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Explained: How Guru Nanak’s ‘Langar’ is helping UN achieve its ‘zero hunger’ goal

Mains Paper 1 : Arts & Culture |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Langar

Mains level : Zero Hunger With Langar initiaitve



News

It is reported that Guru Nanak’s ‘Langar’ is contributing to achieve the SDG 2nd goal of Zero Hunger in African countries and is bringing down ‘preventable children deaths’ due to malnutrition.

What is Langar?

  • Langar refers to a system of developing a community kitchen, where people irrespective of their caste, religion and social status sit together on the floor and have food.
  • The word ‘langar’ has its origin in Persian, and means a public eating place where people, especially the needy, are given food.
  • The institution of langar finds its roots in two teachings of Sikhism — ‘Naam japo, kirat karo, vand chako’ (pray, work and share with others whatever you earn) and ‘Sangat aur pangat’ (eat sitting together in rows on the floor).
  • The langar kitchen at Sri Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) in Amritsar feeds nearly a lakh people a day daily.
  • In Delhi, Sri Bangla Sahib gurdwara kitchen serves langar to 45,000-50,000 persons a day.

What is the link between Guru Nanak and langar?

  • Guru Nanak in his teenage had served some hungry sages on his way out of his own money purposed for buying grocery.
  • On being questioned, Nanak said that he did a ‘Sacha Sauda’ by feeding hungry men, which he said was ‘the most profitable deal’ for him.
  • Currently, Gurdwara Sacha Sauda stands at Farooqabad in Sheikhupura district of Pakistan, which is where Guru Nanak is believed to have fed those sadhus.
  • At Kartarpur, his final resting place, Guru Nanak had later established a dharamsal where food is served without discrimination.

How have other Sikh gurus contributed to this tradition?

  • The second Sikh guru Angad Dev and his wife Mata Khivi played a crucial role in strengthening the tradition of langar.
  • The third Sikh Guru, Amar Das, too devoutly followed ‘sangat aur pangat’ and anyone who used to come to meet him, was first served langar.
  • It is said that even when Emperor Akbar came to meet him, Guru suggested he should first have langar sitting with everyone on the floor, which Akbar accepted.

Zero Hunger With Langar

  • Several Sikh organisations like Khalsa Aid, Langar Aid, Midland Langar Seva Society and others are now branching out to other countries where langar is used to provide nutritious meals to the undernourished.
  • One such organisation is ‘Zero Hunger With Langar’ which is specifically working in two African countries — Malawi and Kenya — which are among the countries with the highest malnutrition rates among children and feature in the UN’s target list.

Why such move?

  • There are 821 million people estimated to be chronically undernourished as of 2017, often as a direct consequence of environmental degradation, drought and biodiversity loss.
  • Over 90 million children under 5 (years) are dangerously underweight. Undernourishment and severe food insecurity appear to be increasing in almost all regions of Africa, as well as in South America.
  • In 2017, Asia accounted for nearly two-thirds, 63 per cent of world’s hungry and nearly 151 million children under 5 22 per cent, were stunted in 2017 across the world.

Impact of the movement

  • Attendance in primary schools and nurseries has improved considerably. More than 90 per cent malnutrition-free status is achieved in Malawi.
History- Important places, persons in news

Arrokoth

Mains Paper 3 : Awareness In The Fields Of It, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-Technology, Bio-Technology |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Arrokoth and other Kupier Belt objects

Mains level : New Horizons mission



News

The most distant space object ever seen up close has been recently named as ‘Arrokoth’.

(Note: It was earlier nicknamed as Ultima Thule)

Arrokoth

  • The International Astronomical Union and Minor Planets Center, the global body for naming Kuiper Belt objects have given this name.
  • It was discovered in 2014 with the Hubble Space Telescope, which is operated by the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.
  • Nasa’s New Horizons spacecraft flew by the snowman figured ice mass in December 2018, some 1.6 billion kilometres beyond Pluto.
  • The New Horizons team of NASA proposed the name to the International Astronomical Union and Minor Planets Center.
  • For the New Horizons team it took some months to finalise this name. In the language of the Powhatan tribe, Arrokoth means “sky”.
  • The team got the approval from the elders of the Powhatan tribe to assign it to their new found “baby”.

About New Horizons mission

  • NASA launched the New Horizons mission in January 2006.
  • After crossing by Pluto in 2015, in 2019 it flew by Arrokoth. This remains the “farthest flyby ever conducted.”

Back2Basics

Kuiper Belt

  • The Kuiper Belt is a disk-shaped region found in the outer solar system, past the orbit of Neptune.
  • It is known as the third zone of the solar system, after the zone hosting the gas planets in our solar system.
  • It contains hundreds of millions of small icy bodies that are thought to be left over material from the formation of the outer planets.
  • At least three dwarf planets are located in the Kuiper belt: Pluto, Haumea and Makemake.
  • Also, some of the solar system’s moons are thought to have originated there, such as Neptune’s Triton and Saturn’s Phoebe.
International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

Species in news: Pteropsaron indicum

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pteropsaron indicum

Mains level : NA



News

Scientists have reported the discovery of the new species of signal fish, the first one of the genus recorded in Indian waters.

Pteropsaron indicum

  • The species named Pteropsaron indicum was collected by trawlers at a depth of 70 metres during a marine biodiversity survey.
  • Signal fishes are tiny and fragile and are often found in waters below 50 m. Pteropsaron indicum is one of the distinctly larger species of signal fish.
  • It has a unique colour pattern and an interesting behaviour that allows it to communicate with others of the same species by flipping its highly specialised dorsal fins.

