29 Apr, 2021
32 Min Read
|GS-II||Right to Freedom of Movement- FASTag||Government policies and interventions|
|GS-III||Zhurong – Mars rover||S&T|
|The Global Climate 2020||Biodiversity & Environment|
|PT Pointer||Odisha’s first case of harlequin ichthyosis||S&T|
|Thotlakonda Buddhist destination||Art and Culture|
|Lockdown Generation||International organisation|
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 the Motor Vehicles Amendment Act 2019 puts the responsibility on the Central Government to make rules for the electronic monitoring and enforcement of road safety.
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.
Right to Freedom of Movement
GS-Paper-3: S&T-Space – UPSC PRELIMS – Mains Application
The 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.
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:
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.
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.
Why is this mission significant?
Previous Mars Missions by NASA:
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.
Five Key Indicators
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:
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.
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.
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.
The Supreme Court unveiled its Artificial Intelligence (AI) portal, the Supreme Court Portal for Assistance in Court’s Efficiency (SPACE). 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.
Initially, it will be used on an experimental basis by the judges of Bombay and Delhi High Courts who deal with criminal matters.
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,
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.
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,
Global Climate Risk Index 2021 GS-Paper-3: Environment – UPSC PRELIMS – Mains Application The Global Climate Risk Index analyses to what extent countries and regions have been affected by impacts of weather-related loss events (storms, floods, heat waves etc.). The report is annual
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India and Pakistan- Fishermen issue Introduction Hundreds of fishermen have been languishing in Pakistan’s prisons for years with no end in sight Issue of human rights Sosa, a fishermen was arrested in May 2019 when the fishing boat he was in allegedly entered Pakistani wat
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Covid-19 and issue of malnutrition Introduction The political and social handling of the COVID-19 pandemic have added to the persisting issues of food insecurity faced by millions. India consistently has ranked poorly in GHI (ranking 102 among 117 countries in the Global Hunger Index 2019
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