Daily Current Affairs

11TH JANUARY,2021 : MOST POWERFUL DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS CONCEPTS

UPSC PRELIMS+MAINS

Index

  1. A) Science and Technology, Defence, Space
  2. Light Detection and Ranging Survey (LiDAR) (PIB)
  3. Tapas and SWiFT UAVs (PIB)
  4. The first report of a primary deposit of vanadium in India (TH)
  5. B) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments
  6. Simultaneous Elections: “One nation, one election” (TH)
  7. C) Economy
  8. Explained: Types of Economic Recoveries (IE)
  9. D) Miscellaneous
  10. National Youth Festival (PIB)

 

A) Science and Technology, Defence, Space

  1. Light Detection and Ranging Survey (LiDAR) (PIB)

  • Context: National High-Speed Rail Corporation Limited will be adopting the Light Detection and Ranging Survey (LiDAR) technique using Laser enabled equipment mounted on a Helicopter for conducting ground survey for the preparation of Detailed Project Report for the proposed Delhi-Varanasi HSR corridor.

Analysis

  • The alignment or ground survey is a crucial activity for any linear infrastructure project as the survey provides accurate details of areas around the alignment.
  • The aerial LiDAR survey technique, for the first time for any railway project in India, was adopted for the Mumbai- Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR) Corridor primarily because of its high accuracy.
  • The ground survey using aerial LiDAR for MAHSR alignment was done only in 12 weeks against the 10-12 months if had been done through traditional survey methods.

LiDAR

  • LiDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to the Earth.
  • These light pulses—combined with other data recorded by the airborne system— generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics.
  • A LiDAR instrument principally consists of a laser, a scanner, and a specialized GPS receiver.
  • Airplanes and helicopters are the most commonly used platforms for acquiring LiDAR data over broad areas.
  • Two types of LiDAR are topographic and bathymetric.
  • Topographic LiDAR typically uses a near-infrared laser to map the land, while bathymetric LiDAR uses water-penetrating green light to also measure seafloor and riverbed elevations.
  • LiDAR systems allow scientists and mapping professionals to examine both natural and manmade
  • A from the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History said that the LiDAR technology has immense potential for India, especially for agriculture and geology-related applications, but our country has still not used it in archaeology.
  1. Tapas and SWiFT UAVs (PIB)

  • Context: India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has handed over retractable landing gear systems for the Tapas and SWiFT unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Analysis

TAPAS-BH-201

  • Rustom 2 (Rustom-II, also called TAPAS-BH-201, “Tactical Airborne Platform for Aerial Surveillance-Beyond Horizon-201“) is a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV being developed by DRDO for the Indian Armed Forces.
  • Once fully ready, the Rustom UAVs will replace Israeli Heron UAVs being used by the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Navy.
  • Rustom-2 is comparable to the American-made MQ-1 Predator drone and can fly for 24 hours at stretch.
  • Rustom-2 is capable of carrying different combinations of payloads depending on the mission objectives including synthetic aperture radar (SAR), electronic intelligence (ELINT) systems and situational awareness systems.
  • It has a satellite communications (SATCOM) link to relay real time battlefield information.
  • The drone can loiter autonomously at high altitudes performing real-time, high-resolution intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) with its SAR and Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) sensors.

Stealth Wing Flying Testbed (SWiFT)

  • The Stealth Wing Flying Testbed (SWiFT) is a technology demonstrator for an autonomous stealthy unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) being developed by Indian Ministry of Defence’s Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur.
  • SWiFT is a scaled down testbed intended to develop technologies required for DRDO Ghatak UCAV program, tentatively called Autonomous Unmanned Research Aircraft (AURA).
  • The Ghatak UCAV will be capable of releasing missiles, bombs and precision-guided munitions.
  • The full scale Ghatak prototype is expected to conduct its maiden flight in 2024-25.
  1. The first report of a primary deposit of vanadium in India (TH)

  • Context: Arunachal Pradesh, considered a sleeping hydropower giant, is likely to become India’s prime producer of vanadium, a high-value metal used in strengthening steel and titanium.

Analysis

  • Exploration being carried out by the Geological Survey of India (GSI) has placed the eastern Himalayan State on the vanadium map of the country, and geologists are confident of identifying a deposit soon.
  • It is recovered as a by-product from the slag collected from the processing of vanadiferous magnetite ores (iron ore).
  • India is a significant consumer of vanadium but is not a primary producer of the strategic metal.
  • According to data provided by the GSI, India consumed 4% of about 84,000 tonnes of vanadium produced across the globe in 2017. China, which produces 57% of the world’s vanadium, consumed 44% of the metal.
  • The expected grade of vanadium mineralisation in Arunachal Pradesh is comparable to the important vanadium deposits of the world.
  • Vanadium mineralization in Arunachal Pradesh is geologically similar to the “stone coal” vanadium deposits of China hosted in carbonaceous shale.
  • The largest deposits are in China, followed by Russia and South Africa.

