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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 8 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 2:

1. What is ‘Havana Syndrome’, what does the latest report say about the mysterious illness?

2. U.S., China dominate arms market: report.

3. What is the controversy about France’s new security law?

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Light Detection and Ranging Survey (LiDAR) technique.

2. Launch of fortified rice in PDS opposed by activists.

3. Technical Specifications of Floating Structures.

4. Building bridges in the forest, to help wildlife.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Tharu tribals.

2. Vadhavan port project.

3. Lakshadweep first UT to become 100% organic.

4. Bangladesh signed its first Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA).

5. Two new Zoos granted recognition by Central government.

6. Investment Promotion Award 2020.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

What is ‘Havana Syndrome’, what does the latest report say about the mysterious illness?


Context:

Nearly four years ago a mysterious neurological illness, referred to as “Havana syndrome”, started to afflict American diplomats and intelligence operatives in Cuba, China, and other countries.

  • Now, a report by the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) has found “directed” microwave radiation to be its “plausible” cause.

What is the ‘Havana syndrome’?

In late 2016, US diplomats and other employees stationed in Havana reported feeling ill after hearing strange sounds and experiencing odd physical sensations in their hotel rooms or homes.

  • The symptoms included nausea, severe headaches, fatigue, dizziness, sleep problems, and hearing loss, which have since come to be known as “Havana Syndrome”.

 What causes the ‘Havana syndrome’?

Directed pulsed RF energy appears to be the most plausible mechanism in explaining these cases among those that the committee considered.

  • The immediate symptoms that patients reported including sensations of pain and buzzing sound apparently emanated from a particular direction, or occurred in a specific spot in a room.

ultra_sonic

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are Microwave weapons?
  2. What is Havana Syndrome? Why is it named so?
  3. Reasons behind?
  4. Overview of electromagnetic spectrum.

Mains Link:

What is ‘Havana Syndrome’? Discuss why it was in news recently.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

U.S., China dominate arms market: report:


Context:

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has released a report on arms market across the world.

Key findings:

  1. The U.S. arms industry accounted for 61% of sales by the world’s “Top 25” manufacturers last year, ahead of China’s 15.7%.
  2. Total sales by the “Top 25” rose by 8.5% to $361 billion, or 50 times the annual budget of the UN’s peacekeeping operations.
  3. China and the United States are the two biggest states in terms of global arms spending.
  4. For the first time, a company from the West Asia made it into the “Top 25”: EDGE, of the United Arab Emirates, was formed by the consolidation of some 25 defence entities in 2019.

What is SIPRI?

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) established in 1966 is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.

  • Based in Stockholm the Institute provides data, analysis and recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is SIPRI?
  2. How many nuclear armed states are there in the world?
  3. 2020 nuclear warhead inventories.
  4. Comparison with previous report findings?
  5. Top arms exporting countries.

Mains Link:

Briefly discuss why it is important to become self reliant on arms production.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

What is the controversy about France’s new security law?


Context:

France government introduced a controversial security bill in parliament that seeks to provide greater powers and protections for police officers.

 Controversial provisions:

Enabling the police to organise ground and air mass surveillance, while at the same time restricting the filming of police officers.

  • Articles 21 and 22 of the proposed “global security” law allow the police and the gendarmes (paramilitary forces) to use body cameras and drones to film citizens, and allow the recorded footage to be live streamed to the command post.
  • Article 24 penalises publishing “the image of the face or any other element of identification” of a police or paramilitary official who is acting in “a police operation”, if the dissemination is done with “the intent of harming their physical or mental integrity”.

What are the opponents of the new law saying?

Article 24 would make it harder to cover public events and record instances of police violence, thus making it more difficult to hold officers accountable.

What have the bill’s supporters said?

The government has insisted that it does not intend to target press freedoms, and that the new law is aimed at protecting police officers and their families from online trolling and harassment when off duty.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  • Just have a brief overview of the law and the country which enacted this law.

