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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 17 May 2021

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. Article 164 (3) of the Constitution.

2. PM-CARES fund.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Why has Indian manufacturing been losing jobs since 2016?

2. China’s ‘Zhurong’ rover.

3. Air India begins zeolite cargo flight service.

4. 186 elephants killed on rail tracks in over 10 years.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. What is the Winchcombe meteorite?

2. Subdoluseps nilgiriensis.

3. Doomsday Surfing.

4. National Crisis Management Committee.


GS Paper  :  2


 

Topics Covered: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Article 164 (3) of the Constitution:


Context:

As the demand for online swearing-in of the new government in Kerala gets louder, jurists say there is no legal infirmity in a government assuming office through online mode.

What does the Constitution of India say?

The Article 164 (3) of the Constitution states that “before a Minister enters upon his office, the Governor shall administer to him the oaths of office and of secrecy according to the forms set out for the purpose in the Third Schedule.”

  • There is no ban on an online event as the Constitution does not insist on a physical mode.

Need for:

  • Several organisations, including the Indian Medical Association, have favoured the online mode in the wake of the alarming spread of COVID-19.
  • Besides, the makers of the Constitution had not foreseen the advent of online world and hence there was no mention about the mode of Ministers assuming the office.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Constitutional provisions related to Cabinet Ministers.
  2. Their accountability.
  3. Privileges.
  4. Article 164 (3).

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

PM CARES:


Context:

A plea was filed in the Supreme Court seeking a direction to utilise the PM-CARES fund for immediate procurement of vaccines and establishment of oxygen plants, generators and their installation in 738 district hospitals across the country.

  • The petition said the government should loosen its PM-CARES purse strings and help common people in accessing medical care and oxygen.

Need for:

These government hospitals are easily accessible at no cost to common people of every district in the country who are desperately seeking medical oxygen as basic life-saving support.

About PM-CARES:

The Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) Fund was set up to accept donations and provide relief during the Covid-19 pandemic, and other similar emergencies.

PM-CARES Fund:

  • PM-CARES was set up as a public charitable trust with the trust deed registered on March 27, 2020.
  • It can avail donations from the foreign contribution and donations to fund can also avail 100% tax exemption.
  • PM-CARES is different from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF).

Who administers the fund?

Prime Minister is the ex-officio Chairman of the PM CARES Fund and Minister of Defence, Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Finance, Government of India are ex-officio Trustees of the Fund.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is a public account?
  2. Who administers PM CARES fund?
  3. Which organisations are exempted from the ambit of RTI act?
  4. What is Consolidated fund of India?
  5. What is a charitable trust?
  6. About NDRF.

Mains Link:

Discuss why PM CARES fund should be brought within the ambit of RTI act?

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper  :  3


 

Topics Covered: Employment related issues.

Why has Indian manufacturing been losing jobs since 2016?


Context:

The words “lives” and “livelihoods” are often mentioned together. But the ongoing Covid pandemic has created a difference between these two: Measures aimed at saving lives are proving to be terrible for livelihoods.

What is the current scenario?

Impact on livelihoods before the second Covid wave unfolded- As per Azim Premji University’s the State of Working India (SWI) report 2021:

  1. The pandemic had forced people out of their formal jobs into casual work, and led to a severe decline in incomes.
  2. Not surprisingly, there is a sudden increase in poverty over the past year.
  3. Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi, contributed disproportionately to job losses.

As per a report brought out jointly by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) and Centre for Economic Data and Analysis:

  1. Indian economy has gotten worse over the past few years even without the help of Covid.
  2. The number of people employed in the manufacturing sector of the economy has come down from 51 million to 27 million — that is, almost halving in the space of just four years!
  3. Besides, the number of people employed in agriculture is going up. Equally disheartening is that employment in non-financial services has fallen sharply.

Why is job loss in the manufacturing sector worrisome?

Traditionally Indian policymakers have been of the view that the manufacturing sector is our best hope to soak up the surplus labour otherwise employed in agriculture.

  • Manufacturing is well suited because it can make use of the millions of poorly educated Indian youth, unlike the services sector, which often requires better education and skill levels.

Why is Indian manufacturing failing to create jobs?

