Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

UPSC Civils Current Affairs 18th May-2021

Topics :

  • 1) Cyclone ‘Tauktae’
  • 2) Sedition in India
  • 3) Legislative council
  • 4) 180 Elephants death in 10 years
  • 5) Impact of Virus surge on Agriculture
  • 6) Labour Participation rate


1) Cyclone ‘Tauktae’

? Cyclone Tauktae (pronounced Tau-Te), classified as a very severe cyclonic storm (VSCS) and developed in the Arabian Sea.
? Cyclone ‘Tauktae‘ name was suggested by Myanmar. Tauktae means a highly vocal lizard gecko.
? Cyclone Tauktae will be the first cyclonic storm along the Indian coast in the year 2021.
How are cyclones named?
? Cyclones are officially named by one of the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) warning centers based across the globe.
Significance of Naming of a cyclone:
? It helps in the quick identification of storms in warning messages
? Names are presumed to be far easier to remember than numbers and technical terms.
? Giving names to cyclones makes it easier for the media to report on tropical cyclones,
? It heightens interest in warnings and increases community preparedness

Tropical Cyclones
? Tropical cyclones are violent storms that originate over oceans in tropical areas and move over to the coastal areas bringing about large scale destruction caused by violent winds, very heavy rainfall and storm surges.
? They are known as Cyclones in the Indian Ocean, Hurricanes in the Atlantic, Typhoons in the Western Pacific and South China Sea, and Willy-willies in the Western Australia. Tropical cyclones originate and intensify over warm tropical oceans.
? The conditions favourable for the formation and intensification of tropical storms are:
(i) Large sea surface with temperature higher than 27° C
(ii) Presence of the Coriolis force
(iii) Small variations in the vertical wind speed
(iv) A pre-existing weak low-pressure area or low-level-cyclonic circulation
(v) Upper divergence above the sea level system.
? The energy that intensifies the storm, comes from the condensation process in the towering cumulonimbus clouds, surrounding the centre of the storm. With continuous supply of moisture from the sea, the storm is further strengthened.
? On reaching the land the moisture supply is cut off and the storm dissipates. The place where a tropical cyclone crosses the coast is called the landfall of the cyclone. The cyclones, which cross 20o N latitude generally, recurve and they are more destructive.
? A mature tropical cyclone is characterized by the strong spirally circulating wind around the center, called the eye. The diameter of the circulating system can vary between 150 and 250 km. The eye is a region of calm with subsiding air.
? Around the eye is the eye wall, where there is a strong spiralling ascent of air to greater height reaching the tropopause. The wind reaches maximum velocity in this region, reaching as high as 250 km per hour. Torrential rain occurs here.
? From the eye wall rain bands may radiate and trains of cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds may drift into the outer region. The diameter of the storm over the Bay of Bengal, Arabian sea and Indian ocean is between 600 – 1200 km. The system moves slowly about 300 – 500 km per day. The cyclone creates storm surges and they inundate the coastal low lands. The storm peters out on the land

Why More Cyclones are formed in Bay of Bengal?
? Both the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea are prone to Cyclonic storms, but Cyclonic activities are more intense and frequent in Bay of Bengal Compared to the Arabian Sea
? High sea surface temperatures along with high humidity due to higher rainfall in the Bay of Bengal, triggers extremely strong cyclones.
? Sluggish winds, along with warm air currents in the Bay of Bengal keep temperatures relatively high.
? The supply of constant inflow of fresh water from the Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers makes it impossible for the warm water to mix with the cooler water below.
? Cyclonic winds easily move into the Bay of Bengal due to the presence of moisture source from rivers and the absence of any large landmass unlike the Arabian Sea, where Cyclones usually weaken due to the presence of Western Ghats.
? Whereas Arabian Sea receives stronger winds that help dissipate the heat, and the lack of constant fresh water supply helps the warm water mix with the cool water, reducing the temperature.


