20thFebruary,2022 ; Daily Current Affairs

Daily Current Affairs   Date : 20thFebruary,2022

 (30+ Questions hit in Prelims 2021 from this series)

Covers 4 Most relevant Sources

  • The Hindu
  • Indian Express
  • PIB
  • Mint

Index

  • Academic Bank of Credits (ABC)(TH, pg 6)
  • Scientific Analysis Group (SAG) (TH, pg 8)
  • Constitutional Provisions Regarding the Relationship Between the Governor and the Chief Minister (TH, pg 9)
  • All About Pollinators (TH, pg 9)
  • Gobar-Dhan (Bio-CNG) (PIB)
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the Maratha State (PIB)
  1. Academic Bank of Credits (ABC)(TH, pg 6)

  • Context:The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has recommended a revamp of the higher education scene in India to make education more student-centric and multi-disciplinary.
  • A new initiative stemming from this desire is an ‘Academic Bank of Credits’ (ABC) in higher education idea, which was notified recently by the University Grants Commission (UGC) for implementation.
Analysis
  • As per National Education Policy 2020, the Academic Bank of Credits (ABC) has been envisaged as a digital/virtual/online entity established by University Grants Commission to facilitate students to become its academic accounts holder, thereby paving the way for seamless students’ mobility between or within degree granting Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).
  • ABC is a bank for academic purposes on the patterned of commercial banks for financial purposes with students as academic account holders.
  • The credits earned by students will be deposited in their ABC ‘Academic Account.’ If the student moves to a different institution, the accumulated credits get transferred to the account of the new institution.
  • The Academic bank credit(s) can only be shared from institutions, not directly from the student.
  • Allowing multiple entry, multiple exits for students and improving transparency and helping to build a more flexible approach to curriculum design and development are among the major benefits of the above programme.
  • Academic Bank of Credits has been established on the lines of the National Academic Depository (NAD), in the sense, NAD is the backbone of ABC, where the students’ academic data are held and academic awards are stored (i.e. storehouse of academic awards).
  • Being the owner of academic awards, Academic Institutions must mandatorily register themselves under ABC via NAD.
  • ABC regulations say that the institute should allow up to 20% supernumerary seats for students enrolling through the ABC scheme.
  • The ABC scheme specifies that students can avail up to 70% of courses from other institutes while being enrolled in a particular college.
  • As a whole, this scheme has all the right and laudable intentions and would probably work well in a society with a more equitable distribution of resources.
  • But in India, where the quality of education varies drastically from one institute to the next, this can lead to unmanageable academic and administrative issues in higher education institutes with brand names, and lead to a contraction in the number of teaching posts in smaller higher education institutes.
  • With grade inflation being a real and imminent danger, the quality of degrees is bound to deteriorate. The UGC must rethink expeditiously how to implement this scheme.

 

  1. Scientific Analysis Group (SAG) (TH, pg 8)

  • Context: The Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry has prohibited the sharing of top secret or secret documents by its officials over Internet.
Analysis
  • The order that has been issued in view of the finding that a large number of government officials use private messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram for communication of classified information.
  • The Ministry has directed that top secret and secret documents be shared only in a closed network with the leased line connectivity where the Scientific Analysis Group (SAG) grade encryption mechanism is deployed.
  • The SAG functions under the Defence Research & Development Organisation.It is working in the area of cryptology and information security.
  • The Ministry has recommended the use of government email facility or government instant messaging platforms such as the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing’s Samvad and the National Informatics Centre’s Sandesh for communicating such information.

