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 2:
1. National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
2. Academic Bank of Credit.
3. Quad- related issues.
GS Paper 3:
1. OSIRIS-REx and asteroid Bennu.
2. National Supercomputing Mission (NSM).
3. Stockholm Convention on POPs.
Facts for Prelims:
1. Gateway to Hell.
2. What is a Sikh Takht?
GS Paper 3:
Topics Covered: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
European Commission has proposed to tighten limits for a range of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) to tackle contamination in recycled products, health and environment.
What are POPs?
In 1995, the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) called for global action to be taken on POPs, which it defined as “chemical substances that persist in the environment, bio-accumulate through the food web, and pose a risk of causing adverse effects to human health and the environment”.
Uniqueness of POPs:
- POPs are lipophilic, which means that they accumulate in the fatty tissue of living animals and human beings.
- In fatty tissue, the concentrations can become magnified by up to 70 000 times higher than the background levels.
- As you move up the food chain, concentrations of POPs tend to increase so that animals at the top of the food chain such as fish, predatory birds, mammals, and humans tend to have the greatest concentrations of these chemicals.
About Stockholm Convention on POPs:
Signed in 2001 and effective from May 2004 (Ninety days after the ratification by at least 50 signatory states).
Aims to eliminate or restrict the production and use of persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
The 12 initial POPs under the Stockholm Convention:
Initially, twelve POPs have been recognized as causing adverse effects on humans and the ecosystem and these can be placed in 3 categories:
- Pesticides: aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene, mirex, toxaphene;
- Industrial chemicals: hexachlorobenzene, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); and
- By-products: hexachlorobenzene; polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDD/PCDF), and PCBs.
Since then, additional substances such as carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and certain brominated flame-retardents, as well as organometallic compounds such as tributyltin (TBT) have been added to the list of Persistent Organic Pollutants.
Sources of POPs:
- Improper use and/or disposal of agrochemicals and industrial chemicals.
- Elevated temperatures and combustion processes.
- Unwanted by-products of industrial processes or combustion.
Is it legally binding?
Yes. Article 16 of the Convention requires that effectiveness of the measures adopted by the Convention is evaluated in regular intervals.
Other Conventions dealing with POPs:
Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollutants (LRTAP), Protocol on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).
The Union Cabinet, in 2021, approved the Ratification of seven chemicals listed under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).
- The Cabinet has also delegated its powers to ratify chemicals under the Stockholm Convention to the Union Ministers of External Affairs (MEA) and Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) in respect of POPs already regulated under the domestic regulations.
- Hexabromodiphenyl ether and Heptabromodiphenylether.
- Tetrabromodiphenyl ether and Pentabromodiphenyl ether.
Benefits for India:
The ratification process would enable India to access Global Environment Facility (GEF) financial resources in updating the National Implementation Plan (NIP).
- What are POPs?
- Stockholm Convention is related to?
- Objectives of the Convention? Does it seek to eliminate or restrict POPs?
- What are dirty dozens?
- Is it legally binding?
- POPs covered.
- What is the Global Environmental Facility?
Discuss the significance of the Stockholm Convention on POPs.
Sources: Indian Express.
GS Paper 2:
Topics Covered: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has asked the West Bengal chief secretary to get all children care institutions (CCIs) registered under the Juvenile Justice Act 2015.
- Citing that it was mandatory for all CCIs to comply with the JJ Act, the NCPCR has sought an action taken report from the state within 10 days.
Set up in March 2007 under the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005.
It works under the administrative control of the Ministry of Women & Child Development.
Definition: The Child is defined as a person in the 0 to 18 years age group.
- The Commission’s Mandate is to ensure that all Laws, Policies, Programmes, and Administrative Mechanisms are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Under the RTE Act, 2009, the NCPCR can:
- inquire into complaints about violation of the law.
- summon an individual and demand evidence.
- seek a magisterial enquiry.
- file a writ petition in the High Court or Supreme Court.
- approach the government concerned for prosecution of the offender.
- recommend interim relief to those affected.
This commission has a chairperson and six members of which at least two should be women.
- All of them are appointed by Central Government for three years.
- The maximum age to serve in commission is 65 years for Chairman and 60 years for members.
About Child Welfare Committees:
As per the Section 27(1) of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (JJ Act), Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) are to be constituted by State Government for every district, for exercising the powers and to discharge the duties conferred on such Committees in relation to children in need of care and protection under JJ Act, 2015.
Composition of the committees:
The Committee shall consist of a Chairperson, and four other members as the State Government may think fit to appoint, of whom atleast one shall be a woman and another, an expert on the matters concerning children.
