IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 10th June 2020
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – International Relations
- The UN Command, led by the United States, recently held both North and South Korea guilty of violating armistice agreements after a recent incident which involved gunfire along the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) between the two countries.
About The Korean Armistice Agreement
- The agreement brought about a complete cessation of hostilities of the Korean War.
- It was signed on 27 July 1953 by the United Nations Command (UNC), Korean People’s Army (KPA of North Korea) and the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army (PVA).
- It was designed to ensure a complete termination of hostilities and of all acts of armed force in Korea until a final peaceful settlement is achieved.
- A final peace settlement has never been achieved.
- It also established the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the de facto new border between the two nations which put into force a cease-fire, and finalized the return of prisoners of war.
- The DMZ runs close to the 38th parallel and has separated North and South Korea since the Agreement.
- South Korea never signed the Agreement, due to its refusal to accept failure to unify Korea by force.
- The UN Command oversees affairs pertaining to the DMZ, to ensure the terms of the armistice are being agreed upon by both North Korea and South Korea
Image source: Click here
Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – Welfare Schemes & GS-III – Artificial Intelligence
- Recently, the Ministry of Electronics and IT has launched a National Program for the youth – Responsible Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Youth.
- The government has also launched India’s National Artificial Intelligence Portal.
- It is designed to reach out to students from Government schools pan India and provide them with an opportunity to become part of the skilled workforce in an inclusive manner.
- It aims to help reduce the skill gap, while enabling youth to create meaningful social impact solutions.
- It also intends to provide a platform for relevant AI skill-sets and access to required AI tool-sets to make youth digitally ready for the future.
- It is open to students of class 8th to class 12th from Central and State government-run schools (including KVS, NVS, JNV) from across the country.
- It will be implemented in a phase-wise manner.
- In its first phase, each State will nominate 10 teachers as per the eligibility criteria.
- National Artificial Intelligence Portal
- It has been jointly developed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM).
- It will work as a one stop digital platform for sharing of resources such as articles, startups, investment funds in AI etc.
Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Biotechnology
- The Department of Biotechnology has taken several measures to streamline the biosafety regulation and to facilitate researchers and industries which are undertaking research and development in Recombinant DNA Technology and Hazardous Microorganisms.
- Operationalization of Indian Biosafety Knowledge Portal:
- Launched in May, 2019, it is now made fully operationalised.
- All new applications are being received through online portal only.
- The whole process has become transparent and time bound.
- Notification of Revised Simplified Guidelines on Import, Export and Exchange of GE Organisms and Product Thereof for R&D Purpose:
- The Revised Guidelines were issued in January, 2020.
- Institutional Biosafety Committee have been given authority to take decisions on applications of import, export and exchange of GE organisms and products.
- Facilitation of Research and Development on COVID-19:
- The Department has proactively taken several steps to facilitate researchers and industries involved in research on COVID19.
- Rapid Response Regulatory Framework for COVID-19 to deal with application for development of vaccines, diagnostics, prophylactics and therapeutics.
- Interim Guidance Document on Laboratory Biosafety to Handle COVID-19 Specimens has also been notified.
- Rapid response regulatory framework for development of recombinant DNA COVID 19 vaccine has also been issued.
Image source: PIB
Important value additions
- It refers to policies and procedures adopted to avoid risk to human health and safety and to the conservation of the environment as a result of the use of GMOs for research and trade.
Recombinant DNA Technology
- It is a technology used for producing artificial DNA through the combination of different genetic materials (DNA) from different sources.
- Gene therapy: It is used as an attempt to correct the gene defects which give rise to hereditary diseases.
- Clinical diagnosis
- It is used in carrying out Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) test. The test detects and measures antibodies in blood.
- It is used in the production of Insulin.
- It is used to produce genetically-modified organisms such as Flavr Savr tomatoes.
Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Innovation; Entrepreneurship
- Recently, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) have signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in various sectors.
Major areas of mutual interest include:
- Supporting world class start-ups through CSIR Incubators under Atal Innovation mission initiatives.