Yellow bands

  • The new fish sports three distinct bright yellow bands on a pale greyish pink background.
  • The body and head are criss-crossed with dark margins of large-scale pockets.
  • It is also characterized by three extended dorsal fin spines, a high number of vertebrae and a relatively large body size.

Why study them?

  • Signal fishes are a poorly studied group of benthic species found in deep sandy habitats, usually close to coral reefs.
  • They are known to flip up their extended dorsal fins to signal each other.
  • The discovery of the species indicates the presence of patchy corals off the Kerala coast and therefore with a lot of conservation value.

Explained: President’s Rule in Maharashtra

Mains Paper 2 : Executive & Judiciary |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : President's Rule

Mains level : SR Bommai Judgment


News

While recommending President’s Rule in Maharashtra, Governor noted that a situation has arisen when the formation of a stable government is not possible even 15 days after the election results had been declared.

What’s the issue?

  • It has been argued that governor’s decision is based on “objective material” and not on a political whim or fancy, if one goes by the Supreme Court verdict in the 1994 S.R. Bommai case.

President’s Rule

  • President’s rule is the suspension of state government and imposition of direct central government rule in a state.

How it is imposed?

  • President’s Rule implies the suspension of a state government and the imposition of direct rule of the Centre.
  • This is achieved through the invocation of Article 356 of the Constitution by the President on the advice of the Union Council of Ministers.
  • Under Article 356, this move can be taken “(1) If the President, on receipt of the report from the Governor of the State or otherwise, is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the government of the State cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution…”

How long President’s Rule can last

  • A proclamation of President’s Rule can be revoked through a subsequent proclamation in case the leader of a party produces letters of support from a majority of members of the Assembly, and stakes his claim to form a government.
  • The revocation does not need the approval of Parliament.
  • Any proclamation under Article 356 —which stands for six months — has to be approved by both Houses in the Parliament session following it.
  • This six-month time-frame can be extended in phases, up to three years.

The S.R. Bommai Case

  • R. Bommai v. Union of India (1994) was a landmark judgment of the Supreme Court of India, where the Court discussed at length provisions of Article 356 of the Constitution of India and related issues.
  • The judgement attempted to curb blatant misuse of Article 356 of the Constitution of India, which allowed President’s rule to be imposed over state governments.
  • Article 356 (1) has been deliberately drafted in a narrow language by the Founding Fathers so that political parties in the Centre does not misuse it to subvert federalism, it had noted.
  • The expression used in the Article is ‘if the President is satisfied”, the court had observed.
  • In other words, the President has to be convinced of or should have sufficient proof of information with regard to or has to be free from doubt or uncertainty about the state of things indicating that the situation in question has arisen.
  • The court had stated that although the sufficiency or otherwise of the material cannot be questioned, the legitimacy of inference drawn from such material is “certainly open to judicial review”.

What it directed?

  • The judgment had explained that in a multi-party political system, chances are high that the political parties in the Centre and the State concerned may not be the same.
  • Article 356 cannot be used for the purpose of political one-upmanship by the Centre.
  • Hence there is a need to confine the exercise of power under Article 356[1] strictly to the situation mentioned therein which is a condition precedent to the said exercise,” the court had said.

Conditions for Prez Rule

  • Where after general elections to the assembly, no party secures a majority, that is, Hung Assembly.
  • Where the party having a majority in the assembly declines to form a ministry and the governor cannot find a coalition ministry commanding a majority in the assembly.
  • Where a ministry resigns after its defeat in the assembly and no other party is willing or able to form a ministry commanding a majority in the assembly.
  • Where a constitutional direction of the Central government is disregarded by the state government.
  • Internal subversion where, for example, a government is deliberately acting against the Constitution and the law or is fomenting a violent revolt.
  • Physical breakdown where the government willfully refuses to discharge its constitutional obligations endangering the security of the state.

Fouling factors

The imposition of President’s Rule in a state would be improper under the following situations:

  • Where a ministry resigns or is dismissed on losing majority support in the assembly and the governor recommends imposition of President’s Rule without probing the possibility of forming an alternative ministry.
  • Where the governor makes his own assessment of the support of a ministry in the assembly and recommends imposition of President’s Rule without allowing the ministry to prove its majority on the floor of the Assembly.
  • Where the ruling party enjoying majority support in the assembly has suffered a massive defeat in the general elections to the Lok Sabha such as in 1977 and 1980.
  • Internal disturbances not amounting to internal subversion or physical breakdown.
  • Maladministration in the state or allegations of corruption against the ministry or stringent financial exigencies of the state.
  • Where the state government is not given prior warning to rectify itself except in case of extreme urgency leading to disastrous consequences.
  • Where the power is used to sort out intra-party problems of the ruling party, or for a purpose extraneous or irrelevant to the one for which it has been conferred by the Constitution.

Similar precedents

  • This is not the first time President’s Rule has been imposed following an election that did not lead to government formation.
  • For instance, no party could mobilise a majority in the Bihar Assembly following elections in February 2005.
  • President’s Rule, which was imposed on March 7, 2005, lasted 262 days until November 24 . It was lifted after fresh elections in October-November.
  • A hung verdict in the J&K elections of 2002 led to the imposition of President’s Rule for 15 days, from October 18 to November 2 that year.
  • In the UP Assembly elections of 2002, no party could secure a majority. This led to the imposition of President’s Rule for 56 days, from March 3 to to May 2, 2002.
President’s Rule

Base Year in GDP Calculations

Mains Paper 3 : Indian Economy |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Base Year

Mains level : National income accounting


News

At a time when India is facing an economic slowdown in GDP growth the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation announced that the new base year for the GDP series will be decided in a few months.

What is Base Year?

