(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Part of: Prelims and GS-II -Education
Context The Supreme Court has allowed National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) counselling to proceed so as to not disrupt medical admissions this year.
- It also upheld the 27% reservation for the Other Backward Classes (OBC) and 10% for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in the All India Quota (AIQ) seats in accordance with a July 29, 2021 government order
National Eligibility cum Entrance Test
- It is an all India pre-medical entrance test for students who wish to pursue undergraduate medical (MBBS), dental (BDS) and AYUSH (BAMS, BUMS, BHMS, etc.) courses in government and private institutions in India and also, for those intending to pursue primary medical qualification abroad.
- The exam is conducted by National Testing Agency (NTA).
- Only those persons who are not covered under the scheme of reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs and whose family has gross annual income below 8.00 lakh rupees are to be identified as EWSs for benefit of reservation.
- This Income shall also include income from all sources i.e. salary, agriculture, business, profession, etc.
- Persons whose families own landholdings of a certain size such as at least five acres of agricultural land, or a residential flat of at least 1,000 sq. feet are excluded from the purview of this reservation.
- EWS, as originally notified by a January 2019 official memorandum, was recently recommended for retention by the government-appointed former Finance Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey-led Expert Committee on December 31, 2021,
Part of: Prelims and GS-III Economy
Context The National Statistical Office (NSO) has said in its first advance estimates of economic output that India’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow by 9.2% in the current financial year following last fiscal’s 7.3% contraction.
- The NSO, however, made clear that these were “early projections” that did not factor in actual performance of various indicators as well as measures that may be taken to contain the spread of COVID-19.
National Statistical Office (NSO)
- The government has formed an overarching body NSO by merging the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), Computer Centre and Central Statistical Office (CSO).
- NSO was first envisaged by Rangarajan Commission to implement and maintain statistical standards and coordinate statistical activities of Central and State agencies as laid down by the National Statistical Commission (NSC).
- NSO would be headed by Secretary (Statistics and Programme Implementation).
- Ministry: It is the statistical wing of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI).
- Key Functions
- Acts as the nodal agency for planned development of the statistical system in the country
- Lays down and maintains norms and standards in the field of statistics
- Prepares national accounts as well as publishes annual estimates of national product, government and private consumption expenditure.
- Maintains liaison with international statistical organizations
- Compiles and releases the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) every month and conducts the Annual Survey of Industries (ASI)
- Organizes and conducts periodic all-India Economic Censuses and follow-up enterprise surveys.
Part of: Prelims and GS-II – International Relations and GS-III Defence and security
Context Iran displayed three ballistic missiles recently.
- The missiles — known as Dezful, Qiam and Zolfaghar — have official ranges of up to 1,000 km and are already-known models
- Aa ballistic missile follows a ballistic trajectory (projectile motion) to deliver one or more warheads on a predetermined target.
- Short-range ballistic missiles stay within the Earth’s atmosphere, while intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) are launched on a sub-orbital trajectory.
- It is a rocket-propelled self-guided strategic-weapons system
- It can carry conventional high explosives as well as chemical, biological, or nuclear munitions.
- The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCOC), is a political initiative aimed at globally curbing ballistic missile proliferation.
- India is a signatory to this convention.
- The voluntary Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) aims to limit the spread of ballistic missiles and other unmanned delivery systems that could be used for chemical, biological, and nuclear attacks.
- India has joined the MTCR.
Some of India’s Ballistic Missiles:
- Agni P missile
- Shaurya missile
- Prithvi missile
- Dhanush, etc.
Part of: Prelims and GS III – Economy
Context IHS Markit said in a report that India is likely to overtake Japan as Asia’s second-largest economy by 2030.
Key takeaways from the report
- Currently, India is the sixth-largest economy, behind the U.S., China, Japan, Germany and the U.K.
- India’s nominal GDP is forecast to rise from $2.7 trillion in 2021 to $8.4 trillion by 2030
- By 2030, the Indian economy would also be larger in size than the largest Western European economies of Germany, France and the U.K.
- The long-term outlook for the Indian economy is supported by a number of key growth drivers.
- An important positive factor for India is its large and fast-growing middle class, which is helping to drive consumer spending.
- The country’s consumption expenditure will double from $1.5 trillion in 2020 to $3 trillion by 2030.
- The Indian economy is forecast to continue growing strongly in the 2022-23 fiscal year, at a pace of 6.7%.
- Its large industrial sector have made India an increasingly important investment destination for multinationals in many sectors, including manufacturing, infrastructure and services.
