Current Affairs Nov 4

India-UAE High Level Joint Task Force on Investments


  • The eighth meeting of the India-UAE High Level Joint Task Force on Investments (“the Joint Task Force”) was hosted by India.
  • The Joint Task Force was created in 2012 as a crucial forum for further deepening the already strong economic ties between the UAE and India.
  • The mechanism has assumed greater importance as the two countries entrench the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement signed in January 2017.
  • They agreed upon the need to further explore ways to facilitate investments in key Indian and UAE sectors with potential for economic growth, and to maintain their dialogue and further build on the considerable achievements of the Joint Task Force.
  • The two sides agreed that the recent challenging circumstances of COVID-19 made it even more important to encourage investment and cooperation in areas of mutual interest with the purpose to stimulate economic activity.
  • With an aim to further strengthen the excellent trade and economic ties between the two countries, both sides reiterated the importance of addressing specific perceived barriers to trade between the two countries.
  • These include issues relating to anti-dumping duties and measures, as well as any tariff and regulatory restrictions.
  • To this end, both sides agreed to coordinate efforts and promote mutual cooperation at the highest official levels in areas of anti-dumping and to consider these issues promptly with the objective of seeking mutually beneficial solutions.
  • Both sides reviewed the existing UAE special desk (‘UAE Plus’) and the Fast Track Mechanism created in 2018 to facilitate investments and to resolve any challenges experienced by UAE investors in India.
  • In this context, both sides agreed to make the best use of these mechanisms to further facilitate bilateral cooperation.
  • In recognizing the critical importance of civil aviation to the economies of both States, both sides agreed that the two civil aviation authorities should continue to work together on a priority basis, for their mutual benefit, to ensure speedy normalization of air transport operations between the two countries.
  • The two sides discussed issues related to the development and operation of UAE-based funds to invest in India, including in the light of SEBI Foreign Portfolio Investor Regulations 2019.
  • The Indian side agreed to look into these issues with the objective of facilitating further direct investments of UAE-based funds into India and seeking mutually beneficial solutions in that regard.
  • Other key points of discussion at the meeting focused on opportunities for cooperation and potential investments in key sectors in India including the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry, mobility and logistics, food and agriculture, energy and utilities and others.





Virtual Global Investor Roundtable (VGIR)


  • Prime Minister will chair the Virtual Global Investor Roundtable (VGIR) on 5th November, 2020.
  • The VGIR is being organized by the Ministry of Finance, Government of India, and National Investment and Infrastructure Fund.
  • It is an exclusive dialogue between leading global institutional investors, Indian business leaders and the highest decision makers from the Government of India and Financial Market Regulators.
  • Union Finance Minister, Union Minister of State for Finance, RBI Governor and other dignitaries will also be present on the occasion.
  • The Roundtable will witness participation from twenty of the world’s largest pension and sovereign wealth funds with a total Assets Under Management of about US$6 trillion.
  • These global institutional investors represent key regions including the US, Europe, Canada, Korea, Japan, Middle East, Australia, and Singapore.
  • Some of these investors would also be engaging for the first time with the Government of India.
  • Apart from global investors, the Roundtable will also see participation of several top Indian Business Leaders.
  • VGIR 2020 will focus on discussions around India’s economic and investment outlook, structural reforms and the government’s vision for the path to a USD 5 trillion economy.
  • The event will provide an opportunity to leading global investors and Indian business leaders to engage and deliberate with senior policymakers on how to further accelerate the growth of international investments in India.
  • Foreign investments in India this fiscal is the highest ever for the first five months of a financial year.
  • VGIR 2020 will also provide an occasion for all stakeholders to further cement the strong partnerships that have been built and to foster engagement with international institutional investors who are looking to increase their Indian investments.




Ayurveda Has Some Positive News For Sleep-deprived


  • The broad area of study called anidra in Ayurveda deals with sleep-deprivation and related conditions, and it offers some time-tested solutions.
  • A recent case study published in AyuHom, the research journal of North Eastern Institute of Ayurveda & Homeopathy, Shillong has brought out new evidence in support of Ayurveda’s efficacy in resolving anidra– related issues.
  • Medical Science has linked inadequate sleep to a number of health problems ranging from obesity to lowering of immunity.
  • Ayurveda also considers nidra or sleep as extremely significant to health.
  • It is, in fact, described as one among the trayoupastambha or the three supportive pillars of life. Ayurveda also considers nidra as one of the essential dimensions for happiness and good life.
  • Nidra leads to a relaxed mental state. Anidra can be clinically corelated with Insomnia which is a common sleep problem worldwide.
  • According to World Health Organization (WHO), health is a state of complete physical, mental or social well being and not merely the absence of disease, and sleep is one its essential pre-requisites.
  • In the present times of erratic lifestyles, stress and other unpredictable environmental factors, quality of sleep has deteriorated for a large number of people.
  • According to the estimates of the National Sleep Foundation of America, 1/3rd of people the world over suffer from sleep disorders.
  • The study report states that the Ayurveda treatment led to a remarkable improvement in the patient’s condition in terms of sleep.
  • The study included thorough examination and assessment grading before and after treatment of all the symptoms which were selected for assessment.
  • This included Yawning, Drowsiness, Fatigue, Quality of Sleep etc., and improvements were noticed in all the parameters.
  • The case study, thus, puts forward another instance of Shirodhara with Ashwagandha Taila accompanied by Shamana Chikitsa playing a beneficial role in the management of anidra.




Centrally Sponsored Pilot Scheme on Fortification of Rice


  • To initiate the process of taking the country towards nutritional security, Department of Food & Public Distribution (DFPD) has been running a “Centrally Sponsored Pilot Scheme on Fortification of Rice & its distribution through Public Distribution System”.
  • The Pilot Scheme has been approved for a period of three years beginning 2019-2020.
  • Fifteen State Governments have identified their respective districts (1 district per state) for implementing the Pilot Scheme.
  • Already 5 states of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh have started the distribution of fortified rice in their respective identified districts.
  • Special focus would be placed on supplying fortified rice to the 112 specially identified Aspirational Districts of the country.
  • The supply chain and other logistic requirements to scale up the scheme of “Rice fortification and its distribution” to cover the Integrated Child Development Scheme /Mid Day Meal scheme in Aspirational districts in the country at the first instance was discussed.
  • There are nearly 28,000 Rice Mills in the country which need to be equipped with Blending Machines etc. for mixing of Fortified Rice Kernels (FRK) with normal rice.
  • FCI has been asked to tie up with the rice mills in different regions for necessary investments in this regard.
  • The operational readiness of the FCI would help in successful scaling up of procurement and supply of fortified rice in a phased manner from 2021-2022 onwards.
  • The fortified rice is a mixture of iron, Vitamin B-12 and folic acid enriched fortified rice kernel (FRK), which meet the nutritional requirements in the diet and thereby help in controlling malnutrition and anemia.




National Monsoon Mission and High-performance Computing programs


  • For every rupee spent by the government on the National Monsoon Mission and High-performance Computing programs of the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), the country would gain economic benefits worth fifty rupees, which is 50 times more benefit on the investment over the next five years period.
  • This has been affirmed by a report by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), which is an independent, not for profit, economic policy research and think tank based in New Delhi.
  • The NCAER report refers to economic benefits as direct monetary gains to crop farmers, livestock rearers, and fishermen in the country.
  • According to the report, India’s investment of nearly 1,000 Crores in the National Monsoon Mission and High-Performance Computing (HPC) facilities would provide benefits worth rupees 50 thousand Crores to nearly 1.07 Crore below poverty line (BPL) agricultural households and 53 Lakh BPL fisher-folk households in the country.
  • NCAER study was based on a face-to-face survey of 6,098 respondents including 3,965 crop farmers, 757 marine fishermen, and 1,376 livestock owners.
  • Along with this, responses from 2 lakh farmers were also collected through interactive voice response system ( IVRS) to validate the findings of the face-to-face survey.
  • IVRS is a technology that allows computers to interact with humans through the use of voice and input via keyboard.
  • The National Monsoon Mission was launched by MoES in 2012 with an aim to develop a state-of-the-art, dynamic monsoon prediction system for short, medium, and long-range forecasts.
  • The augmentation of the National Monsoon Mission with High-performance Computing facilities has helped the country in achieving a paradigm shift in weather and climate modeling for operational weather forecasts. 
  • The successful development of a Global Ensemble Forecast System for short and medium-range prediction at 12 kilometers and its operationalization in 2018 was made possible due to National Monsoon Mission and augmentation of the High-performance computing facilities from 1PetaFlop to 10PetaFlop.
  • Agro-climatic zone refers to a geographical area with similar soil type, rainfall, temperature, and water availability.
  • India is divided into 15 major agro-climatic zones, of which 10 zones that experience all monsoon events ranging from drought to floods have been covered by the NCAER study.
  • India Meteorological Department (IMD) in collaboration with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) provides district-level agro-meteorological advisories to farmers through 130 agro-met field units to nearly 40 million farmers under ‘Gramin Krishi Mausam Sewa (GKMS)’ twice a week for all the districts in the country.
  • These advisories are communicated to farmers via mobile SMS, apps such as Meghdhoot, on IMD website, Kisan Portal, and conventional media such as television, radio, and newspapers.
  • Farmers use these advisories for critical farm operations like management of sowing, changing crop variety, spraying pesticides for disease control and managing irrigation etc.






COVID-19 Shri Shakti Challenge


  • Six women led startups have won COVID-19 Shri Shakti Challenge organized by MyGov in collaboration with UN Women.
  • With an objective to encourage and involve women led startups to come up with innovative solutions that can help in the fight against COVID19 or solve problems that impact a large number of women, MyGov in collaboration with UN Women, launched the COVID-19 Shri Shakti Challenge in April 2020.
  • The Challenge was implemented in two stages: Ideation stage and Proof of Concept (PoC) Stage.
  • 25 selected startups presented their solutions to the Jury which evaluated the solutions proposed by the startups on the parameters that included innovation, usability, relevance and impact of their idea on the society and after thorough review 11 finalists were chosen for the next stage.
  • All the 11 selected startups were provided a prize money of INR 75000 each to further develop their ideas.



Lung Damage In Covid Dead May Shed Light On Long Covid


  • A study of the lungs of people who have died from COVID-19 has found persistent and extensive lung damage in most cases and may help doctors understand what is behind a syndrome known as ‘long COVID’, in which patients suffer ongoing symptoms for months.
  • The findings indicate that COVID-19 is not simply a disease caused by the death of virus-infected cells, but is likely the consequence of these abnormal cells persisting for long periods inside the lungs.
  • The research team analysed samples of tissue from the lungs, heart, liver and kidneys of 41 patients who died of COVID-19.
  • A small proportion of people who have had COVID-19 and recovered from their initial infection can experience a range of ongoing symptoms including fatigue, brain fog and shortness of breath. The condition is often called “long COVID”.
  • Almost 90% of the 41 patients had several characteristics unique to COVID-19 compared to other forms of pneumonia.
  • One was that patients had extensive blood clotting of the lung arteries and veins.
  • Another was that some lung cells were abnormally large and had many nuclei – a result of the fusion of different cells into single large cells in a process known as syncytia.
  • The presence of these infected cells can cause the major structural changes observed in lungs, which can persist for several weeks or months and could eventually explain ‘long COVID’.





Sars-cov-2 Cant Penetrate Eyes


  • A new study has revealed that cornea in the eyes resists SARS-CoV-2 infection.
  • Other viruses such as herpes simplex and Zika virus have been found to impact the cornea. However, coronavirus is unable to replicate itself here.
  • The researchers are yet to figure out whether other tissues in and around the cornea remain unaffected or not.
  • Some Covid-19 patients get eye symptoms, such as conjunctivitis (pinkeye), but it’s not clear that the viral infection itself causes that; it could be related to secondary inflammation.




Stake For India In Us Presidential Election


  • In 1990s, when Bill Clinton charmed his way to US presidency, globalisation aided by the Internet was the defining moment.
  • In 2000, it was the “problems of a new century” and terrorism.
  • George Bush Junior swayed the US presidential polls. In 2008, Barack Obama came because the US — and so the world — was in the grip of an unprecedented economic meltdown.
  • In 2016, China had become a neo-colonial power and terrorism a bigger menace.
  • The US wanted to make America great again. Seasoned businessman and inexperienced politician Donald Trump defeated a veteran, Hillary Clinton to occupy the White House.
  • India’s stake is always high in a US election
  • Two reasons for India’s high stake in a US presidential election are: the intricate relationship of the world and India with the US in all interdependent affairs, and the outflow of Indians to the US for personal and national economic progress.
  • The issues that concern India are: China’s behaviour as an unbridled power, inward-looking US policies, the direction of climate change strategies and terrorism.


  • China is now the new colonial power in the world, particularly under its current President Xi Jinping.
  • Chinese neo-colonial ambitions include both territorial including maritime and economic bossism in the world.
  • India, being its immediate neighbour, has, therefore, to deal with an ongoing military standoff for over six months, unflinching support to terror fomenting regime in Pakistan and the Chinese attempts to turn India’s friends-in-the-neighbourhood into rivals and foes (Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives).
  • Till the presidency of Barack Obama, the US admitted that it had a role to ensure rule-based world order.
  • The emphasis ensured that China felt hesitant in asserting itself as an uninhibited power.
  • In the last four years, the US receded towards its own frontiers leaving the space for a Chinese expansion. India is hugely concerned over it.
  • But with Donald Trump, India could effect some counter measures including a rejuvenated Quadrilateral coalition and a little assertion on rule-based order in the South China Sea.
  • But the same Trump philosophy has brought India in a direct confrontation with China.


  • Donald Trump may be an extrovert person with a reputation of being a motormouth but under his watch, the US has become an introvert global power.
  • “Make America Great Again” is a philosophy that is reversing the policies that actually made the US a great global power in the last century.
  • India suffers a lot with this US policy thrust in terms of loss of economic opportunities in trade and agriculture, earning opportunities for Indian professionals and companies hence loss of remittances, losing solid support on issues such as Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and democratic ideology-based support on global issues.
  • This policy of the US also meant that India’s persistent effort to arrive at a global strategy to deal with Covid-19 pandemic for containing its spread and finding a credible vaccine could not succeed.
  • The US promoted what is being called as “vaccine nationalism” which is not conducive to the fight against a true pandemic.


  • For decades, the US accepted that climate change was among the biggest challenge to the world and admitted that it contributed to this problem on its path to become an industrialist nation, and hence it owed it to the world to contribute more in combating climate change and global warming.
  • This stand gave countries like India more elbow room to shape its development strategies.
  • But a change in the stand in the last four years left India with greater burden of a safer future.
  • Climate change policies are inherently linked with cooperation in technology development and sharing.
  • With olden days’ industrial technology, India will continue to lag behind the developed world by a few decades. 


  • The US did not take the threat of terrorism seriously until 9/11 happened in 2001. India has been a victim of terrorism rather export of terror from Pakistan since the late 1980s. The US for long regarded it as a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan.
  • While 9/11 changed the US outlook on terror, it continued to be lenient to Pakistan, which also got the backing of aspiring global boss China.
  • Under Trump, India got more support on the issue of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.
  • But it came with the wrapper of a mediation offer on the issue of Kashmir.
  • However, India successfully fixed the mediation bug and the two countries have appeared on the same page on the issue of fighting terrorism or global terrorism supported by a select group of countries.





Indo-Israeli Centre of Excellence for Vegetables Protected Cultivation


  • To boost the agriculture activity in the Assam, Indo-Israeli Centre of Excellence for Vegetables Protected Cultivation is coming up at Khetri with an investment of Rs 10.33 Crore.
  • The facility is expected to provide exposure to latest Israeli technologies to state’s farmers and helping them maximize their production and income.
  • Hoping that the Center of Excellence would provide a major boost to agricultural and horticultural production in Assam leading to greater economic rewards to state’s farmers.
  • The center would be a value addition to the government’s efforts to double farmers’ income through infusion of technology in agriculture, agribusiness and food processing.
  • Farmers here have now been able to export fruits and vegetables to places like Dubai, London, Bangkok, Abu Dhabi and several others international destinations.




No tax for battery-operated vehicles till 2022


  • In a bid to boost the sale and use of electric vehicles in the State, the Tamil Nadu government exempted battery-operated vehicles from the payment of motor vehicle tax till the end of 2022, in line with the Electric Vehicle Policy released last year.
  • The government has decided to grant 100% tax exemption for all battery-operated vehicles (electric vehicles) as transport and non-transport vehicles up to December 31, 2022.
  • Since March 2008, a concessional rate of 50% of the lifetime tax for the battery-operated motorcycle was being levied under the Tamil Nadu Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, 1974.
  • From November 2008, new battery-operated non-transport vehicles, too, were given concession in tax.
  • The Tamil Nadu government’s decision to grant 100% tax exemption to all battery-operated vehicles till December 31, 2022, followed a proposal from the Transport Commissioner made in November 2019.
  • The government, in its e-vehicles policy released in September 2019, has been pushing for electric vehicles.



Ace To Boost Electronics Startups


  • Kerala CM inaugurated the Accelerator for Electronics Technologies (ACE) established as a joint initiative of the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) and the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) recently.
  • The new facility would nurture the development of high-tech start-ups in electronics and allied disciplines.
  • The accelerator would be complementary to the KSUM-supported incubator in electronics technologies established in Kochi with the assistance of the Union Ministry of Electronics and IT.
  • CDAC will mentor the start-ups for a specific period by providing them access to the new facility’s physical and intellectual infrastructure.
  • While KSUM is the state’s nodal agency for entrepreneurship development and incubation activities, CDAC is a premier research and development institution under the Union ministry of electronics and IT.




India’s First Solar-powered Miniature Train


  • A solar energy-driven miniature train, billed as the country’s first of its kind, was inaugurated at the Veli Tourist Village here by Kerala Chief Minister.
  • The train, which would be an attraction for children especially, was part of a string of projects totally worth Rs 60 crore taken up to elevate the facilities at the panoramic destination to international standards.
  • Also dedicated an “Urban Park” and a swimming pool at the eco-friendly tourist village, located on the outskirts of the state capital where the Veli Lake meets the Arabian Sea.
  • The miniature rail has all the features of a fully- equipped rail system, including a tunnel, station and a ticket office. The train has three bogies that can accommodate around 45 people at a time.
  • Artificial steam spouted by the engine of the train, modeled after the vintage steam locomotive, will stir nostalgic feelings.
  • The surplus energy generated by the system will be routed to the Kerala State Electricity Board’s grid.




IIM Covid Game


  • IIT Madras students have developed a mobile and PC game named simply the ‘IIM Covid Game’ to boost awareness in kids about how to safeguard themselves against the Covid019 coronavirus and the importance of following governmental precautions.
  • The free, browser-based game can be played on mobiles, tablets, laptops and PCs.
  • It is also available in 12 regional languages apart from English — Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu.
  • After creating the prototype of the Covid game, the students collected feedback from different audiences and then translated the game to various languages to improve its reach.
  • They want to introduce even more languages in future.



Unesco stripes for Panna Biosphere Reserve


  • Unesco has included Panna in its ‘World Network of Biosphere Reserves’ — the third in Madhya Pradesh after Pachmarhi and Amarkantak.
  • It was in August 2011 that Panna was notified a biosphere reserve by the Union ministry of environment and forests.
  • Recently, the Unesco website announced: “Unesco’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme has included Panna in India and Fuvahmulahand Addu Atoll in the Maldives in World Network of Biosphere Reserves.”
  • Describing Panna as a “critical tiger habitat”, the Unesco website pointed out that it’s home to the World Heritage site of Khajuraho temples.
  • Panna is characterized by forests and marshy vegetation, with an abundance of rare medicinal plants as well as other non-timber forest products, such as kattha, gum and resin.
  • Will the new status affect the controversial Ken-Betwa linking project in any manner?
  • The Rs 280 billion riverlinking project envisages building a 77-metre-high and 2,031m long composite dam across river Ken near village Daudhan in Chhatarpur district of MP.
  • The dam is expected to irrigate 606,980 hectares, provide drinking water to 14 lakh people and generate 78MW hydropower.
  • It will lead to submergence of over 9,000 hectares — 5,803 hectares of it in Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR).  




Un Adopts India Sponsored Resolutions On Nuclear Disarmament


  • The First Committee of UN General Assembly adopted two resolutions which were sponsored by India –
  • ‘Convention on the Prohibition of the use of Nuclear Weapons’ and
  • ‘Reducing Nuclear Danger’ under the ‘Nuclear weapons’
  • These resolutions manifest India’s commitment towards the goal of nuclear disarmament.
  • The “Convention on the Prohibition of the use of Nuclear Weapons”, tabled by India since 1982 in the General Assembly.
  • Requests the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva to commence negotiations on an international convention prohibiting the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances.
  • The resolution, which is supported by a majority of UN members, reflects India’s conviction that such a multilateral, universal and legally binding agreement would generate necessary political will among States possessing nuclear weapons to engage in negotiations leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
  • The resolution on “Reducing Nuclear Danger”, tabled since 1998, draws global attention to the risks of unintentional or accidental use of nuclear weapons and underscores the need for a review of nuclear doctrines.
  • It calls for concrete steps to reduce such risks, including through de-alerting and de-targeting of nuclear weapons.