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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 3rd November 2022

  • IASbaba
  • November 3, 2022
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(PRELIMS & MAINS Focus)


China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – International Relations

Context: External Affairs Minister made a reference to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in the Council of Heads of Government of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

Present Status of the CPEC:

  • A lot of the energy projects were completed.
  • Some of the road projects have been completed, others not;
  • The special economic zones were pared down to a smaller number than originally envisaged and have moved very slowly;
  • Most of the projects around Gwadar are far from completion.
  • There’s just been nothing significantly new agreed over the last few years from the much bigger package that was under negotiation.
  • There were uncertainties about the economic feasibility of some of the larger projects — hydro-electric dams and railways.
  • Gwadar is just very difficult as a location, in logistical and security terms.
  • The current total that both sides cite is $25 billion, and it was $19 billion five years ago

Source: Indian Express


Status of women in Qatar

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – International Relations
  • Mains – Ethics Case study

Context: The emirate has for years sat near the bottom of the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, which tracks gaps between women and men in employment, education, health and politics.

About Wahhabism:

  • Wahhabism is an Arabian form of Salafism, the movement within Islam aimed at its “purification” and the return to the Islam of the Prophet Mohammed and the three successive generations of followers.
  • Its two major points of reference are the Koran and the Sunnah.
  • The latter consists of hadiths – stories not included in the Koran – describing how the Prophet and the four righteous caliphs dealt with issues in the public and private spheres.
  • These, together with the Koran, form the basis of Sharia law.
  • Wahhabi Muslims call themselves muwahhidun (proponents of the oneness of God).
  • They insist in every aspect of life on strict adherence to Sharia.

Present status of women in Qatar:

  • It’s a traditional society that traces its roots to the interior of the Arabian Peninsula, where an ultraconservative form of Islam known as Wahhabism originated.
  • The Qatari legal system, based on Islamic law or Shariah, hinders women’s advancement.

Rights and Freedom:

  • Qatar’s constitution enshrines equality among citizens.
  • But the Qatari legal system discriminates against women when it comes to their freedom of movement and issues of marriage, child custody and inheritance.
    • Under Shariah law, for example, women can inherit property, but daughters receive half as much as sons.
  • Men can easily divorce their wives, while women must apply to courts from a narrow list of acceptable grounds.
  • Men can marry up to four wives without issue, while women must obtain approval from a male guardian to get married at any age.
  • Qatari women under the age of 25 also must secure a male guardian’s permission to leave the country.
  • There is no government office dedicated to women’s rights.

Politics:

  • There are female cabinet ministers.
  • But female candidates did not win a single seat in the legislative elections for the 45-member council.

Workforce

  • Laws guarantee the right to equal pay for Qatari women and men.
  • There is no law prohibiting gender discrimination in the workplace.
  • Laws ban women from jobs broadly defined as dangerous or inappropriate.
  • Women also must seek permission from a male guardian to work in the government and special institutions.

Source: Indian Express


Charminar

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – History and Art and Culture

Context: Congress Leader Rahul Gandhi unfurls National Flag at Charminar.

About Charminar:

  • Charminar was built by Sultan Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah in 1591.
  • It was built in honour of his wife, Bhagmati.
  • As per a popular belief, Charminar was built to acknowledge the elimination of the plague which had affected the entire city immensely during that era.
  • The four pillars are also said to be dedicated to the first four caliphs of Islam.
  • An Iranian architect Mir Momin Astrawadi, who had settled in Hyderabad, designed Charminar.
  • The architectural design of Charminar is inspired from the Shia “tazias”.
  • These Tazias were built in the memory of Hussain, who was the son in law of Prophet Muhammad and had lost his life in the battle of Karbala.
  • Charminar has been built with granite and lime mortar and pulverised marble.
  • On the top floor of Charminar there is a mosque which is believed to be the oldest mosque of Hyderabad city.
  • The Charminar is situated on the east bank of Musi River.
  • It is listed as an archaeological and architectural treasure on the official list of monuments prepared by the Archaeological Survey of India.
  • Charminar, along with the Qutb Shahi Monuments of Hyderabad: the Golconda Fort, and the Qutb Shahi Tombs, were included in the “tentative list” of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • The monument was submitted by the Permanent Delegation of India to UNESCO on September 10, 2010.

Source: The Hindu

Previous Year Question

Q.1) With reference to Indian history, consider the following statements:

  1. The first Mongol invasion of India happened during the reign of Jalal-ud-din Khalji.
  2. During the reign of Ala-ud-din Khalji, one Mongol assault marched up to Delhi and besieged the city.
  3. Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq temporarily lost portions of north-west of his kingdom to Mongols.

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

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

Q.2) With reference to Indian history, which of the following statements is/are correct?

  1. The Nizamat of Arcot emerged out of Hyderabad state.
  2. The Mysore Kingdom emerged out of the Vijayanagara empire.
  3. Rohilkhand kingdom was formed out of the territories occupied by Ahmad Shah Durrani.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

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

Coronary Artery Disease

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Science and Technology

In news: A study conducted by Sir Ganga Ram Hospital has said that Indians have an increased risk of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) because of their smaller body surface area and not just a smaller diameter of arteries.

  • It was based on observational impact on 250 patients.
  • 51 per cent respondents were hypertensive, 18 per cent were diabetic, four per cent were smokers, 28 per cent were dyslipidemic and 26 per cent had a family history of heart disease.

Findings:

  • This study was done to estimate the size of normal coronary arteries in the Indian population, index it to BSA, and see if there is any significant difference when compared to the Caucasian population.
  • There has been an assumption that Asians, and particularly Indians, have increased risk of atherosclerosis (fatty deposits in arteries) because of their small coronary artery diameter.
  • However, from our observational study, it is proved that the coronary artery dimensions in the Indian population are not small, the risk is due to their small Body Surface Area. Thus, the rationale for small dimensions of arteries being a risk factor for CAD is not valid in the Indian population.
  • The mean vessel diameter for males was significantly larger than those for females but when indexed to the Body Surface Area, these values were not significant.
  • The study might also provide some insight into the use of diameters indexed to BSA as a cut off for deciding the need for re-vascularisation (a procedure that can restore blood flow in blocked arteries or veins).

Source: Indian Express

Previous Year Question

Q.1) In the context of hereditary diseases, consider the following statements: (2021)

  1. Passing on mitochondrial diseases from parent to child can be prevented by mitochondrial replacement therapy either before or after in vitro fertilization of egg.
  2. A child inherits mitochondrial diseases entirely from mother and not from father.

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

Chinese Space Station

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Science and Technology

In news: China’s third and final module called Mengtian docked with its permanent space station called Tiangong to further a more than decade-long effort to maintain a constant crewed presence in orbit, as its competition with the U.S. grows increasingly fierce.

  • 3 astronauts arrived for a six-month stay on board, during which they will complete the station’s assembly, conduct space walks and carry out additional experiments.

About Mengtian:

  • Mengtian is the third and final module which was blasted into space from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on the southern island province of Hainan.
  • Mengtian, or “Celestial Dream,” joins Wentian as the second laboratory module for the station, collectively known as Tiangong, or “Celestial Palace.” Both are connected to the Tianhe core module where the crew lives and works.
  • Like its predecessors, Mengtian was launched aboard a Long March-5B carrier rocket, a member of China’s most powerful family of launch vehicles.
  • Mengtian weighs in at about 23 tons, is 17.9 meters (58.7 feet) long and has a diameter of 4.2 meters (13.8 feet). It will provide space for science experiments in zero gravity, an airlock for exposure to the vacuum of space, and a small robotic arm to support extravehicular payloads.
  • The already orbiting 23-ton Wentian, or “quest for the heavenslaboratory is designed for science and biology experiments and is heavier than any other single-module spacecraft currently in space.
  • Following Mengtian’s arrival, an additional uncrewed Tianzhou cargo craft is due to dock with the station.

About Tiangong:

  • It is currently populated by a crew of two male and one female astronauts.
  • In all, the station will have about 110 cubic meters (3,880 cubic feet) of pressurized interior space, including the 32 cubic meters (1,130 cubic feet).
  • China’s crewed space program is officially three decades old this year, with the Mengtian launch being its 25th mission. But it truly got underway in 2003, when China became only the third country after the U.S. and Russia to put a human into space using its own resources.
  • The permanent Chinese station will weigh about 66 tons — a fraction of the size of the International Space Station, which launched its first module in 1998 and weighs around 465 tons.
  • With a lifespan of 10 to 15 years, Tiangong could one day find itself the only space station still running, if the International Space Station adheres to its 30-year operating plan.