(News from PIB)
Part of: Prelims
In News: A group of Indian and international scientists have spotted a peculiar binary star that shows heartbeat but no pulsations contrary to the norm of binary stars of sporting both heartbeats as well as pulsations. This star is called HD73619 in Praesepe (M44), located in the Cancer constellation, one of the closest open star clusters to the Earth.
- First member of heartbeat systems in binary chemically peculiar stars that does not show any pulsational/vibrational activity at their closest approach.
- Chemically peculiar stars are those stars which have an unusual abundance of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium on the surface.
- The newly discovered heartbeat star exhibits either very weak or no magnetic field. Absence of weak magnetic field means that any dark spots on the HD73619 may have different and hitherto unknown origin as compared to sunspots which are created by strong magnetic field.
- The discovery is of vital importance for the study of inhomogeneities due to spots in non-magnetic stars and to investigate the origin of the pulsational variability.
- A total of about 180 heartbeat stars are known to date.
- The name ‘Heartbeat’ stems from the resemblance of the path of the star to an electrocardiogram of the human heart. These are the binary star systems where each star travels in a highly elliptical orbit around the common centre of mass, and the distance between the two stars varies drastically as they orbit each other.
- When the stars are at closest passage of binary systems, a sudden increase in integrated brightness with amplitude of the order of several parts-per-thousand (ppt) is observed.
- As the components move apart, the light variation falls and finally becomes flat, indicating that combined flux is reduced, resulting in alternating peaks and troughs in their light curves.
- The pulsational activity of such stars is due to the oscillations in the component stars when they are at their closest approach.
News Source: PIB
- GS-2: Fundamental Rights
Context: A recent religious conclave held in Haridwar witnessed inflammatory and provocative speeches by proponents of Hindutva, many of them leaders of religious organisations.
- Reports say many of the speakers called for organised violence against Muslims and hinted at a Myanmar-type ‘cleansing campaign’.
- Political parties and concerned citizens have termed these as ‘hate speech’ and demanded legal action against those involved in the propagation of hate and violence.
What is ‘hate speech’?
- There is no specific legal definition of ‘hate speech’.
- Provisions in law criminalise speeches, writings, actions, signs and representations that foment violence and spread disharmony between communities and groups and these are understood to refer to ‘hate speech’.
- The Law Commission of India, in its 267th Report, says: “Hate speech generally is an incitement to hatred primarily against a group of persons defined in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief and the like … Thus, hate speech is any word written or spoken, signs, visible representations within the hearing or sight of a person with the intention to cause fear or alarm, or incitement to violence.”
- In general, hate speech is considered a limitation on free speech that seeks to prevent or bar speech that exposes a person or a group or section of society to hate, violence, ridicule or indignity.
How is it treated in Indian law?
- Sections 153A and 505 of the Indian Penal Code are generally taken to be the main penal provisions that deal with inflammatory speeches and expressions that seek to punish ‘hate speech’.
- Under Section 153A, ‘promotion of enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony’, is an offence punishable with three years’ imprisonment. It attracts a five-year term if committed in a place of worship, or an assembly engaged in religious worship or religious ceremonies.
- Section 505 of IPC makes it an offence to making “statements conducing to public mischief”. Under subsection (3), the same offence will attract up to a five-year jail term if it takes place in a place of worship, or in any assembly engaged in religious worship or religious ceremonies.
What has the Law Commission proposed?
- The Law Commission has proposed that separate offences be added to the IPC to criminalise hate speech quite specifically instead of being subsumed in the existing sections concerning inflammatory acts and speeches.
- It has proposed that two new sections, Section 153C and Section 505A, be added.
- Its draft says Section 153C should make it an offence if anyone (a) uses gravely threatening words, spoken or written or signs or visible representations, with the intention to cause fear or alarm; or (b) advocates hatred that causes incitement to violence, on grounds of religion, race, caste or community, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, place of birth, residence, language, disability or tribe. It proposes a two-year jail term for this and/or a fine of ₹5,000 or both.
- Its draft for Section 505A proposes to criminalise words, or display of writing or signs that are gravely threatening or derogatory, within the hearing or sight of a person, causing fear or alarm or, with intent to provoke the use of unlawful violence against that person or another”. It proposes a prison term of up to one year and/or a fine up to ₹5,000 or both.
- Similar proposals to add sections to the IPC to punish acts and statements that promote racial discrimination or amount to hate speech have been made by the M.P. Bezbaruah Committee and the T.K. Viswanathan Committee.
