IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 13th July 2019
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
ISRO’s lunar touchdown has dry run on soil fetched from Tamil Nadu
Part of Prelims and mains GS III: Science and Technology
More than a decade ago, even as the Chandrayaan-1 orbiter mission of 2008 was being readied, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) created a proto-Lunar Terrain Test Facility (LTTF) at its advanced satellite testing unit, ISITE, in Bengaluru.
This, it did, by modifying a balloon research lab, about 30-40 m high, long and wide.
Lunar Terrain Test Facility (LTTF) and need of lunar soil
- Equipping the LTTF and making it look and feel like being on the moon was the first challenge.
- It needed lunar ‘soil’ with almost all its features and texture, lunar temperatures, low gravity and the same amount of sunlight as on the moon.
- On the Moon, the metre-long rover, weighing 27 kg, must move for about 500 metres during its expected life of 14 Earth days (one lunar day).
- For recreating the terrain, an option was to import simulated lunar soil from the U.S. at an exorbitant price.
- ISRO decided to find its own solution at a lower cost.
- Geologists of various national agencies had found that a few sites near Salem in Tamil Nadu had the ‘anorthosite’ rock that somewhat matches lunar soil in composition and features.
- To simulate the lunar surface at the Bengaluru test facility, professional crushers broke down the rocks brought from around Salem in Tamil Nadu to the micro grain sizes.
Two from Araku test positive for Anthrax
Part of Prelims and mains GS II issues related to health
Two persons from Araku mandal of Andhra Pradesh, tested positive for the disease cutaneous anthrax.
What is anthrax?
Anthrax is a serious infectious disease caused by gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria known as Bacillus anthracis. Anthrax can be found naturally in soil and commonly affects domestic and wild animals around the world.
- According to officials from the Health Department, anthrax can spread in three forms — cutaneous anthrax (through the skin), pulmonary anthrax (through inhalation), and gastrointestinal anthrax (through the stomach).
- In Cutaneous anthrax, anthrax spores get into the skin usually through a cut or a scrape, which can happen when a person handles infected animals.
- After consumption of affected animals’ meat, there are chances of contracting gastrointestinal anthrax.
New Constitution calls Kim head of state instead of ‘supreme leader’
Part of Prelims and mains GS II International Relations
- Kim Jong-un has been formally named head of state of North Korea and the Commander-in-Chief of the military in a new Constitution observers said was possibly aimed at preparing for a peace treaty with the United States.
- North Korea has also long called for a peace deal with the United States to normalise relations and end the technical state of war that has existed since the 1950-1953 Korean War concluded with an armistice rather than a peace treaty.
- A previous Constitution simply called Mr. Kim “supreme leader” who commands the country’s “overall military force”
Warming threatens Greenland’s archaeological sites, says study
Part of Prelims and mains GS III Climate change
- In Greenland, climate change is not just a danger to ecosystems but also a threat to history, as global warming is affecting archaeological remains, says a study.
- There are more than 1,80,000 archaeological sites across the Arctic, some dating back thousands of years, and previously these were protected by the characteristics of the soil.
- Because the degradation rate is controlled by the soil temperature and moisture content, rising air temperatures and changes in precipitation during the frost-free season may lead to a loss of organic key elements such as archaeological wood, bone and ancient DNA.
- In addition to organic elements, such as hair, feathers, shells and traces of flesh, some of the sites contain the ruins of Viking settlements.
- The remains, some of which provide a glimpse into the lives of the first inhabitants of Greenland from around 2,500 BC, are at risk.
- Study predict that average temperature could increase by up to 2.6 degrees Celsius, leading to higher soil temperatures, a longer thaw season, and increased microbial activity within the organic layers.
TOPIC: General studies 3
- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation
Picking out plastic: on recycling and waste management
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has put 52 producers, brand owners and importers, including big online retailers such as Amazon and Flipkart, and companies such as Patanjali Ayurveda and Britannia, on notice, for failing to take responsibility for their plastic waste.
- The retail sector expects e-commerce to grow from about $38.5 billion-equivalent in 2017 to $200 billion by 2026. Given the role played by packaging, the waste management problem is likely to become alarming.
- Plastics are less expensive than other inputs in manufacturing, but recycling them into new products extends their life and provides a substitute for virgin material.
- In spite of legal requirements, municipal and pollution control authorities fail to see this and mostly pursue business-as-usual waste management methods.
- Recyclable waste is rendered useless when it gets mixed with other articles.
- Online retailers have not felt compelled to take back the thousands of polybags, plastic envelopes and air pillows used to cushion articles inside cardboard boxes.
- This is in contrast to more developed markets where they are trying out labels on packages with clear recycling instructions.
Extended producer responsibility –
The concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) was incorporated into the Plastic Waste Management Rules, but municipal and pollution control authorities have failed to persuade commercial giants to put in place a system to collect and process the waste.
What is EPR?
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a policy approach under which producers are given a significant responsibility – financial and/or physical – for the treatment or disposal of post-consumer products. Assigning such responsibility could in principle provide incentives to prevent wastes at the source, promote product design for the environment and support the achievement of public recycling and materials management goals.
