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[Mission 2023] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 3 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. South Asian black carbon aerosols increase glacial mass loss over the Tibetan plateau

 

GS Paper 2:

1. Supreme Court upholds demonetisation: What was the challenge about?

 

GS Paper 3:

1. ST commission holds its ground on the impact of new Forest (Conservation) Rules on the Forest Rights Act

2. Crypto awareness campaign

3. 2 rallies, 2 stampedes: Surging crowds, charges of police laxity

 

Content for Mains Enrichment (Ethics/Essay/ Governance)

1. Pelé: Birth of a legend

2. Prajjwala Challenge

 

Facts for Prelims

1. “VIRAASAT”- Celebrating 75 handwoven Saris of India

2. Higher Education Financing Agency

3. Wassenaar Arrangement

4. Lumpi-ProVacind Vaccine

5. ‘SMART’ program for Ayurveda professionals

6. Ozempic

7. Novel water filter quickly removes 99.9 per cent of microplastics

8. Mapping


 

South Asian black carbon aerosols increase glacial mass loss over the Tibetan plateau

GS Paper 1

Syllabus: Geography

 

Source: The Hindu

 Context: A recent study has found that Black carbon aerosols have indirectly affected the mass gain of the Tibetan Plateau glaciers by changing long-range water vapour transport from the South Asian monsoon region.

  • The South Asia region adjacent to the Tibetan Plateau has among the highest levels of black carbon emission in the world.

 

 

About Black Carbon:

  • Black carbon is a short-lived climate pollutant with a lifetime of only days to weeks after release in the atmosphere.
  • Black carbon is formed by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, wood, and other fuels

 

 

Impact of Black Carbon on Cryosphere

  • Rapid melting of Glaciers
    • Asian Brown Cloud (ABC): A man-made cloud of carbon emissions, dust, and other pollutants causes less sunlight, less rain, and an inverse warming effect, which causes glacier melting to accelerate.
  • Glacier retreat: Gangotri glacier retreated 850 meters between 1996 and 1999; as a result of black carbon deposits due to stubble burning and forest fires
  • Increasing Glacial lakes
  • Changes in Snow Albedo
  • Livelihood impact
  • Respiratory and cardiovascular health impacts on humans

 

 

Short-term and Long term impacts

 

Way Forward:

  • Policies in place to reduce black carbon emissions – Enhancing fuel-efficiency standards, phasing out diesel vehicles, promoting electric cars etc.
  • Aggressively curbing black carbon emissions
  • New economically and technically feasible policies can help to contain glacier melt.
  • Regional cooperation to protect these resources will pay important dividends for the health and well-being of the people in the region.

 

Insta Links:

Black carbon

 

Prelims Link: UPSC 2021

What is blue carbon?

(a) Carbon captured by oceans and coastal ecosystems.

(b) Carbon sequestered in forest biomass and agricultural soils.

(c) Carbon contained in petroleum and natural gas.

(d) Carbon present in the atmosphere

Answer: (a)

Mains Link:

Q. What is Black Carbon? Explain the impact of recently witnessed black carbon spikes in the Himalayan glaciers.

Supreme Court upholds demonetisation: What was the challenge about?

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation

 

Source: IE

 Direction: The article highlights the background in which the issue of demonetisation reached the SC, arguments in favour and against demonetisation and the recent SC verdict.

 

Context: The Supreme Court upheld the government’s decision to demonetise currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 by a 4:1 majority.

 

Background:

  • On November 8, 2016, the PM of India announced that the two notes would no more be legal tender, with immediate effect.
    • Introduced new notes of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 for public circulation.
    • Two primary reasons: to curb fake currency notes and reduce black money stored as cash.
  • Though supported by many, 58 petitions have been filed in the SC challenging various aspects.
  • The petitioners accused that Section 26(2) of RBI Act, 1934, was not followed: On the recommendation of the [RBI] Central Board, the Central Government may, by notification in the Gazette of India, declare that any series of bank notes of any denomination shall cease to be legal tender.
  • The court was to consider whether the recommendation for the policy came from the government or the RBI.

