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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 20 September 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Hindi gains ground via a demographic shift
  2. G-20 Agriculture Meet 2021
  3. Delhi-Mumbai Expressway: World’s Longest Express
  4. Anti-tank missile completes all trials
  5. IISc on substitute for single-use plastics

Hindi gains ground via a demographic shift

Context:

According to the 2011 Census, Hindi and its variants are the only major languages to have gained mother tongue adherents over the last 40 years, growing from 36.99% of the population in 1971 to 43.63% by 2011. A large factor in this growth comes from demographic changes.

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy (Growth and Development of Indian Economy, Monetary Policy, Inflation)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Language-related frictions in 2021
  2. Reasons given by the Centre to make Hindi a compulsory language:
  3. Increase in Hindi and relation with demographic change
  4. Constitutional provisions related to languages
  5. Way Forwards regarding making Hindi compulsory
  6. Background: About NIPUN Bharat Mission

Language-related frictions in 2021

  • When the Centre launched its NIPUN Bharat scheme to improve foundational literacy and numeracy among primary school students in July 2021, participants from non-Hindi speaking States complained.
  • Malayali nurses in a Delhi government hospital opposed a ban on speaking Malayalam even among themselves.
  • Tamil Nadu delegates at a yoga and naturopathy training webinar claimed that the AYUSH Ministry Secretary told them if they wanted English to be used, they could leave.
  • A notification by the Department of Official Languages, Ministry of Home Affairs came out with the recommendations of Committee of Parliament on Official Language which said that Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) to make Hindi language compulsory in curriculum amongst other things.
  • In 1965, efforts to impose Hindi as the country’s only official language had triggered violent riots in the South and similar fashion the country witnessed protests against Hindi. However, later the Centre addressed concerns about the draft National Education Policy’s recommendation regarding the three-language formula and mandatory Hindi teaching in schools.

Reasons given by the Centre to make Hindi a compulsory language:

  • Having a Common language for administrative purposes will greatly reduce burden and easy communication of ideas/knowledge and in turn help in building sense of brotherhood and integrity.
  • It is said that Hindi is the most widely spoken Indian language, with around 40cr. people using it. Therefore, there is natural need to use it in official communications, so that the official decisions are easily understood by these people.
  • With increased use of Hindi for official purposes, greater attention and focus will be given to the lenguage which has been lost in the recent times.
  • English language which at present dominates official work, is foreign language and is a colonial legacy. Therefore, it must be replaced with our own language.

Increase in Hindi and relation with demographic change

  • According to the 2011 Census, Hindi and its variants are the only major languages to have gained mother tongue adherents over the last 40 years, growing from 36.99% of the population in 1971 to 43.63% by 2011.
  • Fertility rates are higher among the poor and among women with less education, who comprise a higher share of Hindi speakers according to the Centre for Policy Research – noting that the ten States with the highest share of Hindi speakers grew from around 42% of India’s population in 1971 to more than 46% by 2011.
  • Migration could be increasing the number of those whose mother tongue is Hindi even in non-Hindi speaking States.

Constitutional provisions related to languages

  • There is no national language as declared by the Constitution of India.
  • Under the Article 343, the Constitution lists Hindi written in Devanagari script as well as English as the official language to be used for official purposes such as parliamentary proceedings, judiciary, communications between the Central Government and a State Government.
  • States within India have the liberty and powers to specify their own official language(s) through legislation.
  • The Eighth Schedule to the Indian Constitution contains a list of 22 scheduled languages. The Government of India is under an obligation to take measures for the development of these languages.
  1. Article 351 states: “It shall be the duty of the Union to promote the spread of the Hindi language, to develop it so that it may serve as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India and to secure its enrichment by assimilating without interfering with its genius, the forms, style and expressions used in Hindustani and in the other languages of India specified in the Eighth Schedule, and by drawing, wherever necessary or desirable, for its vocabulary, primarily on Sanskrit and secondarily on other languages.”
  2. Article 350 states: “It shall be the endeavour of every State and of every local authority within the State to provide adequate facilities for instruction in the mother tongue at the primary stage of education to children belonging to linguistic minority groups; and the President may issue such directions to any State as he considers necessary or proper for securing the provision of such facilities.”

Way Forwards regarding making Hindi compulsory

  • It must be kept in mind that linguistic problems are not limited to India and have arisen in other parts of the world too. The language issue has led to civil war in Sri Lanka, students uprising and separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan. Therefore, there is a great need to handle the language issue with care.
  • There is no denying of the fact that there is a need to develop a lingua-franca for India, but it should neither be forced upon nor such feeling should come. It should be a natural process. It must be kept in mind that whenever a particular language has dominated a region or world, it has been because of knowledge creation in the language.
  • Training facilities for officials, application of three language formula and other steps must be taken so that no one finds difficulty in understanding Hindi.
  • A common official language, which reflects local culture, aspirations should be used only after consultation with all states.

