Daily Current Affairs 22

9th January 2021 : Daily Current Affairs

Daily Current Affairs   Date : 9th January,2021

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

Covers 4 Most relevant Sources

  • The Hindu
  • Indian Express
  • PIB
    Mint

Index

A) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

  • Brown Vs Grey Vs Blue Vs Green Hydrogen (PIB)
  • Life in Moderate and Extreme Environments (DTE)
  • Gharial and the Orang National Park (TH, pg 9)
  • Primate Carcasses Found in Behali Reserve Forest(TH, pg 9)
  • Assam’s Rhino Habitat Overtaken by Invasives (DTE)
  • B) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments
  • Inner Line Permit Vs Protected Area Permit (PAP) Vs Restricted Area Permit (RAP) Regime (TH, pg 8)
  • Comparing Veto Powers of President and Governor (TH, pg 1)
  • C) Science and Technology, Defence, Space
  • Frostbite, Hypothermia and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning (TH, pg 10)
  • D) International Relations
  • China-Lithuania Diplomatic Row (TH, pg 10)
  • E) Clever Picks (Miscellaneous)
  • Gadchiroli Files (TH, pg 1)

 

A) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

  1. Brown Vs Grey Vs Blue Vs Green Hydrogen (PIB)
  • Context:Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers chaired a high-level meeting to make Atmanirbhar Bharat in Urea and Diammonium Phosphate Production by using ‘Green Hydogen’.
  • In the Independence Day speech on 15.08.2021, the Prime Minister announced the launch of National Hydrogen Mission and stated the goal to make India a global hub for Green Hydrogen production and export.
  • The Mission proposes a framework for inter alia creating demand for Green Hydrogen in sectors such as petroleum refining and fertilizer production; support for indigenous manufacturing of critical technologies; Research & Development activities etc.

Analysis

  • Hydrogen is an odourless, invisible gas. All hydrogen burns the same, but the different methods of producing it have produced colourful nicknames.

Brown hydrogen

  • Using water and heat, coal can undergo “gasification”. In this process, the chemicals within coal react to make what was known as “syngas.”
  • Syngas contains a mixture of carbon dioxide (CO₂), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen, methane and ethylene, along with small quantities of other gases.
  • The first two of these gases have no use in power generation. This makes the process very polluting, compared to other methods. However, chemical companies can distil hydrogen from this mixture relatively simply.
  • As waste-to-energy incinerators become more common, they increasingly use similar processes to generate brown hydrogen.
  • A similar process can produce syngas from biomass and petrochemicals.

Grey hydrogen (drawn from imported natural gas)

  • Most hydrogen currently comes from natural gas, but this process also creates a lot of carbon waste.
  • The majority of chemicals in natural gas contain large amounts of hydrocarbons – hydrogen chemically bonded with carbon.
  • Catalysts can break these bonds, but the excess carbon then creates CO₂.

Blue hydrogen – more technology, less pollution

  • Blue hydrogen relies on the same process as grey hydrogen, along with carbon capture and storage (CCS).
  • This eliminates the emissions of grey hydrogen, improving the hydrogen’s environmental impact.
  • Growth of blue hydrogen has remained slow, as it waits on the development of more large-scale CCS plants.

Why is “green hydrogen” the ultimate goal?

  • Green hydrogen cuts out polluting chemicals entirely.
  • It requires water and electricity, which create hydrogen using electrolysis.
  • Electrolysis is a chemical reaction where an electric current is passed through metal conductors, known as electrodes, in water.
  • This separates water into its component elements, hydrogen and oxygen.
  • Using electricity originally generated by renewable sources makes this hydrogen carbon-free and consequently “green.”
  • Clean hydrogen still costs too much to enable it to be widely deployed.
  • At the moment, grey hydrogen is cheaper than the blue and green hydrogen. The main driver of its price is the price of natural gas, which varies around the world.
  • The price of blue hydrogen is also mainly influenced by natural gas prices. But its second-most important driver is the cost of capturing and reusing or storing the carbon emissions.
  • Total global electrolysis capacity is limited and costly at the moment and hence the green hydrogen.

