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[Mission 2023] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 18 January 2023

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. China’s population drops for the first time in 60 years: How this happened and its implications

 

GS Paper 2:

  1. Blacklisting of terrorists: What does this mean?

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. How human disturbance can alter habitats, routines of animals
  2. Fake news: News marked false by PIB to be taken down

 

Content for Mains Enrichment (Ethics/Essay/ Governance)

  1. ‘Navpravartan Startup Zone Chanpatia’
  2. Faiz Ahmed Mumtaz
  3. Keywords and Quotes
  4. Data Points: Oxfam Report

 

Facts for Prelims

  1. Scientists use the laser to guide lightning bolts for the first time
  2. State Finances: A Study of Budgets of 2022-23
  3. NHAI implementing an advanced traffic management system to reduce accidents
  4. Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope in Pune helps detect atomic hydrogen from a far-away galaxy
  5. James Webb telescope discovers its first Earth-sized exoplanet
  6. Information related to Hockey

 


 

China’s population drops for the first time in 60 years: How this happened and its implications

GS Paper 1

Syllabus: Population and Associated Issues

 

Source: TH

 Direction: The article highlights the shifts in the population of India (increasing) and China (decreasing) and the implications of the shift.

 

Context:

  • According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, its population fell to 1,411.8 million in 2022, from 1,412.6 million in the previous year.
  • This is a landmark event, for a country that is soon set to be surpassed by India (as per UN projections, India’s population is expected to reach 1,428.6 million in 2023) as home to the greatest number of people.

 

What has been behind these shifts?

Mortality:

  • A country’s population increases with a reduction in the relative number of deaths, while population growth slows/reverses with declining fertility rates.
  • The crude death rate (CDR) – the number of persons dying per year per 1,000 population – was 23.2 for China in 1950 (22.2 for India). It fell to single digits of 7.3 in 2020 (7.4 for India).
  • Another mortality indicator is life expectancy at birth. Between 1950 and 2020, it went up from 43.7 to 78.1 years for China and from 41.7 to 70.1 years for India.

 

Fertility:

  • The total fertility rate (TFR) – the number of babies an average woman (aged 15-49) bears over her lifetime – was as high as 5.8 for China and 5.7 for India in 1950.
    • According to its 2020 Census, China’s TFR was 1.3 births per woman.
    • The TFR has fallen sharply for India too (from 3.4 to 2 between 1992-93 and 2019-21).
  • A TFR of 2.1 is considered as “replacement-level fertility” – a woman having two children replaces herself and her partner with two new lives.

 

Why is India’s population increasing, while China’s shrinking?

  • China’s One-Child Policy (1980 to 2015): This has helped China to prevent nearly 400 million births.
  • Sustained lows necessary: De-growth requires TFRs to remain below replacement levels for extended periods and it will reflect only after a couple of generations.
    • China’s TFR dipped below replacement first in 1991, which was almost 30 years before India’s.
Potential implications of these shifts
For ChinaFor India
Negative: Decline in the working-age population (less tax revenues, savings potential – poor growth). That’s why China officially ended its one-child policy in 2016.

 

Positives: Overall labour supply still exceeds demand.

Opportunity: The share of the working-age population will peak at 57% towards the mid-2030s.

 

Challenges: In the absence of meaningful employment opportunities for the youths, the demographic dividend can well turn into a demographic nightmare.

 

Insta Links:

UNDESA World Social Report 2023

 

Mains Links:

Q. Discuss the main objectives of Population Education and point out the measures to achieve them in India in detail. (UPSC 2021)

Blacklisting of terrorists: What does this mean?

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: International Relations, Security Challenges and their Management in Border Areas – Linkages of Organized Crime with Terrorism

 

Source: TH 

Direction: The article highlights the significance of international counterterrorism cooperation to curb terrorist threats and dismantle terror infrastructure.

  

Context:

  • The UN Security Council’s (UNSC) 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee added 68-year-old Abdul Rehman Makki to its list of designated terrorists upon China withdrew its ‘ technical hold’.
  • Pakistan-based Makki is the deputy chief of the terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba and the brother-in-law of its founder (Hafiz Saeed).

