Current Affairs September 15

Corona variant

  • Neither of the two coronavirus variants recently identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) that may pose a global threat has been found in India, As per the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG)
  • The INSACOG is a consortium of laboratories tasked with analysing emerging coronavirus variants.
  • The WHO added B.1.621 (including B.1.621.1) to its list of variants of interest (VoI) and named it “Mu”.
  • VoI is a step lower than VoC, or variants of concern.
  • Mu has mutations that potentially allow it to evade the protection conferred by vaccines.


Internet shutdown

  • January 10, 2020, the Supreme Court of India held that access to information via the Internet is a fundamental right under the Indian Constitution.
  • This was in the case of Anuradha Bhasin vs Union of India, where the top court also ruled that any restriction on Internet access by the Government must be temporary, limited in scope, lawful, necessary and proportionate
  • In 2020, the government  amended the Telecom Suspension Rules, 2017 to limit Internet suspension orders to a maximum of 15 days.
  • In 2020, the Indian economy suffered losses to the tune of $2.8 billion due to 129 separate instances of Internet suspension, which affected 10.3 million individuals.
  • The Internet is a source of information, entertainment, health care, education, livelihood and a platform for the members of Indian society to interact with each other and the world at large.
  • The harm economic, psychological, social, and journalistic caused by such suspensions outweighs any speculative benefit.
  • It is also a tool to verify rumours, and enables individuals and the Government to disseminate the truth.


Net Zero plan

  • India’s front-line position as third highest emitter of greenhouse gases has sharpened focus on its future policy course to mitigate carbon emissions under the Paris Agreement.
  • There is escalating pressure for India to commit itself to a date when it can achieve net zero removing as much GHGs as it emits on the lines of the goal set by the U.S. and the European Union for mid-century, and 2060 by China.
  • Declaring a net zero plan under the Paris pact is a disquieting prospect since it would impose expensive choices, particularly in energy production.
  • the promise of financing and technology to make renewable energy the core of future development.
  • Specific areas of cooperation to bring down emissions in the expansion of transport, buildings and industry  and facilitating funding for 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030 can advance the India-U.S. Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership
  • The Union Environment Ministry declared that the country had achieved 21% of its 33%-35% target to cut emissions intensity of GDP by 2030, and, similarly, was generating 37.9% of the 40% of power from renewables.
  • Though encouraging, the immediate challenge lies in coming up with an adaptation framework to help those at highest risk — the millions living in the path of annual cyclones, including residents of populous coastal cities.
  • Raising the ability of city administrations to handle tens of millions of litres of water regularly dumped in just a few days requires planning, funding and political commitment.
  • Making low-cost insurance available for houses against climate related losses will raise resilience, and lead to audits, encouraging governments to reduce risks.
  • The Paris Agreement can easily fund much-needed urban retrofitting and boost employment.
  • There is also a health imperative. Heat stress has a severe impact, causing higher mortality among the vulnerable elderly



India and Australia and Indo pacific region


  • India’s Defence Minister and External Affairs Minister held the inaugural ‘2+2’ talks with their Australian counterparts.
  • Both countries are taking several steps to implement their vision of a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
  • India and Australia have completed one year of their Comprehensive Strategic Partnership
  • Both countries have an enduring interest in a free, open, inclusive and rule-based Indo-Pacific region.
  • It includes stability and freedom of navigation for all nations in the region.
  • Given their common security challenges and in order to enhance regional security architecture, both countries have intensified bilateral security cooperation.
  • They have also stepped up security dialogue with key partner-countries to deepen coordination in areas where security interests are mutual.
  • The Malabar naval exercise by the Quad (Australia, India, Japan, the U.S.) is a step in this direction
  • Two-way trade between them was valued at $24.4 billion in 2020. The Indian economy is not only one of the largest economies in the world, but it is also going through a tectonic economic transformation.
  • In this endeavour, Australia is a valued partner as both draw their congruence from a rule-based international order, believe in inclusive economic integration in the Indo-Pacific region, and face challenges from a belligerent China.
  • Trade is rapidly growing and encompasses agribusiness, infrastructure, healthcare, energy and mining, education etc
  • But despite the growth in trade, India and Australia need to resolve old issues that pose a barrier to deeper economic integration.
  • India has a high tariff for agriculture and dairy products which makes it difficult for Australian exporters to export these items to India.
  • At the same time, India faces non-tariff barriers and its skilled professionals in the Australian labour market face discrimination.


 Electric vehicle

  • First, the government increased the FAME-II incentives for electric two-wheelers (E2W) to ₹15,000/kWh.
  • Second, more States such as Gujarat and Maharashtra have announced State-level electric vehicle incentives as part of their State policies.
  • Third, many startups are launching new electric two-wheeler models.
  • As a result, E2W sales in India are likely to at least double in 2021 compared with 2020 levels.


  • The industry leaders (Hero MotoCorp, Honda, TVS, Bajaj, Suzuki, Royal Enfield and Yamaha), who account for nearly 99% of all two wheelers sold in India, offer only two electric models between them, and only in a handful of cities.


  • The first is to establish a zero emission vehicles (ZEV) credit programme.
  • This requires manufacturers of vehicles to ensure that either a certain fraction of their sales are ZEVs or that they purchase ZEV credits from manufacturers who have sold more ZEVs than required by the credit programme.
  • The second is by putting in place a fuel efficiency/CO2 emission standard stringent enough that it can best be met by making and selling ZEVs
  • E2W purchased today will contribute to an absolute reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.