Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 14th December 2020

Daily Current Affairs for Government Exams:

Today Current Affairs: 14th December 2020 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc

Contents:

  1. Solar Eclipse
  2. Delimitation
  3. National Family Health Survey-5:
  4. Lancet Citizens’ Commission on Reimagining India’s Health System:
  5. Special Assistance to States for Capital Expenditure”.:
  6. Reallocation of Krishna waters between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh:
  7. Myristica Swamp Treefrog:
  8. Other important current affairs

1.Solar Eclipse:

The total solar eclipse on December 14, Monday will be the last eclipse of the year.

  • Apart from Chile and Argentina, people living in southern parts of South America, south-west Africa, and Antarctica will be able to witness a partial solar eclipse.

Solar Eclipse:

  • It is a natural event that takes place on Earth when the Moon moves in its orbit between Earth and the Sun
  • It happens at New Moon when the Sun and Moon are in conjunction with each other.
  • During an eclipse, the Moon’s shadow (which is divided into two parts: the dark umbra and the lighter penumbra) moves across Earth’s surface.
  • If the Moon was only slightly closer to Earth and orbited in the same plane and its orbit was circular, we would see eclipses each month.
  • The lunar orbit is elliptical and tilted with respect to Earth’s orbit, so we can only see up to 5 eclipses per year. Depending on the geometry of the Sun, Moon, and Earth, the Sun can be totally blocked, or it can be partially blocked.

 

2.Delimitation:

A paper released by the Pranab Mukherjee Foundation (PMF) on the eve of the late President’s birth anniversary has suggested that the next delimitation exercise should be a two-step process:

  • A Delimitation Commission should be set up to redraw the boundaries of constituencies on the basis of the 2031 Census.
  • A State Reorganisation Act be passed to split States into smaller ones.
  • The 84th Amendment to the Constitution in 2002 had put a freeze on the delimitation of Lok Sabha and State Assembly constituencies till the first Census after 2026. While the current boundaries were drawn on the basis of the 2001 Census, the number of Lok Sabha seats and State Assembly seats remained frozen on the basis of the 1971 Census.
  • The population according to the last census preceding the freeze was 50 crore, which in 50 years has grown to 130 crores.
  • This has caused a massive asymmetry in the political representation in the country.

Delimitation:

  • Delimitation literally means the process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a state that has a legislative body.
  • Delimitation is undertaken by a highly powerful commission. They are formally known as Delimitation Commission or Boundary Commission.
  • These bodies are so powerful that their orders have the force of law and they cannot be challenged before any court.
  • Such commissions have been constituted at least four times in India in 1952 under the Delimitation Commission Act, 1952; in 1963 under Delimitation Commission Act, 1962; in 1973 under Delimitation Act, 1972 and last in 2002 under Delimitation Act, 2002.
  • The commissions’ orders are enforced as per the date specified by the President of India. Copies of these orders are laid before the Lok Sabha or the concerned Legislative Assembly. No modifications are permitted.
  • Composition of the Commission:
    • According to the Delimitation Commission Act, 2002, the Delimitation Commission appointed by the Centre has to have three members: a serving or retired judge of the Supreme Court as the chairperson, and the Chief Election Commissioner or Election Commissioner nominated by the CEC and the State Election Commissioner as ex-officio members.

 

3.National Family Health Survey-5:

The first-phase data of the National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5) 2019-20 has been released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

  • NFHS is a large-scale, multi-round survey conducted in a representative sample of households throughout India.
  • All NFHSs have been conducted under the stewardship of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, with the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) Mumbai, serving as the nodal agency.
  • Established in 1956 under the joint sponsorship of Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, the Government of India and the United Nations (UN), IIPS has established itself as the premier institute for training and research in population studies for developing countries in the Asia and Pacific region.
  • Phase 2 of the survey (covering remaining states) was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its results are expected to be made available in May 2021.

About the Survey:

  • The NFHS-5 captured data during 2014-19 and its content is similar to NFHS-4 (2015-16) to allow comparisons over time and also marks a shift from it.
  • It provides an indicator for tracking 30 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that the country aims to achieve by 2030.
  • However, NFHS-5 includes some new topics, such as preschool education, disability, access to a toilet facility, death registration, bathing practices during menstruation, and methods and reasons for abortion.
  • In 2019, for the first time, the NFHS-5 sought details on the percentage of women and men who have ever used the Internet.

