16 September, 2020

  • Self-Quiz to be taken before DNS
  • Venus in focus (Science &Technology)
  • Impediments to equal productivity, dignity (Social Justice)
  • An economic disaster foretold (Indian Economy)
  • Parliament and its panels (Polity & Governance)
  • Question of the day (Science & Technology)

Prelims Quiz

    Solution.

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    Description

    UPSC Current Affairs:  Venus in Focus | Page 6

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Science & Technology

    Sub Theme: Phosphine Gas on Planet Venus |Significance of Phosphine | Missions to Venus| UPSC

    Context - Nature Astronomy published a paper on findings of phosphine gas on Venus. Prof. Greaves first identified phosphine in Venus’s atmosphere in 2017, using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii. Further study and precise observations using the Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array facility in Chile confirmed the suspicions of the researchers in 2019.

    Despite being similar in size to the Earth, having rocky surface, and having an iron core, Venus has got very little attention in space exploration. 

    Planet was considered hostile to life

    • Although Venus is the second closest planet to the Sun, it is still the hottest.
    • Surface temperatures is above 460° Celsius. Many metals will be melted on the surface.
    • Heavy atmosphere of carbon dioxide.
    • Venus clouds are made of sulphuric acid, so acidic that they are off our pH scale.

    Some recent findings in the Venus atmosphere

    • European Space Agency’s mission, Venus Express, found signs of ozone, made of three oxygen atoms and considered a biomarker, in the upper atmosphere of Venus, in 2011.
    • Traces of phosphine, another biomarker, in its atmosphere has just given the search for extra-terrestrial life a shot in the arm.

    Phosphine gas

    • A compound of one phosphorous atom and three hydrogen atom.
    • It is given out by some microbes during biochemical processes.
    • In an atmosphere rich in carbon dioxide, it is likely to get destroyed soon.
    • The researchers estimate that phosphine forms about 20 parts per billion of Venus’s atmosphere.

    Significance of Phosphine gas

    • It is considered as a biosignature gas.
    • Phosphene is natural biproduct of life. (It is either manufactured by us or is produced as a by-product of life.)
    • Phosphene has no abiotic false positives (nothing but life can naturally produce the gas on earth)

    Curiosity with Caution

    • It is possible that the signal could be observed by another gas, SO2.
    • Some researchers are suggesting that there could be some kind of thick shell of sulphur to defend themselves from sulphuric acid.

    This can now only be taken further by making in situ measurements in the atmosphere of Venus. This poses its own challenges. Apart from the high surface temperature and dense atmosphere, the presence of sulphuric acid in the atmosphere of Venus makes it a highly corrosive environment. Perhaps flying at a height and sending down drones or balloons would be more feasible than a landing.

    Missions to Venus

    • There’s one spacecraft currently flying around Venus — Japan’s Akatsuki orbiter. It’s the second dedicated Venus mission.
    • The European Venus Express mission operated in orbit around the planet from 2006 through 2014.
    • Missions to Venus have been planned by NASA and ISRO. While NASA’s mission is slated for launch next year, ISRO’s mission will be launched in 2023.
    • Shukrayaan-1 is a proposed orbiter to Venus by the Indian Space Research Organisation to study the surface and atmosphere of Venus.

    Questions (T/F)

    • Phosphine is considered as a biosignature gas.
    • Venus has an Earth-like magnetic field.
    • Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system.
    • Venus has an active surface, including volcanoes.
    • Venus spins in the opposite direction of Earth and most other planets.
    • Venus have Two moons.
    • There’s one spacecraft currently flying around Venus — Japan’s Akatsuki orbiter.
    • Shukrayaan-1 is a proposed orbiter + Lander to Venus by the Indian Space Research Organisation to study the surface and atmosphere of Venus.

    Answer

    • Phosphine is considered as a biosignature gas. (T)
    • Venus has an Earth-like magnetic field. (F)
    • Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system. (T)
    • Venus has an active surface, including volcanoes. (T)
    • Venus spins in the opposite direction of Earth and most other planets. (T)
    • Venus have Two moons. (F)
    • There’s one spacecraft currently flying around Venus — Japan’s Akatsuki orbiter. (T)
    • Shukrayaan-1 is a proposed orbiter + Lander to Venus by the Indian Space Research Organisation to study the surface and atmosphere of Venus. (F)

     

    UPSC Current Affairs:  Impediments to equal productivity, dignity| Page 06

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Rights-based Issues| Mains: GS Paper II

    Sub Theme: Persons with Disabilities| Challenges faced by Disabled | How to improve opportunities for disabled| UPSC

    First, what is a disability?

