UPSC Daily Current Affairs : 24-July-2020
Topic Covered :
EU leaders strike deal to rebuild economy
Lonar lake colour change
Will discuss all disputed areas with China: Bhutan
‘India will have to deliver COVID-19 vaccine on a scale never seen before’
Government imposes restriction on public procurement from China, other neighbours
India to boost Rafale capabilities with HAMMER missiles under emergency order
EU LEADERS STRIKE DEAL TO REBUILD ECONOMY
Why in news?
European leaders on Tuesday agreed on a massive aid package for their pandemic-ravaged economies.
A €750 billion rescue package has been announced to pull the bloc out of deep recession.
“This is a historic change for Europe,” said French President Emmanuel Macron, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed relief that the EU had, in her eyes, shown itself equal to “the greatest crisis” in its history.
The package will send tens of billions of euros to countries hit hardest by the virus, most notably heavily indebted Spain and Italy who had lobbied hard for a major gesture from their EU partners.
The talks saw strong resistance from some nations against sending money to countries they considered too lax with public spending.
Britain, who left the EU in January and will not benefit from the aid plan, revealed on Tuesday that state borrowing had rocketed to a record £127.9 billion ($162.5 billion) in the three months to June.
Source : CNN ( https://edition.cnn.com/2020/07/21/economy/eu-stimulus-coronavirus/index.html )
LONAR LAKE COLOUR CHANGE
Why in news?
The colour of water in Lonar lake in Maharashtra’s Buldhana district turned pink due to a large presence of the salt-loving Haloarchaea microbes, according to a study by a Pune-based institute.
Haloarchaea or halophilic archaea is a bacteria culture, which produces pink pigment, and found in water saturated with salt
Last month, the State forest department informed the Bombay High Court it had collected water samples and sent them for testing to Agharkar Research Institute and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute in Nagpur.
The report also concluded that the change in colour was not permanent.
The team allowed the sample water to stand still for some time and found the biomass settle at the bottom. The water then became clear and transparent. So, it was the biomass of these microbes that turned the surface of the water red or pink.
Source : Hindu ( https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/lonar-lake-turned-pink-due-to-haloarchaea-microbes-probe/article32161619.ece )
WILL DISCUSS ALL DISPUTED AREAS WITH CHINA: BHUTAN
Why in news?
A day after China repeated its claims over Eastern Bhutan, Bhutan issued a rare statement, asserting that “all disputed areas” will be discussed when the Bhutan-China boundary talks, which have not been scheduled for four years, are held again.
The boundary between Bhutan and China is under negotiation and has not been demarcated.
Twenty-four rounds of ministerial level boundary talks have been held till date.
The 25th round of boundary talks has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The statement is significant as Bhutan’s government rarely comments on foreign policy issues or gives details of its talks with China, that were started formally in 1984.
It also indicates that despite China making new claims on Bhutan’s eastern boundary, and the Sakteng forest sanctuary on the border with Arunachal Pradesh, Bhutan is prepared to discuss these in the dialogue between them.
The Ministry of External Affairs has made no statement on China’s claims on areas bordering Indian territory.
Source : Hindu ( https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/will-discuss-all-disputed-areas-with-china-bhutan/article32165629.ece )
‘INDIA WILL HAVE TO DELIVER COVID-19 VACCINE ON A SCALE NEVER SEEN BEFORE’
Why in news? The remarkable progress on a COVID-19 vaccine made by Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and chief investigator on its COVID-19 trials, and his team, holds out hope that an effective and safe vaccine might be available earlier than originally assumed, during 2021.
In an interview, he shared insights into the COVID-19 endgame scenarios that might now be on the table.
We need to have enough doses of the vaccine available, and then we need to be able to vaccinate enough people to stop the virus in its tracks. But that is quite a big deal.
First of all, you have got to manufacture it at an enormous scale, for a country like India, to be able to vaccinate a large proportion of the population.
Then you actually have to get out and deliver the vaccine on a scale that has never been seen before. That is also a big hurdle.
Even if you have a vaccine and you have enough doses, the logistics of preventing infection in everyone is going to be a huge, mass vaccination programme.
