Daily Prelims Notes 1 September 2021
- September 1, 2021
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
1 September 2021
Table Of Contents
- UNSC Resolutions
- Gross Value Added (GVA)
- National Statistical Office (NSO)
- Different types of Economic Recoveries
- National Register of Citizens (NRC)
- Registrar General of India
- Oath of Supreme Court Judges
- Mission 5000
- IMD Classification of Monsoons
- Kaziranga National Park
- Ramon Magsaysay Award
- China-Myanmar New Passage
- Index of Industrial Production (IIP)
- International Central Securities Depositories (ICSDs)
- Li-ion Batteries
- China’s New Maritime Rules
- C.1.2 variant of Covid-19
- North Korea reheating its Nuclear Programme
- Indian Royal Jelly
- Mumbai Climate Action Plan
- Loan Guarantee Scheme for Covid Affected Sectors (LGSCAS)
- Carbon Sinks
- Grant in Aid for Rural Local Bodies
- BharatNet Project
Subject – IR
Context – UNSC resolution addresses ‘key concerns’ on Afghanistan: India.
- United Nations resolutions are formal expressions of the opinion or will of United Nations organs.
- A United Nations Security Council resolution is a United Nations resolution adopted by the fifteen members of the Security Council (UNSC).
- The UN Charter specifies (in Article 27) that a draft resolution on non-procedural matters is adopted if nine or more of the fifteen Council members vote for the resolution, and if it is not vetoed by any of the five permanent members.
- Draft resolutions on “procedural matters” can be adopted on the basis of an affirmative vote by any nine Council members.
- The term “resolution” does not appear in the text of the United Nations Charter.
- Resolutions by the Security Council are legally binding.
- If the council cannot reach consensus or a passing vote on a resolution, they may choose to produce a non-binding presidential statement instead of a Resolution. These are adopted by consensus. They are meant to apply political pressure—a warning that the Council is paying attention and further action may follow.
- The UN Charter is a multilateral treaty.
- It is the constitutional document that distributes powers and functions among the various UN organs.
- It authorizes the Security Council to take action on behalf of the members, and to make decisions and recommendations.
- The Charter mentions neither binding nor non-binding resolutions.
United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2593
- The resolution called on the Taliban to keep their commitments on preventing terror groups in Afghanistan and urged them to assist the safe evacuations of all Afghan nationals wishing to leave the country.
- The resolution demands that Afghan territory should not be used to threaten or attack any country or to shelter and train terrorists and plan or finance terrorist attacks.
- Despite the abstention of two “P5” countries — Russia and China — from the India-led United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2593, the Government of India said it was a “matter of satisfaction” that the resolution addressed India’s “key concerns” on Afghanistan.
- The United Nations Charter established six main organs of the United Nations, including the Security Council.
- It gives primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security to the Security Council, which may meet whenever peace is threatened.
- UNSC has 15 members of which 5 are permanent and 10 are non-permanent members. Non-permanent members elected for two-year terms by the UN General Assembly.
- Five permanent members are- US, UK, France, Russia, and China.
- It is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.
Subject – Economy
Context – Economy grows 20.1% in Q1, lags pre-COVID level. ‘GVA during April to June rose 18.8%’.
- In economics, gross value added (GVA) is the measure of the value of goods and services produced in an area, industry or sector of an economy.
- Gross value added is the value of output minus the value of intermediate consumption;
- It is a measure of the contribution to GDP made by an individual producer, industry or sector;
- GVA is a very important measure, because it is used to determine gross domestic product (GDP).
- In comparing GVA and GDP, we can say that GVA is a better measure for the economic welfare of the population, because it includes all primary incomes.
- GVA is sector specific, and GDP is calculated by summation of GVA of all sectors of economy with taxes added and subsidies are deducted.
- While GVA gives a picture of the state of economic activity from the producers’ side or supply side, the GDP gives the picture from the consumers’ side or demand perspective.
- Both measures need not match because of the difference in treatment of net taxes.
- Earlier, India had been measuring GVA at ‘factor cost’ till the new methodology was adopted in which GVA at ‘basic prices’ became the primary measure of economic output.
- GVA at basic prices will include production taxes and exclude production subsidies.
- GVA at factor cost included no taxes and excluded no subsidies.
- The base year has also been shifted to 2011-12 from the earlier 2004-05.
Subject – Economy
Context – Gross Value Added (GVA) in the economy during the April to June period rose 18.8%, as per the National Statistical Office (NSO), from a 22.2% dip in the first quarter of 2020¬21.
- The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) merged with the Central Statistical Office (CSO) to form the National Statistical Office (NSO). On 23rd May 2019, the Government of India has approved the merger of NSSO and CSO.
- The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), formerly called the National Sample Survey Organisation was the largest organization in India conducting periodic socio-economic surveys.
