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Current Affairs 19 February 2024

  1. Historic Appointment of Nationalist First Minister in Northern Ireland
  2. RBI Imposes Stringent Restrictions on Paytm Payments Bank Ltd (PPBL)
  3. Launch of INSAT-3DS Meteorological Satellite via GSLV-F14 Rocket
  4. International Single Species Action Plan
  5. Anti-Satellite Weapon
  6. National Science Day 2024


Context:

In a groundbreaking development, a pro-Irish unity politician has made history by becoming the first Nationalist First Minister of Northern Ireland. This significant move takes place amidst political deadlock, reflecting the complex divisions within the region. Rooted in Northern Ireland’s troubled past, this historic appointment holds the promise of fostering reconciliation and steering the region towards more inclusive governance.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Formation of Northern Ireland: Historical Context
  2. Origin of Political Deadlock in Northern Ireland
  3. The Good Friday Agreement: A Path to Peace

Formation of Northern Ireland: Historical Context

Northern Ireland’s Troubled History (1968-1998):

  • Witnessed a 30-year civil war known as ‘The Troubles.’
  • Conflict between Republicans (mostly Catholic) and Unionists (largely Protestants).
  • Resulted in over 3,500 casualties.

Religious Divisions and Plantations:

  • Rooted in a policy of migration initiated by King James I in 1609.
  • Encouraged people from England and Scotland to settle in Ulster.
  • Protestants and Catholics engaged in a religious war.

Resistance against English Rule:

  • Resistance strengthened after the Potato Famine of 1845.
  • Sectarian and religious differences intensified.
  • In 1916, during Easter week, Ireland revolted against colonial rule led by the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

Independence and Territorial Division (1921):

  • After a bloody war, Ireland gained independence with the Anglo-Irish treaty.
  • Split into two territories; six counties with a Protestant majority remained with the U.K, forming Northern Ireland.

Origin of Political Deadlock in Northern Ireland

Brexit and Border Control Dispute:

  • Arose from disagreements over implementing border controls between Britain and the Island of Ireland after Brexit.
  • Northern Ireland, part of the UK, became the only province sharing a land border with the EU member state, the Republic of Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Protocol:

  • Devised as part of the Brexit deal to prevent a hard border.
  • Shifted the trade border to Irish ports, creating a sea border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Contentious Arrangement:

  • Controversial, especially for the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
  • DUP objected, seeing it as undermining Northern Ireland’s status and violating the Good Friday Agreement’s principles.

Impact on Power-sharing Government:

  • DUP’s objection led to their withdrawal from the power-sharing government.
  • Viewed the protocol as a threat to Northern Ireland’s position and a violation of the Good Friday Agreement.

Resolution through Renegotiation:

  • Deadlock resolved through renegotiating border controls.
  • Assurances provided regarding Northern Ireland’s status within the UK.
  • DUP agreed to return to government after addressing their concerns.

The Good Friday Agreement: A Path to Peace

Historic Peace Treaty:

  • Signed on April 10, 1998, in Northern Ireland.
  • A response to decades of violence and conflict during “The Troubles.”

Devolved Government and Power-sharing:

  • Established a devolved government in Northern Ireland.
  • Power shared between Unionists and Republicans to ensure inclusive governance.

Principle of Consent:

  • Recognized the principle of consent for any change in Northern Ireland’s status.
  • Reunification with Ireland possible through a referendum with majority consent.

Emphasis on Human Rights and Equality:

  • Prioritized human rights and equality for all citizens, irrespective of background or political beliefs.

Decommissioning Process:

  • Outlined a process for the decommissioning of weapons held by paramilitary groups.
  • Parallel implementation with other aspects of the agreement.

Encouraging Cooperation and Reconciliation:

  • Fostered cooperation between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
  • Promoted economic, social, and cultural ties across the border.
  • Acknowledged sovereignty and territorial integrity of both the UK and Ireland.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Recently, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has imposed strict restrictions on Paytm Payments Bank Ltd (PPBL). This move comes after an audit report highlighted persistent non-compliances and supervisory concerns within the bank.

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Restrictions Imposed on PPBL by RBI
  2. Payment Banks: Facilitating Financial Inclusion

Key Restrictions Imposed on PPBL by RBI

Regulatory Authority and Concerns:

  • Section 35A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, grants RBI authority to issue directives for preventing detrimental operations of a banking entity.
  • Concerns over dubious transactions involving substantial amounts between Paytm and its associated banking entity prompted RBI action.

Compliance Issues:

  • PPBL had numerous non-compliant accounts without proper KYC verification.
  • Instances of a single PAN being used for opening multiple accounts were identified.
  • Transactions exceeding regulatory limits in minimum KYC prepaid instruments raised concerns about potential money laundering.
Enforced Restrictions:

Deposit Bar (Effective from February 29, 2024):

  • PPBL is prohibited from accepting additional deposits, top-ups, or credit transactions.
  • Applicable to prepaid instruments for FASTags and National Common Mobility Cards (NCMC) cards.

