fbpx

DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 29th November 2022

  • IASbaba
  • November 29, 2022
  • 0
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Archives


(PRELIMS & MAINS Focus)


New species of black corals

Open in new window

Syllabus

  • Prelims – Environment and Ecology

Context: Recently Scientists discovered five new species of black corals living as deep as 2,500 feet (760 meters) below the surface in the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea off the coast of Australia by using a remote-controlled submarine.

About black corals:

  • Black corals or antipatharians are colonial animals which are related to sea anemones and stony corals.
  • They are named for the colour of their stiff, black or brownish skeleton.
  • More than 150 species of black corals have been described. At least 14 species of black corals are currently known from Hawai’i.
  • Distribution: Black corals are found in all oceans, but are most common in deep water habitats of tropical and subtropical seas.
  • Black corals are carnivores.
  • Black corals can be found growing both in shallow waters and down to depths of over 26,000 feet (8,000 meters), and some individual corals can live for over 4,000 years.
  • Black corals are filter feeders and eat tiny zooplankton that are abundant in deep waters.
  • While colourful shallow-water corals rely on the sun and photosynthesis for energy.

About Corals:

  • Coral reefs are the most diverse of all marine ecosystems. They teem with life, with perhaps one-quarter of all ocean species depending on reefs for food and shelter.
  • Because they are so diverse, coral reefs are often called the rainforests of the sea.

\

  • Shallow water corals that live in warm water often have another source of food, the zooxanthellae (pronounced zo-o-zan-THELL-ee).
  • These single-celled algae photosynthesize and pass some of the food they make from the sun’s energy to their hosts, and in exchange the coral animal gives nutrients to the algae.
  • The zooxanthellae also provide much of the green, brown, and reddish colours that corals have.

Coral Diversity:

  • In the so-called true stony corals, which compose most tropical reefs, each polyp sits in a cup made of calcium carbonate.
  • Stony corals are the most important reef builders, but organpipe corals, precious red corals, and blue corals also have stony skeletons.
  • There are also corals that use more flexible materials or tiny stiff rods to build their skeletons—the seafans and sea rods, the rubbery soft corals, and the black corals.
  • The fire corals (named for their strong sting) are anthozoans, which are divided into two main groups.
    • The hexacorals have smooth tentacles, often in multiples of six, and the octocorals have eight tentacles, each of which has tiny branches running along the sides. All corals are in the phylum Cnidaria, the same as jellyfish.

Reproduction:

  • Corals have multiple reproductive strategies – they can be male or female or both, and can reproduce either asexually or sexually.
  • Asexual reproduction is important for increasing the size of the colony, and sexual reproduction increases genetic diversity and starts new colonies that can be far from the parents.

Coral distribution across the world:

  • Corals are found across the world’s ocean, in both shallow and deep water, but reef-building corals are only found in shallow tropical and subtropical waters.
    • This is because the algae found in their tissues need light for photosynthesis and they prefer water temperatures between 70-85°F (22-29°C).
  • There are also deep-sea corals that thrive in cold, dark water at depths of up to 20,000 feet (6,000 m).
  • Both stony corals and soft corals can be found in the deep sea.
  • Deep-sea corals do not have the same algae and do not need sunlight or warm water to survive, but they also grow very slowly. One place to find them is on underwater peaks called seamounts.

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR)

  • The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia.
  • This reef was selected as a World Heritage Site in 1981.
  • A large part of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Threats:

  • Ocean Acidification
  • Overfishing and overharvesting of corals
  • coral bleaching
  • Sunscreen chemicals
  • Many corals are threatened by illegal harvesting for jewellery.

Source: The Hindu

Previous Year Question

Q.1) Consider the following statements:

  1. Asiatic lion is naturally found in India only
  2. Double-humped camel is naturally found in India only
  3. One-horned rhinoceros is naturally found in India only

Which of the statements given above is/are correct? (2019)

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

Q.2) Consider the following statements:

  1. Some species of turtles are herbivores
  2. Some species of fish are herbivores.
  3. Some species of marine mammals are herbivores
  4. Some species of snakes are viviparous

Which of the statements given above are correct? (2019)

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

The Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP)

Open in new window

Syllabus

  • Prelims – Environment and Ecology

Context: Recently Indian scientists receive international award on behalf of snow leopard conservation alliance.

About the Award:

  • The Spain-based BBVA Foundation Awards for Biodiversity Conservation seek to recognise and support the work done by conservationist organisations, institutions and agencies in carrying forward environmental conservation policies and projects.

