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UPSC PRELIMS AND MAINS CURRENT AFFAIRS 3 AUG 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

Relevant articles from PIB:

GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Issues related to health.

 

World Breastfeeding Week 1st – 7th August 

 

ContextWorld Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is being observed from 1st to 7th August 2019.

The focus this year is on protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding.

 

The objectives of World Breastfeeding Week are:

  1. To create awareness among the parents about breastfeeding.
  2. Encourage parents to adopt breastfeeding.
  3. Creating awareness about the importance of initiation and exclusive breastfeeding, and adequate and appropriate complementary feeding.
  4. Providing advocacy material about the importance of breastfeeding. 

 

Breastfeeding is important because:

  • It promotes better health for mothers and children alike.
  • It prevents infections like diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections in early infancy and thus reduce infant mortality.
  • It decreases the risk of mothers developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
  • It protects infants from obesity-related illnesses, diabetes and increases the IQ.

 

The correct norms of infant and young child feeding are:

  1. Initiation of Breastfeeding within an hour of birth.
  2. Exclusive breastfeeding for first six months of life i.e. only breast Milk ‘NO’ other milk, food, drink or water.
  3. Appropriate and adequate complementary feeding from six months of age while continuing breastfeeding.
  4. Continued breastfeeding up to the age of two years or beyond.

 

World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA):

Annually, WABA coordinates and organises the World Breastfeeding Week (WBW).

World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) is a global network of individuals and organisations dedicated to the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding worldwide based on the Innocenti Declarations, the Ten Links for Nurturing the Future and the WHO/UNICEF Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding. WABA is in consultative status with UNICEF and an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC).


GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.

 

Pashmina Products Receive BIS Certification 

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: About BIS, Pashmina- Need for conservation, issues associated.

 

ContextBureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has published an Indian Standard for identification, marking and labelling of Pashmina products to certify its purity.

 

Significance and the need for certification:

  1. The certification will help curb the adulteration of Pashmina.
  2. Protect the interests of local artisans and nomads who are the producers of Pashmina raw material.
  3. Assure the purity of Pashmina for customers.
  4. Discourage counterfeit or substandard products presently mislabeled and sold as genuine Pashmina in the market.
  5. Motivate the younger generation to continue in this profession as well as encourage more families to take up this occupation.

 

Background:

The nomadic Pashmina herders live in the hostile and tough terrain of Changthang and are solely dependent on Pashmina for their livelihood. At present, there are 2400 families rearing 2.5 lakh goats.

 

About Changthangi or Pashmina goat:

  1. It is a special breed of goat indigenous to the high altitude regions of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir.
  2. They are raised for ultra-fine cashmere wool, known as Pashmina once woven.
  3. These goats are generally domesticated and reared by nomadic communities called the Changpa in the Changthang region of Greater Ladakh.
  4. The Changthangi goats have revitalized the economy of Changthang, Leh and Ladakh region.

 

About BIS:

  1. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is the national Standards Body of India working under the aegis of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution.
  2. It is established by the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986.
  3. The Minister in charge of the Ministry or Department having administrative control of the BIS is the ex-officio President of the BIS.
  4. Composition: As a corporate body, it has 25 members drawn from Central or State Governments, industry, scientific and research institutions, and consumer organisations.
  5. It also works as WTO-TBT enquiry point for India.

GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

SANKALP Project

 

What to study?

For prelims: key features of the project.

For mains: Need for skills upgradation, challenges and measures necessary.

 

Context: Review meeting of World Bank loan assisted “Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP)” programme was recently held.

 

About SANKALP scheme:

What is it? SANKALP is a Centrally sponsored scheme of Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE). It is an outcome focused scheme marking shift in government’s implementation strategy in vocational education and training from inputs to results. SANKALP aims to implement the mandate of the National Skill Development Mission (NSDM).

SANKALP will provide market relevant training to 3.5 crore youth.

Objective: The Objective of the project is to enhance institutional mechanisms for skills development and increase access to quality and market-relevant training for the work force.

What it does? The scheme provides the required impetus to the National Skill Development Mission, 2015 and its various sub missions. It is aligned to flagship Government of India programs such as Make in India and Swachhta Abhiyan and aims at developing globally competitive workforce for domestic and overseas requirements.

The Key result areas for the project include Institutional Strengthening at the National and State Levels for Planning, Delivering, and Monitoring High-Quality Market-Relevant Training; Improved Quality and Market Relevance of Skills Development Programs; Improved access to and completion of skills training for female trainees and other disadvantaged groups; and Expanding skills training through private-public partnerships (PPPs).

 

Under SANKALP four key result areas have been identified viz: (i) Institutional Strengthening (at National, State & District level); (ii) Quality Assurance Quality Assurance of skill development programs; (iii) Inclusion of marginalised population in skill development; and (iv) Expanding Skills through Public Private Partnerships (PPPs).


GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

BS – VI norms

 

What to study?

For prelims: what are BS Norms, components and comparison between BS – IV norms and the BS- VI?

For mains: Need for upgradation, role of new norms in reducing pollution.

 

Context: Armoured and Specialised Vehicles of Armed/ Paramilitary Forces Exempted from BS-VI Emission Norms that will Come into Force in April 2020. 

 

Need:

  1. The exemption has been granted because these vehicles operate in remote and inhospitable terrains with most challenging operational and environmental conditions.
  2. Due to security challenges and requirements of specialized operations, the development of suitable engine compliant with the above norms would require considerable time.
  3. It is difficult to maintain ideal transportation and storage conditions of fuel in these conditions.

 

Background:

Bharat Stage norms are the automotive emission norms which the automotive manufacturers have to comply to sell their vehicles in India.

These norms are applicable to all two wheelers, three wheelers, fourwheelers and construction equipment vehicles.

To curb growing menace of air pollution through the vehicles emission, the Government of India has decided to leapfrog from the exiting BS – IV norms to the BS- VI, thereby skipping the BS – V norms, and to implement the BS – VI norms with effect from 1st April 2020.

Only those vehicles will be sold and registered in India from 1st April 2020 onwards, which comply to these norms. The norms are stringent and at par with global standards.

 

Difference between BS-IV and the new BS-VI:

The major difference in standards between the existing BS-IV and the new BS-VI auto fuel norms is the presence of sulphur.

The newly introduced fuel is estimated to reduce the amount of sulphur released by 80%, from 50 parts per million to 10 ppm.

As per the analysts, the emission of NOx (nitrogen oxides) from diesel cars is also expected to reduce by nearly 70% and 25% from cars with petrol engines.

 

Why is it important to upgrade these norms?

  1. Upgrading to stricter fuel standards helps tackle air pollution.
  2. Global automakers are betting big on India as vehicle penetration is still low here, when compared to developed countries.
  3. At the same time, cities such as Delhi are already being listed among those with the poorest air quality in the world.
  4. With other developing countries such as China having already upgraded to the equivalent of Euro V emission norms a while ago, India has been lagging behind.
  5. The experience of countries such as China and Malaysia shows that poor air quality can be bad for business. Therefore, these reforms can put India ahead in the race for investments too.

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  2. Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.

 

Institutes of Eminence Scheme

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Institutes of Eminence Scheme- features and significance.

 

Context: The UGC, in its Recent meeting, has considered the reports of the Empowered Expert Committee (EEC) appointed by Government under the Chairmanship of Shri N Gopalaswami recommending  (15) Public institutions and (15) Private institutions for considering to give status of Institutions of Eminence. 

 

Background:

Since the scheme has only provided for (10) Public and (10) Private Institutions, the UGC has examined the list of (15) Public and (15) Private Institutions using transparent and verifiable criteria.

 

What is Institutions of Eminence scheme?

  1. The institutes of eminence scheme under the Union human resource development (HRD) ministryaims to project Indian institutes to global recognition.
  2. The selected institutes will enjoy complete academic and administrative autonomy.
  3. The government will run 10 of these and they will receive special funding.
  4. The selection shall be made through challenge method mode by the Empowered Expert Committee constituted for the purpose.
  5. Eligibility: Only higher education institutions currently placed in the top 500 of global rankings or top 50 of the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) are eligible to apply for the eminence tag.
  6. The private Institutions of Eminence can also come up as greenfield ventures-provided the sponsoring organisation submits a convincing perspective plan for 15 years.

 

Implications:

Institutions with the eminence tag would be allowed greater autonomy without having to report to the University Grants Commission (UGC); they would be able to admit foreign students and recruit faculty from abroad, and follow a flexible course and fee structure to enable them to vault to the ranks of the top global institutions.

 

Need for world-class institutes:

India lacks world-class universities according to international rankings, and Indian academics, compared internationally, are rather poorly paid. Students also suffer an immense shortage of places in top academic institutions and throughout the higher education system. India today educates only half as many young people from the university age group as China and ranks well behind most Latin American and other middle-income countries.


GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019

 

What to study?

For prelims: Key features of the bill.

For mains: Need for amendments, concerns associated and other associations issues.

 

Context: Parliament passes the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019.

 

Key features of the Bill:

The Bill amends the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967

Who may commit terrorism: Under the Act, the central government may designate an organisation as a terrorist organisation if it: (i) commits or participates in acts of terrorism, (ii) prepares for terrorism, (iii) promotes terrorism, or (iv) is otherwise involved in terrorism.  The Bill additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds.  

Approval for seizure of property by NIA: If the investigation is conducted by an officer of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the approval of the Director General of NIA would be required for seizure of properties that may be connected with terrorism.

