Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

UPSC Civils Current Affairs 27th May-2021

Topics

  • Biomass and Ministry of Power
  • Total Lunar eclipse and supermoon
  • Right to be forgotten
  • One stop centre Scheme
  • Vaccine Hesitancy
  • Vesak- Buddha Purnima

 

 

  1. Biomass and Ministry of Power:

Context: Ministry of Power decides to set up a National Mission on use of Biomass in coal based thermal power plants.

Objectives of the mission:

  1. To address the issue of air pollution due to farm stubble burning.
  2. To reduce carbon footprints of thermal power generation.
  3. To increase the level of co-firing from present 5% to higher levels to have a larger share of carbon neutral power generation from the thermal power plants.
  4. To take up R&D activity in boiler design to handle the higher amount of silica, alkalis in the biomass pellets.
  5. To consider regulatory issues in biomass co-firing.

Co-firing Biomass:

  • Coffering biomass consists of burning biomass in coal-fired power plants along with coal.
  • UNFCC recognises this as a carbon neutral technology for mitigation of carbon footprint from coal based power plants.

What is Biomass?

  • Biomass is plant or animal material used as fuel to produce electricity or heat. Examples are wood, energy crops and waste from forests, yards, or farms.
  • The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) defines bioenergy as a renewable form of energy.

Significance of the move:

  • Power generation with better efficiency: Generally biomass power plants produce electricity with relative low efficiency (18 to 22%) compared with the huge coal units (32 to 38%) with optimised cycles given the economy of scale.
  • Flexible operation: original plant can operate still at 100% load with fossil fuel. Co-firing facility is less sensitive to seasonality in biomass production and to biomass availability and price.
  • The estimated 30-40 million metric tonnes of paddy straw that remains unutilized and burnt in north-west India has potential to generate about 6000-8000MW and 45000 million units of electricity by co-firing it along with coal in existing coal fired power plants. This will address the problem of air pollution due to stubble burning.
  • It reduces the carbon footprint in thermal power generation.
  • It will contribute to National Clean Air program(NCAP)

National Clean Air Program:

  • It was launched by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in January 2019.
  • It is the first-ever effort in the country to frame a national framework for air quality management with a time-bound reduction target.
  • It seeks to cut the concentration of coarse (particulate matter of diameter 10 micrometer or less, or PM10) and fine particles (particulate matter of diameter 2.5 micrometer or less, or PM2.5) by at least 20% in the next five years, with 2017 as the base year for comparison.
  • The plan includes 102 non-attainment cities, across 23 states and Union territories, which were identified by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the basis of their ambient air quality data between 2011 and 2015.
  • Non-attainment cities: These are those that have fallen short of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for over five years.

 

  1. Total lunar eclipse and supermoon

Context: Total Lunar eclipse and supermoon – Two celestial event coincided on 26th May.

What is a supermoon?

  • As per NASA, a supermoon occurs when the Moon’s orbit is closest to the Earth at the same time that the Moon is full.
  • As the Moon orbits the Earth, there is a point of time when the distance between the two is the least (called the perigee when the average distance is about 360,000 km from the Earth) and a point of time when the distance is the most (called the apogee when the distance is about 405,000 km from the Earth).
  • Now, when a full Moon appears at the point when the distance between the Earth and the Moon is the least, not only does it appear to be brighter but it is also larger than a regular full moon.
  • The term supermoon was coined by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979.
  • In a typical year, there may be two to four full supermoons and two to four new supermoons in a row.

Lunar Eclipse:

  • A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon moves into the Earth’s shadow.
  • The Earth has to be directly between the Sun and the Moon, and a lunar eclipse can only take place during a full Moon.
  • The type and length of a lunar eclipse depend on the Moon’s proximity to either node of its orbit.
  • Any object that obstructs light will produce two shadows: one which will be dark and dense, is called the umbra; and the other which is light and diffused is called the
  • First, the Moon moves into the penumbra – the part of the Earth’s shadow where not all of the light from the Sun is blocked out.
  • And then the Moon moves into the Earth’s umbra, where direct light from the Sun is totally blocked out by the Earth. This means the only light reflecting off the Moon’s disc has already been refracted, or bent, by the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • The only light reflected from the lunar surface has been refracted by Earth’s atmosphere.
  • This light appears reddish for the same reason that a sunset or sunrise does: Red light has a longer wavelength than blue light.

Types of Eclipse:

  • In a total eclipse of the moon, the inner part of Earth’s shadow, called the umbra, falls on the moon’s face. At mid-eclipse, the entire moon is in shadow, which may appear blood red.
  • In a partial lunar eclipse, the umbra takes a bite out of only a fraction of the moon. The dark bite grows larger and then recedes, never reaching the total phase.
  • In a penumbral lunar eclipse, only the more diffuse outer shadow of Earth – the penumbra – falls on the moon’s face. This third kind of lunar eclipse is much more subtle and much more difficult to observe than either a total or partial eclipse of the moon.

