13th April 2021 | UPSC Current Affairs
13th April Current Affairs MCQs
Lokpal and Lokayukta
Context: The Kerala Lokayukta said that the Minister for Higher Education and Welfare of Minorities should step down for abusing the power of his office.
More about Lokapal and Lokayukta
- The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 was enacted after the Indian anti-corruption movement of 2011 with series of protests for the Jan Lokpal Bill.
- Institutional mechanism: Establishment of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries.
- Composition: Lokpal will consist of a chairperson and a maximum of eight members, of which 50% shall be judicial members and 50% shall be from SC/ST/OBCs, minorities, and women.
- Appointment process: It is a two-stage process.
- A search committee that recommends a panel of names to the high-power selection committee.
- The selection committee comprises the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Leader of the Opposition, the Chief Justice of India (or his nominee), and an eminent jurist (nominated by President based on the recommendation of other members of the panel).
- President will appoint the recommended names.
- Jurisdiction: The jurisdiction of Lokpal extends to
- Anyone who is or has been Prime Minister, or a Minister in the Union government, or a Member of Parliament, as well as officials of the Union government under Groups A, B, C, and D.
- The chairpersons, members, officers, and directors of any board, corporation, society, trust, or autonomous body either established by an Act of Parliament or wholly or partly funded by the Centre
- Any society or trust or body that receives foreign contribution above ₹10 lakh.
- Exception for Prime Minister
- It does not allow a Lokpal inquiry if the allegation against the PM relates to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic energy, and space.
- Complaints against the PM are not to be probed unless the full Lokpal bench considers the initiation of
- inquiry and at least 2/3rds of the members approve it.
- Inquiry and prosecution wing: Inquiry Wing for conducting preliminary inquiry and Prosecution Wing for the prosecution of public servants concerning any complaint by the Lokpal under this Act.
- Suspension, removal of Chairperson and member of Lokpal: The Chairperson or any Member shall be removed from his office by order of the President on grounds of misbehavior after the Supreme Court report. For that, a petition has to be signed by at least one hundred Members of Parliament.
- Lokayutas: It must be noted here that the institution of Lokayukta was established first in Maharashtra in 1971. Although Odisha had passed the Act in this regard in 1970, it came into force only in 1983.
- The structure of the Lokayukta is not the same in all the states. Some states like Rajasthan, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra have created the Lokayukta as well as upalokayukta, while some others like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Himachal Pradesh have created only the Lokayukta.
- There are still other states like Punjab and Orissa that have designated officials as Lokpal. This pattern was not suggested by the ARC in the states.
Context: The ‘double mutant’ virus that scientists had flagged last month as having a bearing on the spread of the pandemic in India.
More about the News
- This variant is common in India and has a couple of defining mutations, E484Q and L425R, that enable them to become more infectious as well as evade antibodies.
- Though these mutations have individually been found in several other coronavirus variants, the presence of both these mutations together has been first found in some coronavirus genomes from India.
- This is a homegrown variant and widely spread internationally.
- Certain variants of the coronavirus, for instance, B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 have been termed the ‘United Kingdom’ and ‘South Africa’ variant respectively because they have mutations associated with large spikes in these countries or reduce the efficacy of vaccines and are termed ‘Variants of Concern (VOC)’.
- It is worrying because the mutations E484Q and L452R are linked to increased infectivity.
- L452R could even make the coronavirus resistant to T cells, which are a class of cells necessary to target and destroy virus-infected cells.
- It is a type of white blood cell that is of key importance to the immune system and is at the core of adaptive immunity, the system that tailors the body’s immune response to specific pathogens.
- The T cells are like soldiers who search out and destroy the targeted invaders.
Consumer Confidence Survey
Relevance: Reports and indices
Context: The Reserve Bank released the results of the March 2021 round of its Consumer Confidence Survey (CCS).
More about the News
- This survey is conducted on the monthly basis with certain parameters.
- Consumer confidence is a key driver of economic growth and is widely considered a leading economic indicator of household spending on consumption.
- Consumers tend to increase consumption when they feel confident about the current and future economic situation of the country and their financial conditions.
- In economies such as India and the US, where personal consumption accounts for more than 60% and 70% of GDP respectively, consumer confidence has a particularly significant impact on the economy.
- The consumer confidence index fell to 53.1 in March 2021 from 55.5 in January 2021.
- The resurgence of Covid-19 threatens to severely derail India’s economic recovery as several key indicators fell in March.
Tika Utsav (11 to 14 April)
Relevance: Health, Modern Indian History
Context: Prime Minister asked states should observe a ‘vaccine festival’ or ‘Tika Utsav’ between April 11-14 to inoculate the maximum number of eligible beneficiaries against COVID-19.
