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[Mission 2023] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 23 July 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

 

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. Issue of simultaneous polls with law panel: Govt

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill

2. DSR technique not gaining ground in Punjab

 

GS Paper 4:

1. Whistleblowing

 

Content for Mains enrichment (Ethics/Essay)

1. Jungle Cry

2. Soorarai Pottru

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Strengthening Pharmaceuticals Industry’ (SPI)

2. Low-Temperature Thermal Desalination (LTTD) technology

3. EU’s palm oil row with Malaysia and Indonesia

4. Resilient Supply Chain

5. Initiatives to boost electric mobility

6. BIS standards on Safety aspects of toys

7. A new spray coating to protect surfaces from viruses, bacteria

8. MIST Submarine Cable System

9. Centaurus


Issue of simultaneous polls with law panel: Govt

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Elections

 

Source: ThePrint

Context:

The issue of holding simultaneous parliamentary and Assembly polls has been referred to the Law Commission so that a practicable roadmap and framework can be worked out.

In its draft report, the 21st Law Commission had said it was convinced that “there exists a viable environment, necessitating the holding of simultaneous elections to the House of the People and the State Legislatures. Simultaneous elections can be seen as a solution to prevent the country from being in constant election mode.”

About Simultaneous Elections:

Simultaneous Election (SE) is an exercise of the democratic process wherein the elections to the various house (Lok Sabha and state assemblies) and bodies are synchronized together to have more efficiency and save expenditure.

In India, SE was the norm till 1967, however, more recently Niti Aayog, Law Commission Report, and our Prime minister have pushed for SE to make the election in India a meaningful democratic exercise.

Benefits of having SE:

  • Reduce Policy paralysis: Imposition of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) over the state for a longer period of time leads to stoppage of developmental programs.
  • Reduce huge expenditures on elections: Around Rs 55,000crore ($8 billion), was spent during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections (as per the report by the Centre for Media Studies)
    • SE can help reduce it by conducting the synchronized election for states and the Centre at the same time
  • Reduce the disruption of public life: Regular elections impact the functioning of essential services such as regular transport, prices of essentials, etc.
  • Reduce the impact on social fabric: Elections are known to perpetuate religion, caste, corruption, and communal tensions.
  • Reduce the impact of populist measures: Populist measures are often not in sync with the economic principles and have a narrow vision of immediate electoral gains.
  • Increase voter turnout: Frequent election leads to voters’ exhaustion and reduces their participation in the democratic process.

limitations to SE:

  • Limitation of democratic principles:Curtailing the terms of the existing legislature to synchronize the election will undermine democracy and federalism.
  • Limitation of Voter Behaviour:Some political scientists’ say voters may be influenced to vote on national issues (thus benefiting national parties) even for State elections, thereby diluting electoral neutrality
  • Limitation of Accountability:Frequent election ensures political and developmental accountability of parties in power. But SE might dilute that.
  • Constitutional limitation: SE would require amendment in the provisions of the constitution, RPA 1951, and ratification by states. It may be hard to get in a multiparty and diverse country like India.

 

Some countries where Simultaneous Elections are successfully implemented:

SE are successfully held in South Africa (national and provincial), and Sweden (including local election as well on the same day).

 

Insta Links

One nation, one election

 

Practice Questions

Q. In view of the idea of holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies, discuss the advantages that its implementation would lead to and the concerns that it raises. (250 words)

 

Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Internal Security

 

Source: The Hindu

Context: Government has come up with Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill 2019 will bring the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea into domestic law and enable Indian authorities to take action against piracy on the high seas.

  • A pirate is a seaman, or robber who attacks, seizes or destroys any ship on the high seas and sometimes even harbors at the shore.

Status:

  • India currently does not have legislation on matters of piracy on the high seas.
  • India ratified the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1995 but was yet to enact it through the bill.

Need for the bill:

  • IPC is not valid for foreigners in international waters: Previously, pirates were prosecuted under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC). However, India’s sovereignty is delimited by the outer boundary of its territorial waters— 12 nautical miles from the coast. Acts of piracy committed by a foreigner outside India’s territorial waters cannot be an offence under the IPC, and those accused in piracy cases have been acquitted due to the lack of jurisdiction.
  • Incidence of Piracy: the Gulf of Aden has been one of the deadliest areas in the oceans due to a large number of piracy incidents. Due to an increased naval presence in the Gulf of Aden, it has been observed that piracy operations are shifting towards the east and south, which increases their proximity to India’s west coast.
    • g. 18 Indians aboard a crude oil carrier were kidnapped off the coast of Nigeria last year.

