Daily Prelims Notes 2 October 2023
- October 2, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
2 October 2023
Table Of Contents
- Scientists uncover Zealandia
- Clues to ancient Kosi superflood say it could happen again today
- The story of Mahatma Gandhi’s portrait on Indian banknotes
- The largest Climate action suit against 32 countries
- Storing energy in blocks: How gravity may solve green power’s problem
- Karman line
- PM announces setting up of National Turmeric Board
- India hopes to establish carbon credit trading, verifiers by 2026
- Andhra Pradesh plans to provide legal guarantee to MSP
- Oil firms raise ATF and commercial LPG prices
Section: Physical geography
Context: Geoscientists recently discovered a continent known as Zealandia that had been hiding in plain sight for almost 375 years.
Some facts about Zealandia
- It is a long, narrow microcontinent that is mostly submerged in the South Pacific Ocean.
- It is located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, primarily to the east of Australia and to the south of New Caledonia. It encompasses the region that includes New Zealand and New Caledonia.
- It is approximately 1.89 million square miles in size, about half the size of Australia.
- The vast majority of this new continent lies beneath 6,560 feet of water.
- The part of Zealandia that is above water forms the foundation of New Zealand’s north and south islands as well as the island of New Caledonia.
- Zealandia is situated along the boundary of several tectonic plates, including the Australian Plate, Pacific Plate, and Indo-Australian Plate.
- The existence of Zealandia was first recorded in 1642 by Dutch businessman and sailor Abel Tasman, who was on a mission to find the “great Southern Continent,” or Terra Australis.
How Zealandia is formed:
- Zealandia or Te Riu-a-Māui in the Māori language was formally one of the constituent continents of the ancient supercontinent called Gondwana, which also included Western Antarctica and Eastern Australia over 500 million years ago.
- It began to “pull away” from Gondwana roughly 105 million years ago.
- As Zealandia started pulling away, it began to sink beneath the waves, with over 94 percent remaining underwater for millennia.
Section: Places in news
Context: A study led by an IIT Kanpur scientist has found that an ‘extreme monsoon event’ occurred around 11,000 years ago.
More about the news:
- A team of geologists, including researchers from IIT Kanpur and the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, has undertaken a study to reconstruct ancient river floods in the Gangetic plain dating back 23 to 5 million years ago during the Miocene era.
- They utilized sedimentary cores from beneath the Karnali, Ganga, and Kosi rivers to examine changes in sediment composition over time.
- Surprisingly, they discovered that climate change-related events and seismic activities occurring today could result in super-floods that pose a severe threat to the population in the Gangetic plain.
- This revelation underscores the need for an immediate overhaul of India’s disaster management strategy to account for “cascading hazards,” which refer to natural disasters triggered by other disasters.
- The study’s origins lay in an unusual observation that older sedimentary layers contained large particles downstream from the usual gravel-sand transition point.
- Investigating this anomaly led the researchers to the Mohand anticline in Uttarakhand, where they analyzed sediment layers to estimate deposition times.
- Their findings suggested that an “extreme monsoon event” occurring every 200-1,000 years, combined with hyperconcentrated flows caused by triggers like landslides, could result in catastrophic floods.
- The increased likelihood of extreme monsoons and landslides due to climate change poses a growing risk to regions prone to such events.
- The study advocates for an integrated disaster management approach that considers the interconnectedness of earthquakes, landslides, and floods to better mitigate these complex cascading effects.
Section: Monetary Policy
The origins of Gandhi’s image on Indian currency:
- The portrait of Mahatma Gandhi on Indian banknotes is not a caricature but a cut-out from a 1946 photograph with British politician Lord Frederick William Pethick-Lawrence.
- The photo was chosen for Gandhi’s suitable smiling expression.
- The photographer and the person who selected the photo remain unidentified.
- The Reserve Bank of India’s Department of Currency Management is responsible for designing rupee notes, with approval required from the central bank and the Union government.
- Gandhi’s image first appeared on Indian currency in 1969 for his 100th birth anniversary, and a series of Rs 500 notes featuring him was introduced in 1987.
What was the banknotes for independent India
- After India gained independence in 1947, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) initially continued issuing notes featuring King George VI.