 

Background:

  • During India’s two-year (2021-22) tenure at the UNSC, five names were designated under the ISIL and Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee including Abdul Rehman Makki (LeT).
  • These names faced a “technical hold” from China, while the other 14 members (permanent + non-permanent) of the UNSC supported the listing.
  • India and the US have listed Makki as a terrorist under their respective national laws.
  • In October 2022, Pakistan was removed from the grey list.

 

What is the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee?

  • The committee is part of the UNSC and its job is to implement international sanctions against terrorists.
  • It was established as the Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee in 1999 after UNSC Resolution 1267 designated Al-Qaeda and the Taliban as terrorist bodies. In 2011, a separate committee was formed for the Taliban.

 

What does the UN’s blacklisting of terrorists imply?

  • Resolution 1267 was adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter and requires all UN member states to –
    • Freeze the assets,
    • Prevent the entry into or transit through their territories, and
    • Prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale and transfer of arms and military equipment to any individual or entity associated with Al-Qaida.
  • It is conducive to enhancing international counterterrorism cooperation in response to terrorist threats.

 

Significance for India:

  • Threats from terrorist organisations in the region remain high. (Makki being linked to seven terror attacks in India)
  • Listings and sanctions by the UNSC are effective tools to curb such threats and dismantle terror infrastructure in the region.
  • It validates India’s commitment to a zero-tolerance policy toward terrorism.
  • It will also inspire India to press the international community to take credible, verifiable, and irreversible action against terrorism.

 

FATF:
  • It is an intergovernmental organisation founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering.
  • In 2001, its mandate was expanded to include terror financing.
  • Headquarters: It operates from Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) headquarters in Paris.
  • Member Countries: It has 39 members (including India) including two regional organisations – the EU and GCC (Gulf cooperation council)
  • Sessions: Its plenary (decision-making body) meets three times per year.
  • Lists under FATF:
    • Grey List: It serves as a warning for the countries considered a safe haven for supporting terror funding and money laundering.
    • Black List: High-risk countries and Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories (NCCTs) are put on the blacklist. E.g., Iran, Myanmar and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

 

Insta Links:

Sanctions under the UN Security Council Resolution 1267

 

Mains Links:

Q. Analyse the complexity and intensity of terrorism, its causes, linkages and obnoxious nexus. Also, suggest measures required to be taken to eradicate the menace of terrorism. (UPSC 2021)

How human disturbance can alter habitats, routines of animals

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Ecology

 

Source: Indian Express, DTE

Context: A new finding on animal behaviours

 

An animal must be at the right place, at the right time, to avoid predators, find food, and reproduce successfully

  • As an analogy: The interactions between the animals in a given ecosystem are like a theatrical production. For the production to be a success, each actor has to be on stage, in the right place, and they must act and deliver their lines at the right time.

 

Threats:

  • As per the new study, human activities might disturb these ecological interactions and increase interspecies encounters.
  • Impact of farms: Wild animals of different species were more likely to come to human-altered landscapes, like farms than in more undisturbed locations, such as national forests.
  • Frequent interaction can lead to intensifying competition for resources or increasing the risk of interspecies disease transmission.
  • Even when the animals do not come face-to-face, simply hearing or smelling a predator can have “dramatic effects” on the behaviours of prey species

 

 

What is an ecological niche?

In ecology, the term “niche” describes the role an organism plays in a community.

 

What is an Ecosystem?

 

In another study (DTE), it has been found that:

  • Ants may be unable to adapt to global warming, leaving them highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
  • The insects are cold-blooded creatures, also called ectotherms. Their body temperatures depend on external sources like sunlight. Humans (endotherms), on the other hand, maintain their body temperature without relying on the environment.

Importance of Ants:

  • Ants are often called “ecosystem’s engineers”. These insects move the soil during nest-building and foraging, affecting the level of nutrients in it.

