InstaLinks help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically.
Table of Contents:
GS Paper 1:
GS Paper 3:
Facts for Prelims:
1. Honorary Consul generals.
2. India’s first cryptogamic garden.
3. International trade finance services platform (ITFS).
GS Paper : 1
Topics Covered: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.
At least 30 people were killed in separate incidents of lightning in various parts of the country in the past 24 hours. This includes Rajasthan, UP and MP.
How common are deaths by lightning?
Deaths due to lightning have become frequent in the country. In July last year, 40 people were killed by lightning in Bihar in two separate incidents.
- As a whole, India sees 2,000-2,500 lightning deaths every year on average.
- Also, lightning is the biggest contributor to accidental deaths due to natural causes.
Challenges and concerns:
- Occurrences of lightning are not tracked in India, and there is simply not enough data for scientists to work with.
- Often, safety measures and precautions against lightning strikes do not receive as much publicity as other natural disasters such as earthquakes.
What is lightning?
Lightning is a very rapid — and massive — discharge of electricity in the atmosphere, some of which is directed towards the Earth’s surface.
How does it strike?
- Electrical discharges are generated in giant moisture-bearing clouds that are 10-12 km tall. The base of these clouds typically lies within 1-2 km of the Earth’s surface. Temperatures towards the top of these clouds are in the range of minus 35 to minus 45 degrees Celsius.
- As water vapour moves upward in the cloud, the falling temperature causes it to condense. Heat is generated in the process, which pushes the molecules of water further up.
- As they move to temperatures below zero degrees celsius, the water droplets change into small ice crystals. They continue to move up, gathering mass — until they are so heavy that they start to fall to Earth.
- This leads to a system in which, simultaneously, smaller ice crystals are moving up and bigger crystals are coming down.
- Collisions follow, and trigger the release of electrons — a process that is very similar to the generation of sparks of electricity. As the moving free electrons cause more collisions and more electrons, a chain reaction ensues.
- This process results in a situation in which the top layer of the cloud gets positively charged, while the middle layer is negatively charged.
- An enormous amount of heat is produced, and this leads to the heating of the air column between the two layers of the cloud. This heat gives the air column a reddish appearance during lightning. As the heated air column expands, it produces shock waves that result in thunder.
How does this current reach the Earth from the cloud?
- While the Earth is a good conductor of electricity, it is electrically neutral. However, in comparison to the middle layer of the cloud, it becomes positively charged. As a result, about 15%-20% of the current gets directed towards the Earth as well. It is this flow of current that results in damage to life and property on Earth.
Do you think lightning only strikes the tallest object?
- How lightning strikes?
- What are megaflashes?
- Is earth a good conductor of electricity?
- Types of clouds.
- Lightning strikes in India.
Write a note on how lightning phenomenon.
Sources: Indian Express.
GS Paper : 3
Topics Covered: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
The scheme was recently launched by the RBI.
- Under the scheme, retail investors will be allowed to open retail direct gilt accounts (RDG) directly with RBI.
How it operates/works?
A dedicated online portal will provide registered users access to primary issuance of government securities and to Negotiated Dealing System-Order Matching system (NDS-OM). (NDS-OM refers to RBI’s screen-based electronic order matching system for trading in government securities in the secondary market).
- There will be no charge on account opening and its management.
Objectives of the scheme:
To improve the accessibility of government securities.
Significance of the scheme:
The scheme is a one-stop solution to facilitate investment in government securities (G-secs) by individual investors.
Types of investments available for the users:
- Government of India Treasury Bills.
- Government of India dated securities.
- Sovereign Gold Bonds (SGB).
- State Development Loans (SDLs).
Things you should know:
- What are gilt accounts?
- Who are retail investors?
- What are G-secs?
What is a Gilt Account?
A Gilt Account can be compared with a bank account, except that the account is debited or credited with treasury bills or government securities instead of money. In other words, it’s an account for holding government securities.
Who is a retail investor?
A retail investor is someone who buys and sells equity shares, commodity contracts, mutual funds, or exchange traded funds (ETFs) through traditional or online brokerage firms or other types of investment accounts.
What are G- Secs?
Do you know what Fine Paper is? Read Here
- What are G-Secs?
- Short and long term securities.