- Earlier known as the Central Statistics Organisation of India, CSO is responsible for the coordination of statistical activities in India, and evolving and maintaining statistical standards.
- NSO is headed by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI).
Subject – Economy
Context – The government said the NSO numbers reaffirmed its prediction of an “imminent V-shaped recovery”.
Economic recovery can take many forms, which is depicted using alphabetic notations. For example, a Z-shaped recovery, V-shaped recovery, U-shaped recovery, elongated U-shaped recovery, W-shaped recovery, L-shaped recovery and K-shaped recovery.
- A K-shaped recovery occurs when, following a recession, different parts of the economy recover at different rates, times, or magnitudes.
- This is in contrast to an even, uniform recovery across sectors, industries, or groups of people.
- A K-shaped recovery leads to changes in the structure of the economy or the broader society as economic outcomes and relations are fundamentally changed before and after the recession.
- It is the most-optimistic scenario in which the economy quickly rises after an economic crash.
- In this economic disruption lasts for a small period wherein more than people’s incomes, it is their ability to spend is restricted.
- It is the next-best scenario after Z-shaped recovery in which the economy quickly recoups lost ground and gets back to the normal growth trend-line.
- In this, incomes and jobs are not permanently lost, and the economic growth recovers sharply and returns to the path it was following before the disruption.
U-shaped recovery: It is a scenario in which the economy, after falling, struggles around a low growth rate for some time, before rising gradually to usual levels.
- In this case several jobs are lost and people fall upon their savings.
- If this process is more-long drawn than it throws up the “elongated U” shape.
W-shaped recovery: A W-shaped recovery is a dangerous creature. In this, growth falls and rises, but falls again before recovering, thus forming a W-like chart.
- The double-dip depicted by a W-shaped recovery can be due to the second wave of the pandemic.
L-shaped recovery: In this, the economy fails to regain the level of GDP even after years go by.
- The shape shows that there is a permanent loss to the economy’s ability to produce.
Subject – IR
Context – The 13th BRICS summit is set to be held on September 9 in digital format under India’s chairmanship.
- BRICS is an acronym for the grouping of the world’s leading emerging economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
- The term BRIC was coined by Jim O’ Neil, the then chairman of Goldman Sachs in 2001.
- The first BRIC summit took place in the year 2009 in Yekaterinburg (Russia).
- In 2010, South Africa formally joined the association making it BRICS.
- The BRICS Leaders’ Summit is convened annually.
- The Chairmanship of the forum is rotated annually among the members, in accordance with the acronym B-R-I-C-S.
- Together, BRICS accounts for about 40% of the world’s population and about 30% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product), making it a critical economic engine.
- During the Sixth BRICS Summit in Fortaleza (2014) the leaders signed the Agreement establishing the New Development Bank (NDB), headquartered in Shanghai.
- Fortaleza Declaration stressed that the NDB will strengthen cooperation among BRICS and will supplement the efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global development thus contributing to sustainable and balanced growth.
- Considering the increasing instances of global financial crisis, BRICS nations signed BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) in 2014 as part of Fortaleza Declaration at Sixth BRICS summit.
- The BRICS CRA aims to provide short-term liquidity support to the members through currency swaps to help mitigating BOP crisis situation and further strengthen financial stability.
- The initial total committed resources of the CRA shall be one hundred billion dollars of the United States of America (USD 100 billion).
13th BRICS Summit
- The chair of BRICS 2021 is India.
- The theme of the 13th BRICS Summit is, ‘BRICS @ 15: Intra-BRICS Cooperation for Continuity, Consolidation and Consensus.’
Subject – IR
Context – Concerns over Afghanistan’s membership in SAARC arise.
- The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is an economic and political organization of eight countries in South Asia.
- SAARC was established with the signing of the SAARC Charter in Dhaka on 8 December 1985.
- SAARC comprises of eight Member States: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
- The Secretariat of the Association was set up in Kathmandu on 17 January 1987.
- SAARC aims to promote economic growth, social progress and cultural development within the South Asia region. The objectives of SAARC, as defined in its charter, are as follows:
- Promote the welfare of the peoples of South Asia and improve their quality of life
- Accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region by providing all individuals the opportunity to live in dignity and realise their full potential
- Promote and strengthen collective self-reliance among the countries of South Asia
- Contribute to mutual trust, understanding and appreciation of one another’s problems
- Promote active collaboration and mutual assistance in the economic, social, cultural, technical and scientific fields
- Strengthen co-operation with other developing countries
- Strengthen co-operation among themselves in international forms on matters of common interest; and
- Cooperate with international and regional organisation with similar aims and purposes.
Structure and Process
- Cooperation in SAARC is based on respect for the five principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, political independence, non-interference in internal affairs of the Member States and mutual benefit.
