Current affairs (17TH FEBRUARY)
CHINA BECOMES LARGEST TRADING PARTNER OF EU
- The People’s Republic of China has overtaken the United States (US) as the biggest trading partner of the European Union (EU) in 2020, according to the data by the European Union statistics agency, Eurostat.
- Britain, which left the European Union in 2020, was the third-largest trading partner for the bloc, behind China and the United States.
- The trade volume of the EU with China reached 586 billion euros ($711 billion) in 2020, compared to 555 billion euros ($673 billion) for the US.
- Bilateral trade with the UK reached 444.7 billion euros.
- The EU exports to China rose by 2.2 per cent to 202.5 billion euros while imports from China increased by 5.6 per cent to 383.5 billion euros.
- Similarly, EU exports to the United States fell by 13.2 per cent in the same period and imports by 8.2 per cent. Exports to the UK fell by 13.2 per cent, while imports dropped by 13.9 per cent.
RAJNATH SINGH LAUNCHES E-CHHAWANI PORTAL
- Defence Minister Rajnath Singh recently launched an online portal ‘e-Chhawani’ and mobile app, to facilitate ‘ease of living’ and ‘ease of doing’ for the residents of the Cantonment Boards across the country.
- The ‘e-Chhawani’ portal will provide online municipal services to more than 20 lakh citizens across all 62 Cantonment Boards of India while sitting at home.
- The residents of cantonment areas can register their complaints regarding civic issues and even get their documents like trade licence, sewerage connectivity applications through the portal.
- Jointly been developed by eGov Foundation, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Directorate General Defence Estates (DGDE), and National Informatics Centre (NIC).
- A cantonment board is a civic administration body in India under control of the Ministry of Defence. It takes care of mandatory duties such as the provision of public health, water supply, sanitation, primary education, and street lighting etc.
FIRST FULL FLEDGED INT. CRUISE TERMINAL
- The Prime Minister of India launched multiple projects in Kochi, Kerala. The Kochi International Cruise Terminal Sagarika was inaugurated.
- This is India's first full-fledged international cruise terminal.
- The Inauguration of the Marine Engineering Training Institute of Cochin Shipyard Ltd. will help those who want to learn marine engineering.
- The South Coal Berth will reduce logistics costs and increase cargo capacity. The Propylene Derivative Petrochemical Project (PDPP) will help India strengthen its journey to become Aatmanirbhar because it will save foreign exchange.
- With the use of Ro-Ro Vessels, the distance of nearly 30 kilometers on the road through the waterway will be changed to 3.5 kilometers, thereby reducing congestion and providing more convenience, commerce and capacity building.
BASKARAN WON SANCTUARY LIFETIME SERVICES AWARD
- Theodore Baskaran who is a writer, a historian, a naturalist and an activist has won the Sanctuary Lifetime Service Award, 2020.
- The award was instituted by the Sanctuary Nature Foundation.
- Theodore Baskaran was chosen for the award in the light of his dedication to the wildlife conservation.
- He won the award for his writing prowess in English and Tamil contributing towards the conservation discourse. He was also chosen for the award in the backdrop of inspiring the young naturalists.
- Some of his books in the English language include- Dance of the Sarus: Essays of a Wandering Naturalist; Book of Indian Dogs and A Day with the Shama: Essays on Nature.
- Theodore is of the view that any conservation initiative should be in the local language in order to gain momentum as a people’s movement. He was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award (Iyal Virudhu) for his writing on nature in Tamil. The award was given by the Canada Literary Garden in the year 2014 in Toronto.
FIRST ROUTE OF KOCHI WATER METRO UNVEILED
- The Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, unveiled the first route and terminal of the Kochi Water Metr
- The project uses advanced ships to connect the islands throughout the city. The subway route goes from Vitila to Kakinada. Vyttila is one of the busiest transportation hubs in Kerala, and Kakkanad is an IT hub.
- After obtaining the legal permit, the subway will begin commercial operation in March 2021. The first phase of the Kochi Water Subway Project is 520 kilometers long.
- The Chief Minister also opened the Panamkutty Bridge. It is also called the Petta Bridge, and it was activated for traffic. It will make the traffic between the Petta junction and the SN junction smooth.
- The bridge is 250 meters long. 70 meters of it are on the Poorna River. The CM also launched the "Integrated Urban Regeneration and Water Transport System" (IURWT) project.
- The IURWT project will renew and revitalize the six major canals of Kochi 34 kilometers.
- The total cost of the project is Rs 1,418 crore. It has been released for ten years. The construction related to the project will be completed within 3 years.
PREETI SINHA IN UN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT FUND
- The UN Capital Development Fund has appointed Indian-origin investment and development banker Preeti Sinha as its Executive Secretary, the highest leadership rank in the institution.
- She succeeds Judith Karl. He will work with a focus on providing micro-finance assistance to women, youth, small and medium-sized enterprises in under-served communities.
- The New York-based United Nations Capital Development Fund is an autonomous UN organization affiliated with UNDP. It was established in 1966.
- The original mandate of UNCDF: to assist developing countries in the development of their economies by supplementing existing sources of capital assistance by means of grants and loans.
- The organisation provides micro-finance access to the 47 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) of the world, to help them unlock the full potential of public and private finance.
FOSSILS OF EARLIEST KNOWN LIVING ANIMAL
- Researchers discovered the three fossils of the earliest known living animal, the 550-million-year-old ‘Dickinsonia’ on the roof of the Bhimbetka Rock Shelters. These fossils were found on the roof of the Auditorium Cave of the Bhimbetka Rock Shelters.
- In September 2018, an international team of researchers claimed to have discovered the world’s oldest Dickinsonia fossil, which appeared approximately 571 million to 541 million years ago.
- The current fossil evidence can be traced back to Dickinsonia about 100 million years ago. It is an extinct genus of basal animal. It lived in the late Ediacaran period and is now Australia, Russia and Ukraine.
- Basal animals are animals with radial symmetry in the body plan. They have a very simple body and are often to be diploblastic (derived from only two embryonic cell layers).
- These creatures are believed to represent the earliest flowering of complex multicellular life on Earth. They originated in a world without predators and did not require hard protective carapaces or skeletons.
- Their soft, squishy bodies resemble tubes, fronds or even thin, quilted pillows, which have little resemblance to the anatomy of today's animals.
- The discovery of cholesterol molecules in Dickinsonia’s fossils helps people think that Dickinsonia was an animal.
- This further proves the similar paleoenvironment and confirms the 550 Ma (mega annum) mainland assembly of Gondwana.