About The Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP):

  • The GSLEP is a first-of-its-kind intergovernmental alliance for the conservation of the snow leopard and its unique ecosystem.
  • GSLEP was created in 2013 when officials, politicians and conservationists arrived at a common conservation strategy enshrined in the Bishkek Declaration (2013) to cooperate in the conservation of this species and its habitat.
  • It is led by the environment ministers of 12 countries in Asia that form the home range of the snow leopard.
  • These are Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
  • The total range spans two million square kilometres.
  • The GSLEP Program’s secretariat is based in Bishkek, and is hosted by the Ministry of Natural Resources, Ecology and Technical Supervision of the Kyrgyz Republic.

MUST READ: Snow Leopard and its conservation status

Source: DownToEarth

Previous Year Question

Q.1) Consider the following animals

  1. Hedgehog
  2. Marmot
  3. Pangolin

To reduce the chance of being captured by predators, which of the above organisms rolls up/roll up and protects/protect its/their vulnerable parts? (2021)

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

Ikshak Survey Vessel

Open in new window

Syllabus

  • Prelims – Defence Technology

Context: Recently Ikshak, the third of the four Survey Vessels (Large) (SVL) Project for Indian Navy was launched.

About Ikshak Survey Vessel:

  • ‘Ikshak’, the third of the four Survey Vessels (Large) (SVL) Project, being built by GRSE/L&T for Indian Navy was launched at Kattupalli, Chennai.
  • The ship has been named ‘Ikshak’ which means ‘Guide’. The ship has been named to signify the contribution of the Survey ships towards facilitating safe passage for Mariners at Sea.
  • Survey vessels -large (SVL) ships will replace the existing Sandhayak Class survey ships with new generation hydrographic equipment to collect oceanographic data.
  • The Survey Vessel (Large) ships are 110 m long, 16 m wide with deep displacement of 3400 tons and a complement of 231 personnel.
  • The hull of these ships is made from indigenously developed DMR 249-A steel manufactured by Steel Authority of India Limited.
  • The primary role of the ships would be to undertake full scale coastal and deep-water hydrographic surveys of Ports and navigational channels.
  • The ships would also be deployed for collecting oceanographic and geophysical data for defence as well as civil applications.
  • In their secondary role, the ships are capable of providing limited defence, besides serving as Hospital ships during emergencies.

Source: PIB


Semi-Automated Offside Technology (SAOT)

Open in new window

Syllabus

  • Prelims – Science and Technology

In news: In the opening match of the FIFA World Cup 2022, the first goal of the tournament was ruled out for offside.

  • FIFA’s brand new Semi-Automated Offside Technology (SAOT) was responsible for the quick decision.
  • FIFA tested the whole technology at both the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup in Qatar and the 2021 FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi

Semi-Automated Offside Technology (SAOT):

  • There are two parts to the technology —
  • a sensor inside the that is held using suspension technology
  • Video Assistant Referee (VAR) existing technology having tracking tools
  • Kinexon, a German company has designed a small in-ball device which gives precise positional data and detects ball movement in a three-dimensional space.
  • Every time the ball is hit, data is sent in real time (at a whopping 500 frames per second) to a network of antennae installed around the playing field.
  • These two data sets are run through artificial intelligence software which generates automated alerts about offsides to the match officials. This replaces the manual effort taken in poring over replays for minutes on end.
  • Additionally, there are 12 Hawk-Eye cameras set up around the turf that shadow both the ball and the players, with as many as 29 separate points in the human body tracked.
  • The coming together of the ball sensor and the Hawk-Eye cameras is in effect SAOT.
  • Further, to synchronise the data from the ball sensor and Hawk-Eye, a Precision Time Protocol clock is used.
  • Significance: It allows for highly accurate and quick decisions.
  • As per FIFA, SAOT is only a confirmatory tool and the final decision always belongs to the match official — on the VAR, the video assistant referee, on the field of play, to the referee
  • The data transmission rate from the ball (500 frames per second or 500Hz) makes the process accurate.
  • The time between two frames is two milliseconds (1/500), which is 10 times better than a standard 50Hz video that is commonly used in High Definition monitors.
  • It gets down the precision to up to one-millionth of a second.
  • Uses: Offside decision-making, can be used by coaches for tactical analyses and gauging individual athlete performances, for scouting good players (like Second Spectrum tracking does in the NBA).
  • It can aid statistical thinking and data mining in football through data on ball trajectories, movement, distances covered and the pace of the court among others.

