INDIAN POLITY, GOVERNANCE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
1. ACCIDENTAL DEATHS AND SUICIDES IN INDIA REPORT
THE CONTEXT: The latest Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India report, published by the NCRB, notes that 11,716 businesspersons died of suicide in 2020, a 29 per cent jump from 2019 when 9,052 businesspersons had died of the same cause.
- Farmer suicides stood at 10,677 for 2020, which is around 1,039 cases fewer than that of businesspeople. This is among the first instances of this happening. Between 2014 and 2019, farmer suicides outnumbered those by businesspersons by.
- A detailed break-up of businessmen reveals that most of those dying of suicides were men (93 per cent) and were mostly vendors (36 per cent) and tradesmen (37 per cent), and belonged to highly developed states.
- Suicides in India rose 10% from 2019 to an all-time high of 1, 53,052 in the pandemic year of 2020.
- Deaths caused by accidents came down from 2019 and the number is the lowest since 2010.
- The share of students in the total suicides has been rising steadily over the years and has now reached the highest level since 1995.
- The worst among States continues to be Maharashtra, with 4,006 suicides in the farm sector, including a 15% increase in farm worker suicides. The other States with a poor record include Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh.
ABOUT NATIONAL CRIME RECORDS BUREAU
- NCRB was set up in 1986 under the Ministry of Home Affairs to function as a repository of information on crime and criminals so as to assist the investigators in linking crime to the perpetrators.
- It was set up based on the recommendations of the National Police Commission (1977-1981) and the MHA’s Task Force (1985).
- NCRB brings out the annual comprehensive statistics of crime across the country (‘Crime in India’ report).
- Having been published in 1953, the report serves as a crucial tool in understanding the law and order situation across the country.
- The report divides suicides into nine categories — apart from daily wagers, housewives and people working in the farm sector, the deaths are listed under ‘professionals/salaried persons’, ‘students’, ‘self-employed persons’, ‘retired persons’, and ‘others’.
- NCRB started categorizing daily wagers in its ‘Accidental Deaths & Suicides’ data only in 2014.
ENVIRONMENT, GEOGRAPHY AND AGRICULTURE
2. CHENNAI FLOOD
THE CONTEXT: PM speaks to Tamil Nadu CM about heavy rainfall in parts of the state
- The overnight rain was part of a formation of low pressure over the Bay of Bengal.
- In one of the heaviest episodes of rain witnessed in 2015 Chennai recorded 24.6 cm rainfall in 24 hours, which was breaking the previous record of 14.2 cm from November 2005.
- But the maximum rainfall recorded in 24 hours’ time may be from November 1976, when Chennai had received 45.2cm of rainfall.
NORTH-EAST MONSOON BRING RAINS TO CHENNAI
- Chennai’s monsoon is largely about the Northeast Monsoon, rains during October to December, with easterly winds starting from mid-October, precisely the usual onset that begins between October 10 to 20.
- It is the Northeast Monsoon, also known as the ‘primary monsoon of Tamil Nadu,’ that brings sufficient rains to the state when all other states depend on the South-West monsoon for rains that sets in from May, June and July.
- The South-West monsoon, after a prolonged summer, helps Tamil Nadu to maintain the groundwater tables, it is the North-East monsoon that elevates the table.
- Tamil Nadu’s coastal districts get 60% of the annual rainfall and the interior districts get about 40-50% of the annual rainfall from the North-East monsoon.
3. INDIA STAND ON METHANE EMISSIONS
THE CONTEXT: At least 90 countries have signed the Global Methane Pledge, with India and China abstaining so far. Separately, 133 countries have signed a Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use. China is a signatory to this but India has stayed out.
- At the ongoing UN Climate Change Conference (the 26th Conference of Parties-COP26) in Glasgow, the United States and the European Union have jointly pledged to cut emissions of the greenhouse gas methane by 2030. They plan to cut down emissions by 30% compared with the 2020 levels.
- India is the third-largest emitter of methane, primarily because of the size of its rural economy and by virtue of having the largest cattle population. India has stated earlier that it plans to deploy technology and capture methane that can be used as a source of energy.
- In a communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, India said approximately 20% of its anthropogenic methane emissions come from agriculture (manure management), coal mines, municipal solid waste, and natural gas and oil systems.
- To tap into this “potential,” the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) claims to have invested heavily in a national strategy to increase biogas production and reduce methane emissions.
THE GLASGOW DECLARATION ON FOREST AND LAND USE
- The Glasgow Declaration was signed by 133 countries, which represent 90% of the globe’s forested land. The declaration is also backed by a $19-billion commitment, though whether this translates into legally binding flows remains to be seen.