 

  1. Constitutional Provisions Regarding the Relationship Between the Governor and the Chief Minister (TH, pg 9)

  • Context: The West Bengal Governor returned the recommendation of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to summon the Assembly on March 7.
  • The Governor has said the Constitution permitted the Governor to summon the House on recommendation of the Cabinet and the State government had sent him a file that had endorsement only of Hon’ble CM. There was no Cabinet decision.So, he had to send the file back to government so that they send back with constitutional compliance.
Analysis

Article 163–Council of Ministers to aid and advise Governor

  • There shall be a Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister as the head to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions, except in so far as he is required to exercise his functions in his discretion.
  • If any question arises whether a matter falls within the Governor’s discretion or not, decision of the Governor shall be final, and the validity of anything done by the Governor shall not be called in question on the ground that he ought or ought not to have acted in his discretion.
  • The advice tendered by Ministers to the Governor shall not be inquired into in any court.

Article 166–Conduct of Business of the Government of a State

  • All executive action of the Government of a State shall be expressed to be taken in the name of the Governor.
  • Orders and other instruments made and executed in the name of the Governor shall be authenticated in such manner as may be specified in rules to be made by the Governor.
  • The Governor shall make rules for the more convenient transaction of the business of the government of the state, and for the allocation among ministers of the said business in so far as it is not business with respect to which the Governor is required to act in his discretion.

Article 167–Duties of Chief Minister

  • It shall be the duty of the Chief Minister of each state
  • 1. To communicate to the Governor of the state all decisions of the council of ministers relating to the administration of the affairs of the state and proposals for legislation.
  • 2. To furnish such information relating to the administration of the affairs of the state and proposals for legislation as the Governor may call for.
  • 3. If the Governor so requires, to submit for the consideration of the council of ministers any matter on which a decision has been taken by a minister but which has not been considered by the council
  • The Constitutional position of the Governor differs from that of the President in the following two respects:
  • 1. While the Constitution envisages the possibility of the Governor acting at times in his discretion, no such possibility has been envisaged for the President.
  • 2. After the 42nd Constitutional Amendment (1976), ministerial advice has been made binding on the President, but no such provision has been made with respect to the Governor.
  • The Governor has Constitutional discretion in the following cases:
  • 1. Reservation of a bill for the consideration of the President.
  • 2. Recommendation for the imposition of the President’s Rule in the state.
  • 3. While exercising his functions as the administrator of an adjoining union territory (in case of additional charge).
  • 4. Determining the amount payable by the Government of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram to an autonomous Tribal District Council as royalty accruing from licenses for mineral exploration.
  • 5. Seeking information from the chief minister with regard to the administrative and legislative matters of the state.
  • In addition to the above constitutional discretion (i.e., the express discretion mentioned in the Constitution), the Governor, like the President, also has situational discretion (e., the hidden discretion derived from the exigencies of a prevailing political situation) in the following cases:
  • 1. Appointment of chief minister when no party has a clear-cut majority in the state legislative assembly or when the chief minister in office dies suddenly and there is no obvious successor.
  • 2. Dismissal of the council of ministers when it cannot prove the confidence of the state legislative assembly.
  • 3. Dissolution of the state legislative assembly if the council of ministers has lost its majority.

 

  1. All About Pollinators (TH, pg 9)

  • Context:Moths are vital to pollination in the Himalayan ecosystem of northeast India, reveals a recent study.
  • The results assume significance as a majority of the pollination-related studies are based on diurnal pollinators (bees and butterflies) and the role of nocturnal pollinators have so far received less scientific attention.
Analysis
  • As sedentary organisms, plants usually must enlist the services of external agents for pollen transport. In flowering plants, these are (roughly in order of diminishing importance) insects, wind, birds, mammals, and water.
  • Birds, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, wasps, small mammals, and most importantly, bees are pollinators.
  • Somewhere between 75% and 95% of all flowering plants on the earth need help need pollinators to reproduce.
  • Self-fertile (sometimes called “self-pollinating” or “self-fruitful”) plants include:Beans, Eggplants, Peas, Peppers, Strawberries, Tomatoes etc.

