Free Domain in Local Indian Languages
Why in News?
- The National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) announced that it will offer a free IDN (Internationalized Domain Name) in any of their preferred 22 official Indian language along with every IN domain booked by the registrant.
- Applicant will also get a free email in local language.
- This offer has been created to stimulate the adoption of भारत (IDN) domain name and proliferation of local language content.
- National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) is a not for profit organization working since 2003 for spreading the internet technology to the citizens of India through the following activities: –
- Internet Exchanges through which the internet data is exchanged amongst ISPs and between ISPs and CDNs.
- IN Registry, managing and operation of IN country code domain and भारत IDN domain for India.
- IRINN, managing and operating Internet protocol (IPv4/IPv6).
Japan’s Official Development Assistance
Why in News?
- The Government of Japan has committed Official Development Assistance loan of an amount of JPY 30 billion (approx. Rs. 2,113 crore) for a programme loan to support India’s efforts at providing social assistance to the poor and vulnerable households, severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- This programme loan aims to support India’s efforts to provide coordinated and adequate social protection to the poor and vulnerable across the country against the severe impacts of COVID-19 pandemic.
India & Japan Relationship
- India and Japan have had a long and fruitful history of bilateral development cooperation since 1958.
- In the last few years, the economic cooperation between India and Japan has strengthened and grown into strategic partnership.
- This further consolidates and strengthens the Strategic and Global Partnership between India and Japan.
IREDA to Support NHPC in Green Energy projects
Why in News?
- Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd. (IREDA), under administrative control of Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NHPC Ltd., the PSU under Ministry of Power, for providing its technical expertise in developing renewable energy projects.
Under the (MoU)
- IREDA will undertake Techno-Financial due diligence of Renewable energy and Energy Efficiency & conservation projects for NHPC. IREDA will assist NHPC in developing an action plan to create and acquire Renewable Energy projects for the next 5 years.
NCAVES India Forum-2021
Why in News?
- Natural Capital Accounting and Valuation of the Ecosystem Services (NCAVES) India Forum 2021 is being organised by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI).
- Funded by EU, has been jointly implemented by the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Secretariat of the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD).
- India is one of the five countries taking part in this project – the other countries being Brazil, China, South Africa and Mexico.
- In India, the NCAVES project is being implemented by the MoSPI in close collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC).
- The participation in the project has helped MOSPI commence the compilation of the Environment Accounts as per the UN-SEEA framework and release environmental accounts in its publication “EnviStats India” on an annual basis since 2018.
- The development of the India-EVL Tool which is essentially a look-up tool giving a snapshot of the values of various ecosystem services in the different States of the country, based on about 80 studies conducted across the country.
- It also provides a critical view on the literature that is available and the applicability of estimates spatially across India according to bio-geographical areas.
- The Forum targets showcasing some of the important researches/work related to the environment through the online exhibition and the twitter poster session platform.
- The Forum aims to build a stronger awareness about the different perspective to Environment and to show a way forward towards realizing the contribution of the natural capital to achieve a “better environment, better tomorrow”.
Army to Relocate From Kargil Plateaus
Why in News?
- Fulfilling a long-pending demand of Ladakh’s Kargil district, the Army decided to relocate from the plateaus of Kurbathang and Mulbekh, which will allow the township to expand in an organised manner.
- A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Kargil, and the Army to evacuate the Kargil’s lower plateau.
- The Army will evacuate from 1700 kanals (212.5 acres) of land and relocate to the outskirts of Kargil.
Why in News?
- A daughter of a slain Sri Lankan journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge, filed a complaint o with the United Nations Human Rights Committee over alleged government involvement in her father’s death 12 years ago.
- The San Francisco-based Center for Justice and Accountability filed the complaint on behalf of Ahimsa Wickrematunge, the daughter of Lasantha Wickrematunge.
- Lasantha Wickrematunge, editor of the now-defunct Sunday Leader newspaper, was a strong critic of current President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was a powerful defence official at the time. Mr. Gotapaya Rajapaksa’s older brother, current Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, was President at the time.
- Lasantha Wickrematunge’s assassination came to symbolise alleged government abuses and impunity during the country’s civil war.
- It featured prominently in an investigation conducted by the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2015.
- The complaint requests that the Human Rights Committee ensure that Sri Lanka conducts an independent investigation, prosecutes those responsible, and apologizes to and compensates the Wickrematunge family.
- The Human Rights Committee is a group of independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Compulsory Nature Of Sacred Confessions To Priests In Christianity
Why in News?
- The Supreme Court agreed to consider a petition filed by a group of women against the compulsory nature of sacred confessions to priests in Christianity.
- The veracity of such allegations would depend on the individual facts in every case.
- “There cannot be a rule to impose confessions on a worshipper… Ladies are forced to confess before the priest… The court has to see whether confessions are an integral part of the religion.
- Earlier, the court had agreed to examine a separate but similar plea by members of the Malankara Syrian Church in Kerala seeking a declaration that forced confessions were unconstitutional by nature.
- These confessions may involve sexual exploitation of parishioners.
