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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 1st November 2022

  • IASbaba
  • November 1, 2022
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Banana

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Geography

Context: A science writer writes in BBC that the banana tree is equated to Lord Brihaspati (Jupiter) for fertility and bounty. Thus, bananas are considered sacred.

About Banana:

  • Agro-climatic requirements:
    • Banana, basically a tropical crop, grows well in a temperature range of 15ºC – 35ºC with relative humidity of 75-85%.
    • Deep, rich loamy soil with pH between 6.5 – 7.5 is most preferred for banana cultivation.
    • Saline solid, calcareous soils are not suitable for banana cultivation.
    • There are some 12-15 varieties of bananas in India.
  • Largely in the peninsular southern coastal region, namely in parts of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, and Bengal, and in the Northeastern areas of the country such as Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The central and northern regions – Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Punjab also grow the plant but neither in such variety nor in numbers.
  • India produces about 29 million tonne of banana every year, and next is China with 11 million.
  • Nutritive value
    • Bananas have 10-20 mg of calcium, 36 mg of sodium, 34 mg of magnesium and 30-50 mg of phosphorous per 100 g of edible material.
    • All these make bananas highly nutritious.
  • Its peel is of use as a ‘biochar,’ which is used both as a fertilizer and to generate electricity.
    • Biochar is a charcoal-like substance that’s made by burning organic material from agricultural and forestry wastes (also called biomass) in a controlled process called pyrolysis.
    • Pyrolysis is the heating of an organic material, such as biomass, in the absence of oxygen.

Banana production in India state wise:

S.no Banana producing state Share %
1 Andhra Pradesh 16.27
2 Maharashtra 13.69
3 Gujarat 14.54
4 Tamil Nadu 10.42
5 Uttar Pradesh 10.31
6 Karnataka 7.57
7 Madhya Pradesh 5.96
8 Bihar 4.54
9 West Bengal 3.90
10 Kerala 3.64

 Banana production in the world:

  • Asian banana production accounts for about 54% of the entire production.
  • India and China have been the world’s biggest banana producers accounting for over 40% of the world’s total banana production.
  • Most bananas produced in India and China are consumed domestically, whereas the Philippines supplies bananas to the international markets.
  • Ecuador is the world’s largest banana exporter.

Banana season in India:

  • Banana season in India prevails throughout the year.
  • On the other hand, banana arrivals begin to increase in April and peak between August and October.
  • Bananas, primarily tropical crops, thrive in temperatures ranging from 15 to 35 degrees Celsius and relative humidity levels of 75% to 85%.
  • The planted crop is ready for harvest 12-15 months after planting, and the primary harvesting season of bananas is from September to April.

Banana season throughout the year: Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Manipur, Assam and Tripura.

September-November season: Gujarat, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Source: The Hindu

Previous Year Questions

Q.1) With reference to the “Tea Board” in India, consider the following statements:

  1. The Tea Board is a statutory body.
  2. It is a regulatory body attached to the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
  3. The Tea Board’s Head Office is situated in Bengaluru.
  4. The Board has overseas offices at Dubai and Moscow.

Which of the statements given above are correct?  (2022)

  1. 1 and 3
  2. 2 and 4
  3. 3 and 4
  4. 1 and 4

OneWeb Satellites

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Science and Technology

Context: Describing the simultaneous placement of 36 OneWeb satellites in space recently as a major feat, Prime Minister of India said that,  the move would strengthen digital connectivity across the whole country.

About OneWeb:

  • It is a global communications network, powered from space, enabling connectivity for governments, businesses, and communities.
  • OneWeb has teamed up with NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), the commercial arm of national space agency Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to facilitate the launch.
  • OneWeb Constellation Summary: OneWeb Constellation operates in a LEO Polar Orbit
    • Satellites are arranged in 12 rings (Orbital planes) with 49 satellites in each plane.
    • Each satellite completes a full trip around the earth every 109 minutes.
    • The earth is rotating underneath satellites, so they will always be flying over new locations on the ground.

MUST READ: NewSpace India pvt ltd

Source:  The Hindu


Supreme court on patriarchal 2-finger test

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Current Affairs

In news: The Supreme Court again called for a ban on the two-finger test in rape cases and to remove it from the syllabus of medical education.

  • A 2013 SC order had noted in a similar tone.
  • Evidence of a victim’s sexual history is not material to case.