Service Limitations:

  • Extends to Aadhaar Enabled Payment System, Immediate Payment Service, bill payments, and UPI transactions.
  • All pipeline and nodal account transactions must be settled by March 29, with no further transactions allowed thereafter.

Closure of Nodal Accounts (Before February 29, 2024):

  • PPBL directed to terminate nodal accounts of its parent company and Paytm Payments Services.

Payment Banks: Facilitating Financial Inclusion

Introduction and Purpose:

  • Payment banks, introduced by RBI in 2014, aim to promote financial inclusion by providing basic banking services to the unbanked and underbanked.
  • Recommendation from the Nachiket Mor committee influenced their establishment.

Examples:

  • Airtel Payments Bank, India Post Payments Bank, among others.

Licensing and Regulation:

  • Licensed under Section 22 (1) of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.
  • Falls under the differentiated bank license category, with restrictions on offering the full range of services provided by commercial banks.
Features:

Reserve Requirements:

  • Mandatory maintenance of Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) and Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR).
  • At least 75% of demand deposit balances in SLR-eligible securities.

Minimum Paid-up Capital:

  • Minimum paid-up equity capital set at Rs 100 crore.
  • Promoter’s initial contribution to paid-up equity capital should be at least 40% for the first 5 years.

Prohibited Services:

  • Prohibited from conducting lending operations or issuing credit cards.
  • Exempt from priority sector lending regulations.

Rural Outreach Requirements:

  • At least 25% of physical access points must be in rural centers.
Activities Performed:
  • Accepting deposits from individuals and small businesses, up to a specified limit.
  • Providing remittance services and facilitating domestic money transfers.
  • Issuing ATM/debit cards, prepaid payment instruments, and other electronic payment methods.
  • Offering internet banking services, including online fund transfers and bill payments.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The INSAT-3DS meteorological satellite is set to embark on its space journey aboard a Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV), marking a crucial mission. The GSLV-F14, known colloquially as the “naughty boy” for its checkered history, will take off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.

  • This launch will be the 16th mission for the GSLV and its 10th flight featuring the domestically developed cryogenic engine.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F14): Technical Details
  2. Significance of the GSLV-F14/INSAT-3DS Mission

Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F14): Technical Details

  • The GSLV is a towering three-stage launch vehicle standing at 51.7 meters in length with a liftoff mass of 420 tonnes.
    • The first stage (GS1) features a solid propellant (S139) motor carrying 139 tons of propellant, along with four earth-storable propellant stages (L40) strapons, each loaded with 40 tons of liquid propellant.
    • The second stage (GS2) is another earth-storable propellant stage with a 40-ton propellant load.
    • The third stage (GS3) is a cryogenic stage, holding 15 tons of liquid oxygen (LOX) and liquid hydrogen (LH2) propellants.
  • GSLV is versatile, capable of launching spacecraft for communication, navigation, earth resource surveys, and various proprietary missions.
GSLV-F14/INSAT-3DS Mission and its Primary Objectives

About the Mission:

  • INSAT-3DS Satellite signifies a continuation of Third Generation Meteorological Satellites in Geostationary Orbit, with substantial contributions from Indian industries.
  • The mission, entirely funded by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), serves to enhance Meteorological services in conjunction with the operational INSAT-3D and INSAT-3DR satellites.

Primary Objectives:

  • Monitor Earth’s surface, conduct Oceanic observations, and study the environment in meteorologically significant spectral channels.
  • Provide vertical profiles of various meteorological parameters in the Atmosphere.
  • Offer Data Collection and Dissemination capabilities through Data Collection Platforms (DCPs).
  • Deliver Satellite Aided Search and Rescue services.

Significance of the GSLV-F14/INSAT-3DS Mission

Crucial Test for GSLV:

  • The GSLV-F14/INSAT-3DS Mission holds significant importance as the GSLV has faced challenges, with four out of its 15 launches experiencing setbacks.
    • In contrast, ISRO’s PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) with 60 missions and LVM-3 with seven missions have a notably higher success rate.
  • The success of this mission is critical, especially as the GSLV is slated to carry the Earth observation satellite NISAR later in the year, a collaborative effort between NASA and ISRO.

Transition to INSAT-3DS:

  • INSAT-3DS, designed for a mission life of 10 years, will take over the responsibilities of INSAT-3D (launched in 2013) and INSAT-3DR (launched in 2016), both having completed their mission life.

Meteorological Advancements:

  • The mission’s primary objectives include enhancing short-range forecasts of extreme weather events like thunderstorms.
  • It will contribute to aviation safety by providing visibility estimates.
  • The satellite will aid in the study of forest fires, smoke, snow cover, and support climate studies.

