Daily Current Affairs 22

5th January 2021 : Daily Current Affairs

Daily Current Affairs   Date : 5th 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
  • Gandhiji’s NaiTalim and the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 (PIB)
  • B) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity
  • Border Roads Organisation breaks record at Zoji La (PIB) 
  • Western Disturbances: Origin, Spread, Effects and Climate Change (TH, pg 2)
  • Bioenergy crops create cooling effect on cultivated areas: Study (DTE)
  • C) Science and Technology, Defence, Space
  • StarlinkProject and Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) (TH, pg 11)
  • D) Economic Developments: India and World
  • Second Schedule to the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 (TH, pg 11)
  • E) Indices, Reports, Surveys, Committees and Organisations
  • Multi Agency Centre (MAC) (TH, pg 1)
  • National Monuments Authority (NMA) (TH, pg 10)

 

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

  1. Gandhiji’s NaiTalim and the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 (PIB)
  • Context:The Vice President of Indiasaid that the New Education Policy follows the ‘NaiTalim’ of Mahatma Gandhi by giving importance to the mother tongue as the medium of instruction at school level.

Analysis

  • Mahatma Gandhi has given his scheme of NaiTalim (New Education) in a well formulated approach to education in 1937 in his newspaper ‘Harijan’.
  • It is an approach to the total personality development of body, mind and spirit and was based on four basic principles:
  • i. Education or learning in mother tongue along with handicraft work,
  • ii. Work should be linked with most useful vocational needs of the locality,
  • iii. Learning should be linked with vocational work, and
  • iv. Work should be socially useful and productive needed for living.
  • This approach of work centric education with technology accessible locally was the basic approach of NaiTalim.
  • It is essentially a mass education approach due to its centrality of socially useful work, and was expected to create National System of Education.

Failure of NaiTalim in Implementation

  • After Indian independence in 1947, NaiTalim was introduced in some states in India in primary schools.
  • However, the knowledge centric learning culture from text books and dominance of leadership educated in western model of education created during the British colonial rule, decided the policies of education.
  • Further, the western model of education founded on personal development and competitiveness was of a class nature and could not gel with mass education system.
  • This program continued for a couple of decades and was abandoned.
  • It appeared again as Socially Useful Productive Work (SUPW) in school education, and has remained peripheral and never got integrated with mainstream curricula and classroom teaching.

Reasons for Renewed Hope

  • However, the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 brings in a new hope that Gandhi’s vision would be fulfilled if the policy is implemented with the same intent with which it was drafted.
  • NaiTalim approach emphasised on the importance of education through any productive work that we do in our everyday life (learning by doing).
  • The NEP 2020 suggests having ‘no hard separation’ of contents between curricular versus extra-curricular or co-curricular and emphasises treating all the extra-curricular subjects – yoga, woodwork, gardening and electric work as subjects per se.
  • NaiTalim approach focussed on imparting education in mother tongue.
  • The NEP emphasises the importance of three-language formula for every child and encourages children to be multilingual.
  • It also acknowledges the importance of beginning of learning in mother tongue/local language in the ‘foundational stage’.
  • NaiTalim focussed on nurturing multiple skills in a child based on her/his interest.
  • The NEP suggests providing flexibility to students in choosing courses based on the interest of the child.
  • It proposes flexibility in the assessment methods used by the schools.
  • It also proposes promoting ‘gifted/special children’ through different scholarship programmes.
  • NaiTalim approach presented a concept of learning that went beyond textbooks.
  • The success of this approach hinged a lot on the teacher and her/his motivation to drive learning in children based on every child’s interests.
  • The NEP 2020 acknowledges the role of a teacher in shaping the future of the nation.

 

B) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

  1. Border Roads Organisation breaks record at Zoji La (PIB) 
  • Context:The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has raised its benchmark of excellence yet again by extending access of the formidable Zojila at an altitude of 11,649 ft, that links the Union Territory of Ladakh with the rest of the country.
  • For the first time Zoji mountain pass remained open beyond 31st

Analysis

  • The BRO achieved this feat through its frontline Projects – Vijayak and Beacon. They are collectively responsible for maintaining the axis that has strategic implications, in addition to the socio-economic well-being of Ladakh.
  • Project Vijayak: To develop road infrastructure in the unreached areas of western Ladakh region including Zanskar Valley to meet the strategic needs of the country and to facilitate overall socio-economic development and growth of Jammu & Kashmir.

