Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 07 March 2023

UN seals historic deal to save oceans

GS Paper - 1 (Geography)

Wrapping up almost two decades of negotiations; UN member countriesincluding India reached a historic agreement to protect the world’s oceans and the species that dwell in them from exploitation. It is the first international agreement to protect the high seas, which cover 60% of the earth’s surface, regulate the climate and generate half of the oxygen we breathe.


  1. The high seas begin at the border of countries’ exclusive economic zones and fall under the jurisdiction of no country.
  2. The treaty aims to make 30% of the high seas “protected waters” by 2030 and help establish a conference of parties for further negotiations.
  3. Protected waters mean there will be restrictions on fishing, what routes ships can use, and exploration activities like deep-sea mining.
  4. The talks that began in 2007 have been hampered by disagreements even till the last minute. A major stumbling block was how to share marine genetic resources available vastly in the deep sea, like spongeskrillcoralsseaweedsbacteria and minerals.
  5. Industrialised nations target these resources for use in medicinescosmetics, making electric vehicle batteries, and other industrial purposes. The treaty will give all countries equitable rights over fishing, shipping and research.
  6. The first UN convention on the law of the sea was signed some 40 years back, which didn’t address the emerging scenario where every country is eyeing resources to tackle climate change.

 SWAMIH investment fund

GS Paper -3(Economy)

The Special Window for Affordable and Mid-Income Housing (SWAMIH) Investment Fund I launched in November2019 has raised Rs 15,530 crore so far to provide priority debt financing for the completion of stressed, brownfield and Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA)-registered residential projects that fall in the affordable, mid-income housing category. SWAMIH has so far provided final approval to about 130 projects with sanctions worth over Rs 12,000 crore.

What is the SWAMIH investment fund?

  • It is a social impact fund specifically formed for completing stressed and stalled residential projects.
  • The Fund is sponsored by the Ministry of Finance, Government of India, and is managed by SBICAP Ventures Ltd., a State Bank Group company.
  • The Fund considers first-time developers, established developers with troubled projects, developers with a poor track record of stalled projects, customer complaints and NPA accounts, and even projects where there are litigation issues, it is considered as the lender of last resort for distressed projects.
  • The Fund’s presence in a project often acts as a catalyst for better collections and sales primarily in projects that were delayed for years.
  • According to the Finance Ministry, SWAMIH Fund has one of the largest domestic real estate private equity teams focused only on funding and monitoring the completion of stressed housing projects.

Projects financed by the Fund:

v  SWAMIH has so far provided final approval to about 130 projects with sanctions worth over Rs 12,000 crore.

v  The Fund has completed 20,557 homes and aims to complete over 81,000 homes in the next three years across 30 tier 1 and 2 cities.

v  A government release saidthe Fund has been able to complete construction in 26 projects and generate returns for its investors.

v  The Fund has also played a critical role in the growth of many ancillary industries in real estate and infrastructure sector having successfully unlocked liquidity of more than Rs. 35,000 crore.


For Affordable Housing:

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY Urban)

v  The Indian government introduced PMAY to help the Economic Weaker Section (EWS) of the society to afford a home.

v  PMAY-Urban would help via a subsidy of up to ₹2.67 lakhs for those who are eligible.

v  Based on the sub-section eligibility, the loan amount and the size of the house, the eligibility for the scheme is determined.

v  It gives preference to females and senior citizens, with senior citizens getting ground floor accommodation.

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY Gramin)

Ø  PMAY Gramin was initially introduced as the Indira Awaas Yojana.

Ø  This government housing scheme was introduced to help homeless families and give them pucca houses with all the necessary basic facilities by 2024.

Ø  The PMAY Gramin programme is just one of the several government programmes designed to end poverty.

Ø  This programme halves the cost of building new homes with the state while providing financial assistance to low-income families. Families living in kutcha or decaying houses will benefit from this plan.

 Pigeons lead to diseases in humans

GS Paper - 3 (Health and Diseases)

Recently, the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) in Maharashtra put up several posters warning people against feeding pigeons in order to spread public awareness about hypersensitive pneumonia, a lung disease which is contracted by living near pigeons. The posters warned that a fine of Rs 500 will be levied on those found feeding pigeons.

What kind of diseases can pigeons spread to humans?

  1. Pigeons may lead to various kinds of lung diseases, ranging from respiratory allergies to serious infections.
  2. The latter can lead to Pneumonia-Psittacosis, which is a bacterial infection and may result in death in 15 per cent of those affected by it if untreated.
  3. There is also Histoplasmosis, which is a fungal infection with high mortality ratesCryptococcal infections may lead to pulmonary or meningeal infections in some people with an immunocompromised host.

How does residing near pigeons lead to disease among humans?

  1. Being in the proximity of birds including pigeons can lead to diseases, especially if they are in the home as companion birds or in heavy numbers in the vicinity of the home with droppings and feathers accumulating nearby.
  2. The breathable antigen arising from the bird droppings and feathers goes into the lung and leads to an immunological reaction, which damages the lung.
  3. That pigeons lead to allergies and infections is well-established and Pigeon Breeder’s Disease is a common cause of Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis.

Ship-launched version of BrahMos missile

GS Paper - 3 (Defence Technology)

The Navy successfully test-fired the ship-launched version of BrahMos supersonic missile with an indigenous seeker and booster in the Arabian Sea on 5 March 2023. The Indian Navy carried out a successful precision strike in the Arabian Sea by ship launched BrahMos missile with DRDO-designed indigenous seeker and booster, reinforcing our commitment towards Aatmanirbharta in defence.


  1. The anti-ship version of the BrahMos cruise missile was successfully test-fired jointly by the Navy and the Andaman and Nicobar Command in April last year.
  2. BrahMos Aerospace Pvt Ltd – a joint venture of India and Russia – makes supersonic cruise missile which has a speed of 2.8 Mach or about three times the speed of sound.
  3. The missiles can be launched from a range of platforms such as submarinesshipsaircraft, or land.
  4. BrahMos Aerospace is also developing the BrahMos NG, a compact version of the missile.


  1. In January last year, India signed a $375 million deal with the Philippines for supplying the missile.
  2. India is also eyeing other countries such as South AfricaSaudi ArabiaUAE and Egypt to sell the missiles.

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