DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 15th July 2021


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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


New Global Biodiversity Framework

Part of: GS Prelims and GS -III – Environment; Conservation; Infrastructure

In news A new Global Biodiversity Framework by The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was recently released.

What is the framework?

  • It is a new framework that will guide actions worldwide through 2030, to preserve and protect nature and its essential services to people.
  • Aim: To spur urgent and transformative action by Governments and all of society to contribute to the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity, its Protocols, and other biodiversity related multilateral agreements, processes and instruments.
  • The framework is built around a theory of change which recognizes that urgent policy action globally, regionally and nationally is required to transform economic, social and financial models.
  • The trends that have exacerbated biodiversity loss will stabilize in the next 10 years (by 2030) and allow for the recovery of natural ecosystems in the following 20 years, with net improvements by 2050 to achieve the Convention’s vision of “living in harmony with nature by 2050”.

What are the four goals of the new framework (to be achieved by 2050)? 

  • To halt the extinction and decline of biodiversity. 
    • The rate of extinctions should reduce at least tenfold 
    • The risk of species extinctions across all taxonomic and functional groups should reduce by half 
    • Genetic diversity of wild and domesticated species should be maintained by at least 90% 
  • To enhance and retain nature’s services to humans by conservation. 
  • To ensure fair and equitable benefits to all from use of genetic resources. 
  • To close the gap between available financial and other means of implementation 

What are the key targets? 

The framework has 21 action-oriented targets for urgent action over the decade to 2030, which includes:

  • Ensure at least 30% of land and sea areas globally are conserved through systems of protected areas.
  • Prevent or reduce the rate of introduction and establishment of invasive alien species by 50%.
  • Reduce nutrients lost to the environment by at least half, pesticides by at least two thirds, and eliminate discharge of plastic waste.
  • Use ecosystem-based approaches to contribute to mitigation and adaptation to climate change
  • Redirect, repurpose, reform or eliminate incentives harmful for biodiversity in a just and equitable way, reducing them by at least $500 billion per year.
  • Increase international financial flows to developing countries by at least $10 billion per year

Do you know?

  • The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) entered into force on 29 December 1993. 
  • Nearly all countries have ratified it (notably, the US has signed but not ratified).
  • The CBD Secretariat is based in Montreal, Canada and it operates under the United Nations Environment Programme.
  • India enacted Biological Diversity Act in 2002 for giving effect to the provisions of the CBD.

News Source: DTE


National Maritime Security Coordinator

Part of: GS Prelims and GS -III – Defense and Security

In news Two decades after the Kargil Group of Ministers’ recommendation, the Central government shall create and appoint a National Maritime Security Coordinator (NMSC) with the objective of enhancing security architecture and energy security of India. 

What will be the role of NMSC?

  • Interface between the civilian and military maritime domain
  • NMSC will work under Indian National Security Advisor.
  • It will be the principal advisor to the government on maritime security domain.

What is the significance of NMSC?

  • The appointment fills the need of the hour as the Navy, Coast Guard and state maritime boards all tend to work with overlapping jurisdictions.
  • It is part of Act East Policy vision that includes SAGAR (Security and Growth of All in the Region), Deep Ocean Mission and the Sagarmala project to make India’s 12 major ports into world class standard.
  • Over 70% of Indian trade including vital crude oil is transported through sea and protection of sea shipping lanes is vital to India’s security. Having NMSC will provide better security to our trade.

Who is the National Security Advisor?

  • The NSA is the senior official on the National Security Council (NSC) of India.
  • S/he is the chief adviser to PM on national and international security policy. 
  • He also advises the Prime Minister on all matters relating to internal and external threats and opportunities to India.
  • He oversees strategic and sensitive issues on behalf of the Prime Minister.
  • He also serves as the Prime Minister’s Special Interlocutor with China as well as the envoy to Pakistan and Israel on security affairs.
  • NSA is assisted by the Deputy National Security Advisers.

