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[Mission 2023] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 21 April 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. Critical minerals: Resilient supply chains

 

GS Paper 2:

  1. 16th Civil Services Day

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. Biomass pellets
  2. Animal Birth Control Rules, 2023
  3. Indian Space Policy (ISP) 2023: Pros and Cons

 

Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)

  1. City Nature Challenge

 

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

  1. Human-Induced planet-warming: Earth Energy Imbalance
  2. Parvatmala Pariyojana
  3. Global Unicorn Index
  4. ‘Sathi’ portal and mobile app
  5. MAHARISHI
  6. EMIC plasma wave
  7. Bats dying of heat stroke

 

Critical minerals: Resilient supply chains

GS Paper 1

 Syllabus: Distribution of Key Natural Resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent)

 

Source: IE

 Context: A recent working paper evaluated the criticality levels of 43 select minerals for India.

 

Background:

  • Critical minerals refer to mineral resources, both primary and processed, that are
    • Economically important/demand-side factors (to meet the manufacturing needs of green technologies, high-tech equipment, aviation, and national defence) and
    • Have high levels of supply risk/supply-side factors (due to non-availability or unaffordable price spikes).
  • To tackle such supply risks, major global economies periodically evaluate which minerals are critical for their jurisdiction through a quantitative assessment.
  • Minerals such as antimony, cobalt, gallium, graphite, lithium, nickel, niobium, and strontium are among the 22 assessed to be critical for India.
  • India does not have many of these mineral reserves, necessitating reliance on foreign partners to meet domestic needs.
Assuring resilient critical minerals supply chains remains a challenge for India
International front Domestic front
China, the most dominant player in the critical mineral supply chains, still struggles with Covid-19-related lockdowns. 

The war between the two countries:

 Russia is one of the significant producers of nickel, palladium, titanium sponge metal, and the rare earth element scandium.

Ukraine is one of the major producers of titanium and has reserves of lithium, cobalt, graphite, and rare earth elements, including tantalum, niobium, and beryllium.

The balance of power shifts across continents and countries:

The strategic partnership between China and Russia.

As a result, developed countries have launched the Minerals Security Partnership (MSP) and G7’s Sustainable Critical Minerals Alliance. But, developing countries (like India) have missed out.

While India has a geological potential similar to mining-rich Western Australia, much still needs to be explored, hindering India’s emissions reduction and climate change mitigation timeline.

Many critical and strategic minerals constitute part of the list of atomic minerals in the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) (MMDR) Act 1957.

However, the present policy regime reserves these minerals only for public sector undertakings.

 Long lead times for setting up new exploration, extraction, and processing activities.

 

Way ahead:

  • There is an imperative need to create a new list of such minerals in the MMDR Act. These minerals must be prospected, explored, and mined on priority.
  • The reconnaissance and exploration of minerals must be encouraged, with particular attention given to deep-seated minerals.
    • This will call for a collective effort by the government, ‘junior’ miners, and major mining companies.
  • An innovative regime must be devised to allocate critical mineral mining assets, which adequately incentivises private explorers, including ‘junior’ explorers.
  • India needs to determine where and how the processing of minerals and assembly of critical minerals-embedded equipment will occur.
  • India requires a critical minerals strategy comprising measures aimed at making the country AatmaNirbhar (self-reliant) in critical minerals needed for sustainable economic growth.
  • India must actively engage in bilateral and plurilateral arrangements for building assured and resilient critical mineral supply chains.
  • The assessment of critical minerals for India needs to be updated every three years to keep pace with changing domestic and global scenarios.

 

Conclusion: A national critical minerals strategy for India, underpinned by the minerals identified in this study, can help focus on priority concerns in supply risks, domestic policy regimes, and sustainability.

 

Insta Links:

Rare earth elements and push for inclusion in supply partnership

16th Civil Services Day

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Role of Civil Services in a Democracy

 

Source: PIB 

Context: National Civil Service Day, observed on April 21 every year, is a celebration of the idea of national civil service.

  • The first National Civil Services Day was celebrated on April 21, 2006.

 

Background:

  • Civil servants constitute the backbone of the administration.
  • They ensure the implementation of government policies, ensuring the passage of benefits to the people.
  • The civil services in India consist of the
    • Indian Administrative Service (IAS)
    • Indian Police Service (IPS)
    • Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and
    • A comprehensive list of other Central Services (Group A, B)
  • It commemorates the day when Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel – independent India’s first Home Minister, inaugurated the newly-created Indian Administrative Service in 1947, calling them the “steel frame of India.”
Indian Civil Services
Issues facedGovt efforts
Lack of professionalism and poor capacity building.

