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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 4th March 2020

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  • March 5, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 4th March 2020

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


National Interlinking of Rivers Authority(NIRA)

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- Federalism; Governance

In News:

  • The Central government is working on the establishment of an exclusive body, NIRA, to implement projects for linking rivers.
  • The proposed NIRA is expected to take up both inter-State and intra-State projects
  • It will also make arrangements for generating up funds, internally and externally.
  • As of now, six ILR projects — the Ken-Betwa, Damanganga- Pinjal, Par-Tapi-Narmada, Manas-Sankosh-Teesta-Ganga, Mahanadi-Godavari and Godavari-Cauvery (Grand Anicut) — have been under examination of the authorities.
  • Once approved, the projects will be pursued as national projects, wherein the Centre will absorb 90% of the cost and the States concerned the rest.

Did You Know?

  • National Water Development Agency (NWDA)is responsible for the formulation of proposals of the linking of rivers.

Black carbon levels spike at Himalayan glaciers

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Environment

In News:

  • The Black carbon concentrations near the Gangotri glacier rose 400 times in summer due to forest fires and stubble burning from agricultural waste and triggered melting
  • Black carbon results from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass. 
  • The fine particles absorb light and about a million times more energy than carbon dioxide. 
  • It is said to be the second largest contributor to climate change after CO2. 
  • But unlike CO2, which can stay in the atmosphere for years together, black carbon is short-lived and remains in the atmosphere only for days to weeks before it descends as rain or snow.
  • Black carbon absorbs solar energy and warms the atmosphere. 
  • When it falls to earth with precipitation, it darkens the surface of snow and ice, reducing their albedo (the reflecting power of a surface), warming the snow, and hastening melting.

Sukhna Lake

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-I- Geography

In News:

  • The Punjab and Haryana High Court has declared Sukhna lake as a living entity.
  • Sukhna Lake is a rain-fed lake, located within Chandigarh and its catchment area falls both in Punjab and Haryana.
  • The lake was constructed in 1958 and is spread over 3 sq km
  • Earlier, Uttarakhand High Court declared the rivers Yamuna and Ganga as legal or juridical persons, enjoying all the rights, duties and liabilities of a living person

Naval Exercise – MILAN 2020

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- International Affairs

In News:

  • The Indian Navy has postponed its multi-nation mega naval exercise ‘MILAN’ due to continuing spread of the coronavirus.
  • Navies of about 30 friendly foreign countries were to participate in the exercise, which was to be hosted by India in Vishakapatnam from 18th – 28th March 2020.
  • It is a biennial, multilateral naval exercise which started in 1995.
  • The Navy has held 10 editions of the Milan exercise to enhance professional interactions between friendly foreign navies and learn best practices from each other.

Janaushadhi Week

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- Governance

In News:

  • The Janaushadhi week is being celebrated across the country from 1st March to 7th March 2020.
  • Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana is an initiative by Department of Pharmaceuticals started in 2008 to provide quality medicines at an affordable price
  • PMBJP stores have been set up to provide generic drugs, which are available at lesser prices but are equivalent in quality and efficacy as expensive branded drugs
  • Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI), under Ministry of Chemical and Fertilizers, is the implementation agency for PMBJP

Schemes to preserve and promote culture of tribal

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- Governance

In News:

  • Award to Young Talented Artists: Talented youngsters of the age group of 18-30 years are selected and given a onetime cash award of Rs. 10,000/- for their talent in the field of rare art forms
  • Guru Shishya Parampara: This scheme envisages transmitting our valued traditions to the coming generations. Disciples are trained under veterans in art forms which are rare and vanishing.
  • Shilpgram: To promote folk and tribal art and crafts of the zone by organizing seminar, workshops, exhibitions, craft fairs, design development and marketing support to the artisans living in the rural areas.
  • Octave: To promote and propagate the rich cultural heritage of North East region comprising of eight States namely Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim, Nagaland, Manipur and Tripura to the rest of India.
  • National Cultural Exchange Programme (NCEP): Under this scheme, various festivals of performing arts, exhibitions, yatras etc are organized in member States. 
  • Sahitya Akademi, an autonomous organization under Ministry of Culture, encourages the preservation and promotion of languages, especially the unrecognized and tribal languages.

(MAINS FOCUS)


Governance

Topic: General Studies 2:

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

Teacher Education

Context: India is estimated to have the largest workforce within the next decade. This means that a population bulge is on the cusp of entering the higher education ecosystem now. 

