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[Mission 2024] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 8 August 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 2:

  1. Jan Vishwas Act, 2022 and Separation of Power

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. WMO: 2022 State of the Climate in Asia Report
  2. Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2023

 

Content for Mains Enrichment

  1. Aces on Wheels
  2. Deepor Beel

 

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

  1. Tamil Palm manuscripts: Gnanamuyarchi
  2. Adichanallur archaeological site (Tamil Nadu)
  3. Amrit Bharat Station Scheme
  4. Nuclear Medicine
  5. IMS-1 Satellite Bus Technology
  6. Neerakshi

 

Mapping

  1. Arash-Dorra Gas Field

 


 

Jan Vishwas Act, 2022 and Separation of Power

 

 GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Governance

 

Source: TH

Context: The recently enacted Jan Vishwas Act, 2022, aimed at easing business regulations, transfers the authority to impose penalties for offences from the judiciary to the bureaucracy. This move has raised concerns about the separation of powers, as bureaucrats become both prosecutors and judges.

 

What is Separation of Power?

Separation of Powers is a fundamental principle in governance where the powers of a government are divided among different branches to prevent any one branch from having unchecked authority. It ensures a system of checks and balances.

 

For example, in a democratic country, the legislative, executive, and judicial branches have distinct functions to prevent the concentration of power and ensure accountability.

 

About the act:

 

Issues Related to Jan Vishwas Act:

Issues
Violates Separation of Power The legislation replaces criminal imprisonment with monetary penalties but shifts the authority to impose penalties to the bureaucracy.
It amends environmental and pollution control Acts to replace imprisonment with penalties, decided by designated bureaucrats
A form of ‘quasi-decriminalization’: Critics argue the Act offers a form of ‘quasi-decriminalization’, and more efforts are needed for true decriminalization.
Technical competence of adjudicating officers Questions were raised about the technical competence of adjudicating officers under the Act, especially in environmental legal proceedings.

 

Status of division of powers between executive and judiciary in India:

The division of powers between the judiciary and the executive is not explicitly outlined in the Constitution.

  • Article 50 instructs the state to achieve this separation over time.
  • Initially, the criminal magistracy was part of the executive at Independence.
  • It was only around 1970 that certain State legislatures, like West Bengal, enacted laws to separate the judicial and executive functions within the criminal magistracy under the Criminal Procedure Code, 1898

 

The bureaucracy encroaches upon judicial power through various methods:

  • Establishing Judicial Tribunals: Ministries create judicial tribunals to take over judicial functions, often appointing bureaucrats as “technical members”
  • Creating Statutory Regulators: The Union government establishes regulators like SEBI and CCI with the authority to impose substantial fines on private sector entities.
  • Appointing Adjudicatory Officers: The government introduces adjudicatory officers in legislation like the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, IT Act, and Food Safety Act. These officers, who are bureaucrats, possess powers to impose penalties or confirm property attachment orders.

 

Supreme Court Views:

  • A “judicial function” should only be performed by an independent judicial authority free from executive control.
  • While there is limited precedent on whether imposing penalties qualifies as a “judicial function,” processes involving fact-finding, applying the law, and determining punishment or compensation fundamentally constitute a judicial function.

 

Hence, it’s the government’s duty to present its case before an impartial judge to guarantee citizens a fair trial before any penalty is imposed. The government cannot serve as both prosecutor and judge in its own matter.

 

Insta Links: 

WMO: 2022 State of the Climate in Asia Report

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Environment Conservation

 

Source: TH

 Context: The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has come up with its 2022 State of the Climate in Asia report, indicating that in 2022, Asia experienced extreme climate events, including high temperatures, droughts, floods, and cyclones, leading to significant socioeconomic impacts.

 

Key points of the Report are:

Points Examples and Impacts
Global Climate ·        The annual mean near-surface temperature in 2022 was 1.15 °C above pre-industrial average

·        Ocean heat content reached a new high

·        Global mean sea level reached a new high due to ocean warming and ice sheet loss.

