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[Mission 2022] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 19 JANUARY 2022

 

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 1:

1. Guru Ravidas.

2. La Niña effect on Indian subcontinent.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Electricity Market Report.

2. UN Security Council.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. PM GatiShakti — National Master Plan.

2. Sedition Law.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Pandit Birju Maharaj and Kathak.


La Niña effect on Indian subcontinent:

GS Paper 1:

Topics Covered: Important Geographical phenomenon.

 

Context:

Various parts of India, especially North India, have been experiencing a severe cold wave. Warnings for the severe cold waves have been issued in several northern states.

 

What is a Cold Wave?

A cold wave is different for the plains and the mountains.

  • According to the Indian Meterological Department (IMD) if the temperature goes below 10 degree and minimum temperature is at 4.5 degree, it is a cold wave for the plains. The criteria for hills is 0 degree.
  • If the temperature is 6.4 degree below normal or down to 2 degree, it is a severe called wave in the plains.

The IMD calls it “a condition of air temperature which becomes fatal to the human body when exposed.”

 

But Why is it So Cold?

Short Answer: Strong streams of western disturbances running through the northern belt are causing this.

Complex Answer: La Nina.

  • What brings cold to the region, is the unabated north-westerly winds which bring chilly winds from higher latitude to Indo-Gangetic plains. However, passage of back-to-back western disturbances tend to change the wind direction from cold north-westerlies to warm and humid easterlies. However, with La Niña in place, what is expected is less amount of winter rains and thus, icy cold winds would continue to blow over Northwest India uninterruptedly, bringing down the temperatures.”

 

Background:

El Nino and La Nina are part of the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle.

  • In 2020, La Nina developed during the month of August and then dissipated in April 2021 as ENSO-neutral conditions returned.
  • For the upcoming winter season, which extends from December 2021 through February 2022, there is an 87% chance of La Nina.

 

What are the Niño and La Niña?

They are two natural climate phenomena occurring across the tropical Pacific Ocean and influence the weather conditions all over the world.

  • While the El Niño period is characterised by warming or increased sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, a La Niña event causes the water in the eastern Pacific Ocean to be colder than usual.
  • Together, they are called ENSO or El Niño-Southern Oscillation.

 

What causes El Nino?

  1. El Nino sets in when there is an anomaly in the pattern.
  2. The westward-blowing trade winds weaken along the Equator and due to changes in air pressure, the surface water moves eastwards to the coast of northern South America.
  3. The central and eastern Pacific regions warm up for over six months and result in an El Nino condition.

 

Current Affairs

 

Weather changes because of La Nina:

  1. The Horn of Africa and central Asia will see below average rainfall due to La Niña.
  2. East Africa is forecast to see drier-than-usual conditions, which together with the existing impacts of the desert locust invasion, may add to regional food insecurity.
  3. It could also lead to increased rainfall in southern Africa.
  4. It could also affect the South West Indian Ocean Tropical Cyclone season, reducing the intensity.
  5. Southeast Asia, some Pacific Islands and the northern region of South America are expected to receive above-average rainfall.
  6. In India, La Niña means the country will receive more rainfall than normal, leading to floods.

 

Current Affairs

 

Insta Curious:

Do you know about Param Shivay, a Supercomputer built under the National Super Computing Mission? Reference

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is El Nino?
  2. What is La Nina?
  3. What is ENSO?
  4. When do these events occur?
  5. Impact of ENSO on Asia, Africa and Australia.

Mains Link:

Discuss the impact of La Nina weather phenomenon on India.

Sources: Indian Express.

Guru Ravidas

GS Paper 1:

Topics Covered: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

 

Context:

The postponement of the Assembly elections in Punjab to February 20 underlines the importance of the Ravidassia community in the state.

 

What’s the issue?

Several political parties had urged the Election Commission for a postponement as the earlier date of February 14 would have clashed with Guru Ravidas Jayanti, an annual occasion during which Ravidassias travel to Varanasi in large numbers. Many of them take a special train organised by the Dera Sachkhand Ballan in Jalandhar, the largest dera of the Ravidassias.

