Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Study on Earth’s Inner Core
- Non-Aligned Movement
- Changes in Living Will Guidelines
- Green India Mission
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Study on Earth’s Inner Core
Context: Earth’s inner core, a hot iron ball the size of Pluto, has stopped spinning faster than the planet’s surface and might now be rotating slower than it, research suggested on Monday.
About the Study
- In research published in the journal Nature Geoscience on Monday, Yi Yang, associate research scientist at Peking University, and Xiaodong Song, Peking University chair professor, studied seismic waves from earthquakes that have passed through the Earth’s inner core along similar paths since the 1960s to infer how fast the inner core is spinning.
- A 1996 study in Nature also revealed that the travel times of seismic waves that traverse the Earth’s inner core show a small but systematic variation over the past three decades. This variation is best explained by a rotation of the inner core and the rotation rate is on the order of 1° per year faster than the daily rotation of the mantle and crust.
Key Findings of the Study
- The study published in Nature Geoscience states that the globally consistent pattern suggests that inner-core rotation has recently paused. The rotation came to a grinding halt in 2009 and then it surprisingly turned in an opposite direction. Researchers have long believed that the inner core rotates, relative to the Earth’s surface, back and forth, like a swing.
- “One cycle of the swing is about seven decades, meaning it changes direction roughly every 35 years. It previously changed direction in the early 1970s, and predicted the next about-face would be in the mid-2040s,” researcher said.
- The team from Peaking University analysed earthquakes mostly from between 1995 and 2021 and the analysis revealed that sometime around 2009 the core stopped spinning and might be in the process of changing the spinning direction.
- The spin of the inner core is driven by the magnetic field generated in the outer core and balanced by the gravitational effects of the mantle. Knowing how the inner core rotates could shed light on how these layers interact and other processes deep in the Earth.
What Is Earth’s Inner Core?
- Earth’s layers are divided into three parts: the crust, mantle, and core
- Earth’s inner core was first discovered in 1936 as researchers were studying seismic waves from earthquakes that travel throughout the planet.
- It was the change in the waves that revealed Earth’s core, which is around 7000 kilometers wide and made up of a solid center of iron wrapped inside the shell of liquid iron.
Structure Of The Earth
- It is the outermost solid part of the earth. It is brittle in nature. The thickness of the crust varies under the oceanic and continental areas. Oceanic crust is thinner as compared to the continental crust. The mean thickness of oceanic crust is 5 km whereas that of the continental is around 30 km. The continental crust is thicker in the areas of major mountain systems. It is as much as 70 km thick in the Himalayan region. It is made up of heavier rocks having density of 3 g/cm3. This type of rock found in the oceanic crust is basalt. The mean density of material in oceanic crust is 2.7 g/cm3.
- The portion of the interior beyond the crust is called the mantle. The mantle extends from Moho’s discontinuity to a depth of 2,900 km. The upper portion of the mantle is called asthenosphere. The word astheno means weak. It is considered to be extending upto 400 km. It is the main source of magma that finds its way to the surface during volcanic eruptions. It has a density higher than the crust’s (3.4 g/cm3). The crust and the uppermost part of the mantle are called lithosphere. Its thickness ranges from 10-200 km. The lower mantle extends beyond the asthenosphere. It is in solid state.
- As indicated earlier, the earthquake wave velocities helped in understanding the existence of the core of the earth. The core mantle boundary is located at the depth of 2,900 km. The outer core is in liquid state while the inner core is in solid state. The density of material at the mantle core boundary is around 5 g/cm3 and at the centre of the earth at 6,300 km, the density value is around 13g/cm3. The core is made up of very heavy material mostly constituted by nickel and iron. It is sometimes referred to as the nife layer.
- Researchers have said that the rotation of the core is related to the changes in the length of the day, and it could lead to small variations in the exact time it takes for Earth to rotate on its axis and that there are links between the different layers of the planet -crust, mantle, and core.