  • The base year of the national accounts is chosen to enable inter-year comparisons.
  • It gives an idea about changes in purchasing power and allows calculation of inflation-adjusted growth estimates.
  • The last series has changed the base to 2011-12 from 2004-05.
  • The base year is a benchmark with reference to which the national account figures such as gross domestic product (GDP), gross domestic saving, gross capital formation are calculated.

How is a base year calculated?

  • In India, the first estimates of national income were published by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) in 1956 taking 1948-49 as the base year.
  • With the gradual improvement in availability of data, the methodology was revised.
  • Earlier, CSO depended on the population figures in the National Census to estimate the workforce in the economy.
  • Therefore, the base year always coincided with the census figures like 1970-71, 1980-81 etc.
  • Subsequently, CSO decided that the National Sample Survey (NSS) figures on the workforce size were more accurate and hence, the base year would change every five years when the NSS conducted such survey.
  • This system was started from 1999 when the base year was revised from 1980-81 to 1993-94.

Why need it?

  • The base year prices are termed as at constant prices. This reduces all the data to a comparable benchmark, base year price.
  • The base year is a representative year which must not experience any abnormal incidents such as droughts, floods, earthquakes etc.
  • It is a which is reasonably proximate to the year for which the national accounts statistics are being calculated.

Why is the base year changed every few years?

  • The base year has to be revised periodically in order to reflect the structural changes taking place within an economy, such as increasing share of services in GDP.
  • The more frequently the base year can be updated, the more accurate the statistics will be.
Economic Indicators-GDP, FD,etc

State of Policing in India

Mains Paper 2 : Civil Service |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : India Justice Report 2019

Mains level : State of policing in India and desired reforms



News

  • The first edition of the India Justice Report — brought out by the Tata Trusts with various partners was recently released.
  • It highlighted some shortcomings about the state of Policing in India.

Policing in India

  • The report underscores the capacity deficit plaguing policing in the country.
  • According to the report, only 1 of the 22 states for which data were available, was able to fully utilise its police modernization fund.
  • Over the past five years, in just 14 of the 33 states and UTs for which data are available, police expenditure grew more than the state’s overall expenditure.
  • The tables refer only to the 18 large- and mid-sized states where 90% of India’s population lives. The map shows the three states that spent the least and the most respectively on police per person in 2015-16.
  • The report also found that on average there were more than 20% vacancies in the police.

Vacancies

  • Tables 1, 2 and 3 detail the worst performers among the major states when it comes to vacancies related to SCs, STs and OBCs respectively.
  • In 2009, the Government of India had adopted a target of 33% reservation for women in police. As of January 2017, women make up just 7% of police.
  • Table 4 details the number of years required by some states to achieve the 33%-mark at the current rate.
Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Centre gets responses to draft Social Security Code

Mains Paper 1 : Social Empowerment |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Social Security Code

Mains level : Salient features of the draft Social Security Code



News

  • The draft code on social security, which subsumes eight existing laws covering provident fund, maternity benefits and pension, is being further worked upon after a recent round of public consultations.

Draft Social Security Code

Here are the five key things in the draft code:

1) Insurance, PF, life cover for unorganized sector employees:

  • Bulk of India’s labour force is in informal sector and a move looks forward looking but most of key initiatives it suggest may be the decision of the states with little contribution from the centre.
  • There may be unorganized sector social security boards at the centre and state levels.
  • The draft code says the “Central Government shall formulate and notify, from time to time, suitable welfare schemes for unorganised workers on matter relating to life and disability cover; health and maternity benefits; old age protection; and any other benefit as may be determined by the central government”.
  • While framing of schemes, the draft says the states may also formulate and notify suitable initiatives for unorganized workers, including schemes relating to provident fund, employment injury benefit, housing, educational scheme for their children, old age and funeral assistance.

2) Corporatization of EPFO and ESIC:

  • The pension, insurance and retirement saving bodies including EPFO and ESIC will be body corporate.
  • The world body corporate has been added in the draft and may bring in a departure from the current autonomous body status of such organization.
  • The draft also talks about appointment of chief executive officers (CEOs) in these organization indicating that the labour minister, labour secretary, the central PF commissioner and Director General of ESIC may not be by default the head of such organizations.
  • It means the EPFO may become a more structured national body with its entire Rs. 11 trillion corpus under the responsibility of a central government-appointed chairman.
  • Currently EPFO is headed by the labour minister chaired central board of trustees.
  • The Central Government shall also appoint a Financial Advisor and Chief Accounts Officer to assist the Chief Executive Officer in the discharge of his duties draft code said.

3) Benefits for Gig workers:

  • Millions of gig workforce in India, often referred as lonely in the workplace, may soon get life and disability insurance, health and maternity benefits among others as the union government is formulating a labour code that propose such provisions.
  • As per the draft social security code, the Central Government may formulate and notify suitable social security schemes for gig workers and platform workers” and such schemes would encompass issues like “life and disability cover”, “health and maternity benefits, old age protection” and “any other benefit as may be determined by the Central Government”.
  • Though the exact number of gig workers are unknown as they are still figuring out whether they are formal workers or informal workers or independent entrepreneurs, a 2017 study by consulting firm EY has said that nearly one out four gig workers in the world are from India.

4) Maternity Benefit:

  • The draft says subject to the other provisions of this Code, every woman shall be entitled to, and her employer shall be liable for, the payment of maternity benefit at the rate of the average daily wage for the period of her actual absence.
  • That is to say, the period immediately proceeds the day of her delivery, and any period immediately following that day.
  • For the purposes of this sub-section, ―the average daily wage means the average of the woman’s wages payable to her for the days on which she has worked during the period of three calendar months immediately preceding the date from which she absents herself on account of maternity.
  • This will be subject to the minimum rate of wage fixed or revised under the Code on Wages, 2019.

