26th April 2021 | UPSC Current Affairs

26th April Current Affairs MCQs 

Daily Current Affairs MCQsHistory MCQPolity MCQ Video Series


Union Territories

Relevance: Polity

Context: The Centre has informed all the eight Union Territories that the next three weeks were crucial in the management of the second wave of the pandemic. The UT administrations, including the Delhi Government, “were advised to plan in advance for three weeks”.

More about Union territories:

  • Under Article 1 of the Constitution, the territory of India comprises three categories of territories: (a) territories of the states; (b) union territories; and (c) territories that may be acquired by the Government of India at any time.
  • The states are the members of the federal system in India and share the distribution of power with the Centre.
  • The union territories, on the other hand, are those areas that are under the direct control and administration of the Central government. Hence, they are also known as ‘centrally administered territories.

Why union territories are created?

  1. The union territories have been created for a variety of reasons. These are mentioned below
  2. Political and administrative consideration—Delhi and Chandigarh.
  3. Cultural distinctiveness—Puducherry, Dadra, and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu.
  4. Strategic importance—Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep.
  5. Special treatment and care of the backward and tribal people—Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura, and Arunachal Pradesh which later became states.
  6. Internal security considerations- Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh

Administration of Union Territories

  • Articles 239 to 241 in Part VIII of the Constitution deal with the union territories. Even though all the union territories belong to one category, there is no uniformity in their administrative system.
  • Every union territory is administered by the President acting through an administrator appointed by him. An administrator of a union territory is an agent of the President and not the head of state like a governor.
  • The President can specify the designation of an administrator; it may be Lieutenant Governor or Chief Commissioner or Administrator.
  • At present, it is Lieutenant Governor in the case of Delhi, Puducherry and Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Administrator in the case of Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, and Lakshadweep.
  • The President can also appoint the governor of a state as the administrator of an adjoining union territory. In that capacity, the governor is to act independently of his council of ministers.
  • The Union Territories of Puducherry (in 1963), Delhi (in 1992), and Jammu and Kashmir (in 2019) are provided with a legislative assembly and a council of ministers headed by a chief minister.
  • The remaining six union territories do not have such popular political institutions. But, the establishment of such institutions in the union territories does not diminish the supreme control of the president and Parliament over them.
  • The Parliament can make laws on any subject of the three lists (including the State List) for the union territories. This power of Parliament also extends to Puducherry, Delhi and Jammu, and Kashmir, which have their local legislatures.
  • But, the legislative assembly of Puducherry can also make laws on any subject of the State List and the Concurrent List. Similarly, the legislative assembly of Delhi can make laws on any subject of the State List (except public order, police, and land) and the Concurrent List.
  • Likewise, the legislative assembly of Jammu and Kashmir can make laws on any subject of the State List (except public order and police) and the Concurrent List.


Russia’s space station in 2025

Relevance: Science and technology

Context: Russia’s space agency said it hoped to launch its orbital station in 2025 as Moscow considers withdrawing from the International Space Station programme to go it alone.

More about the News

  • Roscosmos said work had begun on the first module of a new station after officials warned that Russia was considering pulling out of the International Space Station (ISS).
  • Russia’s Energia space corporation was aiming to have the module “ready for launch” in 2025.

More about ISS

  • The International Space Station (ISS) is a modular space station (habitable artificial satellite) in low Earth orbit. It is a multinational collaborative project involving five participating space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada).
  • The ownership and use of the space station are established by intergovernmental treaties and agreements.
  • The station serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory in which scientific research is conducted in astrobiology, astronomy, meteorology, physics, and other fields.
  • The ISS is suited for testing the spacecraft systems and equipment required for possible future long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars.
  • The station is divided into two sections: the Russian Orbital Segment (ROS) is operated by Russia, while the United States Orbital Segment (USOS) is run by the United States as well as many other nations.
  • Roscosmos has endorsed the continued operation of ROS through 2024 having previously proposed using elements of the segment to construct a new Russian space station called Orbital Piloted Assembly and Experiment Complex (OPSEK).
  • Russia lost its monopoly for manned flights to the ISS last year after the first successful mission of U.S. company Space X.


CHAD

Relevance: Geography

Context: Chad’s President Idriss Deby Itno died in combat after three decades in power, the Army said, opening a period of uncertainty in a country.

More about CHAD:

  • Chad officially known as the Republic of Chad is a landlocked country in north-central Africa.
  • It is bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon to the southwest, Nigeria to the southwest (at Lake Chad), and Niger to the west.
  • Lake Chad, after which the country is named, is the second-largest wetland in Africa.