Operational Implications:

  • The success of this mission will not only validate the GSLV’s reliability but also contribute to bolstering India’s capabilities in meteorological observations, benefiting a range of sectors from aviation to disaster management.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Recently, the 14th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP14) adopted the Single Species Action Plan for conservation of the Hawksbill Turtle.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. International Single Species Action Plan under AEWA
  2. AEWA Overview

International Single Species Action Plan under AEWA

Key Instrument for Conservation:

  • The International Single Species Action Plan is a crucial instrument developed within the framework of the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA).
  • Its primary purpose is to facilitate coordinated measures aimed at restoring migratory waterbird species to a favourable conservation status.

AEWA Overview:

  • AEWA is an intergovernmental treaty dedicated to the conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats across diverse regions, including Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, Greenland, and the Canadian Archipelago.
  • Developed under the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), AEWA aims to establish coordinated conservation and management efforts for 255 migratory waterbird species dependent on wetlands.

Geographical Scope:

  • The Agreement spans 119 Range States, encompassing the migratory range of waterbirds from the northern reaches of Canada and Russia to the southernmost tip of Africa and parts of Asia.

Organizational Structure:

  • AEWA consists of three primary bodies:
    • Meeting of the Parties (MOP): The governing body of AEWA.
    • Standing Committee (StC): Responsible for steering operations between MOP sessions.
    • Technical Committee (TC): Provides scientific and technical advice.
  • The UNEP/AEWA Secretariat, based in Bonn, Germany, supports the Parties and services the Agreement’s bodies.

International Cooperation:

  • International cooperation among the species’ range states is deemed essential for the effective implementation of action plans and the overall conservation efforts under AEWA.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Russia is actively working towards a formidable new development in space technology, focusing on creating a nuclear anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon.

Relevance:

GS III: Defence

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Anti-Satellite Weapon (ASAT): Unveiling Orbital Disruption

Anti-Satellite Weapon (ASAT): Unveiling Orbital Disruption

Weapon Design and Objective:

  • An Anti-Satellite Weapon is specifically engineered to incapacitate or obliterate operational satellites already in orbit.
  • It poses a strategic threat in both kinetic and non-kinetic forms, targeting satellites crucial for communication, navigation, surveillance, and military operations.
Types of ASATs:
  • Kinetic Energy Methods:
    • Utilizes missiles that intercept and physically collide with the target satellite, resulting in its destruction.
    • Includes ballistic missiles, drones, and other satellites capable of reaching different altitudes.
  • Non-Kinetic Methods:
    • Involves non-physical attacks like cyber-attacks, jamming, and laser-based interference to disable or blind satellites without physically destroying them.
    • Operable from air, low orbit, or ground installations.
Varied Attack Techniques:
  • ASAT capabilities extend to diverse techniques, including:
    • Pellet cloud attacks on low orbit enemy satellites.
    • Cyber-attacks on space systems.
    • Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) explosion devices.
    • Directed energy weapons (laser-based).
    • Targeted missiles for satellite destruction to disrupt enemy military operations.
Global ASAT Prowess:
  • Several nations possess ASAT capabilities, but only four countries, including India, have demonstrated their proficiency in Anti-Satellite Warfare.
Challenges and Concerns:
  • Space Debris Hazard:
    • ASAT weapons generate a substantial amount of space debris, posing significant risks to all space operations, including civilian and commercial satellites.
    • The proliferation of space debris contributes to heightened concerns about orbital congestion and potential collisions.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology recently released the theme for the “National Science Day 2024”, titled “Indigenous Technologies for Viksit Bharat”.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. National Science Day (NSD) Celebration
  2. What is Raman Effect?

National Science Day (NSD) Celebration

  • Celebrated annually on February 28, National Science Day honors the contributions of scientists in advancing the nation’s development.
  • The date commemorates Indian Physicist Sir CV Raman’s groundbreaking discovery in spectroscopy, known as the Raman Effect, made on February 28, 1928. His achievement was recognized with the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930.
History:
  • The initiative to designate February 28 as National Science Day originated in 1986 when the National Council for Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC) proposed the idea to the Government of India.
  • Following acceptance, the government officially declared February 28 as National Science Day.
  • The inaugural celebration took place on February 28, 1987.

What is Raman Effect?

  • Raman Effect is a phenomenon in spectroscopy discovered by the eminent physicist Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman in 1928.
  • After two years in 1930, he got Nobel Prize for this remarkable discovery and this was the first Nobel Prize for India in the field of Science.
  • Raman Effect is a change in the wavelength of light that occurs when a light beam is deflected by molecules.
  • When a beam of light traverses a dust-free, transparent sample of a chemical compound, a small fraction of the light emerges in directions other than that of the incident (incoming) beam.
  • Most of this scattered light is of unchanged wavelength.
  • A small part, however, has wavelengths different from that of the incident light; its presence is a result of the Raman Effect.

-Source: The Hindu


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