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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 19 October 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. Why floods occur in Hyderabad?

2. State Water Grid to overcome flood crisis.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. “Affordability of nutritious diets in rural India”.

2. India past COVID peak.

3. Myanmar Rohingya- an overview of the crisis.

4. China passes law to safeguard national security, sensitive tech.

5. UN Human Rights Council.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Israel and Bahrain to formalise diplomatic ties.

2. Skinks of India by ZSI.

3. Sadhna Pass.

4. SLINEX 20.

5. Scale India app.

 


GS Paper  : 1


 

Topics Covered: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

Why floods occur in Hyderabad?


Context:

Hyderabad was recently listed as the rainiest place in the country by Skymet, an independent weather forecasting agency, on Sunday after it recorded 72.5mm of rainfall.

  • The city has witnessed its third wettest day of October in the last 10 years- As per India Meteorological Department (IMD) data, Hyderabad witnessed 98.3mm rainfall on October 10, 2013 and 82.6mm on October 3, 2017.

Rainfall this month:

The IMD data indicates that the city has been pounded with 356mm of rains in 18 days, which is four times higher than the normal rains.

What caused this havoc?

This was caused by a weather that formed in the Bay of Bengal, hit the east coast and moved westward, weakening on the way.

  • Normally, cyclones lose steam upon making their landfall. This particular system, however, clocked a long east-west track cutting across Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, north-interior Karnataka and Maharashtra.
  • All these states experienced above-normal rain during the recent monsoon season. As a result, the soil in these regions has retained significant moisture content.
  • In addition, vertical wind shear — the result of a significant difference in wind speed between higher and lower atmospheric levels — helped the system maintain its intensity as a deep depression or a well-marked low pressure area even on land.

coasttocoast

But, why floods occur in Hyderabad?

Hyderabad is a system of catchments.

  1. The western edge is in the Godavari river basin.
  2. To the east, it’s in the Krishna River basin.
  3. Also, Hyderabad is in the Deccan region, which has a chaotic drainage pattern — water here does not flow in a single direction as the slope is in multiple directions.

What efforts were made in the past to control floods?

In 1908, devastation caused by a cloud burst and the flooding claimed 15,000 lives and rendered 80,000 homeless.

Sir Visvesvaraya was commissioned to conduct a study and suggest measures to manage the impact of floods on the city. Following this:

  1. Two reservoirs — Osmansagar and Himayatsagar — came up.
  2. A modern system of drainage was also built.

What has not been addressed?

  • The city has been built on top of the agrarian imprint. Sensitive catchment areas have been illegally occupied.
  • Roads have been built, which are rigid boundaries, around the ‘fluid’ water bodies, without any buffer areas.
  • Unchecked real estate growth.

What needs to be done now?

  1. Take stock of the entire drainage system, not just the nalas.
  2. See the whole city as a catchment area and begin to clear critical areas of encroachments.
  3. For all this to be implemented, we need an executive and ‘ecological’ body like a “Lakes and Parks Authority”, can draw upon and coordinate the relevant parts of the functions at Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA), Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) and departments like revenue, irrigation, roads and buildings.
  4. Risk mapping of the areas of the city should be done to assess the vulnerability, related to urban floods, using GIS technology.
  5. Town Planning department of GHMC should regularly monitor the prohibited areas to prevent encroachments.
  6. Conserve and protect areas for groundwater recharge.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Godavari river basin.
  2. Krishna river basin.
  3. What are cyclones?
  4. Temperatures in eye of a cyclone vs other regions.
  5. Cyclones vs Hurricanes.

Mains Link:

Discuss the causes of recent floods in Hyderabad. What measures should be put in place to manage these floods?

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

State Water Grid to overcome flood crisis:


Context:

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari suggests formation of State Water Grid in Maharashtra to overcome flood crisis in the State.

How will it be formed?

  • The State Water Grid will be formed on the lines of the National Power Grid and Highway Grid.
  • The idea is to divert the flood water from one river basin to the other river basin in the drought prone area of the state.
  • The areas with shortage of the water, scanty rainfall can get relief by the Grid.

Benefits of state water grid:

  • Help the government to ensure the availability of the water in drought prone areas and save the resources to manage the flood crisis.
  • This would also help to increase the area under irrigation, while bringing significant reduction in the numbers of suicides of farmers.
  • This would also help to increase agriculture produce and strengthen the rural and national economy.
  • The diverted flood waters would relieve the stress on the local resources. Transportation of goods and passengers through rivers (Water Transport) can be commenced in near future.
  • Fishing and other businesses can flourish alongside and major employment can be generated if such project is taken up as an essential infrastructure.

Need for such measures:

Floods create and trigger serious problems in different parts of the state and therefore there is an urgent need to chalk out a plan to manage this natural disaster that becomes grave because of other man made factors.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are water grids?
  2. River linking projects in India- status of various projects.
  3. Important rivers of Maharashtra.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of State Water Grid in overcoming flood crisis.

