Current Affairs Analysis

10th October 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Rapid Action Force; National Postal Week; World Post Day; Universal Postal Union (UPU); Animal Discoveries 2019 and Plant Discoveries 2019; RBI forecasts end to contraction by Q4; National butterfly status; Krishna Peacock; Indian Jezebel; Orange Oakleaf; RUDRAM; Anti-radiation missiles; World Food Programme; Nobel Peace Prize 2020; Water Purification system by High Flow Rate Fluoride & Iron Removal; Goa becomes first Har Ghar Jal State; IPFT develops Bio-Pesticide Formulation; World Space Week; etc.
By IASToppers
October 10, 2020

Contents

Economy

  • RBI forecasts end to contraction by Q4

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Animal Discoveries 2019 and Plant Discoveries 2019
  • 3 contenders for National butterfly status

Defence & Security Issues

  • DRDO successfully flight tests RUDRAM

Art & Culture

  • World Food Programme wins Nobel Peace Prize 2020

Science & Technology

  • Water Purification system by High Flow Rate Fluoride & Iron Removal

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Goa becomes first Har Ghar Jal State
  • IPFT develops Bio-Pesticide Formulation
  • Rapid Action Force
  • National Postal Week
  • World Space Week

 

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Economy

RBI forecasts end to contraction by Q4

The Indian central bank on 9th October reiterated its resolve to revive growth impulses in the economy and mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic’s worst impacts.

Highlights of the decision:

  • India could see its worst recession ever this financial year with the economy contracting by 9.5%, the Reserve Bank of India’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) predicted in its first projection for economic growth since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out in March.
  • The GDP growth in 2021-22 is likely to be 5.4% against a 9.6% contraction in 2020-21.
  •  The committee left the key interest rate unchanged at 4%.
  • Although the committee did not reduce policy rates, it has decided to retain an accommodative policy stance “as long as necessary to revive growth on a durable basis”. 
  • The next financial year will begin with a 20.6% growth, largely on account of the base effect given a 23.9% contraction in the June quarter of the current fiscal year. 
  • However, real GDP (gross domestic product) for the full year is expected to decline by 9.5%, “with risks tilted to the downside”. 
  • While headline inflation has persisted above the tolerance band, the central bank expects consumer prices to remain elevated in the September print, but ease gradually towards the 6% target over Q3 and Q4.
  • This is the first time the RBI has shared its growth and inflation projections this year

State of sectors in India:

  • Although RBI expects private investment and exports to be subdued in view of anaemic demand conditions but the RBI believes that the farm sector could well lead growth revival through a rural demand spurt.
  • Apart from agriculture, sectors such as fast-moving consumer goods, automobiles, pharma and power would “open their accounts” first.
  • The second category of sectors to ‘strike form’ would comprise sectors where activity is normalising gradually. The third category of sectors would include the ones which face the ‘slog overs’, but they can rescue the innings.
  • These are sectors that are most severely affected by social distancing and are contact-intensive.
  • Apart from slashing a layer of red tape to expedite exports, the central bank also announced a rationalisation of risk weightages assigned by banks for all new home loans sanctioned up to March 31, 2022. This would give a fillip to the job-intensive real estate sector that has been flailing in the pandemic, the RBI said.
  • The stockmarkets reacted favourably to the RBI policy statement, with the BSE Sensex closing the day at 40,509 points, up 0.81%.

Highlights in Nutshell:

  • Indian economy expected to contract 9.5% this fiscal with downside risks.
  • Contraction 9.8 per cent projected in July-September; 5.6 pc in October-December and rebound in growth at 0.5 per cent in March quarter.
  • GDP growth for April-June quarter 2021-22 fiscal projected at 20.6%.
  • Accommodative monetary policy stance maintained to support growth.
  • Retail inflation projected at 6.8% for September quarter.
  • RTGS fund transfer system for real time fund transfer to become 24X7 from Decemeber.
  • On-tap targeted long-term repo operations (TLTRO) to be conducted, with tenors of up to three years for Rs 1 lakh crore at a floating rate linked to the policy repo rate up to March 31, 2021.
  • All MPC members vote for keeping the policy repo rate unchanged and continue with the accommodative stance.

For more information on Monetary Policy Committee please refer to the following link:

[Ref: The Hindu; Economic Times]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Animal Discoveries 2019 and Plant Discoveries 2019

Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) and the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) released 13th publication of the Animal Discoveries 2019 and Plant Discoveries 2019, respectively.