The pressing need of the hour is to focus on providing the best quality teacher education to those who aspire to build the future of this country.

Learning Crisis in India 

  • Almost half of the children in grade 5 in rural India cannot solve a simple two-digit subtraction problem
  • 67 % of children in grade 8 in public schools score less than 50 per cent in competency-based assessments in mathematics.

Present Status of Teacher Education

  • Currently, there are about 94 lakh teachers across all schools in India.
  • Teacher vacancies are to the tune of almost 60-70% in some states 
  • On the other hand, there are 17,000-odd Teacher Education Institutes (TEIs) that are responsible for preparing teachers through programmes such as the Bachelor of Education (B.Ed), and Diploma in Elementary Education (D.El.Ed).
  • These TEIs could generate over 19 lakh freshly trained teachers every year as against the estimated annual requirement of 3 lakh teachers.  
  • In other words, these institutes could therefore be producing one-fifth of the total number of school teachers.
  • Poor Quality of TEIs: The pass-percentage in central teacher eligibility tests that stipulate eligibility for appointments as teachers has not exceeded 25% in recent years. This indicates that teacher education system is producing poor-quality teachers.

Reasons for the Present Poor Status of Teacher Education

Inadequacies of planning, regulation, policy and organisational structures have been responsible for poor teacher education eco-system. Major factors which has contributed to this sorry state of affairs are:

  1. Toothless NCTE
  • The National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) and its four regional committees (north, south, east and west), established by statute, are responsible for teacher education in India. 
  • However, the Act assigns disproportionate power to the regional committees which grant programme affiliation while the Council has been rendered toothless.
  • The decade between 2004 and 2014 saw a five-fold increase in the number of programmes recognised by these regional committees
  1. Dominated by Private Sector
  • About 90% of these institutes are privately owned and majority of them are standalone institutes, running single programmes with as few as 50 students.
  • Commercialisation combined with perverted incentives and widespread corruption have resulted in a massive proliferation of sub-standard private TEIs. 
  • Most of these TEIs are financially unviable, some function out of tiny rooms with duplicate addresses, and a few could even be selling degrees at a fixed price. 
  1. Lack of effective Assessment
  • These institutes function in isolation from the rest of the higher education system, and there is no system to assess and accredit them. 
  • Consequently, there is no systemic sieve to ensure the entry of only motivated and meritorious individuals into the teacher education space.
  1. Poor Planning
  • Regional Disparity: Almost half of the total TEIs are in the northern region and one-third of the total TEIs are concentrated in Uttar Pradesh
  • Disproportionate Focus on Select few Programmes: While there are about 17 recognised teacher education programmes, a majority of TEIs offer only B.Ed and D.El.Ed programmes. Master of Education (M.Ed) is offered in less than 10% of the TEIs
  • As a result the country is actually facing a shortage of subject-teachers in secondary schools and teacher-educators for whom a M.Ed degree is a requisite 
  1. Outdated teacher preparation curriculum
  • The curriculum was updated over a decade ago which Is not in sync with modern needs where technological advancements can be leveraged

Way Ahead:

  • Preparation of Credible Comprehensive Data: Till date, there is no accurate real-time database of the number and details of teacher education institutes, students enrolled and programmes offered. Such data can be used for proper planning and reforming the organisational structure.
  • An accurate system of assessment and accreditation must be developed to ensure high-quality teacher education. The National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC) has only covered 30% of all institutes since its establishment back in 1994. Therefore, multiple accreditation agencies be empanelled to cover the extensive landscape of the teacher education sector 
  • Teacher education curriculum must be regularly revamped and revised to ensure that our teacher education system is aligned to global standards.
  • Tap the export potential of Teachers: Experts have advocated for a shift towards integrated four-year subject-specific programmes to be housed in multidisciplinary colleges and universities. This could potentially serve as an avenue for India to outsource its surplus high-quality teachers to over 70 countries that face a teacher shortage.
  • Strengthening governance mechanism which clearly establishes ownership and accountability for set work streams across multiple agencies.

Conclusion

The draft National Education Policy presents a ray of hope. Its vision to restore integrity and credibility to the teacher education system needs to be translated into effective action

Connecting the dots:

  • Draft National Education Policy
  • Swayam Prabha

Science & Tech

Topic: General Studies 2 & 3:

  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests 

  • Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers

Space sector: India needs urgent and radical reforms

Context: Saudi Arabia and Luxemburg plans for Outer space which demonstrates that outer space need not be the playing ground for big powers alone.

Space programmes have for long been viewed as either strategic or symbols of national prestige for big countries that are prepared to invest significant resources in the pursuit of a credible presence in outer space.

UAE:

  • A country with a population of barely one million plans to launch its Mars mission, “Hope”, in 2020 in partnership with a range of organisations across the world — including three universities in the US. 
  • Japan is scheduled to launch the UAE Mars probe this year.
  • India’s own ISRO is also working with the UAE on its Mars mission. 
  • In 2019, the first Emirati Astronaut, Hazza al-Mansouri spent more than a week in the US-Russian space station.
  • UAE’s space strategy–  is about cornering a slice of the rapidly growing commercial space industry — part of a major effort to diversify the UAE economy away from its reliance on hydrocarbons

Luxembourg

  • It too entered the space sector only in the middle of the last decade. 
  • It is also driven by the need for economic diversification, the space sector accounts for nearly 2% of Luxembourg’s GDP.
  • Over the years, Luxembourg moved away from its past reliance on the steel industry to become a centre of European banking and finance. It is now looking at commercial space as a major opportunity. 
  • Luxembourg has taken a number of regulatory steps to create a vibrant ecosystem for space companies ranging from satellite operations to future extraction of resources from asteroids and other space objects
  • There are more than 50 companies and two public research organisations that are driving the expansion of space sector in Luxembourg.

Structural changes that are reshaping the global space activity.

  • Through the second half of the 20th century, outer space was the sole preserve of national space programmes driven by government-funding, direction and management
  • As military uses of space and prestige projects like Moon-landing emerged, major private sector entities already in the aviation industry won space contracts in the US but under overall guidance & control of NASA & Pentagon
  • The last decades of the 20th century saw significant expansion of satellite-based telecommunication, navigation, broadcasting and mapping, and lent a significant commercial dimension to the space sector. 
  • As a result, private sector companies (Ex: Space X) started playing major role in the sector like independent Space launches. Hired for a resupply mission for the space station, Space X now launches more rockets every year than NASA
  • The entry of private sector has begun to drive down the cost-per-launch through innovations such as reusable rockets.
  • As the digital revolution in the 21st century transformed the world economy, the commercial space sector has begun to grow in leaps and bounds. 
  • The global space business is now estimated to be around $ 400 billion and is expected easily rise to at least trillion dollars by 2040. This has made private sector participation attractive and inevitable.

India’s Space Sector:

  • India, however, is quite some distance away from adapting to the unfolding changes in the global space business.
  • Although the ISRO encourages private sector participation in the national space programme, its model is still very 20th century — in terms of governmental domination
  • As it looks at the growing role of the private sector and the effort by nations like the UAE and Luxembourg, Delhi needs to move quickly towards a new model for India’s space activity.

Conclusion

India needs a regulatory environment that encourages a more dynamic role for the private sector and promotes innovation. It will be a pity if India squanders the many advantages of its early start in space by delaying the much-needed reform and reorganisation of its space sector.

Do You Know?

  • Startlink project of SpaceX aims to launch thousands of satellites into the low-earth orbit to provide internet services. 
  • Amazon also has plans to build a network of more than 3,000 satellites in the low-earth orbit
  • Companies also have plans to develop space tourism and build human settlements on the Moon and on Mars.

Connecting the dots:

  • Project Loon of Google uses high-altitude balloons in the stratosphere to provide connectivity to people in unserved and underserved communities around the world.
  • LiFi – is a mobile wireless technology that uses light rather than radio frequencies to transmit data. 

(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 National Interlinking of Rivers Authority(NIRA)

  1. It is a statutory body established in 2013 for the implementation of inter-linking of rivers
  2. Both inter-State and intra-State river linking projects will be taken by NIRA

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 Black Carbon

  1. Black carbon results from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass. 
  2. It is the second largest contributor to climate change after CO2. 
  3. India is the second largest emitter of black carbon in the world, with emissions expected to increase dramatically in the coming decades.

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

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

Q 3. Sukna Lake recently in news is located in which State/UT of India?

  1. Rajasthan
  2. Andhra Pradesh
  3. Karnataka
  4. Chandigarh

Q 4. Schemes like Shilpagram, Octave, Guru-Shishya Parampara are launched by Government of India for what purpose?

  1. To promote Classical Music in foreign Lands
  2. To encourage career prospects in Music
  3. To preserve and promote the Culture of Tribals
  4. None of the above

ANSWERS FOR 03 March 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 B
3 B
4 C
5 B

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