Current Affairs : 17 June 2021

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  • Jun 17, 2021
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Current Affairs : 17 June 2021

Gold Hallmarking made mandatory in India

From June 16, 2021, hallmarking of gold will be essentially required in India. 

Minister for Consumer Affairs Piyush Goyal said, “Mandatory hallmarking will be adopted in 256 districts on June 16, 2021, as part of our government’s efforts to improve customer protection and happiness. There will be no penalty until August 2021.”

Highlights

  • The government intends to begin mandating gold hallmarking in 256 districts across the country using Assaying marking centres. 
  • There is no word on when the mandated gold hallmarking in the remaining districts will commence. 
  • All seven districts of Delhi and 19 districts of Uttar Pradesh, including Lucknow, Bareilly, Agra, Mathura, Jhansi, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Gorakhpur, Moradabad, Saharanpur, Gautam Budh Nagar, and Varanasi, will now require gold jewellery to be hallmarked.
  •  According to the Minister, this will assist India in becoming a key global gold market centre.
  • Additional carats of gold (20, 23, and 24) will be allowed for hallmarking. 
  • Jewellers will be able to continue to buy back old gold jewellery from customers who do not have a hallmark. 
  • All antique jewellery can be hallmarked if the jeweller is able to do so, or after melting and creating new jewellery. 
  • According to an official release, jewellers with yearly revenue of up to Rs 40 lakh will be exempted from necessary gold hallmarking. 
  • A committee will be formed, consisting of representatives from all stakeholders, revenue authorities, and legal experts, to look into any concerns that may arise during the implementation of the mandatory gold hallmarking plan.
  • The mandated hallmarking of gold jewellery was supposed to start on June 15th,2021, but faced some delay.

Exemptions

  • The hallmarking of some forms of jewellery, such as Polki, Kundan, and Jadau, will be waived. 
  • Other items, such as watches and fountain pens, will be excluded from hallmarking as well.
  • Jewellery for international exhibitions and jewellery for government-approved B2B domestic exhibitions will be exempted from necessary hallmarking, according to the Government of India’s Trade Policy.

Delhi to train 5,000 youths as health assistants

On June 16, 2021, the Delhi government stated that 5,000 people will be trained as health assistants for medical and paramedical workers. It would be done in preparation for a third wave of Coronavirus pandemic.

The state government has an ambitious plan to prepare 5,000 health assistants or Community Nursing Assistants, according to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. It has been done  in light of the shortage of medical and paramedical professionals during the second wave of the pandemic.

Highlights

  • As the number of active COVID-19 cases in Delhi decreased, the state government removed the lockdown restrictions on June 13, enabling all shops in all markets and malls to operate at the same time. 
  • Restaurants are also permitted to open with a 50% capacity.
  • Delhi Metro and buses are also permitted to operate with a 50% capacity. 
  • Since April 19, 2021, the National Capital has been under pandemic lockdown. 
  • The Chief Minister has announced that the Indraprastha University will train 5,000 adolescents for two weeks each.
  • In the last 24 hours, the state of Delhi has reported 228 new COVID-19 cases and 12 deaths, according to the Delhi Government’s Health Bulletin of June 15, 2021. 
  • It hasn’t been this low since April 3, 2021. 
  • The training will begin on June 28, 2021, and online applications will be accessible starting June 17, 2021.
  • Candidates who wish to apply for the programme must have completed class 12 and be at least 18 years old.
  • The students will receive basic training at nine major Delhi institutes and will work as physicians’ and nurses’ assistants. 
  • They will receive basic training in paramedics, nursing, first-aid, life-saving, and home care at the institutes.
  • The training would be held in batches of 500.

Twitter loses intermediary status

Twitter, the social media behemoth, has lost its safe harbour exemption in India after failing to nominate statutory officials as required by the Indian government’s new IT guidelines.

As a result, Twitter will no longer be covered under Section 79 of the IT Act. Its top executives will  now be held accountable for all content on its site that is provocative or illegal in nature.

Twitter, on the other hand, has apparently appointed an interim Chief Compliance Officer in India, whose details would be provided with the Indian IT Ministry soon.

