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Prelims Booster

24th August – Prelims Booster

Aarogyasetu

Aarogyasetu team has worked on a new innovative feature which is called ‘Open API Service’. In order to help businesses and economy to start functioning while being safe, the Open API Service enables organisations to check the status of Aarogya Setu and integrate it into its various Work from Home features. The Open API Service of Aarogya Setu, addresses the fear/risk of Covid-19 infections and help the people, businesses and the economy to return to normalcy.

What is ‘Aarogyasetu’?

The App, called ‘AarogyaSetu’ joins Digital India for the health and well-being of every Indian. It enables people to assess themselves the risk for their catching the Corona Virus infection. It calculates the risk of infection based on their interaction with others, using cutting edge Bluetooth technology, algorithms and artificial intelligence.

  • How does it work?
    Once installed in a smart phone through an easy and user-friendly process, the app detects other devices with AarogyaSetu installed that come in the proximity of that phone.
  • The app can then calculate the risk of infection based on sophisticated parameters if any of these contacts is tested positive.

What is ‘Open API Service’?

  • The Open API Service of Aarogya Setu, can be availed by organisations and business entities, who are registered in India with more than 50 employees, and they can use the Open API Service to query the Aarogya Setu Application in real-time and get the health status of their employees or any other Aarogya Setu User, who have provided their consent for sharing their health status with the organisation.
  • The Open API shall only provide the Aarogya Setu status and name of the Aarogya Setu User (with User’s consent). No other personal data shall be provided through the API.

Nuakhai Juhar

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has greeted the people on the auspicious occasion of Nuakhai Juhar.

What is ‘Nuakhai Juhar’?

  • It an important social festival of Western Odisha and adjoining areas of Simdega in Jharkhand.
  • It is an agricultural festival which is observed to welcome the new rice of the season. The word nua means new and khai means food.
  • It is observed on the fifth day of the lunar fortnight of the month of Bhadrapada or Bhaadra (August–September), the day after the Ganesh Chaturthi festival.
  • Nuakhai is understood to have nine colours and as a consequence nine sets of rituals are followed as a prelude to the actual day of celebration.
  • People offer the newly harvested crop called Nabanha to their respective presiding deities. After offering the Nabanha, people relish different types of delicacies prepared from the newly harvested crop.

Saudi Arabia-Pakistan relations

The rift between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia over Jammu and Kashmir is out in the open. A delegation led by Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Saudi Arabia, but were denied a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).

Saudi-Pakistan ties –

  • The relationship between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan was most prominent during the 1971 war between India and Pakistan. According to reports of that time, Saudi Arabia had denounced the Indian action as “treacherous and contrary to all international covenants and human values” and found no justification for the Indian aggression except “India’s desire to dismember Pakistan and tarnish its Islamic creed”.
  • Saudi Arabia is also reported to have transferred arms and equipment including the loan of some 75 aircraft to Pakistan. After the war, Saudi Arabia consistently supported the call for the return of Pakistan’s prisoners of war and for dropping the Dacca (Dhaka) Trial against 195 of them.
  • After the war, Saudi Arabia gave loans to Pakistan enabling it to buy arms worth about $1 million by 1977, including F-16s and Harpoon missiles from the US. Saudi oil and dollars have kept Pakistan’s economy on its feet after sanctions following the nuclear tests. Over the last two decades, Saudi Arabia has provided oil on deferred payments to Pakistan whenever it ran into economic difficulty.
  • Saudi funding of madrasas have also led to their mushrooming, later giving rise to religious extremism. In 1990, Pakistan sent its ground forces to defend Saudi Arabia against Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

Alignment over Kashmir –

  • The alignment over Kashmir at the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) crystallised since 1990, when insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir began. While the OIC has issued statements over the last three decades, it became a ritual of little significance to India.
  • Last year, after India revoked Aricle 370 in Kashmir, Pakistan lobbied with the OIC for its condemnation of India’s move. To Pakistan’s surprise, Saudi Arabia and the UAE issued statements that were nuanced rather than harshly critical of New Delhi.
  • Over the last one year, Pakistan has tried to rouse the sentiments among the Islamic countries, but only a handful of them — Turkey and Malaysia — publicly criticised India.

The Saudi perspective –

  • Saudi Arabia’s change in position has been a gradual process under Crown Prince MBS. As it seeks to diversify from its heavily oil-dependent economy, it sees India as a valuable partner in the region.
  • New Delhi, for its part, has wooed the Arab world over the last six years. From Saudi Arabia to the UAE, it worked the diplomatic levers through high-level visits and dangled opportunities for investment and business
  • MBS, who is looking to invest in India, has taken a realistic view, along with UAE’s crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed. Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth largest trade partner (after China, US and Japan) and a major source of energy: India imports around 18% of its crude oil requirement from the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia is also a major source of LPG for India.
  • And, with India stopping oil imports from Iran due to threat of US sanctions, Saudi Arabia is key in this respect as well.

Saudi-Pakistan tensions –

  • In 2015, Pakistan’s Parliament decided not to support the Saudi military effort to restore an internationally recognised government in Yemen.
  • Later, Pakistan’s then Army chief General Raheel Sharif led the Saudi-led Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism, comprising 41 Muslim countries.
  • In February 2019, after the Pulwama terror attack, it was Saudi Arabia and the UAE that pulled their weight to get Wing Commander Abhinandan released, apart from the US.
  • The Saudi Crown Prince visited Pakistan and India at that time, and made it clear that he valued economic opportunities. He did not wade into the Kashmir issue in India, or the terrorism issue in Pakistan.
  • A year after Article 370 was revoked Foreign Minister of Pakistan Shah Qureshi accused that Saudi Arabia has failed to deliver on the Kashmir cause was an indication of Islamabad — and Rawalpindi’s — frustration that OIC had not played a leadership role in backing Pakistan against India.
  • This angered Saudi Arabia, which in November 2018 had announced a $6.2 billion loan package for Pakistan. The package included of $3 billion in loans and an oil credit facility amounting to $3.2 billion. Riyadh demanded the return of the $3 billion loan and refused to sell oil to Islamabad on deferred payment. Pakistan immediately returned $1 billion, displaying the rift.
  • But, in the current economic situation, Pakistan is unable to pay the next tranche. Gen Bajwa went to Riyadh in a patch-up exercise, but MBS refused to meet him.
  • What has also angered Saudi Arabia is that Pakistan has been trying to pander to Turkey and Malaysia. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seen as trying to position himself as the new leader of Muslim world, challenging Saudi Arabia’s long-held position.

Implications for India –

  • India, which is closely watching the developments between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, has not said anything publicly. But, Saudi’s silence on J&K as well as CAA-NRC has emboldened the Indian government.
  • Both New Delhi and Riyadh see value in their relationship. At a time when India and China are locked in a border standoff, India would be wary of Pakistan and China teaming up. But with Saudi Arabia in its corner for now, it may have a leverage over Pakistan — Riyadh would not want a conflict and regional instability.
  • What is key to India’s calculus is that the Pakistan-China and the Pakistan-Saudi axes are not fused together at the moment: It is not a Saudi-Pakistan-China triangle. How New Delhi leverages that may decide the future of the region.

Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyan Yojana

The Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) has decided to relax the eligibility criteria and enhancement in the payment of unemployment benefit under Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyan Yojana.

What is Atal Bimit Vykati Kalyan Yojana?

  • ESIC is implementing the Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyna Yojna under which unemployment benefit is paid to the workers covered under ESI Scheme. The ESI Corporation has decided to extend the scheme for one more year upto 30th June 2021.
  • It has been decided to relax the existing conditions and the amount of relief for workers who have lost employment during the Covid-19 pandemic period. The enhanced relief under the relaxed conditions will be payable during the period of 24.03.2020 to 31st December 2020.
  • Thereafter the scheme will be available with original eligibility condition during the period 01.01.2021 to 30.06.2021. Review of these conditions will be done after 31.12.2020 depending upon the need and demand for such relaxed condition.

Proposed changes –

Eligibility criteria for availing the relief has been relaxed, as under:

  • The payment of relief has been enhanced to 50% of average of wages from earlier 25% of average wages payable upto maximum 90 days of unemployment.
  • Instead of the relief becoming payable 90 days after unemployment, it shall become due for payment after 30 days.
  • The Insured Person can submit the claim directly to ESIC Branch Office instead of the claim being forwarded by the last employer and the payment shall be made directly in the bank account of IP.
  • The Insured Person should have been insurable employment for a minimum period of 2 years before his/her unemployment and should have contributed for not less than 78 days in the contribution period immediately preceding to unemployment and minimum 78 days in one of the remaining 3 contribution periods in 2 years prior to unemployment.

Thumbimahotsavam

The WWF-India Kerala unit has joined hands with the Society for Odonate Studies (SOS) and Thumbipuranam for the first-ever State Dragonfly Festival in Kerala, named Thumbimahotsavam 2020. ‘Pantalu’ is the official mascot for the festival.

National Dragonfly Festival –

  • The events are a part of a national dragonfly festival being organised by the WWF India, Bombay Natural History Society and the Indian Dragonfly Society in association with the National Biodiversity Board, United Nations Environment Programme, United Nations Development Programme and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
  • It started in the year 2018 to educate and inform the public about the integral role that dragonflies, and their lesser known siblings damselflies, play in our environment.

About World Wide Fund for Nature –

  • It was founded on 29th April 1961. Its precursor organisation was the Conservation Foundation. Its original name was World Wildlife Fund.
  • It is located in Gland, Switzerland.
  • WWF aims to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth.
  • WWF works in the areas of climate, food, forests, fresh water, oceans and wildlife primarily.
  • It runs several projects in various fields in partnership with people, bodies and governments worldwide.
  • In species conservation, they focus on tigers, elephants, gorillas, giant pandas, sea turtles, polar bears, rhinos and whales.
  • Campaigns launched by WWF include Earth Hour and Debt-for-Nature Swap.
  • The famous ‘Living Planet Report’ (started in 1998) is published by the WWF every two year in which the health of the planet and the impact of human activities on nature are talked about. It is based on the Living Planet Index and the calculations of ecological footprints.

Kariye Museum

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ordered another ancient Orthodox church that became a mosque and then a popular Istanbul museum to be turned back into a place of Muslim worship.

Details –

  • The 1,000-year-old building’s history closely mirrors that of the Hagia Sophia — its bigger neighbour on the historic western bank of the Golden Horn estuary on the European side of Istanbul.
  • The Holy Saviour in Chora was a medieval Byzantine church decorated with 14th century frescoes of the Last Judgment that remain treasured in the Christian world.
  • It was originally converted into the Kariye Mosque half a century after the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks.
  • It became the Kariye Museum after Second World War as Turkey pushed ahead with the creation of a more secular new republic out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire.
  • A group of American art historians then helped restore the original church’s mosaics and opened them up for public display in 1958.
  • But Mr. Erdogan is placing an ever greater political emphasis on the battles that resulted in the defeat of Byzantium by the Ottomans.

Implications –

  • The decision to transform the Kariye Museum into a mosque came just a month after a similarly controversial conversion for the UNESCO World Heritage-recognised Hagia Sophia.
  • Both changes reflect Mr. Erdogan’s efforts to galvanise his more conservative and nationalist supporters at a time when Turkey is suffering a new spell of inflation and economic uncertainty caused by the virus.

Daily MCQs

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