 

Provisions in the Bill:

  • Definition: Piracy is defined as an act of violence or detention by the crew or passengers of a private vessel or private aircraft on high seas, directed against another vessel or aircraft and/or people or property on board.
  • Extra-territorial Jurisdictions: The Bill will apply to the sea beyond the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), that is, beyond 200 nautical miles from India’s coastline.
    • However, it is unclear if it will apply to the EEZ that extends between 12 and 200 nautical miles from the coast of India.

  • Punishment: For committing acts of piracy, the convicts shall be punished with imprisonment for life or death in case the act of piracy itself causes the death or attempts to cause the death of another person.
    • Participating in or assisting acts of piracy will be punishable with up to 14 years of imprisonment and a fine.
  • Extraditable offences: This means that the accused can be transferred to any country for prosecution with which India has signed an extradition treaty.
  • Designated Court: The central government, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court, may notify the Sessions Courts to be the Designated Courts under this Bill.
  • Presumption of guilt: The presumption of guilt will be on the accused if: (i) the accused is in possession of arms, explosives and other equipment which were used or intended for use in committing the offence, (ii) there is evidence of use of force against the ship’s crew or passengers, and (iii) there is evidence of the intended use of bombs and arms against the crew, passengers or cargo of a ship.

Issues with the Bill:

  • It is unclear how the overlap of the 14-year term and the life term will be determined since committing an act of piracy will necessarily include participation as well.
  • Issue with the death penalty: Supreme Court of India has advocated for the use of extreme punishment in the “rarest of rare” According to the top court, the death penalty violates Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

 

UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS, 1982):

  • It is an international agreement that establishes the legal framework for marine and maritime activities.
  • It divides marine areas into five main zones namely– Internal Waters, Territorial Sea, Contiguous Zone, Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the High Seas.
  • It is a set of rules to govern the oceans and the use of their resources. It is based on the idea that all problems related to oceans are interrelated and need to be addressed by the global community as a whole.
  • UNCLOS governs all aspects of ocean space, including delimitation, environmental control, marine scientific research, economic and commercial activities, transfer of technology and the settlement of ocean-related disputes.

Insta Links

Anti-maritime Piracy Bill

DSR technique not gaining ground in Punjab

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Major cropping patterns in various parts of the country

 

Source: Indian express

Context: Despite the Punjab government’s Rs 1,500 per acre incentive to farmers for adopting the DSR method, farmers are returning to the traditional method of puddled transplanting of rice in the majority of the paddy area (87% decline in DSR over last year)

What is DSR?

DSR is the direct seeding of rice in which seeds are sown in the field rather than by transplanting seedlings from the nursery. It aims to sow short-duration and high-yield varieties. It is done through DSR machines which are used for planting seeds of rice directly into the fields.

Why does Punjab incentivise DSR?

  • To save groundwater: Experts say that around 15% to 20% of groundwater can be saved by adopting DSR.

Reasons for the decline in DSR:

  • Lack of power and adequate water: Officials said that this year there were erratic power cuts. Also, canal water was not available in an adequate amount during the sowing time of DSR.
  • Varied results: Both experts and farmers said that the results of the DSR depend on the farmer to farmer and soil types. Some farmers are getting more yield from this method, while some are getting less.
  • Light soils are bad and heavy soils are good for DSR.
  • Lack of technical know-how: The majority of the farmers in the state are still not much well-versed in the technique and after facing huge losses in wheat yield this year, they prefer the assured traditional method, instead of the experimental DSR.
  • Need for weedicide: Though DSR does not need labour, it needs several sprays of weedicides to control weeds. In traditional agriculture, flood irrigation acts as a weedicide.
  • Low incentive: Many farmers complain that the losses due to the adoption of DSR are over 6000 per acre, but the incentive with DSR sowing is just Rs 1,500 per acre.

 

What should be done:

Experts say DSR won’t help much in saving Punjab’s water: While traditional methods take around 5,000 litres to grow 1 kg of rice, with 15% to 20% water saving DSR will take around 4,000 to 4,200 litres which is also huge.

