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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 21 June 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 1: 

1. Summer solstice. 

 

GS Paper 2: 

1. Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS). 

2. Ebola. 

3. India abstains from voting on the UN’s Myanmar resolution. 

 

GS Paper 3: 

1. Monoclonal antibodies. 

2. Sale of illegal HTBt cotton seeds doubles. 

3. Hubble Space Telescope. 

4. Summit on Green Hydrogen Initiatives. 

 

Facts for Prelims: 

1. National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI). 

2. Biotech-KISAN Programme. 

3. Ajit Mishra expert group. 


GS Paper  :  1


 

Topics covered:  Important Geophysical phenomena.

Summer solstice: 


Context: 

June 21- this day is referred to as the summer solstice, the longest day of the summer season. It occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer. 

What causes this? 

Solstice means “sun stands still” in Latin. 

Solstice is an astronomical event, caused by Earth’s tilt on its axis and its motion in orbit around the sun. 

At the June solstice, Earth is positioned in its orbit so that our world’s North Pole is leaning most toward the sun. 

  • As seen from Earth, the sun is directly overhead at noon 23 1/2 degrees north of the equator, at an imaginary line encircling the globe known as the Tropic of Cancer named after the constellation Cancer the Crab. This is as far north as the sun ever gets. 

Implications: 

  1. All locations north of the equator have days longer than 12 hours at the June solstice. Meanwhile, all locations south of the equator have days shorter than 12 hours. 
  2. This day is characterised by a greater amount of energy received from the sun. According to NASA, the amount of incoming energy the Earth received from the sun on this day is 30 per cent higher at the North Pole than at the Equator. 

What is the winter solstice? 

21st December or the Winter Solstice marks the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. 

  • It is the shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and is also known as the ‘first day of winter’ in the Northern Hemisphere as well as ‘Hiemal solstice or Hibernal solstice’. 
  • During this, countries in the Northern Hemisphere are farthest from the Sun and the Sun shines overhead on the Tropic of Capricorn (23.5° south). 

 

Insta Curious: 

Do you know about Lahaina noon? Read Here

 

InstaLinks: 

Prelims Link: 

  1. What is Solstice? 
  2. Differences between Summer and Winter Solstices. 
  3. Countries on Tropic of Cancer. 
  4. Tropic of Capricorn. 
  5. Perihelion vs Aphelion. 

Sources: Indian Express. 


GS Paper  :  2


 

Topics Covered:  Government Policies. 

Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS): 


Context: 

A 50 kWp Solar roof top was recently inaugurated in Solan, Himachal Pradesh under the Integrated power development scheme of the Ministry of Power, Government of India. 

  • The project further reinforces the ‘Go Green’ Initiative of the government envisaged in the Urban Distribution scheme of the government of India. 

About IPDS: 

Power Finance Corporation(PFC) is the Nodal agency for implementation of the scheme. 

Launched in 2014 by Ministry of Power with the objectives of: 

  1. Strengthening of sub-transmission and distribution network in the urban areas. 
  2. Metering of distribution transformers /feeders / consumers in the urban areas. 
  3. IT enablement of distribution sector and strengthening of distribution network under R-APDRP. 

Significance of the scheme: 

The scheme will help in reduction in AT&C losses; establishment of IT enabled energy accounting / auditing system, improvement in billed energy based on metered consumption and improvement in collection efficiency. 

Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (R-APDRP): 

Launched in July 2008 with focus on establishment of base line data, fixation of accountability, reduction of AT&C losses upto 15% level through strengthening & up-gradation of Sub Transmission and Distribution network and adoption of Information Technology during XI Plan. 

 

Insta Curious: 

  1. Do you know the difference between Maharatna, Navratna and Miniratna? Read Here
  2. To which category does PFC belong? Read Here

 

InstaLinks: 

Prelims Link: 

  1. About IPDS. 
  2. About R-APDRP.
  3. What is national grid? 
  4. What are AT&C losses? 

 

Mains Link: 

Discuss the significance of IPDS. 

Sources: the Hindu. 

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to health. 

Ebola Outbreak: 


Context: 

An Ebola outbreak in Guinea that started in February, infecting 16 people and killing 12, has been declared over by WHO

Background: 

The Ebola outbreak in 2014-2016 killed 11,300 people, mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. 

  • In May 2021, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) officially declared the end of the 12th Ebola outbreak. 

About Ebola: 

Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. 

Transmission: The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. 

The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks. 

Prevention: Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Good outbreak control relies on case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service and social mobilisation. 

