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[Mission 2023] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 05 November 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 3:

1. Air pollution in Delhi-NCR

 

GS Paper 4:

1. Twitter Employees layoffs: Ethical issues involved

 

Content for Mains Enrichment

1. Climate Jargons

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. National Tribal Dance Festival

2. EK Janaki Ammal

3. How a Governor can be sacked

4. EPFO

5. NSFDC

6. IIPDF Scheme

7. Report on Gig Workers – NASSCOM

8. Lycopene sensors

9. Beidou satellite system

10. Polavaram project

11. Adaptation Gap Report 2022

12. SDMS

13. Make-II route of defence procurement

14. Mapping

Air pollution in Delhi-NCR

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

 

Source: Indian Express, Indian Express, DTE, Indian Express

Context: Delhi pollution: From late October onwards, meteorological factors and ‘stubble’ burning to add to the already high pollution base in the Indo-Gangetic basin, particularly the pollution due to the  Particulate Matter (PM), Haze and Smoke.

Particulate matter (PM) is made of solid particles and liquid droplets in the air. Any type of burning or dust-generating activity is a source of PM E.g., Emissions (from vehicles and industrial plant smokestacks)

Particulate matter—PM2.5 (diameter of 2.5 micrometres or less) and PM10—far exceeds national and World Health Organization limits and are considered the main culprit for high pollution of Delhi and its surrounding regions called NCR.

 

Reasons for Delhi NCR region facing extreme particulate pollution:

Geographical reasons:

  • Location of Delhi: It lies to the northeast of the Thar Desert, to the northwest of the central plains and to the southwest of the Himalayas. As winds arrive from the coasts, bringing with them pollutants picked up along the way, they get ‘trapped’ right before the Himalayas.
  • Cold temperature during winter: During summer hotter air rises higher above the surface and takes the pollutants along with it. However, during October-November, the air is not that hot. The pollutants are trapped and tend to get concentrated at lower levels of the atmosphere, resulting in the smoke and haze situation.
  • Lack of wind esp. after the end of the monsoon: Average wind speed in winter in the Delhi NCR region is one-third of the summer months. This makes the pollutant concentration in the region.
  • Dust Storm: -According to SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research), 40% of the particulate pollution in Delhi on those specific days could be sourced to a “multi-day dust storm” that originated in the Middle East.

 

Anthropogenic factors:

  • Stubble burning: 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.
  • Governmental policy:In an attempt to address the growing water crisis, the Punjab and Haryana governments introduced laws, which delayed Kharif cropping and thus worsened the pollution due to stubble burning.
  • Manufacturing activity, Power Generation, Construction, and Transport: The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) have declared vehicular emission as a major contributor to Delhi’s increasing air pollution.
  • Minimum Citizen participation: Unlike in other parts of the world, there is little citizens’ movement for controlling pollution.
  • Poor Regulations: Regulation is most often seen as imposing bans, not hand-holding and persuading industry – most of them small factories – into adopting environment-friendly measures
  • India has not recognised in policy and law that air pollution is a killer.

 

Impact

  • On Adult: The Lancet report that had said that 12.5 per cent of deaths in India occurred due to air pollution
  • On children: More than 116,000 infants in India died within a month of birth in 2019 due to air pollution — outdoor and indoor — according to the State of Global Air 2020 report.
  • On Mother: Studies say that because of exposure of the pregnant mother to very high pollution levels, actually affects the placenta and the foetus.
  • On Education: Lost hours due to the closure of schools e.g. Severe air pollution in Delhi has led to the closure of the primary school.
  • On Economy: Closure of industries/factories. Limits on the construction activity etc.

  

Steps Taken by the government

  • Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP): In pursuant to the Supreme Court’s order in the matter of  C. Mehta vs. Union of India (2016)regarding air quality in the National Capital Region of Delhi, a Graded Response Action Plan has been prepared for implementation under different Air Quality Index (AQI) categories namely, Moderate & Poor, Very Poor, and Severe.
  • National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)- It has the goal of reducing the concentration of coarse (PM10) and fine particles (PM2.5) in the atmosphere by at least 20% by the year 2024, with 2017 as the base year for comparison.
  • To mitigate stubble burning: A Series of short-term ex-situ and in-situ solutionshave been rolled out by the Union and State governments.
    • In-situ solutionsinclude Turbo 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.
  • Other measures: mobile enforcement teams to check vehicular pollution, public awareness campaigns, investment in mass rapid transport systems, and phasing out old commercial vehicles.
  • Delhi’s “Green War Room” signalling the fight against the smog, is analyzing satellite data on farm fires from Punjab and Haryana to identify and deal with the culprits.
  • Cleaner transport: The government’s recent push for electric vehicles shows promise, while the response of industry and the buy-in from customers will be key.
  • Better farming practices-Needed is the political will to act, as poor farmers complain that they receive no financial support to dispose of post-harvest stubble properly.
  • The Indian Agricultural Research Institute has proposed a low-cost way to deal with the problem of stubble burning by spraying a chemical solution to decompose the crop residue and turn it into manure. Better coordination is needed 

Conclusion

Facing a growing environmental and health calamity, antipollution efforts are being strengthened. But to succeed, the different levels of government must harness the political will to invest more, coordinate across boundaries, and motivate businesses and residents to do their bit.