Miscellaneous:

  • The match ball is Adidas’s Al Rihla
  • Hawk-Eye cameras have been in use in tennis since 2006.
  • Difference between normal offside — where a player is flagged because of active involvement irrespective of whether he touches the ball — and ‘passive offside’ — where a player will not be flagged despite being in an offside position if he does not touch the ball

Source: The Hindu


SARAS radio telescope

Open in new window

Syllabus

  • Prelims – Science and Technology

In news: In a first-of-its-kind work, using data from SARAS 3, researchers from the Raman Research Institute (RRI), Bengaluru, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia, along with collaborators at the University of Cambridge and the University of Tel-Aviv, have estimated the energy output, luminosity, and masses of the first generation of galaxies that are bright in radio wavelengths.

About SARAS:

  • It is called Shaped Antenna measurement of the background Radio Spectrum 3 (SARAS) telescope.
  • Indigenously designed and built at Raman Research Institute
  • Deployed over Dandiganahalli Lake and Sharavati backwaters, located in Northern Karnataka, in early 2020.
  • SARAS 2 was the first to inform the properties of earliest stars and galaxies.
  • The results from the SARAS 3 telescope are the first time that radio observations of the averaged 21-centimeter line have been able to determine the properties of radio luminous galaxies formed just 200 million years post the Big Bang ( or Cosmic Dawn) and which are usually powered by supermassive black holes.
  • SARAS 3 informs us that less than 3 percent of the gaseous matter within early galaxies was converted into stars, and that the earliest galaxies that were bright in radio emission were also strong in X-rays, which heated the cosmic gas in and around the early galaxies.
  • It is used to reject claims of the detection of an anomalous 21-cm signal from Cosmic Dawn made by the EDGES radio telescope developed by researchers from Arizona State University (ASU) and MIT, USA.
  • This refusal helped restore confidence in the concordant model of cosmology that was brought into question by the claimed detection.
  • The analysis has shown that the 21-cm hydrogen signal can inform about the population of first stars and galaxies.

About the study:

  • Scientists study the properties of very early galaxies by observing radiation from hydrogen atoms in and around the galaxies, emitted at a frequency of approximately 1420 MHz.
  • The radiation is stretched by the expansion of the universe, as it travels to us across space and time, and arrives at Earth in lower frequency radio bands 50-200 MHz, also used by FM and TV transmissions.
  • The cosmic signal is extremely faint, buried in orders of magnitude brighter radiation from our own Galaxy and man-made terrestrial interference.
  • Therefore, detecting the signal, even using the most powerful existing radio telescopes, has remained a challenge for astronomers.
  • Usage: Even non-detection of this line from the early Universe can allow astronomers to study the properties of the very first galaxies by reaching exceptional sensitivity.

Source: PIB

Previous Year Question

Q.1) Consider the following statements: (2018)

  1. Light is affected by gravity.
  2. The Universe is constantly expanding.
  3. Matter warps its surrounding space-time.

Which of the above is/are the prediction/predictions of Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, often discussed in media?

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

Bluebugging

Open in new window

Syllabus

  • Prelims – Science and Technology

In News: Apps that let users connect smartphones or laptops to wireless earplugs can record conversations, and are vulnerable to hacks including iPhones.

  • Any app with access to Bluetooth can record users’ conversations with Siri and audio from the iOS keyboard dictation feature when using AirPods or Beats headsets.

About Bluebugging:

  • It is a form of hacking that lets attackers access a device through its discoverable Bluetooth connection.
  • Once a device or phone is bluebugged, a hacker can
  • download phone books, call lists, listen to the calls
  • read and send messages
  • steal and modify contacts
  • install malware
  • gain unauthorised access to apps with Bluetooth access and control them.
  • Bluebugging attacks work by exploiting Bluetooth-enabled devices which is in discoverable mode (which is the default setting on most devices) and 10-metre radius of the hacker.
  • The hacker then tries to pair with the device via Bluetooth. Once a connection is established, hackers can use brute force attacks to bypass authentication.
  • Hackers can use booster antennas to widen the attack range.
  • Susceptibility:
  • Smartphones and Laptops or any Bluetooth-enabled device
  • Wireless earbuds like AirPods can record conversations as they enable users to connect to their TWS (True Wireless Stereo) devices
  • Devices with short PINs for a password can be easily cracked.
  • Prevention:
  • Turning off Bluetooth and disconnecting paired Bluetooth devices when not in use (make it undiscoverable) from Bluetooth settings
  • Updating the device’s system software to the latest version
  • Limiting the use of public Wi-Fi
  • Using VPN as an additional security measure
  • Watch out for suspicious activities on their devices eg. phone is suddenly disconnecting and reconnecting calls, or if you notice messages that haven’t been sent by you
  • Reset the device to its factory settings or uninstall any apps you don’t recognise
  • Monitor sudden spikes in data usage.
  • Modern anti-virus software can also help thwart such attacks by helping users to detect strange and spam-like content by filtering, blocking and consistently reminding people to be alert

