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02 April Current Affairs

Earth Hour

In News:

The Earth Hour was observed on 28th March, 2020.

Key Points:

Earth Hour is the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF)’s annual initiative that began in 2007.

It is held every year on the last Saturday of March.

It encourages people from more than 180 countries to switch off the lights from 8.30 pm to 9.30 pm as per their local time.

The idea is to refrain from the use of non-essential lighting to save energy in a symbolic call for environmental protection.

Earth Hour has become a catalyst for positive environmental impact, driving major legislative changes by harnessing the power of the people and collective action.

Examples: It helped create a 3.5 million hectare marine-protected area in Argentina and ban all plastics in the Galapagos in 2014, plant 17 million trees in Kazakhstan, light up homes with solar power in India and the Philippines and push new legislation for the protection of seas and forests in Russia.

About World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF):

It is the world’s leading conservation organization and works in more than 100 countries.

It was established in 1961 and is headquartered at Gland, Switzerland

Its mission is to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth.

WWF collaborates at every level with people around the world to develop and deliver innovative solutions that protect communities, wildlife, and the places in which they live.

GPS Data to Map Corona High-risk Zones

In News:

Recently, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to use Global Positioning System (GPS) data to map high-risk zones in the city and the number of positive cases in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Points:

Till now, BMC had refrained from revealing details pertaining to COVID-19-afflicted patients to mitigate fear and prevent stigmatization.

However, with a spike in the numbers, lockdown and quarantine violations, the civic body has decided to map the high-risk zones to alert citizens to stay away from these areas and follow lockdown instructions.

Ward officers will ensure mandatory home-delivery of essentials like medicines and grocery items to restrict citizens movement in these zones.

Other initiatives:

To strengthen the healthcare facilities, final-year medical and nursing students will be drafted into its workforce and given charge of OPDs and administrative duties at various civic-run hospitals.

To decongest major hospitals and effectively use isolation beds for patients, BMC has decided to categorise patients based on the three categories-

1) asymptomatic patients below 55 years and without any co-morbidity.

2) asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic patients above 55 years.

3) symptomatic patients.

Global Positioning System:-

It is a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), used to determine the ground position of an object.

It is a US-owned utility that provides users with positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) services.

Services Provided:

The civilian service is freely available to all users on a continuous, worldwide basis.

The military service is available to US and allied armed forces as well as approved Government agencies.

Other GNSS include European Union’s Galileo, Russia’s GLONASS, China’s BeiDou Navigation Satellite System and India’s Navigation in Indian Constellation (NavIC).

NRIs Can Invest in Specified Government Securities

In News:

Recently, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has introduced a separate channel called Fully Accessible Route (FAR) to enable non-residents to invest in specified Government of India dated securities with effect from April 1.

Details:

The move follows the Union Budget announcement that certain specified categories of government securities would be opened fully for non-resident investors without any restrictions.

Key Points:

Specified securities’ shall mean Government Securities as periodically notified by the Reserve Bank for investment under the FAR route.

The RBI has said that all new issuances of Government securities (G-secs) of 5-year, 10-year, and 30-year tenors will be eligible for investment as specified securities.

Non Resident investors can invest in specified government securities without being subject to any investment ceilings.

This scheme shall operate along with the two existing routes:

The Medium Term Framework (MTF) for Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPI) in Central Government Securities (G-secs) and State Government Securities (SDLs) was introduced in October 2015.

FPI consists of securities and other financial assets passively held by foreign investors.

The Voluntary Retention Route (VRR) encourages Foreign Portfolio Investors to undertake long-term investments in Indian debt markets.

Benefits of the Scheme:

This will ease the access of non-residents to Indian government securities markets.

This would facilitate inclusion in global bond indices.

Being part of the global bond indices would help Indian G-secs attract large funds from major global investors, including pension funds.

This would also facilitate inflow of stable foreign investment in government bonds.

Tablighi Jamaat

In News:

Over 200 have tested positive for COVID-19 from among 4,000-odd who had gathered in Delhi’s Markaz Nizamuddin, the headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat.

Details:

Literally, it means a society for spreading the faith. It is a conservative Muslim organisation.

It is a Sunni Islamic missionary movement. The aim is to reach out to ordinary Muslims and revive their faith, particularly in matters of ritual, dress, and personal behaviour.

It has significant base in various countries including Bangladesh, Pakistan, United States, Britain, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.

How did the movement begin?

Launched by prominent Islamic scholar Maulana Muhammad Ilyas Khandhalaw in 1926 in Mewat (Haryana).

Its roots lie in the Deobandi version of the Hanafi school of jurisprudence.

Maulana Ilyaz trained several young men from Deoband and Saharanpur and sent them to Mewat, where the Tablighi Jamaat established a network of madrasas and Mosque.

The Tablighi Jamaat is based on six principles:

Kalimah, an article of faith in which the Tabligh accepts that there is no God but Allah and that Prophet Muhammad is his messenger.

Salaat, or prayer five times daily.

Ilm and dhikr, the knowledge and remembrance of Allah conducted in sessions in which the congregation listens to preaching by the imam, performs prayers, recites the Quran and reads the Hadith; the congregation also uses these sessions to dine together, thus fostering a sense of community and identity.

Ikram-i-Muslim, the treatment of fellow Muslims with honour.

Ikhlas-i-niyat, or sincerity of intention.

Dawat-o-tabligh, or proselytisaton.

Its scope:

It is estimated that the organisation has somewhere between 70-80 million followers across the world, which makes it the biggest Muslim movement in the world. In fact, outside of the Hajj, it is believed that its annual meetings in countries, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, bring together the largest congregations of Muslims.

SunRISE mission

In News:

NASA has selected a new mission to study how the Sun generates and releases giant space weather storms – known as solar particle storms – into planetary space.

Overview of the mission- the Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment (SunRISE):

It is an array of six CubeSats operating as one very large radio telescope.

NASA has awarded $62.6 million to design, build and launch SunRISE by no earlier than July 1, 2023.

Objectives of the mission:

To study how the Sun creates and releases giant solar particle storms.

To help scientists understand the workings of the Solar System.

 How it works?

The mission design relies on six solar-powered CubeSats to simultaneously observe radio images of low-frequency emission from solar activity and share them via NASA’s Deep Space Network.

The constellation of CubeSats would fly within 6 miles of each other, above Earth’s atmosphere, which otherwise blocks the radio signals SunRISE will observe.

Together, the six CubeSats will create 3D maps to pinpoint where giant particle bursts originate on the Sun and how they evolve as they expand outward into space.

This, in turn, will help determine what initiates and accelerates these giant jets of radiation.

The six individual spacecraft will also work together to map, for the first time, the pattern of magnetic field lines reaching from the Sun out into interplanetary space.

Why study solar particle storms?

This information will help improve understanding of how our solar system works.

It can help protect astronauts traveling to the Moon and Mars by providing better information on how the Sun’s radiation affects the space environment they must travel through.

Background:

NASA had chosen two missions in August 2017 for its Mission of Opportunity program, a part of its Explorers Program, to conduct an 11-month concept study. The SunRise mission was one of the two missions.

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