 

  1. Life in Moderate and Extreme Environments (DTE)
  • Context:Some organisms have developed strategies that allow them to survive harsh conditions. The Dead Sea is hypersaline. Nevertheless, salt-tolerant bacteria thrive in this sea.

Analysis

  • An autotroph is an organism that can produce its own food using light, water, carbon dioxide, or other chemicals.
  • Plants are the most familiar type of autotroph, but there are many different kinds of autotrophic organisms.
  • Algae, which live in water and whose larger forms are known as seaweed, is autotrophic.
  • Phytoplankton, tiny organisms that live in the ocean, are autotrophs.
  • Some types of bacteria are autotrophs.
  • Most autotrophs use a process called photosynthesis to make their food.
  • In photosynthesis, autotrophs use energy from the sun to convert water from the soil and carbon dioxide from the air into a nutrient called glucose. Glucose is a type of sugar.
  • The glucose gives plants energy. Plants also use glucose to make cellulose, a substance they use to grow and build cell walls.
  • All plants with green leaves, from the tiniest mosses to towering fir trees, synthesize, or create, their own food through photosynthesis.
  • Algae, phytoplankton, and some bacteria also perform photosynthesis.
  • Some rare autotrophs produce food through a process called chemosynthesis, rather than through photosynthesis.
  • Autotrophs that perform chemosynthesis do not use energy from the sun to produce food.
  • Instead, they make food using energy from chemical reactions, often combining hydrogen sulfide or methane with oxygen.
  • Organisms that use chemosynthesis live in extreme environments, where the toxic chemicals needed for oxidation are found.
  • For example, bacteria living in active volcanoes oxidize sulfur to produce their own food.
  • At Yellowstone National Park in the U.S., bacteria capable of chemosynthesis have been found in hot springs.
  • Bacteria that live in the deep ocean, near hydrothermal vents, also produce food through chemosynthesis.
  • A hydrothermal vent is a narrow crack in the seafloor.
  • Seawater seeps down through the crack into hot, partly melted rock below.
  • The boiling-hot water then circulates back up into the ocean, loaded with minerals from the hot rock.
  • These minerals include hydrogen sulfide, which the bacteria use in chemosynthesis.
  • Autotrophic bacteria that produce food through chemosynthesis have also been found at places on the seafloor called cold seeps.
  • At cold seeps, hydrogen sulfide and methane seep up from beneath the seafloor and mix with the ocean water and dissolved carbon dioxide.
  • The autotrophic bacteria oxidize these chemicals to produce energy.
Table: Extremophiles and Their Preferred Conditions
Extremophile Type Conditions for Optimal Growth
Acidophiles pH 3 or below
Alkaliphiles pH 9 or above
Thermophiles Temperature 60–80 °C (140–176 °F)
Hyperthermophiles Temperature 80–122 °C (176–250 °F)
Psychrophiles Temperature of −15–10 °C (5–50 °F) or lower
Halophiles Salt concentration of at least 0.2 M
Osmophiles High sugar concentration
  • Almost all prokaryotes have a cell wall, a protective structure that allows them to survive in both hypertonic and hypotonic aqueous conditions.
  • Some soil bacteria are able to form endospores that resist heat and drought, thereby allowing the organism to survive until favorable conditions recur.
  • These adaptations, along with others, allow bacteria to remain the most abundant life form in all terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
  • Bacteria and archaea that are adapted to grow under extreme conditions are called extremophiles.
  • Because they have specialized adaptations that allow them to live in extreme conditions, many extremophiles cannot survive in moderate environments.
  • Other extremophiles, like radioresistant organisms, do not prefer an extreme environment (in this case, one with high levels of radiation), but have adapted to survive in it.
  • These are prokaryotes that can tolerate very high doses of ionizing radiation.
  • It has developed DNA repair mechanisms that allow it to reconstruct its chromosome even if it has been broken into hundreds of pieces by radiation or heat.

