UPSC Daily Current Affairs : 23-May-2020

Topic Covered :

  1. NASA gives go-ahead for first crewed SpaceX flight on May 27

  2. Govt launches five initiatives on International Day of Biodiversity

  3. India reaches out to Pakistan to fight locusts

  4. RBI cuts repo rate again, down to 4%


NASA GIVES GO-AHEAD FOR FIRST CREWED SPACEX FLIGHT ON MAY 27

Why in news?

  • NASA said Friday that it has given the green light to next week’s launch of two astronauts aboard a SpaceX vessel -- the first crewed space flight to leave from US soil in nine years.


Highlights:

  • SpaceX is ready to make space history with its first astronaut launch for NASA next week.

  • No showstoppers were found during a crucial flight readiness review (FRR) for SpaceX's Demo-2 mission, keeping the company's first-ever crewed flight on track for a May 27 liftoff, NASA officials announced today (May 22). 

  • The Flight Readiness Review has concluded, and NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission is cleared to proceed toward liftoff on the first crewed flight of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program

  • Demo-2 will send NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule, which will launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.

  • The mission will be the first orbital human spaceflight to depart from American soil since NASA retired its space shuttle fleet in July 2011.

  • Ever since then, the space agency has relied completely on Russian Soyuz rockets and spacecraft to get its astronauts to and from the orbiting lab.

  • NASA is counting on SpaceX and Boeing to end that dependence.


Source : Space.com ( https://www.space.com/spacex-crew-dragon-demo-2-go-for-launch.html )


GOVT LAUNCHES FIVE INITIATIVES ON INTERNATIONAL DAY OF BIODIVERSITY

Why in news?

  • In a virtual celebration of the International Day for Biological Diversity, Union Environment, Forest, and Climate Change Minister Prakash Javadekar on Friday launched five key initiatives towards conservation of biodiversity.


Highlights:

  • Government launched the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Biodiversity Samrakshan Internship Programme which proposes to engage 20 students with postgraduate degrees for a period of one year through an open, transparent, online competitive process.

  • The virtual event also saw the launch of UNEP Campaign on Illegal Trafficking of Endangered Species: 'Not all Animals Migrate by Choice'. Illegal trade in wildlife carries the risk of spreading dangerous pandemics, it was emphasised.

  • The campaign, launched by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau with UNEP, seeks to address these environmental challenges, to raise awareness, and to advocate solutions.

  • A Webinar Series on biodiversity Conservation and Biological Diversity Act, 2002' was also launched along with the WWF Model Conference of Parties (MCoP), an initiative which involves the younger generation so they can usher in a new beginning and engage in conversations around impact of humanity's footprint on biodiversity and also the importance of sustenance of biodiversity for our own survival.

  • An awareness campaign supported by WWF to highlight the crucial role played by nature through its free ecological services provided for humankind was also launched during the course of the event.


Source : New Indian Express ( https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2020/may/22/govt-launches-five-initiatives-on-international-day-of-biodiversity-2146695.html )


INDIA REACHES OUT TO PAKISTAN TO FIGHT LOCUSTS

Why in news?

  • India has reached out to Pakistan to counter a locust invasion which threatens to destroy crops and undermine food security in south and southwest Asia — a region where the COVID-19 pandemic has already disrupted farming. 


Highlights:

  • India has proposed a trilateral response in partnership with Pakistan and Iran to combat the desert locust wave sweeping across the Afro-Asian region.

  • India has suggested to Pakistan that both countries coordinate locust control operations along the border, and that India can facilitate supply of Malathion, a pesticide, to Pakistan

  • Desert locusts pose a major threat to food security in the region, including India. A typical locust swarm, which can vary from less than one square kilometre to several hundred square kilometres, can devastate farmlands.

  • A one square kilometre swarm, containing about 40 million locusts, can in a day eat as much food as 35,000 people, assuming that each individual consumes 2.3 kg of food per day, says the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

  • In India, small swarms of desert locusts, in the past weeks, have already arrived from Pakistan, moving east into Rajasthan, and reaching Jodhpur.

  • India is also offering to energise another mechanism marshalled by the Locust Warning Organisation, to coordinate a robust joint response by New Delhi, Islamabad and Tehran.

  • So far, Iran has welcomed India’s offer of pesticide to control desert locusts in its arid South Khorasan province, and Sistan-Balochistan province that borders Pakistan, the source said.


Source : Hindu ( https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-reaches-out-to-pakistan-to-fight-locusts/article31654623.ece?homepage=true )


RBI CUTS REPO RATE AGAIN, DOWN TO 4%

Why in news?

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has reduced the key interest rate or the repo rate by 40 bps on Friday, after a yet another out-of-turn Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting as the COVID-19 pandemic induced lockdown continues, albeit with calibrated relaxations.


Highlights:

  • The central bank also extended the loan repayment moratorium for another three months till August 31.

  • The six-member MPC announcement has reduced the repo rate to 4% with five members of the panel voting for the steep cut while one member, Chetan Ghate, voted for a 25 bps cut. 

  • The MPC also decided to continue with the accommodative stance ‘as long as it is necessary to revive growth and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the economy’, while ensuring that inflation remains within the target, RBI said.


Source : Hindu ( https://www.thehindu.com/business/Economy/rbi-cuts-repo-rate-again-down-to-4/article31652475.ece?homepage=true )




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