Daily GK Update: 30th June 2020

International Asteroid Day 30 June

  • The Asteroid Foundation returns with Asteroid Day Live Digital from Luxembourg. This year, the event is a fully digital celebration of asteroid science and exploration. Panel discussions and one-on-one interviews with astronauts and world experts will be broadcast on June 30, 2020, beginning at 12:00 CEST (10:0O UTC, 6 a.m EDT). Visit the broadcast schedule to see when Asteroid Day LIVE is playing in your timezone.
  • The program will repeat multiple times per day from June 30 – July 4.
  • Asteroid Day Live is streaming over Asteroid Day TV, and the detailed program schedule can be found on the Asteroid Day website. Following Asteroid Day on June 30, the various panels will be available on that website, as well as on YouTube.
  • Asteroid Day is held on June 30 each year to mark the date of Earth’s largest asteroid impact in recorded history, the Siberia Tunguska event. Asteroid Day was co-founded by astrophysicist and famed musician Dr. Brian May of the rock group Queen, Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart, filmmaker Grig Richters, and B612 Foundation president Danica Remy, to educate the public about the importance of asteroids in our history and the role they play in the solar system.
  • In 2016, with the leadership of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE), the United Nations declared Asteroid Day to be a global day of education to raise awareness and promote knowledge in the general public about asteroids. For more information visit AsteroidDay.org.

Source: Earth Sky

India, Bhutan sign pact for first joint venture hydropower project

  • India and Bhutan on Monday signed a pact for the construction of the 600 MW Kholongchhu joint venture hydroelectric project in Bhutan that is to be completed in five years.
  • The agreement for the project between the Bhutanese government and the Kholongchhu Hydro Energy Limited was signed in the presence of Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar and his Bhutanese counterpart Tandi Dorji. The two ministers joined the event via video link.
  • The Kholongchhu Hydro Energy Limited is a joint venture between Bhutan’s Druk Green Power Corporation (DGPC) and India’s Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVNL), a statement from the Indian foreign ministry said.

Source: Live Mint

Uttarakhand forest department develops India’s first lichen park in Kumaon

  • Indicator of pollution levels in the Himalayas, Uttarakhand forest department has claimed to have developed country’s first lichen park in Kumaon’s Munsiyari area, spread over 1.5 acres with over 80 species of lichens collected from across the Himalayan state.
  • Considered most significant bio-indicator of ecosystem fluctuations as they are more sensitive towards habitat and climate changes, lichen species are facing many threats and continue to decline from some areas of Himalayan regions because of overexploitation of natural resources, mounting pressures of urbanization, habitat-destruction, deforestation and increasing pollution, according to forest officials.
  • Sanjiv Chaturvedi, Conservator of Forests (Research Wing) Uttarakhand said, lichens found in the Himalayas up to 5000 metres, are important species as they are the best bioindicators of the pollution levels.

Source: Hindustan Times

International Day of Parliamentarism 30 June

  • In COVID-19 times, Parliaments and other government institutions are subject to the same social distancing measures as other public and private organizations. Yet, in a time of crisis, the role of parliament is more vital than ever to pass emergency laws, allocate resources and scrutinize government action. Some parliaments are modifying laws and procedures to allow for remote working, some have continued meeting physically and some have recessed altogether.
  • The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is helping to facilitate inter-parliamentary coordination and solidarity by sharing examples of how parliaments can continue to legislate, debate and scrutinize the actions of government in a time of lockdown and social distancing.
  • Strong parliaments are a cornerstone of democracy. They represent the voice of the people, pass laws, allocate funds to implement laws and policies, and hold governments to account. They work to make sure that policies benefit all people, especially the most vulnerable.

Source: United Nations

Mobile soil testing lab by NFL

  • To give further boost to the Soil Testing facility in the country for promoting appropriate use of fertilizers, NFL has launched five Mobile Soil Testing Labs for testing the soil samples at the doorstep of farmers free of cost.
  • V N Datt, C&MD along with Directors and senior officials today flagged off one such Mobile Lab from the premises of NFL Corporate Office in Noida.
  • These Mobile Labs, loaded with latest soil testing equipment, shall be used for macro and micro nutrient analysis of soil. In addition to this, these Mobile Labs are also equipped with Audio-Video system to educate farmers on various agricultural topics.

    Other than the Mobile Soil Testing Labs, the company is also serving farming community through six Static Soil Testing Labs located in different parts of country. All these Labs tested around 25,000 soil samples free of cost in the year 2019-20.

