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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 11 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. Why parts of the US may be able to see the Northern Lights today.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. The highlights of Karnataka’s new anti-cow slaughter bill.

2. Vaccination drive after anthrax kills elephants.

3. ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus).

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana (ABRY).

2. Quantum key distribution (QKD).

3. New Parliament building.

4. What’s in France’s draft law against ‘Islamism?

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. ‘Jagananna Jeeva Kranthi’ scheme.

2. HelpAge India presented UN Population Award for 2020.

3. Better Than Cash Alliance.

4. Hanukkah.

5. Ischaemum janarthanamii.

6. Koilwar Bridge.

7. Worlds’ first, satellite-based narrowband-IoT network in India.

 


GS Paper  : 1


 

Topics Covered: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.

Why parts of the US may be able to see the Northern Lights today?


Context:

The Northern Lights, also known as aurora borealis, are usually witnessed far up in the polar regions or the high latitude regions of Europe. But, today, they could be visible in parts of Illinois and Pennsylvania in the US.

Why?

This is happening due to a solar flare, which emerged from a Sunspot. The flare is accompanied by a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) — a large bubble of radiation and particles emitted by the Sun that explodes into space at high speed. This causes the Northern Lights to be visible in more number of areas than usual.

What is Aurora?

An Aurora is a display of light in the sky predominantly seen in the high latitude regions (Arctic and Antarctic). It is also known as a Polar light.

Types:

There are two types- the aurora borealis and aurora australis – often called the northern lights and southern lights.

Where do they occur?

They commonly occur at high northern and southern latitudes, less frequent at mid-latitudes, and seldom seen near the equator.

Colors:

While usually a milky greenish color, auroras can also show red, blue, violet, pink, and white. These colors appear in a variety of continuously changing shapes.

Science behind their occurrence:

  • Auroras are a spectacular sign that our planet is electrically connected to the Sun. These light shows are provoked by energy from the Sun and fueled by electrically charged particles trapped in Earth’s magnetic field.
  • The typical aurora is caused by collisions between fast-moving electrons from space with the oxygen and nitrogen in Earth’s upper atmosphere.
  • The electrons—which come from the Earth’s magnetosphere, the region of space controlled by Earth’s magnetic field —transfer their energy to the oxygen and nitrogen atoms and molecules, making them “excited”.
  • As the gases return to their normal state, they emit photons, small bursts of energy in the form of light.
  • When a large number of electrons come from the magnetosphere to bombard the atmosphere, the oxygen and nitrogen can emit enough light for the eye to detect, giving us beautiful auroral displays.

Where do they origin?

They origin at altitudes of 100 to more than 400 km.

Why do auroras come in different colors and shapes?

  1. The color of the aurora depends on which gas — oxygen or nitrogen — is being excited by the electrons, and on how excited it becomes. The color also depends upon how fast the electrons are moving, or how much energy they have at the time of their collisions.
  2. High energy electrons cause oxygen to emit green light (the most familiar color of the aurora), while low energy electrons cause a red light. Nitrogen generally gives off a blue light.
  3. The blending of these colors can also lead to purples, pinks, and whites. The oxygen and nitrogen also emit ultraviolet light, which can be detected by special cameras on satellites.

Effects:

  • Auroras affect communication lines, radio lines and power lines.
  • It should also be noted here that Sun’s energy, in the form of solar wind, is behind the whole process.

Auroras_affect

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are auroras?
  2. Types?
  3. How are they formed?
  4. Effects.
  5. What are Solar flares?
  6. What is Coronal Mass Ejection (CME)?
  7. Influence of solar flares on aurora formation.

Mains Link:

Discuss the mechanism behind the formation of Auroras.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

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

The highlights of Karnataka’s new anti-cow slaughter bill:


Context:

The government in Karnataka passed the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill (2020) in the Assembly.

How are ‘beef’ and ‘cattle’ defined in the latest Karnataka Bill?

  1. ‘Beef’ is defined as the flesh of cattle in any form.
  2. ‘Cattle’ is defined as “cow, calf of a cow and bull, bullock, and he or she buffalo below the age of thirteen years”.
  3. ‘Gau Shalas’: Shelters established for the protection and preservation of cattle registered with the Department of Animal Husbandry and Fisheries.

Who has the power to conduct searches?

  • Police officers ranked sub-inspector and above or a competent authority will have the power to search premises and seize cattle and materials used or intended to use to commit the offence.
  • Such seizures, if any, will then be reported before the Sub Divisional Magistrate without unreasonable delay.

What are the penalties?

  • It is a cognizable offence, violators can attract three to seven years of imprisonment.
  • While a penalty between Rs 50,000 and Rs 5 lakh can be levied for the first offence, second and subsequent offences can attract penalties ranging between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 10 lakh.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Key features of the Bill.
  2. Similar laws by other states.

Mains Link:

Discuss the rationale behind and implications of such laws.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

Vaccination drive after anthrax kills elephants:


What happened?

Anthrax was confirmed as the cause of the death of two female elephants a week ago in the Joypur rainforest in Assam. The two elephants died after ingesting anthrax spores that can remain buried underground for 25-30 years.

