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Goaltide Daily Current Affairs 2020

Sep 23, 2020

Current Affair 1:
SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research under the Central government)

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According to a SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research under the Central government) estimate, early burning of crop residue is taking place in Punjab. The data is based on harmonizing the INSAT-3, 3D and NASA satellite, the fire counts were around 42 on September 21, 2020.

About SAFAR:

Govt. of India, has introduced a major national initiative, "System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research" known as "SAFAR" for greater metropolitan cities of India to provide location specific information on air quality in near real time and its forecast 1-3 days in advance for the first time in India. It has been combined with the early warning system on weather parameters.

Who has developed it?

The SAFAR system is developed by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, along with ESSO partner institutions namely India Meteorological Department (IMD) and National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF). The implementation of SAFAR is made possible with an active collaboration with local municipal corporations and various local educational institutions and governmental agencies in that Metro city.

The ultimate objective of the project is to increase awareness among general public regarding the air quality in their city well in advance so that appropriate mitigation measures and systematic action can be taken up for betterment of air quality and related health issues. It engineer’s awareness drive by educating public, prompting self-mitigation and also to help develop mitigation strategies for policy makers.

How the monitoring is done?

Air Quality monitoring is not an easy task, the common mistake which any one can do is representing city air quality based on single station value or single hour data.

  1. To provide an AQI representative of a city, single station data is not suitable. It may even mislead as it will be biased towards a particular activity or environment. As per international guidelines, correct way to know ONE index for a city air quality is to consider different microenvironments.
  2. Based on scientific knowledge one should develop the methodology for the same. For a typical metro city Background; Commercial; Urban complex; Sub-urban; Residential; Industrial; Roadside; Traffic junction etc. are the microenvironments which should be covered in the monitoring network.

The SAFAR observational network of Air Quality Monitoring Stations (AQMS) and Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) established within city limits represents selected microenvironments of the city including industrial, residential, background/ cleaner, urban complex, agricultural zones etc. as per international guidelines which ensures the true representation of city environment.

What it measures?

Pollutants monitored: PM1, PM2.5, PM10, Ozone, CO, NOx (NO, NO2), SO2, BC, Methane (CH4), Non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC), VOC’s, Benzene, Mercury

Monitored Meteorological Parameters: UV Radiation, Rainfall, Temperature, Humidity, Wind speed, Wind direction, solar radiation.

This is the first of such kind of network in India which continuously monitors all these parameters and maintain up to date data base with robust quality control and quality assurance.

Current Affair 2:
Environment Pollution Control Authority

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Environment Pollution Control Authority

Link: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/epca-raises-red-flag-over-jhilmil-industrial-area-anand-vihar-isbt/article32672373.ece

News was: EPCA raises red flag over Jhilmil industrial area, Anand Vihar ISBT. But EPCA is very important body. We need to know about this.

The EPCA was constituted with the objective of protecting and improving the quality of the environment and preventing and controlling the environmental pollution in the National Capital Region, under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. It was first constituted in 1988.

So, it is a permanent body?

NO. Though it has existed for 20 years, its term is extended by specific notifications issued by the Government of India. The latest notification is dated October 3, 2018, when it was reconstituted by including new members.


EPCA was reconstituted with 20 members after the expiry of its last tenure in 2018.

  1. The EPCA is also mandated to enforce Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) in the city as per the pollution levels.
  2. The reason why EPCA is an authority, and not just an advisory committee, is because it has powers similar to those enjoyed by the Centre. Specifically, it can issue directions in writing to any person, officer or authority:
  3. If its directions are not followed, it has powers to file criminal complaints (under section 19 of the Act) before courts.
  4. The EPCA has been empowered to take Suo motu action as well as on the basis of complaints made by any individual, representative body or organisation functioning in the environmental issues sector.
  5. One of the EPCA’s important powers is the redressal of grievances through complaints.

    Other powers of EPCA:

    Others:

    We have covered everything required for EPCA. Learn and enjoy.

 

Current Affair 3:
Govt. unveils 2.6% hike in wheat MSP amid protests

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Declaration of MSP:

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) notifies MSP based on the recommendations of the Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP). These recommendations are made separately for the Kharif marketing season and the Rabi marketing season. Post harvesting, the government procures crops from farmers at the MSP notified for that season, in order to ensure remunerative prices to farmers for their produce.

 

The Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices (CACP) is an attached office of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India. It came into existence in January 1965. Currently, the Commission comprises a Chairman, Member Secretary, one Member (Official) and two Members (Non-Official). The non-official members are representatives of the farming community and usually have an active association with the farming community.

As of now, CACP recommends MSPs of 23 commodities, which comprise 7 cereals (paddy, wheat, maize, sorghum, pearl millet, barley and ragi), 5 pulses (gram, tur, moong, urad, lentil), 7 oilseeds (groundnut, rapeseed-mustard, soyabean, seasmum, sunflower, safflower, nigerseed), and 4 commercial crops (copra, sugarcane, cotton and raw jute).

How are the MSPs fixed?

The CACP considers various factors such as the cost of cultivation and production, productivity of crops, and market prices for the determination of MSPs.

