- Central & South Asia connectivity conference 2021.
- Uzbekistan hosted a high-level International Conference titled “Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity. Challenges and Opportunities” at Tashkent, recently. he conference was an initiative of the President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
- It was attended by President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani, Ministers from Central Asian, West Asian and South Asian countries, including Minister of External Affairs of India Dr. S. Jaishankar.
- elegates from over 40 countries and about 30 international organizations, and heads of think tanks participated in the conference.
- Inaugurating the Conference, the President of Uzbekistan spoke about close historical connections between Central Asia and South Asia, including India.
- Jaishankar said that for Central Asian countries, Chabahar port in Iran provides a ‘secure, viable and unhindered access to the sea. The port has been proposed to be included in the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC). It may be added that an India-Uzbekistan-Iran-Afghanistan Quadrilateral Working Group has been formed on the joint use of Chabahar port.
- The External Affairs Minister said that economic growth is driven by connectivity, commerce and contacts. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has on many occasions emphasized on 3Cs (Commerce, Connectivity and Culture) for bringing nations together.
- India becomes 4th largest forex reserves holder globally.
- India’s foreign exchange reserves rose by $835 million to touch a record high of $612.73 billion in the week ended July 16, 2021, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data showed on Friday. According to weekly data from the RBI, forex reserves rose to a record $612.73 billion in the reporting week, helped by a rise in Foreign Currency Assets (FCA), a major component of the overall reserves.
- India’s forex reserves cover Foreign Currency Assets (FCAs), Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), Gold Reserves and the country’s reserve position with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
- The growth in foreign exchange reserves was largely due to an increase in Foreign Currency Assets (FCA). According to RBI’s weekly data, FCAs rose by $463 million to $568.748 billion.
- Gold reserves were up by $377 million to $37.333 billion. The Special Drawing Rights (SDR) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were up by $1 million at $1.548 billion. The country’s reserve position with the IMF declined by $7 million to $5.1 billion during the reporting week, the data showed.
Currently, China has the largest reserves followed by Japan and Switzerland. India has overtaken Russia to become the fourth largest country with foreign exchange reserves.
- China – $3,349 Billion
- Japan – $1,376 Billion
- Switzerland – $1,074 Billion
- India – $612.73 Billion
- Russia – $597.40 Billion
- Govt proposes to set up National Research Foundation to strengthen research ecosystem.
- Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has said that the Government proposes to set up a National Research Foundation NRF to strengthen the research ecosystem in the country.
- NRF is being envisaged as an umbrella structure that will improve linkages between Research and Development, academia and industry. In a written reply in the Lok Sabha today, Mr Pradhan said, the total proposed outlay of NRF is 50 thousand crore rupees over a period of five years.
- He said, one of the main objectives of NRF is to seed, grow and facilitate research at academic institutions, particularly at universities and colleges, where research capacity is currently in a nascent stage.
- it will also fund and support high-impact, large-scale, multi-investigator, multi-institution and, in some cases, interdisciplinary or multi-nation projects in collaboration with relevant Ministries, Departments, and other Governmental and non-Governmental entities, especially industry .
- Govt to set up National Centre of Excellence for Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming & Comics.
- The Union Government has decided to set up a National Centre of Excellence for Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comics for creating a world-class talent pool in India to cater to the Indian as well as global industry.
- It will be set up in collaboration with Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.
- in order to support skilled manpower in the animation and VFX sector, Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute and Film and Television Institute of India run courses on Animation and VFX.
- The Minister also said that Media and Entertainment sector is one of the largest growing sectors in the country.
- Despite growing at an estimated 29-30 per cent per annum, the share of the domestic AVGC industry in the global AVGC market was just one per cent at $2.69 billion (or Rs 20,000 crore), a CII report says.
- The Minister also informed that India has also audio-visual co-production treaties with 15 countries.
- Lok Sabha passes Factoring Regulation Bill & National Institutes of Food Technology Bill.
- The Lok Sabha passed the Factoring Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and The National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2021 amid pandemonium.
- Moving the Factoring Regulation (Amendment) Bill, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, the changes have been made in the bill in the interests of MSME sector.
- She said, it simplifies the definition of factoring business in which banks, Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) or any business entity is involved.
- process of sale and acquirement of factors from one entity to another is simplified in this bill.
- the bill widens the scope for entities to involve in factoring business.
- The second bill, National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2021 was also passed by the house. It was moved by Food Processing and Industries Minister Pashupati Kumar Paras.
- The bill lays down provision for certain institutes of food technology, entrepreneurship and management like National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management at Kundli and the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology at Thanjavur as institutions of national importance.
