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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

Monthly DNA

20 Feb, 2021

62 Min Read

India – China Border disputes: Pangong Tso

GS-II : International Relations China

India – China Border disputes: Pangong Tso

  • India and China have completed disengagement on the north and south banks of Pangong Tso (lake) in eastern Ladakh, and the 10th round of Corps Commander talks are to be held in Moldo on the Chinese side to discuss pullbacks from other friction areas.
  • Disengagement was fully complete as per an agreement and had been jointly verified by both sides. In line with the agreement, all landforms have been restored to that as existed before April 2020.
  • As per the agreement for Pangong Tso, the next commander's talk is to be held within 48 hours after the completion of withdrawal from the lake.
  • The other major friction areas between the two countries are Gogra, Hot Springs and Depsang Plans.
  • To ensure that there is no violation of the agreement by China, there is monitoring by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and cameras have been installed at several locations, the second official stated, adding that the entire area was visible from multiple heights.
  • On the north bank, Chinese troops have withdrawn to east of Finger 8, while Indian troops have moved back to the Dhan Singh Thapa post near Finger 3.

For complete India-China relations: click here

India – China border issues - Naku La: click here

India – China border dispute – Arunachal Pradesh: click here

India – China border issues - Demchok: click here

Source: TH

Perseverance - NASA’s mission to Mars

GS-III : S&T Space mission

Perseverance - NASA’s mission to Mars

The shadow of NASA’s Perseverance rover is seen on the surface of Mars as it lands on the planet. With this, NASA is set to become the first space agency to fly a drone in the atmosphere of another planet.

Perseverance- NASA’s mission to Mars

  • NASA has been sending rovers on Mars since 1997 when the Mars Pathfinder Mission was initiated.
  • As the mission turned out to be successful, NASA decided to continue going to Mars to find evidence.
  • The second time, the space organization sent twin rovers, Spirit and Opportunity to Mars in 2003.
  • The third attempt was by sending Curiosity in 2012.
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has launched its Mars 2020 Perseverance rover aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V.
  • The launch took place from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
  • This is the third launch to Mars this month, following the UAE’s Hope and China’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft.
  • Landing site: Jezero crater.
  • Perseverance is loaded with seven instruments chosen to help it achieve its mission objectives.

Why is this mission significant?

  • Perseverance will carry a unique instrument, MOXIE or Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment: which for the first time will manufacture molecular oxygen on Mars using carbon dioxide from the carbon-dioxide-rich atmosphere (ISRU means In Situ Resource Utilization: or the use of local resources to meet human needs or requirements of the spacecraft).
  • It will carry Ingenuity, the first ever helicopter to fly on Mars.
  • This is the first time NASA will fly a helicopter on another planet or satellite.
  • It is the planned first step to bring back rock samples from Mars for analysis in sophisticated laboratories on Earth: with the goal of looking for biosignatures: or signatures of present or past life.

These are some of the key mission objectives:

  • Look for signs of ancient microbial life.
  • Collect Martian rock and dust samples for later return to Earth.
  • Deliver an experimental helicopter.
  • Study the climate and geology of Mars.
  • Demonstrate technology for future Mars missions.

Other NASA Missions

NASA's Artemis Lunar Programme

  • It will return astronauts to the Moon for the first time in half a century including the first woman astronaut to moon.
  • Through Artemis, NASA aims to establish:
  • Sustainable human presence on the Moon by 2028 to uncover new scientific discoveries.
  • Demonstrate new technological advancements.
  • Lay the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy.

NASA's Parker Solar Probe

  • To explore Sun's outer atmospere - Corona.
  • To study Heliophysics = how Sun affects space and Environment of planets.
  • Before PSP Helios 2 was the closest. It will use Venus' gravity.
  • Uses: Help under what causes Solar wind/ flares. Increase our ability to predict space weather.

Helium Hydride ion (HeH+)

  • Scientists have detected Helium hydride ion (HeH+), the first molecule to be formed in our universe, for the first time ever.
  • It was detected by NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).
  • It was detected in a planetary nebula, NGC 7027.
  • Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is a Boeing 747SP aircraft modified to carry a 106-inch diameter telescope. It is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Centre.
  • Almost 14 billion years ago, after Big Bang when universe cooled down, ionised hydrogen and neutral helium atoms reacted to form HeH+. HeH+ reacted with neutral hydrogen and created molecular hydrogen, marking the beginning of star formation and modern universe. Scientists held that the chemistry of the universe began with HeH+.

NASA has selected a new mission Atmospheric Waves Experiment (AWE) to be launched in 2022

  • It is attached to the exterior of the Earth-orbiting International Space Station.
  • It will investigate how waves in the lower atmosphere, caused by variations in the densities of different packets of air, impact the upper atmosphere.
  • The experiment will focus on colourful bands of light in Earth's atmosphere, called airglow, to determine what combination of forces drive space weather in the upper atmosphere.
  • Earlier it was thought that only Sun’s constant outflow of ultraviolet (UV) light and particles, solar wind, could affect airglow region. However, now researchers have learned that Earth’s weather also have effect on it.

