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[Mission 2023] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 21 October 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. Lok Adalat

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Stubble Burning

2. Issues with the Pollution Control Boards

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Kashi-T.N. bond

2. Earthquakes due to Oil exploration

3. Interpol launches first-ever metaverse

4. Penalty on Google

5. Mission LiFE

6. Forest Conservation Rules, 2022

7. Waste to Energy Plant

8. GM mustard

9. Mapping


 

Lok Adalats

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Alternative Judicial System

 

Source: The Hindu

Context: Over 450 prisoners have walked free in Chhattisgarh after Lok Adalats were set up in jails across the State.

 

About the initiative:

  • Lok Adalats in Jail will be held every working Saturday and provide relief to undertrials, and in some cases convicted prisoners, by explaining their rights and legal options such as plea bargaining and settlement.
  • It is a first-of-its-kind initiative anywhere in India.
  • It will help reduce jail congestion: There are over 20,000 prisoners lodged in various jails in Chhattisgarh, against a sanctioned capacity of 14,000

 

Lok Adalat:

  • It means ‘People’s Court’ and is based on Gandhian principles.
  • It is one of the components of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) system and delivers informal, cheap and expeditious justice to the common people.
  • The first Lok Adalat camp was organized in Gujarat in 1982 as a voluntary and conciliatory agency.
  • It was given statutory status under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.

 

Function of Lok Adalat:

  • Provide relief to undertrials and in some cases convicted prisoners: By explaining their rights and legal options such as plea bargaining and settlement.

 

Objectives:

  • Swift disposal of cases
  • Reduce the congestion in various jails

 

Who is eligible?

  • All undertrials: named in offences in the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr. PC) heard by a judicial magistrate, such as:
    • Petty theft, house trespass, and cheating
  • Those arrested under preventive provisions: For offences such as:
    • Brawl or violation of special laws such as the Excise Act or Railways Act.

 

How does Lok Adalats function?

 

Article 39A: It provides that State shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity

 

Insta Links:

 

Mains Links:

Q. What are the major changes brought in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 through the recent Ordinance promulgated by the President? How far will it improve India’s dispute resolution mechanism? Discuss. (UPSC 2015)

 

Prelims Links:

  • Article 39A
  • NALSA
  • Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987

With reference to Lok Adalat, consider the following statements:

  1. It is a constitutional body under article 39A.
  2. The first Lok Adalat was organized in Chhattisgarh.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

a. 1 only

b. 2 only

c. Both 1 and 2

d. Neither 1 nor 2

Ans:(d)

Justification:

Refer to the article above

Stubble Burning

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Environmental Pollution

Source : The Hindu

 

Directions: This Article has been taken from the Editorial Section. Go through it once, you can use it for value addition.

 

Context:  As the monsoon has receded and North India is bracing for a smoggy winter. And with that, the feverish focus on crop stubble burning has returned to India’s public discourse.

 

Issue of stubble burnings:

  • Root cause: The root cause of stubble burning can be traced back to the 1960s-70s when India introduced several measures as part of its Green Revolution to feed its rising population.
  • Economics of HYV seeds: The economics of high-yielding varieties of paddy and wheat, supported by a guaranteed buyer (the government) and minimum support prices led to a crop duopoly oriented solely around increasing caloric intakes, supplanting the earlier diversity of crops grown in the region.
  • Subsidies: The introduction of subsidies for electricity and fertilizers, and ease of access for credit in agriculture only served to cement this duopoly.
  • Governmental policy: In an attempt to address the growing water crisis, the Punjab and Haryana governments introduced laws around water conservation, encouraging farmers to look to the monsoon rather than groundwater to irrigate their crops.
  • The shortened harvesting season that arose resulting from a not clearly thought-out policy move brought about the need for farmers to rapidly clear their fields between the Kharif and rabi crops;
    • the quickest of these ways was to burn off the remaining stubble post-harvest.

 

Repercussions of Stubble burning:

  • Pollution: It has led to a deterioration of Air quality in Indo –Gangetic plains, especially in the National capital region.
  • Soil Fertility: Burning husk on the ground destroys the nutrients in the soil, making it less fertile.
  • Heat Penetration: Heat generated by stubble burning penetrates into the soil, leading to the loss of moisture and useful microbes.

 

Recent steps taken to tackle the above issues:

  • A Series of short-term ex-situ and in-situ solutions have been rolled out by the Union and State governments.
    • In-situ solutions include happy seeders and bio-decomposers, while the ex-situ solutions include collecting and using stubble as fuel in boilers, to produce ethanol, or simply burning away alongside coal in thermal power plants.
  • Economic incentives to reduce burning have also been tested with limited success.
  • The demand for governments to act on this seemingly avoidable practice translated initially into the criminalisation of the act.

 

Meaningful steps that are needed:

  • Addressing the root cause: e substantially reducing the amount of paddy being grown in the region and replacing it with other crops that are equally high-yielding, in-demand, and agro-ecologically suitable such as cotton, maize, pulses and oil seeds.
  • Building trust with farmers to ensure they are seen as partners (rather than perpetrators) and providing them with the financial support necessary.
  • At a policy level, it also requires recognising that agriculture, nutrition, water, the environment, and the economy are all deeply intertwined in the era of the Anthropocene.
  • Establishing a mechanism for intersectoral policymaking that aligns our goals for sectoral policy within the broad frame of sustainable development we wish to follow.

Fostering the conditions necessary for such a transition is complex. Whether our institutions have the right mix of political will and professional skills to do so remains to be seen.

 

Insta Links

Prelims link

  • Green revolution
  • HYV Seeds
  • EPCA & GRAP
  • Byproducts of stubble Burning.
  • Happy seeders & Pusa decomposer Smog Towers

 

Mains Links:

Q. How stubble burning in the states of Punjab and Haryana affects the air quality of Delhi? Discuss.

 

In the context of WHO Air Quality Guidelines, consider the following statements (UPSC 2022)

1. The 24-hour mean of PM2.5 should not exceed 15 ug/m3 and the annual mean of PM2.5 should not exceed 5 ug/m3.

2. In a year, the highest levels of ozone pollution occur during periods of inclement weather.

3. PM10 can penetrate the lung barrier and enter the bloodstream.

4. Excessive ozone in the air can trigger asthma.

Which of the statements given above is correct?

(a) 1, 3 and 4

(b) 1 and 4 only

(c) 2, 3 and 4

(d) 1 and 2 only

 

Answer – B

 

As per the new guidelines recommended air quality levels by WHO (revised after 16 years), the 24-hour mean of PM2.5 should not exceed 15 ug/m3 and the annual mean of PM2.5 should not exceed 5 ug/m3. The highest levels of ozone pollution occur during periods of sunny weather and not during inclement weather. PM 2.5 can penetrate the lung barrier and PM 10 can only lodge inside the lungs. Excessive ozone in the air can cause breathing problems, trigger asthma, reduce lung function and cause lung diseases.

 

Which of the following are the reasons/factors for exposure to benzene pollution? (UPSC 2020)

1.       Automobile exhaust

2.       Tobacco smoke

3.       Wood burning

4.       Using varnished wooden furniture

5.       Using products made of polyurethane

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

 

(a) 1, 2 and 3 only

(b) 2 and 4 only

(c) 1, 3 and 4 only

(d) 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

 

Answer: D

/ Oct 21 CA, Today's Article

Pollution Control Board

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Environmental Conservation

Source: DTE

Context: Public policy think tank ‘Centre for policy research’ released a series of papers looking into the causes of poor performance of pollution control bodies in India.

 

Need for efficient pollution control boards

  • North Gangetic belts have one of the most polluted cities and rivers.
    • Of the top 30 polluted cities, 9 lie in the north Gangetic belt.
    • Yamuna, Damodar and Suvarna Rekha have been marked as biologically dead rivers, with pollution indicators over 5X the prescribed limits.
  • High fragmentation of industries lacking the ability to monitor pollution control themselves.
  • With rapid economic development and a focus on industry-led growth, pollution control becomes non-negotiable
  • Sustainable development goals
    • 6- Sustainable management of water and sanitation
    • 9– sustainable industrialization
    • 11- sustainable cities

 

Reasons for the subpar performance of pollution control boards in India.

  • High vacancy rates: With 40 % overall vacancies, the situation is particularly dire in Jharkhand, Haryana and Bihar where vacancies can be over 75%
  • Issues with top administration:
    • Lack of full-time administrators creates low efficiency in performance.
    • 53% of the members are part of polluting agencies themselves(local bodies, industries and PSU) creating a potential conflict of interes
    • Frequent leadership transfers create exceptionally low office terms. It hinders the development and implementation of long-term plans.
  • Low technical expertise: technical experts constitute less than 7% of member strength( as compared to the statutory mandate of 50%)
  • Poor multi-sectoral coordination.
  • Lack of detailed procedure, and quasi-judicial nature creates long-term litigation period

 

Methods to improve performance

  • Financial autonomy: By using the polluter pays concept, agencies must give bank guarantees, which can be forfeited in cases of non-compliance. It can form a significant portion of revenue for SPCB.
  • Fixed terms for top administrators to improve the separation of legislative and executive.
  • A detailed procedure, uniform standards and legislation to reduce litigations.
  • Specialized recruitment to improve the technical strengths and improve oversight.
  • Capacity building of all stakeholders to improve coordination

 

Pollution control in India

  • Pollution control boards are established as statutory bodies with powers under the Air(pollution control) act, Water(pollution control) act and Environmental protection act of 1986.

 

  • Constitutional mandates
  • Article 51A (g): protect and improve the natural environment
  • Article 48A: Protect and improve the environment and safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country”.
  • Article 21: Right to a healthy environment.

 

Conclusion

Pollution control is central to ensuring sustainable economic growth without impacting the ecosystems negatively. Pollution control agencies must not only focus on reducing negative linkages but also aid the development of positive ones.

Prelims links

  • Pollution control bodies in India
  • Environmental legislations

 

Mains link

Q). Pollution control agencies have failed to live up to their mandates. Comment. Also, suggest some measures to improve their performance.

 

Facts for Prelims:


Kashi-T.N. bond

Source: The Hindu

 Context:  Central government has recently launched a programme to strengthen the Kashi-Tamil Nadu civilisational link as part of the ‘Ek Bharat Sreshtha Bharat’ initiative.

 Kashi (old name of Varanasi): Located on the banks of the holy Ganges, Varanasi is regarded as among the holiest of the Hindu cities.

 Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat :

  • Launched by PM in 2015 on the occasion of the 140th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
  • Objectives: To celebrate the Unity in Diversity of our Nation and to maintain and strengthen the fabric of traditionally existing emotional bonds between the people of our Country;
    • TO CREATE an environment which promotes learning between States by sharing best practices and experiences.
  • Features: All States and UTs will be covered under the programme.
    • There will be a pairing of States/UTs at the national level and these pairings will be in effect for one year, or till the next round of pairings.
    • The State/UT level pairings would be utilized for state-level activities.
    • District-level pairings would be independent of the State level pairings.

  

Earthquakes due to Oil exploration

Source: The Hindu

Context:  As winter approaches, Europe faces an energy problem. However, there has been a demand to shut Groningen gas fields in the Netherlands due to seismic activity caused by its operation.

 

Can Oil or Gas exploration cause earthquakes?

  • Yes, it can, since to enhance energy extraction hydraulic fracturing is used.
  • Water flooding through injection wells causes pore pressure in hydrocarbon reservoirs to increase, often leading to induced seismicity.
  • Fluid extraction from hydrocarbon reservoirs causes an increase in net effective stresses, which, when supported by the geomechanics of the rock, may lead to the development of new faults and fractures.
    • Earthquakes caused by fluid extraction need not happen at every place that sees extraction.
    • The geomechanical properties of the rock in question determine outcomes.

 

Energy problem in Europe:

  • The numerous leaks — apparently caused by explosions — to the Nord Stream 1, which is an energy pipeline connecting Russia to Germany, has driven supplies to a halt.
  • With winter approaching, demand for heating would be enormous across Europe leading to increased demand for gases.

