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[Mission 2023] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 23 February 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 ina 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. Unusual February heat and the ‘normal abnormal’ in global weather – Heat Dome

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. Rooftop solar for poverty alleviation
  2. How to save our high seas from overfishing and pollution?
  3. India can become a biodiversity champion
  4. New policy to help Indian communities displaced by annual river & coastal erosion drafted

 

GS Paper 4:

  1. Badministrators: Nasty social media brawl between IAS & IPS officers points to a larger, worrying trend

 

Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)

  1. Sania Mirza

 

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

  1. Right to Privacy of Children
  2. National Commission for Scheduled Tribes
  3. What is a ‘corrupt act’ according to RPA 1951?
  4. Eliminate mercury from skin-lightening products
  5. FGD facility
  6. Use of Phosphor-Gypsum in National Highway Construction
  7. Are neutrinos their own antiparticles?

 

Unusual February heat and the ‘normal abnormal’ in global weather – Heat Dome

GS Paper 1

Syllabus: Geography – Important Geophysical phenomena.

 

Source: Indian Express

 Context: Over the past week, maximum temperatures have been 5-11 degrees C higher than normal in most parts of northern and western India.

  

Reasons for abnormal heat:

  • According to the IMD, an anticyclonic formation over south Gujarat is one of the main reasons for the warming on the west coast.
  • Around Maharashtra and Goa, a weaker-than-usual sea breeze along the Konkan coast was aggravating the effects of the anticyclone.
  • This year is widely expected to be a little hotter than the previous two years, mainly because of the expected end of the strongest-ever La Niña event.

 

What are heat domes?

  • A heat dome is a meteorological phenomenon that occurs when a high-pressure system traps hot air in a region, causing temperatures to rise and creating a dome of hot air. This dome of hot air can persist for several days or weeks, leading to prolonged periods of extreme heat and heat waves.

 

Effects of Heat Dome:

  • They are dangerous for human health, especially for vulnerable populations such as the elderly, children, and those with preexisting health conditions.
  • Impacts food production
  • Increasing wildfires.
  • Lead to droughts and other environmental impacts
  • Increased energy demand and strain on the power grid due to increased use of air conditioning.

 

What can be done?

  • Staying hydrated, avoiding outdoor activities during the hottest parts of the day, and providing cooling centres for vulnerable populations.
  • Governments and policymakers can also take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change to prevent the frequency and intensity of heat domes from increasing further.

 

Rooftop solar for poverty alleviation

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Energy: Renewable Solar Energy

  

Source: BS

  Context: A new white paper proposes a scheme for rooftop solar photovoltaics (RTPV) for poverty alleviation.

 

Significance of RTPV for poverty alleviation in India:

  • Access to Electricity: Solar energy can provide access to electricity in remote areas that are not connected to the power grid, thus improving the quality of life for people living in poverty.
    • In China, RTPV is one of the identified 10 initiatives rolled out by the government to lift rural households out of poverty.
  • Cost Savings: For people living in poverty, who spend a significant portion of their income on energy, solar energy can help reduce their energy bills and save money.
  • Job Creation: at the lower and middle level
  • Improved Health: Solar energy can help reduce indoor air pollution and improve the health of people living in poverty.
  • Climate Change Mitigation

 

Limitations:

  • High initial cost: Currently, the rooftop-subsidy programmes run by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy require consumers to bear about 60 per cent of the costs.
  • Roof Availability: For many poor, having roof space is a luxury.
  • Dependence on Weather: In areas with low sunlight, or during monsoon season, solar energy production may be limited, which can be a challenge for those relying on it for electricity.
  • Maintenance: Solar panels require regular maintenance, which can be a challenge for people living in poverty who may not have the resources or knowledge to maintain them.
  • Implementation issues: India had achievedjust 7.9 GW of installed rooftop solar capacity as of June 2022 (against a previous target of 40 GW by 2022).

 

Government measures:

 

What is the proposed scheme for RPTVs?

The report proposes a Central government-sponsored scheme in the field of RTPV. It could be called Sooraj Se Rozgaari.

