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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 12th April 2022

  • IASbaba
  • April 12, 2022
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(Prelims Focus)


Carbon capture and utilization

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Environment 

Context: A group of scientists from Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, IICT, Hyderabad have designed a hybrid material which can absorb greenhouse gas methane and convert it to clean hydrogen.

Key takeaways 

  • They have simulated a process of capturing carbon dioxide and converted it to high purity hydrogen from non-fuel grade bioethanol. 
  • These scientists have also designed a facility that can test such materials and help further carbon capture research at the institute.
  • The Ministry of Science and Technology in a statement said that these new materials and processes for carbon capture and utilisation could show new light for the global warming challenge.

What is Carbon capture and utilization?

  • Carbon capture and utilization (CCU) is the process of capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) to be recycled for further usage.
  • Carbon capture and utilization may help in significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions from major industrial emitters.
  • CCU is different from carbon capture and storage (CCS) because CCU does not aim nor result in permanent geological storage of carbon dioxide. 
    • Instead, CCU aims to convert the captured carbon dioxide into more valuable substances or products; such as plastics, concrete or biofuel; while retaining the carbon neutrality of the production processes.

About Methane

  • Methane is a gas that is found in small quantities in Earth’s atmosphere but it is a powerful greenhouse gas.
  • Methane is 84 times more potent than carbon but it doesn’t last as long in the atmosphere before it breaks down.
  • It is also responsible for creating ground-level ozone, a dangerous air pollutant.

News Source: Newsonair


Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Terrorism

Context: A senior leader of the terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Mohiuddin Aurangzeb Alamgir has been notified as a terrorist under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. 

  • He has been involved in Pulwama Central Reserve Police Force Convoy attack of 2019.

About Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act

  • The UAPA, an upgrade on the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act TADA (lapsed in 1995) and the Prevention of Terrorism Act – POTA (repealed in 2004) was passed in the year 1967
  • It aims at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India.
  • Till 2004, “unlawful” activities referred to actions related to secession and cession of territory.
  • The 2004 amendment, added “terrorist act” to the list of offences.
  • Under the act, the investigating agency can file a charge sheet in maximum 180 days after the arrests and the duration can be extended further after intimating the court.
  • Powers to Union Government: If Centre deems an activity as unlawful then it may, by way of an Official Gazette, declare it so.
  • It has death penalty and life imprisonment as highest punishments.
  • 2019 Amendment of UAPA: The act was amended to designate individuals as terrorists on certain grounds provided in the Act.

News Source: Newsonair


(News from PIB)


‘HELINA’ successfully flight tested

Part of: GS-Prelims 

Context: Indigenously developed helicopter launched Anti-Tank Guided Missile ‘HELINA’ was successfully flight tested at high-altitude ranges as part of user validation trials. 

  • Jointly conducted by the teams of scientists from Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Indian Army and Indian Air Force (IAF).
  • The missile is guided by an Imaging Infra-Red (IIR) Seeker operating in the Lock on Before Launch mode. 
  • It is one of the most advanced anti-tank weapons in the world.

News Source: PIB


Launch of State Energy and Climate Index Round- 1 by NITI Aayog

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III: Energy

Context: Ranks the states’ performance on 6 parameters, namely

  1. DISCOM’s Performance
  2. Access, Affordability and Reliability of Energy
  3. Clean Energy Initiatives
  4. Energy Efficiency
  5. Environmental Sustainability
  6. New Initiatives

The parameters are further divided into 27 indicators. Based on the composite SECI Round I score, the states and UTs are categorized into three groups: Front Runners, Achievers, and Aspirants.

Way Forward

  • Synergy and partnership among the Centre and the States will be critical for achieving energy and climate-related goals and making the country self-reliant in the energy sector.
  • There is a need to develop a robust mechanism for capturing data so that it can be incorporated in future editions of the report.
  • There is a need to convert our efforts towards achieving the ‘Panchamrit’ targets into a peoples’ movement. In order to do this, the role of the States is going to be critical. Governance innovation and mutual learning by states shall go a long way in improving outcomes and SECI Round I is the right step in this direction.
  • Achieving the ambitious climate targets would require a conducive policy environment to encourage investment.

