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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th December 2019

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  • December 17, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th December 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Hydrogen cell technology (Fuel Cell Technology)

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains III – Science & Technology

In News

  • Ahead of next July’s Tokyo Olympics, Japan is gearing up to put on its roads thousands of vehicles based on a hydrogen cell technology, also known as ‘fuel cells’.
  • At the heart of the fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) is a device that uses a source of fuel, such as hydrogen, and an oxidant to create electricity by an electrochemical process.
  • Like conventional batteries under the bonnets of automobiles, hydrogen fuel cells too convert chemical energy into electrical energy.
  • From a long-term viability perspective, FCEVs are billed as vehicles of the future, given that hydrogen is the most abundant resource in the universe.
  • Fuel cells generate electricity through an electrochemical process, it does not store energy 
  • Relies on a constant supply of fuel and oxygen — in the same way that an internal combustion engine relies on a constant supply of petrol or diesel, and oxygen
  • Unlike battery-powered electric vehicles, fuel cell vehicles do not need to be plugged in, and most models exceed 300 km of range on a full tank. They are filled up with a nozzle, just like in a petrol or diesel station

Criticism of Hydrogen Cell Technology:

  • The process of making hydrogen needs energy — often from fossil fuel sources. That has raised questions over hydrogen’s green credentials.
  • Safety — hydrogen is more explosive than petrol.

Sexed Semen

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains III- Science & Technology

In News

  • The Union Minister for animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries said that government plans to provide dairy farmers with ‘sexed semen’ for cattle for as cheap as Rs 100 per straw by 2020.
  • The reproduction system of cattle is similar to humans. Cows carry XX chromosomes while bull semen carries both X and Y.
  • Sexed semen is specially processed semen of bulls from which ‘Y’ chromosomes in sperm cells — which lead to the birth of a male calf — are either removed through a ‘sorting’ process or killed. 
  • Semen which has only ‘X’ chromosomes can ensure that a female calf is born.
  • Sexed semen can help solve the stray cattle problem in country as male calves(and cows which has stopped giving mil) are abandoned on the roads by farmers as they do not give milk. 
  • The guarantee of a female calf being born is never 100 per cent. It can be up to 90 per cent
  • High quality conventional semen straws are available for just around Rs 20-40 per straw only whereas sexed semen costs at least Rs 1,200 per straw without subsidy.

GIMS or Government Instant Messaging System

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Governance

In News

  • The government is testing a prototype of an Indian equivalent of popular messaging platforms, such as WhatsApp and Telegram, for secure internal use – codenamed GIMS
  • Designed and developed by the Kerala unit of National Informatics Centre (NIC)
  • GIMS is being packaged for employees of Central and state government departments and organisations for intra and inter organisation communications
  • It is being developed as a secure Indian alternative without the security concerns attached with apps hosted abroad or those owned by foreign entities. Like WhatsApp, GIMS employs end-to-end encryption for one-to-one messaging

Do You know?

  • There was a WhatsApp breach through a spyware called Pegasus some Indian users’ mobile devices were targeted 
  • Pegasus code can be transmitted via Whatsapp call.It sends the targets contacts, calls and messages to its controller. It can also turn the phone into a spy device by switching on the camera or microphone.

Asia’s biggest surge pool 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Economic Development

In News

  • The Stage is all set for the filling of the Asia’s biggest surge pool (open to sky) with the waters of the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project 
  • The surge pool measures 92 meters deep and 56 meters diameter and would store one tmc feet of water, which would be lifted by using four motors to the Ananthagiri Reservoir. 
  • The open-to-sky Surge pool was constructed in a record time of 13 months at a cost of Rs 2,700 crore

Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project 

  • It was previously known as Pranahita-Chevella Lift Irrigation Project
  •  It is multi-purpose irrigation project at the confluence point of Pranhita River and Godavari River i.e, at Kaleshwaram village in Telangana. 
  • Pranahita river in itself is a confluence of various other smaller tributaries like Wardha, Penganga and Wainganga Rivers.
  • Under the scheme, 89 cumecs (cubic metres per second) of water will be lifted to a height of 106 metres from the Sripada Yellampalli reservoir to Medaram reservoir and will be used for irrigation and water supply in nearby drought-prone areas.

