Daily Current Affairs 22

2th January 2021 : Daily Current Affairs

Daily Current Affairs   Date : 2th January,2021

 (30+ Questions hit in Prelims 2021 from this series)

Covers 4 Most relevant Sources

  • The Hindu
  • Indian Express
  • PIB
  • Mint

Index

  • A) Schemes, Policies, Initiatives, Awards and Social Issues
  • Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) (PIB)
  • Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) Scheme(TH, pg 8)
  • One Nation One Grid One Frequency (PIB)
  • B) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments
  • Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) (TH, pg 1)
  • C) Science and Technology, Defence, Space
  • Carbon-Rich Stars Steal Heavy Elements from their Low Mass Companions (PIB)
  • What is Dark Genome? (TH, pg 12)
  • Differences between Corbevax and Covovax (TH, pg 13)
  • D) Art, Culture and History
  • The battle of Bhima-Koregaon (TH, pg 7)
  • E) International Relations
  • Russia-Ukraine Conflict (TH, pg 1)
  • F) Miscellaneous
  • Gupkar Declaration (TH, pg 9)
  • Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (PIB)

 

A) Schemes, Policies, Initiatives, Awards and Social Issues

  1. Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) (PIB)
  • Context:The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has approved an ex-gratia from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) for the victims of stampede at Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan.

Analysis

  • In pursuance of an appeal by the then Prime Minister, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in January, 1948, the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) was established with public contributions to assist displaced persons from Pakistan.
  • A very large proportion of the funds stands committed to be utilized in a phased manner for various schemes announced by PM.
  • The resources of the PMNRF are now utilized primarily to render immediate relief to families of those killed in natural calamities like floods, cyclones and earthquakes, etc. and to the victims of the major accidents and riots.
  • Assistance from PMNRF is also rendered, to partially defray the expenses for medical treatment like heart surgeries, kidney transplantation, cancer treatment and acid attack etc.
  • The fund consists entirely of public contributions and does not get any budgetary support.
  • PMNRF accepts only voluntary donations by individuals and institutions.
  • Contributions flowing out of budgetary sources of Government or from the balance sheets of the public sector undertakings are not accepted.
  • Conditional contributions, where the donor specifically mentions that the amount is meant for a particular purpose, are not accepted in the Fund.
  • The corpus of the fund is invested in various forms with scheduled commercial banks and other agencies.
  • The disbursement out of the fund is made at the discretion of the Prime Minister, and in accordance with the Prime Minister’s directions.
  • PMNRF has not been constituted by the Parliament.
  • The fund is recognized as a Trust under the Income Tax Act and the same is managed by Prime Minister or multiple delegates for national causes.
  • PMNRF is exempt under Income Tax Act, 1961 for return purposes.
  • Contributions towards PMNRF are notified for 100% deduction from taxable income under section 80(G) of the Income Tax Act, 1961.
  • Prime Minister is the Chairman of PMNRF and is assisted by Officers/ Staff on honorary basis.

 

  1. Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) Scheme(TH, pg 8)
  • Context: Prime Minister of India released 10th instalment of financial benefit under Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme. This enabled the transfer of an amount of more than Rs. 20,000 crore to more than 10 crore beneficiary farmer families.

Analysis

  • PM-KISAN is the Centre’s flagship scheme to provide income support worth ₹6,000 a year to farming families.
  • When it was launched just before the general election in 2019, it was meant to cover only small and marginal farmers who owned less than two hectares. Later that year, large farmers were included in the scheme as the government removed the land size criterion.

Benefits and Eligibility conditions

  • It isa Central Sector Scheme and is being implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare.
  • All land holding eligible farmer families (subject to the prevalent exclusion criteria) are to avail of the benefits under this scheme.
  • The Scheme initially provided income support to all Small and Marginal Farmers’ families across the country, holding cultivable land upto 2 hectares.
  • Its ambit was later expanded to cover all farmer families in the country irrespective of the size of their land holdings, subject to an exclusion criteria.
  • The amount, 6,000 rupees per annum per family, is being released in three 4-monthly instalments of Rs.2000/- each over the year, to be credited into the bank accounts of the beneficiaries through Direct Benefit Transfer mode.
  • The Scheme is expected to cover around 14.5 crore beneficiaries.
  • Special provisions have been made for the North-Eastern States where land ownership rights are community based, Forest Dwellers and Jharkhand, which does not have updated land records and restrictions on transfer of land.

