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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 7 December 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. Hampi chariot can’t be touched.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. J&K administration seeks review of order on Roshni Act.

2. 140 pleas against CAA hang fire.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Understanding the concept of trade areas in farm laws.

2. Microwave energy likely made U.S. officials ill.

3. Petroleum board’s new unified tariff structure – its impact and challenges in implementation.

4. NGT seeks action plan on elephant corridors.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Himachal Pradesh wants GI status for five products.

2. What is Mahaparinirvan Divas?

3. HL-2M Tokamak.

 


GS Paper  : 1


 

Topics Covered: Art and Culture.

Hampi chariot can’t be touched:


Context:

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has put up a chain barricade to prevent people from touching or climbing the iconic stone chariot in front of the Vijaya Vittala Temple at Hampi and causing damage to it in any way.

  • The stone chariot was one of the most visited monuments in Hampi and needed extra protection.

About the stone chariot:

  • The chariot inside the temple complex is a shrine dedicated to Garuda, but the sculpture of Garuda is now missing.
  • The Hampi chariot is one among the three famous stone chariots in India, the other two being in Konark, Odisha, and Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu.
  • The delicately carved chariot at Hampi, art historians say, reflects skill of temple architecture under the patronage of Vijayanagara rulers who reigned from 14th to 17th century CE.

hampi

About Hampi:

  • It was the last capital of the last great Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar.
  • It was a part of the Mauryan Empire back in the third century BC.
  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Its name is derived from Pampa which is the old name of the Tungabhadra River on whose banks the city is built.
  • The site used to be multi-religious and multi-ethnic; it included Hindu and Jain monuments next to each other.

Architecture:

  • It has been described by UNESCO as an “austere, grandiose site” of more than 1,600 surviving remains of the last great Hindu kingdom in South India.
  • The buildings here predominantly followed South Indian Hindu arts and architecture dating to the Aihole-Pattadakal styles, but the Hampi builders also used elements of Indo-Islamic architecture in the Lotus Mahal, the public bath and the elephant stables.
  • Hemkunta Hill, south of the Virupaksha temple contains early ruins, Jain temples and a monolithic sculpture of Lord Narasimha, a form of Lord Vishnu.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Various dynasties which rules hampi.
  2. About Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat programme.
  3. Tungabhadra river basin.
  4. Temple architecture during the Vijayanagara Empire.
  5. Important UNESCORTED world heritage sites in India.

Mains Link:

Write a note on architectural significance of Hampi.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

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

J&K administration seeks review of order on Roshni Act:


Context:

In a U-turn, the J&K administration has sought modifications to the High Court judgment passed on October 9, which declared the 2001 Roshni Act null and void in the Union Territory (UT) and directed authorities to end the ownership rights of occupants of government land.

Why review the order?

  • The petition argued that a large number of common people would suffer unintentionally.
  • This includes landless cultivators and individuals who are themselves residing in dwellings on small areas.
  • They are unfortunately clubbed along with rich and wealthy land grabbers, who have obtained a title over state land through the provisions of the now struck Act.

What needs to be done?

  • Distinguish between the two classes of people; the fact of being either a landless cultivator or the house holder with one dwelling in personal use.
  • CBI investigation should focus on the design of legal and policy framework, changes with malafide intention to encroach public land and get possessory rights.

J&K _1

 About the Roshini Act:

  • Enacted in 2001, the law sought to regularise unauthorised land.
  • The Act envisaged the transfer of ownership rights of state land to its occupants, subject to the payment of a cost, as determined by the government.
  • The government said the revenue generated would be spent on commissioning hydroelectric power projects, hence the name “Roshni”.
  • Further, through amendments, the government also gave ownership rights of agricultural land to farmers occupying it for free, charging them only Rs 100 per kanal as documentation fee.

Why it was scrapped?

  1. In 2009, the State Vigilance Organisation registered an FIR against several government officials for alleged criminal conspiracy to illegally possess and vest ownership of state land to occupants who did not satisfy criteria under the Roshni Act.
  2. In 2014, a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) estimated that against the targeted Rs 25,000 crore, only Rs 76 crore had been realised from the transfer of encroached land between 2007 and 2013, thus defeating the purpose of the legislation.
  3. The report blamed irregularities including arbitrary reduction in prices fixed by a standing committee, and said this was done to benefit politicians and affluent people.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Roshni Act?
  2. Features of the Act.
  3. Amendments.

