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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 26 June 2020

InstaLinks help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically.

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

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 1:

1. Pune NGO aims to revive spirit of ‘Lal-Bal-Pal’.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report.

2. Kala Azar.

3. International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 2020.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Urban, multi-State cooperative banks to come under RBI supervision.

2. Decarbonizing Transport Project.

3. Ozone pollution spiked in several cities during lockdown.

4. Scheme for Promotion of academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC).

5. Styrene Gas leak case.

6. Global report on the illegal wildlife trade.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. What is the Order of the Nine Angles?

2. Nation’s top wheat contributor.

3. World’s first yoga university outside India has been launched in Los Angeles.

4. Navigating the New Normal.

 


GS Paper  : 1


 

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

Pune NGO aims to revive spirit of ‘Lal-Bal-Pal’

Context:

In a bid to revive the Independence-era spirit of the ‘Lal-Bal-Pal’, named after nationalists Lala Lajpat Rai, ‘Lokmanya’ Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal, and to mark the death centenary of Tilak, Pune-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) ‘Sarhad’ will launch a series of literary and cultural programmes to strengthen connections between Maharashtra and West Bengal.

Rationale behind the event:

Punjab, Bengal and Maharashtra have played significant roles during the struggle for Indian Independence. The historical association and cultural bonds among the three States was solidified in the modern era by the trinity of ‘Lal-Bal-Pal’.

After Independence, while the socio-cultural bonds between Maharashtra and Punjab have grown stronger, Maharashtra’s ties with Bengal have somewhat weakened, despite a rich pedigree of literary and cultural affinity in the past.

Highlights:

  • It will be a two-year-long event and is named ‘Maharashtra-Bengal friendship chapter’.
  • It is envisioned as a people’s cultural revivalist movement in these two States.
  • It will commence on Tilak’s death centenary (August 1, 1920-August 1, 2020) and will go on till August 15, 2022 to mark the 150th birth anniversary of the great philosopher, Sri Aurobindo Ghosh.

Brief overview of contributions made by Lal- Bal- Pal:

  • The triumvirate had played a stellar role in the second phase of the Swadeshi movement which gathered momentum after the partition of Bengal by Lord Curzon in 1905, and which called for the boycott of all imported items and the use of Indian-made goods.
  • Lal-Bal-Pal mobilized Indians across the country against the Bengal partition, and the demonstrations, strikes and boycotts of British goods that began in Bengal soon spread to other regions in a broader protest against the Raj.
  • The nationalist movement gradually faded with the arrest of its main leader Bal Gangadhar Tilakand retirement of Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurobindo Ghosh from active politics.

Some facts:

  1. In 1895, Lal started the Punjab National Bank—the first Indian bank to begin solely with Indian capital, and that continues to function till date.
  2. In 1917, Lal founded the Indian Home Rule League of America there.
  3. In 1884, Tilak founded the Deccan Education Society in Pune, and under the banner, opened the New English School for primary studies and Fergusson College for higher education.
  4. Bipin Chandra Pal was of a strong opinion that a mass reliance on Swadeshi goods would help people get rid of their poverty.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. First Indian to join the Indian Civil Service (ICS).
  2. Contributions of Aurobindo Ghosh.
  3. Who translated Tilak’s Geetarahasya and Sant Tukaram’s abhangs into Bengali?
  4. Contributions of Rabindranath Tagore.
  5. Who established Shantiniketan?
  6. Who was the Viceroy of India when the partition of Bengal took place?
  7. Objectives of Swadeshi movement.
  8. Key contributions of Lal Bal pal.

Mains Link:

Discuss the key contributions of Lal Bal Pal to India’s freedom struggle.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Issues related to education.

Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report

Context:

2020 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report released by UNESCO.

In line with its mandate, the 2020 GEM Report assesses progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) on education and its ten targets, as well as other related education targets in the SDG agenda.

Key findings:

COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities in education systems across the world. About 40% of low- and lower-middle-income countries have not supported learners at risk of exclusion during this crisis, such as the poor, linguistic minorities and learners with disabilities.

Efforts to maintain learning continuity during the pandemic may have actually worsened exclusion trends. During the height of school closures in April 2020, almost 91% of students around the world were out of school.

