform comprising an NBFC Infra Debt Fund and an NBFC Infra Finance Company, comprising a total loan book of Rs 8,000 crore and a deal pipeline of Rs 10,000.

What has been done for the real estate sector?

  • In a move that may allow developers to sell their housing units at 20 per cent lower than the circle rate on account of the price reduction in the market,
  • The government has announced an increase in the differential from 10% to 20% (under section 43CA) for the period from the date of the announcement to 30th June 2021.
  • The benefit will, however, be available only on the primary sale of residential units with a price value of up to Rs 2 crore.
  • This will effectively allow developers to reduce their price below the circle rate.
  • It will also bring down the registration cost for buyers if they buy the unit at a price lower than the circle rate, as the registration would not be at the circle rate.




Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Lawmakers Have Resigned

  • Nearly all of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers have announced that they are resigning from the city’s legislature.
  • In protest against the forced removal of four of their colleagues, who were accused of endangering national security by supporting the semi-autonomous region’s independence from mainland China.
  • This all happened because of resolution that was passed by China’s highest legislative body — the National People’s Congress Standing Committee — which allows the city’s government to directly dismiss elected lawmakers without having to approach the courts.
  • According to the resolution, lawmakers should be disqualified if they support Hong Kong’s independence, fail to acknowledge China’s sovereignty, or encourage foreign forces to interfere in the city’s affairs.
  • Soon after the resolution was passed, the Hong Kong government announced that it was disqualifying four lawmakers.
  • Later that day, 15 other pro-democracy leaders announced that they were resigning in solidarity.

What are the implications for Hong Kong?

  • With the resignations and expulsions, the legislative body has nearly no dissenting voices for the first time since Hong Kong was reverted to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 — which officially ended 156 years of British rule.
  • The recent resolution will make it very easy for the city’s government to suppress opposition lawmakers voicing their dissent against China’s increased control over Hong Kong.
  • Merely two opposition lawmakers now remain in the LegCo.
  • Earlier this year, China passed a controversial national security law in the territory following years of pro-democracy protests — which has cast a shadow on the freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong’s 74.5 lakh residents for over two decades.
  • According to the new law, anyone who is found “undermining national unification” of Hong Kong with the mainland could face a punishment as severe as life imprisonment.




International Court of Justice

  • Judges from Japan, China, Germany, Slovakia and Uganda won seats on the International Court of Justice, the UN’s top judicial organ.
  • In the contested race, eight candidates were vying for five seats on 15-member world court based in The Hague, Netherlands whose job is to settle disputes between countries.
  • Candidates from Nigeria, Rwanda and Croatia lost their bids to join the International Court of Justice.
  • Five judges are elected to the court every three years by majority vote in both the U.N. General Assembly and U.N. Security Council.
  • Since the first election in 1946, the voting has been conducted by secret ballot in simultaneous meetings of the 193-member assembly and 15-member council.

The International Court of Justice

  • Commonly known as the World Court, is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.
  • The idea for the creation of an international court to arbitrate international disputes arose during an international conference held at The Hague in 1899.
  • This institution was subsumed under the League of Nations in 1919 as the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ) and adopted its present name with the founding of the UN in 1945.
  • The court’s decisions are binding, and its broad jurisdiction encompasses “all cases which the parties refer to it and all matters specially provided for in the Charter of the United Nations or in treaties and conventions in force”.
  • The court may give advisory opinions at the request of the General Assembly or the Security Council or at the request of other organs and specialized agencies authorized by the General Assembly.
  • The 15 judges of the court are elected by the General Assembly and the Security Council voting independently.
  • No two judges may be nationals of the same state, and the judges are to represent a cross section of the major legal systems of the world.
  • Judges serve nine-year terms and are eligible for reelection.
  • The seat of the World Court is The Hague.




Technical Recession

  • In its latest monthly bulletin — for November — the Reserve Bank of India has dedicated a chapter on the “State of the economy”.
  • The idea is to provide a monthly snapshot of some of the key indicators of India’s economic health.
  • By doing so, a hallowed tradition that began with the first issue of the Bulletin in January 1947, but interrupted during the period 1995 to date, will be revived.
  • It predicts that India’s economy will contract by 8.6% in the second quarter (July, August, and September) of the current financial year.
  • While this pace of contraction is considerably slower than the 23.9% decline in the real gross domestic product (GDP) during the first quarter (April, May, June), the contraction of Q2 is crucial because it implies India that has entered a “technical recession” in the first half of 2020-21— for the first time in its history.
  • To better understand the term “technical recession”, distinguish it from two other phrases — a recession and a recessionary phase of an economy.

What is a recessionary phase?

  • At its simplest, in any economy, a recessionary phase is the counterpart of an expansionary phase.
  • When the overall output of goods and services — typically measured by the GDP — increases from one quarter (or month) to another, the economy is said to be in an expansionary phase.
  • And when the GDP contracts from one quarter to another, the economy is said to be in a recessionary phase.
  • Together, these two phases create what is called a “business cycle” in any economy.
  • A full business cycle could last anywhere between one year and a decade.