More about Lake Chad

  • Lake Chad is a historically large, shallow, endorheic lake in central Africa that has shrunk over time.
  • The freshwater lake is located in West-central Africa’s Sahelian zone. Lake Chad is located primarily in western Chad, bordering north-eastern Nigeria.
  • Lake Chad supplies water to more than 30 million people in the four Sahelian countries that surround it (Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria). It is the Chad Basin’s largest lake.
  • Over 90% of the lake’s water comes from the Chari River, which is fed by its tributary the Logone, with a small amount coming from the Yobe River in Nigeria/Niger.


 National Hydrogen Energy Mission (NHEM)

Relevance: Science and Technology

Context: India will soon join 15 other countries in the hydrogen club as it prepares to launch the National Hydrogen Energy Mission (NHEM).

More about the Mission

  • A National Hydrogen Energy Mission (NHM) has been announced in the Union Budget for 2021-22, which will lay out a roadmap for using hydrogen as a source of energy. The plan has the ability to change the way people travel.
  • Concentrate on hydrogen production using renewable energy sources.
  • To link India’s rapidly expanding renewable energy potential with the hydrogen economy.
  • The 2021-22 budget, which allocated Rs. 1500 crore for renewable energy production and NHM, gave a boost to India’s ambitious target of 175 GW by 2022.
  • The use of hydrogen would not only assist India in meeting its Paris Agreement emission targets, but will also reduce India’s reliance on fossil fuel imports.
  • The aviation, chemical, and steel industries are all end users of hydrogen energy. Since they use fossil fuels, these industries account for a third of all greenhouse gas emissions.
  • In these industries, replacing fossil fuels with hydrogen would significantly reduce GHG emissions.

More about Hydrogen as fuel

  • On the periodic table, hydrogen is the lightest and first element. Since hydrogen has a lower density than air, it rises in the atmosphere and is therefore rarely present in its purest form, H2.
  • Hydrogen is a nontoxic, non-metallic, odourless, tasteless, colourless, and highly combustible diatomic gas at normal temperature and pressure.
  • Hydrogen fuel is an oxygen-burned, zero-emission fuel. It can be used in both internal combustion engines and fuel cells. It’s also used as a propulsion fuel for spacecraft.

Hydrogen is divided into three groups based on the source of origin, as discussed below.

  • Grey hydrogen is hydrogen derived from hydrocarbons (natural gas, fossil fuels). Today, this is the most common method of hydrogen production. As a by-product, it emits carbon dioxide.
  • Black/Brown Hydrogen: This is the oldest method of hydrogen production, which includes converting coal to gas. If lignite coal is used, the hydrogen produced is brown; if bituminous coal is used, the hydrogen produced is black. It’s a very polluting process because both carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide are emitted into the atmosphere and can’t be recycled.
  • Blue Hydrogen: This is the name given to hydrogen derived from hydrocarbons in which the process’s emissions are collected and processed. Commercial carbon capture and storage store them underground (CSS). As a result, it is thought to be a safer alternative to grey hydrogen, which emits carbon. However, only around 10-20% of the carbon dioxide generated can be collected using this method.
  • Green Hydrogen: In this case, hydrogen is generated using renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Electricity separates water into hydrogen and oxygen in this process. Since the only by-products are water and water vapor, this is the cleanest method of hydrogen production.


Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) Report 2021

Relevance: Reports and Indices

Context: The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), has recommended the State Department put India on a list (‘Countries of Particular Concern’ or CPCs) for the worst violations of religious freedoms in 2020.

More about the News

  • This report is released by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent bipartisan commission.
  • This is in line with the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 which was passed to promote religious freedom as a foreign policy of the United States.
  • The USCISRF recommended that the administration impose targeted sanctions on Indian individuals and entities for “severe violations of religious freedom”.
  • A second recommendation was for the administration to promote inter-faith dialogue and the rights of all communities at bilateral and multilateral forums “such as the ministerial of the Quadrilateral [the Quad]”.
  • Another recommendation — to the U.S. Congress — was to raise issues in the U.S.-India bilateral space, such as by hosting hearings, writing letters, and constituting Congressional delegations.
  • The key concerns of the 2021 report include the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and Delhi’s riots in February 2020.
  • Nations on the CPC list for engaging in or tolerating systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom are Pakistan, China, Myanmar, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. Nigeria is the first secular democracy that has been named a CPC.

Freedom of Religion in India

  • Freedom of religion in India is a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 25-28 of the Constitution of India.
  • Article 25 (Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion).
  • Article 26 (Freedom to manage religious affairs).
  • Article 27 (Freedom as to payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion).
  • Article 28 (Freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in certain educational institutions) Further
  • Article 29 and 30 of the Constitution deals with the protection of interest of minorities.

India, USA, and Afghanistan

Relevance: International Relations

Context: India and the US will coordinate their efforts for stability in Afghanistan. US State Department spokesperson said that External Affairs and his US counterpart have agreed that the two nations will coordinate efforts to promote stability in Afghanistan.