 

Haryana Model to save water: Government should adopt the Haryana government model to save groundwater wherein the Haryana government under its scheme “Mera Pani Meri Virasat” is offering Rs 7,000 per acre (along with insurance cover) to the farmers who will shun paddy crop and adopt other alternative crops like fruit and vegetables.

Benefits of DSR

Other methods of Rice cultivation:

  • Transplantation: Seeds are first shown in the nursery and seedlings are transplanted to the main field.
  • Drilling Method: Seeds are put in the soil which has been drilled.
  • System of Rice intensification: It is a farming methodology aimed at increasing the yield of rice produced in farming. It is a low-water, labour-intensive method that uses younger seedlings singly spaced and typically hand weeded with special tools.

 

Insta Links:

Direct seeding of Rice

 

Practice Questions:

Q. What is/are the advantage/advantages of zero tillage in agriculture? (UPSC 2020)

 

Sowing of wheat is possible without burning the residue of the previous crops.

  1. Without the need for a nursery of rice saplings, direct planting of paddy seeds in the wet soil is possible.
  2. Carbon sequestration in the soil is possible.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: D

No-till farming is an agricultural technique for growing crops or pasture without disturbing the soil through tillage. No-till farming decreases the amount of soil erosion tillage causes in certain soils, especially in sandy and dry soils on sloping terrain.

Wheat can be grown without burning residue e.g. using happy seeders. DRS allows direct seeding of rice without the need for transplantation. Carbon sequestration is also possible (Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. )

 

With reference to the cultivation of Kharif crops in India in the last five years, consider the following statements: (UPSC 2019)

  1. Area under rice cultivation is the highest.
  2. Area under the cultivation of jowar is more than that of oilseeds.
  3. Area of cotton cultivation is more than that of sugarcane.
  4. Area under sugarcane cultivation has steadily decreased.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

(a) 1 and 3 only

(b) 2, 3 and 4 only

(c) 2 and 4 only

(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

Answer: A

The question is year specific (take data from economic survey), but do keep watch on the trends of cropping patterns.

Whistleblowing

GS Paper 4

 

Source: The Indian Express

Context

After it came to light that the source of the Uber Files investigation was Mark McGann a senior lobbyist who worked for Uber,  the whistleblower of the 2016 Panama Papers has given his first interview.

The Panama Papers, exposed how the rich and powerful parked and moved their money in and out of global tax havens.

About Whistleblowers:

Whistleblowing refers to calling attention to wrongdoing happening in an organization.

Whistleblowing has to do with ethics because it represents a person’s understanding, at a deep level, that an action his or her organization is taking is harmful—that it interferes with people’s rights or is unfair or detracts from the common good.

Ethical issues with Whistleblowing:

Being disloyal towards organization v/s sharing knowledge of wrongdoing for the benefit of others and moral commitment towards society. He may also gain mistrust of his fellow workers.

The values that are shown by whistleblowers:

  • Courage – It takes moral courage to stand against your organization and be ready to lose out on stability in one’s life.
  • Self-sacrifice – They work for the public interest at the cost of themselves.
  • Duty bound and respecting the law – However, there is a dilemma of breaching the ethics by breaching the contract with the organization as well.

How can government encourage whistle-blowing:

  • Create a policy about reporting illegal or unethical practices
    • Formal mechanisms for reporting violations, such as hotlines and mailboxes.
    • Clear communications about the process of voicing concerns, such as a specific chain of command, or the identification of a specific person to handle complaints.
  • Get endorsement of the policy from top officials and publicize the organization’s commitment to the process. Elected and administrative leadership must encourage ethical behaviour and hold everyone within the organization to the highest standards, including the disclosure of activities that would have a negative impact on the public’s business.
  • Investigate and follow up promptly on all allegations of misconduct. Report on these investigations to the council or board.

Indian Examples:

One well-known Indian whistleblower was Satyendra Dubey, an IIT graduate working on a segment of the National Highways Authority of India’s (NHAI) Golden Quadrilateral in Bihar, who wrote directly to the Prime Minister’s Office exposing corruption in the project. He paid with his life for doing so.

Legislations in India regarding Whistleblowing:

The government introduced the Public Interest Disclosure and Protection Of Informers (PIDPI) Resolution for the logging of complaints against alleged corruption or misuse of office by a government officer or department. The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) was designated as the agency to administer complaints, which it continues to routinely route to its relevant section after masking the name of the whistleblower.

