Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Impact of Textile Parks
- Criminal defamation
- ISRO’s one web satellite mission
- Biotransformation technology
- IMF bailouts
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Textile Parks
Context: Earlier, the government announced that seven mega textile parks under the ₹4,445-crore PM Mega Integrated Textile Regions and Apparel (PM MITRA) scheme will be set up in the first phase. The notification for large-scale textile parks under PM MITRA had been given in October 2021
What is PM MITRAs scheme?
- Ministry of Textiles (MoT) has launched PM Mega Integrated Textile Regions and Apparel Parks (MITRAs) Scheme to strengthen the Indian textile industry by way of enabling scale of operations, reduce logistics cost by housing entire value chain at one location, attract investment, generate employment and augment export potential.
- The scheme will develop integrated large scale and modern industrial infrastructure facility for total value-chain of the textile industry for example, spinning, weaving, processing, garmenting, textile manufacturing, processing & printing machinery industry.
- These parks are envisaged to be located at sites which have inherent strengths for textile industry to flourish and have necessary linkages to succeed.
- The scheme envisages to leverage Public Private Partnership model for fast paced implementation in a time-bound manner.
- The scheme is to be implemented jointly by the Central and State governments. Each park will have effluent treatment plants, accommodation for workers, skill training centers, and warehouses too.
- First Phase – Under the first phase of the PM MITRA scheme, large textile parks, spread across at least 1,000 acres, will come up in seven States —Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh — housing the entire textile value chain, from fibre to fabric to garments.
What are the impacts of Textile Parks?
- Generation of Investments– The scheme which seeks to streamline the textile value chain into one ecosystem, taking in spinning, weaving and dyeing to printing and garment manufacturing, is expected to generate investments worth ₹70,000 crore.
- Creation of Employment Opportunities– This scheme will lead to the creation of 20 lakh jobs
- Foreign Direct Investment– The parks, which will be open for foreign direct investments, will be located in States that have inherent strengths in the textile sector. The scheme is designed to attract investment from companies that are looking to scale up and require integrated manufacturing facilities in one location.
- Impact on MSMEs– The micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector is said to control almost 80% of the textiles and apparels currently made in India. Further, the Indian textile and clothing units are more cotton-based. The industry has mixed views on the immediate impact of the huge investments that are expected to come into the parks in existing units.
- Boosting the export potential– The PM MITRA parks aim to augment the export potential of the sector as Indian textile and clothing exports have stagnated at around the $40-billion mark over the past four years and stood at $44 billion last year.
- Share in global market– Cotton-based products make up approximately 65% of the total textile and apparel exports. Indian exports, which cover a gamut of products, are mainly known for yarn, bedsheets and towels, T-shirts and denim fabric. Expanding the fibre and product line will give India a larger share in the global market, from the current 5%.
- Cost-effectiveness- Integrated value chain facilities will significantly reduce the cost of production and gear up to meet the sustainability and traceability demands of international buyers.
2 . Criminal Defamation
Context: A PhD student from Kerala urged the Supreme Court to remove ‘criminal defamation’ as a ground to ‘automatically’ expel parliamentarians.
What is criminal defamation?
Section 499 IPC deals with the criminal defamation
- Section 499 of the IPC,1860 defines ‘defamation’ as being committed:
- i. Through: (i) words (spoken or intended to be read), (ii) signs, or (iii) visible representations;
- ii. Which: are published or spoken imputation concerning any person;
- iii. If the imputation is spoken or published with: (i) the intention of causing harm to the reputation of the person to whom it pertains, or (ii) knowledge or reason to believe that the imputation will harm the reputation of the person to whom it pertains will be harmed.
- This definition is subject to four explanations and ten exceptions. If a person is found guilty of having committed defamation in terms of Sec. 499 of the IPC, the punishment is stipulated in Sec. 500, simple imprisonment for up to two years or fine or with both.
- The Cr PC, 1973, which lays down the procedural aspects of the law, states that the offence is non-cognizable and bailable.
