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UPSC News Diary Today 06-Septemer-2022

 

UPSC News Diary Today” is every day published in the evening between 6-7 PM and contains all current affairs articles from the day on a single platform. ”UPSC News Diary Today” covers various topics from UPSC Syllabus and is very helpful and time managing for UPSC Aspirants. The framing of this daily current affairs compilation article is easy to read and understandable also.

In the ”UPSC News Diary Today” article, we focus on both UPSC Preliminary and Mains exam-oriented current affairs & prepare a gist of daily important news articles from leading National Newspapers, PIB, and other various official sources.

 

Perestroika and Glasnost

 

Why in news?

  • Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, has died at the age 91.
  • Two words “perestroika” and “glasnost” are associated with Gorbachev and his legacy.

Know About Perestroika & Glasnost

  • Perestroika means restructuring and glasnost means openness.
  • In his book “Perestroika: New thinking for our country and the world”, he explained why USSR needed “perestroika”
  • The lack of transparency was at the heart of Gorbachev’s second mantras for reform: Glasnost — meaning openness.
  • While it meant greater transparency in the functioning of the government and the economy, much like perestroika, Gorbachev’s hope was that this would also reorder the way people lived their everyday life in the USSR.

Note: Gorbachev’s desire to pull the USSR out of economic and social stagnation not only led to the collapse of the USSR but also ended the old war.

 

Oncolytic Viruses (OVs)

 

Why in news?

A new study published in the journal Cancer Cell suggests that the body’s immune capacity against cancer — to recognise and destroy cancer cells — can be boosted by using oncolytic viruses.

Points to remember

  • Oncolytic viruses (OVs) are viruses that selectively target and kill cancer cells while sparing normal ones. These viruses also enhance the immune system’s ability to recognise and terminate cancer cells.
  • Although long theorised, the research into oncolytic virotherapy picked up only in the 1960s. Of late, there have been several trials looking at different viruses for cancer treatment.
  • The latest research claims to “uncover an unexpected synergy between T-cells and MYXV (myxoma virus) to bolster solid tumor cell autosis that reinforces tumor clearance”.
  • Autosis is a form of cell destruction that is useful against solid tumors, which are seen as treatment-resistant.
  • Myxoma can target and kill cancer cells directly, but using myxoma-equipped T-cells works well as cancerous cells in the vicinity of those targeted are also destroyed. This process is called bystander killing.
  • The study makes the case that immunotherapy combined with virotherapy holds potential to seek and destroy ‘cold tumors’ that fly under the immune system’s radar.

 

Eklavya Model Residential School

 

Why in news?

Eklavya Model Residential School teacher Shri Sidharth Yonzone conferred National Teachers Award – 2022 by the President of India.

Know about Eklavya Model Residential School

  • EMRS started in the year 1997-98 to impart quality education to ST children in remote areas.
  • Each school has a capacity of 480 students, catering to students from Class VI to XII.
  • Hitherto, grants were given for construction of schools and recurring expenses to the State Governments under Grants under Article 275 (1) of the Constitution.
  • In order to give further impetus to EMRS, it has been decided that by the year 2022, every block with more than 50% ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons, will have an EMRS.
  • Eklavya schools will be on par with Navodaya Vidyalaya and will have special facilities for preserving local art and culture besides providing training in sports and skill development.

 

International Vulture Awareness Day

 

Why in news?

  • Uttar Pradesh inaugurated its first vulture conservation and breeding centre on September 3, celebrated as International Vulture Awareness Day.
  • This is India’s second such centre after the Jatayu Conservation Breeding Centre in Pinjore, Haryana.

Key Points

  • The country has seven other facilities where vultures are bred and then released into the wild.
  • Of the eight vulture species in the country, two are nearly threatened, one is endangered and four are critically endangered, says the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • Data with the Union government shows that as of the last count in 2017, the country has only 19,000 vultures.

 

Continuous Use Of Hazardous Pesticides

 

Why in news?

  • Farmers across the country use four highly hazardous pesticides(Chlorpyrifos, Fipronil, Atrazine And Paraquat Dichloride) for more crops than officially approved, according to a report by Kerala non- profit Pesticide Action Network.

Key Points

  • Chlorpyrifos is used for 23 crops, but is officially approved for 18. High exposure to this insecticide can damage the human nervous system.
  • Fipronil, another insecticide that is harmful to the thyroid, has been approved for nine crops but is used for 27.
  • Similar figures are noted for herbicides atrazine which leads to hormonal problems, and paraquat dichloride, a possible carcinogen.

 

US Climate Law

 

Why in news?

US President Joseph Biden on August 16 passed the Inflation Reduction Bill, 2022, touted as a major win for the country’s climate ambitions.

How US climate law could impact climate goals?

  • The new law marks US $369 billion for various climate measures, for example, incentives for the domestic renewable energy sector.
  • Proponents of the new law say that it will boost global climate targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Some analysts note that this could invite foreign energy players to shift focus towards the US, hindering countries like India from building capacity to meet their own climate goals.
  • Moreover, the law also has provisions allowing the lease of 243 million hectares of public and offshore land for oil and gas drilling, which is seen as a massive boost to fossil fuel expansion.

 

The Air Quality and Health in Cities Report

 

Why in news?

  • India has the top two most polluted cities in terms of PM2.5 levels.

Key Points

  • Outdoor PM2.5 levels of 5 μg per cubic metre are deemed healthy by World Health Organization, but exposure is higher in cities of low- and middle-income countries.
  • The Air Quality and Health in Cities report, published by the State of Global Air, is a collaboration between the US-based Health Effects Institute (HEI) and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s Global Burden of Disease Project.
  • As per the report, the highest population-weighted annual average PM2.5 exposure in 2019 was in Delhi at 110 μg/m3, followed by Kolkata at 84 μg/m3.
  • Here is the list of the top 20 most polluted cities in the world (PM2.5) with the PM2.5 levels in μg/m3:

Delhi, India (110)
Kolkata, India (84)
Kano, Nigeria (83.6)
Lima, Peru (73.2)
Dhaka, Bangladesh (71.4)
Jakarta, Indonesia (67.3)
Lagos, Nigeria (66.9)
Karachi, Pakistan (63.6)
Beijing, China (55)
Accra, Ghana (51.9)
Chengdu, China (49.9)
Singapore, Singapore (49.4)
Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire (47.4)
Mumbai, India (45.1)
Bamako, Mali (44.2)
Shanghai, China (40.1)
Dushanbe, Tajikistan (39.7)
Tashkent, Uzbekistan (38)
Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (35.8)
Cairo, Egypt (34.2)

 

Kerala’s Lokayukta Amendment Controversy

 

Kerala’s Lokayukta Amendment Controversy- Relevance for UPSC Exam

General Studies II- Polity and Governance.

UPSC News Diary Today 06-Septemer-2022 -_3.1

In News

The Kerala Legislative Assembly passed the Kerala Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill amid a boycott.

Who are Lokpal-Lokayuktas?

  • The Lokpal-Lokayukta term was first used in a report of the Administrative Reforms Commission headed by Morarji Desai in 1966.
  • A system of an ombudsman should be established to redress public grievances against the leaders and public officials was the need as corruption had become rampant.
  • The first Bill on Lokpal was introduced in the Lok Sabha in 1968 which lapsed with the dissolution of the House.
  • Anna Hazare’s movement and the active involvement of civil society generated a lot of moral pressure on the Government which ultimately led to the passing of the Bill in 2013.

Composition of Lokpal

  • The Lokpal is no ordinary investigative body.
  • It is headed by the incumbent Chief Justice of India or a retired judge.
  • It has eight members, four of whom are judicial members.
  • Thus the whole system is studded with judges or judicial men.
  • The Lokpal has an inquiry wing and a prosecution wing to deal with investigation and prosecution, respectively.
  • The director of prosecution files the case in the special court based on the findings of the Lokpal.

Who falls under the ambit of Lokpal?

  • The Lokpal has jurisdiction to inquire into allegations of corruption against the Prime Minister, Ministers, Members of Parliament, Group A, B, C and D officers and officials of the central government.
  • After the conclusion of the investigation, the Lokpal may file a case in the special court in case the findings disclose the commission of offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act by the PM, Ministers or MPs.
  • However, the Lokpal does not have the power to ask the President to remove the Prime Minister or a Minister from office.

What about the states?

  • The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act delegates the power to States to establish by law the Lokayukta to deal with complaints relating to corruption against public functionaries.
  • Some States already have established Lokayuktas. For example, Maharashtra in 1971, and Kerala in 1999.

What is the Keralan controversy?

  • In order to get a clearer perspective on the Kerala Lokayukta controversy, it is necessary to understand the scheme of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act enacted by Parliament.
  • The long title of the Act says: “An Act to provide for the establishment of a body of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries….”
  • Thus, the Lokpal is conceived of as a body which will inquire into allegations of corruption.
  • It is basically an investigative body whose task is to conduct prompt and fair investigation and the prosecution of cases of corruption.

Issues with the Amendment

  • The amendments were related to the competent authority to consider Lok Ayukta recommendations.
  • In the case of any unfavourable decision from the Lok Ayukta against the CM, the competent authority will now be the Legislative Assembly instead of the Governor as is prescribed in the existing Act.
  • The amendment tries to take away at the powers of the Governor.
  • The Lokayukta has indirectly expressed its resentment over the attempt to take away some of its powers.

Arguments by Kerala Government

  • The Government, on the other hand, claims that through the amendment, a provision in the original Act which is unconstitutional has been excised.
  • Earlier it gave power to the Lokayukta to give directions to the Governor to remove a CM or a Minister on being found guilty of corruption.
  • This meant that the Lokayukta was to be over and above the office of Governor.

Legal and constitutional implications

  • One, an investigative body does not have the legal authority to direct the public servant to resign his post on the basis of its findings.
  • It can only submit its findings to the competent authority or, as is provided in the Lokpal Act, file a case in the special court.
  • The Lokayukta is basically an investigative body with certain powers to carry out an investigation into cases relating to the Prevention of Corruption Act.
  • The only special feature of this body is that it is headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court or a retired Chief Justice of a High Court.
  • But that does not alter the basic character of the Lokayukta as an investigative body.
  • The Chief Minister or a Minister holds office during the pleasure of the Governor (Article 164).
  • The Constitution of India does not contemplate any external pressure on the Governor to withdraw his pleasure.
  • The Sarkaria Commission had suggested that the Governor can dismiss a Chief Minister only when he loses his majority in the Assembly and refuses to step down.
  • The Supreme Court has accepted this recommendation of the Sarkaria Commission.
  • Another occasion when the Governor could withdraw his pleasure is on account of CM having been convicted in a criminal case and sentenced to not less than two years of imprisonment.
  • In other words, a Chief Minister cannot be asked to resign when he enjoys a majority in the House.
  • The Governor, being a high constitutional authority, cannot be compelled by a law to act in a particular manner so far as his constitutional duties and functions are concerned.

Other contentious provisions

  • There are some other provisions as well which may not stand legal scrutiny.
  • For example, this law includes the office bearers of political parties within its definition of ‘public servant’.
  • Basically, the Prevention of Corruption Act deals with corruption in the government and allied agencies, statutory bodies, elected bodies, etc.
  • The functionaries of political parties do not come within the mischief of this law. So, it is difficult to understand how they can be brought within the sweep of the Lokayukta Act.
  • Another problematic provision in this law is the one which deals with the reports of Lokayukta (Section 12).
  • It says that the Lokayukta shall, on the allegation of corruption being substantiated, send the findings along with recommendation of action to the competent authority who is required to take action as recommended by the Lokayukta.
  • It further says that if the Lokayukta is satisfied by the action taken by the competent authority, he shall close the case.
  • The question is how the Lokayukta can close a corruption case which is a criminal case and which invites imprisonment for three to seven years.
  • The Lokpal files the case in the court after the investigation. There is no provision in the central law under which the Lokpal can close the case before it reaches the court.
  • The Lokayukta not being a court does not have the legal capacity to close the corruption case under any circumstances.

Way forward

  • The Kerala Lokayukta Act should be re-examined by a committee of the Assembly and should be brought on a par with the Lokpal Act.
  • Legislation that seeks to punish corrupt functionaries should be placed above controversies.

 

India’s first Dark Sky Reserve

 

India’s first Dark Sky Reserve- Relevance for UPSC Exam

General Studies III- Science and Technology.

In News

In a first-of-its-kind initiative, the Department of Science & Technology (DST) has announced the setting up of India’s first dark sky reserve at Hanle in Ladakh in the next three months.

What is a Dark Sky Reserve?

  • A dark-sky reserve is an area, usually surrounding a park or observatory that is kept free of artificial light pollution.
  • The purpose of a dark sky preserve is generally to promote astronomy.
  • Because different national organizations have worked independently to create their programs, different terms have been used to describe the areas.

How is it designated?

  • A dark sky reserve is a designation given to a place that has policies in place to ensure that a tract of land or region has minimal artificial light interference.
  • The International Dark Sky Association is a US-based non-profit that designates sites as international dark sky places, parks, sanctuaries and reserves, depending on the criteria they meet.
  • Several such reserves exist around the world but none so far in India.

Dark Sky Reserve at Hanle

  • Hanle, which is about 4,500 metres above sea level, hosts telescopes and is regarded as one of the world’s most optimal sites for astronomical observations.
  • However, ensuring that the site remains well-suited for astronomy implies keeping the night sky pristine, or ensuring minimal interference to the telescopes from artificial light sources such as electric lights and vehicular lights from the ground.
  • The site will have activities to help in boosting local tourism and economy through interventions of science and technology.

Conditions in India

  • The Indian Astronomical Observatory, the high-altitude station of the IIA, is situated to the north of Western Himalayas, at an altitude of 4,500 metres above mean sea level.
  • Located atop Mt. Saraswati in the Nilamkhul Plain in the Hanle Valley of Changthang, it is a dry, cold desert with sparse human population.
  • The cloudless skies and low atmospheric water vapour make it one of the best sites in the world for optical, infrared, sub-millimetre, and millimetre wavelengths.

 

Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (IAD)

 

Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (IAD)- Relevance for UPSC Exam

General Studies III- Science and Technology.

In News

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has successfully tested a technology that could aid the cost-effective recovery of spent rocket stages and safely land payloads on other planets.

What is IAD?

  • IAD is a technique used for an atmospheric entry payload.
  • An inflatable envelope and an inflatant (anything that inflates the envelope, like air or helium) make up the inflatable aerodynamic decelerator.
  • While entering the atmosphere, it inflates like a balloon and decelerates the lander.
  • The inflatant is designed to fill the inflatable envelope to a condition such that it surrounds the payload meant to enter the atmosphere of a planet or satellite and causes aerodynamic forces to slow it down.
  • In simpler words, IAD is designed to increase drag upon entering the atmosphere of any planetary body, like Earth, Mars, or even Moon.
  • Its shape is maintained by a closed, gas-pressured body and the inflatant gas is also generated internally. Some versions also use ram air or both.

How significant is this IAD?

  • Some space agencies, including NASA, have already successfully tested advanced versions of the technology, including the supersonic and hypersonic variants.
  • However, for near future missions of ISRO, the current version that it tested is perfect.
  • Its use was first proposed by NASA more than 50 years ago for planetary entries.

Minuscule of ISRO’s IAD

  • The IAD tested by ISRO was inflated at an altitude of around 84 km and the sounding rocket’s cargo dropped through the atmosphere on it.
  • It is fitted with a booster motor. It also has a spin rocket that is ejectable.
  • The inflatable structure is made out of Kevlar fabric, which is a very strong synthetic fiber and also heat resistant to withstand atmospheric pressure and temperature changes.
  • On top of it, it’s coated with polychloroprene, an oil and wax resistant rubber, to withstand extreme temperatures.
  • In the inflation system, it uses compressed nitrogen stored in a bottle.
  • It has consistently decreased the payload’s velocity through aerodynamic drag while maintaining the expected trajectory during the test flight.

Where does ISRO intend to use it?

  • The IAD will help ISRO in performing many space tasks effectively including recovery of spent stages of rockets, for landing payloads on missions to other planetary bodies.
  • This is the first instance where an IAD has been specially created for spent stage recovery.
  • So inter-planetary missions are certainly one aspect that ISRO wishes to explore.

 

 

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