12th October, 2021 Daily Current Affairs

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Prelims Specific Questions :-

1) VYZOV was sometime seen in news. Which of the following explains the term?

  1. It is the first space craft to reach close to Sun
  2. It is the new Russian missile have a range of covering entire countries in Southern Hemisphere.
  3. It is part of Antarctic Ice sheet which started melting recently.
  4. It is the first feature-length fiction film shot in outer space.

Answer – It is the first feature-length fiction film shot in outer space.

2) With reference to the Nobel Prize 2021, consider the following statements:

  1. For the first time in history, climate scientists have won Nobel Prize this year.
  2. This year, the Nobel Prize for Chemistry is awarded for the development of asymmetric Organo catalysis.
  3. Nobel prize in medicine has been awarded for the discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

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

Answer – 2 and 3 Only

3) Gati Shakti Plan , in news, is related to which of the following sector:

  1. Infrastructure
  2. Education
  3. Health
  4. Sports

Answer – Infrastructure

Prelims Specific News Items :-

1) What is Exercise Malabar?

Exercise Malabar is a multilateral war-gaming naval exercise that was started in 1992.

The exercise began as a bilateral exercise between the navies of India and the United States.

From 2002 onward, the exercise has been conducted every year. Japan and Australia first participated in 2007. Since 2014, India, the US and Japan have participated in the exercise. In 2020 Australia too joined the Malabar Exercise.

What is the aim of the exercise?

The exercise is aimed to support free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific and remains committed to the rules-based international order.

Other Exercises between India and Participating Countries of Malabar exercise

Exercises between India and Japan –

  • Exercise DHARMA GUARDIAN– It is an annual joint military exercise between Indian and Japan from 2018.
  • SHINYUU Maitri– It is a joint exercise between the Indian Air Force and the Japanese Air Self Defence Force (JASDF).
  • Exercise JIMEX– The exercise is an annual Naval Exercise between Indian and Japanese naval forces.

Exercises between India and Australia –

  • Exercise AUSINDEX: It is a bilateral maritime exercise between India and Australian Navies.
  • Exercise Pitch Black: It is a biennial multilateral air combat exercise hosted by the Royal Australian Air Force(RAAF) since 1981.

Exercises between India and the US –

  • Yudh Abhyas– It is a joint military exercise between India and the US.
  • Tiger Triumph– It is a tri-service military exercise between India and the US.
  • Vajra Prahar: It is a Special Forces joint military training exercise conducted alternately in India and the US since 2010.

2) India needs a Carbon Policy :-

Context – The UK is set to host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (CoP26) in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12 with a view to accelerate action towards the Paris Agreement’s goals. The focus should be on climate finance and transfer of green technologies at low cost.

Cause of concern for India

  • According to the Global Carbon Atlas, India ranks third in total greenhouse gas emissions by emitting annually around 2.6 billion tonnes (Bt) CO2eq, preceded by China (10 Bt CO2eq) and the United States (5.4 Bt CO2eq), and followed by Russia (1.7Bt) and Japan (1.2 Bt).
  • India ranked seventh on the list of countries most affected due to extreme weather events, incurring losses of $69 billion (in PPP) in 2019 (Germanwatch, 2021).
  • The fact that 22 of the 30 most polluted cities in the world are in India is a major cause of concern.
  • Delhi is the world’s most polluted capital as per the World Air Quality Report, 2020

3) Linear No-Threshold (LNT) Model –

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) decisively upheld the Linear No-Threshold (LNT) model to prescribe radiation safety standards, ending the protracted controversy on the topic.

What is the LNT Model?

  • The LNT is a dose-response model used in radiation protection to estimate stochastic health effects such as radiation-induced cancer, genetic mutations etc. on the human body due to exposure to ionizing radiation.
  • The LNT model states that biological effects such as cancer and hereditary effects due to exposure to ionising radiation increase as a linear function of dose, without threshold.
  • It provides a sound regulatory basis for minimizing the risk of unnecessary radiation exposure to both members of the public and radiation workers.

4) Hermann Bacher –

Hermann Bacher, popularly known as the ‘father of community-led watershed development in India’, passed away at the ripe old age of 97 years in Switzerland September 14, 2021.

About Hermann Bacher –

  • Born in 1924, Bacher, came to India in 1948 at the young age of 24 years.
  • He was to spend the next 60 years of his life here, most of it in Maharashtra.
  • Struck by the poverty he saw in rural Maharashtra, he dedicated his life to the upliftment of the poor, the landless and rural women.
  • Bacher was given Germany’s highest civilian award, the Federal Cross of the Order of Merit in 1994, in recognition of his outstanding efforts.
  • In 2017, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertifiucation (UNCCD) awarded WOTR the prestigious ‘Land for Life Award 2017’.
  • He is widely regarded and respected as a true ‘man of God’ for whom selfless service of the poor was worship at its most sublime. He is fondly remembered as ‘Bacher Baba’.

