Daily Current Affairs – 07-06-2023

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    Manual Scavenging

    Syllabus: GS 1/Social Issues 

    In News

    • According to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment’s recent report only 66% of districts in a country are free of manual scavenging.

    About Manual scavenging

    • The Act of Manual Scavenging refers to manually cleaning, carrying, and disposing of, or handling in any manner, human excreta in an insanitary latrine.
    • In 2013, the definition of manual scavengers was also broadened to include people employed to clean septic tanks, ditches, or railway tracks.

    Issues and Concerns 

    • Manual scavenging is a “dehumanizing practice” which has been carried on in the country with a background of historical injustice and indignity suffered by the manual scavengers.
    • It constitutes problems that encompass domains of health and occupation, human rights and social justice, gender and caste, and human dignity.
    • Manual scavenging and deaths of people trapped in flooded sewer lines continue to be a reality though the practice was banned.
    • The workers were made to work in the most hazardous way
    • There was not enough protective gear and tech support and they continue to do it manually.
    • Other issues are  Poverty and Caste-discrimination

    Initiatives 

    • NAMASTE scheme: The scheme for rehabilitation of manual scavengers has now been merged with the NAMASTE scheme for 100% mechanisation of sewer work. 
      • The NAMASTE scheme provides capital subsidies to sewer cleaners on the purchase of sanitation machinery, training of workers with a stipend amount, and loan subsidies with capped interest rates on sanitation equipment. 
      • The Union Budget for 2023-24 showed ₹100-crore allocation for the NAMASTE scheme and no allocation for the rehabilitation scheme.
    • Manual scavenging as defined under Section 2 (1) (g) of the “Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 (MS Act, 2013)” is prohibited with effect from 6.12.2013. 
      • No person or agency can engage or employ any person for manual scavenging from the above date. 
      • Any person or agency who engages any person for manual scavenging in violation of the provisions of the MS Act, 2013 is punishable under Section 8 of the above Act, with imprisonment upto 2 years or fine upto Rs. One Lakh or both.
    • Under Swachhta Udyami Yojana of National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation, concessional loans are provided to safai karamcharis, manual scavengers & their dependants and the Urban Local Bodies & other agencies responsible for cleaning, for procurement of sanitation related instruments/vehicles.
    •  A short-duration training programme (RPL) is organised for the sanitation workers wherein they are trained in safe and mechanised cleaning practices.

    Supreme Court’s Judgements 

    • The apex court itself had reinforced the prohibition and directed the rehabilitation of people, traditionally and otherwise, employed as manual scavengers in its judgment in Safai Karamchari Andolan And Others vs. Union of India. 
      • The judgment had called for their “rehabilitation based on the principles of justice and transformation”.

    Suggestions 

    • Proper implementation of the rules, and adequate monitoring are absolutely essential. 
    • Simultaneously, all efforts must be taken, within existing schemes, to provide compensation to the family members of those who have died, and to provide them a way out of the profession, if they so wish.
    • There is a need for bio-toilets to prevent deaths of manual scavengers, and increase fund allocation for their rehabilitation.

    Source:TH

    .China’s Rise as a Space Power

    Syllabus: GS2/International Relations

    In News

    • China has successfully completed the Shenzhou 15 mission and has launched Shenzhou 16 without any glitches.

    Timeline of China’s Space Program

    • The roots of China’s space ambitions go back to 1957 when the Soviet Union successfully launched the world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik-1, into space
    • China’s first major milestone came in 1970 when it launched its first artificial satellite, Dong Fang Hong 1.
      • Although the satellite wasn’t technologically sophisticated, it made China the fifth country to send a satellite into orbit after the Soviet Union, the US, France and Japan.
    • Project 714: After the success of Dong Fang Hong 1, China announced plans to send two astronauts into space by 1973.
      • The programme, however, had to be cancelled as the political turmoil of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) played out.
    • By the 1980s, China began launching satellites on a regular basis, and entered the commercial market, offering to send satellites into space for companies and other countries for much cheaper than the US.
    • Project 921: In 1992, China announced Project 921, a programme to launch and return to Earth a crewed spacecraft. 
      • This goal was achieved in 2003, when China became the third country after the US and Russia to use its own rocket to send a human into space: astronaut Yang Liwei spent about 21 hours in space aboard the Shenzhou-5 spacecraft.
    • A string of successes followed. China sent its first rover, known as Zhurong, to Mars in 2020. 
    • Tiangong space station: In November 2022, China finished the Tiangong space station, which it had begun building in 2011. 
      • The space station currently has three modules, and can support three astronauts, or up to six people during crew rotations. 
      • It carries several pieces of cutting-edge scientific equipment including the world’s first space-based cold atomic clock system.

