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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 6th November 2021

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  • November 6, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Delhi’s poor air quality

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Pollution

Context As per Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data, Delhi’s air quality entered the “severe” category recently for the first time this season after people in the city burst firecrackers on Deepavali night despite a blanket ban.

  • The Capital registered its worst post-Deepavali air quality in five years. The AQI (air quality index) of Delhi this season is 533. In 2016, it was 445 around the same time. It was 368 in 2019. 
  • According to SAFAR, without any more firecracker emissions the AQI is likely to improve to “very poor” category by Saturday night.

What is System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR)?

  • It was indigenously developed by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune. 
  • It is run by India Meteorological Department (IMD).
  • The objective is to provide Real-time air quality index on 24×7 basis with colour coding along with 72-hour advance weather forecast. 
  • Another goal is to issue health advisory to prepare citizens well in advance.

What is the National Air Quality Index?

  • Launched in 2014 with outline ‘One Number – One Color -One Description’ for the common man to judge the air quality within his vicinity
  • The measurement of air quality is based on eight pollutants: Particulate Matter (PM10), PM2.5, Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Ozone (O3), Ammonia (NH3), and Lead (Pb).
  • AQI has six categories of air quality: Good, Satisfactory, Moderately Polluted, Poor, Very Poor and Severe.
  • It has been developed by the CPCB in consultation with IIT-Kanpur and an expert group comprising medical and air-quality professionals.


Stubble burning

Part of: Prelims and GS-III – Pollution

Context One of the largest studies of its kind in India, correlating the effect of air pollution on health, was conducted in six villages of Patiala, Punjab in two phases.

Key findings of the study

  • Pollution from stubble burning significantly reduced lung function and was particularly harmful to women in rural Punjab
  • The concentration of PM2.5 was found to increase more than twice between the two phases, when crop burning peaks. 
    • PM2.5 is the category of unburnt carbon particles considered most harmful to respiratory health.
  • The level of increase is around 10-15 times the prescribed air quality standards prescribed by the WHO though the permissible standards set by India’s Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) are higher.
  • During the crop residue burning period, a two- to three-fold increase was noted in most of the respiratory symptoms, including wheezing, breathlessness on exertion, cough, skin rashes, itchiness of eyes, across all age groups (10-60 years).

What is Stubble Burning?

  • Stubble burning is the act of setting fire to crop residue to remove them from the field to sow the next crop
  • It is a traditional practice in Punjab and Haryana to clean off the rice chaff to prepare the fields for winter sowing
  • It begins around October and peaks in November, coinciding with the withdrawal of southwest monsoon.
  • On December 10, 2015, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had banned crop residue burning in the states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab

Goa Maritime Conclave

Part of: Prelims and GS II – International Relations and GS-III – Defence and security

Context The biennial Goa Maritime Conclave (GMC) under the Naval War College, Goa is scheduled to be held on November 7 and 9.

  • Theme: “Maritime security and emerging non-traditional threats: a case for proactive role for IOR Navies”.
  • It will be the third edition. 
  • The GMC is the Indian Navy’s outreach initiative providing a multinational platform to harness the collective wisdom on maritime security 

Key takeaways 

  • The Indian Navy and countries of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) will discuss the significance of interoperability to effectively deal with emerging and future maritime security challenges in the region.
  • Participating countries: Bangladesh, Comoros, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Myanmar, the Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
  • Discussions in the domains of hydrography and maritime information sharing will also take place
  • Visitors shall also witness the ‘Make in India exhibition’ and the capabilities of Deep Submergence Rescue Vessel (DSRV) for submarines at the Marmugao Port Trust, Goa.

Technical textiles

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Economy

Context Recently, Union Minister of Textiles has emphasised that the annual growth rate of the technical textiles sector in the country should be in the 15%-20% range in the next five years, from the current 8%.

  • India must target a five times’ increase in export of technical textiles in three years.

About Technical Textiles 

  • Technical textiles are functional fabrics that have applications in industries such as automobiles, civil engineering and construction.
    • The world market for technical textiles is $250 billion and India’s share is $19 billion.
    • The biggest players are the U.S., West European countries, China and Japan.
  • India is the 6th largest producer of Technical Textiles with 6% Global Share, largest producer of cotton & jute in the world.

Do You Know?

  • Textiles Sector contributes 2.3% to Indian GDP, 7% of Industrial Output, 12% to the export earnings of India and employs more than 21% of total employment.
  • India is also the second largest producer of silk in the world and 95% of the world’s hand woven fabric comes from India.