- However, the government introduced a new design for the 1-rupee note in 1949, replacing King George with the Lion Capital of Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath in the watermark window.
- In 1950, the first Republic of India banknotes were issued in denominations of Rs 2, 5, 10, and 100, all featuring the Lion Capital watermark.
- Over the years, higher denomination notes featured motifs representing different aspects of India’s culture and development.
- In the 1990s, the RBI replaced the older currency notes due to concerns about counterfeiting using modern reprographic techniques. Mahatma Gandhi’s portrait was chosen for its national significance.
- The ‘Mahatma Gandhi Series’ was launched in 1996 with improved security features.
- In 2016, the ‘Mahatma Gandhi New Series’ of banknotes was introduced, featuring Gandhi’s portrait and the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan logo on the back, along with enhanced security features.
What are the latest demand to include others on banknotes:
- Various suggestions have been made to feature different personalities on Indian currency notes besides Mahatma Gandhi. These suggestions include Lord Ganesha and goddess Lakshmi, Rabindranath Tagore, and APJ Abdul Kalam.
- However, the RBI, backed by the Finance Minister and former RBI governor, has upheld Gandhi’s representation of India’s ethos on the currency notes, considering other options potentially controversial.
Section: Climate change
More about the news:
- On September 27, a significant legal battle will commence at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, involving 32 European governments and six young Portuguese individuals aged 11 to 24.
- These young plaintiffs will argue that their governments’ inadequate action on the climate crisis violates their human rights and discriminates against youth globally.
- The case, supported by the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), is unprecedented in scale and importance, with 2,180 climate-related cases filed in 65 countries by December 2022, indicating a growing trend of young people holding governments accountable for climate inaction.
What is the lawsuit all about:
- In September 2020, the case of Duarte Agostinho and Others v. Portugal and Others was filed, following the 2017 wildfires in Portugal that claimed nearly 66 lives and vast forest areas.
- The young Portuguese plaintiffs argue that European nations have failed to meet climate emissions targets, violating human rights.
- They aim to demonstrate that current emission rates will lead to a 3°C global temperature increase in their lifetime.
- This lawsuit seeks to hold nations accountable for escalating emissions and advocates for measures such as reducing fossil fuel production and cleaning up global supply chains.
- The climate crisis is termed a “child rights crisis” by UNICEF, impacting education, health, and well-being.
The age of climate lawsuit:
- The European Convention on Human Rights, covering 47 member states, faces two pending climate-related cases.
- In “Verein Klimaseniorinnen Schweiz and Others v. Switzerland,” over 2,000 women contend that Switzerland’s insufficient climate action threatens their lives and health.
- In the second case, the former mayor of Grande-Synthe argues that France’s inadequate climate response violates the right to life and respect for private and family life.
- These cases highlight the growing recognition of climate change’s impact on human rights and future generations’ right to an equitable future.
What is Global Legal Action Network (GLAN):
- The Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) is a unique non-profit organisation that pursues innovative legal actions across borders, challenging states and other powerful actors involved with human rights violations.
Subject: Science and technology
Context: As countries step up renewable energy capacity addition, there is growing urgency to develop long-duration energy storage systems
Some facts about Gravity Battery:
- A Gravity battery is a type of electricity storage device that stores gravitational energy, the energy stored in an object resulting from a change in height due to gravity, also called potential energy.
- A gravity battery works by using excess energy usually from sustainable sources to raise a mass to generate gravitational potential energy.
- This is then lowered to convert potential energy into electricity through an electric generator.
- The most common gravity battery is used in pumped-storage hydroelectricity (PSH), where water is pumped to higher elevations to store energy and released through water turbines to generate electricity.
- Another form of a gravity battery lowers a mass, such as a block of concrete, to generate electricity.
- As of 2019, the total world capacity for PSH is 168 GW (gigawatts). The US has 23 GW capacity from PSH, accounting for nearly 2% of the energy supply system and 95% of utility-scale energy storage in the US.
- Gravity based pumped-storage electricity is currently the largest form of grid energy storage in the world.
