Daily Current Affairs

4TH JANUARY,2021 : MOST POWERFUL DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS CONCEPTS

UPSC PRELIMS+MAINS 

Index

  1. A) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity
  2. Western Disturbances: Origin, spread, effects and climate change (PIB)
  3. B) Science and Technology, Defence, Space
  4. FSSAI slashes limit for transfat levels in foods (TH)
  5. C) Indices, Reports, Surveys, Committees and Organisations
  6. Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and the Integrity Index (TH)
  7. D) Art, Culture and History
  8. Sambhaji Maharaj (TH)
  9. E) Miscellaneous
  10. Prayaas Initiative (TH)
  11. National Integrated Database of Hospitality Industry (NIDHI) (PIB)
  12. System for Assessment, Awareness & Training for Hospitality Industry: (SAATHI) (PIB)

 

A) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

  1. Western Disturbances: Origin, spread, effects and climate change (PIB)

  • Context: Western disturbances to be bring rain in north-western parts of India.

Analysis

  • Western disturbances (WDs) are extratropical mid-tropospheric cyclonic circulations most often

embedded in the subtropical westerly jetstream (STWJ).

Why are they named so?

  • The word ‘disturbance’ is used because the air within low-pressure systems (fronts, depressions and cyclones) tends to be unstable or disturbed.
  • And ‘western’ refers to the direction from which they originate vis-à-vis India.

How do western disturbances originate?

  • WDs are caused by pronounced temperature differences between higher and lower latitudes.
  • The transfer and interaction of warm and cold air creates an area of low pressure in the mid-latitudes, usually over the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Provided other conditions remain favourable, chances of WD intensification are higher when there is greater meridional (north versus south) temperature difference.
  • Other factors that determine the strength of WDs are:
  • the location and intensity of the jet stream and
  • the amount of moisture being carried by the low-pressure system.

Where do western disturbances originate from?

  • They typically originate over western Eurasia (Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea and Caspian Sea) before propagating downstream across Pakistan and northern India.
  • They originate as perturbations (disturbances) in the subtropical jet, typically over the Mediterranean, growing baroclinically on approach to the subcontinent.
  • They are driven by westerlies, which are prevailing winds from the west toward the east in the middle latitudes between 30 and 60 degrees latitude.
  • After covering thousands of miles, these moisture-laden WDs eventually come up against the mighty Himalayas and are blocked.
  • As a consequence, the moisture gets trapped and precipitation is shed in the form of snow and rain over northwest India, and sometimes other parts of north India.

When are western disturbances the strongest?

  • They are most prominent during the winter, when the STWJ is situated over south Asia and as westerlies are stronger in winter, but can occur at any time of year.
  • Their effect is minimal during the monsoon months in India.

What are the effects of western disturbances?

  • Western Disturbances along with their induced systems are the principle rain-producing systems during non-monsoonal months over Northwest India including Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, as well as almost all extreme precipitation events in the region; but mostly rely on local sources of moisture (e.g. the Arabian Sea).
  • Induced systems are secondary low-pressure areas or cyclonic circulations induced by the primary WD.
  • Their effect sometimes extends up to Gangetic plains and Northeast India.
  • They are also responsible for bringing snowfall in the higher reaches of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
  • Most of the moisture is shed between November and March.
  • The influence of WDs is strongest from December to February, when there can be as many as 5-6 WDs every month.
  • The formation of fog starts and slowly the cold wave occurs spreading to southwards in the country.
  • WDs are also associated with cloudy skies and an increase in night-time temperatures (due to trapping of heat reradiated by the earth’s surface by the clouds) in parts of north India.
  • They can also cause strong winds that help disperse suspended pollutants in the smog-filled cities of the region, including New Delhi.
  • It is worth mentioning here that although the effects of WDs are rarely seen after spring (March-April), due to the northward movement of the jet stream above India, in some cases (which we will read about ahead), WDs can persist even outside the traditional winter months.
  • Precipitation from western disturbances replenishes the Himalayan glaciers, preserves the natural ecosystem, helps rabi crops like wheat, and assists hydropower generation.
  • Light rain under the influence of western disturbance provides relief from the severe cold wave conditions in the north-western parts of India.

Do western disturbances cause extreme weather?

  • WDs are not usually associated with disasters, since they not high-intensity weather systems.
  • These are advective (horizontal movement of a mass of fluid such as air or an ocean current), not convective systems, so they don’t have a lot of energy and usually don’t cause heavy precipitation.
  • However, anomalies do exist.
  • WDs had a role to play in the Leh cloudburst of 2010, Uttarakhand rains of 2013, and the J&K floods of 2014. 

WDs and Climate Change

  • The lack of data and understanding of the mechanics of WDs has also led to debates about the impact of global warming and climate change on western disturbance formation and intensity.
  • In an age where droughts, crop failure and melting glaciers are becoming all too common, studying these linkages more closely will allow scientists to get deeper insights into western disturbances, how they may have changed over the years, and most importantly, what we can do about it.

 B) Science and Technology, Defence, Space

2.FSSAI slashes limit for transfat levels in foods (TH)

  • Context: The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has capped the amount of trans fatty acids (TFA) in oils and fats to 3% for 2021 and 2% by 2022 from the current permissible limit of 5% through an amendment to the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulations.

Analysis

  • The revised regulation applies to edible refined oils, vanaspati (partially hydrogenated oils), margarine, bakery shortenings and other mediums of cooking such as vegetable fat spreads and mixed fat spreads.
  • Transfats are associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and death from coronary heart disease.
  • India has committed to eliminating trans fats from food supply by 2022.
  • When the World Health Organisation called for a global ban on transfats by 2023, India announced that it would it do this a year before the deadline, by 2022.
  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has also launched a new mass media campaign, called “Heart Attack Rewind”, the 30-second public service announcement (PSA), calling for the elimination of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids to less than 2% by the year 2022 in a phased manner.
  • “Heart Attack Rewind” warns citizens about the health hazards of consuming trans fat and offers strategies to avoid them through healthier alternatives.

What are Fats?

  • Fat is a nutrient. It is crucial for normal body function, and without it, we could not live.
  • Fats, which consist of a wide group of compounds, are usually soluble in organic solvents and insoluble in water.
  • All types of fats, regardless of whether they are liquid or solid are called
  • Not only does fat supply us with energy, it also makes it possible for other nutrients to do their jobs.
  • It helps to absorb some vitamins and minerals.
  • Fat is needed to build cell membranes, the vital exterior of each cell, and the sheaths surrounding nerves.
  • Fats also play an important role in the regulation of body temperature, the reduction of inflammation, muscle movement, blood clotting and brain development.
  • Protein, carbohydrates and fats are the three essential nutrients that provide the body with caloric energy.
  • Although carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body, fats are the most energy dense of these nutrients.
  • Containing 9 kcal per gram, fats provide roughly twice as much energy and calories as proteins and carbohydrates which only provide 4 kcal per gram.
  • Vitamins and minerals do not provide energy (calories), but they help to release energy from carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
  • To date, there are 13 essential vitamins: vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and 8 B vitamins.
  • Any calories that are not immediately metabolized for energy are stored in the body as fat for future use.
  • Fat is stored throughout the body in fat cells known as
  • However, fat cells can increase and decrease in size depending on the amount of fat that the body is storing.

Types

  • All fats have a similar chemical structure: a chain of carbon atoms bonded to hydrogen atoms.
  • What makes one fat different from another is the length and shape of the carbon chain and the number of hydrogen atoms connected to the carbon atoms.
  • Seemingly slight differences in structure translate into crucial differences in form and function.

Saturated fats

  • Saturated fats are solid at room temperature.
  • They are totally saturated, meaning that each molecule of fat is covered in hydrogen atoms.
  • A large intake of saturated fats may eventually raise cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
  • A healthy diet includes less than 10 percent of its calories from saturated fats.
  • It is mostly found in meat and milk products.
  • However, unprocessed saturated fats are an important part of a healthy diet and can be regularly consumed.
  • An important and beneficial saturated fat is coconut oil, which has scientifically demonstrated health benefits.

Unsaturated fats

  • Unsaturated fats, which include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, are liquid at room temperature.
  • They are mostly derived from plant oils and are classed as “good” fats:

Monounsaturated fats

  • Monounsaturated fat molecules are not saturated with hydrogen atoms – each fat molecule has only the space for one hydrogen atom.
  • Monounsaturated fats may lower LDL (low-density lipoprotein – bad) cholesterol, and keep HDL (high-density lipoprotein – good) cholesterol at higher levels.
  • For instance, the Mediterranean diet, a well-researched and chronic disease-risk lowering diet, is full of monounsaturated fats.

