Current Affairs Daily Current Affairs 22

21st January,2021 ; Daily Current Affairs 

Daily Current Affairs   Date : 21st January,2021

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

Covers 4 Most relevant Sources

  • The Hindu
  • Indian Express
  • PIB
  • Mint

Index

  • A) Schemes, Policies, Initiatives, Awards and Social Issues
  • Rural Area Development Plan Formulation and Implementation (RADPFI) Guidelines (PIB)
  • B) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments
  • Uniform Civil Code (UCC) (TH, pg 8)
  • The Question of OBC Reservation in Local Bodies (TH, pg 17)
  • C) Art, Culture and History
  • Kutiyattam (Koodiyattam) (TH, pg 18)
  • Sri Thyagaraja (TH, pg 17)
  • D) Science and Technology, Defence, Space
  • Asteroid 7482 (IE)
  • BrahMos Supersonic Cruise Missile(TH, pg 10)
  • E) International Relations
  • Russia-Ukraine Conflict (TH, pg 11)
  • South China Sea Dispute (TH, pg 11)
  • F) Miscellaneous
  • Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (PIB)
  • Index of Mineral Production (PIB)
  • Agri Nutri Gardens (PIB)

 

A) Schemes, Policies, Initiatives, Awards and Social Issues

  1. Rural Area Development Plan Formulation and Implementation (RADPFI) Guidelines (PIB)
  • Context:Ministry of Panchayati Raj has released the revised Rural Area Development Plan Formulation and Implementation (RADPFI) Guidelines.

Analysis

  • The Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 relating to Panchayats containing articles 243 to 243-O and the Constitution (74th Amendment) Act, 1992 relating to Municipalities (articles 243P to 243ZG) imparted some basic features of democratic decentralization of the governance especially the Panchayati Raj Institutions all over the country.
  • The 73rd CAA mentions about the responsibility of Gram Panchayats, to prepare the social, economic and resource plans for rural areas, but not the spatial plans.
  • The 11th schedule of 73rd CAA lists the functions of Gram Panchayat, which does not includepreparation of spatial plans for Gram Panchayats as one of the functions of Panchayats.
  • The 11th Schedule distributes powers between the State Legislature and the Panchayat just as the 7th Schedule distribute powers between the Union and the State Legislature.
  • Therefore, the rural areas are devoid of planned spatial development. The absence of planned spatial development in rural areas has major impact on regional development, especially in case of villages in the planning area boundary of the metropolitan areas and cities.
  • The Rural Area Development Plan Formulation and Implementation Guidelines (RADPFI) guidelines emphasizes the need for the preparation of rural spatial plans, integrated with the overall development.

 

B) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments

  1. Uniform Civil Code (UCC) (TH, pg 8)
  • Context: Chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University in Hyderbad Firoz Ahmed Bakht has moved the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the government to constitute a judicial commission or a high-level expert committee to prepare a draft of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC).
  • Note: You have already prepared this topic in detail from the8thJan 2022 file.

 

  1. The Question of OBC Reservation in Local Bodies (TH, pg 17)
  • Context:The Supreme Court’s latest order in Rahul Ramesh Wagh v. State of Maharashtra & Ors. makes it mandatory that the principles laid down by the Supreme Court for providing reservation to OBCs in local bodies shall be followed across the country.

Analysis

Background

  • The present political quandary harks back to the five-judge Constitution Bench decision in K. Krishnamurthy (Dr.) v. Union of India (2010).
  • In the above Judgment, the Supreme Court had interpreted Article 243D(6) and Article 243T(6), which permit reservation by enactment of law for backward classes in panchayat and municipal bodies respectively, to hold that barriers to political participation are not the same as that of the barriers that limit access to education and employment.
  • However, for creating a level playing field, reservation may be desirable as mandated by the aforementioned Articles which provide a separate constitutional basis for reservation, as distinct from what are conceived under Article 15 (4) and Article 16 (4) which form the basis for reservation in education and employment.
  • Though reservation to local bodies is permissible, the top court declared that the same is subject to empirical finding of backwardness in relation to local bodies as fulfilled through the three tests as follows:
  • Firstly, a dedicated commission need to be set up to conduct contemporaneous rigorous empirical inquiry into the nature and implications of the backwardness as regards local bodies within the State;
  • Secondly, there is a need to specify the proportion of reservation required to be provisioned local body-wise in light of recommendations of the Commission, so as not to fall foul of overbreadth; and
  • Thirdly, reservation should not exceed aggregate of 50% of the total seats reserved in favour of SCs/STs/OBCs taken together.

