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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 1 August 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 2:

1. What is a whip?

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Gramodyog Vikas Yojana.

2. What are Smog towers?

3. Report on lead poisoning by UNICEF.

4. Mullaperiyar Dam issue.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Young Scientist Award.

2. SKOCH Gold Award.

3. Mahatma Gandhi Setu.

4. Muslim Women’s Rights Day.

5. United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

What is a whip?

Context:

Congress chief whip in the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly has moved the Supreme Court against a State High Court direction to the Speaker to maintain status quo in the disqualification proceedings initiated against ousted MLAs under the anti-defection law.

What’s the issue?

According to chief Whip, the High Court order on July 24 violated a Constitution Bench judgment of the Supreme Court in the Kihoto Hollohan of 1992.

  • The verdict had categorically held that courts should not intervene in disqualification proceedings prior to a final decision from the Speaker. Judicial review of disqualification proceedings was very limited.

In this case, the High Court, however, had intervened at the stage of notice in the disqualification action.

What is a whip?

A whip is an official of a political party who acts as the party’s ‘enforcer’ inside the legislative assembly or house of parliament.

  • Parties appoint a senior member from among their House contingents to issue whips — this member is called a Chief Whip, and he/she is assisted by additional Whips.
  • India inherited the concept of the whip from the British parliamentary system.

(Note: A whip in parliamentary parlance is also a written order that party members be present for an important vote, or that they vote only in a particular way.)

Role of whips:

They try to ensure that their fellow political party legislators attend voting sessions and vote according to their party’s official policy.

 What happens if a whip is disobeyed?

A legislator may face disqualification proceedings if she/he disobeys the whip of the party unless the number of lawmakers defying the whip is 2/3rds of the party’s strength in the house. Disqualification is decided by the Speaker of the house.

 Limitations of whip:

There are some cases such as Presidential elections where whips cannot direct a Member of Parliament (MP) or Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) to vote in a particular fashion.

Types of whips:

There are three types of whips or instructions issued by the party

  1. One-line whip: Issued to inform members of a party about a vote. It allows a member to abstain in case they decide not to follow the party line.
  2. Two-line whip: Issued to direct the members to be present in the House at the time of voting.
  3. Three-line whip: Issued to members directing them to vote as per the party line.

party_whip

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. 10th schedule of the Indian constitution is related to?
  2. What is a whip?
  3. Who is a chief whip?
  4. Overview of Supreme Court judgment in Kihoto Hollohan case of 1992.
  5. What happens if a whip is disobeyed?
  6. Limitations of whip.
  7. Types of whips.

Mains Link:

What is a whip? Discuss the roles and functions that a chief whip would play when a government faces no-confidence motion in the lower house? 

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Employment related issues.

Gramodyog Vikas Yojana:

Context:

Ministry of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) has approved a programme for the benefit of artisans involved in manufacturing of Agarbatti under the ‘Gramodyog Vikas Yojana’ (As a pilot project).

Key points:

  1. Initially four Pilot Projects will be started, including one in North Eastern part of the country.
  2. Each targeted cluster of artisans will be supported with about 50 Automatic Agarbatti making machines and 10 Mixing machines.
  3. Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) will provide  training, and assist artisans working in this area.

Significance:

The programme aims to enhance the production of ‘Agarbatti’ in the country and create sustainable employment for the traditional Artisans, by providing them regular employment and increase in their wages. This will give a boost to the domestic Agarbatti Industry in the country and will reduce imports of Agarbatti.

Sources: pib.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation and pollution related issues.

What are Smog towers?

A smog tower is a structure designed to work as a large-scale air purifier.

 How it works?

This structure fitted with multiple layers of filters which trap fine dust particles suspended in the air as it passes through them.

  • Air is drawn through fans installed at the top of the tower, passed through filters, and then released near the ground.

Why in News?

Supreme Court, last year, had directed authorities to take measures, including asking the Delhi government and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to submit a comprehensive plan on setting up “smog towers” in the capital.

  • Later, in January, the Court directed that two towers should be installed in the capital by April on a pilot project basis.
  • This timeline was never met,

Are they helpful?

Yes, smog towers have been experimented with in recent years in cities in the Netherlands, China, South Korea and Poland. The first such tower was erected in 2015, in Rotterdam, Netherlands (it can filter 30,000 cubic metres of air per hour around it).

Experts have said that the towers would create “clean air zones” in the city. A tower would reduce 50% of the particulate matter load — fine dust particles suspended in the air — in an area of 1 kilometre in the direction of the wind, as well as 200 metres each along the sides of the tower and against the direction of the wind.

