Current Affairs for IAS PCS HCS UPSC CSE 20201223

Current Affairs for IAS PCS HCS UPSC CSE 20201223

ONLINE IAS COACHING

9988003622

20201223 Current Affairs and Editorial

(FOR PRELIMS & MAINS OF UPSC CSE)

Activist Karima Baloch found dead in Canada

  • Karima Baloch, an activist, who had been vocal about Pakistan Army and government atrocities in Balochistan, has been found dead in Toronto, Canada.

  • Toronto Police had requested for public assistance in locating Karima Baloch whe had went missing on Sunday. However, her family has now confirmed that Karima’s body has been found.

  • Karima Baloch, a famous personality in Balochistan, is believed to be the pioneer of women activism there. 

  • She had also raised the issue of Balochistan in the United Nations sessions in Switzerland. 

  • She was named as one of the world’s 100 most “inspirational and influential” women in 2016.

  • In an interview in May 2019, she had accused Pakistan of taking away the resources and eliminating the people of Balochistan, the province with immense geo-strategic importance and huge untapped natural resource reserves.

 

Govt approves inclusion of four indigenous sports in Khelo India Youth Games 2021

The Sports Ministry has approved the inclusion of four indigenous Games to be a part of Khelo India Youth Games 2021, scheduled to take place in Haryana. The games include, Gatka, Kalaripayattu, Thang-Ta and Mallakhamba.

·      Speaking about the decision, Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said, India has a rich heritage of indigenous sports and it is  a priority for the Sports Ministry to preserve, promote and popularise these games. 

·      He said, there is no better platform than the Khelo India Games where athletes of these games can compete. The Minister said, the games have huge popularity and is telecast across the country by Star Sports. 

·      He expressed confidence that in the 2021 Khelo India Youth Games these four disciplines, along with Yogasana, will get their much deserved attention among sports enthusiasts and youth of the country. 

·      Mr Rijiju said, in the coming years we will be able to add more indigenous sports at the Khelo Games.

·        The four selected games represent different parts of the country.

·        Kalaripayattu has its origin from Kerala and has practitioners all over the world.

·        Mallakhamba has been well-known across India and Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra have been the hotspots of this sport.

·        Gatka originates from Punjab and this traditional fighting style of the Nihang Sikh Warriors is used both as self-defense as well as a sport.

·        Thang-Ta, a Manipur marital art has passed into oblivion in the recent decades, but the sport will get national recognition again with the help of the Khelo India Youth Games 2021.

Several Chinese cities facing energy shortage; impose restrictions on electricity use

 

·        Several Chinese cities are facing energy shortage and have imposed restrictions on electricity use. Chinese authorities have ascribed these power shortage problems to a surge in power demand due to an unusually cold winter and to the growth of industrial production as it faces a shortage of thermal coal.

 

·        As per reports, China’s import ban on Australian coal owing to fractured trade relations, has also partly exacerbated the situation. Many local power plants depend on high quality Australian coal and now they are having trouble finding an alternative as country’s coal mines are struggling to fill the shortfall. It has hit energy supplies and sent prices soaring.

·        As per state media, Chinese experts warn that such shortage also exposes problems in the power supply in China, as the suspended coal imports will exacerbate the imbalance in power supply. Data from industry website cctd.com.cn showed that China imported 75 million tons of coal from Australia in 2019, which is roughly 3% of China’s coal consumption. The ratio, however, could reportedly exceed 10 per cent in more developed provinces that are drawn to the high quality of Australian coal.

·         State media reported that many provinces in China such as East China’s Jiangxi and Zhejiang, as well as Central China’s Hunan have issued proposals to save electricity and start their orderly use, as electricity loads have increased rapidly. Power shortage has reportedly hit normal operations of factories as well as the public amenities.

·        As per a state media report, The China National Coal Association has urged coal firms to sign more medium- to long-term contracts to ensure a steady supply and stable prices amid tight supply and “abnormal” price fluctuations. China’s electricity is mainly provided by thermal power stations that use coal, and coal has accounted for 68 percent of electricity supply in 2019  

 

EU approves Pfizer-BioNTech’s corona vaccine for use in 27 nation grouping

·        
  • European Union has approved the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. The first phase of the 27-nation bloc’s mass vaccination programme to begin later this week.

  • The EU’s executive commission gave the green light just hours after the European Medicines Agency said the vaccine meets safety and quality standards.

  • The Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said doses will be available for all EU countries, at the same time and on the same conditions. She added that the first batches of the vaccine will be shipped from Pfizer’s manufacturing site in Belgium in the next few days, with vaccinations starting on 27th of this month.