Chairperson and the members shall be above the age of thirty-five years and shall have a minimum of seven years of experience of working with children in the field of education, health, or welfare activities, or should be a practicing professional with a degree in child psychology or psychiatry or social work or sociology or human development or in the field of law or a retired judicial officer.
Did you know that a Child Care institution is defined under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015? Reference: read this.
- NCPCR- composition and functions.
- Powers of NCPCR under RTE Act.
- Highlights of RTE Act.
- Children covered under RTE.
- CWC- formation and composition.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 2:
Topics Covered: Issues related to Education.
The government has brought the IITs, IIMs and other Institutions of National Importance (INIs) under the Academic Bank of Credit (ABC) framework, which allows students to pursue up to 50 per cent of a course from institutions other than the one with which they are enrolled.
- Academic Bank of Credit (ABC) is proposed under the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
What is the Academic Bank of Credit (ABC)?
Set-up by the University Grants Commission (UGC).
- Under the ABC, students will be given multiple entry and exit options.
- This enables students to leave a degree or course and get a corresponding certification and rejoin studies after a certain time and be able to start from where they had left.
- It will also provide students with the flexibility to move between institutes while pursuing one degree or leave a course.
How does it work?
ABC will keep records of the academic credits of a student. It will not accept any credit course document directly from the students for any course they might be pursuing, but only from higher education institutes, who will have to make deposits in students’ accounts.
ABC will help in credit verification, credit accumulation, credit transfer and redemption of students, and promotion of the students.
Know more about the National Education Policy here: Read Here
ABC has been drafted on the lines of the National Academic Depository. What is the National Academic Depository? Reference
- About NEP.
- What is ABC?
Discuss the significance of ABC.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 2:
Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
The newly signed Japan-Australia defence agreement should be welcome to New Delhi, but there also ought to be some concerns.
Concerns for India:
- There could be a warning for New Delhi in these efforts, that others are stitching up formal, institutionalized security cooperation that leave India out.
- With two new security treaties now in the region in the space of just a few months—AUKUS being the other—and more potentially on their way, New Delhi needs to consider seriously whether its continuing scepticism of closer security cooperation with others best serves India’s interest.
- More problematically, it is another indicator that India has not entirely escaped its traditional aversion to external security partnerships even when the limitations of its domestic capacities are self-evident.
India’s changing attitude towards China:
The coalescing of the region around shared concerns about China should be satisfying to India.
- Like many in the region, India has in the past waffled about China, but its position has shifted considerably over the last several years, as China’s general hostility and aggressiveness at the border has become clearer.
- Nevertheless, New Delhi is still reactive and playing catch-up, essentially responding to China’s moves rather than taking the initiative.
What needs to be done?
One way to compensate for this all-but-certain future is to strengthen efforts to build international counterweights to China’s power.
While India might not need direct help from partners in the Himalayas, it does need such help on the maritime front.
But that help would be possible only when India overcomes its ambivalence to stronger and deeper security cooperation with its partners in the region that goes beyond simply holding military exercises.
What is Quad grouping?
The quadrilateral security dialogue includes Japan, India, United States and Australia.
- All four nations find a common ground of being the democratic nations and common interests of unhindered maritime trade and security.
- The idea was first mooted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007. However, the idea couldn’t move ahead with Australia pulling out of it.
Significance of the grouping:
- Quad is an opportunity for like-minded countries to share notes and collaborate on projects of mutual interest.
- Members share a vision of an open and free Indo-Pacific. Each is involved in development and economic projects as well as in promoting maritime domain awareness and maritime security.
- Quad- composition.
- When was it first proposed?
- Countries and important islands in the Indian Ocean region.
- Geographical overview of Indo-Pacific region.
- Important seas and straits in the region.
A formal revival and re-invigoration of the Quad is called for to maintain peace and tranquillity and to ensure observance of the UN Law of the Seas. Examine.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 3:
Topics Covered: Awareness in space.
OSIRIS-REx is bringing back an asteroid sample. It will arrive home in 2023, ejecting a capsule full of samples that may help eager scientists decipher the origin of Earth’s water and life.
- The debris NASA’s asteroid-touching spacecraft collected could help us learn about the origins of our solar system.
On October 20th, 2021, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft briefly touched asteroid Bennu, from where it is meant to collect samples of dust and pebbles and deliver them back to Earth in 2023.
What is the OSIRIS-REx mission?
OSIRIS-Rex stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer.
- This is NASA’s first mission meant to return a sample from the ancient asteroid.
- Launched in 2016, it reached its target in 2018.
