- Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with students and parents to address their worries at CBSE virtual session
- Centre finalises arrangements for 30 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses of Hyderabad-based manufacturer Biological-E
- India remains engaged with US vaccine manufacturers Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson
- Chief Economic Advisor asserts, country's economy will start recovering from next month; Says, vaccination for all will be achieved by December this year
- Validity period of TET qualifying certificate extended from 7 years to lifetime
- Defence Ministry signs contract to procure 11 Airport Surveillance Radars for Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard
- Army Chief General MM Naravane reviews security situation along LoC in Kashmir
- India's Tokyo Olympics kits unveiled; Prime Minister holds review meeting on preparedness
- IMD says, South-West monsoon has set in over Kerala
- National Council of Science Museums collaborates with Science Museum Group, London for international travelling exhibition
- India working with several other countries in WTO under TRIPS to ensure timely and secure access to vaccines for all
- Chinese social media abuzz with skepticism, ridicule, and sorrow on newly announced 3-child policy to reverse country's falling birth rate
- India and Germany hold bilateral consultations on UN issues via video conference
- Bangladesh allocates Tk 10,000 crore for COVID-19 emergency requirements
- US Vice President Kamala Harris speaks to PM Modi and other world leaders on US global allocation plan of COVID vaccines
IFFCO! Nano Revolution
- Nano (liquid) urea is the new chapter in farm technology.
- Radically transform agriculture
- Raise farm productivity
- Reduce water usage and contamination
- Slash the Centre’s fertiliser subsidy bill
- Nanotechnology enables designing ultra-small particles that offer higher surface-mass ratios, and help in the controlled delivery of plant nutrients.
- Reduction in the excessive use of urea
- Improvement in soil health
- More efficient water use
- Lesser wastage
- Lower input costs for farmers
- The annual consumption of urea is 30 million tonnes.
- Typically, a farmer uses two bags per acre.
- A 500 ml bottle of nano urea can replace one bag of conventional urea
- The product is priced at ₹240 per 500 ml bottle without subsidy, 10% lower than a bag of conventional urea.
- Urea prices are not decontrolled and the government pays a subsidy of around ₹15,000 per tonne.
- If 15 million tonnes of nano urea is used instead of conventional urea, the savings in fertiliser subsidy will be around ₹22,500 crore.
- This means a 28% reduction in the budgeted fertiliser subsidy of ₹79,530 crore in 2021-22.
- A large portion of conventional urea is lost to the atmosphere or surface water bodies, polluting the ecosystem.
- Nano urea is ecologically better.
- Iffco claims that the nitrogen present in nano urea could raise yields by 8%, and reduce storage costs.
- Iffco should scale up its ambition and target the export market as well, and not restrict itself to a planned 15-million-tonne capacity.
Sleuths And Sayings
- The world’s largest democracy produces too few good books and commentaries from those who were in the intelligence-national security apparatus.
- New amendments to central civil services pension rules bar retired officers of intelligence-security agencies from publishing anything pertaining to their former workplaces without permission from the organisation’s head.
- And if former officers fail to follow new guidelines they risk having their pensions withdrawn or withheld.
- These rules cover 25 organisations, including the IB, R&AW, CBI, BSF.
- A very wide scope for interpretation.
- Linking pensions to post-retirement conduct is in principle wrong.
- Pensions are for services already rendered by officers to government and country.
- They shouldn’t be refashioned as a Damocles Sword for retired officers.
- Very few officers from intelligence-security agencies write books and commentaries.
- AS Dulat (The Spy Chronicles) and B Raman (The Kaoboys of R&AW)
- In Western democracies books by ex-espionage and national security officials are part of a rich national discourse.
- Only recently, John Bolton’s The Room Where It Happened offered Americans a window to the Trump administration’s national security approach and obsessions.
- Trump sought to block publication. But he failed.
- In India, sadly, most who seek to stop publications of such vitally important and fascinating books will now succeed.