 

An ineffective incentive system that does not reward meritorious and upright civil servants.

 

Rigid and outmoded rules and procedures restrict the exercise of individual judgement and .efficient performance.

 

Lack of accountability and transparency, with no adequate protection for whistle-blowers.

 

Political interference causes arbitrary transfers, and insecurity in tenures.

 

An erosion in ethics and values has caused rampant corruption and nepotism.

 

Patrimonialism (a form of governance in which all power flows directly from the leader).

 

Resistance to change from the civil servants themselves.

Towards capacity building and Specialisation:

 

Mission Karmayogi: A National Programme for Civil Services Capacity Building (NPCSCB).

 

Lateral entry: Personnel from the private sector are selected for administrative posts in the government.

 

Towards transparency and accountability:

 

SVAMITVA scheme: A reformative step towards the establishment of clear ownership of property in rural inhabited areas, by mapping land parcels using drone technology.

 

Centralised Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS): An online web-enabled system that provides the facility to lodge a grievance online from any geographical location.

 

RTI, Citizen Charter, etc

 

A new ethic of civil servants:

  • Selfless service and empathy.
  • Duty-bound to drive India’s transition from Amrit Mahotsav to Amrit Kaal.
  • The removal of a colonial mindset, sharing a sense of pride in the Indian roots, with a nation-first approach.
  • A future-ready civil service, which is
    • Proactive and polite;
    • Professional and progressive;
    • Energetic and enabling;
    • Transparent and tech-enabled;
    • Creative and constructive; and
    • Imaginative and innovative.

 

Desired outcomes for the Indian civil services:

  • Maximum Governance, Minimum Government
  • Cooperative Federalism through uniformity in administration across the Union and the States

 

Conclusion:

  • The Indian civil services must transform itself from a rigid, restrictive and rule-bound colonial bureaucracy to one rooted in the national ethos.
  • “…now, you are serving your own people, so you have to serve with your heart and mind and soul…” (Sardar Patel while inaugurating the new IAS in 1947)

 

Insta Links:

Reforms in Indian Civil Services

 

Mains Links:

Has the Cadre based Civil Services Organization been the cause of slow development in India? Critically examine. (UPSC 2014)

Biomass pellets

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Conservation and pollution-related issues

 

Source: DTE

 Context: The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) revised the financial grants for biomass pellet manufacturing units.

 

What are Biomass pellets?

MeaningThese are a type of solid fuel made from compressed organic material (biomass) such as industrial waste and co-products, food waste, agricultural residues, energy crops, and untreated lumber.
TypesThese are of two kinds – torrefied (Biomass processed at 250-350°C in the absence of oxygen) and non-torrefied pellets (biomass is shredded, ground and sent to a pellet reactor, where it is compressed and bonded).
Advantages Pellets are extremely dense and can be produced with a low moisture content (below 10%) which allows them to be burned with a very high combustion efficiency.

 

Emissions such as NOx, SOx and volatile organic compounds from pellet burning equipment are in general very low.

DisadvantagesA recognized problem is the emission of fine particulate matter into the air.

 

The capital expenditure for setting up a pellet manufacturing unit entails variables such as land, machinery, air pollution control devices, factory infrastructures such as sheds and offices, etc.

PotentialPelletised biomass can potentially produce 6% of India’s total electricity in 2030/31, in addition to direct biomass co-firing for electricity production.

 

Biomass pellets production/usage in India:

  • It is mandatory to use biomass or agricultural residue (5-10%) as combustion fuel along with coal in coal-fired thermal power plants.
  • The biomass used for co-combustion in the power plants is processed and refined into pellets with a calorific value comparable to coal.

 

CPCB decision:

  • Increased the budget for manufacturing non-torrefied biomass pellets to 28 lakhs (from 14 lakhs) per tonne per hour (TPH) of production capacity/40% of the capital cost of the plant and machinery – whichever is lower.
  • In the case of manufacturing torrefied biomass, no changes are introduced in the fund allocation (of Rs 28 lakhs per TPH) in the revised CPCB guidelines.

 

Concerns:

  • These allocations are grossly insufficient to meet the current requirements of the pellet manufacturing industry.
    • The cost of machinery with a production capacity of one TPH is approximately Rs 1 crore and the grants would cover only 28% of the capital investment.
  • This gross underestimation will not help close the existing demand-supply gap as the country has limited pellet manufacturers.

