Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - December 01, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

Blue Tide

Focus: GS1.

Topic: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.


Context

The tide that produces a fluorescent blue hue—bioluminescence—made an appearance on Juhu beach in Mumbai and Devgad beach in Sindhudurg along Maharashtra’s coastline.

About Bioluminescence

  • Bioluminescence has been an annual occurrence along the west coast since 2016 during the months of November and December.
  • The natural phenomenon is characterised by the emission of light produced by phytoplanktons (microscopic marine plants), commonly known as dinoflagellates.
  • The light is produced through a series of chemical reactions due to luciferase (oxidative enzymes) protein, according to E Vivekanandan, consultant and scientist, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute.

Highlights

  • Marine scientists said one of the main factors for its occurrence could be eutrophication – the reduction of oxygen in the water – which makes the phytoplanktons very dominant.
  • This is a recurring phenomenon which is caused by bioluminescent plankton called Noctiluca scintillans, commonly known as sea sparkle.
  • While smaller blooms may be harmless, slow moving larger blooms may cause severe hypoxic conditions that result in fish die-offs in an area.
  • Bioluminescence has been observed across India’s coast as well as the coastline of many beaches in the world such as Maldives, Vietnam, Indonesia, USA, Australia and many other countries.
  • Similar to the blue tide, there exists another such phenomenon called red tide or harmful algal blooms that emits red light.
  • It is rare occurrence caused when colonies of algae—simple plants that live in the sea and freshwater—grow out of control while producing toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, and birds.

Source: Hindustan Times.

Brain fingerprinting that the accused in Hathras rape case will undergo

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.


Context

Recently CBI officers probing the alleged rape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit girl in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, arrived at the Gandhinagar-based Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) with the four accused for their  brain electrical oscillation signature profiling (BEOSP) test to be conducted .

About Brain Electrical Oscillation Signature Profiling

  • Brain Electrical Oscillation Signature Profiling (BEOSP) also known as brain fingerprinting is a neuro psychological method of interrogation in which the accused’s participation in the crime is investigated by studying their brain’s response.
  • Brain finger printing is based on finding that the brain generates a unique brain wave pattern when a person encounters a familiar stimulus. Use of functional magnetic resonance imaging in lie detection derives from studies suggesting that persons asked to lie show different patterns of brain activity than they do when being truthful.
  • The BEOSP procedure does not involve a question answer session with the accused and is rather a neuro psychological study of their brain.

Highlights

  • Brain Electrical Oscillation Signature Profiling (BEOSP) also known as brain fingerprinting is a neuro psychological method of interrogation in which the accused’s participation in the crime is investigated by studying their brain’s response.
  • The BEOSP test is carried out via a process known as electroencephalogram, conducted to study the electrical behaviour of the human brain.
  • Under this test, the consent of the accused is first taken and they are then made to wear caps with dozens of electrodes attached to them.
  • The accused are then shown visuals or played audio clips related to the crime to check if there is any triggering of neurons in their brains which then generate brainwaves.
  • The test results are then studied to determine the participation of the accused in a crime.  
  • The tests are based on the phenomenon’s of ‘knowledge’ and ‘experience’.
  • A person’s brain might have knowledge of the crime committed and the alibi they have come up with.
  • But it is the ‘experience’ of having participated in the crime that determines their guilt.”

Source: Indian Express.

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A climate emergency - New Zealand government

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Context

  • The parliament passed the Zero-Carbon Act, which commits New Zealand to zero carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner.
  • New Zealand’s government will decide next week if a climate emergency should be declared in the country or not.
  • As prime minister, Ardern has been vocal about climate change and last November, the parliament passed the Zero-Carbon Act, which commits New Zealand to zero carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner.

About Climate emergency

  • In its ongoing online petition, Greenpeace New Zealand is urging the government to declare a climate emergency since people are “facing more extreme weather events, catastrophic loss of wildlife and a crisis over access to freshwater and food”.
  • In 2019, the Oxford dictionaries declared “climate emergency” to be the word of the year, a word that reflects “the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year, and have lasting potential as a term of cultural significance”.
  • It defines climate emergency as “a situation in which urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change and avoid potentially irreversible environmental damage resulting from it”.
  • But even before the New Zealand government planned to declare a climate emergency, some of the regions in the country had already started declaring it since last year.
  • Even so, such a declaration is only symbolic and does not have any legal weight because of which critics have said that such announcements don’t do enough and are, in fact, “hollow”.
  • Some of the countries that have declared a climate emergency in recent years include the UK, Portugal, Canada, France and, most recently, Japan.

Source: Indian Express.

Australian 'war crimes': Troops to be fired over Afghan killings

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.


Context

  • The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has sent notices of likely dismissal to 13 Special Forces soldiers following last week's damning report on the murder of 39 Afghan civilians and prisoners.
  • They are suspected of being accessories or witnesses to the killings, or of being dishonest in testifying.

Background

  • They are separate from the 19 Special Air Service troops who could face prosecution for the murders.
  • Australia's prime minister and top military commander have apologised.

Highlights

  • Afghanistan called the murders unforgiveable but welcomed last week's report as a step towards justice.
  • The report blamed the murders of "prisoners, farmers or civilians" in 2009-13 on an unchecked "warrior culture" among some soldiers.
  • It said 25 special forces soldiers had taken part in unlawful killings directly or as "accessories", across 23 separate incidents.
  • It recommended that 36 incidents in total be investigated by federal police.
  • It also found evidence that:
    • Junior soldiers were told to get their first kill by shooting prisoners, in a practice known as "blooding"
    • Weapons and other items were planted near Afghan bodies to cover up crimes
    • An additional two incidents could constitute a war crime of "cruel treatment"

Source: BBC.

Gender equity in science: One of the focuses of the new Science, Technology and Innovation Policy

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.


Context

  • Gender equity in science is one of the focuses of the new Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, currently being drafted by the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
  • This will increase the participation of women in science. 

About Background

  • For this, the DST will incorporate a system of grading institutes depending on the enrolment of women and the advancement of the careers of women faculty and scientists. 
  • The concept borrows from a programme started by the UK in 2005 called the Athena SWAN (Scientific Women’s Academic Network), which is now being adopted by many countries. 

About Athena SWAN

  • The Athena SWAN Charter is an evaluation and accreditation programme in the UK enhancing gender equity in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM). 
  • Participating research organisations and academic institutions are required to analyse data on gender equity and develop action plans for improvement. 
  • The programme recognises such efforts with bronze, silver or gold accreditation. 
  • Institutions that sign up commit to addressing unequal gender representation; tackling the gender pay gap; removing the obstacles faced by women in career development and progression; discriminatory treatment often experienced by trans people; gender balance of committees and zero tolerance for bullying and sexual harassment. 

Source: Indian Express.

Prakash Javadeker launches India Climate Change Knowledge Portal

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Context

  • Minister of Environment,Forest and Climate Change  Prakash Javadekar launched the India Climate Change Knowledge Portal.
  • The portal will have all the major steps the Government is taking at both national and international levels to address  the climate change issues.

Highlights

  • Speaking on the occasion, Mr Javadekar said,it will be a single-point information resource that provides information on the different climate initiatives taken by various Line Ministries enabling users to access d status on these initiatives.
  • With regard to climate actions after the Paris Agreement, Mr Javadekar said, India has practically achieved its pre-2020 climate action targets.
  • He said, though India is not responsible for climate change but it is taking responsible action to mitigate the challenge.
  • Mr Javadekar also demanded that other countries must commit to the advance commitments of Kyoto Protocol which has not been followed by the countries that must be done.

Source: AIR News.

BIS-certified helmets made compulsory for two-wheelers

Focus: GS2.                                

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.


Context

  • The government said only Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS)-certified helmets would be manufactured and sold in India for two-wheelers.
  • This would help in avoiding sale of low-quality two-wheeler helmets in the country, which would help in protecting persons involved in accidents from fatal injuries, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways said in a statement.

Highlights

  • "The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways...has issued the 'Helmet for riders of Two Wheelers Motor Vehicles (Quality Control ) Order, 2020'.
  • "Protective helmets for two-wheeler riders have been included under compulsory BIS certification and the publication of the Quality Control Order," it said.
  • Following the directions of the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety, a committee was formulated to consider lighter helmets in India suiting the country's climatic conditions and that for ensuring compliance among citizen to wear the helmets.
  • The committee had experts from different fields, including expert doctors from AIIMS and also from BIS.
  • The committee in March 2018, after detailed analysis in its report, recommended lighter helmets in the country, and the ministry accepted the report.
  • According to the recommendations of the committee, the BIS has revised specifications through which it is expected to make lighter helmets.
  • The total number of two-wheelers being manufactured in India annually stands at about 1.7 crore.
  • The International Road Federation, a Geneva-based global road safety body working for better and safer roads worldwide, welcomed the road transport ministry's move to bring helmets for two-wheeler riders under the mandatory BIS regime.

Source: Indian Express.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. With reference to the ‘blue tide’, consider the following statements:

 

  • It appears when luminescent marine life make the sea appear a deep shade of blue.
  • Only bacteria show bioluminescence.
  • Luminescence is generally higher in deep-living and planktonic organisms than in shallow species.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

    A. 1 and 2 only
    B. 2 and 3 only
    C. 1 and 3 only
    D. AOTA

Solution: C

  • Bioluminescence is the property of a living organism to produce and emit light. Animals, plants, fungi and bacteria show bioluminescence.
  • A remarkable diversity of marine animals and microbes are able to produce their own light. It is found in many marine organisms such as bacteria, algae, jellyfish, worms, crustaceans, sea stars, fish and sharks.
  1. Brereton War Crimes Report is a report into war crimes committed by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) during the War in:

    A. Kuwait
    B. Iraq
    C. Sudan
    D. Afghanistan

Solution: D

 

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