Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - October 31, 2018

National

Rashtriya Ekta Diwas (National Unity Day) – 31 October

Connect to Rashtriya Ekta Diwas (National Unity Day)

  • It was introduced by the Government of India and inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014.
  • The intent is to pay tribute to Vallabhbhai Patel, who was instrumental in keeping India united.
  • It is to be celebrated on 31 October every year as annual commemoration of the birthday of the Iron Man of India Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, one of the founding leaders of Republic of India.
  • The official statement for Rashtriya Ekta Diwas by the Home Ministry of India cites that the National Unity Day "will provide an opportunity to re-affirm the inherent strength and resilience of our nation to withstand the actual and potential threats to the unity, integrity and security of our country.
  • National Unity Day celebrates the birthday of Patel because, during his term as Home Minister of India, he is credited for the integration of over 550 independent princely states into India from 1947-49 by Independence Act (1947). He is known as the "Bismarck of India
  • The celebration is complemented with the speech of Prime Minister of India followed by the "Run for Unity

The Statue of Unity

  • Built by engineering and infrastructure major L&T on the river Narmada in South Gujarat.
  • The 3,000 crore project is funded for the most part by the Gujarat government, with minor contributions from the Centre and Central PSUs.
  • The statue is made up of 1,700 tonnes of bronze, 1,850 tonnes of bronze cladding, 70,000 metric tonnes of cement and 24,500 metric tonnes of steel.
  • Two high speed elevators inside can take tourists up to the statue’s chest from where around 200 visitors can view the Narmada river and the Sardar Sarovar dam over it.

Environment

Amur falcons Amur falcons, the world’s longest travelling raptors

  • Doyang Lake near Pangti village in Nagaland’s Wokha district is better known as a stopover for the Amur falcons during their annual migration from their breeding grounds in Mongolia and northern China to warmer South Africa

Bilateral Relations

India, Japan sign $75 billion currency swap agreement

What

  • The two countries have agreed to a Bilateral Swap Arrangement that would allow their central banks to exchange local currencies for up to $75 billion.
  • This is substantially more than the $30 billion currency swap arrangement announced between China and Japan.
  • India and Japan signed a currency swap agreement worth $75 billion during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan
  • This will strengthen and widen the depth and diversity of economic cooperation

Connect to Currency swap

  • A currency swap typically involves the exchange of interest and sometimes of principal in one currency for the same in another currency.
  • Interest payments are exchanged at fixed dates through the life of the contract.
  • The currency swap agreement is an important measure in improving the confidence in the Indian market and that it would not only enable the agreed amount of capital being available to India, but it will also bring down the cost of capital for Indian entities while accessing the foreign capital market.
  • The swap arrangement should aid in bringing greater stability to foreign exchange and capital markets in India

Defence

INS Tarangini returns after Vogage across the World

What

  • The sail training ship of Indian Navy, INS Tarangini based at Kochi, returned after a seven month long sailing across the world

Lokayn 18

  • The Voyage named “Lokayan 18” was flagged off on 10 Apr 18 from Kochi.
  • During the voyage, the ship has proudly 'shown the flag' and highlighted the diverse culture of India across 15 ports in 13 countries.
  • The ship sailed across the Arabian Sea, Red Sea, Suez Canal, Mediterranean Sea, Strait of Gibraltar, North Atlantic Ocean, Bay of Biscay, English Channel and North Sea, right up to Norway before commencing her homeward passage back to Kochi.
  • The ship also participated in the culminating event of the ‘Three Festival Tall Ships Regatta’ at Bordeaux, France.

Connect to INS Tarangini

  • It is a three masted 'square rigged' barque which carries a total of 20 sails.
  • She is the First Sail Training Ship in Indian Navy and was commissioned on 11 Nov 1997.
  • In her 21 years of glorious service, she has sailed over 2,20,000 nautical miles to date across the world's oceans.

Environment

Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas – by WWF India among nations that face grave danger to soil biodiversity

What

  • India’s soil biodiversity is in grave peril, according to the Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas prepared by the World Wide Fund for Nature.

Connect to WWF Index

  • The WWF’s ‘risk index’ for the globe — indicating threats from loss of above-ground diversity, pollution and nutrient over-loading, over-grazing, intensive agriculture, fire, soil erosion, desertification and climate change — shows India among countries whose soil biodiversity faces the highest level of risk.
  • Coloured red on the Atlas, these include Pakistan, China, several countries in Africa and Europe, and most of North America.
  • Soil biodiversity encompasses the presence of micro-organisms, micro-fauna (nematodes and tardigrades for example), and macro-fauna (ants, termites and earthworms).

Reasons cited

  • The two key drivers of biodiversity loss were the over exploitation of natural resources and agriculture, the WWF added in its report.
  • While India’s per capita ecological footprint was less than 1.75 hectares/person (the lowest band among countries surveyed), its high population made it vulnerable to an ecological crisis, even if per-capita consumption remained at current levels

Connect to The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)

  • It is an international non-governmental organization founded in 1961, working in the field of the wilderness preservation, and the reduction of human impact on the environment.
  • It was formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States.
  • The Living Planet Report is published every two years by WWF since 1998; it is based on a Living Planet Index and ecological footprint calculation.
  • It is the world's largest conservation organization with over five million supporters worldwide, working in more than 100 countries, supporting around 1,300 conservation and environmental projects.
  • They have invested over $1 billion in more than 12,000 conservation initiatives since 1995.
  • WWF is a foundation, with 55% of funding from individuals and bequests, 19% from government sources (such as the World Bank, DFID, USAID) and 8% from corporations in 2014.
  • The group aims to "stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature."
  • Currently, their work is organized around these six areas: food, climate, freshwater, wildlife, forests, and oceans

Infrastructure Development

The world’s highest railway line proposed

What

  • Indian railway has been planning to link New Delhi and Ladakh by means of a railway line
  • The proposed Bilaspur-Manali-Leh Line would be the world’s highest railway line once launched.

Connect to the project

  • The projected cost to construct the 465 km line will be Rs 83,360 crore.
  • The railway line will be the world’s highest at 5,360 metres above mean sea level which is comparable to China’s Quinghai-Tibet Railway Line at 2,000 metres.
  • The project comprise of 74 tunnels, 124 major bridges, 396 minor bridges and 30 stations on the line.
  • Keylong station on the route will be constructed inside a tunnel at the height of 3000 metres
  • Half the train route would be covered through tunnels, the longest of which is 27 km. Whole length of the tunnels would be 244 km.

Factoids

Train 18 Indian Railways engine-less train

What

  • Train 18, Indian Railways' first 160 kmph capable self-propelled train
  • Train 18, Indian Railways first 160 kmph capable self-propelled train
  • Made in just 18 months, Train 18 is an engine-less train set that will replace the Delhi-Bhopal Shatabdi – India’s fastest – next year.
  • The 16 coach fully AC train set has been manufactured at ICF Chennai under the ‘make in India initiative at a cost of Rs 100 crore.

Sources – PIB , The Hindu , Indian express