Current Affairs Mar 23

World Summit on Information Society Forum 2021

Why in News?

  • The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum 2021 represents one of the world’s largest annual gathering of the ‘ICT for development’ community, is co-organized by International Telecommunications Union (ITU), UNESCO, UNDP and UNCTAD.
  • India’s innovative solutions such as Arogya Setu platform to monitor and alert health status of citizens, CovidSavdhan system for targeted messaging in a specified area, facilitation framework for Work from Home and Work from Anywhere, effective use of public Wi-Fi under PM-WANI scheme enabling effective service delivery for the citizens across the country.




Gandhi Peace Prize

Why in News?

  • The Gandhi Peace Prize for the year 2020 is being conferred on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
  • In recognition of his outstanding contributions towards social, economic and political transformation through non-violent and other Gandhian methods.
  • The Gandhi Peace Prize for the year 2019 is being conferred on (Late) His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said of Oman, in recognition of his outstanding contributions for social, economic and political transformation through non-violent and other Gandhian methods.
  • Recent awardees include Vivekananda Kendra, India (2015); Akshaya Patra Foundation, India and Sulabh International (Jointly, for 2016); Ekal Abhiyan Trust, India (2017) and Shri Yohei Sasakawa, Japan (2018).

About Prize

  • Gandhi Peace Prize is an annual award instituted by Government of India since 1995, the 125th Birth Anniversary commemoration year of Mahatma Gandhi. The award is open to all persons regardless of nationality, race, language, caste, creed or sex.
  • The award carries an amount of Rs. 1 crore, a citation, a plaque andan exquisite traditional handicraft/ handloom item.




Supply Light Specialist Vehicles to Indian Army

Why in News?

  • Ministry of Defence (MoD) signed a contract with Mahindra Defence Systems Ltd (MDSL) for supply of 1,300 Light Specialist Vehicles to the Indian Army, at a cost of Rs 1,056 crore.
  • The induction of vehicles is planned to be completed in four years.
  • The Light Specialist Vehicle is a modern fighting vehicle and will be authorised to various fighting units for carriage of Medium Machine Guns, Automatic Grenade Launchers as well as Anti-tank Guided Missiles.
  • The Light Specialist Vehicle is indigenously designed and developed by MDSL. These combat vehicles are extremely agile with all round protection against small arms fire and will assist small independent detachments which are required to operate this weapon platform in the operational area.




CoreNet Global Academic Challenge 6.0

Why in News?

  • A team of four undergraduate students from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur emerged as winners at the CoreNet Global Academic Challenge 6.0, sponsored by Cushman and Wakefield, KI and IA: Interior Architects.
  • This is the first time that a squad from India has emerged as winners in the CoreNet Global Academic Challenge since the inception of the competition in 2015.
  • CoreNet Global is a non-profit association, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia (US), representing more than 11,000 executives in 50 countries with strategic responsibility for the real estate assets of large corporations.
  • The organization’s mission is to advance the practice of corporate real estate through professional development opportunities, publications, research, conferences, designations and networking in 46 local chapters and networking groups globally.
  • CoreNet Global’s mission is to advance the practice of corporate real estate through professional development opportunities, publications, research, conferences, and chapters and networking groups.
  • CoreNet Global aims to broaden its network, raise the profile of corporate real estate, serve as the profession’s voice and thought leader and champion the profession’s development and maturity.
  • The team would be awarded $5000, complimentary student membership in CoreNet Global (retail value: $25) and a copy of The Essential Guide to Corporate Real Estate (retail value: $49.99).




Jal Jeevan Mission in Bundelkhand & Vindhya region of UP

Why in News?

  • United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) entered into a partnership with the Government of Denmark to support the Union Government’s flagship programme, Jal Jeevan Mission in Uttar Pradesh on World Water day.
  • The purpose of partnership between the Government of Denmark and UNOPS is to provide strategic technical support to Jal Jeevan Mission (Water program).
  • UNOPS shall be focussing on instituting scalable delivery models in focused 11 water-scare districts of Uttar Pradesh in Bundelkhand and Vindhya regions as per the priorities laid down in the Operational Guidelines of Jal Jeevan Mission.

About Jal Jeevan Mission

  • The Jal Jeevan Mission aims to provide functional household tap connection to every rural household by 2024.
  • This coincides with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal-6.
  • In view of UNOPS’s goodwill with Government of India at all levels and with civil society, built up over the years, it is of strategic importance that this collaboration between Government of Denmark and UNOPS brings meaningful impact to achieve the objectives of the Mission.




Enforcement of Contracts and Conciliation Mechanism

Why in News?

  • In order to lay emphasis on Enforcement of Contracts and Conciliation Mechanism, NITI Aayog has constituted two Task Forces.
  • The Task Force for Enforcement of Contracts will give its recommendation for a policy framework for Enforcement of Contracts and the Task Force on Conciliation Mechanism will give its recommendation for an effective Conciliation Mechanism.
  • The Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog will be the Chairman of the Task force and CEO, NITI Aayog will be the Member Secretary of the Task Force.