Background: About NIPUN Bharat Mission

  • National Initiative for Proficiency in reading with Understanding and Numeracy (NIPUN Bharat) is a scheme to ensure that every child achieves desired learning competencies in reading, writing, and numeracy by end of Grade 3, by the year 2026-27 – to provide an enabling environment in a bid to ensure universal acquisition of foundational literacy and numeracy.
  • The NIPUN Bharat Mission is a part of school education programme, Samagra Shiksha.
  • NIPUN Bharat initiative will be implemented by school education department of Union government and to implement it, a five-tier implementation mechanism will be set up at national, state, district, block, and school levels across all states and Union territories.
  • No additional funding is being allocated for the mission. Instead, money is being allocated from the Samagra Shiksha scheme, which saw a 20% drop in its budget in 2021.
  • So far, the goal has simply been to enrol children in school, and then to ensure that they finish Class 10. This mission specifies stage-wise learning goals to ensure that students are acquiring the necessary building blocks.
  • The NIPUN Bharat strategy includes changes in curriculum and teaching methods to include more activity, art and story-telling, creation of print-rich materials and resources, teacher training, and stress-free assessment methods in order to reach these goals.
  • NIPUN Bharat also emphasises the importance of using a child’s mother tongue in teaching, a principle of the National Education Policy 2020, which received some criticism.

Recent Developments

  • Although the National Education Policy had included a 2025 deadline to achieve the goal, the Centre has pushed back the target date to 2026-27, given that COVID-19 has already disrupted two academic years.
  • A National Achievement Survey of Class 3 students to be conducted this November will set a baseline to track future progress.

-Source: The Hindu


G-20 Agriculture Meet 2021

Context:

India is becoming the destination country for healthy food items like millets and the government is promoting biofortified varieties to address malnutrition, India’s Agriculture Minister said as he participated in the G-20 agriculture meeting virtually.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Important International Groupings, Important International Agreements), GS-III: Indian Economy (Growth & Development of Indian Economy)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About G20
  2. Structure and functioning of G20
  3. Highlights of the G20 Agriculture meeting 2021
  4. Highlights of India’s Position at the G20 meet

About G20

  • The G20 is an informal group of 19 countries and the European Union, with representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
  • The G20 membership comprises a mix of the world’s largest advanced and emerging economies, representing about two-thirds of the world’s population, 85% of global gross domestic product, 80% of global investment and over 75% of global trade.
  • The members of the G20 are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.
  • Spain as a permanent, non-member invitee, also attends leader summits.

Structure and functioning of G20

  • The G20 Presidency rotates annually according to a system that ensures a regional balance over time.
  • For the selection of presidency, the 19 countries are divided into 5 groups, each having no more than 4 countries. The presidency rotates between each group.
  • Every year the G20 selects a country from another group to be president.
  • India is in Group 2 which also has Russia, South Africa and Turkey.
  • The G20 does not have a permanent secretariat or Headquarters.
  • The work of G20 is divided into two tracks:
  • The Finance track comprises all meetings with G20 finance ministers and central bank governors and their deputies. Meeting several times throughout the year they focus on monetary and fiscal issues, financial regulations, etc.
  • The Sherpa track focuses on broader issues such as political engagement, anti-corruption, development, energy, etc.

 

Highlights of the G20 Agriculture meeting 2021

  • The G20 Agriculture meeting was held as a part of the G20 Leaders Summit 2021 to be hosted by Italy in October 2021.
  • The G20 signed a final statement named the “Florence Sustainability Charter” that will strengthen cooperation between G20 members and developing countries on food and agriculture to share knowledge and help developing the internal production capacities best suited to local needs.
  • The G20 countries reaffirmed their intention to reach the goal of zero hunger, which is also threatened by the consequences of Covid-19.
  • The G20 countries also reaffirmed the commitment to achieve food security in the framework of the three dimensions of sustainability: economic, social and environmental.

 

Highlights of India’s Position at the G20 meet

  • India emphasised on re-introducing traditional food items including millet, other nutritious cereals, fruits and vegetables, fish, dairy and organic products in the diet of the people.
  • The United Nations (UN) has accepted India’s proposal and declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets and urged the G20 nations to support the celebration of the millet year to promote nutrition and sustainable agriculture.
  • India said that Biofortified varieties, which are the source of a staple diet rich in micronutrients, are being promoted to remove malnutrition. About 17 such varieties of different crops have been developed and released for cultivation.
  • It was highlighted that India has also taken steps to increase the optimal use of water resources, create infrastructure for irrigation, conserve soil fertility with balanced use of fertilizers, and provide connectivity from farms to markets.

-Source: Indian Express


Delhi-Mumbai Expressway: World’s Longest Express

Context:

Union Minister concluded the two-day review of the work progress on the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Industry and Infrastructure

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Highlights of the Delhi–Mumbai Expressway

Highlights of the Delhi–Mumbai Expressway

  • The Delhi–Mumbai Expressway is a 1,350 km long, 8-lane wide (expandable to 12depending on the volume of traffic) expressway connecting India’s national capital New Delhi with its financial capital Mumbai – still under construction.
  • Upon completion in 2023, it will become the world’s longest expressway.
  • The expressway will be the first in Asia and only the second in the world to feature animal overpasses to facilitate unrestricted movement of wildlife.
  • The Expressway is set to also include two iconic 8-lane tunnels, one tunneling through Mukundra sanctuary, Rajasthan and the second will pass through the Matheran eco-sensitive zone, Maharashtra.
  • This expressway, along with Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (Western DFC) will be a vital backbone of the Delhi–Mumbai Industrial Corridor.
  • It will improve connectivity to economic hubs like Jaipur, Kishangarh, Ajmer, Kota, Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Bhopal, Ujjain, Indore, Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Surat.
  • It will result in annual fuel savings of more than 320 million litres and reduce CO2 emissions. The project has also created employment for thousands.

-Source: Financial Express


Anti-tank missile completes all trials

Context:

The Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) Hyderabad, a laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has completed all trials of the indigenously made Nag Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM), Helina.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Science and Technology (Defence Technology)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Nag Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM)
  2. About Nag – Helina & Dhruvastra Missiles
  3. About the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP)

About Nag Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM)

  • Nag is a third-generation, fire-and-forget, anti-tank guided missile developed by India’s state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to support both mechanised infantry and airborne forces of the Indian Army.
  • It is an all-weather condition with day and night capabilities and with a minimum range of 500m and maximum range of 4 km.
  • Nag can be launched from land and air-based platforms. The land version is currently available for integration on the Nag missile carrier (NAMICA)
  • The helicopter-launched configuration, designated as helicopter-launched NAG (HELINA), can be fired from Dhruv advanced light helicopter (ALH) and HAL Rudra (ALH WSI) attack helicopter.
  • DRDO has developed nag Missiles under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program.

About Nag – Helina & Dhruvastra Missiles

  • The Helina (the Army version) and Dhruvastra (Indian Airforce version) are helicopter-launched versions of third-generation anti-tank guided missiles (the Nag missile system), designed and developed indigenously by the DRDO.
  • Helina is a Helicopter based NAG which is a third-generation fire and forget class anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) system mounted on the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH). The system can hit a target with a minimum range of 500 m and a maximum range of 7 km.
  • The missile is guided by an Infrared Imaging Seeker (IIR), which makes it one of the most advanced Anti-Tank Weapons in the world.
  • The missile system has all-weather day and night capability. It can penetrate through the conventional armor and can also destroy the explosive reactive armor.
  • The missile can engage targets both in direct hit mode as well as top attack mode.
  • The Indian Air Force has asked for the feasibility of integrating the Helina on the soon-to-be inducted Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) which will add to the current weapon arsenal of the Indian Air Force.

Back to the Basics: 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

  1. Short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile Prithvi
  2. Intermediate-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile Agni
  3. Short-range low-level surface-to-air missile Trishul
  4. Medium-range surface-to-air missile Akash
  5. Third generation anti-tank missile Nag

-Source: The Hindu


IISc on substitute for single-use plastics

Context:

According to a report by Central Pollution Control Board of India, for the year 2018-2019, 3.3 million metric tonnes of plastic waste are generated by Indians.

There has been an exponential surge in the usage of single use plastics. According to a report by Central Pollution Control Board of India, for the year 2018-2019, 3.3 million metric tonnes of plastic waste are generated in India. Some experts point out the fact that this figure might as well be a gross under-estimation as well.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Conservation of Environment and Ecology), GS-III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Single use plastic
  2. Challenges with banning single use plastic
  3. Measures taken so far in India
  4. About the IISc’s biodegradable substitute for single-use plastic
  5. What are the benefits of the IISc’s efforts?

About Single use plastic

  • Single-use plastics, often also referred to as disposable plastics, are commonly used for plastic packaging and include items intended to be used only once before they are thrown away or recycled. These include, among other items, grocery bags, food packaging, bottles, straws, containers, stirrers, styrofoam cups or plates etc.

Impacts of Single Use Plastic (SUP)

  • Environmental pollution: A staggering total of it remains uncollected causing choking of drainage and river systems, littering of the marine ecosystem, soil and water pollution, ingestion by stray animals, and open air burning leading to adverse impact on environment.
  • Disposal issue: They do not biodegrade instead they slowly break down into smaller pieces of plastic called microplastics which again causes more issues. It can take up to thousands of years for plastic bags and Styrofoam containers to decompose.
  • Human health: The toxins, poisons and persistent pollutants present in some of these plastic products leach and enter human bodies where they cause several diseases, including cancer and can damage nervous systems, lungs and reproductive organs. Humans may be consuming anywhere from 39,000 to 52,000 microplastic particles a year through fish (contaminated with microplastics) alone.
  • Marine life & climate change: Plastic waste is at epidemic proportions in the world’s oceans with an estimated 100 million tonnes dumped there to date. o Plastic kills an estimated 1 million sea birds every year and affects around 700 species which get infected by ingesting plastics. Single-use plastics make up on average 49% of beach litter.
  • Increasing Carbon dioxide: If the production, disposal and incineration of plastic continues on its present-day growth trajectory, by 2030 these global emissions could reach 1.34 gigatonne per year — equivalent to more than 295 coal-based power plants of 500-MW capacity.
  • More impact on developing countries: The ubiquitous plastic seems to be a curse for the third world countries, because poor countries, especially in Asia, not only have their own plastic dump to deal with but also the plastic trash that lands on their shores from developed countries.

 

Challenges with banning single use plastic

  • No immediate alternatives: It is difficult to ban the product which is of immense use to the public, without thinking of a sustainable and equally utilitarian alternative product.
    • For e.g. Single-use plastic helps keep medical equipment sterile and safe to use.
    • There is no alternative to plastic yet and sectors like pharmaceuticals, hardware, toys, food processing, food delivery will be in total chaos.
    • While there is increased awareness in urban area, the challenge will be to find a suitable cost effective alternatives in tier II and tier III towns and remote locations.
  • Impact on packaging industry: It impacts most industries since SUP forms part of packaging and hence is linked to all industries directly or indirectly.
    • If plastic sachets made from multi-layered packaging are banned, it can disrupt supplies of key products such as biscuits, salt and milk etc which has made life easier for the poor in terms of affordable small packs and convenience.
    • Ban will increase the price of most FMCG products as manufacturers would try and shift to alternative packaging (which can be costlier).
  • Loss of jobs and revenue: Ban can lead to loss of revenue as well as job loss in the plastic manufacturing industry.
    • India’s plastic industry officially employs around 4 million people across 30,000 processing units, out of which 90% are small to medium-sized businesses.
    • Plastics also support thousands employed informally such as ragpickers as well as street food and market vendors who are reliant on single-use plastic.
  • Attitudinal change: It is difficult as no one takes the responsibility for the single use plastic thrown by them and behaviour change towards the shift from non-using of single use plastic is difficult.

Measures taken so far in India

  • Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 state that every local body has to be responsible for setting up infrastructure for segregation, collection, processing, and disposal of plastic waste.
  • Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules 2018 introduced the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).
  • Ban on Single-Use Plastics in a bid to free India of single-use plastics by 2022.
  • World Environment Day, 2018 hosted in India, the world leaders vowed to “Beat Plastic Pollution” & eliminate its use completely.

About the IISc’s biodegradable substitute for single-use plastic

  • The researchers have developed a polymer using non-edible oil and cellulose extracted from agricultural stubble. The process makes use of non-edible Castor oil. However other non-edible oils such as jatropha oil and neem oil could also be experimented with.
  • The proportion of cellulose to non-edible oil can be varied to tune the flexibility of the polymer. Higher amount of cellulose makes the polymer stiffer while higher proportion of oil made the material more flexible
  • The sheets of polymer have performed satisfactorily in the leaching and thermal stability tests.

What are the benefits of the IISc’s efforts?

  • The newly developed material is biodegradable and non-toxic and hence would be a viable substitute for single-use plastic that can help mitigate the problem of accumulating plastic waste in the environment.
  • The material’s flexibility is tuneable and hence it makes it viable for multi-purpose users.
  • The material is also water-proof and hence it could also be used for food packaging and healthcare applications.
  • Given that the process makes use of agricultural stubble as a raw material ensures that the agricultural stubble are not burnt which in turn helps in avoiding air pollution in several States.

-Source: The Hindu

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