14th April 2021 | UPSC Current Affairs
14th April Current Affairs MCQs
Context: Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra is set to become the next Chief Election Commissioner.
More about Election Commission
- The Election Commission is a permanent and independent body established by the Constitution of India directly to ensure free and fair elections in the country.
- Article 324 of the Constitution provides that the power of superintendence, direction, and control of elections to parliament, state legislatures, the office of president of India, and the office of vice-president of India shall be vested in the election commission.
- Thus, the Election Commission is an all-India body in the sense that it is common to both the Central government and the state governments.
- It must be noted here that the election commission is not concerned with the elections to panchayats and municipalities in the states.
- The Election Commission shall consist of the chief election commissioner and several other election commissioners, if any, as the president may from the time-to-time fix.
- The appointment of the chief election commissioner and other election commissioners shall be made by the president.
- The conditions of service and tenure of office of the election commissioners and the regional commissioners shall be determined by the president.
- The chief election commissioner and the two other election commissioners have equal powers and receive equal salary, allowances, and other perquisites, which are similar to those of a judge of the Supreme Court.
- In case of difference of opinion amongst the Chief election commissioner and/or two other election commissioners, the matter is decided by the Commission by the majority.
- Independence of office:
- The chief election commissioner is provided with the security of tenure. He cannot be removed from his office except in the same manner and on the same grounds as a judge of the Supreme Court.
- Any other election commissioner or a regional commissioner cannot be removed from office except on the recommendation of the chief election commissioner.
- Though the constitution has sought to safeguard and ensure the independence and impartiality of the Election Commission, some flaws can be noted, viz.,
- The Constitution has not prescribed the qualifications (legal, educational, administrative, or judicial) of the members of the Election Commission.
- The Constitution has not specified the term of the members of the Election Commission.
- The Constitution has not debarred the retiring election commissioners from any further appointment by the government.
Context: The Centre has prohibited the exports of Remdesivir injection and Remdesivir Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) in an order issued stating there was a sudden spike in the demand for the drug used in COVID-19 treatment.
Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API)
Bulk drug or Active pharmaceutical ingredients (API)- means any pharmaceutical, chemical, biological or plant product including its salts, esters, isomers, analogues and derivatives, conforming to standards specified in the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and which is used as such or as an ingredient in any formulation
More about the Remdesivir
- Remdesivir was originally developed to treat hepatitis C and was subsequently investigated for Ebola virus disease and Marburg virus infections before being studied as a post-infection treatment for COVID-19
- It is designed to obstruct the stage of replication, when the virus creates copies of itself, followed endlessly by the copies creating copies of themselves.
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the drug helps to prevent Covid-19 viral replication. It has the best potential and can be used in high doses without causing toxicities.
- When a patient is given Remdesivir — the inhibitor — it mimics some of this material and gets incorporated in the replication site.
- With Remdesivir replacing the material it needs, the virus fails to replicate further.
- These coronavirus polymerases are sloppy and they get fooled, so the inhibitor gets incorporated many times and the virus can no longer replicate.
- The most common side effect in people with COVID‑19 is nausea. Side effects may include liver inflammation and an infusion-related reaction with nausea, low blood pressure, and sweating.
Context: Ice shelves including Antarctica’s ‘Doomsday Glacier’ at risk of collapse.
About Doomsday Glacier or Thwaites Glacier:
- Scientists have for the first time, discovered warm water underneath the Thwaites Glacier, which earned the nickname Doomsday Glacier for being Antarctica’s fastest melting glaciers.
- It is 120km wide and 1.9lakh square km.
- So, it has the potential to raise world sea level by more than a half meter.
- Each year it contributes around 4% to the global sea-level rise.
- It flows into Pine Island Bay which is part of the Amundsen Sea.
Context: Residents of 12 Meghalaya villages oppose the dam on India’s cleanest river, Umngot.
About Umngot river:
- It originates from the Eastern Shillong Peak, which is located 1,800 m above sea level.
- It drains into the plain of Bangladesh at a point near Dawki Town where the native Khasi inhabitants call it River Dawki.
- The river is the natural boundary between Ri Pnar (of Jaintia Hills) with Hima Khyrim (of Khasi Hills) over which hangs a single-span suspension bridge. It is the gateway to Bangladesh.
- The proposed 210 MW Umngot Hydro Electric Project would be built over this river between East Khasi Hills district and West Jaintia Hills district.
Shahpur Kandi dam project
Context:Minister of State for the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region lays foundation stone for the work of construction of balance portion of Ravi canal near Basantpur, Kathua in UT Jammu and Kashmir.
About Shahpur Kandi Dam Project:
- It is located on the Ravi River in Pathankot district, Punjab, downstream from the existing Ranjit Sagar Dam.
- It shall provide intensive irrigation facilities in 32000 Hectares area falling in the districts of Kathua and Samba and 5000 Hectares falling in the district Pathankot.
- This project will reduce the outflow of river water to Pakistan.
About the Ravi river:
- The Ravi River originates in the Himalayas in the Multan tehsil of Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh.
- It is a transboundary river crossing northwestern India and eastern Pakistan.
- It is one of six rivers of the Indus System in the Punjab region and covered under the Indus water treaty of 1960.
- The waters of this river drain into the Arabian Sea (Indian Ocean) through the Indus River in Pakistan.
- The right bank tributaries of the Ravi are the Budhil, Tundahan Beljedi, Saho, and Siul; and its left bank tributary is Chirchind Nala.
- The Ravi river flows by the foot of Dalhousie hill, through the famous Chamba valley where the town is located on the right bank of the river.
- The numerous tributaries of it fed by snow make the river perennial.
Context: The Ghaziabad Municipal Corporation which raised 150 crores via municipal bonds on a private placement basis using the BSE bond platform, was listed on the exchange.
More about the News
- This is the 1st evergreen bond issued by any municipal corporation in India.
- Lucknow Municipal Corporation bonds became the first municipal bonds from North India to be listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).
What are Green Bonds?
- Climate bonds (also known as green bonds) are fixed-income financial instruments (bonds) that have positive environmental and/or climate benefits.
- Here capital is being raised to fund ‘green’ projects, which typically include those relating to renewable energy, clean transportation, sustainable water management, etc.
- They follow the Green Bond Principles stated by the International Capital Market Association (ICMA), and the proceeds from the issuance of which are to be used for the pre-specified types of projects.
- Green bonds are issued by multilateral agencies such as the World Bank, corporations, government agencies, and municipalities.
Benefits of Green Bonds
- Green bonds enhance an issuer’s reputation, as it helps in showcasing their commitment towards sustainable development.
- It also provides issuers access to a specific set of global investors who invest only in green ventures.
- With an increasing focus of foreign investors towards green investments, it could also help in reducing the cost of capital.
- An important feature of green bonds is that the responsibility of repayment is with the issuer and not with the firm that is utilizing the funds in green projects.
Context: Scientists recently observed an unknown phenomenon, something that was new to them in the North Pole of the Earth.
More about the News:
- The space Hurricane spread across a 1000-kilometer area over the north pole and lasted for 8 long hours before it broke and spread. The strange part was that it was raining electrons instead of water.
- A space hurricane is similar to any other space weather event. It is caused by streams of plasma unleashed from the sun through the solar wind.
- As the clouds of charged particles hurl through space, they are capable of fueling magnetic storms and triggering stunning displays of the northern or southern lights.
- A hurricane is associated with strong energy and mass transportation, so a hurricane in Earth’s upper atmosphere is violent and efficiently transfer solar wind/magnetosphere energy and momentum into the Earth’s ionosphere.
Similarities between Land and Space hurricane:
- It had a stable center point like a hurricane eye.
- It had strong shears around the edges.
- All flowing patterns were similar to the lower-atmosphere storms.
- The storm looks like a cross between a hurricane and the Aurora Borealis, or simply like a gigantic blast of green energy.
World economic outlook (WEO) report
Relevance: Reports and indices
Context: International Monetary Fund (IMF) has recently released its world economic outlook report for the year 2022.
More about the Report:
- After an estimated contraction of –3.3 percent in 2020, the global economy is projected to grow at 6 percent in 2021, moderating to 4.4 percent in 2022.
- The contraction for 2020 is 1.1 percentage points smaller than projected in the October 2020 World Economic Outlook (WEO), reflecting the higher-than-expected growth outturns in the second half of the year for most regions after lockdowns were eased and as economies adapted to new ways of working.
- Notably in 2020, India’s economy contracted by a record eight percent, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said as it projected an impressive 5 percent growth rate for the country in 2021.
- The projected recovery follows a severe contraction that has had particularly adverse employment and earnings impacts on certain groups. Youth, women, workers with relatively lower educational attainment, and the informally employed have generally been hit hardest.
- Income inequality is likely to increase significantly because of the pandemic. Close to 95 million more people are estimated to have fallen below the threshold of extreme poverty in 2020 compared with pre-pandemic projections.
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
Relevance: International Relations
Context: India said it has protested the U.S. decision to conduct a patrol in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the western Indian Ocean which is a violation of UNCLOS.
More about UNCLOS
- It is also known as Law of the Sea divides marine areas into five main zones namely- Internal Waters, Territorial Sea, Contiguous Zone, Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and the High Seas.
- UNCLOS is the only international convention that stipulates a framework for state jurisdiction in maritime spaces. It provides a different legal status to different maritime zones.
- The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea lays down a comprehensive regime of law and order in the world’s oceans and seas establishing rules governing all uses of the oceans and their resources.
- Baseline: It is the low-water line along the coast as officially recognized by the coastal state.
- Internal Waters: These are waters on the landward side of the baseline from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured. There is no right to innocent passage through internal waters.
