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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 2nd November 2021

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  • November 2, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


India to achieve net zero emissions by 2070

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Climate change 

Context Indian Prime Minister said at the COP26 summit in Glasgow that India will achieve net zero emissions latest by 2070.

Key takeaways 

  • By 2030, India will ensure 50% of its energy will be sourced from renewable energy sources. 
  • India will reduce its carbon emissions by 2030 by a billion tonnes. 
  • India will also reduce its emissions intensity per unit of GDP by less than 45%.
  • India also emphasised that in the spirit of climate justice, rich developed countries ought to be providing at least $1 trillion in climate finance to assist developing countries and those most vulnerable.
  • Climate adaptation must be given importance too.
  • Criticism: According to several experts, Taking on net zero targets requires a sharp shift to clean energy sources that will impose a steep cost.

What is COP26?

  • The Conference of Parties (COP) comes under the United Nations Climate Change Framework Convention (UNFCCC) which was formed in 1994. 
  • 2021 marks the 26th Conference of Parties (thus the name COP26) and will be held in the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow.
  • The UNFCCC was established to work towards “stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.”
  • It laid out a list of responsibilities for the member states which included:
    • Formulating measures to mitigate climate change
    • Cooperating in preparing for adaptation to the impact of climate change
    • Promoting education, training and public awareness related to climate change
  • India hosted the eighth COP from October 23 to November 1, 2002 in New Delhi.
  • One of the most important conferences, COP21 took place in 2015, at Paris, France. Member countries agreed to work together to ‘limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.’

BASIC group of countries

Part of: Prelims and GS-III – Defence and security 

Context On the opening day of the COP26, Indian Environment Minister delivered a statement on behalf of the BASIC group of countries — Brazil, South Africa, India and China.

  • These major developing economies are significant polluters but bear diminished responsibility for the carbon dioxide.
  • They also have low per capita emissions because of their significant populations.

Demands of the BASIC countries

  • Conclude Paris Agreement Rulebook at COP26.
    • The Rulebook will set the Paris Agreement in motion by laying out the tools and processes to ensure it is implemented fairly and properly.
  • CBDR-RC: Full effect must be given to implementation of the principles of Equity and Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC). 
  • Accord time and policy space: Developing countries must be accorded time, policy space and support to transition towards a low emissions future.

About BASIC

  • The BASIC group was formed as the result of an agreement signed by the four countries on November 28, 2009.
  • Countries – Brazil, South Africa, India and China.

Significance of the grouping:

  • These nations have common positions on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and raising the massive funds that are needed to fight climate change.
  • The grouping is significant because Brazil, South Africa, India and China together have one-third of the world’s geographical area and nearly 40% of the world’s population, and when they unitedly speak in one voice this shows their determination.

Ganges river dolphin

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Conservation

Context The Jal Shakti Ministry has released a guide for the safe rescue and release of stranded Ganges river dolphins. 

Key takeaways 

  • The document has been prepared by the Turtle Survival Alliance and the Environment, Forest and Climate Change Department (EFCCD) of the Uttar Pradesh Government.
  • The guide has been drawn from years of experience of rescuing 25 Ganges river dolphins stranded in irrigation canals.
  • Best practices on crowd control, dolphin capture from canals and handling, transfer, transport and release are part of the guide.

About Ganges Dolphins

  • The Ganges river dolphin is the national aquatic animal of India
  • It is Found throughout the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India and Bangladesh.
  • It (Platanista gangetica gangetica) is a global priority and is also an indicator of healthy aquatic systems
  • Ghaghra river is a prime habitat where most of the rescued dolphins were released in the past few years.
  • IUCN status: Endangered 
  • Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act (1972): Schedule I 
  • CITES: Appendix I 

Autosomal DNA technique

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Sci and tech

Context Recently, a living descendant of the famed Lakota leader Sitting Bull has been confirmed using a novel technique for analyzing fragments of the historic figure’s DNA.

  • The researchers compared autosomal DNA from Sitting Bull’s hair sample to DNA samples from LaPointe and other Lakota Sioux to establish the familial connection.

Sitting Bull

  • Sitting Bull, born in 1831, was chief and medicine man of the Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux, Native American group.
  • Sitting Bull was a Hunkpapa Lakota leader who led his people during years of resistance against United States government policies.

What is Autosomal DNA?