  • Under the proposed scheme, IREDA will purchase RTPV modules in bulk and transfer them to states at a cheaper cost. Low-income households do not have to pay for any share of the costs of RTPV installation and maintenance. Social/institutional/small businesses bear 80 per cent of the costs, and households with regular incomes bear 60 per cent.

 

Insta Links:

 Solar Energy

 

Mains Links

How can rooftop solar energy projects offer an opportunity for India to meet its emission reduction targets and poverty reduction? Comment.(15M)

 

Prelims links:

Q1. Consider the following statements: (UPSC 2022)
1. Gujarat has the largest solar park in India.
2. Kerala has a fully solar-powered International Airport.
3. Goa has the largest floating solar photovoltaic project in India.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 and 2
(b) 2 only
(c) land 3
(d) 3 only

 

Answer: B: 2 only

How to save our high seas from overfishing and pollution?

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Environment, Conservation

 

Source: IE

 Context: India urged the member nations of the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS) for the early conclusion of the International Legally Binding Instrument – Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ).

Threats to marine biodiversity:

 

Why is a global treaty essential for the conservation of the high seas?

  • While the high seas (beyond national jurisdiction) make up more than 60% of the world’s oceans, they have drawn far less attention than coastal waters.
  • Multiple organisations control fishing, shipping, tourism and ocean protection, however, their regulations apply to 200 nm (370 km) from the coast.
  • The entire sea industry is equivalent to 5% of the world’s GDP (~ $3 trillion) sustaining not just coast dwellers, but almost 3 billion people worldwide.
  • The oceans generate sustainable wave/tidal energy, as well as key for the production of some commodities/medicine.
    • For instance, a shallow water sponge called Tectitethya crypta (in the Caribbean waters) is used to fight leukaemia.
  • More than half of the total amount of oxygen is created by creatures in the ocean, which also stores 50 times more CO2 than found in the atmosphere.

 

How can we protect ocean ecosystems?

  • Preventing bad fishing practices and processing, and building sustainable sewage systems (80% of global wastewater is currently being diverted into oceans).
  • India’s approach to biodiversity management is congruent with three globally accepted principles: conservation, sustainable usage, and equitable benefit sharing.
  • India’s legislative frameworkthe Biodiversity Act 2002, Marine Protected Areas, Marine Genetic Resources, Environmental Impact Assessment – bears witness to these values.
  • According to the UNEP, international treaties are one of the best ways to stop the destruction of oceans.

 

Conclusion:

  • The adoption of the BBNJ agreement is essential for the conservation and preservation of the oceans and their biodiversity, to ensure sustainable development.
  • For this, equitable benefit sharing, capacity building and transfer of marine technology should be at the core.
  • If nothing changes, half of all sea dwellers will be critically endangered by the end of this century (UNESCO).

 

To know about BBJN Click here: Treaty of the High Seas

 

Mains Links:

How does biodiversity vary in India? How is the Biological Diversity Act,2002 helpful in the conservation of flora and fauna? (UPSC 2018)

 

Prelims Links: (UPSC 2013)

Which one of the following is the correct sequence of ecosystems in the order of decreasing productivity?

    1. Oceans, lakes, grasslands, mangroves
    2. Mangroves, oceans, grasslands, lakes
    3. Mangroves, grasslands, lakes, oceans
    4. Oceans, mangroves, lakes, grasslands

 

Ans: 3

India can become a biodiversity champion

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Environment, Conservation

 

Source: TH 

Context: India currently hosts 17% of the planet’s human population and 17% of the global area in biodiversity hotspots, placing it at the helm to guide the planet in becoming biodiversity champion.

 

Programmes launched in India towards biodiversity conservation:

  • The Union Budget 2023: It mentioned “Green Growth” as one of the seven priorities/Saptarishis.
  • The National Mission for a Green India: It aims to increase forest cover on degraded lands and protect existing forested lands.
  • The Green Credit Programme: It incentivises environmentally sustainable and responsive actions by companies, individuals and local bodies.
  • The Mangrove Initiative for Shoreline Habitats & Tangible Incomes (MISHTI): It is significant because of the importance of mangroves and coastal ecosystems in mitigating climate change.
  • The PM Programme for Restoration, Awareness, Nourishment, and Amelioration of Mother Earth (PM-PRANAM): It aims to reduce inputs of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, which is critical for sustaining agriculture.
  • The Amrit Dharohar scheme: It is expected to encourage optimal use of wetlands and enhance biodiversity, carbon stock, eco-tourism opportunities and income generation for local communities.
    • The recent intervention by the Union Ministry of Environment to stop the draining of Haiderpur, a Ramsar wetland in UP, to safeguard migratory waterfowl is encouraging.
  • All the above initiatives are critical, as the country is facing serious losses of natural assets such as soils, land, water, and biodiversity.