5) Existing labour laws that the code will merge:

The Code on Social Security, 2019 once in place will merge eight exiting labour laws including Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923; Employees‘ State Insurance Act, 1948, Employees‘ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952; Maternity Benefit Act, 1961; Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972; Cine Workers Welfare Fund Act, 1981; Building and Other Construction Workers Cess Act, 1996 and Unorganized Workers‘ Social Security Act, 2008.

Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

RAAH: A one-stop source of data on mental health centres, professionals

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : RAAH app

Mains level : Mental health and associated issues in India



News

  • NIMHANS has compiled a one-stop source online mental health care directory “RAAH”.

RAAH

  • The National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS) has come out with a NIMHANS RAAH app, a mobile application that can be downloaded on Android and iOS platforms.
  • It provides free information to the public on mental health care professionals and mental healthcare centres.
  • The directory can be accessed on http://raah.nimhans.ac.in

How does it work?

  • Mental health professionals and organisations can register and update their information in the directory live for no cost.
  • The online directory and mobile app allows people to search for information about professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric social workers, special educators and occupational therapists working with government, NGOs, clinics, hospitals, and rehabilitation centres.

Key features

  • The main features of the directory are that people can filter the information according to their search requirements.
  • A user will get two kinds of views in the directory — map and list view — where they can get all the information about the organisation and professionals such as timings, fees details, available services, and years of experience.

About NIMHANS

  • The National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences is a premier medical institution located in Bengaluru, India.
  • NIMHANS is the apex centre for mental health and neuroscience education in the country, the institute operates autonomously under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

National Water Policy (NWP)

Mains Paper 2 : Government Scheme/Policies |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National Water Policy

Mains level : Highlights of the Policy


News

  • The Union Water Resources Ministry has finalised a committee to draft a new National Water Policy (NWP).

National Water Policy

  • National Water Policy is formulated by the Ministry of Water Resources of the Government of India to govern the planning and development of water resources and their optimum utilization.
  • The first National Water Policy was adopted in September 1987. It was reviewed and updated in 2002 and later in 2012.
  • Among the major policy innovations in the 2012 policy was the concept of an Integrated Water Resources Management approach that took the “river basin/ sub-basin” as a unit for planning, development and management of water resources.
  • A National Bureau of Water Use Efficiency is also on the cards.

About the committee

  • It will be chaired by Mihir Shah, who is a former Planning Commission member and a water expert.
  • The committee has 10 principal members, including Shashi Shekhar, a former secretary of Water Resources, and A.B. Pandya, former chairman of the Central Ground Water Board.
  • The committee is expected to produce a report within six months.

Focus on minimum levels

  • It also proposed that a portion of river flows ought to be kept aside to meet ecological needs.
  • Such an approach led to the government, in 2018, requiring minimum water levels to be maintained in the Ganga all through the year and hydropower projects, therefore, to refrain from hoarding water beyond a point.
  • That policy also stressed for a minimum quantity of potable water for essential health and hygiene to all its citizens to be made available within easy reach of households.
  • Inter-basin transfers are not merely for increasing production but also for meeting basic human need and achieving equity and social justice.
  • Inter-basin transfers of water should be considered on the basis of merits of each case after evaluating the environmental, economic and social impacts of such transfers.
Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

T.N. Seshan and his contributions to the Indian electoral system

Mains Paper 2 : Governance, Transparency & Accountability, Citizens Charters |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ECI

Mains level : TN Seshan and his contributions



News

T.N. Seshan the election commissioner of India who transformed the way polls were conducted and contested in the country has passed away.

Who was Mr. Seshan?

  • Born on December 15, 1932 in Palakkad, Kerala, Mr. Seshan belonged to the 1955 batch of Tamil Nadu cadre officers of the IAS.
  • An alumnus of the Madras Christian College, he, as an IAS officer, did a year-long course in management at the Harvard University in the 1960s.

Electoral reforms under TN Seshan

Photo Ids

  • N. Seshan, as Chief Election Commissioner during 1990-96, had initiated the process of cleaning up the electoral system.
  • The introduction of electors’ photo identity cards was a measure towards this direction.

A strict disciplinary

  • He was known as a no nonsensical CEC and one who had enforced, in his own way, discipline on political parties and contestants.
  • He did not compromise on his position that every election had to be held in accordance with the model code of conduct and electoral laws.
  • Some of his big achievements include implementation of the election process and the Model Code of Conduct, introduction of voter ID cards, enforcing limits on poll expenses, and elimination of several malpractices like distribution of liquor, bribing voters, ban on wall writing, use of loud speakers, use of religion in election speeches etc.

Expansion of EC

  • As part of his variant of electoral reforms, the Election Commission had listed 150 malpractices in the elections.
  • It was during Mr. Seshan’s period that the EC was made a multi-member body in October 1993 with the appointment of M.S. Gill and G.V.G. Krishnamurthy.
  • Though he had opposed the government’s move, the Supreme Court had upheld the government’s decision to appoint Election Commissioners.

Other works

  • During his term, Seshan witnessed the implementation of Mandal Commission, giving reservation to other backward classes (OBCs) in government jobs.
  • These developments dominated politics and elections in India for nearly a decade.

Magsaysay award

  • Briefly in the mid-1990s, Mr. Seshan became an icon of the middle class as he was seen as a crusader against corruption and electoral malpractices.
  • His work was recognised internationally when he was given the Ramon Magsaysay award for 1996.
Electoral Reforms In India

Geochemical Baseline Atlas of India

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the atlas

Mains level : Its significance


News

For the first time, ‘Geochemical Baseline Atlas of India’ developed by CSIR-National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) for use by policymakers to assess environmental damage was released.

Geochemical Baseline Atlas of India

  • The atlas consisting 45 maps of metals, oxides and elements present in top and bottom soils across India.
  • It will serve as a reference against which future generations of the country would be able to assess the chemical compositional changes on Earth’s surface.
  • These maps help in finding out future contamination caused by industries or other bodies which cause pollution.

Part of a Global Map

  • It will be given to International Union of Global Sciences (IUGS), which is preparing global maps.
  • To develop the maps, the globe was divided into 5,000 cells of 160 km by 160 km each. Of it, India has 122 cells.
  • CSIR started this work in 2007 from cell number 1 which is in Kanyakumari. The last cell is in Arunachal Pradesh.

Uses

  • Earlier, there was no way to prove if polluters denied causing damage to the environment. Now, the baseline maps atlas helps show evidence of it.
  • With a glance at it, policymakers will get to know regions with high and low concentrations of metal.
  • For instance, tanneries release chromium. By going through the map of chromium, policymakers will get to know regions with a high concentration of it.
Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Harmonized System (HS) Code

Mains Paper 3 : Effects Of Liberalization On The Economy, Changes In Industrial Policy and their effects on Industrial Growth |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : HS code

Mains level : Khadi and cottage industries in India



News

  • The Ministry of Commerce and Industry allocated a separate Harmonised System (HS) code for Khadi.

HS code

  • The Harmonized System, or simply ‘HS’, is a six-digit identification code developed by the World Customs Organization (WCO).
  • Called the “universal economic language” for goods, it is a multipurpose international product nomenclature.
  • Over 200 countries use the system as a basis for their customs tariffs, gathering international trade statistics, making trade policies, and for monitoring goods.
  • The system helps in harmonizing of customs and trade procedures, thus reducing costs in international trade.

What makes the 6 digit code?

  • A unique six-digit code has numbers arranged in a legal and logical structure, with well-defined rules to achieve uniform classification.
  • Of the six digits, the first two denote the HS Chapter, the next two give the HS heading, and the last two give the HS subheading.
  • The HS code for pineapple, for example, is 0804.30, which means it belongs to Chapter 08 (Edible fruit & nuts, peel of citrus/melons), Heading 04 (Dates, figs, pineapples, avocados, etc. fresh or dried), and Subheading 30 (Pineapples).

Significance of the move

  • Khadi is India’s signature handspun and hand-woven cloth that was made iconic by Mahatma Gandhi during the freedom struggle.
  • The move is expected to boost Khadi exports in the coming years.
  • In 2006, the government had given the MSME-controlled Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) the Export Promotion Council Status (EPCS).
  • Yet, the absence of a separate HS code hindered Khadi from achieving its full potential, as its exports were difficult to categorise and calculate. The latest move is expected to help resolve this issue.
Industrial Sector Updates – Industrial Policy, Ease of Doing Business, etc.

Travellers quoted in Ayodhya judgment

Mains Paper 1 : Modern Indian History |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Accounts of various travellers in India


News

  • In the Ayodhya judgment delivered the Supreme Court relied in part on centuries-old travelogues, gazetteers and books to provide an account of the faith and belief of various parties involved in the case.
  • The travelogues that the court took note of included, among others, those by the European travellers Joseph Tieffenthaler, William Finch, and Montgomery Martin.

Joseph Tieffenthaler (1710-1785)

  • Tieffenthaler was an 18th-century missionary who travelled in India for 27 years, and wrote his travelogue titled “Description Historique et Geographique De l’Inde”.
  • Hailing from Bozano in present-day Italy, Tieffenthaler underwent religious training in the Jesuit order before setting sail for Goa from Portugal in 1743.
  • He said to have been proficient in mathematics, astronomy, geography and natural sciences, and in the German, Italian, Spanish, French, Hindustani, Persian, Arabic, and Sanskrit languages.
  • In India, he was commissioned at the famous observatory of Sawai Jai Singh, the Raja of Jaipur, and was later attached at the Jesuit College in Agra which was built with the patronage of Akbar.
  • Tieffenthaler is said to have lived in Awadh, where Ayodhya is located, for over five years.

William Finch (died 1613)

  • William Finch’s account has been recorded in the 1921 book ‘Early Travels in India (1583-1619)’ by the historiographer Sir William Foster.
  • The book contains the narratives of seven travellers from England, including Finch.
  • Finch is known to have arrived in India in 1608 at Surat with Sir William Hawkins, a representative of the East India Company.
  • His is said to be the earliest English language account of Kashmir, as well as trade routes connecting Punjab and eastern Turkistan and western China.
  • Finch visited Ayodhya between 1608 and 1611, and did not find any building of importance of Islamic origin.

Robert Montgomery Martin (1801-1868)

  • Originally from Dublin in Ireland, Martin was an Anglo-Irish author and civil servant.
  • He practised medicine in Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka), East Africa and Australia.
  • Martin then went on to work in Kolkata where helped found the paper ‘Bengal Herald’. He later returned to England where he wrote about the British Empire.
  • Martin wrote the three-volume work ‘History, Antiquities, Topography and Statistics of Eastern India’.
History- Important places, persons in news

Kalapani Dispute

Mains Paper 2 : Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and agreements involving India |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kalapani

Mains level : India-nepal border disputes



News

  • The new political map of India, recently released by the government to account for the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir, has triggered fresh protests over an old issue in Kathmandu.

Kalapani

  • Mapped within Uttarakhand is a 372-sq km area called Kalapani, bordering far-west Nepal and Tibet.
  • While the Nepal government and political parties have protested, India has said the new map does not revise the existing boundary with Nepal.

Defining the boundaries

  • Nepal’s western boundary with India was marked out in the Treaty of Sugauli between the East India Company and Nepal in 1816.
  • Nepali authorities claim that people living in the low-density area were included in the Census of Nepal until 58 years ago.
  • Five years ago, Nepali Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pande claimed that the late King Mahendra had “handed over the territory to India”.
  • By some accounts in Nepal, this allegedly took place in the wake of India-China War of 1962.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Nepal

Role of Governor in State govt. formation

Mains Paper 2 : Indian Constitution - historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Hung Assembly

Mains level : Role of Governor in State govt. formation


Context

  • Usually, the moment an election is won or lost, the CM resigns and is then asked by the Governor to continue as ‘caretaker’ until a new government is in place.
  • It has been two weeks since the results of the Assembly election were announced, but no party has staked claim yet to form a government.

What is the Governor’s role in such circumstances?

  • The Governor would be expected to go as per an order of preference set out in the Sarkaria Commission recommendations, which have also been ratified by the Supreme Court.
  • By the order of preference, the Governor can invite
  1. a pre-poll alliance of parties;
  2. invite the single largest party which stakes a claim to form the government;
  3. invite a post-poll alliance of parties, with all the partner in the coalition joining the government or
  4. invite post-poll alliances of parties, with some becoming part of the government and some supporting from outside.

What happens if any of these parties is invited to form the government?

  • Once any formation is sworn in, it will need to pass the floor test, which will reveal whether the executive enjoys the confidence of the legislature as mandated by the Constitution.
  • In the floor test, the person sworn in as the CM has to prove that s/he enjoys the confidence of the House.
  • If the confidence motion fails, the Chief Minister has to resign.
  • If more than one person stake claim to form the government and the majority is not clear, the Governor has the powers to call a special session to assess who has the majority.
  • The date for the floor test is decided by the Governor in consultation with the new government.

If no government can be formed is President’s rule likely?

  • Article 356 of the Constitution provides for the imposition of President’s Rule in a state in “case of failure of the constitutional machinery in the state”.
  • As per the constitutional stipulation, it can be imposed in cases where the President, on receipt of report from the Governor of the state or otherwise, is satisfied.
  • This is in a situation in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

When is Prez Rule likely?

  • In Maharashtra’s current case, imposition of the President’s rule is still a remote possibility.
  • According to legal experts, Governor would first need to exhaust all options and possibilities of government formation before making any such recommendation.
  • He will first have to hold consultations with all parties to examine if any one of them is in a position to cobble together the numbers required.
  • Only after he is satisfied that no party or alliance can form a stable government would he recommend imposition of President’s rule.
President’s Rule

SPG protection

Mains Paper 3 : Various Security Forces, Agencies & Their Mandates |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SPG

Mains level : Security issues associated with VIPs



News

  • The Union government is expected to take away the security cover by Special Protection Group (SPG) being provided at present to Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi.
  • They will, however, continue to get a Z+ security cover, where they will be provided commandos belonging to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

How are security levels decided?

  • The Union Home Ministry takes this call after evaluating the inputs from all the intelligence agencies such as the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
  • However, since none of the intelligence agencies is accountable to any external statutory body, barring internal oversight by ministries of Home and Foreign Affairs, the issue of security cover is open to manipulation.

What are the various levels of protection?

  • There are largely six types of security covers: X, Y, Y plus, Z, Z plus and SPG.
  • While SPG is meant only for the PM and his immediate family, other categories can be provided to anyone about whom the Centre or state governments have inputs about facing a threat.
  • X category: This on an average entails just one gunman protecting the individual;
  • Y category: It has one gunman for mobile security and one (plus four on rotation) for static security; Y plus has two policemen on rotation for security and one (plus four on rotation) for residence security;
  • Z category: It has six gunmen for mobile security and two (plus eight) for residence security; Z plus has 10 security personnel for mobile security and two (plus eight) for residence security.
  • There are various kinds of covers within these levels as well.

Who are the SPG? Whom do they protect?

  • The SPG is an elite force, specifically raised for the protection of the country’s PM, former PMs and their immediate family.
  • The force is currently 3,000 strong. If the Gandhis lose the SPG cover, PM Modi will be the only one under the SPG’s protection.
  • The SPG is highly trained in physical efficiency, marksmanship, combat and proximate protection tactics and is assisted by all central and state agencies to ensure foolproof security.
  • SPG Special Agents assigned to the PM security detail wear black, Western-style formal business suits, with sunglasses, and carry a two-way encrypted communication earpiece, and concealed handguns.
  • The SPG also has special operations commandos who carry ultra-modern assault rifles and wear dark-visor sunglasses with inbuilt communication earpieces, bulletproof vests, gloves and elbow/knee pads.

When was SPG raised? What is its history?

  • The SPG was started in 1985 in the wake of the killing of PM Indira Gandhi in 1984.
  • When V P Singh came to power in 1989, his government withdrew SPG protection given to his predecessor Rajiv Gandhi.
  • But after Rajiv’s assassination in 1991, the SPG Act was amended to offer protection to all former PMs and their families for at least 10 years.
  • In 2003, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government again amended the SPG Act to bring the period of automatic protection down from 10 years to “a period of one year.
  • It is from the date on which the former PM ceased to hold office” and beyond one year based on the level of threat as decided by the government.
  • During the Vajpayee regime, the SPG cover of former PMs such as H D Deve Gowda, I K Gujaral and P V Narasimha Rao were withdrawn.
Prime Minister’s Office : Important Updates

Cloud Seeding Technology

Mains Paper 3 : Awareness In The Fields Of It, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-Technology, Bio-Technology |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Cloud Seeding

Mains level : Artificial rainfall and its success



News

  • Haryana Dy. CM has written to PM Modi, requesting him to “undertake cloud seeding plan to combat the air pollution engulfing Delhi and NCR”.