  1. Manufacturing units require the highest amount of fixed investment upfront.
  2. What has traditionally made this truly risky is the highly extractive nature of Indian governments (corruption, weak supply etc).
  3. Also, historically Indians have always consumed relatively less of manufacturing goods and relatively more of food and services (This is because most Indians are quite poor and hence most of the income is spent on food, and repairs and maintenance costs are high).
  4. By treating the labour-intensive manufacturing firms as small-scale industries, policies held back their growth.
  5. India did not push for integrating its labour-intensive manufacturing in the global supply chains by aggressively following exports. Instead, the idea was to substitute imports in the name of self-reliance.

Issues with ambitious Make in India (MII) initiative and the latest Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme:

They are again aimed more at capital intensive manufacturing, not labour intensive ones. Moreover, India is reverting to the protectionist approach, aimed at self-reliance, yet again in recent years.

Simply put:

From the perspective of creating jobs, India is facing a double whammy. The manufacturing and construction sectors are bleeding jobs instead of creating them. Making matters worse is the decline in employment in large sections of the service industry, thanks to the Covid-induced disruption.

Need of the hour:

Indian manufacturing, which is still India’s best hope for creating new jobs and soaking up excess unskilled labour from agriculture, requires policymakers to target labour-intensive firms, especially in the informal sector (read MSMEs) and help them — through better infrastructure and easier regulatory support — to create millions of new jobs.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

China’s ‘Zhurong’ rover:


Context:

China’s uncrewed ‘Tianwen-1’ spacecraft recently landed safely on the surface of Mars.

The spacecraft landed on a large plain located in the northern hemisphere of Mars, known as Utopia Planitia.

  • This makes China the second country in the world to send a rover to explore the mysterious Red Planet.
  • Onboard the lander was the ‘Zhurong’ rover, which will soon be deployed to study the Martian atmosphere and geology.

The Tianwent-1, China’s Mars mission:

Launched in July 2020, the mission consists of an orbiter, a lander and a golf cart-sized rover called ‘Zhurong’.

The spacecraft arrived in Mars’ orbit in February this year.

Yinghuo-1 mission:

This is not the first time China has attempted to send a spacecraft to Mars. Nearly ten years ago, the country launched the Yinghuo-1 mission, which ultimately failed after the spacecraft burnt while still in the Earth’s atmosphere after the Russian rocket that was carrying it failed in flight.

What Next?

If ‘Zhurong’ is deployed without a hitch, China will become the first country to successfully orbit, land and offload a rover during its maiden Mars mission.

Which other countries have managed to send rovers to Mars?

Apart from China, only the United States has been able to deploy rovers to study the surface of the Red Planet.

  1. The first successful landing was made by NASA in July 1976, when the Viking 1 rover touched down on Mars.
  2. Shortly after that, Viking 2 arrived on the Red Planet.
  3. In the decades that followed, the US successfully sent the Opportunity and Spirit rovers to explore Mars.
  4. Most recently, in February this year, NASA’s Perseverance rover landed at the Jezero Crater on the Red Planet, after which it resumed work to look for signs of past life.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Objectives of the mission.
  2. Others Mars missions.
  3. India’s Mars mission.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of the mission.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Indigenization of technology.

Air India begins zeolite cargo flight service:


Context:

  • National carrier Air India has begun the first of its “zeolite cargo flights” with the government of India having commenced the process of importing zeolite from across the world for use in medical oxygen plants.
  • The government has appointed the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as the charterer for these consignments.
  • Under the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund, the DRDO is to set up these medical oxygen plants.

Use of Zeolite in medical oxygen plants:

The technology being developed by the DRDO uses the pressure swing adsorption process and molecular sieve zeolite in oxygen generation.

  • Zeolites are used as adsorbent material.
  • An oxygen concentrator uses Zeolites to adsorb atmospheric nitrogen and then vents out the nitrogen. This leaves oxygen gas remaining to be used for patients.
  • In high pressure, the surface area of zeolites increases and thus is capable of adsorbing large quantities of nitrogen.

Pressure Swing Adsorption:

Pressure swing adsorption (PSA) is a technology used to separate some gas species from a mixture of gases under pressure.

  • PSA operates at near-ambient temperatures.
  • Specific adsorbent materials (e.g., zeolites, activated carbon, molecular sieves, etc.) are used as a trap, preferentially adsorbing the target gas species at high pressure.