Photoheterotrophs

  • Some varieties of bacteria use light to create their own food, just like organisms that use photosynthesis.
  • However, these bacteria are not autotrophs, because they must rely on chemicals besides carbon dioxide for carbon. These strange bacteria are called

 

  1. Gharial and the Orang National Park (TH, pg 9)
  • Context: The Assam government recently issued a preliminary notification for adding 200.32 sq. km to the 78.82 sq. km Orang National Park.
  • But what has enthused wildlife experts is the prospect of reintroducing the gharial, wiped out from the Brahmaputra River system in the 1950s, in the area to be added to Orang.

Analysis

  • Orang, on the northern bank of the river Brahmaputra, is strategic to the Kaziranga Orang Riverine Landscape.
  • One of the four major rhino habitats in Assam (Kaziranga, Orang, Pobitora and Manas), Orang was recognised as a tiger reserve in 2016.
  • Other national parks in Assam are Kaziranga, Manas, Nameri, Dibru-Saikhowa, Raimona and Dehing Patkai.

The Gharial

  • Gharial derives its name from ghara, an Indian word for pot because of a bulbous knob (narial excrescence) present at the end of their snout.
  • The ghara also renders gharial the only visibly sexually dimorphic crocodilian.
  • It is a specialized, river-dwelling, fish-eater reptile found in clean rivers with sand banks.
  • The ecological role played by gharials as top predators in the river ecosystem is yet to be appreciated.
  • Gharials have been identified as the most Critically Endangered crocodilian species in the world.
  • The gharial is listed on CITES Appendix I and Convention on Migratory Species Appendix I.
  • Appendix I lists migratory species that are endangered.
  • Presently, the wild populations of gharials can only be found in Bangladesh, India and Nepal.
  • Distribution: In India, its only viable population is in the National Chambal Sanctuary, spread across three states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh in India.
  • The gharial can be found in north Indian rivers like the Ganga, Yamuna, Chambal and their tributaries.
  • The surviving population can be found within the tributaries of the Ganges river system: Girwa (Uttar Pradesh), Son (Madhya Pradesh), Ramganga (Uttarakhand), Gandak (Bihar), Chambal (Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan) and Mahanadi (Orissa).
  • The Satkosia gorge of Mahanadi is considered the southernmost limit of gharials’ home range in India.
  • The gharial reintroduction in the Beas Conservation Reserve is an ambitious programme of the Punjab government.
  • As the natural habitats of gharials belong to both the Padma (Ganges) and Jamuna Brahmaputra rivers, gharial conservation becomes a trans-boundary issue between India and Bangladesh.

Do you know?

  • There are three species of crocodilians—saltwater (least concern), Mugger (vulnerable) and Gharial (Critically Endangered)
  • Saltwater crocodile is the largest of all living reptiles.
  • It is found throughout the east coast of India.
  • Unlike other crocodiles, estuarine crocodiles lay eggs by creating a mound made of leaves of a particular mangrove species, which are plentifully available in Bhitarkanika National Park (the second largest mangrove ecosystem in India).
  • Other crocodile species dig the soil for laying eggs.
  • The mugger is mainly a freshwater species, and found in lakes, rivers and marshes.
  • Odisha is the only State in India having all three species — gharial, mugger and saltwater crocodile.

 

  1. Primate Carcasses Found in Behali Reserve Forest(TH, pg 9)
  • Context:The carcasses, believed to be capped langurs, were found in the Behali Reserve Forest located the carcasses, presumably killed by poachers for their skin, bones and tails.

Analysis

  • The Behali Reserve Forest connects the Kaziranga National Park and the Nameri National Park bordering Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Apart from the rare capped langur (endangered), the Behali Reserve Forest houses the endangered slow loris, the near-threatened Assamese macaque and the rhesus macaque.

