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[Mission 2022] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 31 December 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

 

Table of Contents:

 

GS Paper 2:

1. Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA).

2. Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Tiangong Space Station. 

2. First ‘quantum entangled’ animal in history.

3. Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA).


Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA):

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: Issues related to Education.

 

Context:

Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) 2021 was released recently.

 

Atal Innovation Rankings 2021:

ARIIA 2021 classifies participating institutions into two major categories; technical and non-technical. Further, these rankings have been divided into seven sub-categories.

Technical:

  • Top 3: This is the third time that IIT Madras has secured the first rank. IIT Bombay and IIT Delhi were placed at the second and third ranks respectively.

Non-technical institutions:

  • The top central universities under this category include Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Delhi, and the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Kozhikode.

 

Current Affairs

 

The rankings have been prepared after evaluating the participating institutions under nine parameters:

  1. Developing an innovative and entrepreneurial mindset through a series of activities.
  2. Teaching and learning: Academic programmes related to innovation and entrepreneurship (I & E) and IPR offered by the HEI.
  3. Dedicated infrastructure and facilities to promote innovation and entrepreneurship at HEI.
  4. Generation of innovations/ ideas with the support of HEI and recognition received.
  5. Ventures established with the support of the HEI and recognitions received.
  6. Angel and VC fund/investment mobilized to support innovation and startups incubated at HEI, Promotion of collaboration for and co-creation of I&E initiatives.
  7. Intellectual Property (IP), generation and commercialization.
  8. Annual budget on promoting and supporting I&E activities: Total expenses towards I&E and IPR support activities, total revenue generated by HEI from incubation services to startups and commercialization of IP and innovations.
  9. Participation of HEI in I&E initiative of MOE.

 

About ARIIA:

It is an initiative by the Ministry of Education.

Implemented by AICTE and the Ministry’s Innovation Cell.

Objective: To systematically rank all major higher educational institutions and universities in India.

 

Significance:

  1. ARIIA ranking will inspire Indian institutions to reorient their mind-set and build ecosystems to encourage high quality research, innovation and entrepreneurship.
  2. More than quantity, ARIIA will focus on quality of innovations and will try to measure the real impact created by these innovations nationally and internationally.
  3. ARIIA rankings will also set tone and direction for institutions for future development for making them globally competitive and in forefront of innovation.

 

Insta Curious:

Do you know about the Digital Disha Programme? When was it launched? What were its objectives? Reference: read this.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. ARIIA was launched by?
  2. Ranking parameters.
  3. Categories.
  4. Best performers in various categories.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of ARIIA.

Sources: the Hindu.

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP):

GS Paper 2:

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

 

Context:

The RCEP will come into effect on January 1, 2022, marking the formation of the world’s largest free trade zone in terms of trade volume.

 

What is RCEP?

It is a trade deal between the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

 

Aims and Objectives of RCEP:

  1. To lower tariffs, open up trade in services and promote investment to help emerging economies catch up with the rest of the world.
  2. To help reduce costs and time for companies by allowing them to export a product anywhere within the bloc without meeting separate requirements for each country.
  3. It also touches on intellectual property, but will not cover environmental protections and labour rights.

 

Significance:

  • RCEP will cover about 30% of global gross domestic product (GDP), worth $26.2 trillion (€23.17 trillion), and nearly a third of the world’s population, some 2.2 billion people.
  • Under RCEP, around 90% of trade tariffs within the bloc will eventually be eliminated.
  • RCEP will also set common rules around trade, intellectual property, e-commerce and competition.

 

Current Affairs

 

Why did India not join?

India withdrew from the RCEP largely because of concerns it would open it up to Chinese goods amid an already wide trade imbalance with China, and the failure of the agreement to adequately open up to services.

 

Need for India’s presence in RCEP:

  • India had “a crucial role” to play in helping the region build an inclusive architecture at a time of increasing global instability.
  • Such trade pacts will also give Indian companies a platform to showcase their strengths across even larger markets.
  • Besides, Rising U.S.-China tensions were “deeply worrying” for the region with the pandemic resulting in “heightened tension”.

 

Current Affairs

 

Challenges ahead:

  • The lack of participation by the United States “allows Beijing to solidify its role as driver of economic growth in the region.”
  • Economic gains will take a long time to materialize.
  • While the big Asian economies will enjoy most of the spoils, RCEP may leave smaller countries within ASEAN at a disadvantage, as the trade deal doesn’t cover their major industries.
  • The least developed countries in Asia ― Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar ― currently benefit from inter-ASEAN trade, which could be “eroded” by RCEP trade.
  • The smaller ASEAN countries may also lose some of their benefits from trade preference programs that allow them to export tariff-free products outside of ASEAN, including South Korea and Japan.