News Source: Hindustan Times


Palaeolithic Cave Paintings in NCR

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-I – Ancient History

In news Archaeologists have discovered cave paintings in a rocky and forested corner of Haryana that they believe belong to the Upper Palaeolithic age.

  • The Upper Paleolithic Age began around 40,000 years ago and lasted till around 10,000 years ago.

About the findings?

  • The caves are nestled amid a maze of quartzite rocks in the Aravalli mountain ranges, near a patch of primary forest, a holy grove called Mangar Bani.
  • The paintings are in continuation with the Soanian culture which has been found in Shivalik hills, Narmada and Aravallis.
    • The Aravallis are India’s and the world’s oldest mountain range.
  • Cave paintings comprised images of human figurines, animals, foliage, and geometric. 
  • Rock art and open-air ceremonial sites were also found. 
  • The caves and the paintings themselves are reminiscent of Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh, which is home to the oldest known cave art in India, dating back to the Mesolithic Age (around 10,000 years ago). 
  • However, these Mangar cave art is 20,000-40,000 years old. The findings, therefore,  could potentially make the paintings one of the oldest cave arts in the country.
  • Most of the paintings are ochre, but some are white. 
  • Experts say cave paintings in white are usually from a later stage (early contemporary era), while Stone Age paintings are more often than not, ochre.
  • After the finding, the Mangar Bani forest shall be brought under state protection under the section 4 of Punjab Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1964.

News Source: Hindustan Times


Suborbital Flight

Part of: GS Prelims and GS -III – Space

In news Recently, a six person crew on Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity spaceship undertook a brief trip to the “edge of space” which is known as Suborbital Flight.

  • Sirisha Bandla, an astronaut born in India, was a part of the crew. She was the third woman of Indian origin to go to space after Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams.
  • Virgin Galactic is a British-American spaceflight company, operating in the USA.

What is Suborbital Flight/Trajectory?

  • An object traveling above atmosphere at a horizontal speed of ~28,000 km/hr (orbital velocity or escape velocity) or more goes into orbit around the earth
    • Such a satellite would be accelerating towards the Earth due to gravity, but its horizontal movement is fast enough to offset the downward motion so that it moves along a circular path.
  • Any object travelling slower than 28,000 km/hr must eventually return to Earth.
  • Any object that launches to space but does reach sufficient horizontal velocity to stay in space falls back to Earth. This is known as flying in a suborbital trajectory.
  • It means that while these vehicles will cross the ill-defined boundary of space & atmosphere (known by Karman Line), they will not be going fast enough to stay in space once they get there & thus fall back to earth (see the projector in the figure below)

What is the significance of Suborbital Flights?

  • Increased Access for design innovation and experimental manipulation due to high projected flight rates.
  • They would be far less expensive than carrying experiments and people to the International Space Station. Helpful for microgravity research. 
  • They could also be an alternative to parabolic flights in aeroplanes that space agencies currently use to simulate zero gravity.

News Source: IE


Section 66A of the Information Technology Act

Part of: GS Prelims and GS -II – Judiciary; Important Judgements

In news The Union Home Ministry has asked the States and the Union Territories to withdraw immediately the cases registered under the repealed Section 66A of the Information Technology Act,2000

  • Recently, The Supreme Court (SC) has expressed shock that the provision was still being used to book people, though SC held it as unconstitutional and a violation of free speech in the Shreya Singhal judgment, 2015

About Shreya Singhal judgment 

  • Section 66(A) of the Act criminalizes the sending of offensive messages through a computer or other communication device.
  • Section 66A gives arbitrary powers to the police to make arrests for any “offensive” message – an entirely subjective term. This has the potential for being abused by authorities for curbing dissent
  • Over the past few years, incidents related to comments, sharing of information, or thoughts expressed by an individual on the Internet have attracted criminal penalties under Section 66(A) 
    • Aseem Trivedi, a cartoonist, was arrested invoking the same provision for making sketch on the state of parliamentary conduct of the politicians and was charged with sedition 
  • In Shreya Singhal v. Union of India case, the entire provision was struck down by Supreme Court, which is considered a watershed moment for online free speech in India.
  • The judgment had found that Section 66A was contrary to both Articles 19 (free speech) and Article 21 (right to life) of the Constitution. 
  • Describing the law as “vague in its entirety,” the Supreme Court said, it encroaches upon the public’s right to know. 
  • Further, the mere causing of annoyance, inconvenience, danger, etc., or being grossly offensive or having a menacing character are not offences under the Indian Penal Code at all. 
  • After that the government had appointed an expert committee (T.K. Viswanathan committee) which proposed legislation to meet the challenge of hate speech online.