Source: The Hindu

Previous Year Question

Q.1) The terms ‘WannaCry, Petya and Eternal Blue’ sometimes mentioned in the news recently are related to (2018)

  1. Exoplanets
  2. Cryptocurrency
  3. Cyber attacks
  4. Mini satellites

Fujiwhara Effect

Open in new window

Syllabus

  • Prelims – Geography

In News: On September 1, 2022, super typhoon Hinnamnor, the strongest tropical cyclone of the year, was hurtling towards Taiwan from the western Pacific Ocean and another tropical storm called Gardo was moving towards Hinnamnor from its southeast and as they approached each other, they showed a textbook example of what is known as the Fujiwhara Effect.

About Fujiwhara effect:

  • It refers to any interaction between tropical storms formed around the same time in the same ocean region with their centres or eyes at less than 1,400 km, with intensity that could vary between a depression (wind speed under 63 km per hour) and a super typhoon (wind speed over 209 km per hour).
  • The interaction could lead to changes in the track and intensity of either or both storms systems.
  • In rare cases, the two systems could merge, especially when they are of similar size and intensity, to form a bigger storm.
  • There are five different ways in which Fujiwhara Effect can take place.
  • Elastic interaction in which only the direction of motion of the storms changes and is the most common case but difficult to assess and need closer examination.
  • Partial straining out in which a part of the smaller storm is lost to the atmosphere.
  • Complete straining out in which the smaller storm is completely lost to the atmosphere. The straining out does not happen for storms of equal strengths.
  • Partial merger in which the smaller storm merges into the bigger one
  • Complete merger which takes places between two storms of similar strength.
  • During a merger interaction between two tropical cyclones the wind circulations come together and form a sort of whirlpool of winds in the atmosphere.
  • Fujiwhara effect was identified by Sakuhei Fujiwhara, a Japanese meteorologist in 1921.
  • The first known instance of the effect was in 1964 in the western Pacific Ocean when typhoons Marie and Kathy merged.

Effect:

  • It makes cyclones more unpredictable due to their rapid intensification, carrying of more rain and newer ways of moving over warming oceans.
  • This is because each of the interactions between the two storm systems is unique and very difficult to capture with current climate models.
  • This may result in large-scale devastation.
  • In an increasingly warming world, a dance and merger between two large enough tropical cyclones over any of the global oceans could lead to the formation of a mega cyclone, causing devastation along coast-lines.

Examples:

  • In April 2021, in Indian Ocean, cyclone Seroja interacted with cyclone Odette just off the coast of western Australia.
  • Seroja became a unique storm because the northwestern coast of Australia is prone to cyclones while the southwestern part hit by the cyclone does not get much storm activity.

Source Down To Earth

Previous Year Question

Q.1) Consider the following statements: (2017)

  1. In tropical regions, Zika virus disease is transmitted by ‘the same mosquito that transmits dengue.
  2. Sexual transmission of Zika virus disease is possible

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

Rare Earth Metals

Open in new window

Syllabus

  • Mains – GS 3 (Science and Technology)

Context: Recently, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has urged the government to encourage private-sector mining in the Rare Earths minerals sector to counter India’s reliance on China for imports of such minerals. The industry has demanded to Set up an ‘India Rare Earths Mission’.

About Rare Earth Minerals:

  • Rare earth metals are a group of 17 elements – lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, lutetium, scandium, yttrium.
  • They are lustrous silvery-white soft heavy metals.
  • These metals have unusual fluorescent, conductive, and magnetic properties, which make them very useful when alloyed, or mixed, in small quantities with more common metals such as iron.
  • However, with the exception of the highly-unstable prometheum, rare earth elements are found in relatively high concentrations in the earth’s crust.
  • The rare earths occur in many other minerals and are recoverable as by-products from phosphate rock and from spent uranium leaching.

Reserves and Production:

  • The total world reserves are estimated at 121 million tonnes of rare earth oxides (REO).
  • China alone accounts for 44 million tonnes followed by Brazil and Vietnam (18% each) and Russia (15%).
  • China accounts for 90% of the world’s rare earth production.
  • The other major producers are Australia, USA, Russia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Significance of Rare Earth Metals:

  • Manufacturing of Batteries: Minerals like Cobalt, Nickel, and Lithium are required for batteries used in electric vehicles.
  • Used in most of the consumer products: REEs are an essential although often tiny component of more than 200 consumer products which includes mobile phones, computer hard drives, electric and hybrid vehicles, semiconductors, flat screen TVs and monitors, and high-end electronics.
  • Electric Vehicles: India has an ambitious plan to convert a large percentage of its transport to electric and this would require these minerals.
    • 80 percent of the country’s two- and three-wheeler fleet, 40 percent of buses, and 30 to 70 per cent of cars will be EVs by 2030.
  • Clean energy: They are critical for developing clean energy which is the need of the hour today.
  • Industrial use: Traditional uses like Cerium for glass polishing and lanthanum for car catalysts or optical lenses.
  • Manufacturing of magnets: neodymium, praseodymium and dysprosium, are crucial to the manufacture of magnets which are used in industries and also in wind turbines and Drones.

Issues associated with extraction of Rare Earth Metals:

  • Difficult to mine: Although they are more abundant than their name implies, they are difficult and costly to mine and process cleanly.
  • Environmental Impact: The chief concern is that the rare earth elements are bound up in mineral deposits with the low-level radioactive element thorium, exposure to which has been linked to an increased risk of developing lung, pancreatic, and other cancers.
  • Chinese Dominance: Amid the transition to green energy, in which rare earth minerals are sure to play a role, China’s market dominance is enough to sound an alarm in western capitals.
  • Monopoly of few: Most of the reserves being present in few nations causes problems for most of the world because of the concentration of reserves in the hands of few countries.
  • Supply Chain: Forming forward and backward supply chains will create problems when the reserves are mostly limited to one country.

Rare Earth Metals in India:

  • In India, monazite is the principal source of rare earths and thorium.
  • Rare earth elements contribute a total value of nearly $200 billion to the Indian economy.
  • India has the world’s fifth-largest reserves of rare earth elements, nearly twice as much as Australia, but it imports most of its rare earth needs in finished form from its geopolitical rival, China.
  • Indian Rare Earths Ltd (IREL), a Government of India Undertaking, and KMML, a Kerala State Government Undertaking, are actively engaged in mining and processing of beach sand minerals from placer deposits.
  • As per the Foreign Trade Policy, 2015-2020 and the effective policy on export and import,  the  import of ores and concentrates of rare earth metals and of rare earth oxides including rutile sand are permitted ‘freely’.

Challenges for India:

  • Scaling Up: The key challenge for India today is to scale up upstream and downstream processes in the rare earths value chain.
  • Monopoly of Government: India has granted government corporations such as IREL a monopoly over the primary mineral that contains REEs: monazite beach sand, found in many coastal states.
  • Capital-Intensive: The mining and extraction processes are capital-intensive and consumes large amounts of energy.
  • Competition from World: India must open its rare earth sector up to competition and innovation and attract the large amounts of capital needed to set up facilities to compete with, and supply to, the world.
  • Toxic By-products: The mining releases toxic by-products, an issue that has caused some controversy in India before.

Suggestive Measures for India:

  • New Department for Rare Earths (DRE): The best move forward might be to create a new Department for Rare Earths (DRE) under the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, drawing on its exploration, exploitation, refining, and regulation capabilities.
  • Allow Private Companies: This DRE should oversee policy formulation and focus on attracting investment and promoting R&D, with its first move being to allow private sector companies to process beach sand minerals within appropriate environmental safeguards.
  • Autonomous Regulator: It should also create an autonomous regulator, the Rare Earths Regulatory Authority of India (RRAI), to resolve disputes between companies in this space and check compliance.
  • Better Coordination: The DRE could coordinate with other agencies to partner directly with groupings such as the Quad, building up a strategic reserve as a buffer against global supply crises.
  • Encourage Indian Firms: While domestic reforms are awaited, Indian companies can be encouraged to form such junior exploration businesses in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) to prospect for REEs and feed value added products into Indian market.

Way Forward:

  • Building up domestic capability: There is a need to build domestic capability and broad-base supply sources for such an important and strategic raw material.
  • Making it part of Make in India campaign: There is a need to make rare earth minerals a part of the ‘Make In India’ campaign, citing China’s ‘Made in China 2025’ initiative that focuses on new materials, including permanent magnets that are made using rare earth minerals.
  • Supply chain resilience: The focus should be back on building cooperation on supply chain resilience which is a trade partnership for critical and emerging technology to deal with issues of climate, economy and pandemic impact.
  • Minerals Security Partnership (MSP): India should try through diplomatic channels to enter this partnership. (As, India is not a member of this.)
    • It is a US-led partnership initiative of 11 nations which aims to bolster critical mineral supply chains.
    • Partnership includes the USA, Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the European Commission.
  • QUAD critical and Emerging Technology Working group: It aims to develop supply resilience among Quad members which includes India, US, Japan, and Australia.
  • Green goals: the critical minerals and emerging technology are the major need of the hour for achievement of green future goals.

MUST READ: India Deep Ocean Mission

Source:  The Hindu


The Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2022

Open in new window

Syllabus

  • Mains – GS 2 (Governance)

Context: Recently workers in the power sector have threatened an indefinite strike against the passing of the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2022. The National Coordination Committee of Electricity Employees and Engineers (NCCOEEE), an umbrella organization of trade unions has held that the Standing Committee has not held any discussions with the workers or the consumers, who are the biggest stakeholders in the sector.

About Key provisions under the Bill: In order to bring reforms in the sector, the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2022 was introduced in Lok Sabha on August 8, 2022. The Bill amends the Electricity Act, 2003 which regulates the electricity sector in India. It sets up the Central and State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (CERC and SERCs) to regulate inter-state and intra-state matters.

  • Multiple discoms in the same area: The Act requires discoms to distribute electricity through their own network. The Bill removes this requirement. It adds that a discoms must provide non-discriminatory open access to its network to all other discoms operating in the same area, on payment of certain charges.
    • The central government may prescribe the criteria for determining the area of supply.
  • Power procurement and tariff: Upon grant of multiple licenses for the same area, the power and associated costs as per the existing power purchase agreements (PPAs) of the existing discoms will be shared between all discoms.
    • Under the Act, in case of multiple discoms in the same area of supply, the SERC is required to specify the maximum ceiling for a tariff as well as a minimum tariff for such cases.
  • CERC gets licensing powers for multi-state retail supply: In a major change, the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) will now license applicants for distribution in more than one state.
    • Earlier, the licensing distribution was purely SERCs function.
  • Cross-subsidy Balancing Fund: The Bill adds that upon grant of multiple licenses for the same area, the state government will set up a Cross-subsidy Balancing Fund. Cross-subsidy refers to the arrangement of one consumer category subsidizing the consumption of another consumer category.
    • Any surplus with a distribution licensee on account of cross-subsidy will be deposited into the fund.
  • Payment security: The Bill provides that electricity will not be scheduled or despatched if adequate payment security is not provided by the discoms.
    • The central government may prescribe rules regarding payment security.
  • Contract enforcement: The Bill empowers the CERC and SERCs to adjudicate disputes related to the performance of contracts.
    • These refer to contracts related to the sale, purchase, or transmission of electricity.
  • Renewable purchase obligation: The Act empowers SERCs to specify renewable purchase obligations (RPO) for discoms.
    • The Bill adds that RPO should not be below a minimum percentage prescribed by the central government.
  • Selection committee for SERCs: Under the Act, the Chairperson of the Central Electricity Authority or the Chairperson of the CERC is one of the members of the selection committee to recommend appointments to the SERCs.
    • Under the Bill, instead of this person, the central government will nominate a member to the selection committee.

Significance of the bill for consumers and suppliers:

  • To be able to choose their own power supplier would be a major empowerment for consumers.
  • The stipulated 90-day time to regulators for approval or application means regulators can no longer sit on applications for licences.
  • Power regulators will set electricity tariffs every year, which will bring in dynamic prices based on emerging situations.
    • Regulators being able to implement orders as a decree of the civil court will mean better and more timely compliance.
  • The provision to remove regulatory body members for wilful violation/negligence will lead to better implementation of rules and processes.