 

Who are the Ravidassias?

The Ravidassias are a Dalit community of whom the bulk — nearly 12 lakh — live in the Doaba region. The Dera Sachkhand Ballan, their largest dera with 20 lakh followers worldwide, was founded in the early 20th century by Baba Sant Pipal Das.

  • Once closely connected with Sikhism, the dera severed these decades-old ties in 2010, and announced they would follow the Ravidassia religion. The dera made the announcement on Guru Ravidas Jayanti in Varanasi.
  • From 2010, the Dera Sachkhand Ballan started replacing the Guru Granth Sahib with its own Granth, Amritbani, carrying 200 hymns of Guru Ravidas, in Ravidassia temples and gurdwaras.

 

Current Affairs

 

About Guru Ravidas:

  • Guru Ravidas was a North Indian mystic poet of the bhakti movement.
  • While the exact year of his birth is not known, it is believed that the saint was born in 1377 C.E.
  • Guru Ravidas Jayanti is celebrated on Magh Purnima, which is the full moon day in the Hindu calendar month of Magha.
  • The Adi Granth of Sikhs, in addition to the Panchvani are the two of the oldest documented sources of the literary works of Guru Ravidas.
  • Notably, he belonged to an untouchable caste and suffered a lot of atrocities as a result. However, the saint chose to focus on spiritual pursuits and also penned several devotional songs which made a huge impact in the Bhakti movement during the 14th to 16th century CE.
  • He is believed to be a disciple of the bhakti saint-poet Ramanandaand a contemporary of the bhakti saint-poet Kabir.
  • One of his famous disciples was the saint, Mirabai.
  • Among Ravidas’s moral and intellectual achievements were the conception of “Begampura”, a city that knows no sorrow; and a society where caste and class have ceased to matter.

 

Current Affairs

 

Guru Ravidas Teachings:

Guru Ravidas spoke against the caste divisions and spoke of removing them to promote unity. His teachings resonated with the people, leading to a religion being born called the Ravidassia religion, or Ravidassia Dharam based on his teachings.

He taught about the omnipresence of God and said that a human soul is a particle of God and hence Ravidas rejected the idea that people considered lower caste cannot meet God. He said in his teachings that the only way to meet God was to free the mind from the duality.

Sources: the Hindu.

International Energy Agency (IEA) and Electricity Market Report:

GS Paper 2:

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

 

Context:

The early 2022 edition of the Agency’s bi-annual Electricity Market Report has been published.

 

Highlights of the report:

  • Nations are largely turning to fossil fuels to meet the increase in electricity demand as Covid-19 lockdown restrictions are lifting.
  • The global electricity demand rose 6% year-on-year in 2021 – the steepest year-on-year increase recorded by the IEA since the financial crash of 2008 onwards.
  • Global energy intensity fell 1.9% year-on-year – a drop only half as steep as the level needed to lay the foundation for net-zero by 2050.
  • While electricity generation from renewables was up 6% year-on-year in 2021, generation from coal was up by 9%, led by markets including China and India, with coal serving more than half of the increase in demand.
  • This, coupled with a 2% increase in gas-fired generation, caused a 7% year-on-year increase in emissions from the power sector.
  • After two years of decline, this means that emissions from the power sector are now at a record high.

 

Concerns:

  1. The IEA is voicing concerns that, despite the growing net-zero movement, nations are still failing to decouple increased electricity demands from increased emissions.
  2. It is forecasting that power sector emissions will likely remain “around the same level” for the next three years.
  3. In contrast, the IEA’s net-zero by 2050 scenario entails a 55% decrease in sectoral emissions by 2030, against a 2019 baseline.
  4. The report also charts increases in wholesale gas and electricity prices, globally, to “unprecedented” levels, as well as “volatile” coal prices.

 

Background:

In March 2017, India became an associate member of IEA.

 

About IEA:

  • Established in 1974 as per the framework of the OECD, IEA is an autonomous intergovernmental organisation.
  • Its mission is guided by four main areas of focus: energy security, economic development, environmental awareness and engagement worldwide.
  • Headquarters (Secretariat): Paris, France.

