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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 14 September 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. Pesticides Management Bill, 2020.

2. What are Trans Fats?

3. iRAD App.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Methane in Krishna-Godavari (KG) basin.

2. Living Planet Report 2020.

3. Assam Oil Well Fire, Gas Leakage Largely Tamed.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Hindi Diwas:

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

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

Pesticides Management Bill, 2020:


Why in News?

Experts have warned that few provisions in this bill will hurt farmers’ livelihood. Therefore, they have called for wider consultations on the bill and asked it to place it before a select committee.

Key issues/provisions highlighted by experts:

  • It would not allow the manufacture and export of pesticides not registered for use in India even if these are approved in other countries.
  • The bill will increase the import of formulations and will damage the export of agro-chemicals. This is against the demands presented by the Ashok Dalwai Committee, constituted in 2018 to promote domestic and indigenous industries and agricultural exports from India. The committee had recommended reduction in import and dependence on imported formulations.
  • The bill gives powers to Registration Committee (RC) to subjectively review registration of a pesticide and then suspend, cancel or even ban its usage. This would be done without any scientific evaluation.
  • It also provides for re-registration of pesticides already registered under the erstwhile 1968 Act. This will bring instability in the pesticides industry.

Background:

The Pesticides Management Bill, 2020 was approved by the Union Cabinet in February this year.  It will replace the Insecticides Act, 1968.

 Key provisions in the Bill:

  1. The Bill will regulate the business of pesticides and compensate farmers in case of losses from the use of agrochemicals.
  2. Pesticide Data: It will empower farmers by providing them with all the information about the strength and weakness of pesticides, the risk and alternatives. All information will be available openly as data in digital format and in all languages.
  3. Compensation: The Bill has a unique feature in the form of a provision for compensations in case there is any loss because of the spurious or low quality of pesticides. If required, a central fund will be formed to take care of the compensations.
  4. Organic Pesticides: The Bill also intends to promote organic pesticides.
  5. Registration of Pesticide Manufacturers: All pesticide manufacturers have to be registered and bound by the new Act, once it is passed. The advertisements of pesticides will be regulated so there should be no confusion or no cheating by the manufacturers.

pesticide

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Top 3 producers of pesticides in the world.
  2. India’s exports and imports in this segment.
  3. Crop with maximum share of pesticides consumption in India.
  4. About the Central Insecticides Board.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of the Pesticides Management Bill, 2020.

Sources: Down to Earth.

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

What are Trans Fats?


Why in News?

India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan were among countries that need to act urgently against trans-fat, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.

What has the WHO said?

  1. Industrially produced trans-fats are found in hardened vegetable fats such as margarine and ghee (clarified butter) and are often present in snack foods, baked goods and fried foods.
  2. The substance is responsible for around 500,000 deaths due to coronary heart disease every year across the world. 15 countries account for two-thirds of the deaths linked to the substance.
  3. It is, however, often used by manufacturers because it has a longer shelf life and is cheaper than other, healthier choices that do not affect taste or cost.
  4. So far, 58 countries introduced laws to protect 3.2 billion people from the substance by the end of 2021. But more than 100 countries still needed to take action to remove trans-fat from their food supply chains.
  5. None of the low-income or lower-middle-income countries have yet implemented best-practice policies, while seven of their upper-middle-income and 33 of their high-income counterparts did so.

What are Trans fats?

Trans fatty acids (TFAs) or Trans fats are the most harmful type of fats which can have much more adverse effects on our body than any other dietary constituent.

These fats are largely produced artificially but a small amount also occurs naturally. Thus in our diet, these may be present as Artificial TFAs and/ or Natural TFAs.

  • Artificial TFAs are formed when hydrogen is made to react with the oil to produce fats resembling pure ghee/butter.
  • In our diet the major sources of artificial TFAs are the partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVO)/vanaspati/ margarine while the natural TFAs are present in meats and dairy products, though in small amounts.

Harmful effects:

  • TFAs pose a higher risk of heart disease than saturated fats. While saturated fats raise total cholesterol levels, TFAs not only raise total cholesterol levels but also reduce the good cholesterol (HDL), which helps to protect us against heart disease.
  • Trans fats consumption increases the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
  • It is also associated with a higher risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, infertility, certain types of cancers and can also lead to compromised fetal development causing harm to the yet to be born baby.

Why they are increasingly being used?