Major concerns being raised against the bill:

Against the federal structure of the Indian Constitution:

  • By allowing multiple private agencies to distribute power in one place, the amendments will weaken the power of states.
  • The amendments will effectively curb the right of state governments to regulate tariffs and distribution and are against India’s federal structure.
  • Despite electricity being on the concurrent list, the Centre gave no time to the states to express their views on the proposed amendments and in the process, the basic tenets of federalism were trampled upon. Adopting its provisions blindly would be against the letter and spirit of the Constitution of India.

Huge burden on the State exchequer:

  • The implications of the bill can put a huge burden on the State exchequer as the cross-subsidising consumers shall move towards private companies offering competitive rates and the subsidised ones shall stay with the government companies. The government discoms will by default go into losses and soon become unable to purchase electricity from generators.

Myth of cheaper electricity for consumers:

  • It is highly unlikely that consumers might be benefitted in case of more than one discoms in competition with the other, as around 80 per cent of the costs sustained by the discoms are directed towards the purchasing power from power generating companies. Thus, according to these statistics, the myth of cheaper electricity for consumers seems to be a far-fetched dream.

Centralisation of powers:

  • The bill, by seeking to make the SERC chairman a nominee of the Union Government, gives a strong impression that the Union Government is trying to control the SERC’s appointments.
  • Therefore, the vesting of unlimited powers in the Union Government can have a severe impact on the functioning of regulatory commissions, with them becoming subordinate entities rather than autonomous bodies.

Threat of Privatisation:

  • These amendments will lead to the indiscriminate privatisation of the power distribution sector.
  • Multiple Distribution Licensees in an area of supply would lead to “cherry picking” because private players would obviously opt for ‘profitable areas’ leaving the ‘loss-making ones’ to the state Discoms.

Way Forward:

Although the Electricity Amendment Bill, 2022 has brought in several welcome reforms in the sector but the concerns related to the Bill must be addressed. The Bill would help in achieving India’s dream of providing 24*7 electricity to all its citizens, achieving a 5 trillion economy, which in turn achieving sustainable development goals, and fulfilling their obligation of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) under the Paris Agreement.

Source:  The Hindu


World Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2022

Open in new window

Syllabus

  • Mains – GS 2 (Governance)

Context: The World Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2022 concluded recently with the Muscat Ministerial Manifesto on AMR being agreed upon at the Third Global High-level Ministerial Conference on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).

About the conference:

  • This Conference is a follow up of two earlier high level conferences held in the Netherlands in 2014 and 2019.
  • Theme of the Conference: The AMR Pandemic: From Policy to One Health Action.
  • Three Global Targets:
    • Reducing the total amount of antimicrobials used in agrifood systems by at least 30 per cent-50 per cent by 2030.
    • Preserving critically important antimicrobials for human medicine and ending the use of medically important antimicrobials for growth promotion in animals.
    • Ensuring that ‘Access’ group antibiotics (a category of antibiotics that are affordable, safe and have a low AMR risk) represent at least 60 percent of overall antibiotic consumption in humans by 2030.
  • Countries endorsing the manifesto: The Manifesto has been endorsed by 34 of the 45 countries that participated at the conference including India.

About Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR):

  • Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.

Emergence and spread of AMR:

  • AMR occurs naturally over time, usually through genetic changes.
  • Antimicrobial-resistant organisms are found in people, animals, food, plants and the environment (in water, soil and air).
  • They can spread from person to person or between people and animals, including from food of animal origin.

The main drivers of antimicrobial resistance:

  • The misuse and overuse of antimicrobials,
  • Lack of access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) for both humans and animals,
  • Poor infection and disease prevention and control in healthcare facilities and farms,
  • Poor access to quality,
  • Affordable medicines, vaccines and diagnostics,
  • Lack of awareness and knowledge, and
  • Lack of enforcement of legislation.

Factors responsible for AMR in India:

  • Inappropriate consumption of broad-spectrum (last resort) antibiotics is high because of changing prescription practice in the healthcare system due to the non-availability of a narrow spectrum of antibiotics.
  • Inappropriate antibiotic use among the general public like Self-medication to avoid the financial burden.
  • The large proportion of sewage is disposed of untreated into receiving water bodies, leading to gross contamination of rivers with antibiotic residues, antibiotic-resistant organisms.
  • Antimicrobials – including antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals and antiparasitics – are medicines used to prevent and treat infections in humans, animals and plants.

Challenges Posed by AMR:

  • Antibiotic resistance is emerging as the threat to successful treatment of infectious diseases, organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy and major surgeries.
  • The issue of AMR causes out of pocket expenditure on health care, especially on medicines. The use of high order drugs or second-line expensive antibiotics pushing treatment cost high.
  • Neonates and elderly both are prone to infections and are vulnerable.

