Daily News Analysis – May 22, 2019

Source: The Hindu, Live Mint and Indian Express


NATIONAL GREEN HIGHWAYS MISSION

Context: The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) on Tuesday informed the National Green Tribunal that around 1 crore trees have been planted across the country along highways in the past three years to maintain ecology and environmental balance.

 Essentials

National Green Highways Mission

  • Under the Green Highways Project, the government has made it mandatory to set aside 1 per cent of the total project cost of any NH contract to a Green Fund corpus that will be used for plantation purposes.
  • The afforestation is expected to help in sequestering approximately 12 lakh mt carbon annually.
  • Adopt a Green Highway’ Program: The National Green Highway Mission initiated the program’ to engage corporates, Public Sector units, Government organizations and other institutions for developing green corridor along National Highways through plantation and allied activity on avenue, median and other available nearby land patches.
  • Kisan Harit Rajmarg Yojana: The Yojana is a pilot scheme to extend green belt beyond the existing ‘Right of Way’ of highways by engaging farmers and providing alternative livelihood option to the nearby communities.

CHILIKA LAKE

Context: The Centre and Odisha government have decided to restore the ecology of the Chilika Lake ravaged by Cyclone Fani recently.

 Essentials

Chilika Lake

  • Chilika is a shallow lagoon with estuarine character in Odisha.
  • Lagoons are areas of relatively shallow, quiet water situated in a coastal environment and having access to the sea but separated from the open marine conditions by a barrier.
  • An estuaryis a partially enclosed coastal body of brackish water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea. Estuaries form a transition zone between river environments and maritime environments.
  • The Daya and Bhargavi rivers feed the lake.
  • Seawater is Chilika’s lifeblood. Without a regular inflow, the lake ecosystem would decline.
  • It is the largest wintering ground for migratory waterfowl found anywhere on the Indian sub-continent.
  • Pulicat Lake is the second largest brackish water lake or lagoonin India, after Chilika Lake.
  • The endangered Irrawaddy dolphins are also found in the lake, which is the single largest habitat of this species in the world.
  • On account of its rich bio-diversity and ecological significance, Chilika was designated as the 1st “Ramsar Site” of India.
  • The Nalaban Island within the lagoon is notified as a Bird Sanctuary under Wildlife (Protection) Act.
  • The lake was included in the Montreux Record (threatened list) in 1993 due to change in its ecological character by Ramsar Convention but was later removed from it due to the successful restoration of the site.

 Montreux Record under the Ramsar Convention

  • It is a register of wetland sites on the List of Wetlands of International Importance where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur as a result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference.
  • It is maintained as part of the Ramsar List.
  • The Montreux Record was established by Recommendations of the Conference of the Contracting Parties (1990).
  • Sites may be added to and removed from the Record only with the approval of the Contracting Parties in which they lie.
  • Currently, two wetlands of India are in Montreux record viz. Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan and Loktak Lake, Manipur.

WEST NILE VIRUS

Context: The presence of the West Nile virus was identified from the mosquito samples collected from a few districts of kerala.

 Essentials

  • West Nile virus is mainly transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes of the Culex genus.
  • Birds are the natural hosts of West Nile virus. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds, which circulate the virus in their blood for a few days.
  • West Nile virus can cause a fatal neurological disease in humans.
  • However, approximately 80% of people who are infected will not show any symptoms.
  • The virus can cause severe disease and death in horses.
  • Vaccines are available for use in horses but not yet available for people.
  • WNV is commonly found in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, North America and West Asia.
  • West Nile Virus (WNV) belongs to the Japanese encephalitis antigenic complex of the family Flaviviridae.
  • The virus may also be transmitted through contact with other infected animals, their blood, or other tissues.
  • To date, no human-to-human transmission of WNV through casual contact has been documented, and no transmission of WNV to health care workers has been reported when standard infection control precautions have been put in place.

NATIONAL TECHNICAL RESEARCH ORGANISATION (NTRO)

Context: The Coast Guard received inputs from the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) about a Pakistani ship trying to enter Indian waters.

 Essentials

  • The National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) is a technical intelligence gathering agency under the National Security Advisor in the Prime Minister’s Office, India.
  • It was set up in 2004.
  • It also includes National Institute of Cryptology Research and Development (NICRD), which is first of its kind in Asia.
  • NTRO has the same “norms of conduct” and similar powers as the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW).
  • The Union Home Ministry in May 2018 issued a notification listing NTRO under the Intelligence Organisations (Restriction of Rights) Act, 1985 — a demand of the organisation for over a decade.
  • The act prevents employees of a notified agency from forming unions/associations, bars them from communicating with the press or publishing a book or other document without permission of the head of the intelligence organisation.
  • It acts as a super-feeder agency for providing technical intelligence to other agencies on internal and external security.
  • The agency is under the control of India’s external intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing, although it remains autonomous to some degree.
  • The organisation does hi-tech surveillance jobs, including satellite monitoring, terrestrial monitoring, internet monitoring, considered vital for the national security apparatus.
  • The NTRO will operate India’s sole spy ship, following its completion of sea trials at Vishakhapatnam.

COMPETITION COMMISSION OF INDIA (CCI)

  • Context: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is looking into allegations that Maruti forces its dealers to limit the discounts they offer, effectively stifling competition among them, and harming consumers who could have benefited from lower prices if dealers operated freely.

