INDIAN POLITY, GOVERNANCE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
1. ATAL PENSION YOJANA TOTAL ENROLMENTS CROSSED 3.30 CRORE
THE CONTEXT: Under the Atal Pension Yojana (APY) more than 28 lakh new APY accounts have been opened during current FY 2021-22. Overall, enrolments under APY has crossed 3.30 crore as on 25th August 2021.
- The Atal Pension Yojana (APY) is a guaranteed pension scheme of Government of India and administered by PFRDA.
- The APY allows any Citizen of India between the age group of 18-40 years to join through the bank or post office branches where one has the savings bank account.
- Under the scheme, a subscriber would receive a minimum guaranteed pension of Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 5,000 per month, depending upon his contribution, from the age of 60 years.
- The same pension would be paid to the spouse of the subscriber and on the demise of both the subscriber and the spouse, the accumulated pension wealth as accumulated till age 60 of the subscriber is returned to the nominee.
- The scheme is distributed through 266 registered APY Service-Providers consisting of various categories of banks and Department of Posts.
- As this scheme is only available to applicants with a savings bank account, therefore, PFRDA regularly advises all banks to promote the scheme for its outreach to their existing and prospective customers.
2. ‘Y-BREAK’ YOGA PROTOCOL APPENVI
THE CONTEXT: Union Minister of Ayush launched the ‘Y-Break’ mobile application.
- The five-minute Yoga protocol, especially designed for working professionals to de-stress, refresh and re-focus at their workplace to increase their productivity, consists of Asanas, Pranayam and Dhyana.
- The Yoga protocol in the Y-Break application comprises of a few simple Yogic practices as follows:
- Tadasana- Urdhva-hastottanasana- Tadasana
- Skandha chakra- Uttanamandukasana– Kati Chakrasana
- Ardhachakrasana, PrasaritaPadottanasana- Deep Breathing
- Nadishodhana Pranayama
- Bhramari Pranayama- Dhyana
Reference: The Hindu
ENVIRONMENT, GEOGRAPHY AND AGRICULTURE
3. UBREATHE LIFE
THE CONTEXT: IIT Ropar’s startup company introduces World’s first ‘Plant based’ smart air-purifier “Ubreathe Life” Technology uses living, breathing plants for the filtration of contaminants.
- IIT Ropar’s startup company, Urban Air Laboratory that has developed the product claims it to be world’s first, state-of-the art ‘Smart Bio-Filter’ that can make breathing fresh.
- It has been incubated at IIT Ropar, which is a designated iHub – AWaDH (Agriculture and Water Technology Development Hub) by the Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India.
- The technology works through the air-purifying natural leafy plant. The room-air interacts with leaves and goes to the soil-root zone where maximum pollutants are purified.
- The novel technology used in this product is ‘Urban Munnar Effect’ along with patent pending “Breathing Roots” to exponentially amplify the phytoremediation process of the plants. Phytoremediation is a process by which plants effectively remove pollutants from the air.
- ‘Ubreathe Life’ effectively improves indoor air quality by removing particulate, gaseous and biological contaminants while increasing the oxygen levels in the indoor space through specific plants, UV disinfection and a stack of Pre-filter, Charcoal filter and HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter fitted in a specially designed wooden box.
- There is a centrifugal fan which creates a suction pressure inside the purifier, and releases purified air, formed at the roots, through the outlet in 360degree direction. The specific plants tested for air-purification include Peace Lily, Snake Plant, Spider plant etc. and all have given good results in purifying indoor-air.
- According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report the indoor air spaces are five times more polluted than outdoor air space.
4. LADAKH ADOPTS STATE ANIMAL AND BIRD
CONTEXT: Ladakh adopted two endangered species, snow leopard (Panther unica) and black-necked crane (Grus nicricollis), as State animal and State bird.
SNOW LEOPARDS (PANTHERA UNCIA)
- Also known as the ounce.
- Habitat: Native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia. Alpine and subalpine zones at elevations from 3,000 to 4,500 m (9,800 to 14,800 ft), ranging from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tibetan Plateau, to southern Siberia, Mongolia, and western China.
- In India: found in Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh.
