28 December 2020: Daily Current Affairs for UPSC Exam
Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society
The giant iceberg A68 has been drifting in the Atlantic Ocean since 2017. This year, due to an ocean current, the iceberg was propelled into the South Atlantic Ocean and since then it has been drifting towards the remote sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia, which is a British Overseas Territory (BOT). The impact the iceberg could have on the island’s abundant wildlife.
South Georgia is an island in the southern Atlantic Ocean that is part of the British Overseas Territory of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (SGSSI). The main settlement is Grytviken.
- Iceberg A68 is the biggest block of free-floating ice from Antarctica with an area of about 5,800 sq. km.
- Icebergs travel with ocean currents and either get caught up in shallow waters or ground themselves.
- US National Ice Center (USNIC) confirmed that two new icebergs calved from A68a and were large enough to be named and tracked. They are called A68E and A68F.
- The US National Ice Center (USNIC) is responsible for naming icebergs, which are named according to the Antarctic quadrant in which they are spotted.
- As per ecologists, if the iceberg gets stuck near the island, it could mean that penguins and seals will have to travel farther in search of food, and for some this might mean that they don’t get back in time to prevent their offspring from starving to death.
- On the other hand, there are some positives of an iceberg being stuck in the open ocean, since icebergs carry dust which fertilises ocean plankton, which draws up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Source: Indian Express
2) Umba Village in Ladakh
Five Mohallas in Umba village received electricity connection.
- The village which is 60 KM away from district headquarter Kargil, is situated in toughest terrain at 13,000 thousand feet height and remains cut off for five months during winters.
- Umba village had no electricity till today.
- Under the guidance of Kargil Renewable Energy Development Authority (KREDA), the Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE) in partnership with the CSR project of Royal Enfield has installed a 17.5kW Solar Electricity system in Umba.
- Daring the freezing minus 25 degrees temperatures, a team worked round the clock to set up 103 Solar Grids.
- A total of 97 Households and 7 Masjids with more than 500 LED Lights, along with street lighting for the community.
- Each solar grid was provided with a battery back-up that will enable 4 days of continuous grid running even in cloudy conditions.
- GHE has come up with an innovative Solar Micro Grid solution using energy efficient LED lights and DC appliances that has changed the electrification scenario in the region.
- Over 100 remote villages, monasteries and hamlets of Leh, Kargil and Zanskar have been provided electricity in the last 5 years by GHE.
Source: News On Air
Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International Relations
3) India-Qatar Business Roundtable
External Affairs Minister on a two-day visit to the Gulf nation met business leaders in Qatar and highlighted the investment opportunities in India. He briefed them about new opportunities flowing from 'Atmanirbhar Bharat'.
The visit is part of India’s ongoing outreach to West Asia, which sees as part of its extended neighborhood.
Recently India's external minister visited Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, while the minister of state for external affairs travelled to Oman, the Indian Army chief visited the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
- Qatar is home to over seven lakh Indians. The bilateral trade was USD 10.95 billion in 2019-20.
- Both sides remain committed to intensifying bilateral cooperation in various fields including energy and investments.
- India and Qatar have also worked together to face the COVID-19 pandemic and coordinated, smooth operation of flights under an air bubble arrangement.
- In an conversation earlier, both nations decided to create a special task force to facilitate investments by the Qatar Investment Authority in India, and to explore Qatari investments in the country’s energy value-chain.
- Indian workers have benefited from Qatar’s labour reforms ahead of the 2022 football World Cup, including a 25 percent hike in the minimum wage and the dismantling of a system that required workers to seek the consent of employers to switch jobs.
- The two sides agreed on institutionalizing measures to promote and protect the rights of workers, including settling labour issues and facilitating the movement of people between the two countries in a safe and secure manner.
- Diplomatic relations between India and Qatar were established in 1973.
- In March 2015, five MoUs entailing co-operation in several fields were signed.
- In 2015, an agreement on prisoner repatriation was made.
- Visit of PM Modi to Doha in 2016 push the new economic ties, particularly in the hydrocarbon sector.
- in November 2008, a maritime defence agreement was approved between the two countries.
- An agreement pertaining to law enforcement and national security was also signed in 2008.
- India-Qatar Joint Committee on Defence Cooperation meeting was hosted in the Qatari capital Doha in 2008.
Source: Hindustan Times
Topic: Bills & Amendments
4) Dharma Swatantrya (Religious Freedom) Bill 2020
Madhya Pradesh cabinet approved the Dharma Swatantrya (Religious Freedom) Bill 2020. The ordinance outlaws marriages with an aim of religious conversions.
This approval comes after Uttar Pradesh’s governor’s assent to the UP Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, against forcible or fraudulent religious conversions.