 Essentials

Competition Commission of India

  • The Competition Act, 2002, as amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007:
  • prohibits anti-competitive agreements;
  • abuse of dominant position by enterprises and;
  • regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and M&A),
  • which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.
  • The objectives of the Act are sought to be achieved through the Competition Commission of India (CCI), a quasi-judicial body.
  • CCI consists of a Chairperson and 6 Members appointed by the Central Government.

 Objective of Competition Commission of India (CCI)

  • Remove negative competitive practices
  • Promote sustainable market competition
  • Protect the rights of the consumer
  • Protect the freedom of trade in Indian markets
  • Protect the rights of small traders from the large traders to ensure their survival
  • Advice and give suggestions to Competition Appellate Tribunal
  • Run informative campaigns and create public awareness about fair competitive practices.
  • The Commission is also required to give opinion on competition issues on a reference received from a statutory authority established under any law and to undertake competition advocacy, create public awareness and impart training on competition issues.
  • The Competition Appellate Tribunalwas formed in 2009 and is a fully empowered body by the Constitution of India. The final appeal after this tribunal can be made in the Supreme Court of India.

COMMODITY DERIVATIVES MARKETS

Context: The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has given the go-ahead to mutual funds (MFs) to participate in the commodity derivatives segment.

 Essentials

  • In June 2017, SEBI opened up the commodity derivatives markets to institutional investors for the first time by allowing hedge funds registered as category III Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) to invest in commodity derivatives as ‘clients’.
  • The category III AIFs raise money from high net worth individuals and corporates with a minimum contribution of Rs.10 million by each investor.
  • AIFs have been allowed to invest in all commodity derivatives products on the conditions that they should not invest more than 10 per cent of the investable funds in one underlying commodity and they should periodically report their market exposure in commodity derivatives.
  • These conditions have been specifically imposed on hedge funds because such players employ leverage on a substantial basis and use complex trading strategies to make short-term returns, thereby posing a systemic risk to the entire market.
  • On September 26, 2017, SEBI allowed Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) to participate in commodity derivatives contracts traded in stock exchanges operating in International Financial Services Centre (IFSC).
  • Established as a part of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ), Gujarat International Finance Tec-City is the first IFSC in India that provides financial services to non-residents and residents in any currency other than the Indian Rupee.
  • FPIs have been permitted to trade in commodity derivatives contracts subject to three conditions:
  • they can only trade in non-agricultural commodities derivatives contracts (such as gold and silver);
  • contracts would be cash settled on the settlement price; and
  • all the transactions shall be denominated in foreign currency only.

 The Entry of Banks into Broking Services

  • In September 2017, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) allowed banks to provide broking services to the commodity derivatives market through a separate subsidiary set up for the purpose or an existing subsidiary.
  • The RBI has prescribed minimum capital requirements and other conditions on banks to become clearing members of commodity derivatives segments.
  • Further, a bank’s subsidiary cannot undertake trading in commodity derivatives using its own capital (‘proprietary positions’) so as to make a profit for itself.
  • However, it can earn fees and commissions from processing trades done by trading members/clients.
  • This is for the first time that banks have been allowed to participate in the Indian commodity derivatives markets.
  • It is important to emphasize here that all scheduled commercial banks (except regional rural banks) have been allowed to offer broking services for commodity derivatives trading.
  • In other words, a wide range of banks in India, such as State Bank of India (state-owned), ICICI Bank (private sector), Deutsche Bank (foreign bank) and Apna Sahakari Bank (cooperative bank), can now offer broking services for commodity derivatives trading through subsidiaries.
  • In the past one year, SEBI has undertaken other initiatives to introduce new products and removed restrictions on broking services.
  • For instance, commodity exchanges have been allowed to introduce options trading.
  • Besides, SEBI has allowed integrated broking activities in equity and commodity derivatives markets under a single entity.
  • Now, a stock broker can deal in commodity derivatives trading without setting up a separate entity.

 The Future Plans

  • SEBI plans to allow portfolio management services (PMS) providers to participate in commodity derivatives market.
  • The PMS is used by high net-worth investors and is offered by various entities including banks, brokerages, independent investment managers and asset management companies.
  • Besides, the SEBI may also permit foreign institutional investors (FIIs) to invest directly in the commodity derivatives markets with new regulatory norms for such entities.

 Basics

What is a Commodity?

  • Commodity is a physical good attributable to a natural resource that is tradable and supplied without substantial differentiation by the general public: energy, grains, industrial (base) metals, livestock, precious metals, and softs (cash crops).
  • Commodities trade in physical (spot) markets and in futures and forward markets.
  • Spot markets involve the physical transfer of goods between buyers and sellers; prices in these markets reflect current (or very near term) supply and demand conditions.
  • Global commodity futures markets constitute financial exchanges of standardized futures contracts in which a price is established in the market today for the sale of some defined quantity and quality of a commodity at a future date of delivery; execution of the contract may be focused on cash settlement or physical delivery.

 What are Institutional Investors?

  • An institutional investor is a person or organization that trades securities in large enough quantities that it qualifies for preferential treatment and lower fees.
  • A retail investor is a non-professional investor who buys and sells securities through brokerage firms or savings accounts.
  • Most institutional investors invest other people’s money on their behalf. They are the pension funds, mutual funds, money managers, insurance companies, investment banks, commercial trusts, endowment funds, hedge funds, and also some private equity investors.

 What Is a Derivative?

  • A derivative is a financial security with a value that is reliant upon or derived from, an underlying asset or group of assets.
  • The derivative itself is a contract between two or more parties, and the derivative derives its price from fluctuations in the underlying asset.
  • The most common underlying assets for derivatives are stocks, bonds, commodities, currencies, interest rates, and market indexes.
  • These assets are commonly purchased through brokerages.

