Daily Current Affairs 22

12th January 2022 : Daily UPSC Current Affairs

Daily Current Affairs   Date : 12th January,2021

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

Covers 4 Most relevant Sources

  • The Hindu
  • Indian Express
  • PIB
    Mint

Index

  • A) Science and Technology, Defence, Space
  • Irradiation of Food (PIB)
  • B) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments
  • World Hindi Day: How is it Different from Hindi Diwas? (PIB)
  • The Dam Safety Bill, 2019 (IE)
  • Suspension of MLAs (TH, pg 11)
  • C) International Relations
  • Colombo Security Conclave (CSC) (PIB)
  • D) Economic Developments: India and World
  • Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) and WTO Structure (IE)
  • E) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity
  • What is Blue Carbon? (IE)
  • F) Clever Picks (Miscellaneous)
  • India-US Climate Action and Finance Mobilization Dialogue(PIB)

 

A) Science and Technology, Defence, Space

  1. Irradiation of Food (PIB)
  • Context:The Central Government has secured the approval of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for export of Indian mangoes to USA.
  • The export of Indian mangoes has been restricted by the USA since 2020 as USDA inspectors were unable to visit India for inspection of irradiation facilitydue restrictions imposed on international travel because of Covid-19 pandemic.

Analysis

  • Irradiated food is regulated in the country in accordance with the Atomic Energy (Radiation Processing of Food & Allied Products) Rules 2012 and Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011.
  • Food can be irradiated only in a food irradiation plant, which is authorized by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and licensed by the competent Government Authority.
  • Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is also regulating the food safety aspects of irradiated food products under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2016 and its Regulations there under.

What is radiation processing of food?

  • Food irradiation (the application of ionizing radiation to food) is a technology that improves the safety and extends the shelf life of foods by reducing or eliminating microorganisms and insects.
  • Radiation processing of food involves the controlled application of energy from ionizing radiations such as gamma rays, electron beam and X-rays for food preservation.

How irradiation works?

  • Irradiation works by disrupting the biological processes that lead to decay.
  • In their interaction with water and other molecules that make up food and living organisms, radiation energy is absorbed by the molecules they contact.
  • The reactions with the DNA cause the death of microorganisms and insects and impair the ability of potato and onion to sprout.
  • Food either pre-packed or in-bulk placed in suitable containers is sent into the irradiation chamber with the help of an automatic conveyor.
  • When the facility is not in use the radiation source is stored under 6 m deep water.
  • The water shield does not allow radiation to escape in to the irradiation chamber, thus permitting free access to personnel to carry out plant maintenance.

What are the advantages of radiation processing of food?

  • Irradiation is a cold process and can be used to pasteurize and sterilize foods without causing much changes in freshness and texture of food unlike heat.
  • Irradiation does not make foods radioactive, compromise nutritional quality, or noticeably change the taste, texture, or appearance of food.
  • Unlike chemical fumigants, irradiation does not leave any harmful toxic residues in food and is more effective.
  • It is efficient and can be used to treat prepacked commodities.
  • Irradiation can serve many other purposes.
  • Prevention of Foodborne Illness – to effectively eliminate organisms that cause foodborne illness, such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli (E. coli).
  • Preservation – to destroy or inactivate organisms that cause spoilage and decomposition and extend the shelf life of foods.
  • Control of Insects – to destroy insects in or on imported tropical fruits. Irradiation also decreases the need for other pest-control practices that may harm the fruit.
  • Delay of Sprouting and Ripening – to inhibit sprouting (e.g., potatoes) and delay ripening of fruit to increase longevity.
  • Sterilization – irradiation can be used to sterilize foods, which can then be stored for years without refrigeration. Sterilized foods are useful in hospitals for patients with severely impaired immune systems, such as patients with AIDS or undergoing chemotherapy. Foods that are sterilized by irradiation are exposed to substantially higher levels of treatment than those approved for general use.

Does the irradiation process make food radioactive?

  • The irradiation process involves passing of food through a radiation field allowing the food to absorb desired radiation energy. The food itself never comes in contact with the radioactive material.

What is the difference between the terms “Irradiated” and “Radioactive” food?

  • Radiation processed foods are those that have been exposed to radiation as prescribed above to bring about the desired effect in food.
  • Radioactive foods, on the other hand, are those that become contaminated with radionuclides. This type of contamination never occurs during food irradiation.

Does irradiation adversely affect the nutritional value of food?

  • In comparison to other food processing and preservation methods the nutritional value is least affected by irradiation.

Can irradiation be used to destroy microbial toxins and pathogenic viruses in food?