Whistleblowers Protection Act is aimed at providing a legislative route for people to file complaints on alleged corruption and misuse of office by public servants.

The act has not come into force, and the Rules for it have not been finalised.

 

Practice Questions:

Q. Whistleblowing is one of the most effective ways to detect and prevent corruption and malpractices. Elaborate.

/ 23 Jul CA, Today's Article

Content for main enrichment (Ethics/Essay)


Jungle Cry

Paul Walsh led a team of tribal boys from Odisha to the TourAid Nations Cup for Under-14 in September 2007. Their story is now on the silver screen in the movie ‘Jungle Cry’.

Walsh, talking about founding Jungle Crows Foundation, a sports and social development organisation supporting children and young people as they grow and develop.

It shows how sports can have a transformational effect on the lives of the underprivileged. It gives them a platform and voice to show their skills. It also shows societal ethics of working for the upliftment of underprivileged sections particularly children.

 

Soorarai Pottru

Tamil movie “Soorarai Pottru” bagged national awards for the Best Feature Film, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Background Score and Best Screenplay at the 68th National Film Awards.

The movie shows how an ex – Indian Air Force pilot dreams of starting a low-cost airline and despite harsh circumstances succeeds in accomplishing this.
Values: Dedication, Hardwork, Compassion towards lower sections of society, Persuasion etc.

 

 


Facts for Prelims


Strengthening Pharmaceuticals Industry’ (SPI)

Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers unveiled three schemes in order to strengthen Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the pharmaceutical sector.

Three schemes are:

  1. Pharmaceutical Technology Upgradation Assistance Scheme (PTUAS)– PTUAS would provide pharmaceutical MSMEs with a proven track record, in a bid to upgrade their technology. It will provide a capital subsidy of 10% on loans up to Rs 10 crore. The minimum repayment period has been fixed at three months.
  2. Assistance to Pharma Industries for Common Facilities Scheme (API-CF)-API-CF will help in strengthening existing pharmaceutical clusters’ capacity to attain sustained growth. Under it, the assistance of up to 70 per cent of the project cost of Rs 20 crore (Whichever is less) will be provided.
  3. Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices Promotion and Development Scheme (PMPDS)-. It aims to create a database of pharma and medical device sectors.
  • These schemes anticipate technology up-gradation, liquid waste treatment plants in clusters and the setting up of common research centres for pharma MSMEs.
  • Schemes would help the small companies in upgrading their facilities to international manufacturing standards.

 

Low-Temperature Thermal Desalination (LTTD) technology

Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) through its autonomous Institute National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) has developed Low-Temperature Thermal Desalination (LTTD) technology for conversion of seawater to potable water which has been successfully demonstrated in Lakshadweep islands.

  • LTTD technology was suitable for Lakshadweep islands, because there is a temperature difference of 15 degrees Celsius between sea surface water and deep-sea water, as required by the technology.

 

EU’s palm oil row with Malaysia and Indonesia

Context: European Union previously decided to phase out the import of unsustainable palm oil by 2030. Indonesia and Malaysia say the EU’s palm oil restrictions are unfair, “discriminatory”, and “crop apartheid” and challenged the EU in the WTO.

  • Indonesia and Malaysia, are the world’s two largest palm oil producers, accounting for 90% of the global production. However, most of it is produced on the plantation by clearing rainforests.
  • ReFuelEU initiative: EU lawmakers adopted draft rules for the ReFuelEU initiative, which would mean 85% of all used aviation fuel would have to be “sustainable” by 2050.

About Palm Oil:

  • It is an edible vegetable oil derived from the mesocarp (reddish pulp) of the fruit of the oil palms.
  • Uses: As a cooking oil, in cosmetics, processed foods, cakes, chocolates, soaps, spreads, shampoo, and biofuel ( the use of crude palm oil in making biodiesel is being branded as ‘green diesel’)
  • It is inexpensive and produces more oil per hectare as compared to other alternatives such as soybean.
  • India is the biggest importer of palm oil (almost 40% of its need)
  • Government initiatives: National Mission on Edible Oil-Oil Palm(to boost India’s domestic palm oil production by 3 times ( till 2025-26));  Kharif Strategy 2021 for oilseeds; yellow revolution.