News Source: TH


Longevity Finance Hub

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – III – Economy

In news International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) has constituted an Expert Committee to recommend approach towards development of Longevity Finance Hub in GIFT IFSC 

  • The expert committee is being co-chaired by Ms. Kaku Nakhate (Bank of America India Head) and Mr. Gopalan Srinivasan (former CMD, New India Assurance Company).

What is the need for Longevity Finance Hub?

  • ‘Longevity Finance Hub’ will cater to the investment and wealth management needs of the ‘silver generation’ comprising individuals aged 60 years and older.
  • Global estimates suggest that there are one billion people in the silver generation.
  • Their combined spending power is worth $15 trillion and the size is ever expanding.
  • Development in medicinal science and technology will support extending lifespan and longevity of the silver generation. 
  • It is estimated that by 2040, there will be more members of the silver generation than people under 20. 
  • This demographic change will throw open new challenges and opportunities especially in the areas of wealth management, health, insurance, and other investment products, thus necessitating the dedicated Longevity Finance Hub.

News Source: PIB


Kanwar Yatras

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-I- Culture

  • The Kanwar Yatra is a pilgrimage organised in the Hindu calendar month of Shravana (Saavan). 
  • Saffron-clad Shiva devotees generally walk barefoot with pitchers of holy water from the Ganga or other holy rivers. 
  • In the Gangetic plains, the water is taken from pilgrimage sites such as Haridwar, Gaumukh and Gangotri in Uttarakhand, Sultanganj in Bihar, and Prayagraj, Ayodhya or Varanasi from Uttar Pradesh.
  • Devotees carry the pitchers of holy water on their shoulders, balanced on decorated slings known as Kanwars. 
  • The water is used by the pilgrims to worship Shiva lingas at shrines of importance.
  • An important festival with similarities to the Kanwar yatra in North India, called the Kavadi festival, is celebrated in Tamil Nadu, in which Lord Muruga is worshipped.


(Mains Focus)


GEOGRAPHY/ SCIENCE

Topic:

  • GS-2: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami etc
  • GS-3: General Science

Lightning

Context: Recently, thirty people were killed in separate incidents of lightning in various parts of India. Lightning is the biggest contributor to accidental deaths due to natural causes.

What is lightning?

  • It is the process of occurrence of a natural ‘electrical discharge of very short duration and high voltage between a cloud and the ground or within a cloud’, accompanied by a bright flash and sound, and sometimes thunderstorms.

How does lightning occur?

  • It is a result of the difference in electrical charge between the top and bottom of a cloud.
  • As water vapour moves upwards in the cloud, it condenses into water due to decreasing temperatures. A huge amount of heat is generated in the process, pushing the water molecules further up.
  • As they move to temperatures below zero, droplets change into small ice crystals. As they continue upwards, they gather mass, until they become so heavy that they start descending.
  • It leads to a system where smaller ice crystals move upwards while larger ones come down. The resulting collisions trigger release of electrons, in a process very similar to the generation of electric sparks. 
  • The moving free electrons cause more collisions and more electrons leading to a chain reaction.
  • The process results in a situation in which the top layer of the cloud gets positively charged while the middle layer is negatively charged.
  • In little time, a huge current, of the order of lakhs to millions of amperes, starts to flow between the layers.
    • It produces heat, leading to the heating of the air column between the two layers of cloud. It is because of this heat that the air column looks red during lightning. 
    • The heated air column expands and produces shock waves that result in thunder sounds.
  • The Earth is a good conductor of electricity. While electrically neutral, it is relatively positively charged compared to the middle layer of the cloud. As a result, an estimated 20-25% of the current flow is directed towards the Earth. It is this current flow that results in damage to life and property.

