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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 23 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. Madhubani Paintings.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. Appointment of Government Servants as Gram Panchayat Administrator.

2. E-commerce sites must state ‘country of origin,’ says Centre.

3. International Union of Railways (UIC).

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Kakrapar Atomic Plant achieves Criticality.

2. Why Lonar Lake turned pink?

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Vriksharopan Abhiyan.

2. Indian Bullfrog.

 


GS Paper  : 1


 

Topics Covered: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

Madhubani Paintings:

Context:

Face masks adorned with Madhubani paintings in demand.

About Madhubani paintings:

  • Madhubani means ‘forest of honey’.
  • It is a style of folk painting old enough to find mention in some of the ancient Indian texts like the holy Ramayana.
  • It is also known as Mithila, for its origin, is said to be the Mithila region in Bihar.
  • Traditionally, the Madhubani paintings were created using fingers and twigs, and items like matchsticks have come to be used in their creation in recent times.
  • This style of painting has been traditionally done by the women of the region, though today men are also involved to meet the demand.
  • These paintings are popular because of their tribal motifs and use of bright earthy colours.

Madhubani_paintings

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

Appointment of Government Servants as Gram Panchayat Administrator:

Context:

Recently, the Bombay High Court passed an interim order directing that a government servant of the local authority be appointed as an administrator of gram panchayats in Maharashtra.

What’s the issue?

The High Court passed an interim order after two petitions were filed on the Maharashtra Village Panchayat (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, and the government resolutions (GRs) issued by the State Rural Development Department.

  • The GRs and ordinance were challenged on various grounds and relate to the appointment of private individuals as administrators of gram panchayats.
  • A group of petitions also challenged an ordinance, which amended Section 151 of the Maharashtra Village Panchayats Actby allowing appointment of administrators in case the State Election Commission (SEC) could not hold elections due to a natural calamity, pandemic emergency, financial emergency or administrative emergency.

Petitioners’ arguments:

The appointments of private administrators is not warranted in law and such mass appointments will have a lasting adverse impact on the local governance.

There are enough officers from different departments of the State and local authorities to be appointed as administrators, and this excuse is only to achieve certain political ends.

State government’s arguments:

  • There is an urgent need for administrators to run the panchayats as pandemic has halted the election process.
  • There are a large number of gram panchayats in the State and the government servants are already overburdened. So, it is difficult to appoint them as administrators.

What has the Court ruled?

As an interim measure, the administrator to be appointed under the ordinance and resolutions, should be a government servant or an officer from the local authority.

  • If not available and the appointment of a private individual is to be made, then each such order shall record the reasons because of which such officer was not available.
  • The criteria that administrators have to be “a resident of the village and on the voters’ list” is directory, not mandatoryin nature.
  • Local authority officesshould be the first choice for appointment as an administrator.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

E-commerce sites must state ‘country of origin,’ says Centre:

Context:

The Centre told the Delhi High Court that all e-commerce entities, including Amazon, Flipkart, and Snapdeal, have to ensure the mandatory declaration of country of origin of imported products sold on their site.

What’s the issue?

The affidavit came in response to a petition which argued that the economy of the nation would suffer in the event the e-commerce websites continuing to not mention the manufacturing country or country of origin of products on their websites.

Legal provisions in this regard:

  • The laws relating to the issue have been enacted under the Legal Metrology Act, 2009 and the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011.
  • Enforcement of the provisions of the Act and Rules rested with the States and UTs governments.
  • Whenever violations are observed, action is taken by the legal metrology officials of the States/ UTs governments in accordance with the law.

The Consumer Protection Act 2019 also mandates to display the ‘country of origin’ by the e-commerce entities.

What are the issues present?

Many e-commerce sites say, they function as a ‘marketplace-based’ e-commerce model in which they only act as an ‘intermediary’.

They have ensured that a data field pertaining to ‘country of origin’ is available on their system, which may be filled in by a seller when creating a new product listing.

However, they have not made it mandatory, because the law does not mandate a disclosure of the ‘country of origin/manufacture/assembly’, in the case of India-manufactured goods.

  • In many cases, finished goods sourced from different countries are packed together or assembled in a third country, prior to their shipment to India.
  • Therefore, It could not be simply presumed that the Rules intended that the last country of export alone be declared as the “country of origin”, unless the law was amended or clarified to expressly state so.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

International Union of Railways (UIC):

Context:

DG RPF Arun Kumar nominated as Vice-Chairman of International Union of Railways.

About UIC:

The UIC is the global platform for railway systems working on inter-operability, developing common technical standards for railways across the world and strengthening what is called “rail diplomacy”.