Facts About Vanadium

  • Vanadium is a medium-hard, steel-blue metal.
  • Although a lesser-known metal, it is quite valuable in the manufacturing industry due to its malleable, ductile and corrosion-resistant qualities.
  • Vanadium rarely exists as a free element in nature but can be found in about 65 different minerals.
  • It also can be found in phosphate rock and some crude oils.
  • Vanadium can be detected spectroscopically in the Sun’s rays and occasionally in the light of other stars.
  • High doses of vanadium are toxic to humans, but scientists think we may need the element in very small amounts for normal bone growth.
  • Vanadium can be found in trace amounts in many types of food, including mushrooms, black pepper, parsley, dill weed, shellfish, beer, wine and grain.
  • Vanadium is sold as a bodybuilding supplement typically in the form of vanadyl sulfate.
  • Around 80 percent of the vanadium produced is alloyed with iron to make a shock- and corrosion-resistant steel additive.
  • Vanadium alloys are also used to make nuclear reactors because of their low-neutron-absorbing properties.
  • The compound vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) can also be combined with gallium to form superconductive magnets, according to Jefferson Lab. When mixed with aluminum and titanium, vanadium can create a very strong alloy that is used for special applications such as dental implants and jet engines.
  • Vanadium has very colorful oxidation states, including purple, green, blue and yellow.
  • Since vanadium steel keeps its hardness at high temperatures, it is used in circular saws, drill bits, engine turbines and other moving parts that produce high levels of heat.
  • Vanadium can be used in the process of refining uranium for nuclear purposes.
  • Vanadium is present in a small number of meteorites.

 B) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments

4.Simultaneous Elections: “One nation, one election” (TH)

  • Context: Legal luminaries Soli Sorabjee and Mahesh Jethmalani spoke in favour of holding simultaneous elections, during a webinar.

Analysis

What are simultaneous polls?

  • The terms of Legislative Assemblies and the Lok Sabha may not synchronize with one another.
  • Currently, elections to the state assemblies and the Lok Sabha are held separately — that is whenever the incumbent government’s five-year term ends or whenever it is dissolved due to various reasons.
  • But the idea of “One Nation, One Election” envisages a system where elections to all states and the Lok Sabha will have to be held simultaneously.
  • The idea of reverting to simultaneous polls was first mooted in the annual report of the Election Commission in 1983.
  • This would mean that the voters will cast their vote for electing members of the LS and the state assemblies on a single day.

Background

  • The first general elections to Lok Sabha and all State Legislative Assemblies were held together in 1951-52. That practice continued over three subsequent general elections held in the years- 1957, 1962 and 1967.
  • However, due to the premature dissolution of some Legislative Assemblies in 1968 and 1969, the cycle got disrupted for the first time.
  • After 1967, elections to State Assemblies and Parliament have been held separately.

Adverse impacts of the existing electoral cycle

  • Impact on development programs and governance due to imposition of Model Code of Conduct by the Election Commission.
  • Frequent elections lead to massive expenditures by the Government and other stakeholders.
  • It disrupts normal public life.
  • It can perpetuate caste, religion and communal issues across the country.
  • Engagement of security forces for significantly prolonged periods.
  • Frequent elections adversely impact the focus of governance and policy making.

Why do some support?

  • Simultaneous polls will reduce the enormous costs involved in separate elections.
  • The system will help ruling parties focus on governance instead of being constantly in election mode.
  • Simultaneous polls will boost voter turnout.

What are the arguments against it?

  • National and state issues are different, and holding simultaneous elections is likely to affect the judgment of voters.
  • Since elections will be held once in five years, it will reduce the government’s accountability to the people. Repeated elections keep legislators on their toes and increases accountability.
  • When an election in a State is postponed until the synchronised phase, President’s rule will have to be imposed in the interim period in that state. This will be a blow to democracy and federalism.
  • Impact to voter behaviour: Indian voters are not mature / informed enough to differentiate between the voting choices for State Assembly and Lok Sabha in case simultaneous elections are held.
  • As a result, voter behaviour gets influenced and he/she may vote for the same political party, which in most cases may be larger national parties.

Duties of Election Commission of India

  • It is mandated to conduct elections for State Assemblies, Legislative Council, Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, President, Vice-President.
  • Also, Enumeration of votes, verification of voters’ list and delimitation of constituencies is undertaken by Election Commission of India.

