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Current Affairs

Current Affairs
Oct. 5, 2022

International Year of Millets (IYOM)-2023
Agriculture Ministry, NAFED signed MoU to boost the initiative to promote millets towards the celebration of the international year of millets 2023.
current affairs image

About:

  • The U.N. General Assembly recently adopted a resolution, sponsored by India and supported by more than 70 countries, declaring 2023 as the International Year of Millets.
  • The resolution is intended to increase public awareness on the health benefits of millets and their suitability for cultivation under tough conditions marked by climate change.

What are millets?

  • Millet is a cereal that belongs to the grass family.
  • Majorly cultivated in the semiarid tropical regions of Africa and Asia, around 97 percent of world’s overall millet production happens in these regions.
  • Types of millets: Jowar (Sorghum), Ragi, Bajra (Pearl millet).
Source : PIB
Economy - Agriculture

Daily MCQ
14 hours ago

5 October 2022 MCQs Test

10 Questions 20 Minutes

Article
05 Oct 2022

Who’s Deserving, Who’s Not

Context

  • As the Supreme Court verdict is awaited on the validity of 103rd constitutional amendment for granting 10% reservation to economically weaker sections (EWS), the article examines the EWS threshold criteria from the perspective of Principle of affirmative action for the poor.

About EWS

  • Amendment: The 10% EWS quota was introduced under the 103rd Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2019 by inserting Article 15 (6) and Article 16 (6).
    • Article 15 (6) is added to provide reservations to economically weaker sections for admission to educational institutions including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the State, other than the minority educational institutions referred to in Article 30(1).
    • Article 16 (6) is added to provide reservations to people from economically weaker sections in government posts.
  • Applicability: The EWS provisions apply to economically weaker sections other than backward classes, schedules castes and scheduled tribes.
  • Conditions for identifying EWS: The income criterione. Rs 8 lakh gross family income of beneficiary
    • Land criteria: Not more than five acres of agricultural land
    • Property area: A residential flat of not more than 1,000 square feet or residential plot of not more than 100/200 square yards in notified/non-notified municipalities.

The issues SC is examining

  • A writ petition has been filed by Youth for Equality contending that 103rd amendment violates the basis structure doctrine as follows:
  • Covering economic deprivation: Whether the EWS Act is said to breach the basic structure of the Constitution by permitting the state to make special provisions, including reservation, based on economic criteria.
    • Earlier government notification providing 10% reservation to weaker economic sections of society was struck down in Indra Sawhney v. UOI in 1992.
  • Breach State’s limit: Whether this 103rd amendment is valid constitutionally by permitting the state to make special provisions in relation to admission to private unaided institutions.
  • Left-out bias: Whether the EWS criteria violate the constitution provisions by “excluding the SEBCs (Socially and Educationally Backward Classes)/ OBCs (Other Backward Classes)/ SCs (Scheduled Castes)/ STs (Scheduled Tribes) from the scope of EWS reservation.

State’s justification

  • The government argues that the 103rd Constitution amendment does not breach the basic structure of the Constitution owing to following reasons:
    • EWS quota does not disturb the reservation given to other castes like SCs, STs and OBCs
    • The State has the power to take affirmative action to elevate the poor among the general category

Arguments against the EWS reservation

  • Historical injustices: The quotas in the Constitution were envisaged as a means to ensure adequate representation to those historically disadvantaged because of their caste identity, and not as a poverty alleviation scheme.
  • Perpetuity: As per critics, caste and its oppressions are permanent and passed down generations, while poverty can be temporary.
  • Against constitutional provisions: The 10 per cent EWS quota is in addition to the 50 per cent reservation for the SCs, STs, and OBCs which exceeds the reservation limit set by apex court in the Indra Sawhney Judgment 1992.
  • Deceitful act: The citizens who are educationally and socially backward as well as SCs and STs cannot take the benefit of reservation even if they fall within the economically weaker sections.