  • European Union countries including Germany, France, Austria and Italy have said they plan to start vaccinations shortly after Christmas as Europe tries to catch up with the US and Britain, where inoculations began earlier this month.

What is Winter Solstice?

December 21, was Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, conversely, it was Summer Solstice, the year’s longest day.

Why are the hours of daylight, not the same every day?

  • The explanation lies in Earth’s tilt.
  • And it’s not just the Earth — every planet in the Solar System is tilted relative to their orbits, all at different angles.
  • The Earth’s axis of rotation is tilted at an angle of 23.5° to its orbital plane.
  • This tilt — combined with factors such as Earth’s spin and orbit — leads to variations in the duration of sunlight than any location on the planet receives on different days of the year.

Impact of the tilted axis

  • The Northern Hemisphere spends half the year tilted in the direction of the Sun, getting direct sunlight during long summer days.
  • During the other half of the year, it tilts away from the Sun, and the days are shorter.
  • Winter Solstice, December 21, is the day when the North Pole is most tilted away from the Sun.
  • The tilt is also responsible for the different seasons that we see on Earth.
  • The side facing the Sun experiences day, which changes to night as Earth continues to spin on its axis.

Un-impacted regions

  • On the Equator, day and night are equal. The closer one moves towards the poles, the more extreme the variation.
  • During summer in either hemisphere, that pole is tilted towards the Sun and the polar region receives 24 hours of daylight for months.
  • Likewise, during winter, the region is in total darkness for months.

Celebrations associated with the Winter Solstice

  • For centuries, this day has had a special place in several communities due to its astronomical significance and is celebrated in many ways across the world.
  • Jewish people call the Winter Solstice ‘Tekufat Tevet’, which marks the start of winter.
  • Ancient Egyptians celebrated the birth of Horus, the son of Isis (divine mother goddess) for 12 days during mid-winter.
  • In China, the day is celebrated by families coming together for a special meal.
  • In the Persian region, it is celebrated as Yalda or Shab-e-Yalda. The festival marks the last day of the Persian month of Azar and is seen as the victory of light over darkness.
  • Families celebrate Yalda late into the night with special foods such as ajeel nuts, pomegranates and watermelon, and recite works of the 14th century Sufi poet Hafiz Shirazi.

In Vedic tradition

  • In Vedic tradition, the northern movement of the Earth on the celestial sphere is implicitly acknowledged in the Surya Siddhanta.
  • It outlines the Uttarayana (the period between Makar Sankranti and Karka Sankranti). Hence, Winter Solstice is the first day of Uttarayana.

Bihar to change Kosi’s course to save the ancient site

 

The Bihar government will try to divert the course of the mighty Kosi River in Bhagalpur district to save an archaeological site discovered recently.

Tap to read more about the Himalayan Drainage System:

Kosi River: The Sorrow of Bihar

  • The Kosi is a trans-boundary river which flows through Tibet, Nepal and India.
  • The river crosses into northern Bihar, India where it branches into distributaries before joining the Ganges near Kursela in Katihar district.
  • Its unstable nature has been attributed course changes and the heavy silt it carries during the monsoon season, and flooding in India has extreme effects.
  • It is also known as the “Sorrow of Bihar” as the annual floods affect about 21,000 km2of fertile agricultural lands thereby disturbing the rural economy.

Why change its course?

  • Several priceless artefacts have been found at the Guwaradih village in Naugachhia sub-division of Bhagalpur district during the excavation of a mound.
  • These items could be 2,500-years-old and could be of interest for historians if conserved.
  • The historical sites are facing threats from the Kosi floods.
  • The Kosi currently flows around 300-400 metres from the site, while its old course is about two kilometres from the village.

Threats posed by the move

  • Environmentalists have warned that changing the Kosi’s course could be disastrous for Bihar as seen in 2008.
  • At that time, the river had breached its mud embankments at Kushaha in Nepal.
  • The Kosi frequently changes its course naturally. If its course is artificially changed, it will cause floods and erosion in new areas, leading to massive displacement of people.
  • It then caused extensive damage to life and property downstream in five densely populated districts of northeast Bihar.
  • Some 500 people were killed and four million rendered homeless.

 

Establishing trust between government and citizens

GS Paper 2- Role of intermediaries in governance

The article highlights the important role played by the intermediaries in connecting the citizens with the government.

