Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- QR Code in Food label
- Cloud seeding
- Facts for Prelims
1 . QR Code in Food label
Context: The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has recommended the inclusion of a QR (quick response) code on food products for accessibility by visually impaired individuals stating that this will ensure access to safe food for all.
Why is the move important ?
- The move is vital as India is one of the largest markets of packaged foods in the world and is currently witnessing a growing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which have seen an abrupt rise globally since the last two decades, according to the World Health Organization.
- Besides other factors, this trend is attributed to aggressively marketed, cheaper, and more easily available pre-packaged foods which is finding a growing preference among consumers.
- It safeguards the consumer’s right to know exactly what he is paying for and if he is getting what he is promised and advertised. It provides for an informed choice to consumers.
What information will the QR codes provide ?
- The FSSAI has advised that these new QR codes should encompass comprehensive details about the product, including, but not limited to, ingredients, nutritional information, allergens, manufacturing date, best before/expiry/use by date, allergen warning, and contact information for customer enquiries.
- It adds that the inclusion of a QR code for the accessibility of information does not replace or negate the requirement to provide mandatory information on the product label, as prescribed by relevant regulations.
- The latest advisory caters to two important regulations — the FSSAI’s Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2020 which outlines the information to be included on labels of food products and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 which recognises the rights of individuals with disabilities and emphasises accessibility of health for persons with disabilities.
How did the QR code come into being?
- A QR code is a type of two-dimensional matrix barcode, invented in 1994, by the Japanese company Denso Wave for labelling automobile parts. According to market experts, for the food manufacturers, using QR codes on food products can help improve their brand image, customer loyalty, and operational efficiency.
- On the importance of accurate and accessible food labels, a recently published paper titled, ‘Food literacy & food labelling laws—a legal analysis of India’s food policy’, noted that aggressively marketed, cheaper and more easily available pre-packaged foods, often considered as foods high in fat, salt, and sugar, is finding a growing preference amongst consumers in India.
- To prevent or control further widespread of NCDs, the FSSAI has issued numerous food and packaging laws and acts to control their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale, and import so that a safe and wholesome food is available to consumers.
- The front-of-pack labelling (FOPL), proposed by FSSAI in 2019, is a key strategy to alert and educate consumers in making an informed choice. Food industry experts also note that consumers now consider food packaging equally important as a product.
What are the trends in QR use worldwide?
- The U.S., India, France and the U.K. are among the top users of QR code, according to reports.
- A research paper noted that the size of the global packaged food market is estimated at $303.26 billion in 2019, with a compound annual growth rate of 5.2% over this period.
- According to the results of a survey, ‘QR Code Statistics 2022, the Latest Numbers and Use-Cases on Global Usage’, 57% scanned a food QR code to get specific information about the product, 38.99% of respondents want to see QR codes used more and 67% of the respondents agreed that these codes make life easier.
2 . Cloud Seeding
Context: A cloud seeding experiment carried out in Solapur city, which falls on the leeward side of the Western Ghats and hence gets low rainfall — 384 mm and 422 mm of total rainfall during the period June to September 2018 and 2019, respectively — was able to achieve 18% relative enhancement in rainfall, which is approximately 8.67mm more rainfall.
About the Experiment
- The experiment, known as Cloud Aerosol Interaction and Precipitation Enhancement Experiment (CAIPEEX phase-4), was a scientific investigation conducted in Solapur city during the summer monsoon period of 2018 and 2019.
- The primary objective was to investigate the efficacy of hygroscopic seeding in deep convective clouds and to develop a cloud seeding protocol.
- It used two aircraft for studying various cloud parameters and for seeding the clouds.
- The study found that cloud seeding is an effective strategy for enhancing rainfall in a region under suitable conditions.
- A randomised seeding experiment was undertaken to study the effectiveness of cloud seeding in producing rainfall.
- In total 276 convective clouds were chosen, and 150 were seeded while the remaining 122 clouds were not seeded.
- Calcium chloride flare was used for seeding the clouds. A cloud seeding flare releases these particles when triggered.
- The seeding was done at the base of the warm convective clouds and at a time when the clouds were in their growing stage so that the seed particles could enter the clouds with minimum dispersion.
- The two-year study has helped develop a high-resolution numerical model that can help stakeholders to identify target locations, clouds that can be seeded, and a suitable seeding strategy to enhance rainfall in an area.
What is Cloud Seeding?
- Cloud seeding is an artificial way of inducing moisture in the clouds to cause rainfall. It is a form of weather modification that changes the amount or type of precipitation that falls from clouds by dispersing substances into the air that serve as nuclei around which ice crystals are formed.