 

Way ahead:

  • An imminent need to escalate the biomass pellet manufacturing capacity in the country.
  • Indira Gandhi Super Thermal Power Project of NTPC in Jhajjar, Haryana has taken steps towards facilitating the establishment of pellet manufacturing units.
    • More such initiatives need to be taken by the power generators and the government.
  • All the actors in the supply chain, starting from the farmers and aggregators to pellet manufacturers, must be incentivised.

 

Insta Links:

National Mission on use of Biomass in coal based thermal power plants

Animal Birth Control Rules, 2023

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Agriculture: Animal Husbandry

 

Source: Th

 Context: The government has announced new Animal Birth Control (ABC) Rules 2023, which require strays to be caught, vaccinated, neutered, and released back into the community.

  • The ABC 2023 rules will supersede the Animal Birth Control (Dog) Rules, 2001
  • Previously, the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying opened a draft Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Amendment) Bill, 2022, for public comment.

 

Need for such rules:

India has more than 1.5 crores of the stray dog population. Over the last five years, more than 300 people — mostly children from poor and rural families — have been attacked and killed by dogs. Over 20,000 deaths were due to Rabies.

ProvisionDescription
AimTo reduce the stray dog population by addressing animal welfare issues.
Sterilization and ImmunizationThe programme for the sterilization and immunization of stray dogs shall be carried out by the respective local bodies, municipalities, municipal corporations, and panchayats, with the help of the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI)-a recognized organization.
ABC+ Anti-RabiesLocal bodies need to implement the ABC and Anti-Rabies Program jointly.
Addressing crueltyIn carrying out the ABC program, ‘cruelty to animals’ should be addressed
Community AnimalsThe Rules transform stray dogs into a new class of “community animals.”
Care of stray dogsResident welfare associations are responsible for caring for stray dogs and feeding them at fixed intervals, away from children and the elderly.
Human and Stray dog conflictsThe Rules provide guidelines on how to deal with human and stray dog conflicts without relocating the dogs in an area.
Prohibition The Rules prohibit the improper disposal of solid waste and casual feeding of dogs.
Responsibility Local authorities “will be held responsible for any violation [during birth-control procedures] and animal-human conflicts.”

Significance of the Rules:

 

The new rules will help in reducing the stray dog and cat population and resolving the Human-Dog conflict.

 

Issues with the new rules:

  • Homelessness: The ABC Rules do not provide for the rehabilitation of stray dogs, and instead, they are left on the streets after sterilization and vaccination.
  • Responsibility: The ABC Rules place the responsibility of caring for stray dogs on the local residents’ welfare associations, which may not have the resources or capacity to provide proper care.
  • Funding and implementation: There are concerns that the lack of adequate funding and implementation may lead to the rules being ineffective in addressing the stray dog problem.

 

Ethical Concerns with the Rules:

  • Consent: Animals cannot give their consent to the procedure
  • Pain and suffering: The procedure can cause pain and suffering to animals
  • Effectiveness: Sterilization may not always be an effective method of controlling the population of animals
  • Alternatives: Adopt non-invasive alternatives e.g., Awareness campaigns like “Be a Human, Save a Life” by the Delhi government to encourage people to adopt stray dogs

 

About Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960:

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 is the first law enacted to safeguard the rights of animals and protect them from pain and suffering caused by humans. It defines animals as any living creature other than humans and outlines punishments for those who inflict unnecessary cruelty on them. It also includes guidelines for experimenting on animals for scientific purposes and the exhibition of performing animals. The establishment of the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) is one of the key features of this Act.

 

Insta Links:

  • For the draft Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Amendment) Bill, 2022: Click here
  • Constitutional Provisions regarding Animal Welfare: Click here

 

Mains Links:

Critically comment on the Centre’s move to notify new rules to regulate livestock markets under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (PCA). (200 Words)

 

Indian Space Policy (ISP) 2023: Pros and Cons

GS Paper 3

 

Syllabus: Science and Technology: Space

 

Source: TH

 Context: The Indian government has approved a new space policy, which allows non-government entities (NGEs) to offer national and international space-based communication services through self-owned or leased satellite systems.

  • Non-government entities refer to organizations or institutions that are not directly controlled by the government e.g., Private companies, NGOs, community organizations

 

Non-Government Entities (NGEs) can:

  • Establish and operate ground facilities for space objects operations, such as telemetry, tracking and command (TT&C) Earth Stations and Satellite Control Centres (SCCs)
  • Offer national and international space-based communication services, through self-owned, procured or leased geostationary orbit (GSO) and non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) satellite systems.
  • Use Orbital resources to establish space objects for communication services over India and outside.
  • Manufacture and operate space transportation systems, including launch vehicles, shuttles
  • Engage in the commercial recovery of an asteroid resource or a space resource.

 

For Details on the ISP 2023: Click here

 

Pros and Cons of the Indian Space Policy (ISP) 2023:

ProsCons
Increased private sector participation. ISRO will be able to focus on R&D more. Risk of the private sector dominating the sector. Also, overreliance on private entities could lead to potential issues if these entities fail or underperform.
Expanded space economy by increasing India’s share in the global space economy to 10%The benefits of the expanded space economy may not be equally distributed, potentially exacerbating existing socioeconomic inequalities.
Clear roles and responsibilities of different entitiesThe policy does not specify how resources will be allocated between different entities involved in the space sector, which could lead to potential conflicts.
Utilization of cost-effectiveness in the sector to increase competitivenessThe space sector can have a negative environmental impact, and the policy does not explicitly address how this will be mitigated.
Improved national security in the space domain

 

Insta Links

 

Mains Link:

What is India’s plan to have its own space station and how will it benefit our space programme?  (UPSC 2019)

Discuss India’s achievements in the field of Space Science and Technology. How the application of this technology has helped India in its socioeconomic development? (UPSC 2016)

City Nature Challenge

Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)

Source: TH

 

Over 30 Indian cities will participate in the City Nature Challenge, an app-based competition that encourages people to record observations of nature. Participants can use the iNaturalist app to click and upload photos of natural flora and fauna, and the app uses Artificial Intelligence to suggest the species name.

 

Significance: The event is an opportunity for citizens to use nature to reduce stress and calm anxiety, and the data collected will be used by scientists and researchers to research different plant and animal species and determine the biodiversity in a region.

 

Usage: Such examples can be used in governance and environment questions showing people’s participation in documenting biodiversity (‘Citizen Science’); raising awareness about nature, reducing stress and promoting a sense of well-being

Human-Induced planet-warming: Earth Energy Imbalance

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: DTE

 Context: A new study (published in the journal Earth System Science Data) warns that human-induced climate change is affecting Earth’s energy balance.

 

What does the study say? 

Over the last 50 years, about 89% of the accumulated heat is stored in the ocean, 6% on land, a per cent in the atmosphere, and about 4% available for melting the cryosphere.

 

Impact of this increasing heat absorption:

Earth System ComponentsImpact of Increasing Heat Absorption
LandIncreased ground surface temperaturesà Trigger decomposition of soil organic matter and plant litter by soil microbesà will release carbon dioxide in the process. Higher soil respiration can decrease soil water.
Water BodiesHeat storage within inland water bodies à An increase in lake water temperaturesàMaking conditions ripe for algal blooms
TroposphereThe lower atmosphere, also known as the troposphere, is warming up due to increased heat accumulation, especially in the upper troposphere in the tropicsà Changes in the Earth’s climate, circulation and weather patterns.
CryosphereIncreased heat uptake à Melting of grounded and floating iceà  less albedo effect à Contribute significantly to the overall cryosphere heat gain

 

What is Earth’s Energy Imbalance?

It refers to the difference between the amount of energy that the Earth receives from the Sun and the amount of energy that it radiates back to space.

  • Positive EEI: When this imbalance is positive, it means that more energy is entering the Earth’s system than is leaving it, which leads to a warming planet.
  • Significance: EEI is an important indicator of climate change and provides an estimate of how much and how fast the Earth’s climate is warming.

Parvatmala Pariyojana

Source: ET

 Context: The government has announced plans to develop over 250 projects in the next five years under the Parvatmala Pariyojana.

 

About National Ropeways Development Programme – “Parvatmala”

TopicDescription
Announced in Budget (2022-23)
ObjectiveDevelopment of ropeway and alternative mobility solutions technology. To improve connectivity and convenience for commuters, besides promoting tourism esp. in Hilly areas)
Nodal MinistryMinistry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH)
ModePPP (Public Private Partnership) mode
RegionsUttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Jammu & Kashmir and other North Eastern states
Benefits of RopewayEconomical mode of transportation, faster mode of transportation, environmentally friendly, last mile connectivity, Ideal for difficult/challenging/sensitive terrain

Global Unicorn Index

Source: ibef

 

Context: After the United States and China, India has retained the third-highest number of unicorns in the world (Hurun Report on Global Unicorn)