Temperature ·        2022 had the second or third-highest mean surface temperature on record

·        Northern Siberia, Central Asia, and Western China experienced above-average temperatures

Precipitation ·        Regions in Iraq, Ganges-Brahmaputra Rivers, Korean Peninsula faced precipitation deficits

·        South Pakistan, Southeast Asia, and northeast China experienced excessive rainfall

·        Central India and the Himalayas recorded high precipitation

·        Floods in Pakistan and India displaced millions and damaged agriculture.

Glaciers ·        23 glaciers in High Mountain Asia showed a continued mass reduction

·        Urumqi Glacier No 1 in Tien Shan had the second most negative mass balance in 2021-22 (see explanation down)

Extreme Events: Cyclones ·        25 tropical cyclones formed in the western North Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea

·        The Nanmadol typhoon affected Japan, causing evacuation, deaths, and economic damage.

Floods ·        Severe floods in Pakistan displaced 14% of the population, causing deaths and displacements.

·        Heavy monsoon affected Northeast India and Bangladesh, causing deaths and destruction

·        Floods were India’s worst natural disaster in 2022

Droughts ·        The Yangtze River basin in China experienced the worst drought in six decades, impacting crops, energy, and economy

·        Iran faced its third consecutive year of drought, leading to decreasing water bodies and economic loss.

Economic Impact ·        Floods in Pakistan, China, and India caused economic losses exceeding the average observed over 20 years

·        Droughts in China and Iran resulted in significant economic damages

·        Cyclones and storms led to milder economic losses compared to previous years.

 

What is “Negative mass balance” for glaciers?

It refers to a situation in which the amount of ice or snow lost from a glacier or ice sheet through melting, sublimation, or other processes exceeds the amount of new ice or snow accumulation. In other words, the glacier is losing more mass than it is gaining, resulting in a decrease in its overall size and volume over time.

 

About World Meteorological Organization:

The World Meteorological Organization (founded 1950; HQ: Geneva; Parent organization: United Nations Economic and Social Council) is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for promoting international cooperation on atmospheric science, climatology, hydrology and geophysics.

 

Insta Links:

Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2023

GS3/GS1 Paper

 Syllabus: Issues related to Development, Mineral and Energy Resources

 

Source: TH

 Context: Parliament passed the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2023, (MMDR Amendment) in a bid to attract private sector investment in the exploration of critical and deep-seated minerals in the country.

 

What are critical and deep-seated minerals?

  • Critical Minerals: Critical minerals are natural resources that are essential for various industries, including technology, manufacturing, and clean energy. E.g., Lithium, nickel, cobalt etc.
  • Deep-Seated Minerals: Deep-seated minerals refer to minerals that are found deep within the Earth’s crust and are typically more challenging and costly to explore and mine compared to minerals closer to the surface. E.g., Gold, Copper, Diamonds etc.

 

India’s import dependency for critical and deep-seated minerals:

India is highly dependent on imports for critical and deep-seated minerals like

  • 100% dependency: lithium, cobalt, nickel, niobium, beryllium, tantalum,
  • Very high dependency: copper, zinc, lead, gold, silver, platinum group elements (PGEs), and diamonds.

 

India’s current status:

  • India is the world’s 4th largest producer of iron ore and the 2nd largest producer of coal as of 2021.
  • India is the second-largest producer of Aluminium globally
  • India’s mineral demand is projected to rise by 3% in 2023, fuelled by expanded electrification efforts and overall economic growth

 

The issue with the import dependency:

This import dependency poses challenges due to vulnerabilities in global supply chains and the potential for supply disruptions and increased prices. Moreover, the cost of importing these minerals is rising for India.

 

Private sector participation is crucial for the exploration of critical and deep-seated minerals in India due to:

  • Geological Potential: India has substantial geological potential for hosting valuable mineral resources, similar to mining-rich regions globally.
  • Limited Exploration: India has explored only a small fraction of its geological potential, with less than 2% of known resources being mined.
  • Government Dominance: Exploration efforts have been largely led by government agencies like the Geological Survey of India and Mineral Exploration Corporation Limited, with limited private sector involvement.
  • Complex Exploration Techniques: Mineral exploration demands specialized techniques like aerial surveys, geological mapping, and geochemical analyses.
    • These operations are resource-intensive, time-consuming, and carry financial risks.