- Threats: poaching and habitat destruction following infrastructural developments IUCN status: Vulnerable (In 2017, IUCN had downgraded conservation status of snow leopard from “endangered” to “vulnerable”)
- Only found in Ladakh region, it was the State bird of J&K before August 5, 2019.
- Black-necked cranes, considered loyal couples, are only found in Ladakh’s Changthang region.
- IUCN status: Near Threatened
- CITES: Appendix-I
Reference: The Hindu
5. HIGH HONOUR FOR NAVAL AVIATION
THE CONTEXT: President will award the President’s Colour to Indian Naval Aviation at a ceremonial parade to be held at INS Hansa, Goa, on September 6. The President’s Colour is the highest honour bestowed on a military unit in recognition of its exceptional service to the nation.
ABOUT NAVAL AVIATION
- Naval Aviation came into being with acquisition of the first Sealand aircraft on January 13, 1951 and the commissioning of INS Garuda, the first Naval Air Station, on May 11, 1953.
- The Navy was the first among the armed forces to be awarded the President’s Colour on May 27, 1951 by then President Rajendra Prasad.
- The Navy heralded the beginning of carrier aviation with the induction of INS Vikrant in 1957 and integral Sea Hawk and Alize Squadrons subsequently.
- INS Vikrant with its aircraft played a crucial role in the liberation of Goa in 1961 and again in the 1971 Indo-Pak war, where its presence on the Eastern seaboard proved decisive.
- Navy inducted its second carrier INS Viraat along with Sea Harrier aircraft in the mid-1980s and Naval Aviation was further strengthened with arrival of MiG 29K fighters on INS Vikramaditya in the last decade.
Reference: The Hindu
7. EXERCISE ZAPAD 2021
THE CONTEXT: A contingent of 200 Indian Army personnel will participate in the multinational Exercise ZAPAD 2021 being held at Nizhniy, Russia from September 3 to 16.
- ZAPAD 2021 is one of the theatre level exercises of Russian armed forces and will focus primarily on operations against terrorists.
- The NAGA Battalion group participating in the exercise will feature an all arms combined task force. The exercise aims to enhance military and strategic ties amongst the participating nations while they plan and execute this exercise.
- In all, 17 countries have been invited by Russia for the exercise. Of these nine are Participating countries which include Mongolia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia, Russia, India and Belarus.
- The other eight countries are Observers which include Pakistan, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Uzbekistan and Sri Lanka.
- The Indian Contingent has been put through a strenuous training schedule which encompasses all facets of conventional operations including mechanised, airborne and heliborne, counter terrorism, combat conditioning and firing.
Reference: The Hindu
8. INDIA’S PRESIDENCY OF UNSC ENDS WITH ‘SUBSTANTIVE’ OUTCOMES
THE CONTEXT: India’s month-long Presidency of the powerful United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has ended with ‘substantive’ outcomes on key global issues including a strong resolution on the situation in Afghanistan, which demanded that the Afghan territory not be used to threaten any country or shelter terrorists.
- India, currently serving a two-year term as a non-permanent member of the 15-nation Security Council, assumed the rotating Presidency of the UN body for the month of August.
- The Presidency ended with the first resolution on the situation in Afghanistan, following the takeover of Kabul by the Taliban.
- India began its Presidency with a high-level signature event on maritime security presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with Mr. Tirumurti describing it as “path-breaking” in many ways since this was the first time the Prime Minister of India chaired the Security Council.
- External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar chaired the two other signature events – on Peacekeeping and Technology on August 18 and the briefing on ISIL/Da’esh on August 19.
- Following the August 19 ministerial-level briefing on ISIL/Da’esh, the Council unanimously issued a press statement that reiterated that they condemn in the strongest terms all instances of terrorism and noted with concern that ISIL (Da’esh) could regain the ability to launch or orchestrate international terrorist attacks.
- Under India’s presidency, the Council successfully steered the discussions on various peace and security issues that are on its agenda, including Afghanistan, Myanmar, Syria, Yemen, and the Middle East Peace Process.
- Several UN member states tweeted to express gratitude to India for its leadership of the Council during the month.
Reference: The Hindu
9. SRI LANKA DECLARES ECONOMIC EMERGENCY
THE CONTEXT: Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has declared an economic emergency to contain soaring inflation after a steep fall in the value of the country’s currency caused a spike in food prices.