- Powers of the Centre and states to issue these instruments.
- Role of RBI.
- Factors which affect the prices of these securities.
What are G-Secs? Why are they significant? Discuss.
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics Covered: Indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
Bhutan has become the first country to adopt India’s Unified Payment Interface (UPI) standards for its quick response (QR) code. It is also the second country after Singapore to have BHIM-UPI acceptance at merchant locations.
- Bhutan will also become the only country to both issue and accept RuPay cards as well as accept BHIM-UPI.
What is BHIM?
Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) is India’s digital payment application (app) that works through UPI, a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application.
What is UPI?
Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is an instant real-time payment system, allowing users to transfer money on a real-time basis, across multiple bank accounts without revealing details of one’s bank account to the other party.
The BHIM app has three levels of authentication:
- For one, the app binds with a device’s ID and mobile number.
- Second, a user needs to sync whichever bank account (UPI or non-UPI enabled) in order to conduct the transaction.
- Third, when a user sets up the app they are asked to create a pin which is needed to log into the app. The UPI pin, which a user creates with their bank account is needed to go through with the transaction.
Do you know what a Bank Wire is? Also know the Difference between Bank Wire and Wire Transfer. Read Here
- Who controls ATMs in the country?
- What is UPI?
- What is National Automated Clearing House (NACH)?
- What is National Financial Switch?
- Three levels of authentication in BHIM.
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics Covered: Infrastructure- energy.
NTPC Renewable Energy Ltd (NTPC REL) will set up the country’s first green Hydrogen Mobility project in Ladakh.
- NTPC REL is a 100 per cent subsidiary of NTPC.
What is green hydrogen?
Hydrogen when produced by electrolysis using renewable energy is known as Green Hydrogen which has no carbon footprint.
- The hydrogen that is in use today is produced using fossil fuels, which is the primary source.
- Organic materials such as fossil fuels and biomass are used for releasing hydrogen through chemical processes.
Significance of Green Hydrogen:
- Green hydrogen energy is vital for India to meet its Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) Targets and ensure regional and national energy security, access and availability.
- Green Hydrogen can act as an energy storage option, which would be essential to meet intermittencies (of renewable energy) in the future.
- In terms of mobility, for long distance mobilisations for either urban freight movement within cities and states or for passengers, Green Hydrogen can be used in railways, large ships, buses or trucks, etc.
Applications of green hydrogen:
- Green Chemicals like ammonia and methanol can directly be utilized in existing applications like fertilizers, mobility, power, chemicals, shipping etc.
- Green Hydrogen blending up to 10% may be adopted in CGD networks to gain widespread acceptance.
- It is a clean-burning molecule, which can decarbonize a range of sectors including iron and steel, chemicals, and transportation.
- Renewable energy that cannot be stored or used by the grid can be channelled to produce hydrogen.
What are the steps the Indian government has taken in the production of green hydrogen?
- During the budget speech in February 2021, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the launch of the Hydrogen Energy Mission to produce hydrogen from renewable sources.
- In the same month, state-owned Indian Oil Corporation signed an agreement with Greenstat Norway for setting up a Centre of Excellence on Hydrogen (CoE-H). It will promote R&D projects for the production of green and blue hydrogen between Norwegian and Indian R&D institutions/universities.
- Recently, India and the US have set up a task force under the aegis of the Strategic Clean Energy Partnership (SCEP) to mobilise finance and speed up green energy development.
Hydrogen fuel can be produced through several methods. Read about a few here,
- About Green Hydrogen.
- How is it produced?
- About the Hydrogen Energy Mission.
Discuss the benefits of Green Hydrogen.
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.
The union environment ministry has put together an amnesty scheme for infrastructure and industrial projects that have violated environmental clearance norms.
The SOP is a result of orders from the National Green Tribunal, which earlier this year directed the ministry to put in place penalties and an SOP for green violations.
Standard operating procedure (SOP) laid out by the ministry:
- As per the new SOPs, projects that have expanded in capacity without requisite permissions will have to revert to older production limits until reassessed.
- If prior EC was not required for the project but is now required under updated norms, then the project will have to restrict its production to the extent to which prior EC was not required till appraised again.
- Only projects which are in complete violation of environmental norms and were never eligible for grant of environmental clearance shall be demolished or closed.