Treatment: Early supportive care with rehydration, symptomatic treatment improves survival. There is yet no licensed treatment proven to neutralise the virus but a range of blood, immunological and drug therapies are under development. 

Ebola

 

Insta Curious: 

Do you know what exactly is Public Health Emergency of International Concern? How many PHEIC declarations have been made so far? click here

 

InstaLinks: 

Prelims Link: 

  1. How is Ebola spread? 
  2. What are zoonotic diseases? 
  3. Differences between virus, bacteria and other pathogens. 
  4. Where is Congo? 
  5. Regions in Africa where Ebola outbreak was observed? 

Mains Link: 

Discuss how the Ebola pandemic was handled by Congo Republic. 

Sources: the Hindu. 

 

Topics Covered: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

India abstains from voting on UN’s Myanmar resolution: 


Context: 

India recently abstained from voting on the United Nations General Assembly‘s (UNGA’s) resolution for an arms embargo against Myanmar. 

  • 119 countries voted ‘yes’, Belarus voted ‘no’ and 36 countries abstained, including Myanmar’s neighbors China and India, along with Russia. 

Reasons behind India’s move: 

  1. India said its views were not reflected in the draft resolution before the Assembly passed it. 
  2. India also said it does not believe that the tabling of this resolution for adoption at this juncture, is “conducive to aiding the country’s joint efforts towards strengthening the democratic process in Myanmar.” 

About the UN Resolution: 

  • The UN’s resolution demonstrated widespread global opposition to the Myanmar military and demanded that the country’s democratic transition be restored. 
  • The resolution called upon the Myanmar armed forces to respect the people’s will as freely expressed by results of the general election of November 8, 2020. 

India is supporting ASEAN initiative on Myanmar and the ‘Five-Point Consensus’: 

It includes: 

  1. Immediate cessation of violence. 
  2. Dialogue among all stakeholders in Myanmar for a peaceful solution. 
  3. The appointment of a special Asean envoy to facilitate mediation. 
  4. Aid to Myanmar. 
  5. A visit to the country by the envoy. 

Why should India be concerned about the situation in Myanmar? 

For India, the stakes are high as instability within Myanmar has grave implications for the Northeast. 

  • There are reports of guerrilla groups in Myanmar reviving their activities and any breakdown of law and order will allow militant groups in the Northeast to take advantage of the situation. 

What’s happening in Myanmar? 

The elected leaders of Myanmar were overthrown on February 1 this year in a coup by the army, which accused Aung Sang Suu Kyi’s ruling party of cheating in the November elections. The army’s allegation has been rejected by the previous election commission and international monitors. 

What lies ahead for India?

India’s reaction is likely to be different this time. India does care about democracy in Myanmar, but that’s a luxury it knows it will not be able to afford for the time being. Why? Because,

  1. India’s security relationship with the Myanmar military has become extremely close, and it would be difficult to “burn bridges” with them given their assistance in securing the North East frontiers from insurgent groups.
  2. Changed image of Ms. Suu Kyi herself: Her image as a democracy icon and Nobel peace laureate has been damaged by her time in office, where she failed to push back the military, and even defended the Army’s pogrom against Rohingya in Rakhine State in 2015.
  3. Benefits for China: A harsh reaction from India, on the lines of that from the U.S., which has threatened action against those responsible for the “coup” unless they revoke the military’s takeover, would only benefit China.
  4. Apart from strategic concerns, India has cultivated several infrastructure and development projects with Myanmar, which it sees as the “gateway to the East” and ASEAN countries (For example: India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway and the Kaladan multi-modal transit transport network, as well as a plan for a Special Economic Zone at the Sittwe deep-water port).
  5. Besides, India still hopes to help resolve the issue of Rohingya refugees that fled to Bangladesh, while some still live in India, and will want to continue to engage the Myanmar government on that.

Myanmar’s military Constitution:

It was the military that drafted the 2008 Constitution, and put it to a questionable referendum in April that year. 

  • The Constitution was the military’s “roadmap to democracy”, which it had been forced to adopt under increasing pressure from the west.
  • It was also due to its own realisation that opening up Myanmar to the outside world was now no longer an option but a dire economic necessity. 
  • But the military made sure to safeguard in the Constitution its own role and supremacy in national affairs.
  • Under its provisions, the military reserves for itself 25 per cent of seats in both Houses of Parliament, to which it appoints serving military officials.
  • Also, a political party which is a proxy for the military contests elections.

 

Insta Curious: 

  1. Do you know how decisions are made at the UN? Read here, 
  2.  Do you remember the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project? Read Here

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Myanmar.
  2. Its constitution.
  3. Comparison with Indian Constitution. 
  4. About UNGA. 
  5. Various UN Organisations. 

