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[Mission 2022] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 11 September 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 3:

1. Findings of Chandrayaan-2.

2. Privatisation of Railways.

3. UDAN scheme.

4. Impact of fossil fuel extraction on global warming.

5. Cryptocurrency and related issues.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Thamirabarani civilization.


 

Findings of Chandrayaan-2:

GS Paper 3

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

 

Context:

The Orbiter and other instruments of Chandrayaan-2 mission have, in two years, gathered a wealth of new information that has added to our knowledge about the Moon and its environment.

 

What happened to Chandrayaan-2?

 

But, why is this mission still relevant?

Despite the failure, the mission’s orbiter and other parts have been functioning normally, gathering information. Recently, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) released the information gathered by the scientific payloads till now, some of which were still to be analysed and assessed.

 

What is the information gathered?

Presence of water molecules on moon: The mission has given the most precise information about the presence of H2O molecules on the Moon till date.

Presence of Minor elements: Chromium, manganese and Sodium have been detected for the first time through remote sensing. The finding can lay the path for understanding magmatic evolution on the Moon and deeper insights into the nebular conditions as well as planetary differentiation.

Information about solar flares: A large number of microflares outside the active region have been observed for the first time, and according to ISRO, this “has great implications on the understanding of the mechanism behind heating of the solar corona”, which has been an open problem for many decades.

Exploration of the permanently shadowed regions as well as craters and boulders underneath the regolith, the loose deposit comprising the top surface extending up to 3-4m in depth. This is expected to help scientists to zero in on future landing and drilling sites, including for human missions.

 

Chandrayaan-2 Mission:

The Chandrayaan-2 mission, which was lost after it hard landed on the dark side of the Moon in 2019, remains active in the form of its orbiter hovering over the Moon.

Scientists used the Solar X-ray Monitor (XSM) onboard Chandrayaan-2 in September 2019 to study the Sun.

  • The primary objective of Chandrayaan 2 was to demonstrate the ability to soft-land on the lunar surface and operate a robotic rover on the surface.
  • The mission consisted of an Orbiter of the Moon, Vikram (after Vikram Sarabhai) – the lander and Pragyan (wisdom) – the rover, all equipped with scientific instruments to study the moon.

current affairs

 

Insta Curious:

Did you know that even before Chandrayaan-2, many missions have revealed information regarding the presence of water on the moon? These include: Chandrayaan-1, NASA missions Clementine and Lunar Prospector. Know more about them.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Chandrayaan-2.
  2. Objectives.
  3. Instruments onboard.
  4. Chandrayaan-1.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of Chandrayaan-2 mission.

Sources: Indian Express.

Privatisation of Railways

GS Paper 3

Topics Covered: Infrastructure- railways.

 

Context:

The employees union of the North Western Railway (NWR) protested recently against the privatisation of railways announced by Centre recently.

 

Rail Privatisation:

Objectives of privatisation:

  1. To introduce modern technology rolling stock with reduced maintenance.
  2. Reduced transit time.
  3. Boost job creation.
  4. Provide enhanced safety.
  5. Provide world-class travel experience to passengers.
  6. Reduce demand-supply deficit in the passenger transportation sector.

 

Pros:

  1. Improved Infrastructure – It will lead to better infrastructure which in turn would lead to improved amenities for travellers.
  2. Balancing Quality of Service with High Fares –  The move would foster competition and hence lead to overall betterment in the quality of services.
  3. Lesser Accidents –  Because private ownership is synonymous with better maintenance, supporters of privatisation feel that it will reduce the number of accidents, thus resulting in safe travel and higher monetary savings in the long run.

 

Cons:

Coverage Limited to Lucrative Sectors – An advantage of Indian Railways being government- owned is that it provides nation-wide connectivity irrespective of profit. This would not be possible with privatisation since routes which are less popular will be eliminated, thus having a negative impact on connectivity.

Fares –  Given that a private enterprise runs on profit, it is but natural to assume that the easiest way of accruing profits in Indian Railways would be to hike fares, thus rendering the service out of reach for lower income groups. This will defeat the entire purpose of the system which is meant to serve the entire population of the country irrespective of the level of income.

Accountability –  Private companies are unpredictable in their dealings and do not share their governance secrets with the world at large. In such a scenario it would be difficult to pin the accountability on a particular entity, should there be a discrepancy.

 

Recent Decision of Ministry of Railways in this regard:

  1. On July 1, 2020, the Ministry of Railways announced that 151 trains in 109 pairs of routes will be operated by private sectors. It comprises just 5% of the 2,800 Express and Mail services operated by Indian Railways.
  2. Private trains will start operating tentatively in 2023 and in 12 clusters.
  3. Private companies will be given the freedom to procure locomotives and trains from their source of choice.
  4. Railways has invited Request for Qualifications proposals, for scrutiny of vendor capabilities, from those who can bring modern trains for operations on existing rail infrastructure.

current affairs

 

Insta Curious:

Do you know about India’s first private train? Is it still in operation today? Reference: read this.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. When were Railway and General budgets merged?
  2. India’s first private train.
  3. Bibrek Debroy Committee is related to?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of privatisation of railways and challenges involved therein.

Sources: the Hindu.

UDAN scheme

GS Paper 3

Topics Covered:  Awareness in space. 

 

Context: 

The Civil Aviation Ministry has announced its agenda over the next 100 days. It includes: 

  1. Launching 50 new routes under the UDAN scheme
  2. Rationalising the value added tax (VAT) charged on aviation turbine fuel (ATF). 

 

About UDAN scheme (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) Scheme: 

  • The scheme is aimed at enhancing connectivity to remote and regional areas of the country and making air travel affordable. 
  • It is a key component of Centre’s National Civil Aviation Policy led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and launched in June 2016. 
  • Under the scheme, nearly half of the seats in Udan flights are offered at subsidised fares, and the participating carriers are provided a certain amount of viability gap funding (VGF) an amount shared between the Centre and the concerned states. 
  • The scheme will be jointly funded by the central government and state governments. 
  • The scheme will run for 10 years and can be extended thereafter. 

 

UDAN 4.0

  • The 4th round of UDAN was launched in December 2019 with a special focus on North-Eastern Regions, Hilly States, and Islands. 
  • The airports that had already been developed by Airports Authority of India (AAI) are given higher priority for the award of VGF (Viability Gap Funding) under the Scheme. 
  • Under UDAN 4, the operation of helicopters and seaplanes is also been incorporated. 

 

Insta Curious: 

Did you know that the ATF is not within the ambit of the Goods and Services Tax (GST)? More about items not covered under GST: read this

 

InstaLinks: 

Prelims Link: 

  1. When was UDAN scheme launched? 
  2. Implementation and funding of the scheme. 
  3. Overview of the National Civil Aviation Policy. 
  4. Under the scheme, who provides Viability Gap Funding (VGF) to subsidise the airfare? 
  5. Role of state governments under the scheme. 

Mains Link: 

Discuss the performance of UDAN scheme. 

Sources: the Hindu.

Impact of fossil fuel extraction on global warming: 

GS Paper 3

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues. 

 

Context: 

According to a new study (published in the journal Nature), global fossil fuel extraction needs to go down to keep global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is the target set by the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. 

 

Key findings: 

  1. The global oil and gas production should decline by three per cent per year until 2050 to reach the target set by the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. 
  2. As of now, both planned and operational fossil fuel extraction projects are not conducive to meeting the targets set. 
  3. A substantial number of regions in the world have already reached their peak fossil fuel production and that any increase in fossil fuel production will have to be offset by a decline elsewhere, if the goal wants to be achieved. 
  4. The required unextracted reserves need to be 58 percent for oil, 59 percent for fossil methane gas and 89 percent for coal by 2050. Which is to say that these percentages of fossil fuels need to remain unextractable if global warming targets are kept in mind. 

 

Why is there a need to limit the use of fossil fuels? 

Global cost of air pollution from fossil fuels is high: It was around $2.9 trillion per year, or $8 billion per day, which was 3.3 per cent of the world’s GDP at the time. 

  • India is estimated to bear a cost of $150 billion from air pollution caused by fossil fuels. 

 

Challenges ahead: 

  1. As of now, human activities have already caused global temperatures to rise by about 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels (1950-1900). 
  2. Currently, countries’ emissions targets are not in line with limiting global warming to under 1.5 degrees. 

 

What is the goal set out by the Paris Climate Agreement? 

The Paris Climate Agreement that was signed by 195 countries in 2015 has set out a goal to limit climate change in the coming decades. 

  • The agreement aims to slow the process of global warming by making efforts to “hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels”. 

 

Need of the hour for India: 

  1. Reduce emphasis on domestic exploration. 
  2. Increase productivity of producing fields. 
  3. Increase strategic reserves. 
  4. Restructure and reorganize public sector petroleum companies. 
  5. Avoid siloed thinking. 

paris_climate_agreement

 

InstaLinks: 

Prelims Link: 

  1. What is Paris Agreement?
  2. Which countries have not signed?
  3. Targets.
  4. Funding mechanism announced under the Paris Agreement.
  5. What are NDCs?

Mains Link: 

Discuss the significance of the Paris Climate deal. 

Sources: Indian Express. 

Cryptocurrency and related issues: 

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. 

 

Context: 

RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das recently said the central bank continues to have “serious and major” concerns about cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and has conveyed them to the government. 

 

Background: 

Private cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, which are unregulated, mined through a complex process and have highly volatile prices, are under the regulatory gaze in India despite their proliferation as an asset class. 

 

Present status of Cryptocurrencies in India: 

 

What are Cryptocurrencies? 

Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank. 

Examples: Bitcoin, Ethereum etc. 

Why is the RBI against the use of cryptocurrencies? 

  1. Sovereign guarantee: Cryptocurrencies pose risks to consumers.  They do not have any sovereign guarantee and hence are not legal tender. 
  2. Market volatility: Their speculative nature also makes them highly volatile.  For instance, the value of Bitcoin fell from USD 20,000 in December 2017 to USD 3,800 in November 2018.
  3. Risk in security: A user loses access to their cryptocurrency if they lose their private key (unlike traditional digital banking accounts, this password cannot be reset).
  4. Malware threats: In some cases, these private keys are stored by technical service providers (cryptocurrency exchanges or wallets), which are prone to malware or hacking. 
  5. Money laundering. 

 

SC Garg Committee recommendations (2019): 

  1. Ban anybody who mines, hold, transact or deal with cryptocurrencies in any form.
  2. It recommend a jail term of one to 10 years for exchange or trading in digital currency.
  3. It proposed a monetary penalty of up to three times the loss caused to the exchequer or gains made by the cryptocurrency user whichever is higher.
  4. However, the panel said that the government should keep an open mind on the potential issuance of cryptocurrencies by the Reserve Bank of India. 

 

Insta Curious: 

Have you heard about the IOTA Tangle? Reference: 

 

InstaLinks: 

Prelims Link: 

  1. Various cryptocurrencies. 
  2. Cryptocurrencies launched by various countries. 
  3. What is Blockchain technology? 

Mains Link: 

What are Cryptocurrencies? Why is there a need for regulation? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu. 

Facts for Prelims:

Thamirabarani civilization:

  • Thamirabarani (Porunai) is a river that originates in the Western Ghats (from the Agastyarkoodam peak of Pothigai hills) in the State and empties into the sea at the Gulf of Mannar after passing through Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts.
  • Rivers have a unique association with civilisations. Thamirabarani in the southern district of Tirunelveli is no exception.

Why in News?

A US-based lab has carbon-dated the remaining discovered from this ancient civilization in Tamil Nadu to at least 3,200 years.

  • This is the oldest civilization perhaps, older than the Vaigai civilization which is believed to be 2,600 years old.


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