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Current Affairs 15 May 2023

CONTENTS

  1. Report on Optimal Generation Mix 2030 Version 2.0
  2. Bye-elections
  3. Issue with Tenure Extension of ED Director
  4. Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy (MRT)
  5. Milkweed Butterflies
  6. Storm Shadow Missile
  7. Poshan Bhi, Padhai Bhi

Report on Optimal Generation Mix 2030 Version 2.0


Context:

Recently, The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has released an updated report titled Report on Optimal Generation Mix 2030 Version 2.0.

  • The report is an updated version of the 2020 report titled Report on Optimal Generation Capacity Mix for 2029-30

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy (Minerals and Energy resources)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key  highlights
  2. Challenges in Adopting Renewable Energy
  3. About Central Electricity Authority

Key  highlights:

The report highlights the changes expected in India’s energy mix, with a decline in coal’s share and a rise in renewable energy (RE) sources.

  • Decline in Coal’s Share: Coal’s share in the power mix is projected to decline from 73% in 2022-23 to 55% in 2030.
  • Increase in Solar Energy: Solar energy is expected to play a significant role in the power mix, with projections indicating a quadrupling of solar capacity from 109 GW to 392 GW by 2030
  • Contribution of Other RE Sources: Projections for large hydropower and wind energy remain modest in the future power mix. Renewable sources are expected to account for 31% of the power mix in 2030, compared to the current 12%.
    • Wind generation, on the other hand, is projected to decrease to 9% in the updated version (from 12% in the previous report).
  • Role of Natural Gas: Despite aspirations to increase the share of natural gas, its contribution to power generation remains small
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Power sector emissions are projected to rise by 11%, reaching 1.114 Gt CO2 in 2030, accounting for 10% of global power sector emissions
  • Climate Commitments: CEA’s projections indicate that India is likely to over-achieve on its pledge to the Paris Agreement, with 62% of installed power capacity from non-fossil sources by 2030. The share will be 64% if nuclear power is considered.

Challenges in Adopting Renewable Energy:

  • Intermittency and variability of renewable energy sources due to weather conditions make it difficult to match energy supply with demand and maintain grid stability.
  • Integrating large-scale renewable energy into existing power grids can be complex, requiring upgrading of grid infrastructure and balancing mechanisms.
  • Scaling up renewable energy installations requires significant land and resource availability, which can be challenging to identify suitable locations, acquire land, and address environmental concerns.
  • Coal currently dominates the power sector in India, accounting for about 70% of electricity generation and providing significant direct and indirect employment.
  • Transitioning away from coal can lead to job losses in the coal sector, and ensuring a smooth transition for affected communities is essential.

About Central Electricity Authority

  • The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) was established in 1951 under the Electricity Supply Act 1948.
  • The Act has been superseded by the Electricity Act 2003.
Functions:
  • CEA advises the government of India on policy matters related to the development of electricity systems in the country.
  • CEA formulates plans for the development of the electricity sector.
  • CEA prepares the national electricity plan and tariff policy.
  • CEA advises the central government on matters relating to the national electricity policy, rural electrification, hydropower development, etc.
  • CEA specifies technical standards for construction, operation, and maintenance of electrical plants and electric lines.
  • CEA specifies grid standards and safety requirements for operation and maintenance of transmission lines.
  • CEA collects and records data on electricity generation, transmission, distribution, and utilization.
  • CEA promotes research and development in the field of electricity.
  • CEA monitors the implementation of power projects and schemes.
  • CEA coordinates with state governments, state electricity boards, regional power committees, etc. on electricity matters.

-Source: Down To Earth


Bye-elections


Context

In recent times, Bye-elections took place for a Lok Sabha constituency in Punjab and four Assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Odisha.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article

  1. About bye-elections
  2. Impact

About bye-elections

  • Bypolls, also called bye-elections or special elections, are conducted to fill vacant seats in legislative bodies.
  • Bypolls are important in the electoral cycle to address unforeseen vacancies.
  • The primary purpose of bypolls is to ensure timely representation of the affected constituency or district in the legislative body.
  • Bypolls are held when a seat in the legislature becomes vacant due to death, resignation, disqualification, or expulsion of a sitting member.
  • Section 151A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 mandates the Election Commission to fill the casual vacancies in the Houses of Parliament and State Legislatures through by-elections within six months from the date of occurrence of the vacancy, provided that the remainder of the term of a member in relation to a vacancy is one year or more.
  • No need to hold bypolls if the remaining term of the Lok Sabha is less than one year from the date of occurrence of vacancies.

Impact:

  • Bypolls serve as a significant indicator of the popularity and strength of political parties.
  • Political parties can use bypolls to measure public sentiment and assess their support base.
  • The outcomes of by-elections can have an impact on the ruling government’s majority.
  • If the ruling party loses a substantial number of bypoll seats, it may lead to a loss of the government’s stability and decision-making.
  • Bypolls offer a platform for political parties to experiment with their electoral strategies and refine their campaign approaches.
  • Parties can test various aspects such as candidate selection, campaign themes, and messaging during by-polls that can influence their strategies in subsequent elections.

-Source: The Hindu


Issue with Tenure Extension of ED Director


Context:

Recently, the Centre has informed the Supreme Court (SC) that the tenure of the Chief of Enforcement Directorate (ED) will not continue in office beyond November 2023.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the Issue?
  2. Enforcement Directorate
  3. Functions of Enforcement Directorate

What is the Issue?

Background:

  • The President of India issued two ordinances in November 2021 allowing the tenure of the Director of the ED to be extended from two years to up to five years, with the possibility of three annual extensions.
  • The SC upheld the extension of ED Chief but only in rare and exceptional cases for a short period.
  • The court clarified that there is no restriction on the Central Government’s power to appoint the ED beyond a two-year period.

Reasons for the Extension:

  • The Union Finance Ministry stated that continuity of the head of the organisation is required for several cases which are at crucial juncture and require historical knowledge and background for supervision of such cases.
  • A newly appointed director would take considerable time to take stock and acclimatise to the new office and the working of the ED and could find it difficult to operate at an optimal level of efficiency.

Pending Review:

  • The government’s recent extension of the tenure is cited as a reason for a pending review by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
  • The decision has been challenged in the SC again, as some are questioning the legality of extending the tenure beyond what was previously deemed acceptable by the court. The case is currently pending.

Enforcement Directorate

  • The Directorate of Enforcement (ED) is a law enforcement agency and economic intelligence agency responsible for enforcing economic laws and fighting economic crime in India.
  • It is part of the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Government Of India.
  • It is composed of officers from the Indian Revenue Service, Indian Corporate Law Service, Indian Police Service and the Indian Administrative Service.
  • The origin of this Directorate goes back to 1 May 1956, when an ‘Enforcement Unit’ was formed, in Department of Economic Affairs, for handling Exchange Control Laws violations under Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947.
  • In the year 1957, this Unit was renamed as ‘Enforcement Directorate’.
Functions of Enforcement Directorate
  • The prime objective of the Enforcement Directorate is the enforcement of two key Acts of the Government of India namely, the Foreign Exchange Management Act 1999 (FEMA) and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002 (PMLA).
  • The ED’s (Enforcement Directorate) official website enlists its other objectives which are primarily linked to checking money laundering in India.
  • In fact this is an investigation agency so providing the complete details on public domain is against the rules of GOI.
  • The ED investigates suspected violations of the provisions of the FEMA. Suspected violations includes; non-realization of export proceeds, “hawala transactions”, purchase of assets abroad, possession of foreign currency in huge amount, non-repatriation of foreign exchange, foreign exchange violations and other forms of violations under FEMA.
  • ED collects, develops and disseminates intelligence information related to violations of FEMA, 1999. The ED receives the intelligence inputs from Central and State Intelligence agencies, complaints etc.
  • ED has the power to attach the asset of the culprits found guilty of violation of FEMA. “Attachment of the assets” means prohibition of transfer, conversion, disposition or movement of property by an order issued under Chapter III of the Money Laundering Act [Section 2(1) (d)].
  • To undertake, search, seizure, arrest, prosecution action and survey etc. against offender of PMLA offence.
  • To provide and seek mutual legal assistance to/from respective states in respect of attachment/confiscation of proceeds of crime and handed over the transfer of accused persons under Money Laundering Act.
  • To settle cases of violations of the erstwhile FERA, 1973 and FEMA, 1999 and to decide penalties imposed on conclusion of settlement proceedings.

-Source: Indian Express


Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy (MRT)


Context:

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the U.K. fertility regulator, recently confirmed that less than five children have been born using mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT) as of April 2023.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Mitochondria
  2. About Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy
  3. What is in-vitro fertilization (IVF)?

About Mitochondria

  • Mitochondria are organelles found in eukaryotic cells.
  • They are often referred to as the “powerhouses” of the cell because they generate most of the cell’s energy.

Structure

  • Mitochondria have a double membrane: an outer membrane and an inner membrane
  • The inner membrane is highly folded to form cristae, which increase the surface area available for energy production
  • The space between the two membranes is called the intermembrane space
  • The interior of the mitochondrion is called the matrix, which contains enzymes involved in energy production

Function

  • The primary function of mitochondria is to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the molecule that cells use for energy.
  • Mitochondria do this through a process called cellular respiration, which involves the breakdown of glucose and other molecules to generate energy.
  • Mitochondria also play a role in other cellular processes, such as calcium signaling and apoptosis (programmed cell death)
  • Mitochondrial dysfunction has been linked to a variety of diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disorders.

Replication

  • Mitochondria replicate through a process called fission, in which the organelle divides into two.
  • Mitochondria also have their own DNA (mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA) and can replicate independently of the cell’s nucleus.
  • Mutations in mtDNA can lead to mitochondrial diseases, which can affect energy production and other cellular processes

About Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy

  • Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy (MRT) is a new form of reproductive in-vitro fertilization (IVF) that involves replacing a woman’s abnormal mitochondrial DNA (mt-DNA) with a donor’s healthy mt-DNA.
  • Purpose: MRT is primarily performed to prevent women who are carriers of mitochondrial diseases from passing on these heritable genetic diseases to their children.
  • DNA Types: Humans have two types of DNA in their cells: nuclear DNA, inherited from both parents, and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), inherited only from the mother.
  • In 2015, the United Kingdom became the first country to regulate MRT, establishing legal and ethical guidelines for its use.
Procedure:

The process of MRT involves the following steps:

  • An egg donor without mitochondrial DNA mutations is selected.
  • The nucleus of the egg from the woman with mitochondrial DNA mutations is removed.
  • The nucleus of the donor egg is transferred into the egg of the woman with mitochondrial DNA mutations, replacing the nucleus with abnormal mtDNA.
  • The resulting egg, containing the nuclear DNA of the woman and the healthy mtDNA of the donor, is fertilized with the father’s sperm in the embryology lab.
  • If the fertilized egg develops into a viable embryo, it can be transferred during IVF treatment, ensuring that the embryo is free from mitochondrial disease.

It is important to note that MRT is a complex and controversial procedure with ethical and scientific considerations. Its use is typically limited to cases where the risk of transmitting severe mitochondrial diseases is high. The long-term effects and outcomes of MRT are still being studied, and its availability may vary by country due to different regulations and guidelines.

What is in-vitro fertilization (IVF)?

  • In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) in which fertilization of an egg and sperm takes place outside the human body.
  • This complex procedure involves the retrieval of eggs from the ovaries and their manual combination with sperm in a laboratory to achieve fertilization.
  • Following fertilization, the resulting embryo is then transferred to the uterus, where implantation into the uterine wall can lead to pregnancy.

-Source: The Hindu


Milkweed Butterflies


Context:

A recent study by a team of researchers shed light on the migration patterns of Milkweed butterflies in southern India.

Relevance:

GS III: Species in News

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Milkweed butterflies
  2. What is a brush-footed butterfly?

About Milkweed butterflies

Milkweed butterflies are a diverse group of butterflies belonging to the brush-footed butterfly family (Nymphalidae). Here are some key points about milkweed butterflies:

  • Diversity: There are approximately 300 species of milkweed butterflies, including the well-known and iconic Monarch butterfly.
  • Distribution: Most milkweed butterfly species are found in the tropical regions of both the Old World (Europe, Africa, and Asia) and the New World (North America, South America, and the Caribbean). However, some species, such as the monarch butterfly and the queen butterfly, can also be found in temperate regions.
  • Appearance: Adult milkweed butterflies are typically large and exhibit vibrant colors. Their wings are usually long, with brownish or orange hues and distinctive black-and-white patterns.
  • Flight and Migration: Milkweed butterflies have a slow flight pattern. Some species, like the monarch butterfly, undertake remarkable long-distance migrations to reach their breeding or overwintering grounds.
  • Feeding Habits: Milkweed butterflies primarily feed on milkweed plants, which give them their name. They may also occasionally feed on nightshade plants. Milkweed plants contain acrid and milky juices that make the larvae and subsequent stages of milkweed butterflies unappetizing to predators. The combination of these distasteful characteristics and their conspicuous coloration serves as a defense mechanism to protect them.