Addressing the connect between government and citizens

  • By exploring how digitally excluded communities engage with governance we understand that humans are significant in brokering trust between governments and citizens.
  • This is true even for the ‘Digital India’.
  • However, only a few States have built a cadre of individuals for last mile governance.
  • Andhra Pradesh, for instance, rolled outa ward secretariat programme with over 16,000 ward secretaries and volunteers for delivering government services at citizens’ doorstep.

Understanding the role played by intermediaries

  • Intermediaries help citizens overcomebarriers to awareness of availability of digital services and rights from the state and ability.
  • Intermediaries support individuals by placing complaints, directing them to the right authorities, and following up.
  • Intermediaries are crucial offline architectures that enable the state to do its work better.
  • Community-based organisations and NGOs see their work as allied to their core work.

Way forward

  • Various types and forms of intermediation emerge based on regional, social, cultural and economic contexts.
  • Equally, it is essential to pay attention to the varying incentives of intermediaries and not romanticise the benefits.
  • We need to see intermediaries as crucial to the realisation of governance outcomes.
  • India has formalised intermediation in traditional marketssuch as mutual funds from which we can learn.
  • In these areas, formal governance mechanisms, structured capacity building, widespread awareness campaigns, and process re-engineering enabled growth and usage.
  • At a broader level, increasing digitisation of governance across domains including healthcare, financial inclusion, justice and social services should be considered.

Conclusion

By acknowledging the role of intermediaries and supporting them, we will be able to support the process of responsible, responsive and data-driven governance across domains.

 

Festivals in news: Chillai Kalan

 

People in the Kashmir valley are finding unique ways to celebrate the start of ‘Chillai Kalan’, a local term for the 40-day period of harshest winter that begins annually from December 21.

Chillai Kalan

  • Chillai Kalan is the coldest 40-day period of harsh winter of winter in the Jammu and Kashmir region.
  • It is traditionally defined as a seasonal period of harsh winter accompanied by a change in increase in both frequency and quantity of precipitation usually snow.
  • It begins from December 21 and ends on January 31 next year.
  • It is followed by a 20-day long Chillai-Khurd (small cold) that occurs between January 31 and February 19 and a 10-day long Chillai-Bachha (baby cold).
  • According to Persian tradition, the night of 21st December is celebrated as Shab-e Yalda-“Night of Birth”, or Shab-e Chelleh “Night of Forty”.

Its’ celebration

  • In the Persian tradition, the night of December 21, the longest of the year, is celebrated as Shab-e-Yalda (night of birth) or Shab-e-Chelleh.
  • Dozens of netizens from Kashmir named it the ‘Pheran Day’, after the long woollen gown worn during the winters in Kashmir.
  • Use of a traditional firing pot called Kangri increases.
  • Tap water pipelines partially freeze during this period. The Dal Lake also freezes.
  • The famous tourist resort of Gulmarg receives heavy snow which attracts skier’s from every part of the world.

 

Rights to the Electricity Consumers

The Ministry of Power has for the first time laid down Rights to the Electricity Consumers through “Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020”.

MAINS FOCUS

Q.What are the new Rights to the Electricity Consumers as envisaged under Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020?

Rights to the Electricity Consumers: A highlight

Following key areas are covered in the Electricity (Rights of consumers) Rules:

  • Rights of consumers and Obligations of Distribution licensees
  • Release of new connection and modification in an existing connection
  • Metering arrangement
  • Billing and Payment
  • Disconnection and Reconnection
  • Reliability of supply
  • Consumer as Prosumer
  • Standards of Performance of licensee
  • Compensation Mechanism
  • Call Centre for Consumer Services
  • Grievance redressal mechanism

(1) Rights and Obligations

  • It is the duty of every distribution licensee to supply electricity on request made by an owner or occupier of any premises in line with the provisions of Act.
  • It is the right of the consumer to have minimum standards of service for the supply of electricity from the distribution licensee.

(2) Release of new connection and modification in an existing connection

  • Transparent, simple and time-bound processes,
  • The applicant has an option for online application,
  • The maximum time period of 7 days in metro cities and 15 days in other municipal areas and 30 days in rural areas identified to provide new connection and modify an existing connection:

(3) Metering

  • No connection shall be given without a meter
  • Meter shall be the smart pre-payment meter or pre-payment meter.
  • Provision of Testing of meters
  • Provisions for replacement of defective or burnt or stolen meters specified

(4) Billing and payment

  • Transparency in applicable consumer tariff and bills
  • A consumer shall have the option to pay bills online or offline.
  • Provision for advance payment of bills

(5) Reliability of supply

  • The distribution licensee shall supply 24×7 powers to all consumers. However, the Commission may specify lower hours of supply for some categories of consumers like agriculture.
  • The distribution licensee shall put in place a mechanism, preferably with automated tools to the extent possible, for monitoring and restoring outages.