Issues with alternatives: Education systems responded with distance learning solutions, all of which offered less or more imperfect substitutes for classroom instruction.

  • Many poorer countries opted for radio and television lessons, 55% of low-income, 73% of lower-middle-income and 93% of upper-middle-income countries adopted for online learning platforms for primary and secondary education.
  • Even as governments increasingly rely on technology, the digital divide lays bare the limitations of this approach. Not all students and teachers have access to adequate internet connection, equipment, skills and working conditions to take advantage of available platforms.

School closures also interrupted support mechanisms from which many disadvantaged learners benefit.

  • Resources for blind and deaf students may not be available outside schools.
  • Children with learning disabilities or those who are on the autism spectrum may struggle with independent work in front of a computer or the disruption of daily school routines.
  • For poor students who depend on school for free meals or even free sanitary napkins, closures have been a major blow.

Cancellation of examinations in many countries, including India, may result in scoring dependent on teachers’ judgements of students instead.

  • This could be affected by stereotypes of certain types of students.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Who releases this report?
  2. Overview of report.
  3. About UNESCO and its key programmes.
  4. What are SDGs?
  5. SDG goals on education.

Mains Link:

Discuss how global COVID 19 pandemic has affected the education worldwide.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

Kala Azar

Context:

The only drug available against leishmaniasis, miltefosine, is rapidly losing its effectiveness because of emerging resistance to this drug due to a decrease in its accumulation inside the parasite, which is necessary for the drug to kill the parasite.

  • So, a team of researchers had been exploring ways to tackle miltefosine resistance. This team has now shown allosteric modulation of transporter proteins of Leishmania using computationally-designed synthetic peptides.
  • These promising research outcomes indicate that this approach could prove useful in the long run to develop novel therapeutics against drug-resistant Leishmania parasites.

Kala-azar:

What is it? Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), also known as kala-azar, black fever, and Dumdum fever, is the most severe form of leishmaniasis and, without proper diagnosis and treatment, is associated with high fatality.

Spread: Caused by protozoan parasites of the Leishmania genus, migrates to the internal organs such as the liver, spleen (hence “visceral”), and bone marrow.

Signs and symptoms include fever, weight loss, fatigue, anemia, and substantial swelling of the liver and spleen.

Additional facts:

Leishmaniasis is a neglected tropical disease affecting almost 100 countries including India.

It is caused by a parasite called Leishmania, which is transmitted through the bite of sand flies.

There are three main forms of leishmaniasis – visceral, which affects multiple organs and is the most serious form of the disease, cutaneous, which causes skin sores and is the most common form); and mucocutaneous, which causes skin and mucosal lesion).

kala_azar

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Leishmaniasis.
  2. Forms of leishmaniasis.
  3. Different names of Kala Azar.
  4. Symptoms. 
  5. What are protozoans?
  6. What is miltefosine used for?

Mains Link:

How is kala- azar caused? Examine what measures has the government taken to tackle those disease.

Sources: pib.

 

Topics Covered: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.

International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 2020

Observed on 26 June.

Theme: “Better Knowledge for Better Care”.

Why June 26th?

The date June 26 is to commemorate Lin Zexu’s dismantling of the opium trade in Humen, Guangdong, ending in June 25 1839, just before the First Opium War in China.

On this occasion, UNODC World Drug Report 2020 was also released.

Highlights:

  • Around 269 million people used drugs worldwide in 2018, which is 30 per cent more than in 2009.
  • Over 35 million people suffer from drug use disorders.
  • Rising unemployment and reduced opportunities caused by the pandemic are also likely to disproportionately affect the poorest, making them more vulnerable to drug use and also to drug trafficking and cultivation in order to earn money.
  • Most used substance in 2018: Cannabis. Cannabis also remains the main drug that brings people into contact with the criminal justice system.
  • Most harmful: Opioids.
  • Who use them? Adolescents and young adults account for the largest share of those using drugs, while young people are also the most vulnerable to the effects of drugs because they use the most and their brains are still developing.
  • Low-income countries still suffer a critical shortage of pharmaceutical opioids for pain management and palliative care.

