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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 6 June 2020

`current affairs, current events, current gk, insights ias current affairs, upsc ias current affairs

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules of 2020.

2. Tablighi activity now a specific visa violation.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Payments Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF).

2. LiDAR- Light Detection and Ranging.

3. Nagar van scheme.

4. Oil spill in Russia’s Arctic region.

5. Sundarbans devastated by cyclone Amphan.

6. Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India (ECGC).

2. Petrapole

3. ‘#iCommit’ initiative.

4. Healthy and Energy Efficient Buildings Initiative.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules of 2020

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Overview and Significance of these rules.

Context: Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules of 2020 notified by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

These rules seek to regulate the production, import, trade, ownership and operation of unmanned aircraft systems or drones. They also create a framework for their use by businesses.

Overview:

Who can sell drones? Only authorised entities.

Who can own or operate? Entities authorised by the Director General of Civil Aviation.

Permits for flying these also have to be sought online and a log has to be shared after the flight.

Applicability: The norms apply to all existing drones as well.

Exception: Nano-drones weighing 250 grams or less can be operated without a drone pilot license.

Insurance: No unmanned aircraft (UA) system shall be operated in India unless there is in existence a valid third party insurance policy to cover the liability that may arise on account of a mishap.

Rule number 36 and 38 in the Ministry’s draft state that no unmanned aircraft shall carry any payload, unless specified by the Director General of DGCA. Neither shall a person “drop or project or cause or permit to be dropped or projected from a UAS (unmanned aircraft system) in motion anything,” except when specified.

Eligibility: For owning and using a drone, one has to be at least 18 years old. In the case of companies, the requirement is that their main place of business has to be in India and the chairman and at least two thirds of directors have to be Indian citizens. Also, businesses operating drones have to be substantially owned and effectively controlled by Indian nationals.

Need for these rules:

Drones have wide use in commercial, safety, law and order, disaster management and surveillance operations, which cuts down manpower requirement and costs. The government is also keen to encourage domestic production of drones.

Besides, the rules come at a time the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the role technology can play in reducing human interface and costs.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Which drones do not require permission?
  2. Who can own and operate?
  3. Who can give permits?
  4. What are rules 36 and 38?
  5. Is third party insurance necessary?

Mains Link:

Discuss the need for and significance of rules on drones.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Tablighi activity now a specific visa violation

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Overview of the new guidelines and implications.

 Context: Union Home Ministry has included indulging in Tablighi activities as a specific visa violation under the new amendments.

Overview of the amendments:

It has added a new category—“restriction on engaging in Tabligh activities” in the “general policy guidelines relating to Indian visa.”

The guidelines provide details of 24 categories of visas and the various conditions under which they could be granted online or by missions abroad.

The $500 fine is also for other violations such as overstay of more than two years, visiting protected areas and cases involving both overstay and visa violations.

As per the amended guidelines:

  1. Foreign nationals granted any type of visa and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cardholders shall not be permitted to engage themselves in Tabligh work.
  2. There will be no restriction in visiting religious places and attending normal religious activities like attending religious discourses.
  3. However, preaching religious ideologies, making speeches in religious places, distribution of audio or visual display/pamphlets pertaining to religious ideologies, spreading conversion, etc. will not be allowed.

What’s the issue?

Home Ministry is the nodal agency that gives permission to any foreigner to participate in any international event.

The MHA had blacklisted 960 foreigners who participated in the Tablighi Jamaat event in March at Nizamuddin markaz (centre) in Delhi in March 2020.

A foreigner who is blacklisted cannot get a visa from any of the missions to come to India.

What is Tablighi Jamaat?

Founded by a Deobandi Isamic scholar at Mewat, Uttar Pradesh, in 1926, the Tablighi Jamaat (Society of Preachers) focusses on ‘purifying’ the Muslim faith. It has presence in 150 countries.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Tablighi Jamaat?
  2. Different types of visas issued in India?
  3. Issuing authority?
  4. Nodal agency in India to give permission to any foreigner to participate in any international event.

Mains Link:

Write a note on tablighi jamaat.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

Payments Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF)

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of the fund.

For Mains: Need for and Significance of the fund, challenges to digital infrastructure in India.

Context: In an effort to give a push to digital payments across the country, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is setting up a Payment Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) of Rs 500 crore.

All you need to know about the fund:

Objective: This fund has been created to encourage acquirers to deploy point of sale (PoS) infrastructure, both physical and digital, in tier-3 to tier-6 centres and north eastern states.