- Both the bills were passed without discussion.
- Kandla Becomes First Green Special Economic Zone in the country.
- Kandla Special Economic Zone (KASEZ) was awarded by Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) Platinum Rating today. KASEZ is the First Green SEZ to achieve the IGBC Green Cities Platinum Rating for Existing Cities.
- The efforts of KASEZ team were applauded especially noting the fact that this was accomplished in Bhuj region where water conservation and afforestation are critical interventions.
- This was major achievement and is part of activities envisaged under the commitment of the Government to the Green SEZs Mission as part of celebrations marking India@75 – Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav.
- Compared to the 25,000 trees in KASEZ in 2019, the 1000-odd acres has 3.5 lakh trees. Most of these trees have been planted post 2019, using the Miyawaki forestation method.
- It may be noted that Government of India working towards ensuring environmentally sustainable development through a series of measures and efforts that encompass many Ministries.
- IGBC Platinum rating has been awarded for ‘Green master planning, policy initiatives and implementation of green infrastructure’ by CII’s Indian Green Building Council (IGBC).
- The recognition is set to pave way for all the other SEZs in the country to emulate the green initiative and efforts of Kandla SEZ.
- Indian Navy joins exercise along east African coast .
- Indian Naval Ship Talwar is participating in the annual Exercise Cutlass Express 2021, being conducted from July 26 to to August 6 along the East Coast of Africa.
- The exercise focusses on East Africa’s coastal regions and is designed to assess and improve combined maritime law enforcement capacity, promote national and regional security and increase interoperability between the regional navies,” The Indian Navy is participating in the exercise in a ‘trainer role’,
- The 2021 edition of the exercise involves the participation of 12 eastern African countries, the U.S., the U.K., India and various international organisations like the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Interpol, European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR), Critical Maritime Routes Indian Ocean (CRIMARIO) and EUCAP Somalia.
- The Navy said information sharing and information flow between various partner countries with respect to maritime domain awareness was a key focus of the exercise. The participation of India’s Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) would contribute in achieving the same,
- ISRO’s merchandiser programme takes off with 8 companies already onboard.
- The Indian Space Research Organisation’s customised space-themed merchandise programme in partnership with industry has taken off with multiple companies on board.
- Now, one will be able to purchase authorised products connected to ISROs missions and work, such as scale models, T-shirts, mugs, space-themed educational games, science toys, and more.
- ISRO believes this brand promotion exercise can play a ”game-changing” role in creating awareness and kindling interest of students, children and public, in the domain of space science & technology, and propagating its achievements.
- ”Eight companies have so far registered with ISRO on a non-exclusive basis with a registration fee regarding customised ISRO-theme based articles / models”, an official of the Bengaluru headquartered space agency, under the Department of Space (DoS), told PTI on Sunday.
- They include Indic Inspirations (Pune), 1947IND (Bengaluru), and Ankur Hobby Centre (Ahmedabad), sources said.
- Wherever 3D models and 2D drawings are being used to make scaled models, LEGO sets, jigsaw puzzle, etc., extra care shall be taken to ensure accuracy and ISRO intellect,”
- The rates for the merchandise shall be reasonable in line with market conditions, as there is no brand value charged by ISRO to the party,” as per the MoUs.
- The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)
- The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), conceived as a 20,000-crore programme in 2014 to clean up the river, has so far been allocated RS.15,074 crore.
- The planned outlay for the Ganga clean-up mission, accounting for future costs, is well over Rs. 20,000 crore.
- Overall, 346 projects had been taken up at a sanctioned cost of Rs. 30,235 crore, out of which, 158 projects are completed,
- Uttar Pradesh, at Rs. 3,535 crore, has received the most funds, followed by Bihar (Rs. 2,631 crore), Bengal (Rs. 1,030 cr) and Uttarakhand (Rs. 1001 cr).
- Sewerage projects for towns along the Ganga in Uttarakhand have already been completed for pollution abatement under the Namami Gange program and the Mission has been focussing on rejuvenation of tributaries of the Ganga with priority on the polluted stretches, said a statement from the NMCG on July 17.
- India Among Top 10 Agricultural Produce Exporters In World With Sizable Share In Rice, Cotton And Meat Exports: WTO
- In a positive development, as per a report from World Trade Organization (WTO) on the trends in world agricultural trade in the past 25 years, India broke into the list of top 10 agricultural produce exporters in 2019,
- The report also shared that India commands a sizable share in rice, cotton, and meat export.
- The report showed that in 2019, India commanded a 3.1 per cent share in the global agricultural produce exports. Meanwhile, Mexico commanded a share of 3.4 per cent, Brazil 7.8 per cent, China 5.4 per cent and the United States (US) 13.8 per cent.