    Shenzhou 15 mission

    • China launched the manned spaceship Shenzhou-15 in 2022. It is the last stage of the space station construction and kicked off the first stage of its application and development.
    • After 186 days in orbit, the Shenzhou-15 crew returned and touched down in north China.
    • Once ready, China will be the only country to own a space station as the International Space Station (ISS) of Russia is a collaborative project of several countries. The ISS station is also set to be decommissioned by 2030.
    • The significant feature of China’s space station is its two robotic arms, especially the long one which can grab objects, including satellites from space.

    What space missions has China planned for the future?

    • Manned Mission to Moon: In recent years, China has become one of the few countries to reach Mars, build its own space station, and launch an increasingly large number of spacecraft. The country’s future plans are even more ambitious: it aims to land astronauts on the Moon before 2030, and build a base there.
      • Notably, no human has been on the Moon since the US Apollo missions of the 1960s and ’70s. NASA plans to return humans to the Moon by 2025 as part of its ongoing Artemis space programme.
    • Base on Moon: Another important Chinese project involves building a base on the Moon in collaboration with Russia.
      • International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) will be constructed on or close to the South pole of the Moon, with long-term and short-term crew missions planned for the early 2030s.
    • Exploration of Moon: Some of their goals include exploring the Moon to investigate the prospects for lunar mining of various energy resources and materials as well as training humans how to ‘leave the Earth homeland, establish permanent study stations, develop products and industries in the space outside the earth, and set up self-sufficient extraterrestrial homeland.
    • Exploring other planets: Other future missions include expanding the Tiangong space station, sending another probe to Mars, and eventually sending probes to Jupiter and Saturn.
    • Space Power: China has set an ambitious agenda to transform itself into a world-leading space power by 2045. A key part of this process is mastering independent innovation in the space industry. In pursuit of this goal, China has invested heavily in research and development (R&D).

    Reasons for the Expansion of Chinese Space Programme 

    • Investment into Space Programme: As China’s economy grew rapidly, its government began to invest heavily in its space programme. Research and development spending on spacecraft manufacturing went up from $22.6 million in 2000 to $433.4 million in 2014.
      • China spent an estimated $16 billion on its space programme in 2021, second only to the US’s space budget of $60 billion.
    • Achievements in less Span of time: China has now accomplished what Russia and the US did a few decades ago, and it did so quickly, on its own, with some improvements over previous designs.
      • Although preparation for the station began in 2011, including the launch of the first of the two test versions, it took China only one and a half years to build Tiangong.
    • Government sees space vital for the economy: The speed at which China is surpassing each technological hurdle spotlights how the government views space as vital for boosting the economy and promoting high-end industry and spill-off technologies.
    • Modernizing Space Governance: The Chinese government has been proactive in developing the space industry, through policy measures and well-thought-out plans for space activities. 
      • Better alignment between a well-functioning market and an enabling government gives full play to the roles of both, endeavoring to create a favorable environment for the growth of a high-quality space industry.

