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[Mission 2023] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 23 December 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 1:

1. 60% of India prone to earthquake

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Bio Fuels and Bio Refineries

2. Centre rules out an increase in MSP for cotton, but farmers seek more

 

Content for Mains Enrichment:

1. Farm to Form Philosophy

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Lion @ 47: Vision for ‘Amrutkal’

2. QR Code for LPG Cylinders

3. How nasal vaccines work?

4. Not everything we call AI is Artificial Intelligence

5. The uncontrolled re-entries of Satellites

6. Why SEBI is phasing out the stock exchange route for buybacks?

7. Arecanut Imports

8. Sahitya Academy awards announced

9. UNSC Resolution 2593

 


 

60% of India prone to earthquake

GS Paper 1

Syllabus: Important Geophysical Phenomena such as earthquakes

 

Source: DTE

 Direction: The article tries to explain the phenomenon of Earthquakes and earthquake risk in India.

 Context: According to the Union Minister of State (independent charge) for S&T and Earth Sciences, around 60% of the landmass of India (covering all states) is prone to earthquakes of different shaking intensities.

 

About Earthquake: 

 

  • An earthquake is the shaking of the surface (occurs without warning) of the Earth resulting from a sudden release of energy in the Earth’s lithosphere that creates seismic waves.
  • It is tectonic in origin and results from the release of accumulated stress of the moving lithospheric or crustal plates.
  • The earth’s crust is divided into seven major plates (and several minor plates), which move slowly and continuously over the earth’s interior.
  • Causes of earthquakes can be natural (tectonic, volcanic) and anthropogenic (mining activities, construction of dams, nuclear-chemical explosions).
  • The occurrence of an earthquake in a populated area may cause numerous casualties and injuries as well as extensive damage to property.

 

Earthquake waves are basically of two types:

  • Body waves: Generated due to the release of energy at the focus and move in all directions travelling through the body of the earth. There are two types of body waves.
P-waves or ‘primary waves’S-waves or secondary waves
  • Faster and are the first to arrive at the surface.
  • Similar to sound waves.
  • Vibrate parallel to the direction of the wave.
  • Travel through gaseous, liquid and solid materials.
  • Arrive at the surface with some time lag.
  • Travel only through solid materials, helping scientists to understand the structure of the interior of the earth.
  • Direction of vibrations of S-waves is perpendicular.
  • Can create troughs and crests in the material through which they pass.
    • Surface waves (most damaging): The body waves interact with the surface rocks and generate new sets of waves called surface waves, which move along the surface.
    • Shadow zones: These are specific areas where the waves are not reported by seismograph.

     

    Measuring Earthquakes

    • The earthquake events are scaled either according to the magnitude or intensity of the shock.
    • The magnitude scale is known as the Richter scale (0-10), indicating energy released during the quake.
    • The intensity scale is named after Mercalli (1-12), indicating the visible damage caused by the event.

     

    The Earthquake Risk in India:

    • India has been divided into four zones – II, III, IV and V – according to the seismic zoning map of India prepared by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). Zone V is seismically the most active region, while Zone II is the least.
    • Around 11% of the country falls in Zone V, 18% in Zone IV, 30% in Zone III and the remaining in Zone II.

     

    Reasons for the Earthquake proneness in India:

    • The Indian plate is driving into Eurasia at a rate of approximately 47 mm/year.
    • Himalayan belt: Collision between Indo-Australian plate with Eurasian plate causes lots of strain in underlying rocks’ energy, which is released in the form of earthquakes.
    • Andaman and Nicobar Islands: Seafloor displacement and underwater volcanoes disturb the equilibrium of earth’s surface.
    • Deccan Plateau: The emergence of a fault line and energy build-up along the fault line of the river Bhima (Krishna) near Latur and Osmanabad (Maharashtra).
    • Increasing population and unscientific land use for construction make India a high-risk land for earthquakes.

     

    Insta Links:

    Earthquakes

     

    Mains Links:

    Q. Why are the world’s fold mountain systems located along the margins of continents? Bring out the association between the global distribution of Fold Mountains and the earthquakes and volcanoes. (UPSC 2014)

    / Dec 23 CA, Today's Article

    India pitching for enhanced development of Biofuels

    GS Paper 3

    Syllabus: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation

     

    Source: PIB 

    Direction: The article discusses biofuels, its classification and Indian efforts to promote biofuels and way ahead. 