- The most common use of this technique is to increase precipitation (rain or snow), but hail and fog suppression are also within the domain of possible uses.
- The most common chemicals used for cloud seeding include Silver Iodide (AgI), Potassium Iodide (KI) and dry ice (solid Carbon Dioxide (CO2). Liquid Propane (C3H8) expands into a gas at low pressures and has also been used with promising results. After rigorous research, the use of materials that absorb moisture from the air (hygroscopic), such as table salt, is becoming more popular.
How is it done?
- Identifying Suitable Clouds: Weather experts first identify clouds that have the potential to produce precipitation but may require some assistance. These are typically clouds with supercooled water droplets that have not yet coalesced into rain or snow.
- Choosing Seeding Agents: Commonly used seeding agents include silver iodide, potassium iodide, and calcium chloride. These substances have crystal structures similar to ice and can act as ice nuclei. Silver iodide is one of the most widely used seeding agents due to its effectiveness.
- Delivery of Seeding Agents: The seeding agents are typically released into the atmosphere from aircraft, rockets, or ground-based generators. Aircraft release the seeding agents directly into the target clouds, while ground-based generators or rockets can be used to disperse them into the atmosphere where they can be drawn into the clouds.
- Formation of Ice Crystals: Once released, the seeding agents act as nucleating particles. They provide a surface on which supercooled water droplets in the cloud can freeze, forming ice crystals. This initiates the process of ice crystal growth within the cloud.
- Growth of Ice Crystals: As the ice crystals grow, they collide with supercooled water droplets and cause them to freeze onto the crystals, forming larger ice particles.
- Precipitation Formation: With the presence of larger ice particles, the cloud becomes more efficient at producing precipitation. These particles continue to grow and eventually become heavy enough to fall as rain or snow.
- Increased Precipitation: The primary goal of cloud seeding is to enhance precipitation, which can lead to increased rainfall or snowfall. This is particularly valuable in arid and drought-prone areas, as it can help replenish water sources such as reservoirs and aquifers.
- Drought Mitigation: Cloud seeding can play a critical role in mitigating the effects of droughts by augmenting local water resources. This is especially important for agriculture, ensuring a stable water supply for crops.
- Wildfire Risk Reduction: In regions prone to wildfires, cloud seeding can lead to higher moisture levels and increased precipitation. This can reduce the risk of wildfires, which can have devastating consequences for both ecosystems and communities.
- Improved Water Resource Management: By increasing water availability, cloud seeding supports better water resource management. This can benefit not only agriculture but also municipal water supplies and industrial needs.
- Environmental Benefits: Cloud seeding can have positive environmental effects, including improved air quality due to reduced wildfire occurrences and less dust in the atmosphere. Additionally, it can benefit ecosystems by maintaining water levels in lakes, rivers, and wetlands.
- Economic Benefits: Increased precipitation from cloud seeding can have economic advantages by supporting agriculture, reducing the costs associated with firefighting, and ensuring a more reliable water supply for industrial activities.
- Long-Term Sustainability: Cloud seeding can contribute to the sustainability of water resources by maintaining water levels and reducing the risk of water shortages during periods of low rainfall.
- Weather Dependency: Cloud seeding is highly dependent on the presence of suitable clouds. If there are no appropriate cloud formations in the target area, the process cannot be effectively carried out.
- Unpredictable Outcomes: The effectiveness of cloud seeding can be uncertain, and it may not always result in the desired amount of precipitation. Precipitation amounts can vary widely and are influenced by numerous atmospheric factors.
- Environmental Concerns: Cloud seeding operations raise environmental concerns. The release of seeding agents into the atmosphere can impact local ecosystems and air quality, potentially leading to unintended consequences.
- Resource and Cost Considerations: Cloud seeding can be expensive, involving aircraft or ground-based generators, specialized equipment, and ongoing operational costs. Resource allocation and budget constraints can be a challenge for long-term cloud seeding programs.
- Local and Regional Variability: The effectiveness of cloud seeding can vary significantly from one region to another and even from one cloud to another within the same area. Tailoring cloud seeding efforts to local conditions is crucial but challenging.
Cloud Seeding in India
- In India, cloud seeding operations were conducted during the years 1983, 1984–87,1993-94 by Tamil Nadu Govt due to severe drought.
- In the years 2003 and 2004 Karnataka government initiated cloud seeding.
- Cloud seeding operations were also conducted through US-based Weather Modification Inc. in the state of Maharashtra.