Sources: PIB.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

“Affordability of nutritious diets in rural India”:


Context:

It is a study authored by International Food Policy Research Institute economist Kalyani Raghunathan and others.

  • The findings of the study were released recently.

Key findings:

  • Selecting the cheapest options from actual Indian diets — wheat, rice, bajra, milk, curd, onions, radish, spinach, bananas — the study calculated that a day’s meals would cost ₹45 (or ₹51 for an adult man).
  • Three out of four rural Indians cannot afford a nutritious diet. Even if they spent their entire income on food, almost two out of three of them would not have the money to pay for the cheapest possible diet that meets the requirements.
  • If they set aside just a third of their income for non-food expenses, 76% of rural Indians would not be able to afford the recommended diet. This does not even account for the meals of non-earning members of a household, such as children or older adults.

Significance of the study:

The findings are significant in the light of the fact that India performs abysmally on many nutrition indicators even while the country claims to have achieved food security.

  • The latest Global Hunger Index showed that India has the world’s highest prevalence of child wasting, reflecting acute undernutrition.
  • On indicators that simply measure calorie intake, India performs relatively better, but they do not account for the nutrition value of those calories.

India’s Nutrition Guidelines:

The National Institute for Nutrition’s guidelines for a nutritionally adequate diet call for adult women to eat 330 gm of cereals and 75 gm of pulses a day, along with 300 gm of dairy, 100 gm of fruit, and 300 gm of vegetables, which should include at least 100 gm of dark green leafy vegetables.

The methodology used:

Unlike the Economic Survey’s ‘Thalinomics’, which provided a rosier picture of meal costs, this study uses the wages of unskilled workers who make up a larger proportion of the population than industrial workers, and includes items such as dairy, fruit and dark green leafy vegetables that are essential as per India’s official dietary guidelines.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Thalinomics?
  2. Minimum amount of food and calorie content per child per day under Midday Meal scheme.
  3. About the International Food Policy Research Institute.
  4. Calculation of Poverty Line in India- various methodologies and Committees.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

India past COVID peak:


Context:

A modelling study- the “COVID-19 India National Supermodel”- was conducted by a seven-member expert panel on the future course of the pandemic, commissioned by the Department of Science and Technology.

The commission has submitted its report.

Key findings:

  • India passed its COVID peak in September and, if current trends continue, there will be “minimal cases” by February.
  • India’s COVID burden is expected to be capped at 106 lakh symptomatic infections by early next year, with less than 50,000 active cases from December.
  • This, however, is premised on no spikes being triggered by festivals or mutations in the virus aiding its spread in winter.
  • A complete shutdown should be considered only at sub-district levels if there is a spike that threatens local healthcare capacity.
  • Nearly 30% of the country had been exposed to the virus, so far.
  • Had there been no lockdown India would have seen symptomatic active infections peak from 40-147 lakh by June and a lockdown beginning on April 1 or May would have seen a peak of 30-40 lakh by July.

climbing_down

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

Myanmar Rohingya- an overview of the crisis:


Who are the Rohingya?

Described by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as “one of, if not the, most discriminated people in the world”, the Rohingya are one of Myanmar’s many ethnic minorities.

They numbered around one million in Myanmar at the start of 2017.

  • They have their own language and culture and say they are descendants of Arab traders and other groups who have been in the region for generations.

What’s the issue?

The government of Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country, denies the Rohingya citizenship and even excluded them from the 2014 census, refusing to recognise them as a people.

  • It sees them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

When did the latest crisis happen?

In August 2017, a deadly crackdown by Myanmar’s army on Rohingya Muslims sent hundreds of thousands fleeing across the border into Bangladesh.

  • They risked everything to escape by sea or on foot a military offensive which the United Nations later described as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
  • But the army in Myanmar (formerly Burma) has said it was fighting Rohingya militants and denies targeting civilians.
  • The country’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi, once a human rights icon, has repeatedly denied allegations of genocide.

What has been the international response?

  1. Amnesty International says the Myanmar military also raped and abused Rohingya women and girls.
  2. A report published by UN investigators in August 2018 accused Myanmar’s military of carrying out mass killings and rapes with “genocidal intent”.
  3. The ICJ case, lodged by the small Muslim-majority nation of The Gambia, in West Africa, on behalf of dozens of other Muslim countries, called for emergency measures to be taken against the Myanmar military, known as Tatmadaw, until a fuller investigation could be launched.

Where are they now?

About 860,000 Rohingya live in the world’s largest and most densely populated refugee camp in southern Bangladesh.

The Myanmar and Bangladesh governments continue to negotiate terms for the repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.