Exclusion Categories

  • The following categories of beneficiaries of higher economic status shall not be eligible for benefit under the scheme:
  • All Institutional Land holders.
  • Farmer families in which one or more of its members belong to following categories:
  • Former and present holders of constitutional posts
  • Former and present Ministers/ State Ministers and former/present Members of LokSabha/ RajyaSabha/ State Legislative Assemblies/ State Legislative Councils,former and present Mayors of Municipal Corporations, former and present Chairpersons of District Panchayats.
  • All serving or retired officers and employees of Central/ State Government Ministries /Offices/Departments and its field units Central or State PSEs and Attached offices /Autonomous Institutions under Government as well as regular employees of the Local Bodies (Excluding Multi-Tasking Staff /Class IV/Group D employees)
  • All superannuated/retired pensioners whose monthly pension is Rs.10,000/-or more (Excluding Multi-Tasking Staff / Class IV/Group D employees) of above category
  • All Persons who paid Income Tax in last assessment year
  • Professionals like Doctors, Engineers, Lawyers, Chartered Accountants, and Architects registered with Professional bodies and carrying out profession by undertaking practices.
  • Responsibility of identifying the landholder farmer family eligible for benefit under the scheme shall be of the State/UT Government.

 

  1. One Nation One Grid One Frequency (PIB)
  • Context: The country celebrated anniversary of One Nation-One Grid-One Frequency.

Analysis

  • Grid management in the country, on a regional basis started in the sixties.
  • At the beginning, state grids were interconnected to form a regional grid and India was demarcated into 5 regions namely Northern, Eastern, Western, North Eastern and Southern regions.
  • With time each grid was connected to the other, to allow greater availability and transfer of power.
  • The integration of regional grids which began with asynchronous inter-regional links facilitating only limited exchange of regulated power was subsequently graduated to high-capacity synchronous links between the regions.
  • The initial inter-regional links were planned for exchange of operational surpluses amongst the regions.
  • However, later on when the planning philosophy had graduated from regional self-sufficiency to National basis, the Inter-regional links were planned associated with the generation projects that had beneficiaries across the regional boundaries.
  • Synchronisation of all regional grids will help in optimal utilization of scarce natural resources by transfer of Power from Resource centric regions to Load centric regions.
  • Further, this shall pave way for establishment of vibrant Electricity market facilitating trading of power across regions.
  • One Nation One Grid shall synchronously connect all the regional grids and there will be one national frequency.
  • It all came together when the Southern Region was connected to the Central Grid, with commissioning of 765 kV Raichur-Solapur Transmission Line, thereby achieving ‘ONE NATION-ONE GRID-ONE FREQUENCY’.
  • All possible measures are taken to ensure that the grid frequency always remains within the 49.90-50.05 Hz (hertz) band.

 

B) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments

  1. Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) (TH, pg 1)
  • Context: The Union ministry for Home Affairs increased the operation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Nagaland for six more months. It also declared the state as a ‘disturbed area’.
  • The AFSPA was introduced in the north-eastern states to curb insurgency. It allows armed forces the power to maintain public order in ‘disturbed areas’.

Analysis

  • As far as the other north-Indian States are concerned, the Act is effective in the whole of Nagaland, Assam, Manipur (excluding Imphal Municipal Council Area), but restricted to Changlang, Longding and Tirap districts of Arunachal Pradesh, and areas falling within the jurisdiction of the eight police stations of districts in Arunachal Pradesh bordering Assam.
  • Tripura, Meghalay and Mizoram are free from this Act.
  • The entire Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir (excluding Ladakh) is a “disturbed area”.The power to notify the “disturbed areas rested with the state government. Now with UT replacing the state, these powers automatically get transferred to the Centre”.

Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA)

Disturbed Area:

  • The government (either the state or centre) considers those areas to be ‘disturbed’ “by reason of differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities” where the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary.

Who can declare a region to be ‘disturbed’?

  • the Governor of that State or
  • the administrator of that Union Territory or
  • the Central Government (Ministry of Home Affairs).
  • The whole or a part of a State or Union territory can be declared a disturbed area.
  • Once declared ‘disturbed’, the region has to maintain status quo for a minimum of three months.
  • The Governor is empowered to declare any area of the State as “disturbed area’. It could not be arbitrary on ground of absence of legislative guidelines.
  • Section 3 of the AFSPA cannot be construed as conferring a power to issue a declaration without any time limit. There should be periodic review of the declaration before the expiry of six months.

What about the state government’s role?

  • The state governments can suggest whether the Act is required to be enforced or not. But their opinion can still be overruled by the governor or the centre.

Is the Act uniform in nature?

  • No, the Act may contain different sections as applicable to the situation in each state.

Is Tripura then the first state to completely do away with AFSPA?

  • It was Punjab.

Special Powers to Armed Forces:

  • The AFSPA gives power to the Army and Central forces deployed in “disturbed areas” to:
  • kill anyone acting in contravention of law,
  • arrest and search any premises without a warrant,
  • prohibit a gathering of five or more persons in an area,
  • ban the possession of firearms, and
  • provide cover to forces from prosecution and legal suits without the Centre’s sanction.

Arrested persons to be made over to the police

  • Any person arrested and taken into custody under this Act shall be made over to the officer in charge of the nearest police station with the least possible delay, together with a report of the circumstances occasioning the arrest.

 

C) Science and Technology, Defence, Space

  1. Carbon-Rich Stars Steal Heavy Elements from their Low Mass Companions (PIB)
  • Context: Scientists have long been intrigued by the ‘presence of much higher fraction of elements heavier than iron than is expected’ in carbon-rich stars.
  • A new research by Indian astronomers has now traced its origin to the low mass companions of these stars, from which the materials have been stolen.

Analysis

  • At the evolutionary stages in which Carbon Enhanced Metal-Poor (CEMP) stars exist, they are not expected to produce heavy elements.
  • However, the surface chemical composition of these stars exhibits abundances of heavy elements those are about 100 to 1000 times higher than that of the Sun.
  • The Indian astronomers have shown that the enhanced heavy elements observed in the CEMP stars are actually produced by their low-mass stellar companions in a phase of evolution called Asymptotic Giant Branch (AGB) and transferred the products to the CEMP stars through various mass transfer mechanisms.
  • The low-mass companions have further evolved to white dwarfs that are no longer detectable.
  • White dwarf is a star near the end of its life that has used most or all of its nuclear fuel and collapsed into a size similar to Earth.
  • The team analyzed the stars using Himalayan Chandra Telescope (HCT) at the Indian Astronomical Observatory, Hanle, in Ladakh, the European Southern Observatory at La Silla, Chile, and the SUBARU Telescope at the summit of Maunakea, Hawaii, to resolve this puzzle.

 

  1. What is Dark Genome? (TH, pg 12)
  • Context: Cambridge University scientists investigating the dark genome (DNA outside our genes) have found several “novel regions” that do genetic coding which produces proteins linked to Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
  • These ‘novel’ genomic regions cannot be defined by our current ‘definition’ of a gene.
  • Both Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are hereditary mental disorders that are hard to diagnose and treat. These disorders arise from a combination of environmental and genetic factors.

Analysis

What are Dark genomes?

  • The majority (as much as 98 percent) – of our DNA do not code for proteins.
  • This is referred to as the “dark matter genome”.
  • The human genome is conventionally divided into the “coding” genome, which generates human protein coding genes, and the “dark” genome, which does not encode proteins.
  • This dark genome is a vast genomic space where repeat elements, enhancers, regulatory sequences, and non-coding RNAs reside.
  • Historically, a major effort of human genomics has been to define the complement of human protein coding genes, which are then the basis for biomedical discovery and research.
  • The majority of currently available drugs are designed to target proteins coded by genes. 

What is DNA?

  • DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the hereditary material in humans and almost all other organisms.
  • Nearly every cell in a person’s body has the same DNA.
  • Most DNA is located in the cell nucleus (where it is called nuclear DNA), but a small amount of DNA can also be found in the mitochondria (where it is called mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA).
  • Mitochondria are structures within cells that convert the energy from food into a form that cells can use.
  • The information in DNA is stored as a code made up of four chemical bases: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T).
  • Human DNA consists of about 3 billion bases, and more than 99 percent of those bases are the same in all people.
  • DNA bases pair up with each other, A with T and C with G, to form units called base pairs.
  • Each base is also attached to a sugar molecule and a phosphate molecule.
  • Together, a base, sugar, and phosphate are called a nucleotide.
  • Nucleotides are arranged in two long strands that form a spiral called a double helix.
  • The structure of the double helix is somewhat like a ladder, with the base pairs forming the ladder’s rungs and the sugar and phosphate molecules forming the vertical sidepieces of the ladder.
  • An important property of DNA is that it can replicate, or make copies of itself.

What are genes?

  • Genes are made up of DNA.
  • Some genes act as instructions (called coding) to make molecules called proteins.
  • However, many genes do not code for proteins.
  • In humans, genes vary in size from a few hundred DNA bases to more than 2 million bases.
  • An international research effort called the Human Genome Project, which worked to determine the sequence of the human genome and identify the genes that it contains, estimated that humans have between 20,000 and 25,000 genes.
  • Every person has two copies of each gene, one inherited from each parent.
  • Most genes are the same in all people, but a small number of genes (less than 1 percent of the total) are slightly different between people.
  • Alleles are forms of the same gene with small differences in their sequence of DNA bases. These small differences contribute to each person’s unique physical features.

 

  1. Differences between Corbevax and Covovax (TH, pg 13)
  • Context: India has approved two more vaccines, Corbevax and Covovax, under emergency use authorisation, as well as an antiviral drug, Molnupiravir, to fight against COVID-19.

Analysis

What do we know about Corbevax?

  • Corbevax is a protein sub-unit vaccine co-developed by Hyderabad-based Biological E, Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, U.S., and American company Dynavax Technologies.
  • A protein sub-unit vaccine is made by isolating a piece of the actual virus.
  • As fragments are used, there is no danger that these will multiply within the body.
  • These pieces are expected to trigger an immune response that, hopefully, will stymie future infection.
  • As only a small part of the virus —in the case of Corbevax the spike protein is the piece— is exposed to the immune system, only antibodies specific to the spike protein are expected to be produced and is therefore, less likely to trigger adverse reactions.
  • The vaccine can be stored in ordinary refrigerators.

Who is producing Covovax?

  • Covovax is produced by the Serum Institute of India under licence from Novavax, a U.S.-based biotechnology company.
  • Covovax has been approved by the World Health Organization under its Emergency Use Listing and therefore will also be available globally as part of the COVAX initiative.
  • It is similar to protein sub-unit vaccines and differs from, say Corbevax, in how the spike protein is produced. In Corbevax, the spike protein is grown typically in yeast cells whereas in Covovax, spike proteins are grown in moth cells.
  • A nanoparticle formula is used to make it resemble the structure of the coronavirus spike protein to stimulate the immune response.
  • This also needs an adjuvant and booster shots.

 

D) Art, Culture and History

  1. The battle of Bhima-Koregaon (TH, pg 7)
  • Context: 204th anniversary of the battle of Bhima-Koregaon which was one of the last battles in 1818 of the Third Anglo-Maratha War which culminated in the Peshwa’s defeat.

Analysis

  • A small village in Pune district of Maharashtra, Bhima-Koregaon is associated with an important phase of Maratha history.
  • On January 1, 1818, a Dalit-dominated British Army had defeated a Peshwa army, led by Peshwa Bajirao II, in Koregaon.
  • The battle attained a legendary stature for Dalits, who consider the win as a victory of the Mahars (a Scheduled Caste) against the injustices perpetuated by the Brahminical
  • A pillar, known as Vijay Sthamb (victory pillar), was installed by the East India Company in memory of those who fought for them in the battle.
  • Every year on January 1, the Ambedkarite Dalits gather at Bhima Koregaon to pay their respect at the Vijay Sthamb (victory pillar).
  • 2018 was the 200th year of the “victory of Mahars over the Brahmanical Peshwas”.
  • Being the 200th anniversary, the gathering in Bhima Koregaon that year was much larger than usual.
  • Many Dalit and Bahujan groups collectively organised a public conference in the name of Elgar Parishad at Shaniwar Wada, which was the seat of the Peshwas until 1818.

Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817-1818) and the Pindaris

  • The Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817-1818) was the result of an invasion of Maratha territory in the course of operations against Pindari robber bands by the British governor-general, Lord Hastings.
  • The British suspected that the Marathas were providing help to the Pindaris, who were mercenaries fighting for the Marathas.
  • Besides, there was a lot of interference from the British Residents in the internal affairs, particularly regarding succession.
  • In a bid to increase revenue, Peshwa Baji Rao introduced certain stringent measures. The British accused him of maladministration.
  • The Marathas decided to go to war to retain their freedom.
  • Peshwa Baji Rao II tried to form a confederacy of the Maratha chiefs against the English. He roped in the support of the Pathan Chief Amir Khan and the Pindaris.
  • Peshwa Baji Rao II’s forces, supported by those of Mudhoji II Bhonsle of Nagpur and Malharrao Holkar III of Indore, rose against the East India Company.
  • Pressure and diplomacy convinced the fourth major Maratha leader, Daulatrao Shinde (Sindhia) of Gwalior, to remain neutral even though he lost control of Rajasthan.
  • British eventually won resulting in the break-up of the Maratha Empire.
  • On June 3, 1818, the Peshwa surrendered and was captured and placed in a small estate at Bithur, near Kanpur.
  • Most of his territory was annexed and became a part of the Bombay Presidency. All the Maratha powers had surrendered.

The Pindari War (1817–18)

  • Pindari, historically, was an irregular horseman, plunderer, or forager attached to a Muslim army in India who was allowed to plunder in lieu of pay.
  • The Pindaris followed the Maratha bands who raided Mughal territory from the late 17th
  • With the collapse of the Mughal Empire in the 18th century, these camp followers organized themselves into groups, each usually attached to one of the leading Maratha chiefs.
  • But as those chiefs themselves grew weak at the end of the century, the Pindaris became largely a law unto themselves and conducted raids from hideouts in central India.
  • The majority of their leaders were Muslims, but they recruited from all classes.
  • After the regular forces of the Marathas had been broken up by the British in the campaigns of 1803–04 (Maratha Wars), the Pindaris made their headquarters in Malwa, under the tacit protection of the rulers of Gwalior and Indore.
  • They usually assembled in November to set forth over British-held territory in search of plunder.
  • At last, their practices became intolerable, and in 1816 the British organized the campaign known as the Pindari War (1817–18).

 

E) International Relations

  1. Russia-Ukraine Conflict (TH, pg 1)
  • Context:Ukraine said one of its soldiers was killed in fighting with pro-Moscow separatists, as the U.S. again warned Russia against any attacks on the country.

Analysis

  • In 2014, Ukraine faced the greatest threat to its national security since the collapse of the Soviet Union, of which it had been part for most of the 20th century.

Crimea – A brief history

  • The Republic of Crimea, officially part of Ukraine, lies on a peninsula south of Ukraine between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
  • It is separated from Russia to the east by the narrow Kerch Strait.
  • Crimea is connected only to the mainland Ukraine.
  • In early 2014, Russian-backed forces seized control of the Crimean peninsula, and the territory, which has a Russian-speaking majority, voted to join Russia in a referendum that Ukraine and the West deem illegal.
  • Pro-Russian separatists also seized control of large swathes of Donetsk and Luhansk regions in April 2014, just after Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.
  • European countries and the U.S. have imposed sanctions on Russia after the Ukraine conflict broke out.

Do you know?

  • The Kerch Strait separates the Crimean peninsula from Russia’s mainland.

 

  1. F) Miscellaneous
  2. Gupkar Declaration (TH, pg 9)
  • Context: The former Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and several other top leaders of the People’s Alliance for the Gupkar Declaration were placed under house arrest on Saturday ahead of a joint protest against the draft proposal of the J&K Delimitation Commission.

Analysis

  • The ‘Gupkar Declaration’ is a resolution issued after an all-party meeting of the mainstream political parties of Kashmir on August 4, 2019 at the Gupkar residence of NC president Farooq Abdullah.
  • The resolution at the end of the meet on August 4, 2019, a day before the Centre announced its decision of revocation of J-K’s special status and split it into two union territories, said the parties unanimously resolved that they would be united in their resolve to protect and defend the identity, autonomy and special status of Jammu and Kashmir against all attacks and onslaughts.

 

  1. Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (PIB)
  • Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav is an initiative of the Government of India to celebrate and commemorate 75 years of progressive India and the glorious history of its people, culture and achievements.

The official journey of “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav” commenced on 12th March 2021 (from Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad, Gujarat) which starts a 75-week countdown to our 75th anniversary of Independence.