Investigation by NIA: Under the Act, investigation of cases may be conducted by officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above.  The Bill additionally empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.

Insertion to schedule of treaties: The Act defines terrorist acts to include acts committed within the scope of any of the treaties listed in a schedule to the Act.  The Schedule lists nine treaties, including the Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings (1997), and the Convention against Taking of Hostages (1979).  The Bill adds another treaty to the list.  This is the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005).     

 

Why is it being opposed?

  1. This is a potentially dangerous amendment which will empower officials of Union Ministry to brand any person ‘a terrorist‘, without following due process. The name of such a person will be included in the ‘Fourth Schedule’ proposed to be added in the parent Act. The only statutory remedy available to such a person is to make an application before the Central Government for de-notification, which will be considered by a Review Committee constituted by the Government itself.
  2. The amendment does not provide any legal consequence in case an individual is designated a terrorist. The inclusion of one’s name in the Fourth Schedule as a terrorist per se will not lead to any conviction, imprisonment, fine, disqualifications or any sort of civil penalties. So this is simply a power for the government to brand any one as a terrorist. 
  3. An official designation as a terrorist will be akin to ‘civil death’ for a person, with social boycott, expulsion from job, hounding by media, and perhaps attack from self-proclaimed vigilante groups following.

 

Background:

The UAPA – an upgrade on the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act TADA, which was allowed to lapse in 1995 and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) was repealed in 2004 — was originally passed in 1967 under the then Congress government led by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Eventually amendments were brought in under the successive United Progressive Alliance (UPA) governments in 2004, 2008 and 2013.

 

Mains Question: Discuss how Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) impinges on the personal liberty of citizens of India. 


 

Relevant articles from various news sources:

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill, 2019

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key provisions in the Bill and its significance.

 

Context: Lok Sabha has passed the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

The bill aims to address various deficiencies in the management of the National Memorial and to ensure that the Trust is an apolitical entity.

 

Background:

Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Act, 1951 provided for the erection of a National Memorial in memory of those killed or wounded on April 13, 1919, in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar.

The 1951 Act also provided for a Trust to manage the National Memorial.

Composition: The Trust as per the 1951 Act included the Prime Minister, as Chairperson, (ii) the President of the Indian National Congress, (iii) the Minister in-charge of Culture, (iv) the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, (v) the Governor of Punjab, (vi) the Chief Minister of Punjab, and (vii) three eminent persons nominated by the central government.

 

Changes:

  1. The 2019 amendment bill removes the President of the Indian National Congress as a Trustee.
  2. It clarifies that when there is no Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, the leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha will be the Trustee.
  3. The 1951 act provided that the three eminent persons nominated by the central government will have a term of five years and will be eligible for re-nomination. The 2019 bill added a clause to allow the central government to terminate the term of a nominated trustee before the expiry of his term without assigning any reason.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
  2. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
  3. Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

 

Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty- key features.

For Mains: Significance of the treaty, recent issues, implications of withdrawal by the US and Russia.

 

Context: The U.S has withdrawn from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

 

What’s the issue?

US in early December last year announced that it would suspend its obligations under the INF treaty by Feb. 2, citing Russian “cheating,” unless Moscow comes into compliance with the terms of the pact.

The U.S. government says the new Russian missile violates provisions of the pact that ban production, testing and deployment of land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 310 to 3,400 miles.

 

What would happen in the absence of treaty?

  1. It is unclear what INF-prohibited systems the United States could deploy to Europe or Asia in the near term. The U.S. military has not developed any land-based missiles within the prohibited ranges for decades and has only just started funding a new ground-launched cruise missile to match the 9M729.
  2. Moscow is in a very different position and could rapidly expand deployment. The number of operational 9M729 missiles has been quite limited, but released from its official obligations under the treaty, Moscow could deploy more units rapidly.
  3. Russia could also effectively reclassify the RS-26 Rubezh, an experimental system that has been tested just above the INF Treaty’s 5,500-kilometer limit. To avoid violating the INF, Russian officials previously described the RS-26 as an intercontinental ballistic missile. However, it could form the basis for a missile of a slightly shorter range if Moscow wished to boost its INF forces — without counting it under the U.S.-Russian New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START, governing longer-range systems.
  4. This move is also likely to undermine the 2010 New START treaty governing U.S. and Russian long-range nuclear systems. The INF Treaty’s demise will undercut New START by reopening questions on the relationship between intermediate and strategic systems that have been resolved for 30 years by the elimination of ground-based, intermediate-range missiles.

 

Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty:

  • The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty, formally Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles) is a 1987 arms control agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union.
  • Under the INF Treaty, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. agreed to eliminate within three years all ground-launched-missiles of 500-5,500 km range and not to develop, produce or deploy these in future.
  • The U.S. destroyed 846 Pershing IIs and Ground Launched Cruise Missiles (GLCMs) and the U.S.S.R., 1,846 missiles (SS-4s, SS-5s and SS-20s), along with its support facilities.

