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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 5th December 2020

  • IASbaba
  • December 5, 2020
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 5th December 2020
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) maps millions of galaxies

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Space; Sci & Tech

In news

  • The Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) has recently mapped over three million galaxies in a record 300 hours during its first all-sky survey.
  • ASKAP is a powerful telescope developed and operated by Australia’s science agency CSIRO.

Key takeaways

  • ASKAP is currently conducting pilot surveys of the sky before it can begin large-scale projects from 2021 onward.
  • ASKAP surveys are designed to map the structure and evolution of the Universe, which it does by observing galaxies and the hydrogen gas that they contain.
  • One of its most important features is its wide field of view.
  • It has been able to take panoramic pictures of the sky in great detail.
  • The telescope uses novel technology of a “radio camera” to achieve high survey speeds and consists of 36 dish antennas, which are each 12m in diameter.
  • The present Rapid ASKAP Continuum Survey (RACS) taken by the ASKAP telescope is like a “Google map” of the Universe where most of the millions of star-like points are distant galaxies, about a million of which have not been seen before.

Government approves Deputy Chief of Strategy post

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

In news

  • A major restructure at the Army Headquarters has finally been approved by the government. 

Key takeaways

  • The government has given its nod to create the position of a third Deputy Chief of Army.
  • He will act as a “single-point advice” person to the Vice Chief of Army on operational issues.
  • He will head operations, intelligence, perspective and information warfare. 
  • The Directorate General of Military Operations and the Directorate General of Military Intelligence, both headed by Lieutenant General-rank officers, will be under him. 
  • Two new offices, for Perspective Planning and Strategic Communications, which will also be headed by director generals of Lt Gen-rank, will also come under the new Deputy Chief.
  • The changes will start rolling out immediately.
  • Current DGMO Lt Gen Paramjit Singh is likely to be appointed the first Deputy Chief (Strategy). 

UN Decides Cannabis Not A Dangerous Narcotic

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Health

In news

  • The UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) recently reclassified out of the most dangerous category of drugs.

Key takeaways

  • The CND has decided to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
  • Earlier, cannabis was listed alongside deadly, addictive opioids, including heroin.
  • Now, it is removed from the strictest control schedules that even discouraged its use for medical purposes.
  • The removal has opened the door to recognizing the medicinal and therapeutic potential of the commonly-used but still largely illegal recreational drug.
  • The decision could also drive additional scientific research into the plant’s long-heralded medicinal properties and act as catalyst for countries to legalize the drug for medicinal use, and reconsider laws on its recreational use.
  • Twenty-seven of the CND’s 53 Member States — including India, the USA and most European nations — voted “Yes” on the motion to delete cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention.
  • Under India’s Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985, the production, manufacture, possession, sale, purchase, transport, and use of cannabis is a punishable offence.

For further read, click the below links:


Malayan Giant Squirrel could decline by 90% in India by 2050: Zoological Survey of India (ZSI)

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Biodiversity

In news

  • A recent study by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has projected that numbers of the Malayan Giant Squirrel (Ratufa bicolor) could decline by 90% in India by 2050.
  • Ministry: Ministry of Environment

Key takeaways

  • According to the ZSI, destruction of its habitat could restrict the squirrel to only southern Sikkim and North Bengal by 2050,.
  • Only 43.38% of the squirrel’s original habitat in India is now favourable to it
  • By 2050, the favourable zone could shrink to 2.94% of the area the species was meant to inhabit.

Important value addition

  • The Malayan Giant Squirrel is one of the world’s largest squirrel species. 
  • It has a dark upper body, pale under parts, and a long, bushy tail.
  • IUCN Status: Near Threatened 
  • It is protected under India’s Wildlife Protection Act.
  • Found in India: West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Nagaland. 
  • Other Countries: Southern China, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Burma, the Malayan Peninsula, Sumatra, and Java.
  • It is found mostly in evergreen and semi-evergreen forests, from plains to hills at elevations of 50 m to 1,500 m above sea level.

Do you know?

  • India is home to three giant squirrel species.
  • The other two – Indian Giant Squirrel and Grizzled Giant Squirrel – are found in peninsular India.
  • Unlike the nocturnal flying squirrels, giant squirrels are diurnal, but arboreal (tree-dwelling) and herbivorous like the flying squirrels.

HL-2M Tokamak: The Artificial Sun of China

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Sci & Tech

In news

  • China successfully powered up its “artificial sun” nuclear fusion reactor for the first time marking a great advance in the country’s nuclear power research capabilities.

Key takeaways

  • The HL-2M Tokamak reactor is China’s largest and most advanced nuclear fusion experimental research device.
  • Name of the mission: Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST).
  • Location: Sichuan province 
  • The reactor is often called an “artificial sun” due to the enormous heat and power it produces.
  • It uses a powerful magnetic field to fuse hot plasma and can reach temperatures of over 150 million degrees Celsius which is approximately ten times hotter than the core of the sun.
  • Scientists hope that the device can potentially unlock a powerful clean energy source.

