14 June 2021: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

CNA 14th June 2021:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Fight against authoritarianism, extremism, says PM at G7 meet
2. Rare earth metals at the heart of China-U.S. rivalry
C. GS 3 Related
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
1. G7 agrees to boost climate finance, calls on others to join
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
DEFENCE AND SECURITY
1. The world is hardly wired for cyber resilience
2. Planning for a biosecure future
F. Prelims Facts
1. ₹498 crore for iDEX challenge
2. Tree of coffee family discovered in Andaman and Nicobar
G. Tidbits
1. Swiss snub synthetic pesticide ban plan
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

2. Rare earth metals at the heart of China-U.S. rivalry

Context:

  • Recently, the U.S. Senate passed the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, aimed at countering China’s technological ambitions.
    • Among many other interventions, the bill also aimed at improving American competitiveness in the rare earth metals market. The bill includes several provisions to help improve critical minerals supply chains.

Background:

Rare earth metals:

  • Rare earth metals are a group of 17 elements – lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, lutetium, scandium, yttrium – that appear in low concentrations in the ground. They are lustrous silvery-white soft heavy metals.
  • Although they are more abundant than their name implies, they are difficult and costly to mine and process cleanly.

Use of rare earth metals:

  • Rare earths find application in a wide range of products including rechargeable batteries for electric and hybrid cars, advanced ceramics, computers, DVD players, wind turbines, catalysts in cars and oil refineries, monitors, televisions, lighting, lasers, fiber optics, superconductors, mobiles and glass polishing as well as military jet engines, satellites and lasers.
  • Lanthanum is needed to manufacture night vision devices.
  • These rare minerals are essential to the manufacture of electric vehicles, wind turbines and drones considered very important sectors in the coming future.
    • Rare earth minerals like neodymium, praseodymium and dysprosium, are crucial to the manufacture of magnets used in wind turbines and electric cars. Hence the transition to green energy is dependent on the availability of these critical rare earth metals.

China’s dominance in rare earth metals:

  • The rare earth metals are largely extracted and refined in China.
    • Most of the rare earth metal reserves are located within China. After China, the major rare earth countries based on reserve volume are Vietnam, Brazil, and Russia.
    • China hosts most of the world’s processing capacity and in 2017, China accounted for 81% of the world’s rare earth production.
  • In 2019, the U.S. imported 80% of its rare earth minerals from China, while the EU gets 98% of its supply from China.

Details:

  • Rising tensions between the United States and China have sparked concerns over China’s dominant position as a supplier of rare earths.
  • China’s dominance in the critical rare earth metals, key to the future of manufacturing, is a cause of concern for the U.S., given that China could as well use its dominance in the sector to cut off supplies to the west in case of a geopolitical friction.
    • Example – Japan accused China of halting rare earth supplies for political reasons (in the aftermath of a diplomatic dispute between China and Japan in 2010), sparking recognition worldwide of the risks of dependence on one supplier.
  • Recognizing the fact that the failure to expand its semiconductor production, or reroute rare earths supply chains, could leave the U.S. at a strategic disadvantage in the years ahead, the act makes several recommendations in this regard.
    • The U.S. aims to boost domestic production and processing of rare earths and lithium, another key mineral component, while working with allies to increase sustainable global supply and reduce reliance on competitors like China.
    • Recycling has also emerged as a potential source for rare earth minerals. Scaling up recycling could help meet a substantial proportion of the demand for rare earth metals.

Additional information:

  • The Mountain Pass mine is located in California, U.S.
    • The Mountain Pass Mine is an open-pit mine of rare-earth elements. In 2020 the mine supplied 15.8% of the world’s rare-earth production.

2. Tree of coffee family discovered in Andaman and Nicobar

Context:

  • A new species belonging to the genus of the coffee family has recently been discovered from the Andaman Islands.

Details:

  • The new species has been named Pyrostria laljii.
  • The new species has been reported from the Wandoor forest in South Andaman.
    • The other places in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands where the tree could be located are the Tirur forest near the Jarawa Reserve Forest and the Chidia Tapu (Munda Pahar) forest.
  • It is also the first record of the genus Pyrostria in India.
    • Plants belonging to the genus Pyrostria are usually found in Madagascar.
    • While the genus Pyrostria is not found in India, there are several genera from the family Rubiaceae that are common in India. These plants include cinchona, coffee, adina, hamelia, ixora, galium, gardenia, mussaenda, rubia, morinda.
  • Pyrostria laljii has been assessed as ‘Critically Endangered’ based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List criteria.

