Daily Current Affairs : 28-Feb-2020

Major Topics Covered :


  1. MEKONG GANGA COOPERATION

  2. US-TALIBAN DEAL EVENT

  3. UK-EU TRADE TALKS

  4. MINI-MOON

  5. BIOFUEL FROM MICRO-ORGANISMS

  6. NEW TRIO OF PRODUCTS FOR MARINE BASED USERS

  7. NEW INITIATIVES FOR TRIBAL WELFARE


MEKONG GANGA COOPERATION

Why in news?

  • India agreed to carry out development projects in the Rakhine state of Myanmar under the second phase of Rakhine State development programme as part of the Mekong Ganga cooperation.


Highlights :

  • The Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) is an initiative by six countries – India and five ASEAN countries, namely, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

  • It seeks to cooperate on tourism, culture, education, as well as transport and communications.

  • It was launched in 2000 at Vientiane, Lao PDR.

  • Both the Ganga and the Mekong are civilizational rivers, and the MGC initiative aims to facilitate closer contacts among the people inhabiting these two major river basins. The MGC is also indicative of the cultural and commercial linkages among the member countries of the MGC down the centuries.

  • India hosted the 8th MGC senior officials meeting in 2017.


Source : Hindu and MEA


US-TALIBAN DEAL EVENT

Why in news?

  • India has been invited to attend the ceremony to seal the peace deal between the U.S. and the Taliban in Qatar capital Doha.


Highlights:

  • Around 24 countries will be witness to the ceremony.

  • India’s position on Afghan has consistently been that any peace negotiation should be – “Afghan owned, Afghan led and Afghan controlled.” Thus, India’s position will depend on whether Afghan government acknowledges the deal or not.

  • The deal is expected to outline the withdrawal of US troops and a guarantee that Afghan soil will not be used as a launchpad to conduct attacks on foreign countries.

  • The talks were launched in 2018 as part of a push by US President Donald Trump's administration to strike a deal with the Taliban, which has been fighting the US-led forces in Afghanistan since it was toppled from power in 2001.

  • About 14,000 US troops and some 17,000 troops from 39 NATO allies and partner countries are stationed in Afghanistan in a non-combatant role.

  • Despite the heavy US presence, the Taliban now controls or holds influence over more Afghan territory than at any point since 2001 and has carried out near-daily attacks against military outposts throughout the country

Source : Hindu and Al JAZEERA


UK-EU TRADE TALKS

Why in news?

  • The two sides have been negotiating a trade deal for post Brexit period. The deal is purely economical in nature.


Highlights:

  • UK govt. rejected EU demands for common trading standards and continued fishing rights

  • This will lead to a chaotic Brexit or no-deal Brexit.

  • Britain left the EU on January 31, but both sides agreed to a standstill transition period lasting until December 31 to allow time to strike a new partnership.

  • UK wants a free trade agreement similar to the EU’s deal with Canada, set alongside separate agreements on issues such as fishing, energy and aviation.

  • EU says Britain’s geographical proximity and existing close ties make it a different case, fearing it could gain an uncompetitive advantage by relaxing costly environmental and labour laws.

  • EU suggests that Britain must mirror EU standards if it wants to continue freely trading goods with the bloc’s huge single market.

  • However, UK says that this will undermine the Brexit.

Source : Hindu


MINI-MOON

Why in news?

  • Astronomers have observed a small object orbiting Earth which they have called as mini-moon, or the planet’s second moon.


Highlights:

  • Mini-moon (2020-CD3) is actually an asteroid that will eventually break free of Earth’s orbit and go off on its way.

  • When an asteroid crosses Earth’s orbit, it can sometime be captured into the Earth’s orbit. This is what happened with 2020-CD3.

Source : Indian Express


BIOFUEL FROM MICRO-ORGANISMS

Why in news?

  • The biofuel sector could get a boost, with researchers at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) developing a method to improve the growth rate and sugar content of a marine microorganism called Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002.


Highlights:

  • Most biotechnological processes, including biofuel production, are dependent on the availability of low-cost and sustainable supply of sugars and a nitrogen source. The sugars typically come from plants. Plants utilize light energy through the process of photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into biological components such as sugars, proteins and lipids.