Important value addition

  • Nuclear fusion is a reaction in which two or more atomic nuclei are combined to form one or more different atomic nuclei and subatomic particles (neutrons or protons).
  • Fusion is the process by which the sun and other stars generate light and heat. 
  • It is a nuclear process, where energy is produced by smashing together light atoms.
  • It is the opposite reaction of fission, where heavy elements like Uranium and Thorium are split apart.
  • For a nuclear fusion reaction to occur, it is necessary to bring two nuclei so close that nuclear forces become active and glue the nuclei together.

Do you know?

  • Nuclear forces are small-distance forces and have to act against the electrostatic forces where positively charged nuclei repel each other.
  • This is the reason nuclear fusion reactions occur mostly in high density, high-temperature environment which is practically very difficult to achieve under laboratory conditions.


The 2nd Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) inaugurated

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Health

In news

  • The Ministry of Science & Technology has inaugurated the 2nd Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) 2020 Conference.

Key takeaways

  • TCGA is a landmark project started in 2005 by the US-based National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI).
  • The idea was to make a catalogue of the genetic mutations that cause cancer.
  • Tumour samples and blood samples were collected from patients.
  • They were processed using gene sequencing and bioinformatics.
  • The TCGA has generated over 2.5 petabytes of data for over 11,000 patients.
  • The data has been used to develop new approaches to diagnose, treat and prevent cancer.
  • Indian Cancer Genome Atlas (ICGA) has also been initiated in India by a consortium of key stakeholders led by CSIR in which several government agencies, cancer hospitals, academic institutions and private sector partners.
  • Aim: To improve clinical outcomes in cancer and other chronic diseases.

Do you know?

  • According to the World Cancer Report by the WHO, one in 10 Indians develops cancer during their lifetime and one in 15 dies of the disease.

Place in news: Bhashan Char Island

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – International Relations

In news

  • Recently, Bangladesh has transported more than 1,600 Rohingya refugees to a low-lying Bhashan Char island in the first phase of a controversial planned relocation of 1,00,000 people.

Important value addition

Bhashan Char Island

  • Bhasan Char also known as Char Piya, is an island in Hatiya, Bangladesh.
  • The island was formed with Himalayan silt in 2006.
  • It is underwater from June to September annually because of the monsoon, and it has no flood fences.
  • In June 2015, the Bangladeshi government suggested resettling Rohingya refugees on the island under its Ashrayan Project.
  • The proposal was characterized by the UN Refugee Agency as “logistically challenging”.
  • Bhashan Char is a flood-prone island that emerged from the sea 20 years ago.
  • Concerns: (1) It is flood-prone island; (2) Vulnerable to frequent cyclones; (3) Too small to occupy and nurture the Rohingya population; (4) Chronic overcrowding in camps.

For further read, click the below links:


Miscellaneous

Arecibo Telescope

  • Puerto Rico’s massive Arecibo telescope, famous for its stellar contributions to astronomy recently collapsed.

  • It is the second-largest single-dish radio telescope in the world.
  • Arecibo was first built in 1963. 
  • Owned by: The US National Science Foundation
  • It was employed to observe planets, asteroids and the ionosphere.
  • It had found prebiotic molecules in distant galaxies, the first exoplanets, and the first millisecond pulsar.
  • In 1967, Arecibo was able to discover that the planet Mercury rotates in 59 days and not 88 days as had been originally thought.
  • In 1993, scientists Russell Hulse and Joseph Taylor were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work on the observatory in monitoring a binary pulsar, providing a strict test of Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity and the first evidence for the existence of gravitational waves.

(Mains Focus)


SCIENCE & TECH / GOVERNANCE/ ECONOMY

Topic: General Studies 3,2:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors
  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources

India and the geopolitics of technology

Context: Splinternet, the balkanisation of the internet, digital sovereignty, and data localisation are some of the more popular terms that have come to define the debate on the future of data, and, more broadly, on the future of technology.

The argument boils down to the different ways in which governments and transnational organisations (such as EU) choose to access, use, and allow data to flow across borders.

Different Types of Digital Markets

  • Digital authoritarianists: Countries that have closed their data markets to external actors — such as China — are commonly referred to as digital authoritarianists. 
  • Digital democracies: Those that are guided by judicial standards, the rule of law, and support the freer — but not always free — movement of data have come to be known as digital democracies. 

Digital Geopolitics and Data Diplomacy

  • The political, ideological, and economic tensions between, and within, various categories of actors shape what might be called the geopolitics of technology
  • This form of geopolitics is as much about competing domestic regulations, the renewed focus on anti-trust laws, and domestic standards on privacy legislations, as it is about international affairs. 
  • Greater cooperation on Artificial Intelligence (AI) or blockchain technologies, between entities in different countries, requires mediation and cooperation across borders. This is a matter of data diplomacy.
  • At least 14 countries have appointed negotiators to shape data diplomacy. 
  • Designations such as tech ambassador, ambassador of innovations, ambassador for digital affairs, and ambassador for cyber diplomacy are becoming increasingly common.