 

Importance of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in U.S.-Russia relations:

  1. Under the Treaty, the two parties agreed that a whole important class of nuclear weapons would be removed from Europe, and only tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) or short-range missiles mostly deployed on the territory of Germany would remain.
  2. The INF Treaty for years served to mitigate fears of both parties in relation to possibility of military escalation, operational miscalculation, and helping to shift the logic of MAD [mutually assured destruction] to the higher “more sensitive” political level.

 

Sources: the hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

Women and related issues.

 

POCSO Act

 

What to study?

For Prelims: POCSO Act provisions.

For Mains: Sexual abuse of children- prevention and need for stringent provisions.

 

Context: Parliament has passed the Amendments in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.

 

Key changes proposed:

Penetrative sexual assault: The bill increases minimum punishment for this offence from 7 years to 10 years. It also provides for with imprisonment between 20 years to life, with fine if person commits penetrative sexual assault on child below age of 16 years.

Aggravated penetrative sexual assault: The Bill adds two more grounds to definition of aggravated penetrative sexual assault. These include: (i) assault resulting in death of child and (ii) assault committed during natural calamity or in any similar situations of violence. It also increases minimum punishment from 10 years to 20 years, and maximum punishment to death penalty.

Aggravated sexual assault: The Bill adds two more offences to definition of aggravated sexual assault. These include: (i) assault committed during natural calamity and (ii) administrating or help in administering any chemical substance or any hormone to child for the purpose of attaining early sexual maturity.

Child Pornography: The Bill defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct that involves child such as photograph, video, digital or even computer generated image indistinguishable from actual child. It also enhances punishments for certain offences related to child pornography.

Storage of pornographic material: It increases punishment for storage of pornographic material with imprisonment between three to five years, or fine, or both. In addition, it also adds two other offences for storage of pornographic material involving children. These include: (i) transmitting, displaying, distributing such material except for the purpose of reporting it and (ii) failing to destroy or delete or report pornographic material involving child.

 

 

Impact:

  1. The amendment is expected to discourage the trend of child sexual abuse by acting as a deterrent due to strong penal provisions incorporated in the Act.
  2. It intends to protect the interest of vulnerable children in times of distress and ensures their safety and dignity. 
  3. The amendment is aimed to establish clarity regarding the aspects of child abuse and punishment thereof.

 

POCSO Act:

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) 2012 was formulated in order to effectively address sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 3:

Topics covered: 

Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

 

Hyperloop

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Hyperloop technology- features, significance and its use in India.

 

Context: Richard Branson’s Virgin Hyperloop One has signed an agreement with the Maharashtra government to build a Hyperloop that will cut the travel time between Mumbai and Pune to 25 minutes from the 3 hours it now takes by road.

 

What is hyperloop transportation system?

It is a transportation system where a pod-like vehicle is propelled through a near-vacuum tube connecting cities at speeds matching that of an aircraft.

The hyperloop concept is a brainchild of Tesla founder Elon Musk. US-based Hyperloop Transport Technology (HTT) claimed it costs $40 million per kilometre to build a hyperloop system while building a high-speed train line would cost almost twice. The hyperloop system is being designed to transport passengers and freight.

 

How it operates?

  1. In hyperloop transportation, custom-designed capsules or pods are expected to zip smoothly through continuous steel tubes which are held at partial vacuum. The pod which sandwiches the passenger compartment between an air compressor upfront and a battery compartment in the rear is supported by air caster skis at the bottom.
  2. The skis float on a thin layer of air provided under high pressure, eliminating rolling resistance and allowing for movement of the pods at high speeds. These capsules are expected to be driverless with estimated speeds of 1,000 km/h. Linear induction motors that are placed along the tube control the speed of the pod. Electronically-assisted acceleration and braking determines the speed of the capsule.

 

The Problems Plaguing the Hyperloop:

  1. Constructing a tube hundreds of kilometers long would be an engineering marvel in of itself. However, introducing a tube hundreds of kilometers long that operates at a near perfect vacuum which can support the force of capsule weighing thousands of kilograms as it travels hundreds of kilometers an hour is nothing short of sci-fi fantasy.
  2. Small scale experiments reveal the fundamentals of the idea are sound. Although, in the real world, there are too many factors that cannot be accounted for with a small scale design. In the real world, there are tens of thousands of kilograms of atmospheric pressure which threatens to crush any vacuum chamber.
  3. There is also the problem with thermal expansion which threatens to buckle any large structure without proper thermal expansion capabilities. The Hyperloop would also be stupendously expensive. There are many unavoidable problems facing the Hyperloop that threaten the structural integrity, and every human life on board. The problems can be addressed, but at a great cost.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

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