- The team said that the observations provide evidence for dynamic interactions between the Earth’s layers, from the deepest interior to the surface, potentially due to gravitational coupling and the exchange of angular momentum from the core and mantle to the surface
2 . Non – Aligned Movement
Context: India and Egypt on Thursday reiterated support for the Non-Aligned Movement. In a joint statement issued after the end of bilateral engagements for President Abdel Fateh el-Sisi, who was the chief guest at the Republic Day parade here, both countries expressed desire for exchange of technology between their defence industries
About the News
- India and Egypt reaffirmed their commitment to multilateralism, the principles of the United Nations Charter, international law, the founding values of the Non-Aligned Movement, and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states.
- India and Egypt agreed to “initiate new engagements to intensify military-to-military engagements” and planned more joint exercises between the armed forces of the two countries
- Egypt’s relation with India was also helped by its display of pragmatism especially in the backdrop of the Nupur Sharma controversy of 2022 when Cairo maintained silence while certain Gulf countries were vocal in India’s criticism.
- The two governments agreed to fight terrorism in all forms, “including cross-border terrorism” and intensify consultation between their respective National Security Councils.
About Non-Aligned Movement
- The Non-Aligned Movement was formed during the Cold War, largely on the initiative of then-Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito, as an organization of States that did not seek to formally align themselves with either the United States or the Soviet Union, but sought to remain independent or neutral.
- The basic concept for the group originated in 1955 during discussions that took place at the Asia-Africa Bandung Conference held in Indonesia.
- In the context of the Cold War, they argued, countries of the developing world should abstain from allying with either of the two superpowers (the United States and the U.S.S.R.) and should instead join together in support of national self-determination against all forms of colonialism and imperialism.
- The Non-Aligned Movement was founded and held its first conference (the Belgrade Conference) in 1961 under the leadership of Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, and Sukarno of Indonesia.
- Unlike the United Nations (UN) or the Organization of American States, the Non-Aligned Movement has no formal constitution or permanent secretariat. All members of the Non-Aligned Movement have equal weight within its organization.
- The movement’s positions are reached by consensus in the Summit Conference of Heads of State or Government, which usually convenes every three years.
- Currently there are 120 members
- NAM has sought to “create an independent path in world politics that would not result in member States becoming pawns in the struggles between the major powers.”
- It identifies the right of independent judgment, the struggle against imperialism and neo-colonialism, and the use of moderation in relations with all big powers as the three basic elements that have influenced its approach.
- At present, an addition goal is facilitating a restructuring of the international economic order.
What are the principles of Non Align Movement?
- Respect for fundamental human rights and for the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
- Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations.
- Recognition of the movements for national independence.
- Recognition of the equality of all races and of the equality of all nations, large and small.
- Abstention from intervention or interference in the internal affairs of another country.
- Respect for the right of each nation to defend itself singly or collectively, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
- Refraining from acts or threats of aggression or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country.
- Settlement of all international disputes by peaceful means, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
- Promotion of mutual interests and co-operation.
- Respect for justice and international obligations
- NAM does not have a formal constitution or permanent secretariat, and its administration is non-hierarchical and rotational. Decisions are made by consensus, which requires substantial agreement, but not unanimity
- Created in 1997, this body consists of past, serving and future Chairs, and operates at the discretion of the incumbent chair.
Non-Aligned Security Council Caucus
- The Caucus consists of NAM countries who are elected to the UN Security Council as rotating members. These States seek to adopt unified positions and to reflect the decisions and positions adopted at NAM Summits and Ministerial Conferences.
- India being a founder and largest member in NAM was an active participant in NAM meetings
- It is a widely held belief that the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was highly relevant for India and its foreign policy interests during the bipolar era of the Cold War a
- It is true that NAM played an important role during the Cold War years in furthering many of the causes that India advocated: decolonisation, end to apartheid, global nuclear disarmament, ushering in of new international economic and information orders, etc. But what is generally ignored is the fact that NAM was more or less irrelevant for India in terms of helping to protect and promote its security and interests – the principal criterion by which the utility of a multilateral group should be measured.
- NAM’s lack of utility for protecting and promoting India’s security and interests is clearly demonstrated by the diplomatic positions adopted by member countries during the various wars in which India has been involved. On each of these occasions, NAM members invariably adopted diplomatic positions that were not favourable towards or supportive of India.