Constitutionality of Criminal Defamation
- The apex court’s judgement in Subramanian Swamy v. Union of India which was delivered on May 13, 2016, put a rest on the speculation of defamation being decriminalised when the constitutionality of the contended provisions were upheld.
- Petition: Subramanian Swamy filed a writ petition regarding the decriminalization of defamation. The two basic contentions of the seven issues raised in the writ petition Swamy were:
- i. Declaring Sec. 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 as unconstitutional
- ii. Declaring Sec. 199(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Cr PC) as unconstitutional.
- Judgement: The division bench comprising of Dipak Mishra and Prafulla C. Pant JJ, wherein J. Mishra delivered the judgement, upholding the constitutional validity of Sec. 499, 500 of IPC, 1860 and 199 of Cr PC, 1973, pronounced that-“It is not necessary for all in the chorus to sing the same song. A magistrate should be extremely careful in issuing summons on a plea for the initiation of any criminal defamation case.”
Petition against Criminal defamation as a ground of disqualification
- A social activist from Kerala moved Supreme Court, seeking to restrict disqualification of MPs and MLAs to conviction in serious and heinous offences.
- With the Supreme Court a decade ago declaring Section 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act as unconstitutional, elected representatives lost the statutory cushion of 90 days, within which he/she could file an appeal against the conviction and sentence and continue as a member of the house Houseconcerned till the appellate court made a decision. The Lily Thomas ruling of 2013 resulted in the automatic and immediate disqualification of MPs and MLAs from the date, if sentenced to two years or more.
- Petitioner said that automatic and immediate disqualification of elected representatives under Section 8(3) of RP Act is arbitrary and requested the court to quash it as unconstitutional. Petitioner sought a declaration from the SC that sentence of two years on conviction under criminal defamation and any offence which provided for a maximum two-year punishment, should not result in automatic disqualification, as it violated the freedom of speech and expression of the entire electorate of his constituency.
- The petitioner said the Lily Thomas judgment needs revisiting by the Supreme Court as the disqualification should be linked only to heinous and serious offences.
Lily Thomas v Union of India
- As per Section 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act of 1951, the conviction of a lawmaker for an offence that carries a sentence of two years or more leads to them being disqualified from the House.
- Earlier, Section 8(4) of the RPA said disqualification takes effect only “after three months have elapsed” from the date of conviction. The lawmaker would meanwhile have time to appeal it in a higher court.
- However, this was struck down as “unconstitutional” in the apex court’s landmark 2013 judgement in the ‘Lily Thomas v Union of India’ case.
- In 2005, Kerala-based lawyer Lily Thomas and NGO Lok Prahari filed a PIL before the SC which challenged Section 8(4) of the RPA as ‘ultra vires’ to the Indian Constitution, saying it protected convicted legislators from disqualification because their appeals were pending before higher courts.
- The plea had sought to remove criminal elements from Indian politics by barring convicted lawmakers from contesting elections or holding any official seat.
- The case drew attention to Articles 102(1) and 191(1) of the Constitution. The former lays down the disqualifications for membership to the Houses of Parliament while the latter lays down the disqualifications for membership to the Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council of the state. As per the plea, these provisions gave the Centre the power to add more disqualifications.
- On July 10, 2013, a bench of Justices AK Patnaik and SJ Mukhopadhaya of the SC said, “Parliament had no power to enact sub-section (4) of Section 8 of the Act and accordingly sub-section (4) of Section 8 of the Act is ultra vires the Constitution.”
- The apex court further held that if a sitting member of the Parliament or State Legislature is convicted of any offence under sub-section (1), (2), and (3) of Section 8 of the RPA then “by virtue of such conviction and/or sentence”, they stand disqualified. The bench added that a convicted parliamentarian or legislator’s membership would not be protected under Section 8 (4) any longer.
- Examining other provisions in the Constitution which deal with the disqualification of a lawmaker, the SC held that the Constitution “expressly prohibits” the Parliament to defer the date from which the disqualification would come into effect.