- At present, the Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws, which is considering more comprehensive changes to criminal law, is examining the issue of having specific provisions to tackle hate speech.
- GS-3: Environmental Conservation
Context: India’s pledge to set a net zero target by 2070, at the COP26 summit, Glasgow, has again highlighted the importance of forests as an undisputed mechanism to help mitigate the challenges of climate change.
Importance of Forests
- According to study, land-based sinks (natural climate solutions which also include forests) can provide up to 37% of emission reduction and help in keeping the global temperature below 2° C.
- Also, forests are said to secure nearly 32% carbon storage, as per one report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Continued degradation of forests in India
- Though India is said to have increased its forest cover by 15,000 square kilometres in the last six years, the degradation of existing forests continues.
- As per the State of Forests Report (1989), the country had 2,57,409 sq.km (7.83% of its geographical area) under the open forest category, having a density of 10% to less than 40%.
- However, in 30 years (2019) this has been increased to 3,04,499 sq.km (9.26%). This means every year on average, nearly 1.57 lakh hectare of forests was degraded.
- This degradation highlights the presence of anthropogenic pressures including encroachment, grazing, fire, which our forests are subjected to.
- Having diverted nearly 1.5 million hectares of forests since 1980 for developmental activities and losing nearly 1.48 million hectares of forests to encroachers coupled with an intricate link between poverty and unemployment, India is witnessing enormous degradation of forests and deforestation.
What is the best route to restore forests?
- The degradation of forests warrants the participation of people as an essential and effective route to achieve the desired target of carbon sequestration through the restoration of forests.
- In a historic departure from pursuing commercial objectives to supporting the needs of people in a participatory manner (as envisaged in National Forest Policy, 1988), India made its attempt, in 1990, to engage local communities in a partnership mode while protecting and managing forests
- This concept of joint forest management spelt much hope for States and forest-fringe communities.
- The efforts to make this participatory approach operative resulted in the formation of nearly 1.18 lakh joint forest management committees managing over 25 million hectares of forest area.
- The similar system of joint management in the case of national parks, sanctuaries and tiger reserves which existed in the name of eco-development committees initially proved effective as it could garner the support of these participating communities.
- Such local participation not only for the protection and development of biodiversity but also in the considerable reduction in man-animal conflicts and the protection of forests from fires and grazing.
What are the main concerns with joint forest management?
- However, the completion of the project period and lack of subsequent funding affected their functionality and also the protection of forests due to a lack of support from participating local communities including associated non-governmental organisations.
- Except for the National Mission for Green India, in all other centrally sponsored programmes, the lack of priority and policy support to ensure the participation of local communities via the institutions of joint forest management committees slowly made their participation customary. This caused a gradual decline in their effectiveness.
- The role of local institutions of gram panchayat or joint forest management committees is now restricted to be a consultative institution instead of being partners in planning and implementation.
- This indifference and alienation from the participatory planning and implementation of various schemes further affects the harmony between Forest Departments and communities, endangering the protection of forests.
- To achieve net zero targets there is a need to revisit the existing legal and policy mechanisms, incentivise the local communities appropriately and ensure fund flow for restoration interventions, duly providing for the adequate participation of local people in planning and implementation through local institutions.
- Political priority and appropriate policy interventions, as done recently in Telangana by amending the panchayat and municipal acts for environmental concerns and creating a provision for a Green Fund, or Telangana Haritha Nidhi, for tree planting and related activities, need replication in other States.
- These should be supported by enabling financial and institutional support mechanisms and negotiations with stakeholders to incentivise local communities to boost efforts to conserve and develop forest resources.
- Though India did not become a signatory of the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use, the considerations of land tenure and the forest rights of participatory communities with accelerated finances will help aid steps in the race toward net zero.
- This inclusive approach with political prioritisation will not only help reduce emissions but also help to conserve and increase ‘our forest cover’ to ‘a third of our total area’. It will also protect our once rich and precious biological diversity.
(Down to Earth: Agriculture)
Dec 27: Transforming lives: The job creation potential of a just livestock transition
- GS-3- Livestock
Context: From Indonesia to Mexico, livestock operations are transitioning into plant-based operations and creating safer and better-paid jobs. Farmers are transforming old hog barns into productive mushroom farms, replacing chicken with hemp and growing oats where dairy cows once grazed.
- Not only are these operations providing safer jobs with better pay, but they also significantly reduce emissions caused by livestock production.