 

Arguments for and against demonetisation presented in the SC:

Against (by petitioners) For (by RBI and government)
●        As per Section 26(2), the recommendation should have emanated from the RBI.

●        In this case, the government had advised the central bank, following which it made the recommendation.

●        Earlier governments had demonetised currency (in 1946 and 1978), by way of a law made by Parliament.

●        The said Section does not talk about the process of initiation.

●        The quorum as determined by RBI General Regulations, 1949, was met for the Central Board meeting.

●        Though consultations with the RBI began in Feb 2016, the process was kept confidential.

●        The RBI had not agreed to the previous demonetisation decisions, but the earlier governments made the law.

 

 

The SC’s (4:1) verdict on demonetisation:

  • The Centre’s notification was valid and satisfied the test of proportionality – a reasonable nexus between the objectives and the means to achieve the objectives.
  • From the record, it appears that there was a consultative process between the central government and RBI for over 6 months before the decision was taken.
  • The Decision-making process cannot be faulted merely because the proposal emanated from the centre (as the government and RBI are not in ‘isolated boxes’) and the court cannot replace the wisdom of the executive with its wisdom.
  • The action taken by the Central Government has been validated by the Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of liabilities) Act, 2017, which prohibited and penalised the holding or transferring or receiving of demonetised currency.

 

 

The dissenting judgement:

  • While the measure was “well-intentioned”, it was to be declared unlawful purely on legal grounds as the record demonstrates that there was no independent application of mind by RBI.
  • Violation of Section 26(2), as the proposal for demonetisation, is to emanate from the central board of the RBI and the demonetisation has to be done through legislation rather than through executive notification.

 

 

 

Conclusion: Most policy decisions carry the risk of unintended consequences, which must be carefully balanced against the potential benefits of such decisions.

 

Insta Links:

Demonetisation

ST commission holds its ground on the impact of new Forest (Conservation) Rules on the Forest Rights Act

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Environment and Conservation

 

Source: TH

 

Direction: The article discusses the new Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022 and the apprehension of these rules being in violation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006.

 

 

Context: The conflict between the government and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) over the Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022, seems to be escalating.

 

 

Background:

  • The Union Environment Ministry notified the Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022, under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, thus replacing the Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2003
  • NCST had raised concerns about the provision in the new rules that proposes to do away with the consent clause for the diversion of forest land for other purposes and recommended putting these rules on hold.
  • However, the government insisted that the rules were framed under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and that the NCST’s apprehension of these rules being in violation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006, is not legally admissible
The Forest (Conservation) Act (FCA), 1980 The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 or the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006
●        It regulates deforestation by prohibiting the felling of forests for any “non-forestry” purpose without prior approval from the central government.

●        The clearance process includes obtaining permission from local forest rights holders as well as wildlife authorities.

●        The Centre has the authority to deny such requests or to grant them with legally binding conditions.

●        It recognizes forest-dwelling tribal communities’ and other traditional forest dwellers’ rights to forest resources on which these communities rely for a variety of needs.

●        It imposes on the Gram Sabha and rights holders the responsibility of biodiversity conservation and protection, by preventing any destructive practices affecting these resources.

●        Under the Act, the Gram Sabha is a highly empowered body that allows the tribal population to have a decisive say in determining local policies and schemes that affect them.

The Forest Conservation Rules, 2003 The Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022
●        There are two stages of approval (‘In-Principle’ and ‘Final’, after given conditions are met) prescribed for any application by any entity to use the forest land.

●        Nodal Officer —> Divisional Forest Officer and the District Collector —> Conservator of Forests —> State Administration —> MoEFCC

●        The District Collector shall complete the process of recognition and vesting of forest rights in accordance with the provisions of the FRA (obtain the consent of each Gram Sabha).

●        The Central Government can give its final approval and thereafter leave it to the state government to pass an order for de-reservation or diversion or assignment.

●        It is then left to the state government now to make sure that the claims of forest dwellers are settled.

●        However, the collector is not required to obtain the consent of Gram Sabhas before the In-principle approval.

 

Concern about the new Rules: The Gram Sabha’s approval had significant persuasive power and could influence decisions to proceed with the diversion process. However, the new Rules eroded Gram Sabha’s role.

