20 Oct 2021: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

Oct 20th, 2021, CNA:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
GEOGRAPHY
1. Kerala braces for more rainfall from today
B. GS 2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. India, Israel, UAE and U.S. launch quad forum
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. PM orders drive to cut red tape
C. GS 3 Related
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. EU food recall linked to GM rice from India
SECURITY
1. ‘Chinese patrolling slightly up in east’
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. The other Quad
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. A global player in solar power
F. Prelims Facts
1. Delhi reports this year’s first dengue death
G. Tidbits
1. Bhaskarabda to be added to official calendar of Assam
2. The overlooked epidemic
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

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Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. PM orders drive to cut red tape

Context:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has directed all government departments to have a fresh look at all existing processes and scrap unnecessary paperwork and compliances, as part of a special spring-cleaning exercise this month.

Details:

  • The timely and effective disposal of public grievances, references from MPs and State Governments, inter-ministerial consultations, parliamentary assurances, etc. is an important part of the work of Ministries and Departments.
    • Files must neither be prematurely destroyed nor kept for periods longer than necessary.
  • During the special campaign, all-out efforts will be made to dispose of the identified pending references.
  • The special campaign would be monitored by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) in the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
  • Cabinet Secretary has asked each department to weed out old files, clear all pending public grievances and references from MPs and States, while endeavouring to meet any assurances made to Parliament as part of a special campaign.
  • Secretaries have been asked to monitor the progress on resolving pending issues on a daily basis and send a weekly report to the DARPG.
  • In addition, the existing processes would be reviewed with a view to reducing compliance burden, and unnecessary paperwork done away with, wherever feasible.

Category: SECURITY

1. ‘Chinese patrolling slightly up in east’

Context:

Since the stand-off in eastern Ladakh in 2020, India and China are attempting to develop infrastructure close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

  • Of the 3,488 km-long LAC, 1,346 km fall in the eastern sector.

Details:

  • There has been a marginal increase in Chinese patrols in the eastern sector along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), while the scale and duration of its exercises have increased in their depth areas.
  • The Indian Army is countering the Chinese presence by incorporating technological advancements with a specific focus on expanding surveillance capabilities like long-range Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and radars.
  • The Army’s 17 Mountain Strike Corps, meant for the border with China, has been fully operationalised.
    • The raising of the new 17 Mountain Strike Corps commenced in 2014.
    • At present, it is fully operationalised and all its units, including combat, combat support and support, has been fully equipped.
    • To further enhance the operational efficiency, they are looking at the Integrated Battle Group (IBG) model for the mountain strike corps so that there are better options for its employment and its areas of application.
    • IBGs are brigade-sized agile self-sufficient combat formations meant to swiftly launch strikes against adversaries in case of hostilities. The concept had been tested in exercises and fine-tuned.
  • India has been enhancing surveillance both close to the LAC and in the depth areas by synergising resources right from satellites at the strategic level to troops on the ground.
  • There is a major expansion of roads in the region which will facilitate faster mobilisation of men, resources and equipment.
  • Several tunnels are under construction while a railway line is also planned to Tawang.

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. A global player in solar power

Context:

  • The sharp decline in the prices of solar cells has resulted in cost competitiveness of solar energy with the more traditional thermal power. This has helped increase the uptake of solar energy in India.
  • Also, the growing emphasis on renewable energy adoption as part of the climate action efforts to offset the emission of GHG from the more traditional fossil fuel-based energy plants has only increased the focus on solar energy.
  • The article, complementing the rapid growth of solar projects in Tamil Nadu, analyzes the evolving technologies in the solar voltaic sector and makes some recommendations for further growth in the sector.

Types of solar PV technologies:

First generation solar cells:

  • ‘First-generation’ solar cells use mono-crystalline and multi-crystalline silicon wafers. Crystalline silicon technologies currently occupy 95% of the global photovoltaic (PV) market with the predominance of mono-crystalline cells.
  • While mono-crystalline silicon wafer is made from a single crystal of silicon (of higher purity), multi-crystalline silicon wafers are made by combining several fragments of silicon wafers.
  • Mono-crystalline panels exhibit comparatively higher efficiencies. Thus they exhibit greater energy yield and lower cost of energy.
  • Mono-crystalline panels are priced higher than multi-crystalline ones. However, the difference has been diminishing and is expected to attain parity soon.

Bifacial solar cells:

  • Newer technologies incorporating crystalline silicon focus on bifacial solar cells, capable of harvesting energy from both sides of the panel.
  • Bifacials can augment the power output by 10-20%.

Second generation solar PVs:

  • The thin film technologies are classified as the ‘second generation’ of solar PVs.
  • They are manufactured by depositing single or multiple layers of PV material on a substrate like plastic or glass. The PV material used includes semiconductors like Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) or crystalline silicon.
  • Given their low thickness, light weight and flexibility they can be placed on electronic devices and vehicles thus helping augment the solar PV area.
  • The lower efficiency of thin films as compared to that of crystalline silicon has affected their popularity and market share.

Third generation solar cells:

  • New and upcoming solar cells are grouped as ‘third generation’ and contain technologies such as perovskite, nanocrystal and dye-sensitised solar cells.

Perovskite:

  • A perovskite is a material that has the same crystal structure as the mineral calcium titanium oxide, the first-discovered perovskite crystal. A large number of different elements can be combined together to form perovskite structures. Using this compositional flexibility, scientists can design perovskite crystals to have a wide variety of physical, optical, and electrical characteristics.
  • Perovskite crystals are being used in solar cells. Perovskites based solar cells have achieved cell efficiency of around 18%. They have the highest potential to replace silicon and disrupt the solar PV market, due to factors such as ease of manufacture, low production costs and potential for higher efficiencies.

Nanocrytal and dye-sensitised solar cells:

  • Nanocrystal and dye-sensitised solar cells are variants of the thin film technology. These are in early stages for large-scale commercial deployment.
  • Nanocrystal solar cells are solar cells based on a substrate with a coating of nanocrystals. The nanocrystals are typically based on silicon or CdTe and the substrates are generally silicon or various organic conductors.
  • Dye-sensitized solar cells are another related approach, but in this case, the nano-structuring is part of the substrate.

Quantum dot solar cells:

  • Quantum dot solar cells use Graphene Quantum-dots for solar PVs.
    • Graphene is made of a single layer of carbon atoms bonded together as hexagons.
  • Quantum dot solar cells take advantage of quantum mechanical effects and offer high theoretical efficiency of 60% and also offer super capacitating quality.
    • A supercapacitor is a high-capacity capacitor with a capacitance value much higher than other capacitors, but with lower voltage limits, that bridges the gap between electrolytic capacitors and rechargeable batteries. It typically stores 10 to 100 times more energy per unit volume or mass than electrolytic capacitors, can accept and deliver charge much faster than batteries, and tolerates many more charge and discharge cycles than rechargeable batteries.

Other Improvements:

  • While major attention has been on increasing the efficiency of solar PVs, considerable advances have also been made in developing solutions that better integrate solar PVs into the grid.
  • These include weather forecasting and power output prediction systems; operation monitoring and control systems; and scheduling and optimisation systems. Additionally, automatic systems have been developed for the smooth resolution of output fluctuations. This becomes extremely relevant given the fluctuating nature of solar energy.

Recommendations:

  • The article makes the following recommendations to further support and mainstream solar PV technology into India’s energy market.
    • A portion of the budget for renewable energy targets should be set aside exclusively for new technologies.
    • Grants and subsidies must be provided for the adoption of new technologies. This will help mitigate the higher initial costs and help fast-track the adoption of new technologies in this ever-evolving solar PV sector.
    • Sector-specific investment and incentives should be used to address gaps in research, development, and manufacturing capabilities in the solar sector.
    • There should be ample and affordable funding opportunities for start-ups in this sector.
    • There must be greater industry-academia collaborations in this sector to boost research and development.

F. Prelims Facts

1. Bhaskarabda to be added to official calendar of Assam

What’s in News?

Bhaskarabda will be added to the Saka and Gregorian eras in the official calendar of the Assam Government.

What is Bhaskarabda?

  • Bhaskarabda is an era counted from the date of the ascension of a seventh-century local ruler.
  • Bhaskarabda began when Bhaskaravarman was crowned ruler of the Kamrupa kingdom. He was a contemporary and political ally of northern Indian ruler Harshavardhana.
  • Unlike Gregorian, where a day starts at midnight, the Assamese calendar begins and ends at sunrise over 24 hours.
  • While the Gregorian goes by the solar cycle, the Saka and Bhaskarabda eras use a lunisolar system based on both the phases of the moon and the solar year.
  • The gap between Bhaskarabda and Gregorian is 593 years.

G. Tidbits

1. Strategy meet discusses Chinese cyberattacks

What’s in News?

National Security Strategies Conference.

  • National Security Strategies Conference chaired by Home Minister discussed the rising cyberattacks from China on critical installations.
  • The participants were told that while the Pakistani cyberattacks focused on stealing identity and personal data, the Chinese hackers were more sophisticated and they settled down in any network, striking at will.

Concerns:

  • The Union Power Ministry said the government thwarted “state-sponsored” Chinese hacker groups targeting various Indian power centres in November 2020 and February 2021.
  • The U.S. cybersecurity and intelligence firm Recorded Future discovered that Chinese state-sponsored actors may have deployed malware into Indian power grids and seaports after border tensions between India-China began escalating in May 2020.