 

Background

  • The MMDR Act, 1957 has undergone several amendments to address various issues in the mineral sector.
  • Amendments in 2015 introduced auction-based mineral allocation, established DMF for community welfare, and NMET for exploration promotion.
  • Amendments in 2016, 2020, and 2021 focused on emerging challenges and reforms, including removing the captive vs. merchant mine distinction.

 

Need for further Amendment:

The mineral sector requires more reforms, particularly in exploring and mining Critical Minerals crucial for economic growth and national security. Limited availability and extraction concentration of these minerals poses supply chain vulnerabilities and disruptions. Critical minerals have gained importance due to India’s energy transition commitment and goal of achieving Net-Zero emissions by 2070.

 

Key provisions of Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2023

Key Provisions MMDR Act 1957 MMDR Amendment Bill
Private Sector to Mine Atomic Minerals Limited to State agencies for exploration. Allows the private sector to mine 6 atomic minerals- lithium, beryllium, niobium, titanium, tantalum and zirconium.
The central government can auction mining leases and composite licences for critical minerals.
Auction for Exploration Licence No provision for an exploration licence auction. The state government grants licences through competitive bidding, while the Central government prescribes auction details.
Maximum Area in which Activities are Prospecting licence: Up to 25 sq. km. Bill allows activities under a single exploration licence in an area of up to 1,000 square kilometres.
Incentive for Exploration Licence The state conducts auctions for mining leases if resources are proven after exploration. Licensee receives a share in the auction value of the mining lease for prospected minerals.

 

Mines and Minerals Bill 2023 endeavours to stimulate private sector involvement through:

  • Expanding Mining Opportunities: The Bill excludes six atomic minerals that were previously reserved exclusively for government entities
  • Enabling Exploration Activities: The Bill overturns the Act’s prohibition on certain exploration activities like pitting, trenching, drilling, and sub-surface excavation.
  • Introduction of Exploration License (EL): The Bill introduces a new exploration license (EL) aimed at promoting reconnaissance-level and prospective-stage exploration by private players.
  • Defining Exploration Area: The Bill specifies the maximum exploration area, allowing activities within 1,000 square kilometres under a single exploration license.
  • Central Government Auctions: The Bill empowers the central government to conduct auctions for composite licenses and mining leases specifically for critical and strategic minerals.

 

Case study:

In countries like Australia, private junior explorers take risks to discover potential mines and subsequently sell them to larger mining companies, fostering greater participation and multiplying exploration efforts.

 

Some potential issues and concerns raised by industry experts:

  • Delayed Revenue Generation: Private companies’ revenue from exploration depends on premium shares after mine auctions, subject to government clearance timelines and potential delays due to deposit complexity and geography. This could impact exploration project viability.
  • Uncertainty in Revenue: Explorers might not know their revenue until mine auction success, dissuading potential private participation due to unclear investment returns during exploration.
  • Auctioning Challenges: Auctioning exploration licenses is complex as the value of undiscovered resources is uncertain. This may reduce private sector interest due to unpredictability in the auction process.
  • Government Control over Discoveries: The policy limits private explorers to sharing premiums post-discovery, instead of selling discoveries directly. This contrasts with global practices where private explorers can sell findings to mining companies.
  • Investment Assurance: Companies may hesitate to invest significantly in exploration due to uncertainty about utilizing discoveries, affecting capital investment incentives.

 

Also, the Ministry of Mines, in June this year, came out with a list of 30 minerals critical to the country’s economic development and national security.