Relevance of NAM in the current Scenario
- It is a widely held belief that the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was highly relevant for India and its foreign policy interests during the bipolar era of the Cold War and that it has, since the 1990s, lost this relevance in a unipolar international order.
- The world today has moved on from what the NAM founding leaders faced in Bandung in 1955. The scales of global geo-political balance have shifted, and continue to do so, propelled by forces of globalisation and transformational technological progress.
- Long-held assumption and alignments rooted in the legacies of colonialism and the ideology of the Cold War are making way for new configurations and partnerships
- Climate change, environmental degradation, terrorism, radicalisation, poverty, public health emergencies, humanitarian and natural calamities, cyber security threats, and the serious security implications of frontier technologies are just some of the challenges of this new world.
- These challenges can only be faced together, not when we are divided. It requires collaboration, not coercion.
- In sum, the Non-Aligned Movement was not relevant for promoting India’s important national interests during the Cold War years. And since the end of the Cold War, India’s increasing integration with international economic, political and security structures has led to NAM losing even its earlier limited usefulness as a vehicle for articulating India’s dissatisfaction with the international order
3 . Changes in Living Will Guidelines
Context: A five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice K M Joseph agreed to significantly ease the procedure for passive euthanasia in the country by altering the existing guidelines for ‘living wills’, as laid down in its 2018 judgment in Common Cause vs. Union of India & Anr, which allowed passive euthanasia.
What is euthanasia, and what is a living will?
- Euthanasia refers to the practice of an individual deliberately ending their life, oftentimes to get relief from an incurable condition, or intolerable pain and suffering. Euthanasia, which can be administered only by a physician, can be either ‘active’ or ‘passive.
- Active euthanasia involves an active intervention to end a person’s life with substances or external force, such as administering a lethal injection. Passive euthanasia refers to withdrawing life support or treatment that is essential to keep a terminally ill person alive.
- Passive euthanasia was legalised in India by the Supreme Court in 2018, contingent upon the person having a ‘living will’ or a written document that specifies what actions should be taken if the person is unable to make their own medical decisions in the future.
- In case a person does not have a living will, members of their family can make a plea before the High Court to seek permission for passive euthanasia.
What is living will?
- It refers to a written document that a person uses to give his explicit instructions in advance about the medical treatment to be administered if he becomes incompetent or is unable to communicate.
What did the SC rule in 2018?
- The Supreme Court allowed passive euthanasia while recognizing the living wills of terminally ill patients who could go into a permanent vegetative state and issued guidelines regulating this procedure.
- A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by then Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra said that the guidelines would be in force until Parliament passed legislation on this. However, this has not happened, and the absence of a law on this subject has rendered the 2018 judgment the last conclusive set of directions on euthanasia.
- The guidelines pertained to questions such as who would execute the living will, and the process by which approval could be granted by the medical board. “We declare that an adult human being having mental capacity to take an informed decision has right to refuse medical treatment including withdrawal from life-saving devices,” the court said in the 2018 ruling.
And what was the situation before 2018?
- In 1994, in a case challenging the constitutional validity of Section 309 of the IPC — which mandates up to one year in prison for attempt to suicide — the Supreme Court deemed the section to be a “cruel and irrational provision” that deserved to be removed from the statute book to “humanise our penal laws”. An act of suicide “cannot be said to be against religion, morality, or public policy, and an act of attempted suicide has no baneful effect on society”, the court said. (P Rathinam vs Union of India)
- However, two years later, a five-judge Bench of the court overturned the decision in P Rathinam, saying that the right to life under Article 21 did not include the right to die, and only legislation could permit euthanasia. (Smt. Gian Kaur vs The State of Punjab, 1996)
- In 2011, the SC allowed passive euthanasia for Aruna Shanbaug, a nurse who had been sexually assaulted in Mumbai in 1973 and had been in a vegetative state since then. The court made a distinction between ‘active’ and ‘passive’ and allowed the latter in “certain situations”. (Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug vs Union Of India & Ors)
- Earlier, in 2006, the Law Commission of India in its 196th Report titled ‘Medical Treatment to Terminally Ill Patients (Protection of Patients and Medical Practitioners)’ had said that “a doctor who obeys the instructions of a competent patient to withhold or withdraw medical treatment does not commit a breach of professional duty and the omission to treat will not be an offence.” It had also recognised the patient’s decision to not receive medical treatment, and said it did not constitute an attempt to commit suicide under Section 309 IPC.