Why Delhi needs such measures?

Air pollution in the national capital has been an issue of concern for quite some time as Delhi and its suburbs have ranked among the most polluted cities in the world frequently since 2014, when the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Delhi the most polluted city in the world.

  • Pollution levels in Delhi increase dramatically during winter — on some days to nearly 10 times above the limits prescribed by WHO, posing a serious risk to vulnerable and also healthy populations.

Reasons behind high pollution levels?

  • Construction work, industrial and vehicular pollution — in and around the city.
  • The situation is aggravated at the start of winter by smoke from stubble-burning in northwestern states, coupled with unfavourable meteorological conditions, such as calm winds, low temperatures, and fewer sunny days.

Measures taken to control pollution:

  1. Persuading farmers in Punjab and Haryana to use mechanical alternatives to stubble-burning.
  2. Closure of thermal power stations in Delhi.
  3. Making industries use piped natural gas.
  4. Control measures taken under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) when pollution levels spike.

smog_tower

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About National Clean Air Programme.
  2. Who releases the national air quality index?
  3. Composition and functions of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
  4. What is natural gas?
  5. Overview of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).

Mains Link:

Discuss the measures needed to reduce pollution levels in the National Capital.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

Report on lead poisoning by UNICEF:

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and international non-profit organization focused on pollution issues, Pure Earth have released a report- “The Toxic Truth: Children’s exposure to lead pollution undermines a generation of potential”.

Key findings:

  1. Lead poisoning is affecting children on a “massive and previously unknown scale”.
  2. Around 1 in 3 children – up to 800 million globally – have blood lead levels at, or above, 5 micrograms per decilitre (µg/dL), the amount at which action is required.
  3. Nearly half of these children live in South Asia.

How lead affects children?

  1. Lead is a potent neurotoxin that causes irreparable harm to children’s brains.
  2. It is particularly destructive to babies and children under the age of 5 as it damages their brain before they have had the opportunity to fully develop, causing them lifelong neurological, cognitive and physical impairment.
  3. Childhood lead exposure has also been linked to mental health and behavioural problems and an increase in crime and violence.
  4. Older children suffer severe consequences, including increased risk of kidney damage and cardiovascular diseases in later life.

How it costs countries?

Childhood lead exposure is estimated to cost lower- and middle-income countries almost USD $1 trillion due to lost economic potential of these children over their lifetime.

Factors contributing to lead poisoning:

  1. Informal and substandard recycling of lead-acid batteries.
  2. Increase in vehicle ownership, combined with the lack of vehicle battery recycling regulation and infrastructure.
  3. Workers in dangerous and often illegal recycling operations break open battery cases, spill acid and lead dust in the soil.
  4. They also smelt the recovered lead in crude, open-air furnaces that emit toxic fumes poisoning the surrounding community.

Need of the hour:

  1. A coordinated and concerted approach across the following areas:
  2. Proper Monitoring and reporting.
  3. Prevention and control measures.
  4. Management, treatment and remediation.
  5. Public awareness and behaviour change.
  6. Legislation and policy.
  7. Global and regional action.

Conclusion:

It is clear from evidence compiled that lead poisoning is a much greater threat to the health of children than previously understood. Although much more research needs to be conducted, enough data have recently emerged for decisive action to begin – and it must begin now.

Insta Facts:

  1. Lead in the body is distributed to the brain, liver, kidney and bones. It is stored in the teeth and bones, where it accumulates over time.
  2. Lead in bone is released into blood during pregnancy and becomes a source of exposure to the developing foetus.
  3. WHO has identified lead as 1 of 10 chemicals of major public health concern.
  4. WHO has joined with  the United Nations Environment Programme to form the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint. 

 InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. 10 chemicals of major public health concern identified by WHO.
  2. Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint has been launched by?
  3. Lead is mainly used in?
  4. Largest primary producers of lead.
  5. Lead production and consumption in India.

Mains Link:

Write a note on lead poisoning and ways to prevent it.

toxic

Sources: down to earth.

 

Topics Covered: Disaster management.

Mullaperiyar Dam issue:

Context:

The Supreme Court has decided to consider the plea demanding to reduce the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam during monsoon, on August 24.

Background:

The petition was filed by a resident of Idukki district of Kerala to lower the water level of Mullaperiyar dam to 130 feet saying there is a danger of earthquakes and floods in the area as monsoon progresses in the State.

Mullaperiyar Dam- what you need to know?