 

  1. Right to be forgotten:

Context: Delhi High court uploads Right to be forgotten of an individual.

What is Right to be forgotten?

  • Right to be forgotten refers to the ability of an individual to limit, delink, delete, or correct the disclosure of the personal information on the internet that is misleading, embarrassing, or irrelevant.
  • It allows for the lawful removal of personal information of an individual if such request is made.
  • Presently India lacks statutory provisions regarding this.
  • Though the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 includes it but it lacks specific right to erasure of data (or RTBF) as given by the European General data protection regulation’s Article 17, outlining the circumstances under which individuals can exercise their right to be forgotten.

(*This will be applicable if data disclosure is no longer necessary, or the consent to use data has been withdrawn, or if data is being used contrary to the provisions of the law.)

  • There have been instances, where the High courts have upheld the right of an individual to be forgotten.
  • For instance, the Karnataka High Court upheld a woman’s right to be forgotten stating that the right is in line with the trend in the western countries.
  • The Delhi High Court, in another case had asked from the Centre and Google whether the right to privacy included the right to delink from the Internet the irrelevant information.
  • The Supreme Court in the case of K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India, had held that the right to be let alone is an essential part of the autonomy and the privacy of an individual. The Supreme Court had also highlighted the importance of RTBF in this case, and stated that if India were to recognize RTBF as it exists under the GDPR today, “it would only mean that an individual who is no longer desirous of his personal data to be processed or stored, should be able to remove it from the system where the personal data/information is no longer necessary, relevant, or is incorrect and serves no legitimate interest”.

The Supreme Court had also observed that RTBF was subject to certain limitations, it could not be exercised where the information in question was necessary for:

  • Exercising the right of freedom of expression and information.
  • The establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims the performance of a task carried out in public interest, or public health.
  • Archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes; or
  • Compliance with legal obligations

Way Forward

  • There must be a balance between the right to privacy and protection of personal data,on the one hand, and the freedom of information of internet users (under Article 19), on the other.
  • A comprehensive data protection law must address these issues and minimize the conflict between the two fundamental rights that form the crucial part of the golden trinity (Art. 14, 19 and 21) of the Indian constitution.

 

  1. One stop centre Scheme

Context: The Government of India will set up One Stop Centres (OSCs) across 10 missions to provide assistance to Indian women who are survivors of gender-based violence.

Background:

  • It is an initiation of the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
  • The OSCs will come up in missions of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, UAE, Jeddah and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, Australia, Canada and Singapore.
  • It will also set up 300 OSCs in the country in addition to the nearly 700 existing ones across all districts.

About the scheme:

  • Popularly known as Sakhi, It is a centrally sponsored scheme for addressing the problem of violence against women, launched in April 2015.
  • It is a subscheme of the umbrella scheme for National Mission for Empowerment of Women including Indira Gandhi Mattritav Sahyaog Yojana.
  • One stop centre will be established across the country and at least one OSC in every mission around the world to provide integrated support and assistance under one roof to women affected by violence.
  • Target group: The OSC will support all women including girls below 18 years of age affected by violence, irrespective of caste, class, religion, region, sexual orientation or marital status.
  • Indian missions represent an important form of contact between the Indians around the world and the government of India.
  • The Scheme will be funded through Nirbhaya Fund. The Central Government will provide 100% financial assistance to the State Government /UT Administrations under the Scheme.

Services that will be provided with a Women Helpline:

Purpose and need:

  • Violence against women occurs throughout the life cycle from prebirth, infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood to old age.
  • As per World Health Organization (WHO) findings about 1 in 3 (35%) women worldwide have experienced either physical or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.
  • To support women affected by the violence that they may face within the family or at the workplace or within the community, in private or public places.
  • Specially for women who face sexual, physical, psychological, emotional and economic abuse, irrespective of their caste, creed, race, class, education status, age, culture, or marital status.
  • Gender Based Violence (GBV) is a global health, human rights and development issue that transcends geography, class, culture, age, race and religion to affect every community and country in every corner of the world.
  • Violence can negatively affect women’s physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health, and may increase the risk of acquiring HIV in some settings.

Nirbhaya fund:

  • The Nirbhaya Fund Framework provides for a non-lapsable corpus fund for safety and security of women to be administered by the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) of the Ministry of Finance.
  • Established in 2013
  • Further, it provides for an Empowered Committee (EC) of officers chaired by the Secretary, Ministry of Women & Child Development (MWCD) to appraise and recommend proposals to be funded under this framework.
  • As per this framework, the MoF through DEA is the nodal Ministry for any accretion into and withdrawal from the corpus, and the MWCD is responsible to review and monitor the progress of sanctioned projects/ schemes in conjunction with the concerned Central Ministries/ Departments.

 

  1. Vaccine Hesitancy

Context: Experts seek to discard rumours about vaccine after an viral newspaper article shared among people that claimed the French 2008 Nobel Laureate, Luc Montaigner, to have said vaccination in a pandemic is lethal and there was an association between rising vaccinations and deaths.

What is Vaccine Hesitancy?

  • It refers to delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccination despite availability of vaccination services.
  • It is influenced by factors such as complacency, convenience and confidence.
  • As per WHO, it was one of 10 threats to global health this year.

Instances of Vaccine Hesitancy

  • Globally nearly 4,24,000 children have confirmed measles in 2019, as against a figure of 1,73,000 in the whole of 2018.
  • In India, poor communities of Uttar Pradesh was reported to have taken five times low uptake of oral polio vaccine in the early 2000s.

What influences Vaccine Hesitancy?

Benefits of Vaccine:

  • According to WHO, vaccination prevents between two-three million deaths each year, a figure that will rise by another 1.5 million if vaccine coverage improves.
  • Preventable diseases are expensive and vaccine can reduce out of pocket expenditure.
  • Vaccination protects children from serious illness and complications of vaccine-preventable diseases which can include amputation of an arm or leg, paralysis of limbs, hearing loss, convulsions, brain damage, and death.
  • The vaccine can also prevent hospitalization, reduce the severity of illness and prevent severe, life-threatening complications in children.
  • When you get sick, your children, grandchildren, and parents may be at risk, too Adults are the most common source of pertussis (whooping cough) infection in infants which can be deadly for babies. When you get vaccinated, you are protecting yourself and your family as well as those in your community who may not be able to be vaccinated.

What’s the Concern?

  • A vaccine is one of the essential weapons in the armamentarium in our war against the pandemic. Any hesitation in accepting the vaccine will have a negative consequence on our effort to control the pandemic.

Need of the hour:

  • Proactively address the reasons behind this hesitancy.
  • Give confidence to the public by discussing the robustness of various processes involved in drug/vaccine development — clinical trial designs, conduct, monitoring, analysis, reporting and the regulatory reviews that happen before it is approved.
  • This will make the public aware about the rigorous processes followed for clinical trials, and the approval, as followed by regulators.

Vaccination:

It is a method to teach the immune system to trigger the antibodies and specialised immune system cells in case of a future infection by an actual virus. There were both neutralising and non-neutralising antibodies produced.

 

 

  1. Vesak- Buddha Purnima

Context: Prime Minister Modi delivered keynote address on occasion of“Virtual Vesak Global Celebrations” on Buddha Purnima.

Details:

  • The event is being organised by the Ministry of Culture in collaboration with the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) and will witness the participation of all the supreme heads of the Buddhist Sanghas from around the world.

Buddha Purnima:

  • This day marks the birth anniversary of Lord Buddha and is also known as Buddha Jayanti or Buddha Day.
  • Vesak is from the Pali Ves?kha or Sanskrit Vai??kha.
  • The day falls on the full moon day in the month of Vai??kha, which falls in April-May.
  • In 1999, it became a UN-designated day-The first full moon of May is recognized as internationally Day of Vesak, to acknowledge the contribution of Buddhism to society.

Importance of Full Moon of May

  • Even though every full moon day is auspicious, the most important one is the full moon in May as all three major events of the life of Buddha took place on this day in different years. Three major events are:
  • Buddha was born at Lumbini on the full moon day in May.
  • He attained enlightenment or Nirvana under the shade of the Bodhi Tree and became Gautama Buddha on the full moon day of May as well.
  • After years of teaching about truth, he passed away on the full moon day of May and attained salvation or Mahaparinirvana.
  • It is considered a ‘triple-blessed day’.

Buddha Purnima and Vesak

  • The Birthday of Buddha is also celebrated as Vesak in several countries of South and Southeast Asia. On this day, Countries all over world such as Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, South Vietnam, Myanmar, China, Cambodia, Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan, Australia, Canada, and United States (US) celebrate the essence of Buddhism.
  • It is public holiday in many countries, and is celebrated by commemorating different ethnicities and cultures.

About Gautam Buddha and Buddhism:

  • He was born as Siddhartha Gautama in circa 563 BCE, in Lumbini and belonged to the Sakya clan.
  • He died at the age of 80 in 483 BCE at Kushinagara, Uttar Pradesh. The event is known as Mahaparinibban or Mahaparinirvana.
  • He is believed to be the eighth of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu (Dashavatar).
  • Teaching of Buddha are known as Dhamma.
  • Buddhism started in India over 2,600 years ago.
  • The main teachings of Buddhism are encapsulated in the basic concept of four noble truths or ariya-sachchani and eight-fold path or ashtangika marg.

The Four Great Truths:

  • The world is full of sorrow and misery.
  • The cause of all pain and misery is desire.
  • Pain and misery can be ended by killing or controlling the desire.
  • Desire can be controlled by following the Eight Fold Path
  • Dukkha (Sufferings) and its extinction are central to the Buddha’s doctrine.
  • The essence of Buddhism is the attainment of enlightenment or nirvana which was not a place but an experience and could be attained in this life.
  • There is no supreme god or deity in Buddhism.

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