Current Affair – June 17, 2021

Deep Ocean Mission

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the deep ocean mission.
  • In the works since 2018, the mission is expected to cost ₹4,077 crore over the next five years. The estimated cost for the first phase of three years (2021-24) would be ₹2,823.4 crore.

· The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) will be the nodal Ministry implementing this multi-institutional mission.

Significance of Mission

  • It involves developing a submersible vehicle that will allow a crew to plunge 6,000 metres into the ocean and hunt the floor for precious metals.
  • If this works, India will be among a handful of countries able to launch an underwater mission at such depths.
  • The exploration studies of minerals will pave way for the commercial exploitation in the near future, as and when commercial exploitation code is evolved by the International Seabed Authority (United Nations organization).
  • Being able to lay hands on a fraction of that reserve can meet the energy requirement of India for the next 100 years.

Components of the mission

  • A manned submersible will be developed to carry three people to a depth of 6,000 metres in the ocean with a suite of scientific sensors and tools.
  • An integrated mining system will be also developed for mining polymetallic nodules at those depths in the central Indian Ocean.
  • Developing Ocean Climate Change Advisory Services, which entails developing a suite of observations and models to understand and provide future projections of important climate variables on seasonal to decadal time scales.

·         Searching for deep sea flora and fauna, including microbes, and studying ways to sustainably utilize them.

  • Explore and identify potential sources of hydrothermal minerals that are sources of precious metals formed from the earth’s crust along the Indian Ocean mid oceanic ridges.

· Studying and preparing detailed engineering design for off-shore Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) powered desalination plants.

  • Grooming experts in the field of ocean biology and engineering. This component aims to translate re search into industrial applications and product development through on site business incubator facilities.

About the mission

  • The Deep Ocean Mission was in 2019 envisaged as a ₹8,000 crore mission.

· India has been allotted a site of 75,000 square kilometers in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) by the UN International Sea Bed Authority for exploitation of polymetallic nodules (PMN).

  • PMN are rocks scattered on the seabed containing iron, manganese, nickel and cobalt.
Source: The Hindu

Hike in subsidy rates

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the proposal to hike subsidy rates for phosphorus and potassium based fertilizers by 140%. The step is aimed to provide relief to farmers as the kharif sowing season begins.
  • The estimated additional subsidy burden is around ₹14,775 crore.

About Subsidies and the prices

  • Centre sets a fixed maximum retail price in urea.

· However in non-urea fertilizer, prices are decontrolled, with the Centre fixing nutrient-based subsidy rates.

  • So far, a 50 kg bag of diammonium phosphate (DAP), the fertilizer most popular with Indian farmers after urea, was sold at ₹1,200, including a subsidy of about ₹500.
  • However, the bull run in the global commodity markets has seen a surge in prices of the imported raw materials as well as the finished fertilizer. In early April, a number of Indian fertilizer companies hiked their DAP prices to ₹1,900 per bag.
  • Farmers’ groups protested against the ₹700/bag hike, pointing out that their input costs for the kharif season would spiral out of control.
  • The Centre Government step is a one time measure as part of COVID19 relief.
Source: The Hindu

Inland Vessels bill

The Union Cabinet gave the nod to the Inland Vessels Bill, 2021, which will replace the Inland Vessels Act, 1917.

Features of bill

  • A unified law for the entire country, instead of separate rules framed by the States.
  • The certificate of registration granted under the proposed law will be deemed to be valid in all States and Union Territories, and there will be no need to seek separate per missions from the States
  • A central data base for recording the details of vessel, vessel registration, crew on an electronic portal.

·It requires all mechanically propelled vessels to be mandatorily registered.

  • All nonmechanically propelled vessels will also have to be enrolled at district, taluk or panchayat or village level.

Significance of the bill

  • Total 4,000 km inland waterways have been operationalised.
  • The Bill will regulate safety, security and registration of inland vessels.
Source: The Hindu

No new born calf serum in Covax

The Union Health Ministry refuted some social media posts on the composition of Covax in, where it has been suggested that it contains new born calf serum.

Refuting rumours

The Health Ministry said that newborn calf serum was used only for the preparation/growth of vero cells. The final vaccine did not contain newborn calf se rum, it asserted

About the technique

  • Different kinds of bovine and other animal serum are standard enrichment ingredient used globally for vero cell growth. This technique has been used for decades in polio, rabies, and influenza vaccines.
  • Vero cells were washed with water and chemicals (also technically known as buffer) many times to make them free from newborn calf serum.
  • Thereafter, they were infected with coronavirus for viral growth.
  • Thereafter, the grown virus was also killed (inactivated).

· This killed virus was then used to make the final vaccine and in the final vaccine formulation, no calf serum was used.

Source: The Hindu

Indian Defence Minister statement at 8th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ plus Meeting

  • India hoped that the code of conduct for South China Sea (SCS), being negotiated bet ween the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China, would lead to outcomes in line with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and did not prejudice the legitimate rights and interests of nations that were not party to these discussions — Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
China and ASEAN have set a target of end 2021 to finalise the code of conduct but recently officials had said it may not be concluded by then.  

“Maritime security challenges are another area of concern to India. The sea lanes of communication are critical for peace, stability, prosperity and development of the Indo-Pacific region. In this

regard, developments in the South China Sea have attracted attention in the region and beyond,”.

·“India supports freedom of navigation, over flight, and unimpeded commerce in these international waterways,”.

  • “India’s call for a free, open and inclusive order in the Indo Pacific, based upon respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of

nations, peaceful resolution of disputes through dialogue and adherence to international rules and laws. “

  • “Premised upon the centrality of ASEAN, India supports utilisation of ASEAN led mechanisms as important platforms for implementation of our shared vision for the IndoPacific.”


He expressed concern at cyberthreats like ransomware and cryptocurrency thefts and called for a multistakeholder approach, guided by democratic values.

Source: The Hindu

HC cannot tell probe agency to arrest accused: SC

About the case

  • The Supreme court was hearing a petition filed by a man accused in a rape case. The Karnataka High Court had quashed a trial court order, granting the accused anticipatory bail in the case.
  • The High Court transferred the case to the Corps of Detectives. The High Court also went on to direct the probe officer to take the accused into custody and produce him before the local magistrate.

Supreme Court judgment

  • Such direction to take the accused into custody is beyond the jurisdiction of the High Court. Whether an accused is liable to be arrested is based upon the decision of the investigating officer depending upon the material collected during the investigation, which may be conducted in a particular crime.
  • The Bench left it entirely to the investigator’s discretion whether or not to arrest the accused.
  • It was beyond the jurisdiction of a High Court to direct the police to take someone into custody.
Source: The Hindu

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