TFA containing oils can be preserved longer, they give the food the desired shape and texture and can easily substitute ‘Pure ghee’. These are comparatively far lower in cost and thus add to profit/saving.

fats

Efforts to reduce their intake:

  1. FSSAI put in place a regulation in 2016 halving the permissible quantum of trans-fats in edible fats and oils from 10% to 5%.
  2. WHO launched a REPLACE campaign in 2018 for global-level elimination of trans-fats in industrially produced edible oils by 2023.
  3. FSSAI has set 2022 as the deadline.
  4. FSSAI plans to cap TFA at 3% by 2021 and 2% by 2022 in edible fats and oils.
  5. FSSAI launched a “Trans Fat Free” logo for voluntary labelling to promote TFA-free products. The label can be used by bakeries, local food outlets and shops for preparations containing TFA not exceeding 0.2 per 100 g/ml.

 InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are trans fats?
  2. Why they are harmful?
  3. How and where they are produced?
  4. What is the permissible limit set by WHO and FSSAI?
  5. Replace Campaign is related to?
  6. About FSSAI.

Mains Link:

What are Trans fats? Why are they harmful? Discuss.

Sources: down to earth.

 

Topics Covered: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential.

iRAD App:


What is it?

iRAD stands for Integrated Road Accident Database Project.

The primary purpose of IRAD is to enhance road safety.

Developed by:

Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) and will be implemented by the National Informatics Centre.

How does it work?

  1. The IRAD mobile application will enable police personnel to enter details about a road accident, along with photos and videos, following which a unique ID will be created for the incident.
  2. Subsequently, an engineer from the Public Works Department or the local body will receive an alert on his mobile device.
  3. He or she will then visit the accident site, examine it, and feed the required details, such as the road design.
  4. Data thus collected will be analysed by a team at IIT-M, which will then suggest if corrective measures in road design need to be taken.
  5. Road users will also be able to upload data on road accidents on a separate mobile application.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. The app has been developed and launched by?
  2. About National Informatics Centre.
  3. How it works?

Mains Link:

Discuss the key features of iRAD App.

Sources: pib.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

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

Methane in Krishna-Godavari (KG) basin:


Context:

Researchers from Agharkar Research Institute (ARI) have found that the methane hydrate deposits are located in the Krishna-Godavari (KG) basin are of biogenic origin.

Significance of KG basin:

  • Even the lowest estimate of methane present in the methane hydrates in KG Basin is twice that of all fossil fuel reserves available worldwide.
  • Researchers have also predicted the rate of biogenic methane generation in KG Basin hydrates to be 0.031 millimoles methane/gTOC/Day, resulting in total deposits of methane around 0.56 to 7.68trillion cubic feet (TCF).

What is Methane? How is it formed or produced?

It is a clean and economical fuel.

On Earth, methane (CH4) is a naturally occurring gas. Most of the methane on Earth is produced in biological processes — some of it by microbes, and some occurring as underground natural gas that had been formed by earlier generations of microbial life.

Many of these methane-producing microbes live in the digestive systems of animals, especially cows. However, methane can also be produced by abiotic processes (those that do not involve living organisms).

  • It has been found to occur in formations such as rocks, springs and aquifers, and studies have concluded that it was formed there by chemical reactions between carbon and hydrogen atoms at low temperature.
  • Once it is released into the atmospheres of either Earth or Mars, methane is relatively short-lived.
  • Methane concentrations on Earth is over 1,800 parts per million.

What is methane hydrate?

  • Methane hydrate is formed when hydrogen-bonded water and methane gas come into contact at high pressures and low temperatures in oceans.
  • It is estimated that one cubic meter of methane hydrate contains 160-180 cubic meters of methane.

hydrocarbons

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is methane? How is it produced?
  2. What is methane hydrate?
  3. Coalbed methane vs Shale gas.
  4. What is coalification?
  5. Greenhouse gases emitted during CBM extraction?

Mains Link:

What is coalbed methane? How is it extracted and what is its significance? Discuss.

Sources: PIB.

 

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

Living Planet Report 2020:


Context:

Released by international non-profit World Wide Fund for Nature.

  • This year’s Living Planet Report, a collaboration between WWF International and the Zoological Society of London, is the 13th edition of the biennial publication tracking wildlife populations around the world.

Key findings:

  1. The population of vertebrate species declined by around 68 per cent between 1970 and 2016. Living Planet Index was used by the report to calculate this decline.
  2. Wildlife populations in freshwater habitats suffered a decline of 84 per cent, equivalent to four per cent per year, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  3. The average two-thirds decline in global populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish in less than 50 years in large parts is due to the same environmental destruction, which is contributing to emergence of zoonotic diseases such as Covid-19.
  4. 75 per cent of earth’s ice-free land has been significantly altered, most of the oceans polluted and over 85 per cent area of wetlands lost ~ all due to human activity.
  5. One in five plants is threatened with extinction.