Polyunsaturated fats

  • In polyunsaturated fats, there are a number of spaces around each polyunsaturated fat molecule – they are not saturated with hydrogen atoms.
  • Polyunsaturated fats are essential fats. That means they’re required for normal body functions but your body can’t make them. So you must get them from food.
  • Polyunsaturated fats are used to build cell membranes and the covering of nerves. They are needed for blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation.
  • Monounsaturated fats are relatively stable, but they’re not quite as stable as saturated fats.
  • Polyunsaturated fats are the least stable fats as polyunsaturated fats have multiple binding sites exposed, making them particularly open to oxidation.
  • It’s important to note that just because a fat is unstable doesn’t mean it’s bad for us.
  • We should just handle less stable fats more carefully to make sure they don’t oxidize or spoil.
  • That means avoiding ones that are heavily processed or exposed to high heat.

Omega 6 and Omega 3

  • A polyunsaturated fat has two or more double bonds in its carbon chain.
  • There are two main types of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids.
  • The numbers refer to the distance between the beginning of the carbon chain and the first double bond. Both types offer health benefits.
  • As they are polyunsaturated, our body can’t produce omega 3s and omega 6s on its own; we get them from food.
  • Polyunsaturated fats are good for our health, especially those from fish, known as omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids protect against heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol levels and possibly inflammation.
  • Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may also help reduce the symptoms experienced by people who suffer from arthritis, joint problems in general, and some skin diseases.
  • Vegetable sources of omega 3s include cauliflower, walnuts and flaxseeds.
  • Omega-6 fatty acids are mostly found in vegetable oils.
  • An excessive intake of omega-6’s may lead to increased inflammation.

What are trans fats?

  • The worst type of dietary fat is the kind known as trans fat.
  • It is a by-product of a process called hydrogenation that is used to turn healthy oils into solids and to prevent them from becoming rancid.
  • Trans fats have no known health benefits and that there is no safe level of consumption.
  • There are two broad types of trans fats found in foods: naturally-occurring and artificial trans
  • Naturally-occurring trans fats are produced in the gut of some animals and foods made from these animals (e.g., milk and meat products).
  • Artificial trans fats are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils. They are also known as partially hydrogenated oils.

Why do some companies use trans fats?

  • Transfats are easy to use, inexpensive to produce and last a long time (give longer shelf-life to the items prepared by them).
  • Transfats give foods a desirable taste and texture.
  • Many restaurants and fast-food outlets use transfats to deep-fry foods because oils with trans fats can be used many times in commercial fryers.

How do trans fats affect health?

  • Trans fats raise bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower good (HDL) cholesterol levels.
  • Trans fats create inflammation, which is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.
  • They contribute to insulin resistance, which increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Even small amounts of trans fats can harm health.

Cholesterol

  • Cholesterol travels through the blood on proteins called “lipoproteins.”
  • Two types of lipoproteins carry cholesterol throughout the body:
  • LDL (low-density lipoprotein), sometimes called “bad” cholesterol, makes up most of our body’s cholesterol.
  • High levels of LDL cholesterol raise our risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or “good” cholesterol, absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver. The liver then flushes it from the body.
  • High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower our risk for heart disease and stroke.

Conclusion: Avoid the trans fats, limit the saturated fats, and replace with essential polyunsaturated fats.

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)

  • It has been established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 which consolidates various acts and orders that have hitherto handled food related issues in various Ministries and Departments.
  • It has been created for laying down science-based standards for articles of food.
  • Various Central Acts like the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 etc. are repealed after the commencement of FSS Act, 2006.
  • The Act also aims to establish a single reference point for all matters relating to food safety and standards.
  • To this effect, the Act establishes an independent statutory authority – the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • Food Safety and Standards Authority of India and State Food Safety Authorities shall enforce various provisions of the Act.
  • FSSAI also contributes to the development of international technical standards for food, sanitary and phytosanitary standards.

C) Indices, Reports, Surveys, Committees and Organisations

3.Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and the Integrity Index (TH)

  • Context: The commission found during a review that several vigilance cases had been pending in some organizations.
  • The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has directed the chief executives and the chief vigilance officers of government organizations to finalize by May 31 the pending cases initiated between January 2011 and December 2018.
  • As the apex integrity institution, the Commission is mandated to fight corruption and to ensure integrity in public administration.