What is a brush-footed butterfly?

A brush-footed butterfly is a type of butterfly belonging to the family Nymphalidae. Here are some characteristics of brush-footed butterflies:

  • Family: Brush-footed butterflies are a large family of butterflies known scientifically as Nymphalidae. It is one of the largest butterfly families, consisting of diverse species worldwide.
  • Legs: Brush-footed butterflies derive their name from their unique forelegs. The forelegs are reduced in size and covered in fine hairs, giving them a brush-like appearance. These specialized legs are used for various functions, including perching and tasting.
  • Wing Structure: The wings of brush-footed butterflies are typically large and broad, with rounded edges. They are often marked with intricate patterns and vibrant colors, which vary among species.
  • Behavior: Brush-footed butterflies are known for their characteristic behavior of perching with their forelegs folded up, giving the impression of having only four functional legs. This behavior distinguishes them from other butterfly families.
  • Feeding Habits: Many brush-footed butterflies feed on flower nectar using their long proboscis, a tubular mouthpart. They play a crucial role in pollination by transferring pollen from one flower to another.
  • Ecological Importance: Brush-footed butterflies have diverse ecological roles. Some species engage in long-distance migrations, while others form mutualistic relationships with specific host plants or exhibit mimicry to deter predators.

-Source: The Hindu


Storm Shadow Missile


Context:

According to a statement from the Russian Defence Ministry, Ukrainian aircraft allegedly used Storm Shadow missiles, supplied by Britain, to target two industrial sites in the city of Luhansk, which is under Russian control in eastern Ukraine.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Storm Shadow Missile
  2. Features

About Storm Shadow Missile:

  • The Storm Shadow missile, a collaborative effort between the UK and France, is a long-range cruise missile known for its stealth capabilities.
  • It is designed to target valuable stationary assets such as airbases, radar installations, communications hubs, and port facilities.
  • This versatile weapon system can be operated in extreme conditions and provides operators with a deep-strike capability, thanks to its advanced mission planning system.
  • Notably, the Storm Shadow missile is actively deployed by the air forces of Egypt, India, Italy, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Features:

  • Launch: The Storm Shadow missile is typically deployed from airborne platforms.
  • Warhead and Range: It carries a 450kg conventional warhead and can reach targets at a range of up to 200 miles (300km).
  • Size and Weight: With a weight of 1.3 tonnes and a length slightly exceeding 5 meters, the missile is compact and efficient.
  • Guidance System: Equipped with fire-and-forget technology and fully autonomous guidance, it operates independently after launch.
  • Infrared Seeker: The missile is fitted with a passive imaging infrared seeker, allowing it to detect targets based on their heat signatures.
  • Pre-Programmed Mission: Prior to launch, the Storm Shadow missile is programmed with precise target information and the optimal path to reach the target.
  • Low-Altitude Flight: After launch, the missile descends to a low altitude to avoid enemy radar detection. It then utilizes the infrared seeker to lock onto its intended target.

-Source: Indian Express


Poshan Bhi, Padhai Bhi


Context:

The Union Minister for Women and Child Development introduced the government’s flagship program ‘Poshan Bhi, Padhai Bhi’, which will focus on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) at anganwadis across the country.

Relevance:

GS II: Government policies and Interventions, Facts for Prelims

About Poshan Bhi, Padhai Bhi

The “Poshan Bhi, Padhai Bhi” initiative focuses on the training of Anganwadi Workers (AWW) to effectively implement Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE). Here are some key points about the program:

  • Funding Allocation: The Ministry has allocated Rs 600 crore to support the training of Anganwadi Workers, ensuring the successful implementation of ECCE.
  • Importance within Mission Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0: ECCE is a crucial component of Mission Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0 (Mission Poshan 2.0), both of which aim to improve child development and nutrition.
  • Training Provider: The National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD) will be responsible for providing the necessary training to Anganwadi Workers.
  • Objectives: The primary objective of the program is to transform Anganwadi Centers into not only nutrition hubs but also centers for imparting education.
  • Mother Tongue Education: The ECCE program places emphasis on providing education in the child’s mother tongue, aligning with the principles of the National Education Policy.
  • Increased Pre-School Instruction: Through the “Poshan Bhi, Padhai Bhi” policy, each child will receive a minimum of two hours of high-quality pre-school instruction daily, ensuring their early educational development.

-Source: The Hindu


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