- More resources and support services are available to farmers pursuing just livestock transition than ever before.
- With this guidance, farmers can identify new market opportunities for plant-based operations and access guidance on making the transition away from livestock production financially viable.
- As the demand for plant-based products continues to expand rapidly, farmers are seeing an opportunity to get out of livestock farming. Animal farming has trapped many of these same farmers in notoriously exploitative contracts, with poor working conditions, low income, high vulnerability to market forces and extreme stress.
Healthier, safer work
Industrialised livestock production is a dangerous business that poses a serious threat to human health and psychological well-being. The impact of injuries, illness and trauma affects the individual worker and has devastating effects on the families and communities in which they live. For instance, new strains of bird and swine flu, which have the potential to become zoonotic diseases, emerge each year posing a major threat to human health.
- Leads to mass culling of millions of birds
- Leaves governments with enormous compensation claims
- Leaves many farmers without any means for regaining their lost income. Some of these farms will never recover.
- Furtherexacrbates the condition of meat-packing workers, who are among the most dangerous, with daily reports of amputations, burns, head injuries and psychological trauma, with an added situation of being from socio-economically vulnerable population. Many of them are undocumented and lack access to healthcare and other worker protections
Climate-friendly food systems
In addition to creating safer, healthier jobs, a transition away from industrialised livestock production empowers farmers to protect the climate and the very land on which they work.
- Two-thirds of global animal production in the world is industrialised, severely endangering our planet’s ecosystems, natural resources, livelihoods, human health and animal welfare. To remain within environmental limits and planetary boundaries, researchers have shown that the global production of animal-sourced foods must be reduced by at least half.
- Livestock production exacerbates climate change but a rise in global temperatures is equally damaging for livestock production, posing a major threat to farmers’ livelihoods.
- Climate change diminishes the quality of feed crop and forage, decreases water availability and negatively impacts animal and milk production.
- Further, climate change increases the emergence of livestock diseases, reduces animal reproduction and exacerbates biodiversity loss.
- Globally, a 7-10 per cent decline in livestock is expected as global temperatures rise, with associated economic losses between $9.7 and $12.6 billion, solely due to climate change.
Enormous job-creation potential
Transitioning to environmentally and socially sustainable economies can drive job creation, create better jobs, increase social justice and reduce poverty, according to the International Labour Organisation.
- It is estimated that a just energy transition will create 24-25 million jobs, far surpassing the 6 or 7 million jobs lost by 2030.
- A shift to a plant-based food system will create over 15 million new jobs, through the transformation.
- This move can revitalise rural economies and mitigate the adverse effects of urbanisation.
- Overall, the jobs in plant-based food production would be safer, more equitable, support gender parity and strengthen rural economies when coupled with increased public services.
- It is critical to meet climate and environmental goals, but all principles of just transition must be respected and thoroughly implemented b7y countries going this route.
- Such measures should also be complemented by policies aimed at increasing plant-based food consumption to prevent emissions leakage and to enable an overall transition to more sustainable food production and consumption.
The science and socioeconomic data clearly indicates that business as usual is no longer an option. The longer we wait, the harder it will be to facilitate a truly just transition that leaves no one behind. The decisions we make in the coming years will impact generations of farmers, labourers and the global workforce and will have irreversible impacts on the planet. We have the opportunity to safeguard the climate while protecting the people who produce the food we eat, with a solution that is as good for the environment as it is for global economies.
That solution is a ‘just’ livestock transition.
Can you answer the following questions?
To enable a just livestock transition, ambitious political action is required at all levels. Discuss
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding National Statistical Office (NSO):
- It comes under the Ministry of statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI).
- It Compiles and releases the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) every year
Which of the above is or are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.2 Which of the following is incorrect about EWS quota?
- Only those persons who are not covered under the scheme of reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs are to be identified as EWSs for benefit of reservation.
- Wwhose family has gross annual income below 8.00 lakh rupees are to be identified as EWSs
- Persons whose families own landholdings of a certain size such as at least five acres of agricultural land, or a residential flat of at least 1,000 sq. feet are also included in the category..
- EWS was recently recommended for retention by the Ajay Bhushan Pandey-led Expert Committee on December 31, 2021
Q.3 Which of the following is India’s ballistic missile?
- Agni P missile
- Shaurya missile
- Prithvi missile
- All of the above
ANSWERS FOR 9th Jan 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)
On Mandal politics:
On India’s economic outlook in 2022: