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Goaltide Daily Current Affairs 2020

Aug 24, 2020

Current Affair 1:
India’s first two ‘Tsunami Ready’ villages

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Two coastal villages in Odisha have been declared the first two ‘Tsunami Ready’ villages in the Indian Ocean Region. The recognition was given by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO for the preparedness of the local community in two villages – Noliasahi in Jagatsinghpur district and Venkatraipur in Ganjam district – against tsunamis.

The certification recognizes the two communities’ success at organizing and completing collaborative tsunami preparedness initiatives involving community leaders, national and local emergency management agencies, and citizen groups.

Tsunami Ready recognition is achieved through satisfying multiple initiatives. These include conducting a community tsunami-risk reduction programme, designation and mapping of tsunami hazard zones, public display of tsunami information, easily understood tsunami evacuation maps, outreach and public education materials, participation in mock drills, community emergency plans, and the presence of reliable 24-hour early warning system.

Collectively, the Tsunami Ready certification checklist aims to improve tsunami preparedness in coastal communities, to minimize the loss of life and property, and to ensure a structural and systematic approach to building community preparedness.

Who administers Tsunami Ready Programme?

The Tsunami Ready Programme is administered by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) through its Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (ICG/IOTWMS). In order to promote Tsunami Ready piloting, the Indian Ocean Tsunami Information Centre (IOTIC), together with the IOTWMS Secretariat, developed regional guidelines and conducted four regional Trainings on Tsunami Emergency Maps, Plans and Procedures (TEMPP) involving 22 Indian Ocean Member States.

About:

IOC also coordinates and fosters the establishment of regional intergovernmental coordinating tsunami warning and mitigation systems in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, in the North East Atlantic, Mediterranean and Caribbean seas.

United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development

The Tsunami Ready Programme is a key contribution by UNESCO’s IOC to the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, set to officially begin on 1 January 2021, and which aims to build capacities of countries, communities and citizens to reduce and appropriately respond to the risk posed by tsunamis and other ocean-related hazards.

Current Affair 2:
New partnership between UNEP and ReNew Power to increase access to clean, efficient energy in India

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India’s largest renewable energy company, ReNew Power, and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) have signed a partnership agreement to promote increased access to renewable energy and improved energy efficiency.

The strengthened partnership between the two parties – who signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 10th July 2020 in Delhi- focuses on enhancing access to renewable energy and improving energy efficiency as part of the progressive strategies that India has adopted to realize its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) under the Paris Agreement.

ReNew Power will partner with UNEP’s District Energy in Cities Initiative as an implementation partner for renewable energy installations across India with the aim of shifting the heating and cooling sector to an energy efficient one. The partnership will also implement solar off-grid projects, studies, and assessments. Joint efforts will be promoted through annual events to showcase contributions to India’s strategic vision on renewable energy.

Renewable sources constitute about 23.6% of total installed capacity in India. The country had a target of 175 GW of renewables capacity by 2022, and at the UN Climate Action Summit in September 2019, the Prime Minister announced an increase in the target to 450 GW. See the data of Renewable:

About District Energy in Cities Initiative

District Energy in Cities Initiative (led by UNEP) aims to support market transformation efforts in order to shift the heating and cooling sector to energy efficient and renewable energy solutions. The initiative supports local and national governments to build local know-how and implement enabling policies to accelerate investment in modern – low-carbon and climate resilient – district energy systems. India is a part of this Initiative. The Initiative has partnered with Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) as the national coordinator of the Initiative in India. Currently, six cities of India are involved under this initiative: Amaravati, Bhopal, Coimbatore, Pune, Rajkot, Thane (Pilot)

Current Affair 3:
Africa eradicates wild poliovirus

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Africa has been declared free from wild polio by the independent body, the Africa Regional Certification Commission. This marks the eradication of the second virus from the face of the continent since smallpox 40 years ago. The last case of wild poliovirus in the region was detected in 2016 in Nigeria.

Understand the Worldwide status of Polio strains:

There are three individual and immunologically distinct wild poliovirus strains: wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1), wild poliovirus type 2 (WPV2) and wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3). Symptomatically, all three strains are identical, in that they cause irreversible paralysis or even death. But there are genetic and virologic differences which make these three strains three separate viruses that must each be eradicated individually.

WPV3 is the second strain of the poliovirus to be wiped out (2019), following the certification of the eradication of WPV2 in 2015.  WPV1 is still present in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Road ahead: To protect global progress against polio, we must continue to vaccinate to maintain high population protection against the virus and to prevent polio from traveling to other countries from the two countries (Pakistan and Afghanistan) where wild poliovirus type 1 transmission has not been interrupted. In Africa, we also must continue to innovate, engage communities and work quickly to stop outbreaks of circulating vaccine derived poliovirus type 2 wherever they occur. Some vaccine derived poliovirus type 2 was observed still in Africa. See below:

About Polio: Polio is caused by Polio Virus type 1,2,3 single stranded RNA virus (Natural or Wild Polio Virus). There are three serotypes of poliovirus, each of which causes poliomyelitis, an infectious disease which mostly affect under-5 children.