How is a recession different?

  • When a recessionary phase sustains for long enough, it is called a recession.
  • When the GDP contracts for a long enough period, the economy is said to be in a recession.
  • There is, however, no universally accepted definition of a recession — as in, for how long should the GDP contract before an economy is said to be in a recession.
  • But most economists agree with the definition that the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) in the United States uses.
  • According to NBER, “During a recession, a significant decline in economic activity spreads across the economy and can last from a few months to more than a year”.
  • The NBER’s Business Cycle Dating Committee typically looks at various variables — employment, consumption etc — apart from GDP growth to arrive at a decision.
  • It also looks at the “depth, diffusion, and duration” of decline in economic activity to determine whether an economy is in a recession or not.

Then, what is a technical recession?

  • While the basic idea behind the term “recession” — significant contraction in economic activity — is clear, from the perspective of empirical data analysis, there are too many unanswered queries.
  • For instance, would quarterly GDP be enough to determine economic activity?
  • Or should one look at unemployment or personal consumption as well?
  • It is entirely possible that GDP starts growing after a while but unemployment levels do not fall adequately.
  • During the 2008 global financial crisis, NBER pegged June 2009 as the end date for the recession but some metrics did not recover for much longer.
  • For instance, “non-farm payroll employment, did not exceed the level of the previous peak until April 2014”.
  • To get around these empirical technicalities, commentators often consider a recession to be in progress when real GDP has declined for at least two consecutive quarters.
  • That is how real quarterly GDP has come to be accepted as a measure of economic activity and a “benchmark” for ascertaining a “technical recession”.

How long do recessions last?

  • Typically, recessions last for a few quarters. If they continue for years, they are referred to as “depressions”.
  • But a depression is quite rare; the last one was during the 1930s in the US.
  • In the current scenario, the key determinant for any economy to come out of recession is to control the spread of Covid-19.




Contempt Of Court

  • Recently, Attorney General gave his consent for the initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra for his tweets following the Supreme Court’s decision to grant interim bail to television anchor Arnab Goswami.

What is contempt of court?

  • According to the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, contempt of court can either be civil contempt or criminal contempt.
  • Civil contempt means wilful disobedience of any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other process of a court, or wilful breach of an undertaking given to a court.
  • Criminal contempt, on the other hand, is attracted by the publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representations, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which:
  1. Scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court; or
  2. Prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with, the due course of any judicial proceeding; or
  • Interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner.
  • In 2006, the government brought in an amendment, which now provides “truth” as defence provided it is bona fide and in public interest.

But why is the A-G’s consent needed to initiate contempt of court proceedings?

  • Subsection 1 of Section 15 (Cognizance of criminal contempt in other cases) of The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 reads:
  • “In the case of a criminal contempt, other than a contempt referred to in Section 14 (“Procedure where contempt is in the face of the Supreme Court or a High Court”), the Supreme Court or the High Court may take action on its own motion or on a motion made by (a) the Advocate-General, or (b) any other person, with the consent in writing of the Advocate-General…”.

What is the punishment for contempt of court?

  • According to the Act, contempt of court may be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees, or with both, provided that the accused may be discharged or the punishment awarded may be remitted on apology being made to the satisfaction of the court.
  • The Supreme Court recently found activist-advocate Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt of court for two of his tweets, and imposed a token fine of Re 1 on him after Bhushan refused to apologise.



G-77 Ministerial Meeting

India on G-77 Meet

  • India’s assistance to other nations does not create indebtedness, is without conditionalities and the country’s cooperation is guided by its partners’ development priorities.
  • Reiterating its commitment to work with developing country partners towards a resilient and sustainable recovery from COVID-19.
  • India’s approach will be human-centric, based on principles of mutual respect and national ownership with a commitment to sustainable development for all, in the spirit of ‘World Is One Family’.
  • Underscoring the need for affordable health systems and resilient supply chains to fight the pandemic, India is assisting in urgent health and medical supplies to more than 150 countries.
  • India has pledged 15 million dollars for GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, and operationalised the COVID-19 Emergency Fund for India’s neighbours with an initial contribution of 10 million dollars.
  • India, as the largest vaccine producing country, will make its production and delivery capacity available to the entire humanity.
  • India’s concessional Lines of Credit of over 30 billion dollars, its grants-in-aid projects and flagship training and capacity building project under Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) have made a huge contribution to fellow developing countries.
  • 150 million dollar India-UN Development Partnership Fund continues to support transformational sustainable development projects with a focus on LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS.
  • The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement and Financing for Development framework should lay the foundations for global efforts.
  • India called on developed country partners to undertake activities to strengthen ‘Convention-Plus’ actions and not do ‘Convention-Minus’.
  • ‘Convention-Plus’ examples include the International Solar Alliance where India has pledged 1.7 billion dollars for solar energy projects, and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.

