Argutes

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC Civil Services Exam – 06 October 2021

1. SC on FireCrackers

The Supreme Court observed that six major fireworks manufacturers had violated orders requiring them not to use prohibited chemicals such as Barium salts and to label the firecrackers in compliance with the law.

SC judgment

  1. Three years ago, the court ruled out a full ban on firecrackers
  2. It issued orders stipulating that only reduced emission and green crackers be allowed, with tight restrictions on timings when they could be burst.

Mechanism of working

  1. Firecrackers use fuel and oxidizers to produce a combustion reaction, and the resulting explosion spreads the material in a superheated state.
  2. The metal salts in the explosive mix get ‘excited’ and emit light.
  3. The interaction between the firecracker fuel and the oxidizer releases energy.
  4. Metals in the mix, which have a varying arrangement of electrons in shells outside their nucleus, produce different wavelengths of light in this reaction, generating spectacular colours.
  5. Barium compounds, for example, produce green light, and Strontium and Lithium salts, red.

Controversy

  1. Many studies show the burning of firecrackers is an unusual and peak source of pollution, made up of particles and gases.
  2. The increase in the levels of several elements in the air in one hour as 120 times for Strontium, 22 times for Magnesium, 12 times for Barium, 11 times for Potassium, and six times for Copper.
  3. The Central Pollution Control Board conducted a study in Delhi in 2016 and found that the levels of Aluminium, Barium, Potassium, Sulphur, Iron, and Strontium rose sharply on Deepavali night, from low to extremely high.
  4. Similar episodic spikes have been recorded in China and the U.K.
  5. Pollution from firecrackers affects the health of people and animals and aggravates the already poor ambient air quality in Indian cities.
  6. This has resulted in litigation calling for a total ban on firecrackers, and court orders to restrict the type of chemicals used as well as their volume.
  7. Many crackers also violate legal limits on sound.

Green crackers

  1. CSIR-NEERI Nagpur has come out with firecrackers that have reduced emission of light sound and 30% less particulate matter using Potassium Nitrate as an oxidant.
  2. These crackers are named Safe Water Releaser, which minimizes Potassium Nitrate and Sulphur use but matches the sound intensity of conventional crackers, Safe Minimal Aluminium, where Aluminium use is low and Safe
  3. Thermite Crackers with low Sulphur and Potassium Nitrate.
  4. These crackers are to be identified using unique QR codes to guide consumers.
  5. Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation should certify the composition of fireworks only after being assured that they were not made of banned chemicals.

2. Geographical Indicator

Alibaug white onion

  1. The Alibaug white onion was given the Geographical Indication (GI) tag
  2. The soil of Alibaug taluka has low sulfur content.
  3. It has low pungency, sweet taste, ‘no tear’ factor, low pyruvic acid, high protein, fat, and fiber content, besides high antioxidant compounds (quercetin)
  4. It boosts immunity, helps with insomnia, blood cleaning, blood pressure, and heart-related ailment

Edayur chili

  1. Edayur chili gets a Geographical Indication tag from the GI Registry in Chennai along with Kuttaiattoor Mango
  2. Low pungency is the unique character of Edayur chili (known as Edayur Mulaku in Malayalam).
  3. The fruit of Edayur chili is a drooping berry, solitary, with a moderately triangular shape and with a smooth surface
  4. The Edayur Mulaku is highly delicious with meals because of its low pungency appealing flavor and taste
  5. Edayur chili is mainly used to prepare fried chili which is a very delicious side dish for meals used in each homestead of Edayur region.

Click here to know more

3. Marine Protected Area: Antarctica

India has extended its support for protecting the Antarctic environment and co-sponsoring a proposal of the European Union for designating East Antarctica and the Weddell Sea as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

India Entends support

  1. India urged the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)
  2. India remains associated with the formulation, adaptation, and implementation mechanisms of these MPAs in the future.
  3. The proposal to designate East Antarctica and the Weddell Sea as MPAs was first put forth to the commission in 2020 but a consensus could not be reached at that time.
  4. Since then, substantial progress has been made with Australia, Norway, Uruguay and the United Kingdom agreeing to co-sponsor the proposal.
  5.  India had embarked on an Antarctic expedition in 1981, through the Southern Indian Ocean sector and since then India had completed 40 expeditions with plans for the 41st expedition in 2021-22.
  6. This is the first time India is considering co-sponsoring an MPA proposal at CCAMLR and getting aligned with countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Korea, New Zealand, South Africa, and the USA, which are also proactively considering supporting the MPA proposals.
  7. India’s decision adheres to the global frameworks such as Sustainable Development Goals, UN Decade of Oceans, Convention on Biodiversity, etc., to which India is a signatory.

CCAMLR

  1. CCAMLR is an international treaty to manage Antarctic fisheries to preserve species diversity and stability of the entire Antarctic marine ecosystem.
  2. It came into force in April 1982.
  3. India has been a permanent member of CCAMLR since 1986.
  4. Work pertaining to CCAMLR is coordinated in India by the Ministry of Earth Sciences through its attached office, the Centre for Marine Living Resources and Ecology (CMLRE) in Kochi, Kerala.

Importance of Marine Protected area

  1. A marine protected area provides protection for all or part of its natural resources.
  2. Certain activities within an MPA are limited or prohibited to meet specific conservation, habitat protection, ecosystem monitoring, or fisheries management objectives.
  3. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) involve the protective management of natural areas according to pre-defined management objectives.
  4. They are created by delineating zones with permitted and non-permitted uses within that zone.

Click here to know the list of marine protected areas in India

4. Astro Robot

Amazon is launching Astro, its first household robot, powered by its Alexa smart home technology.

Insights

  1. It can be remote-controlled when not at home, to check on pets, people, or home security.
  2. It can also patrol a home automatically and send owners a notification if it detects something unusual.
  3. Astro can be set with “out of bounds” zones, so it cannot go into certain areas, or could be set to “do not disturb”.
  4. It also features buttons to turn off cameras and microphones – though it loses its ability to move around when they are switched off.
  5. The small robot also comes equipped with an extendable “periscope” camera that pops up from its head
  6. Among the other devices unveiled was the Amazon Glow: a video calling device that has the ability to project an interactive “touchscreen” on the floor or table in front of it
  7. The idea is to engage children during long video calls, as they can play games or draw on the 19-inch projected “screen” while on the video call.
  8. Relatives on the other end can also interact with the projection through a tablet app.

5. Nobel Prize for  Medicine

American scientists David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian have won the 2021 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch.

Insights

  1. Dr. Julius has been studying the different compounds in chili peppers and spider venom to understand how our bodies sense heat and chemical irritants.
  2. Decoding the neuroscience of pain can help develop new targets for pain therapy.
  3. Dr. Patapoutian helped discover a novel class of sensors in our skin and internal organs that respond to cold and other mechanical stimuli
  4. This discovery has allowed us to understand how heat, cold and mechanical forces can initiate the nerve impulses that allow us to perceive and adapt to the world around us.

Discovery

  1. In 1997, Dr. Julius and his team published a paper in Nature detailing how capsaicin, or the chemical compound in chilli peppers, causes the burning sensation.
  2. They created a library of DNA fragments to understand the corresponding genes and finally discovered a new capsaicin receptor and named it TRPV1.
  3. This discovery paved the way for the identification of many other temperature-sensing receptors.
  4. Bboth David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian identified another new receptor called TRPM8, a receptor that is activated by cold.
  5. This new receptor is specifically expressed in a subset of pain-and-temperature-sensing neurons.
  6. They studied whether these receptors can be activated by mechanical stimuli.
  7. His team poked cells with a micropipette and identified a cell line that produced an electric signal in response.
  8. They identified a single gene, which when silenced made the cells insensitive to the poking. They named this new mechanosensitive ion channel Piezo1.
  9. This knowledge of the TRPV1, TRPM8, and Piezo channels is being used to develop treatments for a wide range of disease conditions, including chronic pain.

6. NAV-eCash

  1. State Bank of India (SBI) and Indian Navy launched the lender’s NAV-eCash card onboard the country’s largest Naval Aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya.
  2. The launch of NAV-eCash card is an important milestone for digital payment solutions and the bank’s commitment towards the Centre’s vision of Digital India and a shift towards a less-cash economy.
  3. The unique infrastructure at naval ships inhibits traditional payment solutions particularly when the ship is in high seas where there is no connectivity.
  4. With dual-chip technology, the card will facilitate both online as well as offline transactions.
  5. The card will obviate the difficulties faced by personnel onboard in handling physical cash during deployment of the ship at high seas.
  6. The new journey envisioned in the form of NAV-eCash Card will change the payment ecosystem while the ship is sailing with no dependency on cash for utilization of any of the services onboard

7. Tax Inspectors Without Borders

  1. India is chosen as the Tax Expert and Partner Administration for Tax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB) in Seychelles
  2. It is a joint initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
  3. The program was launched in Seychelles on 4th October 2021.
  4. It is expected to be of 12 months duration during which India, in collaboration with the TIWB Secretariat and support of the UNDP Country Office in Mauritius and Seychelles
  5. It aims to aid Seychelles in strengthening its tax administration by transferring technical know-how and skills to its tax auditors through sharing of best audit practices.

TIWB

  1. TIWB is a capacity-building program.
  2. It is a joint OECD/UNDP initiative launched in July 2015 to strengthen developing countries’ auditing capacity and multinationals’ compliance worldwide.
  3. It deploys qualified experts in developing countries across Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean to help build tax capacity in the areas of audit, criminal tax investigations, and the effective use of automatically exchanged information.
  4. TIWB assistance has led to increased domestic resource mobilization in some of the least developed countries in the world.

Click here to view the previous article on TIWB

India participated at the high-level plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly to commemorate the ‘International Day for The Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, and expressed the belief in goal of nuclear disarmament can be achieved through a step by step process underwritten by universal commitment and an agreed, multilateral framework that is global and non-discriminatory

India statements

  1. India, as a responsible nuclear weapon state, has a nuclear doctrine outlining credible minimum deterrence with the posture of no-first-use and non-use against non-nuclear-weapon states
  2. India’s approach is outlined in its Working Paper submitted to the UNGA First Committee in 2006 and to the Conference on Disarmament in 2007, which has enduring relevance.

Conference on disarmament

  1. The CD is a multilateral disarmament forum established by the international community to negotiate arms control and disarmament agreements based at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
  2. The Conference meets annually in three separate sessions in Geneva.
  3. The Conference was first established in 1979 as the Committee on Disarmament as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community.
  4. It was renamed the Conference on Disarmament in 1984.

Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty

  1. FMCT is a proposed international agreement that prohibits the production of two main components of nuclear weapons: highly-enriched Uranium and Plutonium.
  2. The consultations under the treaty laid down the most appropriate arrangement to negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.