Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 22 October 2019


Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 22 October 2019


Table of contents:

 

GS Paper 1:

  1. Taanaji Malusare and the Battle of Singhagad.

 

GS Paper 2:

  1. UN Report on lead concentration in paints.
  2. NCRB crime statistics for 2017.
  3. QS Indian University Rankings.
  4. TechSagar.

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. BHIM 2.0.
  2. Draft National River Ganga Bill, 2018.

 

GS Paper 4:

  1. Regulation of social media.

 

Facts for prelims:

  1. Defence Acquisition Council (DAC).
  2. Defence Technologies and Trade Initiative (DTTI).
  3. Siachen Glacier.
  4. Palm oil imports.
  5. US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF).
  6. No Assam govt jobs for those with more than two children.

 


GS Paper 1:

 

Topics Covered:

  1. Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

 

Taanaji Malusare and the Battle of Singhagad

 

What to study?

For Prelims and mains: About Taanaji, the battle and it’s outcomes.

 

Context: A Bollywood movie is being made based on Subedar Taanaji Malusare.

 

Who was Tanaaji Malusare?

  • He was a Maratha military leader and a close aide of Chhatrapati Shivaji.
  • Hailing from the Malusare clan, Taanaji is popularly remembered for the Battle of Singhagad that took place in the year 1670.
  • In the battle, Taanaji fought against Udaybhan Rathore, a formidable Rajput warrior, who was put in charge of Fort Kandhana (later named Singhagad) by Jai Singh.

 

Battle of Singhagad, 1670:

In the year 1665, the Treaty of Purandar was signed between Jai Singh and Shivaji.

Amongst several demands, the treaty had required the Maratha ruler to give up Fort Kandhana to the Mughals.

After it was taken over by the Mughals, the fort was guarded by Rajput, Pathan and Arab troop guards and was said to be impenetrable.

This deeply disturbed and enraged Shivaji’s mother Rajmata Jijabai. Upon knowing this, Shivaji entrusted Taanaji, the only man he could think of capable of reconquering the fort Kondhana at any cost.

 

Outcomes of the battle:

  1. Even though the attack by Taanaji took the Mughals by surprise, the latter nonetheless outnumbered the Marathas.
  2. The two clashed for long. Malusare was gravely wounded in the fight and died.
  3. Enraged by the death of their general, the Marathas fought under the leadership of his brother, Suryaji Malusare, and eventually vanquished the enemy.
  4. The fort was renamed as Singhagad (lion’s fort) by Shivaji to honour Tanaji.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 


 

GS Paper 2:

 

Topics Covered:

  1. Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

UN Report on lead concentration in paints

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Lead and it’s concentration, effects on health, permissible limits.

For Mains: Need for and ways to limit it’s concentration.

 

Context: World Lead Prevention Week started on October 20, 2019.

On the sidelines, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has released a report on lead concentration in items like paints.

 

Permissible limit:

  • Ninety ppm is the concentration limit recommended by the Model Law and Guidance for Regulating Lead Paint published by the UNEP in 2018.
  • It is the lowest and most protective regulatory limit for lead paints that has been set in India and some other countries.

 

Key findings:

  1. Only 13 countries have laws which prescribe that lead concentration should not be more than 90 particles per million (ppm).
  2. These 13 countries are part of 73 countries out of the UN’s 193 members, which, as of September 30, 2019, had confirmed that they had legally binding controls on lead in paint, according to the UNEP report.
  3. The largest economic burden of lead exposure was borne by low- and middle-income countries.

 

Lead and it’s concentration:

Lead is added to paints for various reasons, including enhancing the colour, reducing corrosion and decreasing the drying time.

However, lead can reach soil, dust and groundwater through weathering or peeling of the patin.

 

It has several adverse health impacts:

  1. Lead exposure accounted for 1.06 million deaths from long-term effects and 24.4 million disability adjusted life years known as DALYs in 2007.
  2. Lead can cause permanent damage to the brain and nervous system, resulting in decreased IQ and increased behavioural problems.
  3. It can also cause anaemia, increase the risk of kidney damage and hypertension, and impair reproductive function.
  4. Young children and pregnant women (whose developing foetus can be exposed) are especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of lead. Even relatively low levels of exposure can cause serious and irreversible neurological damage. 

 

What needs to be done?

  1. The cost of eliminating the use of lead compounds in decorative paint is much lower than removing these paints from surfaces in homes.
  2. By contrast, the economic cost is low for eliminating the use of lead compounds in new decorative paints. In fact, many manufacturers have already successfully reformulated their paint products to avoid the intentional addition of lead.
  3. According to the paint industry, the reformulation of residential and decorative paints to eliminate lead additives is feasible, and the technical and cost impacts are manageable.