Formation: October 17, 1922; 97 years ago.

Purpose: Promote rail transport at world level
Meet the challenges of mobility and sustainable development.

Headquarters: Paris, France.

Members: 144 including India.

Sources: pib.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

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.

Kakrapar Atomic Plant achieves Criticality

Context:

Third unit at Kakrapar Atomic Power Plant in Gujarat achieves criticality.

Insta Facts:

  • The first Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) of 220 MWe was commissioned on May 6, 1993, while the second unit of similar capacity was commissioned on September 1, 1995. These two units were based on Canadian technology.
  • The third reactor at Kakrapar is the front runner in a series of 16 indigenous 700 MWe PHWRs which are under various stages of development.
  • Four units of the 700MWe reactor are currently being built at Kakrapar (KAPP-3 and 4) and Rawatbhata (RAPS-7 and 8).
  • Currently, nuclear power capacity constitutes less than 2% of the total installed capacity of 3,68,690 MW (end-January 2020).

What is criticality or when a rector is said to be critical?

A reactor is said to be critical when the nuclear fuel inside a reactor sustains a fission chain reaction, where each fission event releases a sufficient number of neutrons to sustain a series of reactions. Criticality is first step towards power production.

  • In simple terms, the power plant reached the normal operating condition of a reactor. It indicates that the plant is now set to generate power.

Why is this achievement significant?

This is a landmark event in India’s domestic civilian nuclear programme given that KAPP-3 is the country’s first 700 MWe (megawatt electric) unit, and the biggest indigenously developed variant of the Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR).

Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor:

A PHWR is a nuclear power reactor, commonly using unenriched natural uranium as its fuel, that uses heavy water (deuterium oxide D2O) as its coolant and moderator.

  • The heavy water coolant is kept under pressure, allowing it to be heated to higher temperatures without boiling, much as in a typical pressurized water reactor.
  • While heavy water is significantly more expensive than ordinary light water, it yields greatly enhanced neutron economy, allowing the reactor to operate without fuel enrichment facilities (mitigating the additional capital cost of the heavy water) and generally enhancing the ability of the reactor to efficiently make use of alternate fuel cycles.

nuclear_power

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

Why Lonar Lake turned pink?

Context:

Maharashtra’s Lonar Lake had turned Pink in June this year. Lakhs of people including the scientists were curious about this colour-change.

What’s the reason behind colour change?

  • It was due to a salt-loving bacteria (red-coloured archaeal strains classified as halophilic archaea or haloarchaea). It is associated with high salinity and alkalinity (pH).
  • Pink colour of the water was not permanent- Once the biomass of the microbes settled at the bottom, the water became transparent during one such experiment at the labs.

These findings are based on a report by Agharkar Research Institute (ARI) in Pune, an autonomous body under the Department of Science and Technology.

Other Factors:

Absence of rain, less human interference and high temperature resulted in the evaporation of water which increased its salinity and pH.

The increased salinity and pH facilitated the growth of halophilic microbes, mainly Haloarchae.

Finding related to flamingos:

During the investigation, researchers also came across an interesting incidental finding related to flamingos that visit the lake.

  • The plumage of the bird is pink or reddish in colour because of ingestion of carotenoids-rich food.
  • This bacteria, which produces a pink pigment, is ingested by these birds and they get carotenoid-rich food, because of that their plumage is pink in colour.

Insta Facts:

  • Lonar crater lake was identified as a unique geographical site by a British officer named CJE Alexander in 1823.
  • It is an ancient circular lake created by a meteorite strike in Maharashtra.
  • Lonar crater became a geo-heritage site in 1979.
  • Lonar Lake lies within the only known extraterrestrial impact crater found within the great Deccan Traps, a huge basaltic formation in India (Source:Wikipedia).

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims


Vriksharopan Abhiyan:

  • Organised by the Coal Ministry.
  • It is a large-scale plantation drive involving all coal/lignite PSUs.
  • Under this, large scale plantation will be carried out in colonies, offices, and mines and in other suitable areas of coal and Ignite PSUs.

Indian Bullfrog:

  • Scientific name: Hoplobatrachus tigerinus.
  • IUCN status: Least Concern category.
  • Habitats: South and South-East Asia.
  • It is the largest frog found in the Indian Subcontinent.
  • They often engage in cannibalism by feeding on smaller individuals of their own kind and on other frogs.
  • Its loud croaking call, attracts the opposite sex, but also predators.
  • It is protected under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act of India, 1972.

Indian_Bullfrog

Note:

Current Affairs for 24th and 25th July will be uploaded shortly.


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