- If the bill passed, No one will be able to convert anyone from one religion to another through marriage or “any other fraudulent means by seducing or intimidating anyone”.
- Under the new Bill, forcing religious conversion on someone will attract 1-5 years of imprisonment and a minimum Rs 25,000 fine.
- Attempt to hide one’s religion will be punishable by imprisonment of three to 10 years and a fine of at least Rs 50,000.
- If a minor or a woman from Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste categories is forced into conversion, the perpetrator will be imprisoned for two to 10 years and fined up to Rs 50,000. Blood relatives of victims of such religious conversion can file a complaint.
- Provision for the imprisonment of five to 10 years and fine of at least Rs 100,000 is being made for attempting mass religious conversion (of two or more persons).
Freedom of religion in India
- Freedom of religion in India is a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 25-28 of the Constitution of India.
- Every citizen of India has a right to practice and promote their religion peacefully.
- India is one of the most diverse nations in terms of religion, it being the birthplace of four major world religions: Jainism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism.
- Even though Hindus form close to 80 percent of the population, India also has region-specific religious practices: Jammu and Kashmir has a Muslim majority, Punjab has a Sikh majority, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram have Christian majorities and the Indian Himalayan States such as Sikkim and Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh and the state of Maharashtra and the Darjeeling District of West Bengal have large concentrations of Buddhist population.
- The country has significant Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist, Jain and Zoroastrian populations.
- Islam is the largest minority religion in India, and the Indian Muslims form the third largest Muslim population in the world, accounting for over 14 percent of the nation's population.
Source: Hindustan Times
Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management
5) Single-use plastic
Prime Minister calls upon people to resolve to make the country free of single-use plastic by 2022.
- Single-use plastics are disposable plastics meant for use-and-throw. These comprise polythene bags, plastic drinking bottles, plastic bottle caps, food wrappers, plastic sachets, plastic wrappers, straws, stirrers and Styrofoam cups or plates.
- Plastic is harmful to the environment as it is non-biodegradable, takes years to disintegrate.
- Single-use plastics slowly and gradually break down into smaller pieces of plastic known as microplastics.
- It can take thousands of years for plastic bags to decompose, thus contaminating our soil and water in the process.
- The noxious chemicals used to produce plastic gets transmitted to animal tissue, and finally, enter the human food chain.
- Birds usually confuse shreds of plastic bags for food and end up eating the toxic debris.
- Fish consume thousands of tons of plastic in a year, ultimately transferring it up the food chain to marine mammals.
- Plastic kills an estimated 1 million sea birds every year and affects around 700 species which get infected by ingesting plastics.
- Even a person could be consuming 5 grams of plastic a week.
- According to Un-Plastic Collective Report, an estimated 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced since the early 1950s, about 60% of which has ended up either in a landfill or the natural environment.
- India alone generates 9.46 million tonnes of plastic waste every year, around 43% of which comprises single-use plastic. It poses a mammoth problem for India since 40% of plastic waste remains uncollected.
Actions to minimize single-use plastics
- Improve waste management systems
- Promote eco-friendly alternatives to phase out single-use plastics
- Educate consumers to make environmentally friendly choices
- Enable voluntary reduction strategies
- Ban or introduce levies on the use and sale of single-use plastic items
Source: News On Air
6) India to be 5th biggest economy
India will again overtake the UK to become the fifth largest in 2025 and race to the third spot by 2030, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) said.
- India had overtaken the UK in 2019 to become the fifth-largest economy in the world but has been relegated to the 6th spot in 2020.
- The CEBRs annual report said that the coronavirus crisis had been a ‘human and an economic catastrophe’ for India.
- The UK appears to have overtaken India again during 2020 as a result of the weakness of the rupee.
- The CEBR forecasts that the Indian economy will expand by 9 percent in 2021 and by 7 percent in 2022.
- Growth will naturally slow, as India becomes more economically developed, with the annual GDP growth expected to sink to 5.8 percent in 2035.
- This growth trajectory will see India become the world's third-largest economy by 2030, overtaking the UK in 2025, Germany in 2027, and Japan in 2030.
- The UK-based think tank forecast that China will in 2028 overtake the US to become the world's biggest economy.
- Japan would remain the world's third-biggest economy, in dollar terms, until the early 2030s when it would be overtaken by India, pushing Germany down from fourth to fifth.
Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR)
- UK based Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER), formerly the Bureau of Business Research, is an economic policy and forecasting research center.
- CBER research encompasses health care, public finance, regional economics, transportation, and energy sector studies.
- The Center for Business and Economic Research was founded the late 1960s as the Bureau of Business Research at Ball State University.
- An official name change from the Bureau of Business Research to the Center for Business and Economic Research occurred in 2008. Currently, the center works in the community through services of economic policy research, national, state, and local forecasting, and data analysis.