    Context: India, during its Presidency of G20, is emphasising on international collaboration for energy security and enhanced development of emerging fuels like biofuel and hydrogen.

    Background:

    • Government notified the use of hydrogen as automotive fuel for fuel cell vehicles on 16th September, 2016.
    • Oil CPSEs are setting up 2G ethanol bio-refineries in the country at Panipat (Haryana), Bathinda (Punjab), Numaligarh (Assam), Bargarh (Odisha) and one demonstration project at Panipat. 

    About Biofuels:

    • Biofuels are liquid or gaseous fuels primarily produced from biomass, and can be used to replace or can be used in addition to diesel, petrol or other fossil fuels for transport and other applications.
    • Crops used to make biofuels are generally either high in sugar (such as sugarcane, sugarbeet), starch (such as maize and tapioca) or oils (such as soybean, rapeseed, coconut, sunflower).

     

    Categories of biofuels:

     

    • 1st-generation biofuels are made from sugar, starch, vegetable oil, or animal fats using conventional technology.
    • 2nd generation biofuels are produced from non-food crops, such as cellulosic biofuels and waste biomass (stalks of wheat and corn, and wood).
    • 3rd generation biofuels are produced from microorganisms like algae.

     

     

    Indian efforts to promote Biofuels:

    • National Policy on Biofuels 2018: It aims to have country-wide blending rates of 20% ethanol and 5% biodiesel by 2030. It also focused on using 2G technologies with agricultural/industrial waste products.
      • However, through amendments to this policy, government now aims to achieve a blending target of 20% ethanol by 2025 rather than 2030.

     

    • Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) program: It aims to achieve ethanol blending in order to reduce pollution, conserve foreign exchange, and so on.
    • Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN (Jaiv Indhan – Vatavaran Anukool fasal awashesh Nivaran) Yojana: Launched in 2019 to create an ecosystem for commercial project development and R&D in the 2G Ethanol sector.
    • GOBAR (Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources) DHAN scheme: It focuses on managing and converting farm animal dung and solid waste into useful compost, biogas, and bio-CNG, thereby keeping villages clean and increasing rural household income.
    • Repurpose Used Cooking Oil (RUCO): It aims to create an ecosystem that allows for the collection and conversion of used cooking oil to biodiesel.

     

    Way ahead:

    • The proposed expansions in 1G biofuel production need to think about broader land-use strategies, identifying land suitable for energy crops.
    • India needs to develop alternative feedstocks for biodiesel production.
    • Existing frameworks like the Clean Development Mechanism could be leveraged to directly fund R&D in the sector.

     

    Insta Links:

    Biofuels

     

    Prelims Links: UPSC 2020

    According to India’s National Policy on Biofuels, which of the following can be used as raw materials for the production of biofuels?

    1. Cassava
    2. Damaged wheat grains
    3. Groundnut seeds
    4. Horse gram
    5. Rotten potatoes
    6. Sugar beet

    Select the correct answer using the code given below:

    (a) 1, 2, 5 and 6 only

    (b) 1, 3, 4 and 6 only

    (c) 2, 3, 4 and 5 only

    (d) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6

     

    Ans: (a)

    • The Policy expands the scope of raw material for ethanol production by allowing use of sugarcane juice, sugar containing materials like sugar beet, sweet sorghum, starch containing materials like corn, cassava, damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, rotten potatoes, unfit for human consumption for ethanol production.
    / Dec 23 CA, Today's Article

    Centre rules out an increase in MSP for cotton, but farmers seek more

    GS Paper 3

    Syllabus: Issues related to Minimum Support Prices

     

    Source: TH 

    Direction: The article highlights the concept of MSP – meaning, objectives, issues, etc. 

    Context: While cotton farmers in several states have called for an increase in the crop’s MSP, the Centre has stated that it is monitoring the cotton output condition and will make a decision accordingly.

    The concept of Minimum Support Price (MSP) in India:

     

    • Meaning: It is a policy decision not enforceable by law – a sort of market intervention by the Government of India to protect agricultural producers from a dramatic drop in farm prices during abundant output years.

     

    • Objectives:
      • It is a price guarantee for farmer’s output intended to prevent farmers from selling their crops in distress and to buy food grains for public distribution.
      • For example, if the market price for a commodity falls below the designated minimum price due to excessive production and a market imbalance, government agencies will purchase the whole quantity produced by farmers at the declared minimum price.

