Daily Current Affairs | 11th May 2020

India, China face-off along Sikkim border, several soldiers injured

Recently, Indian and Chinese troops engaged in a temporary and short duration face-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at Naku La (Sikkim) and near Pangong Tso Lake (Eastern Ladakh).

Naku La

  • Naku La sector is a pass at a height of more than 5,000 metres above Mean Sea Level (MSL) in the state of Sikkim.
    • It is located ahead of Muguthang or Cho Lhamu (source of River Teesta).
  • At Muguthang, the road on the Chinese side is motorable, and on the Indian side, it is a remote area.
  • The other passes located in the state of Sikkim are Nathu La Pass and Jelep La Pass.

Pangong Tso Lake

  • Pangong Lake is located in the Union Territory of Ladakh.
  • It is situated at a height of almost 4,350m and is the world’s highest saltwater lake.
  • Extending to almost 160km, one-third of the Pangong Lake lies in India and the other two-thirds in China.
  • The temporary and brief face-offs occur because the unresolved and undemarcated boundary issues.
    • The India-China border shares the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control.
  • Both countries have differing perceptions owing to the undemarcated boundary, which lead to transgressions and face-offs as each side patrols up to the areas.
  • Any such issue is resolved through the mutually established protocols to maintain peace and tranquillity on the border. The resolving mechanism also involves the local Border Personnel Meeting (BPM).
    • These protocols with China have been established to resolve issues amicably at the local formation commander level.
  • The recent clash happened three years after the Doklam stand-off between India and China (2017), which was also experienced across the border in Sikkim.
    • Doklam, or Donglang in Chinese, is an area spread over less than a 100 sq km comprising a plateau and a valley at the trijunction between India, Bhutan and China.
    • The Doklam issue was discussed in the Wuhan Summit (2018) and two nations decided to issue “strategic guidance” to their militaries to strengthen communications so that they can build trust and understanding.
McMahon Line Line of Actual Control
The 890-km McMahon Line separating British India and Tibet was drawn by Sir Henry McMahon at the China-Tibet-Britain Simla Convention (1914). The Line of Actual Control (LAC) is the effective border between India and China.
The line marked out previously unclaimed/undefined borders between Britain and Tibet. Also the Line put Tawang (a region of the present Arunachal Pradesh) in the British empire. LAC was supposed to divide areas under Indian and Chinese control since the end of the Sino-Indian War of 1962.
The line was forgotten until the British government published the documents in 1937. Subsequently, China refused to accept the line. Unlike the LoC (between India and Pakistan), the LAC was not mutually agreed upon. This was because the war ended with a unilateral ceasefire by China.

Aggressive Diplomacy by China

  • Covid-19 Origin:
    • China has been engaged in aggressive diplomacy with western countries, which have sought clarity on the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic that has crippled the world economy, and led to almost four million people across the globe falling ill.
  • South China Sea:
    • It has also reported that China has established new administrative districts for the Spratly and Paracel archipelagos in the South China Sea.
    • China has also named 80 islands and other geographical features in the sea, claiming sovereignty over underwater features in the contested region.

India launches Mission Sagar to assist island nations in Eastern Indian Ocean

India has sent Indian Naval Ship (INS) Kesari, carrying food items and medical assistance teams, to countries in the southern Indian Ocean to deal with Covid-19 pandemic as part of a “Mission Sagar” initiative.

  • The countries including Maldives, Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros and Seychelles had requested India for assistance in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.
    • Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros and Seychelles along with La Réunion are part of Indian Ocean Commission. India has recently become an observer to the Commission.
  • This is the first time that a single assistance mission is covering all island countries of the western Indian Ocean in one go — except Sri Lanka, for which a second set of medicines have been airlifted.
  • The assistance is in line with India’s role as the first responder in the Indian Ocean region.
    • It highlights the importance accorded by India to relations with her neighbouring countries and further strengthens the existing bond.
  • The deployment is also in consonance with the Prime Minister’s vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR).
  • Under the Mission, India will
    • Deploy Medical Assistance Teams in Mauritius and Comoros, helping their Governments deal with Covid emergency and in case of Comoros, with dengue fever also.
    • Deliver consignments of Covid related essential medicines to Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros and Seychelles and about 600 tonnes of food items to Maldives.
      • In addition, in case of Mauritius, a special consignment of Ayurvedic medicines is also being sent.
    • The consignments also include Hydroxychloroquine tablets.

SAGAR

  • Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) was launched in 2015. It is India’s strategic vision for the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
  • Through SAGAR, India seeks to deepen economic and security cooperation with its maritime neighbours and assist in building their maritime security capabilities.
  • Further, India seeks to safeguard its national interests and ensure Indian Ocean region to become inclusive, collaborative and respect international law.
  • The key relevance of SAGAR emerges when seen in conjunction with India’s other policies impacting the maritime domain like Act East Policy, Project SagarmalaProject Mausam, India as ‘net security provider’, focus on Blue Economy etc.

Tata Sons to Scale-up Covid-19 Testing Kit ‘Feluda’

Recently, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB) has developed India’s first paper strip test for Covid-19 namely, ‘Feluda’.