Other missions:

  • Prior to launching the Tianhe module, China’s Manned Space Program launched a pair of single-module stations that it crewed briefly as test platforms.
  • Next year, China plans to launch the Xuntian space telescope, which, while not a part of Tiangong, will orbit in sequence with the station and can dock occasionally with it for maintenance.
  • China has also chalked up successes with uncrewed missions, and its lunar exploration program generated media buzz last year when its Yutu 2 rover sent back pictures of a rock. The rover is the first to be placed on the far side of the moon.
  • China’s Chang’e 5 probe returned lunar rocks to Earth for the first time since the 1970s in December 2000 and another Chinese rover is searching for evidence of life on Mars.
  • China is collaborating with the European Space Agency on experiments aboard Mengtian, and is cooperating with France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Pakistan and the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) on a range of projects from aerospace medicine to microgravity physics.
  • China is also reportedly developing a highly secret space plane.

Source: The Hindu

Previous Year Question

Q.1) Consider the following statements: (2016)

The Mangalyaan launched by ISRO

  1. is also called the Mars Orbiter Mission
  2. made India the second country to have a spacecraft orbit the Mars after USA
  3. made India the only country to be successful in making its spacecraft orbit the Mars in its very first attempt

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

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

HARIT Aaykar initiative

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Current Affairs

In News: The Income Tax Department participated enthusiastically in the Government of India’s month-long Special Campaign for Swachhata.

  • 31st October marks the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and is also observed as the National Unity Day.

About:

  • The HARIT Aaykar (Hariyali Achievement Resolution by Income Tax) initiative is launched by the Income Tax Department.
  •  Under this initiative, the Department resolves to increase the green cover by planting trees and creating micro-forests in and around Income Tax Department’s buildings and other public areas.

Source: PIB


Amendments to IT Rules, 2021

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Science and Technology

In News: 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).

About:

  • India in 2021, replaced its decade old regulations on SMIs with the IT Rules, 2021
  • Aim:
  • Placing obligations on social media intermediaries (SMIs) to ensure an open, safe and trusted internet.
  • Empowering users of social media platforms through a robust grievance redressal mechanism that can effectively and efficiently address their concerns.
  • Given the multitudinous nature of the problem of SMIs— the centrality of SMIs in shaping public discourse, the impact of their governance on the right to freedom of speech and expression, the magnitude of information they host and the constant technological innovations that impact their governance — it is important for governments to update their regulatory framework to face emergent challenges.
  • Objectives of the amendment:
  • First, there was a need to ensure that the interests and constitutional rights of netizens are not being contravened by big tech platforms
  • Second, to strengthen the grievance redressal framework in the Rules
  • Third, that compliance with these should not impact early stage Indian start-ups.
  • Categories of amendment:
  • placing additional obligations on the SMIs to ensure better protection of user interests
  • appellate mechanism for grievance redressal

Additional obligations on the SMIs:

  • To ensure that its users are in compliance with the relevant rules of the platform.
  • The “rules and regulations, privacy policy and user agreement” are available in all languages listed in the eighth schedule of the Constitution.
  • To “make reasonable” efforts to prevent prohibited content being hosted on its platform and to police and moderate content.
  • To “respect all the rights accorded to the citizens under the Constitution, including in the articles 14, 19 and 21”.
  • To remove information or a communication link in relation to the six prohibited categories of content as and when a complaint arises within 72 hours to contain the spread of the content.
  • To “take all reasonable measures to ensure accessibility of its services to users along with reasonable expectation of due diligence, privacy and transparency” and to strengthen inclusion in the SMI ecosystem such as allowing for participation by persons with disabilities and diverse linguistic backgrounds.

Concerns:

  • SMIs are unclear of the extent of measures they are now expected to undertake and users are apprehensive that the increased power of the SMIs would allow them to trample on freedom of speech and expression.
  • The wide interpretation to which this obligation is open to by different courts, could translate to disparate duties on the SMIs. Frequent alterations to design and practices of the platform, that may result from a case-to-case based application of this obligation, could result in heavy compliance costs for them.
  • First, as evidenced by the transparency reports of SMIs, such as Facebook and Twitter, there is no common understanding of what is meant by resolution of the complaint.
  • For example, Facebook records only mention the number of reports where “appropriate tools” have been provided. These “appropriate tools” could just mean the automated replies pointing out the tools available on the platform that have been sent to the complainants.
  • Twitter records outline the number of URLs against which action has been taken after the receipt of a complaint.
  • The number of user complaints continue to be quite low when compared to the content against which the platform acts proactively or is obligated to remove due to governmental or court orders.
  • This may be because users are either not aware of this facility or find it futile to approach the platform for complaint resolutions or in case where action has been taken, there is no way to assess whether the complainant has been satisfied with the resolution of the complaint.
  • Moreover, the extant framework does not provide for any recourse if the complainant is dissatisfied with the grievance officer’s order.
  • Possibly, the only course available to the complainant is to challenge the order under the writ jurisdiction of the High Courts or Supreme Court. This is not efficacious given that it can be a resource and time intensive process.
  • Prior to the IT Rules, 2021, platforms followed their own mechanisms and timelines for resolving user complaints.