Initiatives by India in the textile sector

  • In January 2019, the government issued 207 HSN Codes for technical textiles and in less than two years, India had become a net exporter of technical textiles.
    • HSN code stands for “Harmonized System of Nomenclature”. 
    • This system has been introduced for the systematic classification of goods all over the world. 
    • HSN code is a 6-digit uniform code that classifies 5000+ products and is accepted worldwide.
  • As many as 92 technical textile items have been made mandatory for use by government organisations covering agriculture, horticulture, highways, railways, water resources, and medical applications.
  • Amended Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (ATUFS): For technology upgradation of the textiles industry (2015)
  • Scheme for Integrated Textile Parks (SITP): To assist small and medium entrepreneurs in the textile industry to clusterize investments in textile parks by providing financial support for world class infrastructure in the parks.
  • SAMARTH (Scheme For Capacity Building In Textile Sector): To address the shortage of skilled workers. 
  • North East Region Textile Promotion Scheme (NERTPS): This is a scheme for promoting textiles industry in the NER by providing infrastructure, capacity building and marketing support to all segments of the textile industry.
  • Power-Tex India: It comprises new research and development in power loom textiles, new markets, branding, subsidies and welfare schemes for the workers.
  • National Technical Textile Mission: It aims to position the country as a global leader in technical textiles and increase the use of technical textiles in the domestic market. It aims to take the domestic market size to USD 40 billion to USD 50 billion by 2024.

(News from PIB)


Draft Mediation Bill

Part of: Prelims 

In News: Government of India has been taking various policy initiatives for promotion and strengthening of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms through amendment in existing laws and by enactments, for facilitating quick disposal of disputes, outside of traditional court systems. As a continuation of the exercise, bringing a standalone law on Mediation is under consideration. 

Accordingly, a draft bill with the following objectives have been prepared –

  • To promote, encourage and facilitate mediation especially institutional mediation for resolution of disputes commercial and otherwise, 
  • Enforce domestic and international mediation settlement agreements, 
  • Provide for a body for registration of mediators, to encourage community mediation
  • To make online mediation as an acceptable and cost effective process

Main Features

  • Proposes for pre-litigation mediation and at the same time safeguards the interest of the litigants to approach the competent adjudicatory forums/courts in case an urgent relief is sought.
  • The successful outcome of mediation in the form of Mediation Settlement Agreement (MSA) has been made enforceable by law. Since the Mediation Settlement Agreement is out of the consensual agreement between the parties, the challenge to the same has been permitted on limited grounds.
  • The mediation process protects the confidentiality of the mediation undertaken and provides for immunity in certain cases against its disclosure.
  • The registration of Mediation Settlement Agreement has also been provided for with State/District/Taluk Legal Authorities within 90 days to ensure maintenance of authenticated records of the settlement so arrived.
  • Provides for establishment of the Mediation Council of India.
  • Provides for community mediation.

Background

  • Since the laws on Mediation are contained in several enactments including Rules and Regulation, it was felt necessary to ascertain the present statutory framework on mediation and bring an umbrella legislation including amendments in the existing laws. 
  • The Bill takes into contemplation the international practice of using the terms ‘conciliation’ and ‘mediation’ interchangeably. 
  • To enact a law in mediation on issues of domestic and international mediation as India is a signatory to the Singapore Convention on Mediation.

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


ENVIRONMENT/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation 
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 

Climate Law for India

Context: COP26 at Glasgow is important as it will call for practical implementation of the 2015 Paris Accord, setting the rules for the Accord. 

Also, this is the right time for India to consider setting up a climate law while staying true to its goals of climate justice, carbon space and environmental protection.

Do You Know?

  • India has 17 percent of the world’s population today, but the responsibility in emissions has been only 5 percent.
  • India’s non-fossil fuel energy has increased by more than 25% in the last 7 years.And now it has reached 40 percent of our energy mix.

The Indian Proposals

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced, on November 1 at Glasgow, a ‘Panchamrit solution’ that consists of 

  • India will reach its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 GW by 2030.
  • India will meet 50 percent of its energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030.
  • India will reduce the total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes from now onwards till 2030.
  • By 2030, India will reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by less than 45 percent.
  • By the year 2070, India will achieve the target of Net Zero.

Current laws and gaps

  • We have Environment (Protection) Act (EPA), 1986, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.These doesn’t cover the impacts of Climate Change or work to reduce future climate impacts
  • EPA is grossly inadequate to deal with violations on climate. Clause 24 of the EPA states that if an offence is committed under the EPA or any other law, the person will be punished under the other law (for example, Code of Criminal Procedure). This makes the EPA subordinate to every other law.
  • Our environmental laws lack integration of climate adaptation and mitigation.
  • Comprehensive climate action is not just technological (such as changing energy sources or carbon intensity), but also needs to be nature-based (such as emphasising restoration of ecosystems, reducing natural hazard and increasing carbon sinks.)
  • Climate action cannot be at the cost of increasing poverty.
  • The 500 Gigawatt by 2030 goal for renewable, solar or wind power (of installed power capacity from non-fossil sources), can put critically endangered grassland and desert birds such as the Great Indian Bustard at risk, as they die on collision with wires in the desert.