2) Sedition in India

Recently a Member pf Parliament[MP] from Andhra Pradesh was arrested by the Crime Investigation Department (CID) of the Andhra Pradesh Police and was charged under sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) and some other charges under Indian Penal Code.
Reason behind the arrest:
Over the last few months, Raju has been regularly criticising Andhra Pradesh’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. He has also been opposing the Andhra Pradesh government’s decision to introduce English as a language in State-run schools, besides highlighting the alleged attacks on Hindu temples in the State.
The YSRCP has written to the Lok Sabha Speaker seeking Ramakrishna Raju’s disqualification as a Member of Parliament.
What is Sedition Law?
? Sedition in India is defined by section 124 A of the Indian Penal Code.
? Section 124A was introduced by the British colonial government in 1870 when it felt the need for a specific section to deal with the radical movements during 19th century.

Section 124 A states:
? “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.
? Some Famous Sedition Trials:
? It is accepted that the first time, the act was invoked, was against Jogendra Chandra Bose, the editor of Bangobasi, for voicing against Age of Consent Bill, 1891.
? Bal Gangadhar Tilak. First in 1897 for exhorting to act against Rand, the Plague Commissioner. Second in 1909 in respect of certain articles published in the “Kesari” in May and June 1908, for which he was deported to Mandalay.
? Gandhiji in 1922, for three articles published in the magazine Young India.
? Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, 2011. He was arrested in Mumbai under IPC Section 124 (sedition), section 66 A of Information Technology Act and section 2 of Prevention of Insults to Nation Honour Act. The Kanpur-based artist had been accused of putting up banners mocking the Constitution during a rally of anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare in Mumbai and posting the same on his website.
? Latest case against JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar.
What are the concerns?
? It is an irony to retain a provision that was used extensively to suppress the freedom struggle.
? It is to be noted that, Britain itself abolished it 10 years ago.
? There have been repeated instances of misuse of the Section.
? The foremost objection is that the definition of sedition remains too wide.
? Under the present law, it offers scope to consider as seditious
? strong criticism against government policies and personalities
? slogans voicing disapprobation of leaders
? depictions of an unresponsive or insensitive regime
? In recent times the core principle enunciated by the Supreme Court in this regard has been forgotten.
? It specifies that incitement to violence or tendency to create public disorder are the essential ingredients of the offence.
? Sedition systematically destroys the soul of Gandhi’s philosophy that is, right to dissent.
Way forward?
? As long as sedition is seen as a reasonable restriction on free speech on the ground of preserving public order, it will be difficult to contain its mischief. There are thus two ways of undoing the harm that sedition provision does to citizens’ fundamental rights: It can be amended so that there is a much narrower definition of what constitutes sedition
? The second and best course is to repeal the section altogether
? The higher judiciary should use its supervisory powers to sensitize the magistracy and police to the constitutional provisions protecting free speech.
? Civil society must take the lead to raise awareness about the arbitrary use of Sedition law.

3) Legislative council
? West Bengal to form legislative Council [Vidhan parishad] as per its cabinet decision.


? The Trinamool Congress in its manifesto promised the formation of the Council. Ms. Banerjee had indicated that certain people who will not face election can be nominated through the Council.What is Legislative Council?
? India has a bicameral system i.e., two Houses of Parliament.
? At the state level, the equivalent of the Lok Sabha is the Vidhan Sabha or Legislative Assembly; that of the Rajya Sabha is the Vidhan Parishad or Legislative Council.
? The second House of the legislature is considered important for two reasons: one, to act as a check on hasty actions by the popularly elected House and, two, to ensure that individuals who might not be cut out for the rough-and-tumble of direct elections too are able to contribute to the legislative process.
? The Councils are less powerful than the Rajya Sabha, however. Unlike, the Rajya Sabha, which has substantial powers to shape non-financial legislation, Legislative Councils lack a constitutional mandate to do so; Assemblies can override suggestions/amendments made to a legislation by the Council.
? Also, unlike Rajya Sabha MPs, Members of the Legislative Council (MLCs) cannot vote in elections for the President and Vice President. The Vice President is the Rajya Sabha Chairperson; an MLC is the Council Chairperson.

How are Council’s members elected?
? Although its membership may vary in each state, the Legislative Council must not have more than a third of the total membership of the Assembly of that state, and in no case fewer than 40 members.
? About 1/3rd of members are elected by members of the Assembly (MLAs), another 1/3rd by electorates consisting of members of municipalities, district boards and other local authorities in the state, 1/12th by an electorate consisting of teachers, and 1/12th by registered graduates.
? The remaining members are nominated by the Governor from among those who have distinguished themselves in literature, science, art, the cooperative movement, and social service.
? The Legislative Councils are permanent Houses, and like Rajya Sabha, one-third of their members retire every two years.
What is the argument against having Legislative Councils?
? Opposition to the idea of Legislative Councils is centered on three broad arguments. One, they can be used to park leaders who have not been able to win an election. Two, they can be used to delay progressive legislation. Three, they would strain state finances.

Which states have Legislative Councils?
? Apart from Andhra Pradesh (58 members), five other states have Legislative Councils: Bihar (58), Karnataka (75), Maharashtra (78), Telangana (40), Uttar Pradesh (100).
? Jammu and Kashmir too had a Council, until the state was bifurcated into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
? Tamil Nadu’s then DMK government had passed a law to set up a Council but the subsequent AIADMK government withdrew it after coming to power in 2010.
? Andhra Pradesh’s Legislative Council, set up in 1958, was abolished in 1985, then reconstituted in 2007. The Odisha Assembly has also passed a resolution for a Legislative Council.
? Proposals to create Councils in Rajasthan and Assam are pending in the Rajya Sabha.

4) 180 Elephants death in 10 years
According to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), a total of 186 elephants were killed after being hit by trains across India between 2009-10 and 2020-21.
? Assam accounted for the highest number of elephant casualties on railway tracks (62), followed by West Bengal (57), and Odisha (27).
? Uttar Pradesh saw a single death.
Measures Taken to prevent deaths:
? A Permanent Coordination Committee has been constituted between the Ministry of Railways and the MoEFCC for preventing elephant deaths in train accidents.
? Clearing vegetation along railway tracks to enable clear view for loco pilots, construction of underpass/overpass for safe passage of elephants, regular patrolling of vulnerable stretches of railway tracks, warning sign boards, etc.
? The MoEFCC has released Rs. 212.49 crore to elephant range States under the Project Elephant between 2011-12 and 2020-21.
? Elephant was declared a ‘national heritage animal’ in 2010, considering the valuable ecological services rendered by the species.

? Elephants are architects of the forest and woodland ecosystem (keystone species).
? Considered nature’s ‘gardener’, they are key in shaping the landscape, in pollination, germination of seeds and improving the fertility of forest soil with heaps of dung.
Project Elephant:
? It was launched in 1992 to provide financial and technical support to wildlife management efforts by states for their free ranging populations of wild Asian Elephants.
? It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS).
? To protect elephants, their habitat & corridors.
? To address issues of man-animal conflict.
? Welfare of captive elephants.

Elephant Census:
? Elephant census is conducted once in 5 years under the aegis of Project Elephant. Last Elephant Census was conducted in 2017.
? According to the Elephant Census 2017, India’s Asian elephant population is 27,312.
? The numbers are lower than from the last census estimate in 2012 (between 29,391 and 30,711).
? Karnataka has the highest number of elephants, followed by Assam and Kerala.
Protection Status of Asian Elephants
? IUCN Red List: Endangered.
? CITES: Appendix I
? India’s Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I.
Recent Developments:
Seed Bombs:
Recently Odisha’s Athagarh Forest Division has started casting seed balls (or bombs) inside different reserve forest areas to enrich food stock for wild elephants to prevent man-elephant conflict.
Right of Passage of the Animals:
Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) upheld the 2011 order of the Madras High Court (HC) on the Nilgiris elephant corridor, affirming the right of passage of the animals and the closure of resorts in the area.

5) Impact of Virus surge on Agriculture
Context: The rural surge of the pandemic unfolding in India is beginning to have an impact on agricultural activities.
There is a decrease in Agricultural activities because of Second wave of covid 19 affecting rural parts of India
How does the virus surge affects Agricultural activities?
A. Agriculture is Labour Intensive
With restrictions on movements of people due to lockdowns and curfew , farmers are finding it difficult to hire labours for sowing or harvesting purposes which id highly labour intensive
B. Markets and farm prices
As we see growing levels of concern, recommendations for “social distancing,” reduced travel, avoiding crowds, closures, and other protective practices to slow the spread of COVID-19, consumers will be making tough choices about food, eating away from home, and overall spending.This will likely have an impact on markets and prices.
C. Supply chains slowdowns and shortages
As logistics are disrupted and efforts proceed to slow the spread of the virus, multiple connected industry sectors are already being impacted. Slowdowns could also impact fertilizer, fuel and other input movement and availability.
D. Farmers’ health
Farmers are a relatively older population, as compared to the general worker population. And with lack of basic medical facility and poverty, farmers cannot risk getting infected.
E. Worker safety and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
There are shortages of PPE and other protective equipment vital for operating a farm safely and keeping workers and animals healthy. There are also reported concerns about availability of protective gloves which have now become commonplace in dairy operations as a protective means to improve milk quality and protect the health of animals and people.

Way Forward:
? Prioritising farmers and labourers for vaccination
? Movement of farming equipment , fertilisers and farm workers should be exempted from strict lockdowns
? Spread awareness regarding safe practices of sanitation and social distancing using tradition channels

6) Labour Participation rate:
? Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) chief Mahesh Vyas says that April’s labour participation rate was lower than in March 2020:
? The labour participation rate (LPR) was 40% in April. “The LPR is about two percentage points below what it was before April 2020.
Basic Definitions
Labour Force Participation Rate: It is the percentage of people in the labour force (those who are working or seeking or available for work) in the population.
Worker Population Ratio is the percentage of employed people.
Unemployment rate shows the percentage of people unemployed among the labour force.
Unemployed: A person who is unable to get work for even an hour in the last seven days despite seeking employment is considered unemployed.
Reasons for reduction if LFPR:
? Rising unemployment which stands at 8% in April 2021, including among the salaried class(he size of the salaried class shrank for the third consecutive month in April, with 3.4 million jobs lost)
? Shrinking real incomes( income adjusted to inflation)
? 90% of families have seen income shrinkage
? Reduction in Domestic demand and consumption.
? Loss of mobility
? Discretionary spending
Recent Government Initiatives to Tackle Unemployment
? The Union government has come up with an economic stimulus package under Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan to support the Indian economy and create jobs.
? Under the Pradhan Mantri Street Vendor’s Atma Nirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi), the Union Government is providing affordable loans to street vendors.
? The government has allocated an additional fund of Rs 40,000 crore for MGNREGA, as part of the stimulus package.
? The government is offering credit guarantees for MSMEs which will help them in getting loans easily and boost their functioning.
? Various other initiatives have also been taken by the government to support the economy which includes relaxation in Companies Act and Insolvency proceedings, reforms in agri- marketing etc.
State governments have also come up with the initiative to support their economy and increase jobs.
? Andhra Pradesh government’s ‘ReStart’ programme to support the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) sector in the State.
? Jharkhand has launched three employment schemes to create wage employment for workers in rural areas.
Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS)
? PLFS is India’s first computer-based survey launched by the National Statistical Office (NSO) in 2017.
? It has been constituted based on the recommendation of Amitabh Kundu.
? PLFS has two fold objective:
? To estimate the key employment and unemployment indicators (viz. Worker Population Ratio, Labour Force Participation Rate, Unemployment Rate) in the short time interval of three months for the urban areas only in the Current Weekly Status (CWS).
? To estimate employment and unemployment indicators in both usual status and CWS in both rural and urban areas annually.
? Before PLFS the NSSO (previous name of NSO) used to bring the data related to employment and unemployment based on its quinquennial household socio-economic survey programme
National Statistical Office
? NSO is the central statistical agency of the Government mandated under the Statistical Services Act 1980 under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
? It is responsible for the development of arrangements for providing statistical information services to meet the needs of the Government and other users for information on which to base policy, planning, monitoring and management decisions.
? The services include collecting, compiling and disseminating official statistical information.
? All business operations in NSO are done in compliance with international standards, procedures and best practices



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