Examining EWS income threshold scenario

  • Fair picture: If the quota is 10%, the line should be so determined that it covers only the poorest 10% of the population.
  • Wide coverage range: The EWS quota is extended to persons whose family has a gross annual income below Rs 8 lakh, i.e. a family having a monthly income of about Rs 66,000 is eligible. However, a family at this income threshold would actually be within the top 10%.
  • Demonstration: The 2011 Census had 248. 8 million households for a population of a little over 1. 2 billion, which translates to an average household size of 5.
    • An annual household income of Rs 8 lakh would mean a per person income of a little over Rs 13,000 per month assuming a family of five.
    • However, as per latest NSSO survey of 2011-12, the top-most income slice is of over Rs 2,625 per person per month in rural areas and Rs 6,015 in urban areas, both well under the Rs 8 lakh mark. Yet this top slice has a mere 5% of the households in it.
  • Income tax data: As per official data, for 2018-19, just over 28 million individuals declared gross incomes of over Rs 4 lakh.
    • Assuming two such individuals in each family on average, would mean about 1. 4 crore families at best would be over the Rs 8 lakh cut-off which translates to roughly 5% of Indian families.
  • Not-so-poor: Incidentally, government data shows average per capita income of about Rs 1. 3 lakh in 2019-20, the year EWS quota came into being. It translates to Rs 6. 5 lakh for a family of five.
    • Thus, a household that gets Rs 8 lakh a year would be significantly above the national average, certainly not poor.

Examining other EWS thresholds

  • Land holding threshold : EWS Act 2019 provides that a family should not own or possess agricultural land of size 5 acres or above to be classified under its statute.
    • But, the Agricultural Census for 2015-16 revealed that 86. 2% of all land holdings in India were just under five acres in size.
  • Residential flat area: To be classified under EWS, a family should not own or possess a residential flat of area 1000 sq.feet or more.
    • The NSSO report on housing conditions in 2012 shows that even the richest 20% of the population had houses with an average floor area of almost exactly 500 square feet, barely half the ceiling being imposed. Thus, here too at least 80% and more likely well over 90% would be eligible under EWS quota.

Other limitations of EWS classification criteria

  • Not comprehensive: The EWS criteria explicitly exclude those covered by the quotas for socially backward groups like the SC, ST and OBCs.
    • Anomalous situation: The argument is that these sections already have quotas but with this argument the most deprived (both from historically disadvantaged groups and are poor) will have to compete with people richer than them to access the quota while the poor from the upper caste will need to compete only within themselves.

Conclusion

  • A quota for the poor makes sense, but one that defines the poor more rigorously than the current criteria. This implies 10% quota within quota for SC, ST, OBC and ‘open’ categories.
Editorial Analysis

Article
05 Oct 2022

Theatre commands shouldn’t compromise doctrines: IAF

In News:

  • While clarifying that the IAF is not against integration and creation of tri-service theatre commands, IAF chief expressed reservation with respect to the proposed structures.

What’s in Today’s Article:

  • Theaterisation of Armed Forces – About, proposed model, role of service chiefs, existing model, challenges
  • News Summary

Theaterisation of Armed Forces

  • It is a concept which seeks to integrate the capabilities of the three services - army, air force and navy – in order to optimally utilise their resources for wars and operations.
    • A theatre command/unit will be created by integrating elements/assets from all the three services
  • It will create a military structure in which specific theatre commands/units will be placed under the Theatre Commander.
  • The Theatre Commander will be a three-star general, drawn from any of the three services, depending on the function assigned.

Theaterisation model under consideration

  • The plan under consideration talks about setting up of six theatre commands. These are:
    • Air Defence Theatre Command
      • It will control air defence resources of all three services. It will be tasked with protecting military assets from airborne enemies.
      • It will be headed by a top three-star Indian Air Force officer based in Prayagraj.
    • Maritime Theatre Command
      • This will be responsible for securing India from seaborne threats.
      • Headed by a top three-star Indian Navy officer and will be based in Karwar, Karnataka.
    • Northern Command (Comprising Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh)
    • Western Command
    • Eastern Command
    • Logistics command - to avoid duplication of efforts and resources.
  • The first phase involves the creation of Air Defence Command and Maritime Theatre Command.