Various Initiatives adopted in this regard:

At Global level:

  • Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (GAP): Globally, countries committed to the framework set out in the Global Action Plan1 (GAP) 2015 on AMR during the 2015 World Health Assembly and committed to the development and implementation of multisectoral national action plans.
  • Tripartite Joint Secretariat on Antimicrobial Resistance: Tripartite joint secretariat (FAO, OIE and WHO) has been established and is hosted by WHO to drive multi-stakeholder engagement in AMR.
  • Interagency Coordination Group (IACG) on AMR: It was convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations after the UN High-Level Meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance in 2016.
    • The IACG brought together partners across the UN, international organizations and individuals with expertise across human, animal and plant health, as well as the food, animal feed, trade to formulate a plan for the fight against antimicrobial resistance.
  • World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW): WAAW was previously called the World Antibiotic Awareness Week. From 2020, it will be called the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week.
    • It is a global campaign that aims to raise awareness of antimicrobial resistance worldwide.
  • Global Antimicrobial Resistance and Use Surveillance System (GLASS): WHO launched it in 2015 to continue filling knowledge gaps and to inform strategies at all levels.
    • GLASS has been conceived to progressively incorporate data from surveillance of AMR in humans, surveillance of the use of antimicrobial medicines, AMR in the food chain and the environment.
  • Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP): A joint initiative of WHO and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi), GARDP encourages research and development through public-private partnerships.
    • By 2025, the partnership aims to develop and deliver five new treatments that target drug-resistant bacteria identified by WHO as posing the greatest threat.

India’s initiatives against AMR:

  • To prevent the Over the counter sales of antibiotics, the central drug standard control organization(CDSO) prohibits medical stores from selling 24 key antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription.
  • India’s Red Line campaign: Which demands that prescription-only antibiotics be marked with a red line, to discourage the over-the-counter sale of antibiotics– is a step forward.
  • National Health Policy, 2017, terms antimicrobial resistance as one of the key healthcare issues and prioritizes the development of guidelines regarding antibiotic use and check on restricting the growth of antibiotics.
  • The National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (NAP-AMR) 2017 has assigned coordinated tasks to multiple government agencies involving health, education, environment, and livestock to change prescription practices and consumer behaviour and to scale up infection control and antimicrobial surveillance.
  • FSSAI has set certain guidelines limiting the antibiotics in food products such as fish and honey.

Way Forward:

  • Lowering of antibiotic consumption is not sufficient because the spread of resistant strains and resistance genes are the dominant contributing factor.
  • Providing sanitation, clean water and good governance, increasing public health expenditure and better regulating the private health sector are all necessary to reduce antimicrobial resistance.
  • Countries should Revise and effectively implement National Action Plans (NAP) for AMR.
  • Different stakeholders in human health, animal health, environment sectors come together to be able to implement AMR NAPs, through appropriate engagement of civil society, private sector, and public and private partnerships.
  • There is a need for mobilisation of financial resources from public and private financing institutions for NAP-AMR implementation. This is to be done to:
    • Enable improved access to innovations (new antimicrobials, vaccines, diagnostics, waste management tools, alternatives to antimicrobials) and
    • For the development and implementation of innovative and safe infection prevention and control practices.

Source:  DownToEarth


Practice MCQs

Daily Practice MCQs

Q.1) Consider the following:

  1. Ocean Acidification
  2. Overfishing
  3. coral bleaching
  4. Sunscreen chemicals

Which of the above can be threats for corals to survive?

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

Q.2) Consider the following statements regarding the Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP):

  1. The GSLEP is a first-of-its-kind intergovernmental alliance for the conservation of the snow leopard and its unique ecosystem.
  2. Bishkek Declaration deals with the conservation of snow leopards.
  3. The snow leopard range countries includes Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India and Japan.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

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

Q.3) Consider the following:

  1. Europium
  2. Gadolinium
  3. Morrum
  4. Scandium

Which of the above are examples of Rare Earth Metals?

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

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

ANSWERS FOR ’29th November 2022 – Daily Practice MCQs’ will be updated along with tomorrow’s Daily Current Affairs.st


ANSWERS FOR 28th November – Daily Practice MCQs

Answers- Daily Practice MCQs

Q.1) – b

Q.2) – d

Q.3) – c

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.....

Sign Up To Receive Regular Updates