More about the News
- April 11th is the birth anniversary of noted social reformer Jyotirao Phule and April 14th is the Birthdate of Bhimrao Ambedkar.
- Tika Utsav aims to vaccinate a maximum number of people during this period.
- Jyotirao Govindrao Phule was an Indian social activist, thinker, anti-caste social reformer, and writer from Maharashtra.
- He and his wife, Savitribai Phule, were pioneers of women’s education in India.
- He, along with his followers, formed the Satyashodhak Samaj (Society of Truth Seekers) to attain equal rights for people from exploited castes.
- Phule is regarded as an important figure in the social reform movement in Maharashtra. He was bestowed with the honorific Mahatma title by Maharashtrian social activist Vithalrao Krishnaji Vandekar in 1888.
Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar
- Babasaheb Ambedkar was an Indian jurist, economist, politician, and social reformer, who inspired the Dalit Buddhist movement and campaigned against social discrimination towards the untouchables (Dalits).
- He was British India’s Minister of Labour in Viceroy’s Executive Council, a member of the Constituent Drafting committee, independent India’s first Minister of Law and Justice, and considered the chief architect of the Constitution of India.
- Babasaheb Ambedkar, who had experienced the worst form of casteist discrimination during his childhood, fought against upper caste tyranny throughout his life.
- He organized the All India Scheduled Castes Federation, while several other leaders of the depressed classes founded the All-India Depressed Classes Association.
- Ambedkar condemned the hierarchical and insular caste system as a whole and advocated the annihilation of the institution of caste for the real progress of the nation.
- The struggle of the depressed classes led to the provision of special representation for these classes in the Government of India Act, 1935.
Indus and Ganges river dolphins are two different species
Context: Now, a new study with detailed analysis of South Asian river dolphins has revealed that the Indus and Ganges River dolphins are not one, but two separate species.
More about the News
- Currently, they are classified as two subspecies under Platanista gangetica and this needs a revision.
- The study estimates that Indus and Ganges river dolphins may have diverged around 550,000 years ago.
- The Ganges River dolphin inhabits the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh.
- The Ganges Dolphin is among the four freshwater dolphins found in the world – the other three are found in the Yangtze River (China), the ‘Bhutan’s of the Indus (Pakistan), and the ‘boto’ of the Amazon River (Latin America).
- It is the National Aquatic Animal of India.
- It has been categorized as endangered on the Red List of Threatened Species by the IUCN.
- It is also protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act (1972).
- Because of the sound, it produces when breathing, the animal is popularly referred to as the ‘Susu’.
- Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary (VGDS) in Bihar is India’s only sanctuary for the Gangetic dolphin.
- They are freshwater, and functionally blind species of dolphins that rely on echolocation to navigate communicate, and hunt prey including prawns, catfish, and carp.
- Except for a tiny, isolated population of about 30 in India’s Beas River (185 km stretch between Talwara and Harike), Indus river dolphins live exclusively in the Indus river in Pakistan.
- IUCN Conservation Status-
- The Government of Punjab declared the Indus Dolphin as Punjab’s ‘State Aquatic Animal’. The Punjab Government also declared the Kanjli Wetland and Kali Bein as a wildlife conservation reserve.
Context: The population of dolphins in Chilika, India’s largest brackish water lake, and along the Odisha coast has doubled this year compared with last year.
More about News
- Three species were recorded during the census, with 544 Irrawaddy, bottle-nose, and humpback dolphins.
- The highest growth has been noticed in the case of humpback dolphins.
More about Irrawaddy dolphin
- Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris) are found in coastal areas in South and Southeast Asia, and in three rivers: the Irrawaddy (Myanmar), the Mahakam (Indonesian Borneo), and the Mekong (China).
- Although sometimes called the Irrawaddy river dolphin, it is not a true river dolphin, but an oceanic dolphin that lives in brackish water near coasts, river mouths, and estuaries.
- The Irrawaddy dolphin has included the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, Schedule I, which bans their killing, transport, and sale of products.
- They are ‘Endangered’ as per the IUCN Red List.
- Dolphin distribution in Chilika is considered to be the highest single lagoon population.
- WPA Protection: Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
- Chilika is Asia’s largest and the world’s second-largest lagoon.
- New Caledonia lagoon is the world’s largest lagoon.
- In 1981, Chilika Lake has designated the first Indian wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
- The major attraction at Chilika is Irrawaddy dolphins which are often spotted off Satpada Island.
Monsoon was stronger 7,000 years ago
Relevance: Indian Geography
Context: A study carried out by researchers from the Central University of Kerala has found that the monsoon was much stronger 7,000 years to 5,000 years ago.
More about the News
- The study was carried out in the Indian Ocean to understand changes in the monsoon in the past.