     

    • Announced by: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (chaired by the PM) based on the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) at the start of the sowing season for specific crops.

     

    • Crops covered:
      • The government has announced minimum support prices (MSPs) for 22 specified crops as well as a fair and remunerative price (FRP) for sugarcane (total 23).
      • 14 kharif crops, 6 rabi crops and two other commercial crops are mandated.

     

    • Issues:
      • Lack of government machinery for procurement for all crops.
      • Majority of farmers remain uncovered under the MSP regime.
      • MS Swaminathan Commission recommendation of fixing MSP at 150% of production cost remains unimplemented.

     

    Case of cotton:

    • The MSP for medium staple cotton for 2022-23 kharif season is ₹6,080.
    • Though farmers said they got prices much higher than MSP for their produce, it was inadequate given the rise in price of input items such as seeds, pesticides and fertilisers.

     

    Insta Links:

    MSP

     

    Mains Links:

    Q. What do you mean by the Minimum Support Price (MSP)? How will MSP rescue the farmers from the low-income trap? (UPSC 2018)

    / Dec 23 CA, Today's Article

     

    Content For Mains


    Farm to Fork Philosophy

    Direction: It can be used as an example of how private players can play their part to encourage farmers as well as influence consumer choices.

    Context: Hyderabad based Shresta Natural Bioproducts Ltd goes beyond marketing, sales strategies to support farmers moving away from chemical-free practices.

    • The company offers constant support to farmers to wean them off chemical inputs and shift to organic farming.
    • To create an assured market, it also procures, processes and markets the produce.
    • It also invests in massive awareness programmes about organic farming and its benefits for human health and the environment, to create consumer demand for the products under the brand name ’24 Mantra’.
    • The company has grown from 40 farmers to 40,000 farmers, covering nearly 81,000 hectares (ha) in 15 states.
    • Sresta’s list now includes nearly 200 products, from flour, grains, pulses, millets, dry fruits and spices to flours, cold-pressed oil, pickles, cookies, culinary pastes, jams and ready-to-eat products.
    • Farmers get Rs 200 to Rs 300 per 100kg more than the chemical-based farming.

     


    Facts for Prelims:


    Lion @ 47: Vision for ‘Amrutkal’

    Source: PIB

     Context:  Project Lion document titled “Lion @ 47: Vision for Amrutkal” has been prepared by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

    The Project is being implemented in the Gir landscape in Gujarat which is the last home of the Asiatic lion. It envisages landscape ecology-based conservation by integrating conservation and eco-development.

    Objectives:

    • To secure & restore lions’ habitats for managing its growing population
    • Scale up livelihood generation and participation of local communities
    • To make India a global hub of knowledge on big cat disease diagnostics and treatment
    • Create inclusive biodiversity conservation

    State government of Gujarat also gets funding for conservation of wildlife under centrally sponsored scheme – Integrated development of Wildlife Habitats.

    Asiatic Lions:

    • Scientific name: Panthera leo persica
    • IUCN Status: Endangered, CITES: Appendix I, Wildlife Conservation Act: Schedule I
    • Slightly smaller than African Lions
    • The most striking morphological character, which is always seen in Asiatic lions, and rarely in African lions, is a longitudinal fold of skin running along its belly.
    • The fur ranges in colour from ruddy-tawny, heavily speckled with black, to sandy or buff-grey, sometimes with a silvery sheen in certain lights.
    • Males have only moderate mane growth at the top of the head, so that their ears are always visible.

     

    Insta Links: Asiatic Lion

     

    QR Code for LPG Cylinders

    Source: PIB

    Context: A pilot study for QR code tagging of cylinders has been undertaken by Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. (IOCL) at Madanpur Khadar Bottling Plant, Delhi.

    It will be launched by the Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) to help prevent gas theft from LPG gas cylinders, solve issues of adulteration, unfair practices, pilferage, tracking, tracing and ensure better inventory management of the cylinders.

    How will it work?

    • QR Code will be posted on existing cylinders and welded on new ones.
    • QR code can be read by a digital device
    • It is likely to work in the same way as the Aadhar card.
    • The LPG customers will be able to access information about the purchased cylinder such as where it was bottled, who is the dealer, when it was manufactured, refiling, safety tests, locating stolen cylinders, among other details.