 

  1. Assam’s Rhino Habitat Overtaken by Invasives (DTE)
  • Context: Each of Assam state’s four rhino reserves (Kaziranga, Orang, Pobitora and Manas) currently faces threats from invasive plants including Parthenium, Mimosa, Mikania and water hyacinth.

Analysis

  • In 2018, biologists observed the invasive plant Parthenium (native to the Americas and an alien species in India), known locally as congress grass, establishing itself in grasslands of India’s Pobitora National Park.
  • Experts are contemplating the use of several strategies to tackle invasive plants, including the introduction of biological control agents such as the Mexican beetle that feeds on Parthenium.
  • Siam weed and water hyacinth are “driver species,” capable of decimating native plants without any assistance from accompanying environmental change.
  • Parthenium and Mimosa possess tremendously high competitive ability, known as allelopathy,which inhibits the growth of indigenous plants in areas colonised by these weeds.
  • Ipomoea stems form thick mats that block natural water flows, making it the most troublesome aquatic weed after water hyacinth, which is notorious for clogging water bodies.
  • Lantana exudes poison from its roots, killing off native flora.
  • Mikania produces around 40,000 seeds every year and colonises forest areas at a very rapid pace by choking and smothering grasses and tree saplings.
  • Silkworm rearers in Karbi Anglong have started using Mikania as a host plant for Eri silk, for want of the primary host plant, castor.

 

B) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments

  1. Inner Line Permit Vs Protected Area Permit (PAP) Vs Restricted Area Permit (RAP) Regime (TH, pg 8)
  • Context:A little-known West Bengal-based organisation, Amara Bangali, has filed a petition in the Supreme Court opposing the implementation of the Inner Line Permit System (ILPS) in Manipur.
  • Note: You have already prepared this topic in detail from the4th Jan 2022 file.

 

  1. Comparing Veto Powers of President and Governor (TH, pg 1)
  • Context: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has said that it was the basic principle of a democracy that when the Assembly of a State enacted a law, the Governor should respect it and give his approval.
  • Addressing a meeting of MLAs of all parties to chalk out the next move to get the State exempted from the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET), the Chief Minister said the Governor had failed to send the Bill against NEET, adopted in the Assembly, to the President even after he requested him to do so.

Analysis

  • A Governor is an integral part of the state legislature. In that capacity, he has many legislative powers and functions.
  • When a Bill is sent to the Governor after it is passed by state legislature, he can:
  • (a) Give his assent to the Bill, or
  • (b) Withhold his assent to the Bill, or
  • (c) Return the Bill (if it is not a money Bill) for reconsideration of the state legislature.
  • However, if the Bill is passed again by the state legislature with or without amendments, the Governor has to give his assent to the Bill, or
  • (d) Reserve the Bill for the consideration of the President.
  • In one case such reservation is obligatory, that is, where the Bill passed by the state legislature endangers the position of the state High Court.
  • In addition, the Governor can also reserve the Bill if it is of the following nature:
  • (i) Ultra-vires, that is, against the provisions of the Constitution.
  • (ii) Opposed to the Directive Principles of State Policy.
  • (iii) Against the larger interest of the country.
  • (iv) Of grave national importance.
  • (v) Dealing with compulsory acquisition of property under Article 31A the Constitution.
Table: Comparing Veto Powers of President and Governor
President Governor
With Regard to Ordinary Bills With Regard to Ordinary Bills
Every ordinary Bill, after it is passedby both the Houses of theParliament either singly or at a jointsitting, is presented to the President for his assent. He has three alternatives: Every ordinary Bill, after it is passedby the legislative assembly in caseof a unicameral legislature or byboth the Houses in case of abicameral legislature either in thefirst instance or in the secondinstance, is presented to the Governor for his assent. He has four alternatives:
1. He may give his assent to the Bill, the Bill then becomes an act. 1. He may give his assent to the Bill, the Bill then becomes an act.
2. He may withhold his assent to the Bill, the Bill then ends and does not become an act. 2. He may withhold his assent to the Bill, the Bill then ends and does not become an act.
3. He may return the Bill for reconsideration of the Houses.