  • As in many other food processing procedures only food of good hygienic quality should be irradiated. Like any other food treatment irradiation cannot reverse the spoilage process and make bad food good.

What are the chemical changes in radiation processed foods and are they harmful?

  • Irradiation produces very little chemical changes in food. None of the changes known to occur have been found to be harmful.
  • The radiolytic products and free radicals produced are identical to those present in foods subjected to treatment such as cooking, canning etc.

 

B) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments

  1. World Hindi Day: How is it Different from Hindi Diwas? (PIB)
  • Context: The permanent delegation of India to UNESCO announced that on the occasion of World Hindi Day, UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre has agreed to publish Hindi descriptions of India’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites on WHC website.

Analysis

  • World Hindi Day is celebrated on January 10every year, marking the anniversary of first World Hindi Conference which was held in 1975 at Nagpur and was inaugurated by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi.
  • Since 1975, the World Hindi Conference has been organised in different countries like India, Mauritius, United Kingdom, Trinidad and Tobago, United States etc.
  • World Hindi Day was first observed on January 10, 2006. Since then, it is celebrated on January 10 every year.

World Hindi Day vs National Hindi Diwas

  • National Hindi Diwas is celebrated every year on September 14.On that day in 1949, the constituent assembly adopted Hindi, written in Devanagari script, as the official language of the Union.
  • While the focus of the World Hindi Dayis to promote the language at the global stage, the National Hindi Diwas, which is held across the country at a national level, marks adaptation of Hindi, written in Devanagari script as the official language.

Lesser known facts about the Hindi language

  • The word Hindi originated from the Persian word Hind, which means the land of the Indus river.
  • Hindi is the first language of around 430 million people around the world.
  • Apart from India, the language is also spoken in Nepal, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Fiji and Mauritius. Hindi and Nepalese share the same script – Devanagari.
  • The gender aspects of Hindi are very strict. All nouns in Hindi possess genders and the adjectives and verbs change according to gender.
  • Many English words have been derived from Hindi, such as chutney, loot, bungalow, guru, jungle, karma, yoga, thug, avatar and so on.
  • Hindi is a descendant of Sanskrit. Its words and grammar follow that of the ancient language.
  • In linguistic terms, Hindi belongs to the Indo-Iranian sub-family of the Indo-European family of language.
  • Hindi has been influenced and enriched by Turkish, Arabic, Persian, English and Dravidian (ancient South India) languages.
  • The earliest form of Hindi was called ‘Apabhramsa’, which was an offspring of Sanskrit.
  • In 400 AD, poet Kalidas wrote Vikramorvashiyam in Apabhramsa.
  • The first book believed to be published in Hindi was Prem Sagar.
  • The book was published by Lalloo Lal and depicted tales of Krishna.
  • Under the Official Languages Act, 1963, English is to be used for purposes of communication between the Union and a State which has not adopted Hindi as its Official Language.
  • Dakshina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha was established in Chennai by Mahatma Gandhi in 1918.
  • The institution imparts Hindi teaching at various levels to anyone who enrols for its programme.
  • Article 351 of the Constitutionprovides that it shall be the duty of the Union to promote the spread of the Hindi language to develop it so that it may serve as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India and to secure its enrichment by assimilating without interfering with its genius.
  • In the constitution, Hindi was declared as an official language(Article 343)and not a national language.
  • Rajbhasha Gaurav Puraskar and Rajbhasha Kirti Puraskarare awarded to government departments and public sector units respectively for their contribution to Hindi.
  • In a landmark decision, UAE has included Hindi as the third official language used in its courts, alongside Arabic and English, as part of a move designed to improve access to justice.
  • Indians, reportedly form the largest immigrant community in the UAE, with more than three million living in Dubai.
  • About 38% of the inhabitants of Fiji are descendants of Indian laborers, brought between 1879 and 1916 to work on Fiji’s sugar cane plantations. The official languages of Fiji are English, Fijian and Hindi.
  • Hindi is one of the seven Indian languages that can be used to make web URLs.
  • In 2011, seven Indian languages — Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu — have earned the distinction of becoming the only languages other than English, Russian and Arabic to support an entire web address written exclusively in them.
  • Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the body that governs website addresses, has allocated seven domain names in each of these languages that can be used for local websites.
  • This makes India the only country to have eight domain extensions (besides ‘.in’ that already exists).
  • India will also be the first to have a domain extension in Urdu, ahead of Pakistan, whose official language is Urdu.

