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Buddha Purnima is being observed today

Paper : Prelims Specific, General Studies 1

Why in news?

  • Vesak (Buddha Purnima, Buddha Jayanti) is a Buddhist festival that marks Gautama Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death. It falls on the day of the Full Moon in April or May and it is a gazetted holiday in India.
  • Buddha Purnima is also known as Buddha Jayanti, Buddhists seek the blessings of Gautam Buddha and celebrate the teachings of their spiritual teacher.
  • Buddha Purnima is an international festival which is celebrated by people who have chosen to walk on the path of Gautam Buddha and is also observed as a public holiday in countries like India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and others.


MRSAM firing trials by Indian Navy

Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • The Indian Navy achieved a significant milestone in enhancing its Anti Air Warfare Capability with the maiden cooperative engagement firing of the Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM).
  • The firing was undertaken on the Western Seaboard by Indian Naval Ships Kochi and Chennai wherein the missiles of both ships were controlled by one ship to intercept different aerial targets at extended ranges.
  • The firing trial was carried out by the Indian Navy, DRDO and Israel Aerospace Industries.
  • These Surface to Air Missiles are fitted onboard the Kolkata Class Destroyers and would also be fitted on all future major warships of the Indian Navy.

What are the features of the MRSAM?

  • Each MRSAM weapon system comprises of one command and control system, one tracking radar, missiles, and mobile launcher systems.
  • The weapon is 4.5m-long, weighs approximately 276kg, and is equipped with canards and fins for control and manoeuvrability.
  • The MRSAM missile is equipped with an advanced active radar radio frequency (RF) seeker, advanced rotating phased array radar and a bidirectional data link. The RF seeker, located in the front section of the missile, is used to detect moving targets in all weather conditions.
  • The missile’s explosive warhead, featuring a self-destruct fuse, provides high-probability of kill against enemy targets with minimal collateral damage.
  • The MRSAM surface-to-air missile is powered by a dual-pulse solid propulsion system developed by DRDO.
  • The propulsion system, coupled with a thrust vector control system, allows the missile to move at a maximum speed of Mach 2. The weapon has the ability to engage multiple targets simultaneously at ranges of 70km.


Joint Meeting of Three Conventions was held in Geneva

Paper : General Studies 2, General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • The joint meetings of three conventions on chemicals and waste that is the fourteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal  (COP 14) was held along with the ninth meeting of the COP to Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade and the ninth meeting of the COP to Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.
  • The theme of the meetings this year was “Clean Planet, Healthy People: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste”.


What is the Rotterdam Convention?

  • Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade
  • It is a multilateral treaty to promote shared responsibilities in relation to importation of hazardous chemicals.
  • The convention promotes open exchange of information and calls on exporters of hazardous chemicals to use proper labeling, include directions on safe handling, and inform purchasers of any known restrictions or bans.
  • Signatory nations can decide whether to allow or ban the importation of chemicals listed in the treaty, and exporting countries are obliged to make sure that producers within their jurisdiction comply.
  • The Convention has 161 member nations and excludes among others the United States of America.


What is the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants?

  • The Stockholm Convention is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
  • POPs are chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of living organisms and are toxic to humans and wildlife. POPs circulate globally and can cause damage wherever they travel.
  • In implementing the Convention, Governments will take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment. Over 152 countries ratified the Convention and it entered into force, on 17 May 2004.
  • The Stockholm Convention focuses on eliminating or reducing releases of POPs. It sets up a system for tackling additional chemicals identified as unacceptably hazardous. Ultimately, the Convention points the way to a future free of dangerous POPs and promises to reshape our economy’s reliance on toxic chemicals.

The Stockholm Convention is perhaps best understood as having five essential aims:

  1. Eliminate dangerous POPs, starting with the 12 worst
  2. Support the transition to safer alternatives
  3. Target additional POPs for action
  4. Cleanup old stockpiles and equipment containing POPs
  5. Work together for a POPs-free future
  • The Global Environmental Facility (GEF) is the designated interim financial mechanism for the Stockholm Convention.


To read about the Basel Convention refer to Current Affairs of May 17, 2019


Kerala first state to tap into masala bond market

Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • Kerala has launched masala bonds of the state owned Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board at the London Stock Exchange worth Rs 2,150 crore becoming the first Indian state to do so.
  • The proceeds of the bond issue will be used to partially rebuilding the infrastructure in Kerala after the devastation of the floods from last year.

What is a masala bond?

  • Masala bonds are bonds issued outside India but denominated in Indian Rupees, rather than the local currency. The term was used by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to evoke the culture and cuisine of India.
  • Unlike dollar bonds, where the borrower takes the currency (Exchange rate) risk, masala bond makes the investors bear the risk. However, settlement of the bonds is done in dollars due to limited convertibility of the rupee
  • Offshore bonds have its own set of advantages and disadvantages for both the issuer and the investor as well as for the economy. Competition from offshore markets may induce improvements in domestic bonds markets such as strengthening of domestic market infrastructure, improving investor protection and removing tax distortions that hinder domestic market development etc.
  • Against these benefits come the risks associated with financial openness and sudden shifts in capital flows, and the risk that offshore markets may draw liquidity away from the domestic market.