Current Affairs Jul 9

Competition Commission of India (CCI) and Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC)

Why in News?

  • The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister has approved the Memorandum on Cooperation (MoC) between Competition Commission of India (CCI) and Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) to promote and strengthen cooperation in the matter of Competition Law and Policy.


  • The approved MoC, through exchange of information, will enable CCI to emulate and learn from the experiences and lessons of its counterpart competition agency in Japan which would enhance efficiency.
  • The same will help improve enforcement of the Competition Act, 2002 by CCI.
  • The resultant outcomes will benefit consumers at large and will promote equity and inclusiveness.


  • It will envisage to promote and strengthen cooperation in the matter of Competition Law and policy through exchange of information as well as through various capacity building initiatives in the areas of technical cooperation, experience sharing and enforcement cooperation


  • Section 18 of the Competition Act, 2002 permits CCI to enter into any memorandum or arrangement with any agency of any foreign country for the purpose of discharging its duties or performing its functions under the Act.




Agriculture Infrastructure Fund

Why in News?

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by Hon’ble Prime Minister gave its approval to the following modifications in Central Sector Scheme of Financing Facility under ‘Agriculture Infrastructure Fund’:
  1. Eligibility has now been extended to State Agencies/APMCs, National & State Federations of Cooperatives, Federations of Farmers Producers Organizations (FPOs) and Federations of Self Help Groups (SHGs).
  2. At present Interest subvention for a loan upto Rs. 2 crore in one location is eligible under the scheme. In case, one eligible entity puts up projects in different locations then all such projects will be now be eligible for interest subvention for loan upto Rs. 2 crore.
  • However, for a private sector entity there will be a limit of a maximum of 25  such projects.
  • This limitation of 25 projects will not be applicable to state agencies, national and state federations of cooperatives, federations of FPOs and federation of SHGs.
  • Location will mean physical boundary of a village or town having a distinct LGD (Local Government Directory) code. Each of such projects should be in a location having a separate LGD code.
  1. For APMCs, interest subvention for a loan upto Rs. 2 crore will be provided for each project of different infrastructure types e.g. cold storage, sorting, grading and assaying units, silos, et within the same market yard.
  2. The power has been delegated to Hon’ble Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare to make necessary changes with regard to addition or deletion of beneficiary in such a manner so that basic spirit of the scheme is not altere
  3. The period of financial facility has been extended from 4 to 6 years upto 2025-26 and overall period of the scheme has been extended from 10 to 13 upto 2032-33.
  • The modifications in the Scheme will help to achieve a multiplier effect in generating investments while ensuring that the benefits reach small and marginal farmers.
  • APMC markets are setup to provide market linkages and create an ecosystem of post-harvest public infrastructure open to all farmers.




India and Gambia sign an MoU

Why in News?

  • The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Government of India and the Public Service Commission, Office of the President, Republic of The Gambia signed an MoU on Refurbishing Personnel Administration and Governance Reforms.
  • The MoU aims at strengthening and promoting bilateral cooperation between the two countries in Personnel Administration and Governance Reforms.
  • The cooperation in areas such as Improving Performance Management System in Government, Implementation of contributory Pension Scheme and, e-Recruitment in Government form part of the areas to be covered under the activities of MoU.




Blackfrog Technologies

Why in News?

  • DBT-BIRAC supported startup Blackfrog Technologies has developed Emvolio, a portable, battery-powered medical-grade refrigeration device that improves the efficiency of the immunization by strictly maintaining preset temperature for up to 12 hours, thus enabling the safe and efficient transportation of vaccines to the last mile.
  • Emvólio has a 2-litre capacity, enabling it to carry 30-50 vials, the standard for a daylong immunization campaign.
  • The device also includes continuous temperature monitoring, location tracking, state-of-charge indication, communication with headquarters via live-tracking, and vital statistics for improved coverage.
  • The underlying refrigeration mechanism is solid-state cooling with a smart PID (Proportional Integral Derivate) controller, which guarantees precise temperature maintenance without the risk of noxious refrigerant leakage or cross-contamination.
  • The lack of motors/compressors or any moving parts enables low-maintenance operation. The unique design of Emvólio promises uniform cooling and minimal freeze-thaw cycles.

About DBT

  • The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science and Technology, boosts and augments the development of biotechnology ecosystem in India, through its expansion and application in agriculture, healthcare, animal sciences, environment, and industry.


  • Set up by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), is a not-for-profit Section 8, Schedule B, Public Sector Enterprise, which acts as an Interface Agency to improve and encourage the evolving biotechnology industry to execute strategic research and development activities in context to Nation’s product development needs.




