Current Affairs Daily Current Affairs 22

23rdMarch,2022 ; Daily Current Affairs

Daily Current Affairs  Date : 23rdMarch,2022

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

Covers 4 Most relevant Sources

  • The Hindu
  • Indian Express
  • PIB
  • Mint

Index

  • Secretary-General of the Rajya Sabha (TH, pg 8)
  • What is Census? (TH, pg 12)
  • Understanding Hypersonic Weapons (TH, pg 10)
  • Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) (TH, pg 16)
  • All about Jute (TH, pg 16)

 

  1. Secretary-General of the Rajya Sabha (TH, pg 8)

  • Context: An editorial in the Hindu.

Analysis

  • Article 98 of the Constitution prescribes for a separate secretarial staff for each House of Parliament.
  • Article 64 provides that the Vice-President of India shall be ex-officio Chairman of the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) and Article 89 mandates the Council to choose one of its Members as Deputy Chairman.
  • Secretary-General is the third most important functionary of the Rajya Sabha after Chairman, Rajya Sabha and Deputy Chairman, Rajya Sabha.
  • He is an officer of the House and is chosen and appointed by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha.
  • In the Warrant of Precedence,he holds the rank corresponding to the Cabinet Secretary, who is the Seniormost bureaucrat in the Government of India.
  • He is answerable only to the Presiding Officer of the House and his action cannot be discussed inside the House.
  • For the purposes of the elections to the offices of the President and the Vice- President, it has been the established practice that the Secretary-General of the Rajya Sabha or the Lok Sabha is appointed as returning officer along with one or more assistant returning officers.
  • In his administrative responsibilities, Secretary-General heads the Rajya Sabha Secretariat, which is under the overall control of the Chairman, Rajya Sabha.
  • He exercises financial powers and initiates budget proposals relating to the Rajya Sabha and its Secretariat.
  • He is the chief accounting authority for the money sanctioned by the House for expenditure under the Demands for Grants of the Rajya Sabha and its Secretariat.
  • By virtue of his being the Secretary-General, Rajya Sabha, he functions as Secretary to all the Parliamentary Committees, serviced by the Secretariat.
  • He either attends the Committee meetings himself or causes his officers to attend them.
  • The Secretary-General also enjoys certain privileges such as freedom from arrest, immunity from criminal proceedings, and any obstruction and breach of their rights would amount to contempt of the House.
  • Parliament and State legislative secretariats recruit their pool of bureaucrats separately.Creating a common all-India service cadre — an Indian Legislative Service — is thus a must.
  • A common service can build a combined and experienced legislative staff cadre, enabling them to serve from across local bodies to Union Parliament.
  • The Rajya Sabha can, under Article 312, pass a resolution to this effect, in national interest, to create an all-India service common to both the Union and the States, and enables Parliament to create such a service by law.
  1. What is Census? (TH, pg 12)

  • Context: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) informed the Lok Sabha that “every person is legally bound to answer the Census questions as per the Census Act, 1948 to the best of his knowledge or belief”.

Analysis

What is Census?

  • The census provides snapshot of the country’s population and housing at a given point of time.
  • The responsibility of conducting the decennial Census (once in 10 years) rests with the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner (not a statutory body) under Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The Census Act,1948 provides for the scheme of conducting population census alongwith duties and responsibilities of census officers.

History of Census in India

  • The earliest literature ‘Rig-Veda’ reveals that some kind of population count was maintained in during 800-600 BC in India.
  • ‘Arthashastra’ by ‘Kautilya’ written in the 3rd Century BC also prescribed the collection of population statistics as a measure of state policy for taxation.
  • It contained a detailed description of methods of conducting population, economic and agricultural censuses.
  • During the regime of the Mughal king Akbar, the administrative report ‘Ain-e-Akbari’ included comprehensive data pertaining to population, industry, wealth and many other characteristics.
  • In 1872 the first population census of India was conducted by Viceroy Lord Mayo.
  • However, the first synchronous census in India was held in 1881. Since then, censuses have been undertaken uninterruptedly once every ten year(Last interruption came in 2021 due to covid -19 pandemic)
  • Data Items collected during census operations in India consists of two sets namely: country’s population and housing.
  • (Candidates are advised to go through the list briefly)
  1. Understanding Hypersonic Weapons (TH, pg 10)

  • Context: The Russian Kinzhal aviation missile system with hypersonic aeroballistic missiles destroyed a large underground warehouse containing missiles and aviation ammunition in the village of Deliatyn in the Ivano-Frankivsk region.

Analysis

What are hypersonic weapons?

  • They are manoeuvrable weapons that can fly at speeds of at least Mach 5, five times the speed of sound.
  • The speed of sound is Mach 1, and speeds above Mach I are supersonic and speeds above Mach 5 are hypersonic.
  • Hypersonic weapons travel within the atmosphere and can manoeuvre midway which combined with their high speeds make their detection and interception extremely difficult.
  • This means that radars and air defences cannot detect them till they are very close and have only little time to react.
  • Hypersonic missiles are a new class of threat because they are capable both of manoeuvring and of flying faster than 5,000 kilometres per hour, which would enable such missiles to penetrate most missile defences and to further compress the timelines for response by a nation under attack.

What is the status of Russian, Chinese and U.S. programmes?

  • While the U.S. has active hypersonic development programmes, but it was lagging behind China and Russia because “most U.S. hypersonic weapons, in contrast to those in Russia and China, are not being designed for use with a nuclear warhead.”

What is the status in other countries?

