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Current Affairs 10 December 2021 for UPSC Exam | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Science Minister: “More cyclones in Arabian Sea in recent years”
  2. IAF helicopter crash: ‘Black box’ recovered
  3. U.S. President’s Summit for Democracy: India will be scrutinised
  4. Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM): 4 years
  5. Appointments to Law Commission under consideration

Science Minister: “More cyclones in Arabian Sea in recent years”

Context:

Science Minister said that the frequency of “very severe cyclonic storms” has increased in recent years over the Arabian Sea.

Relevance:

GS-I: Geography (Physical geography – Climatology, Important Geophysical phenomena), GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Impact of Climate Change), GS-III: Disaster Management

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Highlights of the Science Minister’s response on Cyclones
  2. Increasing numbers of cyclones in changing times
  3. Bay of Bengal vs Arabian Sea
  4. Increasing Cyclones in Arabian Sea

Highlights of the Science Minister’s response on Cyclones

  • Although the frequency of “very severe cyclonic storms” (A very severe cyclone is defined as one with windspeeds touching 220 kmph) has increased in recent years over the Arabian Sea, has not measurably increased the threat to India’s western coast, as most of these cyclones were making landfall in Oman and Yemen.
  • The number of cyclones and stations reporting very heavy and extremely heavy rainfall events have increased in recent years.
  • An analysis of past data of cyclones over North Indian Ocean (Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea) during the period from 1891 to 2020 indicates that the frequency of “very severe cyclonic storms” has increased in the last few years over the Arabian Sea.
  • However, the Eastern Coast of India remained far more vulnerable to “Extremely Severe Cyclones” than the Western coast, but there was nevertheless “no significant trend” in the frequency of Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storms (ESCS).
  • On an average, 60%-80% of the cyclones developing over the North Indian Ocean (NIO), comprising Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea, made landfall causing loss of life and property.
  • Low lying coastal belts of West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and Puducherry were more prone to the impact of these systems.
  • The number of deaths due to cyclones has decreased significantly, as a result of the improvement in the early warning skill of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) under the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), and effective mitigation measures and response actions by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

Increasing numbers of cyclones in changing times

  • West Indian Ocean normally sees an extremely small number of cyclones and tropical storms compared to the Eastern side. – Between 1891 and 2000, almost 50 tropical cyclones impacted the west coast, of which more than 20 were severe cyclonic storms. In contrast, about 300 cyclones impacted the east coast of the country from the Bay of Bengal, including more than 100 severe cyclonic storms.
  • Cyclones occur in the pre-monsoon months of May-June and the post-monsoon months of October-November.
  • However, in the past few decades, the average number of storms to occur over the Arabian Sea and the time of the year when they do have both demonstrated a changing trend.
  • In 2018, while the Bay of Bengal maintained its average of 4 cyclones a year, Arabian Sea gave rise to 3 instead of 1. A year later in 2019, the Arabian Sea saw 5 cyclones.
  • Overall, there was a 32% rise in the number of cyclones between the years of 2014 and 2019.
  • The changing trends are consistent with rising temperatures in the Indian Ocean. A 2014 study found that while the temperature of the Indian Ocean rose overall by 0.7 degrees Celsius, the generally colder western Indian Ocean experienced an unexpected warming of 1.2 degrees Celsius in the summer.
  • Additionally, cyclones over the Arabian Sea are also increasing in intensity, driven by rising emissions and temperatures.
  • Typically, an extremely severe cyclone occurs once every four to five years in the Arabian Sea, however, extremely severe Cyclone Nilofar in 2014 and Chapal and Megh in 2015, formed over the Arabian sea showing the increasing trend.

Bay of Bengal vs Arabian Sea

Near India, cyclones form on either side of the country, but the ones in the Bay of Bengal are more frequent and more intense than in the Arabian Sea.

Why Bay of Bengal creates significantly more cyclones?