(6) Consumer as prosumer

  • The prosumers will maintain consumer status and have the same rights as the general consumer.
  • They will also have the right to set up RE generation unit including rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems – either by himself or through a service provider.
  • Net metering for loads up to ten kW and for gross metering for loads above ten kW.

(7) Standards of Performance

  • The Commission shall notify the standards of performance for the distribution licensees.
  • Compensation amount to be paid to the consumers by the distribution licensees for violation of standards of performance.

(8) Compensation mechanism

  • Automatic compensation shall be paid to consumers for which parameters on standards of performance can be monitored remotely.
  • The standards of performance for which the compensation is required to be paid by the distribution licensee include, but are not limited to.

(9) Call Centre for Consumer Services

  • Distribution licensee shall establish a centralised 24×7 toll-free call centre
  • Licensees shall endeavour to provide all services through a common Customer Relation Manager (CRM) System to get a unified view

(10) Grievance redressal mechanism

  • Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum (CGRF) to include consumer and prosumer representatives.
  • The consumer grievance redressal has been made easy by making it multi-layered and the number of consumer’s representatives has been increased from one to four.
  • The licensee shall specify the time within which various types of grievances by the different levels of the forums are to be resolved. Maximum timeline of 45 days specified for grievance redressal.

Leopard Population in India

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has released the Status of Leopards Report.

Confused over Leopard and Cheetah?

The most common difference between these two animals is the patterns on their coat. At first glance, it may look like they both have spots, but in actual fact, a leopard has rosettes which are rose-like markings, and cheetahs have a solid round or oval spot shape.

 

Indian Leopards

  • The Indian leopard (Panthera pardus fusca) is a leopard subspecies widely distributed on the Indian subcontinent.
  • It is one of the big cats occurring on the Indian subcontinent, apart from the Asiatic lion, Bengal tiger, snow leopard and clouded leopard.
  • It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List because populations have declined following habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching for the illegal trade of skins and body parts.

Leopards in India

  • India now has 12,852 leopards as compared to the previous estimate of 7910 conducted 2014.
  • More than 60% increase in population has been recorded.
  • The States of Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra recorded the highest leopard estimates at 3,421, 1,783 and 1,690 respectively.
  • India’s world record tiger survey also estimated the population of leopards and the tiger range was found a home to 12,852 (12,172-13,535) leopards.

Significance

  • The increase in Tiger, Lion & Leopards numbers over the last few years is a testimony to the conservation efforts and of the fledgeling wildlife & biodiversity of the country.

Editorial: What is Winter Solstice, which made December 21 the shortest day of the year

 

Context:

December 21, is Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. In Delhi, making the day 10 hours, 19 minutes, and 3 seconds long.

December 22, will be one second longer, at 10:19:04, in Delhi.

In the Southern Hemisphere, conversely, December 21 is Summer Solstice in places like Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, therefore, December 21 is the year’s longest day. So, in Melbourne, marking a day that is 14:47:19 long.

This situation will be reversed six months from now — on June 21, 2021, the Northern Hemisphere will see the Summer Solstice when the day will be the year’s longest. And the Southern Hemisphere will see the year’s shortest day — or longest night.

What does ‘solistice’ mean?

The term ‘solstice’ derives from the Latin word ‘solstitium’, meaning ‘Sun standing still’.

On this day the Sun seems to stand still at the Tropic of Capricorn and then reverses its direction as it reaches its southernmost position as seen from the Earth. Some prefer the more teutonic term ‘sunturn’ to describe the event.

The winter solstice happens every year when the Sun reaches its most southerly declination of -23.5 degrees. In other words, it is when the North Pole is tilted farthest away from the Sun, delivering the fewest hours of sunlight of the year.

The Sun is directly overhead of the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere during the December solstice and is closer to the horizon than at any other time in the year.

The day after the winter solstice marks the beginning of lengthening days, leading up to the summer solstice in June. 

Why are the hours of daylight not the same every day?