- “Church is forcing the members to mandatorily confess and mandatorily make payment of monies/dues and the said practises indulged in by the church are of public nature, affecting human dignity and liberty of thought and that the believers have been forced to remain meek and quiet out of fear of removal from parish membership, social ostracisation, etc.
- “This pernicious practice of forced, compulsory and mandatory confession [not being voluntary] from every member, both men and women, is causing several other problems, including sexual exploitation of women and blackmailing”.
- It had sought a judicial declaration that mandatory confession is a violation of the right to privacy, liberty and dignity of the parishioners.
Digital Services Tax
Why in News?
- India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry denied U.S. claim that its 2% tax on digital services discriminated against the American companies.
What India Says?
- India said it will examine the decision notified by the U.S., and take ‘appropriate action’ after U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) investigation report said the country’s Digital Services Tax (DST) is ‘inconsistent with prevailing principles of international taxation, and burden or restricts U.S. commerce’.
- The tax applied since April 1, 2020 covers all digital transactions in India, including e-commerce supplies by non-resident players.
- Besides, the scope of DST was expanded to include transactions that use Indian data if the firm’s revenue from India is Rs. 2 crore and above.
- The Commerce Ministry considers this levy very moderate and applies it equally on all overseas e-commerce operators doing business in India.
- USTR started investigation in June last year against Equalisation Levy (EL), on the ground of Section 301 of the U.S. Trade Act of 1974.
- The law explicitly exempts Indian companies, and targets non-Indian firms. This impacts U.S technology companies as they are taxed higher than their Indian counterparts. USTR noted that of the 119 companies liable under DST, 86 are U.S. companies.
- The tax is levied on companies with no permanent establishment in India, and is applied on a firm’s revenue rather than income. This is inconsistent with the international tax principles.
Purpose of EL
- To ensure fair competition, reasonableness and exercise the ability of governments to tax businesses that have a close nexus with the Indian market through digital operations.
South Asia Multilateral Meet
Why in News?
- China has held its third multilateral dialogue with countries from South Asia to take forward closer cooperation on fighting COVID-19 and coordinating their economic agendas, reflecting a new approach in Beijing’s outreach to the region.
- The third dialogue,, brought together every country in the region barring India, Bhutan and the Maldives, and was aimed at “anti-epidemic cooperation and poverty reduction cooperation.
- All three dialogues have been attended by Pakistan and Nepal, which are emerging as two lynchpins in China’s regional strategy.
- The first such meeting was convened by China in July, and was attended by Pakistan, Nepal and Afghanistan.
- This was followed by a five-member grouping in November attended by China, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
In this Meeting
- The representatives shared their experience on anti-epidemic and poverty relief.
- They talked about dealing with the impact of the pandemic, resuming economic and trade cooperation, dealing with non-traditional security challenges and advancing sustainable development, and reached an initial consensus.
- At the July quadrilateral dialogue with Afghanistan, Nepal and Pakistan, China’s Foreign Minister proposed extending the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan, as well as taking forward an economic corridor plan with Nepal, called the Trans-Himalayan Multi-dimensional Connectivity Network.
Jharkhand’s agreement with Centre, RBI on power dues
Why in News?
- Jharkhand exited from a Tripartite Agreement (TPA) between the state, Government of India (GOI) and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) after an approval for the same by the Cabinet.
- The TPA was invoked after the state government failed to clear its outstanding power supply dues to Damodar Valley Corporation.
- After the deductions of more than Rs 1,400 crore, the Jharkhand government decided that the auto-deduction from the consolidated fund is not in favour of “Jharkhand’s health” and thus exited TPA.
What is the Tripartite Agreement?
- An agreement was signed between GOI, Jharkhand state and RBI in 2017 stating that the state government shall ensure that the state power utilities — in this case, Jharkhand Urja Vitaran Nigam Limited (JBVNL) — make the supply payment due to the Central Public Sector Units — in this case, Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC)—within the period specified in the supply agreement.
- In the event of State Power Utilities committing a breach in the terms, the state government shall independently and as a principal debtor become liable for the payment.
- As per the TPA, it authorises the GOI to instruct RBI to act promptly on its instructions i.e. to debit the amount.
Rain in January unusual for Maharashtra
Why in News?
- Pune recorded 32.5 millimetres of unseasonal rainfall in the last 24 hours, which is the highest January rainfall in the city since 1948, as per India Meteorological Department.
- Several parts of Maharashtra received moderate rainfall in the first week of January. The minimum temperatures in most parts of the state (barring Konkan) during this month hovers between 7 – 13 degrees.
- The rainfall is mainly associated with the easterly winds.
- An active easterly wind means that there is abundant moisture brought-in over the land from the Bay of Bengal, offering favourable conditions for cloud formation that triggers thunderstorms. As a result, the minimum temperatures across the state have jumped significantly above normal.
How common is rainfall over Pune and Maharashtra in January?
- Normally, Pune and rest of Maharashtra record rainfall during the Southwest monsoon season – June to September.
- During the monsoon withdrawal in October, and on some rare occasions in November, it experiences thunderstorms. This means, the currently prevailing cloudy sky conditions and rains are both unusual and untimely.
- Decadal rainfall data maintained by the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Pune, suggests that between 2010 and 2021, Pune city has recorded rainfall (less than 1mm) in January only thrice.
How will the present weather affect crops?
- The prevailing weather is harmful for standing crops, especially fruits like grapes and strawberries, which are set to hit markets in less than two months from now.
- Many crops have reached their flowering and tillering stage, a time when the plants need adequate sunlight.
- Vegetable and fruit crops could suffer in their growth stages as the moisture can favour pests and similar attacks.
Why in News?
- A new study suggests that the body’s immune response to the novel coronavirus can last for at least eight months after the onset of symptoms from the initial infection.
- Researchers measured antibodies, memory B cells, helper T cells and killer T cells all at the same time.
- The findings could mean that Covid-19 survivors have protective immunity against serious disease from the SARS-CoV-2 virus for months, perhaps years, after infection.
- A decline in antibodies is very normal. That’s what immune responses do. They have a first phase of ramping up, and after that fantastic expansion, eventually the immune response contracts somewhat and gets to a steady state.
25th Amendment of the US Constitution
Why in News?
- In the immediate aftermath of Donald Trump supporters storming the US Capitol building, which houses both the US Senate as well as the House of Representatives, there are calls by many to either impeach President Trump or invoke the 25th Amendment.
What is the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution?
- This amendment lays out how a US president and vice president may be succeeded or replaced.
- According to Cornell Law School,
- “The Twenty-fifth Amendment was an effort to resolve some of the continuing issues revolving about the office of the President; that is, what happens upon the death, removal, or resignation of the President and what is the course to follow if for some reason the President becomes disabled to such a degree that he cannot fulfill his responsibilities.”
- The amendment has four sections.
- According to Encyclopedia Britannica,
- While the first section codified the traditionally observed process of succession in the event of the death of the president—that the vice president would succeed to the office—it also introduced a change regarding the ascent of the vice president to president should the latter resign from office.
- “In the event of resignation, the vice president would assume the title and position of president—not acting president—effectively prohibiting the departing president from returning to office”.
- The second section of the amendment addresses vacancies in the office of the vice president.
- The third section of the amendment set forth the formal process for determining the capacity of the president to discharge the powers and duties of office.
- If the president is able to declare his/her inability, then the vice president takes over as the acting president.
- In case the president is unable to declare his/her incompetence, the fourth section of the amendment requires the vice president and the cabinet to jointly ascertain this and if they do so, then the vice president immediately assumes the position of acting president.
- It is this fourth section of the 25th Amendment that many are asking Vice President Pence to invoke against President Trump.
Used in the past?
- In the aftermath of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the 25th Amendment was proposed by Congress on July 6, 1965, and ratified by the states on February 10, 1967.
2020 was the hottest year globally despite cooling La Niña
- The year 2020 was the joint hottest year on record globally along with 2016, according to European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S).
- Last year was “the sixth in a series of exceptionally warm years starting in 2015 and 2011-2020 the warmest decade recorded.
- 2020 matches the 2016 record despite a cooling La Niña, whereas 2016 was a record year that began with a strong warming El Niño event.
- Alongside the global rise in temperatures, the European continent also witnessed its warmest year on record in 2020. It was 0.4 degree Celcius warmer than 2019, which was previously the warmest year.
- Parts of the Arctic and northern Siberia saw some of the largest annual temperature deviations from average in 2020, with a large region seeing deviations of as much as 3°C and in some locations even over 6°C for the year as a whole.
- The temperatures in the northern and southern hemispheres were also in stark contrast. The northern part of the planet witnessed above-average temperatures, while the southern regions experienced cooler temperatures because of La Niña conditions.
- It is critical to understand whether dynamic patterns induced by COVID-19 lockdowns caused many of these perturbations like Siberian warming which then got amplified by snowmelt feedback.
- Snowmelt would decrease the albedo and lead to absorption of more energy in spring summer months which can quickly amplify the warming”. Polar amplification also includes cloud and water vapour feedbacks.
Why in News?
- NASA has approved a large contribution to Japan’s Extreme Ultraviolet High-Throughput Spectroscopic Telescope (EUVST) mission.
- Led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the mission involves a solar telescope that will study the way the sun’s atmosphere detaches to become the solar wind.
- This is a constant sleet of particles that flows through the solar system creating “space weather” that sparks the polar lights on Earth, and disrupts technology.
- Along with other solar missions, such as the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter and NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, EUVST will help provide a comprehensive investigation into space weather.
- EUVST will study the sun in precise detail at ultraviolet wavelengths. Also known as Solar-C, it is targeted for launch in the mid-2020s.
- Japan’s previous solar mission, Hinode or Solar-B, was launched in 2006.
Electrojet Zeeman Imaging Explorer (EZIE) mission
- Nasa has also announced funding for EZIE mission.
- EZIE will study electrical currents in Earth’s atmosphere to understand more about how the aurora is created by the interaction of the solar wind with the Earth’s magnetic field.
- Comprising three small “CubeSats”, EZIE will launch sometime after June 2024.