    Implications

    • Space Race with US: Some analysts have said a new space race is underway between China and the US.
      • In 2011, the Wolf Amendment was passed, prohibiting NASA from working directly with any China-affiliated organisation — unless explicitly authorised by Congress — for fear of possible theft of secret technology, intellectual properties, and documents.
    • India: India’s long-term strategic interests are dependent on whatever is happening at its periphery. India has also sought autonomy in many areas of satellite technologies. However, compared to China, India is lagging behind, particularly in the field of military related aspects of satellite technology. 
      • India’s major area of concern could be that Pakistan may be able to enjoy many of the advantages of space exploitation without building or launching a single satellite of its own.
      • India is among the world’s top seven spenders in space. The regional security dynamics, China’s newfound capabilities in space are likely to push India even further in developing its own space capabilities
    • Presence of only Chinese Space Station: The ISS station is also set to be decommissioned by 2030, it is possible that once the multi-agency International Space Station (ISS) reaches the end of its operations in 2030, Tiangong will be the sole in-orbit outpost for scientific research.
    • Military Component of Space Programme: In order to be a space power, a nation must have launchers and satellites, and a mission support capability to monitor a satellite launched by it and utilise the information. 
      • China has succeeded in creating a “full end-to-end research, design, trial-manufacture, production, and testing system” for both satellites and launchers. 
      • It is sufficient to say that China has launched and is capable of launching various types of military satellites as per its requirements.

    Source: IE

    “Professors of Practice” (PoP)

    Syllabus: GS 2/Education  

    In News

    • Recently, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has launched an online portal to facilitate the recruitment of industry experts as “Professors of Practice” (PoP) for India’s education institutions. 

    About the “Professors of Practice” (PoP) portal 

    • The scheme for PoP was introduced as a part of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. 
      • The recent launch of the portal is a significant step in the implementation of the same. 
    • It aims to bring expertise from industry and other fields such as art, crafts and other professional areas into higher education institutes (HEIs).

    Features 

    • The portal will function as a common platform for the experts and the universities.
      • The experts can register themselves by uploading their biodata, and the platform will also enable them to contact the universities that require “professors of practice”. 
      • The platform will also allow educational institutions to register, give advertisements and approach these experts.
    • The number of such PoPs will be restricted to 10 percent of the total sanctioned faculty positions in higher education institutions (HEIs).

    Objectives 

    • It aims to enhance the quality of higher education by bringing practitioners, policymakers, skilled professionals, etc. into the higher education system.
    • This will help to take real-world practices and experiences into the classrooms and also augment the faculty resources in higher education institutions.
    •  In turn, the industry and society will benefit from trained graduates equipped with the relevant skills.

    National Mission on Advanced and High-Impact Research (MAHIR)

    Syllabus: GS3/ Economy, Energy

    News

    •  The Ministry of Power and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy are jointly launching National Mission MAHIR.

    About

    •  Objective: The mission aims to identify emerging technologies in the power sector and develop them indigenously, at scale, for deployment within and outside India.
    •  Funding: The Mission will be funded by pooling financial resources of the Ministry of Power, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and the Central Public Sector Enterprises under the two Ministries. Additional funding will be mobilized from Government of India’s budgetary resources.
    • Duration: The mission is Planned for an initial period of five years from 2023-24 to 2027-28.

    Following eight areas are identified for research:

    1.       Alternatives to Lithium-Ion storage batteries

    2.       Modifying electric cookers / pans to suit Indian cooking methods

    3.       Green hydrogen for mobility (High Efficiency Fuel Cell)

    4.       Carbon capture

    5.       Geo-thermal energy

    6.       Solid state refrigeration.

    7.       Nano technology for EV battery

    8.       Indigenous CRGO technology

    The Mission will have a two-tier structure

    ·   Technical Scoping Committee:

    o   It will be chaired by the Chairperson of Central Electricity Authority.

    o   It will identify ongoing and emerging research areas globally and recommend potential technologies for development under the Mission.

    ·   Apex Committee:

    o   It will be chaired by the Union Minister for Power & New and Renewable Energy.

    o   It will deliberate on the technology and products to be developed and approve the research proposals.

    Source: PIB

    Kakhovka Dam (Ukraine)

    Syllabus: GS3/ Places in News

    In News

    • The Kakhovka Dam in Ukraine has breached, causing extensive flooding across the war zone.