Increase Lok Sabha seats

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- Polity

In News

  • Former President Pranab Mukherjee made a case for raising the number of Lok Sabha constituencies to 1,000 from the existing 543 and for a corresponding increase in the Rajya Sabha’s strength, 
  • He argued that India has a “disproportionately large size” of electorate for elected representatives and thus needs expansion of Parliament
  • The last time the strength of the Lok Sabha was revised was in 1977, which, he noted, was based on the 1971 census that put the total population at 55 crore.
  • The population since then has more than doubled, and there is a ‘strong case’ to remove the freeze in the delimitation exercise. It should be ideally increased to 1,000,

GST compensation

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Federalism

In News

  • The Centre released ₹35,298 crore to the States in Goods and Services Tax (GST) compensation, just two days before a crucial meeting of the GST Council.
  • Earlier in Nov 2019, the Centre had written to States voicing concern that due to lower GST collections, the compensation cess might not be enough to pay for the losses arising out of the adoption of the tax system.
  • While the government had budgeted for ₹6,63,343 crore in GST collections for the current fiscal, 2019-20, it had garnered only about 50% of its budget estimate in the first eight months.

About GST Council

  • The GST Council is a constitutional body established under Article 279A of Indian Constitution
  • It makes recommendations to the Union and State Government on issues related to Goods and Service Tax (GST).
  • The GST Council is chaired by the Union Finance Minister.
  • Its other members are the Union State Minister of Revenue or Finance and Ministers in-charge of Finance or Taxation of all the States.

(MAINS FOCUS) 


POLITY

TOPIC: General Studies II

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th December 2019

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th December 2019

Src:CM

Context:

  • Protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act at Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi and Aligarh Muslim University, followed by violent clash between students and police, have had a ripple effect across the country.

Background

Acquiring Indian citizenship:

  • According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, there are four ways in which Indian citizenship can be acquired: birth, descent, registration and naturalisation. 
  • The provisions are listed under Citizenship Act, 1955.

By birth:

  1. Every person born in India on or after 26.01.1950 but before 01.07.1987 is an Indian citizen irrespective of the nationality of his/her parents.
  2. Every person born in India between 01.07.1987 and 02.12.2004 is a citizen of India given either of his/her parents is a citizen of the country at the time of his/her birth.
  3.  Every person born in India on or after 3.12.2004 is a citizen of the country given both his/her parents are Indians or at least one parent is a citizen and the other is not an illegal migrant at the time of birth.

By registration with conditions:

  1. A person of Indian origin who has been a resident of India for 7 years before applying for registration.
  2. A person of Indian origin who is a resident of any country outside undivided India.
  3. A person who is married to an Indian citizen and is ordinarily resident for 7 years before applying for registration.
  4. Minor children of persons who are citizens of India.

By descent:

  1. A person born outside India on or after January 26, 1950 is a citizen of India by descent if his/her father was a citizen of India by birth.
  2. A person born outside India on or after December 10, 1992, but before December 3, 2004 if either of his/her parent was a citizen of India by birth.
  3. If a person born outside India or or after December 3, 2004 has to acquire citizenship, his/her parents have to declare that the minor does not hold the passport of another country and his/her birth is registered at an Indian consulate within one year of birth.

By naturalisation:

  • A person can acquire citizenship by naturalisation if he/she is ordinarily resident of India for 12 years (throughout 12 months preceding the date of application and 11 years in the aggregate)  and fulfils all qualifications in the third schedule of the Citizenship Act.