  • All of us are born with 23 pairs of chromosomes(with few exceptions) that were passed down from parents 
  • X and Y chromosomes are part of the 23rd pair of chromosomes which determine what biological sex a person is born with.
  • The rest of the 22 pairs are called autosomal chromosomes. 
  • Hence Autosomal DNA is contained in the 22 pairs of chromosomes not involved in determining a person’s sex. 
  • Autosomal DNA recombines in each generation, and new offspring receive one set of chromosomes from each parent.
  • These are inherited exactly equally from both parents

Usage of this technique

  • Autosomal DNA tests can tell us a lot about our ancestry with a pretty high level of accuracy. 
  • It can be used even when very limited genetic data are available.
  • The technique could also be used in forensic investigations.

Climate vulnerability index released by CEEW

Part of: Prelims and GS-III – Climate change 

Context Environmental think tank Council on Energy, Environment and Water has carried out a first-of-its-kind district-level climate vulnerability assessment, or Climate Vulnerability Index (CVI).

  • Under this, it has analysed 640 districts in India to assess their vulnerability to extreme weather events such as cyclones, floods, heatwaves, droughts, etc.

Findings of the climate vulnerability index

  • Vulnerable to extreme climate events: Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Bihar are most vulnerable to extreme climate events such as floods, droughts and cyclones in India.
  • India’s most climate vulnerable districts: Dhemaji and Nagaon in Assam, Khammam in Telangana, Gajapati in Odisha, Vizianagaram in Andhra Pradesh, Sangli in Maharashtra, and Chennai in Tamil Nadu 
  • More than 80% Indians live in districts vulnerable to climate risks 
  • North-eastern states are more vulnerable to floods. 

Miscellaneous

Covovax

  • Biotechnology firm Novavax Inc and its partner Serum Institute of India (SII) have received the first emergency use authorisation (EUA) for Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine in Indonesia. 
  • The SII will manufacture the vaccine in India and market it in Indonesia under the brand name Covovax.

(News from PIB)


Etikoppaka toys

Part of: Prelims 

Context: A traditional method of making wooden toys using non-toxic paints and natural dyes (dying art)

  • In Etikoppaka village in Southern India
  • Are well rounded and made using natural dye colours. This makes them safe, even for kids

Bhasha Sangam Initiative for schools

Part of: Prelims 

  • Developed by NCERT
  • 100 sentences in 22 scheduled languages are presented in such a way that children in school will be able to read in the Indian language, in Devanagari script, in roman script and translations into Hindi and English.
  • 100 sentences are presented in audio and video form with Indian Sign Language.

Idea: Language learning to be promoted as skill with formal credit earning system + people should acquire basic conversational skills in an Indian language other than their mother tongue.

News Source: PIB


India and World Bank

Part of: Prelims 

In News: Government of India, the Government of Meghalaya and the World Bank signed a $40 million health project for the state of Meghalaya that will improve the quality of health services and strengthen the state’s capacity to handle future health emergencies, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Enhance the management and governance capabilities of the state and its health facilities
  • Expand the design and coverage of the state’s health insurance program
  • Improve the quality of health services through certification and better human resource systems
  • Enable efficient access to medicines and diagnostics

All 11 districts of the state will benefit from the project-

  • Benefit health sector staff at the primary and secondary levels by strengthening their planning and management capabilities and building their clinical skills
  • Enable women to better utilize healthcare services at the community level.

News Source: PIB


PM’s Address: ‘Action and Solidarity-The Critical Decade’ at COP26 Summit 

Part of: Mains GS-III: Climate Change

Adaptation does not get as much importance in the Global climate debate as Mitigation. This is an injustice to developing countries, which are more affected by climate change.

  • Climate is a major challenge for farmers in most developing countries, including India – 
    • The cropping pattern is changing, 
    • Crops are being destroyed by untimely rains and floods, or frequent storms
  • From drinking water sources to affordable housing, all of these need to be made resilient against climate change.

Focus on Adaptation: We need to make adaptation a key part of our development policies and projects.  Projects like ‘Nal se Jal’- Tap water for all, ‘Swachh Bharat’- clean India Mission and ‘Ujjwala’- clean cooking fuel for all in India, have not only provided adaptation benefits to our needy citizens but have also improved their quality of life. 

Living in harmony with nature: Secondly, many traditional communities have adequate knowledge of living in harmony with nature. 

  • These traditional practices must be given due importance in our adaptation policies. 
  • This flow of knowledge must also be included in the school syllabus so that it is passed on to the new generation. 
  • Preservation of lifestyles in compliance with the local conditions can also be an important pillar of adaptation. 