About:

  • The two-finger test is an invasive, unscientific and regressive practice used in rape cases to gauge whether a person is sexually active or a virgin.
  • The practice is also known as per-vaginal examination in medical jargon and is not only conducted on rape survivors but also otherwise.
  • This test has no scientific value because the absence of the hymen and laxity of the vaginal orifice may occur for reasons unrelated to sex.
  • The practice questions a woman’s character and is ‘patriarchal’ and ‘sexist’.
  • It not only re-traumatised and re-victimised women, but was based on an incorrect assumption that a sexually active woman cannot be raped.
  • It violates the right of rape survivors to privacy, physical and mental integrity and dignity.
  • Thus, this test, even if the report is affirmative, cannot ipso facto, be given rise to presumption of consent.
  • This came on the heels of the December 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape case, after which the Union health ministry updated the proforma for medical examination of rape victims to remove the  two-finger test.
  • A rape test kit, detailing tools required to collect evidence of sexual assault according to WHO guidelines, was prepared but failed to make any impact. In the absence of these kits, the two-finger test continued as is.
  • The latest order creates the connection which was missing till now. Now medical text books will have to  keep pace with legal changes and that will benefit young doctors and society at large.

Indian Evidence Act:

  • Originally passed in India by the Imperial Legislative Council in 1872, during the British Raj.
  • When India gained independence on 15 August 1947, the Act continued to be in force throughout the Republic of India.
  • It contains a set of rules and allied issues governing admissibility of evidence in the Indian courts of law.
  • This Act is divided into three parts:
  • Part 1 deals with relevancy of the facts
  • Part 2 deals with facts which need not be proved, oral evidence, documentary evidence.
  • Part 3 deals with burden of proof, estoppel, witnesses and their examination
  • Under Section 155(4) of the Indian Evidence Act, a rape survivor’s past sexual history used to be acceptable. The rape accused could state that the rape survivor was of immoral character and claim that she consented to the sexual acts.
  • This section was removed in 2003 after recommendations in the Law Commission of India’s 172nd report.
  • In 2013, the JS Verma Committee, created after the Nirbhaya gangrape case 2012, suggested that a past relationship between the accused and the victim should be inapt while deciding whether the victim consented.

Source: Down To Earth


Miya Museum

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Current Affairs

In news: Miya Museum, a private centre, showcasing the culture and heritage of Bengali-speaking or Bengal-origin Muslims in Assam, was sealed 2 days after its inauguration.

  • The action was taken as a house allotted under the Prime Minister’s Awas Yojana-Gramin scheme was converted into a museum in violation of the rules.

About:

  • The genesis of the controversy lies in the politics of polarisation in Assam fuelled by the fear of a demographic invasion by the so-called “illegal immigrants” from Bangladesh.
  • The migrant Muslims form the bulk of Assam’s Muslims accounting for more than 34% of the State’s 3.3 crore people.
  • The BJP has allegedly been pitting Assamese Muslims, considered ‘khilonjia’ (indigenous), against the Bengali-speaking Muslims and had approved the awarding of special status to five groups of indigenous Muslims; in line with the BJP’s vow to protect the ‘bhumiputras’ (sons of the soil) from illegal immigrants.
  • The word ‘Miya’ is used pejoratively against the Bengali-speaking Muslims and was thus seen as a bid to assert the ‘Miya’ identity and by default, intimidation to the current dispensation.
  • The Bengal-origin Muslim community began promoting ‘Miya’ culture as a counter-campaign against the exercise to update the National Register of Citizens in Assam

Source:  The Hindu


Basic Structure Doctrine

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Polity

In News: The Supreme Court has agreed to examine a PIL challenging changes made to the right to freedom of speech and expression by the first amendment to the Constitution in 1951, with the petitioner contending that the amendment damages the basic structure doctrine.

  • The plea urged the court to declare Section 3 (1)(a) and 3 (2) of the First Amendment “beyond the amending power of Parliament” and void since the “same damage the basic or essential features of the Constitution and destroy its basic structure”.

About:

  • Section 3(1) of the 1951 Amending Act substituted original Clause (2) of Article 19 – dealing with reasonable restrictions on the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) – with a new Clause (2), which contained “two objectionable insertions” allowing restrictions also “in the interest of public order” and “in relation to incitement to an offence” and omitted the expression “tends to overthrow the State.
  • The two insertions protect Sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code “from the vice of unconstitutionality”.
  • The two questionable expressions inserted unduly abridge the fundamental right under Article 19 and damages democracy and republicanism and supremacy of the Constitution.
  • The amendment also neglects national security by dropping the expression ‘tends to overthrow the State’ by radicalism, terrorism and religious fundamentalism.

