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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 30 March 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. NASA-ISRO SAR (NISAR)
  2. MP’s Dindori project: On Millets production
  3. OCI card holders need not carry old passports
  4. U.S. rights report Curbs on Indian media curbs

NASA-ISRO SAR (NISAR)

Context:

NASA and ISRO are collaborating on developing an SUV-sized satellite called NISAR, which will detect movements of the planet’s surface as small as 0.4 inches over areas about 100 sq. meters.

The satellite will be launched in 2022 from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota (Andhra Pradesh) into a near-polar orbit.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Science and Technology (Space technology, Advancements in Technology and their applications)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About NISAR
  2. Functions and Benefits of NISAR

About NISAR

  • The Name ‘NISAR’ is short for NASA-ISRO-SAR in which SAR stands for Synthetic Aperture Radar.
  • NISAR will be the first satellite mission to use two different radar frequencies (L-band and S-band) to measure changes in our planet’s surface less than a centimetre across.
  • The mission is targeted to launch in early 2022 from ISRO’s Sriharikota spaceport.
  • NASA is providing the mission’s L-band SAR, a high-rate communication subsystem for science data, GPS receivers, a solid-state recorder and payload data subsystem.
  • ISRO is providing the spacecraft bus, the S-band radar, the launch vehicle and associated launch services for the mission, whose goal is to make global measurements of the causes and consequences of land surface changes using advanced radar imaging.

Functions and Benefits of NISAR

  • NISAR would provide a means of disentangling highly spatial and temporally complex processes ranging from ecosystem disturbances to ice sheet collapses and natural hazards including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and landslides.
  • NASA added that the mission will measure Earth’s changing ecosystems, dynamic surfaces and ice masses, providing information about biomass, natural hazards, sea level rise and groundwater, and will support a host of other applications.
  • NISAR will observe Earth’s land and ice-covered surfaces globally with 12-day regularity on ascending and descending passes, sampling Earth on average every six days for a baseline three-year mission, allowing the mission to observe a wide range of Earth processes, from the flow rates of glaciers and ice sheets to the dynamics of earthquakes and volcanoes.

-Source: The Hindu


MP’S DINDORI PROJECT: ON MILLETS PRODUCTION

Context:

MP’s Dindori project shows the way forward for India as Millets pose production and consumption challenges towards achieving the food and nutritional security goals.

Relevance:

GS-III: Agriculture (Agricultural Resources, Food Security and Nutrition, Government Policies and Interventions related to agriculture)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About MP’s Dindori project
  2. About Millets in India
  3. Advantages of promoting millets
  4. Need for reviving the production and consumption of millets
  5. Steps taken to promote millets

About MP’s Dindori project

  • In 2013-14, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) supported an initiative to revive Kodo and Kutki Millets cultivation in Dindori district of Madhya Pradesh.
  • The project began with about 1500 women-farmers, mostly from the Gonda and Baiga tribes¸ growing these two minor millets (Kodo and Kutki).
  • The identified farmers were supplied good-quality seeds and trained by scientists on field preparation, line-sowing (as opposed to conventional broadcasting by hand) and application of compost, zinc, bavistin fungicide and other specific plant protection chemicals.
  • A federation of the farmers’ self-help groups undertook procurement of the produce and also its mechanical de-hulling (the traditional manual pounding process to remove husk from the grain was time-consuming).
  • This Project helped to increase the number of farmers growing kodo-kutki in the project area and in meeting nutritional goals while reviving millet cultivation in the process.

About Millets in India

  • Jowar (sorghum), bajra (pearl millet) and ragi (finger millet) are the three major millet crops currently grown in India.
  • Kodo, kutki, chenna and sanwa are bio-genetically diverse and indigenous varieties of “small millets”.
  • Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Haryana are the major producers of Millets.

Advantages of promoting millets

  • Millets are less expensive and nutritionally superior to wheat & rice owing to their high protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals like iron content.
  • Millets are also rich in calcium and magnesium.
  • Its high iron content can fight high prevalence of anaemia in Indian women of reproductive age and infants.
  • They are also harder and drought-resistant crops, which has to do with their short growing season (70-100 days, as against 120-150 days for paddy/wheat) and lower water requirement (350-500 mm versus 600-1,200 mm).
  • As low investment is needed for production of millets, these can prove to be a sustainable income source for farmers.
  • Millets can help tackle lifestyle problems and health challenges such as obesity and diabetes as they are gluten-free and have a low glycemic index (a relative ranking of carbohydrates in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels).

Need for reviving the production and consumption of millets

  • India has seen a jump in consumer demand for ultra-processed and ready-to-eat products, which are high in sodium, sugar, trans-fats and even some carcinogens.
  • In rural India, the National Food Security Act of 2013 entitles three-fourths of all households to 5 kg of wheat or rice per person per month at Rs 2 and Rs 3 per kg, respectively, thus reducing the demand for millets.
  • With the intense marketing of processed foods, even the rural population started perceiving mill-processed rice and wheat as more aspirational.

Steps taken to promote millets

  • The government has increased the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Millets and also included millets in the public distribution system.
  • The Union Agriculture Ministry, in April 2018, declared millets as “Nutri-Cereals”, considering their “high nutritive value” and also “anti-diabetic properties”.
  • The government has introduced provision of seed kits and inputs to farmers, building value chains through Farmer Producer Organizations and supporting the marketability of millets.
  • The United Nation General Assembly adopted an India-sponsored resolution to mark 2023 as the International Year of Millets. 2018 was also observed as ‘National Year of Millets”.

-Source: The Hindu


OCI CARD HOLDERS NEED NOT CARRY OLD PASSPORTS

Context:

People of Indian origin and the Indian diaspora having Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cards are now not required to carry their old, expired passports for travel to India, as required earlier, according to a government notification that has been welcomed by members of the community.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Constitutional Provisions, Citizenship)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Overseas Citizen of India (OCI)
  2. Benefits to OCI Card Holders
  3. Limitations on OCI Card Holders

Overseas Citizen of India (OCI)

  • An Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) is a person who is technically a citizen of another country having an Indian origin.
  • They are defined as a person who: Was a citizen of India on or after 26th January 1950; or Was eligible to become a citizen of India on 26th January 1950; or Is a child or grandchild of such a person, among other eligibility criteria.
  • According to Section 7A of the OCI card rules, an applicant is not eligible for the OCI card if he, his parents or grandparents have ever been a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh.
  • The Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Scheme was introduced by amending the Citizenship Act, 1955 in August 2005 in response to demands for dual citizenship by the Indian diaspora, particularly in developed countries.
  • Multi-purpose and life-long visa are provided to the registered Overseas Citizen of India for visiting India and are also exempted from registration with Foreign Regional Registration Officer or Foreign Registration Officer for any length of stay in India.

Benefits to OCI Card Holders

  • OCI cardholders can enter India multiple times, get a multipurpose lifelong visa to visit India, and are exempt from registering with Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO).
  • If an individual is registered as an OCI for a period of five years, he/she is eligible to apply for Indian citizenship.
  • At all Indian international airports, OCI cardholders are provided with special immigration counters.
  • OCI cardholders can open special bank accounts in India, buy the non-farm property and exercise ownership rights and can also apply for a Permanent Account Number (PAN) card.

Limitations on OCI Card Holders

  • OCI card holders are not covered by Right to equality of opportunity under article 16 of the Constitution with regard to public employment.
  • They lack the benefit of Right for election as President and Vice-President under article 58 and article 66 respectively.
  • They are not entitled to the rights under article 124 and article 217 of the Constitution.
  • They are not given Right to register as a voter under section 16 of the Representation of the People Act, 1950(43 of 1950).
  • They Lack Rights with regard to the eligibility for being a member of the State Council/Legislative Assembly/Legislative Council.
  • They are not eligible for appointment to the posts of Public Services and Union Affairs of any State.
  • They cannot purchase agricultural or farmland.
  • They cannot travel to restricted areas without government permission.

-Source: The Hindu


U.S. RIGHTS REPORT CURBS ON INDIAN MEDIA CURBS

Context:

In its 2020 Human Rights Report, the U.S. State Department said the harassment and detention of journalists critical of the (Indian) government in their reporting and on social media, has continued, although the government generally respected the freedom of expression.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (International reports and policies affecting India’s interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Human Rights report by the U.S.
  2. Importance of Free Media
  3. Threats to Freedom of Press

About the Human Rights report by the U.S.

  • The 2020 Human Rights Report is one of the reports submitted each year to the U.S. Congress containing a country-wise discussion of the state of human rights.
  • The report says that the Indian government generally respected this right, although there were several instances in which the government, or actors considered close to the government, allegedly pressured or harassed media outlets critical of the government, including through online trolling.
  • The document also cites reports by journalists and NGOs that local and national level government officials were, “involved in silencing or intimidating critical media outlets through physical harassment and attacks, pressuring owners, targeting sponsors, encouraging frivolous lawsuits, and in some areas blocking communication services.”
  • The government’s user data requests in 2019 saw a 30+% increase from 2018 from Facebook, and 65+% increase from Google and Twitter.

Importance of Free Media

  • Free Media promotes open discussion of ideas that allows individuals to fully participate in political life, making informed decisions and strengthening society as a result — especially in a large democracy such as India.
  • A free exchange of ideas, free exchange of information and knowledge, debating and expression of different viewpoints is important for smooth functioning of democracy.
  • As the free media by virtue of being the voice of masses, empowers them with the right to express opinions, it is critical in a democracy.
  • With Free Media, people will be able to exercise their rights as questioning decisions of government. Such an environment can be created only when freedom of press is achieved.
  • Hence, Media can be rightly considered as the fourth pillar of democracy, the other three being legislature, executive and judiciary.

Threats to Freedom of Press

  • The hostility towards the media which is openly encouraged by political leaders poses a great threat to democracy.
  • Government’s pressure in the name of regulations, bombardment of fake news and over influence of social media is dangerous for the occupation. Corruption-paid news, advertorials and fake news are threats to free and unbiased media.
  • Security of journalists is the biggest issue, killings and assaults on the Journalists covering sensitive issues are very common.
  • Hate speech targeting journalists shared and amplified on social networks are targeted against journalists using social media.
  • Corporate and political power has overwhelmed large sections of the media, both print and visual, which lead to vested interests and destroy freedom.

-Source: The Hindu

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