Print Friendly, PDF & Email

INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 20 July 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. Previously unknown faults at the foot of the Himalaya discovered.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. Vitamin- D and it’s significance.

2. Make the right call on ‘Malabar’ going Quad.

3. Why a separate anti-torture law?

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Solar Orbiter.

2. Assam Floods.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL).

2. Case Fatality Rate (CFR).

3. Godhan Nyay Yojana.

4. What is a vertically transmitted infection?

5. Places in News- Maguri Motapung Wetland.

 


GS Paper  : 1


 

Topics Covered: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.

Previously unknown faults at the foot of the Himalaya discovered

Context:

An oil and gas exploration company has helped geologists discover a series of faults at the foot of the Himalaya. 

  • This fault system lies in the southeastern region of Nepal and has the potential to cause earthquakes in the densely populated country.

Significance of these findings:

This network of faults show that the Himalayan deformation reaches further [about 40 kilometres further south] than we previously thought.

  • It highlights the need to look below the surface, and further afield, to fully understand earthquakes and structures within the Himalaya.

Will this fault system affect India?

The newly discovered system doesn’t appear to extend into India, but seismic waves from an earthquake occurring on them might affect regions of India near the border.

  • However, other similar faults might be present elsewhere along the southern edge of the Himalaya and might extend beneath northern India.

 Insta Concepts:

What is a fault?

fault is a fracture or zone of fractures between two blocks of rock.

  • Faults allow the blocks to move relative to each other.
  • This movement may occur rapidly, in the form of an earthquake – or may occur slowly, in the form of creep.
  • Previously unknown faults at the foot of the Himalaya discovered.

Faults are related to the movement of Earth’s tectonic plates. The biggest faults mark the boundary between two plates.

There are three kinds of faults:

  1. Strike-slip: indicate rocks are sliding past each other horizontally, with little to no vertical movement. Both the San Andreas and Anatolian Faults are strike-slip.
  2. Normal fault: create space. Two blocks of crust pull apart, stretching the crust into a valley. The Basin and Range Province in North America and the East African Rift Zone are two well-known regions where normal faults are spreading apart Earth’s crust.
  3. Thrust (reverse) faults: slide one block of crust on top of another. These faults are commonly found in collisions zones, where tectonic plates push up mountain ranges such as the Himalayas and the Rocky Mountains.

Strike-slip faults are usually vertical, while normal and reverse faults are often at an angle to the surface of the Earth. 

serface_earth

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are faults? Types?
  2. What is an epicentre?
  3. Name the major plates.
  4. Emergent vs Submergent coastlines.
  5. Most destructive earthquake waves.

Mains Link:

Discuss why Himalayan region is prone to earthquakes.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

Vitamin- D and it’s significance

Context:

There have been considerable discussions in scientific circles on the importance of vitamin D in these days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 Insta Concepts:

How is Vitamin D produced?

It is produced when sunlight (or artificial light, particularly in the ultraviolet region of 190-400 nm wavelength) falls on the skin and triggers a chemical reaction to a cholesterol-based molecule, and converts it into calcidiol in the liver and into calcitriol in the kidney.

  • Vitamin D is fat-soluble vitamin, meaning that it dissolves in fats and oils and can be stored in your body for a long time.

Its role:

It is known to help in having the right amount of calcium in the bones, catalyse the process of protecting cell membranes from damage, preventing the inflammation of tissues and helping stop tissues from forming fibres and weakening bones from becoming brittle, leading to osteoporosis.

Concerns now:

Vitamin D deficiency can affect COVID-19 high-risk patients, particularly those who are diabetic, have heart conditions, pneumonia, obesity and those who smoke.

It is also associated with infections in the respiratory tract and lung injury.

Need for supplementation:

According to a study, India, a nation of abundant sunshine, is surprisingly found to have a massive burden of vitamin D deficiency among the public irrespective of their location (urban or rural), age or gender, or whether they are poor or even rich. Hence, it is clear that vitamin D supplementation is necessary for most Indians to treat its deficiency.

What needs to be done?

Given the deficit in vitamin D, it is highly desirable for the governments to:

  • consult nutrition experts and institutions to advise and suggest the type of nutritive items that can be added to the current ‘ration’ food given to the poor, and the meals given to school children.
  • in any case, supply free of charge, vitamin D, other vitamins and calcium, in consultation with medical and public health experts regarding the dosage, frequency and other details.

With these steps, India will have armed its poor against not just the current, but future pandemics as well.

vitamin_d

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. How is Vitamin D produced in human body?
  2. Functions of Vitamin D.
  3. Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency.
  4. Examples of fat-soluble vitamins.
  5. Calcidiol and Calcitriol are related to?

