Important news topics from August 10, 2020, which are critical for UPSC CSE Examination

1. Andaman and Nicobar Islands to be Maritime and Startup Hub

Recently, the Prime Minister has declared that the Andaman and Nicobar islands will be developed as a “maritime and startup hub”.

  • A transhipment hub has been proposed in the Andaman and Nicobar islands to be built in South Bay, Great Nicobar Island, to provide Indian shippers an alternative to the Colombo (Sri Lanka), Singapore and Port Klang (Malaysia) transshipment ports.
  • 12 islands of the archipelago have been selected for high-impact projects with an emphasis on boosting trade of sea-based, organic and coconut-based products of the region.
  • A submarine cable project has been launched in the islands to make it digitally independent.
    • The fibre will connect chennai and port blair and seven other islands- Swaraj Deep (Havelock), Long island etc.
    • The connectivity project was funded by the Centre through the Universal Service Obligation Fund under the Ministry of Communications.
    • It was executed by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL)was the technical consultant.
  • In addition, Port Blair airport is to be expanded and some of the islands will be also connected with seaplanes.

2. Negative Imports List for Defence

Recently, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced a negative list of 101 defence items that the MoD will stop importing.

  • This will boost indigenisation of defence production and is in line with the government’s target to reach a turnover of USD 25 billion by 2025 through indigenously manufactured defence products.
  • This will reduce the government’s defence import bill.
  • The imports on these 101 defence items is planned to be progressively implemented between 2020 to 2024.
  • In any government contract over ₹ 200 crore, no foreign company can participate in the tendering process.
  • At least a third of the 101 items are already being produced in India.
  • Items like the AK-203 rifle, to be produced by the Ordnance Factory Board in Amethi with Russian collaboration are stuck over pricing issues.

3. GCC Backs UN Arms Embargo on IranRecently, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has sent a letter to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) backing an extension of its arms embargo on Iran, just two months before it is set to expire.

  • Gulf Cooperation Council Members: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
  • All these member countries of the GCC come under the Persian Gulf Region.
  • The GCC has alleged that Iran had not ceased or desisted from armed interventions in neighbouring countries, directly and through organisations and movements armed and trained by Iran.
  • The UN, the USA and other armament experts have accused Iran of providing arms to Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
  • Iran allegedly arms Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon and Syria and also provides weapons to Shiite militias in Iraq and terrorist groups in Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
  • The letter also mentioned Iran’s shoot down of a Ukrainian passenger plane and its navy accidentally killing 19 sailors in a missile strike during an exercise.
  • Iran also is suspected of launching an attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry in September 2019.

4. Electric Vehicles Policy 2020: Delhi

Recently, the Delhi government has notified the Electric Vehicles (EV) Policy 2020.

  • It lays the maximum emphasis on replacement of two-wheelers, public transport and shared vehicles and goods-carriers instead of private four-wheelers, with Electric Vehicles (EVs).
  • It envisions the replacement of the existing auto rickshaws and State-run buses with e-autos and e-buses respectively. It will also ensure that delivery-based services operating in the city are powered by e-mobility.
  • It talks about increasing road tax for fuel-based vehicles, at least in the luxury segment and imposing in certain parts of the city a congestion fee that EVs will be exempt from.
  • It has a ‘scrapping incentive’ for those people who want to make the switch, allowing them to exchange an old fuel-based vehicle while purchasing a new EV, further reducing its cost.
  • The government will also offer low-interest rate loans to people interested in buying commercial EVs and also subsidies and road tax and registration fee waivers, for EVs bought in the capital.
  • These grants will be in addition to the subsidies offered by the Union government under its FAME India Phase 2 scheme, which offers similar incentives, especially on the purchase of electric two-wheelers and electric heavy passenger and goods veh icles.
  • A State EV fund will be set up, encompassing all the expenditure of the EV Policy. A State Electric Vehicle Board will be constituted for effective implementation of the policy and managing the fund. Besides, a dedicated EV Cell will also be constituted.

5. Quit India Movement

On 8th Aug 2020, India completed 78 years of Quit India Movement also known as August Kranti.

  • Taking inspiration from the Quit India Movement, the Prime Minister gave a call for the revival of its spirit of the Quit India Movement by coining a new slogan karenge aur karake rahenge in place of Gandhi’s slogan of karo ya maro (Do or Die).
  • The aim of this slogan is to achieve the goal of building a “New India” by 2022.

6. Telemedicine Service Platform: eSanjeevani

The telemedicine service platforms of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare i.e. ‘eSanjeevani’ and ‘eSanjeevaniOPD’ have completed 1.5 lakh tele-consultations.

  • The top two States which have registered highest consultations through the platforms are Tamil Nadu (32,035 consultations) and Andhra Pradesh (28,960).
  • Both the platforms have been developed by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) Mohali, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).

6.1. eSanjeevani:

  • It is a doctor to doctor telemedicine system, being implemented under the Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centre (AB-HWCs) programme.
  • It seeks to connect all 1,50,000 HWCs using the hub-and-spoke model by December 2022.

6.2. eSanjeevaniOPD:

  • It was launched amid the Covid-19 pandemic to enable patient-to-doctor tele-consultations.
  • Offered at no cost, this e-health service has made it convenient for the people to avail of the health services without having to travel. It enables two-way interaction and even generates a prescription slip.
  • It is hosting over 40 online Out Patient Department (OPD) services, more than half of these are speciality OPDs which include Gynaecology, Psychiatry, AntiRetroviral Therapy (ART) for the AIDS/HIV patients, Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) etc.

7. Comptroller and Auditor General

Girish Chandra Murmu has been appointed the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).

  • He has replaced Rajiv Mehrishi and will have a tenure up to 20th November, 2024.

8. World Tribal Day

World Tribal Day or International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is observed on 9th August every year.

  • The day recognises the first meeting of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations in Geneva in 1982. It has been celebrated every year since 1994, in accordance with the declaration by the United Nations.
  • Theme 2020: “Covid-19 and the indigenous peoples’ resilience”
  • Committees Related to Tribal Communities:
    • Xaxa Committee (2013)
    • Bhuria Commission (2002-2004)
    • Lokur Committee (1965)