- The departure window for the mission will open up in 2021, after which it will take over two years to reach back to Earth.
The asteroid was discovered by a team from the NASA-funded Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research team in 1999.
Scientists believe that it was formed in the first 10 million years of the solar system’s formation, implying that it is roughly 4.5 billion years old.
- Because of Bennu’s age, it is likely to contain material that contains molecules that were present when life first formed on Earth, where life forms are based on carbon atom chains.
- Because of its high carbon content, the asteroid reflects about four per cent of the light that hits it, which is very low when compared with a planet like Venus, which reflects about 65 per cent of the light that hits it. Earth reflects about 30 per cent.
- It classified as a Near Earth Object (NEO), might strike the Earth in the next century, between the years 2175 and 2199.
Site for sample collection:
NASA has selected a site located in a crater high in Bennu’s northern hemisphere designated “Nightingale”.
Why are scientists studying asteroids?
- To look for information about the formation and history of planets and the sun since asteroids were formed at the same time as other objects in the solar system.
- To look for asteroids that might be potentially hazardous.
- Objectives of OSIRIS- REx.
- What are near earth asteroids?
- About Bennu.
Discuss the objectives of OSIRIS- REx.
Sources: Indian Express.
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.
As per the ministry of science and technology’s annual year-end review:
Under the National Super-Computer Mission (NSM), four new Supercomputers have been installed since July 2021 at IIT-Hyderabad, NABI- Mohali, CDAC-Bengaluru and IIT Kanpur.
- NSM provides access to High-Performance Computing (HPC) facilities to around 75 institutions and more than thousands of active researchers, academicians working through Nation Knowledge Network (NKN).
What is National Supercomputing Mission (NSM)?
It is being implemented and steered jointly by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY).
- Implemented by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Pune and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru.
Focus of the mission:
- The Mission envisages empowering national academic and R&D institutions spread over the country by installing a vast supercomputing grid comprising of more than 70 high-performance computing facilities.
- These supercomputers will also be networked on the National Supercomputing grid over the National Knowledge Network (NKN). The NKN is another programme of the government which connects academic institutions and R&D labs over a high speed network.
- The Mission includes development of highly professional High Performance Computing (HPC) aware human resource for meeting challenges of development of these applications.
- The first supercomputer assembled indigenously, called Param Shivay, was installed in IIT (BHU).
- Similar systems Param Shakti and Param Brahma were installed at IIT-Kharagpur and IISER, Pune. They are equipped with applications from domains like Weather and Climate, Computational Fluid Dynamics, Bioinformatics, and Material science.
Fact for Prelims:
India has developed an indigenous server (Rudra), which can meet the High-Performance Computing (HPC) requirements of all governments and PSUs. This is the first time that a server system was made in India, along with the full software stack developed by C-DAC.
- Super computers in India and the world.
- How do they perform faster?
- About NKM.
- Targets under NSM.
Write a note on the National Supercomputing Mission (NSM).
Facts for Prelims:
Gateway to Hell:
Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov recently ordered officials to find a method of finally extinguishing the ‘Gateway to Hell’ in the country.
- Turkmenistan’s Gateway to hell, also known as The Darvaza Crater, is 225 feet wide and 99 feet deep. It has a diameter of 70 metres, across an area of 5.5 square metres.
- It is a natural gas field collapsed into a cavern near Darvaza in Turkmenistan.
- It is the raging flames, burning for five decades in a large natural gas crater.
How was the Door to Hell created?
- It is believed that, in 1971, a simple miscalculation by Soviet scientists led to the creation of this crater.
- The Soviet scientists had underestimated the amount of fuel laying below. Their boring equipment drilled through an underground cavern. Because of this, a deep sinkhole was created.
- After the gas driller fell into the pit, scientists were concerned that the crater would release noxious gases. Toxic methane gas had already started leaking into the atmosphere.
- Thus, in order to stop the methane from reaching neighbouring areas and causing damage to the environment & living organisms, scientists decided to set the crater ablaze.
What is a Sikh Takht?
Delhi Assembly has passed an amendment bill to “Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1971” which recognises the “Takht Damdama Sahib” as fifth Takht of Sikhs.
- Takht (Throne) is a seat of temporal authority for Sikhs. Presently, there are five Sikh Takhts. Out of them, three are in Punjab, one in Maharashtra and one in Bihar.
- The Sikh Takhts issue hukumnamas from time to time on issues related with Sikh community. Since, Akal Takht is supreme among them, any order concerning the entire community is issued from Akal Takht.
Articles to be covered tomorrow:
- Henley Passport Index.
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