Grievance Appellate Committees (GAC):

  • The IT Rules uniformed this by mandating that all social media platforms should have a grievance officer who would acknowledge the receipt of a complaint within 24 hours and dispose it within 15 days.
  • The committee is styled as a three-member council out of which one member will be a government officer (holding the post ex officio) while the other two members will be independent representatives.
  • Users can file a complaint against the order of the grievance officer within 30 days.
  • Importantly, the GAC is required to adopt an online dispute resolution mechanism which will make it more accessible to the users.
  • Interestingly, it is unclear whether the user have to approach the grievance appellate committee before approaching the court as the institution of the GAC would not bar the user from approaching the court directly against the order of the grievance officer.
  • While this makes the in-house grievance redressal more accountable and appellate mechanism more accessible to users, appointments being made by the central government could lead to apprehensions of bias in content moderation.
  • Further, the IT Rules, 2021 do not provide any explicit power to the GAC to enforce its orders.
  • Lastly, if users can approach both the courts and the GAC parallelly, it could lead to conflicting decisions often undermining the impartiality and merit of one institution or the other.

Source:   The Hindu


The lightning ‘disaster’

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Syllabus

  • Mains – GS 3 (Disaster and disaster management)

Context: According to the ‘Annual Lightning Report 2020-2021’, India has experienced an increasing loss of human lives, property, and livelihoods due to the rising frequency and intensity of lightning and thunderstorms.

  • As per the report, India witnessed 18.5 million lightning strikes between April 2020 and March 2021, marking 34 percent more strikes than the previous year.
  • Madhya Pradesh experienced the highest number of lightning-related deaths (162), followed by Maharashtra (121), Gujarat (72), Bihar (70), Rajasthan (49), and Chhattisgarh (40).

About Lightning:

  • Lightning is a giant spark of electricity in the atmosphere between clouds, the air, or the ground.
  • In the early stages of development, air acts as an insulator between the positive and negative charges in the cloud and between the cloud and the ground.
  • When the opposite charges build up enough, this insulating capacity of the air breaks down and there is a rapid discharge of electricity that is known as lightning.
  • The flash of lightning temporarily equalizes the charged regions in the atmosphere until the opposite charges build up again.
  • Lightning can occur between opposite charges within the thunderstorm cloud (intra-cloud lightning) or between opposite charges in the cloud and on the ground (cloud-to-ground lightning).

Major Causes lightning:

  • Lightning is an electrical discharge caused by imbalances between storm clouds and the ground, or within the clouds themselves.
    • During a storm, colliding particles of rain, ice, or snow inside storm clouds increase the imbalance between storm clouds and the ground, and often negatively charge the lower reaches of storm clouds.
  • Objects on the ground, like steeples, trees, and the Earth itself, become positively charged creating an imbalance that nature seeks to remedy by passing current between the two charges.
  • This heat causes surrounding air to rapidly expand and vibrate, which creates the pealing thunder heard a short time after seeing a lightning flash.
  • When the positive and negative charges grow large enough, a giant spark – lightning – occurs between the two charges within the cloud.
  • Most lightning happens inside a cloud, but sometimes it happens between the cloud and the ground.
  • A build-up of positive charge builds up on the ground beneath the cloud, attracted to the negative charge in the bottom of the cloud and the ground’s positive charge concentrates around anything that sticks up – trees, lightning conductors and even people.
  • The positive charge from the ground connects with the negative charge from the clouds and a spark of lightning strikes.

Impacts of lightning:

  • Tragic tolls due to lightning strikes:
    • Between 1972 and 2019, around 90,632 people were killed due to lightning strikes, followed by floods and rain (77,724), heatwaves (34,925), landslides (26,980), cold waves (26,167), cyclones (23,315).
    • Besides the loss of human life, lightning adversely impacts the agriculture, aviation, power, and communication sectors.
  • Impact on rural areas:
    • Mainly, rural and forest areas are the most vulnerable due to lighting because of the presence of water bodies and tall trees and almost 96 percent of deaths occurred in rural areas due to lightning compared to the urban area.
    • Regarding deaths due to lightning, the population in rural areas is more vulnerable than in urban areas.
  • Impact on farmers:
    • Frequent lightning strikes adversely affect small and marginal farmers.
    • Around 77 percent of farmers are killed due to lightning as they work in agricultural fields during the Kharif cropping season in the monsoon period.
  • Impact on tribal population:
    • The Annual Lightning Report 2020-2021 has confirmed that 60-70 percent of deaths occurred in tribal populations due to lightning in Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, and other states.

