IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 30th April 2019
Cyclone Fani gathers force, to hit Odisha
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains I and III – Geography; Disaster management
- Cyclone Fani intensified into a “severe cyclonic storm” and is headed towards the Odisha coast, the IMD said.
- It could become an “extremely severe cyclone” prompting the government to put the NDRF and the Coast Guard on high alert.
- Fishermen are advised not to venture into the sea and fishermen in deep sea have been asked to return at the earliest.
Do you know?
- Tropical cyclones form over oceans with surface temperatures above 26°C as strong low pressure systems that can reach diameters of more than 500 km.
- Evaporation of immense amounts of water vapour under these high temperature conditions and the related condensation aloft provide ample energy for the cyclone dynamics, leading to high wind speed and extreme precipitation.
- These usual natural phenomena are occurring more frequently than usual due to various anthropogenic and changing natural factors.
- It is a weather system of low pressure, originating in the tropics within a single air mass, but may move into temperate waters if water temperature is high enough to sustain it.
- Tropical cyclone gets its energy from latent heat of condensation. The energy in an average hurricane may be equivalent to more than 10,000 atomic bombs the size of Nagasaki bomb.
- These storms range in size from a few kilometers to several hundred kilometers in diameter.
- In the middle is an eye that can be as large as 65km across. The total area involved may be as much as 52000 sq km. the tropical cyclones originate between 10o and 25o latitudes in both the hemispheres.
Conditions conducive for tropical cyclone:
- There should be continuous supply of abundant warm and moist air.
- The sea temperature in lower latitude should be around 26-27oC.
- Existence of weak tropical depression.
- There should be presence of coriolis force.
Rare stucco statue put on show in Hyderabad
Part of: GS Prelims I – Indian Heritage and Culture
- Nearly 1,700 years after a life-size stucco Bodhisattva was created by craftsmen at Phanigiri during the peak of the Ikshvaku dynasty rule, the 1.74-metre statue was put on display.
- Brown and white fragments of the statue covered with soil were laid out on two tables at the State Museum at Gunfoundry.
- This is a stucco statue and lot of soil and earth has accreted to the figure. Officials said it was one of the rare life-size figures in stucco to be unearthed in India.
- The unearthing of a large number of artefacts and structures at Telangana’s Phanigiri site has thrown light on the Buddhist civilization that thrived there.
- In early Buddhism, bodhisattva meant “the previous lives of a (or the) Buddha.”
- In Mahayana Buddhism, bodhisattva refers to a human being committed to the attainment of enlightenment for the sake of others. Becoming a bodhisattva is the goal of Mahayana Buddhism.
- Bodhisattva may also refer in Mahayana Buddhism to archetypal bodhisattvas: mythical beings such as Avalokiteshvara and Manjushri, who are objects of devotion. to protect wildlife as summer peaks
Protected area in news: Horsley Hills
- Failure of rain and fast depletion of water sources in forests surrounding Horsley Hills, spread over Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, have affected wildlife.
- To protect wild animals from the scorching heat and to quench their thirst, A.P. Forest Department has initiated steps on a war-footing to set up drinking water pits and salt licks in the forests.
Do you know?
- Horsley Hills has a rich presence of the antelope species, including sambhar and black-buck, in addition to wild boar, rabbits, bears, wild dogs, leopards, peacocks and a variety of birds and reptile species.
Army invokes emergency powers for missile deal
Part of: GS Prelims III – Defence; Security
- The Army is in the process of procuring Spike-LR Anti-Tank Missiles from Israel and Igla-S Very Short Range Air Defence Systems (VSHORAD) from Russia through a set of new financial powers for emergency procurements sanctioned by the Defence Ministry earlier this month.
- Under the latest emergency financial powers, armed forces have been given a free hand to procure equipment worth up to ₹300 crore on a priority basis.
- The Request for Proposal (RFP) for the two deals have been issued and negotiations are ongoing. Entirely new systems not in use can also be procured under the new powers.
- Under the emergency route, the Army is looking to procure about 12 launchers and around 250 missiles for each system.
- The deal for VSHORAD, to replace the legacy Igla systems in service, began in 2010 and has since seen several trials and re-trials with three contenders in the fray — MBDA of France, Rosoboronexport of Russia and SAAB of Sweden. Eventually, all three were declared technically complaint last year.
