Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Appointment, Oath and Resignation of Chief Minister
- Single use Plastic ban
- Lancet Report on Road Safety
- Depreciation of Rupee
- Gaganyaan Mission
- Small Saving Schemes
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Appointment , Oath and Resignation of Chief Minister
Context : BJP announced that it will support rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde as the new Chief Minister, who took oath in a simple ceremony in the Raj Bhavan on Thursday evening, officiated by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.
Appointment of Chief Minister
- Article 164 of the Constitution provides that there shall be a Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister at its hand to aid and advise the governor.
- Appointment of the the Chief Minister is done by the governor.
- Term of Chief Minister is not fixed. Chief Minister holds office during the pleasure of the Governor. However, in actual practice the Chief Minister remains in office so long as he continues to be the leader of the majority in the State Legislative Assembly.
- The Governor can dismiss him in case he loses his majority support.
- The State Legislative Assembly can also remove him by passing a vote of no-confidence against him.
- The Chief Minister can resign by submitting a resignation letter to the respective Governor of the State.
2 . Landslide
Context : Eight people were killed in a massive landslip in Manipur in the early hours of Thursday. As many as 45 are feared to be trapped in the debris, say Army sources.
- A landslide is defined as the movement of a mass of rock, debris, or earth down a slope.
- Landslides are a type of “mass wasting,” which denotes any down-slope movement of soil and rock under the direct influence of gravity.
- The term “landslide” encompasses five modes of slope movement: falls, topples, slides, spreads, and flows. These are further subdivided by the type of geologic material (bedrock, debris, or earth). Debris flows (commonly referred to as mudflows or mudslides) and rock falls are examples of common landslide types.
Landslides have three major causes: geology, morphology, and human activity.
- Geology refers to characteristics of the material itself. The earth or rock might be weak or fractured, or different layers may have different strengths and stiffness.
- Morphology refers to the structure of the land. For example, slopes that lose their vegetation to fire or drought are more vulnerable to landslides. Vegetation holds soil in place, and without the root systems of trees, bushes, and other plants, the land is more likely to slide away. A classic morphological cause of landslides is erosion, or weakening of earth due to water.
- Human activity, such as agriculture and construction, can increase the risk of landslide. Irrigation, deforestation, excavation, and water leakage are some of the common activities that can help destabilize, or weaken, a slope.
Types of landslides
- Landslides are generally classified by type of movement (slides, flows, spreads, topples, or falls) and type of material (rock, debris, or earth).
- Sometimes more than one type of movement occurs within a single landslide.
Type of Movement
- Slides : Rockslides and other types of slides involve the displacement of material along one or more discrete shearing surfaces. The sliding can extend downward and outward along a broadly planar surface (a translational slide), or it can be rotational along a concave-upward set of shear surfaces (a slump). A translational slide is sometimes called a mud slide. If the overlying material moves as a single, little-deformed mass, it is called a block slide.
- Flow : A type of landslide in which the distribution of particle velocities resembles that of a viscous fluid is called a flow.
- Lateral Spread : Lateral spreads are distinctive because they usually occur on very gentle slopes or flat terrain. The dominant mode of movement is lateral extension accompanied by shear or tensile fractures. The failure is caused by liquefaction, the process whereby saturated, loose, cohesionless sediments (usually sands and silts) are transformed from a solid into a liquefied state. Failure is usually triggered by rapid ground motion, such as that experienced during an earthquake, but can also be artificially induced.
- Topples : Rotation of a mass of rock, debris, or earth outward from a steep slope face is called toppling. This type of movement can subsequently cause the mass to fall or slide.
Landslide mitigation and prevention
- Hazards are mitigated mainly through precautionary means such as
- by restricting or even removing populations from areas with a history of landslides
- by restricting certain types of land use where slope stability is in question
- by installing early warning systems based on the monitoring of ground conditions such as strain in rocks and soils, slope displacement, and groundwater levels.
- There are also various direct methods of preventing landslides; these include
- modifying slope geometry
- using chemical agents to reinforce slope material
- installing structures such as piles and retaining walls
- grouting rock joints and fissures
- diverting debris pathways
- rerouting surface and underwater drainage.
3 . Single use Plastic Ban
Context : The Centre has banned the use of ‘single-use plastic’ from July 1. The Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change had issued a gazette notification last year announcing the ban, and has now defined a list of items that will be banned from next month.
What is single-use plastic?
- Single us plastic refers to plastic items that are used once and discarded. Single-use plastic has among the highest shares of plastic manufactured and used — from packaging of items, to bottles (shampoo, detergents, cosmetics), polythene bags, face masks, coffee cups, cling film, trash bags, food packaging etc.
