Current Affairs in Short: 18 March 2021
NASA’s Perseverance rover sends back the first-ever sound of driving on Mars
•National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA’s) Mars rover, Perseverance has sent back the first-ever sound of driving on Mars. The recordings comprise bangs, pings and rattles.
•The driving sounds were part of a 16-minute raw video sent by Perseverance rover as it began rolling over the surface of the Red Planet in its first test drive two weeks ago.
•The video consists of sounds from the rover’s 27.3-meter drive on Mars on March 7, 2021. The sounds were captured on the rover’s entry, descent, and landing (EDL) microphone, which remains functional after its historic touchdown on February 18.
•The off-the-shelf microphone was added to the rover to take the public along for the ride during touchdown.
UN Secretary-General appoints French diplomat as a personal envoy on Afghanistan and Regional Issues
•French diplomat Jean Arnault has been appointed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as his Personal Envoy on Afghanistan and Regional Issues.
•The appointment comes as representatives of the US, Russia, China and Pakistan, as well as members of the Afghan government and Taliban are expected to meet in Moscow, Russia later in the day to restart the stalled peace process.
•Jean Arnault has been asked to assist in the achievement of a political solution to the conflict while working closely with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) as well as the regional partners.
•Arnault has over 30 years of experience in international diplomacy focusing on peace settlements and mediation. He has been a part of several UN Missions in Africa, Europe, Latin America and Asia including in Afghanistan.
EAM Jaishankar meets Kuwait Foreign Minister Al-Sabah
•The Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of State of Cabinet Affairs of Kuwait Dr Ahmed Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah at the Hyderabad House on March 18, 2021.
•The two leaders held “productive discussions” on bilateral agenda and regional developments.
•The Indian External Affairs Minister will be co-chairing a Joint Commission with his Kuwait counterpart to further elevate the ties between the two countries.
•Jaishanker also conveyed appreciation for taking care of the Indian community in Kuwait.
•The two leaders had earlier on March 2, 2021, discussed bilateral cooperation and the regional situation between the two countries.
Can vaccinate entire Delhi in 3 months, if Centre relaxes vaccine parameters, says Delhi CM
•Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on March 18, 2021, that all people of the national capital can be vaccinated in three months if the Centre relaxes some of its parameters of vaccination.
•The Delhi CM noted that there is a surge in COVID-19 cases in the national capital currently and there was a time when the daily COVID-19 cases were retrained to 100-125. However, Delhi recorded more than 500 cases on March 17th.
•The Delhi CM further appealed to all eligible people to get themselves vaccinated. He said that 30,000-40,000 vaccines are being administered per day currently and this will be increased to 1.25 lakh vaccines per day.
•Currently, vaccination is being done at 500 centres across the national capital and this will be doubled to 1000 centres. The timing of vaccination especially in government centres has also been increased from 9 am to 9 pm from earlier 9 am to 5 pm so that more people can get vaccinated.
French Foreign Minister to visit India in mid-April
•French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is expected to visit India in mid-April for the trilateral dialogue between India, Australia and France.
•The visit has not been officially confirmed by France. The senior officials of all three nations had held their first virtual trilateral meeting in September 2020.
•The meeting was co-chaired by India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Francois Delattre, French Secretary-General in French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and Frances Adamson, Australia’s Foreign Secretary.
•It will be a ministerial-level dialogue this year and a physical meeting will be held in New Delhi, which will see participation from EAM Jaishankar, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne.
•The key focus area of the dialogue is expected to be the Indo-Pacific region, as all three democracies aim to ensure a secure, prosperous and rules-based Indo-Pacific region.