Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Current Affairs of 2nd September-2020

 

1) Audfs01 Galaxy:

Context: As a landmark achievement in Space missions, Indian Astronomers have discovered one of the farthest Star galaxies in the universe.

It is a matter of pride that India’s first Multi-Wavelength Space Observatory “Astrosat” had detected extreme-UV light from a galaxy located 9.3 billion light-years away from Earth.

The galaxy called audfs01 was discovered by a team of Astronomers led by Dr Kanak Saha from the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) Pune.

The importance and uniqueness of this original discovery can be made out from the fact that it has been reported in the leading international journal “Nature Astronomy” published from Britain. India’s Astrosat/UVIT was able to achieve this unique feat because the background noise in the UVIT detector is much less than one on the Hubble Space Telescope of US based NASA.

India’s Space Scientists for once again proving to the world that India’s capability in Space technology has risen to a distinguished level from where our scientists are now offering cues and giving leads to the Space scientists in other parts of the world. According to Professor shyamtandon, the excellent spatial resolution and high sensitivity is a tribute to the hard work of the UVIT core team of scientists for over a decade.

This discovery is a very important clue to how the dark ages of the Universe ended and there was light in the Universe.
Pertinent to mention that India’s first Space Observatory astrosat, which has made this discovery, was launched by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), in 2015

ASTROSAT:

Astrosat is the first dedicated Indian astronomy mission aimed at studying celestial sources in X-ray, optical and UV spectral bands simultaneously. One of the unique features of Astrosat mission is that it enables the simultaneous multi-wavelength observations of various astronomical objects with a single satellite.
Launched by PSLV-C30 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. The minimum useful life of the Astrosat mission is expected to be 5 years.

The scientific objectives of Astrosat mission are:

  • To understand high energy processes in binary star systems containing neutron stars and black holes;
  • Estimate magnetic fields of neutron stars;
  • Study star birth regions and high energy processes in star systems lying beyond our galaxy;
  • Detect new briefly bright X-ray sources in the sky;
  • Perform a limited deep field survey of the Universe in the Ultraviolet region.

 

2) Election Commission:

Context: Shri Rajiv Kumar takes over as new Election Commissioner:

Election commission of India:

The constitution under article 324 provides for an Election Commission for the superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of the electoral rolls for the conduct of elections to parliament, state legislatures and to the offices of president and vice president. Thus, the Election Commission is responsible for both the centre’s and the states’ elections.

Composition Election commission of India:

The constitution provides for the following provisions in relation to the composition of the election commission:

  1. The election commission shall consist of the Chief Election Commissioner and such number of other election commissioners, if any, as the president may from time to time fix.
  2. The appointment of the chief election commissioner and other election commissioners shall be made by the president.
  3. When any other election commissioner is so appointed the chief election commissioner shall act as the chairman of the election commission.
  4. The president may also appoint after consultation with the election commission such regional commissioners as he may consider necessary to assist the election commission.
  5. The conditions of service and tenure of office of the election commissioners and the regional commissioners shall be such as the President may by rule determine.
  6. The Chief Election Commissioner and the two other election commissioners receive equal salary, allowances and other benefits.

Tenure Election commission of India:

The Chief Election Commissioner and other election commissioners hold office for 6 years or till they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. They can resign at any time by addressing their resignation to the president. The president can remove any of the commissioners following the procedure provided in the constitution.

Powers and Functions Election commission of India:

The powers and functions of the election commission are mentioned below:

  1. It determines the territorial area of the electoral constituencies in accordance with the Delimitation Commission Act.
  2. It prepares the electoral rolls and revises them from time to time. It registers all the eligible voters.
  3. It prepares and notifies the schedule of the election.
  4. It receives and scrutinizes the nomination papers from all the candidates in the elections.
  5. It registers political parties and grants recognition to them. It provides election symbols to the political parties.
  6. It provides the status of national or state parties to the political parties on the basis of their performance in the elections.
  7. It acts as the court to look into disputes regarding the recognition of political parties and allotment of symbols to them.
  8. It appoints officers to enquire into disputes relating to electoral arrangements.
  9. It prepares the time table for the publicity of the policies and programmes of political parties through TV and radio.
  10. It ensures that the model code of conduct is followed by all the political parties and all the candidates.
  11. It advises the president on matters relating to the disqualification of the members of the parliament.
  12. It advises the governor of the state on matters relating to the disqualification of the members of the state legislature.
  13. It requests the president or the governor for the necessary staff required for conducting elections.
  14. It supervises election machinery and the conduct of elections to ensure free and fair elections.
  15. It cancels polls in the event of irregularities and wrongdoings during an election.
  16. It advises the president whether the elections can be held in a state under president’s rule.