  • Description:
    • The Feluda is a paper strip test that detects the coronavirus in an hour.
    • Feluda is an acronym for FNCAS9 Editor Linked Uniform Detection.
    • It is expected to help to fulfil an urgent need of the rapid testing in India.
    • It is the first such indigenous test kit to be developed in India based on Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) technology.
      • CRISPR is a gene editing technology, which replicates natural defence mechanisms in bacteria to fight virus attacks, using a special protein called Cas9.
      • CRISPR-Cas9 technology behaves like a cut-and-paste mechanism on DNA strands that contain genetic information. The specific location of the genetic codes that need to be changed, or edited, is identified on the DNA strand, and then, using the Cas9 protein, which acts like a pair of scissors, that location is cut off from the strand.
      • A DNA strand, when broken, has a natural tendency to repair itself. Scientists intervene during this auto-repair process, supplying the desired sequence of genetic codes that binds itself with the broken DNA strand.
  • Comparison to the RT-PCR Test:
    • Working Principle: The Feluda test uses the gene-editing tool-Crispr-Cas9 to target and identify genomic sequences of the novel coronavirus in suspected individual samples.
      • RT-PCR test (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) detects the virus genetic material, which is the Ribonucleic acid (RNA) .
    • Cost: The Feluda test will cost less than Rs.500 compared to Rs. 4500 for the real-time PCR test which is currently being used for Covid-19 diagnosis in India.
    • Required Medical Machinery: The Feluda test also does not rely on expensive real-time PCR machines for RNA isolation, DNA conversion, and amplification which are already in limited supply in the country.

480th Birth Anniversary of Maharana Pratap: Narendra Modi, Venkaiah Naidu remember Rajput king who fought Mughals valiantly

Recently, the Prime Minister and Vice President of India paid tributes to Maharana Pratap on his 480th birth anniversary.

  • Rana Pratap Singh also known as Maharana Pratap was born on May 9th 1540 in Kumbhalgarh, Rajasthan.
    • He was the 13th King of Mewar and was the eldest son of Udai Singh II
      • Maharana Udai Singh II ruled the kingdom of Mewar, with his capital at Chittor.
      • Udai Singh II was also a founder of the city of Udaipur (Rajasthan).
  • Battle of Haldighati
    • The Battle of Haldighati was fought in 1576 between Rana Pratap Singh of Mewar and Raja Man Singh of Amber who was the general of the Mughal emperor Akbar.
    • Maharana Pratap fought a brave war, but was defeated by Mughal forces.
    • It is said that Maharana Pratap’s loyal horse named Chetak, gave up his life as the Maharana was leaving the battlefield.
  • Reconquest
    • After 1579, the Mughal pressure relaxed over Mewar and Pratap recovered Western Mewar including Kumbhalgarh, Udaipur and Gogunda.
    • During this period, he also built a new capital, Chavand, near modern Dungarpur.

DRDO lab develops automated UV systems to sanitise electronic gadgets, papers etc

Recently, the Research Centre Imarat (RCI), has developed an automated contactless UVC (short-wavelength ultraviolet light with wavelengths between 200-280 nanometers) sanitisation cabinet, called Defence Research UltraViolet Sanitiser (DRUVS) and an automated UVC currency sanitising device, called NOTESCLEAN.

  • RCI is a Hyderabad based Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) premier lab.
  • Earlier, DRDO had developed UV Blaster (ultraviolet disinfection tower) for rapid and chemical free disinfection of high infection prone areas.

Defence Research Ultraviolet Sanitiser

  • It has been designed to sanitise mobile phones, iPads, laptops, currency notes, cheque leafs, challans, passbooks, paper, envelopes, etc.
  • The DRUVS cabinet has a contactless operation which becomes crucial to contain the spread of Covid-19 and other viruses.
  • It has proximity sensor switches, clubbed with drawer opening and closing mechanism which makes its operation automatic and contactless.
  • It provides 360 degree exposure of UVC to the objects placed inside the cabinet and it automatically goes into sleep mode after the sanitation process.
  • The device picks the note inserted from the input slot and makes them pass through a series of UVC lamps for complete disinfection.
  • It will save a lot of time because disinfection of each currency note by DRUVS or any other sanitising process is a time consuming process.

Defence Research and Development Organisation

  • It works under the administrative control of the Ministry of Defence.
  • Objective: To establish a world class science and technology base for India and provide Indian Defence Services decisive edge by equipping them with internationally competitive systems and solutions.
  • It was established in 1958 after combining Technical Development Establishment (TDEs) of the Indian Army and the Directorate of Technical Development & Production (DTDP) with the Defence Science Organisation (DSO).

National Technology Day

India is observing its 29th National Technology Day on 11th May, 2020.

  • The day which was first observed on 11 May, 1999, aims to commemorate the scientific and technological achievements of Indian scientists, engineers. The day was named by the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
  • Every year, the Technology Development Board of India (a statutory body under the Ministry of Science and Technology) celebrates the day by awarding individuals with National Award for their contribution to science and technology in India.
  • The focus this year is ‘Rebooting the economy through Science and Technology.’

Significance

  • It is the day India successfully tested nuclear bombs in Pokhran on May 11, 1998.
    • India successfully test-fired its Shakti-1 nuclear missile in operation called Pokhran-II, also codenamed as Operation Shakti.
    • The nuclear missile was tested at the Indian Army’s Pokhran Test Range in Rajasthan. This was the second test which was conducted after Pokhran-I codenamed Operation Smiling Buddha, in May 1974.
  • On the same day, India performed a successful test firing of the Trishul Missile (surface to air short range missile) and had test flown the first indigenous aircraft – ‘Hansa – 3’.
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