Do you know?
PLASTIC WASTE MANAGEMENT RULES, 2016: SALIENT FEATURES –
- Increase minimum thickness of plastic carry bags from 40 to 50 microns and stipulate minimum thickness of 50 micron for plastic sheets also to facilitate collection and recycle of plastic waste;
- Expand the jurisdiction of applicability from the municipal area to rural areas, because plastic has reached rural areas also;
- To bring in the responsibilities of producers and generators, both in plastic waste management system and to introduce collect back system of plastic waste by the producers/brand owners, as per extended producer’s responsibility;
- To introduce collection of plastic waste management fee through pre-registration of the producers, importers of plastic carry bags/multi-layered packaging and vendors selling the same for establishing the waste management system;
- To promote use of plastic waste for road construction as per Indian Road Congress guidelines or energy recovery, or waste to oil etc. for gainful utilization of waste and address the waste disposal issue;
- To entrust more responsibility on waste generators, namely payment of user charge as prescribed by local authority, collection and handing over of waste by the institutional generator, event organizers.
- The two prongs of the solution are packaging innovation that reduces its use by using alternatives, and up scaling waste segregation, collection and transmission.
- These companies can form waste cooperatives in India, employing informal waste-pickers.
- In such a model, consumers will respond readily if they are incentivised to return segregated plastic waste.
- Making municipal and pollution control authorities accountable is also equally important.
Connecting the dots:
Plastic pollution is a pressing environmental concern that requires our collective action. Do you think implementation of PLASTIC WASTE MANAGEMENT RULES, 2016 failed to achieve its objectives? Critically comment.
TOPIC: General studies 3
- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
Jobless growth becomes more systemic
Jobless economic growth was a phenomenon that was earlier seen mainly in the organised sector. However, according to the Periodic Labour Force Survey (2017-18), this jobless economic growth has spread to other sectors of the economy mainly the unorganised sector.
Varous statistics about unemployment
Labour force participation
- The two biggest issues shown in the Periodic Labour Force Survey is that there is a decrease in share of the labour force and that there is rising unemployment.
- The labour force participation rate (% of people working or seeking work in the above-15 years age category) in the earlier survey of 2012 was 55.5%. This has shrunk to 49.7% in 2018. There is an absolute decline in the number of workers from 467.7 million in 2012 to 461.5 million in 2018.
- The decline in women’s labour force participation from 31% to 24% means that India is among the countries with the lowest participation of women in the labour force.
- Similarly, self-employment has also decreased.
Do you know?
Periodic Labour Force Survey:
- From 2017 onwards, a nationwide Labour Force Survey called Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) was launched by the NSSO.
- The PLFS has been launched with an objective of measuring quarterly changes of various labour market statistical indicators in urban areas as well as generating annual estimates of these indicators both for rural and urban areas, which can be used for policy making.
Urban vs rural and men vs women unemplyment
- The highest unemployment rate of a severe nature was among the urban women at 10.8%; followed by urban men at 7.1%; rural men at 5.8%; and rural women at 3.8%.
- Severe unemployment among men at 6.2% was higher than among women at 5.7%.
- Youth unemployment rate (unemployment among those in the 15-29 years age category) has reached a high 17.8%.
- Educated unemployment Defined as unemployment among those with at least a secondary school certificate.
- The unemployment rates go up as levels of education go up.
- Compared to the earlier 2012 survey, unemployment of educated men has more than doubled in both rural and urban areas.
- Unemployment among those with at least a secondary school certificate, it is at 11.4% compared to the previous survey’s figure of 4.9%.
- Unemployment rates have gone up in basic educated youths. Among those with secondary school education, it is 5.7% but jumps to 10.3% when those with higher secondary-level education are considered.
- The highest rate is among the diploma and certificate holders (19.8%); followed by graduates (17.2), and postgraduates (14.6%).
Burden on women
- Highest burden of unemployment is on women.
- The highest unemployment rate of a severe nature was among the urban women at 10.8%; followed by urban men at 7.1%.
- In educated unemployment, urban women (19.8%) followed by rural women (17.3%), rural men (10.5%) and urban men (9.2%).
- Among the educated, women face a more unfavourable situation than men despite a low labour force participation rate.
- In youth unemployment, women unemployment rate of 27.2% is more than double the 2012 figure of 13.1%. The rate for urban men is at 18.7%.
The overall conclusion here is that the trend of ‘jobless growth’ that was till recently confined largely to the organised sector has now spread to other sectors of the economy, making it more generalised. This calls for a thorough re-examination of the missing linkages between growth and employment.
Connecting the dots:
The nature of economic growth in India in recent times often projects jobless growth. Critically comment.
Q.1) Viking settlements are found in,
- Green Land
- None of the above
Q.2) Anthrax disease is
- A viral disease
- A bacterial disease
- Disease caused by protozoa
- A fungal disease
Q.3) “Anorthosite” rock is recently seen in news because of,
- Its uranium content
- Its similarity with lunar soil
- Its fossil content
- None of the above
Maximise revenue, minimise tax
A case of confused thinking: on draft National Education Policy
A welcome debate on electoral reforms