 What is options trading?

  • Options are contracts that give the bearer the right, but not the obligation, to either buy or sell an amount of some underlying asset at a pre-determined price at or before the contract expires.
  • Options are instruments that belong to the derivatives family, which means its price is derived from something else.

 How are Options different from Stocks?

  • The Options contract has an expiration date unlike stocks. Stocks on the other hand do not have an expiration date.
  • Unlike Stocks, Options derive their value from something else and that’s why they fall under the derivatives category.
  • Options are not definite by numbers like Stocks
  • You can profit from a drop in the price of an underlying stock. In fact, you can profit in all directions depending upon the type of position or strategy you are holding unlike stocks where you make a loss when the stock price goes downwards.
  • Options owners have no right (voting or dividend) in a company unlike Stock owners.

 In brief

  • The UN World Economic Situation and Prospects Report has lowered its forecast for India’s GDP growth in 2019-20 to 7.1% from its estimate in January of 7.5%, citing an overall slowdown in global growth.

PIB – May 21 , 2019


ECONOMY

Topic covered- Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

Competition Commission of India

Context

  • The Competition Commission of India (CCI) celebrated its 10th Annual Day on 20th May.
  • This day marks the notification of the substantive enforcement provisions of the Competition Act, 2002.

What is the Competition Commission of India?

  • Competition Commission of India (CCI) is a quasi-judicial statutory body of the Government of India responsible for enforcing The Competition Act, 2002.
  • After the Competition Act, 2002 came into existence a Competition Commission of India (CCI) and Competition Appellate Tribunal (CAT) was established.
  • It was established on 14 October 2003.
  • It became fully functional in May 2009.

Composition of CCI

  • The CCI is composed of a Chairperson and 6 members.
  • The members of CCI are appointed by the Central Government.
  • The CCI acts as a market regulator to check on the ill competitive practices in India.

Objectives of the Competition Commission of India

  • To prevent practices having adverse effect on competition.
  • Make the markets work for the benefit and welfare of consumers.
  • To promote and sustain competition in markets.
  • To protect the interests of consumers.
  • Ensure fair and healthy competition in economic activities in the country for faster and inclusive growth and development of economy.
  • Implement competition policies with an aim to effectuate the most efficient utilization of economic resources.

The Competition Appellate Tribunal

  • The Competition Appellate Tribunal (CAT) was formed in 2009.
  • It is a fully empowered body by the Constitution of India.
  • The final appeal after this tribunal can be made in the Supreme Court of India.

The Competition Act, 2002

  • The idea of Competition Commission was conceived and introduced in the form of The Competition Act, 2002.
  • It was enacted to promote competition and private enterprises especially in the light of 1991 Indian economic liberalization.
  • The Competition Act, 2002, is amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007.
  • The Act prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and Merger and acquisition), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.
  • The Commission is also required to give opinion on competition issues on a reference received from a statutory authority established under any law and to undertake competition advocacy, create public awareness and impart training on competition issues.

Topic covered- Social justice

Vayoshreshtha Samman

Context

  • Nominations for Vayoshreshtha Samman- National Awards for Senior Citizens 2019 for individuals/institutions have been invited.

About Vayoshreshtha Samman

  • Vayoshreshtha Samman is a Scheme of National Awards instituted by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.
  • It comes under the Department of Social Justice & Empowerment.
  • It was initially in started in 2005 and was upgraded to the status of National Awards in 2013.
  • It is awarded for institutions involved in rendering distinguished service for the cause of elderly persons especially indigent senior citizens and to eminent citizens in recognition of their service/achievements.
  • The awards are presented on 1st of October every year.

Topic covered- International relations

India – Indonesia Coordinated Patrol (CORPAT)

Context

  • Myanmar Navy Ship for the ‘Opening Ceremony’ of the 8th Indo-Myanmar coordinated patrol (IMCOR), at Andaman and Nicobar Command.

About CORPAT

  • The CORPAT is an initiative between the Indian and Myanmar navies.
  • It is meant to address issues of terrorism, illegal fishing, drug trafficking, human trafficking, poaching and other illegal activities inimical to interest of both nations.
  • Started in Mar 2013, the CORPAT series has enhanced the mutual understanding and fostered improved professional interaction between the two navies for maritime interoperability.

Significance of CORPAT

  • India currently carries out CORPATs with four regional navies: Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand and, most recently, Bangladesh.
  • China currently rides roughshod over the maritime and territorial claims of South China Sea and East China Sea countries – including Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.
  • In this context, CORPAT slots neatly into New Delhi’s overarching policy rubric of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and its “Look East” and “Act East”
  • With this backdrop, the navy conducts diplomacy through joint naval exercises, port visits and discussion forums like the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), which currently has 35 member states, mostly from the Indian Ocean littoral.

Essential Facts (Prelims) – May 21 , 2019


Kilogram Update

Category: Sc/tech

  • The definition of the ‘kilogram’ has got a global, technical makeover.
  • Until now, the kilogram derived its provenance from the weight of a block of a platinum-iridium alloy housed at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in France.
  • All other prototypes that served as national reference standards, including the one at New Delhi’s CSIR-National Physical Laboratory (NPL), were calibrated to it.
  • On May 20, the kilogram joined other standard units of measure such as the second, metre, ampere, Kelvin, mole and candela that would no longer be defined by physical objects.
  • The measures are all now defined on the basis of unchanging universal, physics constants.
  • The kilogram now hinges on the definition of the Planck Constant, a constant of nature that relates to how matter releases energy.
  • ‘Kibble Balance’ is a device that was used to measure the Planck Constant and thereby reboot the kilogram.
  • An updated kilogram doesn’t mean that weights everywhere will be thrown off balance. For everyday measurements, consumers wanting to calibrate their instruments — whether it’s for high-precision drug manufacturing or retail weighing machines — will continue doing it the same way.
  • The NPL itself will be relying on the kilogram maintained in the U.S.-based National Institutes of Standards and Technology to calibrate its one-kilogram weight.


