Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - December 02, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell

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

  • The Royal Society unveiled a new portrait of astrophysicist Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell who is credited with discovering pulsars when she was a PhD student at Cambridge University.
  • Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell (born 1943) is an astrophysicist from Northern Ireland who, as a postgraduate student, discovered the first radio pulsars in 1967.

Highlights

  • A pulsar is a highly magnetized rotating compact star (usually neutron stars but also white dwarfs) that emits beams of electromagnetic radiation out of its magnetic poles.
  • She was credited with “one of the most significant scientific achievements of the 20th century”.
  • The discovery was recognised by the award of the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics, but although she was the first to observe the pulsars, Bell was not one of the recipients of the prize.
  • That Bell did not receive recognition in the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics has been a point of controversy ever since.

Source: Indian Express.

France May Ban Discrimination Against People With Accents

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India's interests.


Context

  • The French Parliament has taken the first steps toward approving a law that would ban discrimination based on a person’s accent.
  • Violations could be punished by a maximum of 3 years in prison and a fine up to €45,000.

Background

  • This will no doubt bring a sense of justice to the large number of people in France who speak with regional accents but often feel a sense of disdain in a country dominated culturally, politically, and economically by Paris.
  • According to Ouest-France, an IFOP poll in January 2020 found that 16% of French people claimed to have been the victims of discrimination in hiring because of their accent. 
  • In France, this phenomenon is known as “la glottophobie.”

Highlights

  • The French are famously fastidious about their language.
  • There is one correct way to say things in French, and any deviation is met with raised eyebrows.
  • For teenagers, the official goal is “to perfect” one’s French by the end of high school.
  • They are subjected to rigorous lessons that include such traditional exercises as the “dictée” where a teacher speaks or reads a passage out loud and students must write it exactly.
  • This push for homogeneity tends to paper over the reality that France has numerous regional accents, ranging from Brittany in the Northwest to Marseille in South to the Ch’ti in the Northeast.
  • A popular French comedy, “Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis,” played with this notion of odd regional accents.
  • These French accents are nowhere near as varied as the difference between a New York City and Texas accent in the United States.
  • Or the gap between a London and Glaswegian accent in the U.K. But to French ears (or Parisian ones, at least) there is a yawning chasm between French and whatever people in other regions are trying to speak.

Source: Indian Express.

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Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC)

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.


Context

  • The Indian Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) will soon become a National Maritime Domain Awareness (NDMA) centre.
  • This will enable the presence of all the stakeholders (a multi-agency centre) at IMAC, the nodal agency for maritime data fusion set up after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

Background

  • At any point of time there are around 11,000-12,000 vessels present in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), which shows the magnitude of the challenge in tracking vessels.
  • For improving transparency on maritime traffic on the high seas, the Indian Navy had been authorised to conclude white shipping agreements with countries and multilateral organisations. 
  • Under this coastal radar chain network providing static and mobile radar stations were being set up by the Coast Guard.

Highlights

  • The IMAC was approved by the Defence Acquisition Council in 2012 and became operational in 2014 at a cost of ₹450 crore, and is located in Gurugram. 
  • Of Indian Navy, Coast Guard and Bharat Electronics Ltd. and functions under the National Security Adviser (NSA).
  • Of the National Command Control Communication and Intelligence System (NC3I), which was established to link the operational Centres and lower echelons of the Navy and the Coast Guard spread across the country’s coastline.
  • The Indian Navy has established the NC3IN linking 51 stations, including 20 of the Navy and 31 of the Coast Guard, with a nodal Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC).
  • The IMAC tracks vessels on the high seas and gets data from the coastal radars, white shipping agreements, Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) transponders fitted on merchant ships, air and traffic management systems and global shipping databases.
  • After the 26/11 terror attack, all fishing vessels more than 20m long were mandated to have AIS transponders installed. 
  • Improving maritime domain awareness in the Indian Ocean, enabling mutual collaboration and understanding of the threats prevalent in the region.

Source: Indian Express.

Delhi and other parts of north India are bracing for near cold wave conditions

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

  • Over the past two days, the minimum temperature has risen by close to four degrees, up to 10.4 degrees Celsius, but a forecast from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) shows it is expected to fall again.
  • After a brief rise in night time temperatures, Delhi is bracing for another phase of near cold wave conditions in the coming days.

Background

  • One of the main reasons is snowfall in high altitude areas north of Delhi, including places in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand. 
  • Cold winds blowing from these areas lower temperature across northwest India every winter, including Delhi.

Highlights

  • Snowfall has occurred frequently in high altitude areas since November 15 this year, which explains the drop in minimum temperature in Delhi in the following days.
  • This snowfall occurred under the influence of a Western Disturbance — an extra-tropical storm associated with rainfall, fog and snow in northern India — which also brought sudden showers and cloudy skies to Delhi on November 15.
  • When skies are cloudy, there is comparatively less solar radiation during day time, which lowers maximum temperatures.
  • This is also clear by the sudden three-degree drop in maximum temperature in Delhi on November 17 and 18, from 29.1 degrees Celsius to 26 degrees Celsius.
  • However, cloudy skies increase the minimum or night time temperature as they hinder radiation from earth to the atmosphere at night.
  • Clear skies have the opposite effect, which can be noted in the gradual reduction in minimum temperature recorded in Delhi after November 16 as the cloud cover moved away — from 16 degrees Celsius to 6.3 degrees Celsius on November 23, which was five degrees below normal for this time of the year.

Source: The Hindu.

Permitting large industrial houses to own banks

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


Context

  • An Internal Working Group (IWG) of the RBI has recently made a far-reaching recommendation: To permit industrial houses to own and control banks.
  • According to the report, the main benefit is that industry-owned banks would increase the supply of credit, which is low and growing slowly.

Background

  • The IWG acknowledges that it ignored the experts the group had consulted.
  • The report states that all the experts except one “were of the opinion that large corporate/industrial houses should not be allowed to promote a bank”.

Arguments against

  • Reacting to it, two former chief economic advisors — Shankar Acharya and Arvind Subramanian — as well as a former finance secretary — Vijay Kelkar — have called this step a grievous mistake, one that would seriously set back Indian economic and political development.
  • The problem with banks owned by corporate houses is that they tend to engage in connected lending.
  • This can lead to three main adverse outcomes:
    • Over-financing of risky activities;
    • encouraging inefficiency by delaying or prolonging exit; and
    • entrenching dominance.

Source: Indian Express.

Michael Flynn: Trump pardons ex-national security adviser

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India's interests, Indian diaspora.


Context

  • US President Donald Trump has pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
  • The president said the widely expected act of clemency was his "Great Honor".

Background

  • Mr Flynn was convicted during a justice department inquiry into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  • Leading Democrats condemned the pardon. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it "an act of grave corruption and a brazen abuse of power".
  • The White House said that the pardon would finally end "the relentless, partisan pursuit of an innocent man".

Highlights

  • The retired US Army three-star lieutenant general was an early and ardent supporter of Mr Trump during the 2016 campaign, though he had been a life-long Democrat before.
  • Mr Flynn was among the new president's first appointments - Mr Trump brought him on just days after winning the election.
  • The two saw eye-to-eye on many issues, including the advantages of closer ties with Russia, renegotiating the Iran nuclear deal and combating the threat from Islamic State militants.
  • But he lasted just 23 days as national security adviser, the president's chief counsellor on international affairs and defence.
  • Mr Trump fired him after it emerged that he had discussed lifting sanctions on Russia with Moscow's ambassador to Washington before Mr Trump took office, and misled the vice-president about that conversation.

Source: BBC.

Inter Modal Station at Ajni in resonance with Environmental Impact Assessment

Focus: GS3.                                

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


Context

  • Speculation is around the corner that about 7,000 trees are proposed to be felled for the proposed InterModal station Project at Ajani in Nagpur.
  • Regional office of National Highway Authority of India clarified that the IMS project is in resonance with Environment Impact Assessment.

Background

  • As per Detailed Project Study approximately only 1,940 trees are proposed to be felled.
  • A compensatory afforestation of 25,000 trees shall be carried out by the NHAI on the available vacant spaces on the National Highway Projects land in and around Nagpur.

Highlights

  • Inter-Modal Station proposed to be constructed at Ajni, with a Land Acquisition of 44.4 acres of Indian Railway land, available adjacent to Railway tracks, for handling capacity of over 3 lakhs passengers per day with a facility of Bus Stand , Railway Station and a Metro Station in the proposed vicinity.
  • This Project is taken up for development of the city of Nagpur.

Source: Indian Express.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. With reference to the Dev Deepawali, consider the following statements:
  • The Dev Deepavali is also known as "the Diwali of the Gods" or "Festival of Lights of the Gods".
  • It is the festival of Kartik Poornima celebrated in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.
  • It falls on the full moon of the Hindu month of Kartika (November - December) and takes place fifteen days after Diwali.

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: D

  1. Who among the following discovered the first radio pulsars in 1967?
    A. Isaac Newton
    B. Marie Curie
    C. Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell
    D. Annie Wiston

Solution: C

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