 

Insta Links:

 

Mains Links:

Despite India being one of the countries of Gondwanaland, its mining industry contributes much less to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in percentage. Discuss. (UPSC 2021)

“In spite of adverse environmental impact, coal mining is still inevitable for development”. Discuss. (UPSC 2017)

Aces on Wheels

Content for Mains Enrichment

Source: TH

Shiv Khanna, an 11th-grade student from Delhi, stands out in the world of tennis not for his own aspirations to excel in the sport, but for his dedication to promoting wheelchair tennis in India.

He was inspired after witnessing wheelchair tennis at Wimbledon, leading him to successfully host a wheelchair tournament in Delhi. Alongside his father Vidur Khanna, they have established the “Aces on Wheels” foundation to bolster wheelchair tennis.

 

Usage: The example can be used to show values of dedication to social impact, inclusivity, empowerment, compassion, support for underrepresented groups, equality, determination, and resource mobilization.

Deepor Beel

Source: DTE

Deepor Beel, a vital wetland in Guwahati, Assam, faces anthropogenic threats despite its protected status. Indigenous names like “beel” signify cultural and ecological connections, with local livelihoods intertwined with the wetland’s resources.

Efforts to sustainably coexist with the wetland include initiatives by local women who convert water hyacinths into products, offering employment and improving the ecosystem’s health. Similarly, “Kumbhi Kagaz” produces biodegradable paper from water hyacinths, enhancing the wetland’s condition and supporting alternative livelihoods.

Usage: The example can be used to highlight how local knowledge and communities can be incorporated into sustainable conservation efforts.

 

About the Deepor Beel: 

Situated in the southwest of Guwahati, Assam, Deepor Beel is not only one of the largest freshwater lakes in the region but also holds the distinction of being the state’s sole Ramsar site. It’s recognized as an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International and was once a water channel of the Brahmaputra River.

Tamil Palm manuscripts: Gnanamuyarchi

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: TH

 Context: Palm manuscripts from the 18th Century titled “Gnanamuyarchi” have been discovered in an Armenian monastery in Northern Italy.

 

What is a manuscript?

A manuscript is a handwritten or typewritten document, usually historical or literary in nature, before the age of printing. For example, ancient religious Sanskrit texts written on palm or birch leaf.

 

More about the News:

  • The documents may contain a copy of the first translation of Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercise in Tamil, possibly by Michele Bertoldi (Gnanaprakasasamy).
  • Initially categorized as ‘Indian Papyrus Lamulic Language–XIII Century’, the manuscripts were not recognized as Tamil texts.
  • It’s suggested that Armenians from Chennai might have brought the manuscripts to Italy.

Adichanallur archaeological site (Tamil Nadu)

 

Source: PIB

 

Context: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman laid the foundation stone for the ‘Iconic Site Museum’ at the Adichanallur archaeological site in Tamil Nadu.

  • The museum will be built as a tribute to the history of Iron Age culture in southern India, in the context of Adichanallur.
  • It is one of the five sites selected as ‘Iconic sites’ in the budget 2020-21 for development.
  • Other sites are Rakhigarhi (Haryana), Hastinapur (UP), Dholavira (Gujarat), and Shivsagar (Assam).

 

About Adichanallur

It is an ancient Iron-age burial site located in the Thoothukudi District of Tamil Nadu, situated along the banks of the Tamirabarani River. It holds significance in showcasing the megalithic culture. Additionally, the nearby ancient seaport of Korkai, mentioned in Sangam literature, is nearby.

 

Other significant initiatives are:

  • Development of ‘Panchtheerth’ sites based on Babasaheb Ambedkar’s life
  • Construction of the National War Memorial and National Police Memorial in Delhi
  • Establishment of ten new Tribal Freedom Fighter Museums
  • Heritage sites like Somnath and Kashi Vishwanath Temple have been revitalized
  • Tourism circuits under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme, such as the Buddhist, Ramayana, Coastal, Desert, and Himalayan Circuits, are being established
  • Over 3 lakh manuscripts containing over 3 crore pages have been digitized for knowledge preservation.
  • Plans for a new National Museum in Delhi with 950 rooms spread across the North and South Blocks have been announced
  • ‘Pradhanmantri Sangrahalaya’ has been established to honour every Prime Minister of India since Independence

Amrit Bharat Station Scheme

 

Source: PIB

 Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the redevelopment of 508 railway stations across India, signifying increased private participation.

