Given below are the daily current affairs for 18th Jan 2021. You can take the daily current affairs quiz here for free.
- POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
- SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
- INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
PCRA launches a month-long mass awareness campaign ‘SAKSHAM’ to spread awareness about ‘Green and Clean Energy’.
- Saksham (Sanrakshan Kshamta Mahotsav) is a campaign organised by Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA) to sensitize the masses about conservation and efficient use of petroleum products which will lead towards better health and environment.
- The campaign is aimed at creating awareness about the adverse health and environmental impacts of increasing carbon footprints.
- The idea behind the initiative is to convince consumers to switch to cleaner fuels and bring in behavioural change to use fossil fuel intelligently.
- The campaign through various pan-India activities such as cyclothon, farmer workshops, seminars, painting competition, CNG vehicle driving contest, etc. will spread awareness among masses about the advantages of using clean fuels.
- The key drivers include moving towards a gas-based economy, cleaner use of fossil fuels, greater reliance on domestic sources to drive bio-fuels, achieving renewable targets with the set deadlines, increased use of electric vehicles to decarbonize mobility, increased use of cleaner fuels like hydrogen, and digital innovation across all energy systems.
About the Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA):
- PCRA is a registered society set up under the aegis of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Government of India.
- As a non-profit organization, PCRA is a national government agency engaged in promoting energy efficiency in various sectors of the economy.
- It helps the government in proposing policies and strategies for petroleum conservation, aimed at reducing excessive dependence of the country on oil requirement.
Migratory birds flock to Punjab wetland
- Winter migratory waterbirds using the central Asian flyway have started making a beeline to Punjab’s Harike wetland, offering a delight for bird lovers.
- Harike wetland has been host to birds such as the Eurasian coot, greylag goose, bar-headed goose, gadwall and the northern shoveler.
- Among others species, common pochard, spot-billed duck, little cormorant, pied avocet, great cormorant, ferruginous pochard and common teal have been spotted with regularity.
- On average, the number has been ranging between 92,000 and 94,000 over the years. The average number has been stable.
- However, the number of some species, including northern lapwing, Pacific golden plover, black-bellied tern and cotton pygmy goose, has witnessed a decline.
Gujarat rivers remain highly polluted
- The unchecked flow of untreated industrial effluent into rivers in Gujarat has led to increasing pollution in the Sabarmati, Mahisagar, Narmada, Vishwamitri and Bhadar.
- The Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) data suggests that the Sabarmati river is among the most polluted rivers in the country.
- Gujarat is ranked fourth among the top five States with highly polluted rivers, with as many as 20 rivers in the critically polluted category.
- A thick froth on the Mahisagar witnessed recently has raised alarms, prompting the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) to constitute a high-level committee to study the rising level of pollution in the river.
- Pollution in rivers has emerged as a major threat in the last few years, largely because of the callous approach of the authorities, this attitude has emboldened the industries to discharge untreated effluents into flowing rivers without any punitive measures.
- There have numerous pieces of evidence of treated and untreated effluent being released into the estuary of the Mahisagar and Gulf of Cambay, flouting the guidelines of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
- As per the official parameters, if the chemical oxygen demand (COD), which indicates organic pollutant load, is higher than 250 mg per litre, then it should not be released into the rivers.
- Most of the Gujarat rivers where the effluents are dumped into, the COD level is in the range of 700 to 1000 mg per litre. While Dissolved Oxygen (DO) level parameter, which is an indicator of the health of a river in perennial rivers like Mahisgar should be in the range of 6 to 8 mg per litre, it is actually below 2.9 mg per litre.
- The Gujarat State government has come with a proposal of a ?2,300 crore project for a deep-sea effluent disposal pipeline to cater to nearly 4,500 industrial units. The project will serve four highly industrialised districts (Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Kheda and Rajkot), which are the main sources of pollution.
- While effluents continue to be dumped in Sabarmati and Mahisagar, there is a need to enforce effluent standards by the local authorities as untreated hazardous effluents will threaten the survival of the river and its associated biodiversity, on a long term, it will have consequences on human health as well.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has sought inputs from Telcos and other industry experts on the sale and use of radio frequency spectrum over the next 10 years, including the 5G bands.
What is 5G?
- 5G is the next generation of mobile broadband that will eventually replace, or at least augment 4G LTE connection.
- 5G offers exponentially faster download and upload speeds.
- 5G will deliver multi-Gbps peak rates, ultra-low latency, massive capacity, and a more uniform user experience.
Where does India stand in the 5G technology race?
All the three private telecom players, Reliance Jio Infocomm, Bharti Airtel and Vi have been urging the DoT to lay out a clear road map of spectrum allocation and 5G frequency bands, so that they would be able to plan the roll out of their services accordingly.
- One big hurdle, however, is the lack of flow of cash and adequate capital with at least two of the three players, namely Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.
- On the other hand, Reliance Jio plans to launch an indigenously built 5G network for the country as early as the second half of this year.