Mains Link:

Discuss India’s policy towards its neighbours.

Sources: the Hindu. 


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. 

Monoclonal antibodies: 


Context: 

An experimental monoclonal antibody cocktail, REGEN-COV2, has been found to be a life-saving treatment for some of the most severely affected Covid-19 patients, results of a clinical trial in the UK have shown. 

  • However, Such therapies are expensive because they are difficult to make and take a lot of time. 

What are Monoclonal antibodies

They are artificially created antibodies that aim to aid the body’s natural immune system. 

They target a specific antigen — a protein from the pathogen that induces immune response. 

How are they created? 

Monoclonal antibodies can be created in the lab by exposing white blood cells to a particular antigen. 

To increase the quantity of antibodies produced, a single white blood cell is cloned, which in turn is used to create identical copies of the antibodies. 

  • In the case of Covid-19, scientists usually work with the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which facilitates the entry of the virus into the host cell. 

Need for monoclonal antibodies: 

In a healthy body, the immune system is able to create antibodies — tiny Y-shaped proteins in our blood that recognise microbial enemies and bind to them, signalling the immune system to then launch an attack on the pathogen. 

However, for people whose immune systems are unable to make sufficient amounts of these antibodies, scientists provide a helping hand- using monoclonal antibodies. 

History: 

The idea of delivering antibodies to treat a disease dates as far back as the 1900s, when Nobel-prize winning German immunologist Paul Ehrlich proposed the idea of a ‘Zauberkugel‘ (magic bullet), a compound which selectively targets a pathogen. 

  • From then, it took eight decades of research to finally arrive at Muromonab-CD3, the world’s first monoclonal antibody to be approved for clinical use in humans. 
  • Muromonab-CD3 is an immunosuppressant drug given to reduce acute rejection in patients with organ transplants.

Applications: 

Monoclonal antibodies are now relatively common. They are used in treating Ebola, HIV, psoriasis etc. 

 

Insta Curious: 

  1. Did you know about Polyclonal antibodies? Find out more about them: Click here
  2.  Do you know what immunomodulators are? Read Here

 

InstaLinks: 

Prelims Link: 

  1. What are antibodies? 
  2. What are monoclonal antibodies? 
  3. How are they created? 
  4. Applications. 
  5. Antigens vs antibodies. 

Mains Link: 

What are monoclonal antibodies? Why are they significant? Discuss. 

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. 

Sale of illegal HTBt cotton seeds doubles: 


Context: 

Industry lobbies have written to the Agriculture Ministry, demanding that action be taken to stop illegal sales of HTBt cotton and punish offenders, noting that cultivation of the genetically modified cotton variant has serious environmental and economic consequences. 

What’s the issue? 

The illegal cultivation of herbicide-tolerant (HT) Bt cotton has seen a huge jump this year, with seed manufacturers claiming that the sale of illegal seed packets has more than doubled from 30 lakh last year to 75 lakh this year. 

What is allowed? 

Bt cotton remains the only GM crop allowed to be cultivated in the country. 

Developed by US giant Bayer-Monsanto, it involves insertion of two genes viz ‘Cry1Ab’ and ‘Cry2Bc’ from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis into cotton seeds. 

  • This modification codes the plant to produce protein toxic to Heliothis bollworm (pink bollworm) thus making it resistant to their attack. The commercial release of this hybrid was sanctioned by the government in 2002. 

What is HTBt Cotton? 

This variety (HtBt) involves the addition of another gene, ‘Cp4-Epsps’ from another soil bacterium, Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Farmers claim that the HtBt variety can withstand the spray of glyphosate, a herbicide that is used to remove weeds, and thus it substantially saves them de-weeding costs. 

Issues with HTBt Cotton: 

Farmers are at risk because there is no accountability of the quality of seed, it pollutes the environment, the industry is losing legitimate seed sale and the government also loses revenue in terms of tax collection. 

What the law says? 

  • Legally, sale, storage, transportation and usage of unapproved GM seeds is a punishable offence under the Rules of Environmental Protection Act 1989. Also, sale of unapproved seeds can attract action under the Seed Act of 1966 and the Cotton Act of 1957. 
  • The Environmental Protection Act provides for a jail term of five years and a fine of Rs 1 lakh for violation of its provisions, and cases can be filed under the other two Acts. 

 

Insta Curious: 

Do you know what Somaclonal Variation is? Read Here 

 

InstaLinks: 

Prelims Link: 

  1. About BT Cotton. 
  2. What is HTBt Cotton? 
  3. What is GEAC? 
  4. The Rules of Environmental Protection Act 1989. 
  5. Rhe Seed Act of 1966. 
  6. The Cotton Act of 1957. 

