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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 18 February 2020

Are you Ready for Insta 75 Days Revision Plan (UPSC Prelims - 2020)?

INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 18 February 2020

Table of Contents:

 

GS Paper 1:

1. Battle of Çanakkale/Gallipoli.

2. Permanent Commission for Women.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. Delimitation of Constituencies.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. SUTRA PIC.

2. Station WiFi Programme.

3. State of India’s Birds 2020.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Punjab Kinnow.

2. ERONET

 


GS Paper  : 1


 

Topics Covered: History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawing of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society.

Battle of Çanakkale/Gallipoli

What to study?

For Prelims: Overview of the battle and outcomes.

For Mains: Significance and why was it compared with the situation in Kashmir?

Context: Speaking to MPs at a joint session of Pakistan’s Parliament, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his country’s deep love and affection for Pakistan, strongly backed its position on Kashmir.

  • Erdogan went on to say that what happened in Turkey during World War I was now happening in Kashmir, that is the Battle of Çanakkale

What is the Battle of Çanakkale?

The Battle of Çanakkale, also known as the Gallipoli campaign or the Dardanelles campaign, is considered to be one of the bloodiest of World War I, during which the Ottoman army faced off against the Allied forces, leading to the slaughter of tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides.

It was an unsuccessful attempt by the Allied Powers to control the sea route from Europe to Russia during World War I. 

  • The campaign began with a failed naval attack by British and French ships on the Dardanelles Straits in February-March 1915 and continued with a major land invasion of the Gallipoli Peninsula on April 25, involving British and French troops as well as divisions of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC).
  • Lack of sufficient intelligence and knowledge of the terrain, along with a fierce Turkish resistance, hampered the success of the invasion.

Key outcomes and significance:

The campaign was considered a great Ottoman victory.

  • In Turkey, it is regarded as a defining moment in the history of the state, a final surge in the defence of the motherland as the Ottoman Empire retreated.
  • The struggle formed the basis for the Turkish War of Independence and the declaration of the Republic of Turkey eight years later.
  • The campaign is often considered to be the beginning of Australian and New Zealand national consciousness- April 25, anniversary of the Gallipoli landings, is observed as ANZAC Day, the day of national remembrance for the war dead.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to women.

Permanent Commission for Women

What to study?

For Prelims: What was the issue? What is Permanent Commission?

For Mains: Significance and implications of this judgment.

Context: The Supreme Court has brought women officers in 10 streams of the Army on a par with their male counterparts in all respects, setting aside longstanding objections of the government. The court ordered the government to implement its judgment in three months.

Court’s observations:

  • The Supreme Court rejected arguments against greater role for women officers, saying these violated equality under law. 
  • The biological argument was also rejected as disturbing.
  • The court has rejected government’s arguments, saying they are based on sex stereotypes premised on assumptions about socially ascribed roles of gender which discriminate against women.
  • It has also said that it only shows the need “to emphasise the need for change in mindsets to bring about true equality in the Army”.

 Background:

The case was first filed in the Delhi High Court by women officers in 2003, and had received a favourable order in 2010. But the order was never implemented, and was challenged in the Supreme Court by the government.

Women in Army: Background of the case:

The induction of women officers in the Army started in 1992. They were commissioned for a period of five years in certain chosen streams such as Army Education Corps, Corps of Signals, Intelligence Corps, and Corps of Engineers. Recruits under the Women Special Entry Scheme (WSES) had a shorter pre-commission training period than their male counterparts who were commissioned under the Short Service Commission (SSC) scheme.

  • In 2006, the WSES scheme was replaced with the SSC scheme, which was extended to women officers. They were commissioned for a period of 10 years, extendable up to 14 years. Serving WSES officers were given the option to move to the new SSC scheme, or to continue under the erstwhile WSES. They were to be however, restricted to roles in streams specified earlier — which excluded combat arms such as infantry and armoured corps.

What was the main issue now?

While male SSC officers could opt for permanent commission at the end of 10 years of service, this option was not available to women officers. They were, thus, kept out of any command appointment, and could not qualify for government pension, which starts only after 20 years of service as an officer.

Why the government was against this?

  1. Motherhood, childcare, psychological limitations have a bearing on the employment of women officers in the Army.
  2. Family separation, career prospects of spouses, education of children, prolonged absence due to pregnancy, motherhood were a greater challenge for women to meet the exigencies of service.
  3. Physical limitations: Soldiers will be asked to work in difficult terrains, isolated posts and adverse climate conditions. Officers have to lead from the front. They should be in prime physical condition to undertake combat tasks. The Govt. said women were not fit to serve in ground combat roles.
  4. Behavioural and Psychological Challenges: Army units were a “unique all-male environment”. The presence of women officers would require “moderated behaviour”. The male troop predominantly comes from a rural background and may not be in a position to accept commands from a female leader.

But, why they should be granted permanent commission?

  1. Past records: A quick look at the past records reveals, all the arguments put forth against giving women more responsibility have been answered by the armed forces by giving women greater responsibility in uniform — the IAF has allowed women to become fighter pilots, and the Army has sent them to tough UN peacekeeping missions globally.
  2. Women officers are already commanding platoons, companies and second in command successfully, with male soldiers accepting orders from them as part of a professional force.
  3. Now they are being excluded from commanding a unit, only on the basis that they are women. This argument doesn’t hold water.
  4. A professional force does not discriminate on the basis of gender, it works because of training, norms and culture. Denying women the posts will be an “extremely retrograde step” and “will inflict irreparable injury” to their dignity.

Order and its implications:

  1. It means that women officers will be eligible to tenant all the command appointments, at par with male officers, which would open avenues for further promotions to higher ranks for them.
  2. It also means that in junior ranks and career courses, women officers would be attending the same training courses and tenanting critical appointments, which are necessary for higher promotions.
  3. The implications of the judgment will have to be borne by the human resources management department of the Army, which will need to change policy in order to comply.

Way ahead:

The bigger shift will have to take place in the culture, norms, and values of the rank and file of the Army, which will be the responsibility of the senior military and political leadership. After the Supreme Court’s progressive decision, they have no choice but to bite the proverbial bullet.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topic covered: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Delimitation of Constituencies

What to study?

For prelims and mains: What is delimitation, why is it needed, how is it carried out and special provisions w.r.t to J&K.

Context: About six months after the State of Jammu and Kashmir was split into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh, the government has moved to start the delimitation of Assembly constituencies in J&K.

Background:

  • Bifurcation of J&K into two UTs has led to redrawing of Assembly constituency boundaries. While, the UT of Ladakh will not have its own legislature, J&K will. This would be similar to Puducherry or Delhi.
  • Such delimitation was also necessitated in 2014 when Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were bifurcated.

What is Delimitation?

Delimitation literally means the process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a state that has a legislative body.

How it will be done?

The new state assembly shall have 114 seats (currently 107), out of which only 90 will be open for elections, and the remaining 24 will be shadow seats reserved for the areas of the erstwhile state that have been occupied by Pakistan (PoJK).

For the delimitation exercise, the population figures of 2011 census shall be taken as the basis.

The J&K Representation of the People Act 1957 has now been invalidated and, instead, delimitation will be done as per the Representation of the People Act, 1950 (as amended from time to time) and provisions of Sections 59, 60 of Act 34 of 2019.

Who carries out the exercise?

  1. Delimitation is undertaken by a highly powerful commission. They are formally known as Delimitation Commission or Boundary Commission.
  2. These bodies are so powerful that its orders have the force of law and they cannot be challenged before any court.
  3. Such commissions have been constituted at least four times in India — in 1952 under the Delimitation Commission Act, 1952; in 1963 under Delimitation Commission Act, 1962; in 1973 under Delimitation Act, 1972 and last in 2002 under Delimitation Act, 2002.
  4. The commissions’ orders are enforced as per the date specified by the President of India. Copies of these orders are laid before the Lok Sabha or the concerned Legislative Assembly. No modifications are permitted.

Composition of the Commission:

According to the Delimitation Commission Act, 2002, the Delimitation Commission appointed by the Centre has to have three members: a serving or retired judge of the Supreme Court as the chairperson, and the Chief Election Commissioner or Election Commissioner nominated by the CEC and the State Election Commissioner as ex-officio members.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Economics of animal rearing.

SUTRA PIC

What to study?

For Prelims:Key features of the programme.

For Mains: Need for and significance of indigenous cow breeds.

Context: The government has unveiled a programme to research on ‘indigenous’ cows- SUTRA PIC.

About SUTRA PIC- Scientific Utilisation Through Research Augmentation-Prime Products from Indigenous Cows:

  • It is led by the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
  • It is supported by the Department of Biotechnology, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, the Ministry for AYUSH (Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, Homoeopathy) among others and the Indian Council of Medical Research as partners.

It has five themes:

  1. Uniqueness of Indigenous Cows.
  2. Prime-products from Indigenous Cows for Medicine and Health.
  3. Prime-products from Indigenous Cows for Agricultural Applications.
  4. Prime-products from Indigenous Cows for Food and Nutrition.
  5. Prime-products from indigenous cows-based utility items.

Aims and objectives:

  • Scientific research on the complete characterisation of milk and milk products derived from Indian indigenous cows.
  • Scientific research on nutritional and therapeutic properties of curd and ghee prepared from indigenous breeds of cows by traditional methods.
  • Development of standards for traditionally processed dairy products of Indian-origin cows, etc.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: 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.