- In the later 2018 judgement on the Lok Prahari case, the SC bench – including current CJI D Y Chandrachud – held that a disqualification would be “untenable” if the conviction was stayed.
3 . ISRO’s One Web Mission
Context: Indian Space Research Organisation’s heaviest payload rocket, LVM3 carrying 36 OneWeb satellites onboard took off from the second launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre SDSC-SHAR, Sriharikota.
ISRO’S One web Satellite Mission
- Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) LVM-3, in its second commercial launch, placed 36 OneWeb satellites in orbit, completing the first-generation constellation enabling the UK-based company to initiate global coverage this year.
- This is the second mission for Network Access Associates Limited, United Kingdom (OneWeb Group Company) under a commercial agreement with NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) to launch 72 satellites to Low-Earth Orbits. The first set of 36 satellites was launched in LVM3-M2/OneWeb India-1 mission on October 23, 2022.
- In this mission, LVM3 would place 36 OneWeb Gen-1 satellites totalling about 5,805 kg into a 450 km circular orbit with an inclination of 87.4 degrees.
- OneWeb is a joint venture between India’s Bharti Enterprises and the U.K. government.
Launch Vehicle Mark-3 (LVM3)
- LVM3-M2 is the dedicated commercial satellite mission of New Space India Limited (NSIL), a Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) under the Department of Space, Government of India.
- The Launch Vehicle Mark-3 (LVM3), previously referred as the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk3), is a three-stage medium-lift launch vehicle developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
- Primarily designed to launch communication satellites into geostationary orbit, it is also due to launch crewed missions under the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme. GSLV Mk III has a higher payload capacity than it’s predecessor, GSLV Mk II.
- The GSLV Mk III has launched CARE, India’s space capsule recovery experiment module, Chandrayaan-2, India’s second lunar mission, and will be used to carry Gaganyaan, the first crewed mission under Indian Human Spaceflight Programme.
- LVM-3 can carry up to four tonnes to a geostationary orbit and up to six tonnes to a low earth orbit.
- OneWeb is a global communication network powered from space, enabling connectivity for governments, businesses, and communities. It is implementing a constellation of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites.
- India’s Bharti Enterprises serves as a major investor and shareholder in OneWeb. OneWeb satellite constellation is planned to have 648 satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) that can provide high-speed broadband internet to rural and isolated areas. This launch is a major milestone for the company, with the number of satellites now in-orbit enabling global service, the first LEO operator to reach this milestone. OneWeb will soon be ready to roll out its global coverage.
- NewSpace India, a state-owned enterprise under the department of space, had earlier signed two launch service contracts with the London-headquartered Network Access Associated Limited that runs OneWeb to launch a total of 72 low earth orbit satellites on board the LVM3 rocket.
4 . Bio information Technology
Context: A UK-based startup, based at Imperial College in London, claims to have developed a technology that could alter the state of plastics and make them biodegradable. The company calls the process “biotransformation”. It claims the technology would digest the plastic packaging waste naturally with the help of microbes and biodegrade the waste without leaving behind any microplastics.
What is Biotransformation Technology?
- Biotransformation technology is a novel approach to ensure plastics that escape refuse streams are processed efficiently and broken down. The technology was co-developed by the Imperial College in London, UK, and a Britain-based startup, Polymateria.
- Plastics made using this technology are given a pre-programmed time during which the manufactured material looks and feels like conventional plastics without compromising on quality. Once the product expires and is exposed to the external environment, it self-destructs and biotransforms into bioavailable wax. This wax is then consumed by microorganisms, converting waste into water, CO2, and biomass.
- “This biotransformation technology is the world’s first that ensures polyolefins fully biodegrade in an open environment causing no microplastics.
What is the need of this technology?
