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Daily Current Affairs – 19th Feb. 2021

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Daily Current Affairs

Given below are the daily current affairs for 19th Feb. 2021. You can take the daily current affairs quiz here for free.

POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

Biometric authentication to benefit farmers: Centre

Context:

The Centre is encouraging the States to deploy biometric authentication of farmers.

Details:

  • The practice has already been adopted in Uttar Pradesh.
  • It is set to be rolled out in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha.

Significance:

  • It would cut out the middleman and ensure greater transparency in the procurement of farm produce.
  • It will aid in tracking the end-use beneficiary.
  • This initiative would reduce the need for extensive paperwork, prevent leakages and speed up the process of procurement, with payment settlement being completed within 72 hours.
  • The other advantage is that the farmer gets a receipt for his goods, showing the quantity and the MSP price, so nobody can cheat the farmer.

ENVIRONMENT

‘Polluted air killed 54,000 in Delhi’

Context:

According to a Greenpeace Southeast Asia analysis of the cost to the economy due to air pollution, air pollution claimed approximately 54,000 lives in Delhi in 2020.

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Details:

  • Six Indian cities: Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Lucknow feature in the global analysis.
  • The ‘Cost Estimator’, an online tool that estimates the real-time health impact and economic cost from fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) air pollution in major world cities, was deployed in a collaboration between Greenpeace Southeast Asia, IQAir and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA).

Concerns:

  • Globally, approximately 1,60,000 deaths have been attributed to PM (particulate matter) 2.5 air pollution in the five most populous cities — Delhi, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Tokyo.
  • An estimated 25,000 avoidable deaths in Mumbai in 2020 have been attributed to air pollution.
  • The report states that the damage is equally worrying in other Indian cities.
  • In 2020, Greenpeace said that of the 28 global cities studied, Delhi bore the highest economic cost of air pollution with an estimated loss of 24,000 lives in the first half of 2020 despite a strict COVID-19 lockdown.

Cost to Economy:

  • To show the impact of air pollution-related deaths on the economy, the approach used by Greenpeace is called ‘willingness-to-pay’ — a lost life year or a year lived with disability is converted to money by the amount that people are willing to pay in order to avoid this negative outcome.
  • The cost estimator also sustained the estimated air pollution-related economic losses of Rs 1,23,65,15,40,000.

Suggestions:

  • Despite a temporary reprieve in air quality owing to the lockdown, the latest figures from the report underscore the need to act immediately.
  • It stressed that the need of the hour is to rapidly scale up renewable energy, bring an end to fossil fuel emissions and boost sustainable transport systems.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Facebook news goes dark in Australia

Context:

In a strong pushback to Australia’s new media bargaining laws, Facebook has decided to black out news content from its social networking platform in Australia.

What is Australia’s media bargaining law?

  • Australia’s new media bargaining code was introduced in parliament in December 2020.
  • It requires big tech companies like Google and Facebook to enter into agreements with news outlets that result in a commercial contract for showing the latter’s content on their platforms.

Why does Facebook have an issue with the code?

  • Google and Facebook have engaged in desperate attempts to avoid regulation under the Australian government’s proposed mandatory news media bargaining code.
  • The code would force them to pay Australian news companies for content that appears on their platforms.
  • It also requires they abide by certain minimum standards, including informing media companies about the type of data collected through users’ interactions with news, and providing advance notice of any algorithmic changes that affect news content.

How does the deal impact Facebook?

  • Not much, as Facebook says that news makes up less than 4% of the content people see in their news feed.
  • Over the years, Facebook has been less interested in news as it has moved towards softer and more engaging video content that could drive conversations within a network.
  • Also, its experience with the way news feeds were gamed during the 2016 US presidential elections has made it wary of becoming a large platform for news.

What does this mean for the rest of the world?

  • Facebook and Google rightly fear the action in Australia could trigger similar laws across the world.
  • They might move towards making the inflow of news into its platforms more contractual.

MISCELLANEOUS

Hyderabad wins global ‘Tree City’ status

What’s in News?

Hyderabad has won a green contest among cities in India, and emerged as one of the ‘Tree Cities of the World’.

  • That title has been bestowed by the Arbor Day Foundation and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
  • Hyderabad has been selected for its commitment to growing and maintaining urban forestry.
  • It has been recognized for the State government’s Haritha Haram programme and its Urban Forest Parks plan.

L&T delivers 100th K9 Vajra howitzer to Army

What’s in News?

Army Chief Gen flagged off the 100th K9 Vajra.

  • It is a tracked self-propelled howitzer built by Larsen & Toubro (L&T).
  • As a part of its ‘Make-in-India’ initiative, the company established a green-field manufacturing-cum-integration and testing facility at its Hazira manufacturing complex near Surat to produce the guns.
  • It was built at L&T’s armoured system complex at Hazira in Gujarat.

Mahabahu Brahmaputra initiative

The program is aimed at providing seamless connectivity to the Eastern parts of India and includes various development activities for the people living around River Brahmaputra and River Barak.

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The launch of Mahabahu-Brahmaputra will be marked by the inauguration of:

  1. The Ro-Pax vessel operations between Neamati-Majuli Island, North Guwahati-South Guwahati and Dhubri-Hatsingimari.
  2. The shilanyas of Inland Water Transport (IWT) Terminal at Jogighopa and various tourist jetties on River Brahmaputra and launch of digital solutions for Ease-of-Doing-Business.

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