    QR Code:

    • A QR code consists of black square and dots.
    • They store information in both vertical and horizontal axes, which allows them to hold significantly more data.

     

    Insta Links: Ujjwala Yojana

     

    How nasal vaccines work?

      Source: Down to Earth

    Context: Though the existing vaccines have been working effectively, researchers are developing alternative approaches to improve effectiveness. 14 nasal vaccines are in the clinical trial stage.

    How do Immune System fight pathogens?

    The immune system has two distinct components: mucosal and circulatory.

     

    How nasal vaccines work?

    • Administered via nose
    • The viral antigens intended to stimulate the immune system would be taken up by immune cells within the lining of the nose or tonsils.
    • Antigens in the vaccine induce B cells in mucosal sites to mature into plasma cells that secrete a form of IgA.
    • The IgA is then transported into mucosal secretions throughout the body, where it becomes
    • If the SIgA antibodies in the nose, mouth or throat target SARS-CoV-2, they could neutralize the virus before it can drop down into the lungs and establish an infection.
    • Advantage: Block virus at the entry point.

     

    Insta Links: Covid 19 vaccines

     

    Not everything we call AI is Artificial Intelligence

     Source: Down to Earth

    Context: Applications of AI have been prominent in the present world, the most recent one being ChatGPT.

    What does AI mean?

    • A system to be called an AI should exhibit some level of learning and adapting.
    • Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI) – A particular system addressing a particular problem. Narrow AI is effective only in an area in which it is trained. EX – Fraud detection, facial recognition, social recommendations etc.
    • Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) – it mimics Human Intelligence. The system is developed using neural networks. These neural networks work by feeding each data point through an interconnected network, adjusting the parameters. As more and more data are fed through the network, the parameters stabilise; the final outcome is the “trained” neural network, which can then produce the desired output on new data.
    • Hence, it can be said that real AI i.e., AGI still is in the formulation stage. The AI that we experience in daily lives (including ChatGPT) are ANI.

    What does AI need to work?

    1. High quality, unbiased data
    2. Computational Infrastructure
    3. Improved models and algorithms
    4. Symbolic AI

    Schemes in India to boost AI:

    1. National Strategy for AI – to develop an ecosystem for the research and adoption of Artificial Intelligence i.e., #AIFOR ALL.
    2. Visveswaraya PhD Scheme
    3. National programme of responsible use of AI for Youth
    4. A founding member of the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI).
    5. Government of India organized Responsible AI for Social Empowerment (RAISE) – to draw a roadmap social transformation, inclusion and empowerment through responsible AI.

    Insta Links: Artificial intelligence and robotics

     

    The uncontrolled re-entries of satellites

    Source: The Hindu

    Context: Experts and dignitaries have signed an open letter published by Outer Space Institute calling for efforts to restrict uncontrolled satellite re-entries.

     

    What is uncontrolled Satellite re – entry?

    • The phenomenon of rocket parts falling back to earth in an unguided fashion, once their missions are complete.
    • It’s path down is determined by its shape, angle of descent, air currents etc.
    • Potential radius of impact increases on the ground.
    • An impact on an airliner would prove fatal for all passengers if the debris is above 300 grams.
    • Most rocket parts land in oceans (earth’s surface has more water than land).

     

    Why scientists are worried about re-entry?

    • If re entering stages still hold fuel, atmospheric and terrestrial contamination is a risk.
    • Countries in Global South face disproportionately higher risk and casualties.
    • No international binding agreement to ensure rocket stages always perform controlled re-entry.
    • Liability Convention 1972: require country to pay damages, but not prevent them.

     

    What can make minimum damage?

    • Future solutions should include re-entering satellites as well
    • Smaller satellites experience more atmospheric drag and are likely to be burnt up in the process of re-entry.
    • Best practice: RISAT- 2 was tracked by ISRO using its system for safe and sustainable space operations management from a month. It eventually fell into Indian Ocean.

     

    Stages of rocket launch:

     

    Insta Links: Space Debris

     

    Why SEBI is phasing out the stock exchange route to buybacks and how it impacts shareholders?

     Source: Indian Express

    Context: SEBI prefers repurchase of shares by companies from share holders on a proportionate basis through tender offer, and ban the stock market mode.

    What is share buyback/ share repurchase?

    • When a listed company buys its own shares from existing shareholders.
    • It reduces the number of outstanding shares in the open market which can lead to better valuation and earing per share (EPS).
    • The maximum limit of any buyback – 25per cent or less of the aggregate of paid-up capital and free reserves of a company.