- Regional cooperation is seen as a complement to the bilateral and multilateral relations of SAARC Member States.
- SAARC Summits are held annually and the country hosting the Summit holds the Chair of the Association.
- Decisions are made on an unanimity basis while bilateral and contentious issues are excluded from the deliberations of SAARC.
- In addition to the eight Member States, nine Observer States join SAARC Summits: China, the US, Myanmar, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Mauritius and the European Union.
Areas of Cooperation
- The Member States agreed on the following areas of cooperation:
- Agriculture and rural development
- Education and culture
- Economic, trade and finance
- Science and Technology
- Information, Communication and Media
- Poverty alleviation
- Security aspects
- People-to-People Contacts
- Funding mechanism
- Social development.
Subject – Polity
Context – Two years since NRC draft, lakhs still in limbo.
- National Register of Citizens, 1951 is a register prepared after the conduct of the Census of 1951 in respect of each village, showing the houses or holdings in a serial order and indicating against each house or holding the number and names of persons staying therein.
- The NRC was published only once in 1951.
- Purpose: To separate “illegal” immigrants from “legitimate” residents of Assam.
- Nodal Agency: Registrar General and Census Commissioner India.
- The process of NRC update was taken up in Assam as per a Supreme Court order in 2013.
- In order to wean out cases of illegal migration from Bangladesh and other adjoining areas, NRC updation was carried out under The Citizenship Act, 1955, and according to rules framed in the Assam Accord.
- It set March 25, 1971, as the cut-off date for the deportation of illegal migrants.
- Since the cut-off date prescribed under articles 5 and 6 of the Constitution was July 19, 1949 – to give force to the new date, an amendment was made to the Citizenship Act, 1955, and a new section was introduced.
- It was made applicable only to Assam.
- The NRC of 1951 and the Electoral Roll of 1971 (up to midnight of 24 March 1971) are together called Legacy Data. Persons and their descendants whose names appeared in these documents are certified as Indian citizens.
Subject – Polity
Context – The Registrar General of India (RGI) has not yet issued a notification on the NRC, which questions the legality of the list.
- Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India, founded in 1961 by Government of India Ministry of Home Affairs, for arranging, conducting and analysing the results of the demographic surveys of India including Census of India and Linguistic Survey of India.
- The position of Registrar is usually held by a civil servant holding the rank of Joint Secretary.
Subject – Polity
Context – In a first, nine SC judges take oath in one stroke.
- A person appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court, before entering upon his Office, has to make and subscribe an oath or affirmation before the President, or some person appointed by him for this purpose.
- In his oath, a judge of the Supreme Court swears:
- to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India;
- to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India;
- to duly and faithfully and to the best of his ability, knowledge and judgement perform the duties of the Office without fear or favour, affection or ill-will; and
- To uphold the Constitution and the laws.
Subject – Polity
Context – ‘Discipline’ lawmakers, says VP Venkaiah.
- Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu exhorted voters to discipline the 5,000 elected representatives in Parliament, Legislative Assemblies and Legislative Councils by naming and shaming “disruptors”.
- Disrupted and dysfunctional legislatures can disrupt the lives of the people and the dreams of the nation.
- Identify the disruptors and raise the same when such lawmakers visit respective constituencies and areas;
- launch Mission 5000 social media handles constituency or State-wise and post the names of disruptors with comments.
Subject – Geography
Context – IMD forecast foiled by 24% rain shortfall.
IMD maintains five rainfall distribution categories on an all-India scale. These are:
- Normal or Near Normal: When per cent departure of actual rainfall is +/-10% of LPA, that is, between 96-104% of LPA.
- Below Normal: When departure of actual rainfall is less than 10% of LPA, that is 90-96% of LPA.
- Above Normal: When actual rainfall is 104-110% of LPA.
- Deficient: When departure of actual rainfall is less than 90% of LPA.
- Excess: When departure of actual rainfall is more than 110% of LPA.
Long Period Average (LPA):
- It is the average rainfall recorded during the months from June to September, calculated during the 50-year period.
- It is kept as a benchmark while forecasting the quantitative rainfall for the monsoon season every year.
India Meteorological Department
- Formed in 1875, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) is the national meteorological service of the country and it is the chief government agency dealing in everything related to meteorology, seismology, and associated subjects.
- The administrative responsibilities of the Department are under the supervision of the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Indian Government.
- The IMD is headquartered in New Delhi.
Subject – Science and Tech
Context – 40 die of suspected dengue in Firozabad.
- Dengue is a vector-borne disease transmitted by the bite of an infected female Aedes Aegypti mosquito.
- This mosquito also transmits chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika infection.
- Aedesaegypti is a daytime feeder. The peak biting periods are early in the morning and in the evening before dusk.
