02-04-2021 Current affairs Summary

 NASA-ISRO joint radar satellite could face a seven-month delay

NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) is likely to face a seven-month delay in being launch-ready according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) audit of COVID-19’s impact. 

The audit also pegged the monetary impact at $10.4 million in 2020 so far with the cost expected to balloon by $36 million in the long run. The NISAR project between NASA and ISRO is expected to be the first of its kind to deliver high-resolution images on the Earth’s surface to track local changes and measure regional trends.

Fuel sales up 27% from March 2020

India’s diesel and petrol consumption posted a whopping growth of more than 27% in March from a year ago when a countrywide lockdown had washed out fuel demand by 70%.
Market data for March shows diesel sales of state-run retailers, which dominate 90% of the market, at 128% of a year-ago period, and petrol sales at 127%.

Diesel consumption had posted a year-on-year growth of over 7% and petrol 5% in the first fortnight of March, clearly indicating a recovery in demand to the pre-pandemic level. A comparison of the full month’s data with March 2019 bears this out.

World Autism Awareness Day-02 April

The World Autism Awareness Day is observed internationally on 2 April every year, to raise awareness about people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) throughout the world. The 2021 World Autism Awareness Day observance will address these issues through a virtual event that will include moderated panel discussions with individuals on the autism spectrum who have themselves experienced the challenges and seen these new opportunities in the employment market.

The very first World Autism Day was observed in the year 2008 on April 2. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 18 December 2007. World Autism Day is one of only seven official health-specific UN Days.

  • World Autism Organisation: 1998

IISc researchers develop artificial enzymes to block HIV reactivation

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have developed artificial enzymes that can successfully block reactivation and replication of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in the host’s immune cells. 

This can be considered an important development as there is currently no way to eliminate HIV from a patient’s body completely. Anti-HIV drugs are only successful in suppressing the virus; they fail at eradicating HIV from infected cells. The virus hides inside the host’s immune cells in a 'latent' state and stably maintains its reservoir. When the levels of toxic molecules, such as hydrogen peroxide, increase in the host’s cells, leading to a state of increased oxidative stress, the virus gets “reactivated” — it emerges from hiding and begins replicating again.

Made from vanadium pentoxide nanosheets, the new artificial “nanozymes” developed by IISc researchers work by mimicking a natural enzyme called glutathione peroxidase, which helps reduce oxidative stress levels in the host’s cells, which is required to keep the virus in check.

Former Reserve Bank of India governor Dr. Urjit Patel has been appointed as Additional Director of Britannia Industries

Former Reserve Bank of India governor Dr. Urjit Patel has been appointed as Additional Director of Britannia Industries with effect from 31st March 2021 for a tenure of 5 years. The company has announced that its board of directors has approved the appointment. Patel was the successor of Raghuram Rajan and served as the Governor of RBI from 2016 to 2018. However, he stepped down in December 2018 citing 'personal reasons.' Prior to this, he was the central bank's deputy governor in charge of monetary policy.

"This is to inform you that the Board of Directors of the company at their meeting held today 31 March 2021, approved the appointment of Dr. Urjit Patel, as an additional director of the company in the category of non-executive and independent director with effect from 31 March 2021 for a term of 5 years i.e., up to 30th March 2026, subject to the approval of the shareholders of the company,” Britannia said in a statement to the stock exchange filing.

Russia launched one of the world’s biggest underwater neutrino telescopes

Russian scientists launched one of the world’s biggest underwater neutrino telescopes called the Baikal-GVD (Gigaton Volume Detector) in the waters of Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest lake situated in Siberia. 

The construction of this telescope, which started in 2016, is motivated by the mission to study in detail the elusive fundamental particles called neutrinos and to possibly determine their sources. Studying this will aid scientists’ understanding of the origins of the universe since some neutrinos were formed during the Big Bang, others continue to be formed as a result of supernova explosions or because of nuclear reactions in the Sun.

Indian Railways recorded its highest-ever freight loading

The Indian Railways recorded its highest-ever freight loading, handling 1,232 million tonnes (MT) in 2020-21, up 2 percent over 2019-20. This was achieved despite a huge drop in freight handling in the first four months of the financial year, due to COVID-19. Despite this, incremental loading of around 80 MT was achieved from the August to March period to surpass last year’s freight loading numbers, according to the latest data available with Indian Railways. In this period, Indian Railways earned Rs 117,386 crore from freight loading. It was 3 percent higher than the last year’s earnings from freight which was Rs 113,897 crore for the same period. Among commodities with a significant spike during the year, foodgrains handling topped with a 68 percent YoY increase to 63 MT. As a sign of construction activities coming back on track, cement and iron and steel handling too jumped by 11 percent and 5 percent, respectively. The movement of chemical manures increased 6 percent, minerals, and ores by 4 percent, and container by 3 percent.

NIIFL announces INR 2,100 crore investment in Manipal Hospitals through its strategic opportunities fund

The National Investment and Infrastructure Fund Limited (NIIFL)is pleased to announce an investment of INR 2,100 crore in Manipal Hospitals, one of India’s largest multi-specialty healthcare providers, through its NIIF Strategic Opportunities Fund (SOF), the direct private equity fund of NIIF.

This investment marks SOF’s first investment in the Indian healthcare sector and will support Manipal Hospital’s journey of growth to become one of India’s largest hospital chains. The transaction has been signed by both parties and the closing of the transaction is subject to receipt of certain approvals.

Manipal Hospitals, headquartered in Bengaluru, Karnataka, has a major presence across India with 15 hospitals and a key focus on tertiary and quaternary care. The recent announcement of their acquisition of Columbia Asia Hospitals, a leading chain of hospitals, will augment their growth aspirations to become a healthcare provider of choice with high-quality multi-specialty offerings and a country-wide presence.

Astronomers detect X-rays from Uranus for 1st time

In a finding that may help scientists learn more about Uranus, astronomers have detected X-rays from this enigmatic ice giant planet in our solar system, for the first time. The planet, which has four times the diameter of Earth, rotates on its side, making it different from all other planets in the solar system. Since Voyager 2 was the only spacecraft to ever fly by Uranus, astronomers currently rely on telescopes much closer to Earth, like Chandra and the Hubble Space Telescope, to learn about this distant and cold planet that is made up almost entirely of hydrogen and helium.

India to carry out COVID-19 vaccination on all days of April

India will be carrying out its COVID-19 vaccination drive on all days in April including gazetted holidays at both public and private sector Vaccination Centres (CVCs). This was informed by the center on April 1, 2021.
The center has urged the states/ union territories to make necessary arrangements to provide coronavirus vaccination at the centers on all days of the month. The decision was taken after detailed deliberations with the states/UTs on March 31st to optimally utilize all COVID-19 vaccination centers to ensure a rapid increase in the pace and coverage of the vaccination.

La Pérouse joint naval exercise to be held between navies of Quad members

La Pérouse joint naval exercise
will be held between the navies of the Quad members in the Bay of Bengal from April 5-7, 2021. The exercise will be a training session between the navies of France and the QUAD members- India, Japan, Australia, and the United States. French warships have already arrived in Kochi ahead of the exercise.
During the joint exercise, two French Navy ships will be joined by ships from India, Australia, Japan, and the US for a concrete demonstration of multilateralism at sea and their commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.
The training is expected to be very comprehensive and intense and will alternate periods of theoretical learning and periods of practice. The exercise will include training to conduct operations, navigation, which will make the officers more efficient at sea.

Indian Army to participate in a multinational military exercise in Bangladesh

The Indian Army will be participating in the multinational military exercise ‘Shantir Ogroshena 2021’ (Front Runner of the Peace) in Bangladesh from April 4 to April 12, 2021.

The exercise will be for nine days and will start from April 4 to commemorate the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Bangladesh Father of the Nation, and will mark 50 glorious years of Bangladesh liberation.

The Defence Ministry has informed that the Indian Army contingent comprising of 30 personnel including Junior Commissioned Officers, Officers, and Jawans of a battalion from the Dogra regiment will be participating in the exercise along with the Bangladesh army, Sri Lankan Army, and Royal Bhutan Army.

The theme of the multinational military exercise will be ‘Robust Peace Keeping Operations’. Military observers from the United Kingdom, the US, Kuwait, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Singapore will also be in attendance through the multinational exercise in Bangladesh.

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