Mains Link:

Discuss the role and significance of Vitamin D.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

Make the right call on ‘Malabar’ going Quad

Context:

India’s Ministry of Defence recently discussed the issue of adding Australia to the trilateral Malabar naval exercise with Japan and the United States in the Bay of Bengal later this year.

  • While no decision was reached, it appears a green signal to Australia could soon be given, making it the first time since 2007 that all members of Quad will participate in a joint military drill, aimed ostensibly at China.

Insta Concepts:

Why is China concerned about these developments?

Beijing has long opposed a coalition of democracies in the Indo-Pacific region.

It sees the maritime Quadrilateral as an Asian-NATO that seeks only to contain China’s rise.

Also, at a time of strained bilateral ties with China, India’s intention to involve Australia in the Malabar drill could only be construed as a move directed against Beijing.

Challenges for India:

Following the stand-off in Ladakh, many Indian analysts believe the time is right for India to shed its traditional defensiveness in the maritime domain.

The realists advocate an alliance with the U.S., Japan and Australia to counter Chinese moves in the Indian Ocean.

However, by “putting more pressure on China” and moving to expand its “sphere of influence into the entire Indian Ocean and the South Pacific”, India may be risking harsh consequences.

  1. At a time when India and China are negotiating a truce on the border in Eastern Ladakh, New Delhi’s invitation to Australia to participate in the Malabar exercise sends contrary signals to Beijing.
  2. If China responded churlishly through aggressive posturing in the Eastern Indian Ocean, it could needlessly open up a new front in the India-China conflict.
  3. Besides, cooperation with the U.S. and Japan without attendant benefits of strategic technology transfers will not improve the Indian Navy’s deterrence potential in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
  4. In operational terms also, it might be premature for Delhi to initiate multilateral engagement with Quad partners. With the strategic contest between the U.S. and China in East Asia and Southeast Asia hotting up, there is every possibility that the military-Quad will be used to draw India into the security dynamics of the Asia-Pacific.

Conclusion:

New Delhi should not sign up to quadrilateral engagement without a cost-benefit exercise and commensurate gains in the strategic-operational realm. What might appear politically sensible could be operationally imprudent.

Insta Facts:

  • The quadrilateral formation includes Japan, India, United States and Australia.
  • Malabar exercise started as a naval exercise between India and the U.S. in 1992, and was expanded into a trilateral format with the inclusion of Japan in 2015.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Quad- formation and members.
  2. Malabar exercise- formation and participants.
  3. Asia Pacific region vs Indo- Pacific region: Overview of geography.
  4. Important islands in South China Sea.
  5. Islands in Indian Ocean Region and related facts like 6 degree channel etc.

Mains Link:

Discuss why expansion of Malabar Exercise to include Australia is important for India.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

Why a separate anti-torture law?

Context:

The alleged torture of a father-son duo in Sattankulam town in Tamil Nadu has once again given rise to the demand for a separate law against torture.

  • It is therefore essential to examine whether the existing law is inadequate to deter incidents of custodial torture.

What constitutes torture?

Torture is not defined in the Indian Penal Code, but the definitions of ‘hurt’ and ‘grievous hurt’ are clearly laid down.

  • Though the definition of ‘hurt’ does not include mental torture, Indian courts have included psychic torture, environmental coercion, tiring interrogative prolixity, and overbearing and intimidatory methods, among others, in the ambit of torture.
  • Voluntarily causing hurt and grievous hurt to extort confession are also provided in the Code with enhanced punishment.

How Supreme Court has dealt with custodial torture cases?

  • DK Basu v. State of West Bengal case: The Court has issued guidelines that the police must follow in all cases of arrest and detention.
  • Nilabati Behera v. State of Orissa case: The Court made sure that the state could no longer escape liability in public law and had to be compelled to pay compensation.

Similarly, the Court has held in many cases that policemen found guilty of custodial death should be given the death penalty.

Observations by law commissions:

262nd Law Commission Report recommended that the death penalty be abolished except in cases of ‘terrorism-related offences’.

273rd Report of the Law Commission recommended ratification of the U.N. Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment (CAT).

  • CAT was signed by India, but is yet to be ratified.

Other safeguards:

  1. Under the Code of Criminal Procedure, a judicial magistrate inquires into every custodial death.
  2. The National Human Rights Commission has laid down specific guidelines for conducting autopsy under the eyes of the camera.

What needs to be done?

We first need to implement the law as we have it.

  • Then, the investigations, the prosecutions are not fair; these must be rectified first.
  • The police need to be trained better. The temptation to use third-degree methods must be replaced with scientific skills.

Thus, the need of the hour is to strike at the root cause of the problem and implement recommendations of various commissions to bring in necessary reforms.

Insta Facts:

About UNCAT and key provisions:

The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (commonly known as the United Nations Convention against Torture(UNCAT)) aims to prevent torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment around the world.