- A 2021 report by one of the Australian philanthropic organisations the Minderoo Foundation said single-use plastics account for a third of all plastic produced globally, with 98% manufactured from fossil fuels. Single-use plastic also accounts for the majority of plastic discarded – 130 million metric tonnes globally in 2019 — “all of which is burned, buried in landfills or discarded directly into the environment”, the report said.
- On the current trajectory of production, it has been projected that single-use plastic could account for 5-10% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
- The report found that India features in the top 100 countries of single-use plastic waste generation – at rank 94 (the top three being Singapore, Australia and Oman. With domestic production of 11.8 million metric tonnes annually, and import of 2.9 MMT, India’s net generation of single-use plastic waste is 5.6 MMT, and per capita generation is 4 kg.
What are the items being banned?
- The items on which the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) have announced a ban are earbuds; balloon sticks; candy and ice-cream sticks; cutlery items including plates, cups, glasses, forks, spoons, knives, trays; sweet boxes; invitation cards; cigarette packs; PVC banners measuring under 100 microns; and polystyrene for decoration.
- The Ministry had already banned polythene bags under 75 microns in September 2021, expanding the limit from the earlier 50 microns. From December, the ban will be extended to polythene bags under 120 microns. Ministry officials have explained that the ban is being introduced in phases to give manufacturers time to shift to thicker polythene bags that are easier to recycle. While manufacturers can use the same machine for 50- and 75-micron bags, the machinery will need to be upgraded for 120 microns.
- According to the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, there is also a complete ban on sachets using plastic material for storing, packing or selling gutkha, tobacco and pan masala.
- When plastic remains in the environment for long periods of time and does not decay, it turns into microplastics – first entering our food sources and then the human body, and this is extremely harmful.
- Items included in the ban list are difficult to collect, especially since most are either small, or discarded directly into the environment – like ice-cream sticks. It then becomes difficult to collect for recycling, unlike the much larger items
- The largest share of single-use plastic is that of packaging – with as much as 95% of single use belong to this category – from toothpaste to shaving cream to frozen foods. The items chosen are of low value and of low turnover and are unlikely to have a big economic impact, which could be a contributing reason.
How will the ban be enforced?
- The ban will be monitored by the CPCB from the Centre, and by the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) that will report to the Centre regularly.
- Those found violating the ban can be penalised under the Environment Protection Act 1986 – which allows for imprisonment up to 5 years, or a penalty up to Rs 1 lakh, or both.
- Violators can also be asked to pay Environmental Damage Compensation by the SPCB. In addition, there are municipal laws on plastic waste, with their own penal codes.
How are other countries dealing with single-use plastic?
- Earlier this year, 124 countries, parties to the United Nations Environment Assembly, including India, signed a resolution to draw up an agreement which will in the future make it legally binding for the signatories to address the full life of plastics from production to disposal, to end plastic pollution.
- Bangladesh became the first country to ban thin plastic bags in 2002. New Zealand became the latest country to ban plastic bags in July 2019. China issued a ban on plastic bags in 2020 with phased implementation.
- As of July 2019, 68 countries have plastic bag bans with varying degrees of enforcement.
- Eight states in the US have banned single-use plastic bags, beginning with California in 2014. Seattle became the first major US city to ban plastic straws in 2018.
- On July 2, 2021, the Directive on Single-Use Plastics took effect in the European Union (EU). The directive bans certain single-use plastics for which alternatives are available; single-use plastic plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks and cotton buds cannot be placed on the markets of the EU member states. The same measure applies to cups, food and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene, and all products made of oxo-degradable plastic.
- Vanuatu and the Seychelles have banned plastic straws outright.
4 . Lancet Report on Road Safety
Context : A new analytical series on road safety worldwide, published by The Lancet, proposes that India could cut accident-related deaths by 25 to 40% based on evidence that preventive interventions produce good outcomes when applied to well-known risk factors.
Importance of Report for India
- India remains among the worst-performing countries in this area with a toll of 1,47,913 lives lost to road traffic accidents in 2017 as per Ministry of Road Transport and Highways statistics. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) figure for the same year is 1,50,093 road accident deaths.
- India’s data on road crash mortality are seen as an undercount, and the Global Burden of Disease report for 2017 estimates, based on verbal autopsy sources, that there were 2,18,876 deaths. The persistently high annual death toll brings into question the country’s ability to meet Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.6, which aims to halve the fatalities and injuries from road traffic accidents by 2030.
- Globally, about 14 lakh people die in traffic accidents annually, and nearly five crore are injured; over half of those killed are pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists; Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC) bear the maximum burden of road fatalities and injuries, with high economic costs — an average of three to five per cent of GDP — suffered by these countries in 2014.
- The United Nations is holding a high-level meeting on Global Road Safety on June 30 and July 1, 2022 to review the progress and challenges.
Key Findings of the Report
- Report proposes that India and other countries could cut accident-related deaths by 25 to 40% based on evidence that preventive interventions produce good outcomes when applied to four well-known risk factors — high speed, driving under the influence of alcohol, not using proper helmets, not wearing seat-belts and not using child restraints.
- Using the Global Burden of Disease data, a statistical model was constructed to estimate the number of lives that could be saved with interventions in the respective areas for each country. An average of 20,554 lives could have been saved in India with a reduction in speeds, 5,683 with helmet interventions and 3,204 with seatbelts. The savings for curbs on driving under the influence of alcohol were not quantified because the country does not report the percentage of such fatalities.
- While positive user behaviour — slower travel, wearing of helmets, seat belts and so on — could save thousands of lives, the structural problems linked to unplanned motorisation and urbanisation remain. In India, speedy highway construction without reconciling fast and slow-moving traffic, presence of ramshackle vehicles, rampant wrong-side driving, absence of adequate police forces to monitor vehicles and curb drunk driving, and poor trauma care in non-urban centres contribute to high death and disability rates.
- In addition, the study series in The Lancet also calculates that 17% of road traffic injury-related deaths in LMICs could be avoided if trauma care facilities improved. This is significant as several accidents take place in rural areas on highways, and victims are taken to poorly-equipped district hospitals or medical college hospitals.
- India amended its law on motor vehicles in 2019, but its implementation by State governments is not uniform or complete. A National Road Safety Board was constituted under the Motor Vehicles Act, with advisory powers to reform safety. The focus of State governments, however, remains conventional, with an emphasis on user behaviour (drivers and other road users), education and uneven enforcement.
- Low emphasis is placed on structural change such as raising engineering standards for roads, signages, signals, training for scientific accident investigation, raising policing skills and fixing responsibility on government departments for design, creation and maintenance of road infrastructure.
- According to the Transport Ministry, more than 65% of those killed in road accidents in 2019 were in rural areas. Yet, the substantial death toll in densely populated urban centres — 32.9% — indicates that better engineering and enforcement can easily cut fatalities in the current decade, in the run up to the SDG goal year of 2030. This would be in consonance with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) decade of action on road safety, recognising it as a major public health issue, launched last year.
What can be done to cut death and injury rates?
- The ambitious amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act in 2019 (MV Act) have not yielded significant results, although the restrictions on vehicular movement for COVID-19 temporarily slowed the rising graph of fatalities and injuries. In many countries, post-COVID-19 driving has turned more unruly, leading to a rise in pedestrian deaths.
- Major interventions in India, first suggested by the Sundar Committee (2007) and ordered by the Supreme Court in S. Rajasekaran vs Union of India have not made a dent in the problem. The measures include setting up of an apex national body for road safety, and fixing decentralised responsibility at the district level.
- The Sundar Committee pointed out that India lacked a technically competent investigation arm that could determine the cause of accidents; the National Road Safety Board Rules, 2021, provide for the formation of technical working groups covering, among other things, crash investigation and forensics. There is little clarity on whether the States have formed such units to aid traffic investigation, or whether the insurance industry has pressed for these to accurately determine fault. In the absence of scientific investigation, perceptions usually guide the fixing of liability. The MV Act stipulates only a fine up to one lakh for failure to follow norms and stipulations by the designated authority, contractor, consultant or concessionaire, leading to death or disability, and there is little evidence that even this has been enforced after a public inquiry.
- The authors of The Lancet point out that legislation without enforcement ends in failure. Moreover, while proven interventions are proposed by WHO, absorptive capacities vary in LMICs. This is evident even in fast-growing India, since no single department bears responsibility to make roads safe. In the short term, slowing down traffic, particularly near habitations, segregating slower vehicles, enforcing seat belt and helmet use and cracking down on drunken drivers could produce measurable gains.
5 . Depreciation of Rupee
Context : The Indian rupee hit an all-time low against the U.S. dollar this week weakening past the 79 rupees to a dollar mark and selling as low as 79.05 against the dollar . Many analysts expect the rupee to weaken further in the coming months and move past the 80 rupees to a dollar mark. In fact, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the rupee to weaken past the 94 rupees to a dollar mark by FY29.
What determines the rupee’s value?
- The value of any currency is determined by demand for the currency as well as its supply. When the supply of a currency increases, its value drops. On the other hand, when the demand for a currency increases, its value rises.
- In the wider economy, central banks determine the supply of currencies, while the demand for currencies depends on the amount of goods and services produced in the economy.
- In the forex market, the supply of rupees is determined by the demand for imports and various foreign assets.
- So, if there is high demand to import oil, it can lead to an increase in the supply of rupees in the forex market and cause the rupee’s value to drop.
- The demand for rupees in the forex market, on the other hand, depends on foreign demand for Indian exports and other domestic assets.
- So, for instance, when there is great enthusiasm among foreign investors to invest in India, it can lead to an increase in the supply of dollars in the forex market which in turn causes the rupee’s value to rise against the dollar.
Reasons for Depreciating Rupee Value
- U.S. Federal Reserve has been raising its benchmark interest rate causing investors seeking higher returns to pull capital away from emerging markets such as India and back into the U.S. This, in turn, has put pressure on emerging market currencies which have depreciated significantly against the U.S. dollar so far this year. In fact, some analysts believe that the RBI’s surprise decision to raise rates in May could have simply been to defend the rupee by preventing any rapid outflow of capital from India.
- India’s current account deficit, which measures the gap between the value of imports and exports of goods and services, is expected to hit a 10-year high of 3.3% of gross domestic product in the current financial year. This means that India’s import demand amid rising global oil prices is likely to negatively affect the rupee unless foreign investors pour sufficient capital into the country to fund the deficit. But foreign investors are unlikely to plough capital into India when investment yields are rising in the U.S. Yields on U.S. 10-year Treasuries, for instance, have risen from around 0.5% in mid-2020 to over 3% now.
- The rupee, it should also be noted, has consistently lost value against the U.S. dollar for several decades now. A major reason for this has been consistently higher domestic price inflation in India. Higher inflation in India suggests that the RBI has been creating rupees at a faster rate than the U.S. Federal Reserve has been creating dollars. So, while capital and trade flows gain a lot of attention in discussions on the rupee’s value, the difference in the rates at which the U.S. Federal Reserve and the RBI regulate the supply of their currencies may play a much larger role in determining the value of the rupee in the long run.
What lies ahead?
- Analysts believe that, over the long run, the rupee is likely to continue to depreciate against the dollar given the significant differences in long-run inflation between India and the U.S.
- At the moment, as the U.S. Federal Reserve raises rates to tackle historically high inflation in the country, other countries and emerging markets in particular will be forced to raise their own interest rates to avoid disruptive capital outflows and to protect their currencies. It should be noted that inflation in the U.S. hit a 41-year high of 8.6%.
- The RBI too has been trying to rein in domestic consumer price inflation, which hit a 95-month high of 7.8% in April, by raising rates and tightening liquidity. As interest rates rise across the globe, the threat of a global recession also rises as economies readjust to tighter monetary conditions.
6 . Gaganyaan Mission
Context : The Indian Space Research Organisation is not in a hurry to execute Gaganyaan, the manned mission to space, and the Chandrayaan-3 mission in a hurry as the space agency wants to ensure all safety aspects and systems are absolutely in place leaving no room for any issues to occur.
About Gaganyaan Mission
- Proposed manned space mission by ISRO is called Gaganyaan
Implementation Strategy and Targets
- As a part of the programme, two unmanned flights and one manned flight will be undertaken.
- The first human space flight demonstration is targeted to be completed within 40 months of the sanction date. Prior to this, two unmanned flights in full complement will be carried out to gain confidence, the government said.
- The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has developed the launch vehicle GSLV MK-III, which has the necessary payload capability to launch a three-member crew module in low earth orbit.
Current status of the mission
- ISRO has completed the development of launch vehicle GSLV Mk-lll which has the necessary payload capability to launch a 3-member crew module in low earth orbit.
- ISRO has also tested the crew escape system which is an essential technology for human space flight. Scientists were working on the crew escape module and implementing intelligence into the rocket so that in case an issue arises, the rocket can decide that the crew needs to eject the vehicle.
- The aerodynamic characterization of crew module has been completed as part of GSLV Mk-lll X mission flight.
- Elements of life support system and Space suit also have been realized and tested.
- In addition, the orbital & re-entry mission and recovery operations have been flight demonstrated in Space Capsule Re-entry experiment (SRE) mission.
- Astronauts are currently under training in Russia
- Gaganyaan Programme will establish a broader framework for collaboration between ISRO, academia, industry, national agencies and other scientific organizations.
- It This will allow pooling in of diverse technological and industrial capabilities and enable broader participation in research opportunities and technology development benefitting large number of students and researchers.
- The flight system realization will be through Industry.
- It is expected to generate employment and train human resources in advanced technologies.
- It will inspire large number of young students to take up science and technology careers for national development.
- Gaganyaan Programme is a national effort and will involve the participation of the Industry, Academia and National Agencies spread across the length and breadth of the country.
- The programme is expected to spur research and development within the country in niche science and technology domains.
- Huge potential for technology spinoffs in areas such as medicine, agriculture, industrial safety, pollution, waste management, water and food resource management etc.
- Human spaceflight programme will provide a unique micro-gravity platform in space for conducting experiments and test bed for future technologies.
- The programme is expected to give impetus to economic activities within the country in terms of employment generation, human resource development and enhanced industrial capabilities.
- Human Spaceflight capability will enable India to participate as a collaborating partner in future Global space exploration initiatives with long term national benefits.
7 . Small Saving Scheme
Context : The government has left the interest rates on small savings schemes such as the Public Provident Fund (PPF) and the National Savings Certificate (NSC) unchanged for the July-September quarter.
Small Savings Schemes
- Small Saving schemes have been always an important source of household savings in India.
- Small savings instruments can be classified under three heads.
- Postal deposits : Under Post Office Deposits we have the savings deposit, recurring deposit and time deposits with 1, 2, 3 and 5 year maturities and the monthly income account.
- Savings certificates: Under Savings Certificates, we have the National Savings Certificate and the Kisan Vikas Patra.
- Social security schemes : In the third head of social security schemes, there is Public Provident Fund, Sukanya Samriddhi Account and Senior Citizens Savings Scheme.
National Small Savings Fund
- A National Small Savings Fund (NSSF) in the Public Account of India has been established in 1999. A new sub sector has been introduced called “National Small Savings Fund” in the list of Major and Minor Heads of Government Accounts.
- All small savings collections are credited to this Fund. Similarly, all withdrawals under small savings schemes by the depositors are made out of the accumulations in this Fund.
- The balance in the Fund is invested in Central and State Government Securities. The investment pattern is as per norms decided from time to time by the Government of India.
- The Fund is administered by the Government of India, Ministry of Finance (Department of Economic Affairs) under National Small Savings Fund (Custody and Investment) Rules, 2001, framed by the President under Article 283(1) of the Constitution.
- The objective of NSSF is to de-link small savings transactions from the Consolidated Fund of India and ensure their operation in a transparent and self-sustaining manner.
- Since NSSF operates in the public account, its transactions do not impact the fiscal deficit of the Centre directly.
- As an instrument in the public account, the balances under NSSF are direct liabilities and constitute a part of the outstanding liabilities of the Centre.
- The NSSF flows affect the cash position of the Central Government.
8 . Facts for Prelims
- The PSLV Orbital Experimental Module (POEM) is a platform that will help perform in-orbit experiments using the final, and otherwise discarded, stage of ISRO’s workhorse rocket, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
- The PSLV is a four-stage rocket where the first three spent stages fall back into the ocean, and the final stage (PS4) — after launching the satellite into orbit — ends up as space junk. However, in PSLV-C53 mission, the spent final stage will be utilised as a “stabilised platform” to perform experiments.
- It is the first time that the PS4 stage would orbit the earth as a stabilised platform.
- POEM is carrying six payloads, including two from Indian space start-ups Digantara and Dhruva Space.
- According to ISRO, POEM has a dedicated Navigation Guidance and Control (NGC) system for attitude stabilisation, which stands for controlling the orientation of any aerospace vehicle within permitted limits. The NGC will act as the platform’s brain to stabilize it with specified accuracy.
- POEM will derive its power from solar panels mounted around the PS4 tank, and a Li-Ion battery. It will navigate using “four sun sensors, a magnetometer, gyros & NavIC”.
- “It carries dedicated control thrusters using Helium gas storage. It is enabled with a telecommand feature
- The Indian space agency first demonstrated the capability of using PS4 as an orbital platform in 2019 with the PSLV-C44 mission that injected Microsat-R and Kalamsat-V2 satellites into their designated orbits. The fourth stage in that mission was kept alive as an orbital platform for space-based experiments.
- Leprosy also known as Hansen’s disease (also known as leprosy) is an infection caused by slow-growing bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae.
- It can affect the nerves, skin, eyes, and lining of the nose (nasal mucosa).
- With early diagnosis and treatment, the disease can be cured.
- People with Hansen’s disease can continue to work and lead an active life during and after treatment.
- Leprosy was once feared as a highly contagious and devastating disease, but now we know it doesn’t spread easily and treatment is very effective. However, if left untreated, the nerve damage can result in crippling of hands and feet, paralysis, and blindness.