Current Affairs :23 June 2021

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  • Jun 23, 2021
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Current Affairs :23 June 2021

Malaysia becomes India’s biggest crude palm oil exporter

Malaysia replaced Indonesia as India’s largest Crude Palm Oil (CPO) exporter in 2020-21 on June 22, 2021. Indonesia had put high tariffs on edible oil shipments last year.

Malaysian palm oil exports to India increased 238 percent to 2.42 million tonnes in the first seven months of the 2020-21 marketing year, according to figures from the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA), a trade association of Indian vegetable oil refiners and dealers.

Highlights

  • Indonesian palm oil shipments to India plummeted 32% to 2 million tonnes during the same time.
  • Indonesia slapped high levies on edible oil exports in December 2020 to raise revenue for its palm-based biodiesel programme and to increase domestic edible oil use. 
  • Indonesia’s export levies have been at their highest level in five months, according to trade officials. 
  • Planters in Malaysia have benefited from the Indonesian export levy. 
  • According to the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India, they have won market share by supplying palm oil at a lower price than Indonesian sources (SEA). 
  • In June 2021, Indonesia charged $438 per tonne in export duties on palm oil shipments, while Malaysia charged $90 per tonne.
  • According to analysts, the differential in export duties allowed Malaysian exporters to provide palm oil at a significant discount while still maintaining strong margins. 
  • According to rumours, Indonesia would reduce export duties, and Malaysia’s growing shipments to India may be restricted soon. 
  • Indonesia’s Finance Minister, Mulyani Indrawati, announced on June 21 that the government will reduce the limit rate for Crude Palm Oil (CPO) levies from $255 to $175 per tonne, without providing a date.
  •  Experts also believe that, given the significant drop of over 25% in the last two weeks and Indonesia’s consideration of lowering oil tariffs, the country could reclaim market share.

India records highest-ever one day vaccination 

PM Modi commended the Indian people for a single-day immunisation programme that set a new record on June 21, 2021. He was overjoyed that 80 lakh individuals were vaccinated on June 21, and he congratulated the frontline COVID-19 warriors for their dedication.

In a tweet, Prime Minister Modi expressed his delight at the record-breaking vaccination rates. The COVID-19 vaccine is still the most effective weapon against COVID-19. He congratulated individuals who had received vaccinations and complimented all of the frontline soldiers who had worked tirelessly to guarantee that so many citizens had received the vaccine.

Highlights

  • The current record-breaking immunisation rates are heartening. In the fight against COVID-19, the vaccine remains our most powerful weapon.
  • According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India’s cumulative vaccination coverage surpassed 28.80 crores on June 21, 2021, after 80 lakh COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered in a single day. 
  • According to data released by the Health Ministry on June 21, 2021, a total of 28,00,36,898 COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered in India through 38,24,408 sessions, including 30,338 sessions on the morning of June 21, 2021.
  • The Central Government has stated that under the centralised free COVID-19 immunisation policy, all persons aged 18 and up would henceforth be given free COVID-19 vaccinations at any government facility.
  • Previously, free vaccination was only available to people aged 45 and up; however, at the request of state governments, the Center agreed to purchase 75% of COVID-19 vaccinations and distribute them to states for free to all those aged 18 and up. 
  • It’s likely that the vaccinations will be charged at private facilities.

Montek Ahluwalia named member of a high-level group founded by the World Bank

Montek Singh Ahluwalia has been named to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) High-Level Advisory Group (HLAG) founded in response to the simultaneous crises posed by climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Montek Singh Ahluwalia is a former Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission of India and a distinguished fellow at the Centre for Social and Economic Progress (CSEP).

Highlights

  • Climate change is at the top of the agenda this year in both developed and emerging market countries. According to Ahluwalia, CoP 26 in November is likely to spell out what the world community needs to do.
  • The World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) launched the High-Level Advisory Group on June 15 to address issues posed by climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • The High-Level Advisory Group’s main goal is to assist in securing a strong recovery and charting a course for green, resilient, and inclusive growth over the next decade. 
  • The HLAG will aim to ensure that recovery and growth are both sustainable and inclusive. 
  • The group will primarily present ideas for strategic global action to address current concerns and will make proposals in stages, with a focus on creating long-term transformational initiatives.
  • Mari Pangestu, the World Bank’s Managing Director for Development Policy and Partnerships, Lord Nicholas Stern of the London School of Economics, and Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, the International Monetary Fund’s Director, Strategy, Policy and Review Department, will lead the group. 
  • Gita Gopinath, the IMF’s Economic Counsellor and Director of the Research Department, is one of the group’s members.
  •  Experts from research institutions, governments, the commercial sector, and IMF and World Bank officials are among the other participants.

