Current Affairs for BANK, IBPS Exams - 26 December 2020
Current Affairs for BANK, IBPS Exams - 26 December 2020
Science should address the pressing needs of the common man, says Vice President
Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu expressed happiness over the fact that India is on the verge of releasing its own indigenous COVID vaccine. He also complimented the hard-working scientists who have made this possible.
Addressing the concluding session of the India International Science Festival from Hyderabad through virtual mode, Shri Naidu lauded the dedication of Indian scientists in making India self-reliant in the production of PPEs and Covid-19 testing kits. The Vice President said that India had negligible production capacity of PPEs, ventilators and testing kits at the beginning of the pandemic but within a short span we are now able to export PPEs.
Observing that false information on the nature of the coronavirus, medication and the vaccine has caused panic and anxiety among the people, Shri Naidu said that this ‘infodemic’ also reinforces the importance of scientific temper in our lives. Emphasizing that a citizen who thinks critically will be immune to such misinformation or fake news, he called for promoting the spirit of inquiry. “It is not vaccines or drugs that can defeat the ‘infodemic’, but a rational outlook among people’, he said.
Calling science as the lifeline of human progress, the Vice President noted that science is about the spirit of rational inquiry that can guide us in our lives. Mentioning that our Constitution lists the development of scientific temper as one of our Fundamental Duties, he said that if we imbibe this temper, we can apply scientific methodology to every endeavour of life and make informed decisions.
Nation pays homage to former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his birth anniversary
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today paid floral tributes to former Prime Minister, Bharat Ratna awardee Atal Bihari Vajpayee and freedom fighter & educationist, Bharat Ratna awardee Madan Mohan Malviya, in the Central hall of the Parliament.
On the occasion of the 96th birth anniversary of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, PM Modi released a book titled ‘Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Parliament: A Commemorative Volume’, highlighting the life and works of the former Prime Minister.
Lok Sabha Speaker OM Birla, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and several Members of Parliament were present on the occasion.
President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi also paid floral tributes to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at Sadaiv Atal memorial in New Delhi today. Union Minister Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Nirmala Sitharaman, Piyush Goyal, Hardeep Singh Puri, Dr. Harsh Vardhan and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla among others also paid floral tributes to the former Prime Minister.
Today, on the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the nation also celebrated Good Governance day. 25th December is celebrated as Good Governance Day every year to create awareness of accountability in government among the citizens of India.
PM Narendra Modi says Govt is committed to welfare of farmers
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today released the seventh installment of financial benefit under Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) through video conferencing. With the push of a button, the Prime Minister enabled the transfer of more than Rs18,000 crore to over nine crore beneficiary farmer families
Prime Minister also had a conversation with farmers from six different States during the event. The farmers shared their experiences about PM-KISAN and also on various other initiatives taken by the government for the welfare of farmers.
The farmers said, they have received due payments under PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi which have helped them enhance their produce. One of the farmers said, under PM-Kisan Yojana and crop diversification scheme, he is able to sell his produce outside the APMC Mandis and earn a lot more for his family.
In his address, PM Modi said, today, Rs 18 thousand crore have been deposited directly in the bank accounts of more than 9 crore farmer families of the country at one click. He said, ever since this scheme started, more than Rs 1,10,000 crore have reached the accounts of farmers.
The Prime Minister stressed that the NDA government is committed to the welfare of farmers. He said, the Government is making life easier for farmers in villages, but those making big speeches today did nothing for farmers when they were in power. PM Modi said, he is pained that more than 70 lakh farmers of West Bengal have not been able to get the benefit of PM-KISAN. He said, more than 23 lakh farmers of West Bengal have applied online to take advantage of this scheme, but the State government has stopped the verification process.
PM Modi said, some parties are pushing their political agenda by opposing new farm laws and some people are spreading myths, lies and rumors that land will be taken away if farmers enter into contract farming.
The Prime Minister stressed that the NDA Government has been working with an aim to reduce the input cost of the farmers of the country and schemes like soil health card, neem coating of urea, solar pumps were started. He said, for a better crop insurance cover to farmers, Government launched PM Fasal Bima Yojana and crores of farmers are getting benefit of it.
PM Modi said, the NDA Government has tried to ensure that the country's farmer gets a fair price for his crop. He said, the Government fixed one and a half times the production cost as MSP for the farmers as per the recommendations of the long-standing Swaminathan Committee report. He added the number of crops for which MSP is available were also increased.
China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba to be probed for alleged ‘monopoly conduct’
In a big development in China’s market ecosystem, country’s top market watchdog on Thursday started investigation into alleged anti-competition practices by e-commerce giant Alibaba. The State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) in a statement announced that, based on reports, it has filed investigations into Alibaba Group Holdings Co., Ltd. for suspected monopolistic conduct.
The fresh investigation follows the dramatic suspension of the planned $37 billion IPO of its affiliate Ant Group in November and the summoning of its founder billionaire Jack Ma by government officials, as well as the People's Bank of China, to "provide views regarding the health and stability of the financial sector". Regulators will also hold "supervisory and guidance" talks with Alibaba's gigantic financial services subsidiary Ant Group, state media reported. The news led to tumbling of Alibaba shares by more than 8 per cent in Hong Kong, as per reports.
China’s official news agency, reported on Thursday that “Acting on information, China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) has started investigation on Alibaba Group for alleged monopoly conduct including implementing an ‘exclusive dealing agreement’. Draft anti-monopoly rules released in November gave the government wide latitude to rein in entrepreneurs who until recently enjoyed unusual freedom to expand their realms.
Once hailed as drivers of economic prosperity and symbols of the country’s technological prowess, Alibaba and rivals like Tencent Holdings Ltd. Have been recently facing increasing pressure from regulators as they have gained hundreds of millions of users and command influence over almost every aspect of daily life in China. Alibaba’s affiliate company Ant Group came into limelight with its main product Alipay, the online payments platform and super-app that is now deeply embedded in China's economy. But the company has also expanded into offering loans, credit, investments and insurance to hundreds of millions of consumers and small businesses, seen as competitor to the wider banking system. Ant Group said it would “diligently study and strictly comply with regulatory departments’ requests”.
WHO releases list of 10 global health issues to track in 2021
The World Health Organization (WHO) released a list of global health issues that the world could have to deal with in 2021 as inadequacies of health systems across countries lay bare at the hands of the coronavirus disease that has claimed over 1.75 million lives worldwide.
The pandemic could set back the global health progress achieved in the past 20 years and in 2021, the world would have to work hard to repair and reinforce their health systems if they want to effectively deliver vaccines.
Build global solidarity for worldwide health security: Countries need to work together to improve their preparedness for health emergencies. Support needs to be targeted to the most vulnerable communities, including in urban settings, small island countries and conflict settings.
Speed up access to Covid-19 tests, medicines and vaccines: WHO aims to achieve equitable access to vaccines and treatments and to ensure a smooth delivery to the needy? The WHO will distribute 2 billion vaccines; 245 million treatments; establish testing for 500 million people in low- and middle-income countries; and strengthen the health systems needed to support them.
Advance health for all: During the next year, countries would need to strengthen their health systems so that they can respond to emergencies such as Covid-19.
Tackling health inequities: WHO will work with countries to address health inequities related to income, gender, ethnicity, education, occupation/employment conditions, disability etc.
Provide global leadership on science and data: Countries would need to strengthen the capacity of their health data and information systems to report on progress towards their health-related goals, the WHO has said adding that it would monitor and evaluate all scientific developments around Covid-19 and other emergencies, identifying opportunities to harness those advances to improve global health.
Revitalize efforts to tackle communicable diseases: Next year, the WHO will help countries get vaccines for polio and other diseases to the people who missed out during the pandemic.
Combat drug resistance: Countries will be able to beat infectious diseases only if they have effective medicines to treat them. WHO said it will improve global monitoring and continue to support national action plans, ensuring that antimicrobial resistance is factored into health emergencies preparedness plans.
Prevent and treat NCDs and mental health conditions: According to the WHO, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) were responsible for 7 of the top 10 causes of death in 2019 and 2020 taught us how people with NCDs were vulnerable to Covid-19. The year 2021 should focus on ensuring that that screening and treatment programmes for diseases are accessible to the needy.
Build back better: Covid-19 has given us an opportunity to build back a “better, greener, healthier world” in 2021.
India to bank on innovative ways to garner Rs 1.75 lakh crore investment in 2021 for renewable energy sector
India will look to be more innovative in its approach to garner additional investments worth Rs 1.75 lakh crore for having 35 GW of renewable power generation capacity next year to meet the ambitious target of 175 GW of clean energy capacity by 2022.
At present, the country has a total installed renewable energy capacity of 90 GW. This includes 39 GW of wind and 37 GW of solar generation capacity.