The Present Case

  • Local body elections were due in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
  • Maharashtra had constituted a Commission to ascertain the backwardness of OBCs in June 2021.
  • But without waiting for an empirical report, an ordinance was promulgated to amend the Maharashtra Zilla Parishads Act, Panchayat Samitis Act and the Maharashtra Village Panchayat Act so as to conduct local body elections with OBC reservation (the ordinance provided more than 50% reservation to OBCs and SC/STs in some local bodies). This was struck down by the Supreme court.
  • Surprisingly, the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly passed a resolution to keep the local body elections without OBC reservation at abeyance. Taking a political cue from Madhya Pradesh, the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly also passed a resolution to stall the local body elections in the wake of the judicial interference.
  • The Supreme Court also directed that “In case, the State or Union Territory is not in a position to fulfil the triple test requirement and the election to any of its local body cannot be postponed beyond the statutory period, the (State) Election Commission (concerned) ought to notify proportionate seats as open category seats, and proceed with the elections of the local bodies.”
  • Had the governments stuck to the law as mandated by Article 141 of the Constitution, this quandary wouldn’t have arisen.
  • Article 141 of the Constitution of India stipulates that the law declared by the Supreme Court shall be binding on all Courts within the territory of India.
  • Thus, the general principles laid down, by the Supreme Court are binding on each individual including those who are not a party to an order.

 

C) Art, Culture and History

  1. Kutiyattam (Koodiyattam) (TH, pg 18)
  • Context: The 12-day annual Koodiyattam festival showed how well the Ammannur school has kept alive the Sanskrit theatre tradition.

Analysis

  • Of all the ancient Sanskrit theatre forms, only Koodiyattam from Kerala has managed to survive.
  • It lived within temple precincts, more specifically in the homes of the Chakyars and Nambiars, the two communities who were its sole practitioners.
  • It is 70 years since Koodiyattam emerged from temples to occupy the public stage as an entertaining theatre form.
  • And for the past roughly 50 years, members of all communities have been welcome to perform it.
  • Despite this, the state of Koodiyattam seems uncertain. The more than 1,000-year-old theatre form has just around 100 practitioners.
  • The lack of full-length performance opportunities, a limited repertoire (a stock of plays, dances, or items that a performer knows or is prepared to perform), the failure to attract new actors, and, most important, the lack of patronage are pressing issues Koodiyattam faces today.
  • Besides, what we see today are mostly selected condensed versions, lasting just two to three hours. Such performancesare not true to the spirit of Koodiyattam.
  • It must first be understood that Koodiyattam is not just another art form, comparable to Kathakali or other classical dances. It has never enjoyed a popular base.
  • Recognised as intangible heritage by UNESCO, it survived because the temples were its sanctuary and the royals its patrons.
  • It was meant to be performed only in a koothambalam or the amphitheatre within the temple in an intimate setting for some 100 people, where the plays unfurl ever so slowly over long hours and days, almost with a meditative quality. A single act of a play may take anywhere from seven days to 20 days to complete.
  • Temples used to host annual performances lasting several days, known as ‘Adiyanthirakoothu’ or ritualistic art, but over the years, this has been discontinued in all but a handful of temples.
  • The Mizhavu is the main instrument used as accompaniment in a Kutiyattam performance.
  • Koodiyattam, the traditional Sanskrit theatre, has a rare and challenging scene called ‘Bharatavakyam’ or the actor’s speech.
  • It’s rare because it comes only at the end of the complete continuous performance of the last Act of a play, which may take 10 days or more. It’s challenging because it’s the complete re-enactment of that Act on the last day by a single actor over several hours.