3 . NDC
Context: Developed countries — responsible for three-fourths of existing carbon emissions — will end up emitting 38% more carbon in 2030 than they have committed to, going by current trajectories, shows a study published last week by the Delhi-based think tank Council for Energy Environment and Water (CEEW).
What are NDCs?
- NDC means national plans and pledges made by a country to meet the goal of maintaining global temperature increases to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, while aiming for 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid the worst impacts of climate change
- These plans also include policies and measures governments aim to implement in response to climate change and as a contribution to achieve the global targets set out in the Paris Agreement.
- NDCs are the first greenhouse gas targets under the UNFCCC that apply equally to both developed and developing countries.
Submission of NDCs:
- The Paris Agreement recognizes that the long-term goals specified in its Articles 2 and 4.1 will be achieved through time and, therefore, builds on a ratcheting up of aggregate and individual ambition over time.
- NDCs are submitted every five years to the UNFCCC secretariat. In order to enhance the ambition over time the Paris Agreement provide that successive NDCs will represent a progression compared to the previous NDC and reflect its highest possible ambition.
- Parties are requested to submit the next round of NDCs (new NDCs or updated NDCs) by 2020 and every five years thereafter (e.g. by 2020, 2025, 2030), regardless of their respective implementation time frames.
- Moreover, Parties may at any time adjust their existing nationally determined contribution with a view to enhancing its level of ambition (Article 4, paragraph 11).
- To put forward and further propagate a healthy and sustainable way of living based on traditions and values of conservation and moderation, including through a mass movement for ‘LIFE’– ‘Lifestyle for Environment’ as a key to combating climate change.
- To adopt a climate friendly and a cleaner path than the one followed hitherto by others at corresponding level of economic development.
- To reduce Emissions Intensity of its GDP by 45 percent by 2030, from 2005 level.
- To achieve about 50 percent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030, with the help of transfer of technology and low-cost international finance including from Green Climate Fund (GCF).
- To create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
- To better adapt to climate change by enhancing investments in development programmes in sectors vulnerable to climate change, particularly agriculture, water resources, Himalayan region, coastal regions, health and disaster management.
- To mobilize domestic and new & additional funds from developed countries to implement the above mitigation and adaptation actions in view of the resource required and the resource gap.
- To build capacities, create domestic framework and international architecture for quick diffusion of cutting edge climate technology in India and for joint collaborative R&D for such future technologies.
Five nectar elements (Panchamrit) of India’s climate action plan
PM Modi had at the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Glasgow, United Kingdom in November, 2021, expressed to intensify India’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) by presenting to the world five nectar elements (Panchamrit) of India’s climate action plan. They are :
- India will increase its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 GW (gigawatt) by 2030
- It will meet 50% of its energy requirements from “renewable energy” by 2030;
- It will reduce the total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes from now till 2030
- It will reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by more than 45%; and
- It will achieve the target of “net zero” by the year 2070, when there will be no net carbon dioxide emitted from energy sources.
4 . Facts for Prelims
Kathaprasangam & Kunjan Nambiar:
- Kathaprasangam is a performing art of Kerala.
- It combines speaking, acting, and singing to present a story.
- Costumes, make-up, or settings are not used.
- The main artist, the Kaadhikan, tells the story, acts and sings with two or three accompanying instrumentalists.
- It originated from an earlier art form Harikathakalakshepam which used similar techniques, but differed in theme and style. While Harikadhakalakshepam was based on themes from puranas and epics, Kadhaprasangam received themes largely from classical and popular literature.
- Kunchan Nambiar was a prominent Malayalam poet of the 18th century (1705-1770). Apart from being a prolific poet, Nambiar is also famous as the originator of the dance art form of Thullal, most of his works were written for use in Thullal performances.
- Social criticism wrapped in humour is the hallmark of his works. Nambiar is one of the foremost comedians in Malayalam.
Lord Macaulay & First law commission
- The inaugural Law Commission, headed by TB Macaulay, was established in 1834 following the enactment of the Charter Act of 1833.
- Lord Macaulay chaired this pioneering Commission, which recommended the codification of key legal documents, including the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code, among other important matters.
- Jehovah’s Witnesses is a Christian denomination that originated in the United States in the 19thcentury and has thousands of members in India.
- Their practices differ from traditional Christian beliefs, as the group worships a god named Jehovah and believes that the end of the world is imminent.
- The group has rejected the concept of the Holy Trinity, and believes that Jehovah is the only true god and all worship should be directed towards him.
- Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that they are living out their last few days on the Earth, waiting for the establishment of God’s Kingdom on the planet.
- Some of their most unique practices are not celebrating major Christian holidays like Easter and Christmas as they link it to paganism.