 

Insta Links:

Air Pollution

 

Mains Links:

Q. How is air pollution measured and tracked in India? What are the recent changes introduced to air pollution measurement? (15M)

 

Prelims Links

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

Twitter Employees layoffs: Ethical issues involved

GS Paper 4

 

Source: The Hindu

Context: Twitter’s roughly 7,500 employees are expecting mass layoffs as new owner Elon Musk overhauls the social platform, which he believes is essential for the company’s long-term success.

 

Background:

  • A layoff or downsizing is the temporary suspension or permanent termination of an employee’s or a group of employees’ employment for business reasons such as personnel management or downsizing (cutting the size of) an organization.
  • The layoffs at Twitter come at a tough time, when newcomers, primarily TikTok, are posing a threat to older social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
  • A class action lawsuit was filed by laid-off employees, alleging that Twitter has violated the law by failing to provide the requisite notice.

 

Ethical issues involved:

  • Balancing the interests of the two important stakeholders – investors and employees:
    • Because financial losses are only temporary, investors must be convinced of long-term rewards. Instead of layoffs, employees should be encouraged to upgrade themselves and work overtime to help the company get through difficult times.
    • In this way, both of their interests can be balanced.
  • Utilitarianism: From the utilitarian point, mass layoff’s impact on the well-being of the people as a whole must be considered. While lower profits (maybe short-term losses) will hurt shareholders/investors, the cost of job loss will be suffered by employees and their families.
  • Corporate governance and business ethics: It demands that employees must be given a notice period before asking to leave the company.
  • Responsibility: It is the legal obligation of a company or employer to act in the best interest of its employees.
  • Empathy: Elon Musk once stated in an interview that he experienced financial difficulties when unemployed. Thus, he should think from the standpoint of his employees.

 

Insta Links

Q. What’s the importance of ethics and morals in work culture? Can ethics be enforced in the workplace? Examine. (10M)

Content for Mains Enrichment

Climate Jargons

Source: Indian Express

GLASGOW PACT: Reached at the 2021 U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, the Glasgow Pact marked the first time a U.N. climate agreement mentioned the goal of reducing fossil fuel use.

 NATIONALLY DETERMINED CONTRIBUTIONS:  NDCs are the pledges that each country makes to reduce its emissions and adapt to climate change from 2020 onward. Countries have to update and expand their NDCs every five years.

 ‘JUST TRANSITION’: The term used to describe a shift to a low-carbon economy that keeps the social and economic disruption of moving away from fossil fuels to a minimum while maximising the benefits for workers, communities and consumers.

CLIMATE FINANCE: Richer countries agreed in 2009 to contribute $100 billion together each year by 2020 to help poorer countries adapt their economies and lessen the impact of rising seas, or more severe and frequent storms and droughts. In 2015 they agreed to extend this goal through to 2025, but the target has yet to be met.

 

“Common but differentiated responsibilities” (CBDR), were enshrined in the Kyoto accord (1997). It says that developed countries, which produced more emissions in the past as they built their economies, should take the lead in fighting climate change. It does not, however, require them to make any immediate pledges to cut their emissions.

 

 

‘LOSS AND DAMAGE’:  “Loss and damage” is a general term used in UN climate negotiations to refer to the consequences of climate change that go beyond what people can adapt to, or when options exist but a community doesn’t have the resources to access or utilize them.

Facts for Prelims

EK Janaki Ammal

Source: Indian Express

Context: 125th birth anniversary of Edavalath Kakkat Janaki Ammal, a pioneering botanist and the first Indian woman to be awarded a PhD in the botanical sciences.

 Born in Thalassery in the Kannur district of Kerala in 1897, she worked on making several intergeneric and interspecific hybrids involving sugarcane and related grass species. These works were highly significant, as she is believed to have been responsible for creating sugarcane hybrids that yielded sweeter sugar.

Her association with the Save the Silent Valley movement – a campaign to stop a hydroelectric project from flooding the Silent Valley forest in the Palakkad district of Kerala – was well-known.

National Tribal Dance Festival

 Source: ToI

Context: African-origin Siddi Tribe who came to India 850 years ago, performed their cultural dance form at the 3rd National Tribal Dance Festival in Raipur, Chhattisgarh.