- Working together on new models of innovation including setting up of CSIR Innovation Parks.
- Stimulating innovation and research in the MSME industry by CSIR in collaboration with ARISE initiative of AIM.
- Creating problem solving mind-set across schools in India through close cooperation between Atal Tinkering Labs and CSIRs ´JIGYASA’ – a Student-Scientist connect program through which more than 3 lakhs students across the country have been exposed to science and technology.
Important value additions
Atal Innovation Mission
- It is Government of India’s flagship initiative to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.
- AIM’s objectives are:
- To develop new programmes and policies for fostering innovation in different sectors of the economy.
- To provide platform and collaboration opportunities for different stakeholders.
- To create awareness.
- To create an umbrella structure to oversee innovation ecosystem of the country.
- Five major initiatives:
- Atal Tinkering Labs-Creating problem solving mindset across schools in India.
- Atal Incubation Centers-Fostering world class startups and adding a new dimension to the incubator model.
- Atal New India Challenges-Fostering product innovations and aligning them to the needs of various sectors/ministeries.
- Mentor India Campaign– A national Mentor network in collaboration with public sector, corporates and institutions, to support all the intiatives of the mission.
- Atal Community Innovation Center– To stimulate community centric innovation and ideas in the unserved /underserved regions of the country including Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.
- ARISE-To stimulate innovation and research in the MSME industry.
Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Space
- A group of scientists working at the Pune-based National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA) have recently discovered tiny flashes of radio light emanating from all over the sun.
- These flashes could help in explaining the long-pending coronal heating problem.
Important value additions
Coronal heating problem
- The solar corona is the outer layer of the Sun’s atmosphere.
- It is composed of extremely high temperature gas, known as plasma
- Its temperature could reach upto millions of degrees Celsius.
- It is farthest from the core where the nuclear reactions powering the Sun occur.
- It would logically be expected to be the coolest part of the Sun.
- However, corona is 200 times hotter than the photosphere which is the layer beneath it.
- This contradiction is dubbed as the coronal heating problem.
- It has puzzled astrophysicists ever since the temperature of the corona was first measured over 70 years ago.
Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Science and technology
- U.K.-based archaeologists have discovered Roman large embanked settlement enclosures in Tamar Valley, England by analysing images derived from Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data.
Important value additions
Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR)
- It is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to the Earth.
- These light pulses, when combined with other data recorded by the airborne system, generate precise, 3-D information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics.
- A LiDAR instrument principally consists of a laser, a scanner, and a specialized GPS receiver.
- Airplanes and helicopters are the most commonly used platforms for acquiring the data.
- It can be used to examine both natural and manmade environments with accuracy, precision, and flexibility.
- Two types of LiDAR are:
- Topographic typically uses a near-infrared laser to map the land
- Bathymetric uses water-penetrating green light to measure seafloor and riverbed elevations.
- Defence Institute of Advanced Technology (DIAT), a Deemed University, Pune has developed a Nano-technology based disinfectant spray to combat COVID-19 by disinfecting all types of surfaces.
SpaceX-NASA Dragon Demo-2 launch
- Recently, NASA astronauts, Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, flew onboard a spaceship named Crew Dragon built by SpaceX, a private company.
- The rocket – Falcon 9, which carried the spaceship into the orbit, was also built by SpaceX.
- SpaceX became the first private company to launch people (human spaceflight) into orbit.
- So far, this feat was achieved only by the US, Russia & China.
- It is a part of the Dragon 2, a class of reusable spacecraft developed and manufactured by American aerospace manufacturer SpaceX.
- It is the fifth class of US spacecraft to take human beings into orbit, after the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle programs.
- It is done under the Demo-2 Mission of NASA and SpaceX.
- Contribution of such private companies is not much significant in India.
The Coral Triangle Day
- It is held every June 9.
- It is an annual, open-sourced event.
- Individuals, organizations, and establishments come together to shed light on ocean conservation and the numerous ways to protect and conserve the Coral Triangle.