 

Proposed features of Amrit stations:

Feature Description
Green Building Standards All Amrit stations will adhere to green building standards, contributing to environmental sustainability. This will be in line with the government’s aims to make India’s railway network operate on net zero emissions by 2030.
Modern and Heritage Blend Each station will embody both modern aspirations and ancient heritage, showcasing the country’s rich cultural history.
Theme-Inspired Design Stations will be designed based on specific themes, integrating local landmarks and cultural elements.
E.g., Jaipur station’s design will include elements resembling the iconic Hawa Mahal and Amer Fort of Rajasthan.
E.g., Jammu Tawi station’s design will draw inspiration from the renowned Raghunath Mandir in Jammu and Kashmir.

 

About the Scheme:

The Amrit Bharat Station Scheme (ABSS) was launched by the Ministry of Railways in February 2023 with the aim of modernizing and enhancing railway stations across India.

Objectives: Improve facilities beyond minimum essentials; Construct Roof Plazas and City Centers within stations; Introduce new amenities and upgrade existing ones;

The scheme envisions a comprehensive transformation of railway stations, creating modern and passenger-friendly spaces while also supporting local businesses and promoting India’s heritage and culture.

Nuclear Medicine

 

Source: PIB

 Context: India has expressed its support for South Africa’s Integrated Early Warning systems and Russia’s BRICS Collaboration in Nuclear Medicine

 

What is Nuclear Medicine?

Nuclear Medicine is a medical speciality that uses radioactive substances to diagnose and treat diseases.

  • It involves the use of small amounts of radioactive materials, known as radiopharmaceuticals, which are introduced into the body.
  • These substances emit gamma rays that can be detected by specialized cameras to create images of organs and tissues.
  • This imaging technique helps in diagnosing various conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, and bone disorders, by providing detailed information about the functioning and structure of internal organs.
  • Nuclear medicine treatments involve using radioactive substances to target and destroy specific cells or tissues, such as cancer cells.

IMS-1 Satellite Bus Technology

 

Source: ET

Context: ISRO has transferred its IMS-1 Satellite Bus Technology to Alpha Design Technologies Pvt Ltd., promoting private industry participation in India’s space sector.

 

What is IMS-1 Satellite Bus Technology? 

IMS-1 Satellite Bus is a platform developed by ISRO for cost-effective space access. It serves as a versatile vehicle for payloads, enabling tasks like Earth imaging, space science, and remote sensing. Weighing around 100 kg and carrying up to 30 kg payload, it features solar arrays generating 330 watts of power and provides accurate pointing capabilities.

 

Significance:

  • The transfer marks the first instance of ISRO’s satellite bus technologies being shared with private companies.
  • This move aims to boost India’s industrial growth, promote technological self-reliance, and encourage private sector participation in space research and exploration.

Neerakshi

 

Source: HT

 Context: India has introduced an innovative Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) named ‘Neerakshi’ designed for mine detection (currently in the prototype stage)

Developed by: Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) Ltd and AEPL, an MSME entity.

Features: 2.1-meter-long cylindrical AUV, weighing around 45 kg, can perform various tasks such as mine detection, disposal, and underwater surveys.

It has an endurance of four hours and a depth of up to 300 meters, making it a versatile tool for ensuring coastal safety and protection.

 Significance: Important for Indian Navy, Coast Guard, and Army

Arash-Dorra Gas Field

Mapping

 Source: TH

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have rejected Iran’s claims to a disputed gas field located in the offshore area known as Arash in Iran and Dorra in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The dispute over this field dates back to the 1960s between Saudi Arabia, Iran and Kuwait.

 

The Arash-Durra gas field is an offshore natural gas field located in the neutral zone between Kuwait, Iran and Saudi Arabia. It was discovered in 1967. It began production in 2013 and produces natural gas and condensates.

 

Read the CA in PDF format here: 

 


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