Animal Migration

Category: Environment

  • A campaign has been launched to raise awareness on illegal wildlife trade.
  • The campaign has been launched by Wildlife Crime Control Bureau of India and UN Environment aimed at airports across India.
  • Tiger, Pangolin, Star Tortoise and Tokay Gecko featured in the campaign.
  • In India, illegal trade in wildlife has seen a sharp rise in recent years.
  • In the first phase of the campaign, Tiger, Pangolin, Star Tortoise and Tokay Gecko have been chosen as they are highly endangered due to illegal trading in International markets.

Wildlife Crime Control Bureau

Category: Environment

  • Wildlife Crime Control Bureau is a statutory multi-disciplinary body established by the Government of India under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, to combat organized wildlife crime in the country.
  • Under Section 38 (Z) of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, it is mandated to collect and collate intelligence related to organized wildlife crime activities and to disseminate the same to State and other enforcement agencies for immediate action.

Vayoshreshtha Samman

Category: Social sector

  • Nominations for Vayoshreshtha Samman- National Awards for Senior Citizens 2019 for individuals/institutions has began.
  • The Department of Social Justice And Empowerment had invited nominations for the awards on 17th April, 2019.
  • The Ministries/Departments of Government of India and their autonomous organistions/State Govts. or UT Administration can nominate the suitable individuals/institutions for the said Awards.
  • Eligible individuals/institutions may forward nomination for conferment of the award to the Department of Social Justice And Empowerment.
  • The Department of Social Justice And Empowerment as part of celebration of the International Day of Older Persons (IDOP) on 1st October every year has been conferring National Award – Vayoshreshtha Samman to eminent senior citizens and institutions involved in rendering distinguished services for the cause of elderly persons.
  • The National Awards are conferred by the President of India on the International Day of Older Persons i.e. 1st October every year.

Gist of Editorials: A Wake-up Call on Proprietary Seeds | GS – III


Relevance :  GS Paper III


Theme of the Article

How India can shift its agriculture from a high-yield ideal to a high-value one.

Why has this issue cropped up?

PepsiCo was suing small farmers in India for growing a potato variety that is used in its Lay’s chips.

The downward spiral of small-scale farming

  • Many small farmers are reliant, directly or indirectly, on proprietary seeds.
  • These seeds are grown in high input environments that erode local biodiversity.
  • High inputs, loss of the skills and social relationships has lowered income, status and dignity.

Are farmers to blame for relying on proprietary seeds?

  • Agricultural extension officers have taught farmers to buy ever-higher-yielding seeds.
  • The Plant Variety Protection law permits farmers to sell seeds to other farmers.

The concern with proprietary seeds

Farmers are adapting to local conditions and traditions in order to use genetically standardized seeds, to ruinous effect.

Time for paradigm shift

  • It may be useful to take a peep into recent regulatory efforts in Europe.
    • The EU encourages the use and marketing for organic agriculture.
    • EU is supporting the creation markets and marketplaces facilitating trade of heterogeneous seeds.

How can India shift its agriculture from a high-yield ideal to a high-value one?

  • First, small farmers must be educated and encouraged in traditional/desi agriculture.
  • Second, an immutable record-keeping system is needed to break the link between the profitable and the proprietary.
  • Third, India’s invaluable traditional ecological knowledge systems need to be revived.

Conclusion

The lawsuit by PepsiCo must be a wake-up call to the government and policymakers for the economic development of Indian farmers and of the entire nation.


Gist of Editorials: Private, Public and Political Morality | GS – IV


Relevance :  GS Paper IV


Theme of the Article

People with a political life must follow an ethic distinct from private morality.

Introduction

Though related, political, public and private morality are not identical.

Asoka’s Version of Ethics

  • Neither hate speech nor speech glorifying oneself was acceptable as part of public morality.
  • Ruler owed janahita and janasukham to his subjects.
  • The political domain requires the impartial or just use of power for the good of all.

Hegel’s Version of Ethics

  • Politicians have enduring consequences affecting the lives of large number of people. This brings with it enormous public responsibility.
  • Powerful politicians must show great care and sensitivity to the appropriate use of force and violence.

Private and Political Morality

  • It is wrong to think that moral scrupulousness in one’s private life automatically guarantees high moral stature in political life.
  • A person who is profoundly moral in his private life may brazenly violate all norms of political morality.

Conclusion

It would be wonderful if our private and political moralities were perfectly aligned and we achieved the highest moral standards in both.


Gist of Editorials: Resolving India’s Banking Crisis | GS – III


Relevance :  GS Paper III


Theme of the Article

Acceleration in economic growth is not possible without addressing the problem of non-performing assets

Introduction

The new government will have to resolve India’s banking sector problem.

Non-performing Assets Data

  • NPAs at commercial banks amounted to ₹10.3 trillion in 2018.
  • Public sector banks (PSBs) accounted for 86% of the total NPAs.