If the Bill is passed by both the Houses again with or without amendments and presented to the President for his assent, the President must give his assent to the Bill.

Thus, the President enjoys only a ‘suspensive veto’.

3. He may return the Bill for reconsideration of the House or Houses.

If the Bill is passed by the House or Houses again with or without amendments and presented to the Governor for his assent, the Governor must give his assent to the Bill.

Thus, the Governor enjoys only a ‘suspensive veto’.

  4. He may reserve the Bill for the consideration of the President.
When a state Bill is reserved by the Governor for the consideration of the President, the President has three alternatives: When the Governor reserves a Bill for the consideration of the President, he will not have anyfurther role in the enactment of the Bill.

If the Bill is returned by the President for the reconsideration ofthe House or Houses and is passedagain, the Bill must be presentedagain for the Presidential assentonly.

If the President gives hisassent to the Bill, it becomes an act.This means that the assent of the Governor is no longer required.

(a) He may give his assent to the Bill, the Bill then becomes an act.  
(b) He may withhold his assent to the Bill, the Bill then ends and does not become an Act.  
(c) He may return the Bill forreconsideration of theHouse or Houses of thestate legislature.

When a Bill is so returned, theHouse or Houses have toreconsider it within sixmonths.

If the Bill is passedby the House or Housesagain with or withoutamendments andpresented to the President for his assent, the President is not bound to give hisassent to the Bill. He maygive his assent to such a Bill or withhold his assent.

 
Every money Bill after it is passedby the Parliament, is presented tothe President for his assent. He has two alternatives: Every money Bill, after it is passedby the state legislature (unicameralor bicameral), is presented to the Governor for his assent. He has three alternatives:
1. He may give his assent to the Bill, the Bill then becomes an act. 1. He may give his assent to the Bill, the Bill then becomes an act.
2. He may withhold his assent tothe Bill, the Bill then ends and does not become an act. 2. He may withhold his assent tothe Bill, the Bill then ends and does not become an act.
  3. He may reserve the Bill for the consideration of the President.
Thus, the President cannot return amoney Bill for the reconsideration of the Parliament.

Normally, the President gives his assent to a money Bill as it is introduced in theParliament with his previouspermission.

When a Money Bill is reserved bythe Governor for the considerationof the President, the President has two alternatives:

Thus, the Governor cannot return amoney Bill for the reconsideration of the state legislature.

Normally, the Governor gives his assent to a money Bill as it is introduced in thestate legislature with his previouspermission.

When the Governor reserves amoney Bill for the consideration ofthe President, he will not have anyfurther role in the enactment of the Bill.

If the President gives his assentto the Bill, it becomes an Act. Thismeans that the assent of the Governor is no longer required.

(a) He may give his assent tothe Bill, the Bill then becomes an Act.  
(b) He may withhold his assentto the Bill, the Bill then endsand does not become an act.  
Thus, the President cannot return amoney Bill for the reconsideration ofthe state legislature (as in the case of the Parliament).  

C) Science and Technology, Defence, Space

  1. Frostbite, Hypothermia and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning (TH, pg 10)
  • Context:At least 22 people, including 10 children, died in a popular mountain resort town in Pakistan after being stuck in their vehicles overnight during a heavy snowstorm as temperatures plummeted.
  • Most of the victims died of Others may have died from carbon monoxide poisoning after running their car heaters for long periods of time.

Analysis

Frostbite and Hypothermia: cold-related emergencies

  • Frostbite is the freezing of a specific body part such as fingers, toes, the nose or earlobes.
  • Hypothermia is caused by the cooling of the body caused by the failure of the body’s warming system.
  • Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature cools to a life-threatening level and sometimes accompanies frostbite injury.
  • Alcohol and drug use increases the chances of suffering a frostbite injury and/or hypothermia.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  • Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous, colorless, odorless and tasteless gas.
  • Carbon monoxide is slightly lighter than air and quickly spreads throughout an entire house.
  • Although it has no detectable odor, CO is often mixed with other gases that do have an odor.
  • So, you can inhale carbon monoxide right along with gases that you can smell and not even know that CO is present.
  • CO is a common industrial hazard resulting from the incomplete burning of material containing carbon such as natural gas, gasoline, kerosene, oil, propane, coal, or wood.
  • One of the most common sources of exposure in the workplace is the internal combustion engine.

