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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 7th December 2020

  • IASbaba
  • December 7, 2020
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


IIT-Bombay comes up with Urban Quality Of Life Index

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-I – Society

In news

  • IIT-Bombay researchers have come up with an urban quality of life index which is related to real urban life in India presently.

Key takeaways

  • Top city: Mumbai 
  • The other top cities: Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai.
  • Most women-friendly: Chennai 
  • Least women-friendly: Patna
  • Highest crime rate against women: Jaipur 
  • Lowest crime rate against women: Chennai
  • Widest gap in literacy rate between men and women: Jaipur (13.2%) 
  • Lowest gap in literacy rate between men and women: Kolkata (5.4%).
  • Highest overall Literacy rate: Pune (91%) 
  • Lowest overall Literacy rate: Hyderabad (83%).
  • Highest unemployment rate for women: Patna 
  • Gender parity was taken into consideration for the first time. 
  • According to the research, women experience cities differently. 
  • Meeting women’s needs becomes essential in promoting sustainable urban development.
  • Also, only 36% urban households in Patna have access to treated tap water.

Related articles: 

  • Development of Smart Cities and Ease of Living Index: Click here

Species in news: Houbara Bustards

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Biodiversity

In news

  • Recently, houbara bustards was in the news.
  • Pakistan has issued special permits to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and two other members of the royal family to hunt the internationally protected houbara bustards during the hunting season 2020-21.

Important value addition

The houbara bustard

  • It lives in arid climates.
  • It comes in two distinct species as recognised by the IUCN.
  • One species resides in North Africa (Chlamydotis undulata) and the other in Asia (Chlamydotis macqueenii) which is commonly known as MacQueen’s bustard.
  • The population of the Asian houbara bustards extends from northeast Asia, across central Asia, the Middle East, and the Arabian Peninsula to reach the Sinai desert.
  • According to the International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC), roughly 33,000 Asian houbara bustards remain today.
  • After breeding in the spring, the Asian bustards migrate south to spend the winter in Pakistan, the Arabian Peninsula and nearby Southwest Asia. 
  • Some Asian houbara bustards live and breed in the southern part of their ranges including parts of Iran, Pakistan and Turkmenistan.
  • IUCN Red List Status: Vulnerable 


Japan’s Hayabusa2 Mission set to return back to Earth

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Space

In news

  • Six years after Japan’s Hayabusa2 mission was launched, it is set to return back to Earth.
  • It will be carrying samples from the Ryugu asteroid that orbits the Sun.

Key takeaways

  • The Hayabasu2 mission was launched in December 2014.
  • The spacecraft was sent on a six-year-long voyage to study the asteroid Ryugu and collect samples.
  • NASA’s OSIRIS-REX mission also brought back samples from asteroid Bennu late in October, 2020.
  • According to the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), this is the first time that a probe has visited a celestial body that is less than 100 metres in diameter.

Important value addition

  • Ryugu is classified as a Potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs). 
  • It was discovered in 1999.
  • It was given the name by the Minor Planet Center in 2015. 
  • It is 300 million kilometres away from Earth. 
  • It took Hayabusa2 over 42 months to reach it.
  • Hayabasu2’s predecessor, the Hayabusa mission brought back samples from the asteroid Itokawa in 2010.

Related article:


Singapore Agency approves sale of Lab-Grown Meat

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

In news

  • The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) has approved the sale of a lab-grown meat product. 
  • This is the first time cultured meat has been cleared for sale anywhere in the world.
  • The product approved by the SFA is cultured chicken, produced by US-based East Just.

Difference between lab-grown meat and plant-based meat

  • The latter is made from plant sources such as soy or pea protein, while cultured meat is grown directly from cells in a laboratory.
  • Both have the same objectives: To offer alternatives to traditional meat products that could feed a lot more people, reduce the threat of zoonotic diseases, and mitigate the environmental impact of meat consumption.
  • In terms of cellular structure, cultured meat is the same as conventional meat except that cultured meat does not come directly from animals.
  • Benefits: (1) Cultivated meat could reduce land use by more than 95%; (2) It could reduce climate change emissions by 74-87% and nutrient pollution by 94%; (3) The risk of contamination by pathogens such as salmonella and E coli is significantly reduced; (4) It does not require antibiotics thereby reducing the threat posed to public health by growing antibiotic resistance.

RBI introduces risk-based internal audit norms for NBFCs, UCBs

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Economy

In news

  • The RBI recently announced the introduction of risk-based internal audit norms for large urban cooperative banks (UCBs) and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs).