Dual citizenship:

  • The amended Citizenship Act of 1955 does not provide for dual citizenship or dual nationality. 
  • Any citizen of India, who by registration, naturalisation or otherwise voluntarily takes the citizenship of another country, shall upon such acquisition cease to be a citizen of India. 
  • Cases of termination or cessation of citizenship will be determined ultimately by courts of law.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019:

  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill or CAB, which grants Indian citizenship to the non-Muslims of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh(Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhist, Jains and Parsis)
  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill proposes to grant citizenship to the non-Muslims Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhist, Jains and Parsis — from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who arrived in India before December 31, 2014.
  • CAB paves way for Indian citizenship to lakhs of immigrants, who identify themselves with any of the given religions, even if they lacked any document to prove their residency. It also means that any immigrant who does not belong to the said communities would not be eligible for Indian citizenship
  • Any illegal immigrant from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who belongs to these said communities will not be deported or imprisoned if they are not carrying any valid documents for their residency in India
  • The duration of the immigrants’ residency was 11 years. The amended bill has reduced it to five years. This means that immigrants from the three countries and from the mentioned religions, who have entered India before December 31, 2014, would not be treated as illegal immigrants.

Exemptions:

  • Bill exempts certain areas in the North-East from this provision tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura as included in Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and the area covered under the Inner Limit notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.(Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram along with almost whole of Meghalaya and parts of Assam and Tripura)

The Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cardholders:

  • As per the citizenship bill, a foreigner may register as an OCI under the 1955 Act if they are of Indian origin (e.g., former citizen of India or their descendants) or the spouse of a person of Indian origin.
  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill entitles the OCI cardholders to benefits such as the right to travel to India, and to work and study in the country. The Citizenship Bill, which was passed in the Rajya Sabha, amends the Act to allow cancellation of OCI registration if the person has violated any law notified by the Central government.

Concerns :

  • Lack of inclusion of several non-Muslim countries around India, such as Sri Lanka,concern about the citizenship status of Tamil-speaking Hindus who were allowed to legally settle in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu due to previous discrimination on the 
  • Tibetan refugees from China are also excluded from the bill despite being an ongoing concern and being unable to acquire Indian nationality
  • The passage of the Act caused large scale protests in India Muslim groups and secular groups have protested alleging religious discrimination, for violating the secular Constitution of India and its promise of equality under Article 14 and believe it legalises religious discrimination
  • The people of Assam and other north-eastern states continue to protest fearing that the non-Muslim illegal immigrants in their regions would be allowed to stay. The protests stem from the fear that illegal Bengali Hindu migrants from Bangladesh, if regularised under CAB, will threaten cultural and linguistic identities of the state.
  • Act was criticised by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom

Way forward:

  • Conciliation would be the best way forward to contain violence and reassure those in need of reassurance, pending a determination by the Supreme Court on the constitutional validity of the Act.
  • Incendiary statements and irresponsible finger-pointing on the basis of no evidence is not needed 

Conclusion:

  • Preamble of India ensures equality of status and opportunity the act is evident that it violates this principle and it also violates UDHR 1948 declaration so steps must be taken to ensure this status

ENVIRONMENT 

TOPIC: General Studies III

  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

COP25: Longest climate talks end

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th December 2019

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th December 2019

Src: UNFCC

Context:

  • The 25th annual talks under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), referred to as the Conference of Parties (COP), was recently held in Madrid.
  • It ended without any outcome.
  • It was the 15th meeting of the parties for the Kyoto Protocol (CMP15), and also, it was the second meeting of the parties for the Paris Agreement.
  • The prime objective of the conference is to complete the rule-book to the 2015 Paris Agreement that will become effective in 2020 to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol (comes to an end in 2020).

Conference of Parties (COP)

  • The COP is the supreme decision-making body of the Convention. 
  • All States that are Parties to the Convention are represented at the COP, at which they review the implementation of the Convention and any other legal instruments that the COP adopts and take decisions necessary to promote the effective implementation of the Convention.
  • The first COP meeting was held in Berlin, Germany in March, 1995.