Huge Potential in India

  • Largest Digital Democracy: All data economies want to deal with India as it the largest open data market in the world. Close to 600 million Indians currently use 4G data. 
  • Increasing Data Consumption: India also has the highest per capita consumption of data (above 10 GB per month) anywhere in the world.

Challenges for India

  • Question of Data Openness: A lot will depend on the kind of digital democracy that India aspires to be. How open or closed will it be to the movement of data across its borders, is the moot question for the fast-growing number of global “tech ambassadors”. To an extent, the question of data openness will be resolved as India’s Personal Data Protection Bill (PDPB) becomes a law, potentially in 2021. 
  • Clarity on India’s Objectives: India needs to consider what exactly it wants out of the fast-changing geopolitics around technology that goes beyond banning Chinese apps. India’s evolving domestic data architecture should support its international interests, with the clear view to benefit from the same
  • Balancing Act: The aim of India’s Data Policy must be to negotiate its weight in data and find the right balance for India’s future between localisation and internationalisation. This balancing act has much to do with conceptualising a centralising vision, as well as with administrative organisation.

Way Forward

  • To start with, the government could consider appointing its own coordinator for technology. 
  • The aim should not be to add to the bean count of global tech ambassadors, but to appoint at least a minister of state-ranked individual to synthesise India’s pulsating story with the view to effectively shape the geopolitics of technology.

ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 3,2:

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

Aatmanirbhar Bharat & Small Entrepreneurs

Manufacturing

  • The slow growth of India’s manufacturing sector has been a long-standing concern for policymakers. 
  • India’s manufacturing sector generates less than 20% of the national output, and it has been overshadowed by China.

Aatmanirbhar Bharat

  • It is aimed at addressing this deficiency. More restrictive trade will enable entrepreneurs to tap into India’s large domestic market rather than relying just on exports. 
  • The shift towards the domestic market has been fueled by the size of the domestic market, the rise of the middle-class, and India’s young demographics.
  • Restrictive trade regime
  • India’s expansion in the manufacturing sector came primarily from the expansion of small entrepreneurs, who account for 99% of establishments and create 80% of jobs in the manufacturing sector.
  • Small entrepreneurs expanded in the tradable sector but contracted in the non-tradable sector.
  • The shift towards a more restrictive trade regime may benefit a few large conglomerates, but it will harm small entrepreneurs, and slow down the pace of job creation.
  • The entire net job growth in the manufacturing sector during the last three decades came primarily from small enterprises in the tradable sector.
  • This trend in the expansion of jobs and small enterprises in the manufacturing sector was not observed in the non-tradable sector. 

Trade Liberalisation

  • The expansion of small entrepreneurs in the tradable sector and contraction in the non-tradable sector shows that India’s trade alkanization has primarily benefitted small entrepreneurs, who became an integral part of the global supply chains.
  • Trade alkanization played a key role in enabling small enterprises to become an integral part of the global supply chains.
  • Trade alkanization and the rapid pace of alkanizatio boosted India’s size of the informal tradable sector.

Informal Sector

  • Young entrepreneurs in the informal sector have created more jobs compared to the large established conglomerates in the formal sector. 
  • The informal sector has remained the key driver of poverty reduction, compared to publicly funded poverty programmes.
  • Small entrepreneurs conform much more closely to the overall contours of India’s economic geography than large conglomerates. 
  • Not all jobs in the informal economy yield paltry incomes. Many self-employed earn more than unskilled or low-skilled workers in the formal economy.
  • There are huge horizontal and vertical linkages between large and small firms. Small firms are an important supplier of inputs to large firms.

Friendly Trade Regime

  • India’s young demographics, and limited employment generated by large industrial conglomerates, has increased the importance of a friendly trade regime for small entrepreneurs who create a majority of jobs in India. 
  • Trade flexibility and global integration has enabled millions of more women to find jobs, and better manage work-life balance.
  • The reversal in the trade regime may break the friendship that currently exists between large and small enterprises and informal and formal sectors.

(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 regarding Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP):

  1. It studies evolution of universe by observing galaxies and the hydrogen gas that they contain.
  2. It provides very narrow field of view.

Which of the above is/are correct?

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

Q.2 India is home to which of the following giant squirrel species:

  1. Malayan Giant Squirrel
  2. Indian Giant Squirrel 
  3. Grizzled Giant Squirrel

Select the correct code:

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

Q.3 Consider the following statements:

  1. Nuclear fusion is a reaction in which two or more atomic nuclei split apart releasing huge amounts of energy in the process.
  2. Nuclear fission is a reaction in which two or more atomic nuclei are combined together.

Which of the above is/are correct?

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

ANSWERS FOR 4th December 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 D

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