Factors responsible for this decline:

  1. Land-use change.
  2. Use and trade of wildlife.
  3. Natural habitat loss.
  4. Degradation and deforestation driven by food production processes.

India’s scenario:

  • India has 2.4 per cent global land share, about eight per cent global biodiversity and around 16 per cent global population
  • However, it has lost 12 per cent of its wild mammals, 19 per cent amphibians and 3 per cent birds over last five decades.
  • India’s ecological footprint per person is less than 1.6 global hectares (gha) / person (smaller than that of many large countries). But, its high population size have made the gross footprint significantly high.

Reforms suggested:

  • Making food production and trade more efficient and ecologically sustainable.
  • Reducing waste and favouring healthier and more environmentally friendly diets.

Conclusion:

The report underlines humanity’s increasing destruction of nature had catastrophic impacts not just on wildlife populations, but also on human health. Therefore, in the midst of a global pandemic, it is now more important than ever to take unprecedented and coordinated global action to halt and start to reverse the loss of biodiversity and wildlife populations across the globe by the end of the decade.

What is Living Planet Report?

  • It is published every 2 years by WWF.
  • It is a comprehensive study of trends in global biodiversity and the health of the planet.
  • The report presents a comprehensive overview of the state of the natural world through the Living Planet Index (LPI).

What is Living Planet Index (LPI)?

It is a measure of the state of the world’s biological diversity based on population trends of vertebrate species in terrestrial, freshwater and marine habitats.

What is ecological footprint?

Ecological footprint is the biologically productive area needed to provide for everything used by people: fruits and vegetables, fish, wood, fibres, absorption of CO2 from fossil fuels use, and space for buildings and roads.

  • It is currently developed by Global Footprint Network (an independent think-tank). The GHG footprint and carbon footprint are a component of Ecological Footprint.
  • Humanity’s Ecological Footprint for 2014 was 1.7 planet Earth’s. This meant that humanity’s demands were 1.7 times faster than what the Earth’s ecosystems renewed.

ecological_footprint

InstaFact:

According to the National Footprints Accounts (2014), India has a bio-capacity of approximately 0.45 gha per person, which means it is a ‘bio-capacity debtor’ or an ‘ecologically deficit country’ with a 148 per cent more demand than supply on its natural resources.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Living planet report is released by?
  2. About WWF International.
  3. Highlights of the 2020 report.
  4. What is ecological footprint?
  5. About Global Footprint Network.
  6. Humanity’s Ecological Footprint for 2014.

Mains Link:

Write a note the key findings of Living Planet Report 2020.

Sources: down to earth.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation and pollution related issues.

Assam Oil Well Fire, Gas Leakage Largely Tamed:


Context:

The raging oil well fire in Assam which continued for more than three months has been primarily controlled, and it would take a few more weeks to control the gas leakage and fire fully.

What happened?

Natural gas and oil condensate started leaking from an oil well of the state-owned OIL field at Baghjan in eastern Assam’s Tinsukia district 110 days back. The leakage caught fire 97 days ago on June 9.

How it was tamed?

  • The natural gas of the well number five at Baghjan was diverted partly into production and partly flared in two flare pits.
  • The main aim of this operation was to reduce wellhead pressure of the blowout well, which will help in the next action for killing the well.

Why do blowouts happen?

The pressure balance in a well may be disturbed leading to ‘kicks’ or changes in pressure. If these are not controlled in time, the ‘kicks’ can turn into a sudden blowout.

There are many possible reasons behind blowouts,“from simple lack of attention, poor workmanship, bad maintenance, old age, sabotage to morpho-tectonic factors”.

Why is it so difficult to control?

The control of a blowout depends on two things: the size of the reservoir and the pressure at which the gas/oil is flowing out.

This reservoir was particularly difficult to control since it was a gas well and ran the risk of catching fire at any point.

Impact on the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park:

Environmentalists and local people said the fire had left a trail of devastation in the adjoining areas, including the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park. 

The well is at an aerial distance of 900 metres from the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park.

  • The national park houses some of the rare and endangered species of flora and fauna – around 36 species of mammals and nearly 400 species of birds.

Dibru_Saikhowa

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims


Hindi Diwas:

National Hindi Divas or Hindi Day is observed every year on September 14.

Objective: The day is a celebration of the Hindi language and its cultural heritage and values among the people of the country and abroad.

Rajbhasha award: As a part of the Hindi Diwas celebration every year, the President of India presents the Rajbhasha award to people who have contributed towards the language.

Why do we celebrate National Hindi Diwas?

The Constituent assembly of India adopted Hindi as the official language of the country on September 14, 1949 under Article 343.


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