 

Insta Links:

The Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022

 

Prelims Links: (UPSC 2019)

Consider the following statements:

  1. As per a recent amendment to the Indian Forest Act, of 1927, forest dwellers have the right to fell the bamboo grown in forest areas.
  2. As per the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, bamboo is a minor forest produce.
  3. The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 allows ownership of minor forest produce to forest dwellers.

 

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

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

 

Ans: 2

 

Explanation: Statement 1 is not correct. Under the original Act, the definition of a tree includes palms, bamboo, stumps, brushwood, and canes.  The amendment act amends this definition of the tree to remove the word bamboo.

Crypto awareness campaign

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

 

Source: The Hindu

 

Context: The Investor Education and Protection Fund (IEPF) will launch an outreach programme soon to create awareness of cryptocurrencies and online gaming.

 

About Investor Education and Protection Fund (IEPF)

  • It is managed by the IEPF Authority, which was set up in 2016 under the provisions of Section 125 of the Companies Act, of 2013.
  • It comes under the aegis of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.
  • The Authority is entrusted with the responsibility of administration of the IEPF, which, besides promoting awareness among investors, makes refunds of shares, unclaimed dividends, matured deposits and debentures and so on to rightful claimants.

 

 

About Cryptocurrency: A digital currency is one in which transactions are verified and records maintained by a decentralized system using cryptography, rather than by a centralized authority.

 

 

 

Online gaming

  • The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has been appointed the nodal industry for online gaming in India; for e-sports, the nodal agency is the Department of Sports, under the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
  • A glance at the rulings of the Supreme Court and several High Courts clearly establishes ‘Games of Skill’ as legitimate business activities protected under Article 19(1)(g) of the Indian Constitution. These rulings have also emphasized a clear distinction between ‘Games of Skill’ and ‘Games of Chance’.

 

 

Issues with Online Gaming:

  • There is confusion about the definitions of a ‘game of chance’ like fantasy games, and a ‘game of skill’, a term, which has been used in the Public Gaming Act (1867) but has not been spelt out.
  • There are risks from cybercrimes as well.
  • Despite court rulings, online skill games have faced restrictions in a few States due to addiction, financial losses and the thin line between skill and chance.

 

 

How Cryptocurrency creates regulatory hurdles:

  • Cybersecurity threats
  • Misuse of cryptocurrency is hard to detect
  • Controlling monetary policy like inflation, growth would become an issue
  • The anonymity of transactions may lead to tax evasion
  • Geopolitical issues: Countries may manipulate their cryptocurrency e.g. Experts say China’s eCNY will threaten dollar dominance and can be a tool for a currency war
  • The high volatility of cryptocurrency and the highly fragmented market

 

 

Measures taken to tackle this at the national level.

  • India recently decided to tax cryptocurrencies, a 30% on the transfer of such assets as well as a 1%TDS on every transaction.
  • RBI exploring DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology) based Central Bank Digital Currency.
  • In July 2022, The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recommended a ban on cryptocurrencies citing ‘destabilizing effects on the country’s monetary and fiscal health’.

 

 

Insta Links:

 

 

 

Prelims Link: UPSC 2020

With reference to “Blockchain Technology”, consider the following statements:

  1. It is a public ledger that everyone can inspect, but which no single user controls.
  2. The structure and design of the blockchain are such that all the data in it are about cryptocurrency only.
  3. Applications that depend on the basic features of blockchain can be developed without anybody’s permission.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 1 and 2 only

(c) 2 only

(d) 1 and 3 only

Answer: d

Mains Link:

Q. “Internet gaming has turned worse than drugs”. Do you agree? Critically examine the statement in light of the announcement made by the World Health Organization (WHO) to include “gaming disorder” as a mental health condition. (250 words)

2 rallies, 2 stampedes: Surging crowds, charges of police laxity

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Disaster and Disaster Management

 

Source: IE

 Direction: As for a topic like Disaster Management key words are very important, and the article through infographics highlights crowd management practices.

 

Context: The two back-to-back stampedes at rallies attended by Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief have once again put the spotlight on the crowd and their management.