Mains Link:

Discuss the concerns associated with this law.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

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

Light Detection and Ranging Survey (LiDAR) technique:


Context:

National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited will be adopting Light Detection and Ranging Survey (LiDAR) technique using Laser enabled equipment mounted on a Helicopter for conducting ground survey for the preparation of Detailed Project Report for the proposed Delhi-Varanasi HSR corridor.

Background:

  • The proposed Delhi-Varanasi HSR alignment covers mixed terrains including densely populated urban and rural areas, Highways, Roads, Ghats, Rivers, Green fields etc, which makes this activity more challenging.
  • National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) has been entrusted with the work for preparing Detailed Project Report for the Delhi-Varanasi HSR Corridor by the Ministry of Railways.
  • The tentative length of the corridor is about 800 km, the alignment and stations will be decided in consultation with the government.

What is LiDAR?

It is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to the Earth.

  • These light pulses—combined with other data recorded by the airborne system— generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics.

How it works?

LiDAR follows a simple principle — throw laser light at an object on the earth surface and calculate the time it takes to return to the LiDAR source. Given the speed at which the light travels (approximately 186,000 miles per second), the process of measuring the exact distance through LiDAR appears to be incredibly fast.

  • A lidar instrument principally consists of a laser, a scanner, and a specialized GPS receiver.
  • Airplanes and helicopters are the most commonly used platforms for acquiring lidar data over broad areas.

lidar

InstaFact:

  • The aerial LiDAR survey technique, for the first time for any railway project in India, was adopted for the Mumbai- Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Corridor primarily because of its high accuracy.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is GPS?
  2. Location based navigation services of various countries including India.
  3. How LiDAR works?
  4. Applications of LiDAR.
  5. What is Laser?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of LiDAR technology.

Sources: PIB.

 

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

Launch of fortified rice in PDS opposed by activists:


Context:

As the Odisha government is preparing to launch fortified rice in the Public Distribution System (PDS) in Malkangiri district from coming February, more than 100 activists have opposed the move saying the people have sufficient substitutes in natural food to meet the nutritional needs.

What do activists say?

  • Vitamin C and calcium are available in abundance in natural food.
  • Vitamin C is water soluble. If the rice is laced with Vitamin C, it will get washed away while the rice is cleaned before cooking.
  • It is a futile exercise to add Vitamin C to uncooked rice. And the move would lead to wasteful expenditure of taxpayers’ money.

What is food fortification?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), food fortification is defined as the practice of deliberately increasing the content of essential micronutrients so as to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply and to provide a public health benefit with minimal risk to health.

How is it regulated in India?

  • In October 2016, Food Safety and Standards Authority Of India (FSSAI) operationalized the Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2016 for fortifying staples namely Wheat Flour and Rice (with Iron, Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid), Milk and Edible Oil (with Vitamins A and D) and Double Fortified Salt (with Iodine and Iron) to reduce the high burden of micronutrient malnutrition in India.
  • India’s National Nutritional strategy, 2017, had listed food fortification as one of the interventions to address anaemia, vitamin A and iodine deficiencies apart from supplementation and dietary diversification.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Bio fortification vs Genetic modifications.
  2. Micro vs Macronutrients.
  3. Approval for Biofortified and GM crops in India.
  4. GM crops allowed in India.

Mains Link:

What do you understand by fortification of foods? Discuss its advantages.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Infrastructure.

Technical Specifications of Floating Structures:


Context:

Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways issues draft guidelines of Technical Specifications of Floating Structures for public consultation.

  • The Ministry intends to promote floating jetties for various usages all along the Indian Coastline.

The benefits of floating jetties over the conventional quay and fixed concrete structures are as follows:

  1. It is a cost-effective solution and much cheaper than conventional structures price.
  2. Setting up of floating structures is much faster as compared to conventional jetties. Usually, floating structures can be built in 6-8 months as compared to 24 months for conventional structures.
  3.  Its environmental impact is minimal.
  4. Expansions are easily feasible due to modular construction techniques.
  5. It is easily transportable in case of reconfiguring of the port.
  6. It provides constant freeboard between jetties and boats.

floating_structure

Background:

Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways has successfully implemented a few pilot projects in the recent past by following the international guiding principles.

