Current affairs Jan 7

Specified Skilled Worker

Why in News?

  • The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister has approved the signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation between the Government of India and Government of Japan, on a Basic Framework for Partnership for Proper Operation of the System Pertaining to “Specified Skilled Worker”.


  • The present Memorandum of Cooperation would set an institutional mechanism for partnership and cooperation between India and Japan on sending and accepting skilled Indian workers, who have qualified the required skill and Japanese language test, to work in fourteen specified sectors in Japan.
  • These Indian workers would be granted a new status of residence of “Specified Skilled Worker” by the Government of Japan.

Implementation Strategy:

  • Under this MOC, a Joint Working Group will be set up to follow up the implementation of this MOC.

Major Impact:

  • The Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) would enhance people-to -people contacts, foster mobility of workers and skilled professionals from India to Japan.




Human-Wildlife Conflict (HWC)

Why in News?

  • The Standing Committee of National Board of Wildlife (SC-NBWL) in its 60th meeting has approved the advisory for management of Human-Wildlife Conflict (HWC) in the country.
  • The advisory makes important prescriptions for the States/ Union Territories for dealing with Human-Wildlife conflict situations and seeks expedited inter-departmental coordinated and effective actions.

The Advisory Envisages

  • Empowering gram panchayats in dealing with the problematic wild animals as per the section 11 (1) (b) of Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • Utilising add-on coverage under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna for crop compensation against crop damage due to HWC and augmenting fodder and water sources within the forest areas.
  • Payment of a portion of ex-gratia as interim relief within 24 hours of the incident to the victim/family.
  • Prescribing inter-departmental committees at local/state level, adoption of early warning systems, creation of barriers, dedicated circle wise Control Rooms with toll free hotline numbers which could be operated on 24X7 basis, Identification of hotspots and formulation and implementation of special plans for improved stall-fed farm animal etc.

Some of the other important approvals

  • Inclusion of Caracal, a medium size wild cat found in some parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat, into the list of critically endangered species for taking up conservation efforts with financial support under Centrally sponsored Scheme-Development of Wildlife Habitat.
  • Now, there are 22 wildlife species under recovery programme for critically endangered species.
  • The Standing Committee also recommended the construction of causeway across Jampannavagu to Muthapur of Govindaraopet and between Jampannavagu to Motlagudem in Mulugu District of Telengana.

About NBWL

  • The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) is constituted by the Central Government under Section 5 A of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (WLPA).
  • The Standing Committee of NBWL considers proposals after a series of levels of scrutiny and have recommendations of the State Chief Wildlife Warden, State Government and the State Board for Wildlife.
  • During the meetings of SC-NBWL, the views of the expert members are taken into consideration before arriving at decisions.




Longitudinal Ageing Study of India (LASI) Wave-1

Why in News?

  • Ministry of Health and Family Welfare released INDIA REPORT on Longitudinal Ageing Study of India (LASI) Wave-1.

 What is it?

  • LASI is a full–scale national survey of scientific investigation of the health, economic, and social determinants and consequences of population ageing in India.
  • It is India’s first and the world’s largest ever survey that provides a longitudinal database for designing policies and programmes for the older population in the broad domains of social, health, and economic well-being.

Who has conducted this Study?

  • The National Programme for Health Care of Elderly, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has undertaken the Longitudinal Ageing Study of India,
      • Through International Institute for Population Sciences, (IIPS), Mumbai in collaboration with Harvard School of Public Health, University of Southern California,USA, Dte.GHS, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and National Institute on Ageing.


  • The evidence from LASI will be used to further strengthen and broaden the scope of National Programme for Health Care of the Elderly and also help in establishing a range of preventive and health care programmes for older population and most vulnerable among them.

Census 2011

  • In 2011 census, the 60+ population accounted for 8.6% of India’s population, accounting for 103 million elderly people.
  • Growing at around 3% annually, the number of elderly age population will rise to 319 million in 2050.
  • 75% of the elderly people suffer from one or the other chronic disease.
  • 40% of the elderly people have one or the other disability and 20% have issues related to mental health.
  • A unique feature of LASI is the coverage of comprehensive biomarkers. No other survey in India collects detailed data on health and biomarkers together with information on family and social network, income, assets, and consumption.