Image Credit: Earth Reminder

 

Interesting facts about Ants

Images credit: Green Humor

Insta Links

 

Mains Links

Q. Conflict between people and animals is one of the main threats to the continued survival of many species. Analyze the causes behind rising cases of man-animal conflict. (15M)

 

Prelims Links

Which one of the following terms describes not only the physical space occupied by an organism but also its functional role in the community of organisms? (UPSC 2013)

(a) Ecotone

(b) Ecological niche

(c) Habitat

(d) Home range

Answer: B

 

Which one of the following is the best description of the term ‘ecosystem’? (UPSC 2015)

(a) A community of organisms interacting with one another

(b) That part of the Earth which is inhabited by living organisms

(c) A community of organisms together with the environment in which they live

(d) The flora and fauna of a geographical area

 

Answer: C

Fake news: News marked false by PIB to be taken down

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Role of Media and Social Networking Sites in Internal Security Challenges

 

Source: TH

 Direction: The article tries to cover the larger issue of fake news in India along with ways to curb fake news and some best practices.

  

Context:

  • The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) proposed a draft rule – Rule 3(1)(b)(v) of the amended version of the IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021.
  • The proposed rule requires social media platforms to take down content that has been “fact-checked” by the Press Information Bureau’s (PIB) fact-check unit (or any other agency authorised by the Central Government) as false.

 

Background: The amended version of the IT Rules 2021 was enlarged to include the removal of fake news from online intermediaries.

 

The larger issue of fake news in India: 

Meaning:

  • Fake news is any piece of misleading maliciously false information circulating through print media, electronic media or social media.
  • Yellow Journalism’ and ‘Tabloid Journalism’ are the terms used for fake news.

 

Motive:

  • To increase their viewership and TRP through eye-catching headlines and cooked-up news.
  • To spread propaganda/personal agenda/image building/defaming

 

Impact:

  • Negative impact on law and order of the state as well as the safety and security of the citizens. (31 mob lynchings due to fake news of being child abductors)
  • Breed communal hatred and disturbs the communal harmony in a society.
  • Affects the election outcomes via fabricated articles, audio, videos, and election campaigns. (Fake news accused of tampering U.S Presidential elections)

 

Laws to curb fake news:

  • Section 66 D of the IT Act 2008 regulates offences related to electronic communication.
  • The Disaster Management Act 2005 and the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 (especially during Covid-19) regulate the circulation of fake news or rumours that can cause panic among citizens.
  • The Indian Penal Code of 1860 regulates fake news that causes riots and information that causes defamation.

Challenges in curbing fake news:

  • India has 622 million active monthly internet users and the role of the different social digital platforms is on the rise.
    • Due to end-to-end encryption of messages, third parties will not have any access to these messages.
    • Hence, such fake news comes to the attention of the administration only if it is reported.
  • There is no dedicated fake news law.
  • The use of internet shutdowns to curb the spreading of fake news has been an effective way.

  

Concerns related to Rule 3(1)(b)(v) of the amended version of the IT Rules 2021:

  • Anything contradicted by the government might be used to justify-content takedowns.
  • The PIB’s fact-checking unit (established in 2019) verifies news about government ministries, departments, and schemes.
    • But it rarely explains why information has been identified as false or misleading and, on some occasions, it tweeted incorrect information.

  

Way ahead

  • A very strict fake news law is the need of the hour.
  • Linking Aadhar to social media accounts, as suggested by Attorney General could be helpful.
  • Being a digitally responsible citizen –
    • By just rechecking the information from some authentic sources
    • By applying common sense without getting biased

 

Some best practices:

  • Facebook has partnered with a fact-checking website to check the authenticity of messages circulating through it.
  • In 2018, Google news trained 8000 journalists in different Indian languages to spread awareness about Fake news and fact-checking.

 

Insta Links:

The picture is clear, it is top-down misinformation

 

Mains Links:

Q. What are social networking sites and what security implications do these sites present? (UPSC 2013)

 

Content for Mains Enrichment (Ethics/Essay/ Governance)


‘Navpravartan Startup Zone Chanpatia’

DM Kundan Kumar’s (DM West Champaran, Bihar) initiatives were recognized for start-up and innovation in the IE governance excellence award for setting up a startup zone in Chanpatia for the migrant workers who returned to the district during the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020.

  • The startup zone has 57 units set up by the skilled labourers returned from Punjab, Maharastra, Gujarat and other states

 

Impact: Buoyed by the success of a start-up zone run by migrant workers in the Chanpatia block of West Champaran district, the Bihar government has helped entrepreneurs establish several textile units across the state. Set up in Muzaffarpur, Dhaka (East Champaran), Pandaul (Madhubani) and Fatuah (Patna), these units employ local residents, migrants and the rural poor, including women.