  • According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, there are approximately 40,000 Rohingyas living in India.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Who are Rohingyas?
  2. Location of Rakhine State.
  3. About the International Court of Justice.
  4. ICJ vs International Criminal Court.

Mains Link:

Write a note on Rohingya Crisis.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

China passes law to safeguard national security, sensitive tech:


Context:

China has passed a new law restricting sensitive exports to protect national security.

  • It comes into effect on December 1.

Overview of the new law:

  • It allows Beijing to “take reciprocal measures” against countries that abuse export controls and pose a threat to national security.
  • Chinese authorities will formulate and adjust an export control list of items to be published in a “timely manner”.
  • Foreign individuals and groups can also be found liable for violating export control rules.

Analysis– Impact of such legislations:

Not all is well between China and the US. The US, in recent times, has imposed unprecedented tariffs, threats of bans and sanctions on Chinese tech firms.

The US has also moved against popular platforms and major companies — including apps TikTok and WeChat, tech giant Huawei and chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp.

  • Therefore, the latest law is a move that adds to policy tools that China could wield against the U.S. as tensions — especially in technology — continue to rise.
  • Previously, in September, China launched a long-expected “unreliable entities list”, widely seen as a weapon to retaliate against the US which has used its own “entity list” to shut Huawei out of the U.S. market.
  • The month before that, China’s Commerce Ministry stepped up rules on technologies restricted for export, adding “civilian use” to the list.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

UN Human Rights Council:


Context:

Pakistan and Nepal were recently re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council, China won a seat by the smallest margin while Saudi Arabia was defeated in the elections.

Basics:

About UNHRC:

UNHRC was reconstituted from its predecessor organisation, the UN Commission on Human Rights to help overcome the “credibility deficit” of the previous organisation.

  • Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

Composition:

  • The UNHRC has 47 members serving at any time with elections held to fill up seats every year, based on allocations to regions across the world to ensure geographical representation.
  • Each elected member serves for a term of three years.
  • Countries are disallowed from occupying a seat for more than two consecutive terms.

Functions:

  • The UNHRC passes non-binding resolutions on human rights issues through a periodic review of all 193 UN member states called the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
  • It oversees expert investigation of violations in specific countries (Special Procedures).

Challenges and Need for reforms:

  • The human rights record of the member-states such as Saudi Arabia, China and Russia in the council has also not been in line with the aims and mission of the UNHRC, which has led to critics questioning its relevance.
  • Despite the continued participation of several western countries in the UNHRC, they continue to harbour misgivings on the understanding of Human rights.
  • Non-compliance has been a serious issue with respect to the UNHRC’s functioning.
  • Non-participation of powerful nations such as the US.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About UNHRC.
  2. Composition.
  3. Functions.
  4. What is Universal Periodic Review?
  5. Headquarters of UNHRC.
  6. Countries which have recently left UNHRC.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims


Israel and Bahrain to formalise diplomatic ties:

  • Israel and Bahrain have officially established diplomatic relations by signing a US-brokered agreement.
  • The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain became only the third and fourth Arab states to agree to normalise ties with Israel, following Israel’s 1979 peace deal with Egypt and a 1994 pact with Jordan.

saudi_arabia

Skinks of India by ZSI:

“Skinks of India” is a recent publication by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI).

Key findings:

  • India is home to 62 species of skinks and about 57% of all the skinks found in India (33 species) are endemic.
  • They are found in all kinds of habitats in the country, from the Himalayas to the coasts and from dense forests to the deserts.
  • With 1,602 species of skinks across the world, making it the largest family of lizards, their occurrence in India is less than 4 % of the global diversity.

What are Skinks?

With long bodies, relatively small or no legs, no pronounced neck and glossy scales, skinks are common reptiles.

zsi

Sadhna Pass:

Sadhna Pass, previously called as Nastachun pass, is a mountain pass in Jammu and Kashmir.

  • It is located in the Himalayas and connects Karnah tehsil of Kupwara district with the rest of the Indian administrated Kashmir valley.
  • It is located in the vast Shams Bri mountainous range.

sadhna_pass

SLINEX 20:

  • It is a series of naval exercises between the Indian Navy and the Sri Lanka Navy.
  • The latest edition will be held off Trincomalee, Sri Lanka.
  • The first SLINEX took place in 2005.

Scale India App:

  • The Leather Sector Skill Council (LSSC) has recently announced the launch of the Skill Certification Assessment for Leather Employees (SCALE) India android app in order to provide a single platform to integrate quality assurance across all of its services.
  • Leather Sector Skill Council (LSSC) was set up in 2012 after getting approval by National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).

 

Articles covered previously

  1. GST cess to stay: Finance Commission chief.

Link:

https://www.insightsonindia.com/2020/10/13/gst-compensation/.

 

Articles to be covered tomorrow:

  1. ‘Jagan’s letter an affront to judiciary’.

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