Draft 5th National STI Policy

Why in News?

  • The 5th National Science Technology and Innovation Policy finalized and available for public consultation
      • Is guided by the broad vision of achieving technological self-reliance and positioning India among the top three scientific superpowers in the decade
      • To come, to attract, nurture, strengthen and retain critical human capital through ‘people-centric’ science technology and Innovation Ecosystem.

Aim of draft STIP

  • To create an end to end science, technology and innovation ecosystem, which is inclusive and brings equal benefits to all stakeholders in the process.
  • The policy drafted through a 4 track process of consultation aims to bring about profound changes through short, medium, and long-term mission mode projects
      • By building a nurtured ecosystem that promotes translational as well as foundational research and innovation among both individuals and organizations in alignment with global standards.

The objective of the draft policy

  • To identify and address the strengths and weaknesses of the Indian STI ecosystem to catalyse the socio-economic development of the country and also make the Indian STI ecosystem globally competitive.

National STI Observatory

  • A National STI Observatory, as suggested in the policy, will act as a central repository for all kinds of data related to and generated from the STI ecosystem.
  • It will encompass an open centralised database platform for all schemes, programmes, grants, and incentives existing in the ecosystem, and a dedicated portal will be created to provide access to the outputs of such publicly-funded research.




Ladakh Issues

Why in News?

  • A committee would be constituted under Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy to find an appropriate solution to the issues related to language, culture and conservation of land in the Union Territory of Ladakh.

Looking into?

  • In view of the difficult geographical conditions and the strategic importance of Ladakh, all the representatives expressed their concern with respect to
      • Conservation of language, culture and land of Ladakh,
      • Participation of the people of Ladakh in its development,
      • Protection of employment and changes in the demography of Ladakh region.
      • A protest was also held in this regard before the LAHDC [Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council] elections.

About Committee

  • The committee, led by Mr. Reddy, would comprise members of the delegation that met the Home Minister, elected members from Ladakh, members of the LAHDC and ex-officio members representing the Government of India and the Ladakh administration.


  • The People’s Movement of the Union Territory of Ladakh, a group comprising all political parties and the influential Buddhist association, has been demanding inclusion under the sixth schedule of the Constitution.

About Sixth Schedule

  • The Sixth schedule protects tribal populations and provides autonomy to the communities through the creation of autonomous development councils that can frame laws on land, public health, agriculture etc.
  • As of now, 10 autonomous councils exist in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.

The Hindu

Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine

Why in News?

  • The European Union’s medicines agency gave the green light to Moderna Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine.
  • A decision that gives the 27-nation bloc a second vaccine to use in the desperate battle to tame the virus rampaging across the continent.

Preliminary Results

  • Early results of large, still unfinished studies show both the Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines appear safe and strongly protective, although Moderna’s is easier to handle since it doesn’t need to be stored at ultra-frozen temperatures.
  • The United States, Canada and Israel have already approved use of the Moderna vaccine.

About Vaccines

  • Both Moderna’s and Pfizer-BioNTech’s shots are mRNA vaccines, made with a groundbreaking new technology.
  • They don’t contain any coronavirus – meaning they cannot cause infection.
  • Instead, they use a piece of genetic code that trains the immune system to recognize the spike protein on the surface of the virus, ready to attack if the real thing comes along.


Origin of Fertile Soil in the Amazon

  • Amazonian dark earth or Indian black earth is type of very dark and highly fertile soil patches found in the Amazon basin.
  • Since many artefacts have been discovered in such regions, they were thought to have been brought in or created by the indigenous peoples for agricultural purposes.
  • But a new study has now shown that flooding and fire disturbances may have created these soils rich in phosphorus and calcium and the “indigenous peoples used their knowledge to identify and preferentially settle areas of exceptionally high fertility”.




