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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 1st April 2019

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  • April 2, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 1st April 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Spider research yet to pick up pace in India

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment and Biodiversity; Conservation of animals

In news:

  • Recently a new species of jumping spiders (name: Jerzego sunillimaye) was discovered in Aarey Colony, Mumbai.
  • Arachnologists and wildlife experts said that – Spider research yet to pick up pace in India and called for a greater focus on studying spiders in India.
  • While the last major research was conducted between the 1990s and 2000s by Dr. Manju Siliwal, a senior arachnologist.

Do you know?

  • Arachnology is the scientific study of spiders and related animals such as scorpions, pseudoscorpions, and harvestmen, collectively called arachnids. Those who study spiders and other arachnids are arachnologists.
  • While there are 4,800 species of spiders in the world, India alone accounts for 1,800 spider species.

About Arachnids

  • Common arachnids are spiders, scorpions, ticks and mites.
  • Arachnids do not have antennae.
  • Arachnids have 2 body parts and 4 pairs of legs.

(MAINS FOCUS)


SOCIAL ISSUE/BIODIVERSITY

TOPIC: General studies 2 and 3

  • Social Justice – welfare of indigenous tribes and adivasis; vulnerable sections of the population
  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
  • Conservation of Biological Diversity
  • Inclusive growth and issues arising from it
  • Development versus Conservation

Protect the protectors of the forest

Context:

  • India harbors a wealth of unique plant species that can be used to cure diseases. In fact, indigenous traditional medicine is based on the plants and animals found in its different forests.
  • For centuries, indigenous healers (especially Adivasis) have passed on their wisdom from generation to generation – a wisdom that may be lost if deforestation and pollution continue to destroy the biodiversity and traditional lifestyles of the country.
  • India contains the largest collection of living plants and animal species in the world – many of them yet unknown.
  • Pharmaceutical companies are scouting the forest areas for possible new cures and tapping into the wisdom of traditional indigenous healers.

Concept of Bio-piracy

  • Biopiracy is a term used to describe a practice in which indigenous knowledge of nature, originating with indigenous peoples, is used by others for profit, without authorization or compensation to the indigenous people

For example,

  • Pharmaceutical companies have realized that their research generates better outcome if they co-operate with indigenous Adivasi people and tap into their wisdom.
  • Once the pharmaceutical companies have developed the drug, they file patents claiming exclusive rights to the medical use of the plant – hence limiting or even denying access to the plants that indigenous peoples have relied upon for centuries.
  • While making billions of Dollars selling rainforest medicine, the industry has to this day failed to compensate indigenous people adequately. This process of “stealing” natural resources and knowhow from indigenous peoples is called “biopiracy”.

What is India doing?

  • The ‘New India’ has chose to attack Adivasis and forest-dwellers instead of those destroying its ecology. (recent SC order with regard to eviction of Adivasis and forest-dwellers)
  • Recently acquired literacy in schools is valued more than the invaluable ‘indigenous knowledge’ (the knowledge gained over centuries of lived experience).
  • ‘New India’ is unable to see any virtue in the lives of Adivasis and other forest-dwellers who have lived in and by the forests since times immemorial.
  • It sees people who live in and by the jungles as ‘underdeveloped’ criminals who are among those responsible for the thinning of the forests.
  • The ignorant India fails to distinguish between Adivasis who know something about living sensibly with nature and the rest of us, who do not.
  • Even the courts have failed and at many instances have fallen to such abysmal levels of understanding.

For instance, on February 13, the Supreme Court ruled that over 1.12 million households from 17 States, who have had their claims rejected under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) 2006, are to be evicted by the State governments before July 27. The Central government also failed to send its attorney to the court.

Ironically, the FRA contains no legal provision for the eviction of rejected claimants. In the face of loud protests from around the country, the court issued a stay order (till July 10) on its ruling.

Close to 8-10% of the Adivasi population may be asked to vacate their traditional homes and abandon their livelihoods.