Issues related to mitigation of lightning related casualties:

  • There is no national-level policy to tackle lightning fatalities except for providing a lump-sum ex-gratia to the kin of the deceased person.
  • The Odisha government provides 4 lakh per deceased person to the next of kin from SDRF.
  • Other State governments provide lump sum Ex-gratia to the deceased person’s family.
  • These policies are not adequate to minimise deaths due to lightning.

Way Forward:

  • Inclusion of lightning as a natural disaster:
    • The Centre should include lightning as a “natural disaster” to minimise lightning-related deaths.
    • This would help States prepare long-term mitigation through coordinated efforts with local agencies and reconstruction activities to build disaster-resilient infrastructure.
  • Hazard Mapping and targeted public interventions:
    • In addition, some critical measures where public intervention is an absolute necessity include mapping vulnerable populations with potential lightning hotspots, improving early warning systems, and installing lightning detection systems in the local areas.
  • Frequency database of lightning strikes:
    • Moreover, the government should prepare a database related to the frequency of lightning strikes, gender-wise lightning deaths, and occupation-wise fatalities at the district, state and central levels for devising an action plan against lightning strikes.
    • These targeted public interventions can reduce human casualties due to lightning.
  • Training and community awareness programs:
    • More than 70 percent of deaths from lightning occurred amongst people standing under tall trees; therefore, training and community awareness programs are essential measures to minimise deaths due to lightning.

Source:  The Hindu


Suspension Bridges

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Syllabus

  • Mains – GS 2 (Governance) and GS 3 (Infrastructure)

Context: Recently, a pedestrian-only suspension bridge collapsed in Gujarat’s Morbi killing over 100 people.

  • The bridge is owned by Morbi municipality and maintenance and operations are outsourced to a trust owned by private company Oreva.
  • This 19th century bridge, which had been reopened a few days ago after repairs spanning six months, reportedly had over 400 people on it when it collapsed.
  • Although the weight limit is not known, a few pre-incident videos seem to suggest the bridge was swaying, possibly because of the large crowd on it.

Suspension Bridge:

  • A suspension bridge is a type of bridge in which the deck is hung below suspension cables on vertical suspenders.
  • The basic structural components of a suspension bridge system include
    • Stiffening girders.
    • Two or more main suspension cables.
    • Towers and anchorages for cables at either end of the bridge.
  • The main cables are suspended between the towers and are connected to the anchorage or the bridge itself.
  • The vertical suspenders carry the weight of the deck and the commuter load on it.
  • The Golden Gate Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge in the US are examples of suspension bridges.
  • India’s longest single-lane motorable suspension bridge — the 725-metre Dobra-Chanti suspension bridge built over the Tehri Lake — was inaugurated in November 2020.

Working of Suspension Bridge:

  • The design ensures that the load on the suspension cables is transferred to the towers at the two ends, which transfer them further by vertical compression to the ground by way of the anchorage cables.
  • All of this balancing has to happen within the permissible weight restrictions for the bridge, given that the deck is hanging in air, supported by the two sets of cables.
  • Given that the most important load bearing members are the main suspension cables, the entire cross-section of the main cable is the mainstay of carrying the load and ensuring that buckling does not happen.

The efficient working is subject to two preconditions:

  • There must be no overloading.
  • And there should not be any excessive swaying.

Role of vertical support:

  • The job of the vertical cables in a suspension bridge is to transfer the weight of the deck, by tension, to the twin suspension cables.
  • These cables run horizontally between the two anchorages on either end, which, in turn, transfer the tension to the towers and, through them, to the ground by way of cables whose ends are anchored.

Possible reasons for the Morbi bridge collapse:

  • Although an investigation into the accident is pending, the visuals and purported footage prior to the incident suggest that both the conditions of efficient working were possibly tested.
  • However, the bridge collapse is unusual from a structural engineering point of view.
    • Usually in such incidents one or two suspension cables give way, and the bridge breaks and hangs before the rest of the structure collapses.
  • In the present case the vertical cables seem to have snapped entirely from the deck at one end of the bridge, sending part of the unsuspended deck and those on it plunging into the river.
  • Most or all the suspension cables were weak or corroded.
    • This is possible considering that this was a very old bridge which was recently repaired.
    • During the recent repairs, the original wooden deck had possibly been replaced with an aluminum deck.
    • It could have involved rewiring the mechanism connecting the vertical cables with the deck.
    • Possibility of likely altering the basic structure of the bridge that had endured for well over a century.
  • The load from the pedestrians:
    • There was overcrowding but there is no information whether capacity was exceeded.

Need of suspension bridge:

  • Bridges can be of different types including arch bridges, beam bridges, cantilever bridges, truss bridges and tied-arch bridges.
  • While beam bridges are among the simplest and oldest bridges, the reason for the enduring design of the suspension bridge is
  • The supporting cables running horizontally between the two far-flung anchorages provide the counterweight and effectively pass on the entire tensional force to the anchorages.
  • As a result, suspension bridges can easily cross distances of well over 2,000 metres, beyond the scope of other bridge designs.

Way Forward:

  • Although suspension bridges are built using an old, robust technology; overloading and excessive swaying present risks for such structures to fail.
  • There is a need to put a multi-layered safety check mechanism in place for such infrastructure structures to avoid such tragic incidents in future.

MUST READ: Machchu River

Source:   Indian Express


NRIs Voting Rights

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Syllabus

  • Mains – GS 2 (Governance)

Context: Recently, the Union government told the Supreme Court (SC) that it was considering ways to facilitate non-resident Indians (NRI), especially migrant labourers, to cast their votes remotely.

Present Status of Voting for Overseas Citizens:

  • After the passing of the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2010:
    • NRIs who had stayed abroad beyond six months have been able to vote, but only in person at the polling station where they have been enrolled as an overseas elector.
    • However, only a very low proportion of overseas residents actually registered or turned up to vote.
    • The provision of having to visit the polling booth in person has discouraged eligible voters from exercising their mandate.
  • The Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 was amended in 2016:
    • To allow service voters to use the Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS).
    • Under this system, postal ballots are sent electronically to registered service voters.
    • The service voter can then register their mandate on the ballot and send it back via ordinary mail.
    • The ECI proposed to extend this facility to overseas voters as well.
  • In the case of overseas voters:
    • Their address mentioned in the passport is taken as the place of ordinary residence and chosen as the constituency for the overseas voter to enrol in.

Supreme Court’s Stand:

  • Making the postal ballot facility available to soldiers serving in far-flung areas across the country was different from affording the same facility to someone who had chosen to reside abroad.
  • However, migrant labourers would often find it beyond their limited means to fly in just to cast their vote.
  • The government was aware of the issue and had even introduced a Bill to amend the Representation of the People Act to allow overseas Indians to vote by proxy.
  • The Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill had however lapsed with the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha.

Supreme Court recommended Committee (2013):

  • On Court’s notice in February 2013, the Election Commission had constituted a committee “to look into the matter with regard to ways and means to facilitate voting for non-resident Indians and migrant workers”.
  • The committee thereafter submitted its report.
  • The central government had accepted the recommendations made by the Election Commission and then introduced a Bill in 2018 in Lok Sabha to amend Section 60 of Representation of People Act, 1951.

Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill of 2017:

  • The intended amendment was to enable the overseas electors to appoint a proxy to cast vote on behalf of such electors.
  • The Bill had proposed the removal of an “unreasonable restriction” posed by Section 20A of the Representation of the People Act requiring overseas electors to be physically present in their electoral constituencies to cast their votes.
  • The Bill was passed in Lok Sabha. However, the same was not introduced in Rajya Sabha and as a result, the Bill itself lapsed. Thereafter, there hasn’t been any development on the front.

Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) as Alternative:

  • The ETPBS method allowed for greater turnout among service voters in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
  • With increasing mobility of citizens across countries for reasons related to work, the postal ballot method has been recognised by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (an intergovernmental organization that works to support democratic processes and institutions) as a means to allow overseas voters to exercise their right, subject to certain conditions normally related to the time spent abroad or the work carried out abroad.
  • A postal ballot mechanism that allows for proper authentication of the ballot at designated consular/embassy offices and an effective postal system should ease this process for NRIs, but rules must be clearly framed for eligibility on the basis of time spent away from the country.

Significance of giving NRIs Voting Rights:

  • Allowing NRIs to vote from abroad may see expatriates emerge as a decisive force in the country’s electoral politics.
  • NRI voters could be empowered better by amending the law.
  • Purpose is to see that persons living outside India and migrant labourers are still part of the entire electoral process and every facility shall be extended which will also ensure the confidentiality of the election.

Way Forward:

  • Government should consider the option of digital voting.
  • The authorities concerned should take a call considering various factors, and come to the best result satisfying most stakeholders.

About Non-Resident Indians (NRIs):

  • Overseas Indians, officially known as Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) are people of Indian birth or ancestry who live outside the Republic of India.
    • Every year 2.5 million (25 lakhs) Indians migrate overseas, which is the highest annual number of migrants in the world.
  • If an individual has been in India for a minimum 182 days in the previous financial year is deemed to be a Resident of India.
    • Anyone who does not meet the conditions will be considered as an NRI for the previous financial year.
    • In simple terms, an Indian citizen residing outside India for a combined total of at least 183 days in a financial year is considered to be an NRI.
  • NRIs are eligible to vote, and only the income that they have earned in India is taxable in India.
    • Therefore, any income earned outside India is not taxable in India.
  • They are entitled to all benefits as available to Indian citizens subject to notifications issued by the Government from time to time.
  • They don’t require a visa for visiting India.
  • They can adopt children in India, appear in competitive exams, purchase or sale of immovable property barring agricultural land and farmhouses, and pursue professions such as doctors, lawyers, architects, and chartered accountants.
  • They have parity with Indian nationals in the matter of domestic air fares, entry fees to monuments and public places.
  • They are exempted from registration with the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) for any length of stay in India.
    • Foreigners visiting India who hold long-term visas (more than 180 days) are required to register their presence in India with the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office (FRRO).
  • Fundamental Rights guaranteed by Articles 14, 20, 21, 21A, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 and 28 are available to all persons whether citizens or foreigners.
  • The Fundamental Rights guaranteed by Articles 15, 16, 19, 29, and 30 are available only to citizens of India and NRIs.
  • In case an NRI wishes to take up foreign citizenship, he/she will have to give up Indian citizenship as the Indian constitution does not allow dual citizenship.
  • A person cannot hold Indian as well as foreign citizenship simultaneously.

Source: The Hindu

Previous Year Question

Q.1) With reference to India, consider the following statements:

  1. There is only one citizenship and one domicile.
  2. A citizen by birth only can become the Head of State.
  3. A foreigner once granted citizenship cannot be deprived of it under any circumstances.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct? (2021)

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

Russia-Ukraine war

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Syllabus

  • Mains – GS 2 International Relations

Lessons from Cuba:

  • In October 1962, when the United States discovered that the Soviet Union had moved nuclear missiles to Cuba, U.S. President John F. Kennedy ordered a naval quarantine of Cuba, thus blocking access for Soviet ships.
  • While most members of the executive committee of his National Security Council favoured airstrikes on Cuba targeting the Soviet missiles, Kennedy stuck to quarantine, which was also one of the recommendations of the committee.
  • At the same time, he opened a back channel to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Khrushchev reciprocated to Kennedy’s message, which he saw as a “call for help”, and both leaders pulled their countries back from the brink of a nuclear war.

Context:

  • The world has seen several military conflicts since the Cuban missile crisis. There have been wars across continents. Both the former Soviet Union and the U.S. had launched interventions, invasions and proxy conflicts in weaker countries.
  • But a 1962-like scenario, where two nuclear superpowers came eyeball to eyeball never happened — until the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis.
  • The Ukraine war is a textbook example where the parties involved are treating each other with matching hostility — a dangerous slope — sharply escalating the conflict.
  • It looks like a complex polycentric conflict where, inside Ukrainian territory, Russia’s nuclear-armed forces are battling high-performing Ukrainian troops that are directly assisted, in terms of money, weapons and fighters, by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the trans-Atlantic nuclear alliance.

Comparison with the past:

  • Besides fears of the existing conflict escalating into a direct Russia-NATO war, there are similarities and dissimilarities between the Cuban missile crisis and the Ukraine war.
  • Khrushchev secretly moved the nuclear missiles to Cuba after the failed Central Intelligence Agency-backed Bay of Pigs invasion of the island in 1961, where the guerrillas, under the command of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, had overthrown a pro-American military dictatorship in 1959.
  • Later, the Soviets claimed that the missiles were for defensive purposes, but the U.S. found the presence of nuclear missiles in an island 145 km off the coast of Florida as a security threat. Put simply, the U.S. would not accept any challenge to its hegemony in the western hemisphere, its immediate periphery.
  • Firstly, the origins of the Ukraine crisis can be traced to NATO’s eastward expansion. NATO took in more countries and pushed its borders towards Russia’s periphery, both the group’s leadership and the new members emphasised that they were a defensive alliance and did not pose any threat to Moscow. They also argued that the former Soviet allies and the (newly born) republics were independent entities that could take sovereign decisions on whether they should join any military alliance or not.
  • Yet, like Kennedy and his national security team did not accept the Soviet argument that the Cuban missiles were for defensive purposes, or that Cuba was an independent country which could take sovereign decisions on whether it should host Soviet missiles or not, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his team did not buy NATO’s similar arguments.
  • Secondly, the Cuban missile crisis was a crisis that was resolved before it actually slid into war, whereas in the case of Ukraine, a full-scale war began on February 24 with the Russian invasion, which makes the crisis even more complex and demands more urgent calls for enhanced diplomatic efforts.

The spiral model:

  • A spiral model is one where parties treat each other with matching hostility, sharply escalating an existing conflict.
  • One way to look at conflicts is to take a moral, normative view of them.
  • Putin is the aggressor, who has violated international laws and norms by invading Ukraine and annexing its territories.
  • However, this normative absolutism is not consistent with the past and present of American foreign policy. The U.S. itself has violated UN norms several times in its interventions abroad and it had no moral qualms in recognising its ally Israel’s illegal annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights or recognising the disputed Jerusalem, half of which has been illegally annexed by Israel, as its capital.
  • A more realistic explanation is that Washington sees an opportunity in the Ukraine war to weaken Russia by continuing to arm Ukraine.
  • As per this narrative, Russian failure in Ukraine could have political consequences, including challenges to Mr. Putin’s hold on power. So, escalation becomes a policy of choice.
  • The Russians, on the other side, see the U.S. as the main force behind Ukraine, before and after the war began.

Types of escalations:

  • Dirty bomb: A nuclear bomb that releases large quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter.
  • “kamikaze” drones: also called suicide drones, are designed to detonate on contact with the target.
  • Phosphorus bombs: can cause smoke, illumination and incendiary munitions.
  • Kinzhal missiles: hypersonic missiles used by Russia that can travel at more than five times the speed of sound.
  • 9K720 Iskander ballistic missile: These short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) are leading the Russian attacks in Ukraine and can hit targets 500 kilometres away.
  • Vacuum bombs: called thermobaric weapons are filled with explosive and chemical mix and suck in the oxygen from the surrounding the air to generate a powerful explosion which causes supersonic blast waves on explosion.
  • Cluster bombs: scatter small bomblets over a wide area, which can result into a significant number of casualties.
  • Javelin missiles: US-made anti-tank missiles used by Ukraine that guides itself to the target after launch (“fire and forget” system), allowing the gunner to take cover and avoid counterfire, or load a new missile.

Way forward:

  • Unless the leaders break the spiral, the conflict will keep deteriorating.
  • To break the spiral, the parties will have to first look beyond their personalist view of the conflict and try to understand the structural conditions which their rivals operate from.
  • This would allow the leaders to empathise with their rivals, irrespective of their moral positions (what Realists call strategic empathy), and take difficult decisions to make peace.
  • Kennedy and Khrushchev had shown strategic empathy to understand the predicament both leaders were in, and they could make difficult choices. But Mr. Putin and Mr. Biden are in their own silos, blaming each other and blindly pursuing their goals through force, while Ukraine is on fire. The sooner they come out of it, the better for the world.

MUST READ  Lessons from Cuban Missile Crisis

Source:  The Hindu


Baba’s Explainer – BRI and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

BRI and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

Syllabus

  • GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
  • GS-2: India and its neighbourhood

Context: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar stated in Shanghai Cooperation Organisation that “connectivity projects should respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Member States and respect international law”, a reference to the so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Read Complete Details on BRI and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)


Daily Practice MCQs

Daily Practice MCQs

Q.1) ‘HARIT Aaykar initiative’ has been launched by

  1. The Income Tax department
  2. Ministry of Tribal Affairs
  3. National Cadet Corps
  4. Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Limited (TRIFED)

Q.2) With reference to Tiangong space station, consider the following statements:

  1. It weighs about 66 tons while the International Space Station weighs around 465 tons.
  2. Mengtian is the second module to the space station, followed by Wentian.
  3. China became the fourth country to put a human into space.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

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

Q.3) With reference to Charminar in Hyderabad, consider the following statements:

  1. It was built by Sultan Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah in 1591.
  2. It is situated on the east bank of Musi River.
  3. It has been built with granite and lime mortar and pulverised marble

Which of the above statements are correct?

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

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

ANSWERS FOR ’3rd November 2022 – Daily Practice MCQs’ will be updated along with tomorrow’s Daily Current Affairs.st


ANSWERS FOR 2nd November – Daily Practice MCQs

Answers- Daily Practice MCQs

Q.1) – c

Q.2) – c

Q.3) – b

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