Dot BharatDomain

  • The National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) and the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) have collaborated to launch Dot Bharatdomain in Devanagari script.
  • The Dot Bharat initiative was taken up for non-English speaking people.
  • Currently one can find content in various languages online, but the URLs or web addresses are in English.
  • With this rollout, people can now type the URL in local languages.
  • This will help people in the villages and remote places to access the Internet in local languages.
  • It will help bridge the digital divide by encouraging generation of local content.

 

  1. The Dam Safety Bill, 2019 (IE)
  • Context:The Dam Safety Bill, 2019 has been passed by both the Houses of Parliament.

Analysis

  • The Bill provides for the surveillance, inspection, operation, and maintenance of all specified dams across the country.
  • These are dams with height more than 15 metres, or height between 10 metres to 15 metres with certain design and structural conditions.
  • In India, dams higher than 15 m or between 10 m and 15 m height that fulfil certain additional design conditions are called large dams.
  • India ranks third globally with 5,745 large dams in operation.
  • Most of these large dams are in Maharashtra (2394), Madhya Pradesh (906), and Gujarat (632).
  • It constitutestwo national bodies:
  • the National Committee on Dam Safety, whose functions include evolving policies and recommending regulations regarding dam safety standards; and
  • the National Dam Safety Authority, whose functions include implementing policies of the National Committee, providing technical assistance to State Dam Safety Organisations (SDSOs), and resolving matters between SDSOs of states or between a SDSO and any dam owner in that state.
  • It also constitutes two state bodies: State Committee on Dam Safety, and State Dam Safety Organisation.

Key Issues

  • The Bill applies to all specified dams in the country.  This includes dams built on both inter and intra state rivers.
  • As per the Constitution, states can make laws on water (a State subject) including water storage and water power.
  • However, Parliament may regulate and develop inter-state river valleys if it deems it necessary in public interest.
  • The question is whether Parliament has the jurisdiction to regulate dams on rivers flowing entirely within a state.
  • However, inter-State basins cover 92% of the country’s area and most of the dams, making the Centre competent to enact such a law.
  • Article 252 of the Constitutionallows Parliament to make laws on state subjects which will apply to those states that pass a resolution requiring such law.
  • The Central Dam Safety Organisation, under the Central Water Commission (CWC), provides technical assistance to dam owners, and maintains data on dams (through the National Register of Large Dams).
  • The National Committee on Dam Safety devises dam safety policies and regulations.
  • This includes dams on both inter and intra-state rivers.  The question is whether Parliament has the jurisdiction to frame a law on intra-state

Obligation of dam owners

  • Dam owners will be responsible for the safe construction, operation, maintenance and supervision of a dam.
  • They must provide a dam safety unit in each dam.  This unit will inspect the dams: (i) before and after monsoon season, and (ii) during and after every earthquake, flood, calamity, or any sign of distress.
  • Functions of dam owners include:
  • (i) preparing an emergency action plan,
  • (ii) carrying out risk assessment studies at specified regular intervals, and
  • (iii) preparing a comprehensive dam safety evaluation through a panel of experts.

 

  1. Suspension of MLAs (TH, pg 11)
  • Context:The Supreme Court said that suspension from the Legislative Assembly for a year is “worse” than expulsion, as it affects the right of a constituency to remain represented in the House.

Analysis

  • A Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, which was hearing the pleas filed by 12 BJP MLAs who have challenged their one-year suspension from the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly for allegedly misbehaving with the presiding officer, observed that there was a statutory obligation to fill a seat within six months.
  • The SC Bench said the House cannot suspend a member beyond 59 days.
  • The Bench referred to Article 190 (4) of the Constitution which says that if for a period of 60 days, a member of a House, without its permission, is absent, the House may declare his or her seat vacant.

 

C) International Relations

  1. Colombo Security Conclave (CSC) (PIB)
  • Context:The first Colombo Security Conclave Virtual Workshop on “Developing Regional Cyber Security Capabilities on Defensive operations, Deep/Dark Web handling and Digital Forensics” was hosted.