 

 

Crowd process, crowd control and an integrated approach to crowd management: Source National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)

 

Use of ICT in crowd management:

 

Insta Links:

Crowd management in temples

 

Mains Links:

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

 

Content for Mains Enrichment (Ethics/ Essay/ Governance)


Pelé: Birth of a legend

Pele (23 October 1940 – 29 December 2022) who was a Brazilian professional footballer who is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time and labelled “the greatest” by FIFA, died recently.

  

His achievements are:

  • Football:
    • Pelé began playing for Santos at age 15 and the Brazil national team at 16
    • During his international career, he won three FIFA World Cups (1958, 1962 and 1970), being the only player to do so.
    • In 1999, he was named Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee
  • Credits given:
    • He was nicknamed O Rei (The King) following the 1958 tournament.
    • Credited with connecting the phrase “The Beautiful Game” with football, Pelé’s “electrifying play and penchant for spectacular goals” made him a star around the world.
  • For Poor: In Brazil, he was hailed as a national hero for his accomplishments in football and for his outspoken support of policies that improve the social conditions of the poor.
  • For the black community: His emergence at the 1958 World Cup, where he became a black global sporting star, was a source of inspiration.

 

 

 

Prajjwala Challenge

 Context: Ministry of Rural Development launches Prajjwala Challenge inviting ideas, solutions and actions to transform the rural economy

  • The challenge is launched under Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – NRLM (DAY-NRLM aims to support rural poor households into joining self-help groups)
  • The Mission so far has mobilised more than 87 Million women into the Self Help Groups and their federations.
  • The Prajjwala Challenge will also be shared in the Manthan portal by the office of the Principal Scientific Advisor (Under DST and not rural development)
    • The Manthan platform promotes collaboration between industry and scientific research to help meet India’s national targets and SDGs.

 


Facts for Prelims:


“VIRAASAT”- Celebrating 75 handwoven Saris of India

Source: PIB

Context: The Ministry of Textiles is organizing the festival second phase of the Sari Festival “VIRAASAT”

 

A social media campaign has been launched under the common hashtag #MySariMyPride to support our handloom weavers. ­­­­­Coinciding with the 75 years of Independence, “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav” there will be an exhibition-cum-sale of Handloom Saris by 75 handloom weavers.  A series of activities are planned for the visiting public such as:

  • Viraasat-Celebrating the heritage: Curated display of handloom saris.
  • Viraasat-Ek Dharohar: Direct retail of saris by weavers
  • Viraasat Ke Dhage: Live loom demonstration
  • Viraasat–kal se kal tak : Workshops and talks on sari and sustainability
  • Viraasat–Nritya Sanskriti: Famous Folk dances of Indian culture

 

 

Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA)

Source: Indian Express

Context: HEFA has fallen short of the government’s target of mobilizing Rs 1 Lakh crore by 2022

 

 

Reasons for the shortfall:

  • The reluctance of the institute to take loans due to weak internal source of finances: IIT Bombay administration had to clarify it was forced to resort to a fee hike – which triggered student protests – to repay HEFA loans
  • Fund crunch during Covid19 time
  • Revision in the funding pattern in 2020

 

 

About HEFA:

  • HEFA was set up by the Centre in 2017 to upgrade the education infrastructure in the higher education institutions under the Government of India.
    • It has sanctioned 144 loans worth Rs 35,000 crore so far, falling short of the government’s target of mobilising Rs 1 lakh crore by 2022
  • HEFA, which was set up as a non-profit Non-Banking Financing Company (NBFC), is a joint venture between the Union Ministry of Education and the Canara Bank to finance infrastructure development in educational institutions through long-term loans.
    • While the premium is paid by the institute, interest is paid by the government.
  • The government expanded the scope of HEFA in 2018 under the Revitalizing Infrastructure and Systems in Education or RISE by 2022 initiative, bringing schools and medical colleges under its ambit, and making it the nodal body in infrastructure financing in the education sector.

 

Wassenaar Arrangement

Source: Hidustan Times

 Context: India will assume chairmanship of the plenary of the Wassenaar Arrangement for a year on January 1, 2023, just five years after joining the 42-member voluntary export control regime that monitors transfers of conventional weapons and dual-use goods.