- It should be noted that in terms of rice exports, in 1995, Thailand commanded a 38 per cent share and India and the US commanded 26 per cent and 19 per cent share. Meanwhile, in 2019, the tables had turned as India overtook Thailand by increasing its share to 33 per cent. In 2019, Thailand’s share was reduced to 20 per cent.
- India is also among the top 10 exporters of cotton, with a share of 7.6 per cent. It presently occupies the fourth spot, even though it did not even feature among the top 10 exporters in 1995. Meanwhile, in the case of the largest-traded Agri product, soya bean, even though India features at the ninth position, its share in exports is meagre at 0.1 per cent.
- In the ‘meat and edible meat offal’ category, India was ranked eighth with a 4 per cent share in global trade.
- Philippines becomes first country to approve nutrient-enriched “Golden Rice” for planting.
- 23 July 2021, Los Baños, PHILIPPINES – Filipino farmers will become the first in the world to be able to cultivate a variety of rice enriched with nutrients to help reduce childhood malnutrition, after receiving the green light from regulators.
- Golden Rice was developed by the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice) in partnership with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to contain additional levels of beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A.
- Around one in five children from the poorest communities in the Philippines suffer from vitamin A deficiency (VAD), which affects an estimated 190 million children worldwide. The condition is the most common cause of childhood blindness, as well as a contributing factor to a weakened immune system.
- “This milestone puts the Philippines at the global forefront in leveraging agriculture research to address the issues of malnutrition and related health impacts in a safe and sustainable way” said Dr. Jean Balié, Director General of IRRI, a CGIAR research centre.
- Golden Rice was first conceived by Professors Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer in the late 1980s. IRRI became the first licensee of the scientists’ work in 2001.
- The Healthier Rice Program at IRRI is currently developing high iron and zinc rice (HIZR), with the end goal of releasing a stacked variety containing beta-carotene, iron and zinc that can help address multiple micronutrient deficiencies affecting over two billion people worldwide.
- Indian junior wrestler Priya Malik wins gold medal in 73-kg category Cadet World Championship.
- Indian junior wrestler Priya Malik won a gold medal in the 73-kg category Cadet World Championship held in Budapest, Hungary.
- The Cadet World Championship is a tournament where the best Greco-Roman, Freestyle and Women wrestlers worldwide below the age of 17 compete.
- Priya had won gold at the Khelo India youth games in Pune in 2019. On Friday, Jaskaran Singh won a silver medal in the 60-kg freestyle category, after he lost to Kamronbek Kadamov of Uzbekistan.
- Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh staring at negative impacts of altered land use .
- After nine people lost their life in a landslip in Himachal Pradesh’s Kinnaur district, a debate surrounding the degradation of environment in this ecological sensitive hill terrain is bound to gain momentum,
- even as a recent study suggests that both hydropower projects and compensatory afforestation plantations, carried out in lieu of the forest land diverted for hydropower projects in the name of ‘mitigation’, have altered land-use and are negatively impacting the forest ecosystems.
- This study conducted between 2012 and 2016 uses information from government data and ground research to examine the extent, nature and impact of forest diversion for hydropower projects in Kinnaur.
- “Our study found that not only have construction activities for hydropower projects impacted existing land-use, disturbed forest biodiversity and fragmented the forest landscape, but the related compensatory afforestation plantations are also ridden with problems.
- These include abysmally low presence of surviving saplings [up to 10%], inter-species conflict, infringement on local land usage and damage by wildfires and landslips.
- studies show that the tunnelling in mountain areas will result in the risk of more landslips as large amounts of water percolates into surfaces. “The use of dynamites for blasting through the surfaces and underground components of the projects disturb existing slopes and the fragile geology.”
- Southern Europe battles wildfires as north cleans up after floods .
- Wildfires burned in regions across southern Europe on July 26, fuelled by hot weather and strong winds, as some northern countries cleaned up after a weekend of torrential rain and flooding.
- In Greece, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said firefighters had battled around 50 fires during the past 24 hours and it was likely there would be more with meteorologists warning that a further heatwave was in prospect.
- On the Italian island of Sardinia, firefighting planes from France and Greece reinforced efforts to battle blazes. More than 4,000 hectares of forest were destroyed in the fire.
- In Spain, the northeastern region of Catalonia saw more than 1,500 hectares destroyed near Santa Coloma de Queralt, forcing dozens to be evacuated.
- Conditions in southern Europe were in sharp contrast to the rainstorms that lashed northern countries from Austria to U.K. following the catastrophic flooding in Germany and neighbouring countries last week.