NASA’s LCROSS

  • LCROSS stands for Lunar CRator Observation and Sensing Satellite mission which was carried 10 years ago.
  • It aimed to determine if water ice exists in Moon's South Pole. It found evidence of lunar soil in shadowy craters and it revealed moon has a water cycle and is chemically active.
  • It crashed on the Moon’s South Pole. Moon is important for minerals like Helium 6 and Water.

Source: TH

The new Public Sector Enterprises Policy

GS-III : Economic Issues Defense procurement

The new Public Sector Enterprises Policy

  • The new public sector enterprises policy envisages that the strategic sectors have a limited number of players restricting it to maximum of four public sector enterprises of a holding nature.
  • The remaining enterprises would be rationalised in terms of mergers, amalgamations and privatisation if feasible.
  • As part of the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced that there would be a maximum of four public sector companies in strategic sectors, and state-owned firms in other segments would eventually be privatised.

Under the New Policy:

  • Strategic: Atomic energy, space, defence, trans and telecom, power, petro, coal, other minerals, banking, insurance and financial services will be classified as strategic sectors.
  • Privatization: The remaining companies in strategic sectors will be considered for privatization/merger/closure and non-strategic sectors will be considered for privatization, where feasible or for closure.
  • In strategic sectors, the minimum presence of existing companies at the holding level will be retained under government control.
  • The strategic sectors have limited number of players restricting it to maximum four public sector enterprises of the holding nature.

Issues Related to Privatisation of PSEs

  • No Buyers for Loss-making PSEs: No one would buy PSEs with their huge debt and employee liabilities. If shares of public sector enterprises are offered for sale to the private sector, the latter will naturally be interested only in the shares of profit-making concerns. Therefore, the government may even have to pay the buyer, as it happened in the case of the Delhi Discom privatisation.
  • Privatisation not the first option: In India, privatisation is not a default option; rather, it is resorted to only out of extreme necessity. This may explain the hesitation to privatise some of the largest loss-making PSEs like Air India, BSNL and MTNL.
  • Excessive Bureaucratisation: Public sector industries in India are plagued with inefficiencies due to excessive bureaucratisation. Their chairman-cum-managing directors are bureaucrats who may not have domain knowledge or technical service people bereft of business acumen. Also, monopoly/oligopoly of certain PSEs leads to the administrative price mechanism. For example, oil PSEs have been allowed to make a profit as they can dictate oil pricing, this allows them to have profits but there have been no innovations in the oil marketing sector.
  • The valuation of the PSEs critically depends on the market structure post-privatisation.
  • Since the government had to give fiscal support to loss making public firms, the fiscal deficit of the government kept on mounting year after year. One specific step that has been taken to reduce the deficit is privatisation, through an act of disinvestment.
  • However, the entire way in which disinvestment has been undertaken gives the impression that it is an exercise to bridge the budgetary deficit rather than revamping of PSEs.

Way Forward

  • Value subtracting enterprises, where restructuring or even ensuring an additional infusion of funds and other resources in PSEs have not produced results, should be disinvested or can follow the exit route through the new Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.
  • For example, some of the major loss-making PSUs like BSNL, MTNL and Air India should follow this route as their losses are greater than their revenue.
  • Privatisation of profit-making PSEs will still bring in benefits of the efficient operation of the private sector through reduced costs.
  • For example, Air India is marred with issues like poor punctuality, high staff-to-plane ratio, high operating costs and overall customer indifference. These issues can be rectified by the privatisation of PSEs.
  • For PSEs of Strategic importance, the government should go for the de-bureaucratisation of the public sector, instead of privatisation.
  • The government should disinvest its share of luxury hotels and restaurants, bakery, etc. By disinvesting shares of these luxury goods-producing public sector industries, it can raise a lot of financial resources.
  • Privatisation must be accompanied by competition in the post-privatised scenario.

In order to improve the performance of inefficient units, the creation of a competitive market environment is absolutely essential.

Source: TH

India Energy Outlook Report 2021

GS-II : Important reports Important reports

India Energy Outlook 2021

  • This report was released by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
  • It has been forecasted that India will overtake the European Union as the world’s third-largest energy consumer by 2030.
  • At present, India is the fourth-largest global energy consumer behind China, the United States and the European Union.
  • It is based on the forecast that India accounts for the biggest share of energy demand growth over the next two decades.
  • India’s primary energy consumption would double as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expands to USD 8.6 trillion by 2040.
  • India accounts for nearly one-quarter of global energy demand growth from 2019-40 — the largest for any country.
  • Its share in the growth in renewable energy is the second-largest in the world, after China.