Mains Link:

What is J&K’s Roshni Act? Why was it scrapped recently? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

140 pleas against CAA hang fire:


Context:

Over 140 petitions challenging the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) have been pending for nearly a year in the Supreme Court, leaving petitioners from various walks of life and across the political spectrum “deeply disappointed” over the delay.

Background:

  • In December 2019, the court declined a stay while asking the Centre to make an all-out effort to disseminate the actual legislative intent of the citizenship law.
  • In January 2020, the court, to another plea to stay the law, had said the CAA was “uppermost in everybody’s minds”.

What’s the concern wrt to CAA?

The CAA fast-tracks citizenship-by-naturalisation process for persons from six religious communities, other than Muslims, who have fled persecution from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

  • The petitions against CAA have argued that a law that welcomes “illegal migrants” into India selectively on the basis of their religion, is against principles of secularism, right to equality and dignity of life enshrined in the Basic Structure of the Constitution.

What’s the issue? Why these petitions should be held at the earliest?

  1. The case runs the risk of becoming infructuous.
  2. Communal riots and violence had rocked the national capital over the anti-CAA protests.
  3. The CAA has been unprecedented in many ways — the nature of amendment which strikes at the root of the Basic Structure of the Constitution.

Therefore, it would be in the best interest of all that the Supreme Court hears the case at the earliest and put at rest these issues.

How the government defends the law?

The Union Home Ministry described the CAA as a “benign” law which does not lead to expulsion, deportation or refoulement of illegal migrants.

  • It says that the CAA merely offers “amnesty” without hurting India’s secularism.
  • It relaxes the settled principles of Indian citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians persecuted in the “theocratic States” of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Which religions are covered under CAA?
  2. Countries covered under the law.
  3. Provisions wrt Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders in the law.
  4. Constitutional provisions wrt citizenship in the Indian Constitution.
  5. Differences between NRI, OCI and PIO.

Mains Link:

The CAA has been unprecedented in many ways. Comment.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

Understanding the concept of trade areas in farm laws:


Context:

The idea of alternate markets, or “trade areas” has been described in the Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020.

  • These are not new to India. The first and perhaps the most advanced experiments of these were in Maharashtra in 2005-06.
  • The government had then sanctioned the setting of private markets and collection centers through the issuance of Direct Marketing License (DML)s.

What were they?

The private markets were wholesale mandis set up by private entrepreneurs, while the collection centres were for aggregators like BigBasket and Reliance Fresh who procured directly from farmers at the farm gate.

What were the reforms in Maharashtra and why were they brought in the state?

Private markets were for the facilitation of trade in agri-commodities.

  • The state government’s director of marketing issues licenses for setting up these markets.
  • Minimum of five acres of land would be required for setting up of these markets along with infrastructure like auction halls, sheds, waiting halls, motorable roads, etc.
  • Barring the land cost, the initial investment towards such markets is around Rs 4-5 crore.

Later on, a more intense intervention was the introduction of direct market licenses (DMLs) which allowed aggregators like Big Basket, Reliance Fresh, ADM Agro Industries to buy directly from the farmers.

Is MSP mandatory for these markets?

  • One of the license clauses is that not a single trade would be carried out below the government notified MSP by these license holders.
  • In the case of complaints, the licenses can be revoked. Many DML holders suspend their procurement when market prices fall below the government declared MSP. This is mainly to avoid action from the authority.

How have the reforms played out on the ground?

  • Since they were introduced, estimates say around 22 per cent of the total business of mandis have been diverted towards these ‘trade area’.
  • APMCs continue to report annual turnover of over Rs 48,000 crore while these markets on the other hand report business of around Rs 11,000-13,000 crore.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Composition of CCEA.
  2. What is CACP?
  3. How many crops are covered under MSP scheme?
  4. Who announces MSP?
  5. Difference between Kharif and Rabi crops.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Microwave energy likely made U.S. officials ill:


Context:

A study commissioned by the US State Department has found that “directed” microwave radiation is the likely cause of illnesses among American diplomats in Cuba and China.

What’s the issue?

The health effects were experienced by about two dozen Americans affiliated with the U.S. Embassy in Cuba as well as Canadian diplomats and personnel at the U.S. consulate in Guanghzhou, China, in early 2017.

What does the study reveal?

The study found that “directed, pulsed radio frequency energy appears to be the most plausible” explanation for symptoms that included intense head pressure, dizziness and cognitive difficulties.

It found this explanation was more likely than other previously considered causes such as tropical disease or psychological issues.

  • The study, however, did not name a source for the energy and did not say it came as the result of an attack.

What are Microwaves?

Microwaves are defined as electromagnetic radiations with a frequency ranging between 300 MHz to 300 GHz while the wavelength ranges from 1 mm to around 30 cm.

  • They fall between the infrared radiation and radio waves in the electromagnetic spectrum.

Properties of microwaves:

  • Metal surfaces reflect microwaves.
  • Microwaves of certain frequencies are absorbed by water.
  • Microwave transmission is affected by wave effects such as refraction, reflection, interference, and diffraction.
  • Microwaves can pass through glass and plastic.

microwaves

What are “microwave weapons”?

“Microwave weapons” are supposed to be a type of direct energy weapons, which aim highly focused energy in the form of sonic, laser, or microwaves, at a target.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is the electromagnetic spectrum?
  2. What are microwaves?
  3. Properties.
  4. Applications.
  5. Effects.

Mains Link:

What are chemical weapons? Discuss how they are regulated across the world.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Infrastructure- Energy.

Petroleum board’s new unified tariff structure – its impact and challenges in implementation:


Context:

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) has notified a new tariff structure for 14 natural gas pipelines.

 What is the change?

Under the new unified tariff structure, buyers will be charged a fixed tariff for the transport of gas within 300 kms of a source and a fixed tariff for the transport of gas beyond 300 kms on a single pipeline network.

  • This, PNGRB says, would be significantly cheaper for buyers further away from the source of gas that were earlier charged on the basis of the number of pipelines used and the distance from the source of gas.
  • Therefore, a buyer using multiple pipelines in GAIL’s networks would likely benefit significantly from this change.

How does this impact gas transmission companies?

  • The changes in the tariffs will likely incentivise greater investment into gas transmission infrastructure as natural gas becomes more affordable for users further away from the west coast of the country.
  • Gas transport tariffs are set to provide a “reasonable rate of return” on normative levels of capital employed and operating costs for pipelines, according to the PNGRB.

Who loses out?

A number of companies which use natural gas as an input have set up fertilizer units and power plants close to LNG terminals on the west coast. The cost of gas for them may rise noticeably.

  • The move was similar to the now defunct “freight equalisation” policy introduced by the government in 1952 under which the government subsidised the transportation cost of minerals to areas further away from the sources of minerals.

Challenges ahead:

  1. The new regulations will lead to a significant hike in the cost of gas transportation for many consumers who may already have agreements in place for the transport of gas at lower prices based on the existing regime.
  2. A further challenge to the regulation could come from the potential violation of the bidding process for bid-out pipeline through the change in regulations.
  3. Another potential avenue for a legal challenge could be the absence of a member (legal) on the board of the PNGRB at the time the regulation has been notified.

petrolem_natural_gas

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About PNGRB.
  2. Overview of the new tariff structure for natural gas pipelines.
  3. What is natural gas?
  4. Applications.

Mains Link:

Discuss the potential of natural gas reserves in India.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

NGT seeks action plan on elephant corridors:


What has the NGT said?

Directed the Odisha government to prepare an action plan within three months on 14 identified elephant corridors for providing stress-free migration to jumbos from one habitation to another in the State.

What’s the issue?

  • NGT had directed authorities to expedite demarcation of the corridors and the process for formal notification within a specific time frame in 2017.
  • The government had sought time to inform the NGT about action plan to strengthen corridors. It, however, failed to give a concrete action on physical progress on corridors.

So, a NGO had moved the NGT seeking concrete action on strengthening of corridors.

Demands by the petitioner:

  1. Necessary legal action against encroachers and those violating the Provisions of the Forest Conservation Act 1980 and the Indian Forest Act 1927 in the proposed corridors.
  2. The government should remove the unauthorised buildings from the reserve forest land in Dhenkanal district, which sees acute human-elephant conflict, and make the forestland free from encroachment.

What are Elephant Corridors?

Elephant corridors are narrow strips of land that connect two large habitats of elephants. Elephant corridors are crucial to reduce animal fatalities due to accidents and other reasons. So fragmentation of forests makes it all the more important to preserve migratory corridors.

Why protect elephant corridors?

  1. The movement of elephants is essential to ensure that their populations are genetically viable. It also helps to regenerate forests on which other species, including tigers, depend.
  2. Nearly 40% of elephant reserves are vulnerable, as they are not within protected parks and sanctuaries. Also, the migration corridors have no specific legal protection.
  3. Forests that have turned into farms and unchecked tourism are blocking animals’ paths. Animals are thus forced to seek alternative routes resulting in increased elephant-human conflict.
  4. Weak regulation of ecotourism is severely impacting important habitats. It particularly affects animals that have large home ranges, like elephants.

Efforts at all- India level:

  • ‘Gaj Yatra’, a nationwide campaign to protect elephants, was launched on the occasion of World Elephant Day in 2017.
  • The campaign is planned to cover 12 elephant range states.
  • The campaign aims to create awareness about elephant corridors to encourage free movement in their habitat.

Forest Ministry guide to managing human-elephant conflict (Best Practices):

  1. Retaining elephants in their natural habitats by creating water sources and management of forest fires.
  2. Elephant Proof trenches in Tamil Nadu.
  3. Hanging fences and rubble walls in Karnataka.
  4. Use of chili smoke in north Bengal and playing the sound of bees or carnivores in Assam.
  5. Use of technology: Individual identification, monitoring of elephants in south Bengal and sending SMS alerts to warn of elephant presence.

Efforts by Private Organizations in this regard:

  • Asian Elephant Alliance, an umbrella initiative by five NGOs, had, last year, come together to secure 96 out of the 101 existing corridors used by elephants across 12 States in India.
  • NGOs Elephant Family, International Fund for Animal Welfare, IUCN Netherlands and World Land Trust have teamed up with Wildlife Trust of India’s (WTI) in the alliance.

deadly_passage

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. IUCN conservation status of Asian Elephant.
  2. Elephant corridors in India.
  3. Calving period of elephants.
  4. Heritage animal of India.
  5. About Gaj Yatra.
  6. Elephant herd is led by?
  7. State with highest elephant population in India.

Mains Link:

Discuss the measures suggested by the Environment Ministry to manage man- elephant conflicts.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims:


Himachal Pradesh wants GI status for five products:

These include- Karsog Kulth, Thangi of Pangi, Chamba Metal Crafts, Chamba Chukh, and Rajmah of Bharmour.

How many registered GIs do Himachal currently have?

  • There are eight GI tags, that include four handicrafts (Kullu Shawl, Chamba Rumal, Kinnauri Shawl and Kangra Paintings), three agricultural products (Kangra Tea, Basmati and Himachali Kala Zeera) and one manufactured product (Himachali Chulli Oil).

GI_tags

What is Mahaparinirvan Divas?

On December 6, the country observed Mahaparinirvan Diwas, which marks the death anniversary of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.

What is Mahaparinirvan?

Parinirvan is one of the major principles and goals of Buddhism. The Sanskrit term (written in Pali as parinibbana) means “nirvana after death”, which refers to the achievement of nirvana after the body dies. As per the Buddhist text, i.e. Mahaparinibbana Sutta, the death of Lord Buddha at the age of 80 is considered as the original Mahaparinirvan.

Why is BR Ambedkar linked to it?

Dr Ambedkar passed away on December 6, 1956, just a few days after completing his last work, The Buddha and His Dhamma.

  • Because of his stature and contributions to the eradication of untouchability in India, he was considered to be a Buddhist guru.
  • His followers and supporters believe that Ambedkar was as influential, pure and blessed as Lord Buddha. And this is the reason Ambedkar’s death anniversary is referred to as Mahaparinirvan Divas.

BR_ambedkar

HL-2M Tokamak:

Context:

China successfully powered up its “artificial sun” nuclear fusion reactor (HL-2M Tokamak reactor) for the first time marking a great advance in the country’s nuclear power research capabilities.

Key Points:

  • The HL-2M Tokamak reactor is China’s largest and most advanced nuclear fusion experimental research device.
  • The mission is named Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST).
  • Located in Sichuan province and completed late last year, the reactor is often called an “artificial sun” on account of the enormous heat and power it produces.
  • It uses a powerful magnetic field to fuse hot plasma and can reach temperatures of over 150 million degrees Celsius- approximately ten times hotter than the core of the sun.

BR_ambedkar


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