First Amendment:

  • Passed in 1951 by the then Provisional Parliament headed by Jawaharlal Nehru.
  • It amended articles 15, 19, 85, 87, 174, 176, 341, 342, 372 and 376.
  • It inserted articles 31A and 31B and Ninth Schedule to protect the land reform and other laws present in it from the judicial review.
  • It placed reasonable restrictions on fundamental rights and added three more grounds of restrictions on freedom of speech such as public order, friendly relations with foreign states and incitement to an offence.

MUST READ  Doctrine of basic structure

Source:  Indian Express

Previous Year Question

Q.1) Consider the following statements: (2020)

  1. The Constitution of India defines its ‘basic structure’ in terms of federalism, secularism, fundamental rights and democracy.
  2. The Constitution of India provides for ‘judicial review’ to safeguard the citizens’ liberties and to preserve the ideals on which the Constitution is based.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

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

Sardar Patel

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Modern history

In News: Personnel of the CRPF 151 battalion at Kaliveru in Charla mandal organised bike and cycle rallies in connection with the “Rashtriya Ekta Diwas” (National Unity Day)

  • National Unity Day marks the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on October 31.

Sardar Patel:

  • First Home Minister and First Deputy Prime Minister of India
  • He earned the title of “Sardar” by women of Bardoli after spearheading a no-tax campaign by peasants there.
  • The Iron Man of India was the chief architect of India’s steel frame — the civil services and is remembered as “patron saint of India’s civil servants”.
  • Headed following Committees of the Constituent Assembly:
  • Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights.
  • Committee on Minorities and Tribal and Excluded Areas.
  • Provincial Constitution
  • Bismarck of India’ following his role in unifying the princely states.
  • He was the President of INC 1931 session in Karachi.
  • Toured during the Kheda campaign (1918) which was a success, supported Gandhi in Non-cooperation Movement (1920), was arrested during the Dandi Salt March (1930).
  • He was awarded the Bharat Ratna posthumously in 1991. His birth anniversary is observed as Rashtriya Ekta Diwas (National Unity Day) since 2014.

Statue of Unity:

  • The Statue of Unity is built in honour of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on Sadhu Hill.
  • Standing at 182 meters in the middle of river Narmada at Kevadia in Gujarat’s Narmada district, the Statue of Unity is the tallest statue in the world– much taller than the 153 metre Spring Temple Buddha in China and almost twice the size of the Statue of Liberty in New York.
  • One can have a view of the Satpura and Vindhyachal mountain ranges, which also form the point where Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra meet.
  • Visitors can also get a distant view of the 12-km-long Garudeshwar Reservoir which is located downstream from the Narmada dam.
  • Man Behind the Statue: Shri Ram Vanji Sutar, the 93-year-old sculptor.
  • In January 2020, it was added to the ‘Eight Wonders’ of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

MUST READ  Role of Sardar Patel in Uniting the Nation

Source: Indian Express

Previous Year Question

Q1.)  What was the reason for Mahatma Gandhi to organize a satyagraha on behalf of the peasants of Kheda? (2011)

  1. The Administration did not suspend the land revenue collection in spite of a drought.
  2. The Administration proposed to introduce Permanent Settlement in Gujarat.

Which of the statements given above is/ are correct?

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

The Technology and the Water Conservation

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Syllabus

  • Mains – Environment and Conservation

Context: With increasing urbanisation and dwindling of natural resources, it has become very important to increase the water sector’s sustainability and resilience i.e., being water smart, creating more with what we have, and wasting less.

  • Innovation and emerging technology in all spheres must be utilised for ensuring water efficiency, safety, quality, and access.

Water Insecurity As A Real Challenge To Human And Environmental Security::

  • Although access to clean water is one of the largest hurdles, insecurity also stems from a range of issues, including dwindling groundwater, stress on water bodies, unsustainable development and theft, amongst others.
  • Changes in the climate and ecosystems are added causes and effects of water insecurity.
  • About a third of the global population lives without access to clean water and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 set a high bar to ensure safe and affordable drinking water for all by the end of the decade.
  • It will not be easy, especially in Asia, where approximately 300 million people in the region do not have access to safe drinking water, and close to 80 percent of wastewater generated by cities is discharged untreated into water bodies.
  • These goals can be met through a better understanding of how water plays a pivotal role not only in human, food, and health security, but also in protecting ecosystems, growth ambitions, energy needs, and mitigating climate change.