Spike-LR Anti-Tank Missiles:
- Spike-LR is a portable anti-armour weapon system with a range of up to 4km, which can be operated in fire-and-forget mode and in fire, observe and update mode using the fibre-optic data link.
- Spike-LR is equipped with a fibre-optic data link guidance system, which sends commands to the missile from the launch system and receives, into the gunner’s field of view, images from the seeker.
- The gunner can update his aim point while the missile is in flight using the fibre-optic link. As well as update target information, the datalink allows the gunner to switch targets and also receive real-time intelligence and perform battle damage assessment.
- The Spike system can work in non-line-of-sight (NLOS) mode allowing the gunner to operate from a covered position.
- Spike-LR, which can also be installed on light combat vehicles, can be used to engage tanks, armoured vehicles, hardened shelters and low flying slow targets such as helicopters.
Committee constituted to oversee clean air programme
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Environment and ecology; Pollution; Government schemes and programmes; Governance
- The Union Environment Ministry has constituted a committee, chaired by the Secretary, Union Environment Ministry, to implement the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).
National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)
- NCAP unveiled in January is envisaged as a scheme to provide the States and the Centre with a framework to combat air pollution.
- NCAP aims to reduce particulate matter (PM) pollution by 20%-30% in at least 102 cities by 2024.
- The NCAP is envisioned as a five-year action plan with 2019 as the first year. There would be a review every five years.
Do you know?
- The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) database on air pollution over the years has listed Tier I and Tier II Indian cities as some of the most polluted places in the world.
- In 2018, 14 of the world’s 15 most polluted cities were in India.
Genes of climate-resistant chickpea varieties identified
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Science and Technology
- An international team led by the Hyderabad-based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has identified in chickpea four important genes for heat tolerance and three important genes for drought tolerance.
- With rising temperatures and increasing climatic fluctuations due to climate change, the identification of these genes will help in developing newer chickpea varieties that can tolerate temperatures up to 38°C.
- Also, the identification of other genes with useful traits will help in increasing the yield and providing better resistance to pests and diseases.
Do you know?
- The study was based on complete genome sequencing of 429 chickpea lines from 45 countries.
- More than 90% of chickpea cultivation area is in South Asia, including India.
- Globally, more than 70% yield is lost due to drought and increasing temperatures.
- Chickpea is a cool season crop, so in general any further increase in temperature is expected to further reduce the yield.
- The study has found that chickpea originated in the Mediterranean/south-west Asia and migrated to south Asia.
- It reached India about two centuries ago, apparently through Afghanistan. In parallel, it migrated from the Mediterranean to east Africa and central Asia.
- The study provides insights into chickpea’s genetic diversity and domestication too.
Drug-resistant diseases could kill 10 million a year by 2050
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Health/Social issue
According to a report released by UN Ad Hoc Interagency Coordinating Group on Antimicrobial Resistance –
- Drug-resistant diseases could cause 10 million deaths each year by 2050
- It added that by 2030, antimicrobial resistance could force up to 24 million people into extreme poverty.
- Currently, at least 7,00,000 people die each year due to drug-resistant diseases, including 2,30,000 people who die from multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.
Do you know?
- Antimicrobial resistance is one of the greatest threats we face as a global community.
- The report recommended that countries prioritise national action plans to scale-up financing and capacity-building efforts, put in place stronger regulatory systems and support awareness programs for responsible and prudent use of antimicrobials by professionals in human, animal and plant health and invest in ambitious research and development for new technologies to combat antimicrobial resistance.
Person in news: Alfred Brownell
Why in news?
- Alfred Brownell, an environmental lawyer and activist, is among six activists to be honoured ecology prize.
- Brownell blamed the devastation on the palm oil company Golden Veroleum Liberia.
- Brownell Environmental Prize for exposing alleged abuse by the company and helping to prevent it from converting about 50 km2 of forest that is home to elephants, pygmy hippopotamuses and chimpanzees.
- Brownell won the Goldman prize along with five others for grassroots environmental activism.
About Goldman prize
- The prize was created in 1989 by philanthropists Richard and Rhoda Goldman.
- Winners are selected from nominations made by environmental organisations and others.
- The prize carries a $200,000 award.