What are Zeolites?

Zeolites are microporous, three dimensional crystalline solid of aluminium silicate. Zeolites have small openings of fixed size in them which allow small molecules to pass through them easily but larger molecules cannot pass through them; that is why they are sometimes called molecular sieve.

  • Zeolites are either formed naturally or can be synthesized.

Properties Of Zeolites:

  • Zeolites are very stable solid under different environmental conditions. The melting point of zeolite is very high, i.e.1000oC.
  • They are insoluble in water or other inorganic solvents.
  • They do not undergo oxidation in the presence of air.
  • Zeolites which are rich in alumina are attracted to polar molecules like water whereas zeolite rich in silica are attracted towards nonpolar molecules.
  • Since zeolites are not reactive and are obtained from naturally occurring minerals, therefore, they do not have any harmful environmental effects; although skin contact or inhalation may have a carcinogenic effect.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is swing adsorption technology?
  2. About Zeolites.
  3. Sources.
  4. Features.
  5. Applications.

Mains Link:

Write a note on swing adsorption technology.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

186 elephants killed on rail tracks in over 10 years:


According to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), a total of 186 elephants were killed after being hit by trains across India between 2009-10 and 2020-21.

  • Assam accounted for the highest number of elephant casualties on railway tracks (62), followed by West Bengal (57), and Odisha (27).

Key measures taken:

  1. Setting up of a Permanent Coordination Committee between the Ministry of Railways (Railway Board) and the MoEFCC for preventing elephant deaths in train accidents.
  2. Clearing of vegetation along railway tracks to enable clear view for loco pilots.
  3. Using signage boards at suitable points to alert loco pilots about elephant presence.
  4. Moderating slopes of elevated sections of railway tracks.
  5. Setting up underpass/overpass for safe passage of elephants.
  6. Regulation of train speed from sunset to sunrise in vulnerable stretches.
  7. Regular patrolling of vulnerable stretches of railway tracks by frontline staff of the Forest Department and wildlife watchers.

Eco Bridges as a solution:

  1. Eco Bridges are wildlife corridors also known as wildlife crossing that are a link of wildlife habitat which connects two larger areas of similar wildlife habitat.
  2. It connects wildlife populations that would otherwise be separated by human activities or structures such as roads and highways, other infrastructure development, or logging and farming, etc.
  3. Eco Bridges aims at enhancing wildlife connectivity.
  4. These are made up of native vegetation i.e., it is overlaid with planting from the area to give a contiguous look with the landscape.

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:


What is Winchcombe?

  • It is a meteorite.
  • A piece of the Winchcombe meteorite had touched down in the town of Winchcombe in Gloucestershire in the UK in February 2021.
  • It will be displayed at the National History Museum beginning next week.

The difference between a meteor, meteorite and meteoroid is nothing but where the object is:

  1. Meteoroids are objects in space that range in size from dust grains to small asteroids.
  2. But when meteoroids enter the Earth’s atmosphere they are called meteors.
  3. But if a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere and hits the ground, it is called a meteorite.

Subdoluseps nilgiriensis:

It is a new species of an Asian gracile skink that has been discovered recently at Anaikatti hills, Coimbatore.

  • This species is only the third skink species discovered from mainland India in the last millennium.
  • The reptile has a slender body of just about 7 cm and is sandy brown in colour. The inconspicuous limbs of skinks make them resemble snakes.
  • Most skinks are diurnal and are non-venomous.
  • Skinks are known to feed on insects such as termites, crickets and small spiders.
  • It is currently classified as a vulnerable species.

Doomsday Surfing:

Doomsday Surfing refers to the tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening or depressing.

What’s the concern now?

  • Many people are finding themselves continuously reading bad news about Covid-19 without being able to stop, even sacrificing their crucial sleep time or working hours in the process.

National Crisis Management Committee:

For effective implementation of relief measures in the wake of natural calamities, the Government of India has set up a National Crisis Management Committee.

  • Cabinet Secretary is it’s Chairman
  • Other members: Secretaries of all the concerned Ministries /Departments as well as organizations are the members of the Committee.
  • The NCMC gives direction to the Crisis Management Group as deemed necessary.

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