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Daily Current Affairs – 23rd Feb. 2021

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Daily Current Affairs

Given below are the daily current affairs for 23rd Feb. 2021. You can take the daily current affairs quiz here for free.

POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

Council of IITs

Context:

Union Education Minister chairs the 54th Meeting of the Council of IITs.

Details:

  • The IIT Council set up four committees to look at a range of issues – from funding to graded autonomy – of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and decided to go for “rationalisation of staff from current standard to a lower number”.
    • However, it did not elaborate on the rationalisation of staff and whether this includes reduction of both teaching and non-teaching staff.
    • IITs together are currently facing a shortage of staff by nearly 39%, as per official data.
  • On the basis of the recommendation of the Chairman of Standing Committee for IIT Council, four Working Groups were constituted on the following issues related to NEP-2020:
    • Group-1: Graded Autonomy, Empowered and accountable BoG and Director
    • Group-2: Grooming distinguished academics for directorship of IITs
    • Group-3: Reform and restructuring of the Academic Senate
    • Group-4: Innovative funding mechanisms
  • About IIT Council:
    • IIT Council is the apex decision-making body of the IITs.
    • The Council is chaired by the Minister-in-charge of technical education in the Union Government.
    • It has as its members MPs, chairpersons and directors of all IITs, chairpersons and directors of other eminent institutes such as IISc, etc.

DEFENCE

VL-SRSAM Missile System

Context:

Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) conducted two successful launches of Vertical Launch Short Range Surface to Air Missile (VL-SRSAM).

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Details:

  • The launches were carried out from a static vertical launcher from Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur, off the coast of Odisha.
  • Prior to the test, around 8,000 people residing within two km radius of the ITR were evacuated as part of safety measures.

About VL-SRSAM:

  • VL-SRSAM is meant for neutralizing various aerial threats at close ranges including sea-skimming targets.
  • It has been indigenously designed and developed by DRDO for the Indian Navy.
  • The canister-based state-of-the-art weapon system can identify, track, engage and destroy the target with high kill probability. It has a strike range of about 40 km.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

India in trade, Defence pacts with Mauritius

Context:

India and Mauritius signed a $100 million Defence Line of Credit agreement.

Details:

  • It was a part of several understandings, including the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA).
  • CECPA was signed between the two countries during the ongoing visit by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.
  • It is India’s first such agreement with an African country.
  • Using the new framework under the CECPA, India and Mauritius would provide preferential access to a number of items like surgical equipment, medicine, and textile products that would cater to market requirements on both sides.
    • For instance, Mauritius will get preferential access for export of 40,000 tonnes of sugar into India at an early time frame.
  • It will provide a timely boost for the revival of our post-Covid economies and also enable Indian investors to use Mauritius as a launch-pad for business expansion into continental Africa helping the prospect of Mauritius emerging as a ‘hub of Africa’.
  • The two countries also exchanged letters on provisions of a Dornier aircraft and a Dhruv advanced light helicopter.
    • Both would be given on lease to Mauritius on gratis basis for two years.

India-Mauritius Relationship:

  • Mauritius occupies a special place in India’s Prime Minister’s vision of ‘SAGAR‘ (Security and Growth for All in the Region).
  • India has expressed support to Mauritius in its effort to be taken off the FATF’s grey list.
  • India also provided 2 lakh doses of Covid vaccines to Mauritius. Mauritius has requested an additional 2,00,000 doses of vaccines.

Maldives Parliament debates Defence deal with India

Context:

India and the Maldives signed a defence Line of Credit agreement worth $50 million during the ongoing visit by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.

Details:

  • Following the signing of the agreement, Maldives’s Parliament took up an emergency motion, demanding greater transparency on the bilateral pact.
  • The opposition submitted an emergency motion objecting to the signing of the pact, linked to the “independence and sovereignty” of the Maldives.
  • However, the Maldivian Defence Minister made it clear that the project was vital to the effective functioning of the Maldivian Coast Guard.

Background:

  • The harbour development agreement, effectively a defence pact, was signed following a request from the government of Maldives — since former President Abdulla Yameen’s term in 2013.
  • It was for Indian assistance to enhance the capability of the Defence Forces. Subsequently, Male made requests in 2015 and 2016.
    • However, the then foreign minister asserted that no such agreement was concluded.
  • Concerns over Indian military presence were flagged in 2018, when the Yameen government asked India to take back two helicopters it had gifted, with a crew and support staff, causing a major strain in bilateral ties.

Note:

  • Following the September 2018 defeat of the Yameen administration, which was known for its China tilt, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s government has been pursuing an “India first” policy.
  • However, not all in the ruling coalition agree with the government’s current foreign policy.

MISCELLANEOUS

Xi may visit India for BRICS summit

What’s in News?

China’s President Xi Jinping may visit India in 2021 to attend the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) leaders’ meeting.

  • China expressed its support for India hosting the meeting and said the meet would not be impacted by the border crisis.
  • China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that they would work with India and other members to strengthen communication and dialogue, and consolidate the three-pillar cooperation.
    • Referring to economic cooperation, political and security cooperation, and people-to-people and cultural exchanges.

Note:

The latest standoff between India and China in Eastern Ladakh led to the biggest violence since 1967, the first loss of life since 1975 and a major rupture in the relationship.

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National Technology Awards 2020

Context:

A total of 12 companies have been selected for the National Technology Awards 2020 for the successful commercialization of innovative indigenous technologies.

Details:

  • They have been selected under three categories: indigenous technologies, MSME, and start-ups.
  • Every year, for furtherance of its mandate, the Technology Development Board (TDB) seeks applications for the prestigious National Awards for commercialization of technologies under these three categories.
  • The winners were selected from a total of 128 applications after thorough examination by eminent technologists and a stringent two-tier evaluation process.

About the National Technology Awards by TDB:

  • Indigenous technologies category:
    • The Award is given to an industrial concern which has successfully developed & commercialized an indigenous technology.
    • In case, the technology developer/provider and technology commercializer are two different organizations; each one would be eligible for an award of Rs. 25 lakh and a trophy.
  • MSMEs category:
    • The Award is given to MSMEs which have successfully commercialized a product based on Indigenous technology.
    • SSI Unit Awards given earlier by TDB, has been renamed as ‘MSME Awards’.
    • This carries a cash award of Rs. 15 lakh and a trophy.
  • Start-up category:
    • This is a new category of Award introduced by TDB for technology start-ups.
    • It is given to the technology start-ups for development of promising new technology with potential for commercialization and carries a cash prize of Rs. 15 lakh and a trophy.

Skill Development Centre (SDC) for Fire Safety Training

Situated at Pilkhuwa in Uttar Pradesh.

  • The facility, created by the Delhi-based DRDO laboratory Centre for Fire, Explosive and Environment Safety (CFEES), is aimed at developing trained human resources, fire safety technology and products to save precious human lives and valued assets.
  • The first of its kind in India, the SDC has been created by adopting state-of-the-art technology and setting up of simulation systems for validation of fire at realistic scale in order to meet the challenges and enhance the skills of Defence Fire Service Personnel and combatants from the Armed Forces.

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