 

International initiative:

  • At the UN Biodiversity Conference (2022) in Montreal, Canada, 188 country representatives adopted an agreement known as the 30×30 pledge.
  • It aims to “halt and reverse” biodiversity loss by conserving 30% of the world’s land and 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030.

 

Challenges faced by India: Climate change → Global warming → Increases pest attack and diseases in crops/higher demands for water → reducing farm yields

 

Way ahead for these programmes to address the current state of biodiversity:

  • Evidence-based implementation: It is critical not only for the success of these efforts but also for the documentation of lessons learnt for replication.
  • New programmes: Should effectively use modern concepts of sustainability and valuation of ecosystems that consider ecological-cultural-sociological aspects of our biological wealth.
  • Reduction in water use in key sectors: Such as agriculture by encouraging –
    • Changes to less-water-intensive crops such as millet
    • Investments in water recycling in urban areas using a combination of grey and blue-green infrastructure.
  • Ecological restoration rather than tree plantation: As far as the Green India Mission is concerned, choosing sites to ensure ecological connectivity in landscapes fragmented by linear infrastructure.
  • Local community involvement: Traditional knowledge and practices of these communities (local and nomadic) should be integrated into the implementation plans.
  • Each programme should include significant educational/research funding: To critically appraise and bring awareness to India’s biological wealth.

 

Conclusion:

  • The sum and variation of our biological wealth/biodiversity are essential to the future of this planet.
  • With this in mind, the Indian govt. is planning to launch the National Mission on Biodiversity and Human Wellbeing soon, using the power of interdisciplinary knowledge for greening India and its economy.

 

Insta Links:

Biodiversity loss to raise India’s bankruptcy risk by 29%

 

Prelims Links: (UPSC 2014)

Consider the following international agreements:

  1. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
  2. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
  3. The world Heritage Convention

 

Which of the above has/have a bearing on biodiversity?

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3

 

Ans: 4

New policy to help Indian communities displaced by annual river & coastal erosion drafted

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Disaster Management

 

Source: DTE

  

Context: The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) received the final inputs on the draft of India’s first national policy for the mitigation and rehabilitation of the people affected by river and coastal erosion.

 

Background:

  • The Union Ministry of Home Affairs had directed NDMA to draft a policy based on the 15th Finance Commission’s report (2021).
  • Until now, most policies in the country only address displacement after sudden rapid-onset disasters such as floods and cyclones.

 

Highlights of the 15th Finance Commission’s report:

  • It introduces mitigation measures to prevent erosion under the National Disaster Mitigation Fund (NDMF), with an allocation of Rs 1,500 crore for 2021-26.
  • For the resettlement of displaced people affected by erosion, it allocates R 1,000 crore for the same period under the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF).
  • The total allocation of Rs 2,500 crore, not just for structural (construction of sea walls and embankments) but also for non-structural solutions (rehabilitation), is a national recognition of the problem.
  • For both funds, state governments will have to avail resources on a cost-sharing basis, contributing 25% (NE states – 10%) to the costs of mitigation and resettlement.
  • NDMA will coordinate the allocations and expenses under NDRF and NDMF at the national level.
  • The states must follow timelines for mitigation and rehabilitation projects without delays.

 

Highlights of the NDMA’s draft policy:

  • It put in place some institutional mechanisms to manage displacement, which can be enacted under the Disaster Management Act 2005.
  • Mapping coastal and river erosion impacts and coming up with a database of diverse challenges confronted by the affected and vulnerable habitations.
  • District disaster management authorities (DDMA) would be the nodal agency to implement the measures, aided by other district agencies and a specific panchayat-level committee.
    • The DDMA will prepare mitigation and rehabilitation plans → SDMAs → NDMA → the home ministry will approve the disbursal of funds.
    • A qualified disaster management professional must be included in all teams.
  • Projects under NDRF and NDMF should be sanctioned in such a manner that they can be completed within the award period of the Commission.