- The Glasgow Declaration is a successor to a failed 2014 New York Declaration for Forests — that for a while saw significant global traction — and promised to reduce emissions from deforestation by 15%-20% by 2020 and end it by 2030.
- There is again no official reason accorded but reports suggest that Indian officials are unhappy with the wording that suggests meeting the obligations under the pledge could also mean restrictions in international trade.
- That is unacceptable, they say, as trade falls under the ambit of the World Trade Organization, of which India is a member.
- India is also mulling changes to its forest conservation laws that seek to encourage commercial tree plantation as well as infrastructure development in forestland.
- India’s long-term target is to have a third of its area under forest and tree cover, but it is so far 22%. It also proposes to create a carbon sink, via forests and plantations, to absorb 2.5-3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
4. EARTH’S FIRST MASS EXTINCTION
THE CONTEXT: A paper published in the journal, Nature Geoscience, has come up with a new reason behind the first mass extinction, also known as the Late Ordovician mass extinction.
- The article notes that the cooling climate likely changed the ocean circulation pattern. This caused a disruption in the flow of oxygen-rich water from the shallow seas to deeper oceans, leading to a mass extinction of marine creatures.
- The Ordovician mass extinction that occurred about 445 million years ago killed about 85% of all species. The other big extinction events were:
- The Devonian mass extinction (about 375 million years ago) wiped out about 75% of the world’s species.
- The Permian mass extinction (about 250 million years ago) also known as the Great Dying caused the extinction of over 95% of all species.
- The Triassic mass extinction (200 million years ago) eliminated about 80% of Earth’s species, including some dinosaurs.
5. AY.4.2 VARIANT NOT OF CONCERN
THE CONTEXT: The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) said, the frequency of the new AY.4.2 variant of COVID-19 is less than 0.1 % of all VOI/VOC and is too low to be of concern at this time.
- The INSACOG noted that Delta (B.1.617.2 and AY.x) continues to be the main variant of concern (VOC) in India and no new variant of interest (VOI) or VOC are noted in India.
- Delta, which was first found in India in October last year, led to the devastating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, which was at its peak in April and May.
- INSACOG, a consortium of 28 national laboratories, was set up in December 2020 to monitor the genomic variations in SARS-CoV-2, the COVID-19 causing virus.
- The pan-India network functions under the Union health ministry.
6. SUNLIGHTS UP HIGH-LATITUDE COUNTRIES
THE CONTEXT: A solar flare that occurred on the Sun triggered a magnetic storm that scientists from the Center of Excellence in Space Sciences India (CESSI) had predicted.
ABOUT SUNSPOTS AND SOLAR STORMS
- The solar magnetic cycle that works in the deep interior of the Sun creates regions that rise to the surface and appear like dark spots. These are the sunspots.
- Solar flares are highly energetic phenomena that happen inside the sunspots. In a solar flare, the energy stored in the sun’s magnetic structures is converted into light and heat energy.
- This causes the emission of high energy x-ray radiation and highly accelerated charged particles to leave the sun’s surface.
- Sometimes solar flares also cause hot plasma to be ejected from the Sun, causing a solar storm, and this is called Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). Coronal Mass Ejections can harbour energies exceeding that of a billion atomic bombs.
- The energy and radiation and high energy particles emitted by flares can affect Earth bound objects and life on Earth – it can affect the electronics within satellites and affect astronauts.
- Very powerful Earth-directed coronal mass ejections can cause the failure of power grids and affect oil pipelines and deep-sea cables. They can also cause spectacular aurorae in the high-latitude and polar countries.
7. FISHERMAN KILLED IN PAKISTAN
THE CONTEXT: A fisherman from Maharashtra was killed in firing by the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) on an Indian fishing boat off the Gujarat coast on 6th November 2021.
- Six other fishermen on the boat have been reportedly abducted.
- The boat which came under fire was from Okha in Gujarat.
PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS
Q1. National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) comes under which Ministry
- Ministry of Home Affairs
- Prime Minister’s Office
- Niti Aayog
- Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation
Q2. Consider the following statements
- Regions that rise to the surface and appear as dark spots are created by the solar magnetic cycle, which operates deep within the Sun.
- The energy contained in the sun’s magnetic structures is turned into light and heat energy during a solar flare.
- Coronal Mass Ejections have energy that is equivalent to a billion atomic bombs.
Which of the statements given above are correct?
a) 1 and 2 only
b) 2 and 3 only
c) 1 and 3 only
d) 1, 2 and 3
ANSWER FOR NOVEMBER 6th, 2021 PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS
- A Zero-Click attack helps spyware like Pegasus gain control over a device without human interaction or human error.
- The “zero-click” is able to silently corrupt the targeted device and was identiﬁed by researchers at Citizen Lab, a cybersecurity watchdog organisation in Canada.