Analysis

Background

  • CVC is conceived to be the apex vigilance institution to promote integrity in the governance processes by:
  • Creation of a credible deterrence against corruption through prompt enforcement of anti-corruption laws and regulations
  • Undertaking effective preventive measures to minimize the scope of corruption.
  • Raising public awareness to inculcate ethical values and reduce society’s tolerance towards corruption.
  • The Central Vigilance Commission was set up by a Government Resolution in 1964 on the recommendations of the Committee on Prevention  of Corruption, headed by Shri K. Santhanam, to advise and guide Central Government agencies in the field of vigilance.
  • It was accorded the status of independent statutory authority through the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003.
  • The Commission shall consist of: A Central Vigilance Commissioner – Chairperson and not more than two Vigilance Commissioners as Members.
  • They are appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal on the recommendation of a three member committee consisting of the Prime Minister as its head, the Union Minister of home affairs and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
  • They hold office for a term of four years or until they attain the age of sixty-five years, whichever is earlier.
  • After their tenure, they are not eligible for further employment under the Central or a state government.
  • The salary, allowances and other conditions of service of the Central Vigilance Commissioner are similar to those of the Chairman of UPSC and that of the vigilance commissioner are similar to those of a member of UPSC.

Roles & Functions (important ones only)

  • Exercise superintendence over the functioning of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (CBI) insofar as it relates to the investigation of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988; or an offence under the Cr.PC for certain categories of public servants.
  • Give directions to the Delhi Special Police Establishment (CBI) for superintendence insofar as it relates to the investigation of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
  • Review the progress of investigations conducted by the DSPE into offences alleged to have been committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 or an offence under the Cr.PC
  • Exercise superintendence over the vigilance administrations of the various Central Government Ministries, Departments and Organizations of the Central Government
  • CVC has all the powers of a Civil court while conducting any inquiry.

Commission’s Jurisdiction under CVC Act

  • Members of All India Service serving in connection with the affairs of the Union and Group A officers of the Central Government.
  • Officers of the rank of Scale V and above in the Public Sector Banks.
  • Officers in Grade D and above in Reserve Bank of India, NABARD and SIDBI.
  • Chief Executives and Executives on the Board and other officers of E-8 and above in Schedule ‘A’ and ‘B’ Public Sector Undertakings.
  • Chief Executives and Executives on the Board and other officers of E-7 and above in Schedule ‘C’ and ‘D’ Public Sector Undertakings.
  • Managers and above in General Insurance Companies.
  • Senior Divisional Managers and above in Life Insurance Corporations.
  • Other Officers drawing salary of Rs.8700/- p.m. and above on Central Government in Societies and other Local Authorities.

Have you heard about the Integrity Index?

  • The Integrity Index for public organizations is an initiative of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) which will be based on benchmarking of governance processes by internal and external stakeholders.
  • The Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad is the consulting partner engaged by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to develop a generic framework for computing the Integrity Index of Public organizations.
  • It is undertaking a research-based approach to create an integrity index that various organizations can use to measure themselves and which will evolve with changing needs.
  • The objective of this exercise is to define what constitutes integrity of public organizations, to identify the different factors of integrity and their inter-linkages and to create an objective and reliable tool that can measure the performance of organizations on this benchmark.
  • ‘Integrity index’: will help the Government departments in India to assess where they stand on anti-corruption measures.

Definition of Integrity (Additional Information for GS4)

  • When there is a congruence among our thoughts, words and actions, the integrity gets manifested.
  • Integrity includes but goes beyond honesty. Honesty is telling the truth- in other words, conforming our words to reality. Integrity is conforming reality to our words- in other words, keeping promises and fulfilling expectations
  • Integrity is the basis of Trust
  • Integrity is the uprightness of character

D) Art, Culture and History

4.Sambhaji Maharaj (TH)

  • Context: The controversy has erupted over renaming Aurangabad city as ‘Sambhajinagar’ in Maharashtra. Opposition parties are criticizing this as a ploy to divide the Hindu and Muslim communities.
  • Sambhaji in his short rule spanning nine years, gained recognition for his valour and patriotism. He continues to be celebrated, particularly in Maharashtra, as the ruler who chose death over conversion.