- President Rajapaksa on Tuesday declared the state of emergency under the public security ordinance to prevent the hoarding of essential items, including rice and sugar.
- The government has appointed a former army general as commissioner of essential services, who will have the power to seize food stocks held by traders and retailers and regulate their prices.
- The military will oversee the action which gives power to officials to ensure that essential items, including rice and sugar, are sold at government-guaranteed prices or prices based on import costs at customs and prevent hiding of.
- The emergency move followed sharp price rises for sugar, rice, onions and potatoes, while long queues have formed outside stores because of shortages of milk powder, kerosene oil and cooking gas.
- The wide-ranging measure is also aimed at recovering credit owed to State banks by importers.
- The Sri Lankan rupee has fallen by 7.5% against the US dollar this year.
- The Central Bank of Sri Lanka recently increased interest rates in a bid to shore up the local currency.
- Sri Lanka, a net importer of food and other commodities, is witnessing a surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths which has hit tourism, one of its main foreign currency earners.
- Partly as a result of the slump in tourist numbers, Sri Lanka’s economy shrank by a record 3.6% last year. The country is currently under a 16-day curfew until Monday because of a jump in COVID-19 cases.
Reference: The Hindu
10. CHINA’S NEW MARITIME LAW
THE CONTEXT: From Sept.1, China’s new maritime rules designed to control the entry of foreign vessels in what Beijing calls “Chinese territorial waters” take effect. The move is expected to have far-reaching consequences for passage of vessels, both commercial and military, in the disputed South China Sea, East China Sea and Taiwan Strait, and is likely to escalate the existing tension with the US and its neighbours in the region.
- Foreign vessels, both military and commercial, will be henceforth required to submit to Chinese supervision in “Chinese territorial waters,” as per the new law.
- Operators of submersibles, nuclear vessels, ships carrying radioactive materials and ships carrying bulk oil, chemicals, liquefied gas and other toxic and harmful substances are required to report their detailed information upon their visits to Chinese territorial waters.
- Endanger the maritime traffic safety of China will be required to report their name, call sign, current position and next port of call and estimated time of arrival. The name of shipborne dangerous goods and cargo deadweight will also be required.
- The South China Sea, which lies between China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam, is of great economic importance globally. Nearly one-third of the world’s shipping passes through its lanes, and the waters house numerous important fisheries.
- It is also a critical route for India, both militarily and commercially. The South China Sea plays a vital role in facilitating India’s trade with Japan, South Korea and ASEAN countries, and assists in the efficient procurement of energy supplies.
- The Ministry of External Affairs estimates that more than 55% of India’s trade passes through the South China Sea and Malacca Straits. India is also involved in oil and gas exploration in offshore blocks in the margins of the Sea, which has led to standoffs with Chinese authorities.
- The waters around China are hotly contested. Under a “nine-dash line” map, China claims most of the South China Sea as its sovereign territory. This claim is contested by its neighbours in the region and by the United States, which, though it has no claim in the Sea, backs the smaller nations in the fight against Chinese overreach.
- Currently, international maritime activities are governed by an international agreement called the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of which China, India and over a hundred other countries are signatories (the US, significantly, is not).
- Accordingly, states have the right to implement territorial rights up to 12 nautical miles into the sea. The UNCLOS also states that all vessels have the right of “innocent passage” through this region – China’s new law violates this.
- As the law comes into effect, several questions remain. For one, it is unclear how China intends to implement the regulation. The US, which routinely holds naval exercises in the region, is unlikely to abide by Beijing’s law. It also remains to be seen how the rest of the UNCLOS signatories react to this challenge to the agreement.
Reference: Indian express
Q1. Consider the following statements about ZAPAD 2021:
- It is bilateral exercise between India and Russia.
- It is held at Nizhniy, Russia .
- The city is located on the bank of Volga river.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
- 1 and 2 only
- 2 and 3 only
- 3 only
- 1, 2 and 3
ANSWER FOR SEPTEMBER 01, 2021 PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS (REFER RELEVANT ARTICLE)
- Statement 1 is correct: SAARC was established with signing of SAARC Charter in Dhaka in 1985.
- Statement 2 is incorrect: Its secretariat is in Kathmandu, Nepal.
- Statement 3 is incorrect: Eight members- Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.