Poliomyelitis

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus. It invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours. The virus enters the body through the mouth and multiplies in the intestine. Initial symptoms are fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck and pain in the limbs. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis (usually in the legs). Among those paralyzed, 5% to 10% die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.

What about India?

India, where polio was paralyzing 500 to 1,000 children per day in the 1990s, eliminated the disease in 2014. In 2014, India was officially declared polio-free, along with the rest of the South-East Asia Region.

Current Affair 4:
Formation of a star from dwarf galaxy

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A team of Indian astronomers from Aryabhata Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) have claimed to trace the mystery behind dwarf galaxy aberrations of massive star formation. ARIES is an autonomous institute of Department of Science & Technology (DST).

To understand the nature of star formation in dwarf galaxies ARIES astronomers Dr. Amitesh Omar and his former student Dr. Sumit Jaiswal observed several dwarf galaxies using two Indian telescopes — 1.3-meter Devasthal Fast Optical Telescope (DFOT) and the Giant Meter wave Radio Telescope (GMRT).

Key Points

  1. Amidst the billions of galaxies in the universe, a large number are tiny ones - 100 times less massive than the Milky-way galaxy. Most of these are called dwarf galaxies and form stars at a much slower rate than the massive ones.
  2. Dwarf galaxies are the most abundant type of galaxy in the universe but are difficult to detect due to their low luminosity, low mass and small size.
  3. However, some dwarf galaxies have been seen forming new stars at a mass-normalized rate i.e. 10-100 times more than that of the Milky-way galaxy.
  4. The star-formation activities do not last longer than a few tens of million-years, a period which is much shorter than the age of these galaxies - typically a few billion years.

Reasons Found Out by the Aries Astronomers:

  1. Disturbed Hydrogen Distribution: Star formation at a high rate requires very high density of Hydrogen in the galaxies. Multiple nuclei and high concentration of ionized hydrogen have been found in the central region of such galaxies. Hydrogen in these dwarf galaxies is found to be irregular and sometimes not moving in well- defined orbits i.e. non-symmetric distribution of hydrogen.
  2. Galaxy-Galaxy Collision: Some Hydrogen around these galaxies is also detected in forms of isolated clouds, plumes, and tails as if some other galaxy recently has collided or brushed away with these galaxies, and gas is scattered as debris around the galaxies.

Star Formation Cycle:

Current Affair 5:
Increased Investments through P-notes

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News:

According to SEBI data, the value of participatory note (P-note) investments in Indian capital markets increased to Rs. 63,288 crores till July 2020-end. This is the fourth consecutive monthly rise in investments through P-notes.

What is P-Notes?

Participatory notes are instruments used by foreign funds and investors not registered with the SEBI to invest in Indian securities. They are generally issued overseas by associates of India based foreign brokerages (FPIs) and domestic institutional investors. Technically, P-Notes are Offshore Derivative Instruments (ODIs) issued by FPIs and their subaccounts against underlying Indian securities (like shares).

Regulation 15A of SEBI Regulations, 1995 defines ODI as an instrument “which is issued overseas by a foreign institutional investor (FII) against securities held by it that are listed or proposed to be listed on any recognised stock exchange in India.” These ODIs can also be issued against derivatives, resulting in leveraged exposure to the Indian stock market

What are govt & regulator’s concerns?

  1. The primary reason why P-Notes are worrying is because of the anonymous nature of the instrument as these investors could be beyond the reach of Indian regulators.
  2. Further, there is a view that it is being used in money laundering with wealthy Indians, like the promoters of companies, using it to bring back unaccounted funds and to manipulate their stock prices.

What has Sebi done to regulate P-Notes?  Sebi has taken a number of steps to tighten rules on P-Notes. Just for information. No need to learn.

  1. In 2007, P-Notes were banned for a while due to a surge in capital flows and excess liquidity. After this, markets crashed immediately, but recovered after the regulator said FIIs could not take any fresh exposure, and their existing investments would have to be wound up in 18 months. But a year later, all restrictions on P-Notes were removed.
  2. From January 2011, FIIs have had to follow KYC norms and submit details of transactions. In 2014, new rules on foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) made it mandatory for those issuing P-Notes to submit a monthly report disclosing their portfolios. This led to a decline in the number of entities issuing P-Notes.
  3. In a latest development, on July 8, 2017, SEBI issued a circular banning FPIs from issuing Participatory Notes for investing in equity derivatives. At the same time, FPIs can issue PNs to overseas investors if the equity derivatives investments are used for hedging the equity shares held by them. This means that a foreign investor can make investment in equity derivatives only if he purchases an equal value of shares in the cash segment. Effectively, this step will help to avoid speculative investment by foreign investors using PN in derivatives.

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