UPSC Daily Current Affairs : 28-July-2020

Topic Covered :

  1. Moderna Covid-19 vaccine could be ready for use by end of year, US says

  2. Dare to Dream 2.0

  3. India and Indonesia agree to further enhance bilateral defence cooperation in Defence Ministers’ Dialogue

  4. Be more like Pakistan, China tells Afghanistan and Nepal at four-country meet

  5. Govt bans 47 more Chinese apps; most of them clones, variants of apps blocked earlier

  6. Gurdwara ‘Shahidi Asthan’

  7. Kerala solar ferry 'Aditya' wins coveted global honour



MODERNA COVID-19 VACCINE COULD BE READY FOR USE BY END OF YEAR, US SAYS

  • Why in news? Moderna Inc's vaccine against Covid-19 could be ready for widespread use by the end of this year, US and company officials said on Monday, after the drugmaker announced the start of a 30,000-subject trial to demonstrate it is safe and effective, the final hurdle prior to regulatory approval. 


Highlights:

  • The trial is the first such late-stage study under the Trump administration's program to speed development of measures against the novel coronavirus, adding to hope that an effective vaccine will help end the pandemic. Moderna shares were up 7.5%.

  • Moderna, which has never brought a vaccine to market, has received nearly $1 billion from the US government, which is helping bankroll several vaccine candidates under its Operation Warp Speed program. 

  • More than 150 coronavirus vaccine candidates are in various stages of development, with some two dozen prospects already conducting human testing. 

  • The large late-stage trial is designed to evaluate the safety of Moderna's mRNA-1273 vaccine and determine if it can prevent symptomatic Covid-19 after two doses. 

  • Moderna's vaccine candidate uses synthetic messenger RNA (mRNA) to mimic the surface of the coronavirus and teach the immune system to recognize and neutralize it. The technology allows for quicker development and manufacturing than traditional vaccines. 


Source : TOI ( https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/science/moderna-covid-19-vaccine-could-be-ready-for-use-by-end-of-year-us-says/articleshow/77205530.cms )


DARE TO DREAM 2.0

Why in news?

  • DRDO launches ‘Dare to Dream 2.0’ contest for innovators and startups on 5th death anniversary of former president Dr A P J Abdul Kalam

Highlights:

  • The scheme is being launched for emerging technologies to promote the individuals & startups for innovation in defence and aerospace technologies in the country after the call of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ given by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.

  • The ‘Dare to Dream 2.0’ is an open challenge to promote the innovators and startups of the country.

  • The winners will be decided after due evaluation by an expert committee. Award money, up to Rs 10 lakh for startup and Rs five lakh to individual category, will be given to the winners.


Source : PIB ( https://pib.gov.in/PressReleseDetail.aspx?PRID=1641649 )


INDIA AND INDONESIA AGREE TO FURTHER ENHANCE BILATERAL DEFENCE COOPERATION IN DEFENCE MINISTERS’ DIALOGUE

Why in news?

  • Defence Ministers’ Dialogue between India and Republic of Indonesia was held here today.


Highlights:

  • Indian delegation was headed by Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh while the Indonesian delegation was led by its Defence Minister General Prabowo Subianto, who is in India for strengthening the ties between the two maritime neighbours.   

  • Potential areas of cooperation in the field of defence industries and defence technology were also identified by the two countries.

  • Conveying satisfaction on the military to military interactions, Shri Rajnath Singh indicated that the defence cooperation between India and Indonesia has witnessed an upswing in the recent years, which is in consonance with the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the two sides.

  •  Both the Ministers agreed to further enhance the bilateral defence cooperation in mutually agreed areas. 

  • The meeting ended on a positive note with a commitment to further strengthen and widen the scope of the bilateral cooperation between the two countries.  


Source : PIB ( https://pib.gov.in/PressReleseDetail.aspx?PRID=1641649 )


BE MORE LIKE PAKISTAN, CHINA TELLS AFGHANISTAN AND NEPAL AT FOUR-COUNTRY MEET

Why in news?

  • China on Monday urged Afghanistan, Nepal and Pakistan to forge “four-party cooperation” to overcome the Covid-19 crisis and continue work on projects under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). 


Highlights:

  • Presiding over a virtual meeting with his counterparts from the three countries, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi said the four states should work together to extend CPEC to Afghanistan. 

  • The video conference, organised by Beijing ostensibly to discuss the Covid-19 pandemic, was held against the backdrop of the months-long India-China border standoff.