Border Roads Organisation (BRO)

  • The BRO was formed in 1960 to develop and maintain roads in the north and north eastern border states of the country, for both peacetime and wartime needs.
  • Initially, BRO was functional under the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. But since 2015, it is being managed and is functional under the Ministry of Defence.
  • BRO is also operational in our friendly countries such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.
  • It was India’s Border Roads Organisation that helped build the 218 km (Route 606) in Afghanistan, known otherwise as the Delaram-Zaranj highway, that cut road travel time between Afghanistan and Iran.

Role of the BRO

In Peace

  • Develop & Maintain the Operational Road Infrastructure of General Staff in the Border Areas.
  • Contribute to the Socio-Economic Development of the Border States.

In War

  • To Develop & Maintain Roads to Keep Line of Control through in Original Sectors and Re-Deployed Sectors.
  • To Execute Additional Tasks as laid down by the Govt Contributing to the War Effort.

 

  1. Western Disturbances: Origin, Spread, Effects and Climate Change (TH, pg 2)
  • Context:The Indian Meteorological Department forecast says under the influence of the first western disturbance, scattered to fairly widespread light/moderate rain is likely over Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, north Rajasthan and West Uttar Pradesh.

Analysis

  • Western disturbances (WDs) are extra tropicalmid-tropospheric cyclonic circulations most often

embedded in the subtropical westerly jetstream (STWJ).

  • A jet stream is a river-like current of air circulating across the globe at upper levels of the troposphere (near the altitude of 30,000 feet).

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.
  • “Extra-tropical” means outside the tropics. As the WD originates outside the tropical region, the word “extra-tropical” has been associated with them.

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.
  • 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 sometime 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 waveconditions in the north-western parts of India.

Do western disturbances cause extreme weather?

  • WDs are not usually associated with disasters, since they are 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.

 

  1. Bioenergy crops create cooling effect on cultivated areas: Study (DTE)
  • Context:Converting annual crops to perennial bioenergy crops can induce a cooling effect on the areas where they are cultivated, according to a new study.

Analysis

  • Large-scale bioenergy crop cultivation induces a biophysical cooling effect at the global scale, but the air temperature change has strong spatial variations and inter-annual variability.
  • Compared to the herbaceous crops, changes in the energy fluxes induced by woody crops in the cultivation regions are larger, and the cooling effect is stronger and healthier across different cultivation maps.
  • Eucalyptus, poplar, willow, miscanthus and switchgrass were the bioenergy crops used in the study.
  • Cultivating eucalypt shows generally cooling effects that are more robust than if switchgrass is used as the main bioenergy crop, implying that eucalypt is superior to switchgrass in cooling the lands biophysically.
  • Replacing forests with switchgrass not only results in biophysical warming effects but could also release more carbon through deforestation than converting other short vegetation to bioenergy crops. Deforestation, therefore, should be avoided.

 

C) Science and Technology, Defence, Space

  1. Starlink Project and Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) (TH, pg 11)
  • Context:Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite Internet venture told its members the Indian government had asked the company to refund all its pre-orders until it receives licences to operate in the country.