Contributions to the fund: The RBI has made an initial contribution of Rs 250 crore covering half the fund. The remaining will come from the card issuing banks and card networks operating in the country.

Management: The fund will be governed through an advisory council but it will be managed and administered by the RBI.

Need for and Significance:

Over the years, payments ecosystem in the country has evolved with a wide range of options such as bank accounts, mobile phones, cards, etc.

To provide further fillip to digitisation of payment systems, it is necessary to give impetus to acceptance infrastructure across the country, more so in underserved areas.

The fund is also in line with the measures proposed by the vision document on payment and settlement systems in India 2019-2021.

The enhanced ability of PoS infrastructure is supposed to reduce demand of cash over time. By 2021, there will be around 5 million active PoS by 2021.

Acceptance Development Fund:

In a similar move, last year, the RBI had also proposed to set up an Acceptance Development Fund which will be used to develop card acceptance infrastructure across small towns and cities.

The Fund will be used to ensure growth of card acceptance infrastructure such as swipe machines across the country particularly in Tier III and Tier VI cities.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. PIDF- contributions, management and objectives.
  2. RBI- governors and Deputy governors- tenure and appointment.
  3. What are POS devices?
  4. Who manages ATM network in India?
  5. What is opportunity cost?

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

LiDAR- Light Detection and Ranging

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: What is it? How it works? Applications, potential.

Context: Archaeologists are using LiDAR data to continue their researches amid global pandemic.

In this method, they make high-resolution maps using laser light.

What is LiDAR?

It is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to the Earth.

These light pulses—combined with other data recorded by the airborne system— generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics.

How it works?

A lidar instrument principally consists of a laser, a scanner, and a specialized GPS receiver.

Airplanes and helicopters are the most commonly used platforms for acquiring lidar data over broad areas.

LiDAR follows a simple principle — throw laser light at an object on the earth surface and calculate the time it takes to return to the LiDAR source. Given the speed at which the light travels (approximately 186,000 miles per second), the process of measuring the exact distance through LiDAR appears to be incredibly fast.

lidar

Challenges with LiDAR:

  • Can’t perform well in fog, rain, snow and dusty weather.
  • Struggles to detect a glass wall or door, which is why smartphone manufacturers and self-driving cars makers use LiDAR along with secondary cameras and sensors.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is GPS?
  2. Location based navigation services of various countries including India.
  3. How LiDAR works?
  4. Applications of LiDAR.
  5. What is Laser?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of LiDAR technology.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

Nagar van scheme

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key features and significance of the scheme.

Context: With biodiversity the theme of World Environment Day (WED), the ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) has launched ‘Nagar Van’ (city forest) scheme.

About Nagar Van scheme:

  • The scheme emphasises on urban forestry.
  • Under the scheme, around 200 urban forests are to be developed all over the country in the next five years.
  • The scheme will also provide an opportunity to the states to manage urban ecosystems.

Why urban forestry?

Biodiversity conservation has traditionally been considered confined to remote forest areas but with increasing urbanisation a need has arisen to safeguard and save biodiversity in urban areas also. Urban forest is the best way to bridge this gap. Hence, this scheme.

Need for protection:

India is endowed with rich biodiversity having several species of animals and plants and hosts 4 of the 35 global bio-diversity hotspots containing several endemic species. However, increasing population, deforestation, urbanisation and industrialisation have put our natural resources under tremendous pressure causing loss of biodiversity. Biodiversity is vital for survival of all life form on this planet and is a key to providing various ecological services.

Sources: pib.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

Oil spill in Russia’s Arctic region

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Region where the incident took place and it’s impact on environment and biodiversity.

What happened?

Russia has declared a state of emergency after a power plant fuel leak in its Arctic region caused 20,000 tonnes of diesel oil to escape into a local river, turning its surface crimson red.

Where the incident took place?

The oil has been discharged into Ambarnaya river. The river is part of a network that flows into the environmentally sensitive Arctic Ocean.

Emergency measures are announced within Russia’s Krasnoyarsk Region, located in the vast and sparsely populated Siberian peninsula. The power plant is located near the Region’s Norilsk city, around 3000 km northeast of Moscow.

How did the leak happen?

The thermoelectric power plant at Norilsk is built on permafrost, which has weakened over the years owing to climate change. This caused the pillars that supported the plant’s fuel tank to sink., leading to a loss of containment on May 29.

Reports said that around 20,000 tonnes of diesel oil was released into the Ambarnaya river, which has since drifted 12 km on its surface.

What has Russia done so far?

  1. A probe has been ordered into the incident.
  2. Boom obstacles were placed in the river, but they were unable to contain the oil because of shallow waters.
  3. So far, three criminal proceedings have been launched, and the head of the power plant has been detained.
  4. The state of emergency declared would bring in extra forces and federal resources for the clean-up efforts.

What is the extent of the damage?

Environmentalists have said the river would be difficult to clean, given its shallow waters and remote location, as well as the magnitude of the spill.

This is the second-largest known oil leak in modern Russia’s history in terms of volume.

Damages to the Arctic waterways could be at least 6 billion rubles (over $76 million). This excludes atmospheric damage due to greenhouse gases and soil pollution. The installed buoys will only help collect a small part of the pollution and nearly all the diesel fuel will remain in the environment.

kera_sea

What does the oil spill mean for permafrost?

Ground that remains frozen for two or more consecutive years is considered permafrost.

Permafrost is composed of rock, soil, sediments and varying amounts of ice that bind elements together, according to the university. Some permafrost is frozen for tens, hundreds or even thousands of years.

Norilsk is constructed on permafrost and there is a threat to its existence because of melting ice due to climate change.

The diesel leak can have a serious impact on the local ecology. The Ambarnaya river flows to the Pyasino lake and river Pyasina, which connects it to the Kara sea, a part of the Arctic Ocean.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Locate the following on map:
    1. Pyasino lake.
    2. Kara sea.
    3. Ambarnaya river.
  1. Countries in the Arctic circle.
  2. Arctic council.
  3. International whaling commission.

Mains Link:

The oil spill in Russia’s Arctic region has become a cause for worry to the environment. Examine.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

Sundarbans devastated by cyclone Amphan

What to study?

For Prelims: Recent cyclones in BoB region, about Sundarbans, impacts of these cyclones.

For Mains: What needs to be done now? Significance of Sundarbans.

Context: The powerful cyclone that struck India and Bangladesh last month passed through the vast mangrove forests of the Sundarban delta.

What’s the matter?

The storm’s impact was devastating for the millions who live in the Sundarbans. About 28% of the Sunderbans has been damaged.

Despite the massive plantation drives, it may take years to restore the mangroves. Experts say the mangroves not only reduce wind speed but breaks the waves during a storm surge caused by a cyclone.

How Sundarbans was affected?

Cyclone Amphan hit on May 20 with heavy rains, a massive storm surge and sustained winds of 170 kilometers (105 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 190 kph (118 mph). It passed directly through the Sundarbans, devastating it.

The lives of the estimated 4.5 million people in the region are tied to the fragile ecosystem. Farming, fishing, collecting honey and tourism are the few employment opportunities available. But climate change has been making their lives harder.

Cyclone Amphan also damaged almost the entire length of the 100-kilometer (62-mile) nylon fence that had been erected to prevent tigers from straying into human habitations.

But it is the breaking of embankments, resulting in salt water pouring onto the land, which will have the most durable impact on livelihoods. Saline water kills freshwater fish in ponds in a day, most sources of drinking water disappear, and land can’t be used for cultivation for up to five years.

Impact of COVID 19 pandemic:

The coronvirus is complicating relief work as well. During the cyclone, villagers huddled in crowded storm shelters, which authorities feared could spread the virus. Since the storm, the number of cases in the state has increased to over 5,500 with more than 300 deaths from 3,103 cases and 181 deaths on the day of the cyclone.

About Sundarbans:

  1. The Sundarbans comprises hundreds of islands and a network of rivers, tributaries and creeks in the delta of the Ganga and the Brahmaputra at the mouth of the Bay of Bengal in India and Bangladesh.
  2. Located on the southwestern part of the delta, the Indian Sundarban constitutes over 60% of the country’s total mangrove forest area.
  3. It is the 27th Ramsar Site in India, and with an area of 4,23,000 hectares is now the largest protected wetland in the country.
  4. The Indian Sundarban, also a UNESCO world heritage site, is home to the Royal Bengal Tiger.
  5. It is also home to a large number of “rare and globally threatened species, such as the critically endangered northern river terrapin (Batagur baska), the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris), and the vulnerable fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus).”
  6. Two of the world’s four horseshoe crab species, and eight of India’s 12 species of kingfisher are also found here. Recent studies claim that the Indian Sundarban is home to 2,626 faunal species and 90% of the country’s mangrove varieties.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Where is Sundarbans?
  2. What are mangroves?
  3. Flora and fauna in the regions.
  4. How are Cyclones named?
  5. Recent cyclones in BoB region.