 

  1. Sri Thyagaraja (TH, pg 17)
  • Context:Owing to the spread of the Omicron variant, the Tyagaraja Aradhana in Thiruvaiyaru has been reduced to just one day this year, instead of the usual five days.

Analysis

  • Kakarla Thyagabrahmam, populary known as Thyagaraja is one of the foremost devotees of Lord Rama.
  • He is among the great composers who gave shape to Carnatic Music, the classical musical tradition of Southern India.
  • Though born at Thiruvarur, in Tamil Nadu and proficient in Tamil, this poet saintcomposed thousands of soulful songs on Lord Rama in Telugu.

 

  • Thyagaraja harnessed various scales exploring musical depths and ranges, bequeathing a multi-dimensional content of lasting value in the form of his krithis.
  • Naama, roopa and guna varnanam are the descriptive presentation of the glory of Lord Rama in the compositions of Thyagaraj
  • Through his works, he created a Ramabhakthi Samrajyam – a kind of spiritual feeling in the songs using a matrix of musical scales.

 

 

D) Science and Technology, Defence, Space

  1. Asteroid 7482 (IE)
  • Context: An asteroid named 7482 (1994 PCI) flew past the Earth in January.
  • Having a diameter of about 1 km and classified as “potentiallyhazardous” by NASA, it was the second-largest asteroid to fly pastthe Earth since 2018.
  • It was estimated to have reached about five Lunar Distance (LD, 1 Lunar Distance=3,84,317 km) near the Earth.

Analysis

  • Asteroids are rocky objects that orbit the Sun, and are much smaller than planets.
  • As per NASA, there are approximately 1 million known asteroids, the remnants from the formation of the solar system over 4.6 billion years agoe Asteroids are left over from the formation of our solar system.
  • Most such objects can be found in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
  • The explanation for the concentration of asteroids in this belt comes from the formation of Jupiter, whose gravity brought an end to the formation of any planetary bodies in this region, as a result of which the smaller bodies kept colliding with each other, fragmenting into asteroids.
  • Other than those found in the main asteroid belt, asteroids can be classified into trojans, which are asteroids that share an orbit with a larger planet, but do not collide with it.
  • The Jupiter trojans form the most significant population of trojan asteroids as they go in front of and behind Jupiter.
  • The orbits of asteroids can be changed by Jupiter’s massive gravity – and by occasional close encounters with Mars or other objects.
  • The third classification of asteroids can be as Near-Earth Asteroids (NEA), which have orbits that pass close by the Earth.

Why do scientists track asteroids?

  • Scientists study them to look for information about the formation and history of planets and the sun, since asteroids were formed at the same time as other objects in the solar system. 
  • Another reason for tracking them is to look for asteroids that might be potentially hazardous.

When do asteroids become dangerous?

  • The objects that can cause significant damage upon impacting are larger than 30 metres.
  • Every year, about 30 small asteroids hit the Earth, but do not cause any major damage on the ground.

How are asteroids named?

  • They are named by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

How do we monitor asteroids?

  • Scientists continuously monitor Earth-crossing asteroids, whose paths intersect Earth’s orbit, and near-Earth asteroids that approach Earth’s orbital distance to within about 28 million miles (45 million kilometers) and may pose an impact danger.
  • Radar is a valuable tool in detecting and monitoring potential impact hazards. By reflecting transmitted signals off objects, images and other information can be derived from the echoes. Scientists can learn a great deal about an asteroid’s orbit, rotation, size, shape, and metal concentration.
  • Only a few robotic spacecrafts have encountered asteroids up close. Here are some highlights of those missions:
  • NASA’s Dawn spacecraft was launched in 2007 to explore asteroid Vesta, the second most massive body in the main asteroid belt.
  • Japan’s Hayabusa2 was launched in December 2014 on a six-year voyage to study asteroid Ryugu, and to collect samples to bring back to Earth for analysis.
  • NASA’s OSIRIS-REx arrived at near-Earth asteroid Bennu in 2018, and collected a sample of dust and rocks. It’s on track to deliver the asteroid sample to Earth on Sept. 24, 2023.
  • NASA’s NEOWISE spacecraft is orbiting Earth to improve on the most accurate survey of near-Earth objects ever undertaken.
  • The Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based radar observatories also contribute regularly to our understanding of asteroids.
  • Several more missions, including NASA’s Psyche and Lucy, missions are in development to keep exploring these small worlds.