 

Resilient Supply Chain

Context: India, the US, EU and other countries have finalized a four-point roadmap (formulated last year during the supply chain summit in the US) for building collective, long-term resilient supply chains (RSC) to counter risks arising from supply dependencies and vulnerabilities.

  • Meaning: A resilient supply chain means having the capability to resist or even avoid the impact of a supply chain disruption – and the ability to quickly recover from a disruption.
  • Threats to supply chain: Geopolitics (e.g. domination of China on global supply chain), Wars (e.g. Russian oil to EU), Pandemic, Extreme climate events (e.g. heatwaves), and Natural Disasters.
  • Initiatives: Supply chain resilience initiative (SCRI) (by India, Japan and Australia) to counter China’s dominance in Indo-pacific.

 

Initiatives to boost electric mobility

Context: NITI Aayog launched two significant initiatives —

  • E-AMRIT (Accelerated e-Mobility Revolution for India’s Transportation) mobile application to raise awareness of electric mobility
  • Report on Advanced Chemistry Cell Battery Reuse and Recycling Market in India (supported by UK’s green growth fund technical cooperation)

Glasgow Breakthroughs ( launched at the COP26 climate summit): a series of actions across five key economic sectors that together represent more than 50% of global emissions.

  • India is among 42 leaders to back and sign up for the UK’s Glasgow Breakthroughs.
  • India is also a co-convener of the Glasgow Breakthrough on Road Transport, together with the UK and the US.
  • It aims to make ZEVs (Zero Emission Vehicle systems) affordable, accessible and sustainable in all regions by 2030.
  • India is the fifth largest and fastest growing vehicle market in the world, providing massive potential for electric vehicle uptake.

 

BIS standards on Safety aspects of toys

Context: Bureau of Indian Standards has published 10 Indian Standards on safety aspects of Toys related to physical safety, safety against chemicals, flammability, electrical safety

  • Seven of these Standards are the part of Quality Control Order (QCO) on ‘Safety of Toys’ mandates that toys for children under 14 years of age bear ISI Mark
    No person is permitted to manufacture, import sell or distribute, store, hire, lease or exhibit for sale toys which do not bear ISI Mark under a licence from BIS.
  • Before the licence is granted, toys undergo stringent tests for various physical, chemical and electrical safety requirements to ensure that they are safe for children.

BIS is the National Standard Body of India for the harmonious development of the activities of standardization, marking and quality certification of goods.

  • The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) Act 2016 establishes the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) as the National Standards Body of India. It has included a new area for standardization such as repair or recall of goods, Alternate fuels, E-mobility, Medical Devices, Smart Cities, Digital Technologies (e.g. Industry 4.0, Artificial Intelligence, Block Chain etc.), and New and Renewable energy.

 

A new spray coating to protect surfaces from viruses, bacteria

Context:

A sprayable coating which can prevent the surface spread of infection from bacteria and viruses, including Covid-19, over a sustained period has been discovered.

 The spray works in two ways:

  • Repelling viruses and bacteria through an air-filled barrier
  • Killing pathogens through microscopic materials if the layer becomes damaged or submerged for extended periods.

It uses a combination of plastics.

Application:

  • The coating can be applied to surfaces in public settings such as lift buttons, stair rails, and surfaces in hospitals, nursing homes, schools and restaurants.
  • The coating is also safer than existing alternatives to disinfectant, with no harmful side effects.

 

MIST Submarine Cable System

Context: Expert appraisal Committee ( Ministry of forest and Climate Change) has given the coastal Regulatory Zone clearance for the 8100 KM long Myanmar/Malaysia-India-Singapore Transit (MIST) Submarine cable System connecting Tuas (Singapore) to Mumbai.

  • MIST will directly connect Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and India (Mumbai and Chennai) and deliver a design capacity of more than 216 terabits per second (Tbps)

Submarine Cable:

A submarine cable system consists of a communication cable laid on the sea bed between cable landing stations (CLS) on the land to carry telecommunication signals across stretches of ocean. Submarine cable systems generally use optical fibre cables to carry international traffic.

 

Centaurus

A new COVID variant has recently been detected in several countries including the UK, US, India, Australia and Germany.

Called BA.2.75, it’s a subvariant of omicron.

 


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