Different methodologies may be used to calculate the MSPs. These are (i) A2 Approach, which includes cost of inputs such as seeds, fertilizer, labour; (ii) A2+FL Approach, which includes A2 and the implied cost of family labour (FL); and (iii) C2 Approach, which includes the implied rent on land and interest on capital assets and A2+FL.

Hence, C2 approach is considered to be the most comprehensive approach which can be used to calculate the MSP.

The National Commission on Farmers led by M.S. Swaminathan had recommended for the adoption of C2 Approach for fixing the MSP. However, presently, the MSPs are fixed at least 50% more than cost of production as calculated according to A2+FL approach.

Limitations in the MSP Regime

The MSP Policy of the Government has come under immense criticism on account of number of reasons. These flaws with the MSP regime have been highlighted by number of committees such as the Committee on Doubling Farmers' income which was headed by Ashok Dalwai. Some of these fundamental flaws include:

  1. Promoted Cultivation of Water Intensive Crops: Even though, the Government declares MSP for 23 crops, the procurement is quite strong only for Rice and Wheat. The procurement of other commodities, particularly Pulses and Oilseeds is quite lower. Hence, it has incentivized the cultivation of more water intensive crops such as Rice and Wheat leading to an adverse impact on the Indian Agriculture.
  2. Lack of Safeguards: The present MSP regime is not geared to pay compensation to the farmers when they are forced to sell the agricultural commodities in the open market below the MSP. Ideally, the MSP regime should be able to compensate such farmers for the losses incurred.
  3. Flawed Approach: It has been stated that the fixing of MSP based on A2+FL approach would lead to declaration of lower MSP and hence does not adequately compensate the farmers. Accordingly, some of the economists have pointed out that the MSP should be declared based on the C2 Approach as recommended by Swaminathan Committee.
  4. Benefitted only Large Farmers: The Shanta Kumar Committee on FCI reforms has highlighted that the MSP procurement has benefitted only 6% of farmers in India. Hence, only the large farmers which higher surplus of agricultural commodities have got benefitted from MSP. The Small and marginal farmers who comprise of almost 83% of the farming community have failed to get benefitted from the MSP regime.
  5. Undue delay: In some of the cases, the Government has not been able to declare the MSPs as per the schedule. These delays in the announcement of the MSPs have not able to able to send the price signals to the farmers on time.

Way Forward

In order to address these problems associated with the MSP regime, the Government has unveiled the PM-AASHA scheme. The Government has to effectively implement the PM-AASHA Scheme so as to improve the agricultural outcomes. Ultimately, the Government must realize that unless the prices received by the farmers increase, we would not be able to realize the vision of doubling farmers' income by the end of 2022. Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay SanraksHan Abhiyan (PM-AASHA) is an umbrella scheme aimed at ensuring remunerative prices to the farmers for their produce.

Current Affair 4:
Snakehead fish species found in Kerala a living fossil

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A team of scientists have determined that a species of snakehead fish discovered in the Western Ghats in Kerala belongs to a unique family distinct from fish species found in the world.

  1. Named after the creature ‘Gollum’ from the epic fantasy novel The Lord of The Rings, authored by J.R.R. Tolkien, the Aenigmachanna gollum was studied by scientists from India, Germany, the United Kingdom and Switzerland. Their findings were published in Scientific Reports.
  2. Snakehead fish are freshwater species, usually found in Africa and Asia. They are predatory fish distinguished by their long dorsal fins, large mouths, and shiny teeth.
  3. What is most interesting about the Gollum snakehead, according to the study, is that scientists describe it as a ‘living fossil’.

Current Affair 5:
Point of order

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Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh’s refusal to conduct a division of votes on two controversial pieces of legislation on Sunday, despite persistent demands from members, was unprecedented in its sheer brazenness.

During the point of order to be raised, he did not allow many members opposing the “anti-farmer bill” to even speak, purported to extend the session beyond 1pm on September 20. As per the convention of parliament, the House functions with the consensus of all political parties. This was specifically pointed out by Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad.

In parliamentary procedure, a point of order occurs when someone draws attention to a rules violation in a meeting of a deliberative assembly.

What is a Point of Order?

  1. Any member can and should bring to the Chair’s immediate notice any instance of what he considers a breach of order or a transgression of any written or unwritten law of the House which the Chair has not perceived, and he may also ask for the guidance and assistance of the Chair regarding any obscurities in procedure.
  2. A member is entitled, in such cases only, to interrupt proceedings of the House by rising and saying, ‘On a point of order, Mr. Chairman’ and then to state the point in question concisely before him.
  3. However, there is often some doubt amongst members as to what exactly constitutes a point of order, and the Presiding Officer often replies that the point in question is not a point of order.

Provision in the Rajya Sabha (news is about Rajya Sabha) Rules regarding points of order

Rule 258 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Rajya Sabha makes a provision to enable a member to raise a point of order.  It provides as follows:

  1. Any member may at any time submit a point of order for the decision of the Chairman, but in doing so, shall confine himself to stating the point.
  2. The Chairman shall decide all points of order which may arise, and his decision shall be final.

Point of Order is also raised on similar line in Lok Sabha.

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