Kyoto Protocol 1997

  • The Kyoto Protocol is an international treaty which extends the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that commits state parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based on the scientific consensus that (part one) global warming is occurring and (part two) it is extremely likely that human-made CO2 emissions have predominantly caused it.
  • That protocol legally bound developed countries to emission reduction targets.
  • However, the agreement was widely believed to be ineffective because the world’s two top carbon dioxide-emitting countries, China and the United States, chose not to participate

Paris Agreement, 2015

  • Paris Agreement or COP21 was adopted in December 2015.
  • It aimed to reduce the emission of gases that contribute to global warming.
  • The Paris Agreement also aimed at replacing the Kyoto Protocol(to strengthen emission reductions, in 1997)

Aims of Paris Agreement

The aim of the agreement is to decrease global warming, enhancing the implementation of the UNFCCC through: 

  • Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels .
  • Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change.
  • Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development
  • This strategy involved so-called 20/20/20 targets, namely the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 20%, the increase of renewable energy’s market share to 20%, and a 20% increase in energy efficiency.

COP 25: Focus

  • Ambitions for this conference were limited because many countries were focused on narrow technical details such as the workings of the globalcarbon markets.
  • It was hoped that countries would resolve to work on more ambitious carbon targets needed to fulfil the goals of the 2015 Paris agreement.
Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th December 2019

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th December 2019

Src: Ethics forge

Why CoP25 failed?

  • The failure of the talks underlined starkly the massive gap between what scientists say the world’s nations need to do on climate change, and what the most powerful political leaders on the planet are prepared to even discuss.
  • According to scientist, talks focused on some of the rules for implementing the 2015 Paris agreement, but the overriding issue of how fast the world needs to cut greenhouse gas emissions has received little official attention. 
  • Countries agreed in Paris in 2015 to revisit their climate pledges by 2020. But many countries were pushing this year for a clear call for all countries to submit more ambitious climate pledges next year.
  • But countries such as China and Brazil opposed placing any obligation on countries to submit enhanced pledges next year, arguing it should be each country’s own decision. They instead argued the focus should be on pre-2020 action by developing countries to meet their previous pledges
  • There was a recognition that tougher carbon targets are needed globally, but few countries came up with any and the resolve to come back next year with more ambitious plans was worded too weakly to satisfy most campaigners.

India’s stance:

  • India played a mixed role at the recently concluded 25th Conference of Parties (CoP 25) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at Madrid.
  • On the question of markets, India emphasised the transition of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) credits earned under the Kyoto Protocol to the Paris Agreement. 
  • Pointed out that that excessively cheap emissions reductions enabled by the CDM as well as the possibility of double counting could corrupt the process.
  • India played a strong role in critiquing the developed world’s continuing poor record on climate action.
  • It argued that unless a stocktaking exercise of the fulfilment of various pre-2020 commitments by developed countries ,India would not raise its climate ambition for its next round of Paris Agreement targets due in 2020.
  • India also took a lead in calling for more finance for developing countries for climate action, (“not even 2 per cent” of the promised “$1 trillion in the last 10 years” had been delivered)

Way forward

  • It is entirely appropriate for countries such as India to insist on not taking on an even more unfair share of the global mitigation burden unless developed countries deliver on the minimal parameter of fulfilling their existing promises.
  • It is crucial that India continue to push developed countries in this fashion as the entire global climate action framework has been put in jeopardy by the inaction of big polluters.

Connecting the dots:

  • Do you think COP25 climate summit has ended in staggering failure of leadership?
  • Do you think Climate change is Real?

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Note: 

  • Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers. 
  • Comments Up-voted by IASbaba are also the “correct answers”.

Q.1) Consider the following statements about Hydorgen Fuel Cell

  1. The fuel cell combines hydrogen and oxygen to generate an electric current, water being the only byproduct. 
  2. Like conventional batteries, hydrogen fuel cells too convert chemical energy into electrical energy. 

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

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

Q.2) Consider the following statements about GIMS or Government Instant Messaging System

  1. It is Indian equivalent of popular messaging platforms, such as WhatsApp and Telegram, for secure internal use.
  2. It is being developed by National Informatics Centre

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

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

Q.3) Consider the following statements about GST Council:

  1. It is a constitutional body established under Article 279A of Indian Constitution
  2. It is Chaired by Prime Minister of India

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

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

Q.4) Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project is at the confluence of which two rivers?

  1. Ganga and Yamuna River
  2. Godavari and Kaveri river
  3. Pranhita River and Godavari River 
  4. None of the above

ANSWERS FOR 16 DEC 2019 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 C
3 A
4 B
5 C

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