About Montek Ahluwalia

  • Montek Singh Ahluwalia is an Indian economist and government official who formerly served as the Deputy Chairman of India’s Planning Commission. 
  • Following the impending conclusion of the UPA-II rule at the centre, he resigned in May 2014. 
  • He was previously the first Director of the International Monetary Fund’s Independent Evaluation Office. 
  • After graduating from the University of Oxford in 1968, he joined the World Bank. 
  • He had become the youngest “Division Chief” in the World Bank bureaucracy at the age of 28. 
  • He was in charge of the Division of Income Distribution. 
  • In 1979, he returned to India and joined the Ministry of Finance as an Economic Adviser.
  • In 2001, the IMF Board of Directors appointed him as the first director of the newly established Independent Evaluation Office. 
  • In June 2004, he resigned from the job to become the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission.
  •  The economist has been a crucial figure in India’s economic reforms. 
  • He oversaw the creation of both the 11th Plan (2007–08 to 2011–12) and the 12th Plan (2012–13 to 2016–17) named “Faster, More Inclusive, and Sustainable Growth.” 
  • In 2011, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian decoration for public service.

Israel successfully tests an airborne laser

On June 21, 2021, the Israeli military stated that it has successfully tested an airborne high-power laser capable of shooting down drones in mid-flight. In the next few years, the country hopes to expand the use of this technology.

The Israeli Defence Ministry and Elbit Systems Ltd, a defence contractor, have been working on an airborne laser weapon to shoot down drones and other flying targets. The prototype is expected to be available by 2025, according to the officials.

Highlights

  • The undisclosed laser weapon will be integrated into Israel’s multi-tier defence systems, which include David’s Sling and Arrow anti-ballistic missile system and the Iron Dome anti-short-range rocket system.
  • The airborne version of the laser weapon will have an edge since it can work smoothly above clouds, avoiding the problems that ground-based lasers have. 
  • The preliminary tests of the laser, flown on a light-aircraft, were effective against various drones at ranges of 1 km (half a mile) in recent days, according to Yaniv Rotem, Brigadier General of the Defence Ministry’s Research and Development.
  • He went on to say that, as far as we know, Israel is one of the first countries to attempt and succeed in such an endeavour.
  •  Rotem also stated that a 100-kilowatt prototype with a 20-kilometre (12.5-mile) range will be available in three to four years.
  • C-Music is produced by Israel’s Elbit Systems Ltd, a defence contractor. 
  • It’s an aircraft-mounted defence device that uses a laser to blind approaching missiles. 
  • According to Oren Sabag, a senior Elbit official, the new airborne laser weapon will use tracking technologies similar to C-Music to destroy targets. 
  • It would be done by heating them up to the point where they catch fire in a matter of seconds. 
  • The Israeli Defense Ministry, Elbit, and the state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd have been developing a ground-based laser weapon to shoot out aerial threats. 
  • The weapon will have an 8-10 mile range and will be operational by 2025.

Odisha becomes the state with all three crocodile species

Odisha is now the only state in the world to host all three types of crocodiles in its Mahanadi River. Freshwater gharials, muggers, and saltwater crocodiles are among the three types of reptiles.

This comes after 28 reptilian freshwater gharial hatchlings were discovered in the Mahanadi in the Baladamara area at the end of May.

Highlights

  • Gharials are highly endangered freshwater reptiles, and this is the first time Odisha has experienced natural nesting of the species since 1975 when they were originally introduced into its rivers.
  • Gharial eggs require a 70-day incubation period. 
  • For several weeks or months, the hatchlings remain with their moms. 
  • Officials have been keeping a careful eye on the hatchlings, employing drones to provide round-the-clock surveillance. 
  • The hatchlings are being monitored by roughly 50 forest authorities from six forest divisions. 
  • They are sleeping near their habitat, patrolling the water bodies, and raising awareness in the 300-plus villages near the river to help save the gharials. 
  • Officials will keep an eye on the gharials until they return to their natural habitat in deeper waters. 
  • All of the gharials that were first introduced in the state over the years are no longer in use.