  • The Convention requires states to take effective measures to prevent torture in any territoryunder their jurisdiction, and forbids states to transport people to any country where there is reason to believe they will be tortured.
  • The Convention was adopted on 10 December 1984 and came into force on 26 June 1987.

26 June is now recognized as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, in honor of the Convention.

About the Committee against Torture (CAT):

It is a body of human rights experts that monitors implementation of the Convention by State parties.

The Committee is one of eight UN-linked human rights treaty bodies.

  • All state parties are obliged under the Convention to submit regular reports to the CAT on how rights are being implemented.
  • Upon ratifying the Convention, states must submit a report within one year, after which they are obliged to report every four years.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Definition of Torture under IPC.
  2. Composition and functions of Committee Against Torture (CAT).
  3. When and why is the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is observed?
  4. UNCAT- formation, members and functions.
  5. Law Commission of India- Formation, composition and functions.

Mains Link:

Why India needs a separate anti- torture law? Discuss in the light of recent incidents.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

Solar Orbiter

Context:

The European Space Agency has released the closest pictures ever taken of the Sun captured by the Solar Orbiter that was launched in February this year.

  • The spacecraft completed its first close pass of the Sun in mid-June, when it flew within 48 million miles of the Sun with 10 instruments turned on to snap the closest pictures of the giant star to date.

Observations made from these images:

  1. There are mini-flares on the sun that the scientists are calling “camp fires”.
  2. Size: These camp fires are millionths of the size of the Sun’s massive flares that are routinely observed by Earth telescopes.
  3. These small flares could have something to do with the heating process that makes the corona, the Sun’s outer atmosphere, far hotter than its surface. 

Insta Concepts:

What are Solar Flares?

It is a large explosion of magnetic energy in the Sun’s atmosphere which causes an intense burst of increased brightness.

Flares occur in active regions around sunspots.

During solar flares, the Sun releases bursts of energetic particles that enhance the solar wind that constantly emanates from the star into the surrounding space.

When these particles interact with Earth’s magnetosphere, they can cause magnetic storms that can disrupt telecommunication networks and power grids on the ground.

What is Corona?

The solar corona is the outermost layer of the Sun’s atmosphere that extends millions of kilometres into outer space.

Its temperature is more than a million degrees Celsius, which is orders of magnitude hotter than the surface of the Sun, a ‘cool’ 5500 °C.

  • After many decades of studies, the physical mechanisms that heat the corona are still not fully understood, but identifying them is considered the ‘holy grail’ of solar physics.

About Solar Orbiter Mission:

Solar Orbiter is a space mission of international collaboration between ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA.

The spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket in February 2020.

It was selected as the first medium-class mission of ESA’s Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 Programme.

  • This is the first mission that will provide images of the sun’s north and south poles using a suite of six instruments on board that will capture the spacecraft’s view.
  • It is a seven-year mission and will come within 26 million miles of the sun.
  • It will be able to brave the heat of the sun because it has a custom titanium heat shield coated in calcium phosphateso that it can endure temperatures up to 970 degrees Fahrenheit.

Solar Orbiter will set about answering four top-level science questions:

  1. What drives the solar wind and where does the coronal magnetic field originate from?
  2. How do solar transients drive heliospheric variability?
  3. How do solar eruptions produce energetic particle radiation that fills the heliosphere?
  4. How does the solar dynamo work and drive connections between the Sun and the heliosphere?

solar_orbit

InstaFacts:

  • Nineteen ESA Member States are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
  • Solar Orbiter follows the Ulysses spacecraft, another collaboration between ESA and NASA that launched in 1990.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope.
  2. What are radio waves?
  3. Different layers of sun?
  4. What are solar flares?
  5. What are Sunspots?
  6. About Sun’s Corona.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Disaster management.

Assam Floods

Assam continues to be on the edge because of its flood disaster and this has become an annual calamity. Assam sees major floods every year and every time lives are lost, millions of people get displaced, villages, crops, infrastructure get destroyed.

  • This year, almost 85 per cent area of the Kaziranga National Park has submerged.

How bad is the current flood compared to previous ones?

While floods are a regular annual feature in Assam, some years witness more destruction than others. In terms of impact on human lives, the floods of 1988, 1998 and 2004 were the worst; the 2004 floods alone affected 12.4 million people and claimed 251 lives. The current wave of floods has affected 57 lakh people. But experts say that the worst is yet to come.

Why floods are common in Assam?

Brahmaputra is braided and unstable in its entire reach in Assam except for a few places. The main reasons behind the instability of the river are high sedimentation and steep slopes.

High percentage of flood prone region: 31.05 lakh hectares of the total 78.523 lakh hectares area of the state is prone to frequent floods. And the reasons behind this high flood prone area percentage are both man-made and natural.