 

Roles and functions:

  • Established in the wake of the 1973-1974 oil crisis, to help its members respond to major oil supply disruptions, a role it continues to fulfil today.
  • IEA’s mandate has expanded over time to include tracking and analyzing global key energy trends, promoting sound energy policy, and fostering multinational energy technology cooperation.

 

Composition and eligibility:

It has 30 members at present. IEA family also includes eight association countries. A candidate country must be a member country of the OECD. But all OECD members are not IEA members.

To become member a candidate country must demonstrate that it has:

  1. Crude oil and/or product reserves equivalent to 90 days of the previous year’s net imports, to which the government has immediate access (even if it does not own them directly) and could be used to address disruptions to global oil supply.
  2. A demand restraint programme to reduce national oil consumption by up to 10%.
  3. Legislation and organisation to operate the Co-ordinated Emergency Response Measures (CERM) on a national basis.
  4. Legislation and measures to ensure that all oil companies under its jurisdiction report information upon request.
  5. Measures in place to ensure the capability of contributing its share of an IEA collective action.

 

Reports:

  1. Global Energy & CO2 Status Report.
  2. World Energy Outlook.
  3. World Energy Statistics.
  4. World Energy Balances.
  5. Energy Technology Perspectives.

 

Insta Curious:

Did you know that the International Energy Agency (IEA) has invited India, the world’s third-largest energy consumer, to become its full-time member?

  • The proposal if accepted will require New Delhi to raise strategic oil reserves to 90 days requirement. India’s current strategic oil reserves equal 9.5 days of its requirement.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Various reports released by IEA.
  2. Composition of OECD and OPEC? Who can become members?
  3. Top crude oil producers and importers globally?
  4. Who are associate members of IEA?
  5. What kind of IEA member is India?

Mains Link:

Write a note on objectives and functions of the International Energy Agency.

Sources: the Hindu.

United Nations Security Council:

GS Paper 2:

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

 

Context:

The United States is pushing the United Nations Security Council to impose more sanctions on North Korea following a series of North Korean missile launches.

  • The United States has already imposed unilateral sanctions over the missile launches. It blacklisted six North Koreans, one Russian and a Russian firm, accusing them of procuring goods for the programs from Russia and China.

 

Recent incidents:

After a six-month hiatus, North Korea resumed missile tests in September, launching newly developed missiles, including nuclear-capable weapons that place South Korea and Japan within their striking distances.

  • North Korea also warned the UNSC about the consequences it will bring in the future in case it tries to encroach upon the sovereignty of North Korea.
  • It has accused the UN body of a “double-dealing standard” because it doesn’t equally take issue with similar weapons tests by the U.S. and its allies.

 

Present scenario:

Under multiple UN Security Council resolutions, North Korea is banned from engaging in any ballistic missile activities as the country aims to mount nuclear weapons on its ballistic missiles.

 

About UNSC:

  • The United Nations Charter established six main organs of the United Nations, including the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
  • The Security Council has the power to make decisions that member states are then obligated to implement under the Charter.
  • Permanent and Non-Permanent Members: The UNSC is composed of 15 members, 5 permanent and 10 non-permanent.
  • Each year, the General Assembly elects five non-permanent members for a two-year term.

 

About Security Council Presidency:

  1. The presidency of the Council is held by each of the members in turn for one month, following the English alphabetical order of the Member States names.
  2. It rotates among the 15 member-states of the council monthly.
  3. The head of the country’s delegation is known as the President of the United Nations Security Council.
  4. The president serves to coordinate actions of the council, decide policy disputes, and sometimes functions as a diplomat or intermediary between conflicting groups.

 

Proposed UNSC reforms:

Reform of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) encompasses five key issues: categories of membership, the question of the veto held by the five permanent members, regional representation, the size of an enlarged Council and its working methods, and the Security Council-General Assembly relationship.