We can conclude that the Court has failed to contemplate the gravity of the implications. Where are these people supposed to live and make a living? What justice is there in acting in such an inhumane manner? The Courts have chosen to attack the weakest and the wisest.

Where is conservation?

  • The world’s largest refinery is coming up in the Konkan, which will uproot 17 villages, over half a million cashew trees and over a million mango trees.
  • Thousands of acres of Himalayan forests and over a hundred villages will be submerged by one of the world’s tallest dams coming up in Pancheshwar in Uttarakhand.

Courts show little courage when it comes to tackling the land mafias, builder-developers, realtors, constructors and miners, but their conscience is ablaze over conserving Adivasis in the jungles.

Conclusion:

  • Freeing the forests of their traditional inhabitants can be considered as organized plundering or attack in the name of development.
  • If remote habitats are emptied of Adivasis, there may be nobody to forewarn us when ecologically perilous tipping points are crossed in the future.
  • The recent proposed amendments to the Indian Forest Act, 1927, which further strengthen the stranglehold of forest officials over India’s jungles and its inhabitants, is worrisome and might make matters more worse.

Gandhi’s words: “A time will come when those, who are in the mad rush today of multiplying their wants, vainly thinking that they add to the real substance, real knowledge of the world, will retrace their steps and say: ‘What have we done?’”

Connecting the dots:


SCIENCE AND TECH/DEFENCE

TOPIC: General studies 3

  • Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
  • Defence and Security issues

Seeking the next frontier

Context:

In previous DNA, we read about –

  • India’s recent success of an anti-satellite (ASAT) test (Mission Shakti). It succeeded neutralizing a target satellite in a Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
  • India became the fourth country (after the U.S., Russia/USSR and China) to acquire this capability.
  • We also read that India’s test has not violated any international norm as there is no international treaty prohibiting the testing or the development of ASATs.
  • Moreover, between 250-270 objects of space debris that were created following the test did not pose any threat due to debris created by it and they will expected to dissipate in 45 days and it is also confirmed by US that the debris did not pose a threat to the International Space Station, which orbits at an altitude of around 350 km.

Major benefits of ASAT:

  • ASAT helps to safeguard against the developments in offensive cyber capabilities. It provides strategic capability to disrupt communication links between the satellite and ground control by damaging the transponders or the power source.
  • ASAT capability is normally a part of a Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) programme. While a BMD targets an incoming ballistic missile, an ASAT interceptor targets a hostile satellite.

Do you know?

  • Both the U.S. and USSR began to develop ASAT systems as a part and parcel of their anti-ballistic missile programmes.
  • During the 1980s, both countries concluded their kinetic kill interceptor testing.
  • Later, they began to focus on co-orbital anti-satellite systems and directed energy (laser) systems which could neutralise a satellite without fragmenting it and generating space debris.
  • After the 2007 test, China too has carried out subsequent ASAT development along these lines.
  • France and Israel are believed to possess the capability, though they did not officially claim it.

Issues of debris in a crowed space:

  • Ever since the Sputnik was launched in 1957, more than 8,000 satellites/manmade orbiting objects have been launched. Out of which, around 5000 remain in orbit; more than half are non-functional.
  • Currently, more than 50 countries own/operate the nearly 2,000 functional satellites in orbit. Of these 2,000 satellites, over 300 are dedicated military satellites.
  • There are over 20,000 objects of debris which are the size of golf balls while those of smaller size run into hundreds of thousands, totalling nearly 6,000 tonnes.
  • Growing amounts of space debris pose a real risk to satellites and spacecraft.
  • One of the reasons that the international community protested strongly about the 2007 Chinese test was that it added nearly 3,000 pieces of debris as the test was done at a higher altitude (800 km), from where it would take decades to dissipate.

The debris created by the Indian test, which was undertaken at a low altitude, is expected to dissipate much faster within 45 days.