- India’s Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav, last year in New Delhi said, the country is generating 3.5 billion kgs of plastic waste annually and that the per capita plastic waste generation has also doubled in the past five years. Of this, a third comes from packaging waste. In 2019, plastic packaging waste from e-commerce firms was estimated at over a billion kilograms worldwide
- A joint research project by the Department of Management Studies, IIT Delhi, and Sea Movement noted that Amazon generated, nearly 210 million kgs (465 million pounds) of plastic from packaging waste in 2019. They also estimated that up to 10 million kgs (22.44 million pounds) of Amazon’s plastic packaging ended up in the world’s freshwater and marine ecosystems as pollution in the same year.
Where can this technology be used?
- Food packaging and health care industries are the two prime sectors that could use this technology to reduce waste.
Initiatives taken by the Indian Government
- The Indian government has launched multiple initiatives to move the country towards sustainability. They introduced a plastic waste management gazette to help tackle the ever-growing plastic pollution caused by single-use plastics.
- Last year, the Indian government imposed a ban on single-use plastics to bring a stop to its use in the country.
- The National Dashboard on Elimination of Single Use Plastic and Plastic Waste Management brings all stakeholders together to track the progress made in eliminating single-use plastic and effectively managing such waste.
- An Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) portal helps in improving accountability traceability, and facilitating ease of compliance reporting in relation to EPR obligations of the producers, importers and brand-owners.
- India has also developed a mobile app to report single use plastics grievances to check sale, usage or manufacturing of single use plastics in their area.
What are the alternatives to reducing plastic waste?
- A switch to jute or paper-based packaging could potentially cut down plastic waste. This could also build sustainability within the paper industry, and save on the import bill on ethylene solutions.
- The wooden packaging is yet another alternative, but that will make the packaging bulkier and increase cost.
- The Government of Tamil Nadu, in Chennai, organised National Expo and Conference of Startups to raise awareness on alternatives to single-use plastics. The alternatives showcased were made using coir, bagasse, rice and wheat bran, plant and agricultural residue, banana and areca leaves, jute and cloth.
5 . IMF Bailouts
Context: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) confirmed a $3 billion bailout plan for Sri Lanka’s struggling economy. IMF officials are also in negotiations with Pakistan for a $1.1 billion bailout plan as the country faces a severe economic crisis marked by a falling currency and price rise.
Why do nations seek an IMF bailout?
- Mismanagement of Nation’s currency– Countries seek help from the IMF usually when their economies face a major macroeconomic risk, mostly in the form of a currency crisis. Such currency crises are generally the result of gross mismanagement of the nation’s currency by its central bank, often under the covert influence of the ruling government.
- Fall in the value of a currency- Central banks may be forced by governments to create fresh money out of thin air to fund populist spending. Such spending eventually results in a rapid rise of the overall money supply, which in turn causes prices to rise across the economy and the exchange value of the currency to drop. A rapid, unpredictable fall in the value of a currency can destroy confidence in said currency and affect economic activity as people may turn hesitant to accept the currency in exchange for goods and services.
- Foreigners unwilling to invest- Foreigners may also be unwilling to invest in an economy where the value of its currency gyrates in an unpredictable manner. In such a scenario, many countries are forced to seek help from the IMF to meet their external debt and other obligations, to purchase essential imports, and also to prop up the exchange value of their currencies.
- Domestic economic policy– A country’s domestic economic policies can also have an adverse impact on its currency’s exchange rate and foreign exchange reserves. For example, economic policy that imperils productivity can affect a country’s ability to attract the necessary foreign exchange for its survival.
- Bad luck can also contribute to a crisis. In the case of Sri Lanka, a decrease in foreign tourists visiting the country led to a steep fall in the flow of U.S. dollars into the nation.
How does the IMF help countries?
- The IMF basically lends money, often in the form of special drawing rights (SDRs), to troubled economies that seek the lender’s assistance. SDRs simply represent a basket of five currencies, namely the U.S. dollar, the euro, the Chinese yuan, the Japanese yen, and the British pound.
- The IMF carries out its lending to troubled economies through a number of lending programs such as the extended credit facility, the flexible credit line, the stand-by agreement, etc. Countries receiving the bailout can use the SDRs for various purposes depending on their individual circumstances.
What are the conditions attached to the IMF bailouts?