  • However, some bacteria, such as the cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae), too can perform photosynthesis and produce sugar by fixing the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The yield of sugars from cyanobacteria could potentially be much higher than that of land-based crops. Further, unlike plant-based sugars, cyanobacterial biomass provides a nitrogen source in the form of proteins.

  • Cyanobacteria are found in both fresh and marine waters.

  • ICGEB has successfully engineered a marine cyanobacterium called Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002 which showed a higher growth rate and sugar (glycogen) content. When grown on air, the growth was doubled and the glycogen content of the cells increased by about 50%.


Generations of Biofuels –

  • 1G Biofuel: They produced directly from food crops such as wheat and sugar etc.

  • 2G Biofuel: They are produced from marginal croplands unsuitable for food production or non-food crops. For example-Jatropha. It overcomes over food vs. fuel debate in first generation biofuel.

  • 3G Biofuels: It is based on improvements on production of biomass by taking advantage of specially engineered energy crops such as algae as its energy source.

Source : PIB


NEW TRIO OF PRODUCTS FOR MARINE BASED USERS

Why in news?

  • The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad has launched a trio of products to better cater to its diverse users consisting of fishermen to offshore oil exploration industries.


Highlights :


Small Vessel Advisory and Forecast Services System (SVAS)

  • To improve operations on the numerous small marine vessels, particularly fishing vessels that ply the coastal waters of India.

  • The SVA system warns users about potential zones where vessel overturning can take place, ten days in advance.

  • The advisories are valid for small vessels of beam width up to 7 m.

  • The warning system is based on the  ‘Boat Safety Index’ (BSI) derived from wave model forecast outputs such as significant wave height, wave steepness, directional spread and the rapid development of wind at sea which is boat-specific.


Swell Surge Forecast System

  • It will provide forewarnings for the coastal population of India's vast shoreline, which experiences a slew of damages caused by the swell waves that actually originate from the distant southern Indian Ocean.

  • Kallakadal/Swell surge are flash-flood events that take place without any noticeable advance change in local winds or any other apparent signature in the coastal environment.

  • Kallakkadal is a colloquial term used by Kerala fishermen to refer to the freaky flooding episodes and in 2012 UNESCO formally accepted this term for scientific use.

  • During Kallakkadal events, the sea surges into the land and inundates vast areas.

  • The system will now predict Kallakkadal and warnings will be given to concerned authorities at least 2-3 days in advance, which will help the local authorities for contingency plans and to reduce damage.

Algal Bloom Information Service (ABIS)

  • It will be providing timely information on harmful algal blooms, which are detrimental to coastal fisheries and also tend to induce respiratory problems within the coastal population from time to time.

  • The target users are fishermen, marine fishery resource managers, researchers, ecologists and environmentalists.

  • Four regions have been identified as bloom hotspots viz.

  • North Eastern Arabian

  • Coastal waters off Kerala

  • Gulf of Mannar

  • Coastal waters of Gopalpur, Odisha.

Source : PIB


NEW INITIATIVES FOR TRIBAL WELFARE

Why in news?

  • Union Tribal Affairs Minister Shri Arjun Munda launched the “Programme for Capacity Building of Scheduled Tribe Representatives in Local Self Governments”, “1000 Spring Initiatives” and an online portal on GIS-based Spring Atlas with hydrological and chemical properties of the Springs on the occasion.


Highlights :


1000 Spring Initiative

  • '1000 Springs Initiative’ aims at improving access to safe and adequate water for the tribal communities living in difficult and inaccessible part of rural areas in the country.

  • It is an integrated solution around natural springs. It includes provision of infrastructure for piped water supply for drinking; provision of water for irrigation; community-led total sanitation initiatives; and provision for water for backyard nutrition gardens, generating sustainable livelihood opportunities for the tribal people.


Spring Atlas :

  • Online portal on GIS-based Spring Atlas has been developed to make these data easily accessible from an online platform. Presently, data of more than 170 springs have been uploaded on the Spring Atlas.


Capacity Building program

  • Capacity Building initiative is aimed at empowering tribal PRI representatives by enhancing their decision making capabilities at local government level.

  • Among other issues concerning tribal development, it also focusses on constitutional and legal provisions that protect and promote the rights and welfare of the tribal population.

  • The programme will ensure greater participation of ST PRIs representatives in planning, execution and monitoring of government policies and programmes and thus prioritize tribal development agenda.

Source : PIB

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