EARTHQUAKES/LANDSLIDES: Assam and some other parts of the northeastern region are prone to frequent earthquakes, which causes landslides. The landslides and earthquakes send in a lot of debris in the rivers, causing the river bed to rise.

BANK EROSION: Assam has also faced bank erosion around the Brahmaputra and Barak rivers as well as their tributaries. It is estimated that annually nearly 8000 hectares land is lost to erosion. Bank erosion has also affected the width of the Brahmaputra river, which has increased up to 15 km.

DAMS: Among the man-made reasons, the key cause of floods in Assam region is releasing of water from dams situated uphill. Unregulated release of water floods the Assam plains, leaving thousands of people homeless every year.

Guwahati’s topography — it’s shaped like a bowl — does make it susceptible to water logging.

Unplanned expansion of the urban areas has led to severe encroachments in the wetlands, low lying areas, hills and shrinkage of forest cover.

The river also changes course frequently and it’s virtually impossible to contain it within embankments. The pressure of the surging water takes a toll on these walls.

How governments have tried to handle the situation? Where have they failed?

Floods are a recurrent feature during the monsoons in Assam. In fact, ecologists point out that flood waters have historically rejuvenated croplands and fertilised soil in the state’s alluvial areas.

  • But it’s also a fact that for more than 60 years, the Centre and state governments have not found ways to contain the toll taken by the raging waters.

The state has primarily relied on embankments to control floods. This flood control measure was introduced in Assam in the early 1950s when the hydrology of most Indian rivers, including the Brahmaputra, was poorly understood.

But, several of the state’s embankments were reportedly breached by the floods this year.

What needs to be done now?

  1. Studying the river and the impact of climate change is a must to understand why the state gets flooded every year.
  2. Water flow information shared by China on the Brahmaputra with India, for which India pays a certain amount, should also be shared with the public, as this will help in understanding the river better and therefore help people better prepare for floods.
  3. More accurate and decentralised forecasts of rain can help in improving preparedness. Weather reports should be made available on district level and should be accessible to public.

Need for these measures:

As the economy of Assam is largely dependent on natural resources, what happens with agriculture and forests has direct effects on the livelihood of its people. During floods, water becomes contaminated, and climate change has a direct impact on the water resources sector by increasing the scarcity of freshwater, which is a constant problem in summer.

brahmaputra

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims


National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL):

It provides accreditation to Conformity Assessment Bodies (Laboratories).

It has Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) with Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (APLAC),International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation(ILAC).

It is a constituent board of Quality Council of India which is an autonomous body setup under Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT)Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

It provides accreditation in all major fields of Science and Engineering such as Biological, Chemical, Electrical, Electronics, Mechanical, Fluid-Flow, Non-Destructive etc.

  • The services are offered in a non-discriminatory manner and are accessible to all testing and calibration laboratories in India and abroad, regardless of their ownership, legal status, size and degree of independence.

Case Fatality Rate (CFR):

It is the proportion of people who die from a specified disease among all individuals diagnosed with the disease over a certain period of time. 

Godhan Nyay Yojana:

To be launched by Chhattisgarh government.

Key features:

  • Govt to procure cow dung at Rs 2/- per kg from livestock owners.
  • Repurposing procured cow dung into Vermicompost and other eco-friendly items.
  • Selling vermicompost at Rs 8/- per kg to the farmers to promote organic farming.

What is a vertically transmitted infection?

A vertically transmitted infection is an infection caused by pathogens (such as bacteria and viruses) that use mother-to-child transmission, that is, transmission directly from the mother to an embryo, fetus, or baby during pregnancy or childbirth.

Places in News- Maguri Motapung Wetland:

Maguri Motapung Beel is less than 10 km south of the more famous Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and part of the Dibru-Saikhowa Biosphere Reserve.

  • The wetland derives its name from ‘Magur’, local word for the catfish Clarius batrachus, once found here in abundance. Motapung is a village nearby, and Beel is the Assamese word for wetland.

Significance:

  • It was declared an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) in 1996.
  • Important species: Golden Mahaseer, vulnerable species (like the Swamp Francolin and the Marsh Babbler), two endangered (Greater Adjutant and Pallas’s Fish-eagle) and six critically endangered (like Baer’s Pochard, Red-headed Vulture and White-bellied Heron).

Location:

  • This reserve connects the national park in Assam to Namdapha National Park in Arunachal Pradesh, creating a big wildlife corridor of immense importance in the Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hotspot. 
  • The reserve is located within the Brahmaputra’s floodplains, and is limited by the Lohit river in the north and the Dibru in the south.

Why in News?

This wetland is 500m away from the oil well that exploded on June 9.

beel


  • Join our Official Telegram Channel HERE for Motivation and Fast Updates
  • Subscribe to our YouTube Channel HERE to watch Motivational and New analysis videos