Mains Link:

Discuss the impact of cyclone amphan on Mangroves in India.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Linkages between development and spread of extremism.

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act

What to study?

For Prelims: Key provisions of the act, amendments and recent changes.

For Mains: Significance of the law and criticisms surrounding.

Context: The police have filed an FIR against Devangana Kalita, who is associated with the ‘Pinjra Tod’ group, under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in connection with a case related to communal violence in north-east Delhi in February.

About Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act:

Passed in 1967, the law aims at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India.

The Act assigns absolute power to the central government, by way of which if the Centre deems an activity as unlawful then it may, by way of an Official Gazette, declare it so.

It has death penalty and life imprisonment as highest punishments.

Under UAPA, both Indian and foreign nationals can be charged. It will be applicable to the offenders in the same manner, even if crime is committed on a foreign land, outside India.

Under the UAPA, the investigating agency can file a charge sheet in maximum 180 days after the arrests and the duration can be extended further after intimating the court.

Amendments and changes:

The 2004 amendment, added “terrorist act” to the list of offences to ban organisations for terrorist activities, under which 34 outfits were banned. Till 2004, “unlawful” activities referred to actions related to secession and cession of territory.

In August, Parliament cleared the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 to designate individuals as terrorists on certain grounds provided in the Act.

  • The Act empowers the Director General of National Investigation Agency (NIA) to grant approval of seizure or attachment of property when the case is investigated by the said agency.
  • The Act empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases of terrorism in addition to those conducted by the DSP or ACP or above rank officer in the state.

Criticisms of UAPA:

The law is often misused and abused.

Could be used against political opponents and civil society activists who speak against the government and brand them as “terrorists.”

The 2019 amendment gives unfettered powers to investigating agencies.

The law is against the federal structure, given that ‘Police’ is a state subject under 7th schedule of Indian Constitution.

What needs to be done?

Anti-terror laws should not be used as tool to silence the critics of government.

A committee may be set up to examine and supervise the process of designating individuals as terrorists and investigation of cases with objectivity and fairness.

Arbitrariness under the law should be checked through Judicial review.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Definition of unlawful activity.
  2. Powers of Centre under the act.
  3. Is judicial review applicable in such cases?
  4. Changes brought about by amendments in 2004 and 2019.
  5. Can foreign nationals be charged under the act?

Mains Link:

Do you agree that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act could prove catastrophic for fundamental rights? Is sacrificing liberty for national security justified? Discuss and provide for your opinion.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims


Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India (ECGC):

It is a fully government-owned company that was established in 1957 to promote exports by providing credit insurance services.

  • The ECGC provides Export Credit Insurance to Banks (ECIB) to protect the banks from losses on account of export credit at the Pre and Post-Shipment stage given to exporters due to the risks of insolvency or protracted default of the exporter borrower.
  • It functions under the administrative control of the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Department of Commerce.

Petrapole:

It is the Indian side of Petrapole-Benapole border checkpoint between India and Benapole of Bangladesh, on the Bangladesh-India border, near Bongaon in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal.

  • Petrapole border is the only land port in south Bengal. It is also the largest land customs station in Asia.
  • The landport alone accounts for nearly 60 per cent of the bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh.

wagah_borders

‘#iCommit’ initiative:

Launched on the occasion of World Environment Day.

  • The ‘#iCommit’ initiative is centred around the idea of building an energy resilient future.
  • The calls upon all stakeholders and individuals to continue moving towards energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainability to create a robust and resilient energy system in the future.
  • The initiative is driven by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), under the administration of Ministry of Power.
  • It includes a diverse set of players such as Governments, Corporates, Multilateral and Bilateral Organisations, Think Tanks and Individuals.

Healthy and Energy Efficient Buildings Initiative:

  • Launched by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) MAITREE program.
  • This initiative will address the challenges of retrofitting existing buildings and air conditioning systems so that they are both healthy and energy efficient.

The Market Integration and Transformation Program for Energy Efficiency (MAITREE), under which this initiative has been launched, is a part of the US-India bilateral Partnership between the Ministry of Power and USAID and is aimed at accelerating the adoption of cost-effective energy efficiency as a standard practice within buildings, and specifically focuses on cooling.

 

Articles to be covered tomorrow:

  1. Insolvency code.
  2. Sixth mass extinction.
  3. Consumer confidence survey.