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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 16th April 2021

  • IASbaba
  • April 16, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Electronic nose to detect hydrogen sulphide developed

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – III – Sci & tech 

In news

  • An electronic nose with biodegradable polymer and monomer that can detect hydrogen sulphide (H2S) has been developed. 
  • Developed by : Scientists from the Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences (CeNS), Bangalore, an autonomous institute of the DST

Key takeaways 

  • They have developed an exceptionally sensitive and selective H2S Gas sensor developed by impersonating the neuron responsible for identification of airborne molecules or olfactory receptor neuron (ORN).
  • The fabricated sensor consists of a heterostructure consisting of two layers –
  1. the top layer a monomer and is realized with a novel chemical tris (keto-hydrazone), which is both porous and contains H2S specific functional groups, and
  2. The bottom layer is the active channel layer which plays a key role in altering the current and mobility of charge carriers.

Do you know? 

  • Hydrogen sulphide is a poisonous, corrosive, and flammable gas produced from swamps and sewers.
  • H2S is the primary gas produced from the microbial breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen. 
  • This necessitates easy detection of its emission from sewers and swamps

PLI Scheme for Promotion Of Domestic Manufacturing of Critical KSMS/Drug Intermediates and APIs

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Economy 

In news

Key takeaways 

  • The setting up of these 16 plants will lead to investment of Rs.348.70 crore and employment generation of about 3,042 by the companies.
  • The commercial production shall commence from 1st April, 2023 onward.
  • The scheme has been launched by the Department of Pharmaceuticals for promotion of domestic manufacturing of KSMs/APIs.
  • This will be achieved by setting up greenfield plants with minimum domestic value addition 

Do you know? 

  • The Indian pharmaceutical industry is the 3rd largest in the world by volume.
  • However, India is significantly dependent on the import of basic raw materials, viz., Bulk Drugs that are used to produce medicines. 
  • In some specific bulk drugs, the import dependence is 80 to 100%.

Three initiatives inaugurated under National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI)

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – III – Information technology

In news

  • Three initiatives for National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) were recently inaugurated. 
  • Inaugurated by: Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY)

Key takeaways 

  • IPv6 Expert Panel (IP Guru)
  • IP Guru is a group to extend support to all the Indian entities who are finding it technically challenging to migrate and adopt IPv6. 
  • It’s a joint effort of DOT, MeitY & community to promote IPv6. 
  • The expert panel group comprises members from government and private organizations.
  • NIXI Academy: NIXI Academy is created to educate technical/non-technical people in India to learn and relearn technologies like IPv6 which are normally not taught in Educational Institutes.
  • NIXI-IP-INDEX: NIXI has developed an IPv6 index portal for the Internet community. NIXI-IP-INDEX portal will showcase the IPv6 adoption rate in India and across the world.

Important value additions 

National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) 

  • It is a not-for-profit organization (section 8 of the Companies Act 2013) working since 2003 for spreading the internet infrastructure to the citizens of India through the following activities:
  1. Internet Exchanges through which the internet data is exchanged amongst ISP’s, Data Centers and CDNs.
  2. .IN Registry, managing and operation of .IN country code domain and .भारत IDN domain for India.
  3. IRINN, managing and operating Internet protocol (IPv4/IPv6).

Do you know? 

  • Internet Protocol version 6 is the most recent version of the Internet Protocol, the communications protocol that provides an identification and location system for computers on networks and routes traffic across the Internet

State of World Population report 2021

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – I – Society; GS-II – International Relations 

In news

Key takeaways 

  • This is the first time a United Nations report has focused on bodily autonomy. 
  • Bodily autonomy is defined as the power and agency to make choices about your body without the fear of violence or having someone else decide for you.
  • Nearly half the women from 57 developing countries do not have the right to make decisions regarding their bodies, including using contraception, seeking healthcare or even on their sexuality.
  • In countries where data is available, only 55% of women are fully empowered to make choices over healthcare, contraception and the ability to say yes or no to sex. 
  • Only 75% of countries legally ensure full and equal access to contraception.
  • Some examples of violation of bodily autonomy include, child marriage, female genital mutilation, a lack of contraceptive choices leading to unplanned pregnancy, unwanted sex exchanged for a home and food
  • Under its ambit also fall people with disabilities stripped of their rights to self-determination, to be free from violence and to enjoy a safe and satisfying sexual life.
  • Women around the world are denied the fundamental right of bodily autonomy with the COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbating this situation.

Launch of Online Grievance Management Portal of NCSC

Part of: GS Prelims and GS –II  – Policies and interventions 

In news

  • Government of India launched the “Online Grievance Management Portal of National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC)”.

