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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th JUNE 2020

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  • June 17, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th June 2020

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


SIPRI Yearbook 2020 launched

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Security

In News:

  • The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) launched the findings of SIPRI Yearbook 2020, which assesses the current state of armaments, disarmament and international security.

Key takeaways 

  • Amount of nuclear weapons possessed  by 9 nuclear-armed nations together decreased from 13,865 (2020) to 13,400 (2019). 
  • These nuclear-armed nations are: 
    • The United States
    • Russia
    • United Kingdom
    • France
    • China
    • India
    • Pakistan
    • Israel 
    • North Korea
  • Despite an overall decrease, all nuclear weapon-possessing states continue to modernize their nuclear arsenals.
  • Russia and the United States together possess more than 90% of global nuclear weapons.
  • China and Pakistan possess more nuclear weapons than India. 
  • In 2019, India had 130-140 warheads.
  • China is developing a nuclear triad for the first time, made up of new land- and sea-based missiles and nuclear-capable aircraft.

Important value additions 

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)

  • It is an international institute based in Stockholm, Sweden. 
  • It was established in 1966.
  • It is dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament. 
  • It provides data, analysis and recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public.

India’s First mobile COVID-testing laboratory installed 

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – Health 

In News:

  • India has set up its first mobile testing laboratory in a bid to meet the growing demand to conduct coronavirus disease (COVID-19) tests.

Key takeaways 

  • The mobile laboratory, with on-site Elisa, RtPCR & Bio-chem analysers, was created within eight days by a team from Andhra Pradesh MedTech Zone Limited.
  • The laboratory can be deployed at remote and inaccessible areas in the country, where there is no such facility.
  • The laboratory belongs to the biosafety level 2 (BSL-II) category.

Important value additions 

Biosafety Levels

  • BSLs are ranked from one to four
  • They are categorised on the basis of the organisms that the researchers are dealing with.
  • The organisms include viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, etc.
  • SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19, belongs to the BSL-II category.
  • BSL-I is considered to be the least hazardous, while BSL-IV poses the maximum safety risk. 
  • Each level builds on the previous category, adding more layers of constraints and barriers.

Crew module of NASA’s Gateway Lunar Orbiting Outpost finalised 

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Space

In News:

  • NASA recently finalised the contract for the initial crew module of the agency’s Gateway lunar orbiting outpost
  • NASA has issued this contract to design the habitation and logistics (HALO) support for the Gateway. 

Important value additions 

Gateway lunar orbiting outpost

  • It is a part of NASA’s Artemis program.
  • The Gateway is a small spaceship that will orbit the Moon.
  • It is meant for astronaut missions to the Moon and for expeditions to Mars.
  • It will act as a temporary office for astronauts, distanced at about 250,000 miles from Earth. 
  • It will have living quarters, laboratories for science and research and docking ports for visiting spacecraft.
  • Astronauts will use the Gateway at least once per year and not stay around the year like they do on the International Space Station (ISS). 
  • Compared to the ISS, the Gateway is much smaller, 
  • NASA has targeted the completion of the Gateway for 2026, while work on the spaceship is already underway. 
  • By 2022, NASA plans to ready the power and propulsion for the spaceship, which will be launched on a partner-provided commercial rocket. 

Artemis program 

  • It is an on-going government-funded crewed spaceflight program of USA.
  • It has the goal of landing the first woman and the next man on the Moon, specifically at the lunar South Pole region by 2024.
  • The program is carried out by: 
    • NASA (
    • U.S. commercial spaceflight companies contracted by NASA
    • European Space Agency (ESA)
    • Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
    • Canadian Space Agency (CSA) 
    • Australian Space Agency (ASA). 
  • It is expected to advance Artemis as the next step towards the long-term goal of establishing a sustainable presence on the Moon, laying the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy, and eventually sending humans to Mars. 

India joins Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI)

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Artificial Intelligence

In News:

  • India joined the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI or Gee-Pay) as a founding member to support the responsible and human-centric development and use of Artificial intelligence (AI).

Important value additions 

Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence

  • It is an international and multi-stakeholder initiative to guide the responsible development and use of AI taking into account human rights, inclusion, diversity, innovation, and economic growth.
  • This is also a first initiative of its type which involves better understanding of the challenges and opportunities around AI using the experience and diversity of participating countries.
  • It will be supported by a Secretariat
  • It will be hosted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, as well as by two Centers of Expertise- one each in Montreal and Paris.
  • Other countries who are part of this initiative other than India are: 
    • USA
    • UK
    • EU
    • Australia
    • Canada
    • France
    • Germany
    • Italy
    • Japan
    • Mexico
    • New Zealand
    • Republic of Korea
    • Singapore 

Delivery-based natural gas trading platform, Indian Gas Exchange (IGX), launched

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Infrastructure (Energy)

In News:

  • Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister launched the Indian Gas Exchange (IGX) recently. 