Key takeaways

  • Aim of the introduction: Improving governance and assurance functions at supervised entities.
  • The guidelines related to the appointment of statutory auditors for commercial banks, UCBs and NBFCs in order to improve the quality of financial reporting were also laid out.
  • The growing significance of NBFCs and their interlinkages with different parts of the financial system had made it imperative to enhance the sector’s resilience. 
  • Thus it had been decided to put in place transparent criteria for the declaration of dividends by different categories of NBFCs.
  • Regional rural banks would be allowed to access the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF), marginal standing facility (MSF) of the RBI and call/notice money market.
  • The RBI has proposed to issue Digital Payment Security Controls directions for the regulated entities in order to improve the ecosystem of digital payment channels with better security and convenience for users.

Related articles:


Miscellaneous

Operation Trident

  • Every year, India celebrates December 4 as Navy Day to commemorate Operation Trident.
  • It was a key offensive during the 1971 India-Pakistan War, when the Indian Navy inflicted heavy damage on Pakistani vessels in Karachi harbour.
  • On December 4, under Operation Trident, the Indian Navy sank three vessels near the Pakistani port city of Karachi. 
  • The stars of the mission were the then-recently acquired Soviet Osa missile boats, fitted with 4 SS-N-2 (P-15) Styx missiles.

(Mains Focus)


S&T/ INTERNATIONAL/ ECONOMY

Topic: General Studies 2,3:

  • Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life. 
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors
  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources

Space Exploration in the era of Privatisation

Context: The most stunning instance of a collaboration between public enterprises and the private sector in recent times is that between NASA and SpaceX.

Recent achievements by Space X

  • The launch of the Crew Dragon spacecraft  which carried to the International Space Station four astronauts.
  • The launch of 60 more Starlink Internet relay satellites into the orbit. The total number of such satellites sent up by the company equals 955. These, and thousands more like these, are designed for the purpose of providing broadband services to people anywhere on Earth.

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.

What does the commercialisation of the space sector mean in practical terms?

  • Space Sector Revolutionized: With its reusable rockets, large capsules to carry payloads and crew and competitive pricing, SpaceX has revolutionised the space sector. 
  • Technology has brought down the Cost: The price tag for reaching low Earth orbit has declined by a factor of 20 in a decade. NASA’s space shuttle cost about $54,500 per kg; now, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 advertises a cost of $2,720 per kg. 
  • Increased Market: According to a Bank of America Report, the $350 billion space market today will touch $2.7 trillion by 2050.  In a decade, 80,000 such satellites could be in space compared to less than 3,000 at present
  • Telecom Revolution: The aim of Starlink exercise is to provide Internet services that link any point on Earth to any other point. Targeting coverage in northern U.S. and Canada by end of 2020, the aim is to have the globe covered by 2021. This will be the new telecom revolution then, in the context of India, reaching out to rural areas as never before.

What is the picture in India?

  • Shift in Focus of ISRO: There has also been a shift from a mandated focus on utilitarian projects to those focused on exploring space and our planetary neighbours, the Moon, the Sun and so on. 
  • Increasing role of Private Players: As a result of shift in ISRO’s focus, we have seen the yielding of governmental control over the space industry bit by bit, starting from hiring of vendors and active outsourcing of rocket components to the present idea of allowing external agencies to use ISRO facilities. 

Would curiosity-driven science survive in the era of privatisation?

  • The cargo version of Dragon-2 spacecraft is the upgraded version of Dragon. It is a reusable spacecraft capable of returning significant cargo to the Earth from the International Space Station.
  • At least in the case of its launch, planned for December 5, it seems that curiosity-driven science would not only survive, but would rather be enhanced. 
  • This spacecraft is not just carrying payloads for scientific experiments, but is also sporting a new commercially owned and operated ‘airlock’. 
  • An airlock is like a doorway, and the new Nanoracks Bishop Airlock Module, built by a Texas-based company, Nanoracks LLC, is an improvement over what was used earlier. 
  • New Airlock will allow larger payloads to move in and out of the spacecraft, considerably expanding the scope of experiment design and structure.
  • This mission also carries interesting experiments, one of which is a mixture of meteorite samples and microbes, aimed at seeing how the microbes can be used for biomining on asteroids. Another experiment aims at studying how changes in gravity can affect cardiovascular tissue
  • So, while there is room for curiosity-driven science, there is also the aspect of utility in the event of more humans travelling to space.

Connecting the dots:


POLITY/GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections.
  • Social Empowerment

Tamil Nadu Commission for Case-wise Data

Context: Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi K. Palaniswami has announced that a Commission would be set up to conduct a survey for collecting caste-wise data in Tamil Nadu.

It is not clear if this will involve a full headcount of all members of every caste, or whether it is better described as a ‘survey’ than a ‘census’. 

Do You Know?