  • Apart from being a warm pool region, the Bay of Bengal is slightly more landlocked with South East Asian countries surrounding it, compared to the Arabian Sea, which is more expansive and this also leads to an increase in salinity of the seawater.
  • The Bay of Bengal is fed by a constant source of freshwater in the form of giant rivers like the Ganga and the Brahmaputra. The river water that empties into the Bay of Bengal warms up at the surface and rises up as moisture. This makes it difficult for the warm layers of water to mix properly with the cooler layers of water below, keeping the surface always warm and ready to feed any potential cyclone over it.
  • Furthermore, because of the shape of the land around the Bay of Bengal, the winds are slower and weaker over the ocean, ready to spin.
  • According to experts, the Bay of Bengal also gets many remnants of the typhoons in the Pacific Ocean. They come as a low-pressure area into the Bay of Bengal and grow into cyclones due to ideal conditions.

Why are there lesser cyclones in the Arabian Sea?

  • The northern, central and western parts of the Arabian Sea have a much cooler temperature. The mountains in east Africa direct winds towards the Arabian Peninsula, dissipating heat much more efficiently throughout the Arabian Sea.
  • As a result, this region is not favourable to feed potential cyclones and about half the cyclones that move into this area typically lose energy and dissipate.

Increasing Cyclones in Arabian Sea

  • For the past 150-200 years, the Bay of Bengal has given birth to four times more cyclones than the Arabian Sea. But this may soon change, thanks to global warming.
  • A study by The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology has shown that both the frequency and intensity of cyclones in the Arabian Sea are on the rise. The experts believe the key reason is a rise in the ocean temperature.
  • Traditionally, the Arabian Sea is a lot cooler than the Bay of Bengal. But now the Arabian Sea is also becoming a warm pool region because of the additional heat supplied by global warming.

-Source: The Hindu


IAF helicopter crash: ‘Black box’ recovered

Context:

The Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and Flight Data Recorder (FDR) (popularly known as ‘black box’) of the Mi-17V5 chopper of the Indian Air Force that crashed with Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat and 12 defence personnel on board at Kattery in the Nilgiris were recovered.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is a Black box?
  2. About the way in which Black Boxes work and help in investigation

What is a Black box?

  • A black box, technically known as an Electronic Flight Data Recorder, is an orange-coloured heavily protected recording device placed in a flight. It is used to investigate the details of the events immediately preceding an accident.
  • Australian Scientist David Warren was the first to build a FDR/CVR prototype in 1958.
  • Black boxes are also used in vehicles other than planes like railways, cars etc.
  • Black Boxes are compulsory on any commercial flight or corporate jet where they are usually kept in the tail of an aircraft, where they are more likely to survive a crash.

About the way in which Black Boxes work and help in investigation

  • The flight data recorder (FDR) of the Black Box – records the information about a flight and help reconstruct the events leading to an aircraft accident. It records more than 80 different types of information such as altitude, airspeed, flight heading, vertical acceleration, pitch, roll, autopilot status etc.
  • The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) records radio transmissions and other sounds in the cockpit such as conversations between the pilots and engine noises.
  • It usually takes at least 10-15 days to analyse the data recovered from the black boxes. Meanwhile the investigators will be looking for other clues such as taking accounts from air traffic control personnel and recordings of the conversation between ATC and the pilot’s moments before the crash.

How do the black boxes survive the crash?

  • The recording devices are stored inside a unit that is generally made out of strong substances such as steel or titanium and are also insulated from factors such as extreme heat, cold or wetness.
  • To protect these black boxes, they are equipped towards the tail end of the aircraft – where usually the impact of a crash is the least. There have been cases where planes have crashed into water bodies.
  • To make black boxes discoverable in situations where they are under water, they are equipped with a beacon that sends out ultrasound signals for 30 days. However, in certain cases – like the Malaysian Airlines MH370 flight – the recorders aren’t found despite all the redundancies.

-Source: The Hindu


U.S. President’s Summit for Democracy: India will be scrutinised

Context:

U.S. President Joe Biden kicked off Day One of his Summit for Democracy, calling on countries to make “concrete commitments” to reaffirm their democratic values.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Important Foreign Policies and Agreements affecting India’s Interests), GS-II: Polity and Constitution (Constitutional Provisions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the U.S. President’s “Summit for Democracy”
  2. Why India’s contribution to the agenda will be scrutinized closely
  3. Challenges for India

About the U.S. President’s “Summit for Democracy”

About the Invites sent out by the U.S.

  • Over 100 countries had been invited, along with civil society actors, members of various parliaments and the private sector for U.S. President Joe Biden’s Summit for Democracy.
  • Even though US does not recognise Taiwan as an independent country, it invited Taiwan. US takes up Taiwan as a model democracy. However, U.S. did not invite China and Russia for this meeting.
  • Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States was not included on the list as the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was dubbed an “autocrat” by US President.
  • In the Middle East, only Israel and Iraq have been added to the list. Traditional Arab allies of the US namely, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, are all absent.
  • On the African side, Kenya, Congo, South Africa, Nigeria and Niger are invited.

Purpose Of the Summit

  • The main purpose of the summit is to:
    • renew the spirit and shared purpose of the nations of the Free World,
    • bring together the world’s democracies to strengthen our democratic institutions,
    • honestly confront the challenge of nations that are backsliding, and
    • forge a common agenda to address threats to democratic common values.
  • The Summit will prioritise results by galvanising significant new country commitments in three areas:
    • fighting corruption
    • defending against authoritarianism, including election security
    • advancing human rights in their own nations and abroad.
  • It will also issue a Call to Action for the private sector, including technology corporations and social media giants, to make their own commitments, recognising their responsibilities and their overwhelming interest in preserving open, democratic societies and protecting free speech.
  • Leaders will be “encouraged” to announce “specific actions and commitments” to meaningful domestic reforms and international initiatives that advance the summit’s goals.

Why will India’s contribution to the agenda be scrutinized closely?

  • Cultural relativisms: One theme that emerges from these observations is that of cultural relativism — the “Indianness of India’s democracy”— “as India becomes ever more democratic, democracy will become ever more Indian in its sensibilities and texture”.
  • Role of civil society: A second theme is the role of civil society.
  • It has been accused of “defaming” or bringing harm to India, as espoused most recently in statements by the National Security Adviser, who also called them “the new frontier of a fourth-generation war”.
  • Ensuring democratic rights: Another noticeable theme is around the responsibility for ensuring democratic rights.

Challenges for India

  • India has to reconcile the paradox inherent in submitting to international gaze at a global assembly where it is apparently required to make commitments adhering to “western” standards of democracy while claiming there is an Indian model.
  • In March this year, External Affairs Minister Jaishankar dismissed global standards and international metrics of democracy as rubbish.
  • For perspective, this is what China says too.
  • When President Biden brought up Beijing’s human rights record, President Xi Jinping told him there was no “uniform model” of democracy, and that dismissing other “forms of democracy different from one’s own is itself undemocratic.
  • The summit may intensify these differences, particularly because the host has no shining credentials either.
  • If democracy-building was never the US goal in Afghanistan, as Biden declared, why make the unfreezing of Afghan assets overseas conditional to the Taliban turning democratic and inclusive overnight?

-Source: Indian Express, The Hindu


Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM): 4 years

Context:

Union Minister of State for Rural Development said that the Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM) is achieving all its goals steadily despite its inherent complexity and uniqueness in the 4 years of its implementation since 2016.

Out of total 76,973 projected works, a total of 40,751 (55%) works are either completed or near completion.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Welfare Schemes, Government Policies and Interventions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. The need for the Rurban Mission
  2. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Rurban Mission (SPMRM)
  3. Rurban Clusters

The need for the Rurban Mission

  • According to the 2011 Census, India has more than 6 lakh villages while there are around 7,000 towns and urban centres. Out of a total population the rural population accounts for 69% and urban population 31%.
  • About 70% of the population lives in rural areas and about 50% of the overall labour force is still dependent on agriculture that is not productive enough.
  • The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) contribution of agriculture to the nation is only about 14% while for industries and services sector (employers of people living in urban areas), it is 26% and 60% respectively.
  • Large parts of rural areas in the country are not stand-alone settlements but part of a cluster of settlements, which are relatively proximate to each other. These clusters typically illustrate potential for growth, have economic drivers and derive locational and competitive advantages.
  • These clusters, once developed, can then be classified as ‘Rurban’. Hence taking cognizance of this, the Government of India, has launched the SPMRM, aimed at developing such rural areas by provisioning of economic, social and physical infrastructure facilities.

Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Rurban Mission (SPMRM)

  • Undertaken by the Union Ministry of Rural Development, the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Rurban Mission (SPMRM) focuses on cluster-based integrated development through Spatial Planning.
  • SPMRM is a scheme launched by the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) in 2016
  • The Mission leads to convergence of the schemes of Union Government and the State Governments which leads to overall development of the region in a planned and organized manner.
  • The State Government identifies the clusters in accordance with the Framework for Implementation prepared by the MoRD.
  • SPMRM is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS).
  • The mission aims at stimulating local economic development and create well planned Rurban Regions.
  • The mission aims to develop 300 Rurban clusters. The Niti Aayog has proposed that these clusters are to be extended to 1000 in 3 years.
  • The Mission plans to develop Rurban clusters contiguously with the Gram Panchayats with a population of 25,000 to 50,000 in plains and 5,000 to 15,000 in desert and hilly areas.
  • The Mission provides good employment opportunities, basic as well as urban facilities to rural India such as waste management, smart classrooms, piped water supply, Roads, Agro processing and value addition to primary produce etc., and therefore is critical for holistic development.

A predecessor to SPMRM was the Provision of Urban Amenities to Rural Areas (PURA), announced in 2003.

Rurban Clusters

  • There are 2 categories of clusters: Non-Tribal and Tribal.
  • Rurban clusters are identified across the country’s rural areas showing increasing signs of urbanization – i.e., increase in population density, high levels of non-farm employment, presence of growing economic activities and other socioeconomic parameters.
  • For the purposes of SPMRM, Rurban areas refer to a cluster of 15-20 villages having about 30 to 40 lakh population. The clusters will be geographically contiguous Gram Panchayats with a population of about 25000 to 50000 in plain and coastal areas and a population of 5000 to 15000 in desert, hilly or tribal areas.

-Source: PIB


Appointments to Law Commission under consideration

Context:

The Government has informed the Supreme Court that appointment of Chairperson and Members of the 22nd Law Commission of India, the Government’s top body to recommend crucial legislative reforms, is under consideration.

The setting up of the 22nd Law Commission was constituted by the Government on February 21, 2020. However, no progress has been made in the appointments till date.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-II: Polity and Constitution

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Background to the Law Commission in India
  2. About the Law Commission of India

Background to the Law Commission in India

  • Law Reform has been a continuing process particularly during the last 300 years or more in Indian history. In the ancient period, when religious and customary law occupied the field, the reform process had been ad hoc and not institutionalised through duly constituted law reform agencies.
  • However, since the third decade of the nineteenth century, Law Commissions were constituted by the Government from time to time and were empowered to recommend legislative reforms to clarify, consolidate and codify particular branches of law where the Government felt the necessity for it.
  • The first such Commission was established in 1834 under the Charter Act of 1833 under the Chairmanship of Lord Macaulay which recommended codification of the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code.
  • After independence, the Constitution stipulated the continuation of pre-Constitution Laws under Article 372 until they are amended or repealed.
  • The Government of India established the First Law Commission of Independent India in 1955 and since then twenty-one more Law Commissions have been appointed, each with a three-year term.

About the Law Commission of India

  • Law Commission of India it is an executive body established by an order of the Government of India.
  • The Commission is established for a fixed tenure and works as an advisory body to the Ministry of Law and Justice.
  • Its major function is to work for legal reforms and its membership primarily comprises legal experts.

Functions of the Law commission

  • The Law Commission, on a reference made to it by the Central Government or suo-motu, undertakes research in law and review of existing laws in India for making reforms therein and enacting new legislations.
  • It also undertakes studies and research for bringing reforms in the justice delivery systems for elimination of delay in procedures, speedy disposal of cases, reduction in the cost of litigation etc.
  • Identification of laws which are no longer relevant and recommending for the repeal of obsolete and unnecessary enactments, and giving suggestions for enactment of new legislation as may be necessary to implement the Directive Principles and to attain the objectives set out in the Preamble of the Constitution is also a part of the Law Commission’s functions.
  • It also conveys to the Government its views on any subject relating to law and judicial administration that may be specifically referred to it by the Government.
  • The recommendations of the commission are not binding on the government.

-Source: The Hindu

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