Following this, the authorities have undertaken a drive to vaccinate livestock around this area.

  • This is the second case of anthrax in the State after two Asiatic water buffaloes died in the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary in October 2019.

anthrax

What is anthrax?

Anthrax is a disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, a spore-forming bacteria.

  • Affects animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats more often than people.
  • People can get anthrax from contact with infected animals, wool, meat, or hides.
  • Spread: It does not spread directly from one infected animal or person to another; it is spread by spores. These spores can be transported by clothing or shoes.

Symptoms & Infection:

  • Respiratory infection in humans initially presents with cold or flu-like symptoms for several days, followed by pneumonia and severe (and often fatal) respiratory collapse.
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) infection in humans is most often caused by consuming anthrax-infected meat and is characterized by serious GI difficulty, vomiting of blood, severe diarrhea, acute inflammation of the intestinal tract, and loss of appetite.
  • Cutaneous anthrax, also known as Hide porter’s disease, is the cutaneous (on the skin) manifestation of anthrax infection in humans.

Use in Bioterrorism:

Anthrax has been used in biological warfare by agents and by terrorists to intentionally infect. It was spread in US through a mail. It killed 5 people and made 22 sick.

Vaccine by India:

In June last year, DRDO and JNU scientists developed a potent Anthrax vaccine. They Claim new vaccine superior than existing ones as it can generate immune response to anthrax toxin as well as spores.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is anthrax?
  2. Causes and spread.
  3. Treatment.
  4. Use in bioterrorism.
  5. Latest instances of this disease in India.

Mains Link:

What is anthrax? What causes the disease? How can it be controlled? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus):


Context:

The 14th ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) Plus was held virtually recently.

About ADMM- Plus:

Consistent with the ADMM guiding principles of open and outward looking, the 2nd ADMM in Singapore in 2007 adopted the Concept Paper to establish the ADMM-Plus.

The ADMM-Plus is a platform for ASEAN and its eight Dialogue Partners to strengthen security and defence cooperation for peace, stability, and development in the region.

  • Eight Dialogue Partners are Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russia and the USA (collectively referred to as the “Plus Countries”).

Agreed five areas of practical cooperation under this mechanism are:

  • Maritime security, counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, peacekeeping operations and military medicine.

In 2013, a new priority area of humanitarian mine action was agreed.

aseans

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is ADMM?
  2. What is ADMM plus?
  3. Members.
  4. Objectives.
  5. Areas of Cooperation under ADMM- Plus.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Employment related issues.

Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana (ABRY):


Context:

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana (ABRY) to boost employment in formal sector and incentivize creation of new employment opportunities during the Covid recovery phase under Atmanirbhar Bharat Package 3.0.

About the Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana (ABRY):

  • Under this, Government of India will provide subsidy for two years in respect of new employees engaged on or after 1st October, 2020 and up to 30th June, 2021.
  • Government will pay both 12% employees’ contribution and 12% employers’ contribution i.e. 24% of wages towards EPF in respect of new employees in establishments employing upto 1000 employees for two years.
  • Government will pay only employees’ share of EPF contribution i.e. 12% of wages in respect of new employees in establishments employing more than 1000 employee for two years.

Eligibility:

  • An employee drawing monthly wage of less than Rs. 15000/- who was not working in any establishment registered with the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) before 1st October, 2020 and did not have a Universal Account Number or EPF Member account number prior to 1st October 2020 will be eligible for the benefit.
  • Any EPF member possessing Universal Account Number (UAN) drawing monthly wage of less than Rs 15000 who made exit from employment during Covid pandemic from March 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020, and did not join employment in any EPF covered establishment up to September 30 will also be eligible to avail benefit.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Benefits and eligibility under the programme.

Mains Link:

Discuss the need for and benefits of such Programmes.

Sources: PIB.

 

Topics Covered: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Quantum key distribution (QKD):


Context:

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully demonstrated communication between its two labs using Quantum Key Distribution technology.

  • The Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) and The Research Centre Imarat (RCI) were the two labs that participated in this demonstration.

qkd

What you need to know about this technology?

Typical encryption relies on traditional mathematics and while for now it is more or less adequate and safe from hacking, the development of quantum computing threatens that.

  • Quantum computing refers to a new era of faster and more powerful computers, and the theory goes that they would be able to break current levels of encryption.
  • QKD works by using photons — the particles which transmit light — to transfer data.
  • QKD allows two distant users, who do not share a long secret key initially, to produce a common, random string of secret bits, called a secret key.
  • Using the one-time pad encryption this key is proven to be secure to encrypt and decrypt a message, which can then be transmitted over a standard communication channel.

Significance of this technology:

  • The encryption is “unbreakable” and that’s mainly because of the way data is carried via the photon. A photon cannot be perfectly copied and any attempt to measure it will disturb it. This means that a person trying to intercept the data will leave a trace.
  • The implications could be huge for cybersecurity, making businesses safer, but also making it more difficult for governments to hack into communication.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are qubits?
  2. What is Quantum technology?
  3. What are photons?
  4. What is QSD?

Mains Link:

Discuss why QSD is seen as superior technology when compared to others.