Issues with current International Regulation of space use

1967 Outer Space Treaty and 1979 Moon Treaty

The above treaties laid the foundations of the legal regime for space beginning with the –

  • rule of law,
  • refraining from appropriating territory,
  • non-placement of any weapons of mass destruction in space, and
  • prohibition of military activities on the moon and other celestial bodies.

However, the above treaties were negotiated when the technology was still in a nascent stage.

Satellite registration was introduced in the 1970s though compliance has been patchy.

Need for effective regulation of space

  • There is a need for strong regulation as some countries are aiming for Militarization of Space.
  • S., Russia and China — have already set up ‘Space Commands’.
  • Space should be preserved “as the common heritage of mankind”.
  • The U.S. has been adamantly opposed to negotiating any legally binding instrument to prevent ‘militarisation of space’, questioning the very meaning of the term, given that space as a medium is increasingly used for military applications.

Do you know?

  • In 2008, Russia and China had proposed a draft to kick off negotiations on the Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space and of the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects. However, it was rejected by the West.
  • The European Union began to develop an international code of conduct based on transparency and confidence-building measures.
  • The UN General Assembly has called for a declaration of political commitment by all countries that they shall not be the first to place weapons in space.
  • But this initiative too has floundered as norm building cannot take place in a political vacuum.

Conclusion:

  • At present, the U.S. is the dominant presence in space, which reflects its technological lead as well its dependence on space-based assets. It therefore perceives any negotiations as a constraint on its technological lead.
  • While countries have developed and tested ASATs, they are not known to have stockpiled ASAT weapons.
  • Effective use of an ASAT also requires space situational awareness capability, which works best if it is a cooperative effort. India’s successful ASAT test is therefore a technology marker.
  • Further development of interceptor technology and long-range tracking radars is necessary for a robust Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) and the DRDO also needs to move on to newer technologies to enhance its ASAT capability in the coming years.

Connecting the dots:

  • India’s space program needs techno-military orientation. Do you agree? Critically examine.
  • Examine the need for effective regulation for prohibition of military activities in the space.
  • Critically analyze the implications of Militarization of Space.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note:

  • Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
  • IASbaba App users – Team IASbaba will provide correct answers in comment section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.

Q.1) Which of the following statements correctly explains the term ‘Arachnology’?

  1. It is a study of inscriptions on pillars, rocks and buildings
  2. It is the study of geometric designs
  3. It is the study of mythology and relating it with history
  4. It is the study of spiders and related animals

Q.2) Consider the following statements with reference to Bioprospecting:

  1. Bioprospecting is one of the examples of Bioremediation.
  2. It is the process of using organisms to neutralize or remove contamination from waste.
  3. It deals with the exploration of biological material for commercially valuable genetic and biochemical properties.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

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

Q.3) Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project (PMP) is located on –

  1. River Mahakali
  2. River Alaknanda
  3. River Bhagirathi
  4. River Mandakini

Q.4) Consider the following statements about space debris

  1. Collisions among debris can lead to Kessler syndrome.
  2. Till date there is no inter-governmental mechanism to deal with the space debris problem.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.5) Which of the below given statement is not true about International Space Station (ISS)?

  1. It is in low Earth orbit
  2. It can often be seen with the naked eye from Earth
  3. It serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory
  4. It consists of 5 countries namely, Canada, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United States, and China

Q.6) Brane Crafts is

  1. A commercial high-resolution optical imaging Earth observation satellite system operating from space
  2. An American expendable launch system
  3. A series of geostationary communications satellites owned by European Space Agency
  4. An ultra-thin spacecraft that can remove space debris

Q.7) Consider the following statements with reference to Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) program:

  1. It is a two-tiered system consisting of land and sea based interceptor missiles.
  2. It includes Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) missile for low altitude interception, and the Advanced Air Defence (AAD) Missile for higher altitude interception.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. 1 and 2
  4. None

Q.8) Which of the following is NOT the example of Archanids?

  1. Crab
  2. Spider
  3. Scorpio
  4. Ticks

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