What should be the primary components of Climate Law?

  1. A climate law should consider creating an institution that monitors action plans for climate change.
  • A ‘Commission on Climate Change’ could be set up, with the power and the authority to issue directions, and oversee implementation of plans and programmes on climate. 
  • The Commission could have quasi-judicial powers with powers of a civil court to ensure that its directions are followed in letter and spirit. 
  • It should be assisted by a technical committee which can advise the commission in the discharge of its functions as well as guide various private and public agencies in meeting their climate-related obligations.
  • The commission should trace carbon footprints of various sectors and make practical public interventions for reduction of footprints through policy guidance & technological support.
  1. Climate Law must ensure accountability
  • There is a need for a system of liability and accountability at short-, medium- and long-term levels as we face hazards. This also means having a legally enforceable National Climate Change Plan that goes beyond just policy guidelines

Conclusion

We have an urgent moral imperative to tackle climate change and reduce its worst impacts. But we also should Indianise the process by bringing in a just and effective law.

Connecting the dots:


POLITY/ GOVERNANCE

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

All India Judicial Service

Context: The central government is preparing to give a fresh push to the establishment of an All India Judicial Service (AIJS) on the lines of the central civil services.

What is the proposed All India Judicial Service (AIJS)?

  • The AIJS is a reform push to centralise the recruitment of judges at the level of additional district judges and district judges for all states.
  • In the same way that the Union Public Service Commission conducts a central recruitment process and assigns successful candidates to cadres, judges of the lower judiciary are proposed to be recruited centrally and assigned to states.

How are district judges currently recruited?

  • Articles 233 and 234 of the Constitution of India deal with the appointment of district judges, and place it in the domain of the states.
  • The selection process is conducted by the State Public Service Commissions and the concerned High Court, since High Courts exercise jurisdiction over the subordinate judiciary in the state. Panels of High Court judges interview candidates after the exam and select them for appointment.
  • All judges of the lower judiciary up to the level of district judge are selected through the Provincial Civil Services (Judicial) exam. PCS(J) is commonly referred to as the judicial services exam.

Why has the AIJS been proposed?

  • The idea of a centralised judicial service was first mooted in the Law Commission’s 1958 ‘Report on Reforms on Judicial Administration’.
  • The idea was to ensure an efficient subordinate judiciary, to address structural issues such as varying pay and remuneration across states, to fill vacancies faster, and to ensure standard training across states.
  • A statutory or constitutional body such as the UPSC to conduct a standard, centralised exam to recruit and train judges was discussed.
  • The idea was proposed again in the Law Commission Report of 1978, which discussed delays and arrears of cases in the lower courts.
  • In 2006, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice in its 15th Report backed the idea of a pan-Indian judicial service, and also prepared a draft Bill.

What is the judiciary’s view on the AIJS?

  • In 1992, the Supreme Court in All India Judges’ Assn. (1) v. Union of India directed the Centre to set up an AIJS. In a 1993 review of the judgment, however, the court left the Centre at liberty to take the initiative on the issue.
  • In 2017, the Supreme Court took suo motu cognizance of the issue of appointment of district judges, and mooted a “Central Selection Mechanism”.
  • Senior advocate Arvind Datar, who was appointed amicus curiae by the court, recommended conducting a common examination instead of separate state exams. Based on the merit list, High Courts would then hold interviews and appoint judges. 

What is the opposition to the AIJS?

  • A centralised recruitment process is seen as an affront to federalism and an encroachment on the powers of states granted by the Constitution. This is the main contention of several states, which have also argued that central recruitment would not be able to address the unique concerns that individual states may have.
  • Language and representation, for example, are key concerns highlighted by states. Judicial business is conducted in regional languages, which could be affected by central recruitment.
  • Also, reservations based on caste, and even for rural candidates or linguistic minorities in the state, could be diluted in a central test, it has been argued.
  • The opposition is also based on the constitutional concept of the separation of powers. A central test could give the executive a foot in the door for the appointment of district judges, and dilute the say that High Courts have in the process.
  • Additionally, legal experts have argued that the creation of AIJS will not address the structural issues plaguing the lower judiciary.
  • The issue of different scales of pay and remuneration has been addressed by the Supreme Court in the 1993 All India Judges Association case by bringing in uniformity across states.
  • Experts argue that increasing pay across the board and ensuring that a fraction of High Court judges are picked from the lower judiciary, may help better than a central exam to attract quality talent.