Data Analysis:

  • Several states have either witnessed meagre improvements or sustained reversals on four key metrics of child (under 5 years of age) malnutrition parameters.
  • These four key metrics are child stunting, child wasting, share of children underweight and child mortality rate.
  • The data from these metrics is also used in several global indices such as the Global Hunger Index
  • Child Stunting:
    • The most surprising reversals have happened in child stunting, which reflects chronic undernutrition, and refers to the percentage of children who have low height for their age.
    • Telangana, Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra, and West Bengal saw increased levels of child stunting.
  • Child Wasting:
    • It reflects acute undernutrition and refers to children having low weight for their height.
    • Telangana, Kerala, Bihar, Assam and Jammu-Kashmir witnessed an increase and Maharashtra and West Bengal have been stagnant.
  • Share of Children Underweight:
    • In the proportion of underweight children, big states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Telangana, Assam and Kerala have seen an increase.
  • Child Mortality Rate:
    • Infant Mortality Rate (the number of deaths per 1000 live births for children under the age of 1) and Under 5 Mortality Rate data is mostly stagnant.
    • In Maharashtra, the under-5 mortality rate is basically the same in NFHS-4 and in Bihar, it reduced by just 3% over five years.
    • Over 60% of child mortality is explained by child malnutrition, which is the central problem and needs to be addressed.
  • Urban-rural Gender Gaps in Internet Use:
    • There is an urban-rural gap as well as gender divide with respect to the use of the Internet in several states and union territories.
    • On average, less than 3 out of 10 women in rural India and 4 out of 10 women in urban India ever used the Internet.
    • General Data: An average 42.6% of women ever used the Internet as against an average of 62.16% among the men.
    • In Urban India: An average of 56.81% of women ever used the Internet compared to an average of 73.76% among the men.
    • In Rural India: A dismal 33.94% women in rural India ever used the Internet as against 55.6% among men.

4.Lancet Citizens’ Commission on Reimagining India’s Health System:

The Lancet Citizens’ Commission on Reimagining India’s Health System has been launched online which is a step towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in India.

Lancet Citizens’ Commission on Reimagining India’s Health System:

  • Participants: It is a first-of-its-kind participatory, countrywide initiative, in collaboration with the world’s leading health journal The Lancet and the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University.
  • Objective: To enable participatory public engagement to develop a citizens’ blueprint for the implementation of UHC.
  • Mission:
    • To lay out the path to achieving UHC in India in the coming decade, working with all stakeholders.
    • To formulate a roadmap for realising a resilient health system that offers comprehensive, accountable, accessible, inclusive, and affordable quality health care to all citizens in India.
    • To gather insights from across India through grassroots surveys, public consultations and online discussions.
    • To build partnerships and work closely with academic institutions, civil society and other stakeholders to catalyze dialogue and knowledge sharing across fields.
  • Focus : Will be on the architecture of India’s health system.

Universal Health Coverage:

  • UHC means that all individuals and communities receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship.
  • It includes the full range of essential, quality health services from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care.
  • The goal of UHC: As stated in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 3) is one of the most significant commitments to equitable quality healthcare for all.
  • Benefits of UHC:
    • Enables everyone to access the services that address the most significant causes of disease and death, and ensures that the quality of those services is good enough to improve the health of the people who receive them.
    • Protects people from the financial consequences of paying for health services out of their own pockets and reduces the risk of people getting pushed into poverty because unexpected illness requires them to use up their life savings, sell assets, or borrow – destroying their futures and often those of their children.

 

5.Special Assistance to States for Capital Expenditure”.:

All the States except Tamil Nadu have availed benefits of the scheme for “Special Assistance to States for Capital Expenditure”.

  • The scheme was announced by the Ministry of Finance as a part of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat package.
  • As part of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Package, the government had announced that the Centre will offer Rs.
  • 12,000 crore special interest-free 50-year loan to states, exclusively for capital expenditure.
  • Aim: To boost capital expenditure by the State governments which are facing a difficult financial environment this year due to the shortfall in tax revenue arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Three Parts:
    • Part–I of the scheme covers the north-eastern region (Rs. 200 crores).
    • Part-II is for all other States (Rs. 7500 crores).
    • Part-III of the scheme is aimed at pushing various citizen-centric reforms in the States. Under this Part, an amount of Rs. 2000 crores is earmarked.
  • This amount will be available only to those States which carry out at least three out of the four reforms specified by the Ministry of Finance on the reform-linked additional borrowing permissions.
  • Four Reforms: One nation one ration card, ease of doing business, urban local body/ utility reform and power sector reforms.
  • The Ministry of Finance has approved Rs. 9,879.61 crore worth of capital expenditure proposals of 27 States.
    Of this, Rs. 4,939.81 crore has been released as the first instalment.
  • The capital expenditure projects have been approved in diverse sectors such as health, rural development, water supply, irrigation, power, transport, education, urban development.