Analysis

  • India, Maldives, and Sri Lanka began a National Security Advisor (NSA)-level trilateral meeting on maritime security cooperation in 2011.
  • Following a halt from 2014-2019, the trilateral meeting was resumed in 2020, when the decision was taken to establish the Colombo Security Conclave (CSC).
  • A secretariat was set up at the Sri Lankan Navy (SLN) Headquarters in Colombo in March 2021.
  • In August 2021, Members (Sri Lanka, Maldives, India) and Observer States (Mauritius, Seychelles, and Bangladesh) had agreed on four pillars of cooperation including:
  • Maritime Safety and Security,
  • Terrorism and Radicalization,
  • Trafficking and Organized Crime and
  • Cyber Security and Protection of Critical Infrastructure.
  • Maiden ‘Colombo Security Conclave (CSC) Focused Operation’ was conducted between the Indian Navy (IN), the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), and the Sri Lankan Navy (SLN) in November 2021 in the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of the three countries in Southern Arabian Sea.
  • The ‘Focused Operation’ conducted between the navies of the three countries in the last week of November was the first operational cooperation under the CSC.
  • It is noteworthy to mention here that the Coastguards of the three countries have been participating in the biennial Exercise Dosti regularly since 2012.
  • Though Exercise Dosti enhances interoperability between the three countries, it does not directly come under the CSC.
  • By inaugurating the ‘Focused Operation’, and setting up the 24/7 secretariat, the CSC has obtained an operational tooth, which other maritime security cooperation grouping in the region such as Indian Ocean RIM Association (IORA) lacks.

 

D) Economic Developments: India and World

  1. Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) and WTO Structure (IE)
  • Context: India has notified the Dispute Settlement Body of its decision to appeal the panel reports in the cases brought by Brazil, Australia and Guatemala in ‘India – Measures Concerning Sugar and Sugarcane, the WTO said in a statement.

Analysis

Dispute Settlement Body (DSB)

  • Resolving trade disputes is one of the core activities of the WTO.
  • A dispute arises when a member government believes another member government is violating an agreement or a commitment that it has made in the WTO.
  • The General Council convenes as the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) to deal with disputes between WTO members.
  • The DSB is made up of all member governments, usually represented by ambassadors or equivalent.
  • The DSB has authority to establish dispute settlement panels, refer matters to arbitration, adopt panel, Appellate Body and arbitration reports, maintain surveillance over the implementation of recommendations and rulings contained in such reports, and authorize suspension of concessions in the event of non-compliance with those recommendations and rulings.

WTO in brief

  • The World Trade Organization, came into being in 1995, is the only international organization dealing with the global rules of trade.
  • The WTO is the successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).
  • GATT was a multilateral trading system established in the wake of the Second World War.
  • The WTO’s overriding objective is to help trade flow smoothly, freely and predictably. It does this by:
  • administering trade agreements
  • acting as a forum for trade negotiations
  • settling trade disputes
  • reviewing national trade policies
  • building the trade capacity of developing economies
  • cooperating with other international organizations

Structure

  • The WTO has 164 members, accounting for 98% of world trade.
  • In WTO decisions are made by the entire membership. This is typically by consensus.
  • A majority vote is also possible but it has never been used in the WTO, and was extremely rare under the WTO’s predecessor, the GATT.
  • The WTO’s agreements have been ratified in all members’ parliaments.
  • The WTO’s top-level decision- making body is the Ministerial Conference, which meets usually every two years.
  • Below this is the General Council (normally ambassadors and heads of delegation based in Geneva but sometimes officials sent from members’ capitals) which meets several times a year in the Geneva headquarters.
  • The General Council also meets as the Trade Policy Review Body and the Dispute Settlement Body.
  • At the next level, the Goods Council, Services Council and Intellectual Property (TRIPS) Council etc. report to the General Council.

 

E) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

  1. What is Blue Carbon? (IE)
  • Context: Lancets report on Plastics in blue carbon ecosystems: a call for global cooperation on climate change goals, has raised serious issues regarding sustainability.

Analysis

What is Blue Carbon?

  • Blue carbon is the term for carbon captured by the world’s ocean and coastal ecosystems.
  • Salt marshes, mangroves, and seagrass beds absorb large quantities of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it, thus decreasing the effects of global warming.
  • Salt marshes, mangroves, and seagrass beds play two important roles:
  • Carbon sequestration — the process of capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, measured as a rate of carbon uptake per year.
  • Carbon storage — the long-term confinement of carbon in plant materials or sediment, measured as a total weight of carbon stored.
  • These types of habitat are known as carbon sinks and contain large stores of carbon accumulated over hundreds to thousands of years.
  • These coastal systems, though much smaller in size than the planet’s forests, sequester carbon at a much faster rate, and can continue to do so for millions of years

Do you know?

  • Coastal blue carbon is the carbon captured by living coastal and marine organisms and stored in coastal ecosystems.

 

F) Miscellaneous

  1. India-US Climate Action and Finance Mobilization Dialogue(PIB)
  • Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of India had telephonic call with the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, USA.
  • Both leaders discussed to take forward the India-US Climate Action and Finance Mobilization Dialogue (CAFMD) through the four identified pillars, Climate Ambition, Finance Mobilization, Adaptation and Resilience, and Forestry.