- The Coral Triangle is the world’s epicentre of marine biodiversity.
- It is one of the 3 mega ecological complexes on our planet, together with the Congo Basin and the Amazon Rainforest.
- The triangle encompasses the seas of 6 countries (CT6 countries) in the Asia-Pacific region:
- Papua New Guinea
- Solomon Islands
- Timor Leste
- The region contains 76% of all known coral species and 53% of the world’s coral reefs.
Image source: Click here
Topic: General Studies 2:
- Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests,
Context: George Floyd who was an African-American was killed by police during an arrest (neck restraining) in Minneapolis, USA on May 25th 2020. This led to widespread protest in US against Police brutality and systemic racism
What is racism?
- In a nutshell, it is this: one can tell everything important about a person, his group, its past and future, by noting the colour of his skin.
- Racism is a systematic ideology, a complex set of beliefs and practices that, on the presumed basis of biology, divides humanity into the ‘higher’ us and a lower ‘them’.
Idea of race
- Race is considered as a group with a common biological descent.
- This idea of race develops primarily due to following two reasons
- Specific bodily features (colour, shape of nose, eye, lips) are permanently clumped together and human beings are classified in terms of these distinct biological clusters
- Further, it is believed that these shared features are inter-generationally transmitted
- Each race is then believed to be fundamentally and permanently different from others- differences that are innate and indestructible
- Despite many attempts, particularly in the 1930s to demonstrate its scientific basis, race or racial classifications have virtually no scientific foundation.
Anatomy of Racism
- The classification of humans into different races is the starting point of all racism
- Racism depends on two additional, deeply troublesome features.
- First is linking Biology with Behaviour
- A given set of biological characteristics is believed to be necessarily related to certain dispositions, traits of character and behaviour.
- Biological descent fixes a person’s culture and ethics
- Racism thus naturalises a person’s belief, character and culture.
- For example, being uneducated is seen not as socio-economic deprivation but a sign of inherited low IQ
- In USA, blacks are seen as predatory and savagery, which unless kept down by brute force from time to time, might explode and destroy civilisation.
- Second, these racial cultures and ethical systems are hierarchically arranged
- Racism considers that those on top are intrinsically superior to those at the bottom.
- Racism not only sustains a permanent group hierarchy but deeply stigmatises those designated as inferior.
- This sense of hierarchy provides a motive for say, whites to treat blacks in cruel ways
- Inferior races are either considered not worthy to live with (Ex: Anti-semitism in Nazi Germany that led to Holocost) or fit only to be controlled, subordinated and enslaves (Ex: Anti-Black racism, Caste Sytem)
How racism persists in USA despite several movements?
- Despite the civil war in US over slavery, and the civil rights movement for dignity and equality, systemic discrimination and violence against blacks persist
- Even though good education helps in dismantling racism but the fact remains that much of it lies hidden within the social structure, in habits, practices and institutions.
- Open discrimination of blacks has been replaced by another system of hidden & systemic discrimination.
- There now persists a racialized criminal system – one that awards unfair advantage and privilege to whites, while inflicting unmerited and unjust disadvantages on blacks
- For example, in a number of southern States in America, once declared a felon, a person is disqualified from voting
- In several States of USA, Blacks are 10 times more likely to go to prison than whites.
- In U.S., between 1976-2019, black defendants sentenced to death for killing whites numbered 291, while white defendants killing blacks were only 21
Only a peaceful movement to end institutionalised racism, with both blacks and white participants, quite like the recent protests after Floyd’s murder, can break the back of racism.
Connecting the dots:
- Caste system in India – its features and criticism
- Impact of racism on Indian diaspora in US
Topic: General Studies 2,3:
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors
- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation
Two interrelated curves began their upward trend two centuries ago with the advent of the industrial age.
- The first curve was the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (or, more generally, all greenhouse gases, GHGs)
- The second was the average global temperature curve.
Brief history of CO2 Curve
- The CO2 curve began its upward march about 18,000 years ago when it was a little under 200 parts per million (ppm) and earth was much colder.
- By the time it reached 270 ppm about 11,500 years ago, the warmer conditions accompanying this curve made it possible for the emergence of agriculture.
- Over the past million years, CO2 levels never exceeded 280-300 ppm. They always went back to 200 ppm before rising again in a cyclical fashion
- From mid-19th century, CO2 began to rise again as humans burnt coal & oil and erased forests to expand agriculture and settlements.
- From a mere 0.2 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions in 1850, annual emissions increased to 36 billion tonnes by 2018.
- However, one-half of all CO2 emissions have been sanitised from the atmosphere, equally by growing vegetation on land and by absorption in the oceans
- Thus, the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere reached 407 ppm in 2018, a level last experienced by earth some three million years ago.
Brief history of global average temperature Curve
- From 1850 onwards, for over a century, the global temperature showed a slight warming trend. But there was nothing suggestive of anything serious
- From 1975 onwards, the temperature graph has shown a distinct, upward trend.
- By 2015, the globe had heated by a full degree Celsius relative to a hundred years previously.
- Under the current trends of emissions, the globe will heat up by 4˚C by the end of the century.
- Extremely hot days (days above 35˚C), which were only five days in 2010, would increase to 15 days by 2050 and to 42 days by 2100 on average across all districts if the emissions continue at same rate
Manifestation of these upward trend curves
- Globally there have been several extreme and frequent weather events such as hurricanes, heat waves, floods or droughts
- The 2003 European heat wave killed over 70,000 people.
- The years 2015-19 have globally been the warmest years on record.
- The Amazon fire of 2019 and the bush fires of 2019-20 in Australia were unprecedented in their scale and devastation.
- If global CO2 emissions continue to gallop at the present rate, then average summer temperatures would rise by 4˚C in most States of India.
Paris Climate Deal and its challenges
The Paris Agreement’s long-term temperature goal is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels; and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 °C. However, some of challenges to achieve this goal are
- Dangers of post-COVID period: The most common excuse is that the world cannot afford to curb GHG emissions for fear of slowing the economy
- Inadequate Spending: The wealthy nations are spending over $500 billion each year internally on projects aimed at reducing emissions.
- IPCC, however, estimates that a sustained annual investment of $2.4 trillion in more efficient energy systems is needed until 2035 in order to keep warming below the more ambitious 1.5˚C relative to pre-industrial levels
- Inadequate Aid to Developing Countries: At the UN Climate Conference in 2009, the richest nations had pledged to provide $100 billion in aid each year by 2020 to the poorer countries for climate change mitigation and adaptation. In 2017, only $71 billion had been provided towards this purpose
- Change is mindset: The spectre of dangerous climate change impacting human civilizations has not yet evoked a response comparable to that seen in COVID-19 outbreak
This is a make-or-break moment for the climate trajectory which has to be flattened within a few years if we are to avoid dangerous climate change.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
- 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 38th parallel often seen in news is related to which two countries?
- Israel and Palestine
- India and Pakistan
- North Korea and South Korea
- Iran and Iraq
Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding ‘Responsible Artificial Intelligence for youth’ program:
- It was recently launched by Ministry of Science and Technology.
- It is open to students of class 11th and class 12th from Central and state government Run schools all over India.
Which of the above is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.3 Which of the following is not the application of Recombinant DNA technology?
- It is useful in gene therapy.
- It is used in carrying out RT-PCR test.
- It is used in production of insulin.
- it is used to produce Genetically Modified Organisms
Q.4 Which of the following is not the major initiative taken under Atal Innovation Mission?
- Mentor India Campaign
- Atal Community Innovation Centre
Q.5 Consider the following statements regarding the Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) remote sensing method:
- It helps in generating information about the shape of the Earth.
- It can be used to examine both natural and manmade environments.
Which of the above is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
ANSWERS FOR 9th June 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)
About Delhi’s decision to limit Health Services:
About expanding the autonomy of Public Universities:
About India-Nepal relations: