fbpx

DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 2nd July 2022

  • IASbaba
  • July 4, 2022
  • 0
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Archives


(PRELIMS & MAINS Focus)


New pathway to regulate nitrate absorption in plants

Open in new window

Syllabus

  • GS 3: Science & tech

In News: Researchers have found a new pathway that regulates nitrate absorption in plants. The researchers studied this mechanism in both rice (monocot) and tobacco (dicot) plants.

  • The gene MADS27, which regulates nitrate absorption, root development, and stress tolerance, is activated by the micro-RNA, miR444, therefore offering a way to control these properties of the plant.

Three-pronged Effect

This transcription factor has a three-pronged effect on the plant.

  • First, it regulates nitrate absorption by switching “on” proteins involved in this process.
  • Second, it leads to better development of the roots by regulating auxin hormone production and transport.
  • Thirdly, it helps in the abiotic stress tolerance by keeping the main stress player proteins “on.”

Nitrogen in Plants

It is one of the most important macronutrients needed for development of a plant. It is a part of chlorophyll, amino acids and nucleic acids, among others.

  • It is mostly sourced from the soil where it is mainly absorbed in the form of nitrates and ammonium by the roots.
  • Nitrates also play a role in controlling genome-wide gene expression that in turn regulates root system architecture, flowering time, leaf development, etc.
  • Thus, while a lot of action takes place in the roots to absorb and convert nitrogen into useful nitrates, the absorbed nitrates in turn regulate plant development apart from being useful as a macronutrient.

So, the presence of nitrates is important for plant development and also for grain production. However, the overuse of nitrates in fertilizers, for instance, can lead to the dumping of nitrates in the soil which leads to the accumulation of nitrates in water and soil. This accumulation adds to soil and water pollution and increased contribution to greenhouse gases.

Source: The Hindu


How Rajya Sabha polls came to be open ballot

Open in new window

Syllabus

  • GS 2: Elections

Context: The foundation of free and fair elections is the secrecy of the ballot. The Rajya Sabha elections are unique in that respect, where voting is not secret.

  • The MLAs elect their state Rajya Sabha MPs, and as the process stands now, have to show the votes to their party’s representative.
  • However, the open ballot voting system is a 2003 addition to our Rajya Sabha electoral system.

Elections in Rajya Sabha

Until 1998, Rajya Sabha elections were the bastion of party discipline, their outcome a foregone conclusion. Candidates nominated by parties would win uncontested. Voting only took place when there were more contestants than vacant seats in the state. Electoral contest was usually among Independent candidates.

The June 1998 Rajya Sabha elections in Maharashtra changed this position.

  • The Congress had enough votes to ensure the victory of both its candidates. But in a surprising turn of events, Congress candidate Ram Pradhan, a close aide of Sonia Gandhi, lost. An Independent candidate sailed through.
  • The votes cast by MLAs were secret, and Congress MLAs defied their party’s voting instructions, causing Pradhan’s defeat. Reports suggest that legislators from other parties also cross-voted.
  • Pradhan’s loss reverberated in all political circles to a point that parties started thinking about steps to rein in their MLAs.

Solution: The solution eventually came from the Ethics Committee of the Rajya Sabha, which was set up in 1997 and was headed by Rajya Sabha MP and former Maharashtra Chief Minister S B Chavan.

In its first report in December 1998, the committee observed that money and muscle power played an increasing role in Rajya Sabha elections, suggesting: “In order not to allow big money and other considerations to play mischief… the Committee is of the view that instead of a secret ballot, the question of holding the elections to the Rajya Sabha and the Legislative Councils in states by open ballot may be examined.”

  • The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 2001 acted on the suggestion. Arun Jaitley, the law minister at the time, introduced a Bill in Parliament to amend the law relating to the Rajya Sabha elections with an open voting system and the removal of domiciliary requirements for contesting the polls.
  • Kuldeep Nayar, a veteran journalist who was a nominated Rajya Sabha MP, challenged its constitutional validity in the Supreme Court, arguing that the “concept of open ballot would defeat the attainment of free and fair elections”.
  • The Court overruled this contention and held the law to be constitutional. It reasoned that “the secrecy of the ballot is a vital principle for ensuring free and fair elections. The higher principle, however, is free and fair elections and purity of elections. If secrecy becomes a source for corruption, then sunlight and transparency have the capacity to remove it”.

Did it help?

  • But an open ballot has not helped bring purity to the Rajya Sabha elections or stopped party candidates from losing.
  • A common response of the parties, as evident in the recent Rajya Sabha elections, has been to herd their MLAs to hotels and resorts to prevent poaching.

The Way Forward

  • Political parties need to seriously introspect as to how the principles on which political parties function can be rectified; and how the parties can recapture certain healthy practices in politics…
  • The problem of indiscipline and the problem of dissidents can never be stopped in this manner unless the parties improve their system of internal democracy, and have healthy practices to operate with”.

More Details

How often are Rajya Sabha elections held?

  • Rajya Sabha is a permanent House and cannot be dissolved.
  • To ensure continuity, one-third of its members retire after every second year, under Article 83(1) of the Constitution, and “biennial elections” are held to fill these vacancies.
  • The term of a member is six years.
  • Out of the 245 members, 12 are nominated by the President and 233 are representatives of the States and Union territories of Delhi and Puducherry.

Rajya Sabha polls: Who votes, and how?

  • Rajya Sabha MPs are elected by MLAs through an indirect election.
  • Article 80(4) provides that members shall be elected by the elected members of state Assemblies through a system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote.
  • The Fourth Schedule to the Constitution provides for allocation of Rajya Sabha seats to the states and Union Territories, on the basis of the population of each state.

How are the votes counted?

  • The number of votes a candidate requires depends on the number of vacancies and the strength of the House.
  • If there is only one vacancy, the required quota is calculated by taking the number of votes polled, divided it by 2, and adding 1.
  • If there is more than one vacancy, the equation is based on an assigned value of 100 for every first-preference vote. The values of the votes credited to all candidates are totalled. The total is divided by 1 more than the number of vacancies, and 1 is added to this quotient.
  • If for any seat, candidates fail to get the specified number, the second-preference votes will be taken into account, but with a lower value.

Must Read: Is Rajya Sabha essential?

Source: The Indian Express


The need of the hour: A Renewables revolution

Open in new window

Syllabus

  • Mains GS 3: Energy

Context: As the fallout of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ripples across the globe, the response of some nations to the growing energy crisis has been to double down on fossil fuels, pouring billions more dollars into the coal, oil and gas that are deepening the climate emergency.

  • Meanwhile, all climate indicators continue to break records, forecasting a future of ferocious storms, floods, droughts, wildfires and unlivable temperatures in vast swathes of the planet.
  • Fossil fuels are not the answer, nor will they ever be.
  • We can see the damage we are doing to the planet and our societies.
  • Fossil fuels are the cause of the climate crisis. Renewable energy can limit climate disruption and boost energy security.

Renewables are the peace plan of the 21st century. But the battle for a rapid and just energy transition is not being fought on a level field. Investors are still backing fossil fuels, and governments still hand out billions in subsidies for coal, oil and gas — about $11 million every minute.

The only true path to energy security, stable power prices, prosperity and a livable planet lies in abandoning polluting fossil fuels and accelerating the renewables-based energy transition.

Five-point plan to boost renewable energy around the world

  1. Make renewable energy technology a global public good, including removing intellectual property barriers to technology transfer.
  2. Improve global access to supply chains for renewable energy technologies, components and raw materials. In 2020, the world installed five gigawatts of battery storage. We need 600 gigawatts of storage capacity by 2030. Clearly, we need a global coalition to get there. Shipping bottlenecks and supply-chain constraints, as well as higher costs for lithium and other battery metals, are hurting the deployment of such technologies and materials.
  3. Cut the red tape that holds up solar and wind projects. We need fast-track approvals and more effort to modernise electricity grids.
  4. The world must shift energy subsidies from fossil fuels to protect vulnerable people from energy shocks and invest in a just transition to a sustainable future.
  5. We need to triple investments in renewables. This includes multilateral development banks and development finance institutions, as well as commercial banks.

The answer lies in renewables

For climate action, energy security, and providing clean electricity to the hundreds of millions of people who currently lack it.

  • The cost of solar energy and batteries has plummeted 85 per cent over the past decade.
  • The cost of wind power fell by 55 per cent.
  • Investment in renewables creates three times more jobs than fossil fuels.
  • Of course, renewables are not the only answer to the climate crisis. Nature-based solutions, such as reversing deforestation and land degradation, are essential.
  • So too are efforts to promote energy efficiency.
  • Energy prices will be lower and more predictable, with positive knock-on effects for food and economic security.

But a rapid renewable energy transition must be our ambition.

Source: The Indian Express


Climate Change

Open in new window

Syllabus

  • Mains GS 3: Climate Change

Context: Climate change is not a distant nightmare that will unfold when the earth crosses a statistical threshold of no return of 1.5°celsius. We are living in an era of a fast-changing climate, but just do not grasp it fully enough to be scared. Generations of knowledge were not enough to prepare us for the climate crisis in the village. Indeed, much of what we have been taught over the last few generations will need to be unlearnt. This year has been a rude awakening. New knowledge to confront the billions of excruciating interdependencies of climate change challenges needs to be collated and tested in the fields.

First comes the Frost Attack

Come extreme winter, the flaky ice coating on the top of plants provides a lovely sight for city folks. It spells doom for farmers because that pretty coat of ice is frost and it literally burns the plants where it forms.

  • By the time the January frost set in this year, 40 per cent of last year’s kinnow crop had been harvested and sold. The remaining fruit suffered from a frost attack, more vicious than ever before.
  • About 20 per cent of the fruit was destroyed in a week and of whatever did survive, the damaged fruit needed to be harvested immediately, for it too started to deteriorate fast.
  • In mid-January, farmers would normally have had another two months of the harvesting window till mid-March. But the frost shortened the harvesting season to one month.
  • Further, the quality of the fruit had deteriorated to the point where its shelf-life was reduced to a few days. This meant that the kinnow could not be transported to the traditional far-off markets of south India. Thus, geographically, the market for the kinnow was reduced to Uttar Pradesh. As a result, there was a glut of the fruit in the market.
  • Consequently, the farmgate price — which had initially been hovering at a historical high of over Rs 23 per kg — fell by over half, amounting to a loss of over Rs 300 crore to the farmers of just one administrative block in India.

And then, blistering heat wave set off uncertainty

  • Having come out of a particularly harsh winter with the long spell of January frost devastating hopes and the citrus crop, the first week of March brought hope for a new beginning in the spring. The tens of thousands of citrus orchards provided a magical sight — trees with millions of sweet-smelling white flowers and ripening wheat fields turning a golden hue, ready for harvest in April.
  • But, within a fortnight, in the third week of March, an unexpected blistering heat wave set off uncertainty. It was not unusually hot but it was particularly hot for March.
  • The farmer’s world was coming undone — wheat kernels would not fully ripen and the citrus flowers would not mature into fruit. Sure enough, the wheat yield plummeted over 20 percent and the loss to farmers growing wheat was about Rs 100 crore.
  • All the crops got impacted, and half the citrus crop was lost.
  • Even by the most conservative kinnow price of 13 /Kg, approximately Rs 300 crore worth of kinnow crop was again destroyed.

The resilience of the farmers has reached a breaking point.

The Way Forward

Martin Wolf recently wrote: “… given the immense political and organisational challenges, the chances that humanity will prevent damaging climate change are slim.”

The process of climate change is irreversible. The terrifying aspect is that in India, not only are we unconcerned about preparing for the inevitable (2-degree Celsius rise in 50 years), we have absolutely no clue about how events will unfold and impact us.

  • Knowledge needs to be widely shared and disseminated.
  • There needs to be a substantive policy for preparation as the country enters a dark zone of climate change crisis.
  • Development plans in the agriculture sector focussing on soil and water management, crop diversification, cropping system optimisation, risk sharing (co-investment, community engagement), risk transfer (crop/livestock insurance), and improved localised forecasting and agro-advisory is required to optimise mitigation benefits.
  • Also, it is essential to design policies and strategies especially focussing on small and marginal landholders.
  • Agriculture being a State subject under the Indian Constitution, State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC) need to be developed that is in sync with SDGs.
  • It is also equally important to periodically review, update and integrate the agriculture, forestry and land use component in the SAPCCs.
  • Adaptation measures pertaining to impact of natural disasters in agriculture and allied sectors need to be embedded in the disaster management plans prepared by district administration.
  • Along with the development of adaptive crop varieties, it is important to provide the supporting infrastructure including water supply, power and physical connectivity on which agricultural value chain depends.
  • The financial needs of adaptation in India (2015–2030) in key climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and water resources is estimated at $206 billion (at 2014–2015 prices). Therefore, large and continued financial investment from the government & private sector is required for this purpose.

Conclusion

  • A pro-active adaptation approach in agriculture is needed, streamlining efforts and resources on climate and disaster resilience to reduce risk exposure, limiting impacts, and preparedness in coping with disasters.

Source: The Indian Express


How will G-7’s infrastructure plan impact India?

Open in new  window

Syllabus

  • GS-2: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
  • GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.

Context: On June 26, the G-7 grouping of the world’s “most industrialized nations” — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. along with the European Union — launched a U.S.-led $600 billion Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) at their summit in Germany’s Schloss Elmau, where India was among five special invitees.

  • The initiative was billed as a “values-driven, high-impact, and transparent infrastructure partnership to meet the enormous infrastructure needs of low- and middle-income countries and support the U.S. and its allies’ economic and national security interests.”
  • PGII would offer a counter to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for projects worldwide that was formally launched five years ago.

