Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - September 09, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

Low Ozone found over Brahmaputra river valley

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

Researchers have found that the concentration of near surface ozone in this region in the Northeast corner of India is low compared to the other urban locations in India.

Background

  • Scientists at the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), Nainital, an autonomous research institute under the Department of Science and Technology (DST) Government of India, have evaluated the near surface ozone in the Brahmaputra River Valley (BRV) and found relatively low concentration of Ozone over Guwahati compared to the other urban locations in India.
  • Their present work has been published recently in the journal 'Atmospheric Pollution Research'.

About the near surface Ozone

  • Tropospheric, or ground-level ozone, is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC).
  • It usually increases when pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, industrial boilers, refineries, chemical plants, and other sources chemically react in the presence of sunlight, impacting human health.
  • It also assessed seasonal, day of week, and characteristics of ozone to identify the emission source of ozone and its precursors, especially methane (CH4) and NMHCs, along with study the relationships between the meteorological parameters, ozone and its precursors in a tropical setting.
  • The examination of nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, and ozone concentrations in this study suggested that this site is well influenced by local sources such as adjacent major national highway.
  • During the daylight hours, the site is in or nearly in a photo-stationary state, indicating a low impact of organic species on the ozone concentrations.

Source: PIB.

Germany joins Indo-Pacific club

Focus: GS2.

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


Context

  • Germany has joined the Indo-Pacific club.
  • The move is aimed at securing the trade routes from aggressive China.
Background
  • Germany has drafted 40-page guidelines as it formally adopts a strategy for the Indo-Pacific region.
  • The move makes it the second European nation after France to formally adopt a strategy for the Indo-Pacific region.

About the Highlights

  • The strategy is designed to allow Germany to make an active contribution to shaping the international order in the Indo-Pacific.  
  • The move by Germany augurs well for the Quad which is constituted by the United States, Japan, Australia, and India.
  • German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said, the Indo-Pacific is where the shape of the international rules-based order of tomorrow will be decided.
  • He said Germany wants to help shape that order-so that it is based on rules and international cooperation, not on the law of the strong.

Source: AIR News.

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Machine learning solution can make exploring geo-resources simpler

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

  • Scientists struggling with the manual interpretation of growing seismic data to explore causes of earthquake, particularly when the area is geologically complex, are now armed with a machine learning-based solution that can help in automatic interpretation of this data.
  • Effective detection of subsurface geologic features from surface seismic data is very important for understanding the geotectonic, basin evolution, resource exploration, and process that causes earthquakes (seismogenesis) of an area.

Background

  • For this, acquisition of seismic data keeps on growing, making the processing computationally intensive and interpretation tedious.
  • Thanks to high-performance computing systems, that have allowed analysis of such voluminous data within a reasonable time after receiving guidance and inputs from interpreters.
  • However, human analysts struggle for manual interpretation, particularly when the area is geologically complex and data is copious.

About the findings

  • To automate the process and accelerate the interpretation, Scientists from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology(WIHG), an autonomous Institute under the Department of Science & Technology, Govt. of India, have developed a neural-based (machine learning-based) practical approach for automatic interpretation of 3D seismic data.
  • This first of its kind approach has been developed by computing a new attribute called meta-attribute.
  • The tabular sheet intrusions between older layers of sedimentary rock or beds of volcanic lava (sill complexes) significantly contribute to the transport and storage of hot magma, and leading to overburden.
  • This acts as plausible structural traps for hydrocarbon accumulations in sedimentary basin.
  • The petroliferous (petroleum containing) Canterbury basin off New Zealand is a classic example, where saucer-shaped magmatic sills are embedded within the Cretaceous to Eocene (geological period that lasted from about 145 to 33.9 million years ago) succession resulting into forced folds and hydrothermal vents above the sill terminations.

About the highlights

  • According to the findings of this study, individual sills cover from 1.5 km2 to17 km2 areas, respectively.
  • Moreover, the fluxed-out magmatic fluids from the tip of the principal sills vertically rise to a height of around 800 m through hydrothermal vents and uplift the overburden.
  • Such an interpretational approach is automated and effectively narrates subsurface magmatic activities from 3D seismic data.
  • This work is an important step forward towards application of machine learning to address geological problems and looks promising in understanding complex geological processes in an active mountain belt such as the Himalaya.

Source: PIB.

Tussle of Assam Rifles

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate


Context

  • The Delhi High Court has granted 12 weeksto the Union government to decide on whether to scrap or retain the dual control structure for Assam Rifles, which comes under both the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
  • Observing that the matter has been pending for almost three years, the court said it appears that an in-principle decision has been taken to keep the central armed police force under the exclusive control of MHA, but the final decision has not yet been taken.

Background

  • The order was passed on a petition filed by Assam Rifles Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association.
  • Its plea contends that dual control prejudices the personnel of the force.

About Assam Rifles

  • Assam Rifles is one of the six central armed police forces (CAPFs) under the administrative control of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
  • The other forces being the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Border Security Force (BSF), the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).
  • It is tasked with the maintenance of law and order in the North East along with the Indian Army and also guards the Indo-Myanmar border in the region.
  • It has a sanctioned strength of over 63,000 personnel and has 46 battalions apart from administrative and training staff.

Source: Indian Express.

Start Up Village Entrepreneurship Programme

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.