    About Kakhovka Dam

    • Located on the Dnieper River in southern Ukraine, the dam was under the control of the Russian military, which had seized it in the early days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 
    • It holds a volume about equal to the Great Salt Lake in the U.S. state of Utah.
    • The dam was an important part of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant, supplying water to the Crimean Peninsula and the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.

    Crimean Peninsula 

    • Crimea is a peninsula in Eastern Europe, on the northern coast of the Black Sea, almost entirely surrounded by the Black Sea and the smaller Sea of Azov. It came under Russian rule in 2014.

    Dnieper River

    • The Dnieper River, also called Dnipro, rises in the Valdai Hills near Smolensk, Russia, before flowing through Belarus and Ukraine to the Black Sea. 
    • It is the fourth-longest river in Europe, after the Volga, Danube, and Ural rivers. 

    Source: IE

     

    MP’s CM Learn and Earn scheme

    Syllabus: GS2/ Welfare Schemes

    In News

    • The Madhya Pradesh cabinet headed by the CM approved the ‘Mukhyamantri Seekho-Kamao Yojana’ (CM Learn and Earn Scheme).

    Mukhyamantri Seekho-Kamao Yojana’ (CM Learn and Earn Scheme)

    • Under the scheme, unemployed youth will get a stipend of Rs 8,000 to 10,000 per month as financial assistance during the period of skill learning in various establishments.
    • 703 work areas including: Engineering, Tourism, Hotel Management, Hospital, Railway, ITI, Software Development, Banking, Chartered Accountant, Industries, and other financial services have been identified for training.
    • It will also provide industry-oriented training to the trainees, proficiency in latest technology and processes, thereby enhancing their regular employability.

    Eligibility

    • The local residents of Madhya Pradesh, in the age group of 18 to 29 years, whose educational qualification is 12th or ITI or higher, will be eligible in the scheme. The selected youth will be called student trainees.

    Source: AIR

    Varunastra

    Syllabus: GS3/Internal Security, Defence

    In News

    • The Indian Navy test-fired an indigenously designed and developed heavyweight torpedo, Varunastra.
      • Varunastra is a ship-launched anti-submarine torpedo and was designed and developed by the Naval Science and Technological Laboratory in Visakhapatnam under the Defence Research and Development Organisation.

    Features

    • Varunastra’s maximum speed is 74 kilometres per hour.
    • It has long range with multi maneuvering capabilities.
    • It has acoustic homing with a wide look angle capable of tracking silent targets.
    • Varunastra was inducted by Indian Navy in 2016 and can be fired from all Anti-submarine warfare (ASW) ships capable of firing heavy-weight torpedoes in an intense countermeasures environment.

    Significance

    • The successful engagement of an underwater target by a Made-in-India heavy-weight torpedo is a significant milestone in the Indian Navy’s and DRDO’s quest for accurate delivery of ordnance on target in the underwater domain.
    •  It will replace the older torpedoes on all naval ships that can fire a heavyweight torpedo.

    Source: TH

    G20 Delhi Declaration on Cybersecurity

    Syllabus: GS3/ Cybersecurity

    News

    ·       The National Cyber Security Coordinator of India proposed a draft “Delhi Declaration on cybersecurity” for G20 nations.

    About

    ·       It consists of a series of commitments to “responsible state behaviour in cyberspace” for G20 member countries, drawn from existing non-binding norms that they have already signed onto under United Nations auspices.

    ·       If adopted, G20 countries would commit to –

    o   not damage critical infrastructure or other essential systems;

    o   cooperate, mitigate and investigate cyber-crime in particular ransomware;

    o   protect and not disrupt software supply chains;

    o   respect international law and rule of law in cyberspace;

    o   training people on cyber hygiene, which involves having standard operating procedures for various actions, cyber crisis management plans, audits etc.

    Do You Know?

    •  National Cyber Security Coordinator (NCSC) under National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) coordinates with different agencies at the national level for cyber security matters.
    •  The G20 is an intergovernmental forum comprising European Union (EU) and 19 countries (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, South Korea, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States).
    • Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts a victim’s files. The attacker then demands a ransom from the victim to restore access to the data upon payment.

    Source: TH