 

Case for Permanent Membership of India in UNSC:

  1. India is the founding member of the UN.
  2. Most significantly, India has almost twice the number of peacekeepers deployed on the ground than by P5 countries.
  3. India is also the largest democracy and second-most populous country.
  4. India’s acquired status of a Nuclear Weapons State (NWS) in May 1998 also makes India a natural claimant as a permanent member similar to the existing permanent members who are all Nuclear Weapon States.
  5. India is the undisputed leader of the Third world countries, as reflected by its leadership role in Non-Aligned Movement and G-77 grouping.

 

Insta Curious:

Have you heard about the “coffee club”, which is an informal grouping comprising 40-odd members? What are its objectives? Reference

 

Did you know that India had assumed the rotating Presidency of the United Nations Security Council for the month of August?

  • This is India’s tenth tenure.
  • This is also India’s first presidency in the UNSC during its 2021-22 tenure as a non-permanent member of the UNSC.

 

 InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About UNSC.
  2. Members.
  3. Election.
  4. Functions.
  5. About the UNSC Presidency.
  6. About the UN Charter.

Mains Link:

Discuss the need for reforms in UNSC.

Sources: the Hindu.

PM GatiShakti — National Master Plan:

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: Infrastructure.

 

PM GatiShakti — National Master Plan:

Context:

Large-scale absence of coordination and collaboration among agencies has been a major challenge to time bound infrastructure project implementation in India.

Very often these projects have faced time overruns, leading to significant cost escalations.

 

An overview of pending projects in the country:

As per the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI), Government of India, in the beginning of 2021, 1,687 Union Government projects under implementation, valued more than Rs 21.45 lakh crore, had run into cost overrun of nearly 20 percent, largely because of their delays.

The reason for delays include underestimation of original project cost, spiralling land acquisition cost, delays in environment, forest and wildlife clearances and industrial licensing permission, road crossing of pipelines/transmission lines, shifting of utilities, delays in the tie-up of project financing, delays in finalisation of detailed engineering, etc.

In addition, there are bottlenecks at the State Government level such as issues in land acquisition and removal of encroachments, relief and rehabilitation planning and implementation, timely issuance of no objection certificate, necessary power and water supply, and work order related issues.

 

What is the solution then?

The recently announced Prime Minister of India’s Gati Shakti National Master Plan for Multi-Modal Connectivity is all set to revolutionise the way infrastructure and logistic development projects are planned and implemented in India. It will bridge huge differences between macro planning and micro implementation.

 

Current Affairs

 

About PM GatiShakti:

Launched in 2020, it is a digital platform that connects 16 ministries — including Roads and Highways, Railways, Shipping, Petroleum and Gas, Power, Telecom, Shipping, and Aviation.

It aims to ensure holistic planning and execution of infrastructure projects.

  • It aims to boost multimodal connectivity and drive down logistics costs.
  • PM Gati Shakti will cover the infrastructure projects worth over Rs 500 crore of various Ministries of the Union and State Governments like Bharatmala, Sagarmala, inland waterways, dry/land ports, UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagarik – subsidies for facilitating air travel), etc.

 

Services provided:

  • The portal will offer 200 layers of geospatial data, including on existing infrastructure such as roads, highways, railways, and toll plazas, as well as geographic information about forests, rivers and district boundaries to aid in planning and obtaining clearances.
  • The portal will also allow various government departments to track, in real time and at one centralised place, the progress of various projects, especially those with multi-sectoral and multi-regional impact.

 

Significance:

The objective is to ensure that “each and every department now have visibility of each other’s activities providing critical data while planning and execution of projects in a comprehensive manner.

  • Through this, different departments will be able to prioritise their projects through cross–sectoral interactions”.
  • It will also boost last-mile connectivity and bringing down logistics costs with integrated planning and reducing implementation overlaps.

 

Need for:

  • Poor infrastructure planning included newly-built roads being dug up by the water department to lay pipes. This has badly affected the road Infrastructure and movement of the country.
  • Also, logistics costs in India are about 13-14% of GDP as against about 7-8% of GDP in developed economies. High logistics costs impact cost structures within the economy, and also make it more expensive for exporters to ship merchandise to buyers.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About the Project.
  2. Key features.
  3. Components.

Mains Link:

Discuss about the significance of the project.

Sources: Indian Express.

Sedition law:

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered:  Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Context:

Calling for abolishing the law on sedition, former Supreme Court judge Rohinton Nariman has expressed concern on booking critics of the government for sedition.

  • He said, it is time to completely do away with sedition laws and allow free speech so long as it does not exhort somebody to violence.

 

Concern expressed by the former justice over its misuse:

While those exercising free speech were being booked under the stringent sedition law, those giving hate speech are not being dealt with by authorities.

 

Current Affairs

 

What is sedition law?

The sedition law has been indiscriminately used against critics, journalists, social media users, activists and citizens for airing their grievances about the governments COVID-19 management, or even for seeking help to gain medical access, equipment, drugs and oxygen cylinders, especially during the second wave of the pandemic.

  • Section 124A of the IPC states, “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the government established by law in shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.”

 

Issues surrounding its misuse:

The sedition law has been in controversy for far too long. Often the governments are criticized for using the law — Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) — against vocal critics of their policies.

  • Therefore, this Section is seen as a restriction of individuals’ freedom of expression and falls short of the provisions of reasonable restrictions on freedom of speech under Article 19 of the Constitution.

The law has been in debate ever since it was brought into force by the colonial British rulers in 1860s. Several top freedom movement leaders including Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru were booked under the sedition law.

 

Current Affairs

 

Relevant Supreme Court judgements:

  1. The Kedar Nath Singh vs State of Bihar case (1962):

While dealing with offences under Section 124A of the IPC, a five-judge Supreme Court constitutional bench had, in the Kedar Nath Singh vs State of Bihar case (1962), laid down some guiding principles.

  • The court ruled that comments-however strongly worded-expressing disapprobation of the actions of the government without causing public disorder by acts of violence would not be penal.

 

  1. The Balwant Singh vs State of Punjab (1995) case:

In this case, the Supreme Court had clarified that merely shouting slogans, in this case Khalistan Zindabad, does not amount to sedition. Evidently, the sedition law is being both misunderstood and misused to muzzle dissent.

 

Need of the hour:

The top court has observed that the “ambit and parameters of the provisions of Sections 124A, 153A and 505 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 would require interpretation, particularly in the context of the right of the electronic and print media to communicate news, information and the rights, even those that may be critical of the prevailing regime in any part of the nation”.

 

Insta Curious:

Do you know about the Important verdicts delivered by Justice Nariman?

  • Among his key verdicts is the 2015 landmark decision Shreya Singhal versus Union of India, in which the court struck down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, holding that the provision was arbitrary and unconstitutional. The provision was routinely used to book individuals for comments made on social media.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Where is sedition defined?
  2. Section 124A of the IPC is related to?
  3. Section 153 of the IPC is related to?
  4. Relevant Supreme Court judgments.
  5. Article 19 of the Indian Constitution.

Mains Link:

Discuss the issues associated with the imposition of Sedition law in India.

Sources: the Hindu.

Facts for Prelims:

 

Pandit Birju Maharaj and Kathak:

Recently, the famous Kathak dancer Birju Maharaj, who took the traditional Indian dance form ‘Kathak’ to the world stage passed away.

He was one of India’s most famous and favorite artists, belonged to the Kalka-Bindadin gharana of Lucknow, a classical Kathak dance form. He was born on February 4, 1938 in Lucknow.

Awards: Padma Vibhushan in 1983, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and Kalidas Samman.

About Kathak:

  • Kathak is the only form of classical dance wedded to Hindustani or the North Indian music. Both of them have had a parallel growth, each feeding and sustaining the other. (Odissi dance uses Odissi music which is blend of Hindustani and Carnatic).
  • Kathak is one of the main genres of ancient Indian classical dance and is traditionally regarded to have originated from the travelling bards of North India referred as Kathakars or storytellers.

 

Current Affairs

 

Articles to be covered tomorrow:

  1. Chintamani padya natakam. (The Hindu).
  2. Houthi Rebels. (The Hindu).
  3. Indonesia’s new capital. (The Hindu).

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