Speed over optics
- The Centre’s ‘liberalised’ policy of allowing vaccine companies to strike deals with States and private hospitals has borne limited fruit.
- While the age group of 18-44 years accounts for the bulk of vaccines being administered, attempts by States to negotiate deals with international vaccine companies have come to naught.
- In spite of opening vaccination for all adults, there were fewer doses administered in May — around six crore — as opposed to 7.7 crore doses administered in April.
- The Health Ministry has said that close to 8 crore doses were available in May (counting wastage and stocks with States) and that 12 crore will be available in June for the Centre, States and private hospitals.
- Over 22 crore doses have been administered so far.
- There is large variability within and among States regarding vaccination.
- It is in this context that State Chief Ministers, cutting across party divisions, are now demanding that the Centre be the sole buyer of vaccines.
- The Supreme Court too has expressed its dissatisfaction over the existing system that puts States in competition with each other and the Centre, almost like another competitor, for vaccine supplies.
- The Centre has tried to project that it was the clamour from States that forced it to abstain from being the sole purchaser of vaccines, but it was the Centre’s miscalculation that there would not be frantic public demand this calendar year and that the output from the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech would be sufficient for India.
- Now that the Government has prevented the Serum Institute of India from honouring its supply commitments, it is unclear if international suppliers would trust India’s demand for large supply.
- There is optimism of increased and significant supply from Bharat Biotech and SII by August.
- The Centre can be a monitor of and an adviser to the process; and if it becomes the sole buyer, it can spell out a transparent distribution policy.
- But it ought to prioritise speedy administration over optics.
- The judiciary-executive confrontation was something expected ever since Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Supreme Court what the Government thought of the judiciary’s questioning of the vaccination policy, that the judicial intervention was “overzealous” and bereft of “expert advice or administrative experience” that leaves the executive with “little room to explore innovative solutions”.
- The response took time coming, but was powerful when it finally did, saying the courts cannot be “silent spectators when constitutional rights of citizens are infringed by executive policies”.
- It certainly is not a contest of wills or a clash of egos even if interested parties would try to picturise it so.
- It simply is a matter of trust, rather the lack of it between the two institutions over an issue of equal concern to both.
- States like Maharashtra, West Bengal and Kerala, run by non-BJP Governments, have been at the forefront of the critics group.
- States like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, run by the BJP Governments, have been countering the criticism on behalf of the Centre.
- What tilted the balance is Odisha, the state with an NDA-friendly Government, its chief minister clearly insisting on centralised procurement of vaccines by the Centre.
Digital tax tussles
- The United States announced and then immediately suspended a whopping 25% tariff rate on over $2 billion of imports from six countries including India, signalling Washington’s intent to act punitively on its long-held grouse with these nations for their digital services taxes primarily impacting Silicon Valley tech giants.
- The office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai said that the tariff proposed on goods from Austria, India, Italy, Spain, Turkey, and the U.K. was approved following a “Section 301” investigation that found these digital taxes to be discriminatory.
- The latest policy action comes a few months after the Biden administration similarly approved, then suspended, tariffs on France retaliating for its tax impacting firms such as Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft.
- The fact that Mr. Biden has chosen to use the stick of tariffs to force the pace of negotiations on digital services tax with seven nations suggests that the current White House subscribes strongly to the idea of expanding the global playing field for American tech firms to dominate without fear of being slapped with tax liabilities.
- In the case of India, that was a mere 2% digital service tax on trade and services by non-resident e-commerce operators with a turnover of over ₹2 crore.
- The cost for India could be potentially high, as $118 million worth of its exports will fall under this proposed tariff, and a range of sectors could be impacted.
Q.) Name the online portal of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights
- Bal Seva
- Bal Swaraj
- Child First
- PM Cares for Children
Q.) WHO has given a new name to the Coronavirus Strain B.1.617.2, that was first found in India