 

Concerns:

  • The policy considers only erosion-linked displacement, but there is displacement owing to the deposition of eroded materials.
  • It is not clear what the financial allocation (on a first-come, first-serve/on population density basis) will be under the policy.

 

Way ahead:

  • Detailed hazard assessments carried out by central agencies such as the National Centre for Coast Research, etc., be made available to the SDMAs.
  • Mapping of fallow areas must be taken up for rehabilitation.
  • These should be made available in easy-to-access geographic information systems (GIS) formats by the NDMA.

 

Insta Links:

Disaster risk reduction: CEA releases disaster management plan for power sector

 

Mains Links:

Discuss the recent measures initiated in disaster management by the Government of India departing from the earlier reactive approach. (UPSC 2020)

Badministrators: Nasty social media brawl between IAS & IPS officers points to a larger, worrying trend

GS Paper 4

 

Syllabus: Ethics in Public Service

 

Source: TOI, DNAIndia

 Context: Recently, an IPS officer and an IAS officer from Karnataka were involved in a verbal debate on Social media this has put the focus on a larger issue of how civil service ethos is undergoing through participation in social media.

 

The issue of lowering the efficiency of Civil Servants:

  • Less manpower: The parliamentary standing committee said that there are 22% fewer IAS officers in the country than the sanctioned strength.
  • Not enough reforms and incentives: The government’s lack of reforms in incentives and penalties have helped incapacity, indifference, and corruption creep in.
  • Lack of functional independence
  • Social media addictions: The self-aggrandizement stimulated by social media addictions is a new challenge to the All India Services (Conduct) Rules, 1968.
  • Unattractive private sector: The private sector still isn’t attractive and big enough for breaking the charm of government services such as prestige, power, and job security.

 

Ethical issues in Civil Servants using Social Media:

  • Breach of neutrality
  • Conflict of interest
  • Misuse of official position
  • Breach of confidentiality
  • Inappropriate behaviour
  • Risk to reputation
  • Lack of accountability

 

How to tackle this issue:

  • Training: Civil servants should be provided with training on the appropriate use of social media.
  • Code of conduct: A code of conduct should be established for civil servants’ use of social media.
  • Separation of personal and professional accounts
  • Monitoring and enforcement: Government departments should monitor civil servants’ social media use and enforce the code of conduct
  • Transparency and accountability
  • Time management: Civil servants should be provided with clear guidelines on the appropriate amount of time that should be spent on social media and encouraged to prioritize their official duties.

 

Mains Link: UPSC 2018

What is meant by public interest? What are the principles and procedures to be followed by civil servants in the public interest?

 

Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)


Sania Mirza

 

Source: IE

 


Facts for Prelims (FFP)


Right to Privacy of Children

 Source: TH

Context: Supreme Court has held that children cannot be mechanically subjected to DNA tests to establish proof of infidelity.

SC Observations:

  

Impact of such test:

  • Not knowing who one’s father is creating mental trauma in a child
  • Allowing DNA tests would also harm the reputation and dignity of the mother

 

What is a DNA paternity test?

A DNA paternity test uses DNA, usually taken from a cheek swab, to determine whether a man is the child’s biological father.

  • The lab compares the tissue samples from the mother, the child, and the man to see what special characteristics – known as “genetic markers” – the child shares with the mother and the man. These tests are very accurate in showing whether or not the man is the biological father of a child.

 

National Commission for Scheduled Tribes

 Source: TH

Context: The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes asked the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay why it allowed a counsellor with “casteist sentiment” to continue working with the SC/ST Cell on campus.

  • Institute’s alleged failure to create safe spaces for marginalised students led to the alleged suicide of an 18-year-old Dalit student.

 

 

What is a ‘corrupt act’ according to RPA 1951?

 Source: IE

Context: In (Anugrah Narayan Singh v. Harsh Vardhan Bajpayee) case, SC observed that providing false information about an electoral candidate’s qualifications cannot be considered a “corrupt practice” under Sections 123 (2) and Section 123 (4) of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951.