 

Findings:

  • India, with 68 unicorns has added 14 new unicorns since the pandemic began and stands behind USA (666) and China (316)
  • Top-most unicorn in India: BYJU’s ($22 billion); Swiggy and Dream11 (both at $8 billion)
  • Offshore unicorn: India (70) has more than China (32) and both countries produce more offshore unicorns than any other country

About HURUN

It is a research, media and investments business, best known for its Hurun Rich List, a ranking of the wealthiest individuals in China

‘Sathi’ portal and mobile app

 

Source: LM

 Context: The Sathi (Seed Traceability, Authentication and Holistic Inventory) portal and mobile app were launched by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.

AboutDescription
ObjectiveDesigned to curb the sale of spurious seeds and ensure that quality seeds reach farmers
WorkingQuality assurance, seed source identification (traced through a QR code system), Seed Certification, Seed Licensing, Seed Catalogue, Dealer Farmer Sales, Farmer Registration and direct subsidies to registered farmers’ bank accounts
ProcessSeeds with valid certification can only be sold by valid licensed dealers to centrally registered farmers who will receive a subsidy through DBT directly into their bank accounts
DeveloperNational Informatics Centre in collaboration with the Ministry on the theme of ‘Uttam Beej – Samriddh Kisan’
Issue of inferior seedsPoor seed quality arises as most farmers in India keep their own seed and do not tend to do any seed processing to ensure varietal purity or seed quality. Inferior quality seeds lead to “Germination failure”
The legal status of seeds in IndiaEnactment of Seeds Act, 1966 gives legal status to seeds in India; Seed Act allows farmers to get compensation for losses incurred; Seed certification is voluntary but labelling is compulsory in India; PPV&FR Act, 2001 to ensures availability of quality seeds and planting material to the farmer

 

MAHARISHI

 

Source: LM

 Context: MACS 2023 unanimously agreed to launch a Millet Initiative – MAHARISHI which was proposed by India for research in the field of millets

 

About:

Description
Full nameMAHARISHI (Millets And OtHer Ancient Grains International ReSearcH Initiative)
PurposeResearch and awareness about agro-biodiversity, food security, and nutrition aligning with the International Year of Millets 2023
SecretariatIndian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR), Hyderabad
Technical SupportInternational Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), One CGIAR Centres, and other international organizations
FocusNutri-cereals or superfoods, mainly grown on marginal land in dry areas of temperate, sub-tropical, and tropical regions
Priority AreasFood Security and Nutrition; Building resilience and sustainable agriculture through approaches of climate resilient agriculture and One Health; Digitalization for Agricultural Transformation; Public-Private Partnerships for Research and Development

 

About MACS:

The G20 Meeting of Agricultural Chief Scientists (MACS) involves the meeting of ministries or governmental bodies responsible for agricultural research in the respective G20 states as well as leading research institutions which strategically advise these decision-makers. The first meet of MACS was held in Mexico in 2012.

EMIC plasma wave

 

Source: BS

 Context: Scientists in India have identified a type of plasma wave called Electromagnetic Ion Cyclotron (EMIC) waves at the Indian Antarctic station, Maitri.

  

What is Plasma?

Plasma is often referred to as the fourth state of matter, along with solid, liquid, and gas. It is a type of gas that is made up of electrically charged particles, such as ions and free electrons. Plasma can be found in many places, including flames, lightning, and the sun.

 

What are Electromagnetic Ion Cyclotron (EMIC) waves?

It is a type of plasma wave that is generated in the Earth’s magnetosphere, a region of space around the Earth that is affected by the planet’s magnetic field. These waves can resonate with charged particles, particularly ions, that are trapped in the magnetosphere, causing them to move in a cyclical motion.

 

Significance of the study of EMIC waves:

The study can help understand the impact of energetic particles (esp. Killer electrons) in the radiation belts on the low orbiting satellites.

  • Killer electrons are electrons having speed close to the speed of light, which form the radiation belt of planet Earth

 

India’s Antarctic Missions: Acceded to the Antarctic Treaty System (1983); Dakshin Gangotri (1984); Maitri (1989); Sagar Nidhi ice-class vessel (2008); Bharati (2015)

 

India’s Arctic Mission: Himadri (2007); observer at the Arctic Council

 

Optional:

  

PSIR

  

Economy

  

Pub Ad

  

Sociology/Indian Society

  

Geography/ Sociology

 

Physics/ Science

 

Read the Daily CA in PDF Format here:

 


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