Agents of Pollination

  • Plants use two abiotic (wind and water) and one biotic (animals) agents to achieve pollination.
  • Majority of plants use biotic agents for pollination. Only a small proportion of plants use abiotic agents.
  • Pollination by wind is more common amongst abiotic pollinations.
  • Wind pollination also requires that the pollen grains are light and non-sticky so that they can be transported in wind currents.
  • They often possess well-exposed stamens (so that the pollens are easily dispersed into wind currents) and large often-feathery stigma to easily trap air-borne pollen grains.
  • Wind-pollination is quite common in grasses.
  • Pollination by water is quite rare in flowering plants and is mostly limited to monocotyledons.
  • Water is a regular mode of transport for the male gametes among the lower plant groups such as algae, bryophytes and pteridophytes.
  • It is believed, particularly for some bryophytes and pteridophytes, that their distribution is limited because of the need for water for the transport of male gametes and fertilisation.
  • Some examples of water pollinated plants are Vallisneria and Hydrilla which grow in fresh water and several marine sea-grasses such as Zostera.
  • Not all aquatic plants use water for pollination.
  • In a majority of aquatic plants such as water hyacinth and water lily, the flowers emerge above the level of water and are pollinated by insects or wind as in most of the land plants.
  • Both wind and water pollinated flowers are not very colourful and do not produce nectar.
  • Majority of flowering plants use a range of animals as pollinating agents. Bees, butterflies, flies, beetles, wasps, ants, moths, birds (sunbirds and humming birds) and bats are the common pollinating agents.
  • Among the animals, insects, particularly bees are the dominant biotic pollinating agents.
  • Even larger animals such as some primates (lemurs), arboreal (tree-dwelling) rodents, or even reptiles (gecko lizard and garden lizard) have also been reported as pollinators in some species.
  • Often flowers of animal pollinated plants are specifically adapted for a particular species of animal.
  • Majority of insect-pollinated flowers are large, colourful, fragrant and rich in nectar.
  • When the flowers are small, a number of flowers are clustered into an inflorescence to make them conspicuous.
  • Animals are attracted to flowers by colour and/or fragrance.
  • The flowers pollinated by flies and beetles secrete foul odours to attract these animals.
  • To sustain animal visits, the flowers have to provide rewards to the animals. Nectar and pollen grains are the usual floral rewards.
  • Continued self-pollination result in inbreeding depression. Flowering plants have developed many devices to discourage self-pollination and to encourage cross-pollination.
  • In some species, pollen release and stigma receptivity are not synchronised. Either the pollen is released before the stigma becomes receptive or stigma becomes receptive much before the release of pollen.
  • In some other species, the anther and stigma are placed at different positions so that the pollen cannot come in contact with the stigma of the same flower. Both these devices prevent autogamy.
  • The third device to prevent inbreeding is self-incompatibility. This is a genetic mechanism and prevents self-pollen (from the same flower or other flowers of the same plant) from fertilising the ovules by inhibiting pollen germination or pollen tube growth in the pistil.
  • Another device to prevent self-pollination is the production of unisexual flowers.
  • If both male and female flowers are present on the same plant such as castor and maize (monoecious), it prevents autogamy but not geitonogamy.
  • In several species such as papaya, male and female flowers are present on different plants, that is each plant is either male or female (dioecy). This condition prevents both autogamy and geitonogamy.

The Importance of Bees: Pollination

  • When a bee collects nectar and pollen from the flower of a plant, some pollen from the stamens—the male reproductive organ of the flower—sticks to the hairs of her body.
  • When she visits the next flower, some of this pollen is rubbed off onto the stigma, or tip of the pistil—the female reproductive organ of the flower.
  • When this happens, fertilization is possible, and a fruit, carrying seeds, can develop.

How Do Plants Attract Bees?

  • Bees are drawn to plants with open or flat tubular flowers with lots of pollen and nectar.
  • A flower’s scent can have particular appeal to bees, and its bright colours may lure the bees in.

Effects of Bees on Fruit

  • Flowers that are visited more often by bees will produce larger and more uniform fruit than those visited less often.

Types of Pollinators

  • Bees share the job of pollinating.
  • Some plants are pollinated by other animals, wind or water.

Birds

  • The plants that attract birds are generally brightly coloured, with red, orange or yellow flowers, but are often odourless, since birds have a poor sense of smell.
  • The flowers are often long and tubular, with lots of nectar, and are sturdy enough for perching on.

Other Animals

  • Many animals that pollinate plants, such as bats, are nocturnal, meaning “active at night,” and so the flowers that need to attract them often have a strong smell, but may not be too colourful.

Do you know?

  • Carnivorous plants have been known to employ a variety of techniques like nectar, smell, colour, ultraviolet florescence and carbon dioxide to lure and capture prey.
  • Most plants absorb enough nitrogen from nitrates in the soil. Carnivorous plants live in bogs, where nitrates are in short supply, so they need to obtain their nitrogen by digesting prey instead.

 

  1. Gobar-Dhan (Bio-CNG) (PIB)

  • Context: The Prime Minister of India inaugurated “Gobar-Dhan (Bio-CNG) Plant” in Indore through video conferencing.
Analysis
  • Wet urban household waste and waste from cattle and farm is Gobar Dhan.
  • Bio-CNG is basically Compressed Natural Gas produced from biogas.
  • Bio-CNG is produced from various bio-mass / waste sources including agricultural residue, municipal solid waste, sugarcane press mud, distillery spent wash, cattle dung and sewage treatment plant waste.
  • The other waste streams viz. rotten potatoes from cold storage, rotten vegetables, dairy plants, chicken/ poultry litter, food waste, horticulture waste, forestry residues and industrial Effluent Treatment Plants (ETPs) treating organic waste can be used in the generation of biogas.

Biogas vs Bio-CNG

  • Biogas is a product from the process of degradation of organic matter by anaerobic bacteria.
  • Organic matter needs to be digested by a consortium of micro-organisms in the absence of oxygen (anaerobic bacteria)
  • The biogas generation process consists of four subsequent chemical and biochemical reactions i.e. Hydrolysis reaction, Acidogenesis reaction, Acetogenesis reaction and Methanogenesis reaction.
  • The biogas produced contains approximately 55% to 60% methane, 40% to 45% carbon dioxide and trace amounts of hydrogen sulphide, ammonia, oxygen, carbon monoxide,nitrogen etc.
  • The proportion of these trace components depends on the source of the biomass.
  • The presence of water vapor, H2S, and CO2 make biogas very corrosive and unsuitable to be used as fuel.
  • Bio-CNG is the purified form of biogas from which all the unwanted gases are removed to getabout 92-98 % of pure methane gas, also called biomethane.
  • In its composition and energy potential it is exactly similar to the commercially available compressed natural gas (CNG).
  • Presence of carbon-dioxide in the bio-gas reduces its calorific value. Hence the Bio-CNG needs to be purifiedto get CNG grade fuel is necessary in order to utilize in automotive vehicle orsupply for generation of electricity or production of enriched organic fertilizer.
  • As Bio-CNG has a high calorific value it also finds its use in blast furnaces.
  • Biomethane can also be compressed and bottled into cylinders/ transported through pipelines and it is called Bio-Compressed Natural Gas (Bio-CNG) or simply Compressed Bio-Gas (CBG).
  • The low emission levels of Bio-CNG also make it a more environment-friendly fuel than biogas.
  • Bio-CNG is exactly similar to the commercially available natural gas in its composition and energy potential.
  • Given the abundance of biomass in the country, compressed biogas has the potential to replace CNG in automotive, industrial and commercial uses in the coming years.
  • The Bio-CNG process also produces enriched organic manure which can be used as fertiliser.

Do you know?

  • Calorific value of Bio-CNG and LPG are nearly the same.
  • LPG takes up more Oxygen against Bio-CNG.
  • LPG is heavier than air hence, settles down and is a potential fire threat.
  • Bio-CNG being lighter gets dispersed in the air preventing any dangerous situation.
  • Bio-CNG is cleaner than LPG and does not leave any soot deposit.
  • Bio-CNG is more economical than commercial LPG.