Highlights

  • The ministry has been kept informed of the progress at every stage of the procedure, according to a Twitter representative. 
  • An Interim Chief Compliance Officer has been hired, and more information will be shared with the MeitY soon. 
  • Twitter has been working hard to adhere to the new restrictions. 
  • The social media platform would now be accountable for any “third party information data, or communication link made available or maintained by him” without the protection of Section 79 of the IT Act. 
  • In summary, Twitter can now be held criminally liable for the content it publishes. The end-user, on the other hand, will be unaffected by Twitter’s loss of legal protection.
  • On May 26, 2021, the revised Intermediary Guidelines went into effect. Most social media outlets, on the other hand, did not follow the recommendations, claiming Coronavirus lockout and restriction as a reason.
  • The government issued a final warning to Twitter on June 5 requesting that it comply with the legislative restrictions or risk losing its intermediary status.
  •  Later, despite the fact that other platforms had agreed to follow the guidelines, Twitter approached the government and requested extra time to comply with the new regulations. 
  • It claimed that it aims to follow the recommendations, but that due to the pandemic scenario in India, it will require extra time.
  • Government’s guidelines were to create a process for grievance redress and compliance. 
  • Appointing a nodal contact person, a resident grievance officer, and a chief compliance officer are all part of the plan. 
  • Users’ complaints and the measures taken by social media platforms must be reported on a monthly basis. 
  • The third rule was that instant messaging programmes should include features that allow users to track the message’s original sender.

COVID Vaccination with walk-ins opened for 18+

On June 15, 2021, the Union Health Ministry stated that anyone over the age of 18 can go into the nearest vaccination centre, where a vaccinator would execute on-site registration on the CoWIN digital network and administer vaccination in the same visit.

According to the government, pre-registration for vaccination via online registration and previous appointment scheduling via CoWIN is not required to be vaccinated.

Highlights

  • The move was made to accelerate immunizations while also addressing vaccine reluctance. 
  • The ministry announced that the ‘COVID-19 vaccine Communication Strategy’ will be implemented to make the vaccination process even easier.
  • The ‘COVID-19 vaccination Communication Strategy’ has also been shared with the State/UT Governments, according to the ministry.
  • This is to make the immunisation procedure even more seamless. 
  • Previously, on May 24, 2021, the government authorised walk-in registration for those aged 18 to 44 who do not have access to the internet or smartphones. 
  • They were allowed to walk in for assistance in registering on the CoWIN platform and scheduling a Coronavirus vaccination appointment, according to the announcement.
  • Beneficiaries in rural areas and those living in urban slums are also mobilised by facilitators such as Health Workers or ASHAs for on-site registration and vaccinations at the nearest vaccination centres. 
  • According to the Health Ministry’s official statement, 16.45 crores (58 percent) of the 28.36 crores beneficiaries who were registered on CoWIN through June 13, 2021 were registered in the on-site manner. 
  • On-site registration was used to give 19.84 crore vaccine doses (almost 80%) of the total 28.84 crore vaccination doses reported on CoWIN through June 13, 2021.
  • Vaccine hesitancy is a worldwide recognised phenomena, according to the Union Government, and it must be handled by scientifically examining the issue at the community level. 
  • The issue was brought to light following two incidents: one in Uttar Pradesh, where an old woman hid to avoid the vaccination team, and another in Madhya Pradesh, when the vaccination crew was attacked by villagers.
  •  Vaccine apprehension has also been blamed for the low vaccination rate in Tamil Nadu, which, despite having one of the best healthcare systems among Indian states, ranks among the lowest five in terms of immunisation.

Google Pay expands Card tokenization

In order to enable card tokenization, google pay has added several banks in its list. Card tokenization is a feature that allows users to make debit or credit card payments using a secure digital token tied to their phone instead of physically sharing their card information.

Google Pay was previously available through Kotak Mahindra Bank, SBI Cards, and Axis Bank. SBI, IndusInd Bank, and Federal Bank, as well as IndusInd Bank and HSBC India credit cards, have now been added to Google Pay’s list of supported banks.

Highlights

  • Near-field communication (NFC) equipped devices/phones would be able to perform contactless payments at approximately 2.5 million Visa merchant locations if Google Pay card tokenization was implemented. 
  • Users will also be able to scan and pay at over 1.5 million Bharat QR businesses.
  •  Credit cards can also be used to pay bills and recharge phone numbers. 
  • According to Google, the function also works with online shops and provides consumers with a seamless OTP experience without requiring them to visit 3D Secure sites. 
  • With the addition of SBI and Federal debit cards, IndusInd Bank debit and credit cards, and HSBC credit cards, this offering is now available to millions of Visa cardholders.
  • To activate card tokenization on your Google Pay app, you’ll need to complete a one-time setup by inputting their card data and then inputting the OTP that the bank will provide to your phone number. 
  • You can make payments at NFC-enabled terminals after you enable the function. 
  • The cards can also be used to make purchases at significant online retailers such as Myntra, Yatra, Dunzo, and many others. 
  • Tokenized cards, according to Google, can also be used for cell phone recharges, bill payments, and insurance payments, among other things.

GI certified Jalgaon Bananas exported to Dubai

A batch of fibre and mineral-rich Jalgaon bananas has been sent to Dubai, boosting exports of Geographical Indications (GI) recognised agricultural products. The 22 metric tonnes of GI-certified Jalgaon bananas came from forward-thinking farmers in Tandalwadi village, Jalgaon district, north Maharashtra, a banana cluster selected under the Agri Export Policy.

Highlights

  • In 2016, Nisargraja Krishi Vigyan Kendra (NKVK) Jalgaon received GI certification for Jalgaon Banana. 
  • The adoption of global farm practises has resulted in a substantial increase in India’s banana exports. 
  • The entire 1,19,000-acre banana plantation in Jalgaon is being irrigated by drip irrigation. Bananas are grown entirely by small-scale farmers.
  • Jalgaon district, also known as the “Banana City of India,” produces almost half of Maharashtra’s bananas and more than 16% of all bananas produced in India. 
  • India is the world’s biggest banana producer, accounting for over 25% of global output. 
  • More than 70% of the country’s banana production is produced in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh. 
  • The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) encourages agricultural and processed food product exports by assisting exporters via a variety of programmes.
  • APEDA also organises international Buyer Seller Meets and virtual trade fairs with importing nations in order to promote agricultural and processed food products.
  • Aside from that, the Department of Commerce promotes exports through programmes like the Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme and the Market Access Initiative.

Biden- Putin Summit

In a “productive” summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden agreed to return ambassadors to their posts, easing tensions and starting talks. This also intended  to replace the two countries’ final surviving nuclear-weapons accord.

After the conference, Putin stated that there was “no antagonism” throughout the negotiations, which ended sooner than expected.

Highlights

  • The two sides had agreed to meet for four to five hours, but they only spent less than three hours together, including an introductory discussion with only the two presidents and their senior foreign aides.
  • When it was finished, Putin took first pass at reporting the results in a single news conference, followed by Biden’s own press conference. 
  • The Russian president stated that the two leaders had reached an agreement to return their ambassadors to their respective posts. 
  • As relations between the two countries have been better in recent months, both governments have withdrawn their senior envoys to Washington and Moscow.
  • Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, was summoned from Washington about three months ago after Vice President Joe Biden called Putin a murderer; 
  • US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan left Moscow almost two months ago after Russia requested that he return to Washington for consultations. 
  • The ambassadors are expected to return to their postings in the coming days, according to Putin. 
  • Putin also stated that the two sides had reached an agreement in principle to begin consultations on cybersecurity issues.
  •  He denied US accusations that the Russian government was behind a series of high-profile hacks against businesses and government agencies in the United States and around the world.
  • Biden and Putin held face-to-face meetings in a gorgeous lakeside Swiss home, a highly anticipated summit at a time when both presidents claim relations between their countries are at an all-time low. 
  • Biden described the meeting as a dialogue between “two great powers” and said it was “always preferable to meet face to face” as the two leaders appeared briefly before the media at the outset of the meeting. 
  • Putin expressed his hope that the talks would be “fruitful.” Biden and Putin have been exchanging venomous barbs for months. 
  • Biden has regularly chastised Putin for destructive cyberattacks on US interests by Russian-based hackers, the imprisonment of Russia’s most prominent opposition leader, and intervention in American affairs.