    • Right of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016
      • Defines "Person with disability" means a person with long term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which, in interaction with barriers, hinders his full and effective participation in society equally with others.

    Let us look at the disabled population in our country

    • Disabled Population in India as per census 2011 (2016 updated) – In India out of the 121 Cr population, 2.68 Cr persons are disabled which is 2.21% of the total population.
    • Among the disabled population 56% (1.5 Cr) are males and 44% (1.18 Cr ) are females. In the total population, the male and female population are 51% and 49% respectively.
    • Majority (69%) of the disabled population resided in rural areas (1.86 Cr disabled persons in rural areas and 0.81 Cr in urban areas). In the case of total population also, 69% are from rural areas while the remaining 31% resided in urban areas. 

    Issues  

    Let us begin the discussion with a very good quote: which summarises the overall issues faced by the disabled:

    • Unavailability of data and statistics:
      • And the reason for that is:
        • Difficult to define disability
        • Coverage: Different purposes require different disability data
        • Reluctance in reporting disability as disability is considered to be a stigma in many places/societies
      • Health
        • There is lack of affordable access to proper health care, aids and appliances
        • Healthcare facilities and poorly trained health-workers in rehabilitation centres is another concern
      • Education:
        • The education system is not inclusive.
        • Inclusion of children with mild to moderate disabilities in regular schools has remained a major challenge.
        • There are various issues such as availability special schools, access to schools, trained teachers, and availability of educational materials for the disabled.
        • Further, reservations for the disabled in higher educational institutions has not been fulfilled in many instances
      • Employment:
        • Even though many disabled adults are capable of productive work, disabled adults have far lower employment rates than the general population.
        • The situation is even worse in the private sector, where much less disabled are employed
      • Accessibility:

    o Physical accessibility in buildings, transportation, access to services etc still remain a major challenge.

    • Discrimination/Social Exclusion:
      • Negative attitudes held by the families of the disabled, and often the disabled themselves, hinder disabled persons from taking an active part in the family, community or workforce.
      • Differently-abled people face discrimination in everyday life. People suffering from mental illness or mental retardation face the worst stigma and are subject to severe social exclusion.

    Hence these issues create a vicious cycle:

    • Right of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016
      • Defines "Person with disability" means a person with long term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which, in interaction with barriers, hinders his full and effective participation in society equally with others.
    • Accessible India Campaign : Creation of Accessible Environment for PwDs:
      • A nation-wide flagship campaign for achieving universal accessibility that will enable persons with disabilities to gain access for equal opportunity and live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life in an inclusive society.
    • DeenDayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme:
      • Under the scheme financial assistance is provided to NGOs for providing various services to Persons with Disabilities, like special schools, vocational training centres, community based rehabilitation, pre-school and early intervention etc
    • Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase / fitting of Aids and Appliances (ADIP):
      • The Scheme aims at helping the disabled persons by bringing suitable, durable, scientifically-manufactured, modern, standard aids and appliances within their reach.

    But Poor implementation of policies and schemes hinders the inclusion of disabled persons. Though various acts and schemes have been laid down with an aim to empower the disabled, their enforcement face many challenges.

    So in essence we can say that the disabled people have to go through everyday pain of being excluded from a whole host of normal life activities. 

    Not only that, they have to constantly find ways of living with equal productivity and dignity as others which the able-bodied often simply do not have to think about. 

    Because of which there exists a massive gap between what people with disabilities, when provided appropriate tools and resources, are capable of achieving and what they are allowed to achieve, on account of the multiple impediments placed in their path.