 

  1. BrahMos Supersonic Cruise Missile (TH, pg 10)
  • Context:BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, with increased indigenous content and improved performance, was successfully test-fired from Integrated Test Range, Chandipur off the coast of Odisha.
  • The missile is capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against surface and sea-based targets and has been long inducted by the Indian armed forces.

Analysis

  • The name BrahMos is formed from the names of two rivers, the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia.
  • It was developed as a joint venture between India and Russia.
  • BrahMos is a two-stage supersonic (denoting a speed greater than that of sound) cruise missile.
  • It has been demonstrated in various configurations in land-attack, anti-ship and from the air.
  • The Army and the Navy have already inducted the missile, while the air-launched variant is undergoing trials.
  • It has a strike range of around 290 km and is described as the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile.
  • It is a two stage missile with a solid propellant booster engine as its first stage which brings it to supersonic speed and then gets separated.
  • The liquid ramjet or the second stage then takes the missile closer to 3 Mach speed in cruise phase.
  • It carries a conventional warhead weighing 200 to 300 kgs.
  • It is the first supersonic cruise missile known to be in service.

Special Features:

  • Universal for multiple platforms
  • Fire and forget principle of operation
  • High supersonic speed all through the flight
  • Long flight range with varieties of flight trajectories
  • Low radar signature
  • Shorter flight times leading to lower target dispersion and quicker engagement
  • Pin point accuracy with high lethal power aided by large kinetic energy on impact
  • Stealth technology and guidance system with advanced software
  • Non-interception with any known system in the world

Ballistic Vs Cruise Missiles

  • Ballistic missiles are powered initially by a rocket or series of rockets in stages (first stage), but then follow an unpowered (without fuel) curved trajectory mostly above the atmosphere (second stage) before descending to reach its intended target (third stage). Thus, Ballistic missiles have three stages of flight.
  • A ballistic missile is only guided during the initial short boost phase, but minor corrections can be made by means of control motors.
  • Ballistic missiles can carry either nuclear or conventional warheads.
  • Ballistic missiles with range less than 1,000 kilometers are also known as “tactical” ballistic missiles.
  • Ballistic missiles with range between 1,000 and 3,000 kilometers are also known as “theater” ballistic missiles.
  • Ballistic missiles whose range is more than 5,500 kilometers (approximately 3,410 miles) are also known as intercontinental or strategic ballistic missiles (ICBMs)
  • Ballistic missiles first came into use during World War II, when the Germans used them to attack London.
  • They can be launched from ground, air, sea or submarine platforms.

How Cruise missiles different from Ballistic Missiles?

  • Cruise missiles are unmanned vehicles that are propelled by jet engines, much like an airplane.
  • They can be launched from ground, air, sea or submarine platforms.
  • Cruise missiles remain within the atmosphere for the duration of their flight and can fly as low as a few meters off the ground.
  • Flying low to the surface of the earth expends more fuel but makes a cruise missile very difficult to detect.
  • Cruise missiles are self-guided and use multiple methods to accurately deliver their payload, including terrain mapping, global positioning systems (GPS) and inertial guidance.

Sriharikota v/s Wheeler Island

  • Sriharikota Island is located in Pulicat lake (Andhra Pradesh). It houses India’s satellite launch centre, Satish Dhawan Space Centre
  • Abdul Kalam Island is located in Bay of Bengal, off the coast of Odisha. Formerly known as Wheeler Island, missile test facility for the most of Indian missiles including long range ones is available here.

 

E) International Relations

  1. Russia-Ukraine Conflict (TH, pg 11)
  • Context: Tensions between the West and Moscow have soared as Russia has massed an estimated 100,000 troops along Ukraine’s borders.