Many countries are thinking, initially, about how to protect those at greatest risk, like hospital workers, older individuals, and those with co-morbidities. That is probably the right way to start.
Source : Hindu ( https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/coronavirus-india-will-have-to-deliver-vaccine-on-scale-never-seen-before-oxford-scientist/article32163865.ece )
Why in news?
Anti-Tank Guided Missile "Dhruvastra'' successfully Test-Fired In Odisha
India has successfully conducted three flight tests of its indigenously developed anti-tank guided missile ''Dhruvastra'' from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur in Odisha.
Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the helicopter-launched anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) is one of the most advanced anti-tank weapons in the world.
All the three developmental trials of the state-of-the-art anti-tank guided missile, carried out in a direct and top attack mode, were successful and the data was being analysed.
Dhruvastra is the helicopter version of 'Nag Helina'' with several new features and meant to be fired from air to destroy enemy bunkers, armoured vehicles and main battle tanks.
The ATGM is guided by an infrared imaging seeker (IIS) operating in the lock-on before-launch mode and helps in further strengthening the defence capabilities of the country.
Source : NDTV ( https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/anti-tank-guided-missile-dhruvastra-test-fired-in-odisha-report-2267292 )
GOVERNMENT IMPOSES RESTRICTION ON PUBLIC PROCUREMENT FROM CHINA, OTHER NEIGHBOURS
Why in news?
Amid the border row with China, the government on Thursday imposed restrictions on public procurement from China and other countries with common border.
The government of India amended the General Financial Rules 2017 to enable imposition of restrictions on bidders from countries which share a land border with India on grounds of defence of India, or matters directly or indirectly related thereto including national security.
As per the order, any bidder from such countries sharing a land border with India will be eligible to bid in any procurement whether of goods, services (including consultancy services and non-consultancy services) or works (including turnkey projects) only if the bidder is registered with the Competent Authority.
The Competent Authority for registration will be the Registration Committee constituted by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). Political and security clearance from the ministries of external and home affairs respectively will be mandatory
The order takes into its ambit public sector banks and financial institutions, autonomous bodies, Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) and public private partnership projects receiving financial support from the government or its undertakings.
The Government of India has written to the Chief Secretaries of the State Governments invoking the provisions of Article 257(1) of the Constitution of India for the implementation of this Order in procurement by State Governments and state undertakings etc.
For state government procurement, the Competent Authority will be constituted by the states, but political and security clearance will remain necessary.
Relaxation has been provided in certain limited cases, including for procurement of medical supplies for containment of COVID-19 global pandemic till December 31, 2020.
By a separate order, countries to which the government of India extends lines of credit or provides development assistance have been exempted from the requirement of prior registration.
It does not apply to procurement by the private sector.
Source : TOI ( https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/government-imposes-restriction-on-public-procurement-from-china-other-neighbours/articleshow/77135519.cms )
INDIA TO BOOST RAFALE CAPABILITIES WITH HAMMER MISSILES UNDER EMERGENCY ORDER
Why in news?
With the Rafales arriving in the country in the middle of a dispute with China, the Indian Air Force is further boosting the capabilities of the combat aircraft by equipping it with the HAMMER missiles from France.
The order for the HAMMER standoff missiles with the capability to take out any types of targets at the range of around 60-70 kms is being processed under the emergency powers for acquisition given to the armed forces by the Narendra Modi government.
The order for the HAMMER missiles is being processed and the French authorities have agreed to supply them to us at a short notice for our Rafale combat aircraft
HAMMER (Highly Agile Modular Munition Extended Range) is a medium-range air-to-ground weapon designed and manufactured for the French Air Force and Navy initially.
The HAMMERs would give India the capability to take out any bunkers or hardened shelters in any type of terrain including the mountainous locations such as Eastern Ladakh.
Five Rafale would be arriving in India from France on July 29 and their advanced weaponry including the long-range SCALP and Meteor missiles would have reached India before their touchdown.
Source : TOI ( https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-to-boost-rafale-capabilities-with-hammer-missiles-under-emergency-order/articleshow/77124650.cms )