Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 19 November 2020


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 19 November 2020


Microwave weapons

  • The Indian Army has rejected as “baseless and fake” a report in the British daily newspaper ‘The Times’, which had quoted a Chinese professor to claim that the Chinese army had used “microwave weapons” to drive Indian soldiers away from their positions in eastern Ladakh.
  • “Media articles on employment of microwave weapons in Eastern Ladakh are baseless. The news is FAKE,” the Indian Army said in a tweet.


  • India and China have been locked in a tense standoff at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh for the last six months.
  • Twenty Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese were killed in a fierce clash between the two armies in Galwan Valley on June 15. But what are “microwave weapons”?

What did the report in ‘The Times’ of London say on China’s purported use of “microwave weapons”?

  • The Beijing-datelined report in ‘The Times’, titled “China turns Ladakh battleground with India into a microwave oven”, which was published on November 17 on the newspaper’s website, quoted JinCanrong, a professor of international relations at Beijing’s Renmin University.
  • Jin claimed that China had used a “microwave weapon” in late August to retake land that had been occupied by the Indian Army on the southern bank of the Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh. 
  • The same report appeared in ‘The Australian’ daily in Australia under the headline “China’s microwave pulse weapon defeats Indian troops at Himalayan border”. Both The Times and The Australian are owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
  • On August 29, Indian soldiers had taken the dominating heights on the south bank of Pangong Tso, and in the larger Chushul sub-sector. These positions allow the Indian Army to dominate the region because they overlook the Spanggur Gap and the Chinese garrison at Moldo.
  • The Chinese professor quoted in the report claimed that Chinese forces had turned two strategic hilltops occupied by Indian soldiers “into a microwave oven”, forcing them to retreat, and allowing the positions to be retaken without an exchange of conventional fire.

What are “microwave weapons”?

  • “Microwave weapons” are supposed to be a type of direct energy weapons, which aim highly focused energy in the form of sonic, laser, or microwaves, at a target.
  • It uses “beams of high-frequency electromagnetic radiation to heat the water in a human target’s skin, causing pain and discomfort”.
  • In a microwave oven, an electron tube called a magnetron produces electromagnetic waves (microwaves) that bounce around the metal interior of the appliance, and are absorbed by the food. 
  • The microwaves agitate the water molecules in the food, and their vibration produces heat that cooks the food. Foods with a high water content cook faster in a microwave often than drier foods.

Which countries have these “microwave weapons”?

  • According to a report, China had first put on display its “microwave weapon”, called Poly WB-1, at an air show in 2014.
  • The United States has also developed a prototype microwave-style weapon, which it calls the “Active Denial System”. 
  • In an FAQ posted online, the US Department of Defence says that “the Active Denial System is needed because it’s the first non-lethal, directed-energy, counter-personnel system with an extended range greater than currently fielded non-lethal weapons”.

PM-FME Scheme

  • Union Minister for Food Processing Industries inaugurated the capacity building component of the Pradhan Mantri Formalisation of Micro food processing Enterprises scheme (PM-FME Scheme) and launched the GIS One District One Product (ODOP) digital map of India.
  • Under the PM-FME scheme, capacity building is an important component. 

Key highlights: 

  • The scheme envisages imparting training to food processing entrepreneurs, various groups, viz., SHGs / FPOs / Co-operatives, workers, and other stakeholders associated with the implementation of the scheme”. 
  • Under the capacity building component of the PM-FME scheme, training of the Master Trainers would be delivered through online mode, classroom lecture and demonstration, and self-paced online learning material. NIFTEM and IIFPT are playing a key role by providing training and research support to selected enterprises/groups/clusters in partnership with State Level Technical Institutions. 
  • The Master Trainers will train the District Level Trainers, who will train the beneficiaries. The current training is based on Fruits and Vegetable processing and EDP. For this purpose, subject experts from various national level reputed institutions are holding various sessions. 
  • The assessment and certification of the training program under the capacity building will be provided by FICSI. The capacity building component was launched.
  • Under the PM-FME scheme, states have identified the food products of districts, keeping in view the availability of existing clusters and raw materials. 
  • The GIS ODOP digital map of India provides details of ODOP products of all the states and facilitate the stakeholders. 
  • The digital map also has indicators for tribal, SC, ST, and aspirational districts. It will enable stakeholders to make concerted efforts for its value chain development.

About the PM-FME Scheme

  • It is launched under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, the Pradhan Mantri Formalisation of Micro food processing Enterprises (PM-FME).
  • It is a centrally sponsored schemeaims to enhance the competitiveness of existing individual micro-enterprises in the unorganized segment of the food processing industry and promote formalization of the sector and provide support to Farmer Producer Organizations, Self Help Groups, and Producers Cooperatives along their entire value chain. 
  • With an outlay of Rs. 10,000 crore over a period of five years from 2020-21 to 2024-25, the scheme envisions to directly assist the 2,00,000 micro food processing units for providing financial, technical, and business support for upgradation of existing micro food processing enterprises.



Transferable developmentrights

  • Transferable development rightsis a mechanism to facilitate the speedy acquisition of land for developing infrastructure such as cityroad development, satellite towns, and metro rail.
  • Under the TDR route, the government acquires land from the landowner in exchange for developmentrights that are transferred to the landowner.
  • Such‘development rights,’issued as Development Rights Certificate (DRC), empowers the owner to go for extrafloor area ratio (FAR), which shall be fixed by the government.


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Global Strategy to Accelerate the Elimination of Cervical Cancer

  • WHO aims to reduce more than 40% of new cases and 5 million related deaths by 2050, with a combinationof vaccination, screening and treatment.
  • For the first time, 194 countries, including India, committed to eliminate cancer, following the adoption of a resolution at the World Health Assembly 2020 in Geneva.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the primary cause of cervical cancer, and the HPV vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect women against infection from HPV.


Team Halo 

  • Over 100 scientists including Indian scientists have come together under Team Halo.
  • Team Halo is an initiative undertaken by the United Nations in collaboration with The Vaccine ConfidenceProject at the University of London to tackle the issue of misinformation surrounding Covid-19 vaccines.
  • These scientists are producing creative, social media-friendly videos on Covid-19 vaccine science, personalexperiences and reactions to information on the COVID-19 vaccine.



England confirms first Pakistan tour in 16 years

•    England will make its first trip to Pakistan in 16 years for a two-match T20 International (T20I) series next October as part of a reciprocal agreement reached between the two cricket boards.
•    The two games, to be held in Karachi on October 14 and 15, will form part of the 2021 T20 World Cup build-up.
•    Both the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and its counterparts from Pakistan on Wednesday confirmed that the tour will take place just before the mega-event in India.
•    England was invited by the PCB to visit Pakistan in January next year but unavailability of top players and matters related to costs forced the ECB to reschedule its visit.


Lilavati Award-2020

  • Union Education Minister virtually launched Lilavati Award-2020.
  • The award is an initiative of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and aims to recognise the effortsof AICTE affiliated institutions in treating women.
  • Its objective is to create awareness in the issues such as sanitation, hygiene, health and nutrition usingtraditional Indian values.
  • The award has been named after the 12th century book called Lilavati. The book was written by themathematician Bhaskara II.

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