  • The Centre conducted a ‘Socio-Economic Caste Census’ (SECC) in 2011 throughout the country, but it did not make public the caste component of the findings. 
  • In Karnataka, the outcome of a similar exercise has not been disclosed to the public.

Is collection of caste details part of the census? 

  • Caste was among the details collected by enumerators during the decennial Census of India until 1931. 
  • It was given up in 1941, a year in which the census operation was partially affected by World War II, as it involved additional costs

Has there been criticism of including caste in the census?

  • The principal argument against taking caste particulars of individuals is that it tends to perpetuate the caste system.
  • It has been alleged that the mere act of labelling persons as belonging to a caste tends to perpetuate the system.
  • Currently, Tamil Nadu has 69 per cent reservation, including 20 per cent for MBCs, the list of which has 108 communities.

What was the view after Independence? 

  • R.A. Gopalaswami, the first Indian Registrar-General of independent India, said in the 1951 report: “The 1951 census was not to concern itself with questions regarding castes, races and tribes, except insofar as the necessary statistical material related to ‘special groups’ and certain other material relating to backward classes collected and made over to the Backward Classes Commission.” ‘
  • Special Groups’ has been explained as referring to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Anglo-Indians and certain castes treated provisionally as ‘backward’ for the purposes of the census. 
  • This implies that BC data were collected, but not compiled or published.

How have caste details been collected so far? 

  • While SC/ST details are collected as part of the census, details of other castes are not collected by the enumerators. 
  • The main method is by self-declaration to the enumerator. 
  • So far, backward classes commissions in various States have been conducting their own counts to ascertain the population of backward castes.
  • The methodology may vary from State to State. 
  • Details available about some commissions in the public domain suggest that these panels use methods like distribution of questionnaires, meeting with representatives of stakeholders, touring relevant areas and localities
  • In some cases, such as the J.A. Ambasankar Commission in Tamil Nadu and the Venkataswamy Commission in Karnataka, there has been door-to-door enumeration.

What about SECC 2011? 

  • The Socio-Economic Caste Census of 2011 was a major exercise to obtain data about the socio-economic status of various communities. 
  • Even though there could be an overlap in the dataset of SECC 2011 with that of the census 2011 taken that year, the findings could be markedly different. 
  • The general census is conducted in a small window of a month, while the caste census is conducted over a longer period of time, and there is a good deal of revision and correction. 
  • The SECC 2011 had two components: a survey of the rural and urban households and ranking of these households based on pre-set parameters, and a caste census. 
  • However, only the details of the economic conditions of the people in rural and urban households were released. The caste data have not been released till now. 

Why Caste data of SECC 2011 is not yet released?

  • While a precise reason is yet to be disclosed, it is surmised that the data were considered too politically sensitive. 
  • Fear of antagonising dominant and powerful castes that may find that their projected strength in the population is not as high as claimed may be an important reason.

What is the legal imperative for a caste count? 

  • Basis for Reservation Over the last two decades, the Supreme Court has been raising questions about the basis for reservation levels being high in various States.
  • Need Quantifiable Data: In particular, it has laid down that there should be quantifiable data to justify the presence of a caste in the backward class list, as well as evidence of its under-representation in services. 
  • Regular Revision: Supreme Court has also called for periodical review of community-wise lists so that the benefits do not perpetually go in favour of a few castes.
  • Equitable Reservation: Many community leaders argue that knowing the precise number of the population of each caste would help tailor the reservation policy to ensure equitable representation of all of them.

What are the Challenges associated with Case Census?

  • Social Unrest: While obtaining relevant and accurate data may be the major gain from a caste census, the possibility that it will lead to heartburn among some sections and can lead to social unrest.
  • Quota within Quota: The details of Caste can also spawn demands for larger or separate quotas from groups found to be significant in number is a possible pitfall. 
  • Caste Name Complexities: Tabulating and categorising similar-sounding caste names and deciding on whether to treat some sections as separate castes or sub-castes of a community will also be a challenging task.

Conclusion

  • The constitutional goal of social transformation cannot be achieved without taking into account changing social realities

Connecting the dots:


(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 Recently, IIT- Bombay released Urban Quality of life index. Consider the following statements regarding the report:

  1. Literacy rate between men and women is highest in Jaipur but lowest in Patna.
  2. Economic development is highest in Mumbai and lowest in Patna.

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 Consider the following statements regarding houbara bustard:

  1. Its IUCN status is endangered.
  2. The Asian bustards migrate south to spend the winter in Pakistan, the Arabian Peninsula and nearby Southwest Asia.

Which of the above is/are correct?

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

Q.3 Hayabusa 2 probe which recently brought back samples from asteroid Ryugu was launched by which of the following country?

  1. Japan
  2. Russia
  3. India
  4. USA

ANSWERS FOR 5th December 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 D
3 D

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