- This would help researchers forecast monsoon variability and the results could be used for building models that would offer insight into future variations in the monsoon, especially in the context of global warming.
- A weak monsoon has led to severe droughts, famine, affecting the economy and food security, whereas a strong monsoon may lead to floods like those in Kerala in 2018 and 2019.
- The study found a strong summer monsoon in approximately every 10,000 years in the last 55,000 years.
- The research team has reconstructed monsoon variability by using the marine sediment core collected from the Andaman Sea.
- The Andaman Sea was selected because of its excellent preservation of fossils and the significant influence of river water run-off.
More about Indian Monsoon
- The climate of India is described as the ‘monsoon’ type. In Asia, this type of climate is found mainly in the south and the south-eastern countries.
- The southwest monsoon season – Rainfall received from the southwest monsoons is seasonal, which occurs between June and September.
- The retreating monsoon season – The months of October and November are known for retreating monsoons.
- Factors Influencing South-West Monsoon Formation
- The differential heating and cooling of land and water
- The shift of the position of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ)
- The presence of the high-pressure area, east of Madagascar.
- Tropical Easterly Jet (African Easterly Jet).
- The Tibetan plateau gets intensely heated during summer etc.,
- El-Nino and La-Lina
- EL-NINO: This is a name given to the periodic development of a warm ocean current along the coast of Peru as a temporary replacement of the cold Peruvian current.
- ‘El Nino’ is a Spanish word meaning ‘the child’, and refers to the baby Christ, as this current start flowing during Christmas.
- The presence of the El Nino leads to an increase in sea-surface temperatures and the weakening of the trade winds in the region.
Relevance: Tribal Welfare
Context: Artisans of the Naikpod tribal community are all set to leverage technology to upgrade their skills and produce wooden miniature masks to foster their age-old art forms and tap a wider market for tribal handicrafts globally.
More about the Naikpod Community
- Naikpod, an Adivasi tribal community that had migrated from the Telangana region to Andhra Pradesh two to three generations ago.
- The artisans of the Naikpod community are famous for their centuries-old craft traditions of paintings and hand-carved wooden masks of replicas of various tribal deities and mythological characters of “Pandavas.”
- They wear wooden masks during special occasions and local festivals.
- The masks of the horse-headed chief goddess “Lakshmi Devara” are most revered by Naikpod tribal people during festival occasions.
- The initiative of the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA), a group of artisans of the Naikpod tribal community formed Naikpod Tribal Arts & Crafts Society and set up a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) router with 90% financial assistance at the ITDA campus.
- The CNC router facilitates the production of wooden miniature masks in impressive designs to serve as decorative artifacts.
Pangong Tso Lake
Context: The south bank of Pangong Tso (lake) — one of the two locations from where Indian and Chinese troops disengaged in February — has become a “no man’s land” for the cattle grazers of Chushul in Eastern Ladakh.
More about Pangong Tso Lake
- Pangong Tso is a long narrow, deep, landlocked lake located at a height of over 14,000-feet in the Ladakh Himalaya.
- It is a brackish water lake freezes over in winter and becomes ideal for ice skating and polo.
- It has a land-locked basin separated from the Indus River basin by a small elevated ridge So it is not a part of the Indus river basin area.
- The lake is in the process of being identified under the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international importance. This will be the first transboundary wetland in South Asia under the convention.
- The Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China passes through the lake. However, both countries have not yet agreed on the exact location of the LAC.
- At present, India controls around 45-km long western part of the lake (1/3rd part) and the rest is controlled by China. Most of the clashes between the two armies occur in the disputed portion of the lake.
- It lies in the path of the Chushul Valley in Ladakh, one of the main approaches that China can use for an offensive into Indian-held territory. During the 1962 war, China launched its main offensive here.
Relevance: Government schemes
Context: To bolster confidence in India’s frozen shrimp produce, the Centre has kicked off a new scheme to certify hatcheries and farms that adopt good aquaculture practices.
More about the Scheme
- India exported frozen shrimp worth almost $5 billion in 2019-20, with the S. and China it’s the biggest buyers.
- The Marine Products Exports Development Authority (MPEDA) has developed a certification scheme for aquaculture products called ‘Shaphari’, a Sanksrit word that means the superior quality of fishery products suitable for human consumption.
- This certification was proposed as a market-based tool for hatcheries to adopt good aquaculture practices and help produce quality antibiotic-free shrimp products to assure global consumers.
- Frozen shrimp is India’s largest exported seafood item. It constituted 50.58% in quantity and 73.2% in terms of total U.S. dollar earnings from the sector during 2019-20.
- Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu are India’s major shrimp-producing States, and around 95% of the cultured shrimp produce is exported.
