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Current Affairs 11 January 2023

CONTENTS

  1. Aspirational Block Programme 
  2. Draft guidelines on preliminary assessment of the minor
  3. Ozone Hole
  4. Cold wave
  5. Prithvi-II Missile

Aspirational Block Programme 


Context:

Prime Minister has launched the government’s Aspirational Block Programme (ABP), which is aimed at improving the performance of blocks lagging on various development parameters.

Relevance:

GS II- Government policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Aspirational Block Programme (ABP)
  2. Aspirational Districts Programme
  3. Objectives
  4. Challenges Associated with ADP

Aspirational Block Programme (ABP)

  • The Aspirational Blocks Programme is on the lines of the Aspirational District Programme that was launched in 2018 and covers 112 districts across the country.
  • The Centre had announced its intention to launch this initiative in the Union Budget 2022-23.
  • The programme will cover 500 districts across 31 states and Union Territories initially.
  • A significant number of these blocks are located in six states: Uttar Pradesh (68 blocks), Bihar (61), Madhya Pradesh (42), Jharkhand (34), Odisha (29), and West Bengal (29).
  • However, states can choose to add more blocks to the program in the future.

About Aspirational Districts Programme

  • It was launched in 2018 which aims to transform districts that have shown relatively lesser progress in key social areas.
  • Aspirational Districts are those districts in India, that are affected by poor socio-economic indicators.
  • These are aspirational in the context, that improvement in these districts can lead to the overall improvement in human development in India.
  • At the Government of India level, the programme is anchored by NITI Aayog.
  • In addition, individual Ministries have assumed responsibility to drive the progress of districts.
  • Aspirational Districts’ programme (ADP) is based on 49 indicators from the 5 identified thematic areas:
    • Health & Nutrition
    • Education
    • Agriculture & Water Resources
    • Financial Inclusion & Skill Development
    • Basic Infrastructure.
Objectives:
  • The objective of the program is to monitor the real-time progress of aspirational districts.
  • With States as the main drivers, ADP seeks to focus on the strength of each district, identify low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement, measure progress, and rank districts.
  • In the spirit of competitive and cooperative federalism, districts are prodded and encouraged to first catch up with the best district in their state, and then aim to become one of the finest in the country, by competing with and learning from others.
  • “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas aur Sabka Vishwas” is the government’s commitment to improve people’ living conditions and promoting inclusive growth for all.
  • The ADP’s main goal is to localise the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, resulting in national progress.

Challenges Associated with ADP

  • The issue of insufficient fiscal resources has an impact on ADP.
  • Multiple ministries are responsible for implementing ADP, resulting in a lack of cooperation.
  • Data Improving programme execution and planning at the local level requires high-quality administrative data.
  • The Delta ranking is primarily concerned with quantity (i.e., access coverage) rather than quality.
  • In addition, as the ASER report points out, the quality of education in India is in a dismal condition.

-Source: Indian Express


Draft Guidelines On Preliminary Assessment Of The Minor


Context:

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has come up with draft guidelines on the preliminary assessment of whether certain minors are to be tried under law as adults in particular cases, under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act

Relevance:

GS II: Government policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is preliminary assessment as per the JJ Act?
  2. Why has the NCPCR come up with draft guidelines now?
  3. Draft guidelines

What is preliminary assessment as per the JJ Act?

  • Earlier, all children under the age of 18 were considered minors by the law, but through an amendment in 2015, a provision was added to the JJ Act for trying a child in conflict with the law as an adult.
    • Under this, a child in the age group of 16-18 years could be tried as an adult in case of heinous offences.
    • Section 15 (1) of the Act states that the Juvenile Justice Board shall conduct a preliminary assessment to determine whether to try such a child as an adult or a minor.
  • The Act directs that the Board shall consider the mental and physical capacity of the child for committing the alleged offence, the ability to understand the consequences of the offence, and the circumstances in which the offence was committed.
  • It states that the Board can take the assistance of experienced psychologists or psychosocial workers or other experts.
  • The Act also gives a disclaimer that the assessment is not a trial, but is only to assess the capacity of the child to commit and understand the consequences of the alleged offence.
  • After the assessment, the Board can pass an order saying there is a need to try the said child as an adult and transfer the case to a children’s court with the relevant jurisdiction.
    • If tried as a minor, the child could be sent to a special home for a maximum of three years.
    • If tried as an adult, the child can be sentenced to a jail term, except being sentenced to death or life imprisonment without the possibility of release.