- IMF usually imposes conditions on countries before it lends any money to them. For example, a country may have to agree to implement certain structural reforms as a condition to receive IMF loans.
- The IMF’s conditional lending has been controversial as many believe that these reforms are too tough on the public. Some have also accused the IMF’s lending decisions, which are taken by officials appointed by the governments of various countries, to be influenced by international politics. Supporters of the IMF’s lending policies, however, have argued that conditions are essential for the success of IMF lending.
International Monetary Fund (IMF)
- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is a major financial agency of the United Nations, and an international financial institution, headquartered in Washington, D.C., consisting of 190 countries. Its stated mission is “working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.”
- The IMF was set up in 1945 out of the Bretton Woods conference. The primary goal of the IMF back then was to bring about international economic coordination to prevent competing currency devaluation by countries trying to promote their own exports. Eventually, the IMF evolved to be a lender of last resort to governments of countries that had to deal with severe currency crises.
- Countries contribute funds to a pool through a quota system from which countries experiencing balance of payments problems can borrow money.
Three primary functions of IMF
- to oversee the fixed exchange rate arrangements between countries, thus helping national governments manage their exchange rates and allowing these governments to prioritize economic growth, and
- to provide short-term capital to aid the balance of payments and prevent the spread of international economic crises.
- to help mend the pieces of the international economy after the Great Depression and World War II as well as to provide capital investments for economic growth and projects such as infrastructure.
6 . Facts for Prelims
Anji Khad bridge
- Anji Khad Bridge is India’s first cable-stayed railway bridge. Indian Railways is constructing this engineering marvel on the Anji river in the Reasi district of Jammu & Kashmir under the Udampur-Srinagar-Baramulla (USBRL) railway project.
- The Anji Khad bridge is an asymmetrical cable-stayed bridge balanced on the axis of a central pylon. The total deck width is 15 metres and the main span of the bridge is 290 metres
- The total length of the bridge is 725 metres, of which the main bridge is 473.25 metres long.
- The bridge connects Katra and Reasi via tunnels T2 and T3on the Katra-Banihal section.
- Anji bridge forms an important link in Indian Railways’ aim to connect J&K to the rest of India with all-weather rail connectivity.
- Trains will be able to run at speeds of 100 kilometres per hour on the bridge. A large number of sensors have been placed on the Anji bridge so that the structural health can be monitored regularly. Also, an explosion with up to 40 kg explosives will also not be able to destroy the bridge.
- It has been designed to handle heavy storms and windspeed of up to 213 kilometres per hour.
- The Anji Khad bridge is supported by 96 cables with the cable length varying from82 metres to 295 metres.
- It is located in the young fold mountains of Himalaya, with extremely daunting geological conditions.
Marburg virus disease
- Marburg virus disease (MVD), formerly known as Marburg haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.
- The virus causes severe viral haemorrhagic fever in humans.
- The average MVD case fatality rate is around 50%. Case fatality rates have varied from 24% to 88% in past outbreaks depending on virus strain and case management.
- Marburg and Ebola viruses are both members of the Filoviridae family (filovirus). Though caused by different viruses, the two diseases are clinically similar. Both diseases are rare and have the capacity to cause outbreaks with high fatality rates.
- Marburg spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.
- Symptoms and treatment- The incubation period (interval from infection to onset of symptoms) varies from 2 to 21 days.
- Illness caused by Marburg virus begins abruptly, with high fever, severe headache and severe malaise. Muscle aches and pains are a common feature. Severe watery diarrhoea, abdominal pain and cramping, nausea and vomiting can begin on the third day. Diarrhoea can persist for a week.
- Treatment– Currently there are no vaccines or antiviral treatments approved for MVD. However, supportive care – rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids – and treatment of specific symptoms, improves survival.
- Rousettus aegyptiacus, fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family, are considered to be natural hosts of Marburg virus. The Marburg virus is transmitted to people from fruit bats and spreads among humans through human-to-human transmission.
- Prevention and control– Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks.