Daily Current Affairs : 16th and 17th February

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Gallipoli campaign of the World War I
  2. Convalescent plasma therapy
  3. Urban heat islands in India
  4. Developing Country Status
  5. Types of Questions in Parliament
  6. Remote Voting System
  7. Darah Shikoh
  8. How to treat a child witness
  9. Facts for Prelims

1 . Gallipoli campaign of the World War I


Context : Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Islamabad compared the situation in Kashmir with the Gallipoli campaign of the World War I and extended support to Pakistan.

About Gallipoli campaign

  •  The Battle of Çanakkale, also known as the Gallipoli campaign or the Dardanelles campaign, is considered to be one of the bloodiest of World War I, during which the Ottoman army faced off against the Allied forces, leading to the slaughter of tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides.
  • In March 1915, with the war in Europe stalemated in the trenches, Winston Churchill, then Britain’s First Lord of the Admiralty, devised a plan to take control of the Dardanelles, the strategic strait connecting the Sea of Marmara to the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, and thus reach Constantinople (today’s Istanbul) at the mouth of the Bosporus. By taking Constantinople, the Allies hoped to break the Turks, who had recently entered the war on the side of the Germany.
  • The Allies carried out heavy naval bombardment of Turkish forts along the shores of the Dardanelles, and when that failed, followed up with what was the biggest amphibious landing in military history at the time.
  • However, what the British and their allies had hoped would be the turning point in the war ended up as a catastrophe. In the nine months upto January 1916, when the Allies called off the campaign and evacuated, more than 40,000 British soldiers had been killed, along with 8,000 Australians. On the Turkish side, some 60,000 had perished.

Legacy of the Battle

  • The battle resulted in a demotion for Churchill and the emergence on the Turkish side of the young military hero, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. But the legacy of Gallipoli goes far beyond its military aspects — the event is today one of the central pillars of the modern Turkish identity.
  • The campaign is also seen to have seeded Australian and New Zealand national consciousness — April 25, anniversary of the Gallipoli landings, is observed as ANZAC Day, the day of national remembrance for the war dead.

2 . Convalescent plasma therapy


Context : In the absence of any preventive vaccine or specific antivirals for treating COVID-19 patients infected with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, a pharmaceutical company in China has turned to plasma taken from people who have recovered from the infection to treat critically ill patients.

About Convalescent plasma therapy

  • The therapy aims to use the antibodies in the convalescent plasma to minimise the presence of the virus in patients
  • Donors must be recovered patients who are up to the standard for being discharged from hospital.
  • Only plasma will be collected while red blood cells, white blood cells and blood platelets will be transfused back into the donor’s body
  • Donating plasma causes little harm to the donor, and there is no need to worry

How it works

  • People who have recently recovered still have antibodies to the coronavirus circulating in their blood.
  • Antibodies are proteins produced and secreted by B cells. They bind to foreign substances that invade the body, such as pathogens. The term “antibody” refers to its function, which is to bind to an antigen. Another name for this protein molecule is immunoglobulin 
  • Injecting those antibodies into sick patients could help patients’ better fight the infection.
  • This treatment will transfer the immunity of a recovered patient to a sick patient, an approach that has been used previously in flu pandemics

3 . Urban heat islands in India


Context : A recent study from IIT Kharagpur called “Anthropogenic forcing exacerbating the urban heat islands in India” noted that the relatively warmer temperature in urban areas, compared to suburbs, may contain potential health hazards due to heat waves apart from pollution. 

About the Research

  • Research is a detailed and careful analysis of urban heat islands in India.
  • Research was based on the difference between urban and surrounding rural land surface temperatures, across all seasons in 44 major cities from 2001 to 2017.”
  • For the first time, we have found evidence of mean daytime temperature of surface urban heat island (UHI Intensity) going up to 2 degrees C for most cities, as analysed from satellite temperature measurements in monsoon and post monsoon periods.
  • Other researchers from elsewhere have also noticed similar rise in daytime temperatures in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai.

About Urban Heat Island

  • An urban heat island (abbreviated as UHI) is where the temperature in a densely populated city is as much as 2 degrees higher than suburban or rural areas.

Reasons for UHI

  • This happens because of the materials used for pavements, roads and roofs, such as concrete, asphalt (tar) and bricks, which are opaque, do not transmit light, but have higher heat capacity and thermal conductivity than rural areas, which have more open space, trees and grass.
  • Trees and plants are characterised by their ‘evapotranspiration’— a combination of words wherein evaporation involves the movement of water to the surrounding air, and transpiration refers to the movement of water within a plant and the subsequent lot of water through the stomata (pores found on the leaf surface) in its leaves. Grass, plants and trees in the suburbs and rural areas do this. The lack of such evapotranspiration in the city leads to the city experiencing higher temperature than its surroundings.

Effects

  • UHI s decrease air quality in the cities, thanks to pollution generated by industrial and automobile exhaust, higher extent of particulate matter and greater amounts of dust than in rural areas.
  • Due to this higher temperature in urban areas, the UHI increases the colonisation of species that like warm temperatures, such as lizards and geckos. Insects such as ants are more abundant here than in rural areas; these are referred to as ectotherms.
  • In addition, cities tend to experience heat waves which affect human and animal health, leading to heat cramps, sleep deprivation and increased mortality rates.
  • UHIs also impact nearby water bodies, as warmer water (thanks to the pavements, rooftops and so on) is transferred from the city to drains in sewers, and released into nearby lakes and creeks, thus impairing their water quality.

Control of UHIs and mitigation

  • Using greener rooftops, using light-coloured concrete (using limestone aggregates along with asphalt (or tar) making the road surface greyish or even pinkish (as some places in the US have done); these are 50% better than black, since they absorb less heat and reflect more sunlight. Likewise, we should paint rooftops green, and install solar panels there amidst a green background.
  • The other is to plant as many trees and plants as possible. It is interesting to realise how beneficial trees are to us. Relevant to the present context are: they combat climate change; clean the surrounding air by absorbing pollutant gases (NXOy, O3, NH3, SO2, and others) and trapping particulates on their leaves and bark; cool the city and the streets; conserve energy (cutting air-conditioning costs by 50%); save water and help prevent water pollution; help prevent soil erosion; protect people and children from UV light; offer economic opportunities; bring diverse group of people together; encourage civic pride by giving neighbourhoods a new identity; mask concrete walls, thus muffling sounds from streets and highways, and eye-soothing canopy of green; and the more a business district has trees, more business follows.

4 . Developing Country Status


Context : U.S. removed more than a dozen countries, including India, from its list of countries that are classified as “developing” for trade purposes. These countries will now be classified instead as “developed” economies, thus stripping them of various trade benefits.

What is the “developing country” status?

  • The office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) maintains a list of countries that it classifies as “developing”, “developed”, and “least-developed”.
  • Countries that are classified as “developing” are allowed to export certain goods to the U.S. without being hit by punitive tariffs that are usually imposed on goods from “developed” countries.
  • The “developing country” status owes its origin to the U.S. Trade Act of 1974, which authorised the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) to help poor countries develop faster.
  • These benefits were extended further under the World Trade Organization wherein rich countries agreed to grant trade benefits to countries that classified themselves as poor. About two-thirds of countries that are members of the WTO classify themselves as “developing” countries and avail benefits.

Why is India being stripped of this status?

  • The U.S. administration has repeatedly accused fast-growing countries such as India and China of wrongly claiming trade benefits that are reserved only for the truly developing countries.
  • Therefore US has sought to renegotiate trade deals with countries like China, essentially trying to make these deals more “fair” to the interests of the U.S. India has traditionally been one of the largest beneficiaries under the GSP, with over 2,000 goods having been exempted from import tariffs, until the Trump administration stripped it of the special benefit last year.
  • With the current change in India’s status under the USTR’s classification, the task of reclaiming the lost GSP benefits now becomes even harder. In support of its actions, the Trump administration has argued that countries like India and China have witnessed significant growth in the last few decades. This, it believes, is enough reason to scale back the various trade benefits.
  • It has further cited the share of global trade enjoyed by India and China and their membership in the G20 club to argue that they enjoy significant economic power. Moreover, many developed countries also classify themselves as “developing” in order to escape tariffs.

How will the U.S. decision affect global trade?

  • Any move to end duty-free access for foreign goods into the U.S., which becomes more likely after the change in trade status, will increase the overall tax burden on goods crossing international borders.
  • This will add further pressure on the global economy, which has already witnessed a slowing of growth this year. The growth effects of a tariff war could rise further if countries that are stripped of their “developing” economy status decide to retaliate by imposing tariffs on goods that they import from the U.S.
  • Recently, India offered to scale back tariffs on American dairy and other products that are imported into India. This came after the U.S. complained about the restricted access that American companies have to developing countries like India. If such trade tactics manage to bring down trade barriers on both sides, it can benefit the global economy.
  • But, with both the U.S. and its various warring trading partners looking to protect their domestic producers rather than consumers who benefit from lower tariffs, a general fall in tariffs across the board seems unlikely.

5 . Types of Questions in Parliament


Context : 1,120 unstarred questions asked in RS session

Types of Questions

Members have a right to ask questions to elicit information on matters of public importance within the special cognizance of the Ministers concerned. The questions are of four types:— 

(i) Starred Questions- A Starred Question is one to which a member desires an oral answer from the Minister in the House and is required to be distinguished by him/her with an asterisk. Answer to such a question may be followed by supplementary questions by members. 
(ii) Unstarred Questions- An Unstarred Question is one to which written answer is desired by the member and is deemed to be laid on the Table of the House by Minister. Thus it is not called for oral answer in the House and no supplementary question can be asked thereon. 
(iii) Short Notice Questions- A member may give a notice of question on a matter of public importance and of urgent character for oral answer at a notice less than 10 days prescribed as the minimum period of notice for asking a question in ordinary course. Such a question is known as ‘Short Notice Question’. 
(iv) Questions to Private Members- A Question may also be addressed to a Private Member (Under Rule 40 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha), provided that the subject matter of the question relates to some Bill, Resolution or other matter connected with the business of the House for which that Member is responsible. The procedure in regard to such questions is same as that followed in the case of questions addressed to a Minister with such variations as the Speaker may consider necessary. 


6 . Remote Voting System


Context : The model of an Aadhaar-linked electronic voting system that would enable electors to cast their votes from any part of the country — irrespective of where they are registered to vote — or even abroad, is being prepared for the Election Commission of India by the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M)

About the Project

  • The system would allow, for example, a Delhi-registered elector who happens to be in Hyderabad to cast his or her vote in elections in the Capital electronically.
  • To start with, the proposal would be to enable voting at designated centres in different cities, but the second phase of the project, if approved, could be used to enable overseas electors to cast their votes, he said.
  • “The IIT-M is developing a system for two-way remote voting in controlled environment using blockchain technology. The system can’t work in isolation. It will have to be integrated with our ERO Net so if a person votes remotely, the electoral roll will reflect that
  • With the proposed linking of the Aadhaar biometrics with voter IDs at an “advanced stage”, the official said the two-way electronic voting system would be possible only when the linking is complete.
  • The ECI had used a one-way electronic system for service electors for the first time in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The postal ballots were transmitted electronically to the service electors, which led to an increased turnout or 60.14%.
  • If the project is given the go-ahead by the ECI, changes to the election laws would be required for which the Law Ministry would be approached.

7 . Darah Shikoh


Context : The Ministry of Culture recently set up a seven-member panel of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to locate the grave of the Mughal prince Dara Shikoh (1615-59). He is believed to be buried somewhere in the Humayun’s Tomb complex in Delhi, one of around 140 graves of the Mughal clan.

About Dara Shikoh

  • The eldest son of Shah Jahan, Dara Shikoh was killed after losing the war of succession against his brother Aurangzeb.
  • Dara Shikoh is described as a “liberal Muslim” who tried to find commonalities between Hindu and Islamic traditions.
  • He translated into Persian the Bhagavad Gita as well as 52 Upanishads.
  • According to the Shahjahannama, after Aurangzeb defeated Dara Shikoh, he brought the latter to Delhi in chains. His head was cut off and sent to Agra Fort, while his torso was buried in the Humayun’s Tomb complex.

8 . How to treat a child witness


Context : In the two weeks since police slapped sedition charges on a school in Bidar, Karnataka, where a play critical of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) had been staged, much of the spotlight has been on reports that the police questioned the children.

What are the international conventions on children in these situations?

  • India has been a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child since 1992, which was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1989.  “In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration,” the Convention states.
  • In 2009, the ‘United Nations: Justice in Matters involving Child Victims and Witnesses in Crime: Model Law’ provided a more specific set of guidelines in the context of child witnesses.  These guidelines recommend that authorities treat children in a caring and sensitive manner, with interview techniques that “minimise distress or trauma to children”.
  • They recommend specifically that an investigator specially trained in dealing with children be appointed to guide the interview of the child, using a child-sensitive approach. “The investigator shall, to the extent possible, avoid repetition of the interview during the justice process in order to prevent secondary victimisation of the child.” Secondary victimisation is defined as victimisation that occurs not as a direct result of a criminal act, but through the response of institutions and individuals to the victim.
  • Child rights activists say that children repeatedly questioned by authorities while in police uniform, without the presence of their parents, can lead to such trauma.

How do Indian laws address the issue of child witnesses?

  • Under Section 118 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, there is no minimum age for a witness. Children as young as three years old have deposed before trial courts in cases of sexual abuse. Usually during a trial, the court, before recording the testimony of a child witness, determines his or her competency on the basis of their ability to give rational answers. A child is usually asked questions like their name, the school they study in, and the names of their parents to determine their competency. 
  • If the child is very young and does not understand the significance of taking an oath to speak the truth — which is administered to each witness before testimony — the judge or the staff explain to the child that he or she should speak the truth, thinking of whichever God they believe in.
  • Trials involving children as witnesses have primarily been in cases of child sexual abuse. Other criminal cases where children are examined as witnesses have included those where a parent is the victim of violence at home, in the sole presence of the child.

Have courts dealt with how child witnesses are to be treated?

  • The Delhi High Court has come up with guidelines for recording of evidence of vulnerable witnesses in criminal matters. A vulnerable witness is defined as anyone who has not completed 18 years of age.
  • Focusing primarily on child witnesses giving testimonies that are recorded in court, the Delhi High Court guidelines underline the importance of the criminal justice system needing to respond proactively, sensitively, and in an age-appropriate manner when dealing with children. “The lengthy process of navigating the formal and adversarial criminal justice system can affect the vulnerable witnesses’ psychological development,” the guidelines say. They allow for a facilitator for a vulnerable witness to be appointed by a court for effective communication between various stakeholders including the police.
  • In 2016, the Delhi High Court said that while children can be pliable, their testimony can be considered after careful scrutiny.

What are the laws pertaining to the  questioning of children?

  • Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 :
    • The primary legislation in the country pertaining to children is The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
    • The Act does not provide guidelines specifically relating to questioning or interviewing of children as witnesses.
    • The Act’s very preamble, however, says that a “child-friendly approach in the adjudication and disposal of matters in the best interest of children” must be adhered to. This means adhering to general guidelines pertaining to the juvenile justice system — for instance, for the police to not be in their uniform while dealing with children.
    • It also requires that interviews of children be done by specialised units of police who are trained to sensitively deal with them.
    • The Act prescribes that a Special Juvenile Police Unit is to be constituted by the state government in each district and city, headed by a police officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police, and including two social workers, at least one of whom must be a woman, and both of whom should be experienced in the field of child welfare.
    • Their work includes coordinating with the police towards sensitive treatment of children. The Act also provides for a Child Welfare Committee in every district to take cognisance of any violations by the authorities in their handling of children.
  • Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012
    • Apart from the Juvenile Justice Act, The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 has specific guidelines regarding interviewing children as witnesses. While it pertains to child sexual abuse victims, child rights activists say the guidelines are a framework for all children who are being interviewed by the police as witnesses.
    • The Act states that interviews should be conducted in a safe, neutral, child-friendly environment, including allowing for them to be done at homes. It says a child should not be made to recount the incident in question multiple times.
    • The Act also allows for a support person, who could be trained in counselling, to be present with the child to reduce stress and trauma.
    • In 2018, the Bombay High Court had pulled up the police for repeatedly summoning a three-year-old to the police station for recording his statement in a case of alleged sexual abuse of his classmate; a school trustee was an accused in the case.

9 . Facts for Prelims


Kambala

  • Kambala, which roughly translates to “paddy-growing mud field” in the local language Tulu, is a traditional sport originating from part of Karnataka’s coast.
  • Participants sprint through a field, which is normally either 132m or 142m, with two buffalo that are tethered together.
  • The Kambala takes place typically from November to March
  • In the past, past the sport has attracted strong criticism from international animal rights groups.
  • In 2014, India’s Supreme Court issued a ban on races with bulls, prompted primarily by campaigns against the practice of Jallikattu, a form of bull-fighting from the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu.
  • In 2018, the state started allowing Kambala races to take part again, but issued several conditions – including a ban on the use of whips.
  • But the practice is still under threat. International animal rights group Peta has a petition pending in the Supreme Court, arguing that Karnataka’s reinstatement of Kambala was illegal.

GISAT 1

  • GEO Imaging Satellite or GISAT is a planned Indian geo-imaging satellite class for providing images quickly during disasters. Two identical satellites will provide resolution in the range of 50 m to 1.5 km.
  • It will carry multi-spectral (visible, near infra-red and thermal), multi-resolution (50 m to 1.5 km) imaging instruments.
  • Launch of the first satellite to geostationary orbit is expected in March 2020.

Asur Tribes

  • Asur, a particularly vulnerable tribal group in the hills of Jharkhand’s Latehar district
  • Asur language figures in the list of UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger

Sammakka Saralamma Jatara

  • Sammakka Saralamma Jatara  is a festival to honour the Hindu tribal goddesses, celebrated in the state of Telangana, India.
  • This Jatara is known for witnessing one of the largest people gatherings in the world.
  • People offer Bangaram (jaggery) :
  • The rituals related to the Goddesses are entirely conducted by Koya tribe priests, in accordance with Koya customs and traditions.

Temperature Rise

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