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15 August Current Affairs

COVAX Facility of WHO renews its invitation

In News:

The COVAX Facility of the World Health Organization recently renewed its invitation to countries to join its COVID-19 vaccine facility. The COVAX facility is a mechanism designed to guarantee fair, rapid and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Details:

CAVAX is COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access facility. The facility is backed by Bill Gate Foundation. The foundation is working to make COVID-19 vaccines available to poor countries.

COVAX Facility:

The facility was designed by the WHO to make vaccines available for poor countries as well. It works towards making rapid progress in tackling COVID-19 pandemic. The countries that join the platform will have access to the vaccines that are developed under GAVI alliance as well.

The COVAX facility aims to procure 2 billion doses of vaccines that have passed WHO prequalification. The vaccines are to be delivered equally to all the participating countries. The COVAX facility was launched with an objective of providing immunity to at least 20% of population against COVID-19.

What are the main goals of COVAX?

The COVAX facility has made itself prepared to provide vaccines to 92 low- and middle-income economies. India is one amongst them. This is to be achieved in collaboration with GAVI alliance.

GAVI alliance:

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization is a public-private global health partnership that aims at increasing the access to immunisation in poor countries. The GAVI alliance brings together the World Bank, UNICEF, vaccine industries and other technical agencies. India is a member of GAVI.

The GAVI alliance contributes towards achieving United Nations Millennium Development Goals to focus on performance and results.

Global Vaccine Summit:

The Global Vaccine Summit that was held in June 2020 raised 9.2 billion USD. PM Modi addressed the summit and India pledged 15 million USD towards the alliance during the summit.

Dashboard for National Infrastructure Pipeline launched

In News:

The Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recently launched National Infrastructure Pipeline online dashboard. The dashboard is to act as a one-stop solution for all stakeholders who are looking for information about infrastructure projects.

Details:

The Finance Minister had announced an outlay of Rs 100 lakh crore for infrastructure projects in the country for the next 5 years in her Budget Speech 2019-20. The dashboard is to be hosted by India Investment Grid (IIG). IIG is a dynamic online platform that showcases real time investment opportunities in the country.

The National Infrastructure Pipeline will provide boost to Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. The availability of infrastructure project information will ensure easy accessibility of updated project information and also will attract investors for PPP projects. The NIP is first of its kind initiative. The NIP will help to attract investment into infrastructure and also will help achieve the target of India becoming a 5 trillion USD economy.

National Infrastructure Pipeline:

The National Infrastructure Pipeline was launched for the year 2019-25. The main aim of NIP is to provide ease of living. This is to be achieved by providing safe drinking water, access to clean and affordable energy, modern railway stations, health care for all, bus terminals, airports and world class educational institutes.

The NIP is being launched with an outlook that it will create jobs, provide equitable access to infrastructure to all and improve ease of living. This will help to make growth more inclusive. Under the NIP, sectors such as Roads (19%), Energy (24%), Urban (16%) and Railways (13%) are to amount to 70% of capital expenditure in infrastructure in India between 2020 and 2025.

The plan is to invest more than Rs 102 lakh cores on infrastructure projects by 2024-25. Of these, the centre, state and private sector are to share the capital expenditure in the formula of 39:39:22.

World Elephant Day

In News:

Every year, World Elephant Day is celebrated on August 12. It is an international event that is dedicated to preserve and protect world elephants. The idea of World Elephant Day was conceived by Canadian film makers Patricia Sims and Michael Clark in Thailand.

Details:

The main objective of celebrating World Elephant Day is to create awareness about the urgent plight of Asian and African elephants. The African Elephants are listed as “Vulnerable” and Asian Elephants as “Endangered” in the IUCN Red List of threatened species.

The first International Elephant Day was celebrated in 2012.

India:

On the eve of celebrating the World Elephant Day, India launched a National Portal called “SURAKHSYA”. The portal will collect real time information about human elephant conflicts. Also, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change released a Compendium on Best practices on Human-elephant Conflict Management in India.

Elephant Census in India:

Elephant census in India is conducted once in five years under Project Elephant. It was previously conducted in 2017. According to the census, Elephant population in India is estimated to be 29,964. The South India alone has 14,612 and the North East has 10,139. On the other hand, the census of tiger in India is conducted once in 4 years.

Project Elephant was launched in 1992 to protect elephants and their habitats and corridors.

Asian Elephant Specialist Group of IUCN:

The Asian Elephant Specialist Group is a network of specialists that are concerned with the study, management, monitoring and conservation of Asian Elephants. It aims to promote long-term conservation of Asia’s elephants. It is a part of the Species Survival Commission of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The Group provides scientific evidences to abundance, distribution and demographic status of Asian elephant population. Gajah is the journal of IUCN Asian Elephant Specialist Group.

Indian Armed Forces revive “Project Cheetah”

In News:

The Indian Armed Forces have decided to revive “Project Cheetah” amidst tensions with China. The project was pending for a long time and the tri-services have now decided to revive the project under Rs 3,500 crores.

Ajay Kumar Committee:

The proposal of reviving “Project Cheetah” has been sent to a newly formed high-level defence ministry committee under Ajay Kumar. Ajay Kumar is the defence secretary. He is in charge of all capital procurements of Indian Army, Navy and Air Force.

About the Project:

Under the project, around 90 Heron drones of the services are to be upgraded with laser-guided bombs, air launched anti-tank guided missiles and air to ground anti-tank guided missiles. The project was pending over a long period of time.

The Indian fleet of drones mainly includes Israeli equipment including Herons. They were deployed in both Indian Air Force and Army. They are currently deployed in Ladakh and China borders. The project is being launched to upgrade the drones that are carrying out offensive operations against the enemies especially in the borders. They will also be used to counter terrorism in the future.

Currently, drones are used to verify disengagement by Chinese as well as to learn about their troop build up.

Benefits:

The upgrade will help the Armed forces ground stations to operate the drones from far distances and also control them through satellite communication system. Also, the upgrade will help to pin-point intelligence about hideouts where men were involved earlier.

The project will mainly include several Indian developed solutions thereby helping to make India become self-sufficient.

Heron UAVs:

The Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicle was made in Israel. It is a medium-altitude UAV. It is capable of returning to base autonomously in case of lost communication. It carries up to 250 kg of weight including thermographic camera, airborne ground surveillance visible light, radar systems, etc.

SC Judgement: Women have Equal Rights on Parental Property

In News:

On August 11, 2020, a three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra of Supreme Court ruled that daughters have equal rights as that of sons on parental property. They shall remain coparcener throughout their life.

Details:

The judgement said that the daughters have equal rights in parental property as that of son. This includes in cases where the father died before the enactment of Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005. The Judgement also said that the according to Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, the status of coparcener on the daughter born before or after amendment in the same manner as that of the son.

Coparcener:

The term coparcener is a person who assumes legal rights in parental property by birth only. According to the judgement, a daughter is a now a coparcener as well.

Major Change:

In 2015, the Supreme Court had pronounced that the rights under the amendment of Hindu Succession Act, 1956 is applicable only to living daughters. However, in the recent judgement, the apex court pronounced that “a daughter always remains a loving daughter”.

Hindu Succession Act, 1956:

The act codifies laws related to intestate or unwilled succession among Buddhists, Hindus, Jains and Sikhs. It provides a uniform and comprehensive system of inheritance and succession. It was amended in 2005. Under the amendment, Section 6 was inserted.

Background:

Till 2005, the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 was biased against women. Only after the amendment in the act, equal rights were awarded to daughters in their fathers’ ancestral property.

Under the act, the Hindu women can inherit all types of property. This includes both movable and immovable property. There are two ways a woman can inherit property under the law.

India test fires first Private Upper Stage Rocket Engine

In News:

The Aerospace Start up Skyroot Aerospace has test fired an upper stage rocket engine and has become the first Indian private company to demonstrate the capability of homegrown rocket engine.

Details:

The 3D printed rocket engine was named after the Nobel Laureate Sir C V Raman. The rocket had fewer moving parts and weighed half of conventional rocket engines. According to the master minds that developed the rocket, it is capable of multiple restarts. Also, it is capable of inserting various satellites into multiple orbits in a single mission.

Skyroot Aerospace:

The rocket was developed by the Skyroot firm that is headquartered at Hyderabad. The firm is backed by Curefit founders Mukesh Bansal and Ankit Nagori.  The Skyroot Aerospace was founded by former scientists of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization).

The firm demonstrated the first 100% 3D printed bi-propellant liquid rocket engine injector. This rocket had its overall mass reduced by 50% and total number of components and lead time reduced by 80%.

About the mission:

The first rocket that is to be launched in lower earth orbit weighs around 250-700 kgs. It is expected to be launched by 2021.

Aerospace start-ups in India:

India had recently opened its space sector to its private players such as Skyroot, Bellatrix and Agnikul. They are building small launchers with 3-D printed engines. This is bringing down the cost of satellite launching. Also, this methodology is gaining bigger pie of global small satellite launch market.

The research firm Frost and Sullivan is to launch more than 10,000 small satellites globally in the next decade.

Private Sector in ISRO:

In June 2020, GoI introduced a major reform in space sector by opening doors to private sectors. This will allow the space research organization to focus more on development activities, exploration, new technologies, exploration mission and also human space flight programmes.

A new Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) was created to provide level playing field for the private companies to use Indian space infrastructure.

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