Why is the government seeking to revive the idea of AIJS?

  • The government has targeted the reform of lower judiciary in its effort to improve India’s Ease of Doing Business ranking, as efficient dispute resolution is one of the key indices in determining the rank.
  • AIJS is considered by the government as a step in the direction of ensuring an efficient lower judiciary.
  • The government has countered the opposition by states, saying that if a central mechanism can work for administrative services — IAS officers learn the language required for their cadre — it can work for judicial services too.

Connecting the dots:


(ORF: Raisena Debates)


Nov 2: Reopening Nepal-India border- https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/reopening-nepal-india-border/ 

TOPIC:

  • GS-2: India and Nepal

Reopening Nepal-India border

Context: It was after much lobbying and pressure that on 21 September, the Nepalese government decided to re-open the Nepal-India border that was sealed from March 2020 to control the spread of COVID-19. 

  • Accordingly, the local authorities at the Raxaul-Birgunj border point re-opened the border on 1st October by unlocking the gates and allowing the Indian citizens, apart from the tourists, to enter into the Nepalese territory.
  • Reciprocating the decision of the Nepalese government on the issue of re-opening the Nepal-India border, the Indian government t also re-opened the border except for few. 
  • To ensure the safety of the people from the COVID-19, the local border authorities have made a provision whereby both the Nepalese and Indian citizens would have to produce a COVID-19 negative report within 72 hours while entering into Nepal through the land border.

Repercussions of sealed borders

Before this, never had the 1753-kilometre long border between the two countries been closed.

  • The tourism sector contributes as much as 8 percent to Nepal’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), apart from generating direct and indirect employment opportunities for over 1.05 million people. So, the entire Nepalese economy was affected when the Indo-Nepal border was closed. Moreover, the local market centred along the border areas were also severely as it heavily relied on the cross-border movement of people.
  • Since millions of Nepalese, especially from the hilly regions, are employed in India, they suffered most during the coronavirus period. Many of those people were held up in India and vice-versa after the border closure. In the chaos, there were cases of deaths after they were denied to cross the border.
  • To add to the misery, some people in Nepal fenced three kilometres of the border unilaterally between pillar 435/1 to 439/4 with a barbed wire closer to the “No Man’s Land” in Parsa district of Nepal with the sole intention of creating a rift in the traditional relations between the people of the two countries. Because of construction, the border inhabitants of Nepal and India who often needed to cross over the border for social, cultural, and economic reasons faced insurmountable problems. 
  • Many people in Nepal and India chose to cross the border through the non-conventional routes which added more risks of the spread of coronavirus from one country to the other.
  • Besides, the unauthorised trade along the Nepal-India border also surged, which ultimately resulted in the loss of government revenue. 

The Way Forward

  1. Instead of placing restrictions on the movement of people and vehicles at the Nepal-India border, the governments of the two countries should establish joint health desks at the main border points to ascertain the cases of coronavirus, including in Raxaul-Birgung, allowing only those citizens to cross the border who tested negative.
  2. Allow unrestricted cross-border movement: To enhance the growing bonds of socio-economic and cultural relations between Nepal and India, it is essential to review the arrangement of the cross-border movement of private vehicles between the two countries. 
    • The Nepalese authorities at the customs points allow the Indian private vehicles to enter into Nepal for which they have to pay certain charges on a per diem basis at the border points. 
    • On the other hand, the Nepalese people are required to get prior permission from the Indian embassy in Kathmandu or its Consulate General Office in Birgunj if they have to enter India with vehicles bearing Nepali number plates. 
    • No such permission is required for the Indian people from the Nepalese embassy in New Delhi if they have to enter Nepal with Indian number plates.
    • Such an anomaly in the cross-border movement of vehicles is in fact against the letter and spirit of the 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty between Nepal and India. 

Can you answer the following questions?

  1. What are the major irritants in Indo-Nepal relations? What are their fallouts? Examine.
  2. India-Nepal Flood Management

(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 Where are you most likely to find the practice of stubble burning most prominent?

  1. Punjab
  2. Assam
  3. Rajasthan
  4. Andhra Pradesh

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding Technical textiles?

  1. These are functional fabrics that have applications in cotton and jute industries.
  2. India’s share in technical textiles is the highest globally.

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 pollutants is not considered while measuring the Air quality Index of Indian cities? 

  1. Nitrogen Dioxide 
  2. Sulphur Dioxide 
  3. Carbon Monoxide 
  4. Carbon Dioxide

ANSWERS FOR 3rd Nov 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 D
2 A
3 A

Must Read

On need to fix judicial system:

Indian Express

On World Trade – Issues:

The Hindu

On formalisation of economy:

The Print

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