  1. The explanation lies in Earth’s tilt. And it’s not just the Earth — every planet in the Solar System is tilted relative to their orbits, all at different angles.
  2. The Earth’s axis of rotation is tilted at an angle of 23.5° to its orbital plane. This tilt combined with factorssuch as Earth’s spin and orbit leads to variations in the duration of sunlight that any location on the planet receives on different days of the year.
  3. The Northern Hemisphere spends half the year tilted in the direction of the Sun, getting direct sunlight during long summer days.
  4. During the other half of the year, it tilts away from the Sun, and the days are shorter. Winter Solstice, December 21, is the day when the North Pole is most tilted away from the Sun.
  5. The tilt is also responsiblefor the different seasons that we see on Earth. The side facing the Sun experiences day, which changes to night as Earth continues to spin on its axis.
  6. On the Equator, day and night are equal.The closer one moves towards the poles, the more extreme the variation.
  7. During summer in either hemisphere, that pole is tilted towards the Sun and the polar region receives 24 hours of daylight for months. Likewise, during winter, the region is in total darkness for months.
  8. The Earth’s tilt helps define some familiar imaginary lines, which are also key to determining when a Solstice occurs. These are latitudes, which are a measure of a location’s distance from the Equator.
  9. At latitudes of 23.5° (matching the tilt) are the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, north and south of the Equator. At 66.5° (or 90° minus 23.5°) are the Arctic and Antarctic Circles, to the north and south.
  • It is at latitudes higher than 66.5° (in either direction) that days of constant darkness or light occur.

The Phenomenon of Seasons:

The phenomenon or change of seasons is caused chiefly by the revolution of the earth round the sun and the inclination of the earth’s axis at an angle of 66 1/2° to the plane of its orbit which constantly points to the same direction.

It can be understood from the diagram on the article which shows four positions of the earth during its revolution round the sun.

Celebrations associated with the Winter Solstice:

For centuries, this day has had a special place in several communities due to its astronomical significance, and is celebrated in many ways across the world.

  1. Jewish people call the Winter Solstice ‘Tekufat Tevet’, which marks the start of winter.
  2. Ancient Egyptians celebrated the birth of Horus, the son of Isis (divine mother goddess) for 12 days during mid-winter. In China, the day is celebrated by families coming together for a special meal.
  3. In Iran and neighbouring Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Armenia, the Winter Solstice is celebrated as Yalda or Shab-e-Yalda.
  4. The festival marks the last day of the Persian month of Azar, and is seen as the victory of light over darkness. It is also the birthday of the sun god Mithra, a pre-Islamic deity.
  5. Families celebrate Yalda late into the night with special foods such as ajeel nuts, pomegranates and watermelon, and recite works of the 14th century Sufi poet Hafiz Shirazi.
  6. In the Southern Hemisphere, where the Winter Solstice in June, Peru celebrates the day with a festival called Inti Raymi,meaning “sun festival” in the Quechua language.
  7. Before Peru’s colonisation by Spain, the Inca civilisation honoured the sun god Inti by fasting for three days, and celebrated on the fourth day with feasts and sacrifices. The festival was banned under Spanish rule, but was later revived in the 20th century and continues today, with mock sacrifices.
  8. In pre-Christian Europe, solstice was celebrated as the start of winter. People slaughtered their farm animals so they would not have to feed them. Wine created during the summer months was also ready for consumption.
  9. Hence, the solstice turned into an occasion for a feast, often a community one, before snow covered most of the land and people were forced to spend their time indoors.
  • In Vedic tradition, the northern movement of the Earth on the celestial sphere is implicitly acknowledged in the Surya Siddhanta, which outlines the Uttarayana(the period between Makar Sankranti and Karka Sankranti). Hence,Winter Solstice is the first day of Uttarayana.
  • The Yule festival, which used to be celebrated in pre-Christian Scandinavian lands for 12 days, later became associated with Christmas as Yule-tide.
  • The Winter Solsticealso influenced culture to the extentthat ancient people built several architectural structures aligned to the phenomenon.
  • Some of these structures include the Stonehenge and Glastonbury (England), Chichen Itza (Mexico), Goseck Circle (Germany), and Temple of Karnak (Egypt).

Conclusion:

For many cultures around the world, the winter solstice (which falls on Dec. 21 this year) marks an important milestone.

It’s the shortest day of the year and the longest night of the year, and signals a powerful transition point between seasons that is impossible to ignore.

Because of this, it has been celebrated and revered in ancient civilizations, indigenous cultures, and various religions, all of which have their own rituals for taking advantage of the unique energy.

Earth’s axial tilt plays a much bigger role than its near-circular orbit in governing annual seasons.

Earth makes its closest annual approach of the sun about two weeks after the December solstice, during the Northern Hemisphere’s winter.

Earth is farthest from the sun about two weeks after the June solstice, during the Northern Hemisphere’s summer.

 

 

Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Call Now ButtonCall