  • Although the dam is located in Kerala, it is operated by Tamil Nadu following an 1886 lease indenture for 999 years (the Periyar Lake Lease Agreement) that was signed between the Maharaja of Travancore and the Secretary of State for India for the Periyar Irrigation works.
  • Constructed between 1887 and 1895, the dam redirected the river to flow towards the Bay of Bengal, instead of the Arabian Sea and provide water to the arid rain region of Madurai in Madras Presidency.
  • The dam is located on the confluence of the Mullayar and Periyar rivers inKerala’s Idukki district.

What’s the issue surrounding?

The lease agreement was renewed in the 1970s by both Tamil Nadu and Kerala giving the former rights to the land and water from the dam, besides the authority to develop hydropower projects at the site. In return, Kerala would receive rent from Tamil Nadu.

  • The first cracks in this agreement surfaced in 1979 when a minor earthquake had resulted in cracks in the dam.
  • The Central Water Commission, under the Government of India, conducted a study and recommended lowering the water stored in the dam’s reservoir to 136 feet from 142 feet.
  • If definitive measures were implemented, only then could the Tamil Nadu administration raise water levels to the dam’s full capacity of 152 feet.

 What Tamil Nadu says?

Tamil Nadu claims that although it has undertaken measures to strengthen the dam, the Kerala government has blocked any attempt to raise the reservoir water level – resulting in losses for Madurai farmers.

Kerala’s arguments:

Kerala, however, highlights fears of devastation by residents living downstream in the earthquake-prone district of Idukki.

Scientists have argued that if there is an earthquake in the region measuring above six on the Richter scale, the lives of over three million people will come under grave danger.

Supreme Court verdict:

  1. In 2006, the Supreme court gave Tamil Nadu legal sanction to raise the water level to 142 feet.
  2. In response, Kerala amended the 2003 Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation Act, restricting the water level to 136 feet.
  3. In 2012, however, an Apex court-appointed committee stated that the dam was “structurally and hydrologically safe” and that the Tamil Nadu government could raise water levels up to 142 feet.
  4. In 2014, the court event struck down the amendment to the 2003 Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation Act, calling it unconstitutional.
  5. The Supreme Court had also directed the Centre and the governments of Kerala and Tamil Nadu to set up three panels to prepare a contingency plan in case of a disaster.

Conclusion:

Even years after this verdict, the latest developments show that the Mullaperiyar dam continues to be a bone of contention between Kerala and Tamil Nadu, with mutliple interpretations on everything from the veracity of the 1886 agreement governing its use to the project’s structural safety.

Mullaperiyar_Dam

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Locations of Mullar and Periyar rivers.
  2. Location of Mullaperiyar dam?
  3. Who manages the dam?
  4. About the 1886 Periyar Lake Lease Agreement.
  5. About the Interstate River Water Disputes Act, 1956 (IRWD Act).

Mains Link:

Examine why the Mullaperiyar dam issue has become bone of contention between Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Examine if the union government can help resolve this issue.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims


Young Scientist Award:

  • Given by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
  • Given to scientists working in different institutions of CSIR for their achievements in biological sciences, chemical sciences, earth, atmosphere, ocean and planetary sciences, engineering sciences and physical sciences.
  • The award comprises a citation, a cash award of Rs 50,000, and a plaque.

SKOCH Gold Award:

Context: Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) has received SKOCH Gold Award for its “Empowerment of Tribals through IT enabled Scholarship Schemes” project.

About SKOCH Awards:

  • Instituted in 2003, it is the highest civilian honour in the country conferred by an independent organisation.
  • It recognises people, projects and institutions that go the extra mile to make India a better nation.
  • It is given in the areas of digital, financial and social inclusion; governance; inclusive growth; excellence in technology and applications; change management; corporate leadership; corporate governance; citizen service delivery; capacity building; empowerment and other such softer issues.
  • It is given to both institutions/organisations and individuals.

 Mahatma Gandhi Setu:

It is bridge over the river Ganges in Bihar, India, connecting Patna in the south to Hajipur in the north.

Its length is 5,750 metres and it is the third-longest river bridge in India.

Why in News?

Western flank of Mahatma Gandhi setu reopens for traffic.

Muslim Women’s Rights Day:

Observed on August 1st.

To commemorate the first anniversary of the law against instant triple talaq- the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act.

It was on this day last year that the bill got the Presidential nod. 

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE):

Set up in 1947 by ECOSOC.

It is one of five regional commissions of the United Nations. 

UNECE’s major aim is to promote pan-European economic integration.

It includes 56 member States in Europe, North America and Asia. 

 

Articles to be covered tomorrow:

  1. 1947 pact on Gurkha Soldiers.

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