- There are 4 serotypes of the virus that causes dengue. These are known as DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3, DEN-4.
- The symptoms of the disease will begin anywhere between three to fourteen days after the initial infection.
- The symptoms include:
- High fever
- Muscle and joint pains
- Skin Rash
- Diagnosis of dengue infection is done with a blood test.
- There is no vaccine or specific medication for dengue fever. Patients should seek medical advice, rest and drink plenty of fluids.
- Dengue cannot be spread directly from person to person. However, a person infected and suffering from dengue fever can infect other mosquitoes.
- Most cases occur in tropical areas of the world, including the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Southern China, Taiwan, the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean, Mexico, Africa, Central and South America.
- WHO estimates 39 crore dengue virus infections per year, of which 9.6 crore show symptoms.
Subject – Environment
Context – The rising water of the Brahmaputra inundated more than 70% of the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve.
- It is located in the State of Assam and covers 42,996 Hectare (ha). It is the single largest undisturbed and representative area in the Brahmaputra Valley floodplain.
Status of the National Park:
- It was declared as a National Park in 1974.
- It has been declared a tiger reserve since 2007. It has a total tiger reserve area of 1,030 sq km with a core area of 430 sq. km.
- It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
- It is recognized as an Important Bird Area by Bird Life International.
Important Species Found:
- It is the home of the world’s most one-horned rhinos. Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary has the highest density of one-horned rhinos in the world and second highest number of Rhinos in Assam after Kaziranga National Park.
- Much of the focus of conservation efforts in Kaziranga are focused on the ‘big four’ species— Rhino, Elephant, Royal Bengal tiger and Asiatic water buffalo.
- Kaziranga is also home to 9 of the 14 species of primates found in the Indian subcontinent.
Rivers and Highways:
- The National Highway 37 passes through the park area.
- The park also has more than 250 seasonal water bodies, besides the Diphlu River running through it.
Other national parks in Assam are:
- Dibru-Saikhowa National Park,
- Manas National Park,
- Nameri National Park,
- Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park.
Subject – Awards
Context – Vaccine pioneer wins Ramon Magsaysay award.
- The Ramon Magsaysay Award was established in 1957 and is considered as Asia’s premier prize and highest honour.
- It is named after Ramon Magsaysay, the third president of the Republic of the Philippines.
- Till 2009 awards have traditionally been given in five categories: government service; public service; community leadership; journalism, literature, and creative communication arts; and peace and international understanding.
- However, post 2009, the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation annually selects the awardees for the field of Emergent Leadership. Awardees are presented with a certificate, a medallion with an embossed image of Ramon Magsaysay and cash prize.
- The award is internationally-recognized as the Nobel Prize counterpart of Asia and is the highest award given to Asian individuals and organizations.
Subject – IR
Context – Thousands of Taliban supporters on Tuesday poured on to the streets of Kandahar, the spiritual birthplace of the Islamist movement, waving flags and shouting “God is greatest”, celebrating the momentous U.S. exit from Afghanistan.
- Kandahar is a city in Afghanistan, located in the south of the country on the Arghandab River, at an elevation of 1,010 m (3,310 ft).
- It is Afghanistan’s second largest city after Kabul, with a population of about 614,118.
- It is the capital of Kandahar Province as well as the de facto capital of the Taliban, formally known as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
- In 1709, MirwaisHotak made the region an independent kingdom and turned Kandahar into the capital of the Hotak dynasty.
- In 1747, Ahmad Shah Durrani, founder of the Durrani dynasty, made Kandahar the capital of the Afghan Empire.
- Kandahar is one of the most culturally significant cities of the Pashtuns and has been their traditional seat of power for more than 300 years.
- The region around Kandahar is one of the oldest known human settlements. A major fortified city existed at the site of Kandahar, probably as early as c. 1000–750 BC, and it became an important outpost of the Achaemenid (Persian) Empire in the 6th century BC. Alexander the Great had laid-out the foundation of what is now Old Kandahar in the 4th century BC.
Subject – IR
Context – China opens first road-rail transport link to Indian Ocean.
- The first shipments on a newly-launched railway line from the Myanmar border to the key commercial hub of Chengdu in western China, that provides China a new road-rail transportation channel to the Indian Ocean, were delivered last week.
- The transport corridor involves a sea-road-rail link.
- The new railway line that runs from the border town of Lincang to Chengdu (western China’s biggest commercial hub in Sichuan Province), a key trade hub in western China, completes the corridor.
- This passage connects the logistics lines of Singapore, Myanmar and China, and is currently the most convenient land and sea channel linking the Indian Ocean with southwest China.
- The route is “the first to link western China with the Indian Ocean”.