Notable works of Hermann Bacher-

  • The 1972 droughts in Maharashtra led him to re-calibrate his developmental approach.
  • This meant that in rain-dependent rural Maharashtra, a shift had to be made from ‘resource exploitation’ to sustainable resource use, or ‘resource mobilisation’, as he described it.
  • He helped thousands of landless labourers’ secure title to land under the Land Reforms Act, 1957, beginning in 1965.
  • He also organised lakhs of farmers to develop their farms and increase their agricultural productivity by helping them access irrigation, improved and hybrid seeds etc.

Important news :-

1) Industry requests more finance, clarity on India’s space policy –

For the space industry to grow, the Government should help small and medium sector enterprises (SME) access more capital as well as move faster on finalising its space policy.

The industry leaders were speaking at the inauguration of the Indian Space Association, an organisation meant to represent the interests of the Indian space sector with government and private sector bodies across the board including the Indian Space Research Organisation, Walchandnagar Industries, TATA Nelco, Pixxel, Mapmy India and Bharti Airtel.

2) Economics Nobel Prize 2021 –

The Nobel prize for economics was awarded to economist David Card for research that showed an increase in minimum wage does not lead to less hiring. Two others shared the award for developing ways to study these types of societal issues.

Canadian-born David Card of the University of California at Berkeley was awarded one half of the prize, while the other half was shared by Joshua Angrist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Dutch-born Guido Imbens, 58, from Stanford University.

Card worked on research that used restaurants in New Jersey and in eastern Pennsylvania to measure the effects of increasing the minimum wage. He and his late research partner Alan Krueger found that an increase in the hourly minimum wage did not affect employment, challenging conventional wisdom which held that an increase in minimum wage will lead to less hiring.

Card’s work also challenged another commonly held idea, that immigrants depress wages for native-born workers. He found that incomes of the native-born can benefit from new immigration, while it is earlier immigrants who are at risk of being negatively affected.

Angrist and Imbens won their half of the award for working out the methodological issues that enable economists to draw solid conclusions about cause and effect even where they cannot carry out studies according to strict scientific methods.

3) ‘Desh Ke Mentor’ to guide govt. school children on career choices  –

The Delhi government launched a mentorship programme for children studying in Classes IX to XII in its schools. Under the ‘Desh Ke Mentor’ programme, students will be mentored by volunteers from across the country for 10-15 minutes daily on issues ranging from career choices to teenage-related concerns.

Under the ‘Desh Ke Mentor’ initiative, people in the age group of 18-35 can register themselves as mentors. These mentors will adopt up to 10 students to provide counseling regarding career choices.

The initiative has been launched under the ‘Youth for Education’ programme by the Directorate of Education.

4) U.K. asks India to update climate goals –

India already lead(s) the world in renewable technology and expressed his hope that they will commit to a more ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution and to achieving Net Zero emissions.

One hundred and ninety three countries filed their first NDCs, but only 19 have so far updated them. India filed its first NDC in 2016, committing at the time to cut emissions by 33% by 2030 (from 2005 levels) and to ensure that about 40% of its installed power capacity comes from renewable energy, targets that the government says it is on track to reach. However, the U.K. and the U.S. have been asking India to do more in terms of declaring its second NDC, which includes India’s promise of installing 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030, and to declare firm deadlines for achieving Net Zero carbon emissions and ending the use of coal for generating electricity, so as to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Mr. Modi has been invited to the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12, but has not confirmed his attendance yet.

5) NGT need not ‘wait for Godot’ to save environment, says SC –

The court said the NGT need not wait for the “metaphorical Godot” to knock on its portal to flex its considerable muscles to save the environment. “The exercise of power by the NGT is not circumscribed by the receipt of applications. When substantial questions relating to the environment arise and the  issue is civil in nature and those relate to the Act, the NGT, in our opinion, even in the absence of an application, can selfignite action either towards amelioration or towards prevention of harm,” a three-judge Bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, Hrishikesh Roy and C.T. Ravikumar held in a judgment.

What is National Green Tribunal (NGT)?

  • It is a specialised body set up under the National Green Tribunal Act (2010) for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.
  • With the establishment of the NGT, India became the third country in the world to set up a specialised environmental tribunal, only after Australia and New Zealand, and the first developing country to do so.
  • NGT is mandated to make disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.
  • The NGT has five places of sittings, New Delhi is the Principal place of sitting and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai are the other four.

