Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 12 July 2019

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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 12 July 2019


Relevant articles from pib:

GS Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

 

Neutrino project

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Neutrino project, significance and what are neutrinos?

 

Context: Setting up of Neutrino Observatory.

 

About the project:

  • The India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) Project is a multi-institutional effort aimed at building a world-class underground laboratory with a rock cover of approx.1200 m for non-accelerator based high energy and nuclear physics research in India. The initial goal of INO is to study neutrinos.
  • It is a mega-science project jointly funded by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

 

The project includes:

  1. Construction of an underground laboratory and associated surface facilities at Pottipuram in Bodi West hills of Theni District of Tamil Nadu.
  2. Construction of an Iron Calorimeter (ICAL) detector for studying neutrinos.
  3. Setting up of National Centre for High Energy Physics at Madurai, for the operation and maintenance of the underground laboratory, human resource development and detector R&D along with its applications.

 

What are neutrinos?

Neutrinos, first proposed by Swiss scientist Wolfgang Pauli in 1930, are the second most widely occurring particle in the universe, only second to photons, the particle which makes up light. In fact, neutrinos are so abundant among us that every second, there are more than 100 trillion of them passing right through each of us — we never even notice them.

Neutrinos occur in three different types, or flavours. These are separated in terms of different masses. From experiments so far, we know that neutrinos have a tiny mass, but the ordering of the neutrino mass states is not known and is one of the key questions that remain unanswered till today. This is a major challenge INO will set to resolve, thus completing our picture of the neutrino.

 

Why detect them?

Neutrinos hold the key to several important and fundamental questions on the origin of the Universe and the energy production in stars. Another important possible application of neutrinos is in the area of neutrino tomograph of the earth, that is detailed investigation of the structure of the Earth from core on wards. This is possible with neutrinos since they are the only particles which can probe the deep interiors of the Earth.

 

Why should the laboratory be situated underground?

Neutrinos are notoriously difficult to detect in a laboratory because of their extremely weak interaction with matter. The background from cosmic rays (which interact much more readily than neutrinos) and natural radioactivity will make it almost impossible to detect them on the surface of the Earth. This is the reason most neutrino observatories are located deep inside the Earth’s surface. The overburden provided by the Earth matter is transparent to neutrinos whereas most background from cosmic rays is substantially reduced depending on the depth at which the detector is located.

Mains Question: Critically examine the uses of understanding of neutrinos, and significance of its research for India.


GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Women related issues.
  2. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’

 

What to study?

For Prelims: BBBP.

For Mains: Declining CSR- concerns, challenges and solutions.

 

Context: All States and UTs except West Bengal have constituted the State Task Force headed by Chief Secretary/ UT Administration as per the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Scheme guidelines.

 

About BBBP:

  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) Scheme was launched in January, 2015.
  • The scheme is aimed at promoting gender equality and the significance of educating girls.
  • The Scheme is targeted at improving the Child Sex Ratiothrough multi sectoral interventions including prevention of gender biased sex selection and promoting girls’ education and her holistic empowerment.
  • It is a tri-ministerial effort of Ministries of Women and Child Development, Health & Family Welfare and Human Resource Development.

 

Significance and the need for scheme:

  • The trend of decline in the Child Sex Ratio (CSR) has been unabated since 1961. The decline from 945 in 1991 to 927 in 2001 and further to 918 in 2011 is alarming. The social construct discrimination against girls on one hand, easy availability, affordability and subsequent misuse of diagnostic tools on the other hand, have been critical in increasing Sex Selective Elimination of girls leading to low Child Sex Ratio.
  • Child Sex Ratiois defined as number of girls per 1000 of boys between 0-6 years of age. Hence, a decline in the CSR is a major indicator of women disempowerment. The ratio reflects both, pre-birth discrimination manifested through gender biased sex selection and post birth discrimination against girls.

 

 

In news- About Swadhar Greh Scheme:

  • The Swadhar scheme was launched by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2002 for rehabilitation of women in difficult circumstances.
  • The scheme provides shelter, food, clothing and care to the marginalized women/girls who are in need.
  • The beneficiaries include widows deserted by their families and relatives, women prisoners released from jail and without family support, women survivors of natural disasters, women victims of terrorist/extremist violence etc.
  • The implementing agencies are mainly NGOs.

 

In news- International Cooperation Scheme:

  • The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) is implementing International Cooperation (IC) Scheme.
  • Objective: enhance competency of MSMEs, capturing new markets for their products, exploring new technologies for improving manufacturing capacity, etc. 
  • Financial assistance is provided under the Scheme on reimbursement basis to the eligible State /Central Government Organisations, Registered Industry Associations and Societies/Trusts associated with the promotion and development of MSME sector to visit/participate in international exhibitions /trade fairs/buyer-seller meet etc. abroad and also for holding International conferences/seminars/workshops in India which are in the interest of MSME sector.