Method of Adaptation: The methods of adaptation may be local, but backward countries should get global support for them. With the idea of global support for local adaptation, India had taken the initiative of Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure CDRI. 

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


SCIENCE & TECH/ ECONOMY

  • GS-3: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life. 
  • GS-3: Economy & its challenges

The Crypto Conundrum

Context: Since 2020, when the Supreme Court overturned an order by the Reserve Bank of India dated April 6, 2018, restricting the use of cryptocurrencies, traffic in domestic cryptocurrency exchanges in India has grown many-fold. 

Bitcoin and other private cryptocurrencies have been on a bull run recently. Unlike previous rallies, the current rally in bitcoin has witnessed the increasing participation of retail investors in India.

Are Crypto Currencies on speculative run?

  • The most important feature of cryptocurrencies is their limited supply.
  • In a world where central banks create a lot of money out of thin air, it is natural for investors who are looking to protect their wealth to seek alternative assets (like cryptocurrencies) whose supply cannot be increased up as easily.
  • Scarcity alone is not sufficient to facilitate the adoption of cryptocurrencies as money. 
  • Any asset must have either use value or exchange value in order for it to possess any fundamental value. This fundamental value, in turn, is reflected in the price of these assets in the long run. 
    • Stocks and bonds, for instance, possess exchange value that is based on the expected future cash flow from these assets. 
    • Commodities such as oil and steel possess use value because these assets are used to run vehicles and build real estate
  • Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies may be scarce but it is questionable whether they possess any use value or exchange value.
  • We can say that cryptocurrencies possess no significant fundamental value to sustain their current high prices. Yet, many believe that the rising prices of cryptocurrencies reflect their likely future value as a currency. 
  • It is possible that investors are bidding up the price of bitcoin because they foresee a future in which private currency is widely accepted as money. 
  • One may also grant that the extreme volatility seen in the price of cryptocurrencies. may be due to the nascent, illiquid nature of the cryptocurrency market. 

What is the possibility of governments cracking down on Crypto Currencies?

  • The more cryptocurrencies are accepted in exchange for goods and services, the greater the chances of governments cracking down on them.
  • The monopoly that governments (and central banks) possess over the issuance of money is at the root of their power and influence. 
  • It allows central banks to control the money supply under the mandate of managing aggregate demand in the economy. 
  • In essence, monopoly control over money allows governments to indirectly tax citizens by increasing the supply of currencies, thus devaluing them. 
  • If cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are going to challenge fiat currencies like the U.S. dollar or INR as a medium of exchange, they would essentially be challenging the authority of the government to print and spend. This will not be tolerated by governments for long. 
  • Governments will allow cryptocurrencies to exist only as long as these currencies remain a speculative asset and not a medium of exchange.
  • This doesn’t mean that governments are justified in their crackdown against cryptocurrencies. There are obvious benefits of free market competition. Private alternatives to fiat currencies offer people greater choice in what currencies they choose to use as a medium of exchange. 

Connecting the dots:


GOVERNANCE

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

India’s Water Stress

In News: According to the composite water management index released by the think tank NITI Aayog in 2019, 21 major cities (including Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad) were on the brink of exhausting groundwater resources, affecting about 100 million people.

  • The study also points out that by 2030, the demand for water is projected to be twice the available supply.

Understanding Sources of Water

  • In the rural areas, 80%-90% of the drinking water and 75% of the water used for agriculture is drawn from groundwater sources. 
  • In urban areas, 50%-60% of the water supply is drawn from groundwater sources, whereas the remaining is sourced from surface water resources such as rivers, often located afar, in addition to lakes, tanks and reservoirs.
  • Seeing India’s looming water crisis through ‘urban’ and ‘rural’ sources allows for better understanding of the causative factors and also enables to develop better strategies to be deployed to reverse the water crisis. 

Water Crisis in Urban Areas: The Chennai Example

  • Water crisis unfolded in Chennai in 2019, where life came to a standstill and parts of the city went without piped water for months.
  • Many have cited the poor rainfall received in Chennai in the previous year as one of the main reasons for the water crisis. Though it is true that rainfall was low, which was 50% less than normal, there were other reasons for the crisis.
  • Chennai city has been built by incrementally encroaching floodplains and paving over lakes and wetlands that would have otherwise helped the process of recharging groundwater. 
  • The lack of space for water to percolate underground prevented rainwater from recharging the aquifers.
  • The situation was made worse by the loss of green cover (which would have otherwise helped water retention) to make way for infrastructure projects.
  • Such a situation, on the one hand, leads to flooding during normal rainfall due to stagnation, and on the other hand leads to drought-like conditions due to the prevention of underground water storage.

Water Crisis in Rural Areas: The Punjab Example

  • The draft report of the Central Ground Water Board concluded that Punjab would be reduced to a desert in 25 years if the extraction of its groundwater resources continues unabated.
  • 82% of Punjab’s land area has seen a huge decline in groundwater levels, wherein 109 out of 138 administrative blocks have been placed in the ‘over exploited’ category. 
  • Groundwater extraction which was at 35% in the 1960s and 1970s, rose to 70% post the Green Revolution where government subsidised power for irrigation that lead to tubewells running for hours.
  • Also, cultivation of water intensive crops such as paddy have further aggravated water depletion, even turning water saline. 

Way Ahead

  • If the Government is serious about addressing the water crisis in urban areas, the Ministry of Water Resources must reconfigure its relationship with other Ministries and Departments (Urban Development, Local Self-Government and Environment). 
  • This would be for enhanced integration and coordination through effective land and water zoning regulations that protect urban water bodies, groundwater sources, wetlands and green cover.
  • Authorities must also simultaneously work to enhance waste water recycling and water recharge activities targeting aquifers and wells through rainwater harvesting.
  • In Rural areas like Punjab, immediate measures need to be taken to manage and replenish groundwater, especially through participatory groundwater management approaches with its combination of water budgeting, aquifer recharging and community involvement.
  • In view of the ongoing erosion of water resources, the government should not be on promising water supply (Jal Jeevan Mission). Instead the aim should be towards protecting and conserving water resources on the one hand and minimising and enhancing efficiency of water usage on the other. 

Connecting the dots:


(Sansad TV: Perspective)


Oct 28: China’s New Border Law – https://youtu.be/3rISEAk_10M

TOPIC:

  • GS-2: India and its neighborhood- relations 
  • GS-3: Challenges in managing the borders

China’s New Border Law

Context: China has recently enacted a new law related to its border security management. 

This comes amid 

  • A tense stand-off with India in the Himalayas, which sparked a deadly clash last year;
  • Sporadic armed conflict between junta troops and ethnic armed groups in Myanmar, on China’s southwestern border
  • Risks of terror spillover from a chaotic Afghanistan following US troop withdrawal and a Taliban takeover.

While terror spillover from Afghanistan or violence on the Myanmar border are concerns, the timing of the law suggests pressure on India is the aim.

China’s land borders

  • China shares its 22,457-km land boundary with 14 countries including India, the third longest after the borders with Mongolia and Russia. 
  • Unlike the Indian border, however, China’s borders with these two countries are not disputed. 
  • The only other country with which China has disputed land borders is Bhutan (477 km).

The New Border Law

  • The Land Border Law aims to standardise how China patrols its massive 22,100 km land boundaries and borders with 14 countries including India. 
  • Sets forth that China will handle border-related issues with neighbours through negotiations, to properly resolve disputes and long-standing issues.
  • Chinese military should carry out border defence duties, management and control to prevent intrusions, infiltration and provocations. 
  • Infrastructure projects along the land border should be approved by the State Council and the Central Military Commission.
  • The law was needed as there was no specific legislation for coordinating China’s border controls.
  • This law was first proposed in March 2021 and will now come into effect by January 1, 2022. 

India has expressed concern over this issue-

  • China’s unilateral decision to bring about a legislation can have implication on existing bilateral arrangements on border management as well as on the boundary question. 
  • Such unilateral move will have no bearing on the arrangements that both sides have already reached earlier, whether it is on the Boundary Question or for maintaining peace and tranquillity along the LAC in India-China Border areas. 
  • India expects China will avoid undertaking action under the pretext of this law which could unilaterally alter the situation in the India-China border areas.

(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.

Q.1 Which of the following is incorrect about Ganges dolphin?

  1. It is the national aquatic animal of India
  2. It is Found throughout the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India and Bangladesh.
  3. It is an indicator of healthy aquatic systems
  4. It is protected under Schedule III of Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act (1972)

Q.2 Consider the following statements:

  1. X and Y chromosomes are known as Autosomal DNA.
  2. Recently, a living descendant of the famed Lakota leader Sitting Bull has been identified & confirmed using a autosomal DNA technique.

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 Which of the following countries is not a part of the BASIC group of countries?

  1. Brazil
  2. South Africa
  3. Australia 
  4. India  

ANSWERS FOR 1st Nov 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 D
2 A
3 A

Must Read

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