G. Tidbits

1. Swiss snub synthetic pesticide ban plan

Context:

  • Two publicly proposed initiatives proposing the prohibition of the use of artificial pesticides in Switzerland, preventing their use in farms and gardens, and the prohibition of the import of produce and products made using artificial pesticides have been overwhelmingly rejected by the voters in Switzerland.
  • The proposal was based on the ecological and health impacts from the use of synthetic pesticides. While the long-term impact of the chemicals is not yet fully known, studies have suggested links between synthetic pesticides and a range of health issues including Parkinson’s and infertility.
  • If adopted the proposal would have made Switzerland the first European country to ban synthetic pesticides.
  • The proposal was strongly opposed by the Swiss farming sector and the government, which said approval would have meant lower farm production and higher food prices.
  • The public support for curtailing pesticides has prompted the government to come up with a counterproposal that would halve the risks associated with the use of pesticides within six years.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. With reference to Bhitarkanika National Park, which of the following statements 
is/are correct?
  1. It is a national park in the State of Odisha.
  2. It is a Ramsar site.

Options:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both
  4. None
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: c

Explanation:

  • Bhitarkanika National Park is located in northeast Kendrapara district in Odisha in eastern India. It is also a Ramsar site.
  • The national park and wildlife sanctuary is inundated by the rivers Brahmani, Baitarani, Dhamra, Pathsala. It hosts many mangrove species, and is the second-largest mangrove ecosystem in India.
  • The national park is home to Saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), Indian python, king cobra, black ibis, darters and many other species of flora and fauna.
Q2. Consider the following statements with respect to Pyrostria laljii: 
  1. It is the first record of the genus Pyrostria in India.
  2. It belongs to the genus of the coffee family discovered from the Andaman Islands.
  3. Its IUCN status is endangered.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: a

Explanation:

  • A new species named Pyrostria laljii belonging to the genus of the coffee family has recently been discovered from the Andaman Islands.
  • The new species has been reported from the Wandoor forest in South Andaman.
  • It is also the first record of the genus Pyrostria in India.
  • Plants belonging to the genus Pyrostria are usually found in Madagascar.
  • Pyrostria laljii has been assessed as ‘Critically Endangered’ based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List criteria.
Q3. Which of the following statements is/are correct with respect to Kawasaki disease?
  1. It is a rare viral zoonotic disease that occurs primarily in remote parts of central and west Africa, near tropical rainforests.
  2. It is mostly transmitted to people from various wild animals such as rodents and primates.

Options:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both
  4. None
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: d

Explanation:

  • Kawasaki disease is a syndrome of unknown cause that results in a fever and mainly affects children under 5 years of age. It is a form of vasculitis, where blood vessels become inflamed throughout the body.
  • While the specific cause is unknown, it is thought to result from an excessive immune system response to an infection in children who are genetically predisposed. It does not spread between people.
  • Kawasaki disease affects people of Asian ethnicity, particularly Japanese people. The higher incidence in Asian populations is thought to be linked to genetic susceptibility.
Q4. Which of the following is/are Rare earth minerals?
  1. Neodymium
  2. Selenium
  3. Praseodymium
  4. Dysprosium
  5. Uranium
  6. Thorium

Options:

  1. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 only
  2. 2, 4, 5 and 6 only
  3. 1, 3 and 4 only
  4. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: c

Explanation:

  • Rare earth metals are a group of 17 elements – lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, lutetium, scandium, yttrium – that appear in low concentrations in the ground. They are lustrous silvery-white soft heavy metals.
  • Although they are more abundant than their name implies, they are difficult and costly to mine and process cleanly.
Q5. The “New START” treaty was in the news. What is this treaty? (UPSC 2011)
  1. It is a bilateral strategic nuclear arms reduction treaty between the USA and the Russian Federation.
  2. It is a multilateral energy security cooperation treaty among the members of the East Asia Summit.
  3. It is a treaty between the Russian Federation and the European Union for energy security cooperation.
  4. It is a multilateral cooperation treaty among the BRICS countries for the promotion of trade
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: a

Explanation:

  • New START is a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation with the formal name of Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. It was signed in 2010 in Prague, and, after ratification, entered into force in 2011.

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. Defending civilian targets and critical infrastructure against rising cyberattacks will stretch the capability of governments. Elaborate. (15 marks, 250 words) (GS Paper 3/Defence and Security)
  2. COVID-19 has further highlighted the biosecurity concerns of synthetic biology. Discuss. (15 marks, 250 words) (GS Paper 3/Defence and Security)

Read the previous CNA here.

CNA 14th June 2021:- Download PDF Here

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