 

In news- About NLCPR:

  • The broad objective of the Non-lapsable Central Pool of Resources scheme is to ensure speedy development of infrastructure in the North Eastern Region by increasing the flow of budgetary financing for new infrastructure projects/schemes in the Region.
  • Both physical and social infrastructure sectors such as Irrigation and Flood Control, Power, Roads and Bridges, Education, Health, Water Supply and Sanitation – are considered for providing support under the Central Pool, with projects in physical infrastructure sector receiving priority.
  • Funds from the Central Pool can be released for State sector as well as Central sector projects/schemes. However, the funds available under the Central Pool are not meant to supplement the normal Plan programmes either of the State Governments or Union Ministries/ Departments/ Agencies.
  • The Ministry for Development of Northeastern Region (DoNER) allocates funds from NLCPR to various Northeast states for infrastructure projects.

 

Relevant articles from various news sources:

 

GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

  1. Indian diaspora.

Non-resident Keralite investment company

 

What to study?

For prelims: NRK investment company- objectives, chairmanship, holding and functions.

For mains: Utilisation of NRI funds, need, significance and challenges.

 

Context: To channel investments from overseas Keralites for major infrastructure development in the state, the Kerala state Government has decided to form an NRK investment company.

 

About NRK investment company:

  • Ownership: NRK Investment and Holding Company Ltd. will be formed with 74% share capital from NRKs, the state government will hold the remaining 26% stake.
  • The Chief Executive Officer of Norka Roots will be the Special Officer of the new company.
  • The company can set up a special purpose vehicle or subsidiary company for the purpose.
  • Roles and functions: Construction of NRI townships and other projects related to basic infrastructure development will be taken up by the new company.

 

Background:

Established in 2002, NORA ROOTS is the arm of the state government to promote and execute several welfare activities for millions of Non-resident Keralites across the globe. Key objectives of the agency are to effectively address the challenges faced by the NRKs, protect their rights, rehabilitate the returnees etc.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 2 and 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  2. Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.

 

Unlawful activities (Prevention) Act

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: UAPA- features, significance, concerns over its misuse and need.

 

Context: The Centre has banned a separatist group, Sikhs for Justice, on grounds of secessionism under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

 

Background:

Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), formed in 2007, is a US-based group seeking a separate homeland for Sikhs — a “Khalistan” in Punjab.

Operating out of the United States, the group has been trying to build a campaign for secession of Punjab.

 

About the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA):

This law is aimed at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India.

Its main objective is to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India.

The Act makes it a crime to support any secessionist movement or to support claims by a foreign power to what India claims as its territory.

The UAPA, framed in 1967, has been amended twice since: first in 2008 and then in 2012.

 

The law is contested for few draconian provisions:

  • The Act introduces a vague definition of terrorism to encompass a wide range of non-violent political activity, including political protest.
  • It empowers the government to declare an organisation as ‘terrorist’ and ban it. Mere membership of such a proscribed organisation itself becomes a criminal offence.
  • It allows detention without a chargesheet for up to 180 days and police custody can be up to 30 days.
  • It creates a strong presumption against bail and anticipatory bail is out of the question.
  • It creates a presumption of guilt for terrorism offences merely based on the evidence allegedly seized.
  • It authorises the creation of special courts, with wide discretion to hold in-camera proceedings (closed-door hearings) and use secret witnesses but contains no sunset clause and provisions for mandatory periodic review.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Mains Question: The ambiguous nature of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act,1967 (UAPA) gives unreasonable power to authorities. Examine. 


GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

 

Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal

 

What to study?

For prelims: Geographical location of SYL canal and associated rivers.

For mains: Dispute over the construction of this canal, concerns and what needs to be done?

 

Context: The recent Supreme Court order asking Punjab, Haryana and Centre to sort out SYL issue amicably, has brought to centre stage the contentious issue of sharing of waters between the two states. 

 

What is the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal, and the controversy over it?

  • The creation of Haryana from the old (undivided) Punjab in 1966 threw up the problem of giving Haryana its share of river waters. Punjab was opposed to sharing waters of the Ravi and Beas with Haryana, citing riparian principles, and arguing that it had no water to spare.
  • However, Centre, in 1976, issued a notification allocating to Haryana 3.5 million acre feet (MAF) out of undivided Punjab’s 7.2 MAF.
  • The Eradi Tribunal headed by Supreme Court Judge V Balakrishna Eradi was set up to reassess availability and sharing of water. The Tribunal, in 1987, recommended an increase in the shares of Punjab and Haryana to 5 MAF and 3.83 MAF, respectively.
  • To enable Haryana to use its share of the waters of the Sutlej and its tributary Beas, a canal linking the Sutlej with the Yamuna, cutting across the state, was planned.

A tripartite agreement was also negotiated between Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan in this regard.

However, following the protests in Punjab, the Punjab Assembly passed The Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004, terminating its water-sharing agreements, and thus jeopardising the construction of SYL in Punjab.

Why is Haryana’s claim?

Haryana has been staking claim on Ravi-Beas waters through SYL canal on the plea that providing water for irrigation was a tough task for the state. In southern parts, where the underground water had depleted up to 1700 feet, there was a problem of drinking water.

Haryana has been invoking its contribution to the central food bowl and lamenting that justice had been denied to the state by not providing it its rightful share in the water as assessed by a tribunal.

 

Sources: the hindu.


GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Awareness in space.

 

Hayabusa2

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Objectives and significance of the mission, Asteroid Ryugu.

 

Context: Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft, which successfully made its second touchdown on asteroid Ryugu on July 12, 2019, has become the first ever space probe to gather material from beneath the surface of an asteroid.

 

Hayabusa:

In mid-September 2005, Hayabusa landed on the asteroid Itokawa, and managed to collect samples in the form of grains of asteroidal material. It returned to Earth with the samples in June 2010, thereby becoming the first spacecraft to return asteroid samples to Earth for analysis.

 

Hayabusa2:

It is an asteroid sample-return mission operated by the Japanese space agency, JAXA.

It was launched on 3 December 2014 and rendezvoused with near-Earth asteroid 162173 Ryugu on 27 June 2018.


It is in the process of surveying the asteroid for a year and a half, departing in December 2019, and returning to Earth in December 2020.

Hayabusa2 carries multiple science payloads for remote sensing, sampling, and four small rovers that will investigate the asteroid surface to inform the environmental and geological context of the samples collected.

  

The scientific objectives of Hayabusa2 mission are twofold:

To characterize the asteroid from remote sensing observations (with multispectral cameras, near-infrared spectrometer, thermal infrared imager, laser altimeter) on a macroscopic scale

To analyse the samples returned from the asteroid on a microscopic scale.

 

What is the significance of the mission?

Ryugu is a C-type asteroid – a relic from the early days of the Solar System. Scientists think that C-type asteroids contain both organic matter, and trapped water, and might have been responsible for bringing both to Earth, thereby providing the planet with the materials necessary for life to originate.

 

Sources: et.


 

Facts for prelims:

 

Operation Thirst:

What is it? It is an all- India drive launched by the Railway Protection Force (RPF) to curb menace of selling unauthorised packaged drinking water in railway stations.

 

Spike missile:

Context: Indian Army places order for Israeli anti-tank Spike missiles.

Israeli anti-tank Spike missiles from Israel are multi-platform, cutting-edge precise, multi-mission, and multi-range electro-optical missiles. These missiles have capabilities of fire, observe, update, fire-and-forget as well as allowing attack of hidden targets.

Israeli anti-tank Spike missiles are manufactured by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd

These missiles have the capability of targeting anything at a range of four kilometers. These can be deployed in both plains and mountains.

 


Summaries of important Editorials:

 

Jobless growth becomes more systemic:

Findings of the latest employment survey, called the Periodic Labour Force Survey (2017-18), are a cause for concern as the scenario is still far from anything that would denote decent employment.

The two biggest issues here are:

  1. shrinking share of the labour force

labour force participation rate (% of people working or seeking work in the above-15 years age category) in the earlier survey of 2012 was 55.5%. This has shrunk to 49.7% in 2018. There is an absolute decline in the number of workers from 467.7 million in 2012 to 461.5 million in 2018.

  1. rising unemployment.

The figure for the overall unemployment rate at 6.1% is 2.77 times the same figure for 2012. 

 

Key findings:

  1. The rise in overall unemployment has both locational and gender dimensions:

The highest unemployment rate of a severe nature was among the urban women at 10.8%; followed by urban men at 7.1%; rural men at 5.8%; and rural women at 3.8%.

Severe unemployment among men at 6.2% was higher than among women at 5.7%.

 

  1. Increasing gender gap:

Given the sharp decline in women’s labour force participation rate, they have been losing out heavily due to the double whammy of exclusion from the labour force and an inability to access employment when included in the labour force. The decline in women’s labour force participation from 31% to 24% means that India is among the countries with the lowest participation of women in the labour force.

 

  1. Educated unemployment:

Defined as unemployment among those with at least a secondary school certificate, it is at 11.4% compared to the previous survey’s figure of 4.9%.

 

  1. Unemployment rates go up as levels of education go up:

Among those with secondary school education, it is 5.7% but jumps to 10.3% when those with higher secondary-level education are considered.

The highest rate is among the diploma and certificate holders (19.8%); followed by graduates (17.2); and postgraduates (14.6%).

 

  1. Youth unemployment rate (unemployment among those in the 15-29 years age category):

It has reached a high 17.8%. Even here, the women stand more disadvantaged than the men, especially urban women, whose unemployment rate of 27.2% is more than double the 2012 figure of 13.1%. The rate for urban men, at 18.7%, is particularly high as well.

 

Way ahead:

The overall conclusion here is that the trend of ‘jobless growth’ that was till recently confined largely, if not only, to the organised sector has now spread to other sectors of the economy, making it more generalised. This calls for a thorough re-examination of the missing linkages between growth and employment.