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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

29 Apr, 2021

32 Min Read

Right to Freedom of Movement- FASTag

GS-II : Government policies and interventions Laws

Right to Freedom of Movement- FASTag

GS-Paper-2: Governance– UPSC PRELIMS – Mains Application

Context: The Union government told the Bombay High Court that making FASTag mandatory for all vehicles plying on the national highways (NHs) doesn’t breach a citizen’s fundamental right to freedom of movement in any way.

FASTag ensures seamless traffic movement, cut travel time short, and that all decisions had been taken in accordance with the Central Motor Vehicles (CMV) Rules.

Section 136A of Motor Vehicles Amendment Act 2019 puts the responsibility on the Central Government to make rules for the electronic monitoring and enforcement of road safety.

  • Legislating the establishment of robust electronic enforcement for traffic violations will result in reduction in human intervention and the associated corruption.
  • A robust electronic enforcement system including speed cameras, closed-circuit televisions cameras, speed guns and such other technology will ensure violations being captured at a greater scale.
  • Provisions had been made at all toll plazas along national highways to fit the chip in vehicles that did not have FASTag.
  • In cases where it was not possible to fit vehicles with FASTag on the spot for any reason, the vehicle was permitted to still ply on highways, on extreme left of the FASTag lanes. However, such vehicles were required to pay twice the toll amount.
  • The double user fees or penalties imposed on vehicles without FASTag on national highways were also in accordance with the National Highway Fee (determination of rates and collection) Rules, 2008.
  • Entertaining such petitions would cause "irreparable loss" to the National Highways Authority of India.

FASTag

  • FASTag is an electronic toll collection system that uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. RFID is the use of radio waves to read and capture information stored on a tag attached to an object.
  • A tag can be read from up to several feet away and does not need to be within the direct line-of-sight of the reader to be tracked.
  • It is a tag fixed on the windscreen of the vehicle that allows automatic deduction of toll without stopping for carrying out the cash transaction.

The Union government told the Bombay High Court that making FASTag mandatory for all vehicles plying on the national highways (NHs) doesn’t breach a citizen’s fundamental right to freedom of movement in any way.

  • According to the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, FASTag (electronic toll collection system) is mandatory for all vehicles at toll plazas on NHs.
  • [Section 136A of Motor Vehicles Amendment Act, 2019 says that the Central Government should make rules for the electronic monitoring and enforcement of road safety.]
  • The Centre said that provisions had been made at all toll plazas along national highways to fit the chip in vehicles that did not have FASTag.
  • It also said that the double user fees or penalties imposed on vehicles without FASTag on NHs were in accordance with National Highway Fee (determination of rates and collection) Rules, 2008.

Right to Freedom of Movement

  • Article 19 of the Constitution guarantees Right to Freedom of movement.
  • It gives every citizen the right to move freely throughout the country. It is protected against only state action and not private individuals.
  • It is available only to the citizens and to shareholders of a company but not to foreigners or legal persons.
  • Restrictions - Only be imposed on two grounds as per the Article 19 of the constitution, namely,
    1. Interests of the general public and
    2. Protection of interests of any scheduled tribe.
  • While Article 19 protects only the right to move inside the country, Article 21 (Right to life and personal liberty) protects right to move out of the country and right to come back to the country.

Source: TH

Zhurong – Mars rover

GS-III : S&T Space

Zhurong – Mars rover

GS-Paper-3: S&T-Space – UPSC PRELIMS – Mains Application

Chinese government announced that its first Mars rover will be named Zhurong after a traditional fire god. This name fits with the Chinese name for Mars - “Huo Xing” or fire star.

The rover is aboard the Tianwen-1 probe that arrived in Mars orbit in February, 2021 and is due to land in May to look for evidence of life. The top candidate for the landing site on Mars is Utopia Planitia, a rock-strewn plain where the U.S. lander Viking 2 touched down in 1976.

Tianwen-1's Goals - To analyse and map the Martian surface and geology, look for water ice, study the climate and surface environment. China would become the third country after the former Soviet Union and the United States to put a robot rover on Mars.

Mars

It is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System. Mars is about half the size of Earth. As Mars orbits the Sun, it completes one rotation every 24.6 hours, which is very similar to one day on Earth (23.9 hours).

Mars' axis of rotation is tilted 25 degrees with respect to the plane of its orbit around the Sun. This is similar with Earth, which has an axial tilt of 23.4 degrees. Like Earth, Mars has distinct seasons, but they last longer than seasons on Earth since Mars takes longer to orbit the Sun (because it's farther away). Martian days are called sols—short for ‘solar day’.

Surface: It has colors such as brown, gold and tan. The reason Mars looks reddish is due to oxidation or rusting of iron in the rocks, and dust of Mars. Hence it is also called Red Planet.

Mars has the largest volcano in the solar system i.e. Olympus Mons. It's three times taller than Earth's Mt. Everest with a base the size of the state of New Mexico.

Atmosphere: Mars has a thin atmosphere made up mostly of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and argon gases.

Mars has no magnetic field till date, but areas of the Martian crust in the southern hemisphere are highly magnetized, indicating traces of a magnetic field.