 

Insta Curious:

Did you know that China currently has no bilateral agreement with Japan and only a limited deal with South Korea ― its third and fifth largest trading partners?

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. RCEP- composition and objectives.
  2. India’s free trader agreements with ASEAN countries.
  3. Geographical location of asean countries.
  4. Aims and objectives of RCEP.

Sources: the Hindu.

Tiangong Space Station:

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

 

Context:

China, which is growing its presence in space, has complained to the UN detailing two alleged space incidents involving its Tiangong Space Station and two Starlink satellites from Elon Musk-founded aerospace firm, SpaceX.

 

Why did China approach the UN?

Both the U.S. and China are parties to the Outer Space Treaty, which is formally known as the ‘Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies’.

  • The multilateral treaty, adopted by the UN General Assembly, provides the basic framework on international space law.

 

Key provisions and their relevance in this case:

  • According to article VI of the treaty, nations will be responsible for national space activities whether carried out by governmental or non-governmental entities. That means the U.S. can be held responsible for the activities of the U.S.-based aerospace firm SpaceX founded by Elon Musk.
  • Article VII states that nations will be liable for damage caused by their space objects, such as satellites.
  • Article V of the treaty requires parties to immediately inform other parties or the UN Secretary-General of any phenomenon they discover in outer space, “which could constitute a danger to the life or health of astronauts”.

 

How does the UN help with space issues?

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs was created to service the ad hoc Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

  • The committee was established in 1958 shortly after the launch of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik-1.
  • It has been serving as a focal point for international cooperation in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space.

 

The Outer Space Treaty:

It came into force on October 10, 1967.

The principles embodied in the treaty has facilitated the orderly conduct of activities in outer space.

 

What’s the concern now?

  • Space-related conflicts have occurred in the past and will most likely continue to happen in the future as well, considering the growing number of activities in the space, involving different parties.
  • The International Space Station and China’s space station, Tiangong, which is under construction, operate in the LEO, where much of the space debris can be found.
  • Besides, there are about 30,000 satellites and other pieces of debris in Earth’s orbit that can reach speeds of nearly 29,000 km/h, raising the possibility of international incidents in the outer space.”

 

SpaceX’s internet satellite network:

It operates at 550km above the Earth’s surface in LEO, which is increasingly getting crowded. The firm has deployed about 1,900 Starlink satellites.

 

 

About China’s Space Station:

  • The new multi-module Tiangong station is set to be operational for at least 10 years.
  • The space station will operate in low-Earth orbit at an altitude of 340-450 km above Earth’s surface.

 

Significance of the space station:

  1. The low orbit space station would be the country’s eye from the sky, providing round the clock bird’s-eye view for its astronauts on the rest of the world.
  2. It shall aid China’s aim to become a major space power by 2030.

 

Concerns:

China’s space station will be equipped with a robotic-arm over which the US has raised concerns for its possible military applications.

  • The Concern is that this technology “could be used in a future system for grappling other satellites”.

 

Other space stations:

  • The only space station currently in orbit is the International Space Station (ISS). The ISS is backed by the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada.
  • So far, China has sent two previous space stations into orbit- the Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2 were trial stations.
  • India is planning to launch its own space station by 2030.

 

Current Affairs

 

Insta Curious:

What is Molniya orbit? Read Here (Briefly)

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About ISS.
  2. Countries involved.
  3. Objectives.
  4. Previous space stations.

Mains Link:

Write a note on the International Space Station.

Sources: the Hindu.

What is Quantum entanglement?

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: Science and Technology.

 

Context:

Scientists have identified the first ”quantum entangled” animal in history-frozen tardigrade, in a recent study.

  • Frozen tardigrade are microscopic multicellular organisms known to tolerate extreme physiochemical conditions through a latent state of life known as cryptobiosis.

Current Affairs

 

Cryptobiosis:

Also known as anabiosis, it is a metabolic state of life entered by an organism in response to adverse environmental conditions such as desiccation, freezing, and oxygen deficiency.

  • In the cryptobiotic state, all measurable metabolic processes stop, preventing reproduction, development, and repair.
  • When environmental conditions return to being hospitable, the organism will return to its metabolic state of life as it was prior to the cryptobiosis.