Technology in the aid of growing water insecurity:

  • The emerging technology and the evolution of the fourth industrial revolution can aid the growing water insecurity if the world is cognizant of following two key aspects:
    • Overdependence on technology cannot and should not replace human responsibility on how water is seen, understood and used as there is no substitute for education to ensure that the world is no longer wasteful.
    • Ensuring any emerging technology, innovation, and science is used mindfully with smart policies and global governance systems in place that provides security as well as safeguarding the water itself.
  • Emerging technology can be effectively utilised and optimised to make access to water and managing water systems more efficiently while aiding in smarter predictions and forecasting.
  • There are numerous ways to harness technology, innovation, and the drive to create and aid water solutions that can ultimately also prevent conflict over shared resources.
  • From space to smart infra, science has proven that efficiency is possible.
  • From low-cost desalination to hand-held purifying filters, technology has revolutionised access to clean drinking water and improved livelihoods across the globe.
  • Technology has also aided in enabling better infrastructure, reducing loss, and creating a more secure environment.
  • AI and machine learning can map and predict potential risks, and early warning tools can aid in tracking water supplies, the effects of changes in the weather patterns, and potential disruptions that can occur.

Industrial Revolution 4.0 and management of water resources:

  • The emerging fourth industrial revolution offers untapped possibilities on understanding water.
  • In 2021, a joint satellite mission between NASA and France, the Surface Ocean Topography Mission, was launched to use radar technology to provide a global survey of Earth’s water.
  • The satellite will study lakes, rivers, reservoirs, and the oceans, potentially adding a wealth of knowledge to previously unknown data to understand, measure, and manage our water resources.
  • Such knowledge is not only about understanding the waters better, but it is also incredibly useful in understanding the effects of development on resources and the more nuanced effects of changes in weather and climate, ultimately feeding into better policy making.

Case Study of Smart Metering:

  • It uses IoT sensors installed at critical junctures along infrastructure to alert users on water levels, quality, theft, and leakages.
  • Primarily used in large scale systems, these can be introduced at the household and community level, including new housing complexes that are being built in growing cities across India.
  • Not only can such a system create better awareness and understanding on domestic use patterns to allow for better policy making, it also ensures that the citizen has a role and responsibility in the sustainability of water cycles.

Management of water resources with cutting edge innovations:

  • Innovation in this space is countless, from water ATMs to fit-for-purpose wastewater solutions to underwater drones with sensors for pipes and drains.
  • In Bhubaneshwar, researchers at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research are using burnt red clay to treat raw water and make it potable; and in central India, low cost fit-for-purpose wastewater solutions developed by ECOSOFTT are being used to treat pollution in the Narmada River.

Challenges:

  • There are limitations and challenges to the extensive use of technology including:
    • regulatory frameworks
    • lack of skill
    • the inability of existing infrastructure to support such innovation
    • financial obstacles
    • high energy consumption
  • New environmental and water-related technology and the use of AI or machines are met with suspicion and are seen as a challenge to cultural traditions, especially if local communities are not suitably sensitised.
  • There are added risks that come with the use of technology, such as cyberattacks that are used as threats on critical infrastructure, utilities and businesses, affecting consumers and causing significant financial loss.
  • ‘Hacktivism’ is a growing concern and interconnected grids, dams, treatment plants, and other infrastructures all become vulnerable.

Way Forward:

  • As the dangerous trio of climate change, unsustainable development, and dwindling water resources hinder human and environmental security, the trio of science, emerging technology, and innovation need to be brought closer together in the water sector.
  • Better public-private partnerships with substantial investment allows for targeted forecasting and tools that can predict potential conflict zones.
  • A transformation in thought, analysis, and implementation is necessary to be able to counter known and, more importantly, some of the unknown risks and effects of a warming planet.
  • A wider approach is needed with upgraded infrastructure, a range of new technical skills, new governance frameworks, education, and effective management.
  • These are not insurmountable challenges and can be overcome through political will, forward-looking institutions and policies, and significant public-private partnerships.

Working with companies and people that bring the best of innovation in technology, artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), robotics, and new frontiers in computing can help in better management of the growing water insecurity. However, with the merging and blurring of these two spaces, the extent of the world’s dependency on technology should not distract from behaviour and patterns of use.