Moons: Mars has two small moons, Phobos and Deimos, that may be captured asteroids.

Previous Mars Missions:

  • The Soviet Union in 1971 became the first country to carry out a Mars landing, Mars 3.
  • The second country to reach Mars’s surface is the United State of America (USA). Since 1976, it has achieved 8 successful Mars landings, the latest being the ‘InSight’ in 2019.
  • European Space Agency has been able to place their spacecraft in Mars’s orbit through the Mars Express Mission.
  • India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) or Mangalyaan: It was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh by Indian Space Research Organisation in November 2013. It was launched on board a PSLV C-25 rocket with aim of studying Martian surface and mineral composition as well as scan its atmosphere for methane (an indicator of life on Mars).

Why missions: First, Mars is a planet where life may have evolved in the past. Conditions on early Mars roughly around 4 billion years ago were very similar to that of Earth. It had a thick atmosphere, which enabled the stability of water on the surface of Mars.

Mars is the only planet that humans can visit or inhabit in the long term. Venus and Mercury have extreme temperatures – the average temperature is greater than 400 degree C. All planets in the outer solar system starting with Jupiter are made of gas – not silicates or rocks – and are very cold. Mars is comparatively hospitable in terms of temperature, with an approximate range between 20 degrees C at the Equator to minus 125 degrees C at the poles.

Perseverance rover

About:

Launched on July of 2020.

It is expected to touch down on Mars at the Jezero Crater.

The primary task of Perseverance is to seek signs of ancient life and collect samples of rock and reglolith to possibly return these to Earth.

  1. Perseverance is fueled by electrical power by using heat of plutonium’s radioactive decay.
  2. NASA Perseverance gets shape memory alloys to remain steady on surface of Mars.
  3. Armed with drills, cameras and lasers, Perseverance is set to explore Mars.

Why is this mission significant?

  1. 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).
  2. 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.

Previous Mars Missions by NASA:

  1. NASA has been sending rovers on Mars since 1997 when the Mars Pathfinder Mission was initiated.
  2. As the mission turned out to be successful, NASA decided to continue going to Mars to find evidence.
  3. Second time, the space organization sent twin rovers, Spirit and Opportunity to Mars in 2003.
  4. The third attempt was by sending Curiosity in 2012.

Source: TH

The Global Climate 2020

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Climate Change

The Global Climate 2020

GS-Paper-3: Environment – UPSC PRELIMS – Mains Application

World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released its annual State of the Global Climate for 2020 on April 20, 2021. Irrespective of the widespread surmise that lockdowns and shutdowns to curb the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic would lower emissions and reduce the impact on climate, the report has scary findings.

According to the report:

Extreme weather combined with COVID-19 in a double blow for millions of people in 2020. However, the pandemic-related economic slowdown failed to put a brake on climate change drivers and accelerating impacts.

Key Points

  • This annual report is released by the World Meteorological Organization.
  • It has found that the lockdowns and shutdowns to curb the Covid-19 pandemic would lower emissions and reduce the impact on climate.
  • Double blow - According to the report, extreme weather combined with Covid-19 in a double blow for millions of people in 2020.
  • However, the pandemic-related economic slowdown failed to put a brake on climate change drivers and accelerating impacts.
  • Temperature - It reiterates that 2020 was one of the three warmest years on record, despite a cooling La Niña event.
  • The global average temperature was about 1.2° Celsius above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) level. The six years since 2015 have been the warmest on record. 2011-2020 was the warmest decade on record.
  • The WMO report listed five key indicators of irreversible changes in the global climate - Greenhouse gases, oceans, sea-level rise, the Arctic and the Antarctica.

Five Key Indicators

  • Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) - Despite the economic slowdown due to the pandemic, emission of major GHGs increased in 2019 and 2020. It will be higher in 2021.
  • Oceans - In 2020, the oceans had the highest heat content on record. Over 80% of the ocean area experienced at least one marine heatwave.
  • The percentage of the ocean that experienced strong marine heat waves (45%) was greater than that which experienced moderate marine heat waves (28%).
  • Sea-level rise - Since record-taking started in 1993 using the satellite altimeter, sea-level has been rising partly due to the increased melting of the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.
  • However, there was a blip in summer of 2020 that recorded a drop in sea level, which is due to the La Niña induced cooling.
  • The Arctic - The 2020 Arctic sea-ice extent minimum after the summer melt was 3.74 million square kilometre, marking only the second time on record that it shrank to less than 4 million sq km.
  • In the Siberian Arctic, temperatures in 2020 were more than 3°C above average, with a record temperature of 38°C in the town of Verkhoyansk.
  • The Antarctica - The Antarctic sea-ice extent remained close to the long-term average. However, the Antarctic ice sheet has exhibited a strong mass loss trend since the late 1990s.
  • This trend accelerated around 2005 due to the increasing flow rates of major glaciers in West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula.

IMD REPORT

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD)’s State of the Climate Report, the year 2020 was the eighth warmest since India started keeping records in 1901. The State of the Climate Report looks at temperature and rainfall trends annually.