Analysis

Starlink Project

  • Starlink is a satellite based broadband network, capable of delivering internet access to the entire globe.
  • This broadband network is not bounded by the ground infrastructure limitations as in current broadband connection.
  • Starlink enables video calls, online gaming, streaming, and other high data rate activities that historically have not been possible with satellite internet.
  • Users can expect to see download speeds between 100 Mb/s and 200 Mb/s and latency as low as 20ms in most locations.
  • All this is enabled by using advanced satellites in a low earth orbit.
  • While most satellite internet services today come from single geostationary satellites that orbit the planet at about 35,000km, Starlink is a constellation of multiple geostationary satellites that orbit the planet much closer to Earth, at about 550km, and cover the entire globe.
  • Starlink is a low latency broadband internet system.
  • Latency is the time taken by your internet signal to make a round trip from your device to the server and back.
  • A so-called low latency network connection is one that generally experiences small delay times, while a high latency connection generally suffers from long delays.
  • Starlink internet works by sending information through the vacuum of space, where it travels much faster than in fiber-optic cable and can reach far more people and places.
  • Starlinkrequires a clear view of the skyto work properly because the Starlink satellite dish connects to the satellite directly, which Starlink describes as a single beam.
  • However, since the satellite moves, the beam also moves, and any obstructions can cause interference in the beam, consequently interrupting the internet connection.
  • This is why the company has suggested that the Starlink satellite dish be installed at the highest point of elevation possible.
  • It has also stated that those living in areas where tall buildings, poles and trees are present should not go for Starlink in the early phase.
  • Starlink is hoping to conquer this limitation subsequently, though, with the launch of more satellites for this project.
  • Since Starlink requires a clear and uninterrupted view of the sky to provide internet, heavy rain or wind can disrupt the connection, leading to either slow internet or even outage.
  • On the other hand, the Starlink satellite dish has the ability to detect and melt snow falling directly on it. However, accumulating snow will cause issues and disruptions for the dish, which is why the company has suggested installing Starlink at a location where snow build-up does not take place.
  • Moreover, Starlink works by linking every satellite dish to a satellite within a designated ground area, which the company refers to as a cell.
  • If the dish were to move out of the assigned cell, no other satellite would be scheduled to provide internet to the dish, meaning the user will not be able to receive internet.
  • Therefore, it is advisable that the users provide Starlink with the accurate address.
  • Because Starlink satellites are in a low orbit, the round-trip data time between the user and the satellite – also known as latency – is much lower than with satellites in geostationary orbit.
  • This enables Starlink to deliver services like online gaming that are usually not possible on other satellite broadband systems.
  • A major benefit of Starlink is that it can come to the aid of remote or rural areas. These areas do have more open space and lesser tall buildings, meaning that they have a clearer view of the sky compared to urban areas. This is where companies like Starlink can step in to address the gap in internet access between rural and urban areas.

Other Competitors

  • Google may be messing around with balloons (Project Loon), but Facebook is developing a satellite in house named “Athena” specifically to offer internet service to underdeveloped areas.

 

D) Economic Developments: India and World

  1. Second Schedule to the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 (TH, pg 11)
  • Context:The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has included Airtel Payments Bank Ltd. in the Second Schedule to the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934.

Analysis

  • With this, the bank can now pitch for government-issued Requests for Proposals (RFP) and primary auctions and undertake both Central and State Government business.
  • All banks which are included in the Second Schedule to the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 are Scheduled Banks.
  • These banks comprise Scheduled Commercial Banks and Scheduled Co-operative Banks.
  • Scheduled Commercial Banks in India are categorised into five different groups according to their ownership and / or nature of operation. These bank groups are:
  • (i) State Bank of India and its Associates,
  • (ii) Nationalised Banks,
  • (iii) Regional Rural Banks,
  • (iv) Foreign Banks and
  • (v) Other Indian Scheduled Commercial Banks (in the private sector).
  • Scheduled Co-operative Banks consist of Scheduled State Co-operative Banks and Scheduled Urban Co-operative Banks.

 

E) Indices, Reports, Surveys, Committees and Organisations

  1. Multi Agency Centre (MAC) (TH, pg 1)
  • Context: The Centre wants the States to share more intelligence inputs through the Multi Agency Centre (MAC).

Analysis

  • MAC is a multi-agency centre for Counter-Terrorism formed during the Kargil War, whose mandate is to share terrorism-related inputs on a day to day basis.
  • It is a common counter-terrorism grid under the Intelligence Bureau (IB).
  • Around 28 agencies are part of the MAC and every organisation that is in any way involved in counter-terrorism is a member of this mechanism. Similarly, states have SMACs.

Do you know?

  • Intelligence Bureau is under the administrative control of Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • It is headed by Director IB, who is also a member of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC).

 

  1. National Monuments Authority (NMA) (TH, pg 10)
  • Context: Pramod P. Joglekarappointed a member of the National Monuments Authority by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.

Analysis

  • National Monuments Authority (NMA) has been established under the provisions of ‘The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010.

Functions and powers of NMA includes:

  • (a) Make recommendations to the Central Government for grading and classifying protected monuments and protected areas declared as of national importance.
  • (b) Oversee the working of the competent authorities;
  • (c) To consider the impact of large-scale development projects, which may be proposed in the regulated areas and make recommendations in respect thereof to the competent authority.

Qualifications of Members

  • The eminent professionals with proven experience and expertise in the fields of Archaeology, country and town planning, architecture, heritage, conservation- architecture or law shall be appointed as Whole-Time Members of the National Monuments Authority (NMA), a body constituted under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 by the Central Govt.

The person so appointed to function as a Member, part-time or whole-time, should not be of the age more than 67 years.