    Way Forward

    • Prevention
      • A lot of disabilities are preventable: (Example wasting of muscles due to Polio)
        • large number of disabilities are preventable, including those arising from medical issues during birth, maternal conditions, malnutrition, as well as accidents and injuries.
        • However, the health sector especially in rural India has failed to react proactively to disability
      • Preventive health programs need to be strengthened and all children need to be screened at a young age.
      • Case Study: Kerala has already started an early prevention programme. Comprehensive Newborn Screening (CNS) programme seeks early identification of deficits in infants and reduce the state's burden of disability.
    • Awareness:
      • People with disabilities need to be better integrated into society by overcoming stigma
      • There should be awareness campaigns to educate and aware people about different kinds of disability
      • Success stories of people with disabilities can be showcased to inculcate positive attitude among people
    • Employment:
      • Disabled adults need to be empowered with employable skills o The private sector needs to be encouraged to employ them.
    • Better measurement:
      • The scale of disability in India needs to be better understood by improving the measurement of disability.
    • Education:
      • State-wise strategies on education for children with special needs need to be devised.
      • There should be proper teacher training to address the needs of differently abled children and facilitate their inclusion in regular schools
      • Further there should be more special schools and ensure educational material for differently-abled children
    • Access:
      • Safety measures like road safety, safety in residential areas, public transport system etc, should be taken up Further, it should be made legally binding to make buildings disabled-friendly
    • Policy Interventions:
      • More budgetary allocation for welfare of the disabled. There should be a disability budgeting on line of gender budget.
      • Proper implementation of schemes should be ensured. There should be proper monitoring mechanisms and accountability of public funds.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs:  An economic disaster foretold - Page 7

    UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS Paper III

    Sub Theme:  Impact of COVID-19 on Unorganised Sector | Reliance on Agriculture for Economic Revival | UPSC

    According to a recent report published by National Statistical Office (NSO), the GDP has contracted by 24% in the first quarter (April-June) of 2020-21 as compared to 5% growth registered in Q1 2019-20.

    India has seen contraction in GDP for the first time in the last 41 years since 1979. In this regard, this article focusses on 3 distinct dimensions:

    1. Reasons for the present Economic Slowdown (Covered in DNS dated 1st September 2020)
    2. Can Agriculture Sector be relied upon to promote GDP? (Covered in DNS dated 11th September 2020)
    3. Disconnect between GDP Growth rates and Ground realities due to flawed GDP methodology

    Flaws in GDP Methodology

    Presently, the GDP methodology does not directly measure the economic activity of the unorganised sector. The economic activity of the unorganized sector is extrapolated on the basis of economic activity in the organised sector. This is done on the basis of assumption that the economic activity in the unorganized sector depends on the organised sector.

    However, this assumption looks extremely flawed. For instance, in the aftermath of the twin shocks of Demonetisation and GST, the ground realities has clearly showed that it is the unorganised sector which has got more adversely affected than the organised sector. Hence, there was a general decline in the economic activity in India during the demonetization year 2016-17. However, according to the government's estimates, the GDP growth rate for the year 2016-17 was 8.2%, which is considered to be highest growth rate in a decade.

    Even now as well, the lockdown imposed due to COVID-19 has much higher impact on unorganised sector than the organised sector. Hence, the actual GDP growth rate registered in the first quarter of 2020-21 could be much lower than what has been estimated officially by NSO. Now, considering the fact that unorganised sector contributes around 45% of output and around 92% of employment, it can be clearly argued that the official GDP estimates in India does not reflect the ground realities.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs:  Parliament and its panels |Page 07

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Indian Polity

    Sub Theme:  Parliamentary Committees | Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committees| UPSC

    Context: There was a speculation that Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committees’ tenure might be increased to two years from present one year. Now, Chairman of Rajya Sabha was very much keen to increase the tenure to 2 years but there must be concurrence from Speaker of Lok Sabha as well since Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committees’ are joint committees where members of both Houses participates. In this Article, let us go through the basics of Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committees. 

    About Parliamentary Committees

    • Parliamentary Committee means a Committee which is appointed or elected by the House or nominated by the Speaker and which works under the direction of the Speaker and presents its report to the House or to the Speaker and the Secretariat.
    • By their nature, Parliamentary Committees are of two kinds: Standing Committees and Ad hoc Committees.
    • Standing Committees are permanent and regular committees which are constituted from time to time in pursuance of the provisions of an Act of Parliament or Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha. The work of these Committees is of continuous nature. The Financial Committees, Department Related Standing Committees (DRSCs) and some other Committees come under the category of Standing Committees.
    • Ad hoc Committees are appointed for a specific purpose and they cease to exist when they finish the task assigned to them and submit a report. The principal Ad hoc Committees are the Select and Joint Committees on Bills. Railway Convention Committee, Joint Committee on Food Management in Parliament House Complex etc also come under the category of ad hoc Committees.

    DEPARTMENT RELATED PARLIAMENTARY STANDING COMMITTEES - DRPSC

    • The need to constitute some kind of Subject Specific Committees or the Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committees was felt for the last several years.
    • In 1989, in fact, 3 Standing Committees were constituted which dealt with Agriculture, Science and Technology and Environment and Forests.
    • In 1993, it was finally decided to set up 17 Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committees each consisting of 15 members of Rajya Sabha and 30 from Lok Sabha to cover various Ministries/Departments of the Union Government in order to further strengthen the accountability of the Government to Parliament.
    • With the addition of 7 more Committees in July 2004, the number of Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committees was raised to 24 but with reduced membership of 10 members from Rajya Sabha and 21 members from Lok Sabha.
    • Of the total Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committees, 8 were placed within the jurisdiction of the Chairman, Rajya Sabha and 16 within the jurisdiction of the Speaker, Lok Sabha. 
    • The Chairmen of the first 8 Committees are appointed by Chairman, Rajya Sabha and the remaining 16 by the Speaker of Lok Sabha.
    • Rules 268 to 277 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Conduct of States and Rules 331 C to 331 N of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha govern the Constitution and functioning of these Committees.

    DRPSC which comes under the purview of CHAIRMAN - RAJYA SABHA

    1

    Committee on Commerce

    2

    Committee on Home Affairs

    3

    Committee on Human Resource Development

    4

    Committee on Industry

    5

    Committee  on Science & Technology, Environment & Forest

    6

    Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture

    7

    Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice

    8

    Committee on Health and Family Welfare


    DRPSC which comes under the purview of SPEAKER - LOK SABHA

    9

    Committee on Agriculture

    10

    Committee on Information Technology

    11

    Committee on Defence

    12

    Committee on Energy

    13

    Committee on External Affairs

    14

    Committee on Finance

    15

    Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution

    16

    Committee on Labour

    17

    Committee on Petroleum & Natural Gas

    18

    Committee on Railways

    19

    Committee on Urban Development

    20

    Committee on Water Resources

    21

    Committee on Chemicals and Fertilizers

    22

    Committee on Rural Development

    23

    Committee on Coal and Steel 

    24

    Committee on Social Justice & Empowerment 


    RULES OF PROCEDURE AND CONDUCT OF BUSINESS IN THE COUNCIL OF STATES

    Functions entrusted to 8 DRPSC

    • to consider the Demands for Grants of the related Ministries/ Departments and report thereon. The report shall not suggest anything of the nature of cut motions;
    • to examine Bills, pertaining to the related Ministries/ Departments, referred to the Committee by the Chairman or the Speaker, as the case may be, and report thereon;
    • to consider the annual reports of the Ministries/Departments and report thereon; and
    • to consider national basic long term policy documents presented to the Houses, if referred to the Committee by the Chairman or the Speaker, as the case may be, and report thereon:

    Provided that the Standing Committees shall not consider matters of day to-day administration of the related Ministries/Departments.

    Reports of the Committee

    1. The report of the Standing Committee shall be based on broad consensus.
    2. Any member of the Committee may record a minute of dissent on the report of the Committee.
    3. The report of the Committee, together with the minutes of dissent, if any, shall be presented to the Houses.

    A Standing Committee shall not ordinarily consider matters within the purview of any other Parliamentary Committee. The report of a Standing Committee shall have persuasive value and shall be treated as considered advice given by the Committee.

    Comments

    Kshitish Mishra 2 months ago

    Thank you so much for the amazing content. Especially, today's notes portion was amazing... (questions along with answers in the True/False section was something unique and it would be really helpful if every faculty follows the same procedure - it actually helps in analysing own self in an instant).
    Once again, the more I write, the more I can only appreciate for the best efforts you people are putting for us. God bless you all 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

    Ritika Gupta 2 months ago

    Indeed comprehensive , Thanks! 

    Tamsil Sajid Amani 2 months ago

    Brilliant Explanation sir