Origin of the NPA crisis

  • Credit boom in 2004-05 to 2008-09; Indian firms borrowed furiously.
  • Most of the investment went into infrastructure.
  • Thereafter, many things went wrong such as environmental clearances.
  • Global financial crisis in 2007-08 and the slowdown after 2011-12
  • Financing costs rose as policy rates were tightened in India
  • The depreciation of the rupee meant higher outflows for companies that had borrowed in foreign currency.
  • This made it difficult for companies to service their loans to Indian banks.

NPA problem more concentrated in PSBs

  • PSBs had a higher exposure to the five most affected sectors — mining, iron and steel, textiles, infrastructure and aviation.
  • PSBs accounted for 86% of advances in these five sectors.

Plans to prevent such Crises

  • Wholesale privatization of PSBs is not the answer.
  • One immediate action that is required is resolving the NPAs.
  • Indian Banks’ Association has set up a panel to oversee resolution plans.
  • Government must infuse additional capital needed to recapitalize banks.
  • RBI needs to develop better mechanisms for monitoring.
  • Action needs to be taken to strengthen the functioning of banks.
  • Governance at PSBs, meaning the functioning of PSB boards, can certainly improve.
  • Succession planning at PSBs also needs to improve.

Conclusion

The task of accelerating economic growth is not possible without finding a solution to the problems that confront the banking system.


Prelims 2019 – Journey from ” I Can – to – I Will”


Let’s begin with a recent happening in Bollywood – release of Kesari Movie. Many of you would have gone to cinema for the movie and many during the preparation time are the ardent supporter of piracy so they prefer watching on the laptop screens.

Point is not to discuss copyright infringement here. First let’s give a brief reference of the story:

KESARI is based on the true story of one of the bravest battles that India ever foughtthe Battle of Saragarhi. Fort Saragarhi, in the NWFP (North Western Frontier Province) was a small post used to relay messages between two major military Forts – Fort Gullistan and Fort Lockhardt.

Ishar Singh , a proud warrior who prefers to live by his community rules, is often found in direct conflict with the orders of his British officers. As a punishment, Ishar is sent to Saragarhi where a bunch of 20 unruly, undisciplined Sikh soldiers await him.

Ishar leads into the battle when an army of 10,000 Afghani Pathans turn up at Saragarhi on the 12th of Sept 1897.  So the story shows how 21 soldiers took on the army of 10,000 and keep them engaged.

Having destroyed Saragarhi, the Afghans turned their attention to Fort Gulistan, but they had been delayed too long, and reinforcements arrived there in the night of 13–14 September, before the fort could be captured. The supreme sacrifice of 21 soldiers is remembered till date.

No doubt, the movie gives the goose bumps but just forgetting the covert message that it carries would be unkind and unwise on our part.

We would like to focus your attention to three points from the history of the Saragarhi battle :

  • undisciplined Sikh soldiers
  • 10,000 Afghani Pathans
  • 21 soldiers took on the army of 10,000

Changes that took place in due course :

  • Undisciplined soldiers became highly organized and disciplined
  • When the opposition seems tough , you have to be tougher
  • There is no alternative of courage and the force called “will power”

So , what is stopping you to give birth to a warrior inside you who can take any challenge head on. You have studied complete year/s –

  • Then what is that puts you in a state of fear ?
  • What is it that can provoke anxiety in you ?
  • Can you be made nervous because you feel that you could have done more ?
  • Do you feel that your competitor has solved more papers than you and has come from other planet?
  • What is that is stopping you to break the chains that exists in mind ? (Read https://chromeias.com/chains-are-in-mind/)

For a moment , just visualize 10,000 people marching and on the other side there are 21 individuals waiting to take them head on –  Is it difficult to imagine the fate of those 21 – not at all. It’s true that 21 soldiers could not survive but see the larger purpose that they served – they had a PLAN to engage the enemy and did it successfully.

Now the same situation you are going to face on 2nd June 2019 :

On the day of exam it’s a battle for you wherein you are going to face:

  • 100 questions
  • 120 minutes
  • 1 individual

Let’s dwell on numbers once and see if we can reach to any conclusion:

Ratio:

10,000 : 21 – 476.19 (Saragarhi)  –  To prove the mettle – each soldier had to take on 476 enemy soldiers.

Where as, in UPSC exam , if we go by crude numbers:

50,000 ( Competition is among 50,000 at max not 5,00,000 ) : 13000 seats for Mains – 3.8 –  that is 4 serious candidates are competing for every seat in Mains.

Which of the two situations looks manageable?

Remember you just have to clear the cut-off – play till the time you feel  ( after analyzing the paper on the spot ) – that I have reached a secure point – after this take minimal risk. But before that you have to be little offensive in your approach – you can compare it with a situation in cricket where in  – one side needs 36 runs in 6 balls to win the match – The batsman will have to make an attempt to hit 6 in every ball irrespective of the nature of the ball – bouncer , yorker etc.

We can overcome any adverse situation or any form of hardships in life provided we are focused on Solution and not the Problem. Though it is common observation but few things must be reminded again and again – and one of the most important factors to overcome in Prelims Exam is Cognitive Narrowing.  It’s a common sight after the exam people discussing questions and then saying – ‘Ohh , what a silly mistake I made? ‘ . So, it would be wise to act smart and do the paper with utmost concentration. Now let’s see few of the challenges that one will face:

  • Paper could be very tough – anxiety and nervousness.
  • The mercury is on rise, which makes it difficult to perform.
  • Centre could be far off – if you reach just on time – it doesn’t give you time to relax.
  • Government schools generally are in a dilapidated situation. (Some aspirants don’t even fit properly in the seats provided).
  • One is not keeping good health.
  • Overburdened with the revision which leads to monotony.
  • Lack of sleep – leading brain to work at sub-optimal level and reducing attention span.