6) 7 HC judges transferred –

TRANSFER OF A JUDGE (INCLUDING CHIEF JUSTICE) FROM ONE HIGH COURT TO ANOTHER HIGH COURT : Article 222 of the Constitution makes provision for the transfer of a Judge (including Chief Justice) from one High Court to any other High Court.  The initiation of the proposal for the transfer of a Judge should be made by the Chief Justice of India whose opinion in this regard is determinative.  Consent of a Judge for his first or subsequent transfer would not be required.  All transfers are to be made in public interest i.e. for promoting better administration of justice throughout the country.

In the formation of his opinion for the transfer of a Judge, other than the Chief Justice, the Chief Justice of India is expected to take into account the views of the Chief Justice of the High Court from which the Judge is to be transferred, as also the Chief Justice of the High Court to which the transfer is to be effected.  The Chief Justice of India should also take into account the views of one or more Supreme Court Judges who are in a position to offer his/their views which would assist in the process of deciding whether or not a proposed transfer should take place.

The views on the proposed transfer of a Judge or a Chief Justice of a High Court should be expressed in writing and should be considered by the Chief Justice of India and the four seniormost Judges of the Supreme Court.

The proposal for transfer of the Judge, including the Chief Justice should be referred to the Government of India along with the views of all those consulted in this regard.

After the recommendation of a transfer is received from the Chief Justice of India, the Union Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs would submit the recommendation alongwith relevant papers to the Prime Minister who will then advise the President as to the transfer of the Judge concerned.  After the President approves the transfer, the Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Justice will inform the Chief Justice of the High Courts and the Chief Ministers of concerned States and will announce the transfer and issue the necessary notification in the Gazette of India.

7) ‘OneWeb likely to use ISRO’s platforms for 2022 launches’ –

Bharti Enterprises chairman Sunil Mittal said the “space race” had truly begun and the private sector should ensure that India remained on the cutting edge of the space industry.

Speaking at the unveiling of the Indian Space Association, Mr. Mittal added that Bharti-backed OneWeb, which already had 322 satellites in orbit, will use India-built PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) and the heavier GSLV-MkIII (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) as potential platforms to launch OneWeb’s satellites in India from 2022.

Editorial of the day

1) The next step is a constitutional right to health –

By Kailash Satyarthi

A place for this ‘right’

The lesson here is the need for the constitutional ‘Right to Health for all’. The pandemic has exposed and aggravated the cracks in our health-care systems, and this is a lesson we cannot afford to ignore and not learn.

Through the eyes of citizens

The primary question raised is: what will a constitutional ‘Right to Health’ mean for a citizen of India? From the perspective of three categories of citizens: farmers and unorganised workers, women and children.

  • Farmers – Without an anchor during times of severe illness or disease, generations of children of small and landless farmers, and unorganised, migrant and seasonal workers are thrown into bondage and debt by having to pay for medical costs from their limited earnings. 
  • Women – Women bear a disproportionate burden of the gaps in our health-care system. The taboos and patriarchal expectations surrounding their health lead to immense avoidable suffering. In addition, social and economic challenges prevent them from freely and openly accessing the little care that is available. A ‘Right to Health’ would mean that services reach the woman where and when she needs them.
  • Children – A large number of children who belong to the poorest and most marginalised communities of our country grow up working in hazardous situations be it fields, mines, brick kilns or factories. They are either not enrolled in schools or are not able to attend it due to the pressing financial needs of the family — often because of unexpected out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Important Factors for Human Resource Development –

  1. Health
  2. Education
  3. Skill Development

Making it safer for children

Bachpan Bachao Andolan has rescued over 1,00,000 such children from child labour, bonded labour, and trafficking. When rescued, these children are ridden with complex health impacts of working — primarily tuberculosis, skin diseases, eyesight impairment, and malnutrition, besides the substantial mental health impact. These children have been denied a safety net of early childhood care and protection, the consequences of which are felt for a lifetime. The ‘Right to Health’ will help transition the children in exploitative conditions into a safer future.

A constitutional ‘Right to Health’ will transform not only the health and well-being of our people but will act as a leap for the economic and developmental progress of the nation.

The vision for Ayushman Bharat will be strengthened with a constitutional ‘Right to Health’. The immediate financial security that will come with the constitutional ‘Right to Health’ will be seen as a measurable impact on family savings, greater investment, and jobs creation on the one hand, and in the long-term emotional, psychological and social security of people.

2) Protecting India’s natural laboratories –

Preserving geological heritage is as important as preserving biodiversity and cultural heritage

Lack of geological literacy –

For example, the Kutch region in Gujarat has dinosaur fossils and is our version of a Jurassic Park. The Tiruchirappalli region of Tamil Nadu, originally a Mesozoic Ocean, is a store house of Cretaceous (60 million years ago) marine fossils. To know how physical geography gets transformed into a cultural entity, we need to study the environmental history of the Indus River Valley, one of the cradles of human civilisation. India offers plenty of such examples.