Terms of Reference of the Task Force will be as follows:

  1. Constitution and operationalization of adequate number of Dedicated Commercial Courts with requisite infrastructure in major towns/clusters at the district level in all States to exclusively deal with commercial cases.
  2. Examination of relevant provisions of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015 on its jurisdiction over different categories of cases and pecuniary jurisdiction of Commercial Courts.
  3. Usage of Case Information Software in commercial cases for random and automated assigning of cases and eliminating human intervention.
  4. Usage of information technology at different level of proceedings.
  5. Role of Pre-Institution Mediation & Settlement as an Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism to take place in all cases at any stage.
  6. Timelines for closure of mediation, settlement and disposal of cases by Commercial Courts.
  7. Information dissemination through regular uploading of granular data on the websites of Commercial Courts relating to commercial cases.
  8. Any other measure.
  • In order to facilitate speedy resolution of contractual disputes between Government Entities and private investors/contractors inter alia to augment ease of doing business, it has been decided to constitute a Task Force with participation from key Ministries/Departments of Government of India to recommend an effective Conciliation Mechanism.The Conciliation Mechanism Task Force has been constituted with participation from key Ministries/Departments of Government of India.

Terms of Reference of the Task Force will be as under:

  1. To develop and formulate guidelines providing for an effective Conciliation Mechanism,for speedy settlement/resolution of disputes arising out of contracts between the Government (Ministries, CPSEs) and private contractor/concessionaire.
  2. To suggest policy, procedural and institutional measures therein on related matters of applicability, conciliation process etc.
  3. To examine relevant provisions of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 and the conciliation mechanism prescribed thereunder.
  4. Any other measure.




National Film Awards

Why in News?

  • Priyadarshan’s Marakar Arbikadalinte Simham (the Lion of Arabian Sea) was chosen as the Best Feature Film and Sanjay Pooran Singh Chauhan won the Best Director Award for Hindi film Bhattar Hoorain at the 67th National Film Awards announced recently.
  • Manoj Bajpayee and Dhanush have shared the Best Actor Award while Kangana Ranaut has won the Best Actress awards.
  • Chauhan’s film is a dark comedy about the consequences of violent extremism. This is only his second film after Lahore that won him the Indira Gandhi Award for the best debutant director in 2010.
  • Bajpayee has been awarded for his measured performance of a retired police constable in Bhonsle, Mr. Dhanush has won it for depicting a range of emotions in Vetrimaaran’s multi-layered revenge drama Asuran.
  • Ranaut bagged the award for her varied performances in Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi and Panga.
  • The Best Supporting Actor Award went to Vijay Sethupathi for his performance in Tamil film Super Deluxe. Seasoned actress Pallavi Joshi won the Best Supporting Actress Award for The Tashkent Files.
  • Immam got the Best Music Award for his songs in Tamil film Viswasam. Prabuddha Banerjee bagged the Award for the Best Background score in Bengali film Jeyesthaputro.
  • Praak won the Best Playback Singer Award for Hindi film Kesari and Savani Ravindra won the Best Female Playback Singer Award for Marathi film Bardo.
  • Telugu film Maharishi won the award for the Best Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment. While Sushant Singh Rajput-starrer Chhichore won the Best Hindi Film Award, the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Film On National Integration went to Marathi film Taj Mahal.
  • Mathukuti Xavier won the Indira Gandhi Award for the Best Debut Film of a Director for Malayalam film Helen.
  • The Best Non-Feature Film Award was bagged by Hemant Gaba’s An Egineered Dream. The best voice over/ narration award went to Sir David Attenborough for Wild Karnataka.
  • Sikkim was awarded as the Best Film Friendly State. The award for the Best Book on Cinema went to Sanjay Suri’s A Gandhian Affair: India’ Curious Portrayal of Love in Cinema.
  • An Engineered Dream, a hindi film has bagged the award for Best Non-Feature Film while Marakkar-Arabikkadalinte-Simham has taken home the award for Best Feature Film.
  • Kastoori has been awarded Best Children’s Film award. Shrikshetra- Ru-Sahijata has won the best Arts and Culture Film.
  • Sikkim has bagged the award for being Most Film Friendly State.
  • Savani Ravindra has won Best Female Playback Singer for her song Raan Petala from the Marathi movie Bardo.
  • Gireesh Gangadharan has been awarded Best Cinematography for the Malayalam film Jallikkettu.




Ken-Betwa Link Project

Why in News?

  • On the occasion of World Water Day a memorandum of agreement was signed between Union Minister of Jal Shakti and the chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh to implement the Ken-Betwa Link Project (KBLP).

What is the Ken Betwa Link Project?

  • The Ken-Betwa Link Project is the first project under the National Perspective Plan for interlinking of rivers.
  • Under this project, water from the Ken river will be transferred to the Betwa river. Both these rivers are tributaries of river Yamuna.
  • The Ken-Betwa Link Project has two phases.
  • Under Phase-I, one of the components — Daudhan dam complex and its appurtenances like Low Level Tunnel, High Level Tunnel, Ken-Betwa link canal and Power houses — will be completed.
  • While in the Phase-II, three components — Lower Orr dam, Bina complex project and Kotha barrage — will be constructed.

Which region will get the benefits of the KBLP?

  • The Ken-Betwa Link Project lies in Bundelkhand, a drought-prone region, which spreads across 13 districts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
  • Project will be of immense benefit to the water-starved region of Bundelkhand, especially in the districts of Panna, Tikamgarh, Chhatarpur, Sagar, Damoh, Datia, Vidisha, Shivpuri and Raisen of Madhya Pradesh and Banda, Mahoba, Jhansi and Lalitpur of Uttar Pradesh.

Are there previous examples of river-linking in India?

  • In the past, several river linking projects have been taken up. For instance, under the Periyar Project, transfer of water from Periyar basin to Vaigai basin was envisaged.
  • It was commissioned in 1895. Similarly, other projects such as Parambikulam Aliyar, Kurnool Cudappah Canal, Telugu Ganga Project, and Ravi-Beas-Sutlej were undertaken.

Recent developments on interlinking of rivers in India

  • In the 1970s, the idea of transferring surplus water from a river to water-deficit area was mooted by the then Union Irrigation Minister (earlier the Jal Shakti Ministry was known as Ministry of Irrigation) Dr K L Rao.
  • Suggested construction of a National Water Grid for transferring water from water-rich areas to water-deficit areas.
  • Similarly, Captain Dinshaw J Dastur proposed the Garland Canal to redistribute water from one area to another.
  • It was in August, 1980 that the Ministry of Irrigation prepared a National Perspective Plan (NNP) for water resources development envisaging inter basin water transfer in the country.
  • The NPP comprised two components: (i) Himalayan Rivers Development; and (ii) Peninsular Rivers Development.
  • Based on the NPP, the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) identified 30 river links—16 under Peninsular component and 14 under Himalayan Component.
  • Later, the river linking idea was revived under the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government.
  • Ken Betwa Link Project is one of the 16 river linking projects under the Peninsular component.




Half a million more TB deaths in 2020

  • Fewer cases of tuberculosis (TB) were notified in 2020 because of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and this led to half a million excess deaths from the disease globally, according to data released by World Health Organisation.
  • There was a 21 per cent decrease in TB notification owing to lockdowns and other disruptions caused by the pandemic. While 6.3 million TB infections were notified in 2019, the figure fell to 4.9 million last year.
  • This means, 1.4 million people did not receive treatment for TB in 2020. This led to half a million additional deaths caused by the disease.
  • The biggest shortfall in average monthly notification compared to 2019 was in Indonesia (42 per cent). This was followed by South Africa (41 per cent), Philippines (37 per cent) and India (25 per cent). India has the highest TB burden in the world.
  • The WHO recommended home-based and community-based prevention and care over hospital treatment for TB patients as much as possible to reduce scope for transmission.
  • The countries have been asked to identify special needs of communities, the populations at highest risk of TB and employ novel tools to address their requirements.
  • These include use of molecular rapid diagnostic tests, computer-aided detection to interpret chest radiography and use of a wider range of approaches for screening people living with HIV for TB.




Arctic methane release due to melting ice

  • Beneath the cold, dark depths of the Arctic Ocean sit vast reserves of methane.
  • These stores rest in a delicate balance, stable as a solid called methane hydrates, at very specific pressures and temperatures.
  • If that balance gets tipped, the methane can get released into the water above and eventually make its way to the atmosphere.
  • In its gaseous form, methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases, warming the Earth about 30 times more efficiently than carbon dioxide.
  • Understanding possible sources of atmospheric methane is critical for accurately predicting future climate change.



New basalt type discovered beneath the ocean

  • A new type of rock created during large and exceptionally hot volcanic eruptions has been discovered beneath the Pacific Ocean.
  • The discovery suggests that ocean floor eruptions sourced in the Earth’s mantle were even hotter and more voluminous than previously thought.
  • The newly-discovered basalt is distinct from known rocks in both its chemical and mineral makeup.
  • Its existence was previously not known because no new examples have been formed in millions of years. As a result, the new basalt type lay buried deep beneath sediment at the bottom of the ocean.
  • The research area was part of the birth of the “Ring of Fire”—a horseshoe-shaped belt known for regular volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.
  • It stretches about 40,000 km around the Pacific, and is thought to have begun forming at least 50 million years ago.
  • The eruptions that created the newly-discovered basalt were very widespread (covering areas the size of western Europe) and occurred in a relatively short geological timescale of between 1-2 million years.