How will the role of service chiefs change after Theaterisation?

  • The operational control of the theatre commands will eventually come under the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).
  • This would leave the Service chiefs with no direct control over their assets operationally.
  • The service chiefs will be responsible for raising, training and sustaining their forces.
  • Also, as each chief will be a member of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC), and an expert of his/her domain, his or her inputs will be necessary for all operational decisions.

Existing Model in India

  • At present, India has 17 single service commands and only two tri-service commands.
  • The 17 single service commands are divided as:
    • Army – 7 commands; Airforce – 7 commands; Navy – 3 commands
  • The two tri-service commands are: Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC), and The Strategic Force Command (handles the nuclear weapons).
  • Creating Theatres would involve merging existing commands.
    • After restructuring, the ANC command will come under the proposed Maritime Theatre Command and SFC will be under National Security Council.

Challenges

  • Apprehensions of Air force
    • Air force has reservations regarding the asset division. The organization fears that it will lose control over its assets and operations.
    • IAF has also raised apprehension regarding the nomenclature of commands, the leadership of theatre commands and dilution of powers of chiefs.
  • Apprehensions raised by MHA
    • The MHA is worried about the operational command of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF).
      • It fears that the control of CAPF would go the Ministry of Defence

News Summary

  • Recently, Indian Air Force (IAF) chief said that Air Force is not opposed to the process of having theatre commands.
  • However, it has certain reservations with respect to the structures and that the doctrinal aspects of the force should not in any way be compromised by this new structure.

Objections raised by IAF

  • IAF contends it would be operationally unwise to divide its limited air assets among the different theatre commands.
    • IAF has 30-31 existing fighter squadrons (against the sanctioned strength of 42), six mid-air refuelling aircraft, three AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) etc.
  • The doctrinal aspects of the IAF should not be compromised in any way by the new structures.
  • The IAF believes a stand-alone or separate Air Defence Command (ADC) could prove counter-productive in the wars of the future.
    • Air defence and offensive air missions are interdependent.
    • If executed in isolation, these would not only be disjointed but also ineffective in design or execution of the joint strategy.
    • Modern 4.5 or 5th-generation fighter jets like the newly-inducted Rafales have “omni-role capability” ranging from offensive to air defence operations.
    • Restricting these aircrafts to any one role would lead to their under-utilisation.
Defence & Security

Article
05 Oct 2022

3 physicists share Nobel for work on quantum science

In News:

  • Recently, 3 scientists - Frenchman Alain Aspect, American John F Clauser and Austrian Anton Zeilinger, jointly won the 2022 Nobel Prize in physics for their work on quantum information science - a field with significant applications, including in encryption.
  • They found how unseen particles, like photons, can be linked or entangled with each other even when separated by great distances, a field that alarmed Albert Einstein, who described it in a letter as "spooky action at a distance."

What’s in today’s article:

  • About quantum technology
  • About the work of Nobel Prize-winning scientist

Quantum technology:

Background:

  • According to classical physics (based on Newtonian Mechanics), two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same moment.
  • Until the early 20th century, it was thought that this was a fundamental physics law that was followed by everything in nature.
  • However, scientists began to investigate particles such as atoms, electrons and light waves, which did not appear to fit these laws.
  • In an attempt to examine the "quirky" principles that did bind such particles, the subject of quantum mechanics was founded by Max Planck, Neils Bohr and Albert Einstein.

About:

  • It is a class of technology (developed in the early 20th century) that works by using the principles of quantum mechanics - the physics of subatomic particles, including quantum entanglement and quantum superposition.
  • Hence, it is based on phenomena exhibited by microscopic particles (like photons, electrons, atoms etc) which are quite distinct from the way normal macroscopic objects behave.