Subject – Economy
Context – Core sector logs 9.4% growth
- It is a composite indicator that measures the short-term changes in the volume of production of a basket of industrial products during a given period with respect to that in a chosen base period.
- It is compiled and published monthly by the National Statistical Office (NSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation six weeks after the reference month ends.
- CSO revised the base year of the all-India Index of Industrial Production (IIP) from 2004-05 to 2011-12.
- The IIP number measures the industrial production for the period under review, usually a month, as against the reference period.
- IIP is a key economic indicator of the manufacturing sector of the economy.
- There is a lag of six weeks in the publication of the IIP index data after the reference month ends.
- Sectoral Composition of the IIP in decreasing order of weight: Manufacturing> Mining>Electricity.
- Electricity, crude oil, coal, cement, steel, refinery products, natural gas, and fertilizers are the eight core industries that comprise about 40 per cent of the weight of items included in the IIP.
- The eight core industries in decreasing order of their weightage: Refinery Products (28.04 %)> Electricity (19.85 %)> Steel (17.92 %) > Coal (10.33 %)> Crude Oil (8.98 %)> Natural Gas (6.88 %)> Cement (5.37 %)> Fertilizers (2.63 %).
- Refinery Products has the highest weightage followed by electricity generation.
Subject – Economy
Context – Overseas settlement of G-sec deals on anvil: Das.
- Government securities are debt instruments of a sovereign government.
- They sell these products to finance day-to-day governmental operations and provide funding for special infrastructure and military projects.
- These investments work in much the same way as a corporate debt issue.
- By issuing debt, governments can avoid hiking taxes or cutting other areas of spending in the budget each time they need additional funds for a project.
- It generally includes a commitment to pay periodic interest, called coupon payments, and to repay the face value on the maturity date.
- Government bonds can be denominated in a foreign currency or the government’s domestic currency.
- When a government is close to default on its debt, the media often refer to this as a sovereign debt crisis.
Subject – Economy
Context – The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is planning to enable international settlement of transactions in government securities (G-secs) through International Central Securities Depositories (ICSDs), to help expand the investor base for the G-secs market, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said.
- An international CSD is a central securities depository that settles trades in international securities such as Eurobonds, although many also settle trades in various domestic securities, usually through direct or indirect (through local agents) links to local CSDs.
- Examples of international CSDs include Clear stream (previously Cedel), Euroclear and SIX SIS.
- A central securities depository (CSD) that settles domestic and international securities transactions and typically offers additional services such as securities lending and collateral management.
Subject – Science and Tech
Context – Lucas TVS to build Li-ion battery unit for ₹2,500 cr.
- A lithium-ion battery or Li-ion battery is a type of rechargeable battery.
- Li-ion batteries use an intercalated (Intercalation is the reversible inclusion or insertion of a molecule into materials with layered structures) lithium compound as one electrode material, compared to the metallic lithium used in a non-rechargeable lithium battery.
- The battery consists of electrolyte, which allows for ionic movement, and the two electrodes are the constituent components of a lithium-ion battery cell.
- Lithium ions move from the negative electrode to the positive electrode during discharge and back when charging.
- Lithium batteries were proposed by British chemist and co-recipient of the 2019 Nobel prize for chemistry M. Stanley Whittingham, now at Binghamton University, while working for Exxon in the 1970s.
Lithium-ion Battery Applications:
- Electronic gadgets, Tele-communication, Aerospace, Industrial applications.
- Lithium-ion battery technology has made it the favourite power source for electric and hybrid electric vehicles.
- Long life cycle
- High Voltage
- High Storage Characteristics
- High Energy Density
Disadvantages of Li-ion Batteries:
- Long charging times.
- Safety issues as instances of batteries catching fires have been there.
- Expensive to manufacture.
- While the Li-ion batteries are seen as sufficiently efficient for applications such as phones and laptops, in case of EVs, these cells still lack the range that would make them a viable alternative to internal combustion engines.
Subject – IR
Context – China’s new maritime law might spike tensions in South China Sea.
- In a bid to regulate foreign ships, China notified new maritime rules warranting vessels carrying radioactive materials, bulk oil, chemicals and a host of other supplies to report the details of the cargos upon their entry into Chinese waters.
- Beijing claims almost all of the 1.3 million square-mile South China Sea as its sovereign territory.
- China has been building military bases on artificial islands in the region also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
- Operators of submersibles, nuclear vessels, ships carrying radioactive materials and ships carrying bulk oil, chemicals, liquefied gas and other toxic and harmful substances are required to report their detailed information upon their visits to Chinese territorial waters.
- In addition to these types of vessels, vessels that may endanger the maritime traffic safety of China prescribed by laws should also follow the new regulation which will take effect from September 1.
- Those vessels should report the name, call sign, current position and next port of call and estimated time of arrival. The name of shipborne dangerous goods and cargo deadweight are also required in the report.