Fig: Kundan Kumar: Previously he also won the PM’s award for excellence in Public Administration 2021

 

Faiz Ahmed Mumtaz (District Magistrate of Jamtara in Jharkhand)

He has triggered what could be called a ‘library movement’ in the infamous ‘phishing capital of India’ (also shown in the recent Netflix series ‘Jamtara’).

  • He has successfully renovated 118 dilapidated government buildings and converted them into public libraries.
  • He has launched community libraries in all 118 panchayats across six blocks of the region

in the past five months.

  • He started over 100 Libraries in 150 Days

 

Jamtara is also associated with the great social reformer and educator Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, who spent the last two years of his life here dedicated to the upliftment of tribals and the less fortunate.

Fig: Faiz Ahmed Mumtaz

 

Keywords and Quotes

Direction: These keywords/Quotes can be used in Essay/Ethics/ and in the introduction and conclusion of GS answers.

 

On Education and World Peace:

  • Maria Montessori (Italian physician and educator best known for the philosophy of education): “Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is to keep us out of war”.
  • The need for education to play an effective role in nurturing “cultures of peace” is internationally acknowledged
  • India at 100 will evolve from the certitudes of a Vishwaguru to the resilience of a “Shreshta Shishya”, with the humility of the eternal seeker, ever learning, ever flowing, malleable enough to put her own truths to stringent scrutiny.

Fig: Maria Montessori

 

Data Points: Oxfam Report

As per the latest Oxfam Report titled ‘Survival of the Richest’:

  • Global: Richest 1% bag nearly twice as much wealth as the rest of the world put together over the past two years
  • India: The richest 1% in India now own more than 40% of the country’s total wealth, while the bottom half of the population together share just 3% of wealth between 2012 and 2021
    • Female workers earned only 63% of male workers earning
    • Since the Pandemic, billionaires’ wealth has surged more than 100%
    • Suggestions: Introduce Wealth taxes and windfall taxes, and raise taxes on capital gains.

 

What is Oxfam?

Oxfam is a British-founded confederation of 21 independent charitable organizations focusing on the alleviation of global poverty, founded in 1942 and led by Oxfam International.

 


Facts for Prelims:


Scientists use the laser to guide lightning bolts for the first time

Source: The Hindu

Context: Scientists have used a laser beam to guide lightning for the first time, hoping the technique to help protect against deadly bolts — and one day maybe even trigger them.

During a storm in the summer of 2021, the scientists were able to photograph their beam driving a lightning bolt for 50 meters.

 

About Lightning:

Lightning is a very rapid — and massive — discharge of electricity in the atmosphere, some of which is directed towards the Earth’s surface.

 

 

State Finances: A Study of Budgets of 2022-23

Source: The Hindu

Context: In its latest report titled ‘State Finances: A Study of Budgets of 2022-23’, RBI has warned that the reversion to OPS by some States poses a major risk on the “subnational fiscal horizon” and would result in the accumulation of unfunded liabilities in the coming years for them.

  • Among the States, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Punjab have so far restored the Dearness Allowance (DA) linked OPS for their employees.

 

Old Pension Scheme (OPS): It was discontinued in 2004, however, it guaranteed life-long income after retirement. Typically, the insured amount is equal to 50% of the most recently drawn salary. The expenditure incurred on the pension is borne by the government.

 

National Pension Scheme (NPS):

  • The NPS is a voluntary and long-termretirement investment plan administered by the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), Ministry of Finance, Government of India.
  • It was launched in January 2004for government employees and it was decided to discontinue defined benefit pensions/OPS for all employees who joined after April 1, 2004.

Other Key points of the Report ‘State Finances: A Study of Budgets of 2022-23’:

  • States’ gross fiscal deficit will decline to 3.4% of GDP in 2022-23 (from 4.1% in 2020-21)
  • States’ debt will decrease to 29.5% of GDP (from 31.1% in 2020-21)
  • It has recommended increased allocation for capital formation for sectors such as health, education etc.
    • Capital formation means– the allocation of resources for asset creation such as plants, machinery, and human capital. The rate of capital investment in India was 31.2% in 2021 (higher than BRICS)

 

Who among the following can join the National Pension System (NPS)? (UPSC 2021)

(a) Resident Indian citizens only

(b) Persons of age from 21 to 55 only

(c) All State Government employees joining the services after the date of notification by the respective State Governments

(d) All Central Government employees including those of Armed Forces joining the services on or after 1st April 2004

 

Answer: C

 

NHAI implementing an advanced traffic management system to reduce accidents

Source: Live Mint

Context: NHAI is implementing Advance Traffic Management System (ATMS) on national highways and expressways for managing incidents of road crashes and enforcement of speed limit and other regulations on highways

  

What is ATMS?