The other winners are:
- Linda Garcia of Vancouver, Washington, who rallied local communities to successfully prevent the construction of North America’s largest oil terminal.
- Ana Colovic Lesoska of North Macedonia, whose seven-year campaign helped stop hydroelectric projects from being built in the country’s largest national park.
- Bayarjargal Agvaantseren of Mongolia, who led the fight to create the Tost Tosonbumba Nature Reserve.
- Jacqueline Evans of the Cook Islands, whose work led to the conservation and sustainable management of all of the Cook Islands’ ocean territory and creation of 15 marine protected areas.
- Alberto Curamil of Chile, a jailed indigenous activist who had protested several hydroelectric projects in the country.
TOPIC: General studies 2
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources
- Issues and policies related to health
For a malnutrition-free India
- Despite programme commitments since 1975, such as creating Integrated Child Development Services and national coverage of the mid-day meal scheme, India continues to grapple with a high rate of undernutrition.
- Improving nutrition and managing stunting continue to be big challenges.
- According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-4, India has unacceptably high levels of stunting, despite marginal improvement over the years.
- According to NFHS-4 data, India has more stunted children in rural areas as compared to urban areas, possibly due to the low socio-economic status of households in those areas.
- Almost double the prevalence of stunting is found in children born to mothers with no schooling.
- Stunting has lifelong consequences on human capital, poverty and equity. It leads to less potential in education and fewer professional opportunities.
- India ranks 158 out of 195 countries on the human capital index.
- Lack of investment in health and education leads to slower economic growth.
Do you know?
- In terms of geographical regions, Bihar (48%), Uttar Pradesh (46%) and Jharkhand (45%) have very high rates of stunting, while States with the lowest rates include Kerala, and Goa (20%).
National Nutrition Strategy
- NITI Ayog came with a national strategy to fight maternal and child malnutrition and anaemia among women and girls.
- The aim of the National Nutrition Strategy of 2017 is to achieve a malnutrition-free India by 2022.
- The plan is to reduce stunting prevalence in children (0-3 years) by about three percentage points per year by 2022 from NFHS-4 levels, and achieve a one-third reduction in anaemia in children, adolescents and women of reproductive age.
This is an ambitious goal, especially given that the decadal decline in stunting from 48% in 2006 to 38.4% in 2016 is only one percentage point a year.
Measures need to address the challenges of under-nutrition
- There is a need for serious alignment among line ministries, convergence of nutrition programmes, and stringent monitoring of the progress made in achieving these goals.
- Stunting prevalence tends to increase with age and peaks at 18-23 months. Timely nutritional interventions of breastfeeding, age-appropriate complementary feeding, full immunisation, and Vitamin A supplementation have been proven effective in improving outcomes in children.
- India must improve in areas like breastfeeding children within one hour of their birth, breastfeeding for minimum next 6 months, providing timely complementary foods and adequate diet.
- About 40% of children don’t get full immunisation and Vitamin A supplementation. Vitamin A deficiency can increase infections like measles and diarrhoeal diseases.
- They must be provided these for disease prevention.
- Stunting shows a steady decline with increase in household income and years of schooling or education.
- It is imperative to push for convergence of health and nutrition programmes right from pregnancy until the child reaches five years of age.
- India must adopt a multi-pronged approach in bringing about socio-behavioural change.
- What is really needed is effective monitoring and implementation of programmes to address malnutrition.
Connecting the dots:
- Malnutrition in Indian children has reached alarming proportions. Explain how it affects India’s social performance?
- Despite rapid economic growth, hunger and malnutrition remain a challenge in many districts of India. Why? Analyse.
TOPIC: General studies 2 and 3
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
- India and its neighborhood- relations.
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
- Indian Economy and issues related to employment and trade
- Role of external state and nonstate actors in creating challenges to internal security.
- Security challenges and their management in border areas
Suspension of LoC trade
- In the last decade, the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir has often been re-interpreted as the line of commerce and co-operation. This paradigm shift was the result of initiation of two confidence-building measures (CBMs) between India and Pakistan — cross-LoC trade and cross-LoC travel.
- It was representative of a constructive bilateral engagement process in the midst of political upheavals.
- However, recently, the government of India announced the suspension of trade across LoC at the two designated points expressing concerns over ‘illegal inflows of weapons, narcotics and currency’ in the country.
