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Daily Current Affairs – 12th March 2021

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Daily Current Affairs

Given below are the daily current affairs for 12th March 2021. You can take the daily current affairs quiz here for free.

POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

EC files FIR over fake news on hacking of EVMs

Context:

  • The Election Commission has lodged an FIR over “fake news” about the hacking of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) being spread on some social media platforms/internet.

Details:

  • The FIR has been lodged by the Delhi Chief Electoral Officer under Section 500 of the IPC, which pertains to punishment for defamation, and Sections 128 and 134 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
    • Section 500 of the IPC deals with punishment for defamation. In India, defamation is both a civil and a criminal offence. Section 500 reads: “Whoever defames another shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.”
    • The Representation of the People Act, 1951 is an act of Parliament of India to provide for the conduct of elections to the Houses of Parliament and to the House or Houses of the Legislature of each State, the qualifications and disqualifications for membership of those Houses, the corrupt practices and other offences at or in connection with such elections and the decision of doubts and disputes arising out of or in connection with such elections.

ECONOMY

‘Govt. owning bad bank is more capital efficient’

Context:

  • In the Union Budget 2021, Finance Minister announced the creation of a bad bank.

Background:

Non Performing Assets issue in India:

  • According to the figures released by the RBI, the total size of bad loans in the balance sheets of Indian banks at a gross level was around Rs. 9 lakh crore as of March 31, 2020.
  • The proportion of banks’ gross non-performing assets is expected to rise sharply from 7.5% of gross advances in September 2020 to at least 13.5% of gross advances in September 2021 given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bad bank:

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  • The proposed bad bank will be based on an asset management company-asset reconstruction company model to absorb the stressed assets in the banking system.
  • The bad bank will purchase Non-performing assets (NPAs) from banks at a discount. The entity will then attempt to achieve resolution in such accounts through a professional approach.

Details:

  • Amid confusing reports about the control of the proposed bad bank, a report from the Bank of America has argued for a government ownership model given the following benefits.
    • State-funding of bad banks would be more capital efficient. Government ownership would not impact the fiscal numbers; as otherwise, the government will have to keep on recapitalising the state-owned lenders which would strain the already fragile fiscal position of the country. The public sector banks would be the biggest beneficiaries of the proposed bad bank.
    • State ownership would help speed up the implementation of the proposed bad bank as there would not be the need to incentivize the private sector and wait.
    • Also, the state backed bad bank is expected to lower the credit costs for the banks. As per the Bank of America report, a state backed bad bank could lower the credit charge on banks to a fifth in the worst-case scenario from the 100% now.

Petition in HC seeks expansion of ambit of electric vehicles scheme

Context:

  • A petition filed before the Delhi High Court has sought a direction to expand the ambit of the FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles) India Phase-II scheme to the hydrogen energy infrastructure.

Details:

  • The petition seeks to ask the government to allocate a part of the unutilised funds from the FAME India Phase-II Scheme for promoting and incentivising demand for hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles and construction and operation of hydrogen refuelling stations.
    • There has been inadequate utilization of budget allocation made towards the FAME scheme. Out of a total budget of Rs. 700 crore for setting up charging infrastructure, only Rs.20 crore has been disbursed until now.

Significance of hydrogen energy:

  • The adoption of hydrogen as a fuel will help reduce the dependence of India’s transport sector on imported oil and gas.
  • The hydrogen energy system can be conceived as a circular process. Hydrogen can be manufactured by the hydrolysis of water using renewable energy. This would make hydrogen a truly sustainable fuel source.
  • The emission or by-product of hydrogen gas is water vapour. This would help decarbonize the energy mix. This augurs well for mitigating the GHG emissions.

National Hydrogen Energy Mission:

  • The government has announced a National Hydrogen Energy Mission [NHEM] during the budget speech in February 2021.
  • The National Hydrogen Energy Mission (NHM) will draw up a road map for using hydrogen as an energy source. NHEM initiative will capitalise on one of the most abundant elements on earth (Hydrogen) for a cleaner alternative fuel option.
  • The National Hydrogen Energy Mission will focus on the generation of hydrogen from green power resources and will aim to link India’s growing renewable capacity with the hydrogen economy.

Conclusion:

  • The government should support and incentivize alternate fuel technologies, such as hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

India, Japan space agencies review ties

Context:

  • Bilateral meeting between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Background:

India-Japan space collaboration:

  • India and Japan are working on a joint lunar polar exploration (LUPEX) mission.
    • The Lunar Polar Exploration mission is a robotic lunar mission concept by the Indian Space Research Organisation and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency that would send a lunar rover and lander to explore the South Pole region of the Moon in 2024.

Details:

  • Indian and Japanese space agencies have reviewed cooperation in earth observation, lunar cooperation and satellite navigation, and also agreed to explore opportunities for cooperation in “space situational awareness and professional exchange programme”.
  • With respect to earth observation collaboration, ISRO and JAXA have signed an Implementing Arrangement for collaborative activities on rice crop area and air quality monitoring using satellite data.

Additional information:

Space diplomacy:

Italy:

  • India and Italy have decided to explore opportunities in earth observation, space science and robotic and human exploration.

Australia:

  • India and Australia are in discussions for Australia to host vital tracking infrastructure to support India’s planned Gaganyaan manned space flight mission.
  • Such space diplomacy will only help further consolidate the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between India and Australia.

MISCELLANEOUS

Mission divine

  • Lingaraja Temple is a Hindu temple in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
  • The temple is believed to be built by the kings from the Somavamsi dynasty, with later additions from the Ganga rulers.
  • The temple is a classic example of the Kalinga style of architecture. The temple is built in the Deula style that has four components namely, vimana (structure containing the sanctum), jagamohana (assembly hall), natamandira (festival hall) and bhoga-mandapa (hall of offerings), each increasing in height compared to its predecessor.
  • The central deity of the temple, Lingaraja, is worshipped both as Shiva and Vishnu. The harmony between the two sects of Hinduism, Shaivism, and Vaishnavism, is seen in this temple where the deity is worshipped as Harihara, a combined form of Vishnu and Shiva.

Saving the sea giants

  • A recent study published in Nature states that the global population of sharks and rays has decreased by over 70% in the past five decades. This can be attributed to their intentional hunting and also due to the rising instances of by-catch during fishing expeditions.
  • India is now the second-largest shark fishing nation in the world, following Indonesia.
  • In a conservation attempt, whale sharks were included in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act of India, 1972, rendering the capture and killing of whale sharks a cognizable offence. It was the first-ever species to be protected under this act, after which the Ganges Shark, speartooth shark were added to the list.
  • The whale shark is a slow-moving, filter-feeding carpet shark and the largest known extant fish species. It is the largest living non-mammalian vertebrate.
  • The whale shark is found in the open waters of the tropical oceans. They feed almost exclusively on plankton and small fishes, and pose no threat to humans.

Killing two birds with one stone

  • The authorities in Assam’s Hailakandi district have made the house sparrow the mascot of Hailakandi SVEEP (Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation) Programme.
    • Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation program, better known as SVEEP, is the flagship program of the Election Commission of India for voter education, spreading voter awareness and promoting voter literacy in India.
    • SVEEP’s primary goal is to build a truly participative democracy in India by encouraging all eligible citizens to vote and make an informed decision during the elections.
    • The programme is based on multiple general as well as targeted interventions which are designed according to the socio-economic, cultural and demographic profile of the state as well as the history of electoral participation in previous rounds of elections and learning thereof.
  • It will spread awareness about the need to conserve the small bird and also motivate the voters to exercise their franchise.

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