  • Both the ZSI and BSI have been releasing Animal Discoveries and Plant Discoveries since 2007. A total of 2,444 species of faunal communities and about 3500 plant species were discovered in India since the past decade.

Important Highlights:

Key Facts: Animal Discoveries 2019

  • As per the Animal Discoveries 2019, at least 364 new species of animals were discovered in India in 2019.
  • Among the discoveries, 294 species are invertebrates and 74 are vertebrates. The maximum numbers of species discovered were insects.
  • Indian faunal diversity stands at 1,02,161 species, which is equivalent to 6.52% of all the species across the globe and thus ranks 8th in the world.
  • More than 50,000 species of plants have also been identified from the country.

Key Facts: Plant Discoveries 2019

  • The Plant Discoveries 2019 lists 180 new plant species and 73 new records discovered from the country.
  • The number of plant species found in India according to the BSI is 50,012 and accounts roughly for 12% of all flora species in the world.
  • Among plant discoveries, 134 seed plants; five fern and fern allies; six bryophytes; 18 lichens; 51 fungi; 23 algae; and 16 microbes were identified.
  • Maximum discoveries were made from the State of Kerala, followed by Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The maximum number of plant species discovered in the Western Ghats followed by the eastern Himalayas; the east coast; and eastern plains.
[Ref: The Hindu]

3 contenders for National butterfly status

A citizen poll to identify the national butterfly concluded with three species garnering the highest number of votes.

About the Campaign

  • The nationwide poll organised by the National Butterfly Campaign Consortium from September 10 to the midnight of October 8 yielded 59,754 votes.
  • The onus is on the Centre to choose one among highest three to join the ranks of the Bengal Tiger, Indian Peacock, Indian Lotus, banyan tree, and mango as yet another national symbol.
  • The highest number of votes were polled from Maharashtra (18,887).
  • The campaign also witnessed considerable support from other States, including Tamil Nadu (4,789), Chattisgarh (4,754), and West Bengal (3,676).

Highest voted Butterfly species

  • Krishna Peacock (Papilio krishna), Indian Jezebel (Delias eucharis), and Orange Oakleaf (Kallima inachus) are the frontrunners.

Indian Jezebel:

  • Common Jezebel is known to deter its predators with its flashy wing colours. It is blessed with a vibrant colour pattern, including vermilion (haldi – kumkum).
  • Regarded as soldiers of farmers, they also prey on parasites that infest fruit-bearing plants.
  • Widely distributed, the species can be spotted in gardens and other lightly wooded areas.

Krishna Peacock:

  • Krishna Peacock is a flagship species for biodiversity and conservation, is generally found in large numbers in the Himalayas.
  • Possessing a peculiarly large swallowtail, its iridescent green scales diffract light to coat itself in radiance.

Orange Oakleaf:

  • Orange Oakleaf is commonly known as ‘dead leaf’ for its ability to camouflage as a dry autumn leaf while striking a stationary pose with its wings closed.
  • The masquerade enables the species to prevent it from being devoured by birds in the moist forests of northern Western Ghats, central, northern and north-eastern parts of India where they are generally found.
  • Besides, the Oakleaf is also known to exhibit polyphenism as it assumes specific colour and size during dry and wet seasons.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Defence & Security Issues

DRDO successfully flight tests RUDRAM

India’s first indigenous anti-radiation missile, Rudram, developed for the Indian Air Force, was successfully flight-tested from a Sukhoi-30 MKI jet off the east coast.

About RUDRAM:

  • The RUDRAM is first indigenous anti-radiation missile of the country for Indian Air Force (IAF), being developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). 
  •  The missile is integrated on SU-30 MKI fighter aircraft as the launch platform, having capability of varying ranges based on launch conditions.
  • It has INS-GPS navigation with Passive Homing Head for the final attack.
  • The RUDRAM hit the radiation target with pin-point accuracy. 
  • The Passive Homing Head can detect, classify and engage targets over a wide band of frequencies as programmed.
  • The missile is a potent weapon for IAF for Suppression of Enemy Air Defence effectively from large stand-off ranges. 
  • India has established indigenous capability to develop long range air launched anti-radiation missiles for neutralising enemy Radars, communication sites and other RF emitting targets. 

