Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- J&K Land Grants Rule 2022
- Rocket Stages and uncontrolled reentries
- Myanmar issue and India’s abstention
- Intranasal Covid Vaccine
- Facts for Prelims
1 . J&K Land Grants Rule 2022
Context: The J&K Lieutenant Governor’s administration, in the third week of December, notified fresh land rules under J&K Land Grant Rules-2022 and replaced the J&K Land Grants Rules-1960, which dealt with the special rules to grant government land on lease in erstwhile State of J&K. Under the previous rules, prime locations such as Srinagar, Jammu, Gulmarg and Pahalgam were opened up for construction of hotels, commercial structures and residential buildings in the past.
The new rules
- According to the new land laws, the leases of current land owners will not be extended in case of their lease expiry.
- It reads that all leases, except the subsisting or expired residential leases, expired or determined prior to the coming into force of these rules or issued under these rules shall not be renewed and shall stand determined.
- Unlike the previous up to 99 years of lease, the lease period has been reduced to 40 years.
- An expert committee will enlist all properties where lease had ended. It will be e-auctioned afresh.
- The rules open bidding to “any person legally competent under Section 11 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872.”
- These rules deem a person or an entity in default of Government Revenue accrued to the government under J&K Land Grant Act, 1960 or Government convicted under Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 shall not be eligible for participation in the auction.
- According to now-repealed land laws, no such land shall be granted on lease to the person, who is not a permanent residence of the State;
- except where the Government, for the reasons to be recorded, relax this restriction in the interest of industrial or commercial development or in the favour of aregistered charitable society.
Who are eligible for lease rights in J&K after amendments?
- The L-G administration has diversified the use of land on lease to education, healthcare, agriculture, tourism, skill development and development of traditional art, craft, culture and languages.
- The land could be leased for hydro-electric projects, stadiums, playgrounds, gymnasiums or other recreational purposes.
- It also included provisions for self-employment or for housing purposes of ex-servicemen, war widows and the families of martyrs, one who has sacrificed his life in the line of duty.
- In a first, the land could also be used for facilities of migrant workers, buildings and other construction workers.
Immediate impact of the amendments
- The new rules have hundreds of properties open for fresh auction, where outsiders could also participate.
- The government has not yet released the list of properties where lease has ended.
- The impact will be of great significance in tourist hotspot Gulmarg, where 56 hotels out of 59 have their leases expired already.
- Similarly, properties in Pahalgam, Srinagar and Jammu’s Patnitop will go up for auction.
2 . Uncontrolled Reentries of Rockets
Context: More than 140 experts and dignitaries have signed an open letter published by the Outer Space Institute (OSI) calling for both national and multilateral efforts to restrict uncontrolled re-entries — the phenomenon of rocket parts falling back to earth in unguided fashion once their missions are complete. Among others, the letter is addressed to S. Somanath, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
Stages of a rocket launch
- Rockets have multiple stages.
- Once a stage has increased the rocket’s altitude and velocity by a certain amount, the rocket sheds it.
- Some rockets jettison all their larger stages before reaching the destination orbit; a smaller engine then moves the payload to its final orbit.
- Others carry the payload to the orbit, then perform a deorbit manoeuvre to begin their descent.
- In both cases, rocket stages come back down — in controlled or uncontrolled ways.
What is an uncontrolled re-entry?
- In an uncontrolled re-entry, the rocket stage simply falls.
- Its path down is determined by its shape, angle of descent, air currents and other characteristics. It will also disintegrate as it falls.
- As the smaller pieces fan out, the potential radius of impact will increase on the ground.
- Some pieces burn up entirely while others don’t. But because of the speed at which they’re travelling, debris can be deadly.
Why are scientists worried about the re-entries?
- Risk of a Catastrophe- A 2021 report of the International Space Safety Foundation said, “an impact anywhere on an airliner with debris of mass above 300 grams would produce a catastrophic failure, meaning all people on board would be killed”.
- Dropping on land- Most rocket parts have landed in oceans principally because earth’s surface has more water than land. But many have dropped on land as well.
- The OSI letter cited examples of parts of a Russian rocket in 2018 and China’s Long March 5B rockets in 2020 and 2022 striking parts of Indonesia, Peru, India and Ivory Coast, among others.
- Chemical contamination- If re-entering stages still hold fuel, atmospheric and terrestrial chemical contamination is another risk.
- Disproportionate risk- Conservative estimates place the casualty risk from uncontrolled rocket body re-entries as around 10% in the next decade and countries in the ‘Global South’ face a “disproportionately higher” risk of casualties.
- No international agreement- There is no international binding agreement to ensure rocket stages always perform controlled re-entries nor on the technologies with which to do so.
- The Liability Convention 1972 requires countries to pay for damages, not prevent them.
Demand for minimum damage-
- Ocean landing- While the OSI letter admits that any kind of re-entry will inevitably damage some ecosystem, it recommends that bodies aim for an ocean in order to avoid human casualties.
- Re-entering satellites- Scientists are demanding that future solutions be extended to re-entering satellites as well.
- India’s 300-kg RISAT-2 satellite re-entered earth’s atmosphere in October after 13 years in low-earth orbit. The ISRO tracked it with its system for safe and sustainable space operations management from a month beforehand. It plotted its predicted paths using models in-house. The RISAT-2 eventually fell into the Indian Ocean on October 30.
3 . Myanmar issue and India’s abstention
Context: India, along with Russia and China, abstained from a U.N. Security Council resolution criticising Myanmar’s military regime, and instead called for “quiet, patient” and “constructive” diplomacy with the junta.
- Myanmar has been trapped in a cycle of violence since the army ousted Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government in February 2021, detaining her and thousands of activists and launching a brutal crackdown that has given rise to armed resistance movements.
- Myanmar’s military-led government (junta) has been accused of thousands of extrajudicial killings since then.
- The military’s seizure of power from Suu Kyi’s elected government triggered peaceful protests that soon escalated to armed resistance and then to widespread fighting that some U.N. experts characterize as a civil war.
- Some resistance groups have engaged in assassinations, drive-by shootings and bombings in urban areas.
- Myanmar is a member of the influential ASEAN group, which has been trying to implement a five-point consensus it reached on Myanmar last year calling for dialogue among all concerned parties, provision of humanitarian assistance, an immediate cessation of violence and a visit by a special envoy to meet all parties.
UNSC vote and India’s abstention
- The vote, which marked the first Security Council resolution on the situation in Myanmar in decades, and in particular since the military overthrew the elected National Unity Government (NUG) in February 2021, demanded an end to violence in Myanmar and the release political prisoners, including President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.
- The resolution proposed by the United Kingdom, which was passed by 12 votes, made several references to the importance of the “ASEAN” process, referring to the “five-point consensus” passed by the 10-nation ASEAN.
- India’s reasons for abstention-
- India believes that the complex situation in Myanmar calls for an approach of quiet and patient diplomacy. Any other course will not help in resolving the long-standing issues which have prevented enduring peace, stability, progress and democratic governance.
- UNSC resolution would only “entrench” the parties concerned in Myanmar, and Myanmar’s neighbours like India, which shares a nearly 1,700-km-long border with it, would be among those most affected by the instability in that country.
- Indian government’s latest statement is a marked difference from the statement made in the UNSC in April 2021, when India had “condemned” the violence in Myanmar unleashed after the coup, called for the release of prisoners as the “first and most important” step, supported ASEAN efforts, and demanded that Rohingya refugees “displaced” in Bangladesh be rehabilitated in Myanmar at the earliest.
4 . Intra-Nasal Covid Vaccine
Context: Bharat Biotech’s intranasal Covid vaccine has been approved by the Union Health Ministry as a booster dose for those above 18 years of age. It is the world’s first intranasal vaccine to be approved as a booster dose for Covid-19.
About BBV154 (Incovacc)-
- The nasal vaccine is a recombinant replication-deficient adenovirus vectored vaccine with a pre-fusion stabilized spike protein.
- The nasal vaccine — BBV154 — received approval of the Drugs Controller General of India in November for restricted use in an emergency situation for those above 18 years as a heterologous booster dose.
- It is likely to be rolled out in the national Covid vaccination programme soon.
- The needle-free vaccine will be available at private centres. It will be introduced on the Co-WIN platform soon.
- Incovacc will be available as a booster dose only for those above 18 years of age who have got 2 doses of either Covaxin or Covishield.
- It will not be administered to any other category, for now, including those who have already taken booster dose.
Working mechanism of the vaccine
- As the vaccine is given nasally, it triggers an immune response in the mucosal membrane.
- BBV154 may produce local antibodies in the upper respiratory tract which may provide the potential to reduce infection and transmission.
- Since the nasal vaccine gives local immunity (in the nose where the virus first enters), it can be said that it is more likely to be effective at preventing transmission than the current generation of vaccines we have.
Significance of the new vaccine
- With the vaccine being delivered through a nasal spray, it will do away with the need for needles and syringes currently required for all the Covid-19 vaccines available.
- It will also reduce dependence on personnel trained to give shots.
- Incovacc is effective for Omicron variants that replicate in the upper respiratory tract before entering the lungs.
5 . One Rank one Pension
Context: The Union Cabinet has approved a pending pension revision for pensioners from the armed forces and their families under the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme, which has been delayed since July 2019.
What is OROP?
- OROP implies uniform pension to personnel based on rank and length of service, and irrespective of the date of retirement.
- Before OROP, ex-servicemen used to get pensions as per the Pay Commission’s recommendations of the time when they had retired.
- Pension for those drawing above the average shall be protected and the benefit would also be extended to family pensioners, including war widows and disabled pensioners.
- Arrears will be paid in four half-yearly instalments. However, all the family pensioners, including those in receipt of special, liberalised family pensions, and gallantry award winners, shall be paid arrears in one instalment.
- Armed Forces Personnel who had retired till 30th june 2014 are covered under it.
- The implementation of the scheme was based on recommendation of the Koshiyari committee, a 10 member all-party parliamentary panel formed under the chairmanship of Bhagat Singh Koshiyari.
Issues and Challenges
- High Annual Expenditure- Grant of full OROP will bloat the government’s pension bill.
- The estimated annual expenditure for the implementation of the revision has been calculated as approximately ₹8,450 crore based on 31% Dearness Relief (DR).
- Administrative problems- It is a tedious task to pass all the benefits.
- Legal issues- It will lead to similar demands by other government employees especially paramilitary forces.
6 . Facts for Prelims
- Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix — the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina.
- Various strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, play a role in causing most cervical cancer.
- When exposed to HPV, the body’s immune system typically prevents the virus from doing harm.
- In a small percentage of people, however, the virus survives for years, contributing to the process that causes some cervical cells to become cancer cells.
- It is the 4th most common type of cancer among women, globally and 2nd most common among women in India.
- India contributes the largest share of the global cervical cancer burden; nearly 1 in every 4 deaths globally due to cervical cancer (as per The Lancet study).
- When diagnosed, cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treatable forms of cancer, as long as it is detected early and managed effectively.
- Cancers diagnosed in late stages can also be controlled with appropriate treatment and palliative care.
- With a comprehensive approach to prevent, screen and treat, cervical cancer can be eliminated as a public health problem within a generation.
- India is expected to roll out the indigenously developed CERVAVAC vaccine for the prevention of cervical cancer among girls aged 9-14 years through their schools by mid-2023.
- Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or misleading information about how a company’s products are environmentally sound.
- Greenwashing involves making an unsubstantiated claim to deceive consumers into believing that a company’s products are environmentally friendly or have a greater positive environmental impact than they actually do.
- In addition, greenwashing may occur when a company attempts to emphasize sustainable aspects of a product to overshadow the company’s involvement in environmentally damaging practices.
- Performed through the use of environmental imagery, misleading labels, and hiding tradeoffs, greenwashing is a play on the term “whitewashing,” which means using false information to intentionally hide wrongdoing, error, or an unpleasant situation in an attempt to make it seem less bad than it is.
- Also known as “green sheen,” greenwashing is an attempt to capitalize on the growing demand for environmentally sound products, whether that means they are more natural, healthier, free of chemicals, recyclable, or less wasteful of natural resources.
- Recently some of the world’s biggest carbon emitters, such as conventional energy companies, have attempted to rebrand themselves as champions of the environment.
- Products are greenwashed through a process of renaming, rebranding, or repackaging them.
- Greenwashed products might convey the idea that they’re more natural, wholesome, or free of chemicals than competing brands.
Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for defence projects-
- An AoN is accorded by the Defence Ministry for a particular weapon system or equipment at the beginning of the procurement process.
- The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), headed by Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh, in its meeting held on December 22, 2022, has accorded approval for Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for 24 Capital Acquisition Proposals.
- The AoNs accorded will equip the Indian Army with platforms and equipment such as Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicles, Light Tanks and Mounted Gun System providing a quantum jump to Indian Army’s operational preparedness.
- Proposals approved also includes procurement of Ballistic Helmets, with enhanced protection level for soldiers.
Sahitya Akademi awards-
- The Sahitya Akademi Award is a literary honour in India, which the Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Academy of Letters, annually confers on writers of the most outstanding books of literary merit published in any of the 22 languages of the 8th Schedule to the Indian constitution as well as in English and Rajasthani language.
- Established in 1954, the award comprises a plaque and a cash prize of ₹ 1,00,000.
- The award’s purpose is to recognise and promote excellence in Indian writing and also acknowledge new trends.
- The annual process of selecting awardees runs for the preceding twelve months.
- The plaque awarded by the Sahitya Akademi was designed by the Indian film-maker Satyajit Ray.
- Prior to this, the plaque occasionally was made of marble, but this practice was discontinued because of the excessive weight.
- Sahitya akademi is an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Culture, encouraging the preservation and promotion of languages, especially the unrecognised and tribal languages.
- It publishes two bi-monthly literary journals: Indian Literature in English and Samkaleen Bharatiya Sahitya in Hindi.
- The Sahitya Akademi Library is one of the largest multi-lingual libraries in India, with a rich collection of books on literature and allied subjects.
Centrally Protected Monuments or Sites-
- Centrally Protected Monuments are those that are protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
- Under this Act, construction activities are prohibited within 100 meters of a centrally protected monument and construction within 100 to 200 meters of these structures is strictly regulated.
- The regulations under this Act are implemented by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
- The officials from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) regularly inspect the monuments to assess their present conditions.
- According to the Central Government, a total of 356 centrally protected monuments have been illegally encroached into across India. This is an increase from the 2019 figure of 321 protected monuments that have been infringed.
- Uttar Pradesh, at 743, has the largest number of centrally protected monuments that have been illegally encroached.
Adjourned sine die
- The term “Adjournment sine die” refers to the termination of a Parliamentary session for an indefinite period of time.
- Adjournment sine die, in other terms, is when the House is adjourned without setting a date for resumption.
- The presiding officer of the House has the ability to adjourn sine die.
- A House’s presiding officer can call a meeting of the House before the day or time set for suspension, or at any time after the House has been adjourned sine die.
- The President issues a notification for prorogation of the session after the business of a session is completed and the presiding officer declares the House adjourned sine die.
- The President can also prorogue the House while in session.