AY.1 variant of Coronavirus

The Delta variation or B.1.617.2 strain of SARS-CoV-2, which was the primary cause of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic’s second wave, has mutated further to form the ‘Delta plus’ or ‘AY.1’ variety.

According to preliminary findings, the ‘Delta plus’ form is resistant to the monoclonal antibody cocktail treatment. The Central Drugs Standard Control Organization just approved this medication for COVID-19 (CDSCO). However, there is no indication of the infection’s severity at this time.

Highlights

  • As of June 7, India had documented six instances of Delta plus. 
  • One case each from Canada, Germany, and Russia, two from Nepal, four from Switzerland, nine from Poland, twelve from Portugal, thirteen from Japan, and fourteen from the United States. 
  • The K417N mutation in AY.1, or B.1.617.2.1, has been connected to high infectivity (the ability of a pathogen to generate an infection) and has been linked to the Beta variation, which was originally detected in South Africa. 
  • The AY.1 is also linked to the B.1.617.2, or Delta variation, which was initially discovered in India.
  • According to a government report released earlier this month, the Delta variety, which has been categorised as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, was responsible for the disastrous second wave of the pandemic in India. 
  • In the United Kingdom, the variation has resulted in an increase in cases, accounting for the bulk of new infections. 
  • The strain is 60 percent more transmissible in homes than the Alpha variation, which was initially discovered in the British county of Kent, according to Public Health England.

42nd Session of FAO conference

The Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare recently spoke at the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Conference’s 42nd session. The FAO’s top governing body, the Conference, meets every two years.

It sets the Organization’s policies, approves the budget, and makes food and agriculture policy recommendations to Members.

Highlights

  • It discussed India’s Food Security Efforts During the Covid-19 Pandemic.
  • Foodgrain Production at an All-Time High: During 2020-21, India produced an all-time high of 305 million tonnes of foodgrains, as well as exports, contributing to world food security.
  • KISAN RAIL: This system was established to transport important commodities such as perishable horticulture produce, milk, and dairy products from producing centres to large urban markets.
  • Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package: Free food grains were distributed to 810 million people via this plan, and it has been extended so that workers will be able to benefit until November 2021.
  • The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) was introduced in 2015 to solve water resource concerns and give a long-term solution based on the principle of Per Drop More Crop.
  • Green India Mission: It was started in 2014 as part of the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), with the primary goal of protecting, restoring, and upgrading India’s rapidly dwindling forest cover.
  • SHC (Soil Health Card): It was created with the primary goal of analysing cluster soil samples and advising farmers on how to improve their land fertility.
  • In collaboration with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and state governments in India, the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) was implemented to extensively utilise adaptation of climate-smart practises and technology.
  • Rainfed Area Development (RAD) is a programme that emphasises the use of an Integrated Farming System (IFS) to increase productivity while reducing the risks associated with climate variability.
  • The Sub-mission on AgroForestry (SMAF) intends to encourage farmers to plant multi-purpose trees alongside agriculture crops for climate resilience and an extra source of income, as well as improved feedstock for the wood-based and herbal industries, among other things.
  • FAO’s endorsement of India’s proposal for an International Year of Pulses in 2016, as well as a declaration of 2023 as the International Year of Millets is a statement about their relationship.
  • To commemorate the FAO’s 75th anniversary, India issued a commemorative coin with a denomination of Rs. 75. (16th October 2020).

Redefining boundaries of UAPA

In a case under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), 1967, the Delhi High Court recently granted bail to student activists. The court redefined the bounds of the otherwise “vague” Section 15 of the UAPA in its decision. 

Terrorism cannot be defined wide enough to include common criminal offences. As a result, the State’s ability to charge someone with terrorism under the UAPA was raised. 

Highlights

  • Terrorist activity’s scope and reach must go beyond the impact of a typical crime and must not be based solely on disrupting law and order or even public order.
  • It must be designed in such a way that it goes beyond the ability of traditional law enforcement agencies to deafen.
  • The courts must be careful not to take the definitional words and phrases in Section 15 of the UAPA literally, and they must distinguish clearly how terrorism differs from other forms of terrible crime.
  • The term “terrorist act” is defined in Section 15 of the UAPA and is punished by imprisonment for a period of at least five years up to life. 
  • If the terrorist act results in death, the penalty is death or life imprisonment.
  • The court cited how, in the case of Kartar Singh v State of Punjab 1994, the Supreme Court raised similar concerns about the misuse of another anti-terror law, the Terrorists and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987 (which has now expired).
  • Bringing terrorist activities into its purview was, and could only have been, about dealing with issues that had a significant influence on India’s defence, nothing more or less. 
  • Other offences of the common and ordinary kind, however grave, atrocious, or terrible in kind and scope, were not included in UAPA’s aim or purport when it was enacted. 
  • The distinction between constitutionally protected freedom of expression (Article 19) and terrorist conduct appears to be blurring.
  • This is the first time a court has condemned the suspected abuse of the UAPA against persons in instances that aren’t necessarily “terrorism”-related.
  • According to data presented to Parliament in March by the Ministry of Home Affairs, 1126 instances were reported under UAPA in 2019, up from 897 in 2015.

Global expansion of Nuclear Arsenal : SIPRI report

The number of nuclear warheads that are available and deployed has increased internationally, according to a recent assessment published in the SIPRI Yearbook 2021. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which studies international weapons and conflict, publishes the SIPRI Yearbook.

SIPRI’s “Yearbook 2021” examines the condition of arms, disarmament, and international security today.

Highlights

  • The United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea are the nine nuclear-armed states.
  • At the beginning of 2021, these countries had a total of 13,080 nuclear weapons.
  •  Russia and the United States combined control over 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons and are undergoing massive and costly modernization programmes. 
  • The renewal of the New START pact has been authorised by both the US and Russia. 
  • The Deal was the only remaining nuclear weapons control treaty between Russia and the United States, and it expired in February 2021. 
  • China’s nuclear arsenal grew to 350 warheads in 2020, up from 320 at the start of the year. 
  • China is in the process of modernising and expanding its nuclear weapons arsenal.
  • India had 156 nuclear weapons at the start of 2021, up from 150 at the start of the previous year, while Pakistan had 165, up from 160 in 2020. 
  • Under the nuclear threshold, India and Pakistan are exploring new technologies and capabilities that could jeopardise one other’s defence. 
  • Low Transparency: The availability of trustworthy information on the status of nuclear arsenals and nuclear-armed governments’ capabilities varies greatly.

Microsoft names CEO Satya Nadella as the new Chairman

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, has been selected as the company’s new chairman. In 2014, he succeeded Steve Ballmer as CEO of the software behemoth. He is credited for revitalising the company, which was formed in 1975. Former chairman John Thompson was also named as a lead independent director by the firm. 

The top-level management shift comes just over a year after Bill Gates resigned from the board of directors, saying he wanted to focus on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the world’s largest charities.

Highlights

  • Nadella is credited with giving the company, which was formed in 1975 and had previously focused on packaged software for personal computers, a fresh lease on life. 
  • Nadella ordered a huge reorganisation early in his tenure, slashing 18,000 jobs — or 14% of the workforce — as part of a plan to simplify the organisational structure and integrate Nokia’s mobile division. 
  • Cloud computing has become a lucrative growth engine at the IT giant based in the Washington state city of Redmond, and Nadella has made it a priority. 
  • Microsoft is set to release a new version of its Windows operating system next week, according to market analysts, which powers approximately three-quarters of the world’s desktop computers.
  • Microsoft’s empire was based on software like Windows and Office, which was licenced to computer manufacturers or sold in bundles for installation on machines in homes and offices. 
  • Microsoft has increased its focus on renting software and services hosted at data centers in the computing cloud under Nadella, bolstering its Azure platform. 
  • The rise of smartphones and tablets rocked the personal computer age, but it witnessed a resurgence during the pandemic as individuals set up their homes for remote work, school, and pleasure. 
  • Microsoft’s board of directors also declared a 56-cent quarterly dividend, which will be paid out in September.

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