How does CO harm you?

  • Carbon monoxide is harmful when breathed because it displaces oxygen in the blood and deprives the heart, brain and other vital organs of oxygen.
  • Large amounts of CO can overcome you in minutes without warning — causing you to lose consciousness and suffocate.

What causes carbon monoxide poisoning from vehicles?

  • Operating a vehicle with a defective exhaust system.
  • Operating a vehicle with a defective emission system or poorly tuned engine.
  • Driving a vehicle with the trunk lid or rear tailgate open.
  • Driving a vehicle with holes in the car body.
  • Allowing children to ride under a topper on a pick-up truck.
  • Warming up a vehicle in a garage, even with the outside garage door open.
  • Operating vehicles in a garage, carwash, or any enclosed building.

Why are defective exhaust systems so dangerous?

  • Internal combustion gasoline (petrol) engines produce extremely high carbon monoxide concentrations.
  • An exhaust leak can allow escape of CO before it is converted to non-toxic CO2in the catalytic converter
  • The typical catalytic converter found on most newer cars and trucks combines oxygen with carbon monoxide to form non-poisonous carbon dioxide (CO2).
  • The CO leaking from the exhaust system can enter the vehicle through holes in the body or open windows or doors. Exhaust systems must be gas tight from the engine to the end of the tailpipe.

How can CO poisoning occur if the engine has a catalytic converter?

  • Out-of-tune or misfiring engines produce elevated concentrations of carbon monoxide and unburned fuel that can destroy the catalytic converter.
  • During cold starts the catalytic converter is ineffective.
  • And if there is insufficient oxygen (caused by operation in a closed building or with a defective oxygen system), there will not be enough oxygen for oxidizing the CO to CO2.

What is the problem with pick-up toppers, open tailgates, and holes in the vehicle body?

  • When a vehicle is moving, holes or openings in the rear of the vehicle are under a suction which pulls in exhaust fumes.
  • The suction effect applies when a rear tailgate window or the trunk is left open or when persons ride in the back of a pick-up truck under a topper.
  • Normally active children who sleep while in the back of a pick-up may be sleepy because they are breathing carbon monoxide.

When stranded in a snowstorm we are told to open a window on the downwind side of the car, to operate the engine for only a short time until the car warms, then shut it off. Is this correct? 

  • Caution should be used with the mentioned procedures. With the engine off snow may cover the exhaust pipe.
  • An open window on the downwind side of the car will likely be in a low-pressure area where exhaust gases could collect and be pulled into the car.
  • Since the amount of carbon monoxide is much higher during initial start-up and decreases dramatically after the catalytic converter warms, continually starting the engine produces more CO than letting the engine run.

 

D) International Relations

  1. China-Lithuania Diplomatic Row (TH, pg 10)
  • Lithuania is under pressure from China, which claims democratically ruled Taiwan as its own territory, to reverse a decision last year to allow the island to open a de facto Embassy in Vilnius under its own name.
  • China has recalled its Ambassador to Lithuania and downgraded diplomatic ties, and is pressuring companies like German car parts giant Continental to stop using Lithuanian-made components. It has also blocked Lithuanian cargos from entering China.

 

E) Miscellaneous

  1. Gadchiroli Files (TH, pg 1)
  • In a bid to create awareness against Naxalism, the Maharashtra police launched a comic strip under ‘Gadchiroli Files’ which reflects the ground realities of the affected area in this east Maharashtra district of Gadchiroli.

The comic strip is mainly based on the theme of harassment of people by Maoists and how they try to stall development.