Source: IE

CPI-Agriculture Labour and CPI-Rural Labour

GS-III : Economic Issues Inflation

CPI-Agriculture Labour and CPI-Rural Labour

  • Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Agricultural Labourers (AL) and Rural Labourers (RL) for the month of January 2021 is decreased.
  • The major contribution towards the fall in general index of AL and RL came from the fall in prices of pulses, onion, potato, brinjal etc.
  • The fall/rise in index varied from State to State.

Consumer Price Index

  • It examines the weighted average of prices of a basket of consumer goods and services, such as transportation, food, and medical care.
  • It is calculated by taking changes in price over time for each item in the predetermined basket of goods and averaging them.
  • This is done from the perspective of a retail buyer.
  • Labour Bureau under the Ministry of Labour and Employment compiles the CPI for Industrial Workers (IW), Agricultural Labourer (AL) and Rural Labourer (RL).
  • Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation compiles CPI (Rural/ Urban/ Combined).
  • CPI is adopted as the key measure of retail inflation by the Reserve Bank of India in 2014.

India uses 2012 as the base year for calculating CPI.

Source: TH

Intensified Mission Indradhanush

GS-II : Governance Health

  • Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare has launched Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) 3.0 and the IMI 3.0 portal.
  • Focus of the IMI 3.0 will be the children and pregnant women who have missed their vaccine doses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Beneficiaries from migration areas and hard to reach areas will be targeted.
  • Mission Indradhanush was launched in 2014 to provide affordable and accessible healthcare to all citizens of the country.
  • The present 8th campaign will target achieving 90% Full Immunization Coverage (FIC) in all districts of the country.

Every year the Universal Immunization Programme caters to the vaccination needs against 12 Vaccine Preventable Diseases.

Source: IE

Acute Encephalitis Syndrome

GS-III : S&T Health

Acute Encephalitis Syndrome

  • A child has recently been diagnosed with Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Bihar, the first case for this year.
  • AES, locally called chamki bukhar (fever causing seizure), usually surfaces during summer in the flood-prone districts of north Bihar.
  • It is characterized by acute-onset of fever and a change in mental status (mental confusion, disorientation, delirium, or coma) along with new-onset of seizures in a person of any age at any time of the year.
  • The disease most commonly affects children and young adults .
  • Viruses are the main causative agents in AES cases, although other sources such as bacteria have also been reported.
  • Japanese encephalitis virus is the major cause of AES in India (5%-35%).
  • Influenza A virus, West Nile virus, Chandipura virus, mumps, measles, dengue, Nipah, Zika are the other causes of AES in India.
  • Due to the wide range of causal agents and the rapid rate of neurological impairment, clinicians face the challenge of a small window period between diagnosis and treatment.

Widely reported areas - Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Manipur, Meghalaya, Tripura, Tamil Nadu, UP.

Source: IE

Nurturing Neighborhoods Challenge

GS-II : Governance Urban Governance

Nurturing Neighborhoods Challenge

  • Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs selected 25 cities selected for the Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge under the Smart Cities Mission.
  • These cities would carry out projects for making early childhood-friendly neighbourhoods.
  • It aims to work with Indian cities and their partners to improve public space, mobility, data management across city agencies, etc.

Selected cities - Bengaluru, Coimbatore, Erode, Agartala, Indore, Kakinada, Kochi, Ranchi, Salem, Trivandrum, Tiruppur, Ujjain, etc.

Source: TH

Sambhar Lake

GS-I : Indian Geography River system

Sambhar Lake

  • The Sambhar Salt Lake is India's largest inland saltwater body located near Jaipur in Rajasthan.
  • The lake is surrounded on all sides by the Aravali hills.
  • It is the source of most of Rajasthan's salt production.
  • Sambhar has been designated as a Ramsar site (recognized wetland of international importance) because the wetland is a key wintering area for tens of thousands of flamingos and other birds that migrate from northern Asia.

Source: TH

Declining Rainfall in Mawsynram

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Climate Change

Why does it rain highest in Mawsynram?

  • Because of the uneven relief of India due to the presence of a number of hill ranges, the monsoon is not able to shed its moisture evenly over India.
  • Windward sides receive more rainfall and leeward sides receive less rainfall.
  • Mawsynram lies in the funnel-shaped depression caused by the Khasi range in Meghalaya.
  • The Bay of Bengal branch of monsoons is trapped in it and causes heavy rainfall.

Decreasing rainfall trends

  • The research analysed daily rain gauges and noted that the changes in the Indian Ocean temperature have a huge effect on the rainfall in the region.
  • There was a reduction in the vegetation area in northeast India in the past two decades, implying that human influence also plays an important role in the changing rainfall patterns.
  • The traditional way of cultivation known as Jhum cultivation or shifting cultivation is now decreased and being replaced by other methods.
  • Also, previous studies have noted there is sizable deforestation in the region.

Source: TH

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