These, more or less, are common for majority of the aspirants – but the winner is the one who identifies and acknowledge his/her challenges and takes adequate steps to minimize them if not eliminate.

We would like to bring to your notice certain facts:

  • Remember, you can go as far as you think you can – be determined to write MAINS (Interview ka baad mai sochenge !)
  • Remember, you can see only what you want to see – be careful while reading question papers – Not reading the In-correct , not-correct is fatal.
  • Remember, you can answer even those questions that you don’t know – be patient and calm – read every word of the question and the options – pick the odd one out or the extreme statements – eliminate them and try to reach answer with street logic. (it works)
  • Remember, you are as good as you think you are – don’t undermine yourself – as a human we have untapped potentialif you lose confidence you are already out of race.
  • Remember, Failure is as close to you as you think it is – If you indulge in negative thoughts – it will have negative consequences. Remember the Law of Attraction – you attract what you think.
  • Remember, that near the cut-off there are 300-400 people on every mark – So give DUE IMPORTANCE to every question – even one more attempt or one less negative can save you at times.
  • Remember – more than absolute knowledge it is the game of most appropriate answer.

Remember –Those 21 soldiers knew their destiny  – still they put on their brave side and achieved the highest form of martyrdom. It is the courage that makes one stand out, So be focused on your DUTY rather than on the RESULTS, as , if  one focuses  too much on the consequences he may not do justice with the process.

To conclude , two lines from Bgagvad Gita , which almost have the answer for any query which grips you at this point :


कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।

मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥

“You have the right to work only, but never to its fruits. Let not the fruits of action be your motive, nor let your attachment be to inaction”.


Essential Facts (Prelims) – May 20 , 2019


RISAT-2B

Category: Sc/tech

  • RISAT-2B, the satellite due to be launched, will be the first in a new array of Indian all-seeing radar imaging satellites to be deployed after seven years.
  • At least a half-dozen could be foreseen in the near future, mainly to add to the reconnaissance capability from about 500 km in space.
  • A constellation of such space-based radars means a comprehensive vigil over the country.
  • If ISRO orbited its first two radar satellites in 2009 and 2012, it plans to deploy four or five of them in 2019 alone.
  • When it is cloudy or dark, ‘regular’ remote-sensing or optical imaging satellites — which work like a light-dependent camera — cannot perceive hidden or surreptitious objects on the ground.
  • Satellites that are equipped with an active sensor, the synthetic aperture radar (SAR), can sense or ‘observe’ Earth in a special way from space day and night, rain or cloud. This all-weather seeing feature is what makes them special for security forces and disaster relief agencies.


Troll Patrol

Category: Sc/tech

  • Amnesty India is recruiting 2,000 digital volunteers — for Troll Patrol India — to analyse abusive tweets sent to 100 women candidates in the ongoing Lok Sabha election, during, before and after polling.
  • Amnesty hopes to build an evidence base on the extent and nature of online abuse faced by prominent women politicians and its effect on their freedom of expression, and to initiate dialogue on the response and transparency procedures needed from online platforms.

Cyclone Resisting Trees

Category: Environment

  • Plant lovers have urged the Bhuvaneswar administration to undertake plantation of native species which could withstand strong cyclonic winds in future.
  • 99% of trees had suffered damage when Cyclone Fani hit the city on May 3.
  • Native species such as Karanja (Pongamia pinnata) and Chhatiana (Alstonia Scholaris) were found to have withstood ferocious wind speed of Fani.

Ultima Thule

Category: Sc/tech

  • NASA has found evidence of a unique mixture of methanol, water ice, and organic molecules on Ultima Thule’s surface.
  • Ultima Thule is the farthest world ever explored by mankind.
  • It is an ancient relic from the era of planet formation.

Daily News Analysis – May 21, 2019

Source: The Hindu, Live Mint and Indian Express


INDIA CUTS OFF UN PANEL AFTER JAMMU & KASHMIR REPORT

Context: Reacting angrily to a submission from the Geneva-based Human Rights Council (HRC) on the alleged violations in Jammu and Kashmir, India has informed the United Nations body that it will no longer entertain any communication with the HRC’s Special Rapporteurs on its report.

 Essentials

United Nations Human Rights Council

  • The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.
  • It has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year.
  • The Human Rights Council was established in 2006 by a Resolution as a subsidiary body to the UN General Assembly.
  • It replaced the former Commission on Human Rights, which operated from 1946 to 2006.

Membership of the Human Rights Council

  • The Council is made of 47 Member States, which are elected by the majority of members of the General Assembly of the United Nations through direct and secret ballot.
  • The General Assembly takes into account the candidate States’ contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as their voluntary pledges and commitments in this regard.
  • The Council’s Membership is based on equitable geographical distribution. Seats are distributed as follows:
  1. African States: 13 seats
  2. Asia-Pacific States: 13 seats
  3. Latin American and Caribbean States: 8 seats
  4. Western European and other States: 7 seats
  5. Eastern European States: 6 seats
  • Members of the Council serve for a period of three years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms.
  • At present India is not its member.
  • Iceland was elected in July 2018 to serve as a member from 13 July 2018 to 31 December 2019 to replace the vacancy left by the United States following its decision to withdraw its membership.

 Functions

  • The Human Rights Council has created or renewed the mandates of various “special procedures.”
  • The special procedures are experts appointed to monitor human rights around priority themes or in specific countries with serious human rights problems.
  • The special procedures may be individual experts (“special rapporteurs” or “independent experts”) or working groups.
  • The Council also manages the Universal Periodic Review, a process through which each UN Member State’s overall human rights record is reviewed.

 Sessions

  • The Council conducts its substantive work primarily in Regular Sessions and Special Sessions.
  • Regular Sessions are held no fewer than three times a year, usually in March, June, and September.

Presidency and Bureau

  • The Bureau of the Council consists of five people – one President and four Vice-presidents – representing the five regional groups.
  • They serve for a year, in accordance with the Council’s annual cycle.

INDIA ADOPTS NEW STANDARDS FOR MEASURING UNITS KILOGRAM

Context: On May 20, 2018, the kilogram, the measurement of mass, joined other standard units of measure such as the second, metre, ampere, Kelvin, mole and candela that would no longer be defined by physical objects.

 Essentials

  • The measures are all now defined on the basis of unchanging universal, physics constants.
  • The kilogram now hinges on the definition of the Planck Constant, a constant of nature that relates to how matter releases energy.
  • Earlier, the kilogram derived its provenance from the weight of a block of a platinum-iridium alloy, called the Grand K, housed at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in France.
  • Recently, countries also unanimously approved updates to three other key units- the kelvin for temperature, the ampere for electrical current and the mole for the amount of a substance.
  • The CSIR-National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is India’s official reference keeper of units of measurements.

 How does the new system work?

  • There is a quantity that relates weight to electrical current, called Planck’s constant – named after the German physicist Max Planck and denoted by the symbol h.
  • But h is an incredibly small number and to measure it, the research scientist Dr Bryan Kibble built a super-accurate set of scales called Kibble balance.
  • Kibble balance is an electromechanical weighing machine that can be used to measure the Planck Constant.
  • The Kibble balance has an electromagnet that pulls down on one side of the scales and a weight – say, a kilogram – on the other.
  • The electrical current going through the electromagnet is increased until the two sides are perfectly balanced.
  • By measuring the current running through the electromagnet to incredible precision, the researchers are able to calculate h to an accuracy of 0.000001%.
  • So, in principle, scientists can define a kilogram, or any other weight, in terms of the amount of electricity needed to counteract the weight (gravitational force acting on a mass).
  • This breakthrough has paved the way for Le Grand K to be deposed by “die kleine h”.

Why kill off the kilogram?

  • The Grand K has been at the forefront of the international system of measuring weights since 1889. Several close replicas were made and distributed around the globe.
  • But the master kilogram and its copies were seen to change – ever so slightly – as they deteriorated.
  • The new formula-based definition of the kilogramme will have multiple advantages over the precision-crafted metal lump that has set the standard for more than a century.
  • Unlike a physical object, the formula cannot pick up particles of dust, decay with time or be dropped and damaged. It also is expected to be more accurate when measuring very, very small or very, very large masses.
  • The updated definition will, in time, spare nations the need to occasionally send their kilos back to France for calibration against the Grand K. The new system will allow anyone with a Kibble balance to check their weights anytime and anywhere.
  • In a world where accurate measurement is now critical in many areas, such as in drug development, nanotechnology and precision engineering – those responsible for maintaining the international system had no option but to move beyond the Grand K to a more robust definition.

 Effects

  • An updated kilogram doesn’t mean that weights everywhere will be thrown off balance. For everyday measurements, consumers wanting to calibrate their instruments — whether it’s for high-precision drug manufacturing or retail weighing machines — will continue doing it the same way.

A mini revolution

  • But scientists are hailing the vote as a mini revolution in the field of weights and measures. One of the things this (new) technique allows the scientists to do is to actually measure mass directly at whatever scale they like, and that’s a big step forward.

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT (ICC)

Context: India abstained from voting on a UN Human Rights Council draft resolution, in March this year, on the “situation of human rights in Myanmar.”

 Essentials

  • Co-sponsored by the European Union (EU) and Bangladesh, the resolution “expresses grave concern at continuing reports of serious human rights violations and abuses in Myanmar”, particularly in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States, and calls for a full inquiry into these by the Council’s own mechanism and the International Criminal Court (ICC).
  • Both India and Myanmar are non-signatory of the Rome Statute which is the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court.

 The International Criminal Court

  • The ICC is the world’s only permanent international criminal tribunal.
  • It is headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands, and is charged with investigating and prosecuting crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, aggression, and war crimes.
  • The ICC has jurisdiction over the gravest instances of atrocity crimes and targets only the highest priority perpetrators of these crimes.
  • The ICC prosecutes individuals, not organizations or governments.
  • The ICC is not part of the United Nations.
  • The Rome Statute is the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court.
  • The UN Security Council is empowered, under the Rome Statute, to refer complaints against non-member nations to the International Criminal Court.
  • Burundi is the first member-country to leave the ICC because, in September 2017, a UN commission investigating violence for over two years under President Pierre Nkurunziza recommended a criminal investigation by the court.

Terms in news

What is ‘voter apathy’?

  • Voter apathy is perceived apathy among those eligible to vote in an election.
  • This can happen when voters are disillusioned with the electoral process or with the political parties and candidates, or when don’t think their vote will count, or when they don’t care much for the issues around them.
  • In India, voter turnouts have been going up in the past decade largely due to the Election Commission’s efforts to enhance voter participation in the country.

 Paddy residue

  • Farmers in Punjab use wheat residue as fodder for cattle and it’s only the stalk that is set on fire.
  • The paddy residue is not used as fodder as it’s unfit and hence farmers burn both the paddy stalk and straw close to autumn every year which is a key contributing factor of pollution causing breathing problems in the northern region.

PIB – May 20 , 2019


INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Credential Presentation

Context

  • Envoys of three Nations Present Credentials to President of India.
  • Ambassadors of Venezuela and Panama as well as the High Commissioner of Papua New Guinea presented credentials to the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, at a ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
  • The envoys who presented their credentials were: –
  1. Ms Coromoto Godoy Calderon, Ambassador of Venezuela
  2. Mr Paulias Korni, High Commissioner of Papua New Guinea
  3. Mr Muhamad Talha Hajee Hajee, Ambassador of Panama

What is the Letter of Credence

  • A letter of credence is a formal diplomatic letter that appoints a diplomat as ambassador to another sovereign state.
  • Commonly known as diplomatic credentials, the letter is addressed from one head of state to another, asking him to give credence to whatever the ambassador may say on his country’s behalf.
  • The letter is presented personally by the ambassador to the receiving head of state in a formal ceremony, marking the beginning of the ambassadorship.

ENVIRONMENT

Ongole cattle breed

Context

  • The Vice President of India expressed his concerns about the neglect of the indigenous Ongole cattle breed and called for protecting and promoting the animal, which has become popular all over the world.

About Ongole cattle breed

  • Ongole cattle are an indigenous cattle breed that originates from Prakasam District in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India.
  • The breed derives its name from the place the breed originates from, Ongole.
  • The Ongole breed of cattle, Bos Indicus, has a great demand as it is said to possess resistance to both foot and mouth disease and mad cow disease.
  • These cattle are commonly used in bull fights in Mexico and some parts of East Africa due to their strength and aggressiveness.
  • They also participate in traditional bull fights in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
  • Cattle breeders use the fighting ability of the bulls to choose the right stock for breeding in terms of purity and strength.

 ‘Not all animals migrate by choice’ Campaign

Context

  • Not all animals migrate by choice’ campaign launched to raise awareness on illegal wildlife trade.

What is ‘Not all animals migrate by choice’ campaign?

  • The International Day of Biological Diversity is celebrated on May 22.
  • UN Environment India and Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) of India launched an awareness campaign ‘Not all animals migrate by choice’ to be displayed at major airports across the country.

Highlights

  • Tiger, Pangolin, Star Tortoise and Tokay Gecko featured in the campaign.
  • In India, illegal trade in wildlife has seen a sharp rise in recent years.
  • Actor Dia Mirza inaugurated the campaign. She is UN Environment’s Goodwill Ambassador for India.

International Day for Biological Diversity

About

  • The International Day for Biological Diversity (or World Biodiversity Day) is a United Nations–sanctioned international day for the promotion of biodiversity issues.
  • It is celebrated on May 22.
  • The International Day for Biological Diversity falls within the scope of the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Theme for World Biodiversity Day 2019
  • Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health

 SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Redefined units of measurement

Context

  • The new SI is being implemented worldwide from 20th May 2019 i.e. the World Metrology Day.
  • The World Metrology Day (WMD) is celebrated annually on this very day as the Metre Convention was signed by representatives of seventeen nations on May 20, 1875.
  • The Convention set the framework for global collaboration in the science of measurement and in its industrial, commercial and societal applications.

New measurements units

  • The metric system of measurements, also known as the International System of Units (SI) has been in practice since 1889.

 

  • The decision to redefine the four base units was taken by representatives of 60 countries at the general conference on Weight and Measures (CGPM) at an open session of the international Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) in Vrsailles, France.
  • There are seven base units of SI – second, meter, kilogram, ampere, kelvin, mole and candela. Some have long been based on physical constants.
  • India has adopted a global resolution to redefine four of the seven base units — kilogramme, kelvin, mole and ampere.

Impact on base unit definitions

  • The previous (as of 2018) and new 2019 definitions are –

Second

  • Previous definition– The second is the duration of 9192631770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium-133 atom.
  • 2019 definition– The second, symbol s, is the SI unit of time.

It is defined by taking the fixed numerical value of the caesium frequency ΔνCs, the unperturbed ground-state hyperfine transition frequency of the caesium-133 atom, to be 9192631770 when expressed in the unit Hz, which is equal to s−1.

Metre

  • Previous definition- The metre is the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1/299792458 of a second.
  • 2019 definition– The metre, symbol m, is the SI unit of length.

It is defined by taking the fixed numerical value of the speed of light in vacuum c to be 299792458 when expressed in the unit m⋅s−1, where the second is defined in terms of the caesium frequency ΔνCs.

Kilogram

  • Previous definition- The kilogram is the unit of mass; it is equal to the mass of the international prototype of the kilogram.
  • 2019 definition- The kilogram, symbol kg, is the SI unit of mass.

  It is defined by taking the fixed numerical value of the Planck constant h to be 6.62607015×10−34 when expressed in the unit J⋅s, which is equal to kg⋅m2⋅s−1, where the metre and the second are defined in terms of c and ΔνCs.

  • A consequence of this change is that the new definition of the kilogram is dependent on the definitions of the second and the metre.

Ampere

  • Previous definition- The ampere is that constant current which, if maintained in two straight parallel conductors of infinite length, of negligible circular cross-section, and placed 1 m apart in vacuum, would produce between these conductors a force equal to 2×10−7 newton per metre of length.
  • 2019 definition- The ampere, symbol A, is the SI unit of electric current.

 It is defined by taking the fixed numerical value of the elementary charge e to be 1.602176634×10−19 when expressed in the unit C, which is equal to A⋅s, where the second is defined in terms of ΔνCs.