News Source: PIB


Indigenous Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Solutions for Indian Traffic Scenario

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II: Government schemes and policies

Context: An indigenous Onboard Driver Assistance and Warning System – ODAWS, Bus Signal Priority System and Common SMart iot Connectiv (CoSMiC) software have been launched under Intelligent Transportation System Endeavor for Indian Cities Phase-II initiative of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).

Developed by: Developed as a joint initiative by Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) and Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M). Mahindra and Mahindra was the industrial collaborator for the project.

Onboard Driver Assistance and Warning System – ODAWS

  • With improved highway infrastructure and increase in number of vehicles, speed on roads has increased, further exacerbating safety concerns. 
  • As per Ministry of Road Transport and Highways of India (MoRTH), in around 84 percent of cases, “driver error” was cited as the cause of the accident. This assumes significance in the context of potential for technology applications for assisting and warning drivers in minimizing driving errors.
  • ODAWS incorporates vehicle-borne sensors for monitoring driver propensity and vehicle surroundings to deliver acoustic and visual alerts for driver assistance. 
  • The positional and dynamic characteristics of surrounding vehicles are probed using mmWave radar sensors
  • The ODAWS algorithm is used to interpret sensor data and offer real-time notifications to the driver, boosting road safety.

Bus Signal Priority System

  • Poor reliability of public transport system is a major reason for people to opt for personal vehicles. Improving this is essential to attract more travellers to public transport, thus leading to a more sustainable traffic solution. 
  • One of the major causes of delays for public transport buses in urban arterials is the delay at signalized intersections.
  • Bus signal priority System is an operational strategy that modifies normal traffic signal operations to better accommodate in-service public buses at signal-controlled intersections. 
  • Unlike a blind priority that is given for emergency vehicles, here it is a conditional priority, which is given only when there is an overall reduction in delay for all vehicles. 
  • The developed system will enable to minimize person delay by providing priority to public transport buses, either through Green extension or Red truncation, considering all vehicles approaching a signalized intersection.

Common SMart iot Connectiv (CoSMiC)

  • It is a middleware software providing standard based deployment of IoT adhering to oneM2M based global standard. 
  • It facilitates users and application service providers in various vertical domains to use application agnostic open standards and open interfaces for end to end communication with well-defined common service functionalities complying with oneM2M standard. 
  • With this in view, CoSMiC common service layer is used to interface any vendor specific standards and for increasing interoperability with smart city dashboard.
  • CoSMiC provides an end-to-end solution for the seamless connection of IoT devices and applications.

News Source: PIB


MISCELLANEOUS

Prime Minister of Pakistan: H. E. Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif

National Time Release Study, 2022 Released

  • Time Release Studies (TRS) are a performance measurement tool for assessing the cargo clearance process of the international trade, as recommended by the World Trade Organization (WTO) under the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and the World Customs Organization (WCO). 
  • It adopts average cargo release time, i.e. the time taken from the arrival of the cargo at the customs station to its eventual release for import or export, as the case may be.
  • Improvements reported – 
  • In the average cargo release time for all the four port categories in 2022 over corresponding period of the previous year: by 2 percent for ICPs to significantly higher 16 percent for ACCs. 
  • For the sea cargo cleared through the sea port or inland container depots average release time has improved by 12 percent. With this improvement, the ICPs have achieved the National Trade Facilitation Action Plan (NTFAP) target release time to be achieved by 2023, whereas the other three port categories have reached 75 percent of NTFAP target.