Deaths linked to abnormal temperatures

  • Nearly 740,000 access deaths in India annually can be attributed to abnormal hot and cold temperatures related to climate change, according to a study.
  • Globally more than five million extra deaths a year can be attributed to non-optimal temperatures.
  • Deaths related to hot temperatures increased in all regions from 2000 to 2019, indicating that global warming due to climate change will make this mortality figure worse in the future.
  • In India, the number of deaths per year linked with abnormal cold temperatures is 655,400, while as the number of deaths associated with high temperatures is 83,700.
  • The team looked at mortality and temperature data across the world from 2000 to 2019, a period when global temperatures rose by 0.26 degrees Celsius per decade.
  • The study, the first to definitively link non-optimal temperatures to annual increases in mortality, found 9.43 per cent of global deaths could be attributed to cold and hot temperatures.
  • This equates to 74 excess deaths for every 100,000 people, with most deaths caused by cold exposure.
  • Global warming may “slightly reduce the number of temperature-related deaths, largely because of the lessening in cold-related mortality”.
  • However in the long-term climate change is expected to increase the mortality burden because heat-related mortality would be continuing to increase.
  • The data shows geographic differences in the impact of non-optimal temperatures on mortality, with Eastern Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa having the highest heat and cold-related excess death rates.
  • Cold-related death decreased 0.51 per cent from 2000 to 2019, while heat-related death increased 0.21 per cent, leading to a reduction in net mortality due to cold and hot temperatures.
  • Of the global deaths attributed to abnormal cold and heat, the study found more than half occurred in Asia, particularly in East and South Asia.
  • Europe had the highest excess death rates per 100,000 due to heat exposure.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa had the highest death rates per 100,000 due to exposure to cold.
  • The largest decline of net mortality occurred in Southeast Asia while there was temporal increase in South Asia and Europe.
  • This is the first study to get a global overview of mortality due to non-optimal temperature conditions between 2000 and 2019, the hottest period since the Pre-Industrial era.




An algorithm that reduces energy usage in computer servers

  • Computer servers consume massive amounts of electricity, and data centres contribute to 0.3% of all carbon emissions worldwide.
  • Information technology (IT) sector alone accounts for 2% of global emissions. The carbon footprint is on par with the aviation industry’s fuel emissions.
  • A team of at the University of Copenhagen have devised a new algorithm to reduce the resource consumption by perfecting an existing algorithm which was used to streamline computer server flows.
  • The new algorithm addresses the problem of servers becoming overloaded as they receive more requests from clients than they have the capacity to handle.
  • This happens when many users pile in on a single platform, for example, when thousands of users log in to watch videos on Netflix.
  • As a result, systems often need to shift clients around to achieve a balanced distribution among servers.
  • Moreover, the calculation involved in achieving the balance could be difficult to formulate as billions of servers make a system.
  • The high volatility of servers and increasing internet traffic may also lead to congestion and server breakdowns, creating the need for a solution that does not depend on the number of servers in a system.
  • The new model will ensure clients are distributed evenly among servers, by moving them around as little as possible and by retrieving content as locally as possible.
  • Immediate deployment of the algorithm in major IT companies could lead to significant reduction in the climate burden.




Bitcoin mining uses 56% green energy

  • Energy consumption arising from bitcoin mining has been a highly debated topic.
  • However, new data shows that 56% of energy used in global bitcoin mining in the June-ended quarter has come from renewable resources.
  • The Bitcoin Mining Council, a voluntary global forum for mining companies and other bitcoin companies, conducted a survey of 32% of the current global bitcoin network to estimate global consumption patterns.
  • Global bitcoin mining consumes just 0.1% of the world’s energy production.
  • Moreover, while 65% of all energy used to generate and distribute electricity in the U.S. is lost or wasted, only 2.8% of the wastage comes from bitcoin mining.
  • The percentage of sustainable energy used in global bitcoin mining is also higher than the percentage in several countries including the U.S., Germany, China and India.
  • Carbondioxide emissions caused by mining were in line with the levels produced by countries like Sri Lanka and Jordan, according to a 2019 research paper titled ‘Carbon Footprint of Bitcoin’.

Bitcoin Mining Council

  • It was formed to promote energy usage transparency and accelerate sustainable mining worldwide.
  • Founding members include executive from several crypto companies including MicroStrategy, Argo Blockchain and Hive.




Engineering education in local languages

Why in News?

  • Prime Minister emphasised the importance of providing engineering education in local languages during a virtual meeting with the heads of 106 Centrally funded technical institutions and newly appointed Education Minister.

Key recommendation

  • This has been a key recommendation of the National Education Policy and the Education Ministry had set up a panel headed by Higher Education Secretary Amit Khare to explore ways to begin offering technical education in Indian languages at the highest level.
  • However, the elite Indian Institutes of Technology had opposed the move, telling the panel they would help students who struggle with English to navigate the language barrier, rather than offering degrees in regional languages.




Plumes on Enceladus

Why in News?

  • NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has strangely detected an unusually high concentration of methane, along with carbon dioxide and dihydrogen, in the moons of Saturn by flying through their plumes.
  • The spacecraft has found that Titan has methane in its atmosphere and Enceladus has a liquid ocean with erupting plumes of gas and water.
  • An international research team has used new statistical methods to understand if methanogenesis or methane production by microbes could explain the molecular hydrogen and methane.

Are there methane-producing organisms on Earth?

  • Most of the methane on Earth has a biological origin. Microorganisms called methanogens are capable of generating methane as a metabolic byproduct.
  • They do not require oxygen to live and are widely distributed in nature.
  • They are found in swamps, dead organic matter, and even in the human gut.
  • They are known to survive in high temperatures and simulation studies have shown that they can live in Martian conditions.
  • Methanogens have been widely studied to understand if they can be a contributor to global warming.

Could there be methanogens on Enceladus?

  • Using the newly developed model, the team gave a set of conditions, including dihydrogen concentration and different temperatures to understand if microbes would grow.
  • They also looked at what amount of methane would be emitted if there was a hypothetical microbe population on Enceladus.

What other processes could have produced the methane?

  • Methane could be formed by the chemical breakdown of organic matter present in Enceladus’ core.
  • Hydrothermal processes could help the formation of carbon dioxide and methane. On Earth, hydrothermal vents on seafloors are known to release methane, but this happens at a very slow rate.
  • This hypothesis is plausible but only if Enceladus was formed through the accretion of organic-rich material from comets.
  • The results suggest that methane production from hydrothermal vents is not sufficient to explain the high methane concentration detected by Cassini in the plumes. An additional amount of methane produced via biological methanogenesis could match Cassini’s observations.





Why in News?

  • Public protests have rekindled in South Gujarat, nearly 21 years after the state government decided to float global bids for a second time to develop an all-weather, multipurpose port at Nargol village in Umargam taluka of Valsad district, known for its quaint beach, lined with tall casuarina trees and old Parsi dwellings.

What is the state government’s latest proposal for Nargol?

  • Being positioned as a future alternative to Jawaharlal Nehru Port or JNPT in Mumbai, the Gujarat government has been planning to develop a port in Valsad since 1997.
  • The present location identified for building the port is at Nargol, located 140 kilometres north of Mumbai and 120 kilometres south of Surat.
  • Recently Chief, minister gave the go-ahead to Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) to float global bids for a second time to build a multi-functional port at a cost of Rs 3,800 crore that will be capable of handling solid, liquid and container cargo.
  • A port in Nargol has been in the pipeline to help divert port traffic from JNPT which is operating close to its full capacity.

Why are the villagers opposed to the idea of port development?

  • The land chosen for the port is around this village and is among the most fertile for marine life and fruit orchards apart from its pristine beach. Earlier this month, the Nargol gram panchayat passed a resolution to oppose the port project.
  • Good quality the fish like Surmai, prawns, waam, Bombay duck, lobsters, pomfrets, etc., are found in the coastal areas of Umargam, which is also a fertile breeding ground .
  • The local fishermen sell their stock to the traders who later sell the stocks to dealers in Mumbai and Okha and from there it is exported to the USA, UK, China, Singapore, etc. Due to port activity, the breeding ground of the fish will be affected.
  • The land will also be acquired for transportation of cargo as the majority of the land is owned by the tribals. The local fishermen will have to go deeper into the sea to get a good catch.
  • Due to the port, the local fishermen will be deprived of their livelihood. Many of the land is agricultural and mostly the farmers grow rice, wheat, and own orchards of mango, chikoo and other fruits, which will be affected.




Cooperation Ministry

Why in News?

  • Recently, the government announced the formation of a separate Union Ministry of Cooperation, a subject that till date was looked after by the Ministry of Agriculture.

What will be the new Ministry’s objectives?

  • The Ministry of Cooperation will provide a separate administrative legal and policy framework for strengthening the cooperative movement in the country.
  • It will help deepen Co-operatives as a true people based movement reaching upto the grassroots.
  • In our country, a Co-operative based economic development model is very relevant where each member works with a spirit of responsibility.
  • The Ministry will work to streamline processes for ‘Ease of doing business’ for co-operatives and enable development of Multi-State Co-operatives (MSCS).
  • In her Budget speech, Finance Minister too had mentioned the need to strengthen cooperatives.
  • By definition, cooperatives are organisations formed at the grassroots level by people to harness the power of collective bargaining towards a common goal.
  • In agriculture, cooperative dairies, sugar mills, spinning mills etc are formed with the pooled resources of farmers who wish to process their produce.
  • Cooperative sugar mills account for 35% of the sugar produced in the country.
  • In banking and finance, cooperative institutions are spread across rural and urban areas. Village-level primary agricultural credit societies (PACSs) formed by farmer associations are the best example of grassroots-level credit flow.
  • These societies anticipate the credit demand of a village and make the demand to the district central cooperative banks (DCCBs). State cooperative banks sit at the apex of the rural cooperative lending structure.
  • There are also cooperative marketing societies in rural areas and cooperative housing societies in urban areas.

What laws govern cooperative societies?

  • Like agriculture, cooperation is in the concurrent list, which means both the central and state governments can govern them.
  • A majority of the cooperative societies are governed by laws in their respective states, with a Cooperation Commissioner and the Registrar of Societies as their governing office.
  • In 2002, the Centre passed a MultiState Cooperative Societies Act that allowed for registration of societies with operations in more than one state.
  • These are mostly banks, dairies and sugar mills whose area of operation spreads across states.
  • The Central Registrar of Societies is their controlling authority, but on the ground the State Registrar takes actions on his behalf.




Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, 2021

Why in News?

  • The Assam Cabinet has approved a bill for protecting cattle.
  • It seeks to replace the existing The Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950, that allows the slaughter of cattle above 14 years of age with proper approval by local veterinary officers.
  • The proposed legislation would ban the movement of cattle to and from the State, primarily to check smuggling to Bangladesh.
  • Beef should not be consumed in areas where Hindus live and where the animal is worshipped.
  • Three other States — Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh — have legislations to protect cows.
  • The Cabinet also approved making Gurkhas residing in four districts of Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) before 2003 a protected class in the Tribal Belts and Blocks. The BTR came under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution in 2003.
  • A similar status for the Gurkhas has been approved in eastern Assam’s Sadiya Tribal Belt along with the Moran, Matak, Ahom and Chutia communities.




Global wind and solar power capacity

  • The world’s wind and solar energy capacity grew at a record rate last year while the oil industry recorded its steepest slump in demand since the second world war.
  • The impact of coronavirus lockdowns on the energy industry led carbon emissions to plummet by 6% on the year before, the sharpest decline since 1945.
  • BP’s annual energy review, published every year since 1952, is considered influential in the energy industry and helps to inform the company’s strategic decisions.
  • BP’s latest energy review found that the world’s total energy consumption fell by 4.5% in 2020, driven mainly by a 9.7% slump in demand for crude, used to make transport fuels, or just over 9m barrels of oil a day.
  • The report found that global wind and solar power capacity grew by 238GW in 2020, more than five times greater than the UK’s total renewable energy capacity.
  • The increase was mainly driven by China, which accounted for roughly half of the global increase in wind and solar energy production capacity, but even controlling for that 2020 was a record year for building wind and solar farms.




Human body size

  • A well-known pattern in human evolution is an increase in body and brain size. Our species, Homo sapiens, is part of the Homo genus and emerged about 300,000 years ago. We are much bigger than earlier Homo species and have brains three times larger than humans who lived a million years ago.
  • The team determined what temperature, precipitation and other climate conditions each of the fossils, spanning the last million years, would have experienced when it was a living human.
  • The study, found a strong link between temperature and body size, showing that climate was a key driver of body size during that period.
  • The colder it gets, the bigger the humans are.
  • This relationship between climate and body mass is consistent with Bergmann’s rule, which predicts a larger bodyweight in colder environments and a smaller bodyweight in warmer environments.
  • This is observed in animal species such as bears – polar bears living in the Arctic, for example, weigh a lot more than brown bears living in comparatively warmer climates.
  • The study also found a link between brain size and climate, but the results show that environmental factors have substantially less influence on the brain size than they do on body size.
  • Instead, the researchers linked more stable climates with bigger brains. This effect links to the dietary needs of humans living in environments of variable climatic stability.
  • Researchers also saw indications of behavioural changes that influence brain size in response to hunting strategies in more open environments.
  • These more indirect factors reveal the complexity in understanding what factors have driven human evolution.