Station WiFi Programme

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features.

For Mains: Significance of the programme, why has it been stopped now?

Context: Five years after it started the ‘Station’ programme to bring free public Wi-Fi to 400 busiest railway stations in India, Google has decided to gradually wind down the service globally.

  • However, users in India will be able to continue using the existing facilities at the over 400 stations via RailTel, Google’s partner in India for the programme.

Why?

  • Google believes that better data plans and improving mobile connectivity have made it “simpler and cheaper” for users to get online.
  • India, specifically now has among the cheapest mobile data per GB in the world, with mobile data prices having reduced by 95% in the last 5 years, as per TRAI in 2019. Today, Indian users consume close to 10 GB of data, each month, on average.
  • Besides the Indian government’s continuous impetus for internet penetration through the Digital India programme, private sector initiatives such as Vodafone’s SuperWi-fi coupled with the entry of Reliance Jio 4G services have drastically brought down the cost of internet subscription. This has been instrumental to the growth of internet users in India.
  • Above all, the challenge of varying technical requirements and infrastructure among partners across countries has also made it difficult for Station to scale and be sustainable.

Background:

  • The programme was kick-started in India in 2015 as a partnership between Google, Indian Railways and RailTel to bring fast, free public WiFi to over 400 of the busiest railway stations by mid-2020.
  • However, the company crossed that number by June 2018, following which more locations were added across the country in partnership with telecommunication companies, ISPs and local authorities.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

State of India’s Birds 2020

What to study?

For Prelims: Key findings.

For Mains: Concerns expressed and ways to address them, conventions in this regard.

Context: The research titled ‘State of India’s Birds 2020’ (SoIB), put together by over ten institutions and numerous citizen scientists, was released recently at the ongoing United Nations 13th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

Key findings:

  1. Over 50 per cent of the 867 species studied, exhibit a population decline in the long term while 146 are at great risk in the short term.
  2. The populations of raptors (eagles, hawks, kites, etc.), migratory seabirds and birds that live in specialised habitats were the most affected in the past decades.
  3. The number of birds in the Western Ghats, which is considered one of the world’s foremost biodiversity hotspots, also declined by almost 75 per cent since 2000.
  4. Indian Peafowl, the national bird, has shown a dramatic increase in both abundance and distribution across the country. The number of house sparrows has also stabilised nationwide, although there is still a marked decline in their population in cities.
  5. 126 species, including the peafowl, house sparrow, Asian Koel, rose-ringed parakeet and the common tailorbird, are expected to increase in numbers, primarily due to their ability to survive in human habitats.

How was the study carried out?

The data for these birds was collected through the citizen science app ‘eBird’, which received a record ten million entries by approximately 15,500 citizen scientists.

Cornell University’s Laboratory of Ornithology hosts the app, while its India-specific portal is curated and customised by Bird Count India, an informal group of birdwatching enthusiasts, ornithologists, naturalists and conservationists dedicated to documenting Indian birds.

Concerns:

This assessment makes it very clear that our birds are in overall decline, in some cases catastrophically so.

Several spectacular birds, many of them endemic to the sub-continent, face a growing threat from loss of habitat due to:

  • Human activity.
  • The widespread presence of toxins, including pesticides.
  • Hunting and trapping for the pet trade.

Categorisation:

  1. It categorises 101 species as ‘High Conservation Concern for India’.
  2. 319 species are classified under the ‘Moderate Conservation Concern’ These species must be carefully monitored to rapidly detect and act upon signs of continuing decline.

What next?

This information should also translate into many voices being raised for bird conservation, both among conservation bodies, and the general public.

Many urgent policy measures need to be adopted immediately. Conservation action must be taken immediately to identify causes of decline and implement measures to halt and reverse the trend for these species.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims


 

Punjab Kinnow:

  • The Punjab Agri Export Corporation recently launched the ‘Punjab Kinnow’ brand at the kinnow festival in Abohar.
  • This brand of kinnow, which is considered the ‘king fruit’ of Punjab, is also said to be “pesticide-free”. 
  • Punjab being the largest producer of kinnow in the country, such branding will attract more consumers.

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ERONET:

Context: The Election Commission of India has been awarded ‘Silver’ for Excellence in Government Process re-engineering for digital transformation for the year 2019-20.

The award was given in recognition of ERONET.

Key facts:

  1. ERONET is a common database for all States and UTs with data of 91 crore electors.
  2. It provides bedrock of electoral roll in providing various web services to Conduct of Elections applications of Election Commission of India.
  3. It automates the process of electoral roll management starting from elector registration, field verification of electors, decision support system for Electoral registration officers and for providing extensive integrated value-added services.