So this was the complete information about the Composition, Tenure, and Functions of the Election Commission of India. This topic is very important for various competitive exams to be held in the future.

 

3) Swachhta Pakhwada:

Context: Department of Fertilizers is observing Swachhta Pakhwada from 1st to 15th September 2020

Swachhata Pakhwada

  • Swachhata Pakhwada started in 2016 with the objective of bringing a fortnight of intense focus on the issues and practices of Swachhata by engaging GOI Ministries/Departments in their jurisdictions.
  • An annual calendar is pre-circulated among the Ministries to help them plan for the Pakhwada activities.
  • The Ministries observing Swachhata Pakhwada are monitored closely using online monitoring system of Swachhata Samiksha where action plans, images, videos related to Swachhata activities are uploaded and shared.
  • After observing Swachhata Pakhwada, Ministries/ Departments announce their achievements through a press conference and other communication tools.
  • For the Pakhwada fortnight, observing ministries are considered as Swachhata Ministries and are expected to bring qualitative Swachhata improvements in their jurisdictions.

 

4) US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF):

Context: The Commerce and Industry Minister Shri Piyush Goyal has invited the US business and industry to work with their Indian counterparts to take the bilateral trade to greater heights.

Addressing the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) through a virtual conference today, Shri Goyal said that the two democracies share deep commitment with each other, at the Government, Business and people to people levels.

Both countries believe in free and fair trade, and the US is India’s largest trading partner.

Going beyond the trade, in this interconnected world, the two nations can be the resilient trusted partners in global value chain.

Steps taken in the India to facilitate industry and investment:

GIS-enabled land bank has been launched on pilot basis, with six states on board, which will help the investors in identifying the land and location.

The Minister also mentioned about the single-window system for clearances, which is being developed in cooperation with various approving authorities and agencies at the Central, State and Municipal levels.

On the issue of trade agreement between the US and India, India is ready to sign initial limited trade package, and it is up to the US to move ahead.

Challenges and opportunities:

He said that economic activity in the country had suffered due to pandemic but there have been indications of sharp revivals.

Talking about the amount of freight carried by the Indian railways, he said that it is 4% more in August 2020 than the corresponding period of 2019.

Exports has gained further speed, and the August figures, which are being finalized, seem to be looking even better.

If the data from the Oil and Gems/Jewelry sectors is excluded from the total exports, the upsurge will be even more.

The Minister said that the early and strong steps taken by India to check the spread of Covid has stood the country in good stead, as the fatality rate is less that 2% and the recovery rate is above 75%.

Despite large population, people of India showed great ability to adjust with the time. Lock-down period was used by the country to strengthen the health

infrastructure, and the stimulus/relief package has helped the people fight the pandemic.

He expressed the confidence that India will emerge victorious, make up for the lost time, and will be back on track to achieve $5Tn economy in next 5 years, and bring prosperity to 1.3 billion people of India.

 

5) One Nation One Ration Card:

Context: 2 Union Territories of Ladakh and Lakshadweep approved the integration of these 2 UTs with existing national portability cluster of 24 States/UTs.

Both the UTs have completed the trial and testing of national portability transactions with other States/UTs in national cluster. With this, a total of 26 States/UTs are now seamlessly connected with each other under the One Nation One Ration Card plan and migratory PDS beneficiaries in these 26 States/UTs can access their subsidised food grains at the same Scale and Central Issue Prices from any Fair Price Shop (FPS) of their choice w.e.f. 1st September 2020.

The ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ plan is an ambitious endeavour of the Government to ensure the delivery of food security entitlements to all beneficiaries covered under the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA), irrespective of their physical location anywhere in the country, by implementing nation-wide portability of ration cards under the ongoing central sector scheme on ‘Integrated Management of Public Distribution System (IM-PDS)’ in association with all States/UTs.

Through this system, the migratory NFSA beneficiaries who frequently change their place of dwelling in search of temporary employments, etc. Are now enabled with an option to lift their entitled quota of food grains from any Fair Price Shop (FPS) of their choice anywhere in the country by using their same/existing ration card with biometric/Aadhaar based authentication on an electronic Point of Sale (epos) device installed at the fpss

 

6) Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO):

Context: Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh is visiting Moscow at the invitation of Defence Minister of Russian Federation General Shergei Shoigu to attend the combined meeting of Defence Ministers of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) member States in commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of victory in the World War II.

SCO: The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a permanent intergovernmental international organisation, the creation of which was announced in 2001 in Shanghai (China) by the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People’s Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan. It was preceded by the Shanghai Five mechanism.

The SCO’s main goals are as follows:

Strengthening mutual trust and neighbour liness among the member states.

Promoting their effective cooperation in politics, trade, the economy, research, technology and culture, as well as in education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection, and other areas.

Making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region.

Moving towards the establishment of a democratic, fair and rational new international political and economic order.

Proceeding from the Shanghai Spirit, the SCO pursues its internal policy based on the principles of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, mutual consultations, respect for cultural diversity, and a desire for common development, while its external policy is conducted in accordance with the principles of non-alignment, non-targeting any third country, and openness.

The organisation has two permanent bodies — the SCO Secretariat based in Beijing and the Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) based in Tashkent.

The SCO currently comprises eight member states, namely the Republic of India, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People’s Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan;

The SCO counts four observer states, namely the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Republic of Belarus, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Mongolia.

 

7) Green Term Ahead Market (GTAM):

Context: As a first step towards Greening the Indian short term power Market, the Minister of State (IC) Power and New & Renewable Energy & Minister of State (Skill Development and Entrepreneurship), launched pan-India Green Term Ahead Market (GTAM) in electricity through video conference in New Delhi.

Advantages:

  • The introduction of GTAM platform would lessen the burden on RE-rich States and incentivize them not be any difficulty in accounting for RPO.
  • GTAM contracts will be to develop RE capacity beyond their own Renewable Purchase Obligations RPO.
  • This would promote RE merchant capacity addition and help in achieving RE capacity addition targets of the country.
  • He further added that GTAM platform will lead to increase in number of participants in renewable energy sector.
  • It will benefit buyers of RE through competitive prices and transparent and flexible procurement.
  • It will also benefit RE sellers by providing access to pan- India market
  • The Government of India’s target of 175 GW RE Capacity by 2022 is driving accelerated renewable penetration pan-India.
  • Green Term Ahead Market contracts will allow additional avenues to the RE generators for sale of renewable energy
  • Enable Obligated entities to procure renewable power at competitive prices to meet their Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO)
  • And provide a platform to environmentally conscious open access consumers and utilities to buy green power.

Key features of GTAM:

  1. Transactions through GTAM will be bilateral in nature with clear identification of corresponding buyers and sellers, there will segregated into Solar RPO & Non-Solar RPO as RPO targets are also segregated.
  2. Further, within the two segments GTAM contracts will have Green Intraday, Day Ahead Contingency, Daily and Weekly Contracts
     A. Green Intraday Contract & Day Ahead Contingency Contract – Bidding will take place on a 15-minute time-block wise MW basis.
     B. Daily & Weekly Contracts – Bidding will take place on mwh basis. Both buyers and sellers can submit the bid, however the seller will provide profile in terms of 15-minute time block wise quantity (MW) along with the price (Rs/mwh). After the contract gets executed scheduling will take place as per the profile. In case of multiple buyers, the profile will get allocated on a pro-rata basis.
  3. Price discovery will take place on a continuous basis i.e. Price time priority basis. Subsequently, looking at the market conditions open auction can be introduced for daily & weekly contracts.
  4. Energy scheduled through GTAM contract shall be considered as deemed RPO compliance of the buyer.
    Union Power Minister also mentioned that other products to be introduced in power market for promotion of Renewable Energy are in the pipeline and would be introduced soon.

 

8) Indra 2020:

  • Bilateral Naval exercise between India and Russia
  • To be held in Andaman sea.

 

9) Passex- exercise:

  • Naval exercise of India and US
  • Held in Andaman and Nicobar Islands in Indian Ocean

 

10) Kavkaz 2020

Kavkaz-2020 Exercise:

  • It is a strategic command-post exercise, and also known as Caucasus-2020.
  • The tri-service exercise is part of a four-year exercise cycle of the Russian army. Previous editions of the exercise were held in 2012 and 2016.
  • In 2020 it will be conducted in the Astrakhan province of Southern Russia.
  • Member countries of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and Central Asian countries would be participating.
  • India has withdrawn its participation from Kavkaz 2020, a multinational tri-services exercise in Russia, citing Covid-19 as the official reason.

 

11) 2019 NCRB report on accident deaths and Suicides:

  • Suicide cases and accidental death registered an increase across the country from 2018
  • The most were of daily wage earners followed by self-employed persons and the unemployed
  • Accidental deaths in the country increased by 2.3 % compared to last year in accidental death
  • Maharashtra reporter highest accidental deaths
  • The major causes were traffic accidents, sudden deaths, drowning, poisoning, falls and accidental fire
  • Sanjivani Society for mental health suicide prevention is society set up to give assistance for overcoming suicidal thoughts make contact

NCRB: NCRB was set-up in 1986 to function as a repository of information on crime and criminals so as to assist the investigators in linking crime to the perpetrators based on the recommendations of the Tandon Committee, National Police Commission (1977-1981) and the MHA’s Task force (1985).

Subsequently, NCRB was entrusted with the responsibility for monitoring, coordinating and implementing the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS) project in the year 2009. The project has connected 15000+ police stations and 6000 higher offices of police in the country.

 

12) Turkey – Greece conflict in Eastern Mediterranean Sea:

Context: Turkey renews calls for talks, sharing of resources with Greece

ISSUE: Turkey sent an exploration vessel, accompanied by a Navy fleet, to the disputed waters.

  • The trigger for the recent hostility between them has been the discovery of gas in the Mediterranean waters.
  • The European Union (EU) has planned to transport the gas to its mainland, which would help reduce its dependency on Russia.
  • This has raised the region’s geopolitical profile.
  • Turkey and Greece have overlapping maritime claims.

What made Turkey react:

  • The EU members and its allies in West Asia and Africa planned to build a gas pipeline from the Mediterranean to Europe’s mainland.
  • But they kept Turkey out of it, which infuriated Ankara.
  • In the early 2020, the eastmed Gas Forum was formed by Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan and Palestine.
  • Turkey was again excluded from this Forum.

What were Turkey’s actions?

  • Turkey challenged the pipeline project and reached an agreement with Libya’s Tripoli-based government.
  • According to this agreement, an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) will be formed from Turkey’s southern shores to Libya’s northern coast across the Mediterranean.

Greece’s response:

  • Greece claimed that the Turkish zone violated its maritime sovereignty.
  • Later, Greece announced its EEZ with Egypt, which clashes with Turkey’s zone.
  • Immediately thereafter, Turkey sent its survey ship over.

What is the potential of this issue?

  • This complicated issue has the potential to involve Europe, West Asia and North Africa.
  • It is difficult to demarcate the maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean, which is dotted with Turkish and Greek islands.
  • Cyprus is physically divided with the southern part ruled by a recognised government and the northern part controlled by Turkey.
  • Turkey’s survey ship plans exploration activities around Greece’s Crete Island.
  • But Crete Island lies just oUTside the Turkish-Libya economic zone.
  • Greece and Cyprus call this a violation of their sovereignty.

What is the alliance?

  • France, the EU’s most powerful military force, has thrown its weight behind Greece and Cyprus.
  • Now, an alliance is emerging among Greece, Cyprus, Italy and France, which is backed by Egypt, Israel and the UAE.
  • Turkey stands almost isolated, but remains a key power in the Mediterranean.

What should the EU do?

  • If the EU wants to transport gas from the coast of Israel to Europe via Cyprus and Italy, an open conflict with Turkey cannot help.
  • In everybody’s interest, tensions should come down.
  • A diplomatic and mutually acceptable solution to the gas contest should be found.
  • Excluding Turkey, which has a long Mediterranean coast, is unwise.
  • Allowing a resurgent Turkey to bully smaller powers in the region would be strategically disastrous.
  • The EU has to strike a balance between these two options.

 

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