 

India’s concerns

  • India’s domestic gas price is determined from the average of four global indices viz U.S.’s Henry Hub, the U.K.’s National Balancing point, Canada’s Alberta and Russian gas.
  • Global production is estimated to decline from 4,109 bcm in calendar 2021 to 4,089 bcm in 2022.

 

 

Interpol launches first-ever metaverse

Source: The Hindu

Context: Interpol unveiled the first-ever ‘metaverse’ specifically designed for law enforcement worldwide, at the 90th General Assembly in Delhi.

Key Highlights:

  • WEF: The World Economic Forum has partnered with Interpol on Meta.
  • Virtual tour: It allows the registered users to take a virtual tour of its general secretariat headquarters in France’s Lyon.
  • Interact with other officers via their avatars
  • Take training courses in forensic investigation and other policing skills, it said.
  • Secure cloud: The facility is provided through the global police organization’s secure cloud.
  • Creation of an expert group on the metaverse: To represent the concerns of law enforcement on the global stage
    • Ensure that the new virtual world is secure by design.

 

Challenges for metaverse:

  • Social engineering scams
  • Violent extremism
  • Misinformation

 

List of possible crimes likely to expand:

  • Crimes against children
  • Data theft
  • Money laundering
  • Financial fraud
  • Counterfeiting
  • Ransomware
  • Phishing
  • Sexual assault and harassment.

 

Way forward:

  • Work with stakeholders: To shape the necessary governance frameworks and cut off future criminal markets before they are fully formed.

 

Metaverse:

  • It is an extension of our real world into the digital realm providing an immersive multi-user experience for anyone accessing it around the globe.
  • Accessing this virtual world requires the Internet and digital devices.
  • The technology behind this is called Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR).

  

Penalty on Google

Source: The Hindu

Context:  Recently Competition Commission of India has imposed a penalty of 1338 – cr on Google for abusing its dominant position in multiple markets in the Android mobile device ecosystem.

  • The allegations of unfair business practices pertained to two agreements —The Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (MADA) and Anti Fragmentation Agreement (AFA)—which were entered into by the OEMs of Android OS with Google.
  • Google has perpetuated its dominant position in the online search market resulting in the denial of market access for competing search apps.
    • Also, it has leveraged its dominant position in the app store market for Android OS to protect its position in online general search which violates the competition law.
    • Section 4 of the Competition Act pertains to the abuse of a dominant position.

The Competition Commission of India is a statutory body of the Government of India, responsible for enforcing the Competition Act, 2002 throughout India and preventing activities that have an adverse effect on competition.

 

 

 

Mission LiFE

Source: The Hindu, PIB

Direction: Plz refer to yesterday’s main article for a comprehensive analysis.

Context: The Prime Minister in the presence of the U.N. Secretary-General launched the ‘Mission LiFE’ (Lifestyle For Environment) initiative for a sustainable and healthy lifestyle at the Statue of Unity in Gujarat.

 

Background:

It was introduced by the Prime Minister at COP26 in Glasgow.

  • LiFE Global Movement: Inviting academicians, researchers and start-ups across the world to think about specific and scientific ways in which the full potential of collective action can be harnessed to address the environmental crisis.

 

Significance of the Mission:

  • Fight against climate change democratic: with the contribution of everyone in their own capacity.
  • Global initiative by India: To help the world in its fight against climate change and to achieve the SDGs.
  • P3 model(Pro Planet People): Premised on the basic principles of ‘Lifestyle of the planet, for the planet and by the planet’.
  • It will encompass every lifestyle related to the conservation of nature, which our ancestors adopted.
  • Based on Prakriti, Rakshati and Rakshita, that is, those who protect nature, nature protects them.

 

Objective:

  • Mobilize at least one billion Indians and other global citizens to take individual and collective action for protecting and preserving the environment in the period 2022 to 2027.
  • Within India: At least 80% of all villages and urban local bodies are aimed to become environment-friendly by 2028.

 

Implementation:

  • NITI Aayog: It will curate and incubate Mission LiFE in the first year, and it will subsequently be implemented by MoEFCC.
  • The mission is a 5-year programme.
  • It will act on the ideas and ideals of LiFE through a mission-mode, scientific and measurable programme.