 

It facilitates Information sharing and standard setting on the conventional arms and dual-use goods and technology

 

Other Multi-lateral export Control Regime:

  • Zangger Committee (est 1971) for keeping a ‘trigger list’ of nuclear-related materials. India is NOT a member of it.
  • NSG (est. 1975) for preventing nuclear proliferation. India is NOT a member.
  • Australia Group (est. 1985) to control the development of chemical and biological weapons. India IS a member of it
  • Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) (est. 1987): To prevent the proliferation of missile and unmanned aerial vehicle technology capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction. India IS a member of it.

 

Lumpi-ProVacind Vaccine

 Source: Economic Times

 Context: Agrinnovate India Limited (AgIn), the commercial arm of DARE, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare granted “Non-Exclusive Rights” for Commercial production of “Lumpi-ProVac”, to Institute of Veterinary Biological Products (IVBP), Pune

  • ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research) has developed this vaccine for Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD)

About Lumpi-ProVac

  • Lumpi-ProVac is safe in animals and induces LSDV-specific antibodies and cell-mediated immune response.
  • The vaccine is used for the prophylactic immunization of animals against Lumpy Skin Disease, which illicit protection for about one year
  • The vaccine is a homologous, live attenuated vaccine (see infographic below) to protect against Capripoxvirus (which causes LSD).
  • The virus is genetically similar to Goatpox and sheeppox.
  • It is transmitted by flies and mosquitoes or ticks (blood-feeding insects).
  • LSD doesn’t affect humans

 The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is an autonomous body responsible for co-ordinating agricultural education and research in India. The Union Minister of Agriculture serves as its president. It is the largest network of agricultural research and education institutes in the world.

 

 ‘SMART’ program for Ayurveda professionals

Source: PIB

 Context: The National Commission for Indian System of Medicine (NCISM) and the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS), under the Ministry of Ayush, have launched ‘SMART’ (Scope for Mainstreaming Ayurveda Research in Teaching Professionals) program aimed to boost scientific research in priority healthcare research areas through Ayurveda colleges and hospitals

 

Objective:

  • To identify, support and promote innovative research ideas in healthcare research
  • Osteoarthritis, Iron Deficiency Anaemia, Chronic Bronchitis, Dyslipidemia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Obesity, Diabetes Mellitus, Psoriasis, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, and Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) will be covered under this.

 

Ozempic

Source: The Hindu

Context: Elon Musk tweeted about losing 13.6 kg (30lbs) because of Ozempic/Wegovy, fasting and staying away from ‘tasty food’.

 

The drug is also garnering a lot of attention on social media platforms such as TikTok as an easy way to lose weight.

 

What is Ozempic?

  • Ozempic, Wegovy and Rybelsus are the brand names for an anti-diabetes medication called semaglutide. Developed by Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, the drug is used to treat patients with type-2 diabetes.
  • Semaglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1 RA) drug that increases the secretion of insulin (which helps decrease blood sugar levels) after a meal while reducing the production of glucagon (which helps increase blood sugar levels)
  • Besides regulating glucose levels in the body, the drug also aids in weight loss, lowers the risk of hypoglycemia, and improves heart health and kidney function.
  • No diabetes drug has been approved in India for weight loss.

 

 

Novel water filter quickly removes 99.9 per cent of microplastics

Source: The Hindu

 Context: Scientists have developed a new water purification system that can filter out small plastic particles, as well as other pollutants, quickly and efficiently.

 

About the new technology:

  • The technology is unrivalled with the world’s highest purification efficiency, removing more than 9 per cent of phenolic microplastics and volatile organic compound (VOC) contaminants in water at ultra-high speeds.
  • The team synthesized a porous polymer with excellent adsorption performance and photothermal properties by reacting with an inexpensive and effective precursor.
  • It enables a material with fast adsorption of micro-pollutants in the aquatic environment.
  • The water treatment membrane coated with the oxidized polymer was confirmed to purify phenolic contaminants through sunlight.

 

Mapping:


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