Developments in India in the Field of Gravity Battery Storage Systems:
- India’s push for deployment of large-scale renewable power makes storage a prerequisite to support this expansion.
- Energy Vault is in the process of establishing a base in Bengaluru. It is in talks with NTPC Ltd i.e India’s biggest generation utility, Mumbai-based Tata Power and green energy company ReNew Power for collaborations.
- NTPC had signed an MoU last year for a long-term strategic partnership for the deployment of Energy Vault’s EVx energy storage technology and software solutions.
How Energy Vault’s proprietary ‘EVx’ platform works:
- Energy Vault’s proprietary ‘EVx’ platform utilises gravity and a mechanical elevator system to stack 35-tonne blocks made of a composite material at the top of a towering structure.
- When the electricity demand is low, the elevator uses surplus electricity from the grid or electricity generated by renewable plants, to raise these blocks and line them up at the top of the structure.
- When electricity demand picks up, the blocks are then lowered one by one, releasing kinetic energy that is used to rotate a motor and generate electricity, which can then be pumped back to the grid.
Subject: Science and technology
Section: Space technology
More about Karman line:
- The most widely accepted boundary of space is known as the Kármán line.
- The Kármán line is 62 miles above ground and is recognized by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), a Swiss organization that sets global rules for air sports.
- The Karman Line as originally defined lies between 70 and 90 km, not at 100 km.
- The Kármán line has been compared to international waters, as there are no national boundaries and human laws in force beyond the line. Above this level, there would be free space.
- The line is named after Theodore von Kármán (1881–1963), a Hungarian American engineer and physicist, who was active primarily in aeronautics and astronautics.
- He was the first person to calculate the altitude at which the atmosphere becomes too thin to support aeronautical flight and arrived at 83.6 km himself.
- There is no international law defining the edge of space, and therefore the limit of national airspace.
Why do we need a Kármán line:
- The 1967 Outer Space Treaty says that space should be accessible to all countries and can be freely and scientifically investigated.
- Defining a legal boundary of what and where space is can help avoid disputes and keep track of space activities and human space travel.
Section: Economic geography
Context announces setting up of National Turmeric Board
More about the news:
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the formation of a National Turmeric Board to support turmeric farmers, addressing a long-standing demand.
- He highlighted India’s significant role in turmeric production and emphasized the need for a professional approach in the entire turmeric value chain, given increased global demand post-Covid.
- India is the world’s leading turmeric producer, and aims to enhance its turmeric industry through this initiative.
- Turmeric (Curcuma longa): It is a perennial herbaceous plant of the ginger family. The plant’s underground stems or rhizomes have been used as a spice, dye, medicine, and religious maker since antiquity.
- Significance: The spice’s color comes mainly from curcumin, a bright yellow phenolic compound that has been in the news for its ostensible potential to fight cancer. As a result, the demand for turmeric with high curcumin content has risen.
- Climate: It requires temperatures between 20 and 30 °C (68 and 86 °F) and a considerable amount of annual rainfall to thrive.
- Largest Producer: India is the largest producer and exporter of turmeric in the world. Turmeric occupies about 6% of the total area under spices and condiments in India.
- Largest Producer State: Telangana was the leading producer of turmeric in India during 2018. Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu were second and third in the ranking that year.
Subject : Environment
Section :Climate change
Context : The Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) enters into application in its transitional phase from 1 Oct 2023.
- With EU’s CBAM entering the transition phase, India prepares groundwork.
What is the transitional phase?
- A transitional period will apply for EU CBAM from 1 October 2023 to 31 December 2025, with solely quarterly reporting obligations; from 2026 onward, purchasing CBAM certificates will be required.
- Importers (customs declarants, indirect representatives) will be required to quarterly report embedded emissions in goods imported during that quarter of the calendar year, detailing direct and indirect emissions as well as any carbon price effectively paid in a third country.
What is CBAM?
- The EU CBAM is a climate measure that aims to address the risk of carbon leakage by ensuring equivalent carbon pricing for imports and domestic (EU) production that is subject to carbon costs under the European Union Emission Trading System (EU ETS).
- While the EU ETS applies to installations based in the EU and to certain production processes and activities (and will be extended further, as detailed below), CBAM will apply to certain goods imported into the EU.
