Current Affairs (26th May 2021)
- The World Health Organization (WHO) and Switzerland signed a Memorandum of Undersatnding (MoU) to launch a BioHub facility that will allow rapid sharing of pathogens between laboratories and partners to facilitate a better analysis and preparedness against them.
- The move is significant in the view of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to underline the importance of sharing pathogen information to assess risks and launch countermeasures.
- The facility will help in safe reception, sequencing, storage, and preparation of biological materials for distribution to other laboratories, to facilitate global preparedness against these pathogens.
- Pathogens are now shared bilaterally between countries: A process that can be sluggish and deny the benefits to some.
- The BioHubwill enable member states to share biological materials with and via the BioHub under pre-agreed conditions, including biosafety, biosecurity, and other applicable regulations. This will ensure timeliness and predictability in response activities.
- The BioHub System is an important step towards facilitating this flow of information.
- This move will contribute to the establishment of an international exchange system for novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and other emerging pathogens.
Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY)
- The scheme of free distribution of food grains to the beneficiaries under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), has provided a big relief to the beneficiaries during ongoing COVID pandemic period.
- As a pro poor initiative, under PMGKAY, Government of India is distributing free food grains for a period of two months (May-June 2021) @ 5kg per person per month to approx. 79.39 crore beneficiaries covered under National Food Security Act (NFSA).
- Ministry: The department of Food and Public Distribution under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
- Duration: The scheme was announced in 2020 for three months till July. Later it was extended till November 2020 to combat the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the poor.
- However, the scheme is functional once again. As many States are undergoing curfews and the high rates of coronavirus infections, leading to a slowdown in economic activity.
FDI flow increased
- A data released by the Commerce and Industry Ministry relating to foreign investment into India.
Impressive growth in foreign investment:
- Foreign direct investment (FDI) flows into India grew 10% in 2020-21 to touch a record $81.72 billion. The FDI equity inflows have risen 19% to total almost $60 billion.
- Singapore has emerged as the top investor followed by the U.S. and Mauritius.
- FDI equity flows from the U.S., the U.K. and Saudi Arabia have witnessed sharp increases.
Top destination states:
- Gujarat was the top FDI destination followed by Maharashtra and Karnataka.
- The other regions have accounted for a disproportionately lower amount of 23% of the remaining foreign equity capital. This is indicative of the skewed pattern of FDI inflows and concerns of unbalanced growth.
- Computer software and hardware has emerged as the top sector during 2020-21 with about 44% share of the total FDI equity inflow followed by construction (infrastructure) activities and services sector.
- Construction (infrastructure) activities, computer software and hardware, rubber goods, retail trading, drugs and pharmaceuticals and electrical equipment have recorded more than a 100% jump in equity during 2020-21.
- The boost in FDI inflow comes in the backdrop of a series of policy steps taken to improve ease of doing business and to attract investments into domestic manufacturing capacity and an ambitious infrastructure project pipeline.
- Also, the investments recorded a growth in double digits boosted by investments in the digital sector.
Foreign Direct Investment
- It refers to the conditions when a company or investor takes ownership and controls operation in a business entity in another country.
- With FDI, foreign companies are directly involved with day-to-day operations in the other country which implies that along with bringing money, they also bring knowledge, skills, and technology.
- It is an important non-debt monetary source for India’s economic development.
- In January 2021, a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) highlighted that in 2020, developing nations accounted for 72 per cent of global FDI, the highest share on record.
- China was the world’s largest FDI recipient in 2020, with flows rising 4 per cent to USD 163 billion.
- India recorded positive growth of 13 per cent, boosted by investments in the digital sector.
Kharif Strategy 2021
- The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has adopted Kharif Strategy 2021, to achieve self-sufficiency in the production of oilseeds.
- It is an ambitious plan for the free distribution of high yielding varieties of seeds to the farmers for the Kharif season 2021 in the form of more than 8 lakh Soybean mini-kits and 74 thousand groundnut mini-kits.
- Under the special Kharif plan, both area and productivity enhancement has been formulated for soybean and groundnut with a focus on high yielding varieties of seeds to be provided free of cost under the National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm.
- The special Kharif programme will bring an additional 6.37 lakh hectare area under oilseeds and is likely to produce 120.26 lakh quintals of oilseeds and edible oil amounting to 24.36 lakh quintals.
- A rainbow around the Sun know as a Sun halo, was observed recently in Bengaluru.
- The halo that appeared around the Sun is a 22-degree ring that appears due to the dispersion of light as white light passes through ice crystals found in upper-level cirrus clouds, causing the halo to have colours.
- The clouds contain millions of tiny ice crystals, which refract, split, and even reflect the light to give an impression of a circular rainbow ring.
- The crystals have to be oriented and positioned just so with respect to your eye, in order for the halo to appear.
Circular Economy to deal with e-waste
- The paper titled ‘Circular Economy in Electronics and Electrical Sector’ aims to encourage circular economy, or ensuring zero to minimal wastage in the use of electronics and electrical sector.
- India is the third largest electronic waste generator in the world after China and the USA as per the Global E-waste Monitor 2020.
- Circular economy (CE) has the potential for enhancing resource security, abatement of loss of precious and rare minerals, addressing pollution, enhancing livelihood opportunities, and mitigating environmental degradation.
- CE is an industrial system, which is an alternative to highly extractive and resource intensive linear economy principle of take-make-dispose.
- Setting up material sampling labs across the regions to assess the material value in the end-of-life product.
- Mandatory use of certain percentage of critical materials sources from secondary materials.
- Resource efficiency/ circular economy labeling, eco-labelling on the products in the percentage use of recycled materials in the product to create consumer awareness in recycling aspects of products.
- Promotion of technology for extraction of maximum number of materials through technology development/transfer, innovative finance mechanisms and schemes.
- In 5 states namely, Delhi and four neighbouring States of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana, 9453 children went missing between Jan-July 2020.
- Missing child has been defined as a person below 18 years of age, whose whereabouts are not known to the parents, legal guardians and any other person who may be legally entrusted with the custody of the child, whatever may be the circumstances/causes of disappearance.
- A child goes missing in India every eight minutes. More girls go missing than boys.
- Possible factors: Trafficking, Abandonment (based on gender, health/disability, children born out of wedlock), Theft of kids (for personal reasons), Natural calamities, Sacrifice/religious beliefs etc.
Challenges in rescue and rehabilitation of missing child
- The figures are always under-reported either due to social stigma or due to non-cooperation from police officials.
- The mechanism to trace missing children is weak and tracing these children’s families is never taken on priority. Many of the rescued children do not remember their address or other details of their parents.
- Khoya-Paya portal to upload the information of the missing child.
- Protected under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
AMALGAMATION OF DISTRICT CENTRAL CO-OPERATIVE BANKS (DCCBS) WITH STATE CO-OP BANKS (STCBS)
- RBI has come out with the guidelines after a few state governments approached it for amalgamation of DCCBs with StCBs as a two-tier Short-term Co-operative Credit Structure (STCCS).
- Rural cooperative credit institutions have two distinct structures:
- STCCS mostly provide crop and other working capital loans primarily for a short period to farmers and rural artisans.
- Long-term cooperative credit structure (LTCCS) institutions focus on providing typically medium to long-term loans for making investments in agriculture, rural industries, and lately housing.
- Under the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Act, 2020, amalgamations of the above banks have to be sanctioned by the RBI.
Need of amalgamation:
- To ensure robust rural credit system
- To allow the bank to function like any other commercial bank.
- To enable the banks for better human resource management as well as tax management.
RBI will consider proposals for amalgamation if the following conditions are fulfilled:
- State Government makes a proposal for such amalgamation after fulfilling various conditions.
- Scheme of amalgamation is approved by the requisite majority of shareholders.
- Such proposal of the State Government has been examined and recommended by NABARD.