Key takeaways 

  • This NCSC Grievance Management portal would make it easier for Scheduled Castes population to register their complaint from any part of the country.
  • The portal is designed in collaboration with the Bhaskaracharya Institute for Space Applications and Geoinformatics (BISAG-N), a Centre of Excellence under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

Do you know? 

  • NCSC was set up under Article 338 of the Constitution of India
  • Objective: To investigate and monitor all issues pertaining to the safeguards provided for the Scheduled Castes under any law for the time being in force or under any order of the Government of India.

Miscellaneous

Tanzania

  • Tanzania is a country in East Africa within the African Great Lakes region.

  • It borders Uganda to the north; Kenya to the northeast; Comoro Islands and the Indian Ocean to the east; Mozambique and Malawi to the south; Zambia to the southwest; and Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west.
  • Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, is located in Tanzania.
  • Dodoma is the capital of the country.
  • Its President John Magufuli had passed away in March who was  an authoritarian leader and COVID-19 sceptic.

(Mains Focus)


ENVIRONMENT/ GOVERNANCE/ INTERNATIONAL

Topic:

  • GS-3: Environmental Conservation 
  • GS-2: Governance and Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

As a tri-polar nation, India has a critical role in the Arctic

India’s Arctic attention has a brief-but-significant timeline

  • 2007: Started with expeditions to the Arctic Ocean
  • 2008: Opening of a research station, Himadri, at the international research base at Ny-Alesund in Svalbard, the northernmost island in the world belonging to Norway; 
  • 2013: India was granted Observer Status to the Arctic Council in 2013 along with other Asian countries such as China, Japan, Singapore and South Korea.

Significance of Three Poles

  • The Hindu-Kush Himalaya mountains, referred to as the Third Pole, with maximum snow and ice accumulation outside the two polar regions, is a critical water store for socio-economic development in India and its neighbourhood.
  • The three poles — the Arctic, Antarctic and the Himalayas — with their breathtaking landscape and permafrost ecosystem are connected through risks and vulnerabilities of changing climate systems 
  • All three are an intricate part of the global commons.
  • The physical changes in the Arctic are highly likely to impact the Indian monsoon or “tele-connection” as it is described. 
  • Likewise, the emissions from the Gangetic plains partly explain the black carbon events witnessed recently in the Arctic.

Rising importance of Arctic region

  • Unlike the Antarctic, where the legacy of peace and science prevails, the Arctic has politico-strategic challenges and competitive economic and commercial interests.
  • Rich Resource: Arctic region contains 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil resources and 30% of undiscovered natural gas resources. Vast deposits of strategic metals have also been discovered.
  • Potential to alter global trade routes: As the ice extent declines due to global warming, navigation in the Arctic Ocean will become significantly wider with the potential to become the world’s largest logistics intersections.

Way Ahead for India

  • Integrate Science & Diplomacy: India would do well to leverage the tri-polar geographical expression and its scientific engagement (with the Antarctic Treaty System and the Arctic Council) into its diplomacy. This is necessary given India’s own climate vulnerability and its efforts to foster climate-resilient economic development.
  • Careful engagement w.r.t resource rush in Arctic: The opening up of the Arctic in terms of economic opportunity is in India’s interest, but has to be carefully weighed. Rather than engaging in a resource rush, it would be better to draw home new investments in clean energy from the Arctic states. 
  • Prioritise Science over Resource: The Arctic emphasis, thus, should continue to be one of scientific enterprise with efforts to build India’s knowledge profile. Expanding its scientific footprint will require a state-of-the-art polar research vessel and Indian government should work in this direction.
  • Bilateral Polar Science Cooperation:  Joint projects on polar research should become part of the bilateral arrangement with the Arctic states such as Russia and Canada. There is already abiding polar science cooperation with the Norwegian Polar Institute.

Conclusion

For India, the Arctic has a deep civilisational connect. It enshrines a consciousness of human social evolution as a response to the physical environment as Bal Gangadhar Tilak expressed in his work, The Arctic Home in the Vedas (1903).

Connecting the dots:

  • Arctic Council and its importance in managing Arctic 
  • National Action Plan on Climate change 

INTERNATIONAL/ SECURITY

Topic:

  • GS-2: India and its neighborhood- relations. 
  • GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

US exit from Afghanistan

Context: The announcement by President Joe Biden that the US will withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, has sent tremors through the region’s fault-lines.

What is the striking feature of Joe Biden’s withdrawal plan?

  • The Trump Administration made its troop withdrawal by May 1, 2021 conditional 
    • On Taliban taking steps to prevent al-Qaeda or any other group from sheltering in Afghanistan, and 
    • Taliban agreeing to a dialogue on power sharing with the Afghan government 
  • The Biden plan has no strings attached i.e. no conditions like above
  • There are about 2,500-3,500 US troops in Afghanistan at present, plus a NATO force of under 8,000. A co-ordinated withdrawal is expected to begin soon.