- Again, in 2008, the Law Commission’s ‘241st Report On Passive Euthanasia: A Relook’ proposed legislation on ‘passive euthanasia’, and also prepared a draft Bill.
What changes after the SC’s order this week?
- The petition was filed by a nonprofit association that submitted that the 2018 guidelines on living wills were “unworkable”. Though the detailed judgement is yet to be released, the Court dictated a part of their order in open court.
- As per 2018 guidelines, a living will was required to be signed by an executor (the individual seeking euthanasia) in the presence of two attesting witnesses, preferably independent, and to be further countersigned by a Judicial Magistrate of First Class (JMFC).
- Also, the treating physician was required to constitute a board comprising three expert medical practitioners from specific but varied fields of medicine, with at least 20 years of experience, who would decide whether to carry out the living will or not. If the medical board granted permission, the will had to be forwarded to the District Collector for his approval
- The Collector was to then form another medical board of three expert doctors, including the Chief District Medical Officer. Only if this second board agreed with the hospital board’s findings would the decision be forwarded to the JMFC, who would then visit the patient and examine whether to accord approval.
- This cumbersome process will now become easier.
- Instead of the hospital and Collector forming the two medical boards, both boards will now be formed by the hospital. The requirement of 20 years of experience for the doctors has been relaxed to five years. The requirement for the Magistrate’s approval has been replaced by an intimation to the Magistrate. The medical board must communicate its decision within 48 hours; the earlier guidelines specified no time limit.
- The 2018 guidelines required two witnesses and a signature by the Magistrate; now a notary or gazetted officer can sign the living will in the presence of two witnesses instead of the Magistrate’s countersign. In case the medical boards set up by the hospital refuses permission, it will now be open to the kin to approach the High Court which will form a fresh medical team
4 . Green India Mission
Context: India is lagging behind in the targets to increase the number and quality of tree- and forest-cover plantations set in the Green India Mission, according to data accessed via the Right To Information Act.
What is National Green India Mission?
- The National Mission for a Green India or the commonly called Green India Mission (GIM), is one of the eight Missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).
- It was launched in February, 2014 with the objective to safeguard the biological resources of our nation and associated livelihoods against the peril of adverse climate change and to recognise the vital impact of forestry on ecological sustainability, biodiversity conservation and food-, water- and livelihood-security.
- It aims at protecting, restoring and enhancing India’s diminishing forest cover and responding to climate change through adaptation and mitigation measures. It envisages a holistic view of greening that extends beyond tree planting. GIM focusses on multiple ecosystem services such as biodiversity, water, biomass, preserving mangroves, wetlands, critical habitats etc. along with carbon sequestration.
- The Mission would strive for enhancing carbon sinks in sustainably managed forests and other ecosystems, adaptation of vulnerable species/ecosystems to the changing climate and adaptation of forest-dependent communities.
- The goals include increased forest/tree cover and improved quality of forest cover in millions of hectares of forest/non-forest lands, improved ecosystem services including biodiversity, carbon sequestration and hydrological services along with provisioning services like fuel, fodder, and timber and non-timber forest produces and increased forest-based livelihood income of households living in and around forests.
- Traditional Ecological Knowledge of communities, along with forestry science and state-of-the-art technology would improve the Mission interventions.
- GIM also aims at convergence with complementary schemes and programmes for better coordination in developing forests and their fringe areas in a holistic and sustainable way, which is required to address the challenges being faced in environment, forest and wildlife sectors.
- A multidisciplinary team, both from Govt. and NGOs will be mandated to facilitate planning and implementation at cluster/landscape unit level.
- The Mission’s emphasis on the landscape approach i.e., landscapes as large contiguous areas of forest/ non forest land, at different scale/levels provide better opportunity to meet targets for both National and State Forest policy.
- An integrated cross-sectoral approach would be implemented on both public as well as private lands with the involvement of grass root level organizations and local communities in planning, decision making, implementation and monitoring.
