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The Hindu Newspaper 24/06/2020

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Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) sometimes seen in the news recently belonged to which of the following space agencies?

a.  NASA

b.  ESA

c.  JAXA

d.  ROSCOSMOS

Answer : a

Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is a space telescope for NASA’s Explorers program

It was launched in 2018 to detect small planets with bright host stars in the solar neighbourhood.

The spacecraft will be looking for a phenomenon known as a transit, where a planet passes in front of its star, causing a periodic and regular dip in the star’s brightness.

It will do an all-sky survey from an orbit between the Earth and the moon.

Three new planets, which orbit a star situated 73 light years away from the Earth, have been discovered using TESS, NASA’s planet hunting satellite.

2)Which of the following best describes the term Kleptocracy?

a.  A Society without a publicly enforced government or political authority

b.  A system of governance where political power is in the hands of a small class of privileged individuals

c.  Rule by the proletariat, the workers, or the working class

d.  A society whose leaders make themselves rich and powerful by stealing from the rest of the people

Answer : d

3)Which of the following languages is/are not mentioned in the eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution?

Nepali

Bodo

Santhali     

English

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

a.  4 only

b.  1 and 4 only

c.  2 and 3 only

d.  1, 2 and 3

Answer : a

The Eighth Schedule to the Constitution consists of the following 22 languages:-

(1) Assamese, (2) Bengali, (3) Gujarati, (4) Hindi, (5) Kannada, (6) Kashmiri, (7) Konkani, (8) Malayalam, (9) Manipuri, (10) Marathi, (11) Nepali, (12) Oriya, (13) Punjabi, (14) Sanskrit, (15) Sindhi, (16) Tamil, (17) Telugu, (18) Urdu (19) Bodo, (20) Santhali, (21) Maithili and (22) Dogri.

Of these languages, 14 were initially included in the Constitution.

Sindhi language was added in 1967.

Thereafter three more languages viz., Konkani, Manipuri and Nepali were included in 1992.

Subsequently Bodo, Dogri, Maithili and Santhali were added in 2004.

Union Culture Minister has recently announced the inclusion of Nepali and Santhali languages in the Scheme for grant of Senior/Junior Fellowships of Culture Ministry.

News:- Ramdev’s Corona Medicine: Hours after yoga guru Baba
Ramdev unveiled Ayurvedic medicines — ‘Coronil’ and ‘Swasari’ —,
claiming that clinical trials on COVID-19 affected patients had shown favourable results, the Central government asked Patanjali Ayurved
Limited to stop advertising the drug and sought details on its claimed “successful trial and cure”.

Clinical Trials Registry :- The Clinical Trials Registry- India (CTRI), hosted at the ICMR’s National Institute of Medical Statistics (http://nims-icmr.nic.in), is a free and online public record system for registration of clinical trials being conducted in India that was launched on 20th July 2007 (www.ctri.nic.in). Initiated as a voluntary measure, since 15th June 2009, trial registration in the CTRI has been made mandatory by the Drugs Controller General (India) (DCGI) (www.cdsco.nic.in). Moreover, Editors of Biomedical Journals of 11 major journals of India declared that only registered trials would be considered for publication.

News:- Trump suspends H1B visas till year end:- Tech workers in India hoping to move to the U.S. for work suffered a setback on Monday with U.S. President Donald Trump signing an executive order (EO) pausing new H-1B
visas effective June 24 through the end of the year.

Types of Visas:- H4 visas (H1B dependents), L visas (intracompany transfers), as well as H2-B (nonagricultural workers) and J visas will be on pause through the year end.

News:- 100 years later, Malabar Rebellion:- The Malabar Rebellion in 1921 started as resistance against the British colonial rule and the feudal system in southern Malabar but ended in communal violence between British and Local people of Malabar area. There were a series of clashes between Mappila peasantry and their landlords, supported by the British, throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. T the movement had the support of Mohandas Gandhi.

The 1921 Malabar Rebellion has once again caught the creative imagination of Mollywood. With the rebellion turning 100 next year, four movies have been announced back-to-back within two days.

News:- SEBI makes raising funds easier for stressed companies:-

“SEBI has decided to relax the pricing methodology for preferential issues by listed companies having stressed assets and exempt allottees of preferential issues from open offer obligations in such cases, with immediate effect.

preferential issue is an issue of shares or of convertible securities by listed companies to a select group of persons under Section 81 of the Companies Act, 1956 which is neither a rights issue nor a public issue. This is a faster way for a company to raise equity capital.

A rights issue or rights offer is a dividend of subscription rights to buy additional securities in a company made to the company’s existing security holders. When the rights are for equity securities, such as shares, in a public company, it is a non-dilutive pro rata way to raise capital.

SEBI is a statutory body established on April 12, 1992 in accordance with the provisions of the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992.

The basic functions of the Securities and Exchange Board of India is to protect the interests of investors in securities and to promote and regulate the securities market.

Background:-

Before SEBI came into existence, Controller of Capital Issues was the regulatory authority; it derived authority from the Capital Issues (Control) Act, 1947.

In April, 1988 the SEBI was constituted as the regulator of capital markets in India under a resolution of the Government of India.

Initially SEBI was a non statutory body without any statutory power.

It became autonomous and given statutory powers by SEBI Act 1992.

The headquarters of SEBI is situated in Mumbai. The regional offices of SEBI are located in Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Chennai and Delhi.

News:- IRDAI :- The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India or the IRDAI is the apex body responsible for regulating and developing the insurance industry in India. It is an autonomous body. It was established by an act of Parliament known as the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999. Hence, it is a statutory body.

The IRDAI is headquartered in Hyderabad in Telangana. Prior to 2001, it was headquartered in New Delhi. 

IRDA Functions:-

The functions of the IRDA are listed below:

Its primary purpose is to protect the rights of the policyholders in India. 

It gives the registration certificate to insurance companies in the country.

It also engages in the renewal, modification, cancellation, etc. of this registration.

It also creates regulations to protect policyholders’ interests in India.

IRDA Mission:- To protect the interests of the policyholders, to regulate, promote and ensure orderly growth of the insurance industry and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Editorials :-

Transforming Indian Education System

SourceThe Hindu

Syllabus: GS-2- Education

Context: The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted how people, places and non-human entities and processes are connected and this should be reflected in the education system also.

Issues with Indian Education system

Problems with current school education system

  • Access to Education:The RTE Act provides for free and compulsory education to all children from the age of six to 14 years. Despite advances in expanding access to education, participation rates are still not universal, particularly in rural regions and among lower castes and other disadvantaged groups
  • Rote learning: The Kasturi Ranjan committee observed that the current education system solely focuses on rote learning of facts and procedures. According to Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), 2018, only 16% of children in Class 1 in rural areas can read the text at the prescribed level, while almost 40% cannot even recognize letters.
  • Incoherence in curriculum: the school curriculum in India remain incoherent and does not focus on interconnectedness of the natural world with our everyday lives. This hampers the learning process of students.
  • Marks based evaluation system: Marks play the most important role in deciding the future of children and this often comes down upon students as a burdening factor and often leads to students underperforming.
  • Quality of Teachers: The school education system faces issues of low teacher to student ratio and quality of teachers. Teachers are often unequipped with modern pedagogical methods of teaching.

Problems with current higher education system:

  • Access: According to the All India Survey on Higher Education, the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education in India is 25.8% in 2017-18. The Kasturi Ranjan Committee identified lack of access as a major reason behind low intake in higher education. It is much behind that of USA (85.8%) and China (43.39%)
  • Poor investment in research and innovation:According to Economic Survey 2017-18, only 0.6-0.7% of GDP has been spent on research in India in the last two decades. This is very low as compared to 2.4% of USA, China-2.1%, Japan-3.58% and South korea-4.29%
  • Curriculum and Employability: The curriculum remains outdated, theoretical in nature with low scope for creativity. There is a gap between industry requirements and curriculum leading to low employability of graduates. The government noted in 2017 that 60% of engineering graduates remain unemployed, while a 2013 study of 60,000 university graduates in different disciplines found that 47% of them were unemployable in any skilled occupation.

Government Initiatives:

School Education:

  • Samagra Shiksha: A comprehensive program subsuming Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rastriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE).
  • UDISE+ : It is an updated online real time version of UDISE (Unified District Information on School Education)
  • 70-point Performance Grading Index (PGI)to assess areas of deficiency in each state’s school education system so that targeted interventions can be made at every level from pedagogy to teacher training.
  • ICT driven initiatives: Shaala Sidhi (to enable all schools to self-evaluate their performance), e-Pathshala (providing digital resources such as textbooks, audio, video, periodicals etc.) and Saransh (an initiative of CBSE for schools to conduct self-review exercises).

Higher Education:

  • Revitalizing Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE):It aims to increase investments in research and related infrastructure in premier educational institutions.
  • IMPRINT India:It is a joint initiative of IITs and IISc to address major and science and technology challenges in India.
  • Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM):E-education platform
  • Ucchtar Aavishkar Abhiyaan:To promote industry-specific need-based research
  • Institution of Eminence:It aims to develop 20 world-class teaching and research institutions

Suggested Reforms:

Curriculum: 

  • School education curriculum should focus on interconnectedness of the natural world with everyday lives in order to equip students with rising environmental challenges including climate change.
  • The higher education curriculum should focus on industrial demands and skill development to increase the employability of Indian graduates.