Sources: PIB.

 

Topics Covered: Infrastructure.

New Parliament building:


Context:

Foundation stone of the new Parliament building.

  • This took place nearly a hundred years after the foundation for the existing Parliament was laid by Duke of Connaught on February 12, 1921.

new_parliment

Key Points:

  1. It is expected that the structure would be completed by 2022, coinciding with 75 years of India’s independence.
  2. The theme of the new building would celebrate the cultural diversity of the country.
  3. It would also incorporate regional arts and crafts. Artisans and sculptures from across the country would be employed the complete the new structure making it a symbol of Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India).
  4. In September this year, Tata Projects Limited won the bid to construct the new parliament building at cost of Rs 861.90 crore.
  5. The new building will be constructed close to the existing one under the Central Vista redevelopment project.

new_seat_pow

What is Central Vista project that Supreme Court has halted?

  • It is a grand redevelopment project for building what will be the power corridor of India, having a new Parliament building, a common central secretariat and revamped three-km-long Rajpath, from the Rashtrapati Bhavan to the India Gate.
  • The Supreme Court warned the government not to carry out any work on the Central Vista project until it decides on a bunch of 10 petitions challenging the mega redevelopment plan.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.

What’s in France’s draft law against ‘Islamism?


Context:

The French cabinet presented a draft law that targets “radical Islamism” although the word “Islamist” is not part of the text.

Reason behind the draft:

  • The Bill comes in the wake of a series of terror attacks in recent years.
  • Although in the pipeline for some time, it is being seen as a response to the October beheading of schoolteacher Samuel Paty.

What does the proposed law aim to do?

It envisages a range of measures; including school education reforms to ensure Muslim children do not drop out, stricter controls on mosques and preachers, and rules against hate campaigns online.

After enforcement of the law:

  1. Once the law comes into force, French mosques could see increased surveillance of their activities, such as financing.
  2. The government would be able to exercise supervision over the training of imams, and have greater powers to shut down places of worship receiving public subsidies if they go against “republican principles” such as gender equality.
  3. There is already a ban on state employees displaying religious symbols that are “conspicuous”, such as the crucifix or hijab. This ban would now be extended beyond government bodies to any sub-contracted public service.

InstaLinks:

Prelims and Mains Links:

Which country recently drafted a law against Islamism and what are its implications?

Sources: Indian Express.

 


Facts for Prelims:


‘Jagananna Jeeva Kranthi’ scheme:

Launched by the Andhra Pradesh government.

  • Under which 2.49 lakh sheep and goats will be distributed to women in a phased manner at a cost of ₹1,869 crore.
  • The scheme will help improve the living standards of women with less investment.

HelpAge India presented UN Population Award for 2020:

HelpAge India has been presented the UN Population Award for 2020 (institutional category).

  • For the first time in the history of the UN Population Award, the honour is being conferred on an Indian institution.
  • The last time the Award came to an Indian was 28 years ago, back in 1992, when it was awarded to Mr. J.R.D. Tata as an individual laureate. HelpAge India has been working for ‘the cause and care of disadvantaged older persons to improve their quality of life’ for over four decades.

About the Award:

Established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1981, the United Nations Population Award recognises contributions in the fields of population and reproductive health.

Better Than Cash Alliance:

  • It is a partnership of governments, companies, and international organizations that accelerates the transition from cash to digital payments in order to reduce poverty and drive inclusive growth, and to advance the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • The United Nations Capital Development Fund serves as the secretariat.
  • India became a member of the Better Than Cash Alliance in 2015.

Hanukkah:

It is a Jewish festival commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. It is also known as the Festival of Lights.

hanukkah

Ischaemum janarthanamii:

  • It is a novel species of Muraingrass identified by scientists in the plateaus of Western Ghats of Goa.
  • The species was named Ischaemumjanarthanamiiin honour of Prof. M. K. Janarthanam, Professor of Botany, Goa University.
  • It grows on low altitude lateritic plateaus in the outskirts of Bhagwan Mahavir National Park, Goa.
  • The vegetation is exposed to extreme climatic conditions like desiccation in drier months and soils with low nutrient availability. However, withstanding these, the species has adapted to survive harsh conditions and blossom every monsoon.

Background:

  • Muraingrasses are known for their ecological and economic importance, such as fodder.
  • Globally 85 species are known from Ischaemum, of which 61 species are exclusively found in India.
  • The Western Ghats have 40 species with the highest concentration of the genus.

ischaemum

Koilwar Bridge:

  • Koilwar Bridge constructed over Sone river in Bihar inaugurated.
  • Length: 1.5 km.

koilwar

Worlds’ first, satellite-based narrowband-IoT network in India:

BSNL, in partnership with Skylo, to introduce worlds’ first, satellite-based narrowband-IoT network in India.

  • This new ‘Made in India’ Solution, which is indigenously developed by Skylo, will connect with BSNLs satellite- ground infrastructure and provide PAN-India coverage, including Indian seas.
  • The coverage will be so vast that it will not leave any dark patch within the boundary of India, from Kashmir &Ladakh to Kanyakumari, and from Gujarat to the North East, including the Indian seas.

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