Source: Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers

DGCI gives approval for human clinical trials of COVAXIN, first potential COVID-19 Vaccine developed in the country

  • The Central Drug Standard Control Organisation, the National regulatory body for Indian Pharmaceuticals and medical devices, has granted approval to Bharat Biotech India to conduct human clinical trials for Corona Vaccine called ‘Covaxin’. The company in a statement said it is the first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine to receive the approval.
  • The Covaxin has been developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune. Bharat Biotech Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Biotech Dr Krishna Ella informed that these trials are scheduled to start across the country during the month of July. According to the company, the Drug Controller General of India approved Bharat Biotech’s application to conduct phase I and II clinical trials for Covaxin.

Source: All India Radio

Malawi opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera wins historic poll rerun

  • Malawi’s opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera has won the country’s rerun presidential vote, officials say.
  • He defeated incumbent Peter Mutharika with 58.57% of the vote in Tuesday’s poll, the electoral commission announced late on Saturday.
  • In February, Malawi’s constitutional court annulled Mr Mutharika’s victory in the May 2019 election, citing vote tampering.
  • The country was bitterly divided in the run-up to this week’s election.
  • It is the second African nation to annul a presidential election over irregularities, after Kenya in 2017.

Source: BBC News

Plasma Bank to be set up in Delhi to treat COVID-19 patients: CM Arvind Kejriwal

  • Addressing an online media briefing, the Chief Minister said the bank will start working in the next two days. He added that the AAP government will encourage those who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate their plasma. The Chief Minister said that a helpline will be set up by the government for queries related to donation of plasma.
  • Arvind Kejriwal said that his government has so far conducted clinical trials of plasma therapy on 29 COVID-19 patients and the result was encouraging.
  • The Chief Minister also announced that a sum of one crore rupees will be given to the family of LNJP Dr Aseem Gupta, who died due to COVID-19. The doctor had served in the front line of the war against the pandemic at the government facility, and died of the novel coronavirus infection in a private hospital yesterday.

Source: DD News

Shri Arjun Munda launches Tribes India products on Gem and new website of TRIFED through video conference

  • The unprecedented situation in our country due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has affected all segments of our society. The livelihoods of the poor and marginalised communities have been seriously impacted and the tribals are some of the worst affected in these trying times.
  • To ease the burden of the tribal artisans during such troubled times, TRIFED, Ministry of Tribal affairs has initiated several immediate initiatives to re-energise the lagging economic activity for sustaining the livelihood development of tribals. . Addressing a video Conference to launch the Trifed Digital Platforms, through Video Conference, Shri Arjun Munda, Union Minister for Tribal Affairs said that the Team of “Trifed Warriors”will take Tribal Commerce based on forest produces, handlooms & handicrafts to a new high for transforming tribal lives and livelihoods.
  • He stated that with more and more people going online to meet their various needs – be it for business operations, shopping and communication, an important strategic push has been to adopt an all-encompassing digitisation drive to map and link its village based tribal producers to the national and international markets setting up state of art e- platforms benchmarked to international standards.

Source: Ministry of Tribal Affairs

Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh launches online portal for issue of NOC for power, oil and gas exploration projects

  • Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh in the presence of Raksha Rajya Mantri Shri Shripad Y Naik today launched a new web portal for issue of No Objection Certificate (NOC) for power projects and Research Survey Exploration Exploitation (RSEE) activities in the Indian Territorial Waters (TW) and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
  • Ministry of Defence (MoD) accords security clearances to various private/Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs)/Government organisations for power/wind/solar projects in areas nearby defence installations and also RSEE activities in the Indian TW and EEZ for applications received through different Ministries like Ministry of New and renewable Energy (MNRE), Ministry of Power, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Ministry of Shipping, Director General of Hydrocarbons, etc.
  • To ensure ease of business and transparency in issuing NOC for such projects, the Ministry has developed the online application portal with the assistance of National e-Governance Division (NeGD), Bhaskaracharya Institute for Space Applications and Geo-informatics (BISAG) and National Informatics Centre (NIC). The address for the new online portal is https://ncog.gov.in/modnoc/home.html.

Source: Ministry of Defence

Dharmendra Pradhan inaugurates Continuous Galvanized Rebar Production Facility in Punjab

  • Union Minister of Steel Dharmendra Pradhan today inaugurated Continuous Galvanized Rebar Production Facility at Mandi Gobindgarh in Punjab.
  • Speaking on the occasion, Mr Pradhan said, steel in general, and galvanized steel in particular, is a material of strength which is environment-friendly and cost-effective.
  • He said, with our focus on large-scale expansion in infrastructure sectors and driving steel intensity, the demand for galvanized steel is set to rise.
  • He said, the Continuous Galvanized Rebar production facility will support the much awaited need of supplying galvanized rebar to the construction industry.
  • The facility inaugurated today is a step in the right direction towards making of an Aatmanirbhar Bharat.
  • Mr Pradhan also talked about several steps being taken by the Ministry including setting up of steel clusters, steel scrap policy and steps taken to ensure raw material security to make the sector more vibrant and self-reliant.

Source: All India Radio