The First Forum is an initiative that focuses on covering the latest happenings in a brief format. This is in lieu of the importance of knowledge about current happenings in this fast-changing world.
In the Fourteenth Edition of The First Forum we would be covering the following topics:
1. Politics
2. Society and Culture 
3. Science and Technology

(By Ankita Punjani, Ayush Harlalka and Divyansh Gupta)

Politics

India launches campaign brochure for UNSC seat
Recently, India has released a campaign brochure ahead of the vote for the non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in 2021-22. This will be the eighth time India will occupy a non-permanent UNSC seat, with its last term in 2011-2012. India along with Japan, Brazil, and Germany from the G4 grouping is asking for a spot for permanent membership in UNSC. India is the sole candidate for Asia-Pacific and needs two-thirds of the 193-member General Assembly to vote in its favor in a secret ballot scheduled for 17th June 2020 in New York. Since 2013,Read More India has been planning for a seat in 2021 as the year will mark its 75th year of Independence and has also persuaded the Asia-Pacific grouping nomination by diplomacy and negotiations to avoid any last-minute contenders against India. India has been acknowledged as a rising power by most of the states. Also, there is a pressing need to democratize multilateral fora, starting from the United Nation system itself. In this context, India is making a legitimate claim for its rightful place in the changing architecture of global governance, including the UNSC

Former Vice President of USA Joe Biden formally clinches Democratic presidential nomination
Joe Biden formally clinched the Democratic presidential nomination Friday, setting him up for a bruising challenge to President Donald Trump. The former vice president has effectively been his party’s leader since his last challenger in the Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders, ended his campaign in April. Democrats award most delegates to the party’s national convention based on results in individual congressional districts. Biden now has 1,993 delegates, with contests still to come in eight states and three US territories. Read MoreBiden spent 36 years in the Senate before becoming Barack Obama’s vice president. This is 77-year-old Biden’s third bid for the presidency and his success in capturing the Democratic nomination was driven by strong support from black voters. The milestone is however being referred to as largely symbolic considering all other major candidates stopped campaigning in April.

LG revokes Kejriwal’s decision on the reservation of hospitals
Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Mr. Anil Baijal, has overruled Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s decision to reserve beds in general private and state government-run hospitals exclusively for the residents of the capital. The state government decided to restrict its treatment on the grounds of a huge rise in positive cases in Delhi. Read MoreHowever, LG who is also the Chairperson of Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) revoked the order regarding it as unconstitutional. Under Article 21 of the Constitution, the Right to Health is an integral part of “Right to Life”. In addition to this, LG also overturned the state government’s decision to limit the scope of testing and not test asymptomatic and high-risk cases.

India-Australia military base agreement signed
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison have signed the Mutual Logistic Support Agreement (MLSA) through a virtual summit. This landmark pact will allow both the countries to have access to each other’s military bases for replenishment and repair of supplies and other logistics support. IRead Morendia has already signed similar agreements with France, Singapore, and the US. Besides MLSA, six more pacts in areas of military technology, cyber and cyber-enabled critical technology, mining and minerals, water resource management, and vocational education have been made to strengthen the ties between both the countries.


Society and Culture

Nagar Van Scheme launched by Government of India
The theme of World Environment Day 2020 is ‘Celebrating Biodiversity’—a concern that is both urgent and existential but India has decided to focus on Nagar Van (Urban Forests) in addition to the official theme. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has also released a brochure announcing the implementation of the Nagar Van Scheme. The Nagar Van (Urban Forests) aims to develop 200 Urban Forests across the country in the next five years. Read MoreWarje Urban Forest in Pune (Maharashtra) will be considered as a role model for the Scheme. The Scheme enforces people’s participation and collaboration between the Forest Department, Municipal bodies, NGOs, Corporates, and local citizens. These urban forests will primarily be on the existing forest land in the City or any other vacant land offered by local urban local bodies. The finances for the scheme will be paid for by the CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Act, 2016) funds. The CAF Act was enacted to manage the funds collected for compensatory afforestation which till then was managed by Ad hoc Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA). As per the rules, 90% of the CAF money is to be given to the states while 10% is to be retained by the Centre.