Indian Government has taken several policy and other initiatives to deal with drug trafficking problem:

  • It constituted Narco-Coordination Centre (NCORD) in November, 2016 and revived the scheme of “Financial Assistance to States for Narcotics Control”.
  • In 2017, the government approved new Reward Guidelines with increased quantum of reward for interdiction or seizure of different illicit drugs.
  • Narcotics Control Bureau has been provided funds for developing a new software i.e. Seizure Information Management System (SIMS)which will create a complete online database of drug offences and offenders.
  • The government has constituted a fund called “National Fund for Control of Drug Abuse” to meet the expenditure incurred in connection with combating illicit traffic in Narcotic Drugs; rehabilitating addicts, and educating public against drug abuse, etc.
  • The government is also conducting National Drug Abuse Survey to measure trends of drug abuse in India through Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment with the help of National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre of AIIMS.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About UNODC.
  2. Overview of scheme of “Financial Assistance to States for Narcotics Control”.
  3. Composition of Narco-Coordination Centre (NCORD).
  4. National Fund for Control of Drug Abuse.
  5. About Narcotics Control Bureau.
  6. International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and theme this year.

Mains Link:

India is vulnerable to narcotic drug trafficking. Critically examine its causes. Also comment on the role of Government in combating drug problem.

Sources: UN, the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

Urban, multi-State cooperative banks to come under RBI supervision

Context:

To ensure that depositors are protected, the Centre has decided to bring all urban and multi-State cooperative banks under the direct supervision of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The Union Cabinet has approved an ordinance to this effect.

How were these banks regulated so far?

Currently, these banks come under dual regulation of the RBI and the Registrar of Co-operative Societies. 

  • The role of registrar of cooperative societies includes incorporation, registration, management, audit, supersession of board and liquidation.
  • RBI is responsible for regulatory functions such maintaining cash reserve and capital adequacy, among others.

Co-operative banks are registered under the States Cooperative Societies Act. They come under the regulatory ambit of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) under two laws, namely, the Banking Regulations Act, 1949, and the Banking Laws (Co-operative Societies) Act, 1955.

What necessitated this?

This comes after several instances of fraud and serious financial irregularities, including the major scam at the Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank last year.

In September, the RBI was forced to supercede the PMC Bank’s board and impose strict restrictions.

Implications of the latest move:

Empower the RBI to regulate all urban and multi-state co-operative banks on the lines of commercial banks. 

It will also provide more security to depositors.

  • There are 1482 urban co-operatives banks and 58 multi-state co-operative banks.
  • These banks have a depositor base of 8.6 crores, who have saved a huge amount of Rs. 4.84 lakh crore with these banks.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are cooperative banks?
  2. How they are regulated?
  3. What is dual regulation?
  4. Provisions under which these banks are constituted and regulated?

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Decarbonizing Transport Project

Context:

NITI Aayog and the International Transport Forum (ITF) of OECD jointly launched the ‘Decarbonizing Transport in Emerging Economies’ (DTEE) project in India on 24June.

About the project:

The ambitious five-year project will help India develop a pathway towards a low-carbon transport system through the development of modelling tools and policy scenarios.

  • The project will design a tailor-made transport emissions assessment framework for India.
  • The India project is carried out in the wider context of the International Transport Forum’s Decarbonizing Transport initiative.

Decarbonising Transport in Emerging Economies (DTEE):

It supports transport decarbonisation across different world regions.

Current participants: India, Argentina, Azerbaijan, and Morocco.

Implementation: The DTEE is collaboration between the International Transport Forum (ITF) and the Wuppertal Institute, supported by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

How this will help India?

The transport sector of India is the third most greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting sector, where the major contribution comes from the road transport sector.

Out of the total carbon dioxide emissions in India, 13% come from the transport sector. These emissions have more than tripled since 1990.

In India, CO2 emitted per inhabitant was just about a twentieth of that of an average OECD country, yet, India’s transport CO2 emissions are likely to increase by almost 6% annually to 2030.

This project will provide the government with a detailed understanding of current and future transport activity and the related CO2 emissions as a basis for their decision-making.

International Transport Forum (ITF):

It was created in 2006 by ministers from 43 countries.

It is an intergovernmental organisation within the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with 60 member countries.

It acts as a think tank for transport policy and organises the Annual Summit of transport ministers.

ITF is the only global body that covers all transport modes.