- Projects that violate norms, but are “permissible”, will be assessed for the damage caused and a remediation plan developed. These projects will have to submit a bank guarantee equivalent to the remediation plan and a natural and community resource augmentation plan to the central or state pollution control boards.
- The memorandum gives powers to government agencies such as the CPCB, state pollution control boards and state environment impact assessment authorities to identify such violations and take penal action against them.
- Experts say the provisions of the new amnesty scheme are very similar to provisions of dealing with violation cases under the draft environment impact assessment notification 2020 which drew widespread public criticism last year for “post-facto” clearances.
- The memorandum normalises “post facto regularisation of violations” – in which violations are first committed and then the project proponent files for clearance by which they “are let off by paying a penalty”.
- Also, this is the institutionalising of violations on the basis of the polluter pays norm.
- The SOP gives “immense power” to the ministry in determining the violator and the offence. This gives scope for violators, especially the big players, to negotiate with the ministry.
Contentious provisions in the draft EIA notification 2020:
- The draft notification includes an exemption of several large industries and projects from public consultation — as part of the environment impact assessment process — such as chemical manufacturing and petroleum products; building, construction and area development; inland waterways and expansion or widening of national highways.
- The draft does not provide clarification regarding the criteria for categorizing projects ‘strategic’ by the Central Government and hence could be open to excessively broad interpretations.
- There is a clause on “post-facto clearance”. These are for projects that have started without obtaining the required environmental clearances or permissions.
- It shortens the period of public consultation hearings to a maximum of 40 days.
- It reduces from 30 to 20 days the time provided for the public to submit their responses during a public hearing for any application seeking environmental clearance.
- The increased validity of the environment clearances for mining projects (50 years versus 30 years currently) and river valley projects (15 years versus 10 years currently) raises the risk of irreversible environmental, social and health consequences on account of the project remaining unnoticed for long.
What is the difference between Environment Impact Assessment & Strategic Environmental Assessment? Read Here
- EIA process.
- Environment (Protection) Act, 1986- Key provisions,
- About the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment.
- Article 253 of the Constitution.
- Who are UN Special Rapporteurs?
- Key provisions in the Draft EIA notification 2020.
Explain the significance of the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) process in the Indian context. Also highlight the concerns associated with it.
Sources: the Hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
Honorary Consul generals:
Industrialist N.S. Srinivasa Murthy based in Bengaluru has been appointed as Honorary Consul General of Vietnam for Karnataka.
- He is the first honorary consul general of Vietnam from India and the 19th across the world.
Who are Honorary Consuls?
- Together with diplomatic missions, an honorary consul promotes economic and cultural relations.
- They are private individuals who take care of their tasks on a part-time basis without remuneration.
- Ministry of External Affairs (MEA)’s approval is essential before the formal appointment.
- Honorary consuls do not accept passport applications nor do they handle matters pertaining to visas or residence permits.
- Honorary consuls cannot serve as attorneys in judicial proceedings or as legal advisers.
India’s first cryptogamic garden:
- Inaugurated recently in the Chakrata town of Dehradun, Uttarakhand.
- The garden will be housing nearly 50 species of lichens, ferns and fungi (collectively known as Cryptogamae).
- This site is chosen because of its low pollution levels and moist conditions which are conducive for the growth of these species.
What are cryptograms?
- Plant kingdom can be divided into two sub-kingdoms viz. Cryptogams and phanerogams.
- Cryptogams consist of seedless plants and plant-like organisms whereas phanerogams consist of seed-bearing plants.
- Phanerogams are further divided into two classes i.e. gymnosperms and angiosperms.
- The word “Cryptogamae” implies ‘hidden reproduction’, referring to the fact that they do not produce any reproductive structure, seed, or flower.
- A cryptogam is a plant that reproduces with the help of spores.
International trade finance services platform (ITFS):
The International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) has released a framework for setting up and operating an international trade finance services platform (ITFS) to provide trade finance services at international financial services centres (IFSCs).
- The framework will enable exporters and importers to avail various types of trade finance facilities at competitive terms, for their international trade transactions through a dedicated electronic platform ITFS.
- This will help in their ability to convert their trade receivables into liquid funds and to obtain short-term funding.
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