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20 August Current Affairs

India ranks first in Organic Farming

In News:

The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare recently announced that India ranks first in Organic Farming. Also, India ranks ninth in terms of areas under Organic Farming.

Details:

Sikkim was the first state in the world to become completely organic. The other states that have similar targets include Uttarakhand and Tripura.

Measures by India to boost Organic Farming:

India has launched two schemes to assist farmers in adopting organic farming. Also, the Agro-Export Policy, 2018 gave simultaneous thrusts to organic farming. The schemes are as follows

Organic Exports:

The main Organic Exports from India include sesame, flax seeds, soya bean, medicinal plants, tea, rice and pulses. These products contributed to 50% organic exports in 2018-19 touching Rs 5151 crores.

India is exporting its organic products to USA, UK, Italy and Swaziland.

Logos of Organic products:

In India, the organic foods should carry logos such as

Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana:

The scheme covers an area of about 7 lakh hectares. It brought about 16 Farmer Producer Organizations cultivating 80,000 hectares of land.

The scheme is a major project under National Mission of sustainable Agriculture. Also, it is an elaborate component of Soil Health Management.

Under the scheme, organic farming is promoted by adoption of organic village through cluster approach. Over 50 and more farmers will form clusters with 50-acres of land and take up organic farming. The aim is to produce pesticide residue free produce and contribute towards improving health of the consumer.

Other Key Measures:

Budget Allocation for Organic Farming:

The 2020-21 Budget reduced the incentives being provided to chemical fertilizers in order to promote organic farming. The 2020-21 Budget allocated the following for the schemes related to organic farming.

On the whole, the Budget 2020-21 allocated Rs 687.5 crores for organic farming.

Taiwan purchases F-16 jets from US

In News:

Taiwan recently signed an agreement to buy 66 of the latest F-16 jets from the US. This is expected to escalate the tensions between US and China further.

Details:

This is the first purchase of Taiwan from the US since 1992. Though the deal was planned and talks were finalised a year ago, the move is likely to be denounced by Beijing. The sale of jets to Taiwan is to be completed by the end of 2026.

World Health Organization:

Recently, the United States wrote to 60 nations to gather their support to include Taiwan in World Health Organization. This includes Britain, Canada, Germany, Thailand, Australia and Saudi Arabia. Till date Taiwan is not a part of WHO due to the pressure from China. This created tensions between China and US. With India taking over the chairmanship of WHO in 2020, US is trying to bring in Taiwan.

Background:

China claims Taiwan under its “One China” policy. Taiwan has a large trade surplus with China and is the top trading partner of China. Taiwan is self-governed and never formally declared independence from the Chinese mainland.

However, under the one country two system formula, just like Hong Kong, Taiwan would have the right to run its own affairs.

Taiwan is a member of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, World Trade Organization and Asian Development Bank.

One-China Policy:

One China policy says that any country wishing to establish diplomatic relations with China should agree to the fact that there is only “One China”. Also, the country should sever all its formal ties with Taiwan.

India-Taiwan:

India and Taiwan have been cooperating in various fields. India refused to endorse “One China” policy since 2010.

F 16 fighter jet:

The fighter jets were approved in 1976. The US has built more than 4,600 aircrafts since the approval.

PM Modi to inaugurate Atal Tunnel by September 2020

In News:

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minsiter Jai Ram Thakur announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate “Atal Tunnel” by the end of September 2020.

Details:

The tunnel is being built under Rohtang Pass in the Pir Panjal range on the Leh-Manali highway. It is located at 3,100 metres above the sea level. The length of the tunnel is 8.8 kilo metres. The route is important as it feeds military supplied to the military sub sector that are located in Siachen Glacier and Aksai Chin.

History:

The proposal of the tunnel dates back to 1860. It was proposed for the first time by the Moravian Mission. After 139 years, PM Vajpayee brought in the proposal again. In 2000, the tunnel construction was estimated to be 5 billion USD. In 2002, the Border Road Organization was entrusted to construct the tunnel. It was initially named as Rohtang tunnel. Later in 2019, PM Modi renamed it as Atal Tunnel.

The tunnel will reduce distance between Manali and Leh by 46 kilo metres.

Challenges:

There are more than 46 avalanche sites on approaches to the tunnel. The most challenging task in constructing the tunnel was that the excavation. The excavation of the tunnel was done from both ends. However, the pass closes during winters and hence the excavation was done only from south portal in winters.

Keylong Railway Station:

The Keylong Railway station located on the Leh-Manali Highway was the first under tunnel railway station in India.

Rohtang Pass:

The pass connects Kullu valley and the Lahaul and Spiti Valleys of Himachal Pradesh. The pass lies on the watershed between Chenab and Beas rivers.

Border Road Organization:

The BRO constructs and maintains the roads in Indian borders. It operates under the Ministry of  Defence and the officers working under the organization are selected through UPSC. The operations of BRO are spread across Bhutan, India, Tajikistan, Myanmar and Afghanistan.

USFDA clears simple Saliva test called “SALIVA DIRECT” to detect COVID-19

In News:

United States Food and Drugs Administration authorised the emergency use of saliva based diagnostic test for COVID-19. This is to be a game changer as it provides the results rapidly. The testing method has been named “SALIVA DIRECT”.

Details:

Saliva Direct testing method is simpler and is less expensive as compared to traditional method called the Nasopharyngeal swabbing. The test method is to be used to test players and staffs in National Basketball Association.

The main factor that makes this particular approval of USFDA different is that the method has been validated with instruments and reagents from multiple vendors.

About Saliva Testing:

The testing is performed from a spit sample of individuals. The traditional PCR is then performed on the saliva sample. It pairs well with LAMP (Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification) that was used to detect outbreaks of Zika and Ebola in poor countries.

When can Saliva Testing used?

Saliva testing can be used in the following cases:

Success Rate of Saliva Testing:

The detection of COVID-19 from saliva is less sensitive as compared to that of nasal swabs. Of the 39 people that tested positive through nasal swab, 87% tested positive on saliva.

LAMP Testing:

The LAMP Testing is deployed in poor countries as it requires less equipment and power than that of the PCR. It can also be used to COVID-19.

LAMP as Testing tool for COVID-19 in India:

The Indian scientists have discovered N1 STOP LAMP tests to diagnose COVID-19. It helps to fast track COVID-19 testing. It gives test results in 20 minutes. The test is performed by a small portable machine that can detect COVID-19 samples collected through nasal swabs.

Defence Minister approves proposal to expand NCC in 173 border areas and coastal districts

In News:

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh approved a major Expansion Scheme. Under the scheme, the National Cadet Corps (NCC) is to be expanded to 173 border areas and coastal districts. Around 100,000 new cadets are to be inducted.

Details:

With the deployment of NCC, the border areas are to get trained manpower for disaster management. Also, the youth in the area will get skill trainings to make their career in armed forces. Under the Expansion Scheme, the NCC programme is to be introduced in more than 1,000 schools and colleges located in the border areas. One-third of the deployed NCC personnel are to be girls.

In order provide training, around 83 units are to be upgraded. The expansion of NCC is to be implemented by the State Government. The NCC is a youth development movement managed armed forces.

Background:

During his address at the 74th Independence Day celebration, PM Modi announced that around 1 lakh NCC cadets from bordering areas are to extended for the youths in the region.

National Cadet Corps (NCC):

It is the youth wing of the armed forces. The headquarters of NCC is located in New Delhi. It is a tri-service organization that comprises of army, navy and air force. Under NCC, the youths of the country are provided basic military training in parades and small arms. However, there is no liability for active military service after course completion.

Motto of NCC is

Motto: Unity and Discipline

NCC Girls Division:

This was raised in 1948 to give equal opportunities to school and college girls.

Significance:

The NCC cadets also participate in war. During Bangladeshi-Pakistani war of 1971 and Indo-Pakistani war of 1965, NCC cadets were the second line of defence. During the war, the cadets organized camps to assist ordnance factories and also supplied arms and ammunition that were used to capture enemy paratroopers.

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