Group of 77

  • The Group of 77 (G77) at the United Nations is a coalition of 134 developing countries, designed to promote its members’ collective economic interests and create an enhanced joint negotiating capacity in the United Nations.
  • There were 77 founding members of the organization headquartered in Geneva, but it has since expanded to 134 member countries according to the organization.
  • The group was founded on 15 June 1964, by 77 non-aligned nations in the “Joint Declaration of the Seventy-Seven Countries” issued at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).




Centre for Traditional Medicine

  • The World Health Organisation announced that it will set up a Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in India.
  • Prime Minister expressing confidence that just like the country has emerged as the ‘pharmacy of the world’, the WHO institution will become the centre for global wellness.
  • WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the announcement at an event in which Prime Minister Modi inaugurated two future-ready Ayurveda institutions in Jaipur and Jamnagar on the occasion of the 5th Ayurveda Day.
  • The Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda (ITRA), Jamnagar (Gujarat) and the National Institute of Ayurveda (NIA), Jaipur (Rajasthan) are both premier institutions of Ayurveda in the country.
  • The Jamnagar institute has been conferred the status of an Institution of National Importance (INI) by an act of Parliament and the one at Jaipur has been designated an Institution Deemed to be University (De novo Category) by the University Grants Commission (UGC).
  • This new centre will support WHO’s efforts to implement the WHO traditional medicine strategy 2014-2023 which aims to support countries in developing policies and action plans to strengthen the role of traditional medicine as part of their journey to universal health coverage and a healthier, fairer and safer world.
  • The Ministry of AYUSH, since 2016, has been observing “Ayurveda Day” every year on the occasion of Dhanwantari Jayanti (Dhanteras).

Seasonal Rhythms within Immune Systems

  • Clocks and calendars within our immune systems could render us more susceptible to infection and injury at certain times of day or months of the year, a new study suggests.
  • A better understanding of these rhythms could help explain why certain illnesses, like flu, tend to strike in winter, while the symptoms of other diseases, like multiple sclerosis, often worsen in summer.
  • Researchers found clear fluctuations in the numbers of white blood cells and markers of inflammation in the blood, suggesting that our immune function may be stronger or weaker, depending on what time of day or season it is.
  • It supports the idea that there might be endogenous clocks and calendars in the immune system.
  • These variations were not related to environmental or lifestyle factors, or vitamin D levels.
  • The immune system has evolved to be better at recognising and fighting potential pathogens during the daytime, because this is when humans would be most likely to come into contact with pathogens.
  • From a lifestyle perspective, we can use this new understanding of biological timing to guide our behaviours, perhaps restricting our activity during the night or in winter seasons, so as to minimise our exposure to pathogens at the times when we are least resilient.



Bigfin Squid

  • Scientists have recorded multiple sightings of elusive bigfin squid in Australian waters for the first time.
  • The researchers recorded the cephalopods in deep sea waters in the Great Australian Bight during two separate voyages.
  • Bigfin squid – or Magnapinna – are known for their long arms and tentacles and can measure up to seven metres in length. They are found kilometres beneath the ocean surface and there have only been about a dozen confirmed sightings of the animals worldwide.
  • Knowledge of deep sea cephalopods has been limited partly because specimens collected in the past were of animals that had been injured and killed by deep-sea fishing trawls.





  • Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky has warned users of a new banking malware called Ghimob that can enable cybercriminals to gain access to user devices.
  • The firm came across the malware while monitoring a Windows campaign related to another banking malware called Guildma.
  • Kaspersky researchers found URLs distributing the malware pushing a malicious file that can download and install the Ghimob malware on a user device along with a malicious .ZIP file for Windows.
  • Ghimob is a new banking Trojan.
  • Cybercriminals lure victims into installing the malicious file through an email guise as an alert that the user has some kind of debt.
  • The email contains a link that is meant to provide more information to the user about this debt.
  • When a user clicks on the link, the RAT is installed and the malware sends a message about the successful infection to its server.
  • This message sent by the malware to the server includes the phone model, whether it has lock screen security and a list of all installed apps that the malware can target.
  • Ghimob is the first Brazilian mobile banking Trojan ready for international expansion.


Que-    Who launched the Jeevan Seva app to aid Covid patients and their families for a safe commute to hospitals and healthcare facilities in the city?

  1. a) Himachal Pradesh
  2. b) Gujarat
  3. c) Kerala
  4. d) Delhi

Ans-     (d)

Que-    For the benefit of industrialists, which states Cabinet recently decided to reduce stamp duty registration charge for land acquired for setting up industries from 5% to 2%.

  1. a) Tamil Nadu
  2. b) Madhya Pradesh
  3. c) Karnataka
  4. d) Andhra Pradesh

Ans-     (c)