Key takeaways 

  • It is the first nationwide online delivery-based natural gas trading platform. 
  • It is fully automated with a web-based interface. 
  • It has been incorporated as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Indian Energy Exchange, which is India’s energy market platform.
  • The trading platform will enable market participants to trade in standardised gas contracts.
  • It is expected to facilitate transparent price discovery in natural gas.
  • It shall also facilitate the growth of the share of natural gas in India’s energy basket.
  • It provides hassle-free trading experience to the customers.
  • It will allow buyers and sellers of natural gas to trade both in the spot market (financial instruments, such as currencies are traded for immediate delivery) and in the forward market (an over-the-counter marketplace that sets the price of a financial instrument for future delivery). 
  • The trading of natural gas will be for imported natural gas across three hubs — Dahej and Hazira in Gujarat, and Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh.
  • Imported Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) will be regassified and sold to buyers through the exchange. 
  • The need for buyers and sellers to find each other shall be removed.
  • The price of domestically produced natural gas is decided by the government which will not be sold on the gas exchange.

Schizothorax Sikusirumensis: A new species of fish discovered

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Biodiversity

In News:

  • A new species of fish has been discovered in Arunachal Pradesh
  • The fish species is named as Schizothorax sikusirumensis.
  • The fish species belongs to genus Schizothorax.
  • It was named after the rivers – Siku and Sirum in East Siang District at the junction, from where it was found.
  • The fish inhabits the water logged area of torrential river drainage.

DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th JUNE 2020

Image source: Click here 


(MAINS FOCUS)


JUDICIARY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Structure, organization and functioning of the Judiciary 
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 

Language in Judiciary

Context: The Haryana government in May 2020 notified an amendment to its Official Language Act, that will mandate the use of Hindi in subordinate courts and tribunals across the state

Although there was never a bar on the use of Hindi in Haryana’s courts, English had been the preferred choice in many courts and districts.

What was the objective of the amendment?

  • To ensure that people get justice in their own language
  • To make the judicial system more litigant friendly.

A brief history of Language in our Judiciary

  • Colonial History: India’s legal system is an institutional inheritance of the British Raj and thus the English language is an integral part of its foundation
  • Continuance of English in Post-Independent India: The familiarity of English for official work led the Constituent Assembly to retain it, in addition to Hindi, as the Official Language of the Union.
  • Article 348 of the Constitution: It was categorically drafted to stipulate that proceedings in the high courts and the Supreme Court would be conducted in English, and that the authoritative text of all acts, orders, rules and regulations would be in English subject to Parliament enacting a law otherwise.
  • Necessity of English: It was asserted that English had become critical to the interpretation and application of laws, which too were originally drafted in English. Hindi, or other Indian languages, could only be used for such a purpose once it developed the same kind of capacity, knowledge and analytical accuracy as required for legal interpretation.
  • Absence of sustained effort: In the wake of inadequate efforts to develop and enrich Hindi, English continued to be the language of choice for the legal system.

Challenges w.r.t amendments by Haryana government

  • While the Amendment does envisage six months for building infrastructure and for training staff, it is unlikely to be adequate time for lawyers and judges to effectively re-equip themselves 
  • Also, there is a systemic and institutionalised predominance of English language in the State (as well as in the Country). Some of these are:
    • Haryana’s own State Judicial Examination continues to be conducted in English, with Hindi only being a separate paper. 
    • Moreover, the Bar Council of India’s Rules of Legal Education prescribe English as the default medium of instruction for all law course
    • Even those legal institutions which seek to allow instruction in language other than English, are required to conduct a compulsory examination for English proficiency.
    • Major laws, judicial precedents, commentaries and other legal resources relating to Haryana are all primarily available in English only.
  • A similar amendment was brought in by Punjab in 2008, but the progress on the ground has been meagre
  • Justice B N Srikrishna had remarked that unless two generations of lawyers were trained in Hindi, such a move (introduction of Hindi in the SC and the high courts) would not be feasible

Conclusion

  • It would indeed be ideal for our justice delivery system to function in the common tongue. 
  • But an issue as important as this needs to be approached from a practical standpoint despite its moral and emotive charm.
  • What is required is not an abrupt imposition of governmental choice, but the gradual creation of an atmosphere for all stakeholders to move towards adopting the language of their choice

Connecting the dots:

  • Reorganisation of States on linguistic lines
  • Demand for regional benches of Supreme Court

ENVIRONMENT/ ECONOMY

Topic: General Studies 3:

  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation 
  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources 

India gets its first Climate Change Assessment report

Context: The first Assessment of Climate Change over the Indian Region published by the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES).

Findings of the report deal exclusively with India and the sub-continent unlike the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC), which is global in nature

Some of the key findings of the report are:

  • Between 1900 and 2018, the average temperatures of India rose by 0.7°C. This rise in temperatures has been largely attributed to global warming due to GHG emissions and land use and land cover changes
  • Overall rainfall during the monsoon season has decreased by 6% between 1950 and 2015.
  • In a worst case scenario, average surface air temperatures over India could rise by up to 4.4oC by the end of the century as compared to the period between 1976 and 2005
  • The rise in temperatures will be even more pronounced in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region where the average could reach 5.2°C
  • By 2100, the frequency of warm days and warm nights might also increase by 55 per cent and 70 per cent respectively, as compared to the period 1976-2005
  • The incidences of heat waves over the country could also increase by 3-4 times.
  • Sea level could rise by 30cm by the end of this century as compared to the recent 2-3 decades.
  • Monsoon rainfall could change by an average of 14% by 2100 that could go as high as 22.5%. The report does not mention if this change will be an increase or a decrease but still represents variability.

Key takeaways from the report

  • Temperature rise in Himalayan region means glaciers and the snow that feeds some of India’s most important perennial rivers receding drastically, with disastrous implications for the northern part of India in terms of floods.
  • The frequency of extreme rainfall in central and southern India—the kind that Kerala has seen of late—is also likely to rise drastically.
  • The report seems to acknowledge that the 1.5oC (rise in global temperature over pre-industrial level) target may no longer be achievable, given how human activity so far has already set the planet on a warming pathway
  • Against such a backdrop, the need for adapting to climate change effects becomes urgent, which is echoed by IPCC report as well

The report also suggests solutions to Climate Change, some of which are

  • More R&D to understand regional variations in climate change effects 
  • Water-harvesting
  • Shifting to sustainable farming
  • Accelerated afforestation efforts
  • Transition to renewables from fossil fuels
  • Carbon taxation
  • Focus on building the climate resilience of the most vulnerable sections of the population

Significance of the report

  • This is the first ever climate change assessment report for India 
  • It gives a clear comprehensive view on the possible future climate change projections, that will be useful for policymakers and academia.
  • This is the first important step where existing projections are put in the context of historical trends in land and ocean temperatures, monsoon rainfall, floods, droughts etc.
  • However, the report doesn’t say anything on the need to get climate action off the ground in developing countries through increased funding from developed nations (This was perhaps outside the scope of the report)

Conclusion

The future assessments will have to start documenting the impacts of changes that have already occurred and the impacts that will be caused by future changes if projections come true

Connecting the dots:

  • Paris Climate deal of 2015 and India’s commitments towards it.

(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 Which of the following is not a nuclear armed Nation? 

  1. Italy 
  2. Russia 
  3. Japan 
  4. India 
  5. Pakistan 

Select the correct code: 

  1. 1, 2 and 5 
  2. 1 and 3 
  3. 1, 2 and 4 
  4. 2, 3 and 4 

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding biosafety levels (BSL): 

  1. BSLs are categorised on the basis of the treatment required. 
  2. SARS-CoV-2 belongs to BSL-II category. 
  3. BSL-I is considered to be the most hazardous. 

Which of the above is/are incorrect

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

Q.3 Consider the following statements regarding Artemis program: 

  1. It is an on-going government-funded program of Europe. 
  2. Its goal is to land the first woman and man on Mars. 

Which of the above is/are correct? 

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

Q.4 Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence is being hosted by which of the following?

  1. United Nation 
  2. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development 
  3. South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation 
  4. Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries 

Q.5 Which of the following country is not a part of Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence? 

  1. Russia 
  2. Australia 
  3. New Zealand 
  4. Singapore 

Q.6 Consider the following statements regarding Indian Gas Exchange: 

  1. It is an online delivery-based trading platform for both imported and domestically produced natural gas. 
  2. It will allow buyers and sellers to trade both in the spot market and in the Forward Market.

Which of the above is/are correct? 

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

Q.7 Schizothorax sikusirumensis is a new fish species recently discovered in which of the following state of India? 

  1. Arunachal Pradesh 
  2. Sikkim 
  3. West Bengal 
  4. Kerala

ANSWERS FOR 16th June 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 C
3 A
4 D
5 C

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