 

Need of the hour: establishing laws and informing people about the hazardous effects of lead in paints remained key measures to curb its growing menace. 

 

Sources: Down to earth.


Topics Covered:

  1. Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

 

NCRB crime statistics for 2017

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Key findings.

For Mains: Concerns, challenges and ways to address them.

 

Context: The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has released its crime statistics for the year 2017.

 

Key findings:

Women safety: Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal are deemed most unsafe for women.

Riots cases: There were 58,880 incidents of rioting in 2017 of which the maximum incidents were reported from Bihar at 11,698, followed by Uttar Pradesh at 8,990. Of the total, communal and sectarian riots accounted for the largest.

Among union territories, Delhi recorded the most murder cases in 2017 at 487.

Fake news: NCRB for the first time collected data on circulation of “false/fake news and rumours.” Maximum incidents were reported from Madhya Pradesh (138).

A new category of offences committed by various categories of “Anti-National Elements”: Maximum offences were committed by Left Wing Extremist (LWE) operatives (652), followed by North East insurgents (421) and Terrorists (Jihadi and other elements) (371). Most killings took place in Chhattisgarh. 

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered:

  1. Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

QS Indian University Rankings

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Indicators and top performers.

For Mains: Significance of the rankings and ways to improve the higher education system.

 

Context: QS Indian University Rankings have been released recently. This is the second edition of the standalone rankings for India’s higher education institutions.

The rankings include public, private, higher education or deemed universities.

 

How are the institutions ranked?

The methodology used eight indicators to determine the institutions’ rankings. These were: academic reputation (weight of 30%), employer reputation (20%), faculty-student ratio (20%), the proportion of staff with a PhD (10%), papers per faculty from Scopus database (10%), citations per paper from Scopus database (5%), the proportion of international students (2.5%), and the proportion of international faculty (2.5%).

 

Key findings:

  1. Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) dominate the list, with seven IITs figuring in the top ten
  2. Like last year, IIT-Bombay leads followed by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc).
  3. This year, IIT-Delhi has improved its performance by one rank to overtake IIT-Madras.
  4. Delhi University, University of Hyderabad and the Indian Institute of Science are the only other non-IIT institutions in the top ten.

 

Way ahead for India:

The rankings are an affirmation of faith in the premier Indian higher educational institutions. The Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry has been taking several steps to improve the global rankings, especially the world-renowned IITs by providing more funds and launching the Institutes of Eminence scheme under which institutes would be freed from regulatory framework. However, there’s still work to be done beyond the top universities.

 

Sources: Indian Express.


Topics Covered:

  1. Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

 

TechSagar

 

What to study?

For Prelims and mains: Key features and significance.

 

Context: TechSagar, national repository of India’s cyber tech capabilities launched.

Launched by: National Cyber Security Coordinator’s office in partnership with Data Security Council (DSCI) of India.

 

What is TechSagar?

  1. It is a platform to discover India’s technological capability through a portal.
  2. It is a consolidated and comprehensive repository of India’s cyber tech capabilities which provides actionable insights about capabilities of the Indian Industry, academia and research across 25 technology areas like internet of things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), blockchain, cloud & virtualisation, robotics & automation, ar/vr, wireless & networking, and more.
  3. The portal will list business and research entities from the IT industry, startups, academia, and individual researchers.

 

Significance:

  • The repository will facilitate new opportunities for businesses and academia to collaborate, connect and innovate in future.
  • TechSagar will allow targeted search, granular navigation and drill down methods using more than 3000 niche capabilities. As of now, the repository features 4000+ entities from industry, academia and research including large enterprises and start-ups providing a country level view of India’s cyber competencies.

 

About DSCI:

Data Security Council of India (DSCI), is a not-for-profit, industry body on data protection in India, setup by NASSCOM.

  • It is committed to making the cyberspace safe, secure and trusted by establishing best practices, standards and initiatives in cyber security and privacy.
  • To further its objectives, DSCI engages with governments and their agencies, regulators, industry sectors, industry associations and think tanks for policy advocacy, thought leadership, capacity building and outreach activities.

 

Sources: pib.


GS Paper 3:

 

Topics Covered:

  1. Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

 

BHIM 2.0

 

What to study?

For Prelims: About UPI, BHIM and NPCI.

For Mains: Cashless economy- need, significance, challenges and role of BHIM in furthering this.

 

Context: Govt launches BHIM 2.0 with new functionalities, additional language support.

 

What is BHIM?

Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) is a UPI based payment interface.

Developed by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).

Allows real time fund transfer.

Launched in December, 2016.

 

What’s new in BHIM 2.0?

  • Donation’ gateway, increased transaction limits for high value transactions, linking multiple bank accounts, offers from merchants, option of applying in IPO, gifting money.
  • It also supports three additional languages — Konkani, Bhojpuri and Haryanvi — over and above the existing 13.

 

What is UPI?

Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application (of any participating bank), merging several banking features, seamless fund routing & merchant payments into one hood. It also caters to the “Peer to Peer” collect request which can be scheduled and paid as per requirement and convenience. Each Bank provides its own UPI App for Android, Windows and iOS mobile platform(s).

 

About NPCI:

NPCI is an umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India.

  • It is an initiative of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007, for creating a robust Payment and Settlement Infrastructure in India.
  • It has been incorporated as a not for profit company.
  • In 2016 the shareholding was broad-based to 56 member banks to include more banks representing all sectors.

 

Sources: pib.


Topics Covered:

  1. Conservation related issues.

 

Draft National River Ganga Bill, 2018

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Key highlights of the Bill.

For Mains: Conservation of Ganga- concerns, challenges and measures.

 

Context: In the next two months, hydropower projects that do not comply with the Centre’s ecological flow notification, which mandates that project developers ensure a minimum supply of water all through the year, could face closure.

 

Background:

The Centre’s ecological flow notification, as it is called, came into effect last October and gave companies three years to modify their design plans, if required, to ensure that a minimum amount of water flowed during all seasons. Power producers generally hoard water to create reserves to increase power production.

Many environmentalists had long been demanding such provisions which ensure uninterrupted flow of the river.

 

National River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Conservation and Management) Bill, 2018- highlights:

  1. The bill propose to ban the construction of jetties, ports or “permanent hydraulic structures” in the Ganga, unless permitted by the National Ganga Rejuvenation Authority.
  2. It proposes to create a management structure that will supervise the health of the 2,500-kilometre long Ganga which, the draft Bill defines, as ‘India’s national river.’
  3. The Bill lays down a host of restrictions to ensure the “uninterrupted, ecological flow” of the river. Currently, a host of dams in the upper stretches of the river lead to the river’s flow being obstructed.
  4. The proposed legislation specifies that “unauthorized” activitiesthat cause obstruction or discontinuity of water in the River Ganga due to engineered diversion of water or stoppage of water.
  5. The Armed Ganga Protection Corps (GPC)personnel will be provided by the ministry of home affairs and will be deployed by the National Ganga Rejuvenation Authority. The GPC personnel will have power to arrest those who pollute the river covering offences like obstructing the flow of the river to commercial fishing.
  6. It specifies that the upper stretches of the Ganga — from its origins in the glaciers and until Haridwar — would have to maintain: 20% of the monthly average flow of the preceding 10-days between November and March, which is the dry season; 25% of the average during the ‘lean season’ of October, April and May; and 30% of monthly average during the monsoon months of June-September.

 

The Bill has listed out a list of offences marked as cognizable which includes:

  1. Construction activities causing obstruction in the river.
  2. Withdrawal of ground water for industrial or commercial consumption from the land fronting the river and its tributaries.
  3. Commercial fishing or aqua culture in the river and its tributaries.
  4. Discharging untreated or treated sewage into the river.

 

Need:

According to a map of Ganga river water quality presented by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to National Green Tribunal (NGT) in August 2018, only five out of 70-odd monitoring stations had water that was fit for drinking and seven for bathing. After three decades of efforts to clean the national river, it is a sad state of affairs that the river is not even fit for bathing.

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 4:

 

Regulation of social media

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Draft rules in this regard.

For Mains: Need for regulation, challenges and concerns with existing rules.

 

Context: The centre is planning to come up with rules to regulate social media because it can cause “unimaginable disruption” to democracy.

Rules will help in curbing growing threats to “individual rights and nation’s integrity, sovereignty, and security.

 

Background:

The Supreme Court had expressed the need to regulate social media to curb fake news, defamation and trolling. It had also asked the Union government to come up with guidelines to prevent misuse of social media while protecting users’ privacy in three weeks’ time.

 

Existing regulations and misuse:

  • In India, social media platforms already come under the purview of the Information Technology (IT) Act, the ‘intermediaries guidelines’ that were notified under the IT Act in 2011 and the Indian Penal Code.
  • Under existing laws, social media channels are already required to take down content if they are directed to do so by a court or law enforcement.
  • There are also reporting mechanisms on these platforms, where they exercise discretion to ascertain whether a reported post is violating community guidelines and needs to be taken down.
  • These, however, have been reported to be arbitrary – many posts on body positivity and menstruation, for instance, have been taken down in the past while other explicit imagery continues to be allowed.
  • Many of the existing regulations themselves are “dangerously close to censorship and may have a chilling effect on freedom of speech, which is why cases are being fought on those in courts.”
  • Another problem of a lot of regulatory measures is the vagueness of language which is exploited by state agencies to behave in a repressive way.

 

Need for regulations:

The speed and reach of social media has meant that subversive rumours and fake news get aired with impunity. This has resulted in serious law and order problems. In India, this phenomenon has assumed dangerous proportions. Fake news on WhatsApp has led to lynchings and communal flare-ups in many parts of the country. This menace needs to be curbed. 

 

Challenges before the government:

Too stringent a policy of policing social media could violate the individual’s right to privacy.

It’s not easy to force Facebook Inc., the owner of WhatsApp, to give up on the app’s unique selling proposition to the user of complete end-to-end confidentiality.

 

Way ahead:

Any conversation on additional regulation of social media brings up concerns about privacy and surveillance.

Therefore, any bid at regulating expression online has to be proportional and concrete with adequate redressal mechanisms and without any blanket provisions.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 


 

Facts for prelims:

 

Defence Acquisition Council (DAC):

What is it? To counter corruption and speed up decision- making in military procurement, the government of India in 2001 decided to set up an integrated DAC. It is headed by the Defence Minister.

Objective: The objective of the DAC is to ensure expeditious procurement of the approved requirements of the Armed Forces, in terms of capabilities sought, and time frame prescribed, by optimally utilizing the allocated budgetary resources.

Functions: The DAC is responsible to give policy guidelines to acquisitions, based on long-term procurement plans. It also clears all acquisitions, which includes both imported and those produced indigenously or under a foreign license.

 

Defence Technologies and Trade Initiative (DTTI):

It came about to expedite scope of cooperation between partner countries on defence technology that become narrow due to presence of differing bureaucratic processes and legal requirements.

Essentially, DTII is an initiative to provide increased US senior level oversight and engagement to get beyond these obstacles.

DTTI initiative is led by Undersecretary of Defence for Acquisition and Sustainment from US and Secretary for Defence Protection from India.

The aim of DTTI is to bring sustained leadership focus to the bilateral defence trade relationship and create opportunities for co-production and co-development of defence equipment.

 

Siachen Glacier:

Context: The Siachen glacier is “now open” for tourists and tourism.

Key facts:

  • Lies in the Karakoram Range system which is a part of western Himalayas.
  • Lies to the south of the zone that separates Eurasion Plate with the Indian Plate, which is the result of convergence boundary interaction in geographical terms.
  • It is the highest battle field in the world and lies on LoC (Line of Control) between India and Pakistan. It has been continuously contested by Pakistan as its own part which has led to militarisation of the glacier.
  • After the Indo-Pakistan war in 1971, an agreement was signed between the two countries in 1972, which came to be known as the Shimla Agreement, but it failed to clearly mention who controls the glacier.
  • However, in 1984, the Pakistan army tried to enter the glacier, forcing India to launch a military operation known as “Operation Meghdoot” and since then we have control over the glacier. A ceasefire agreement was signed between India and Pakistan in 2003
  • The glacier is the source of many rivers including Nubra River, a tributary of Shyok, which is a part of the Indus River System.
  • Siachen Glacier also boasts of the world’s highest helipad built by India at Point Sonam, to supply its troops. India also installed the world’s highest telephone booth on the glacier.
  • The region is also a home to rare species of snow leopard, brown bear etc which may be affected by military presence. This has led to talks in international forums about creating a “Peace Park” in the area and demilitarise it.

 

Palm oil imports:

Context: India’s apex oil trade body Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) has issued a short advisory asking its members, including importer-crushers and processors, to avoid importing palm oil from Malaysia.

This is in line with the Union Government’s strong objections to Malaysia’s “unprovoked” remarks and criticism on India’s move to abrogate Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.

Key facts:

  1. India’s total annual palm oil import is approximately 9 million tonne out of which around 3-3.5 million tonne is imported from Malaysia and rest from Indonesia, another major palm oil producing country. 
  2. Palm oil accounts for almost two-thirds of the country’s total edible oil imports.

 

US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF):

It is a non-profit organization, with the primary objective of strengthening the India-US bilateral and strategic partnership through policy advocacy in the fields of economic growth, entrepreneurship, employment-creation, and innovation.

 

No Assam govt jobs for those with more than two children:

The Assam Cabinet has decided that no government jobs will be given to persons having more than two children after January 1, 2021.

In September 2017, the Assam Assembly had passed the ‘Population and Women Empowerment Policy of Assam’ that specified that job candidates with two children only would be eligible for government employment and the existing government staff were to strictly follow the two children family norm.