- ‘A stricter regulatory regime’ is expected for re-initiation of trade.
- The unexpected suspension of the trade has affected locals. Traders have incurred significant losses as most of the goods were in transit while some goods were sold at a lower price in the local markets of Jammu and Kashmir.
Do you know?
- Cross-LoC trade is an intra-Jammu and Kashmir trade, in the form of barter of goods on a reciprocal basis.
- Started on October 21, 2008, the trade has been conducted through a standard operating procedure (SOP) mutually agreed by both the countries.
- The SOP enlists the 21 categories of items to be traded on zero tariffs.
- As per the SOP, LoC trade takes place four days a week, wherein traders are allowed to exchange 70 trucks per day.
- The trade-in (import) and trade-out (export) goods have to be balanced to zero for each trading firm within a period of three months.
- The total number of traders registered is approximately 600.
- Since 2008, trade has shown an average year-on-year growth of about 19%, reaching a cumulative value of over ₹6,500 crore to date.
- It has generated more than 1.6 lakh job days.
- Generated approximate freight revenue of ₹66.50 crore
The above figure indicates the potential that this trade holds for social and economic development within Jammu and Kashmir.
- Despite its success in generating economic benefits, the operational and policy level deficiencies render the trade vulnerable to misconceptions and malpractices.
- Lack of clarity in the SOP towards rules of origin, items list, goods and services tax (GST)/local taxation mechanisms are some of the limitations.
- A practice of ‘trade number selling’ was prevalent at Trade Facilitation Centres (TFCs) wherein few trading firms sell their registration/token numbers to other trading firms to send the latter’s goods across the LoC out of turn in the roster system.
- This practice has created a gap between the number of genuine traders and traders involved only in ‘trade number selling’.
- Presence of ‘seasonal traders’ – traders who are active only for few months led to a negative balance overall in the barter trade.
- Infrastructural issues such as a non-functional weighbridge, lack of CCTV cameras and truck scanners, and an absence of regular communication channels – warrant reforms in the trade practices.
The way out:
- Streamlining LoC trade would require both infrastructural and policy level interventions.
- A revision in the SOP is required to highlight the trader re-registration process.
- There should be clarity on the ‘rules of origin’ of goods and tradeable commodities need to be identified.
- Eight-digit HS (harmonised system) codes must be assigned to ensure clarity on the items.
- A token system on a first-come-first-serve basis should be explored. This will check the misuse of trade registration number in the roster system.
- Digitisation of the TFCs must take place, therefore, process of record keeping becomes easy, transparent and accessible.
- Digitised TFCs should be enabled with a ‘trader notification system’ for timely reminders to achieve zero barter balance for continuation of trade.
- In case of non-compliance, a strict ‘trader de-listing policy’ needs to be put in place.
- Regular meetings must also be held between the trade facilitation officers of both sides of the LoC to ensure co-ordination of such activities and exchange of the list of suspended/banned traders.
- Infrastructure upgradation such as installation of truck scanners, functional CCTV cameras for security, and calibration of weighbridges, are essential to check the inflow of banned items, narcotics and weapons.
- Sustenance of a CBM requires regular policy and operational-level interventions.
Connecting the dots:
- Do you think suspension of LoC trade is a poorly-thought move that shrinks the space for manoeuvre in Kashmir and with Pakistan?
- Discuss why India and Pakistan resort to informal trade?
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Which of the following are preconditions for the formation of a tropical cyclone?
- A low pressure center
- High temperature
- Presence of moisture
- Absence of Coriolis force
Select the code from the following:
- 1, 2 and 3
- 2, 3 and 4
- 1 and 2
- 1, 3 and 4
Q.2) The reason why tropical cyclones are not formed over the equator is:
- Lack of large water bodies around the equatorial region
- Absence of Coriolis force near the equator
- Due to availability of sun’s rays throughout the year
- Shifting of ITCZ to the north during summer
Q.3) With reference to the religious history of India, consider the following statements : (UPSC 2016)
- The concept of Bodhisattva is central to Hinayana sect of Buddhism.
- Bodhisattva is a compassionate one on his way to enlightenment.
- Bodhisattva delays achieving his own salvation to help all sentient beings on their path to it.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 and 3 only
- 2 only
- 1, 2 and 3
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