  • Previously Allahabad High Court had similarly dismissed the plea, as a such defect in disclosure was not of a substantial character that could have materially prejudiced the prospects of the election

 

About the case:

Former Congress MLA Anugrah Narayan Singh said that BJP MLA Harsh Vardhan Bajpayee committed a “corrupt practice’ under Section 123(2) by not disclosing his liabilities and correct educational qualifications in his affidavit of nomination.

 

About ‘Corrupt Practices’:

The Representation of the People Act, 1951 defines ‘corrupt practices’ to include bribery, undue influence, false information, and promotion of feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of citizens of India on grounds of “religion, race, caste, community, or language” by a candidate for the furtherance of his prospects in the election.

 

  • The Act also prohibits the intentional publication of false statements that can prejudice the outcome of an election.
  • Past court rulings have held that seeking votes in the name of a candidate’s religion, race, caste, community, or language is a corrupt practice, while promising freebies cannot be termed as such.

 

Eliminate mercury from skin-lightening products

 Source: UN

Context: UNEP has announced that Gabon, Jamaica and Sri Lanka have united in a $14 million project to eliminate the use of mercury in skin-lightening products.

 

About Mercury:

Mercury (or quicksilver) is a shiny, silver-white metal, and is liquid at room temperature.

 

Other heavy metals in cosmetics:

  • Aluminium compounds are colourants in lip glosses, and nail polishes;
  • Lead in lipsticks

 

Impact:

  • Lead is a neurotoxin that can cause developmental delays and learning disabilities in children
  • Long-term exposure to mercury can damage the nervous system and harm brain development
  • Arsenic, another heavy metal found in some cosmetics, can cause skin irritation, liver damage, and an increased risk of cancer

 

FGD facility

Source: The Hindu

  

Context: The Singareni Thermal Power Plant (STPP) in Telangana is set to become the first public sector coal-based power generating station in the South and first among the State PSUs in the country to have flu gas desulphurization (FGD) plant to meet the green norms by cutting sulphur dioxide emission to a safe level.

  

About Flue Gas Desulfurization:

  • Flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) is a set of technologies used to remove sulfur dioxide (SO2) from exhaust flue gases of fossil-fuel power plants and from the emissions of other sulfur oxide emitting processes such as waste incineration, petroleum refineries, cement and lime kilns.

  

Some methods of FGD:

  • Wet scrubbingusing a slurry of alkaline sorbent, usually limestone or lime, or seawater to scrub gases;
  • Spray-dry scrubbing using similar sorbent slurries;
  • Wet sulfuric acid processrecovering sulfur in the form of commercial quality sulfuric acid;
  • SNOX Flue gas desulfurizationremoves sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulates from flue gases;
  • Dry sorbent injection systems that introduce powdered hydrated lime (or other sorbent material) into exhaust ducts to eliminate SO2 and SO3 from process emissions

 

 

Use of Phosphor-Gypsum in National Highway Construction

Source: PIB

 ContextNational Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the Department of Fertilizers, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers are going to take up field trials on NHAI projects for use of Phosphor-Gypsum (Phosphogypsum) in National Highway construction to achieve a circular economy in the use of Gypsum. 

 

About Phosphogypsum:

Phosphogypsum (PG) is the calcium sulfate hydrate formed as a by-product of the production of fertilizer from phosphate rock.

 

Are neutrinos their own antiparticles?

 Source: TH

 Context: The Kamioka Liquid Scintillator Antineutrino Detector (KamLAND) experiment in Japan has found no evidence that neutrinos are their own antiparticles.

 

What are Anti particles?

In particle physics, every type of particle is associated with an antiparticle with the same mass but with opposite physical charges. For example, the antiparticle of the electron is the positron.

  • If a particle and its anti-particle meet, they will destroy each other in a flash of energy.
  • Neutrinos have anti-neutrinos as antiparticles but since both don’t have any charge, it is really difficult to differentiate them.

 

Significance of the findings:

It can help to decipher the properties of Neutrinos, which can offer insight into the structure of the universe.

Read the Daily CA in PDF Format here:

 


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