The ITF is administratively integrated with the OECD, yet politically autonomous.

It is headquartered in Paris, France.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is OECD?
  2. What is ITF? Members?
  3. Participants of DTEE.
  4. What is International Climate Initiative (IKI)?
  5. Who organises the annual summit of transport ministers?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of DTEE.

Sources: pib.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Ozone pollution spiked in several cities during lockdown

Context:

According to an analysis by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), while particulate matter and nitrous oxide levels fell during the lockdown, ozone — also a harmful pollutant — increased in several cities.

Factors responsible for tropospheric ozone pollution:

Ozone is primarily a sunny weather problem in India that otherwise remains highly variable during the year.

The surge is because of few characteristics of summer pollution. These include: high winds, intermittent rains and thunderstorms, and high temperature and heat waves.

What is Ozone?

Ozone (O3) is a colourless, reactive oxidant gas that is a major constituent of atmospheric smog.

How Tropospheric, or ground level ozone is formed?

Ozone is not directly emitted by any source but is formed by photochemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and gases in the air under the influence of sunlight and heat.

This happens when pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, industrial boilers, refineries, chemical plants, and other sources chemically react in the presence of sunlight.

Concerns:

Ozone at ground level is a harmful air pollutant, because of its effects on people and the environment, and it is the main ingredient in “smog.”

Elevated ground-level ozone exposures affect agricultural crops and trees, especially slow growing crops and long-lived trees.

Ozone

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Ozone?
  2. Tropospheric GS Stratospheric ozone.
  3. How ground level ozone is formed?
  4. Role of Ozone in the formation of smog.
  5. What are VOCs?

Mains Link:

Discuss the health concerns associated with the formation of ozone at the ground level.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Scheme for Promotion of academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC)

Context:

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras are collaborating with their counterparts in Germany to develop new materials for green energy solutions.

  • This project has been taken up under the Scheme for Promotion of academic and Research Collaboration or SPARC.
  • It aims at developing alternative technologies to produce green hydrogen in anticipation of transition to hydrogen-based economy.

Need for and significance of the project:

Conventional methods of generating hydrogen result in a large quantity of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that imposed serious environmental concerns.

This project aims to develop novel low cost electrocatalysts for hydrogen evolution reactions.

What is SPARC?

It is an initiative of the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

  • The scheme aims at improving the research ecosystem of India’s higher educational institutions by facilitating academic and research collaborations between Indian Institutions and the best institutions in the world.
  • Under this Scheme, 600 joint research proposals will be awarded for 2 years to facilitate strong research collaboration between Indian research groups with the best in class faculty and renowned research groups in the leading universities of the world, in areas that are at the cutting edge of science or with direct social relevance to the mankind, specifically India.

Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur is the National Coordinating Institute to implement the SPARC programme.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Disaster management.

Styrene Gas leak case

Context:

Andhra Pradesh State government has extended the time for submission of report by the high-power committee that is probing the styrene monomer vapour leak incident at the LG Polymers unit till June 30.

Background:

The committee was constituted to investigate into the May 7 incident that had killed 12 persons and hospitalised many others residing in the vicinity of the factory located at R.R. Venkatapuram village.

  • The government had earlier asked the committee to submit the report by June 22.
  • The committee, besides probing the cause of the incident, would also find possible solutions to address the concerns raised by the victims and recommend steps to be taken, and identify hazardous industries.

A quick look at Styrene Gas and its impacts:

What is Styrene?

Styrene — an organic compound used in the production of polymers, plastics and resins — is manufactured in petrochemical refineries.

It is a poisonous, inflammable gas.

It is also known as PVC gas (polyvinyl chloride), as it is used in the production of PVC.

Styrene is the 20th most-used chemical in the world, according to the World Health Organization.

Where it can be found?

The chemical can be found in air, water and soil once released into the environment. It is broken down in air in 1-2 days, while it evaporates from soil and shallow water surfaces. It is broken down by micro-organisms if it reaches soil.

Styrene occurs naturally in small quantities in some plants and foods (cinnamon, coffee beans, balsam trees and peanuts) and is also found in coal tar.

How it affects living beings?