ATMS involves a set of intelligently integrated roadside equipment that are connected to ensure a safe and secure journey, including smooth traffic movement and timely reaction to untoward incidents.

 

About ATMS:

It is an integrated solution to manage highway traffic through real-time information and ensure safety. The system will check for a valid fitness certificate. It will leverage GIS technology and Network Survey Vehicle data for identifying safety issues on the highway

 

 

Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope in Pune helps detect atomic hydrogen from a far-away galaxy

Source: The Hindu

 

Context: Astronomers from McGill University in Canada and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru have used data from the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in Pune to detect a radio signal originating from atomic hydrogen in an extremely distant galaxy. 

 

About Atomic Hydrogen:

  • It is the basic fuel required for star formation in a galaxy.
  • When hot ionized gas from the surrounding medium falls onto the galaxy, the gas cools and forms atomic hydrogen.
  • It then becomes molecular hydrogen and eventually leads to the formation of stars.

 

Key Findings:

  • Gravitational lensing was used, in which the light emitted by the source is bent due to the presence of another massive body between the target galaxy and the observer, resulting in the “magnification” of the signal.  
  • The atomic hydrogen mass of this particular galaxy is twice as high as its stellar mass.
  • The results demonstrate the feasibility of observing atomic gas from galaxies at cosmological distances in similar lensed systems with a modest amount of observing time.
  • Opens up exciting new possibilities for probing the cosmic evolution of neutral gas through low-frequency telescopes.

 

James Webb telescope discovers its first Earth-sized exoplanet

Source: Indian Express

Context: James Webb Space Telescope has discovered its first new exoplanet. The planet is named LHS 475 b, and it is roughly the same size as Earth.

 

About Exoplanets:

  • Exoplanets are planets that orbit other stars and are beyond our solar system.
  • If an exoplanet is too close to the star, it might be too hot to sustain liquid water.
  • If it’s too far, it might only have frozen water.
  • When a planet is at a distance that enables it to have liquid water, it is said to be in the “Goldilocks zone”.

 

Why study exoplanets:

  • Broadens our understanding of other solar systems
  • Helps us piece together information about our own planetary system and origin.
  • To search for living organisms in the universe.

 

Information related to Hockey

Source: Indian Express

Context: As the FIH Hockey World Cup kicked off in Odisha (in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela), here is little information about the game.

 

About Hockey:

  • Field hockey is a team sport played between two teams of 11 players each on a rectangular field with white lines on the blue AstroTurf.
  • To score a goal, the scorer has to enter the opposition D– the D-shaped box 16 yards in front of the goal. A shot from outside the D is not counted.
  • Types of hockey hit: Scoop, Flick, Tomahawk (reverse backhand), Jink
  • Fouls: The ball touching your feet, tackling from behind, third-party interference (two players are not allowed to tackle an attacking player at the same time), obstruction(when a player or a stick comes in between the ball and the other player) and dangerous play.
  • Fouls are penalized in different ways: Free hits, Penalty Corners, Penalty strokes

 

Is Hockey the National Game of India?

Hockey was believed to be the national game of India for decades, but the Government of India has clarified that hockey isn’t and never was the official national game of India. In fact, India does not have a national game.

 

India’s Performance in Men’s Hockey

  • India was the first non-European team to be a part of the International Hockey Federation.
  • India’s hockey team is the most successful team ever in the Olympics, having won a total of eight gold medals
  • India also has the best overall performance in Olympic history with 83 victories out of the 134 matches played.
  • They have also scored more goals in the Olympics than any other team.
  • They are also the only team ever to win the Olympics without conceding a single goal, having done so in 1928 and 1956.
  • Major player: Major Dhyan Chand was an Indian field hockey player, widely regarded as one of the greatest field hockey players in history.

 

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