Do you know?

  • Lightning has a greater probability of striking raised objects on the ground, such as trees or buildings.
  • Lightning Conductor is a device used to protect buildings from the effect of lightning.
    • If lightning hits the structure, it will preferentially strike the rod and be conducted to ground through a wire, instead of passing through the structure, where it could start a fire or cause electrocution.
  • The most lightning activity on Earth is seen on the shore of Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela.
  • Lightning incidents is directly related to the climate crisis, and the availability of more moisture over land due to global warming.
    • An increase of one degree Celsius would increase the frequency of lightning strikes by 12%, warned California University in a study published 2015.

Connecting the dots


ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic:

  • GS-3: Economy & Banking
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Cooperative Banking

Context: The RBI released a draft circular on ‘Issue and regulation of share capital and securities — Primary (Urban) Co-operative Banks’(UCBs), following the changes mandated by certain amendments to the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.

What is Cooperative Banking?

  • A Co-operative bank is a financial entity which belongs to its members, who are at the same time the owners and the customers of their bank.
  • It is registered under the State’s Cooperative Societies Act. 
  • The Co-operative banks are also regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and governed by 
    • Banking Regulations Act 1949 
    • Banking Laws (Co-operative Societies) Act, 1955.
  • Features:
    • Customer Owned Entities
    • The members democratically elect a board of directors and they have equal voting rights
    • A significant part of the yearly profit is usually allocated to reserves and a part of it can also be distributed to the members
    • They have played a significant role in the financial inclusion of unbanked rural masses.

Structure of Cooperative Credit Institutions in Rural India

  • The short-term co-operative credit structure operates with a three-tier system – 
    • Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) at the village level
    • Central Cooperative Banks (CCBs) at the district level 
    • State Cooperative Banks (StCBs) at the State level. 
  • PACS are outside the purview of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 and hence not regulated by RBI. 
  • StCBs/DCCBs are registered under the provisions of State Cooperative Societies Act of the State concerned and are regulated by RBI. 
  • Powers have been delegated to National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development (NABARD) under Banking Regulation Act to conduct inspection of CCBs & StCBs

About Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs)

  • Primary Cooperative Banks (PCBs), also referred to as Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs), cater to the financial needs of customers in urban and semi-urban areas.
  • UCBs are primarily registered as cooperative societies under the provisions of either the State Cooperative Societies Act of the State concerned or the Multi State Cooperative Societies Act, 2002 if the area of operation is two or more states.
  • Though the Banking Regulation Act came in to force in 1949, the banking laws were made applicable to cooperative societies only in 1966 through an amendment to the Banking Regulation Act, 1949. 
  • Since then there is duality of control over these banks with 
    • Banking related functions being regulated by RBI 
    • Management related functions regulated by respective State Governments/Central Government i.e by State Registrar of Co-operative Societies and Central Registrar of Co-operative Societies. 
  • RBI regulates the banking functions of StCBs/DCCBs/UCBs under the provisions of Sections 22 and 23 of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.

Connecting the dots:


(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note:

  • Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.
  • Comments Up-voted by IASPuucho are also the “correct answers”.

Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding National Maritime Security Coordinator (NMSC)? 

  1. It shall be created on the basis of Kargil Group of Ministers’ recommendation.
  2. NMSC will work under Indian National Security Advisor

Select the correct statements

  1. 1 Only
  2. 2 Only
  3. Both 1 and 2 only
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.2 Which of the following are the objectives of Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD): 

  1. The conservation of biological diversity
  2. The sustainable use of the components of biological diversity
  3. The fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources

Select the correct statements

  1. 1 and 2 Only
  2. 2 Only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3 

Q.3 Which of the following Article of the constitution deals with Freedom of Speech and Expression?

  1. Article 19
  2. Article 20
  3. Article 21
  4. Article 22

ANSWERS FOR 14th July 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)


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