  • Although the United States, Russia, and China possess the most advanced hypersonic weapons programmes, a number of other countries — including Australia, India, France, Germany, and Japan — are also developing hypersonic weapons technology.
  • India operates approximately 12 hypersonic wind tunnels and is capable of testing speeds of up to Mach 13, according to CRS.
  • Reportedly, India is also developing an indigenous, dual-capable hypersonic cruise missile as part of its Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) programme and successfully tested a Mach 6 scramjet in June 2019 and September 2020.
  • In a scramjet engine, air goes inside the engine at supersonic speed and comes out at hypersonic speeds.
  • A hypersonic version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile is also under development.
  1. Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) (TH, pg 16)

  • Context: The Standing Committee on Finance urged the Statistics Ministry to reduce the time lags in releasing the reports based on the Periodic Labour Force Survey.

Analysis

  • PLFS is one of the most important socio-economic indicators for policymaking.
  • It is released by the National Statistical Office (NSO)
    under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI).
  • ThePeriodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) gives quarterly estimates of key employment and unemployment Indicatorsfor both urban and rural areas like the:
  • Labour Force Participation Rates (LFPR),
  • Worker Population Ratio (WPR),
  • Unemployment Rate (UR), etc.
  • These indicators are defined as follows:
  • Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR): LFPR is defined as the percentage of persons(age 15 years and above) in labour force (i.e. working or seeking or available for work) in the total population.
  • Worker Population Ratio (WPR): WPR is defined as the percentage of employed persons (age 15 years and above) in the total population.
  • Unemployment Rate (UR): UR is defined as the percentage of persons (age 15 years and above) unemployed among the persons in the labour force.

D) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

  1. All about Jute (TH, pg 16)
  • Context: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs recently approved the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for raw jute for the 2022-2023 season.
  • The announced price is based on the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).
  • The government added MSP announced this time, assures a minimum of 50% as margin of profit and is based on All India weighted average cost of production.

Analysis

What is the basis of MSP?

  • It is only a government policy that is part of administrative decision-making. There is no statutory/legal backing for MSP.
  • The government declares MSPs for crops, even there’s no law mandating their implementation.
  • Based on the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices (CACP) 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).
  • But the CACP itself is not any statutory body set up through an Act of Parliament.
  • The CACP, as its website states, is just “an attached office of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare”.
  • It can recommend MSPs, but the decision on fixing (or even not fixing) and enforcement rests finally with the government(cabinet committee on economic affairs).

All About Jute

  • Jute cultivation is mainly concentrated in the eastern and north eastern India.
  • It is an important cash crop also called as the golden fibre.
  • Raw jute being bio-degradable and annually renewable source, it is considered as an environment-friendly crop and it helps in the maintenance of the environment and ecological balance.
  • Jute has now emerged as a versatile raw material for diverse applications, such as, textile industries, paper industries, building and automotive industries, use as soil saver, use as decorative and furnishing materials, etc.
  • Jute fibre is chiefly used for manufacturing hessian, sacking and carpet backing.
  • The jute sticks are widely used as fuel &also for making gunpowder, charcoal, as a raw material for coarser paper.

Growing conditions

  • Jute grows well on well-drained fertile soils in the flood plains where soils are renewed every year.
  • Jute requires a hot and humid climate.
  • Water logged conditions are harmful for jute cultivation.
  • New greyalluvialsoil ofgooddepth receivingsiltfromannualfloods is most suitableforjutegrowth. However, juteis grown widely in sandy looms and clay loams.
  • Laterite and gravel soils are not suitable for this crop.
  • Juteisgenerallysownduring Marchto May dependingonthe atmospheric condition.

Figure 1: Statewise Jute Production

  • High temperature is required during the time of growth.
  • West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh are the major jute producing states.
  • Tripura, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Eastern Uttar Pradesh are minor jute producing states.

Challenges

  • Due to its high cost, it is losing market to synthetic fibres and packing materials, particularly the nylon.
  • Theleadingworld’sjute producingcountries are India, Bangladesh, China and Thailand.

Jute Geotextile (JGT)

  • Jute Geotextile (JGT) is one of the most important diversified jute product.
  • Jute being an eco-friendly have the distinguishing features such as: High moisture absorption capacity, flexibility and drainage properties.
  • Geo jute is used in soil erosion control, separation, filtration and drainage in civil engineering work.
  • It also has application in rural road pavement construction, protection of river banks and agro plant mulching.
  • JGT is used to suppress growth of weeds on the one hand and to foster growth of the desired vegetation on the other. JGT is also laid in semi-arid areas to promote afforestation.

National Food Security Mission- Commercial Crops (Jute) Programme

  • Jute Development Programme is being implemented under National Food Security Mission – Commercial Crops (NFSM-CC) for enhancing production and productivity since 2014-15.
  • It is being implemented in 9 States i.e.,: Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Orissa, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh & West Bengal.
  • Under this scheme thrust has been given on transfer of technology through frontline demonstrations and training in order to extend benefits to the farmers.

Do you know?

  • Kenafisa fast-growing jute plantofthebastfibregroup – speciesHibiscus cannabinus. It is usually known as Mesta.
  • Kenaf requires a warm, moist climate and grows in well-drained, sandy loam soils.
  • Kenaf is less demanding on the soil than regular jute and may be grown in rotation with other crops.
  • The fibre strands, about 3 feet long, are pale in colour and lustrous.Leading producers include India, Bangladesh, Thailand and China.
  • It is mainly used for cordage, canvas, sacking and other products, such as, newsprint and carpet-backing yarn.
  • The first jute mill was established at Rishra (Bengal – now in West Bengal), on the river Hooghly near Calcutta in the year 1855, by Mr. George Akland.