Context

  • Start-Up Village Entrepreneurship Programme (SVEP) is implemented by Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana –National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM), Ministry of Rural Development, as a sub-scheme since 2016.
  • With an objective to support the rural poor come out of poverty, supporting them setup enterprises and provide support till the enterprises stabilize, SVEP focusses on providing self-employment opportunities with financial assistance and training in business management and soft skills while creating local community cadres for promotion of enterprises.
Background
  • SVEP addresses three major pillars of rural start-ups namely – finances, incubation and skill ecosystems.
  • Activities under SVEP are strategically designed to promote rural enterprises, one of the key areas is to develop pool of community resource persons – enterprise promotion (CRP-EP) who are local and support entrepreneurs setting-up rural enterprises.
  • Another key area is to promote the block resource center (BRC) in SVEP blocks, to monitor and manage the community resource persons, appraise SVEP loan application and acts as the repository of enterprise related information in the concern block.
  • BRCs play the role to support sustainable revenue model to operate effectively and independently.

About the Highlights

  • During the initial years of implementation, the SVEP focused on mobilizing rural communities to setup and strengthen the institution structures, invest on training and capacity building on business management aspects for the BRC members, created pool of CRP-EPs and provided them intensive training, supported the entrepreneurs to scale up their existing enterprises as well as establish and support the new enterprises.
  • Over the years the SVEP has made an impressive progress and has extended business support services and capital infusion to 153 blocks of 23 states as of August 2020.
  • Around, 2,000 trained cadre of Community Resource Person-Enterprise Promotion (CRP-EP) are providing services to rural entrepreneurs and as on August 2020, around 100,000 enterprises are supported by them.
  • Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII), Ahmedabad is the technical support partner of SVEP.
  • SVEP promotes individual and group enterprises, set-up and promote enterprises majorly on manufacturing, trading and service sectors.
  • The program invested largely on building the capacities of the entrepreneurs to run the businesses profitably based on the local demand and eco-system.
  • The CRP-EPs are certified and provides business support services to the entrepreneurs.
  • Investments are also made under SVEP on use of ICT to create standard E-learning modules for minimizing the transmission loss in technical aspects like business plan and profit and loss account preparations.

Source: Indian Express.

13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution

Focus: GS2.

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


Context

After the Rajapaksas’ win in the November 2019 presidential polls and the August 2020 general election, the spotlight has fallen on two key legislations in Sri Lanka’s Constitution.

Background

  • One, the 19th Amendment was passed in 2015 to curb powers of the Executive President, while strengthening Parliament and independent commissions.
  • The Rajapaksa government has already drafted and gazetted the 20th Amendment.
  • The other legislation under sharp focus is the 13th Amendment passed in 1987, which mandates a measure of power devolution to the provincial councils established to govern the island’s nine provinces.

About the amendment

  • It is an outcome of the Indo-Lanka Accord of July 1987, signed by the then PM Rajiv Gandhi and President J.R. Jayawardene, in an attempt to resolve the ethnic conflict and civil war.
  • The 13th Amendment, which led to the creation of Provincial Councils, assured a power-sharing arrangement to enable all nine provinces in the country, including Sinhala majority areas, to self-govern.
  • Subjects such as education, health, agriculture, housing, land and police are devolved to the provincial administrations.
  • But because of restrictions on financial powers and overriding powers given to the President, the provincial administrations have not made much headway.
  • In particular, the provisions relating to police and land have never been implemented.

About the Highlights

  • The 13th Amendment carries considerable baggage from the country’s civil war years.
  • It was opposed vociferously by both Sinhala nationalist parties and the LTTE.
  • The opposition within Sri Lanka saw the Accord and the consequent legislation as an imprint of Indian intervention.
  • It was widely perceived as an imposition by a neighbour wielding hegemonic influence.
  • The Tamil polity, especially its dominant nationalist strain, does not find the 13th Amendment sufficient in its ambit or substance.
  • However, some find it as an important starting point, something to build upon.

Source: AIR News.

Business Reform Action Plan for the year 2019

Focus: GS3.                                 

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


Context

  • Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs, announced the 4th edition of Business Reform Action Plan (BRAP) ranking of states.
  • The announcements were made in the august presence of Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of Railways and Minister of Commerce & Industry; Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister for Commerce & Industry and Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs; Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Civil Aviation; and Shri SomParkash, Minister of State in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Chief Ministers of Uttarakhand and Tripura, LGs of J&k and Laddakh, Industry Ministers of States and Union Territories, along with senior government officials were also present.

Background

  • Ranking of States based on the implementation of Business Reform Action Plan started in the year 2015.
  • Till date, State Rankings have been released for the years 2015, 2016 and 2017-18.
  • The Business Reform Action Plan 2018-19 includes 180 reform points covering 12 business regulatory areas such as Access to Information, Single Window System, Labour, Environment, etc.

About the Highlights

  • The larger objective of attracting investments and increasing Ease of Doing Business in each State was sought to be achieved by introducing an element of healthy competition through a system of ranking states based on their performance in the implementation of Business Reform Action Plan.
  • The ranking this time gives full weightage to the feedback from over thirty thousand respondents at the ground level, who gave their opinion about the effectiveness of the reforms.
  • State rankings will help attract investments, foster healthy competition and increase Ease of Doing Business in each State.

Source: PIB.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. Consider the following statements wrt Poshan Maah:
  1. Every year the Poshan Maah is celebrated under POSHAN Abhiyaan (PM’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nourishment), which was launched in 2018.
  2. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is being the nodal Ministry for POSHAN Abhiyaan.
  3. The objective of the Poshan Maah is to encourage Jan Bhagidaari, in order to create a Jan Andolan, for addressing malnutrition amongst young children, and women and to ensure health and nutrition for everyone.

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

2. Consider the following:

  • Ministry of Women and Child Development is being the nodal Ministry for POSHAN Abhiyaan.


The Khadi and Village Industries Commission is under the Ministry of:

      A. Tribal Affairs
      B. MSME
      C. Culture
      D. Commerce and Industry

Solution: B

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