What is an anti-radiation missile?

  • Anti-radiation missile are designed to detect, track and neutralise the adversary’s radar, communication assets and other radio frequency sources, which are generally part of their air defence systems.
  • Such a missile’s navigation mechanism comprises an inertial navigation system — a computerised mechanism that uses changes in the object’s own position — coupled with GPS, which is satellite-based.
  • For guidance, it has a “passive homing head” — a system that can detect, classify and engage targets (radio frequency sources in this case) over a wide band of frequencies as programmed.
  • Officials said once the Rudram missile locks on the target, it is capable of striking accurately even if the radiation source switches off in between.
  • The missile has an operational range of more than 100 km, based on the launch parameters from the fighter jet.

How was Rudram developed?

  • DRDO initiated development of anti-radiation missiles of this type around eight years ago, and its integration with fighter jets has been a collaborative effort of various DRDO facilities and formations of the IAF and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.
  • While the system has been tested from a Sukhoi-30 MKI, it can be adapted for launch from other fighter jets too.
  • The development was full of challenges, such as development of radiation seeker technologies and guidance systems, besides integration with the fighter jet, said a DRDO scientist.
  • An official said the Sanskrit name Rudram was given in keeping with tradition, because it includes the letters ARM (the acronym for anti-radiation missile) and the word in Sanskrit describes aremover of sorrows” (one of its meanings).

Significance of RUDRAM missiles in aerial warfare:

  • Rudram has been developed for the IAF’s requirement to enhance its Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD) capability.
  • As one of the many aspects of SEAD tactics, anti-radiation missiles are used mainly in the initial part of air conflict to strike at the air defence assets of the enemy, and also in later parts, leading to higher survivability to a country’s own aircraft.
  • Neutralising or disrupting the operations of the adversary’s early warning radars, command and control systems, surveillance systems that use radio frequencies and give inputs for anti-aircraft weaponry, can be very crucial.
  • Scientists said modern-day warfare is more and more network-centric, which means it comprises elaborate detection, surveillance and communication systems that are integrated with the weapons systems.
[Ref: PIB; Indian Express]

Art & Culture

World Food Programme wins Nobel Peace Prize 2020

The 2020 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the UN agency World Food Programme (WFP).

  • It was given for its efforts to combat hunger, contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and acting as a driving force to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.

World Food Programme:

  • World Food Programme was established in 1961.
  • It is headquartered in Rome, Italy.
  • It is governed by an Executive Board, which consists of 36 member states.
  • WFP is headed by an Executive Director, who is appointed jointly by the UN Secretary-General and the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
  • WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency combating hunger.
  • In 2019, it assisted 97 million people – the largest number since 2012 – in 88 countries. It delivered about 4.4 million tonnes of food, purchased $1.7 billion worth of food from 91 countries, and $762 million worth of goods and services from 156 countries.

What is WFP’s role in India?

  • The WFP has been working in India since 1963.
  • Apart from focusing on reforms in the Targeted Public Distribution System, it provides policy inputs, advocacy and technical assistance for improving access to food.
  • The WFP has proposed some unique initiatives like Automatic Grain Dispensing Machine (Annapurti) and Mobile Storage Units for the effective implementation of TPDS.
  • Annapurti allows beneficiaries to withdraw their food grain quota accurately and at a time of their choice.
  • It can dispense two commodities at a speed of 25 kg per 1.3 minutes. It has a storage capacity of 200 kg to 500 kg.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Science & Technology

Water Purification system by High Flow Rate Fluoride & Iron Removal

The CSIR-CMERI transferred its High Flow Rate Fluoride & Iron Removal technology to M/s Capricans Aqua Private Limited, West Bengal.

About the purification system

  • CSIR-CMERI for the very first time has come up with a dual solution (excess F- and Fe3+ mitigation from ground water).
  • The invention reveals about proper design and subsequent development of an integrated, low-cost, commonly available multi-adsorbent water purification system.
  • This Community Level Water Purification System has a Flow-Rate capacity of 10,000 Ltr/hr and uses commonly available raw materials such as sand, gravel and adsorbent materials.
  • It comprises a three-stage purification process which purifies water within permissible limits (1.5 ppm & 0.3 ppm for Fluoride and Iron respectively).
  • Three FRP (Fibre Reinforced Plastic) made vessels of specific dimensions are:
    • i) Chamber-I (oxidation chamber)
    • ii) Chamber-II (Iron removing filter)
    • iii) Chamber-III (Fluoride removing filter)
  • The technology uses a combination of Oxidation, Gravitational Settling and Chemisorption process in an Affordable Package.
  • The integrated backwashing profile of the technology will help in improving the shelf-life of the filtration media in a resource rationalised manner.
  • The developed plant is successfully able to mitigate iron from an initial concentration of ~9 ppm to less than 0.3 ppm (safe limit of Fe as per WHO guideline) and fluoride from initial ~12 ppm to <1.5 ppm (safe limit of F- as per WHO guideline).

Uniqueness of the Present Plant

  • An initiative towards solving dual contaminants problem in ground water (F- as well as Fe3+).
  • An integrated adsorbent based water purification system for effective removal of fluoride as well as iron in an efficient manner from contaminated water bodies.
  • High flow rate (10,000 litres/h) integrated purification system.
  • Sustainability towards healthy livelihood generation.
  • Selective backwash without dismantling any part of the plant.
[Ref: PIB]

Key Facts for Prelims

Goa becomes first Har Ghar Jal State

  • Goa has become the first Har Ghar Jal state in the country.
  • Ithas succeeded in providing 100% tap water connections in rural areas covering 2.30 lakh households.
  • The government’s Jal Jeevan Mission aims to provide piped water to all rural households by 2024.

IPFT develops Bio-Pesticide Formulation

  • The Institute of Pesticide Formulation Technology (IPFT) in collaboration with ICAR- National Research Center on Seed Spices (NRCSS), Rajasthan has successfully developed new Aqueous Suspension formulation technology that helps in controlling various insects in seed spice crops like fenugreek, cumin, and coriander.
  • IPFT works under the Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.
  • The technology of bio-pesticide based on entomo-pathogenic fungus Verticillium lecanii.
  • The formulation has good shelf life and is safe for environment.
  • Patent application for the formulation has been filed.
  • This bio-pesticides may be used as a safer alternative to chemical pesticides to minimize pesticide residue problem.

Rapid Action Force (RAF)

  • The Rapid Action Force is a specialised wing of the Central Reserve Police Force of India to deal with riot and crowd control situations.
  • It was raised in October 1992 with 5 more units added w.e.f January 2018.
  • RAF is a zero-response force which reaches to the crisis in no time, thus inducing an immediate sense of security and confidence amongst the general public.
  • It is a proud receiver of the president’s colour, which is the highest honour bestowed upon any Indian military unit.
  • RAF trained male and female contingents are deployed for UN peacekeeping missions to different countries (i.e., Haiti, Kosovo, Liberia, etc) every year.
  • 2020 marks 28th anniversary of Rapid Action Force.

National Postal Week

  • India Post commenced the celebration of the National Postal Week, starting with World Post Day which is celebrated each year on 9th October.

World Post Day 

  • World Post Day is celebrated on October 9, the anniversary of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), which started in 1874 in Switzerland.
  • The purpose of World Post Day is to create awareness of the role of the postal sector in people’s and businesses’ everyday lives and its contribution to the social and economic development of countries.

Universal Postal Union (UPU)

  • UPU established by the Treaty of Bern of 1874, is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) that coordinates postal policies among member nations, in addition to the worldwide postal system.
  • The UPU’s headquarters are located in Bern, Switzerland.
  • It has 192 member countries.
  • The UPU contains four bodies consisting of the Congress, the Council of Administration (CA), the Postal Operations Council (POC) and the International Bureau (IB).
  • It is the primary forum for cooperation between postal sector players among member countries.

For more information, please visit:

[Ref: PIB]

World Space Week

  • World Space Week is observed from 4 to 10 October in over 95 nations throughout the world.
  • The Week is officially defined as an international celebration of science and technology, and their contribution to the betterment of the human condition.
  • On December 6, 1999, The United Nations General Assembly declared World Space Week as an annual event celebration to be commemorated between October 4 and 10.
  • The choice of dates was based on recognition of two important dates in space history: the launch of the first human-made Earth satellite Sputnik 1 (Russia) on October 4, 1957; and the signing of the Outer Space Treaty on October 10, 1967.
  • Events include school activities, exhibitions, government events, and special activities at planetaria around the world.

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