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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 21st April 2021

  • IASbaba
  • April 21, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Startup India Seed Fund Scheme (SISFS)

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – III – Start ups

In news

  •  Startup India Seed Fund Scheme (SISFS) was recently launched. 
  • Ministry: Ministry of Commerce and Industry 

Key takeaways 

  • Aim: To provide financial assistance to startups for proof of concept, prototype development, product trials, market entry and commercialization.
  • An amount of 945 crore rupees corpus will be divided over the next 4 years for providing seed funding to eligible startups through eligible incubators across India.
  • The scheme is expected to support an estimated 3,600 startups through 300 incubators.
  • The SISFS will Secure seed funding, Inspire innovation, Support transformative ideas, Facilitate implementation, and Start startup revolution.
  • This Scheme will create a robust startup ecosystem, particularly in Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns of India, which are often deprived of adequate funding.

India-Germany Agreement on ‘Cities Combating Plastic Entering the Marine Environment’

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

In news

  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Government of India and German Federal Ministry of Environment signed an agreement on Technical Cooperation titled ‘Cities Combating Plastic Entering the Marine Environment’.

Key takeaways 

  • The project’s outcomes are in line with the objectives of Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban focusing on sustainable solid waste management and India’s vision to phase out single use plastic by 2022.
  • This project is envisaged on the outlines of the Joint Declaration of Intent regarding cooperation in the field of ‘Prevention of Marine Litter’ signed between India and Germany in 2019.
  • Aim: Enhancing practices to prevent plastic entering the marine environment. 
  • It will be undertaken at the national level, selected states (Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and Andaman & Nicobar Islands) and in the cities of Kanpur, Kochi and Port Blair for a period of 3.5 years.

Ingenuity performs its first flight

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – III – Space 

In news

  • NASA announced that Ingenuity had performed its first flight.

Key takeaways 

  • Ingenuity is the first helicopter to fly on Mars. 
  • It was carried by NASA’s rover called Perseverance that was launched in July 2020. 
  • Ingenuity is able to fly using counter-rotating blades that spin at about 2,400 rpm. 
  • It has a wireless communication system, and is equipped with computers, navigation sensors, and two cameras. 
  • It is solar-powered, able to charge on its own.
  • Taking to the air would give scientists a new perspective on a region’s geology and even allow them to peer into areas that are too steep or slippery to send a rover. 
  • NASA will try and demonstrate rotorcraft flight in the extremely thin atmosphere of Mars with this helicopter. 

Do you know?

  • Perseverance will help collect samples from the surface from locations where the rover cannot reach.
  • It landed at the Jezero Crater of Mars in February. 
  • It will remain on Mars for about two years and look for finding past signs of life.
  • The rover is designed to study signs of ancient life, collect samples that might be sent back to Earth during future missions and test new technology that might benefit future robotic and human missions to the planet.

MMDR Amendment Bill

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

In news

  • The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2021 was passed in Lok Sabha to streamline the renewal of the auction process for minerals and coal mining rights.

Key takeaways 

  • The amendment proposes to allow captive miners of both coal and other minerals to sell up to 50% of their production after meeting the requirements of the end-use plant and on paying additional royalty to the state government.
  • Operators are currently only allowed to use coal and minerals extracted from captive mines for their own industrial use. 
  • This increased flexibility would allow miners to maximise output from captive mines as they would be able to sell output in excess of their own requirements.
  • It proposes to fix additional royalty payments to states for the extension of mining leases for central public sector enterprises.
  • It proposes to empower the central government to conduct auctions or re-auction processes for the grant of a mining lease if a state government fails to complete the auction process in a specified period. 

Miscellaneous

INAS 323

  • Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS) 323, the first unit of the indigenously built ALH Mk III aircraft, was commissioned into the Indian Navy.
  • The squadron will operate three state-of-the-art ALH Mk III. 
  • It is a multirole helicopter with Shakti engine manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
  • The Mk III version of the ALH has an all glass cockpit and will be used for Search and Rescue, Special Operations and Coastal Surveillance.

(Mains Focus)


ECONOMY/ ENVIRONMENT/ GOVERNANCE

Topic:

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors
  • GS-3: Issues relating to growth & development, Environmental Conservation.

Low-carbon future through sector-led change

Context: In the build-up to the ‘Leaders’ Climate Summit’ organised by the United States this week (April 22-23), there has been a flurry of articles about whether India should announce a ‘net-zero’ emissions target, and by when

What is the dilemma faced by India?

  • Taking only modest steps until richer countries do more is not viable in the context of a global climate crisis. 
  • Yet, announcing an Indian 2050 net-zero commitment risks taking on a much heavier burden of decarbonisation than many wealthier countries, and could seriously compromise India’s development needs

What should be the strategy to overcome the above dilemma?

  • We should focus on concrete, near-term sectoral transformations through aggressive adoption of technologies that are within our reach, and an earnest effort to avoid high carbon lock-ins. 
  • This is best accomplished by focusing on sectoral low-carbon development pathways that combine competitiveness, job-creation, distributional justice and low pollution in key areas where India is already changing rapidly
  • This approach is directionally consistent with India moving towards net-zero, which should be our long-term objective. 
  • Over time, India can and should get more specific about future economy-wide net-zero targets and date
  • We will take the example of Electricity Sector to understand the above path. A similar approach should be adopted for other sectors.