Disadvantages of Bio-CNG

  • Using bio-CNG without proper purification can lead to erosion of metal parts in vehicles. Purifying of bio-CNG leads to increased cost.
  • Refuelling stations are more complicated than conventional ones since high pressure is required to be maintained for certain components.
  • Global adoption of bio-CNG depends on several economic, environmental and other technical factors.
  • The capital cost for installing a Bio-CNG is expensive.
  • Preliminary processes like collection, transportation, and segregation may also limit the adaptation.
  • It can be installed only where waste generation is abundant.

GOBAR-DHAN

  • The Department of Drinking Water & Sanitation, Ministry of Jal Shakti,has launched the GOBAR-DHAN (Galvanising Organic Bio-Agro Resources) scheme in 2020 to convert cattle dung and solid waste in farms to Compressed Bio-Gas (CBG) and compost.
  • The programme will be funded under Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) component of Swachh Bharat MissionGramin(SBM-G) to benefit households in identified villages through Gram Panchayats. 
  • The objective of the scheme is to increase rural income, rural jobs and to keep villages clean through solid waste management.
  • Accordingly, this scheme aims to positively impact the Gram Panchayats with 3Es, which are as following:
  • Energy: Self-reliance with respect to energy through utilization of agricultural and animal waste to generate bio-energy through bio-gas plants.
  • Empowerment: Engaging rural people, especially women self-help groups in construction, management and day to day operations of biogas plants.
  • Employment: Generating jobs among the rural youth and women through collection of waste, transportation to treatment plants, management of treatment plant, sale and distribution of biogas generated, etc.
  • The scheme is intended to manage and convert cattle dung and solid waste in farms to compost, bio-slurry, bio-gas and bio-CNG.

 

  1. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the Maratha State (PIB)

  • Context:The Prime Minister of India paid tributes to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj on his Jayanti.
Analysis
  • Although a number of influential Maratha families—the Mores, the Ghatages, the Nimbalkars, etc., exercised local authority in some areas, the Marathas did not have any large, well- established states like that of the Rajputs.
  • The credit for setting up such a large state goes to Shahji Bhonsale and his son, Shivaji.
  • Shahji had left the Poona jagir to his neglected senior wife, Jija Bai, and his minor son, Shivaji.
  • Aurangzeb instructed the new Mughal governor of the Deccan, Shaista Khan, who was related to Aurangzeb by marriage, to invade Shivaji’s dominions but he failed to deliver Shivaji to Mughals.

Treaty of Purandar (1665)

  • After the failure of Shaista Khan, Aurangzeb deputed Raja Jai Singh of Amber, who was one of the most trusted advisers of Aurangzeb, to deal with Shivaji.
  • Jai Singh captured Purandar fort (1665), due to which Shivaji opened negotiations with Jai Singh. Among others, it was agreed upon:
  • The Mughals will support Shivaji in aiding the capture of Bijapur territory.
  • Shivaji asked to be excused from personal service. Shivaji promised, however, to join personally in any Mughal campaign in the Deccan.
  • Shivaji Maharaj’s son Sambhaji was tasked with the command of a 5,000-strong force to fight for Mughals as mansabdar.

Failure of Treaty of Purandar – Shivaji Second Innings against Mughals

  • Shivaji could not be reconciled to the loss of 23 forts and other territory without any compensation from Bijapur as promised by Mughals. This lead to failure of Treaty of Purandar.
  • He renewed the contest with the Mughals, sacking Surat a second time in 1670.
  • During the next four years, he recovered a large number of his forts, including Purandar, from the Mughals and made deep inroads into Mughal territories, especially Berar and Khandesh. Mughal preoccupation with the Afghan uprising in the northwest helped Shivaji.
  • In 1674, Shivaji crowned himself formally at Raigarh, this placed him on a pedestal much higher than any of the Maratha chiefs.
  • To strengthen his social position further, Shivaji married into some of the leading old Maratha families—the Mohites, the Shirkes, etc.
  • Finally, as an independent ruler it now became possible for Shivaji to enter into treaties with the Deccani sultans on a footing of equality and not as a rebel.
  • It was also an important step in the further growth of Maratha national sentiment.
  • In 1676 Shivaji undertook a bold new venture. With the active aid and support of the brothers, Madanna and Akhanna at Hyderabad, Shivaji undertook an expedition into the Bijapuri Karnataka.
  • Shivaji was given a grand welcome by the Qutb Shah at his capital, and a formal agreement was arrived at. The Qutb Shah agreed to pay a subsidy of one lakh huns annually to Shivaji and a Maratha ambassador was to live at his court.
  • The territory and the booty gained in Karnataka was to be shared. The Qutb Shah supplied a contingent of troops and artillery to aid Shivaji and also provided money for the expenses of his army.
  • The treaty was very favourable to Shivaji and enabled him to capture Jinji and Vellore from Bijapuri officials and also to conquer much of the territories held by his half-brother, Ekoji.
  • Shivaji had assumed the title of ‘Haindava-Dharmoddhara’(Protector of the Hindu faith), he plundered mercilessly the Hindu population of the area.
  • Returning home laden with treasure, Shivaji refused to share anything with the Qutb Shah, thus straining his relations with him.
  • The Karnataka expedition was the last major expedition of Shivaji.

Administrative System of Shivaji

  • Shivaji’s system of administration was largely borrowed from the administrative practices of the Deccani states.
  • Although he designated eight ministers, sometimes called the Ashtapradhan, it was not in the nature of a council of ministers, each minister being directly responsible to the ruler.
  • The most important ministers were the Peshwas who looked after the finances and general administration.
  • The sar-i-naubat (senapati) which was a post of honour and was generally given to one of the leading Maratha chiefs.
  • The majumdar. was the accountant, while the wakenavis was responsible for intelligence, posts and household affairs.
  • The surunavis or chitnis helped the king with his correspondence.
  • The dabir was master of ceremonies and also helped the king in his dealings with foreign powers.
  • The nyayadhish and panditrao were in charge of justice and charitable grants.
  • More important than the appointment of these officials was Shivaji’s organisation of the army and the revenue system.
  • Shivaji preferred to give cash salaries to the regular soldiers, though sometimes the chiefs received revenue grants (saranjam). Strict discipline was maintained in the army, no women or dancing girls being allowed to accompany the army.
  • The plunder taken by each soldier during campaigns was strictly accounted for.
  • The regular army (paga) consisting of about 30,000 to 40,000 cavalry, as distinct from the loose auxiliaries (silahdars), were supervised by havaldars who received fixed salaries.
  • The revenue system seems to have been patterned on the system of Malik Ambar.
  • A new revenue assessment was completed by Annaji Datto in 1679. It is not correct to think that Shivaji abolished the zamindari (deshmukhi) system, or that he did not award jagirs (mokasa) to his officials.
  • However, Shivaji strictly supervised the mirasdars, that is, those with hereditary rights in land. Mirasdars paid to the government only a small part of their collections.
  • In consequence, the mirasdars grew and strengthened themselves by building bastions, castles and strongholds in the villages, enlisting footmen and musketeers.
  • This class had become unruly and seized the country.’ Shivaji destroyed their bastions and forced them to submit.
  • Shivaji supplemented his income by levying a contribution on the neighbouring Mughal territories.
  • This contribution which came to one-fourth of the land revenue, began to be called chauthai (one- fourth) or

Character of the Maratha State under Shivaji

  • Shivaji laid the foundation of a strong state by curbing the power of the
  • The army was an effective instrument of his policies, rapidity of movement being the most important factor.
  • The army depended for its salaries to a considerable extent on the plunder of the neighbouring areas.
  • But the state cannot thereby be called just a ‘war-state.’ It was regional in character. To that extent, Shivaji was a popular king who represented the assertion of popular will in the area against Mughal encroachments.

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