What will be the impact of this decision on various stakeholders?

  1. Afghanistan: Advantage Taliban & Instability
  • Biden’s announcement has removed all incentives for the Taliban to agree for a dialogue with the Afghan government
  • Blinken Proposal dead: The proposal by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in March 2021 is now almost certainly dead in the water. It included 
    • A 90-day ceasefire
    • Talks under the auspices of the UN for a consensus plan for Afghanistan among the US, Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran and India
    • A meeting in Turkey between the Taliban and Afghan government towards an “inclusive” interim government
    • An agreement on the foundational principles of the future political order and for a permanent ceasefire.
  • The possibility of the Taliban being able to strike a peace deal with the Afghan government is low, as the Taliban believe that they can triumph militarily.
  • IS and other terrorist groups have gained a foothold in Afghanistan. Therefore, the consequences of a hasty and irresponsible withdrawal from Afghanistan could be dangerous not only for Afghanistan but also for the region and the world
  • There is deep apprehension of a return to the 1990s, although there is also a view that the Taliban too have changed over 25 years, and would not want to alienate the international community as they did when they ruled Afghanistan during 1996-01.
  • By announcing an unconditional pullout, the US has accepted Taliban’s main demand. Now the international community expects the Taliban to join the political process. There is no excuse to continue the war
  1. Pakistan: Friendly Power & Burden of Chaos
  • The Taliban are a creation of the Pakistani security establishment. After the US invasion of Afghanistan, they removed themselves to safe havens in Pakistan territory, and the Taliban High Council operated from Quetta in Balochistan. 
  • For Pakistan, the Taliban capture of Afghanistan would finally bring a friendly force in power in Kabul after 20 years and India (which had friendly relations with Afghani govt.) would be cut to size.
  • But a US withdrawal also means Pakistan will need to shoulder the entire burden of the chaos that experts predict. 
  • Civil war is not ruled out and with it, the flow of refugees into Pakistan once again, even as the country struggles with refugees from the first Afghan war.
  • The Taliban are not a monolith, and have recently shown streaks of independence from Pakistan. It has to guard against instability in Afghanistan from spilling over the border
  1. India: Time to be Wary
  • India was on the outer edges of the Trump drive to exit Afghanistan that culminated in the Doha Accord, and was a reluctant supporter of the “intra-Afghan talks” between the Taliban and Afghan government. 
  • When the Biden Administration came in, India was hopeful of a US reset.
  • The Blinken proposal gave India a role, by recognising it as a regional stakeholder, but this proposal seems to have no future.
  • Another concern would be India-focused militants such as Laskhar- e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohamed, which the Indian security establishment already believes to have relocated in large numbers to Afghanistan
  1. China: Uighurs and an ally in Pakistan
  • China would have much to lose from instability in Afghanistan as this could have an impact on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. 
  • A Taliban regime in Afghanistan might end up stirring unrest in the Xinjiang Autonomous region, home to the Uighur minority. 
  • Conversely, as an ally of Pakistan, it could see a bigger role for itself in Afghanistan.
  1. Russia: Full circle
  • The US exit is for Russia a full circle after its own defeat at the hands of US-backed Mujahideen and exit from Afghanistan three decades ago. 
  • In recent years, Russia has taken on the role of peacemaker in Afghanistan. 
  • Russia’s growing links with Pakistan could translate into a post-US role for Moscow in Afghanistan.
  1. Iran: Threat, Theological divide & Pragmatism
  • As a country that shares borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan, Iran perceives active security threats from both. And a Taliban regime in Kabul would only increase this threat perception. 
  • But Iran, with links to the Hazaras in Afghanistan, has of late played all sides. 
  • Despite the mutual hostility and the theological divide between the two, Iran opened channels to the Taliban a few years ago, and recently, even hosted a Taliban delegation at Tehran.

Connecting the dots:

  • China’s Belt & Road Initiative
  • P5+1 deal with Iran

(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 hydrogen sulphide:

  1. It is a flammable gas. 
  2. It is produced from swamps and sewers

Which of the above is or 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 National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI):

  1. It is a not-for-profit organization. 
  2. It works for spreading the internet infrastructure to the citizens of India. 

Which of the above is or are correct? 

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

Q.3 State of World Population report 2021 was launched by which of the following?

  1. World Bank
  2. World Economic Forum
  3. United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
  4. ASEAN

ANSWERS FOR 15th April 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 B

Must Read

On ISRO Spy Case:

The Hindu

On multipolarity, scripted by the middle powers:

The Hindu

On Transitioning from coal:

Indian Express

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