 

India’s status:

  • Carbon footprint: Annual per capita carbon footprint in the country is only about 5(one point five)tons, compared to the world average of 4 tons per year
  • Renewable energy: India has the fourth largest capacity for renewable energy in the world.
  • India is ranked fourth in wind energy and fifth in solar energy: India’s renewable energy capacity has increased by about 290 % in the last 7-8 years.
  • Electric capacity: The country has also achieved the target of 40% of the electric capacity from non-fossil-fuel sources nine years ahead of the deadline.
  • National Hydrogen Mission: To move towards an environment-friendly energy source.

 

Forest Conservation Rules, 2022

Source: The Hindu

Context:  NCST had recommended to the Union Environment and Forest Ministry to put the new Forest Conservation Rules, 2022, on hold.

Concerns with new rules

  • Essentially eliminate the requirement of consent of local tribespeople and forest dwellers for the diversion of forest land for other purposes.
  • It infringes upon the land rights of tribal people under the Forest Rights Act.

Forest conservation rules,2022  :

  • The rules were issued by the Environment Ministry in June this year under the Forest Conservation Act.
  • The Forest Conservation Rules deal with the implementation of the Forest Conservation Act (FCA), 1980.
    • They prescribe the procedure to be followed for forest land to be diverted for non-forestry uses such as road construction, highway development, railway lines, and mining.

 

Recent changes made in the forest rules:

  • Rules make a provision for private parties to cultivate plantations and sell them as land to companies who need to meet compensatory forestation targets.
  • No mention of tribals and forest-dwelling communities whose land would be hived off for developmental work.
  • No consent of Gram Sabha is needed: the projects once approved by the FACwill then be passed on to the State authorities who will collect the compensatory fund and land, and process it for final approval.
    • Previously consent of gram sabha, or the governing body in villages in the area, was required to give written consent to the diversion of the forest.
  • It has defined forest land.
  • No approval is needed for Strategic Projects: e.g. strategic and security projects of national importance
  • Allows building in Forests.

 

Waste to Energy Plant

Source: PIB

Context: The Union Home and Cooperation Minister, inaugurated the Tehkhand Waste to Energy Plant, which generates electricity from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi waste

About the plant:

  • In a bid to make the capital city ‘Garbage Free’, the plant will help dispose of over 2000 metric tonnes of garbage per day and generate up to 25 MW of Green Energy.

 

The Waste to Wealth Mission is one of the nine scientific missions of the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Advisory Council (PMSTIAC). It aims to identify, develop, and deploy technologies to treat waste to generate energy, recycle materials, and extract resources of value.

 

Fig: Diagram of Waster to Energy Plant

Related News:

Recently, Vehicle-mounted ‘anti-smog guns’ are being used for pollution control in Delhi.

Anti-smog gun is a device that sprays atomised water into the atmosphere to reduce air pollution.

 

GM mustard approval

Source – Down to Earth

Context – Genetically modified mustard (GM Mustard), may soon get the approval for commercial cultivation.

GM mustard – Dhara Mustard Hybrid- 11( DMH- 11), was developed by Deepak Pental of Delhi University, through transgenic technology, in 2002.

The genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), which functions in the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC)  is responsible for giving such approvals.

 

Negative of GM:  It can pose a threat to crop diversity, and food security and increase tolerance for use of pesticides, seed market will shift into the hands of private companies from farmers. Threat to the environment as GM mustard is a herbicide tolerant crop, it may pose a threat to crop diversity, loss to traditional knowledge etc.

 

Positive of GM: More productivity, less pesticide use, more investments in agriculture research and employment creation for agriculture graduates.

 

In 2002, BT Cotton was approved, and since then no other GM  crop has been approved for cultivation.

Fig: GM Crops technique

 

  1. Other than resistance to pests, what are the prospects for which genetically engineered plants have been created? (UPSC 2012)
  2. To enable them to withstand drought
  3. To increase the nutritive value of the produce
  4. To enable them to grow and do photosynthesis in spaceships and space stations
  5. To increase their shelf life

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 and 4 only

(c) 1, 2 and 4 only

(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

ANS – (C), Statement 3 is not the purpose for which GM crops are developed.

 

Mapping:


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