Educational Complexes established in Odisha for Tribal population
Recently, the Government of Odisha has announced the establishment of three mega educational complexes exclusively for tribal students, where both academic and sporting skills will be harnessed. The complexes will be established in tribal-dominated districts such as Keonjhar, Sundargarh, and Mayurbhanj. Each complex will house 3,000 tribal students, which is a unique initiative in the field of tribal education. Read MoreThese complexes will have state of the art facilities to improve the educational and sporting skills of tribal students from Standard I to XII. Santal and Bhuyan are two dominant tribal groups living in these districts. Funds required for mega complexes will be sourced from Odisha Mineral Bearing Areas Development Corporation (OMBADC), which was formed for focused development of mineral-rich districts. Incidentally, most mineral-rich districts are tribal-dominated​. According to the 2011 Census, tribal people constitute 8.6% of the nation’s total population i.e. over 104 million people.

Social bubbles better than social distancing?
Research from Oxford University regards social bubbles as a better and more effective way to limit the spread of COVID-19 than social distancing post lockdown. The social bubble which means the limited contacts that we visit on a regular basis is expected to reduce the negative psychological impact of long term social distancing. Read MoreReducing contacts strategically can flatten the curve and reduce the chances of infection according to the study published in the journal Nature Human Behavior. The authors believe that people will be more inclined to have social bubbles as it is more acceptable than complete isolation.

New Zealand declares itself virus-free
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern lifted almost all restrictions after the recovery of the last known active case. The country recorded no new cases of COVID-19 for the first time in the past two weeks after it went into lockdown on 25th March. New Zealand has now moved to the lowest tier of alert systems with allowance to all kinds of public gatherings with no requirement of social distancing. Under the latest rules, schools, workplaces, funerals, weddings, and public transport can resume without restrictions. Read MoreA relatively lower figure of 1504 cases and 22 deaths were recorded in the span of 3 months post 28th February 2020 in New Zealand. The border restrictions for foreigners however still continue to remain in place.

Science and Technology

Aditya, India’s first solar-powered ferry shortlisted for the Gustave Trouvé Award
Recently, India’s first solar-powered ferry, Aditya has been shortlisted for the Gustave Trouvé Award as the only entrant from Asia. Aditya is among 12 such ferries that have been shortlisted for the award across the world. Aditya is operating between Vaikkom and Thavanakkadavu in Kerala. It was launched in November 2016 and started its services in 2017. It is India’s first solar-powered ferry and the largest solar-powered boat. Read MoreIt is operated by the Kerala State Water Transport Department (KSWTD) and built by Navalt Solar and Electric Boats, Kochi. It needs just Rs. 180 per day in energy cost, compared to about Rs. 8,000 for a diesel-run ferry of similar size, which is unusual for a high technology product to have such a low energy cost. It is powered by a motor that can source energy from solar panels, batteries, and generators. Gussies Electric Boat Awards were instituted in memory of Gustave Trouvé, a French electrical engineer and pioneer in electric cars and boats.

Global Vaccine Summit
Recently, the Prime Minister of India addressed the virtual Global Vaccine Summit.​ ​The Summit was hosted by the United Kingdom (UK). Almost 50 ​countries including the business leaders, UN agencies, civil society, government ministers, Heads of State, and country leaders participated in the Summit. The Summit was intended to urge nations around the world to pledge to fund vaccinations to protect the world from future outbreaks of infectious diseases and to ponder upon the effective use and development of vaccines. Read MoreThe Summit was aimed at raising USD 7.4 million to immunize further 300 million children in the world’s poorest countries by 2025 and India has pledged USD 15-million as India’s contribution to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI). India is the world’s foremost producer of vaccines and contributes to the immunization of about 60% of the world’s children. India has also added six vaccines to its Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) to expand the protection of vaccination in the country.

 China to hunt aliens from September 
According to Science and Technology Daily, a state-run media, China will begin hunting for extraterrestrial life from September through its 500-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST. First displayed to the world in January 2020, the telescope is currently undergoing upgrades to improve its search efficiency. It will be useful in tracking various cosmic phenomena apart from alien hunts. Read MoreBuilt-in the southwestern province of Guizhou, the entire cost is estimated close to $270 million. However, Chief scientist Zhang Tongjie has stressed not to get our hopes high in the immediate future as it is unlikely that we will trace intelligent life soon.

Dinosaur fossil reveals its last meal
 A 110 million years old fossil of an armored dinosaur that was first discovered in 2011 in northern Alberta, Canada revealed its last meal. Leaf fragments and plant fossils that were preserved in the cells concluded that the dinosaur named Nodosaur was an herbivore. This fossil is regarded as the most well-preserved fossil ever. Read MoreAccording to the research, the dinosaur weighed more than a ton and lived off a plant-based diet. It is believed that the dinosaur after having its last meal died in a riverbed and ended up in an ancient sea remaining undisturbed for millions of years until 9 years back.

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