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.
Table of Contents
GS Paper 1:
1. Cyclone Gulab.
GS Paper 2:
1. Competition Commission of India and Cartelisation.
2. Multi-member ward system in Maharashtra.
3. PM CARES Fund.
GS Paper 3:
1. What is dark energy?
2. State government report on Chennai’s flood.
Facts for Prelims:
1. Campaign launched for social accountability law.
GS Paper 1
Topics Covered: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.
Cyclone ‘Gulab’ is likely to hit east coast of India. It is formed in the Bay of Bengal Region.
- Gulab was suggested by Pakistan.
Cyclones are formed over the oceanic water in the tropical region.
In this region, the sunlight is highest which results in warming of land and water surface. Due to warming of the surface, the warm moist air over the ocean rises upwards following which cool air rushes in to fill the void, they too get warm and rise — the cycle continues.
But what creates the spin?
Wind always blows from high pressure to low pressure areas. High pressure areas are created in the cold region while low is created in the warm regions. Polar regions are high pressure areas as the amount of sunlight here is less than the tropical region. So, wind blows from polar regions to tropical regions.
- Then comes the Earth’s movement, which is west to east. The Earth’s rotation on its axis causes deflection of the wind (in the tropical region as the speed of spinning of Earth is higher compared to polar sides due to its spherical shape — blowing from both the polar regions. Wind coming from the Arctic is deflected to the right while Antarctic wind deflects to the left side.
- So, wind is already blowing in a direction. But when it reaches the warmer place, cool air starts getting attracted to the centre to fill the gap. So while moving to the centre, cool air keeps getting deflected resulting in circulation of wind movement — this process continues until the cyclone hits the land.
What happens when a cyclone hits the land?
Cyclone dissipates when it hits the land as the warm water that rises and creates space for cool water is no longer available on land. Also, the moist air that rises up forms clouds leading to rains that accompany gusting winds during cyclones.
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) maintains rotating lists of names. But, how are cyclones named? Read this.
- Factors responsible for the genesis of cyclones.
- Naming of cyclones in various regions of the world.
- Why are there more cyclones in Eastern coast of India?
- What is coriolis force?
- What is the latent heat of condensation?
Discuss the factors responsible for the formation of tropical cyclones.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 2
Topics Covered: Statutory organizations.
Last week, the Competition Commission of India found that three beer companies had colluded to fix beer prices for a full decade — between 2009 and 2018.
- As a result, the CCI slapped a penalty of Rs 873 crore on the companies for cartelisation in the sale and supply of beer in 10 states and Union Territories.
What is a cartel?
According to CCI, a “Cartel includes an association of producers, sellers, distributors, traders or service providers who, by agreement amongst themselves, limit, control or attempt to control the production, distribution, sale or price of, or, trade in goods or provision of services”.
The three common components of a cartel are:
- An agreement.
- Between competitors.
- To restrict competition.
Features of a cartel:
- The agreement that forms a cartel need not be formal or written.
- Cartels almost invariably involve secret conspiracies.
- Here, competitors refers to companies at the same level of the economy (manufacturers, distributors, or retailers) in direct competition with each other to sell goods or provide services.
What do these cartels do?
- Output restrictions.
- Market allocation.
In simple terms, “participants in hard-core cartels agree to insulate themselves from the rigours of a competitive marketplace, substituting cooperation for competition”.
Challenges posed by cartels:
- Hurt not only the consumers but also, indirectly, undermine overall economic efficiency and innovations.
- By artificially holding back the supply or raising prices in a coordinated manner, companies either force some consumers out of the market by making the commodity (say, beer) more scarce or by earning profits that free competition would not have allowed.
- A cartel shelters its members from full exposure to market forces, reducing pressures on them to control costs and to innovate.
Why do companies resort to Cartelisation?
The companies blamed government rules, which require them to seek approvals from state authorities for any price revisions, as the main reason for forming a cartel.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) was established under the Competition Act, 2002 for the administration, implementation and enforcement of the Act, and was duly constituted in March 2009. Chairman and members are appointed by the central government.
Functions of the commission:
- It is the duty of the Commission to eliminate practices having adverse effects on competition, promote and sustain competition, protect the interests of consumers and ensure freedom of trade in the markets of India.
- The Commission is also required to give opinion on competition issues on a reference received from a statutory authority established under any law and to undertake competition advocacy, create public awareness and impart training on competition issues.
The Competition Act:
The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969 (MRTP Act) was repealed and replaced by the Competition Act, 2002, on the recommendations of the Raghavan committee.
- The Competition Act, 2002, as amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007, prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and M&A), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.
Do you know about the International Competition Network?
How might cartels be worse than monopolies? Read this.
- About CCI.
- Highlights of the Competition Act and amendments to it.
- About NCLT and its jurisdiction.
- What is Cartelisation?
Discuss the roles and functions of CCI.
Sources: Indian Express.
GS Paper 2
Topics Covered: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
Recently, the Central government informed the Delhi High Court that the PM CARES Fund is “not a fund of Government of India and the amount does not go in the Consolidated Fund of India”.
The Centre’s affidavit came in response to a petition filed before the high court seeking to declare PM CARES as a ‘public authority’ under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
What has the government said?
Irrespective of whether the trust is a “State” or other authority within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India and or whether it is a ‘public authority’ within the meaning of section 2[h] of Right to Information Act, Section 8 in general and that of provisions contained in sub section [e] and [j], in particular, of the Right to Information Act, it is not permissible to disclose third party information.
- And, to ensure transparency, the audited report is put on the official website of the trust along with the details of utilisation of funds received by the trust.
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 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.
What is ‘public authority’ under RTI? Reference: read this.
- What is a public account?
- Who administers PM CARES fund?
- Which organisations are exempted from the ambit of RTI act?
- What is Consolidated fund of India?
- What is a charitable trust?
- About NDRF.
Discuss why PM CARES fund should be brought within the ambit of RTI act?
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 2
Topics Covered: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
The Maharashtra cabinet recently cleared a plan for multi-member wards in urban civic bodies, excluding Mumbai.
- With this, the state has reverted to the system of electing multiple councillors or corporators from every ward in all municipal corporations and municipal councils in the state, excluding Mumbai.
- The state government will promulgate an ordinance to make the amendment.
What’s proposed in Maharashtra?
In the new system, voters will elect a three-member panel in each of the wards in municipal corporation areas.
- In municipal council areas, voters will elect a panel of two members.
- In a single-member ward system, a voter votes for one candidate.
There will be no change in the number of wards or corporators; the wards will be bunched together only for the purpose of the election.
How does it work?
Those contesting from the same party or alliance across the designated multi-member ward will campaign across the two or three wards, although they will file their nomination from individual wards.
- If elected, each will represent the individual ward only. Voters, however, will be able to select candidates in their own ward as well as in the other wards clubbed together in the multi-member ward.
- Although candidates from the same party/alliance in a multi-member ward will be called a “panel”, a voter does not really select a panel, but individual candidates, who can be from the same party or from different parties.
- A voter is also entitled to select just one candidate. But for this, the voter has to make a written submission to the presiding officer of the booth. This is to ensure documentary proof in case a party or candidate goes to court questioning how a candidate got fewer votes than others.
Benefits associated with multi-member system:
- It appears to help a party or alliance maximise its seats.
- A party can offset weak candidates with strong ones in a multi-member ward.
- The hope is that the strongest of the candidates will carry the day for the others in the “panel”, even though this is not guaranteed.
Issues and concerns associated:
Usually, in a multiple-member ward, no corporator allows the others to work properly and all try to outdo one another.
Have you heard about the Municipal Performance Index? Read about it here.
Sources: Indian Express.
GS Paper 3
Topics Covered: Awareness in space.
Recently, an international team of researchers made the first direct detection of dark energy.
- They noticed certain unexpected results in the XENON1T experiment and write that dark energy may be responsible for it.
What is Dark Energy?
More is unknown than is known. We know how much dark energy there is because we know how it affects the universe’s expansion. Other than that, it is a complete mystery. But it is an important mystery. It makes up about 68% of the universe.
Dark Energy is a hypothetical form of energy that exerts a negative, repulsive pressure, behaving like the opposite of gravity.
- It is causing the rate of expansion of our universe to accelerate over time, rather than to slow down. That’s contrary to what one might expect from a universe that began in a Big Bang.
How is dark energy different from dark matter?
Everything we see – the planets, moons, massive galaxies – makes up less than 5% of the universe. About 27% is dark matter and 68% is dark energy.
While dark matter attracts and holds galaxies together, dark energy repels and causes the expansion of our universe.
- The existence of dark matter was suggested as early as the 1920s, while dark energy wasn’t discovered until 1998.
About the XENON1T experiment:
- It is the world’s most sensitive dark matter experiment and was operated deep underground at the INFN Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso in Italy.
- It uses the dual-phase (liquid/gas) xenon technique and is located underground at the Laboratory Nazionali del Gran Sasso of INFN, Italy.
The leading theory, however, considers dark energy a property of space. Albert Einstein was the first to understand that space was not simply empty. He also understood that more space could continue to come into existence. In his theory of general relativity, Einstein included a cosmological constant to account for the stationary universe scientists thought existed.
- After Hubble announced the expanding universe, Einstein called his constant his “biggest blunder.”
- But Einstein’s blunder may be the best fit for dark energy. Predicting that empty space can have its own energy, the constant indicates that as more space emerges, more energy would be added to the universe, increasing its expansion.
Do you know about LUX-Zeplin and PandaX-xT experiments? Reference: read this.
Sources: Indian Express.
GS Paper 3
Topics Covered: Disaster Management.
Tamil Nadu state government has released a report on the action taken by the government with regard to measures to prevent recurrence of flooding.
- The report was in response to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) registering a suo motu. The court had done so after newspapers widely reported areas in the city being flooded in addition to an overflow of sewage November 30, 2020.
What has the report said?
Causes for flooding:
- Encroachments, faulty drainage systems and tampering of natural course of water had made the megapolis prone to flooding every year.
- Rapid urbanisation of Greater Chennai and its peri-urban areas had led to massive changes in land use patterns, as residential areas had sprung up in farmlands.
- The changes in land use patterns were done without making the required changes for a proper drainage system to manage the flow of surplus water from traditional tanks as well as flood waters from catchment areas.
- Irrigation tanks were choked with waste, slush and debris, obstructing the flow of flood water. This also reduced the water-absorbing and groundwater recharging capacity of the marsh.
Chennai needs an integrated flood management system with proper facilities to drain excess rainwater and desilt channels to prevent floods.
- The report recommended an integrated road and street side storm water drainage network, straight cut diversion channels, macro storm water drains, check dams, barrages and anicuts as part of such a system.
Urban floods in India- an overview:
Urban flooding is the inundation of land or property in a built environment, particularly in more densely populated areas, caused by rainfall overwhelming the capacity of drainage systems, such as storm sewers.
- In many Indian cities, urban floods have become a frequent phenomenon in recent years.
Unscientific urbanization leading to Urban floods:
- Increasing downpour.
- Cyclonic storms and thunderstorms.
- occurrence of high tides impeding the drainage in coastal cities.
- Wiping out of the wetlands.
- Poor Water and Sewerage Management.
- Encroachment and Illegal constructions.
- Lack of flood control measures.
- Multiple authorities in a city but owning responsibility by none.
- Conservation of wetlands in urban areas like lakes, ponds, streams.
- Construction of differential slope along sidewalks, roads to drain excess water into reservoirs.
- Strengthening of Storm water drainage system.
- Pre-monsoon desilting of all major drains to be completed by March 31 each year.
- Every building in an urban area must have rainwater harvesting as an integral component of the building utility.
- Concept of Rain Gardens to be incorporated in planning for public parks and on-site storm water management for larger colonies and sites those are to be developed.
- Suitable interventions in the drainage system like traps, trash racks can be provided to reduce the amount of solid waste going into the storm sewers.
- National Hydro-meteorological Network as per NDMA is needed for all urban cities in India.
- Flood hazard assessments should be done on the basis of projected future scenarios of intensities and duration of rainfall and land use changes.
- Better forecasting of rainfall events; timely dissemination of information to the mass- ‘Nowcasting’ alerts or real-time weather updates.
- Restrict encroachments in natural drainage areas; clearance of river beds, proper implementation of Coastal Regulation Zone rules.
- Provisions for flood-proofing of buildings
- Storm water pollution control, i.e. source is controlled by imposing quality standards for wastewater and solid waste disposals in urban environments.
Sources: down to earth.
Facts for Prelims:
Campaign launched for social accountability law:
A State-wide campaign has been launched in Rajasthan for demanding passage of the social accountability law in the next Assembly session.
- “Social accountability” refers to actions initiated by citizen groups to hold public officials, politicians, and service providers to account for their conduct and performance in terms of delivering services, improving people’s welfare and protecting people’s rights.