 

6.Reallocation of Krishna waters between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh:

The Centre has said that it would consider referring (under Section 3 of the Inter-State River Waters Disputes Act) the matter for reallocation of Krishna waters between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh either to a new tribunal or to the existing Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal-II headed by Justice Brijesh Kumar, once Telangana withdrew its petition on the issue in the Supreme Court.

  • The Telangana government has filed a special leave petition (SLP) in Supreme Court seeking a direction to Andhra Pradesh government not to go ahead calling tenders for the Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Scheme.
  • The government maintains that under the provisions of the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014, a proposal for any new project on Krishna has to be first placed before the Krishna River Management Board and then before the Apex Council for ratification.
  • The two States- AP and Telangana- share stretches of the Krishna and the Godavari and own their tributaries.
  • They have embarked on several new projects without getting clearance from the river boards, the Central Water Commission, and the apex council comprising the Union Water Resources Minister and the Chief Ministers, as mandated by the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014.

The Krishna:

  • It is an east-flowing river.
  • Originates at Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra and merges with the Bay of Bengal, flowing through Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Basin: Together with its tributaries, it forms a vast basin that covers 33% of the total area of the four states.

The dispute:

  • The dispute began with the erstwhile Hyderabad and Mysore states, and later continuing between successors Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh.
  • In 1969, the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT) was set up under the Inter-State River Water Dispute Act, 1956, and presented its report in 1973.
  • The report, which was published in 1976, divided the 2060 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) of Krishna water at 75 per cent dependability into three parts:
    • 560 TMC for Maharashtra.
    • 700 TMC for Karnataka.
    • 800 TMC for Andhra Pradesh.

Revised order:

  • As new grievances arose between the states, the second KWDT was instituted in 2004.
  • It delivered its report in 2010, which made allocations of the Krishna water at 65 percent dependability and for surplus flows as follows: 81 TMC for Maharashtra, 177 TMC for Karnataka, and 190 TMC for Andhra Pradesh.
  • After the creation of Telangana as a separate state in 2014, Andhra Pradesh is asking to include Telangana as a separate party at the KWDT and that the allocation of Krishna waters be reworked among four states, instead of three.
  • It has challenged the order of the Brijesh Kumar Tribunal in the Supreme Court.

 

7.Myristica Swamp Treefrog:

Myristica swamp treefrog has been recorded for the first time in Kerala’s Thrissur district.

  • Scientific Name: Mercurana myristicapalustris
  • These are endemic to the Western Ghats.
  • Rare arboreal species (Pertaining to moving about, living in or among trees).
  • Active only for a few weeks during their breeding season.
  • The breeding season, unlike for other frogs, starts in the pre monsoon season (May) and ends before the monsoon becomes fully active in June.
  • Before the end of the breeding season, the female frogs along with their male counterparts descend on the forest floor.
  • The female digs the mud and lays eggs in shallow burrows in mud. After breeding and egg laying, they retreat back to the high canopies of the tree and remain elusive till the next breeding season.
  • Research & Study:
    • These swamps are considered as living museums of ancient life and could promote better understanding of the influence of climate change on the evolution of plants.
  • Check Vagaries of Extreme Events:
    • These swamps have high watershed value. When they are drained, filled or otherwise disturbed, their water holding capacity is lost, resulting in floods and erosion during the rainy season and dry streambeds the rest of the year.
  • Habitat:
    • Provide habitat for a rich diversity of invertebrate and vertebrate species, including amphibians, reptiles and mammals.
    • It is estimated that the wetlands contain 23% of butterflies, more than 50% of amphibians, more than 20% of reptiles and birds in the whole of Kerala.
  • Carbon Sequestration:
    • These have a higher potential to store carbon than nearby non-swamp forests.
    • They function as carbon sinks and can store carbon produced by upland agriculture, forestry and other land uses.

Other important current affairs:

1.The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) will soon come up with a policy aimed at promoting 3D printing on an industrial scale in view of its emerging market.

  • 3D printing or additive manufacturing uses computer-aided designing to make prototypes or working models of objects by laying down successive layers of materials such as plastic, resin, thermoplastic, metal, fibre or ceramic.
  • With the help of software, the model to be printed is first developed by the computer, which then gives instructions to the 3D printer.
  • 3D printing and a viable industry around it is mostly in the shape of additive manufacturing, wherein companies make specific products for projects where there are very specific demands such as lightweight equipment, etc.
  • One of the key applications for such products is in the medical and allied sector.
  • The USA remains the global leader in 3D printing, with more than 35% market share.
  • In Asia, about 50% of its market is cornered by China, followed by Japan at 30%, and South Korea at 10%.