Analysis

Why would Russia want to invade Ukraine?

  • Ukraine, Europe’s second largest country, declared itself independent of the Soviet Union in August 1991 and moved to a market economy.
  • But there has been tension between its old ties to Russia and new allegiances with western nations ever since.
  • Things escalated when Russia seized and annexed the Crimean peninsula in southern Ukraine in 2014, in response to Ukrainians ousting their pro-Russian president through mass protests.
  • Shortly afterwards, pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions (collectively known as the Donbas region) declared their independence from Kyiv, prompting months of heavy fighting.
  • A 2015 peace agreement brokered by France and Germany helped end large-scale battles but efforts to reach a political settlement have failed.
  • Russia has accused Ukraine of failing to honour the 2015 peace deal and criticised the West of not encouraging Ukrainian compliance.
  • Russia also sees Ukraine’s aspirations to join NATO as a threat to Russia’s borders.
  • Russia wants legally-binding guarantees that Ukraine will not become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), and that the 30-strong military alliance will not deploy weapons to Kiev amid concerns it is planning to retake territories held by Russian-backed separatists in the east.
  • The US and its allies have refused to offer Russia the kind of guarantees on Ukraine that Putin wants, citing NATO’s principle that membership is open to any qualifying country. They agreed, however, to hold talks with Russia to discuss its concerns.

Do you know?

  • TheKerch Strait separates the Crimean peninsula from Russia’s mainland.

 

  1. South China Sea Dispute (TH, pg 11)
  • Context:A U.S. warship sailed through the South China Sea recently, sparking a warning from China’s military as tensions between the superpowers remain high.
  • The American Navy said the USS Benfold “asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands, consistent with international law”.
  • China claims almost all of the South China Sea, through which trillions of dollars in trade passes annually, with competing claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
  • Beijing has ignored a 2016 ruling by The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration that its historical claim is without basis.

Analysis

  • Different parts of South China Sea are claimed by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei.
  • China’s claim to the South China Sea is based in history, dating back to records from the Xia and Han dynasties.
  • Nine-dash line: Boundary of the South China Sea as claimed by China.
  • The United States contends that the South China Sea is international water, and sovereignty in the area should be determined by the United Nations Convention on Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  • UNCLOS states that countries can’t claim sovereignty over any land masses that are submerged at high tide, or that were previously submerged but have been raised above high tide level by construction.

Why does China want to control the South China Sea?

  • Control of the South China Sea would allow China to dominate a major trade route through which most of its imported oil flows.
  • The floor of the South China Sea may contain massive oil and natural gas reserves.
  • Sovereignty over the region could give China a level of energy security and independence far beyond what it currently possesses.
  • Some disputed islands in South China Sea that are frequently in news:
  • Spratly Islands
  • Thomas Shoal
  • Woody Islands
  • Paracel Islands

Note: Ties between China and Japan have been strained by a territorial row over a group of islands, known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and the Diaoyu islands in China located in the East China Sea.

 

F) Miscellaneous

  1. Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (PIB)
  • In exercise of the powers conferred under the Customs Act, 1962, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs determines the rate of exchange of conversion of each of the foreign currencies into Indian currency or vice versa.
  • Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (erstwhile Central Board of Excise & Customs) is a part of the Department of Revenue under the Ministry of Finance, Government of India.

 

  1. Index of Mineral Production (PIB)
  • As per the data of Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM), Ministry of Mines, the Index of Mineral Production of mining and quarrying sector for the month of November, 2021(Base: 2011-12=100) was 5.0% higher as compared to the level in the month of November, 2020.

 

  1. Agri Nutri Gardens (PIB)
  • Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM) has observed ‘Agri Nutri Garden Week’ in January, 2022 through awareness campaign and encouraging establishment of ‘Agri Nutri Gardens’ in the rural households.
  • It is the Mission’s agenda to support every rural poor household to have Agri Nutri Garden to fulfill the need of the family’s nutrition and any excess production can also be sold for income generation.