     What is Stock Exchange Route?

    • A company can buy back shares only on the stock exchanges having nationwide trading terminals.
    • The buyback will be made only through the order matching mechanism – the promoters, or persons in control of a company, are not allowed to participate.
    • The Keki Mistry committee setup by SEBI to found that under the stock exchange route, there is the possibility of one shareholder’s entire trade getting matched with the purchase order placed by the company, thus depriving other shareholders from availing the benefit of buyback (Against principle of equitable treatment).
    • Doesn’t benefit small shareholders.

     What is the Tender Route?

    • An offer is made by the company to buyback its own shares through a letter of offer from the holders of the share of the company.
    • It is done on a proportionate basis as per buyback ratio.
    • It is similar to buying shares online through Demat account.
    • The price is fixed and is offered higher than market price.
    • 15% is reserved for small shareholders
    • Democratises the process as all shareholders will get to participate.

     

    Arecanut

    Source: DTE

    Context: Farmers have been urging Centre to control import of arecanuts to check falling prices in the domestic market. 

     

    About Arecanut/Areca Palm:

    • Usually referred to as Areca palm, but has also been called yellow palm, butterfly palm, yellow butterfly palm, cane palm and golden feather palm.
    • Stems are many clustered, slender, and sometimes branching.
    • May reach 30 feet tall.
    • Leaves are ascending, curved at the apex with sheaths and petioles yellow or orange tinged.
    • Originated in Madagascar and is widely grown outdoors in the tropics.
    • In temperate zones they are popular as specimen plants for indoor use because they can tolerate relatively low light conditions.
    • Arecanut is considered a horticulture crop in the states, a commercial crop at the national level and a dry fruit in international markets.

    Growing Condition:

    • Temperature range of 14ºC and 36ºC.
    • Ideal rainfall – 750 mm to 4500 mm/ Irrigation
    • Gravelly laterite soil

     

    Issues faced by farmers:

    • Import of cheaper varieties from Bhutan
    • Massive crop damage due to excessive rainfall
    • Financial loss due to plant disease like yellow leaf disease, fruit rot disease and blast disease.
    • 35 – 40 % of crop has been affected in 2022

     

    Sirsi Supari” Gets GI Tag

    ‘Sirsi Supari’ grown in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka has received the Geographic Indication (GI) tag.

    The arecanut has unique features like a round and flattened coin shape, particular texture, taste and has a hard seed. These features are not seen in arecanut grown in any other regions.

     

    Sahitya Akademy awards announced

    Source: The Hindu

    Context: The awards, recommended by distinguished jury members were approved by the Executive Board of the Sahitya Akademy under its President Chandrashekhar Kambar.

    Awards 2022:

    • The awards in 23 languages included seven books of poetry, six of novel, two of short stories, three dramas, two literary criticism and one each of autobiographical essays, collection of articles and literary history.
    • Tamil author  Rajendran, Telugu writer Madhuranthakam Narendra and Sanskrit Poet Janardan Prasad Pandey ‘Mani’ were among those selected.
    • The Bhasha Samman was awarded to Udaya Nath Jha for his valuable contribution to the field of classical and medieval literature in the eastern region.
    • In Assamese language, Manoj Kumar Goswami won the award for his collection of short stories Bhool Satya;Anuradha Roy won in English language for her novel All the Lives we never lived; Gulam Mohammad Shaikh won in Gujarati for Gher Jatan, a collection of autobiographical essays.

    About the Sahitya Akademy Awards:

    • The Sahitya Akademi Awardis a literary honour in India, which the Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Academy of Letters, annually confers on writers of the most outstanding books of literary merit published in any of the 22 languages of the 8th Schedule to the Indian constitution as well as in English and Rajasthani language.

    Insta Links: Sahitya Akademi Awards

     

    UNSC resolution 2593

    Source: Hindustan Times

    Context: India joins other nations in criticising Taliban’s ban on Women in universities.

    What is the resolution 2593?

    • United Nations Security Council Resolution 2593was adopted on 30 August 2021, following the Fall of Kabul and subsequent Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.
    • According to the resolution, the Security Council demands that Afghan territory not be used to threaten or attack any other country or to shelter and train terrorists.
    • It reaffirms importance of upholding human rights including those of women.

    Insta Links: UNSC


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