What is the global progress on 5G?
More than governments, global telecom companies have started building 5G networks and rolling it out to their customers on a trial basis. In countries like the US, companies such as AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have taken the lead when it comes to rolling out commercial 5G for their users.
India’s National Digital Communications Policy 2018 highlights the importance of 5G when it states that the convergence of a cluster of revolutionary technologies including 5G, the cloud, Internet of Things (IoT) and data analytics, along with a growing start-up community, promise to accelerate and deepen its digital engagement, opening up a new horizon of opportunities.
U.K. invites PM Modi to G7 summit in June
What’s in News?
The United Kingdom has invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend the G7 summit that is scheduled to be held in June 2021.
- Besides India, Australia and South Korea are also invited to participate in the proceedings of the summit as guest countries.
- The Indian PM had participated in the Biarritz G7 summit in 2019 when French President Emmanuel Macron had invited India.
- Prime Minister of the United Kingdom had to cancel his visit to India for the republic day parade in 2021 because of a new wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Britain.
- Cooperation between the U.K. and India is significant this year (2021) as India is a non-permanent member at the UN Security Council, where the United Kingdom will take over the presidency.
Group of Seven (G-7):
- It is an intergovernmental organisation that was formed in 1975.
- The bloc meets annually to discuss issues of common interest like global economic governance, international security and energy policy.
- The G-7 does not have a formal constitution or a fixed headquarters. The decisions taken by leaders during annual summits are non-binding.
U.K. urges China to grant UN access to Xinjiang
Britain’s government has urged China to allow UN rights inspectors to visit Xinjiang after raising new allegations of human rights abuses against the Uighur minority people.
- Britain’s Foreign Secretary recently introduced import controls on firms that may have sourced goods from the region in northwest China using forced labour from the mainly Muslim Uighur community.
- He opposes efforts underway in Parliament to give U.K. courts the power to declare a genocide in Xinjiang, which would bar the government from proceeding with any free-trade agreement with China.
- China is facing mounting global criticism over its treatment of the Uighur population in Xinjiang province – with claims of forced labour camps and mass sterilisation.
- However, China denies allegations and says it equally protects the rights and interests of its ethnic minorities.
Who are Uighurs?
- The Uighurs are a minority Turkic ethnic group originating from and culturally affiliated with the general region of Central and East Asia.
- The Uighurs are recognized as native to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China.
- They are considered to be one of China’s 55 officially recognized ethnic minorities.
- The Uighurs have traditionally inhabited a series of oases scattered across the Taklamakan Desert comprising the Tarim Basin, a territory which has historically been controlled by many civilizations including China, the Mongols, the Tibetans and the Turkic world.
- An estimated 80% of Xinjiang’s Uyghurs still live in the Tarim Basin. The rest of Xinjiang’s Uyghurs mostly live in Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (UAR), which is located in the historical region of Dzungaria.
- Jallikattu is a sport conducted as a part of Mattu Pongal.
- The Mattu Pongal is the 3rd day of the four-day-long festival Pongal.
- It is an ancient sport aimed to embrace the bull.
- The sport involves a natively reared stud that is set free inside an arena filled with young participants.
- The challenge lies in taming the bull with bare hands.
- It is also known as Manju Virattu or Eru Thazhuvuthal.
97th Battalion of Rapid Action Force
Union Home Minister lays the foundation stone of 97th Battalion of Rapid Action Force at Bhadravathi in Karnataka.
- The Minister laid the foundation stone of a new battalion campus of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) in Karnataka’s Shivamogga district.
- RAF is a specialized force of the CRPF to maintain public order and handle riots situation.
Road Safety Month
The National Road Safety Month is observed from 18th January to 17th February.
About the National Road Safety Month:
- It is an initiative by the government to enhance awareness about road safety and reduce road accidents in India.
- Activities planned during the National Road Safety Month include the launch of a film on road safety, flag-off of a National Championship Safe Speed Challenge from Wagah border to Kanyakumari, and giving away of awards for Road Safety.
- State Governments, PSUs, and insurance companies will also participate in awareness-creating activities, with seminars, walkathons and poster-making competitions.
Road accidents in India:
- Road accidents continue to be a leading cause of death, disabilities and hospitalization in India, which accounts for 11% of accidents-related fatalities worldwide.
- Over 400 people are killed in road accidents every day and over 1,200 injured every single day in India.
Ministry of Tourism organises ‘DekhoApnaDesh’ Webinar on “Exploring Buddhist Circuit by Train”.
What is a Tourist Circuit?
- A Tourist Circuit is defined as a route having at least three major tourist destinations which are distinct and apart.
- Circuits should have well-defined entry and exit points. A tourist who enters should get motivated to visit most of the places identified in the circuit.
- A Circuit could be confined to a State or could be a regional circuit covering more than one State/Union Territory. These circuits may have one dominant theme and other sub-themes.
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