Eighth Warmest Year 2020:

Average Temperature:

During the year, the annual average temperature in the country was 0.29 degree Celsius (°C) above normal (29-year average from 1981-2010).

However, it was much lower than 2016 (+0.71 degrees Celsius), which remains the warmest ever year the country has recorded since 1901.

Such temperature trends were reported despite the cooling effect of La Nina, a global weather pattern that prevailed in 2020 and is linked to substantially below normal temperatures in winter.

La Nina typically has a cooling effect on global temperatures, but this is now offset by global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions.

As a result, La Nina years now are warmer than years with El Niño events of the past.

El Nino and La Nina are the extreme phases of the El Niño and the Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle.

ENSO is a periodic fluctuation in sea surface temperature and the air pressure of the overlying atmosphere across the equatorial Pacific Ocean. It has a major influence on weather and climate patterns such as heavy rains, floods and drought.

El Niño has a warming influence on global temperatures, whilst La Nina has the opposite effect.

Source: DTH

Odisha’s first case of harlequin ichthyosis

GS-III : S&T Health

Odisha’s first case of harlequin ichthyosis

WHY?

Mutations in the ABCA 12 gene are stated to cause harlequin ichthyosis. The ABCA12 protein plays a major role in transporting fats in cells which make up the outermost layer of skin. Severe mutations in the gene lead to the absence or partial production of the ABCA12 protein. This results in lack of lipid transport and as a result, the skin development is affected by varying degrees according to the severity of the mutation, a doctor said citing a research paper on the disease.

Condition: The facial features of the baby, including the mouth, eyes and ears were deformed, restricting breathing and eating. The disease affected one in three million births and is caused due to a mutated gene inherited from the parents. The disease sees the skin form large diamond-shaped plates across the body that are separated by deep cracks (fissures). The skin is dry and scaly, almost like fish skin and hence the term ‘icthyosis’, derived from ‘ikthus’, Greek for fish.

Imp Points:

  • Odisha reported its first-ever case of a baby born with harlequin ichthyosis in Ganjam district. India’s first case was recorded in Nagpur, Maharashtra in 2016.
  • The disease is an extremely rare genetic disorder that resulted in thickened skin forming over nearly the entire body at birth.
  • Causes - The disease is caused due to mutations in the ABCA 12 gene (a mutated gene inherited from the parents).
  • The ABCA12 protein plays a major role in transporting fats in cells which make up the outermost layer of skin.
  • Severe mutations in the gene lead to the absence or partial production of the ABCA12 protein, which results in lack of lipid transport.

Occurrence - The disease affects one in three million births. There are around 200 to 250 such cases across the world. India’s first recorded case of a baby born with harlequin ichthyosis was in 2016, at a private hospital in Nagpur, Maharashtra. Such cases were also reported in Delhi, Patna and West Bengal.

Source: DTE

SUPACE Portal

GS-II : Governance Law and Order

SUPACE Portal

The Supreme Court unveiled its Artificial Intelligence (AI) portal, the Supreme Court Portal for Assistance in Court’s Efficiency (SUPACE). A pet project of Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, SUPACE is a tool that collects relevant facts and laws and makes them available to a judge.

  • The portal is not designed to take decisions, but only to process facts and to make them available to judges looking for an input for a decision.
  • It is designed to make research easier for judges, thereby easing their workload.

Initially, it will be used on an experimental basis by the judges of Bombay and Delhi High Courts who deal with criminal matters.

Source: PIB

Thotlakonda Buddhist destination

GS-I : Art and Culture Religion

Thotlakonda Buddhist destination

Historians and biologists campaign to protect the ancient Buddhist site of Thotlakonda - Home to around 90 species of birds. The site is found at a hill of Mangamaripeta Village, Bheemunipatnam Taluka of Visakhapatnam District, Andhra Pradesh.

Significance of the site - In 1976, during a helicopter survey by the Indian Navy to set up a naval facility, ruins of the Buddhist site were spotted. Subsequently, the entire hill was declared as an area comprising a protected monument under the Andhra Pradesh Ancient and Historical Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1960.

The State Archaeology Department’s excavation (1988-1992) found,

    1. Ancient pottery such as tan ware, black red ware,
    2. Coins from the Satavahana period and Roman coins,
    3. Labels with Brahmi inscriptions, Inscribed Chhatra pieces,
    4. Terracotta and glass beads, bangles,
    5. Stuccos and stone sculptural remains.

It gave a clear indication that the area housed remnants of a flourishing monastery, practising Hinayana Buddhism, which was most active for 400 years from 200 BCE to 200 CE.

Source: PIB

Lockdown Generation

GS-II : International organisation ILO

Lockdown Generation

The International Labour Organization (ILO) termed the current young population as the ‘lockdown generation’ citing the massive impacts of the pandemic on them.

The lockdown generation emerged, as young people constitute major victims of social and economic consequences of the pandemic, and there is a risk that they will be scarred throughout their working lives.

According to ILO and various other estimates, during the pandemic,

    1. Some 90% of young people have reported increased mental anxiety,
    2. One in six young people worldwide have lost their jobs.

Source:

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