  1. When humans are exposed to styrene, it causes eye irritation and gastro-intestinal effects.
  2. It also impacts the outer layer of tissues in the skin causing erosion and bleeding in the short term.
  3. Long-term effects include central nervous system dysfunction, depression, hearing loss and peripheral neuropathy (a numb feeling in the hands and feet).
  4. It also leads to an increase in the colour confusion index that may lead to colour blindness.
  5. Styrene is a possible carcinogen and can cause cancer under long exposure.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Styrene? Where and how it occurs?
  2. How and when liquid styrene turns into its gaseous form?
  3. Does it occur naturally?
  4. Health impacts.
  5. Applications.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to internal security.

Global report on the illegal wildlife trade

Context:

First global report on the illegal wildlife trade was recently released by FATF. It is called the “Money Laundering and the Illegal Wildlife Trade” report.

Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has described illegal wildlife trade as a “global threat”, which also has links with other organised crimes like modern slavery, drug trafficking and arms trade.

Key findings:

  1. The illegal trade is estimated to generate revenues of up to $23 billion a year.
  2. Criminals are frequently misusing the legitimate wildlife trade, as well as other import-export type businesses, as a front to move and hide illegal proceeds from wildlife crimes.
  3. They also rely regularly on corruption, complex fraud and tax evasion.
  4. There is a growing role of online marketplaces and mobile and social media-based payments to facilitate movement of proceeds warranting a coordinated response from government bodies, the private sector and the civil society.
  5. According to the 2016 UN World Wildlife Crime report, criminals are illegally trading products derived from over 7,000 species of wild animals and plants across the world.

Challenges:

Jurisdictions often do not have the required knowledge, legislative basis and resources to assess and combat the threat posed by the funds generated through the illegal trade.

Criminal syndicates are misusing formal financial sector to launder the proceeds.

  • Funds are laundered through cash deposits, under the guise of loans or payments, e-banking platforms, licensed money value transfer systems, and third-party wire transfers via banks.
  • Accounts of innocent victims are also used and high-value payments avoided to evade detection.

Front companies, often linked to import-export industries, and shell firms are used for the movement of goods and trans-border money transfers.

What needs to be done?

  1. The report says financial probe is key to dismantling the syndicates involved, which can in turn significantly impact the associated criminal activities.
  2. Jurisdictions should consider implementing the good practices. They include providing all relevant agencies with the necessary mandate and tools; and cooperating with other jurisdictions, international bodies and the private sector.
  3. Legislative changes are necessary to increase the applicability of anti-money laundering laws to the illegal wildlife trade-linked offences.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims


What is the Order of the Nine Angles?

O9A is considered to be a satanic, anarchist group founded in the UK in the 1970s that now operates around the world, including in the US.

The group describes itself as “a diverse, and world-wide, collective of diverse groups, tribes, and individuals, who share and who pursue similar sinister, subversive, interests, aims and life-styles, and who cooperate when necessary for their mutual benefit and in pursuit of their shared aims and objectives…”

Why in News?

A US Army private has confessed to plotting an attack on his own unit by sharing secret information with this obscure satanic neo-Nazi group.

Nation’s top wheat contributor:

Madhya Pradesh (MP) this year surpassed Punjab to become the number one contributor of wheat.

Punjab, however, is still a way ahead from MP as far as per hectare productivity of wheat is concerned, which is around 52 per cent more (per hectare) than MP.

  • This year wheat was sown on 330.2 LH across the country against 296.98 LH last year.
  • Of the total wheat area in the country, MP’s share was 31 per cent, while Punjab cultivated wheat on 10.6 per cent of the total national area.

World’s first yoga university outside India has been launched in Los Angeles:

It is named Vivekananda Yoga University (VaYU).

  • VaYU will offer online graduate programmes based on scientific principles and modern research approaches to yoga.
  • Eminent Indian yoga guru Dr. H R Nagendra, Chancellor of Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (SVYASA) is the first Chairman of VaYU.

Navigating the New Normal:

  • It is a campaign launched by NITI Aayog, in partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Centre for Social and Behavioural Change (CSBC), Ashoka University, and the Ministries of Health and WCD.
  • It focusses on COVID-safe behaviours, especially wearing masks, during the ‘Unlock’ phase of the ongoing pandemic.

 

Articles to be covered tomorrow:

  1. Draft EIA notification.
  2. Few facts from PIB.