- The Shaphari scheme is based on the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization’s technical guidelines on aquaculture certification and will have two components — certifying hatcheries for the quality of their seeds and, separately, approving shrimp farms that adopt the requisite good practices.
- The entire certification process will be online to minimize human errors and ensure higher credibility and transparency.
- The Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) was set up by an act of Parliament in 1972.
- It is under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
- MPEDA is given the mandate to promote the marine products industry with special reference to exports from the country.
- It is envisaged that this organization would take all actions to develop and augment the resources required for promoting the exports of “all varieties of fishery products known commercially as shrimp, prawn, lobster, crab, fish, shellfish, other aquatic animals or plants or part thereof and any other products which the authority may, by notification in the Gazette of India, declare to be marine products for (the) Act”.
- The Act empowers MPEDA to regulate exports of marine products and take all measures required for ensuring sustained, quality seafood exports from the country.
- MPEDA is given the authority to prescribe for itself any matters which the future might require for protecting and augmenting the seafood exports from the country.
- It is also empowered to inspect marine products, their raw material, fixing standards, specifications, and training as well as take all necessary steps for marketing the seafood overseas.
Online Dispute Resolution Handbook
Relevance: Government Schemes and Initiatives
Context: NITI has launched the first-of-its-kind Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) handbook.
More on News:
- The handbook is an invitation to business leaders to adopt ODR in India. It highlights the need for such a mechanism, the models of ODR that businesses can adopt, and an actionable pathway for them.
- ODR is the resolution of disputes outside courts, particularly of small and medium-value cases, using digital technology and techniques of alternate dispute resolution (ADR), such as negotiation, mediation, and arbitration.
- While courts are becoming digitized through the efforts of the judiciary, more effective, scalable, and collaborative mechanisms of containment and resolution are urgently needed. ODR can help resolve disputes efficiently and affordably.
Sri Harichand Thakur
Context: Prime Minister has paid homage to Sri Harichand Thakur on his Jayanti.
About Sri Harichand Thakur:
- Harichand Thakur is a saint and social reformer of
- From the very beginning of his life, he had won the respect and honor of the downtrodden men by his divine miracles and many people became his disciples.
- He united the underdeveloped and the downtrodden people. Apart from these, many people used to come to him with their problems, sufferings, and diseases.
- He had worked among the people of the Bengal Presidency.
- He formed the Matuasect of Hindus.
- Although outside of its adequate religiosity the emphasis of this movement was largely secular. Its primary goal was to (i) establish ways and means of achieving perfect peace of mind within the parameters of family life and (ii) eradicate social inequality and ensure the upliftment of the downtrodden.
- He gave twelve instructions’ (Dwadash Agga) for the purification of the soul which later became the main religious duties of the believers of the Matua Religion.
- The twelve instructions were as follows : (i) Speak honesty, (ii) walk along the honest path, (iii) respect your parents, (iv) remain devoted to your brothers and sisters, husband and wife, (v)be satisfied with a single husband or wife, (vi) consider all persons to be one’s kin abstain from discriminating amongst men, (vii) concentrate on domesticity; asceticism is unnecessary, (viii) do not take Diksha, (ix) there is no to have a Guru, (x) try to eradicate the sufferings of others and (xii) show concern for all living creatures.
- His main aim was to unite the untouchables and the oppressed for a common cause of collective thought, and that is where the key to the liberation of spirituality lies.
- He wanted to establish a classless, casteless society.
- According to the recent version, Matua is a socio-economic religion based on the development of the lower castes based on spirituality and for their liberation through the elimination of caste and untouchability, socio-economic inequalities from the society.
- His couplets in Bengali stressed education and strong organization as the primary modes of community empowerment.
- Every second couplet spoke about the importance of brotherhood and ending discrimination – similar to the teachings of other anti-caste icons such as Dr. BR Ambedkar a century later.
All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) Lilavati Awards 2020
Context: Ministry of Education has presented the AICTE Lilavati Awards 2020 on women empowerment.
More on News:
- The Ministry welcomed the initiative of AICTE for instituting the Lilavati Awards and stressed that such innovative steps shall be great motivation for girls to join higher education.
- This initiative will pave a path towards equality in education and innovation, for women.
- AICTE is the statutory body and the national-level council for technical education in the country.
- It was formed in November 1945 with the vision to promote the development of the education system in India.
- Till 1987, it was acting as an advisory body under the Department of Education, Ministry of HRD.
- In 1987, it was given statutory status by an Act of Parliament, enabling it to exercise more effectively.
- It is a body that is responsible for accrediting all postgraduate and graduate programs, under specific categories of technology for Indian institutions.
- This is its major point of difference with UGC (University Grants Commission) as UGC only accredits non-technical education in India.
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