Mains Link: 

Discuss the functions of GEAC. 

Sources: the Hindu. 

 

Topics Covered: Awareness in space. 

Hubble Space Telescope: 


Context: 

Nasa reports trouble with the Hubble Space Telescope. The telescope has been down for the past few days. The problem is a payload computer that has stopped working. 

Background: 

The payload computer’s purpose is to control and coordinate the science instruments and monitor them for health and safety purposes. 

About the Hubble Space Telescope: 

  1. The Hubble Space Telescope is a large telescope in space. NASA launched Hubble in 1990. 
  2. It was built by the United States space agency NASA, with contributions from the European Space Agency. 
  3. Hubble is the only telescope designed to be serviced in space by astronauts. 
  4. Expanding the frontiers of the visible Universe, the Hubble Space Telescope looks deep into space with cameras that can see across the entire optical spectrum from infrared to ultraviolet. 
  5. The Hubble Space Telescope makes one orbit around Earth every 95 minutes. 

Achievements: 

  1. It has helped in discovering the moons around Pluto. 
  2. Evidence regarding the existence of black holes has emerged based on the observations through Hubble. 
  3. The birth of stars through turbulent clouds of gas and dust have also been observed. 
  4. The hubble telescope made observations of six galaxies merging together. 
  5. On Februry 11, 2021, the Hubble made observations of small concentrations of black holes. 

 

Insta Curious: 

  1. Do you know the Difference between Hubble’s Telescope and James Webb Telescope? Read here
  2. Do you know about AstroSat? Read Here

 

InstaLinks: 

Prelims Link: 

  1. About the Hubble Space Telescope. 
  2. About James Webb Telescope. 
  3. What is a black hole? 

Sources: Times of India. 

 

Topics Covered:  Conservation related issues. 

Summit on Green Hydrogen Initiatives: 


Context: 

India is hosting a summit on Green Hydrogen initiatives involving the BRICS nations. The event offers a platform to share their respective Green Hydrogen initiatives and views on how to take it to the next level in their own countries. 

  • The event will be anchored by NTPC Ltd , a Maharatna CPSU under the Ministry of Power. 

What is green hydrogen? 

Hydrogen when produced by electrolysis using renewable energy is known as Green Hydrogen which has no carbon  footprint. 

Significance of Green Hydrogen: 

  1. Green hydrogen energy is vital for India to meet its Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) Targets and ensure regional and national energy security, access and availability. 
  2. Green Hydrogen can act as an energy storage option, which would be essential to meet intermittencies (of renewable energy) in the future. 
  3. In terms of mobility, for long distance mobilisations for either urban freight movement within cities and states or for passengers, Green Hydrogen can be used in railways, large ships, buses or trucks, etc. 

Applications of green hydrogen: 

  1. Green Chemicals like ammonia and methanol  can directly be utilized in existing applications like fertilizers, mobility, power, chemicals, shipping etc. 
  2. Green Hydrogen blending up to 10% may be adopted in CGD networks to gain widespread acceptance.  

Benefits: 

  • It is a clean-burning molecule, which can decarbonize a range of sectors including iron and steel, chemicals, and transportation. 
  • Renewable energy that cannot be stored or used by the grid can be channelled to produce hydrogen. 

 

Insta Curious: 

Do you know the differences between Green, Blue and Grey Hydrogen? Read Here (You can directly check Page 5)

Sources: PIB. 

 


Facts for Prelims:


National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI): 

It is a not-for-profit organization (section 8 of the Companies Act 2013) working since 2003 for spreading the internet infrastructure to the citizens of India through the following activities:

  1. Internet Exchanges through which the internet data is exchanged amongst ISP’s, Data Centers and CDNs. 
  2. .IN Registry, managing and operation of .IN country code domain and .भारत IDN domain for India. 

Biotech-KISAN Programme: 

  1. It is a farmer-centric scheme for farmers, developed by and with farmers under the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology. 
  2. It is a pan-India program, following a hub-and-spoke model and stimulates entrepreneurship and innovation in farmers and empowers women farmers. 
  3. It identifies and promotes local farm leadership in both genders. Such leadership helps to develop science-based farming besides facilitating the transfer of knowledge. 

Ajit Mishra expert group: 

  • The Central Government has constituted an Expert Group under the Chairmanship of Professor Ajit Mishra, a renowned economist. 
  • Its mandate is to provide technical inputs and recommendations on fixation of Minimum Wages and National Floor Wages to the Government. 

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