  • Given India’s currently strained ties with Nepal, the meeting is unlikely to go down well with the foreign policy establishment in New Delhi. 

  • Even for China, it is rare to call for four-party cooperation in South Asia without involving India. But the move fits Beijing’s current narrative. 

  • The statement from China’s foreign ministry indicated Beijing is looking at a more permanent cooperation mechanism with the three South Asian countries than just working together to counter the pandemic. 

  • The meeting added to Beijing’s own narrative that it is ready to play a bigger role in war-torn Afghanistan’s peace process.

  • For Nepal, it was an opportunity to send out a message about its increasingly snug ties with China amid the strained relations with India. 


Source : Hindustan Times ( https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/china-turns-to-pak-nepal-and-afghanistan-for-four-party-cooperation-in-south-asia-excludes-new-delhi/story-WC8Gc59RSXBEsbIGx0rGGK.html )


GOVT BANS 47 MORE CHINESE APPS; MOST OF THEM CLONES, VARIANTS OF APPS BLOCKED EARLIER

Why in news?

  • India has banned 47 more apps with links to China, most being clones or from the same parent company whose main applications were banned last month, a source said.


Highlights:

  • The banned clones include TikTok Lite, Helo Lite, Shareit Lite and Bigo Live Lite, among others.

  • A complete list of the banned applications has not been released yet.

  • This takes the total number of mobile applications banned for being prejudicial to the sovereignty, integrity and defence of the country to 106. 

  • The government had last month banned 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok, CamScanner, Shareit, UC Browser, Baidu Map, Bigo Live and Vigo Video. 

  • The ministry had made it clear that if any app in the banned list is found to be made available by the company through any means for use within India, directly or indirectly, it would be construed as a violation of the government orders.

  • The IT Ministry had invoked its power under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act and rules to block the 59 apps in view of information available that they were “engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.”


Source : Tribune India ( https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/govt-bans-47-more-chinese-apps-most-of-them-clones-variants-of-apps-blocked-earlier-118670 )


GURDWARA ‘SHAHIDI ASTHAN’

Why in news?

  • India has lodged a strong protest with the Pakistan High Commission on the reported incident whereby Gurdwara ‘Shahidi Asthan’, site of martyrdom of Bhai Taru Singh ji at Naulakha Bazaar in Lahore, was claimed as the place of Masjid Shahid Ganj and attempts made to convert it to a mosque. 


Highlights:

  • Bhai Taru Ji made the supreme sacrifice in 1745 at this historical gurdwara.

  • As the gurdwara is a place of reverence and considered sacred by the Sikh community, this incident has been viewed with grave concern in India.

  • There have been calls for justice for the minority Sikh community in Pakistan.

  • India expressed its concerns, in strongest terms, on this incident and called upon Pakistan to investigate the matter and take immediate remedial measures.

  • Pakistan was also called upon to look after the safety, security, wellbeing of its minority communities including protection of their religious rights and cultural heritage


Source : Tribune India ( https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/india-protests-plans-for-converting-pak-gurdwara-into-mosque-118664 )


Kerala solar ferry 'Aditya' wins coveted global honour

Why in news?

  • In a proud moment for Kerala, 'Aditya', India’s first solar-powered ferry which commenced operations three years ago in Vembanad backwaters, has won the prestigious Gustave Trouve Award for Excellence in Electric Boats and Boating.


Highlights:

  • "The Aditya, from Navalt Boats, is a sun-powered commuter ferry that is one of the great stories of the future of electric marine propulsion.

  • Every day, she makes 22 trips with 75 people on board – that’s 5,80,000 people a year – and the charging cost to top up the batteries is $2.60 a day – preventing the burning of 58,000 litres of diesel and saving $4,612,000- $65,000 a year," reads the citation.

  • Aditya won the award, instituted in memory of French electrical engineer and pioneer in electric cars and boats Gustave Trouvé, after besting five other finalists from European countries in the public transport category.

  • The ferry operates service between Thavanakadavu in Alappuzha and Vaikom in Kottayam district.

  • It is equipped with ultra-modern facilities like eco-sounder, GPS, hydraulic steering, automatic pump to remove water from the haul and many other facilities.

  • The ferry was designed by the Department of Ship Technology, Cochin University of Science and Technology.


Source : New Indian Express ( https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/2020/jul/28/kerala-solar-ferry-aditya-wins-coveted-global-honour-2175600.html )


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