About the three species

  • Gharials are freshwater reptiles that are not muggers and do not hurt humans. 
  • These crocodiles lay their eggs in shallow locations. The hatchlings spend their first year in shallow water before moving to deeper water as they mature. 
  • They are frequently caught in fishing nets and either killed or have their snouts severed. 
  • These species are also weaker than saltwater crocodiles and muggers, and they will not survive a fight. 
  • Gharials are among the world’s longest crocodile species.
  • From India’s east coast to Southeast Asia, saltwater crocodiles are found in saline environments and brackish wetlands. 
  • Since 1996, they have been classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. 
  • Up until the 1970s, crocodiles were killed for their skin, and they are now endangered due to unlawful hunting and habitat destruction. 
  • They are the world’s largest living reptile and crocodile species, and they are considered harmful to people who live in the same area. 
  • The mugger crocodile is a medium-sized broad-snouted crocodile found in watery environments. 
  • It lives in marshes, lakes, rivers, and man-made ponds, and it can even move on land in search of suitable water bodies.

Government releases new E-commerce rules

The Indian government announced changes to the country’s Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020 on June 21, 2021, in order to combat unfair commercial practices and safeguard customers from being duped.

Within 15 days, the government has requested comments and proposals on proposed changes to the e-commerce rules (by July 6, 2021). According to a statement from the Ministry of Food and Consumer Affairs, the most important change in the laws is a ban on certain types of flash sales and punitive action against platforms that do not comply.

Highlights

  • Traditional flash sales by third-party sellers are not prohibited on e-commerce platforms, according to the statement. 
  • Certain flash sales or back-to-back sales that restrict a level playing field in e-commerce, raise prices, or limit consumer choices will be prohibited. 
  • Certain e-commerce platforms are limiting consumer choice by allowing one seller selling on the platform to place a ‘flash or back-to-back’ order with another seller controlled by the platform without having any inventory or order fulfilment capability.
  •  It will be illegal to sell products or services by knowingly providing false or misleading information. 
  • Fall-back responsibility for all e-commerce entities has also been established to protect consumers in the event that a seller fails to provide goods or services or engages in negligent behaviour. 
  • To ensure compliance with the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, Chief Compliance Officers, a nodal contact persons for 24×7 coordination with law enforcement authorities would be established soon to reinforce the grievance redressal system on e-commerce platforms.
  •  It has also been proposed that every e-commerce firm be registered with the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), after which the registration number would be posted on the website and invoices generated.
  • This will aid in the creation of a database of legitimate e-commerce organisations, as well as assisting consumers in invalidating their existence. 
  • The Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020, were notified by the Indian government on July 23, 2020, with the goal of preventing unfair commercial practices in e-commerce. 
  • Since then, several aggrieved traders, associations, and consumers have complained about widespread cheating and unfair trade practises on e-commerce platforms.
  •  As a result, the Indian government has released a series of amendments to the Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020 to help curb consumer exploitation and promote fair trade practices.

The Government of Assam signed an MoU with the Survey of India.

The Government of Assam and the Survey of India have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to implement the Svamitva Scheme in the state. The project intends to provide rural communities with an integrated property validation solution.

Shantanu P Gotmare, Assam’s Director of Land, Records, and Survey, and Director Assam and Nagaland, Survey of India, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on June 21, 2021.

Highlights

  • The scheme will be implemented by the Assam Government’s Department of Revenue and Disaster Management and the Union Ministry of Panchayati Raj, with the help of the Panchayat and Rural Development.
  • As the technological partner, the Survey of India will take steps to survey occupied rural land using drones.
  • It would as well create ground-based control stations to provide a detailed spatial database of properties in the state’s rural areas. 
  • Its goal is to eliminate property conflicts in rural regions as well as legal matters in Assam. 
  • On April 24, 2020, on the occasion of National Panchayati Raj Day, the initiative was introduced as a pilot, and on April 24, 2021, it was rolled out across India. 
  • Village homeowners who own dwellings in populated rural regions in the villages will receive a “record of rights” under the Svamitva Scheme.
  • Village homeowners who own dwellings in populated rural regions in the villages will receive a “record of rights” under the Svamitva Scheme. 
  • As a result, they will be able to use their home as a financial asset to obtain loans and other financial benefits from the banks.

Great Barrier Reef must be added to ‘in danger’ world heritage sites: UN Committee

On June 22, 2021, a committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation proposed that the Great Barrier Reef be added to a list of World Heritage Sites that are “in danger.”

The world’s largest coral reef system has worsened, according to a UN committee convened under the auspices of UNESCO, and action is needed to counteract the effects of climate change. However, Australia has objected to the recommendation, citing political meddling as a reason. Sussan Ley, Australia’s Environment Minister, defended the country’s reef preservation, saying the government will appeal the recommendation.

Highlights

  • For the past four years, Australia has fought valiantly to keep the Great Barrier Reef off the ‘in danger’ list. 
  • In Australia, the reef is a key tourist destination that supports thousands of jobs. 
  • Its inclusion on the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger could lead to its removal from the list. 
  • In 2015, UNESCO World Heritage delegates were welcomed on a trip to a stretch of the reef, but experts have since remarked that the world’s largest coral reef system has suffered three major coral bleaching episodes due to strong marine heatwaves. 
  • Australia has expressed its displeasure with the recommendation, claiming that it is politically motivated. 
  • Environmentalists and scientists, on the other hand, are opposed to it.

Great Barrier Reef

  • The Great Barrier Reef, the world’s biggest coral reef system, is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia.
  •  In 1981, the system was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 
  • The world’s largest reef is made up of 900 islands that span 2,300 kilometres and cover 344,400 square kilometres. 
  • There are around 2,900 reefs in total. 
  • The world’s largest reef system, which is made up of small animals called coral polyps, can also be seen from space.

CEU Open Society Prize awarded to KK Shailaja

Former Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja received the Central European University (CEU) Open Society Prize for 2021 on June 17, 2021. At a virtual convocation of the University’s 30th Graduation Ceremony, held from Vienna, she was awarded the university’s highest honour. 

KK Shailaja Teacher, the Minister of Public Health of Kerala, India, demonstrated to the world during the COVID-19 pandemic that determined leadership, community-based public health, and effective communication can save lives.

Highlights

  • It is for her community-based public health efforts and determined leadership in saving lives during the pandemic that Shailaja has been awarded the Open Society Prize 2021.
  • KK Shailaja is an Indian politician who served as Kerala’s Health Minister (2016-2021). 
  • Shailaja is currently a member of the Kerala Legislative Assembly, having been elected to represent the Mattannur constituency in the 15th Kerala Legislative Assembly elections. 
  • Shailaja is a member of the Communist Party of India’s Central Committee (M). 
  • Shailaja was elected twice, in 1996 and 2016, from the Kuthuparamba constituency, and once from the Peravoor electorate in 2006. 

Central European University

  • George Soros founded the Central European University in 1991. 
  • George Soros, a Hungarian-born philanthropist and political activist, founded the University with the goal of training future researchers, politicians, professionals, and civil society leaders who will build open and democratic societies.
  • The Open Society Prize is given by the Central European University (CEU) to organisations or individuals “whose achievements have contributed to the building of an open society.
  • ” The Open Society Prize was first awarded in 1994 to philosopher Sir Karl Popper, who produced the book Open Society and its Enemies (1945), which represented an open society, tolerance, and democratic ideals philosophy.

23 June, 2021: International Olympic Day

Every year on June 23, the International Olympic Day is commemorated to honour sports and health. The event commemorates the founding of the International Olympic Committee in 1894. The day is dedicated to promoting sports and spreading the concept that sports should be a part of everyday life.

The current Olympic Games were inspired by the ancient Olympic Games, which were held in Olympia, Greece, from the 8th to the 4th centuries BC. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was created in 1894 by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who laid the framework for the Olympic Games.

Highlights

  • Doctor Gruss, a Czechoslovakian member of the International Olympic Committee, delivered a report to the 41st Session of the International Olympic Committee in Stockholm in 1947, proposing that a day be set aside to commemorate Olympic Day. 
  • In 1948, the organising committee eventually agreed on June 23 as International Olympic Day to commemorate the founding of the International Olympic Committee at the Sorbonne in Paris. 
  • In 1948, the inaugural Olympic Day was commemorated. 
  • The goal of the day was to promote the Olympic concept and inspire more people to participate in the games.
  • The day is observed to encourage more people to attend the Olympic Games, to raise knowledge about the event, and to promote the Olympic Movement. 
  • The National Olympic Committees are deploying sports, cultural, and educational events based on the three pillars – “move,” “learn,” and “discover” – to encourage participation regardless of age, gender, social background, or sporting skill. 
  • In certain countries, the event is taught in schools, and in recent years, several NOCs have added concerts and exhibitions as part of the Olympic day.
  •  Meetings for children and young people with top athletes were also held recently by the NOC, making it easier for individuals to participate.
  • This year’s theme is “Stay Healthy, Stay Strong, Stay Active,” and the #OlympicDay workout will take place on June 23. 
  • After organisers stated that some fans would be allowed to attend the Tokyo Olympics, the World Health Organisation said on June 21 that it would address controlling COVID-19 concerns with Japanese authorities and the International Olympic Committee. 
  • The Tokyo 2020 Olympic venues will allow up to 10,000 domestic spectators, according to the organisers.

United Nations Public Services Day 2021

Every year on June 23, the United Nations Public Service Day honours the importance and virtue of community service. 

This day emphasises the value of public service in the advancement phase, honours public officials’ efforts, and encourages young people to pursue professions in government. 

Highlights

  • A digital revolution occurred in the previous decade, changing the way we live, work, and govern. 
  • Technological and information-driven innovations have expedited the pace of our daily lives.
  • It has increased access to information, empowered civil society, and changed the way we solve problems, make policies, and deliver services. 
  • Governments, on the other hand, confront resource limits.
  • Governments face resource restrictions and rising public expectations at the same time, requiring them to do more with less. 
  • The outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020 has hastened these trends, ushering in distant government jobs, digital service delivery, virtual service teams, and even new portfolios. 
  • In the coming years, the way public employees are hired, trained, and retained will change substantially.
  •  To make better decisions, monitor performance, and deliver services, more technology will be needed. 
  • The private sector, as well as the rest of society, will be expected to play a larger role in all elements of creating public value.
  • This year’s subject is “Innovating the Future Public Service: New Government Models for a New Era to Reach the SDGs.” 
  • The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) will host a 1.5-hour digital event on June 23 to commemorate the United Nations Public Service Day in 2021.
  • It is being done in collaboration with the state of the United Arab Emirates.

Significance

  • The General Assembly established June 23 to be Public Service Day by enacting Resolution 57/277 on December 20, 2002. 
  • It celebrates the value and virtue of public service to the community, emphasises the relevance of public service in the developmental process.
  • It also recognises the work of public employees in order to encourage young people to pursue careers in the public sector. 
  • The United Nations developed the UN Public Service Awards (UNPSA) programme in 2003 to raise awareness of the Day and the significance of public service.
  • It was modified in 2016 to align with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

International Widows Day, 2021

Every year on June 23rd, International Widows Day is commemorated to bring attention to widows’ voices and challenges.

 It is an approved United Nations (UN) day of action to address the poverty and injustice suffered by millions of widows and their dependents around the world. 

Highlights

  • In 2011, the inaugural International Widows Day was commemorated. 
  • The Loomba Foundation created the day to raise awareness about the issue of widowhood.
  • The date of June 23 was chosen as International Widows Day because Shrimati Pushpa Wati Loomba, Lord Loomba’s mother, became a widow on this day in 1954. 
  • Lord Loomba and Cherie Blair, the foundation’s president, together launched the first International Widows Day in 2005. 
  • On December 21, 2010, the United Nations designated the day as International Widows Day. 
  • On the Widows Day page, the United Nations states that “International Widows Day gives an opportunity for action toward full rights and recognition for widows.”
  • It also mentions offering information to widows about their rights to a fair portion of their inheritance, land, and productive resources.
  • It also provides information regarding pensions and social support that are not based solely on marital status, good work, and equal pay. 
  • Around the world, there are an estimated 258 million widows, with roughly one in ten living in extreme poverty.

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