The principles behind quantum technology:

  • Quantum entanglement:
    • Despite being separated, when two atoms are connected or entangled, the phenomenon is known as quantum entanglement.
    • If the properties of one of the atom changes, the other changes instantly and quantum mechanics observe these changes in the properties.
    • It enhances the security of communication through quantum protected encrypted keys, as entangled atoms can be used to detect whether the transmission of data has been breached by someone.
  • Quantum superposition:
    • The theory that subatomic particles exist in multiple states simultaneously is known as quantum superposition.
    • The practical application of this principle is in quantum computers.
    • While digital computers store data as bits (binary of 0 & 1), quantum computers use qubits that exist as a 1, 0 or both at the same time.
    • This superposition generates an almost endless set of options which enables unbelievably fast calculations.

Applications:

  • Quantum technology promises improvements to a vast range of everyday gadgets, including:
    • More reliable navigation and timing systems.
    • More secure communications.
    • More accurate healthcare imaging through quantum sensing (using quantum phenomenon to perform a measurement of a physical quantity).
    • More powerful computing - quantum computers.
  • In disaster management through better prediction, computing, etc.
  • To understand biological phenomena such as smell, consciousness and to understand the spread of pandemics like Covid-19, etc.

The work of Nobel Prize-winning scientist:

Background:

  • Quantum mechanics permits two or more particles to be in an entangled state leading to coordination between these particles. Initially, this was thought to be a result of hidden variables.
  • However, John Stewart Bell discovered in the 1960s that there are no hidden variables at work. In reality, coordination between entangled particles is a matter of chance when measuring the properties of one of the particles.
  • Bell developed a mathematical inequality that says, “if there are hidden variables, the correlation between the results of a large number of measurements will never exceed a certain value”.
  • However, quantum mechanics demonstrates that this value can be exceeded, resulting in a stronger correlation between the results than is feasible with hidden variables.
  • Exceeding this figure demonstrates that there is no mysterious "spooky action" and that the world is regulated by quantum mechanics.

About this year’s work:

  • Over a span of several decades, this year’s Nobel laureates have built on Bell’s work.
  • American physicist John Clauser developed a realistic experiment by passing entangled photons through polarisation filters (commonly used in sunglasses to block light at certain angles) to test Bell’s inequality.
    • His experiments showed a clear violation of Bell’s inequality, confirming that there were no hidden variables at play.
    • Clauser's experiment, however, had limitations as the settings for detecting the entangled photons were fixed, which meant that the experimental setup itself might have been unable to detect some particles controlled by hidden factors.
  • Alain Aspect, a French physicist, attempted to construct an experiment that eliminated this possible bias by altering the measurement settings only after the entangled photons had left their source, so that the setup did not influence the results.
  • Anton Zeilinger, an Austrian physicist, was among the first to investigate quantum systems with more than two entangled particles, which currently serve as the foundation for quantum computation and allow entangled particles to be manipulated.
    • Among his most famous accomplishments was the discovery of quantum teleportation, which allows particles to acquire previously unknown quantum properties from other particles over large distances.

Significance:

  • The first quantum revolution resulted in the development of transistors and lasers.
  • The ability to handle and manipulate systems of entangled particles will provide researchers with improved tools to create quantum computers, improve measurements, develop quantum networks and establish secure quantum encrypted communication.
  • Quantum computers can execute complicated calculations that are considerably above the capabilities of traditional computers.
    • Quantum computing has already shown potential in chemical and biological engineering, as well as cybersecurity.
    • Computing systems that can manage enormous datasets and execute complicated simulations will also aid areas such as artificial intelligence and Big Data.
Science & Tech

Article
05 Oct 2022

EC wants parties to spell out poll promises

In News:

  • The Election Commission has proposed amending the model code to ask political parties to provide authentic information to voters on the financial viability of their poll promises.
  • In a letter to all recognised national and state parties, the Election Commission (EC) asked them to submit their views on the proposals by October 19.
  • The EC will release new guidelines once the consultations with the parties are over.

What’s in today’s article:

  • Background (About poll promises, freebies)
  • RBI’s report on state finances
  • News Summary (MCC, Working, etc.)

Background:

  • Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had expressed concerns over giving free government schemes to the public on behalf of the states.
  • The PM said that this culture of giving freebies is dangerous for the development of the country.
  • The Supreme Court also recently observed that the issue concerning freebies is an important one and requires debate.

About Election Freebies:

  • Provision of free electricity, free water, free public transport, waiver of pending utility bills and farm loan waivers are often regarded as freebies.
  • Such waivers potentially undermine credit culture, distort prices through cross-subsidisation eroding incentives for private investment and disincentivise work at the current wage rate leading to a drop in labour force participation.
  • As per estimates, expenditure on freebies range from 0.1 – 2.7 per cent of GSDP for different states.

RBI’s report on state finances:

  • A report by the RBI titled “State Finances: A Risk Analysis” highlighted that the fiscal health of states like West Bengal, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh warrant a careful assessment because of their larger focus on social welfare.
  • Punjab is expected to be worst hit as its debt-GSDP ratio has already exceeded 50% in 2021-22.
    • The state government has started giving 300 units of free electricity from September 1 to every household.
  • Rajasthan, Kerala and Bihar have already exceeded debt-GSDP ratio of 35%.
  • For the five most indebted states – Punjab, Rajasthan, Bihar, Kerala and West Bengal – the RBI said that the debt stock is no longer sustainable as the debt growth outpaced their GSDP growth in the last five years.

News Summary:

  • The Election Commission has proposed changes to its manifesto guidelines under the model code of conduct regarding poll promises, requiring political parties to specify how they would find resources for implementation of the pledges.
  • This is likely to escalate the ongoing debate on the accountability of political parties in announcing freebies.
  • The EC wants political parties to specify the estimated impact on financial stability, and the number of beneficiaries expected to be targeted by schemes promised.
  • The EC has said that the proposed disclosures about the promises and their implementation would help voters make informed choices.

Model Code of Conduct (MCC):

  • The Model Code of Conduct (MCC) is a consensus document.
  • In other words, political parties have themselves agreed to keep their conduct during elections in check, and to work within the Code.
  • The Election Commission first effectively put to use the Model Code of Conduct in the year 1991 to ensure fair elections and a level playing field.
  • The Code comes into force as soon as the election schedule is announced, and stays in force until the election process is completed.

Is MCC legally enforceable?

  • It is not a legally enforceable document, and the Election Commission usually uses moral sanction to get political parties and candidates to fall in line.
  • The EC is now of the opinion that making the Code legally enforceable would be self-defeating because any violation must be responded to quickly — and this will not be possible if the matter goes to court.
Polity & Governance

Article
05 Oct 2022

In blow to inspector raj, govt amends key part of metrology law

In News:

  • The government has amended a key provision in the Legal Metrology Rules, which previously empowered officers to initiate prosecution against directors of companies even for minor offences relating to weights and measures.

What’s in today’s article:

  • The Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules – About, mandatory provisions, amendments
  • News Summary

The Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules:

  • Legal Metrology is defined as the legal requirements that are required to be fulfilled for governance over the utilisation of standard weights and for any source of instruments that are utilised for the purpose of measurements.
  • Legal Metrology is regulated by the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules 2011.
  • The main aim of this Rule is to ensure that a public guarantee is being provided for the terms of determining the security and accuracy of Weighments and Measurements.
    • Establishment of standards of weight and measure is included in Union List (entry 50).
    • Enforcement of laws with respect to weights and measures (legal metrology) is mentioned in Concurrent list (entry 33A).

Mandatory provisions under the 2011 Rules:

  • To ensure a number of declarations, such as -
    • The name and address of the manufacturer or packer or importer,
    • The country of origin,
    • The common or generic name of the commodity,
    • The net quantity,
    • The month and year of manufacture,
    • The Maximum Retail Price (MRP) and
    • Consumer care information.
  • All pre-packaged commodities should be inspected.
  • The principal display panel (in relation to a package), means the total surface area of a package containing the information required.
  • All the information should be grouped together and given in one place.
  • The declaration on the package must be legible and prominent.
  • The consumers’ ‘right to be informed’ is violated when important declarations are not prominently displayed on the package.
  • If there is more than one major product, the name or number of each product shall be mentioned on the package.
  • However, this is not applicable to mechanical or electrical commodities.

Amendments of the rule

  • The proposed amendments – In September 2022, the Department of Consumer Affairs' Legal Metrology Division notified a draft amendment to the existing rules. This included:
    • The key constituents need to be mentioned on the product packaging, as many blended food and cosmetic products are sold in the market.
    • Currently, manufacturers list the ingredients and nutritional information only on the back of the packaging.
    • As noted in the draft notification, at least two prime components should be declared on the package’s front side along with the brand name.
    • Packages displaying key constituents must display a percentage of the content used to make the product, known as the unique selling proposition (USP). However, mechanical or electrical commodities are excluded from this.
      • A USP is a marketing strategy designed to inform customers about the superiority of one’s own brand or product.
      • Listing the USP of a product on the front of the package without disclosing its composition percentage violates consumer rights.
      • g, if a brand sells aloe vera moisturiser, then maximum percentage of the product should be aloe vera, otherwise, the product name is misleading.
  • Earlier amendments
    • In July 2022, the Department of Consumer Affairs had notified the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities), (Second Amendment) Rules 2022.
    • It allowed the electronic products to declare certain mandatory declarations through the QR Code for a period of one year, if not declared in the package itself.
    • This amendment allows the industry to declare the elaborated information in the digital form through the QR Code.

News Summary

  • The government has amended a key provision in the Legal Metrology Rules, which previously empowered officers to initiate prosecution against directors of companies even for minor offences relating to weights and measures.
  • Section 49 of the Legal Metrology Act allows the companies to nominate any of its directors as a person responsible for the business of the company.

Rationale behind this amendment

  • This was amended with an aim:
    • To end the inspector raj;
    • To improve ease of doing business;
    • To stop harassment of top directors or owners of the companies for small violations in weights and measures.
  • The earlier provision had become a tool for harassment as the inspectors in state legal metrology departments would slap notices on the directors and owners.
  • The change will also reduce compliance burden.
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
Oct. 5, 2022

herSTART' Platform
President Draupadi Murmu launches 'herSTART' - a start-up platform of Gujarat University for women entrepreneurs
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About:

  • herSTART' is the initiative of Gujarat University Startup and Entrepreneurship Council aims at supporting women-led startups.
  • The platform has been launched with the aim that it will not only boost innovation and start-up efforts of women entrepreneurs but also help them connect with government as well as private enterprises.
  • Through this platform, free resources and training modules free will be provided to aspiring women entrepreneurs. It will build a digital community and also a digital publication to spread their success stories.
Important Info :

 

Source : All India Radio
Social Issues-women

Current Affairs
Oct. 5, 2022

Cholas
The Tamil Movie Ponniyin Selvan-1 puts focus on the Cholas
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About:

  • The Chola kingdom stretched across present-day Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and parts of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. During the period of the Cholas’ rise and fall (around 9th to 12th century AD), other powerful dynasties of the region would also come and go, such as the Rashtrakutas of the Deccan who defeated the Cholas, and the Chalukyas of the Andhra Pradesh region whom the Cholas frequently battled.
  • The dynasty was founded by the king Vijaylaya, described as a “feudatory” of the Pallavas by historian Satish Chandra in the book ‘The History of Medieval Era’.

Society under the Cholas

  • One of the biggest achievements of the Chola dynasty was its naval power, allowing them to go as far as Malaysia and the Sumatra islands of Indonesia in their conquests.
  • While the extent of this domination is disputed, the Cholas had strong ties with merchant groups and this allowed them to undertake impressive naval expeditions.
  • Succession wars were natural which is set in the time after the Rashtrakutas defeated the Cholas.
  • Another feature is how the practice of building grand temples. The grand Brihadeeswara temple of Thanjavur, built by the Cholas, was the largest building in India in that period.
Important Info :

 

Source : Indian Express
History & Culture
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