Geo-heritage sites are educational spaces where people find themselves acquiring badly needed geological literacy, especially at a time when India’s collective regard for this legacy is abysmal. Indian classrooms view disciplines like environmental science and geology with disdain compared to how they view other ‘pure’ subjects like physics, biology, and chemistry. This lack of interest in the government and our academic circles towards geological literacy is unfortunate at a time when we face a crisis like global warming.

What can be done –

The awareness accrued through educational activities in geo-heritage parks will make it easy for us to memorialise past events of climate change and appreciate the adaptive measures to be followed for survival.

The importance of the shared geological heritage of our planet was first recognised in 1991 at an UNESCO-sponsored event, ‘First International Symposium on the Conservation of our Geological Heritage’. The delegates assembled in Digne, France, and endorsed the concept of a shared legacy: “Man and the Earth share a common heritage , of which we and our governments are but the custodians.” 

India’s action towards its natural laboratories-

Countries like Vietnam and Thailand have also implemented laws to conserve their geological and natural heritage. Unfortunately, India does not have any such legislation and policy for conservation. Though the Geological Survey of India (GSI) has identified 32 sites as National Geological Monuments, there is not a single geo-park in India which is recognised by the UNESCO. This is despite the fact that India is a signatory to the establishment of UNESCO Global Geoparks.

The development juggernaut

Despite international progress in this field, the concept of geo-conservation has not found much traction in India. Many fossil-bearing sites have been destroyed in the name of development.

For example, the high concentration of iridium in the geological section at Anjar, Kutch district, provides evidence for a massive meteoritic impact that caused the extinction of dinosaurs about 65 million years ago. This site was destroyed due to the laying of a new rail track in the area. Similarly, a national geological monument exhibiting a unique rock called Nepheline Syenite in Ajmer district of Rajasthan was destroyed in a road-widening project. The Lonar impact crater in Buldhana district of Maharashtra is an important geo-heritage site of international significance. It is under threat of destruction, although conservation work is now in progress under the High Court’s supervision.

3) Climate Crisis –

  • The recently published Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report from Working Group I makes a clarion call for climate action.
  • According to the report, the past decade (2011-2020) was warmer by 1.09°C than the period from 1850 to 1900, and the 1.5°C global warming threshold is likely to be breached soon.
  • The IPCC report warns India against more intense heat waves, heavy monsoons and rise in weather extremes in the future. The Global Climate Risk Index (2021) ranked India the seventh-most affected country by weather extremes.

Responses to climate change vary from place to place as there are differences in production systems, agro-climatic and socio-economic conditions across the country.

Adopt adaptation strategies

The pressure to speed up mitigation and adaptation is at an all-time high. India is doing well in achieving its mitigation commitments of reducing emission intensity and enhancing renewable capacity.

  • India is targeting 450 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030 and it has launched mega solar and green hydrogen missions.
  •  The Shoonya programme by NITI Aayog, which aims to accelerate adoption of electric vehicles, is yet another effort towards adoption of clean technologies.
  • India has some dedicated initiatives towards adaptation, such as the National Action Plan on Climate Change and the National Adaptation Fund. However, a breakthrough on adaptation and resilience actions is needed to save hard-earned developmental gains and adjust to new climate conditions.

To strengthen adaptation and resilience, India can do the following:-

  • First, it can be more prepared for climate change with high-quality meteorological data. With improved early warning systems and forecasting, we can tackle the crisis better. Premier research institutes can be roped in to develop regional climate projections for robust risk assessments.
  • Second, for sustainable production systems, it is necessary to develop well-functioning markets for environmentally friendly products and disseminate them for the desired behavioural change.
  • Third, it is important to encourage private sector participation for investment in adaptation technologies and for designing and implementing innovative climate services and solutions in areas such as agriculture, health, infrastructure, insurance and risk management.
  • Fourth, we need to protect mangroves and forests to address climate-related risks by blending traditional knowledge with scientific evidence and encourage local and non-state actors to actively participate.
  • Fifth, major social protection schemes must be climate-proofed. We have an opportunity to create resilient infrastructural assets, diversify the economy and enhance the adaptive capacity of rural households.
  • Sixth, for continuous monitoring and evaluation, effective feedback mechanisms must be developed for mid-course correction. Periodic fine-tuning of State Action Plans on Climate Change is crucial to systematically understand micro-level sensitivities, plan resource allocation, and design responses to serve at different levels of intensities of climate hazards.

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