Mahatma Jyotiba Phule

  • Given the title of Mahatma on May 11, 1888
  • Work: Eradication of untouchability and caste system, emancipation and empowerment of women, reform of Hindu family life
  • Along with his wife, Savitribai Phule, he is regarded as pioneers of women’s education in India. Both Savitribai Phule & her husband Jyotirao Phule went on to found India’s first school for girls called Bhide Wada in Pune in 1848. Later started schools for children from the then untouchable castes such as Mahar and Mang.
  • The Phules started the Satyashodhak Samaj (Society for Truth-Seeking), through which they wanted to initiate the practice of Satyashodhak marriage, in which no dowry was taken.
  • The Phules also started the Literacy Mission in India between 1854-55
  • In 1863, he opened a home for pregnant Brahmin widows to give birth in a safe and secure place.
  • Opened an orphanage home to avoid infanticide. In this regard, he is believed to be the first Hindu to start an orphanage for the unfortunate children.

(Mains Focus)


INTERNATIONAL/ ECONOMY

  • GS-2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

India and the U.K.: Crafting a new legacy

Context: As India seeks a new role for itself in the evolving global order as a ‘leading power’ and the U.K. recalibrates its foreign policy post-Brexit, there is a huge opportunity in strengthening India-U.K. ties.

Ukraine Crisis and its impact on India-UK ties

  • UK has emphasised on countering Russian aggression and reducing global strategic dependence on Russia.
  • UK has underlined the importance of democracies working cohesively to deter aggressors (like Russia).
  • However, India has stood its ground and maintained it relationship with Russia without bowing to the pressures of UK (& USA)

Growing India-UK ties

  • Conclusion of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership on May 4, 2021. The agreement also established a 2030 Roadmap for India-U.K. relations, that aims to double bilateral trade between India and the U.K. by 2030
  • A new joint cyber security programme is set to be announced, which aims to protect online infrastructure in India and the U.K. as both parties attempt to carry out joint exercises to combat threats from cyber criminals and ransomware. 
  • India and the U.K. also plan to hold the first Strategic Tech Dialogue, a ministerial-level summit on emerging technologies.
  • U.K. and India have agreed to strengthen their cooperation in the maritime domain as the U.K. will join India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative and become a major partner on maritime security issues
  • India is a key strategic partner for the U.K. in the Indo-Pacific both in terms of market share and defence, as was underscored by the signing of the Defence and International Security Partnership between India and the U.K. in 2015. 
  • The U.K. has also confirmed £70 million of British International Investment funding to support the usage of renewable energy in India, which will help in building renewable energy infrastructure 
  • In January 2022, India and the U.K. managed to conclude the first round of talks for an India–U.K. Free Trade Agreement. India and the U.K. are expected to sign an early harvest trade deal by 2022.
  • The newer areas of cooperation — namely, fintech, market regulation, sustainable and green finance, and cyber security — have emerged as the new frontiers of this engagement. 
  • The top leadership in the two nations remain committed to building a lasting partnership and in the process, older issues like Pakistan have become marginal in the bilateral discourse.

Conclusion

New geopolitical realities demand a new strategic vision from London and New Delhi, which should seize the moment & strengthen the bilateral relationship.

Connecting the dots:


INTERNATIONAL/ SECURITY

  • GS-2:  Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
  • GS-3: Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to security.

Weapons of Mass Destruction Act

Context: On April 5, 2022, the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Amendment Bill, 2022 was introduced in the Lok Sabha. 

  • The Bill which amends the 2005 Act was passed the next day.

What was the purpose of the original WMD Act?

  • The WMD and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act came into being in July 2005
  • The act prohibits the unlawful manufacture, transport, or transfer of WMD (chemical, biological and nuclear weapons) and their means of delivery. 
  • It instituted penalties for contravention of these provisions such as imprisonment for a term not less than five years (extendable for life) as well as fines. 
  • The Act was passed to meet an international obligation enforced by the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1540 of 2004.

What is the UNSCR 1540?

  • In April 2004 the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1540 to address the growing threat of non-state actors gaining access to WMD material, equipment or technology to undertake acts of terrorism. 
  • In order to address this challenge to international peace and security, UNSCR 1540 established binding obligations on all UN member states under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. 
  • Nations were mandated to take and enforce effective measures against proliferation of WMD, their means of delivery and related materials to non-state actors.
  • UNSCR 1540 enforced three primary obligations upon nation states — 
    • to not provide any form of support to non-state actors seeking to acquire WMD, related materials, or their means of delivery; 
    • to adopt and enforce laws criminalising the possession and acquisition of such items by non-state actors; 
    • to adopt and enforce domestic controls over relevant materials, in order to prevent their proliferation. 
  • India initially had reservations on enacting laws mandated by the UNSCR. However, given the danger of WMD terrorism that India faces in its neighbourhood it supported the Resolution and enacted the 2005 Act.