More about the News:

  • Washington and NATO have announced to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan.
  • The United States has pointed out that the best way to promote the common interests of the U.S. and the Afghan government is to accelerate the peace process.
  • Under the agreement signed by the US in February 2020 with the Taliban, by 1 May US troops, currently, around 2500 in Afghanistan, will vacate.
  • Afghan peace process: The Afghan peace process consists of proposals and negotiations aimed at putting an end to Afghanistan’s ongoing war.
  • Aside from the United States, regional powers such as India, China, and Russia, as well as NATO, contribute to the peace process.
  • The programmes of India cover four broad areas – infrastructure projects, humanitarian aid projects, small and community projects, and education and capacity building. Newly built Afghan Parliament
  1. Zaranj-Delaram highway to Iran– The 218 km road project from Zaranj to Delaram in southwestern Afghanistan to facilitate movement of goods and services to the Iranian border and, onward, to the Chahbahar Port.
  2. India constructed the 202 km long 220 kV DC transmission line from Pul-e-Khumri to Kabul and a 220/110/20 kV sub-station at Chimtala, bringing Uzbek electricity and lighting up the city of Kabul throughout the year.
  3. Afghan diplomats, administrators, and soldiers are sent to India for professional training.
  4. India provides 100 gms of fortified, high-protein biscuits each day under humanitarian aid to almost two million educational children in 33 out of 34 Afghanistan provinces under the World Food Programme.
  5. Kabul’s biggest children’s hospital and medical missions in their major cities.
  6. Salma irrigation and electricity project (India-Afghanistan Friendship Dam).
  7. Shahtoot Dam: India and Afghanistan have signed an agreement to build the Shahtoot Dam in Kabul to provide a drinking water facility in the Afghan capital. Etc.,


Collegium system

Relevance: polity

Context: Owing to vacancies on the high court, the Supreme Court was forced to appoint ad hoc judges. This calls into question the supreme court’s collegium structure.

More about collegium system

  • Appointment of Judges: The judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the The chief justice is appointed by the president after consultation with such judges of the Supreme Court and high courts as he deems necessary.
  • The other judges are appointed by the president after consultation with the chief justice and other judges of the Supreme Court and the high courts as he deems necessary. The consultation with the chief justice is obligatory in the case of appointment of a judge other than the Chief justice.
  • Controversy over Consultation the Supreme Court has given different interpretations of the word ‘consultation’ in the above provision.
  • In the First Judges case (1982), the Court held that consultation does not mean concurrence and it only implies the exchange of views.
  • But, in the Second Judges case (1993), the Court reversed its earlier ruling and changed the meaning of the word consultation to concurrence.
  • Hence, it ruled that the advice tendered by the Chief Justice of India is binding on the President in the matters of appointment of the judges of the Supreme Court.
  • But the Chief Justice would tender his advice on the matter after consulting two of his senior-most colleagues.
  • Similarly, in the Third Judges case (1998), the Court opined that the consultation process to be adopted by the Chief justice of India requires ‘consultation of plurality judges. The sole opinion of the chief justice of India does not constitute the consultation process. He should consult a collegium of four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court and even if two judges give an adverse opinion, he should not send the recommendation to the government.
  • The court held that the recommendation made by the chief justice of India without complying with the norms and requirements of the consultation process is not binding on the government.
  • The 99th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2014 and the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act of 2014 have replaced the collegium system of appointing judges to the Supreme Court and High Courts with a new body called the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC).
  • However, in 2015, the Supreme Court has declared both the 99th Constitutional Amendment as well as the NJAC Act as unconstitutional and void. Consequently, the earlier collegium system became operative again. This verdict was delivered by the Supreme Court in the Fourth Judges case (2015). The court opined that the new system (i.e., NJAC) would affect the independence of the judiciary.


Reaching Zero Forum

Relevance: Health

Context: Minister of Health and Family Welfare has chaired the “Reaching Zero” forum on malaria elimination to celebrate World Malaria Day.

More on News:

  • Every year, 25thApril is observed as ‘World Malaria Day.
  • This year’s theme for the day is “Reaching the Zero Malaria target.’’
  • The forum addressed that the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India has been among the 18 Global leaders who endorsed the Malaria Elimination roadmap of Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance at the East Asia Summit held in Malaysia in 2015.
  • It was then that the alliance leadership set the goal of ensuring that the Region becomes free of malaria by 2030.
  • WHO has attributed India’s success to rejuvenated political commitment, strengthened technical leadership which focused on prioritizing the right mix of vector control measures, and increased domestic funding to support the effective implementation of elimination strategies.
  • The country has been able to achieve remarkable success in reducing the malaria burden in terms of cases by 5% and deaths by 83.6% which has been well recognized by World Malaria Reports of 2018, 2019, and 2020.


Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) innovation Challenge

Relevance: Health

Context: Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) announced the #FOSS4GOV Innovation Challenge to accelerate the adoption of FOSS In Government.