What is Cloud Seeding?

  • Cloud seeding is a kind of weather modification technology to create artificial rainfall.
  • It works only when there are enough pre-existing clouds in the atmosphere.
  • Rain happens when moisture in the air reaches levels at which it can no longer be held, and cloud seeding aims to facilitate and accelerate that process by making available chemical ‘nuclei’ around which condensation can take place.
  • These ‘seeds’ of rain can be the iodides of silver or potassium, dry ice (solid carbon dioxide), or liquid propane. The seeds can be delivered by plane or simply by spraying from the ground.

Where all has it been tried earlier?

  • Cloud seeding is not new to India and it has earlier been attempted in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra to address drought.
  • Similar experiments of cloud seeding had earlier been tried in Australia, America, Spain and France.
  • In United Arab Emirates, the cloud seeding technique led to creation of 52 storms in Abu Dhabi.
  • Till last year, IMD had around 30 successful incidents of seeding.
  • Also, such seeding is routine in Russia and other cold countries where the technique is used to disperse fog at the airports.

What is the IIT Kanpur study?

  • The scientists at IIT Kanpur had prepared a project to induce artificial rain via cloud seeding to clear smog in Delhi.
  • Officials in the Environment Ministry had approved the project.
  • The project demanded an aircraft of National Remote Sensing Agency — an ISRO-affiliated body — to fly into the clouds.
  • It would inject silver iodide that would lead to the formation of ice crystals, making the clouds denser and causing them to condense into rain and settle atmospheric dust and clearing the sky.
  • It was in 2018 when IIT Kanpur had got all the clearances from DGCA and Defence and Home ministries for the project. But due to non-availability of the aircraft, the project could not take off.

Did state governments adopt this technology?

  • In May 2019, Karnataka Cabinet approved a budget of Rs 91 crore for cloud seeding for a period of two years. It involved two aircraft spraying chemicals on moisture-laden clouds to induce rainfall.
  • It was expected to begin by June end and continue for three months.
  • Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) had also partnered with IIT Kanpur and agreed to provide Dornier aircraft and their pilots to provide logistical support to the project.

How successful is the cloud seeding technology?

  • The Pune-based IIMT has been carrying out cloud seeding experiments for several years now.
  • These experiments have been done in areas around Nagpur, Solapur, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Jodhpur, and recently Varanasi.
  • The success rate of these experiments in inducing rains is about 60 to 70 per cent, depending on local atmospheric conditions, the amount of moisture in the air and cloud characteristics.
  • Apart from IITM, some private companies also offer cloud-seeding services.
  • It is these companies that have been engaged by Maharashtra and Karnataka in the last few years. These also received mixed success.
Monsoon Updates

The Occupational safety, health and working conditions code, 2019

Mains Paper 2 : Laws, Institutions & Bodies Constituted For The Vulnerable Sections |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Provisions of the code

Mains level : Labour reforms in India


News

  • The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2019 introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Labour and Employment is now open for suggestions.

About the Code

  • The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Labour and Employment on July 23, 2019.
  • The Code repeals and replaces 13 labour laws relating to safety, health and working conditions. These include the Factories Act, 1948, the Mines Act, 1952, and the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970.
  • The Code applies to establishments employing at least 10 workers, and to all mines and docks.
  • It does not apply to apprentices.
  • Further, it makes special provisions for certain types of establishments and classes of employees, such as factories, mines, and building and construction workers.

Various provisions of the Code

Relevant authorities

  • All establishments covered by the Code must be registered with registering officers.
  • Further, Inspector-cum-facilitators may inquire into accidents, and conduct inspections of establishments.
  • Both these authorities are appointed by the central or state government.
  • Additionally, the government may require certain establishments to set up safety committees comprising representatives of employers and workers.

Advisory Bodies

  • The central and state governments will set up Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Boards at the national and state level, respectively.
  • These Boards will advise the central and state governments on the standards, rules, and regulations to be framed under the Code.

Duties of employers

  • The Code specifies several duties of employers.
  • These include: (i) providing a workplace that is free from hazards that may cause injury or diseases, and (ii) providing free annual health examinations to employees, as prescribed.
  • In case of an accident at the workplace that leads to death or serious bodily injury of an employee, the employer must inform the relevant authorities.

Rights and duties of employees

  • Duties of employees under the Code include:
  • (i) Taking care of their own health and safety, (ii) complying with the specified safety and health standards, and (iii) reporting unsafe situations to the inspector.
  • Every employee will have the right to obtain from the employer information related to safety and health standards.

Working Hours

  • Work hours for different classes of establishment and employees will be provided as per the rules prescribed by the central or state government.
  • For overtime work, the worker must be paid twice the rate of daily wages.
  • Female workers, with their consent, may work past 7pm and before 6am, if approved by the central or state government.

Leave

  • No employee may work for more than six days a week.
  • However, exceptions may be provided for motor transport workers.
  • Workers must receive paid annual leave for at least one in 20 days of the period spent on duty.
  • For sales promotion employees medical leave must be provided for at least one-eighteenth of the period of service.
  • During medical leave, the worker must be paid half his daily wages.

Working conditions and welfare facilities

  • The employer is required to provide a hygienic work environment with ventilation, comfortable temperature and humidity, sufficient space, clean drinking water, and latrine and urinal accommodations.
  • Other welfare facilities may be provided as per standards prescribed by the central government.
  • These facilities may include separate bathing places and locker rooms for male, female and transgender employees, canteens, first aid boxes, and creches.

Offences and penalties

  • Under the Code, an offence that leads to the death of an employee will be punishable with imprisonment of up to two years, or a fine up to five lakh rupees, or both.
  • Further, courts may direct that at least 50% of such fine be given as compensation to the heirs of the victim.
  • For any other violation where the penalty is not specified, the employer will be penalized with a fine between two and three lakh rupees.
  • If an employee violates provisions of the Code, he will be subject to a fine of up to Rs 10,000.
Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

Voyager 2 Spacecraft

Mains Paper 3 : Awareness In The Fields Of It, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-Technology, Bio-Technology |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Voyager Mission, Heliosphere

Mains level : Particulars of the space mission



News

  • NASA’s Voyager 2 has become the second human-made object in history to reach the edge of our solar system.
  • The spacecraft exited the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by the Sun.

Voyager 2

  • Voyager 2 was launched in 1977, 16 days before Voyager 1, and both have travelled well beyond their original destinations.
  • The spacecraft were built to last five years and conduct close-up studies of Jupiter and Saturn.
  • As the spacecraft flew across the solar system, remote-control reprogramming was used to endow the Voyagers with greater capabilities than they possessed when they left Earth.
  • It carries a working instrument that will provide first-of-its-kind observations of the nature of this gateway into interstellar space.
  • It is slightly more than 18 billion kilometres from Earth. Its twin, Voyager 1, crossed this boundary in 2012.
  • Their five-year lifespans have stretched to 41 years, making Voyager 2 NASA’s longest running mission.

What is Heliosphere?

  • The heliosphere is the vast, bubble-like region of space which surrounds and is created by the Sun.
  • In plasma physics terms, this is the cavity formed by the Sun in the surrounding interstellar medium.
  • The “bubble” of the heliosphere is continuously “inflated” by plasma originating from the Sun, known as the solar wind.
  • Outside the heliosphere, this solar plasma gives way to the interstellar plasma permeating our galaxy.
  • The boundary, called the heliopause, is where the tenuous, hot solar wind meets the cold, dense interstellar medium.

Still in the solar system

  • While the probes have left the heliosphere, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have not yet left the solar system, and won’t be leaving any time soon.
  • Mission operators still can communicate with Voyager 2 as it enters this new phase of its journey, but information —moving at the speed of light — takes about 16.5 hours to travel from the spacecraft to Earth.
  • By comparison, light travelling from the Sun takes about eight minutes to reach Earth.

Future missions of NASA

  • NASA also is preparing an additional mission — the upcoming Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP), due to launch in 2024 — to capitalise on the Voyagers’ observations.
International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

Ethanol production in India

Mains Paper 3 : Indigenization Of Technology |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ethanol, EBP programme

Mains level : Ethanol production in India


News

  • The MoEFCC announced that mills would not require separate environmental clearance to produce additional ethanol from B-heavy molasses.
  • The ministry clarified that the proposals to undertake additional ethanol production from B-heavy molasses/sugarcane juice/sugar syrup/sugar would be considered under the provisions of the EIA Act, 2006.

What are ethanol and molasses?

  • Ethanol, or ethyl alcohol, is a liquid that has several uses.
  • At 95% purity, it is called rectified spirit and is used as the intoxicating ingredient in alcoholic beverages. At 99%-plus purity, ethanol is used for blending with petrol.
  • Both products are made from molasses, a byproduct of sugar manufacturing.
  • For making sugar, mills crush sugarcane which typically has a total fermentable sugars (TFS) content of 14%.
  • The TFS component consists of sucrose along with the reducing sugars glucose and fructose.
  • Most of this TFS component gets crystallized into sugar, and the remaining part is called molasses.

Molasses stages

  • The molasses go through three stages — A, B, and C, the last one being where the molasses are most un-crystallised and non-recoverable.
  • The ‘C’ molasses roughly constitute 4.5% of the cane, and have a remaining TFS of 40%.
  • After C-molasses are sent to the distillery, ethanol is extracted from them. Every 100 kg of TFS yields 60 litres of ethanol.
  • Thus, from one tonne of cane, mills can produce 115 kg of sugar (at 11.5% recovery) and 45 kg of molasses (18 kg TFS) that gives 10.8 litres of ethanol.

How more ethanol can be produced?

  • Mills can also produce only ethanol from sugarcane, without producing sugar at all.
  • In this case, the entire 14% TFS in the cane is fermented. Here, a mill can make 84 litres of ethanol and zero kg of sugar.
  • In between the two extreme cases, there are intermediate options as well, where the cane juice does not have to be crystallised right till the final ‘C’ molasses stage.
  • The molasses can, instead, be diverted after the earlier ‘A’ and ‘B’ stages of sugar crystal formation.
  • Mills, then, would produce some sugar, as opposed to fermenting the whole sugarcane juice into ethanol.

What new clearance aims?

  • If ethanol is manufactured using ‘B’ heavy molasses (7.25% of cane and with TFS of 50%), around 21.75 litres will get produced along with 95 kg of sugar from every 1 tonne of cane.
  • The latest move by the government is to waive the environmental clearance required to produce ethanol at this stage.
  • In the press release, it has been explained that this was done since this process does not contribute to the pollution load.

Why focus on more ethanol?

  • Mills currently have all-time-high stocks of sugar, and they have been at loggerheads with farmers over non-payment of dues.
  • Mill owners insist that the reason behind their woes is excess production of sugar and fall in its price.
  • Under the circumstances, ethanol is the only real saviour — both for mills and cane growers.
  • Ethanol production has been additionally facilitated with the government mandating 10% blending of petrol with ethanol.
Electric and Hybrid Cars – FAME, National Electric Mobility Mission, etc.