Dry Ryugu

  • In April 2019, Japan’s Hayabusa 2 mission completed an experiment in which it remotely analysed the near-Earth asteroid Ryugu.
  • Using this data, researchers are trying to explain why Ryugu does not have water-bearing minerals like some other asteroids.
  • They suggest that the parent body from which Ryugu formed was dried out by some heating event before Ryugu was formed, leaving the asteroid drier than expected.


Satellite Saves Forests

  • High-res satellite images from NASA’s Landsat Science program decreased the probability of deforestation in Africa by 18%.
  • University of Maryland created a system known as GLAD which sends email alerts to subscribers when the algorithm detects deforestation going on in an area, thus helping government agencies and other deforestation prevention groups take immediate action.




Treating Bipolar Disorder

Present treatment

  • About 2% of the world population is affected by bipolar disorder, and Lithium is currently being used as the first-line long-term treatment for mood stabilisation.
  • But more than half do not respond well to Lithium treatment.

New Finding

  • Researchers have identified that decreased activation of a gene called LEF1 may be the reason for this.


  • When we silenced the LEF1 gene, the neurons became hyperexcitable.
  • And when we used valproic acid, the expression of LEF1 increased, and we lowered the hyperexcitability.
  • That shows there is a causative relationship, and that’s why we think LEF1 may be a possible target for drug therapy.





  • Kefir or kephir, a fermented milk drink (similar to thin curd) has been considered as a superfood.
  • Now scientists have decoded how different bacteria and yeasts interact or work together to create the perfect kefir.
  • Cooperation allows them to do something they couldn’t do alone.
  • It is particularly fascinating how L. kefiranofaciens (bacteria), which dominates the kefir community, uses kefir grains to bind together all other microbes that it needs to survive.
  • One grain to bind them all.”

Threat to Cryptocurrency Holders

Why in News?

  • A wide-ranging marketing operation aimed at cryptocurrency holders to collect their private keys and drain wallets was discovered by a team of security researchers.

The Marketing Campaign Included

  • Custom cryptocurrency-related applications, domain registrations, ‘trojanised’ applications, fake social media accounts and a new Remote Access Tool (RAT), named ElectroRAT, which is written from scratch.
  • The campaign was detected in December, and is estimated to have been initiated in January last year.

What does Attacker do

  • The attacker lured cryptocurrency users into downloading trojanised apps by promoting them on online forums and social media.
  • The applications are directly related to cryptocurrency, such as ‘Jamm’ and ‘eTrade’, which are cryptocurrency trade management applications and ‘DaoPoker’, a cryptocurrency poker app.


  • ElectroRAT works similar to trojans but is written from scratch in Golang, an open-source programming language. This was done to target multiple operating systems as Golang is incredibly efficient in multi-platform use.
  • The tool is extremely intrusive and has various capabilities like keylogging, taking screenshots, uploading files from disk, downloading files and executing commands on the victim’s console.




African Elephants Surveyed Using AI

What does it do?

  • A new approach for surveying African elephants using satellite imagery and artificial intelligence (AI) could help in solving some of the present challenges in the conservation of the species.

Developed by?

  • The survey method was developed by an international team of researchers led by University of Oxford.


  • A satellite orbiting in space is capable of capturing more than 5,000 square kilometre of imagery in a single run, within minutes.
  • It not only eliminates the risk of double counting, but also makes it possible to conduct repeat surveys at short intervals.

Current Method and Problem

  • The current techniques used for surveying the elephants like using manned aircraft for aerial counts can be costly, hindered by poor visibility, and logistically challenging.
  • Also, erroneous counting could lead to misallocation of scarce conservation resources and misunderstanding population trends.

Satellite Monitoring

  • Satellite monitoring is an unobtrusive technique requiring no ground presence thus eliminating the risk of disturbing species, or of concern for human safety during data collection.
  • The remote detection method makes it possible to monitor cross-border areas without terrestrial permits.




New Players to Set Up Stock Exchanges

Why in News?

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has floated a discussion paper on review of ownership and governance norms to facilitate new entrants to set up stock exchanges and depositories, otherwise called as market infrastructure institutions (MIIs).