- Payment of CBAM charges will be facilitated through the purchase and surrender of CBAM certificates, which will be priced at the weekly averages of EU ETS allowances auctions.
- India is unlikely to get a longer implementation period or special dispensation for its MSMEs, under the EU’s stringent Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM).
- Indian government, however, hopes to be ready with its system of accredited carbon verifiers and a fully functional carbon credit trading system (CCTS), to help Indian exporters of steel and aluminium meet the prescribed EU carbon norms by January 2026 — when the proposed carbon taxes will actually kick in
- Items covered under CBAM include cement, iron and steel, aluminium, fertilizers, electricity and hydrogen, in India, the hardest hit sectors could be iron and steel, and aluminium.
- CARBON VERIFIERS:
- India is initiating discussions with the EU to get recognition for its carbon verifiers, which will be accredited by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency under the Ministry of Power.
- A Carbon Verifier can audit carbon content in goods exported from India to the bloc.
- Once the carbon verifiers and their processes are recognised by the EU, they will be able to give out certifications stating that a particular product being exported to the EU has gone through a certain level of carbon emissions.
Subject : Economy
Context: Andhra Pradesh plans to provide legal guarantee to Minimum Support Price (MSP).
- Andhra Pradesh is set to enact a law to ensure Minimum Support Price (MSP) for farmers which simultaneously envisages heavy penalty including a jail term for defaulters.
- The relevant bill is expected to be introduced in the next session of the State Assembly. Precedents
- Before Andhra Pradesh, States such as Maharashtra, Punjab and Rajasthan have made legislative arrangements for ensuring MSP but in a very limited manner. There has been a strong demand from the farming community for a legal guarantee.
- The draft bill defines MSP as a price notified by the Government under this Act regarding the farmers’ produce, which shall not be lower than the price , if any, notified by the Union Government for the same produce.
- The draft bill proposes that MSP notified under this Act shall be enforceable on every transaction in the State with regard to such farmers’ produce, whether such transactions occur in markets, co-operative societies and any other collective activities/transactions.
- The draft bill also prescribes that any person who enters into a transaction below the MSP will be liable for a fine of ₹50,000 for a first-time violation.
- In case of second and subsequent violations, the same will be liable for imprisonment up to six months or a fine of ₹1 lakh or both. Non-production of documents before the controlling officer could lead to a penalty between ₹10,000-50,000 and a three-month jail term.
- MSP is the minimum price paid to the farmer for procuring food crops.
- It offers an assurance to farmers that their realisation for the agricultural produce will not fall below the stated price.
- The government uses the MSP as a market intervention tool to incentivise production of a specific food crop which is in short supply.
- It also protects farmers from any sharp fall in the market price of a commodity.
- MSPs are usually announced at the beginning of the sowing season and this helps farmers make informed decisions on the crops they must plant.
- MSP is computed on the basis of the recommendations made by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).
- It considers factors such as the cost of production, change in input prices, market price trends, demand and supply, and a reasonable margin for farmers.
- The Centre has increased the MSP of kharif crops for 2020-21 crop year in line with the principle of fixing MSPs at a level which is at 1.5 times the cost of production that was announced in Union Budget 2018-19.
- Concerted efforts were made over the last few years to realign the MSPs in favour of oilseeds, pulses and coarse cereals to encourage farmers shift to larger area under these crops and adopt best technologies and farm practices, to correct demand – supply imbalance.
- The added focus on nutri-rich nutri-cereals is to incentivize its production in the areas where rice-wheat cannot be grown without long term adverse implications for groundwater table.
- Crops covered under MSP: Paddy, Jowar, Bajra, Ragi, Maize, Tur, Moong, Urad, groundnut, sunflower seed, soyabean, nigerseed, Cotton and sesamum
- Besides, the Umbrella Scheme “Pradhan MantriAnnadataAaySanraksHanAbhiyan” (PM-AASHA) announced by the government in 2018 will aid in providing remunerative return to farmers for their produce.
- The Umbrella Scheme consists of three sub-schemes i.e.
- Price Support Scheme (PSS)
- Price Deficiency Payment Scheme (PDPS)
- Private Procurement & Stockist Scheme (PPSS) on a pilot basis.
- The Umbrella Scheme consists of three sub-schemes i.e.
- The National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA) provides a legal basis for the public distribution system (PDS) that earlier operated only as a regular government scheme. The NFSA made access to the PDS a right, entitling every person belonging to a “priority household” to receive 5 kg of food grains per month at a subsidised price not exceeding Rs 2/kg for wheat and Rs 3/kg for rice. Priority households were further defined so as to cover up to 75% of the country’s rural population and 50% in urban areas.
- MSP, by contrast, is devoid of any legal backing. Access to it, unlike subsidised grains through the PDS, isn’t an entitlement for farmers. They cannot demand it as a matter of right.
- It is only a government policy that is part of administrative decision-making. The government declares MSPs for crops, but there’s no law mandating their implementation.
- The Centre currently fixes MSPs for 23 farm commodities — 7 cereals (paddy, wheat, maize, bajra, jowar, ragi and barley), 5 pulses (chana, arhar/tur, urad, moong and masur), 7 oilseeds (rapeseed-mustard, groundnut, soyabean, sunflower, sesamum, safflower and nigerseed) and 4 commercial crops (cotton, sugarcane, copra and raw jute) — based on the CACP’s recommendations.
- The only crop where MSP payment has some statutory element is sugarcane. This is due to its pricing being governed by the Sugarcane (Control) Order, 1966 issued under the Essential Commodities Act.
- After receiving the feed-back from them, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) of the Union government takes a final decision on the level of MSPs and other recommendations made by the CACP.
- Procurement: The Food Corporation of India (FCI), the nodal central agency of the Government of India, along with other State Agencies undertakes procurement of crops.
Fair and remunerative price (FRP)
- Fair and remunerative price (FRP)is the minimum price at which rate sugarcane is to be purchased by sugar mills from farmers.
- The FRP is fixed by Union government on the basis of recommendations of Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP). The ‘FRP’ of sugarcane is determined under Sugarcane (Control) Order, 1966.
- Recommended FRP is arrived at by taking into account various factors such as cost of production, demand-supply situation, domestic & international prices, inter-crop price parity etc.
- This will be uniformly applicable all over the country.
- Besides FRP, some states such as Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, UP and TN announce a State Advised Price, which is generally higher than the FRP.
- The price fixed by the central government is the ‘minimum price’ and the one fixed by state government is the ‘advised price’ which is always higher than the ‘minimum price’ fixed by the centre.
In News: Jet fuel or ATF and commercial prices raised.
- Jet fuel or ATF price on Sunday was hiked by 5 per cent and commercial cooking gas (LPG) rates were raised by a steep ₹209 per 19kg cylinder, in line with the firming up seen in international benchmarks.
- However, the price of domestic LPG the one used in household kitchens for cooking purposes remained unchanged at ₹903 per 14.2kg cylinder.
How is ATF priced?
- India has introduced a new pricing mechanism for ATF (jet fuel) beginning Q3 FY23.
- The new price mechanism – which replaces the Import Parity Price based system – will be benchmarked on the MOPAG or Mean of Platts Arab Gulf and could bring in more parity between global crude price and jet fuel price in India.
- Under the earlier system price reductions were not transferred to domestic market in a timely manner.
- The new pricing mechanism will be “more transparent” and cushion airlines from ATF price fluctuations.
- MOPAG pricing refers to paying the same price that is paid in Dubai for ATF.
- The LPG prices are predominantly decided based on LPG prices in the global market and a mechanism called Import Parity Price (IPP) is used for price determination.
- The formula for import parity price assumes that LPG is imported within the country.
- Import Parity Price is based on Saudi Aramco’s LPG price Import Parity Price is based on Saudi Aramco’s LPG price and includes costs such as: custom Duty freight costs etc. These above costs are quoted in dollars and converted to rupees.
- Onto these are added the domestic costs, Goods and Service Tax (GST) ,bottling charges, logistic costs, dealer commission, marketing costs, OMC margins etc.
- The above costs give the retail selling price of an unsubsidised LPG cylinder.
- The oil corporations are empowered to change prices every month.