South China Sea
- The South China Sea, which lies between China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam, is of great economic importance globally.
- Nearly one-third of the world’s shipping passes through its lanes, and the waters house numerous important fisheries.
- The waters around China are hotly contested. Under a “nine-dash line” map, China claims most of the South China Sea as its sovereign territory. This claim is contested by its neighbours in the region and by the United States, which, though it has no claim in the Sea, backs the smaller nations in the fight against Chinese overreach.
For more information on SCS, please refer this.
South China Sea and India
- The South China Sea plays a vital role in facilitating India’s trade with Japan, South Korea and ASEAN countries, and assists in the efficient procurement of energy supplies.
- In fact, the Ministry of External Affairs estimates that more than 55% of India’s trade passes through the South China Sea and Malacca Straits.
- India is also involved in oil and gas exploration in offshore blocks in the margins of the Sea, which has led to standoffs with Chinese authorities.
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
- Currently, international maritime activities are governed by an international agreement called the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of which China, India and over a hundred other countries are signatories (the US, significantly, is not).
- Accordingly, states have the right to implement territorial rights up to 12 nautical miles into the sea.
- The UNCLOS also states that all vessels have the right of “innocent passage” through this region – China’s new law violates this.
For more information on UNCLOS, please refer this.
Subject – Science and Tech
Context – C.1.2 variant of Covid-19: This variant is changing and mutating at a rapid rate within its genome which are similar to those seen in many variants of concern and variants of interest, including the Delta.
- Scientists in South Africa recently announced that they have found a new variant of Covid-19 which is mutating at a rapid pace and can be extremely potent in evading the protection offered by antibodies.
- The National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa stated that the new variant — C.1.2 — was first detected in May and has now spread to “the majority of the provinces in South Africa and in seven other countries spanning Africa, Europe, Asia and Oceania”.
- The study found that C.1.2 has “mutated substantially” in comparison to C.1 variant, which was one of the dominant lineages during the spike in infections during the first wave in South Africa.
- What sets the C.1.2 variant apart from other Covid-19 strains is the speed at which it has been mutating.
Subject – IR
Context – Analysts say cash-strapped Pyongyang is returning to its strategy of trying to obtain concessions from the international community by threatening nuclear proliferation.
- The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog described the resumption of operations over the weekend at North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear reactor as “deeply troubling.”
- In its new annual report on North Korea’s nuclear program, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stated that while monitors have not been granted access to the Yongbyon site, there are “indications” that the five-megawatt reactor is once more producing plutonium for the first time since December 2018.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
- The International Atomic Energy Agency is an important United Nations agency working in the field of nuclear cooperation.
- Widely known as the world’s “Atoms for Peace and Development”
- The IAEA was created in 1957 in response to the deep fears and expectations generated by the discoveries and diverse uses of nuclear technology.
- The Agency works with its Member States and multiple partners worldwide to promote safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies.
- Headquarter: Vienna, Austria.
- In 2005, it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work for a safe and peaceful world.
- It is an independent international organization that reports annually to the United Nation General Assembly.
- When necessary, the IAEA also reports to the UN Security Council in regards to instances of members’ non-compliance with safeguards and security obligations.
- Currently, it has 171 members. The latest member is Saint Lucia which joined the IAEA in 2019.
- India became a member in 1957 itself.
Subject – Agriculture
Context – For the first time, Indian Royal Jelly has been found to surpass top-quality sellers.
- For the first time, Indian Royal Jelly has been found to surpass top-quality sellers, including those produced in Thailand and Taiwan.
- Known for being a good antioxidant, and helping women with fertility issues, among other health benefits, the Indian Royal Jelly meets the ISO-prescribed standards imposed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in 2019, according to Pune-based researchers.
- It is a pearly white or pale yellow-coloured cohesive mixture of honey and secretions from the hypopharyngeal and mandibular glands of worker honeybees.
- It contains moisture or water (60-70 per cent), lipids (1-10 per cent), minerals (0.8-3 per cent), proteins (9-18 per cent), sugar (7 per cent) and other elements.
- Being highly nutritious, this substance is used as food to young larvae and adult queen honeybees.
- Commercially, royal jelly is produced artificially by stimulating bee colonies to produce queen bee, grown outside its natural habitat. The larvae in the queen cells are fed with nutritious royal jelly.
- The perfect time to harvest royal jelly is when the maximum amount gets accumulated upon the larva turning 5 days old.
- Royal jelly needs to be stored in sub-zero temperatures immediately after production, during packaging and also at the consumer’s end.
- Recommended temperature for fresh royal jelly is below –20 degrees Celsius.
- Freezee drier, a special machine, is needed to remove moisture from the fresh produce. At present, there are three such machines in India, which are imported from Germany.
- In a season of five to six months, a well-maintained hive can produce an estimated 900gms of royal jelly.
What is known of Indian Royal Jelly’s quality and standards?
- India did not have standards set for its royal jelly before FSSAI imposed ISO standards in 2019. But there was no data available on the quality of royal jelly produced in India.
- Standards are laid down based on the concentration of moisture, sugars, protein and, most importantly, Hydroxy acids with 10 carbon atoms (10 HDA), which is a fatty acid found in the royal jelly.
- Presently, country-specific standards of royal jelly standards are available only in Switzerland, Bulgaria, Brazil and Uruguay whereas other countries are in the process of devising the same with the help of International Honey Commission.
Recent Findings –
- In its recently concluded study, the findings confirm that the royal jelly produced by honeybees that gather pollen from flowers of mustard, coconut and multi-flora variants are of top international quality whereas those from maize were not as good. Mustard pollen contains high protein content. The quality varied from the plant and their respective pollen.
- “In fact, Indian royal jelly is better in quality than royal jelly produced in Thailand and China and is almost the same quality as the Italian royal jelly, which is considered the best in the world,”.
Who are the global market rulers and consumers of royal jelly?
- In the 1940s, the production techniques of royal jelly were first developed by Japan. But due to the laborious work involved in its production, the Japanese trained beekeepers and sent them to Taiwan.
- At 600 metric tonnes/year, China tops the production charts and is followed by Taiwan (350 metric tonnes/year). Thailand and Italy are among the other top producers in the world.
- With over 400 metric tonnes/ year, Japan is the world’s largest importer followed by Germany, America and some other European nations.
- For its high quality, Thailand-made fresh royal jelly sells at Rs 12,000 per kg whereas the powdered variant costs Rs 30,000 per kg in India.
What are the benefits of consuming royal jelly and why is the consumption growing worldwide?
- Royal jelly is no medicine but a nutritious substance. An average healthy person needs to consume only about 500 mg (fresh) and 200mg (powder) in a day to get maximum health benefits.
- Royal jelly is known for its antioxidant properties. Besides, it cures damaged cells in the body and rejuvenates them. Hence, some cancer patients are advised consumption of royal jelly up to 10mgs.
- Its consumption is suggested to women for improving their fertility. It is also found effective for women suffering from premenstrual and post-menopausal problems.
- Royal jelly is believed to cut down body ageing and makes people look much younger than their actual age, and is thus popular among celebrities. The Japanese — who are among the oldest living humans crossing the age of 100 — could have some links for their longevity with high consumption of royal jelly, experts said.
- Royal jelly with higher 10 HDA is most nutritious.
Subject – Geography
Context – The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is drafting a Mumbai Climate Action Plan (MCAP) in a bid to tackle climate challenges.
- Amid warnings of climate change leading to extreme weather events in the city, the civic body has started preparing the Mumbai Climate Action Plan (MCAP). It will look at climate resilience with mitigation and adaptation strategies by focusing on six areas — sustainable waste management, urban greening and biodiversity, urban flooding and water resource management, building energy efficiency, air quality, and sustainable mobility.
- The plan is currently being drafted. On Friday, a website was launched seeking suggestions and ideas from citizens and experts on climate action. Entries are accepted till September 20. The plan is expected to be ready by November ahead of the United Nations Climate Change (COP26) conference.
Why does Mumbai need a climate action plan?
- As per a study conducted by the World Resource Institute (WRI) India on Mumbai’s vulnerability assessment, the city will face two major climate challenges — the rise in temperature, and extreme rain events which will lead to flooding.
- The city has seen a constant rise in temperature after 2007, and a substantial increase in intense rainfall and storm events in the last five years.
- A recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that at least 12 Indian coastal cities including Mumbai will face sea rise of 0.1 metres to 0.3 metres in next three decades due to climate change. Before this, in February 2020, a report from McKinsey India stated that by 2050, Mumbai will see a 25 per cent increase in the intensity of flash floods and a 0.5 metre rise in sea level, which will affect two to three million people living within 1-km from the coastline.
Subject – Economy
Context – Loan guarantee scheme to make healthcare infra third wave-ready: Nirmala Sitharaman.
- Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said government-guaranteed loans for Covid-affected sectors would help in building healthcare infrastructure and related capacity to help deal with a possible third wave.
- Under the Rs 50,000-crore Loan Guarantee Scheme for Covid Affected Sectors (LGSCAS), banks would provide loans for building healthcare infrastructure in non-metro cities and smaller towns at a maximum interest rate of 7.95 per cent.
- The scheme will be applicable to all eligible loans sanctioned during the period from May 7, 2021 till March 31, 2022.
Subject – Environment
Context – Despite caution from scientists, policymakers and corporates still assume that natural carbon sinks like forests will mop up their fossil fuel emissions.
- A carbon sink is any reservoir, natural or otherwise, that accumulates and stores some carbon-containing chemical compound for an indefinite period and thereby lowers the concentration of CO2 from the atmosphere.
- Globally, the two most important carbon sinks are vegetation and the ocean.
- Public awareness of the significance of CO2 sinks has grown since passage of the Kyoto Protocol, which promotes their use as a form of carbon offset.
- There are also different strategies used to enhance this process. Soil is an important carbon storage medium. Much of the organic carbon retained in agricultural areas has been depleted due to intensive farming.
- “Blue carbon” designates carbon that is fixed via the ocean ecosystems. Mangroves, salt marshes and seagrasses make up a majority of ocean plant life and store large quantities of carbon.
- Many efforts are being made to enhancing natural sequestration in soils and the oceans.
- In addition, a range of artificial sequestration initiatives are underway such as changed building construction materials, carbon capture and storage and geological sequestration.
Subject – Polity
Context – Centre releases over ₹13,000 crore aid to Rural Local Bodies
- The grants part of the Tied Grant as recommended by the 15th Finance Commission (FC) for the Financial Year (FY) 2020-2021.
- Recommendation of 15th FC: It recommended the grant in aid of Rs. 60,750 crore for (FY 2020-21) the RLBs which is the highest ever allocation made by the Finance Commission in any single year.
- Allocation: It will be allocated in two parts, namely Basic Grant and Tied Grant in 50:50% mode.
- Basic Grant: These grants are untied and can be used by RLBs for location-specific needs, except for salary or other establishment expenditure
- Untied funds are utilised for the works of emergent nature which are normally not covered under the schemes decentralized at the district level.
- Tied Grants: These are used for the basic services of:
- Sanitation and maintenance of Open-Defecation Free (ODF) status.
- Supply of drinking water, rain water harvesting and water recycling.
- The RLBs shall, as far as possible, earmark one half of these grants each to these two critical services.
- However, if any RLB has fully saturated the needs of one category it can utilize the funds for the other category.
- Distribution: The State Governments will be distributing the grants to all the tiers of of the Panchayati Raj -village, block and district including the traditional bodies of 5th and 6th Schedule areas based on the accepted recommendations of the latest State Finance Commission (SFC) and in conformity with the recommendations of the 15th FC.
- Assistance: The Ministry of Panchayati Raj would support the states in effective utilization of the grants by providing Web/IT enabled platforms for planning, monitoring, accounting / auditing of the works and funds flow at the level of each of the RLBs.
- It is a constitutional body, that determines the method and formula for distributing the tax proceeds between the Centre and states and among the states as per the constitutional arrangement and present requirements.
- Under Article 280 of the Constitution, the President of India is required to constitute a Finance Commission at an interval of five years or earlier.
- The 1st FC was set up in 1951 and there have been fifteen so far.
- The 15th FC headed by N.K. Singh was constituted by the President of India on 27th November 2017, against the backdrop of the abolition of the Planning Commission and the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
- In November 2019, the Union Cabinet approved the 15th FC to submit its first report for the first fiscal year 2020-21 and to extend its tenure to provide for the presentation of the final report covering Financial Years 2021-22 to 2025-26 by 30th October, 2020.
Subject – Governance
Context – PPP model of BharatNet: DoT starts meets, hopes to float bid by Sept-end.
- It is the world’s largest rural broadband connectivity programme using Optical fibre. And also a flagship mission implemented by Bharat Broadband Network Ltd. (BBNL).
- BBNL is a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) set up by the Government of India under the Companies Act, 1956 with an authorized capital of Rs 1000 crore.
- It is a highly scalable network infrastructure accessible on a non-discriminatory basis, to provide on demand, affordable broadband connectivity of 2 Mbps to 20 Mbps for all households and on demand capacity to all institutions, to realise the vision of Digital India, in partnership with States and the private sector.
- It is being implemented by the Department of Telecommunication under the Ministry of Communications.
- National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) which was launched in October 2011 was renamed as Bharat Net Project in 2015.
- NOFN was envisaged as an information superhighway through the creation of a robust middle-mile infrastructure for reaching broadband connectivity to Gram Panchayats.
- In 2019, the Ministry of Communications also launched the ‘National Broadband Mission’ to facilitate universal and equitable access to broadband services across the country.
- The entire project is being funded by Universal service Obligation Fund (USOF), which was set up for improving telecom services in rural and remote areas of the country.
- The government will provide Rs 19,041 crore as viability gap funding for the project.
- The project will be extended to all inhabited villages beyond the gram panchayats in 16 States which are: Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.
- The objective is to facilitate the delivery of e-governance, e-health, e-education, e-banking, Internet and other services to rural India.