Electricity Sector

  1. Decarbonise Power Sector
  • To achieve net-zero emissions, a key piece of the puzzle is to decarbonise the electricity sector, which is the single largest source (about 40%) of India’s greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • So far, our efforts in the electricity sector have focused on expanding renewable electricity capacity, however one need to go beyond expanding renewables to limiting the expansion of coal-based electricity capacity. 
  1. Ceiling for Coal Sector
  • A first, bold, step would be to pledge that India will not grow its coal-fired power capacity beyond what is already announced, and reach peak coal electricity capacity by 2030, while striving to make coal-based generation cleaner and more efficient
  • Such a pledge would give full scope for development of renewable energy and storage, and send a strong signal to investors.
  • India will need to work hard to become a leader in technologies of the future such as electricity storage, smart grids, and technologies that enable the electrification of other sectors such as transportation.
  1. Multi-stakeholder Just Transition Commission
  • The next necessary step is to create a multi-stakeholder Just Transition Commission representing all levels of government and the affected communities to ensure decent livelihood opportunities beyond coal in India’s coal belt. 
  • This is necessary because the transition costs of a brighter low-carbon future should not fall on the backs of India’s poor.
  1. Improve energy services
  • Air conditioners, fans and refrigerators together consume about 60% of the electricity in households. 
  • Today, the average fan sold in the market consumes more than twice what an efficient fan does, and an average refrigerator about 35% more.
  • India could set aggressive targets of, say, 80% of air conditioner sales, and 50% of fan and refrigerator sales in 2030, being in the most efficient bracket. 
  • In addition to reducing green house gas emissions, this would have the benefit of lowering consumer electricity bills. 

Conclusion

Such a sector-by-sector approach empowers India to insist that developed countries complement their distant net-zero targets by enacting concrete near-term measures that are less reliant on unsure offsets.


ETHICS/ SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic:

  • GS-4: Ethics and Human Interface 
  • GS-3: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life 
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 

Bioethics: Human cells grown in monkey embryos

Context: Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in the US have for the first time grown human cells in monkey embryos. The results of their work were published in the journal Cell on April 15. 

While the results might imply progress for this particular field of research called “chimera research”, they have also ignited a debate about how ethical studies of this kind are.

What have the researchers done?

  • By integrating human cells into the embryos of macaque monkeys, researchers have created what is called a chimeric tool. 
  • Chimeras are organisms that are made up of the cells of two distinct species, in this case humans and monkeys. 
  • For instance, if this hybrid embryo was placed in the womb of a monkey, it could possibly grow into a new kind of an animal (however this was not the aim of this study).
  • In this study, the monkey embryos containing human stem cells stayed alive and grew outside the body for a period of 19 days.

Has such type of research done before?

  • Previously, in a 2017 study researchers integrated human cells into pig tissues as they thought that pigs, whose organ size, physiology and anatomy are similar to that of humans, could help them in creating organs that could ultimately be transplanted to humans.
  • But this experiment failed and they believe it is because of the large evolutionary distance between pigs and humans (about 90 million years). 
  • Therefore, after this experiment, they decided to pick a species that was more closely related to humans, hence macaque monkeys were chosen.

What’s the purpose of chimeric research?

  • Researchers believe that this ability to grow cells of two different species together offers scientists a powerful tool for research and medicine, advancing current understanding about early human development, disease onset and progression and ageing. 
  • Further, research of this kind could also help in drug evaluation and address the critical need for organ transplantation.
  • Researchers note how chimeric tools provide a new platform to study how certain diseases arise. 
    • For instance, a particular gene that is associated with a certain type of cancer could be engineered in a human cell. 
    • Researchers could then study the course of disease progression using the engineered cells in a chimeric model, which may be able to tell them more about the disease than results obtained from an animal model.

But what are the ethical concerns about this?

  • Survivability & Infertility of hybrid animals: In 2014, “Geep”, a hybrid between a goat and a sheep, was born (unintentional breeding) in an Irish farm. Mules are another example of a hybrid animal (intentional breeding) that are the result of mating between a female horse and a male donkey. Generally, different species don’t cross-breed and if they do, their offspring don’t survive for long and are prone to infertility.
  • Acceptance by Society: While further research into chimeras might lead to progress, which could mean that they could be used as a source of organs for humans, these chimeras would still be a mix of human and non-human cells, a thought that makes many uncomfortable.
  • Treatment of other lifeforms: some argue that chimera research has the potential to worsen injustice against animals and also point out the fairness in using part-human animals to meet human needs
  • Sceptical about the goal of Chimeras: Researchers have made it clear that the chimeras created with macaques will not be used for human organ transplants but that they nevertheless reveal invaluable information about how human cells develop and integrate. Some scientists, however, are still skeptical since they feel that one of the goals of chimera research is to create organs that can be transplanted to humans.
  • Impact on future generation: Tampering with the genetic code in human beings is more controversial, as any such change can be passed down to future generations

Connecting the dots:

  • Genetically Modified Crops

(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 Startup India Seed Fund Scheme (SISFS):

  1. It will create a robust startup ecosystem, particularly in Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns of India.
  2. It was launched by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

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 Which of the following Sea does not border Germany on its northern side? 

  1. Dead Sea
  2. Mediterranean Sea
  3. Baltic sea
  4. Both (a) and (b) 

Q.3 Consider the following statements:

  1. Ingenuity is the first helicopter to fly on Mars
  2. Jezero Crater is located on Jupiter

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 20th April 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 D
2 C

Must Read

On long battle against Maoists:

The Hindu

On universal vaccination:

The Hindu

Towards digital atmanirbharta:

Indian Express

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