Learning: Schools and colleges should introduce conceptual learning rather than focusing on rote learning.

Evaluation system: The focus of evaluation should be classroom participation by a student, projects, communication and leadership skills and extra-curricular activities.

Teacher’s Training: The recommendations of National educational Policy 2019 should be followed-

  • The practice of ‘para-teachers’ (unqualified, contract teachers) should stopped across the country by 2022.
  • All teachers should be able to move into either educational administration or teacher education after a minimum number of years of teaching experience.
  • Merit-based scholarships to be instituted to undertake the four-year integrated B.Ed. program

Investment in research and innovation: A National Research Foundation (NRF) should be set up as an autonomous body of the Government of India to boost investment in research and innovation.

.The use of arbitrary power by State

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2-Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

Context: The accusation that state has used arbitrary power which has corroded our democratic structure.

Background: Bail was denied to a pregnant student-activist who was arrested for creating disorder on an ‘unprecedented scale’ when she actively participated in a protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019. There are questions on Whether the offence committed by a pregnant student-activist so grave that bail could not be granted until June 23 on her 4th attempt?

The arbitrary use of power is deeply troublesome especially when this is exercised by the government.

The negative aspect of arbitrariness of laws:

  • Loss of freedom:
  • Individuals, communities or citizens cannot function freely without a stable set of expectations. Frequent arbitrariness in the political domain leads to exploitation. It compresses upon the basic freedoms and blocks freedom.
  • Laws enable significant freedoms and stabilize expectations. Laws enable our actions to become broadly predictable.
  • For example- A person knows that he is legally restricted to drive only on the left. He will drive with greater freedom as he knows that chance of headlong collision is very sparse.
  • The arbitrariness puts someone at mercy of someone else:
  • The person in a powerful position can do much greater harm to the people which is unjust.
  • For example- In the traffic example, suppose that two vehicles stop at the traffic light but just beyond the zebra crossing. The policeman issues a challan to one but not the other. Infact he seizes the driving license of a careful driver, who has stopped a good meter behind the crossing merely because he dislikes the make of his car.
  • A person is made to act in accordance with the pleasure of state officials in case of power exercised arbitrarily by the state. For example- the political enslavement where an entire people are colonized and subjected to the will of the colonizers.

There should not be use of arbitrariness in laws for upholding democratic rights. For example- in the emergency (1975-77), opposition leaders were thrown in jail on the false charge of conspiring against the state.

The Current charges of Emergency by critics:

  • There are rises in the number of FIRs filed at the behest of random persons on unsubstantiated complaints and little explanation.
  • Upending rights: Consider the arrest of activists.
  • Non reasonable grounds of arrest and detention:Article 22 requires that anyone arrested and detained must be informed of the ground for such an arrest. Even the grounds of preventive detention must assume that the suspicion of offence is well-grounded based on available evidence which should satisfy any objective observer. It should not be based on mischievous allegations.
  • Arbitrary curtailment of liberty: There is an increase in its frequency and brazen partisanship. Participants in the anti-corruption movement of 2011-12 were not thrown in jail.

Way Forward

There should not be whimsical curtailment of liberty and rights of the people by the government.

Digital media redefining political communication

Source – Indian Express

Syllabus – GS 3 – Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

Context – As India enters a technology-driven world, changes in the country’s political discourse are natural and communication between parties and people will become simpler.

A one-way process to a two-way process

  1. One-way process– Before 21st century mode and method of political communication restricted citizen’s participation in political processes. For instance – use of political gatherings and print media to disseminate ideas was done by the leaders in Indian Freedom Struggle.

Figure 1- One-way process of political communication

Disadvantages of this process:

  1. Two-way process– With the emergence of digital media, the process of political engagement has become two-way where citizens actively participate in national and international political events across the world.

Advantages of digital media 

  • Data for mainstream media-Tweets and Facebook posts are sources of information even for the so-called mainstream communication channels like tv news, radio etc.
  • Virtuous cycleof active citizen participation and ethical practices of leaders.
  • Environmental cost– Reduces the need of pamphlets, posters, banners which cost heavily in terms of dumping of waste and cutting of trees.
  • Effective use in pandemics– For instance, Home Minister Amit Shah’s Bihar jansamvad rally has introduced us to a new experience of digital communication which ensures social distancing while continuing with political discourses in pandemics.

Way Forward – Digital India is the backbone of innovative use of digital media in political sphere. Thus, need of the hour is to increase the availability, accessibility of digital mediums by connecting whole India with optical fibre network.

Importance of a strong Air Force in LAC.

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 3-Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate

Context: Analyzing the importance of a strong Air Force in the backdrop of India-China faceoff.

Background: 

  • 1962 War: 
    • The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) entered Ladakh and down the Sela Pass into Bomdila because of uninformed leadership, dominant Army brass and unsure Air Force leadership.
    • The government resisted the use of IAF to stem China and IAF fighter pilots posted at air bases that could impact operations in Ladakh and the Tawang Sector (Pathankot and Tezpur) never called for action.
  • 1986-87 Confrontation:
    • Defensive strategy: 
      • After the establishment of camp at Sumdorong Chu Valley, the defense forces put together a logistically viable envelopment strategy that terrified the Chinese with numbers, firepower and aggression without needless confrontation.
      • An important element of this strategy was the use of helicopters and transport aircraft.
  • Offensive Strategy: 
    • India took the battle to the most forward PLA base in the sector.
    • There was close coordination between 4 Corps in Tezpur and the closest fighter base.
    • India wanted the capability to gain and maintain a favourable air situation for limited periods of time and carry out interdiction to back shallow multi-pronged thrusts across road-less terrain to outflank the Chinese build-up.

The ground situation across the LAC is largely one of parity and the Indian Army needs a numerical superiority of at least 5:1 for any tangible gains or tactical advantage. For gaining advantage, air power will prove to be decisive in depleting the PLA’s combat potential.

The advantages of IAF:

  • Superiority: 
    • The IAF currently enjoys both a qualitative and quantitative advantage over the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) across the LAC.
    • It’s fighter fleet of 4th Generation Aircraft (Su-30 MKIs, Mirage-2000s and MiG-29s) are superior in almost every respect to the PLAAF’s J-10s, J-11s and SU-30 MKKs.
    • The IAF has more operational bases than the PLAAF close to the LAC.
  • Advantage by the IAF in the aerial mobility department:
    • The IAF transport fleet of C-17s, Il-76s, An-32s and C-130s are as proficient in diverse roles as the best air forces in the world.
    • The Indian Army has gained confidence through rapid troop induction into major bases or at Advance Landing Grounds like DBO or Nyoma or inter-valley transfer and insertion of special forces with helicopters like Chinooks.
    • The IAF’s Apaches would add significant firepower in Ladakh.

Areas of concern for IAF:

  • A strong ground-based air defence network by PLAAF in Tibet:It comprises the S-300, S-400 and HQ-9 systems that will prove a contest for IAF.
  • The advantage of PLAAF in long-range air delivered cruise missiles (500-3,000 km):It has H-6 bomber as compared to the IAF’s Su-30 MKI who has just been cleared to carry the BrahMos land attack cruise missile with a range of 300 km.
  • Area of surveillance: China possesses a large complement of the Yaogan series of low earth orbit surveillance satellites that offer it an almost persistent stare capability over areas of interest.

In the next decade or so, the IAF will lose its competitive advantage with the PLAAF as the latter has invested heavily in modernization.

Way Forward

There is a need for clear vision and an acceptance of the importance of air power along the LAC to tackle the challenge of China.

Food security and farmer welfare

Source – The Hindu

Syllabus – GS 3 – Agricultural growth and issues arising from it

Context – Current Pandemic has highlighted that food security and farmer welfare are intertwined and can’t be treated in silos.

Disguised Unemployment – Agriculture accounts for around 17% of India’s GDP but nearly 50% of the country’s population depends on farm-based income.

Impact of lockdown – With the announcement of lockdown, migrant farm workers fled the fields en masse, unable to sustain their livelihoods. This has following consequences:

  1. Threat to food security
  1. Spread of pandemic in rural areas 

Challenges in ensuring farm income and food security:

  1. Climate change– Unseasonal rain and hail arrived at the beginning of the year damaged the Rabi crop.
  2. Locust invasion – The swarm of locust arrived India in May which has the potential of damaging the crops.
  3. Government policy failures – The Food Corporation of India’s godowns overflowing with grain stock at three times the buffer stock norms.

Suggested solutions:

  1. One nation one card-Filling the gap between policy prescriptions and implementation with timely release of fixed quantities of free food grains and pulses to the migrants, even to those without ration cards, for the months of June and July.
  2. Remuneration with PM KISAN – Increasing government allocations to poor farmers through the PM KISAN scheme by including everyone, even those who do not own land.
  3. Availability of farm input – Ensuring timely availability of seeds and fertilizers for the next season by roping in gram sabhas to verify claimants.
  4. Stakeholder participation– Involving Farmer Producer Organisations in the process to ensure the safeguarding of farmers’ rights via collective bargaining.

Way Forward – Doubling farm income and ensuring food security need better productivity and shifting of disguised farm labour from agricultural fields to industries with Make in India and self-reliant mission.

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