Around 50 GW of renewable energy capacity is under construction and there is also a strong pipeline of 30 GW for new bids.
“There is a fund requirement of Rs 1.75 lakh crore to achieve the balance capacity of 35 GW (under bidding/ to be bid out/ auctioned) to achieve an overall target of 175 GW,” Director General of Solar Power Developers Association Shekhar Dutt told PTI.
He also said that implementation of renewable projects and innovation in tendering them to attract investors would play a key role in 2021.
According to him, India needs to design innovative tenders with the inclusion of wind, solar and energy storage to ensure that renewable can replace fossil fuels to a great extent.
Solar power tariff dropped to an all-time low of Rs 1.99 per unit in an auction of projects of 500 MW capacity by Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd (GUVNL) in December.
Prior to that, the tariff had declined to a record low of Rs 2 per unit in an auction for 1,070 MW projects conducted by the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) in November.
Coal India set to diversify into non-coal mining areas in 2021
State-owned Coal India Ltd (CIL) is set to diversify into non-coal mining areas as well as make major investments in clean technology in 2021 after demand for the dry fuel remained muted for most of this year amid the corona virus pandemic impacting economic activities.
Against all odds, including the slump in coal demand, the government opened up the country’s mining sector for private players by auctioning 19 blocks.
Coal demand across the world is projected to fall by around five per cent this year compared to 2019 while various sectoral challenges are expected to persist in 2021, analysts said.
“In 2021, we will try to get Coal India Ltd (CIL) to diversify into non-coal mining-related areas. It (CIL) will make major investments in sectors other than coal mining so that it is well prepared to make the transition away from fossil fuel.
In the coming year, Jain said CIL is also likely to go ahead with its agenda of achieving one billion tonnes of production target by 2023-24.
The auction of coal blocks for commercial mining witnessed “fierce competition” and the 19 blocks that went under the hammer will generate total revenues of around Rs 7,000 crore per annum and create more than 69,000 jobs once they are operationalised.
As many as 38 mines were put on auction, which also marked opening up of the country’s coal sector to private players. The bidding also saw participation of players from sectors like pharma, real estate, and infrastructure.
::Science and Technology::
N501Y mutation in SARS-CoV-2 virus causes increased infectivity
In a preliminary report posted on December 19, Dr. Andrew Rambaut from the University of Edinburgh and others from the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK Consortium) say that the new variant has been spreading “rapidly” over the last four weeks. The COG-UK Consortium had analysed the genome data of SARS-CoV-2 virus and identified the variant.
Of the many mutations found in the variant, the scientists have pointed out that the N501Y mutation increases the transmissibility of the variant in humans. Though no studies have so far been done in humans to assess if the new variant increases the severity of COVID-19 disease, the Consortium researchers have pointed out to a study conducted in mice by Chinese researchers which shows that the N501Y mutation does indeed increase disease severity and infectivity.
In a paper published on September 25 in the journal Science, a team of researchers led by Dr. Shibo Jiang from the School of Basic Medical Sciences, Fudan University, Shanghai found that the N501Y mutation was associated with increased infectivity and virulence in the mouse model.
The Chinese researchers generated a SARS-CoV-2 mouse-adapted strain by using a human clinical isolate of the virus and serial passaging it in the respiratory tract of aged BALB/c mice. The resultant mouse-adapted strain exhibited a panel of adaptive mutations potentially associated with increased virulence. The N501Y mutation was among the five nucleotide mutations found in the mouse-adapted strain.
“The increased virulence of SARS-CoV-2 [in the mouse-adapted strain] was likely attributed to the rapid emergence of N501Y substitution in the RBD of SARS-CoV-2 S protein,” they write. “The N501Y mutation seems to provide a more favourable interaction with mouse ACE2 for docking and entry, thus leading to the increased virulence phenotype in mice.”
IPL 2022 to be played among 10 teams: BCCI decides during 89th AGM
The BCCI’s governing body on Thursday ratified the entry of two new franchises in the IPL to make it a 10-team affair from 2022 and also decided to back the ICC’s push for cricket’s inclusion in the 2028 Olympics, during its Annual General Meeting (AGM) here.
In another major development, the Board, in principle, decided to back the ICC’s bid for inclusion of cricket, in the T20 format, in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics “after getting some clarifications from the International Olympic Committee”. It was decided that all first-class players, both men and women, will be suitably compensated for the curtailed domestic season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.