2.The Insurance Information Bureau of India released its annual report (Motor Annual Report 2018-19).

  • Insurance Information Bureau (IIB) was promoted by the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India (IRDAI) as a single platform to meet the needs of the insurance industry, in 2009.
  • Uninsured Vehicles:
    • Nearly 57% of the total vehicles on the road were uninsured as of March 2019, up from 54% in March 2018.
    • The bulk of uninsured vehicles are two-wheelers, with the numbers being as high as 66%.
      According to the Motor Vehicles Act, 2019, it is mandatory for all vehicles to be insured with third-party vehicle insurance policy.
    • Third-party insurance is essentially a form of liability insurance purchased by an insured (first-party) from an insurer (second party) for protection against the claims of another (third party). The first party is responsible for their damages or losses, regardless of the cause of those damages.

3.The National Energy Conservation Day is organized on 14th December every year by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) with an aim to showcase India’s achievements in energy efficiency and conservation.

  • The National Energy Conservation Awards are given on the occasion.
  • Energy Conservation:
    • It is any behaviour that results in the use of less energy.
    • Turning the lights off when leaving the room and recycling aluminum cans are both ways of conserving energy.
    • It is different from the term ‘energy efficiency’, which is using technology that requires less energy to perform the same function.
    • Using a Light-Emitting Diode (LED) light bulb or a Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulb that requires less energy than an incandescent light bulb to produce the same amount of light is an example of energy efficiency.
    • The Energy Conservation (EC) Act was enacted in 2001 with the goal of reducing the energy intensity of Indian economy.
  • The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) was set up as the statutory body in 2002 at the central level to facilitate the implementation of the EC Act.
    • It functions under the Ministry of Power.
    • India’s energy demand is expected to double between 2013 and 2030, to approximately 1500 million tons of oil equivalent.

4.Chinese spacecraft carrying rocks and soil from the moon has begun its journey back to Earth, putting China on course to become the first country to successfully retrieve lunar samples since the 1970s.

  • A successful landing in Inner Mongolia would make China only the third country to have retrieved lunar samples after the United States and the Soviet Union.
  • The plan was to collect 2 kg (4.4 lbs) of samples, although it has not been disclosed how much was actually gathered.
  • The Chang’e-5 was launched on Nov. 24 and a lander vehicle touched down on the moon on Dec. 1. The mission was expected to take around 23 days in total.
  • The objective of the mission was to bring back lunar rocks, the first attempt by any nation to retrieve samples from the moon in four decades.
  • Chang’e-5 probe: It is an unmanned spacecraft by China. The probe is named after the mythical Chinese moon goddess.
  • The rocket comprises of four parts: an orbiter, a returner, an ascender and a lander.
  • The Chang’e-5 mission is expected to realize four “firsts” in China’s space history:
  • The first time for a probe to take off from the surface of the Moon.
  • The first time to automatically sample the lunar surface.
  • The first time to conduct unmanned rendezvous and docking in lunar orbit.
  • The first time to return to Earth with lunar soil samples in escape velocity.

5.Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said that India was the only major G20 country that was on track towards keeping to its nationally determined commitments to halt runaway global warming.

  • It had achieved 21% of its emissions intensity reduction target as a proportion of its GDP in line with its pledge to a 33-35% reduction by 2030.
  • These remarks were made ahead of the international Climate Ambition Summit to be jointly hosted shortly by the United Nations, the United Kingdom and France, in partnership with Chile and Italy to mark the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Paris Agreement.
  • Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC): In 2015, ahead of the United Nations’ significant climate conference in Paris, India announced three major voluntary commitments called the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC):
    • Improving the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33–35% by 2030 over 2005 levels.
    • Increasing the share of non-fossil fuels-based electricity to 40% by 2030.
    • Enhancing its forest cover, thereby absorbing 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.
  • The Paris Agreement: The Paris Agreement, adopted at COP 21 in Paris, on December 12, 2015, constitutes a landmark agreement on climate change that seeks to limit the global average temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and endeavour to limit the increase to 1.5°C.
  • The agreement, which came into force on November 4, 2016, currently has 188 parties.
  • All parties to it are expected to undertake ambitious efforts to support the agreement’s goals and communicate their related intentions every five years in the form of NDCs.
  • In the first round, 186 parties submitted their first NDC and two have since submitted a second one.

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