- Territorial Sea: It extends seaward up to 12 nautical miles (nm) from its baselines. The coastal states have sovereignty and jurisdiction over the territorial sea. These rights extend not only to the surface but also to the seabed, subsoil, and even airspace. But the coastal states’ rights are limited by the innocent passage through the territorial sea.
- Contiguous Zone: The contiguous zone extends seaward up to 24 nm from its baselines. It is an intermediary zone between the territorial sea and the high seas.
- Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ): Each coastal State may claim an EEZ beyond and adjacent to its territorial sea that extends seaward up to 200 nm from its baselines. Unlike the territorial sea and the contiguous zone, the EEZ only allows for the above-mentioned resource rights. It does not give a coastal state the right to prohibit or limit freedom of navigation or overflight, subject to very limited exceptions.
- High Seas: The ocean surface and the water column beyond the EEZ are referred to as the high seas.
Context: The Centre has decided to extend the existing nutrient-based subsidy (NBS) rates of 2020-21 for the current fiscal year.
More about the Fertiliser subsidy
- Fertilizer was critical to India’s Green Revolution, the government passed the Fertilizer Control Order in 1957 to regulate the sale, pricing, and quality of fertilizer.
- No subsidy was paid on fertilizer before 1977. The oil crisis in 1973 increased the price of fertilizer leading to a decline in consumption and an increase in food prices.
- There are three fertilizer are classified as Primary, Secondary and Micronutrients
- Primary fertilizers are further classified on the type of nutrients they supply to the soil such as nitrogenous (urea), phosphatic (di-ammonium phosphate (DAP)), and potassic (muriate of potash (MOP)) fertilizers.
- Secondary fertilizer includes calcium, magnesium, and sulphur, etc.,
- micronutrients include iron, zinc, boron, chloride, etc.,
- Farmers buy fertilizers at Maximum Retail Prices (MRP) below their normal supply-and-demand-based market rates or what it costs to produce/import them.
- The difference, which varies according to plant-wise production cost and import price, is footed by the Centre as subsidy, which goes to the companies.
- The MRPs of non-urea fertilizers are decontrolled or fixed by the companies. However, the Centre pays a flat per-tonne subsidy on these nutrients to ensure reasonable prices.
Nutrient Based Subsidy scheme
- Under this, the government announces a fixed rate of subsidy (on an Rs. per Kg basis), on each nutrient of subsidized P&K fertilizers, namely Nitrogen (N), Phosphate (P), Potash (K), and Sulphur (S).
- It applies to 22 fertilizers (other than Urea) for which MRP will be decided to take into account the international and domestic prices of P&K fertilizers, exchange rate, and inventory level in the country.
Relevance: Government schemes and Initiatives
Context: Ministry of Science and Technology has launched the Aahaar Kranti.
About Aahaar Kranti:
- The mission is aimed to spread the message of the need for a nutritionally balanced diet and to understand the importance of accessibility to all local fruits and vegetables.
- Vijnana Bharati (Vibha) and the Global Indian Scientists’ and Technocrats’ Forum (GIST) have come together to launch the mission
- This movement is designed to address the particular problem being faced by India and the world called `hunger and diseases in abundance’.
- The movement proposes to address the current situation of hunger in abundance by working to rouse the people to the values of India’s traditional diet, the healing powers of local fruits and vegetables, and the miracles of a balanced diet.
- The program will focus on training teachers, who, in turn, will pass on the message to the multitudes of students, and through them to their families and finally the society at large. Such a strategy was adopted for the eradication of Polio and it turned out to be a grand success.
- The United Nations has also declared 2021 as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, which vibes very well with Aahaar Kranti.
Relevance: International Relations
Context: India and Denmark had collaborated for world-class innovative solutions and addressing water challenges.
More on News:
- As part of the Indo-Danish bilateral Green strategic partnership, the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) of India’s premier policy think tank NITI Aayog and the Embassy of Denmark to India signed an agreement.
- Under this ambitious partnership, Innovation Center Denmark in India will collaborate with AIM to support various current and future initiatives of AIM, NITI Aayog, and its beneficiaries in India as well as develop global innovation Green economy partnerships addressing SDG goals.
Advanced Antiquities Management System (AAMS)
Relevance: Science and Technology
Context: Goa Government has recently introduced the AAMS.
What is the Advanced Antiquities Management System?
· The AAMS is software-driven automated storage used for the storage of various objects.
· So far it has been used for the storage of industrial equipment but the decision of the Goa government to use it for storing valuable antiquities is the first such in the country.
· The AAMS will ensure the safety of antiquities, clean storage space, access control, and data management and also enhance the utilization of space.
· With antiquities preserved within the system, it will provide access to these in one place with the help of a screen on which the preserved antiquities can be searched and accessed within the system for viewing.
· It will also provide information about the age of antiquity, the material it is made of, and its brief history.
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