Analysis

A dramatic accession

  • The eldest son of the Maratha emperor, Chhatrapati Shivaji, Sambhaji was the second ruler of the kingdom after his father’s death.
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji passed away in April 1680, and for a good nine months, Sambhaji was involved in a bitter accession struggle with his half-brother Rajaram, who was 10 at the time. Soyrabai, Sambhaji’s stepmother and the mother of Rajaram, plotted against to keep him away from the throne.
  • Ultimately though, Sambhaji gained the support of Maratha commander-in-chief Hambirrao Mohite and in January 1681 was officially crowned ruler of the Marathas. Rajaram, Soyrabai, and their associates were put under house arrest.

Face-off with the Mughals

  • The Mughals were the staunchest enemies of the Marathas during Sambhaji’s reign.
  • One of the first major actions taken by Sambhaji against the Mughals, was when his forces attacked Burhanpur, a wealthy Mughal city in Madhya Pradesh.
  • Sambhaji had planned the attack, being aware of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb’s plans to expand into the Deccan.
  • Burhanpur was an important trading center and Sambhaji’s attack came as a huge blow for the Mughals.
  • For the next six years, between 1682 and 1688, the Marathas under Sambhaji and the Mughals under Aurangzeb were engaged in multiple battles in the Deccan.
  • The Mughals wanted to acquire possession over the forts held by Marathas in Nashik and Baglana regions. In 1682, they attacked the Ramsej fort near Nashik. However, despite months of failed attempts, the Mughals failed to take control of the fort and were forced to retreat. The Ramsej fort had become an important morale booster for the Marathas.

Battles with other important 17th century dynasties in India

  • The Marathas under Sambhaji also came into conflict with the Abyssinian Siddi rulers who wished to acquire control over the Konkan coast.
  • Sambhaji fought them, restricting their presence to the island of Janjira, located in the present-day Raigad district of Maharashtra. The Siddis were also stopped from intruding into Maratha regions.
  • Sambhaji also led a campaign on the Portuguese colony of Goa in late 1683.
  • The Portuguese colonists were thoroughly weakened by the Maratha raid, and sought help from the Mughals.
  • Sambhaji was forced to retreat from Goa in January 1684, with the arrival of the Mughal army and navy.
  • In 1681, Sambhaji also attempted to take control over Mysore, then ruled by the Wodeyar king Chikkadevaraja. However, he was driven back from there.

Sambhaji capture and surrender to death

  • In the autumn of 1687, the Mughal and Maratha forces faced each other in the dense forests near Wai and Mahabaleshwar in Deccan India. The Battle of Wai, as it came to be called, was won by the Marathas
  • The Maratha commander-in-chief, and one of the most important supporters of Sambhaji, Hambirrao Mohite, was killed in this Battle of Wai.
  • The execution of Mohite, came a blow to them, and a large number of Maratha troops began deserting Sambhaji.
  • In January 1689, Sambhaji was captured by Mughal forces. Sambhaji was asked by Aurangzeb to surrender all his forts and treasures, and finally to convert to Islam. Sambhaji refused to do so, and as result was put to a torturous death.

E) Miscellaneous

5.Prayaas Initiative (TH)

  • The Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) launched a new initiative — Prayaas — to address the needs of the local communities near its fuel stations.
  • The personnel from the IOC’s Delhi State Office visited night shelters located near their fuel stations and distributed blankets.
  1. National Integrated Database of Hospitality Industry (NIDHI) (PIB)

  • Ministry of Tourism has created the National Integrated Database of Hospitality Industry (NIDHI) to get a clear picture of the geographical spread of the Hospitality Sector, its size, structure and existing capacity.
  • It will serve as a common repository of data from Ministry of Tourism, State Departments of Tourism and Industry and enable the Central and State Governments to deliver better support and services including policies and strategies.
  1. System for Assessment, Awareness & Training for Hospitality Industry: (SAATHI) (PIB)

  • In order to ensure adherence with the COVID-19 safety and hygiene protocol, Ministry of Tourism has undertaken an initiative called SAATHI (System for Assessment, Awareness & Training for Hospitality Industry) in association with the Quality Council of India (QCI) for effective implementation of Guidelines/ SOPs issued with reference to COVID-19 and beyond for safe operations of Hotels, Restaurants, B&Bs and other units.

Quality Council of India (QCI) 

  • It was set up in 1997 jointly by the Government of India and the Indian Industry represented by the three premier industry associations i.e. Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
  • It aims to establish and operate national accreditation structure and promote quality through National Quality Campaign.
  • The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, is the nodal ministry for QCI.
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