India’s Response

India thinks that it is a separate G-7 initiative and will have to see the details of that to be able to speak specifically on its elements. This is of significance as

  • India was not privy to PGII consultations, nor was the infrastructure plan part of the documents that were signed by India, Indonesia, South Africa, Senegal and Argentina, who were part of the “G-7 outreach” invitees to the summit. (The EU has participated in the G-7 since 1981 as a “nonenumerated” member).
  • Just a month ago, at the Quad Summit in Tokyo, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had attended the launch of the U.S. led “Indo-Pacific Economic Initiative” (IPEF) with similarly sudden plans, and India had joined as an “initial” or founding partner country.
  • It also came as a surprise that India hadn’t endorsed the PGII plan given that the U.S. billed it as a rival to China’s BRI, with much more sensitivity to sustainable debt burdens and environmental concerns. India has actively opposed the BRI because it had ignored these reasons and for its “violation of territorial integrity”.

Reasons for India’s reticence on PGII

  • PGII is one of a number of U.S.-led economic initiatives announced globally and in the Indo-Pacific, without much clarity on whether they would overlap, or run concurrently with each other. At the Quad Summit, Mr. Biden committed to a $50 billion infrastructure fund over five years. The PGII announcement for $600 billion over five years also comes a year after the U.S. led a G-7 initiative to counter China’s “strategic competition” and to narrow the roughly $40 trillion “infrastructure gap” in the developing world.
  • To show consistency: When China first unveiled the BRI, India’s initial response was also that this was a plan with geopolitical consequences that India had not been consulted on. India said it would have to study before responding. It is possible that the Modi government’s cautiousness on PGII is about striking a similar balance.

Role of India

According to U.S. officials, the PGII will have four key priorities on infrastructure:

  • climate and energy security,
  • digital connectivity,
  • health and health security, and
  • gender equality and equity, all of which are priority areas for New Delhi as well.

The PGII “factsheet” includes a specific plan for investment in an Agritech and Climate sustainability fund that would “invest in companies that increase food security and promote both climate resilience and climate adaptation in India, as well as improve the profitability and agricultural productivity of smallholder farms.”

  • According to the documents, the India fund would target $65 million by September 2022, and a target capitalisation of $130 million in 2023.
  • The U.S. government’s International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) would mobilise $30 million in private capital for the fund.

Blue Dot Network Initiative

  • The secret to implementing this plan: the Blue Dot Network.
  • In November 2019, the United States, Japan, and Australia launched the Blue Dot Network (BDN)—named for the view of earth from space as a mere “blue dot”—to encourage development by certifying public-private investments in global infrastructure that are transparent and high-quality.
  • By establishing shared standards for infrastructure development, BDN aims to improve connectivity, strengthen the economy, increase employment opportunities, and contribute to a cleaner environment.
  • BDN’s system incentivizes quality infrastructure investments in a way that is similar to other certification systems like the US Green Building Council’s LEED rating system for buildings or fishery and forestry certifications.
  • BDN offers emerging countries an incentive to enact regulatory reforms that would then attract global private capital.

What is G7?

  • G7 stands for “Group of Seven” industrialized nations.
  • It is an intergovernmental organisation that was formed in 1975.
  • The bloc meets annually to discuss issues of common interest like global economic governance, international security and energy policy.
  • The G-7 does not have a formal constitution or a fixed headquarters. The decisions taken by leaders during annual summits are non-binding.
  • G-7 countries include United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom.
  • Members share common values like democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, free markets, and respect for international law.
  • Together the member countries represent 31% of global GDP, 10% of the world’s population and 21% of global carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Summit website.
    • When the group was created in 1975, they represented 70% of global GDP.
  • China has never been a member, despite its large economy and having the world’s biggest population. Its relatively low level of wealth per person means it’s not seen as an advanced economy in the way the G7 members are.

Source: The Hindu


Daily Practice MCQs

Daily Practice MCQs

Q.1) There is nitrogen in which of the following parts of plants?

  1. Leaves
  2. Grain
  3. Plant Tissue
  4. Roots

Select the correct code:

  1. 1, 2 and 3
  2. 2, 3 and 4
  3. 1, 3 and 4
  4. All of the above

Q.2) Consider the following statements.

  1. Rajya Sabha MPs are elected by MLAs through an indirect election.
  2. The Constitution does not provide for allocation of Rajya Sabha seats to the states and Union Territories.

Select the correct code:

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

Q.3) The ‘Blue Dot Network Initiative’ is associated with

  1. Climate Change
  2. Infrastructure
  3. Counter Terrorism
  4. Cyber Security

Comment the answers to the above questions in the comment section below!!

ANSWERS FOR ’2nd JULY 2022 – Daily Practice MCQs’ will be updated along with tomorrow’s Daily Current Affairs.


ANSWERS FOR 1st JULY 2022 – Daily Practice MCQs

Answers- Daily Practice MCQs

Q.1) – c

Q.2) – d

For a dedicated peer group, Motivation & Quick updates, Join our official telegram channel – https://t.me/IASbabaOfficialAccount

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel HERE to watch Explainer Videos, Strategy Sessions, Toppers Talks & many more…

Search now.....