2. The overlooked epidemic

  • Around 1.3 million fewer cases of Tuberculosis were detected in 2020 compared to 2019 according to the WHO. However, the deaths attributed to TB have risen for the first time in the last 16 years including in India.
  • This dichotomy could be explained on the basis of the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in reduced reporting of cases, reduced access to disease diagnostics and treatment leading to increased deaths.
  • Notably, India bears the highest TB burden among the nations. It accounted for an estimated 28% of the new cases in 2020.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q.1 Consider the following GM crops and choose the ones which are not legally allowed to be 
cultivated in India.
  1. Rice
  2. Brinjal
  3. Cotton
  4. Mustard

Options:-

  1. 1 & 2 only
  2. 1 & 4 only
  3. 1, 2 & 4 only
  4. All of the above
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: c

Explanation:

  • GM Cotton is the only genetically modified crop legally allowed to be cultivated in India.
  • GM Rice, GM Brinjal and GM Mustard do not have the legal approval to be cultivated in the country.
Q.2 Consider the following statements with regards to di-ammonium phosphate: 
  1. DAP is the most commonly used fertilizer in India.
  2. DAP (46% P, 18% N) is the preferred source of Phosphorus for farmers while urea is the preferred nitrogenous fertilizer.
  3. Farmers normally apply this fertilizer just before or at the beginning of sowing, as it is high in phosphorus (P) that stimulates root development.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 & 2 only
  2. 2 & 3 only
  3. 1 & 3 only
  4. All of the above
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: b

Explanation:

  • DAP – di-ammonium phosphate is the second most commonly used fertiliser in India after urea.
  • DAP (46% P, 18% N) is the preferred source of Phosphorus for farmers while urea is the preferred nitrogenous fertilizer.
  • Farmers normally apply DAP fertilizer just before or at the beginning of sowing, as it is high in phosphorus (P) that stimulates root development.
Q.3 INSACOG, recently seen in the news, is
  1. ISRO’s latest satellite to join the IRNSS navigation system
  2. CDAC’s latest supercomputer focusing on cognitive learning
  3. Consortium of labs focusing on finding genome sequencing of SARS-CoV2
  4. Instantly rechargeable battery for electric cars
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: c

Explanation:

Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) is a multi-lab agency set up by the Government of India for sequencing and analysing the genome data with respect to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Read more on the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium.

Q.4 Bhaskaravarman, the crowned ruler of Kamrupa kingdom, was the contemporary of  
  1. Harshavardhana
  2. Akbar
  3. Ashoka
  4. Samudragupta
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: a

Explanation:

  • Bhaskaravarman was the last of the Varman dynasty.
  • He was perhaps the most illustrious of the kings of the medieval Kamarupa kingdom.
  • He was a contemporary and political ally of northern Indian ruler Harshavardhana of Thaneswar.
Q.5 With reference to the Constitution of India, prohibitions or limitations or provisions 
contained in ordinary laws cannot act as prohibitions or limitations on the constitutional 
powers under Article 142. It could mean which one of the following?  (UPSC 2019)
  1. The decisions taken by the Election Commission of India while discharging its duties cannot be challenged in any court of law.
  2. The Supreme Court of India is not constrained in the exercise of its powers by laws made by the Parliament.
  3. In the event of grave financial crisis in the country, the President of India can declare Financial Emergency without the counsel from the Cabinet.
  4. State Legislatures cannot make laws on certain matters without the concurrence of Union Legislature.
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: b

Explanation:

  • The Supreme Court of India is not constrained in the exercise of its powers by laws made by the Parliament.
  • Article 142(1) states that “The Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it, and any decree so passed or order so made shall be enforceable throughout the territory of India in such manner as may be prescribed by or under any law made by Parliament and, until provision in that behalf is so made, in such manner as the President may by order prescribe”.
  • Article 142 “provide(s) a unique power to the Supreme Court, to do “complete justice” between the parties, i.e., where at times law or statute may not provide a remedy, the Court can extend itself to put a quietus to a dispute in a manner which would befit the facts of the case.

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. Recent communal incidents in Bangladesh, targeted against religious minorities, have emerged as a major cause of concern for India. While India voices concern on these attacks, it should not appear religiously partisan. Examine.  (250 words; 15 marks)[GS-2, International Relations]
  2. India must retain strong ties with Iran as it seeks a partnership with the U.S-Israel­-UAE bloc. Critically evaluate. (250 words; 15 marks)[GS-2, International Relations]

Read the previous CNA here.

Oct 20th, 2021, CNA:- Download PDF Here

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