What has the Amendment added to the existing Act?

  • The Amendment expands the scope to include prohibition of financing of any activity related to WMD and their delivery systems. 
  • To prevent such financing, the Central government shall have the power to freeze, seize or attach funds, financial assets, or economic resources of suspected individuals (whether owned, held, or controlled directly or indirectly). 

Why was this Amendment necessary?

  • UNSCR 1540 undergoes periodic reviews to determine the success of its implementation and to identify gaps in enforcement. 
  • In one such review undertaken in 2016, it was concluded that the risk of proliferation to non-state actors is increasing due to rapid advances in science, technology, and international commerce. The statement of objects and reasons of the 2022 Bill echoes the same. 
  • Two specific gaps are being addressed — 
    • First, as the relevant organisations at the international level, such as the Financial Action Task Force have expanded their controls on the financing of WMD activities, India’s own legislation has been harmonised to align with international benchmarks.
    • Secondly, with advancements in technologies, new kinds of threats (drones, unauthorised use in biomedical labs) have emerged that were not sufficiently catered for in the existing legislation. Therefore, the Amendment keeps pace with evolving threats. 

What more should India do?

  • India’s responsible behaviour and actions on non-proliferation are well recognised. 
  • It has a strong statutory national export control system and is committed to preventing proliferation of WMD. 
    • This includes transit and trans-shipment controls, retransfer control, technology transfer controls, brokering controls and end-use based controls. 
  • Every time India takes additional steps to fulfil new obligations, it must showcase its legislative, regulatory and enforcement frameworks to the international community.
  • At the domestic level, this Amendment will have to be enforced through proper outreach measures to industry and other stakeholders to make them realise their obligations under the new provisions. 
  • It is also necessary that India keeps WMD security in international focus. There is no room for complacency. Even countries which do not have WMD technology have to be sensitised to their role in the control framework to prevent weak links in the global control system. 
  • India can offer help to other countries on developing national legislation, institutions and regulatory framework through the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) or on bilateral basis.

Could the Amendment become troublesome to people on account of mistaken identity?

  • In the discussion on the Bill in Parliament, some members expressed concern on whether the new legislation could make existing business entities or people in the specific sector susceptible to a case of mistaken identity. 
  • The External Affairs Minister, however, assured the House that such chances were minimal since identification of concerned individuals/entities would be based on a long list of specifics.

What is the international significance of these legislation? What is in it for India?

  • Domestic legislations and international measures must be agile and amenable to modifications in keeping with the changing tactics of non-state actors.
  • Sharing of best practices on legislations and their implementation can enable harmonisation of global WMD controls.
  • It is in India’s interest to facilitate highest controls at the international level and adopt them at the domestic level. 
  • Having now updated its own legislation, India can demand the same of others, especially from those in its neighbourhood that have a history of proliferation and of supporting terrorist organisations.

Connecting the dots:


(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Q.1 Satyashodhak Samaj was formed by?

  1. Mahatma Gandhi
  2. Swami Vivekanand 
  3. Jyotirao Govindrao Phule
  4. Raja Rammohan Roy

Q.2 In which year Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act was amended to designate individuals as terrorists on certain grounds provided in the Act?

  1. 2010 
  2. 2018
  3. 2000
  4. 2019

Q.3 Consider the following statements regarding methane:

  1. Methane is a gas that is found in large quantities. 
  2. Methane is 84 times more potent than carbon. 

Which of the above is or are correct?

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

ANSWERS FOR 12th April 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 D
3 B

Must Read

On imposition of Hindi Language:

The Hindu

On Opening up the third dose for those above 18 years:

The Hindu

On the wider impact of Pakistan’s internal crisis:

Indian Express

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