Daily Current Affairs for 17th June 2022

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Mitticool refrigerator

Why in news?

Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) develops an Indian Standard for ‘Non-electric cooling cabinet made of clay’.

About Mitticool refrigerator

• Mansukhlal Prajapati produces Mitticool in a tiny village near Rajkot in rural Gujarat. Mitticool is made of clay, which utilizes the age-old principle of ‘Surahi’ i.e. ‘cooling through evaporation’.
• The topmost section holds water, which very slowly drips down the sides. As the water evaporates from the porous clay surface, it cools the interior, enabling to store fruit, vegetables, milk and other food items.
• There is a small faucet tap on the front lower end of the unit, so it doubles as a water cooler as well. This refrigerator can maintain vegetables fresh for 4-5 days and it can also keep milk and buttermilk fresh for 24 hours. Further, it keeps the original taste of food intact.
• When using it for the first time, Mitticool takes about 12 hours to bring in the cooling effect. It is durable in nature and need not be replaced after using it for some period (like a clay pot).
• However, Mitticool needs to be kept in a proper ventilated place to allow better evaporation, which in turn enhances its performance. The outer body of the fridge has to be cleaned at an interval of 2-3 days to keep the pores of the body open.

Key Advantages of Mitticool

• Provides a cheap and eco-friendly option to store drinking water, food, vegetables and milk
• Does not require any electricity and therefore no recurring costs
• Preserves the original taste of the fruits and vegetables, which can be stored fresh without deteriorating the quality for 2-3 days.
• Very good alternative for the rural people who cannot afford the conventional refrigerator.

Other Benefits

• it is playing an influential role in reviving the pottery culture, tradition, and heritage;
• connecting people back to roots in better healthier ways;
• promoting sustainable consumption;
• economically empowering the indigent community;
• working towards green and cool earth, economic development and employment generation; and
• Finally contributing towards rural women upliftment and making them financially independent.

Limitations of Mitticool

• Mitticool’s performance is totally dependent on external temperature and humidity. It performs well in dry and hot climates. So it will not function everywhere, as evaporative cooling only works well in dry climates.
• It will break if it falls from a height as it is made up of baked clay.

About BIS standard

• BIS is the National Standard Body of India established under the BIS Act 2016 for the harmonious development of the activities of standardization, marking and quality certification of goods and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto?


Why in news

Recently, Indo-Bangladesh bilateral Joint Military Exercise “Ex SAMPRITI-X” concluded at Jashore Military Station, Bangladesh

About SAMPRITI Exercise

• Exercise SAMPRITI is a bilateral defence cooperation endeavour between India and Bangladesh which is hosted alternately by both countries and aims to strengthen and widen the aspects of interoperability and cooperation between both armies.
• In addition to understanding each other in tactical level operations, the exercise lays emphasis on greater cultural understanding to strengthen military trust and cooperation between the two nations.
• The joint exercise was first held in Assam in 2011.

Objective of this Exercise

• The aim of the exercise was to strengthen the military relations between the two countries.
• The exercise also provided an opportunity to the contingents from both the Armies to understand each other’s tactical drills and operational techniques as well as to share their experience on Counter Insurgency/ Counter Terrorism, Peace Keeping and Disaster Relief Operation under the United Nations mandate.

Why in news?

I2U2 is the new grouping formed by four nations- India, Israel, UAE, and the US.
What is I2U2?
• I2U2 is the new grouping formed by four nations- India, Israel, UAE, and the US.
• The countries share various common global issues including food security crisis and defence, which will also be a highlight of the meeting of the four nations.
• In October 2021, a meeting of the foreign ministers of the four countries took place when the External Affairs Minister of India S. Jaishankar was visiting Israel.
• At that time, the grouping of the four-nation was called ‘International Forum for Economic Cooperation’.
India-Israel-UAE-US grouping
• The grouping of the four nations- India, Israel, United Arab Emirates, and the United States met for the first time under a new framework in October 2021.
• The grouping dealt with the issues concerning maritime security, infrastructure, digital infrastructure, and transport.
• At that time, the Ambassador of UAE to India Ahmed Albanna had referred to the new grouping as the ‘West Asian Quad’.

Enemy Property in India

Why in News?

The Central Bureau of Investigation conducted searches in three states on Thursday in the matter where the custodian of enemy property for India (CEPI) has caused a huge loss to the Government by leasing out highly commercial land at nominal rates in favour of lessees by manipulation and forging the documents.

What is “enemy property”?
• In the wake of the India-Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971, there was migration of people from India to Pakistan.
• Under the Defence of India Rules framed under The Defence of India Act, 1962, the Government of India took over the properties and companies of those who took Pakistani nationality.
• These “enemy properties” were vested by the central government in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India. The same was done for property left behind by those who went to China after the 1962 Sino-Indian war.
• The Tashkent Declaration of 1966 included a clause that said India and Pakistan would discuss the return of the property and assets taken over by either side in connection with the conflict.
• The Government of Pakistan disposed of all such properties in their country in the year 1971 itself.
• Some movable properties too, are categorised as enemy properties.
How did India deal with enemy property?
• The Enemy Property Act, enacted in 1968, provided for the continuous vesting of enemy property in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India.
• The central government, through the Custodian, is in possession of enemy properties spread across many states in the country.
• In 2017, Parliament passed The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016, which amended The Enemy Property Act, 1968, and The Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971.
• The amended Act expanded the definition of the term “enemy subject”, and “enemy firm” to include the legal heir and successor of an enemy, whether a citizen of India or a citizen of a country which is not an enemy; and the succeeding firm of an enemy firm, irrespective of the nationality of its members or partners.
• The amended law provided that enemy property shall continue to vest in the Custodian even if the enemy or enemy subject or enemy firm ceases to be an enemy due to death, extinction, winding up of business or change of nationality, or that the legal heir or successor is a citizen of India or a citizen of a country which is not an enemy.
• The Custodian, with prior approval of the central government, may dispose of enemy properties vested in him in accordance with the provisions of the Act, and the government may issue directions to the Custodian for this purpose.

What did the courts say?

• One major judgment was passed in the case of the estate of the erstwhile Raja of Mahmudabad, who owned several large properties in Hazratganj, Sitapur and Nainital. Following Partition, the Raja left for Iraq and stayed there for some years before settling in London. His wife and son Mohammed Amir Mohammad Khan, however, stayed behind in India as Indian citizens and were active in local politics.
• After The Enemy Property Act was enacted in the year 1968 by the Government of India, the Raja’s estate was declared enemy property.
• When the Raja died, his son staked claim to the properties. After a legal battle that lasted over 30 years, an apex court Bench ruled in favour of the son.
• The verdict opened the floodgates for further pleas in courts across the country in which genuine or purported relatives of persons who had migrated to Pakistan produced deeds of gift claiming they were the rightful owners of enemy properties.
• On July 2, 2010, the government promulgated an Ordinance that restrained courts from ordering the government to divest enemy properties from the Custodian.
• The 2005 SC order was thus rendered ineffective, and the Custodian again took over the Raja’s properties.
• A Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on July 22, 2010, and subsequently, a revised Bill was tabled on November 15, 2010. This Bill was thereafter referred to the Standing Committee.
• The Bill could not be passed during the term of the 15th Lok Sabha, and it lapsed.

Why in News?

For the first time, microplastics have been found in freshly fallen snow in Antarctica.
What are microplastics?
• Microplastics are tiny plastic debris that are smaller than 5 mm in length, tinier than even a grain of rice.
Types of microplastics
There are two types of microplastics:
• Primary microplastics: They are tiny particles that are purposely designed as such for commercial use, like in cosmetics, nurdles-plastic pellets used in industrial manufacturing and in fibres from synthetic textiles like nylon.
• Secondary microplastics: They are formed through the degradation of larger plastic items like bottles, fishing nets and plastic bags. This occurs through exposure to the environment, like radiation from the sun, wind and ocean waves.

Menace of Microplastics

• Marine Debris: According to the IUCN, at least 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans every year and make up about 80% of all marine debris from surface waters to deep-sea sediments.
o As per UNEP, in the last four decades, concentrations of these particles appear to have increased significantly in the surface waters of the ocean.
• Impact on Marine Life: The most visible and disturbing impacts include suffocation and entanglement of hundreds of marine species.
o Marine organisms such as fish, crabs and prawns consume these microplastics misidentifying them as food.

• Impact on Humans: Humans consume these marine animals as seafood which leads to several health complications.
o A study conducted by the World Wide Fund for Nature revealed that an average person consumed 5 grams of plastic.

• WHO’s Stand on Microplastics: The World Health Organization (WHO) claims that the level of microplastics in drinking-water is not yet dangerous for humans but called for more research into potential future risk.
o Microplastics larger than 150 micrometres are not likely to be absorbed by the human body but the chance of absorbing very small microplastic particles, including nano-sized plastics, are higher.
• The new study:
o The presence of these particles can pose a huge threat to Antarctica’s distinctive ecosystem. Microplastics are not biodegradable and once they are found in the environment, they begin to accumulate. They can be toxic for plants and animals.
o The report claims that ingestion of microplastics by various life forms in the region, from microorganisms like zooplankton to larger predators like king penguins can disrupt their usual biological processes and negatively impact the entire Antarctic food chain.
o The presence of microplastics in Antarctica can also worsen the impact of climate change. Ice sheets and glaciers are already rapidly melting, and the report suggests that the microplastics deposited in ice and snow can accelerate the melting of the cryosphere — regions where water is in solid form, like the planet’s North and South Poles.

Way Forward

• Individuals can take actions to limit their plastic exposure, but large-scale solutions will require reducing the amount of plastic used overall.
• According to some experts, the consumers should opt for products packaged in glass instead of plastic, use reusable nonplastic containers whenever possible and support policies limiting the use of single-use plastic.
• Citizens need to realize that we can help reduce the amount of plastic that ends up on our beaches and in our seas with actions as simple as putting garbage in the trash can or participating in beach cleaning programs.
• Prohibition of incinerating containers and packaging that can be recycled.
Additional Factor of Authentication (AFA)
Why in News?
The Reserve Bank (RBI) has raised the Additional Factor of Authentication (AFA) limit from ₹5,000 to ₹15,000 per transaction for e-mandates on cards, Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPIs) and UPI for recurring transactions.
What does it mean?
It implies, additional authentication will not be need for payment of Rs 15,000 per transaction.

What is AFA?

• If you recently tried to sign in to your Google Account with your username and password on a new device, you may have been asked to enter the pin sent to the phone number associated with the account.
• This process is known as two-step multi-factor authentication, or additional factor authentication (AFA), and it increases the security of a digital account by using two different pieces of information.
• Similarly, for most online transactions, a One-Time Password (OTP) is generated and sent to your registered cell phone number, which you must enter to complete the transaction.
• Originally, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) mandated the use of multi-factor authentication for all payment networks. It required them to send an OTP or use a 3D PIN as the second part of the authentication process for any payment, which the customer would receive via SMS.
• Automatic recurring payments like phone top-up, DTH, OTT and utility bills have been discontinued as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) made AFA mandatory for these transactions.
o Under these new norms, banks must inform their customers in advance of any recurring payments that are due and debit the amount only after authentication. Moreover, banks must send a one-time password (OTP) to execute a recurring payment in excess of Rs. 5000.

Issues with Agnipath Scheme

Why in News?
Recently, the Central Govt came up with a new scheme of recruitments in Armed Forces which is facing Protests from several corners of the country
Why are aspirants protesting?
• Contextualisation of armed forces: The foundation of this scheme is a four-year contract.
• Jobs for the majority: States such as Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan, are where the bulk of the Army recruitment takes place.
• Perks and benefits: Many of these people value job stability, which includes retirement benefits and pensions over competitive salaries.
• Uncertainty after end of commission: Most of them will be forced to leave the job within four years, which doesn’t fit into their hopes and aspirations.
• Casualization of Training: It reportedly takes two to three years to train a member of the army, but as a part of the Agnipath, soldiers will only be trained for six months.
• Threats to national security: Defence analysts have allegedly pointed out that the Russian soldiers who were trained for a limited amount of time before they went to war have performed disastrously.
• Conflicts of interest: Apprehensions have been voiced against how the new recruits will be adjusted in the existing system under which most of the Army units are region, caste or class based.
Reasons behind aspirants’ frustration
• Unemployment: Analysts always cite the crunch of gazetted officers in the Armed forces and there has been no recruitment for the last two years.
• Pandemic impact: Many aspirants lost their chance to join the Armed forces as they are now overage.’
• Unanticipated reforms: In guise of a push for “major defence policy reform”, the scheme is a fuss.
What is the official explanation?
• Once retired, aspirants will be free to pursue other careers, with several departments and governments.
• Aspirants will get preference, educational credits, skill certificates, to help them rehabilitate in other fields.
• Those wishing to be entrepreneurs will get a financial package and bank loans and those wishing to study further will be given 12 class equivalent certificate.
• For job-seekers, the government has already said they will get priority in the Central Armed Police Forces.
Way forward
• The modalities of how this will happen are still being worked out.
• But one thing is very clear, poorly crafted schemes are on the rise.
• For making any scheme a success, pre-legislative consultation and discussion in the public domain is a must.

Black Death

Why in news?
In a study published in the journal Science, researchers have claimed that the disease originated in modern day northern Kyrgyzstan around 1338-1339 – nearly 7-8 years before it ravaged large parts of the world.
What is Black Death?
• The term Black Death refers to the bubonic plague that spread across Western Asia, Northern Africa, Middle East and Europe in 1346-53.
• Most scholars agree that the Black Death, which killed millions, was caused by bacterium Yersinia pestis and was spread by fleas that were carried by rodent hosts.
• The microorganism Y. pestis spread to human populations, who at some point transmitted it to others either through the vector of a human flea or directly through the respiratory system.
Why this plague was called the Black Death?
• It is commonly believed that the term Black Death gets its name from the black marks that appeared on some of the plague victims’ bodies.
• However, historians argued that this term, which only emerged centuries later, had less to do with the disease’s clinical symptoms, and more to do with how European writers from the 19th century onwards understood the epidemic.
• In the 14th century, the epidemic was referred to as the ‘great pestilence’ or ‘great death’, due to the demographic havoc that it caused.
Term in News:
Domino effect: A domino effect or chain reaction is the cumulative effect produced when one event sets off a chain of similar events.

Grouping in News:

• BRICS is an acronym for its Member nations: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
• New Development Bank: The New Development Bank (NDB), formally referred to as the BRICS Development Bank is a multilateral development bank operated by the five BRICS states.
o The bank’s primary focus of lending will be infrastructure projects.
• BRICS payment system:
o At the 2015 BRICS summit in Russia, ministers from BRICS nations, initiated consultations for a payment system that would be an alternative to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) system.

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