Why has the NCPCR come up with draft guidelines now?

  • On July 13, 2022, the Supreme Court, while hearing a case related to the murder of a Class 2 student in Haryana, allegedly by a 16-year-old, acknowledged that the task of preliminary assessment under the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act is a delicate task.
  • The court noted that the consequences of the assessment, which determines whether the child is to be tried as an adult or a minor, are serious in nature and have a lasting effect on the child’s life.
  • The court emphasized the need for expertise in conducting the assessment and directed that appropriate and specific guidelines be put in place. The court left it open for the Central government and the National and State Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights to consider issuing the guidelines.
  • The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has framed guidelines for conducting the preliminary assessment, which it describes as the key procedures to conduct the preliminary assessment. The NCPCR noted that while the course of assessment may differ from child to child, the guidelines are meant to frame essential components and the basic mechanisms to address any ambiguity.

Draft guidelines

The draft relying on already existing provisions in the Act says that the preliminary assessment has to determine four aspects:

Physical capacity of the child: 

  • To determine the child’s ‘locomotor’ abilities and capacities, particularly with regard to gross motor functions such as walking, running, lifting, throwing…such abilities as would be required to engage in most antisocial activities.

Mental capacity: 

  • To determine the child’s ability to make social decisions and judgments.
  • It also directs assessments pertaining to mental health disorders, substance abuse, and life skills deficits.

Circumstances in which the offence was allegedly committed: 

  • Psychosocial vulnerabilities of the child. This is to include life events, any trauma, abuse, and mental health problems, stating that the offence behaviour is a cumulative consequence of a lot of other circumstances.

Ability to understand the consequences of the alleged offence: 

  • To determine the child’s knowledge or understanding of the alleged offence’s social, interpersonal and legal consequences.
  • These include what others will say or perceive him, how it might affect his personal relationships and the knowledge of relevant laws, respectively.
  • It also states that the experts must be given an optimal opportunity to interact with the child to build a rapport.
  •  Experts can be from the field of child psychology and psychiatry.
  • It also states they must undergo regular training. Additionally, a copy of the assessment must be given to the child and a legal aid counsel must be present during the assessment. it must be within three months of the child being produced before the Board.
  • Other reports that the Board is to rely on include the Social Investigation Report, Social Background Report an Individual Care Plan, statements of witnesses and interaction with parents, guardians, school staff, peer groups and neighbours.

-Source: Indian Express


Ozone Hole


Context:

The ozone ‘hole’, once considered to be the gravest danger to planetary life, is now expected to be completely repaired by 2066, a scientific assessment has suggested.

Relevance:

GS I- Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Ozone Layer
  2. What are Ozone Holes?
  3. Ozone creation and destruction
  4. Improvement in the ozone hole

What is Ozone Layer?

  • Ozone layer, also called ozonosphere, is a region of the upper atmosphere, between roughly 15 and 35 km (9 and 22 miles) above Earth’s surface which contains relatively high concentrations of ozone molecules (O3).
  • Approximately 90 percent of the atmosphere’s ozone occurs in the stratosphere, the region extending from 10–18 km (6–11 miles) to approximately 50 km (about 30 miles) above Earth’s surface.
  • The ozone layer effectively blocks almost all solar radiation of wavelengths less than 290 nanometres from reaching Earth’s surface, including certain types of ultraviolet (UV) and other forms of radiation that could injure or kill most living things.

What are Ozone Holes?

  • The ‘ozone hole’ is not really a hole — it refers to a region in the stratosphere where the concentration of ozone becomes extremely low in certain months.
  • The ‘ozone holes’ most commonly talked about are the depletions over Antarctica, forming each year in the months of September, October and November, due to a set of special meteorological and chemical conditions that arise at the South Pole, and can reach sizes of around 20 to 25 million sq km.
  • Such holes are also spotted over the North Pole, but owing to warmer temperatures than the South Pole, the depletions here are much smaller in size.

Ozone creation and destruction

  • The production of ozone in the stratosphere results primarily from the breaking of the chemical bonds within oxygen molecules (O2) by high-energy solar photons. This process, called photodissociation, results in the release of single oxygen atoms, which later join with intact oxygen molecules to form ozone.
  • The amount of ozone in the stratosphere varies naturally throughout the year as a result of chemical processes that create and destroy ozone molecules and as a result of winds and other transport processes that move ozone molecules around the planet.
  • Over the course of several decades, however, human activities substantially altered the ozone layer.
  • Ozone depletion, the global decrease in stratospheric ozone observed since the 1970s, is most pronounced in polar regions, and it is well correlated with the increase of chlorine and bromine in the stratosphere.
  • Those chemicals, once freed by UV radiation from the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other halocarbons (carbon-halogen compounds) that contain them, destroy ozone by stripping away single oxygen atoms from ozone molecules.
  • As the amount of stratospheric ozone declines, more UV radiation reaches Earth’s surface, and scientists worry that such increases could have significant effects on ecosystems and human health.

Improvement in the ozone hole

Successful Implementation of the Montreal Protocol

  • The ozone hole has been steadily improving since the year 2000 due to the successful implementation of the Montreal Protocol.

Ozone Layer Expected to Recover to 1980 Values

  • The latest scientific assessment has said that if current policies continue to be implemented, the ozone layer is expected to recover to 1980 values by 2066 over Antarctica, by 2045 over the Arctic, and by 2040 for the rest of the world.

Climate Change Co-Benefit of Eliminating Ozone-Depleting Substances

  • The elimination of ozone-depleting substances also has a significant climate change co-benefit, as these substances happen to be powerful greenhouse gases, several of them hundreds or even thousands of times more dangerous than carbon dioxide, the most abundant greenhouse gas and the main driver of global warming.

Compliance with Montreal Protocol Averts Additional Warming

  • The report stated that global compliance with the Montreal Protocol would ensure the avoidance of 0.5 to 1 degree Celsius of warming by 2050, meaning that if the use of CFCs and other similar chemicals had continued to grow, the world would be 0.5 to 1 degree Celsius warmer than it already is.
  • In 2016, with the objective of addressing climate change, the Montreal Protocol was amended to extend its mandate over hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, which have replaced CFCs in industrial use.
    • HFCs do not damage the ozone layer, but are very powerful greenhouse gases.

Kigali Amendment Aims to Eliminate HFCs and Prevent Further Warming

  • The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol aims to eliminate 80-90 per cent of the HFCs currently in use by 2050, which is expected to prevent another 0.3 to 0.5 degree Celsius of global warming by the turn of the century.

-Source: Indian Express


Cold Wave


Context:

Delhi and other parts of northwest India have been reeling under a cold wave spell that set in last week.

  • The lowest minimum temperature recorded this month was 1.9 degrees Celsius on January 8, the second-lowest minimum temperature in January in 15 years.

Relevance:

GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is a cold wave?
  2. About India Meteorological Department

What is a cold wave?

The IMD marks a cold wave in terms of minimum temperatures – when the minimum temperature in the plains is 4 degrees or less or when the minimum temperature is less than 10 degrees and 4.5 to 6.4 degrees below the normal.

Major factors contributing to Cold wave

Colder than Normal Temperatures in North India Due to Longer Duration of Fog

  • One of the major factors contributing to colder than normal temperatures over north India this month is the large-scale fog cover.
  • The fog cover is lasting for longer durations, preventing sunlight from reaching the surface and affecting the radiation balance, resulting in no heating during the day time and impacting cooling even at night.
  • Light winds and high moisture near the land surface have been contributing to the formation of a blanket of fog over large swathes of the Indo-Gangetic plains in the morning.

Westerly and Northwesterly Winds and Absence of Western Disturbances Contribute to Low Temperatures

  • Westerly and northwesterly winds of around 5 to 10 kmph in the afternoon have also been contributing to the dip in temperature.
  • Since there has not been any significant impact of western disturbances over the region, cold northwesterly winds have also been contributing to low temperatures.
  • Western disturbances, which are storms from the Mediterranean region, are associated with a change in wind direction, bringing easterly winds to northwest India, which have not been seen since December 29.

Cold Wave Spells in Delhi in December and January

  • Delhi usually records cold wave spells in December and January. Over the past decade, the number of cold wave days in January has ranged from none to seven.
  • While there were no cold wave days in December in Delhi this winter, the five such days so far this month are more than January last year, when there were no cold wave days, IMD data shows.
  • In January 2021, there were 7 days when the minimum temperature was 4 degrees or less, but they were not consecutive. A similar long spell was recorded in 2013, when there were 7 consecutive cold wave days.

About India Meteorological Department

  • The India Meteorological Department (IMD) was established in 1875 and operates under the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
  • IMD serves as the National Meteorological Service of India and is the primary government agency for all matters related to meteorology and related fields.
Objectives of IMD:
  • To take meteorological observations and provide current and forecast meteorological information to support weather-sensitive activities such as agriculture, irrigation, shipping, aviation, offshore oil exploration, and more.
  • To issue warnings for severe weather phenomena like tropical cyclones, norwesters, duststorms, heavy rains and snow, cold and heat waves, etc., which can cause destruction of life and property.
  • To provide meteorological statistics needed for various sectors including agriculture, water resource management, industries, oil exploration and other nation-building activities.
  • To conduct and promote research in meteorology and related disciplines.

-Source: Indian Express


Prithvi-II Missile


Context:

Recently, A successful training launch of a Short-Range Ballistic Missile, Prithvi-II was carried out on from the Integrated Test Range, Chandipur off the coast of Odisha. 

Relevance:

GS III- Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Prithvi-II Missile
  2. About the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP)

About Prithvi-II Missile

  • The 350-kilometer strike range of the Prithvi-II surface-to-surface missile is impressive.
  • It has twin liquid propulsion engines and is capable of carrying 500-1,000 kg of warheads.
  • In 2003, it was added to the Indian defence forces’ armory.
  • It’s a single-stage liquid-fueled missile that stands nine metres tall.
  • To achieve its target, the cutting-edge missile employs an advanced inertial guidance system and a manoeuvring trajectory.
  • It is the first missile developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP).
Other variants of Prithvi

The initial project framework of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program outlines the variants in the following manner:

  • Prithvi I (SS-150) – Army version, 150 km range with a payload of 1,000 kg
  • Prithvi II (SS-250) – Air Force version, 350 km range with a payload of 500 kg
  • Prithvi III (SS-350) – Naval version, 350 km range with a payload of 1,000 kg

About the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP)

  • The Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) was conceived by renowned scientist Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam to enable India attain self-sufficiency in the field of missile technology.
  • Dr. Kalam, the then Director of Defence Research & Development Laboratory (DRDL), headed a Missile Study Team to weigh the feasibility of the programme. The team included members from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the Army, Navy and Air Force, and Defence Production.
  • Keeping in mind the requirements of various types of missiles by the defence forces, the team recommended development of five missile systems. The IGMDP finally got the approval from the Government of India on July 26, 1983. The ambitious, time-bound project brought together the country’s scientific community, academic institutions, R&D laboratories, industries and the three Services in giving shape to the strategic, indigenous missile systems.

The missiles developed under the programme were

  • Short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile Prithvi
  • Intermediate-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile Agni
  • Short-range low-level surface-to-air missile Trishul
  • Medium-range surface-to-air missile Akash
  • Third generation anti-tank missile Nag

-Source: The Hindu


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