About the National Tribal Dance Festival:

  • It is one of Chhattisgarh’s grand festivals which celebrates diverse tribal communities and their culture not just in India but from across the globe.
  • The three-daylong event is organised under the Tourism and Culture department of Chhattisgarh state.

Some major tribal/folk dances of India:

  • Bagurumba, Bhortal Dance – Assam
  • Bardo Chham – Arunachal Pradesh
  • Raut Nacha – Chhattisgarh
  • Fugdi – Goa
  • Nati – Himachal Pradesh
  • Ras Leela – Haryana
  • Dumhal – Jammu and Kashmir
  • Duffmuttu, Margamkali – Kerala
  • Grida dance – Madhya Pradesh, etc.

How a Governor can be sacked

Source: Indian Express

Context: TN government has sent a proposal to remove Tamil Nadu Governor R N, Ravi

 Governor’s appointment: Under Articles 155 and 156 of the Constitution, a Governor is appointed by the President and holds office “during the pleasure of the President” ( but in effect the pleasure is of a council of ministers headed by the Prime Minister).

  • Article 163 of the Constitution says the Governor will normally be aided and advised by the Council of Ministers except in those functions which require his discretion.

 Governor’s Removal: If this pleasure is withdrawn before the completion of the five-year term, the Governor has to step down. While the Governor’s duties and responsibilities lie in a particular state, there is no provision for impeaching the Governor.

Supreme Court on Removal: (In BP Singhal vs Union of India (2010), the Supreme Court upheld that “no limitations or restrictions are placed on the ‘at pleasure’ doctrine”, but the power to remove can’t be exercised in an “arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable manner

 Sarkaria Commission had recommended that Governors are not sacked before completing their five-year tenure, except in “rare and compelling” circumstances.

EPFO

 Source: The Hindu

Direction: The details are technical in nature about actual salary and pensionable salary and may not be relevant from the UPSC point of view.

Context: The Employees’ Pension (Amendment) Scheme, 2014 of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation was recently upheld by the Supreme Court of India, which exercised its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution.

Choice of higher pension: Trade unions were resisting the government’s argument that workers at all levels should have more liquidity. The SC, through its ruling, has let the workers decide whether they should opt for the higher provident fund or choose higher pension payouts.

About Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO):

  • EPFO is a statutory organisation within the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India.
  • It was established with the passage of the Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952.
  • EPFO is responsible for regulating and managing provident funds in India, as well as managing social security agreements with other countries that have bilateral treaties with India.

NSFDC

Source: Business-Standard

Context: Government may increase the authorised share capital of the National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC) to Rs 2500 Cr (from presently 1500 Cr)

Authorized share capital is the number of stock units a company can issue as stated in its memorandum of association or articles of incorporation.

About NSFDC:

It is a 1989 non-profit company with the aim to provide loans through its Channelizing Agencies at concessional interest rates for self-employment & economic development activities to scheduled caste groups. NSFDC also sponsors skill/entrepreneurial training programmes to assist the unemployed members of scheduled castes in wage/self-employment. Examples of loan schemes of NSFDC are- Mahila Samriddhi Yojana, Educational Loan Scheme, Stand-up India, Aajeevika Micro-Finance Yojana etc.

IIPDF Scheme

Source: PIB

Context: The Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance, notified Scheme for Financial Support for Project Development Expenses of PPP Projects – India Infrastructure Project Development Fund Scheme (IIPDF Scheme) in order to aid the development of quality PPP Projects.

It is a Central Sector Scheme (100% funded by the Union government and implemented by the Central Government machinery) to support such projects which are economically justified but commercially unviable. Up to 40% of project costs are provided by the government at the stage of project construction (similar to the Viability Gap funding Scheme).

Report on Gig Workers – NASSCOM

Source: LiveMint

Context:  The National Association of software and service companies (NASSCOM) has released a report on the status of Gig Workers.

 The Code on Social Security, 2020 defines a Gig worker as a person who performs work or participates in a work arrangement and earns from such activities outside of the traditional employer-employee relationship.

 Key findings from the report:

  • Increasing employment: Nearly two-thirds (65%) of IT companies in India are employing gig workers this year, a higher share compared to 57% of the organizations in 2020.
  • Lower workforce: While the share of tech organizations in India employing gig workers has increased, their share in the total workforce remains less than 5%.
  • Reason for the rise: Focus on specialized skills requirement, employee demand elasticity and cost optimization are enabling organizations to embed gig for technology roles.

Top Giggable skills: Software development, UI/UX design, and data analytics.

Lycopene sensors

Source: DTE

Context:  A team of researchers from the Institute of Nano Science and Technology (INST), Mohali, has developed a nano-biosensor for detecting ‘lycopene’, a phytochemical with high commercial value.

Lycopene is a non-provitamin A carotenoid (responsible for giving colour) that is responsible for the red to pink colours seen in tomatoes, pink grapefruit, and other foods.

Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant with many health benefits, including sun protection, improved heart health and a lower risk of certain types of cancer.

Beidou satellite system

 Source: The Hindu

Context: China has announced plans to increase the global reach of its home-grown Beidou satellite navigation system, which is promoted as an alternative to America’s Global Positioning System (GPS).

About the Beidou satellite (BDS) navigation system: BDS is a constellation of 30 satellites in orbit, independently constructed and operated by China and currently in use in more than half of the world’s countries.

India’s Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC operational since 2018): NavIC is an indigenous navigation satellite system developed by ISRO. It has a constellation of 7 satellites with coverage up to 1,500 kilometres from India’s borders and was designed to reduce reliance on foreign satellite systems for navigation.

 

 Regional Navigation Satellite SystemGlobal Navigation Satellite Systems
  1. India’s NavIC
  2. Japan’s QZSS
  1. America’s GPS
  2. Galileo from the European Union
  3. Russian GLONASS
  4. China’s Beidou

Polavaram project

 Source: The Hindu

Context: The Polavaram Project Authority (PPA) is conducting a joint survey on the project’s backwater effect in Telangana.

Background: According to an earlier survey undertaken by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the Polavaram backwater effect will be up to 18 km upstream in the Kinnerasani river and up to 6 km upstream in Murreduvagu.

About the Polavaram project:

  • It is an under-construction multi-purpose irrigation project on the Godavari River in the Eluru District and East Godavari District in Andhra Pradesh.
  • The project has been accorded National project status by the Central Government of India and its backwater spreads into parts of Chhattisgarh and Odisha States.

It gives a major boost to the tourism sector in Godavari Districts as the reservoir covers the famous Papikonda National Park, Polavaram hydroelectric project (HEP) and National Waterway 4.

Adaptation Gap Report 2022

Source: DTE

Context: According to the UNEP’s Adaptation Gap Report 2022, global adaptation planning, financing and implementation efforts are insufficient to prepare vulnerable communities around the world to adapt to the rising risks of climate change impacts.

Key Points:

  • Progress on adaptation plans: A third of the 197 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have incorporated quantified and time-bound targets for adaptation.
    • And 90 per cent of them have considered gender and disadvantaged groups, the report read.
  • Low Finance: International adaptation finance flows are five-10 times lower than required and this gap continues to grow. Finance for adaptation increased to $29 billion in 2020 — only a four per cent increase over 2019.

Recommendation:

  • Nature-based solutions to link actions on mitigation and adaptation in terms of planning, financing and implementation, which would provide co-benefits.
  • Ensure a new business model for turning adaptation priorities into investable projects
  • Ensure the availability of climate risk data and information
  • Implementation and operationalisation of early warning systems

About the Adaptation Gap Report:

  • It has been published by UNEP since its first edition in 2014.
  • The aim of the reports is to inform national and international efforts to advance adaptation.
  • From 2020 and onwards, the Report consists of two main parts:
    • A recurrent assessment of global progress on adaptation in three areas: planning, financing and implementation.
    • A deeper assessment of the status of adaptation within a particular sector or theme under the same three elements as part one.

About the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP):

  • The UNEP was established in 1972 following the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm.
  • UNEP, headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, collaborates with its 193 Member States and other stakeholders to address environmental concerns through the UN Environment Assembly, the world’s top environmental decision-making body.
  • It publishes annually – the Emissions Gap Report, and the Adaptation Gap Report.

SDMS

Source: DTE

Context: International Water Management Institute (a non-profit research organization) and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) have developed South Asia Drought Monitoring System (SADMS) to indicate the presence of drought and its level of severity.

It has been used since 2017 by ICAR to implement real-time contingency measures such as the use of drought-resistant seeds, applying potassium nitrate ( to help seeds cope with dry conditions)

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is an autonomous organisation under the Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India.

Make-II route of defence procurement

 Source: The Hindu

Context: Recently, the Indian Army has approved five Project Sanction Orders (PSOs) for the development of niche technology by the Indian industry under the Make-II route of defence procurement.

Background:

  • The ‘Make’ category of capital acquisition in the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) is a vital pillar for realising the vision behind the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government of India.
  • The DPP was first initiated in 2002 by the Ministry of Defence to streamline the procurement of military hardware for the Armed Forces in a systematic and time-bound manner.
  • It was reformed in 2016, putting an emphasis on indigenously designed, developed and manufactured weapon systems and eventually moving towards self-reliance in the field of defence manufacturing.

 ‘Make’ Procedure has the following two sub-categories:

  • Make-I (Government Funded): Projects under this will involve Government funding of 90%, released in a phased manner, based on the progress of the program.
  • Make-II (Industry Funded): It involves prototype development of equipment/system/platform or their upgrades, primarily for import substitution or innovative solutions, for which no Government funding will be provided.

Mapping:

 

 


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