About #FOSS4GOV Innovation Challenge:

  • The Challenge calls upon FOSS innovators, technology entrepreneurs, and Indian Startups to submit implementable open-source product innovations in CRM and ERP with possible applications for Govtech in Health, Education, Agriculture, Urban Governance, etc.
  • Participants to be eligible for incubation support, prize money, and mentorship by domain experts, institutional support from eminent organizations for incubation of ideas, and listing of solutions on Government e-marketplace (GeM).
  • The roundtable provided a forum for eGov leaders of States, Central Ministries, and Agencies to share their experiences, best practices, and learnings in using FOSS in GovTech platforms and applications.

What is Free and Open Source Software (FOSS)?

  • It allows users and programmers to edit, modify or reuse the software’s source code.
  • This allows developers to improve program functionality by modifying it.
  • The term “free” indicates that the software does not have constraints on
  • The term “open source” indicates the software is in its project form, enabling easy software development from expert developers collaborating worldwide without any need for reverse engineering.


Oxygen Enrichment’ technology

Relevance: Science and Technology

Context: The Indian Council of Scientific and Industrial Research- Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CSIR-CMERI) has developed ‘Oxygen Enrichment’ technology.

More on News:

  • It is capable of delivering medical air in the range of up to 15 LPM with oxygen purity of more than 90%.
  • If required, this unit can even deliver up to 70 LPM at a purity of around 30% and can safely be placed in the isolation ward of the hospital for patients who are in dire need of Oxygen.
  • This will help the accessibility of Oxygen in the remotest places and widest points of need.
  • The Outreach Factor of Oxygen will be multiplied through the adoption of this in-situ and decentralized generation of Oxygen.
  • Further research is going on to develop a pulse dose mode that is capable of sensing the breathing pattern of a patient and then deliver during the inhalation only.
  • This mode is supposed to reduce the oxygen demand by around 50% when compared with the current version of continuous mode.
  • If this facility is provided to COVID patients at the initial stage, their visits to hospitals and further ventilatory support may be avoided in most cases.
  • It was also felt that the use of such units is also safe and easier considering the recent risk factors involved with the Oxygen Cylinders.


PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY)

Relevance: Government schemes and Initiatives

Context: Additional free-of-cost foodgrains to be distributed to National Food Security Act (NFSA) beneficiaries under PM-GKAY.

More on News:

  • The Government of India has decided to allocate free-of-cost food grains @ 5 Kg per person per month to nearly 80 Crore beneficiaries covered under, NFSA Act, 2013 under PM-GKAY.
  • Under this special scheme (PMGKAY), around 80 Crore NFSA beneficiaries covered under both categories of NFSA, namely Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and Priority Householders (PHH)

About PM-GKAY:

  • PM-GKAY is a scheme as part of Aatmanirbhar Bharat to supply free food grains to migrants and the poor.
  • The scheme was initially launched on 26 March 2020 as part of the existing Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojanawelfare initiative.
  • Department of Food and Public Distributionunder the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution is the nodal body for the implementation of the scheme.
  • The scheme aims to feed the poorest citizens of India by providing grain through the Public Distribution System, to all the priority households (ration cardholders and those identified by the Antyodaya Anna Yojanascheme).
  • PMGKAY provides 5 kg of rice or wheat (according to regional dietary preferences) per person and 1 kg of dalto each family holding a ration card.


NASA Perseverance mission

Relevance: Space Technology

Context: NASA’s Perseverance mission produced oxygen on Mars.

More on News:

  • A device aboard the rover was able to produce oxygen from the thin Martian atmosphere for the first time.
  • In its first operation since arriving on the Red Planet, the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) produced 5 grams of oxygen from carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere, enough for an astronaut to breathe for 10 minutes.
  • On Mars, carbon dioxide makes up ~96% of the gas in the planet’s atmosphere. Oxygen is only 13%, compared to 21% in Earth’s atmosphere. Like a tree on Earth, MOXIE inhales carbon dioxide and exhales oxygen.
  • To produce oxygen, MOXIE separates oxygen atoms from carbon dioxide molecules.


KRI Nanggala-402

Relevance: International Relations

Context: India has Joined Rescue Operation for Missing Indonesian Submarine KRI Nanggala-402.

More on News:

  • It is an Indonesian submarine that was missing for some days.
  • The Navy’s Deep-Submergence Rescue Vessel (DSVR) left Visakhapatnam to help Indonesian Navy in the rescue operation.

About Indonesia:

  • Indonesia is an island nation in Southeast Asia, between the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean (in the north) and the Indian Ocean (in the south).
  • The country shares its land border with three countries of East Timor, Papua New Guinea, and Malaysia.
  • Indonesia also has a long maritime border that it shares with India, Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, Palau, Singapore, and the Philippines.


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