- Moreover, GIM would take into account the forces of de-greening operating across the country and thereby give special emphasis to relate to processes that halt ‘de-greening’.
About the Report
- From 2015-16 to 2021-22, the Centre – based on submissions from 17 States – had approved a target of increasing tree/forest cover by 53,377 hectares and improving the quality of degraded forest by 1,66,656 ha. However, in response to queries by Kerala-based RTI campaigner, Govindan Nampoothiry, the Environment Ministry this month responded with figures from 17 States noting tree/forest cover had increased by 26,287 hectares and forest quality improved in only 1,02,096 hectares as of December 31, 2022.
- States with significant shortfall in tree cover include Andhra Pradesh, with a target of 186 ha but having only achieved 75 ha; Uttarakhand with a target of 6,446 ha but only 1,505 ha achieved; Madhya Pradesh targeting 5,858 ha but delivering 1,882 ha; Kerala committing 1,686 ha but furnishing 616 ha; Punjab, unusually committed to 629 ha but having delivered 1,082 ha.
About the India state of forest report-2021
- As per the India State of Forest Report-2021, forest and tree cover in the country increased by 2,261 square kilometre since the last assessment in 2019. India’s total forest and tree cover was 80.9 million hectares, which accounted for 24.62% of the geographical area of the country. The report said 17 States and Union Territories had more than 33% of their area under forest cover. Madhya Pradesh had the largest forest cover, followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Maharashtra. The top five States in terms of forest cover as a percentage of their total geographical area were Mizoram (84.53%), Arunachal Pradesh (79.33%), Meghalaya (76%), Manipur (74.34%) and Nagaland (73.90%)
5 . Facts for Prelims
- The BharOS is an Android Open-Source Project based operating system which is developed by JandK Operations Private Limited.
- The JandKops is a non-profit organisation incubated at IIT Madras.
- BharOS a new mobile operating system focused on privacy and security. A mobile operating system is a software that is the core interface on a smartphone like Android by Google and iOS by Apple.
- The BharOS is an Indian government-funded project to develop a free and open-source operating system (OS) for use in government and public systems.
- The project aims to reduce the dependence on foreign OS in smartphones and promote the use of locally developed technology.
- It is a huge leap forward to create an indigenous ecosystem and a self-reliant future.
- BharOS Services are currently being provided to organisations that have stringent privacy and security requirements and whose users handle sensitive information that requires confidential communications on restricted apps on mobiles.
- Such users require access to private cloud services through private 5G networks.
- The Foundation is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, under its National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NMICPS).
- It aspires to put India on par with those few countries that currently possess such capabilities.
Republic Day –
- From 1930 till India finally won its independence in 1947, January 26 was celebrated as “Independence Day” or “Poorna Swaraj Day” with Indians reaffirming their commitment towards sovereignty on that day.
- Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India, chose 15 August as the day of his choice to declare India an independent state. It was on this day that Japan surrendered to the Allies after World War II. That is why the British government chose 15th August.
- Thus, when leaders had to decide on a day to promulgate India’s new constitution, January 26 was thought to be ideal. Not only did this date already hold nationalist significance, the Constitution in many ways reflected the “Poorna Swaraj” declaration of two decades back.
- After the country became independent, the Constituent Assembly adopted the Constitution on 26 November 1949. At the same time, on January 26, 1950, the constitution was implemented with a democratic government system. India was declared a complete republic on this day. One of the main reasons for implementing the constitution on January 26 is that on this day, in 1930, the Indian National Congress had declared complete independence of India.
- Poorna swaraj
- The Lahore Session of the INC convened in December 1929. On December 19, the historic “Poorna Swaraj” resolution was passed in the session.
- This declaration of Independence was officially promulgated on January 26, 1930. The Congress urged Indians to come out and celebrate “independence” on that day.
- The Indian tricolour was hoisted across the country by Congress party workers and patriotic songs were sung as the country reconfigured its strategy for Independence.
- The resolution also contained in it an affirmation to the Gandhian methods of nonviolent protest, which would start almost immediately after Poorna Swaraj Day was celebrated