  • These include setting up of passenger floating jetties in Goa, water-aerodromes at Sabarmati River & at Sardar Sarovar Dam (for the seaplane services).

Sources: PIB.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

Building bridges in the forest, to help wildlife:


Context:

Ramnagar Forest Division in Nainital district, Uttarakhand, recently built its first eco-bridge for reptiles and smaller mammals.

Examples of eco-bridges:

These include canopy bridges (usually for monkeys, squirrels and other arboreal species); concrete underpasses or overpass tunnels or viaducts (usually for larger animals); and amphibian tunnels or culverts. Usually these bridges are overlaid with planting from the area to give it a contiguous look with the landscape.

Why eco-bridges matter?

They enhance wildlife connectivity that can be disrupted because of highways or logging.

Many road projects cut across animal corridors. For example, National Highway 37 through the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong landscape in Assam, and State Highway 33 through the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve in Karnataka.

forest_bridge

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are eco- bridges?
  2. Types.
  3. First such eco-bridge in India.
  4. Recently inaugurated such bridge.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of such bridges.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


Facts for Prelims:


Tharu tribals:

Context:

The Uttar Pradesh government has recently embarked upon a scheme to take the unique culture of its ethnic Tharu tribe across the world.

The scheme involves creating homestays. The idea is to offer tourists an experience of living in the natural Tharu habitat, in traditional huts made of grass collected mainly from the forests.

Who exactly are the Tharu people?

  • The community belongs to the Terai lowlands, amid the Shivaliks or lower Himalayas. Most of them are forest dwellers, and some practice agriculture.
  • The word tharu is believed to be derived from sthavir, meaning followers of Theravada Buddhism.
  • The Tharus live in both India and Nepal. In the Indian terai, they live mostly in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar.
  • Tharu women have stronger property rights than is allowed to women in mainstream North Indian Hindu custom.

Vadhavan port project:

  • The Vadhavan port will be India’s 13th major port.
  • It has been planned as an ‘All Weather, All Cargo’ satellite port to enhance capabilities in handling deep draft ships and larger vessels.
  • The port project is part of the Centre’s Sagarmala initiative that aims to make Indian ports major contributors to the country’s GDP.
  • The Port will have a dedicated road and rail service so as not to interfere with the local traffic, thereby avoiding any clutter within the local transportation.
  • It will be developed on a “landlord model”.

Why in News?

Villagers in Maharashtra’s Dahanu are objecting to the Vadhavan port project. They believe the project will be detrimental to the environment and their livelihoods.

Lakshadweep first UT to become 100% organic:

  • After Sikkim, Lakshadweep is the first Union Territory to become 100 per cent organic as all farming is carried out without the use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, providing access to safer food choices and making agriculture a more environment-friendly activity.
  • The ministry of agriculture has declared the island as organic.

Background:

India’s smallest Union Territory Lakshadweep is an archipelago consisting of 36 islands with an area of 32 sq km. It is a uni-district Union Territory and comprises 12 atolls, three reefs, five submerged banks and ten inhabited islands. The islands comprise 32 sq km. The Capital is Kavaratti and it is also the principal town of the UT.

organic_retails

Bangladesh signed its first Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA):

  • This is the first PTA Bangladesh has signed with any country in the world.
  • In 1971, Bhutan was the first country in the world, followed by India as the second, to recognise Bangladesh as an independent country.

at_glance

Two new Zoos granted recognition by Central government:

The Rajgir Zoo Safari in Nalanda, Bihar and Shaheed Ashfaque Ullah Khan Prani Udyaan in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh were granted recognition.

  • Approved at the 37th General Body meeting of Central Zoo Authority.

Investment Promotion Award 2020:

The United Nations (UNCTAD) has declared Invest India- the National Investment Promotion Agency of India- as a winner of the 2020 United Nations Investment Promotion Award.

  • The award recognizes and celebrates the outstanding achievements and best practices of Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) across the globe.

UNCTAD is a central agency that monitors performance of IPAs and identifies global best practices. Germany, South Korea and Singapore have been some of the past winners of the award.

at_glance


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