Source:  ORF


Need for the Regulation of Black magic/Superstition in India

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Syllabus

  • Mains – GS 2 (Governance)

Context: In the aftermath of the alleged human sacrifice of two women in Kerala, the state has stressed the need for a new legislation to curb such superstitious practices and urged strict implementation of the existing laws in this regard.

About Superstition:

  • It is an irrational belief related to “ignorance or fear and characterized by obsessive reverence for omens, charms, etc” or “reverence for the supernatural”.
  • The term ‘Superstition’ has been taken from the Latin word ‘Superstitio’, which indicates extreme fear of the god.
  • Superstitions are not country, religion, culture, community, region, caste, or class-specific, it is widespread and found in every corner of the world.
  • Presently there exists no nationwide legislation to deal with superstitious practices, black magic, or human sacrifice in particular.
  • Over recent decades, around 800 women in Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha have been killed for practising witchcraft.

Arguments in favour of need of the law :

  • The IPC is not equipped to deal with crimes on account of black magic and other superstitious practices.
  • Certain practices like throwing children on thorns, parading women naked, etc harm others and can’t be allowed in the name of religion.

Arguments against regulation of superstition:

  • Enacting special laws for each set of crimes is no solution and makes the problem worse.
    • An anti-superstition law may seem necessary, but it cannot take cognisance of all realities.
  • The domain of such a law is to curb superstition, associated primarily with religious and occult practices.
    • Almost everything associated with any religion can be considered superstitious for the simple fact that there is no scientific rationale behind the same.
  • No scientific data: Going to a temple, a mosque, or a church can be termed superstitious because there is no scientific data to support the fact that such a practice yields any good.
    • Such practices can’t be curbed because they don’t harm anyone.
  • The fundamental tenets of a liberal democracy give us the freedoms of conscience and to believe in things even when science and rationality don’t support them.
  • The substantive legal framework of our country is sufficiently adequate to address such crimes.
    • For instance, throwing a child on thorns is an offence under Sections 307 and 323 of the IPC. Similarly, parading a woman naked can also be addressed specifically by Section 354B of the IPC.
  • These superstitions can be addressed by amendments in the Criminal Procedure Code and Indian Evidence Act.

Major Challenges  before framing laws for the regulation:

  • Violation of fundamental rights: Witch-hunting and broader superstition related crimes violate basic fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 14, 15, and 21 of the Indian Constitution.
  • Violation of various conventions: Such acts also violate several provisions of various international legislations to which India is a signatory, such as the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948’, ‘International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966’, and ‘Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 1979’.
  • Bad implementation: Law and order is a state subject, so States are free to enact specific criminal laws. In the same way, States are also free to make amendments to Union laws.
  • Lack of effective governance: If the executive is serious about curbing such practices, active implementation and enforcement of existing laws need to be made more effective.
  • Certainty of punishment: Studies in criminology have established that certainty of punishment curbs the rate of crime and not the type or the quantum of punishment.
  • Bad implementation: We already have a reputation of having good laws but bad implementation. In legal parlance, it is known as ‘over-criminalisation’ — more laws but less ‘rule of law’.
  • Religions are aware that faith is vulnerable to improper use: stories of fake sadhus and deceitful sanyasis have long been around.

Related Laws:

  • Eight states in India have witch-hunting legislations so far. These include Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Rajasthan, Assam, Maharashtra and Karnataka.
  • The state of Bihar emerged the pioneer in enacting a law to deal with superstitious practices in 1999.
  • The Prevention of Witch Practices Act was amongst the first in India to address witchcraft and inhumane rituals.
  • The state of Maharashtra followed in 2013 to enact the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and Other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, which banned the practice of human sacrifice in the state.
  • Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2015: This Act would be applied along with Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code. This Bill was turned into Act almost after 3 years that the Assembly had passed it.
  • The state of Karnataka too affected a controversial anti-superstition law in 2017 known as the Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Act.
  • Kerala Prevention of Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices, Sorcery and Black Magic Bill’ in 2019 which called for imprisonment of up to seven years for convicts and up to Rs 50,000 fine along with the punishments for offenses under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
    • But it failed as it was not introduced, discussed, or passed in the state legislative assembly.

Way Forward/ Suggestions:

  • Need of sensitisation: Every superstition cannot be removed by the force of law. For that, a mental sensitisation is necessary.
  • The anti-superstition law also makes it possible to curtail activities of so-called godmen before they become too powerful.
  • Accessible criminal justice: The enforcement machinery needs a major overhaul to make criminal justice more accessible.
  • Article 51A (h) of the Indian Constitution makes it a fundamental duty for Indian citizens to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.
  • Provisions under the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act of 1954 also aim to tackle the debilitating impact of various superstitious activities prevalent in India.

Source:   The Hindu


Air Pollution

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Syllabus

  • Mains – GS 3 (Environment)

Context: As the winter approaches the public discourse in India shifts towards air pollution in Indian metros, with a focus on Delhi.

  • Various studies estimate that a significant chunk of Indians would die early due to air pollution and many will have to set aside a large part of their health budget to take care of diseases arising due to air pollution.

About Air Pollution:

  • Air pollution is the presence of substances in the atmosphere that are harmful to the health of humans and other living beings, or cause damage to the climate or materials.
  • Different types of air pollutants include
    • Gases: such as ammonia, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxides, methane, carbon dioxide and chlorofluorocarbons.
    • Particulates: both organic and inorganic.
    • Biological molecules.

Impact of Air Pollution:

  • It may cause diseases, allergies and even death in humans.
  • It can cause harm to other living organisms such as animals and food crops.
  • Can lead to climate change and may damage the natural environment
    • Ozone depletion or habitat degradation
    • Built hazardous environments (for example, acid rain).
  • Productivity losses and degraded quality of life caused by air pollution are estimated to cost the world economy $5 trillion per year.

Economic Impact of Air pollution:

  • The rising impact of air pollution leads to increased government health expenditure in two ways-
  • Reimbursement of costs incurred by people with insurance cover under Ayushman Bharat.
  • Expenditure occurred in government/public hospitals for treatment of diseases due to air pollution.

 

About Nano particles:

  • Nanoparticles (NPs) are tiny particles which range from 1nm to 100nm in size.
  • Due to their ultrafine size, they can be suspended in the atmosphere for a long time and can travel longer distances.
  • Nanoparticles are hard to detect
    • They possess very little mass but are many in number.
    • Therefore, the current mass-based, ambient air quality regulations for particulate matter are ineffective in dealing with nanoparticle concentrations in cities.

Source of Nanoparticles:

  • They are arising from both natural and man-made processes:
    • Soil erosion
    • Dust storms
    • Burning of unprocessed fuel.
    • Industrial, and mechanical processes.

Nanoparticles as pollutants:

  • There are pollutants which are more harmful than PM10/PM2.5 in the case of air pollution which are not talked about much.
  • The common discourse about air pollution in India Centres on mean concentration of particulate matter PM10 and PM2.5.
  • This is because the Central Pollution Control Board has the facility to monitor only PM2.5/PM10 pollutants in Delhi or elsewhere.
  • As a result, it is evident that we are underestimating the deleterious effects of air pollution by a big margin.

The gravity of Nanoparticle pollution is huge:

  • Inhalation is the most common route through which people get exposed to nanoparticles.
  • Ingestions and dermal contact of engineered nanoparticles are also popular transmission mechanisms.
  • Inhaled particles can enter the blood circulation from where they can be carried to different organs such as the heart, kidney and liver.
  • Occupational exposure to these toxic elements can increase the risk of lung cancer.
  • Suggestive evidence shows that nanoparticles accumulated in the vascular sites can clot blood vessels, increasing the likelihood of heart attack and stroke.
  • For patients with pre-existing heart or pulmonary conditions, the situation can get worse when exposed to elevated particle concentrations.
  • Infant mortality, neonatal complications, and birth defects are also likely to increase with ever-increasing concentrations of matters smaller than 10 µm.

Measures needed to improve air quality:

  • Improving public transport and limiting the number of polluting vehicles on the road.
  • Introducing less polluting fuel and strict emission regulations.
  • Improved efficiency for thermal power plants and industries.
  • Increased use of clean renewable energy and moving from diesel generators to rooftop solar.
  • Promote electric vehicles and invest in electric vehicle infrastructure.
  • Removing dust from roads and regulating construction activities need to be stressed.
  • Stopping biomass burning and using biomass from agriculture to generate Biogas etc.

Various stakeholders role to counter Air pollution:

WHO’s 4 Pillar Strategy:

  • WHO adopted a resolution (2015) to address the adverse health effects of air pollution.
  • This 4-pillar strategy calls for an enhanced global response to the adverse health effects of air pollution. Those four pillars are:
    • Expanding the knowledge base
    • Monitoring and reporting
    • Global leadership and coordination
    • Institutional capacity strengthening

Initiatives by the Government of India and Various state government’s:

  • Constitution of Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in National Capital Region (NCR) and adjoining areas.
  • The introduction of BS-VI vehicles and push for electric vehicles (EVs).
  • Subsidy to farmers for buying Turbo Happy Seeder (THS) which is a machine mounted on a tractor that cuts and uproots the stubble, in order to reduce stubble burning.
  • Implementation of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP)
    • It is a set of curbs triggered in phases as the air quality deteriorates, which is typical of the October-November period.
  • Development of the National Air Quality Index (AQI) for public information under the aegis of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
  • Construction of the Eastern and Western Peripheral Expressways to reduce vehicular pollution.

Way ahead:

  • Immediate need for extensive research related to the toxic effects of nanoparticles on human health.
  • Include protection against the nanoparticles in addition to PM10/PM2.5 in face masks.
  • There should be a mechanism in place to record the extent of air pollution arising from nanoparticles and the risk arising from the same.
  • There is a need for the government to raise awareness on the dangers of nanoparticles.
  • Monitoring stations should try to measure the nanoparticles; without quantifiable statistics, we cannot highlight the dangers involved.

Nanoparticles are more deleterious pollutants than the recognized pollutants and the chemically reactive nature of nanoparticles makes the risk assessment highly uncertain.

Therefore, this calls for an interdisciplinary research team of scientists, health professionals, and epidemiological researchers to be convinced of the scientific composition, transmission and exclusive effects of nanoparticles on human health.

Source:  The Hindu

Previous Year Questions

Q.1) In the Guidelines, statements: context of WHO consider the Air Quality following

  1. The 24-hour mean of PM2.5 should not exceed 15 ug/m³ and annual mean of PM 2.5 should not exceed 5 µg/m³.
  2. In a year, the highest levels of ozone pollution occur during the periods of inclement weather.
  3. PM10 can penetrate the lung barrier and enter the bloodstream.
  4. Excessive ozone in the air can trigger asthma.

Which of the statements given above are correct?  (2022)

  1. 1, 3 and 4 only
  2. 1 and 4 only
  3. 2, 3 and 4 only
  4. 1 and 2 only

Digital Public Infrastructure

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Syllabus

  • Mains – GS3 Science and Technology, GS2 Governance

Context:

  • Rapidly worsening impacts of climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ongoing war in Ukraine have resulted in a cycle of crises in which many countries are experiencing devastating effects on healthcare systems, education, and food security.
  • The pandemic has delayed achieving the SDGs, upturned our societies, and deepened socioeconomic divisions.
  • Investing in sustainable technologies can make the difference in how we address challenges now and in the future.

Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI):

  • DPI refers to solutions and systems that enable the effective provision of essential society-wide functions and services in the public and private sectors.
  • This includes digital forms of ID and verification, civil registration, payment (digital transactions and money transfers), data exchange, and information systems.
  • They are open source, customisable, and localisable.
  • Vendor lock-in means being locked into long-term contracts with limited flexibility and large, sometimes unexpected, fees; lack of customisation to local context; inability to integrate citizens into governance and decision-making; and centralising the market around only a few companies.
  • Benefits: increase resilience, avoid vendor lock-in, leverage existing solutions and adapt them to local needs, support interoperability between different platforms and solutions and have ability to respond swiftly and effectively to global crises.
  • It allows countries to retain strategic control over their digitalisation processes, ensure digital cooperation and strengthen long-term capacity.
  • For example, many African countries that had strong DPI prior to the COVID-19 in response to the 2014-2016 Ebola crisis, is now providing essential services to citizens despite the breakdown of physical infrastructure as a consequence of the war in Ukraine.

Digital Public Goods (DPGs):

  • DPGs are open-source software, open data, open AI models, open standards, and open content that adhere to privacy and other applicable laws and best practices, do no harm by design, and help attain the SDGs.
  • DPGs are needed to accelerate the DPI agenda. DPI may include implementations of multiple proprietary and/or open-source solutions, including digital public goods (DPGs).
  • For example, Estonia co-funds the DPG X-Road—open-source software that provides unified and secure data exchange between organisations and improves service delivery for citizens—and shares vendor training and certification approaches with Finland and Iceland. Estonia’s approach to DPGs has become a key component of its digital diplomacy and digital foreign policy work.
  • In 2022, UN Development Programme and the Digital Public Goods Alliance, countries from around the world committed to sharing DPGs and best practices for the implementation of DPI. Funders also committed US$295 million to advance inclusive digital public infrastructure with DPGs.

DPI Application:

  • Government benefits like cash transfers are supported by foundational DPI.
  • MOSIP has been used for pandemic-related subsidy payments
  • It is an open-source identity platform that can then be used to access a wide variety of government and private services.
  • MOSIP allows national identity systems to be context-specific and based on local laws and decisions
  • MOSIP is representative of the adoptable, interoperable, and transparent qualities of DPGs
  • Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates’ Foundation, Tata Trust, Omidyar Networks, and NORAD,
  • Adopted by the Philippines, Morocco, and Togo, and piloted in Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, and Guinea.

Suggestions for G20:

  • Committing to open data access
  • Digital solutions are most effective when powered by relevant and high-quality data.
  • Jamaica opted to use CommCare, a DPG, deployed offline first as a mobile application, and used to track and support clients before, during, and after they are vaccinated.
  • The G20 can help technologies like CommCare and DIVOC achieve global reach and become an integral part of a country’s DPI.
  • Encourage inclusive private and public collaboration
  • Taking an open and inclusive approach to DPI can stimulate entrepreneurship, innovation, and productive competition, but the private sector should also take a proactive role in producing and contributing to DPI.
  • Uganda’s UGHub allows government services to act as a single unified system, easing access to e-services, breaking down silos, lessening the administrative burden on citizens and coordination and integration with the private sector and international organisations
  • Increase public sector support and funding for joint DPI
  • Close coordination with all sectors (private, public, and civil society) can help avoid fragmentation and duplication while harnessing the cooperation and ongoing dialogue needed to address global challenges.
  • DPI that is open, accessible, and cross-sectorally enabling can help mitigate the costs of climate change such as more than US$100 billion per year as per G20’s ‘Investing in Climate Change Mitigation’ report.
  • Set the global norms and standards to protect people
  • DPI can expose citizens to risks such as privacy violations, data-driven behavioural manipulation, identity theft and fraud, and exclusion from essential public services.
  • A 2021 report by the Digital Public Goods Alliance outlined a vision for DPI that safeguards inclusion, trust, competition, security, and privacy, public value and private empowerment

Way forward:

  • Digital public infrastructure can unlock value by
  • breaking down data silos
  • creating shared technology infrastructure
  • encouraging private sector participation
  • delivering innovative solutions
  • DPI must be implemented inclusively with safeguards which can contribute to a country’s resilience in the face of crisis.
  • Sharing of DPGs and DPIs must be made the general norm to ensure global digital cooperation and ensure thought leadership and research
  • The G20 can play a pivotal role in stewarding inclusive approaches to digital transformation, directing international development cooperation, and strengthening multilateralism towards a new future for free, inclusive, innovative, and open DPI to transform the lives of the people and for the larger global good.

Source: Orf  Online


Baba’s Explainer – The amendments to the IT Rules, 2021

The amendments to the IT Rules, 2021

Syllabus

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation 
  • GS-3: Awareness in the field of IT

Context: The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) has notified amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (IT Rules, 2021) on October 28.

  • In June 2022, MeitY had put out a draft of the amendments and solicited feedback from the relevant stakeholders.
  • The draft generated considerable discussion and comment on the regulation of social media in India.

Read Complete Details on The amendments to the IT Rules, 2021


Daily Practice MCQs

Daily Practice MCQs

Q.1) Consider the following statements regarding Indian Evidence Act:

  1. It was originally passed in India by the Imperial Legislative Council in 1872, during the British Raj.
  2. It contains a set of rules and allied issues governing admissibility of evidence in the Indian courts of law

Which of the above is/are correct?

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

Q.2) With reference to Vallabhbhai Patel, consider the following statements:

  1. He is referred to as “Punjab Kesari”
  2. He served as the first Indian municipal commissioner of Ahmedabad.
  3. He was the elected president of 1928 session of INC.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 and 3 only
  2. 2 only
  3. 2 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2, and 3

Q.3) Under whose prime ministerialship, the Ninth Schedule was inserted into the Constitution of India through first constitutional amendment?

  1. Jawaharlal Nehru
  2. Indira Gandhi
  3. Gulzarilal Nanda
  4. Lal Bahadur Shastri

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

ANSWERS FOR ’1st November 2022 – Daily Practice MCQs’ will be updated along with tomorrow’s Daily Current Affairs.st


ANSWERS FOR 31st October – Daily Practice MCQs

Answers- Daily Practice MCQs

Q.1) – b

Q.2) – c

Q.3) – d

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