Key Proposals

  • A resident promoter setting up an MII may hold up to 100% shareholding, which will be brought down to not more than (either 51% or 26%) in 10 years.
  • A foreign promoter from Financial Action Task Force FATF member jurisdictions setting up an MII may hold up to 49% shareholding, which shall be brought down to not more than (either 26% or 15%) in 10 years.
  • Foreign individuals or entities from other than FATF member jurisdictions may acquire or hold up to 10% in an MII.
  • Any person other than the promoter may acquire or hold less than 25% shareholding.
  • At least 50% of ownership of the MII may be represented by individuals or entities with experience of five years or more in the areas of capital markets or technology related to financial services.


C-295 Transport Aircraft

Why in News?

  • Major contracts for procuring 56 C-295 transport aircraft from Airbus to replace the Avro aircraft in service and 83 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Mk-1A are likely to be concluded in the next few months.

Other Contracts

  • Contracts for procuring the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) from HAL, additional Harop (P-IV) loitering drones from Israel and upgrade of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAV) in service were also at an advance stage.
  • The Indian Air Force (IAF) has ordered 40 LCA Tejas in two batches of 20 each in the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) and Final Operational Clearance (FOC) configurations and has raised two squadrons.
  • Till date, 16 aircraft have been delivered to the IAF in IOC configuration.
  • Delivery of the FOC aircraft has also commenced with improved weapons capability, enhanced fight envelope, inflight refuelling capability and advance features for low-speed handling.
  • There is also a LCA MK-2 under development.
  • The IAF has 56 Avro transport aircraft procured in the 1960s and they are in urgent need of replacement.




Using God’s Name to Sell Articles

Why in News?

  • The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court has declared that advertisement of any article using the name of any God and claiming that it has supernatural qualities, is “illegal” and falls under the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act.
  • The objectives quoted in the Black Magic Act can be achieved mainly through education.
  • The court directed the State and Vigilance Officers to register such crimes, giving reports against persons who make such advertisements and sell such articles.
  • The court also directed the State and Central governments to create separate cells in Mumbai to ensure that no such advertisements were telecast as advertisement or in the name of programmes in Maharashtra.




Antibodies Target

Different Parts of Coronavirus

Why in News?

  • Antibodies against Covid-19 preferentially target a different part of the virus in mild cases and a different part in severe cases, according to a new study by researchers.


  • SARS-CoV-2 binds to human cells via a structure on its surface called the spike protein. Once inside, the virus sheds its outer coat to reveal an inner shell encasing its genetic material.
  • Soon, the virus created multiple copies of itself, which are then released to infect other cells.

How Antibodies Work

  • Antibodies that recognise and bind to the spike protein block its ability to bind to the human cell, preventing infection.
  • On the other hand, antibodies that target other viral components are unlikely to prevent viral spread.


  • Researchers found that people with severe Covid-19 have a lower proportion of antibodies targeting the spike protein used by the virus to enter human cells than of antibodies targeting proteins of the virus’s inner shell.
  • Those people with mild illness tended to have a higher proportion of anti-spike antibodies, and those who died from their disease had more antibodies that recognized other parts of the virus.




Renaming of Aurangabad as Sambhaji Nagar

Why in News?

  • A long standing demand of the Shiv Sena for renaming Aurangabad city in Maharashtra as Sambahji Nagar has resurfaced over the last few days.

The city and its name

  • Aurangabad was built in 1610 by Malik Ambar of the Nijam shahi dynasty.
  • It was renamed Aurangabad by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb when he made it his capital.
  • Aurangzeb, who lived in Aurangabad until his death, tortured and killed Chhatrapati Sambahji Maharaj, son of the Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
  • In the late 1980s, the Sena started to expand beyond the Mumbai-Thane region and came to power in the local body in the Aurganbad city.
  • During the victory rally on May 8, 1988, Shiv Sena chief the late Balasaheb Thackeray announced that the city would be renamed Sambhaji Nagar.


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