Key draft recommendations of the Law Commission

  • The Law Commission of India (Chairman: Justice B.S. Chauhan) released its draft report on Simultaneous Elections on August 30, 2018.
  • The Commission noted that simultaneous elections cannot be held within the existing framework of the Constitution.
  • Simultaneous elections may be conducted to Lok Sabha and state Legislative Assemblies through appropriate amendments to the Constitution, the Representation of the People Act 1951, and the Rules of Procedure of Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.
  • The Commission also suggested that at least 50% of the states should ratify the constitutional amendments.
  • The Commission noted that holding simultaneous elections will:
  • (i) save public money,
  • (ii) reduce burden on the administrative setup and security forces,
  • (iii) ensure timely implementation of government policies, and
  • (iv) ensure that the administrative machinery is engaged in development activities rather than electioneering.

Immediate Challenges to Simultaneous Elections and their Remedies

No-confidence motion

  • The Commission noted that a no-confidence motion, if passed, may curtail the term of Lok Sabha/ state assembly.
  • It recommended replacing the ‘no-confidence motion’ with a ‘constructive vote of no-confidence’, through appropriate amendments.
  • In a constructive vote of no confidence, the government may only be removed if there is confidence in an alternate government.
  • It further suggested the option of limiting the number of such motions during the term of the House/ Assembly.

Hung House/ Assembly

  • If no party secures a majority to form the government, it may result in a hung House/ Assembly.
  • In order to prevent this, the Commission recommended that the President/ Governor should give an opportunity to the largest party along with their pre or post-poll alliance to form the government.
  • If the government can still not be formed, an all-party meeting may be called to resolve the stalemate.  If this fails, mid-term elections may be held.
  • The Commission recommended that appropriate amendments be made to provide that any new Lok Sabha/Assembly formed after mid-term elections, will be constituted only for the remainder of the previous term, and not the entire five years.

Amendment to anti-defection laws

  • The Commission recommended that appropriate amendments be made to anti-defection laws to ensure that all disqualification issues (arising from defection) are decided by the presiding officer within six months.

C) Economy

5.Explained: Types of Economic Recoveries (IE)

K-shaped Recovery

  • The term K-shaped recovery’ is used to describe what has been happening in varying degrees since the financial crisis of 2008: The growing gap between winners and losers among countries, economic sectors, companies, and, of course, people.
  • For example: Industries like technology, retail, and software services have recovered from the industry and begun re-hiring, while the travel, entertainment, hospitality, and food services industries have continued to decline past March levels.

Other Major Types of Economic Recoveries

Z-shaped Recovery

  • If the economic disruption was just for a small period wherein more than people’s incomes, it was their ability to spend that was restricted, it is possible to imagine a “Z”-shaped
  • In this, the GDP — and here we are talking about absolute GDP, not GDP’s growth rate — actually overshoots the trend path because of the pent-up demand.
  • Imagine, deferred parties, salon visits, movies, purchase of new cars, houses and appliances etc. — all of them get bunched up together.

V-shaped Recovery

  • But what if the economic disruption lasts longer resulting in several activities being forgone instead of being deferred?
  • For instance, even the monthly haircut — when you go to the salon after 3 months, you have already lost 2 haircuts-worth of economic activity forever!
  • In such a scenario, and assuming incomes and jobs are not permanently lost, the economic growth recovers sharply and returns to the path it was following before the disruption. This is called a “V”-shaped

U-shaped Recovery

  • But what will happen if this recovery is slower and takes more time because the economic disruption resulted in several jobs being lost and people losing incomes, drawing down on their savings etc.?
  • Then the economy will follow a “U”-shaped In such a scenario, after the initial fall, the recovery is gradual before regaining its momentum.

W-shaped Recovery

  • Since we are talking about a Covid-induced disruption, it makes sense to also look at a “W”-shaped recovery as well.
  • This shape allows for the possibility of a V-shaped recovery, which is pegged back by a second wave of infections until of course, the economy recovers for the second time.

L-shaped Recovery

  • The last scenario is the one policy-makers most dread. It is called the “L”-shape 
  • Here, simply put, the economy fails to regain the level of GDP even after years go by.
  • As the shape shows, there is a permanent loss to the economy’s ability to produce.

D) Miscellaneous

6.National Youth Festival (PIB)

  • National Youth Festival is celebrated every year from 12th to 16th January.
  • 12th January being the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda is observed as National Youth Day.
  • This year, the 2nd National Youth Parliament Festival (NYPF) is also being organized along with the National Youth Festival.
  • The objective of National Youth Parliament Festival is to hear the voice of youth between 18 and less than 25 years of age, who will join various careers in coming years, including public services.
  • The objective of the National Youth Festival is to bring youth of the country together to showcase their talents; provide them an arena, by creating a mini-India, where youth interact in formal and informal settings and exchange their social and cultural uniqueness.
  • It is also to promote national integration, spirit of communal harmony, brotherhood, courage and adventure.
  • The basic aim is to propagate the spirit, essence and concept of Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat.
  • Due to COVID-19, the 24th National Youth Festival is being held in virtual mode.
  • ‘YUVAAH – Utsah Naye Bharat Ka’ is the theme of this year’s festival, which suggests, the youth bring alive the celebration of New India.
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