 

Current Affairs

 

About the study:

  • The researchers managed the feat by placing frozen tardigrades between two capacitor plates of a superconductor circuit to form a qubit, the quantum equivalent of a bit.
  • Upon contact, they say, the tardigrade changed the qubit’s frequency.
  • They then placed this circuit in the vicinity of a second superconductor circuit. Lo and behold, the team observed that the frequency of both qubits and the tardigrade changed in tandem.

 

Quantum Entanglement:

It is the physical phenomenon that occurs when a pair or group of particles is generated and they interact in such a way that the quantum state of each particle of the pair or group cannot be described independently of the state of the others.

  • In this quantum mechanical phenomenon, the quantum states of two or more objects have to be described with reference to each other, even though the individual objects may be spatially separated.
  • This leads to correlations between observable physical properties of the systems.
  • Albert Einstein dismissed this idea as a ‘spooky action’.

 

Current Affairs

 

Significance:

Quantum entanglement is one of the peculiarities of quantum mechanics, which makes phenomena such as quantum teleportation and super-dense coding possible.

 

Insta Curious:

Did you know that Tardigrades are also known as water bears and moss pigs?

Sources: Indian Express.

Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA):

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.

 

Context:

Nagaland will continue to be a ‘disturbed area’ for another six months under the AFSPA as the condition of the state remained “dangerous,” a move which comes amid growing clamour for withdrawal of the special powers to the armed forces, especially after the death of 14 civilians earlier this month in a case of mistaken identity.

  • The state has been under the controversial AFSPA since 1958.

 

Background:

The Centre had recently decided to constitute a committee to study the possibility of withdrawing the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) from the State.

  • The committee would submit its report within 45 days.
  • The withdrawal of the “disturbed area” notification and the AFSPA from Nagaland will be based on the recommendations of the committee.

 

What does the AFSPA mean?

In simple terms, AFSPA gives armed forces the power to maintain public order in “disturbed areas”.

 

Powers given to armed forces:

  1. They have the authority to prohibit a gathering of five or more persons in an area, can use force or even open fire after giving due warning if they feel a person is in contravention of the law.
  2. If reasonable suspicion exists, the army can also arrest a person without a warrant; enter or search premises without a warrant; and ban the possession of firearms.
  3. Any person arrested or taken into custody may be handed over to the officer in charge of the nearest police station along with a report detailing the circumstances that led to the arrest.

 

What is a “disturbed area” and who has the power to declare it?

A disturbed area is one which is declared by notification under Section 3 of the AFSPA. An area can be disturbed due to differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities.

  • The Central Government, or the Governor of the State or administrator of the Union Territory can declare the whole or part of the State or Union Territory as a disturbed area.

 

Has there been any review of the Act?

On November 19, 2004, the Central government appointed a five-member committee headed by Justice B P Jeevan Reddy to review the provisions of the act in the north eastern states.

  • The committee submitted its report in 2005, which included the following recommendations: (a) AFSPA should be repealed and appropriate provisions should be inserted in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967; (b) The Unlawful Activities Act should be modified to clearly specify the powers of the armed forces and paramilitary forces and (c) grievance cells should be set up in each district where the armed forces are deployed.

The 5th report of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission on public order has also recommended the repeal of the AFSPA.

 

Naga killings point to AFSPA pitfalls:

The AFSPA gives the armed forces the licence to kill. And when they carry out such shameful operations without keeping the local police in the loop, as has been the practice for long, it gives the message that the Centre just does not care about the peace process.

 

Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights vs Union of India- SC’s 1997 verdict laid down guidelines for use of AFSPA:

  • The 1997 judgment of a Constitution Bench held that the power under Section 4(a) of the AFSPA to use deadly force should be employed only under “certain circumstances”.
  • The court noted that the “power to cause death is relatable to maintenance of public order in a disturbed area and is to be exercised under definite circumstances”.
  • These preconditions include a declaration by a high-level authority that an area is “disturbed”. The officer concerned decides to use deadly force on the opinion that it is “necessary” to maintain public order. But he has to give “due warning” first.
  • The persons against whom the action was taken by the armed forces should have been “acting in contravention of any law or order for the time being in force in the disturbed area”.

 

Insta Curious:

Did you know that in the northeast, the AFSPA is in force in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, the Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts of Arunachal Pradesh and areas falling within the jurisdiction of eight police stations of the State bordering Assam?

Sources: the Hindu.


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