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Prelims bits

Prelims Bits (2nd Week)

Polity:

India Justice Report 2020 – What are the pillars and problems of Indian Justice System

  • Context: As far as justice delivery goes, Maharashtra is India’s best-performing state, according to the latest India Justice Report, 2020. This report is annually brought out by Tata Trusts and is India’s only ranking of states on delivery of justice.
  • About:The other states in the top five are Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Punjab and Kerala.
  • Among the 18 major states, the worst in terms of justice-delivery are Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Among the seven small states that have a population of less than a crore, the best-performing states were Tripura followed by Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh.
  • The Centre for Social Justice, Common Cause, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, DAKSH, TISS-Prayas, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy and How India Lives collaborated on this report.
  • Nationally, 16 states and Union Territories including Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan, showed falling case clearance rates in 2018-19, while the high courts of Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andhra Pradesh managed to clear only 38% in 2018-19 and registered the biggest decrease nationally when compared to 73% cases cleared in 2016-17.

Economy:

RBI Sixth Bimonthly Monetary Policy 2020-21, RBI predicts Indian GDP growth at 10.5% in FY22

  • Context:Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is all set to announce its monetary policy today after a three-day policy meet.It is the first policy after Budget 2021
  • About:Inflation
  • Inflation has been better than what was expected in the December meeting.
  • Inflation has eased below the tolerance level of 6%.
  • CPI Inflation revised to 5.2%-5% in first half of FY22CPI Inflation seen at 4.3% for Q3FY22 and 5.2% for Q4FY21
  • GDP Growth
  • RBI projects GDP growth at 10.5% in FY22RBI says that the GDP growth is likely to be in the range of 26.2% to 8.3% in first half of FY22 and 6% in Q3 in FY22.
  • Manufacturing
  • There is an improvement in capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sector to 63.3% in Q2 vs. 47.3% in Q1.
  • Consumer confidence is reviving; Movement of goods and people and trading activity is growing
  • Borrowing
  • Gross market borrowing for FY22 is budgeted at Rs 12 lakh crore.
  • Will ensure orderly completion of government borrowing needs without disruption.

RBI allows small investors to directly buy for Government Bonds, What it means for retail investors?

  • Context:The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said that it will give small investors direct access to its government securities trading platform.
  • About:Retail investors can directly open their gilt accounts with RBI, and trade in government securities.
  • The Governor of the central bank, ShaktikantaDas,described this as a “major structural reform.
  • What are government securities, or G-SECS?
  • These are debt instruments issued by the government to borrow money.
  • The two key categories are treasury bills – short-term instruments which mature in 91 days, 182 days, or 364 days, and Dated securities – long-term instruments, which mature anywhere between 5 years and 40 years.
  • But can’t retail investors already invest in G-SECS?
  • Small investors can invest indirectly in g-secs by buying mutual funds or through certain policies issued by life insurance firms.
  • To encourage direct investment, the government and RBI have taken several steps in recent years.
  • Retail investors are allowed to place non-competitive bids in auctions of government bonds through their demat accounts.
  • Stock exchanges act as aggregators and facilitators of retail bids.

Geography:

Uttarakhand Flood 2021 – Glacial Burst, Cloud Burst or Avalanche? What caused the Uttarakhand flood?

  • Context:A portion of Nanda Devi glacier broke off in Joshimathin Uttarakhand’sChamoli district
  • About:Causing a massive flood in the Dhauli Ganga River and endangering the lives of people living along its banks.Massive destruction is feared.
  • Though details are awaited, several districts, including Pauri, Tehri, Rudraprayag, Haridwar& Dehradun, are likely to be affected and have been put on high alert.
  • Rishi Ganga Power Project
  • More than 150 labourers working at the Rishi Ganga power project may have been directly affected, said State Disaster Response Force DIG Ridhim Aggarwal.
  • “Representatives of the power project have told me that they are not being able to contact around 150 of their workmen at the project site
  • Hundreds of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel have been rushed to carry out rescue operations at the site near the Raini village, Where some water bodies were flooded and destroyed many riverbank side houses

India’s longest river bridge to be constructed by L&T – Bridge to connect Assam and Meghalaya

  • Context:Larsen & Toubro Ltd. (L&T) has won the bid to construct India’s longest road bridge over a river.
  • About:The bridge is to be:
  • 19.8 km.
  • 4-lane roads.
  • Across the river Brahmaputra.
  • The bridge will be from Dhubri (Assam) to Phulbari (Meghalaya) on NH 127B. It will be built for the National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd.
  • 2015 – The bridge was first proposed.
  • 2019 – The Union cabinet approved the project.
  • November, 2020 – L&T won the bid for the construction.
  • The project is being financed by JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency).
  • It is expected to be completed by 2026-27.
  • Specifications of the Bridge
  • Extradosed Spans of 125 meters for 12.63 km,
  • A 60 meter Approach Viaduct of 5.74 km – (3.5 km on the Dhubri side and 2.2 km on the Phulbari side)
  • An approach road of almost 1 km
  • The proposed bridge will reduce the detouring road distance from Dhubri to Phulbari, by about 203 km.
  • Benefits
  • This bridge will give strategic benefit to the country.
  • Will improve the connectivity of the North Eastern states with the rest of the nation.
  • A link will be established between Assam and Meghalaya. This will boost trade in the region, and fuel development.
  • Ecological impact
  • During the NHIDCL’s feasibility study, about 25 Gangetic dolphins were observed in the stretch where the bridge is to be constructed.
  • These dolphins have poor eyesight, and work by acoustics.
  • Concerns that construction work would destroy them.
  • Experts have suggested:
  • Installing observatory towers, so that construction work can be immediately stopped when a dolphin is observed, monitoring construction sounds, and making sure that water in that stretch is not made turbid

Kattupalli Port expansion project of Adani Group – Why Pulicat residents are against it?

  • Context:Marine Infrastructure Development and Private Limited, a subsidiary of Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ), has proposed to expand the Kattupalli port, by Pulicat Lake, in Tamil Nadu.
  • About:The Pulicat Lake is home to unique fish species that breed in brackish water. Fishermen of Pulicat are opposing the port expansion, owing to threats of depletion of fish stocks – as a result of the construction work and ecological degradation.
  • PulicatLake is one of the largest saltwater lakes in India.Length =about 50 km.Width = 5 to 16 km.
  • A major part of the lake lies on the south-eastern portion of Andhra Pradesh and the rest is in Tamil Nadu.
  • The SriharikotaIsland separates the lake from the Bay of Bengal.The lake’s Bird Sanctuary (falls in Nellore district, AP) is encompassed by this waterbody.It is a nesting place for migratory birds. In the 16th Century, the lake was colonized by the Portuguese followed by the Dutch, who had drifted to the lake as their ships got stuck on the shores of Karimanal village.
  • The Port Expansion Project
  • In the December 2020 Kattupalli Port Revised Master Plan, the
  • Adani owned company proposed to expand the port to a total area of 2472.85 hectares.
  • This will include:
  • 136.28 hectares of existing area,
  • 927.11 hectares of government land, and
  • 613.31 hectares of private land.
  • The development project includes:
  • Setting up of industries and an industrial area.
  • Overall investment of over 53,000 crore.
  • It has received a nod from the Expert Appraisal Committee of the
  • Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

Science and Technology:

What is Metro Neo Transport System? Is it a Bus or a Train? Know all about Metro Neo Project

  • Context:While presenting the Union Budget 2021-22, Sitharaman said that the metro rail network of 702 km is already operational across the country, and another 1,016 km of the metrorail network is under construction in 27 cities.
  • About: Two new technologies — ‘MetroLite’ and ‘MetroNeo’ will be deployed to provide metro rail systems at much lesser cost with same experience, convenience and safety in Tier-2 cities and peripheral areas of Tier-1 cities FM said
  • By making a sizeable budgetary allocation for MetroNeo in the Union Budget, the central government has paved the way for the innovative system of mass transport, which could soon be replicated across the country.
  • To be adopted for the first time in the country in Maharashtra’s Nashik, MetroNeo is a comfortable, rapid, energy-efficient and less noisy transport medium.
  • The central government recently urged all state governments to consider using MetroNeo technology in their tier-2 and tier-3 cities.
  • Electric Bus Coaches:
  • The MetroNeo service consists of electric bus coaches –their lengths varying from 18 to 25 metres, With a carrying capacity of 200 to 300 passengers at a time.
  • The buses will have rubber tyres and draw power from an overhead electric wire with 600-750 V DC supply,similar to railways or trams.
  • Metroneo In Nashik:
  • There is a plan to have two corridors initially. Corridor 1 will be of 10-km length with 10 stations, from Gangapur to Mumbai Naka.
  • It will start from Gangapur followed by, Jalapur, Ganpat Nagar, Kale Nagar, Jehan Circle, Thatte Nagar, Shivaji Nagar, Panchavati, CBS and end at Mumbai Naka

World’s first biofuel rocket STARDUST 1.0 – Known facts about STARDUST 1.0

  • Context:Stardust 1.0 was launched from Loring Commerce Centre in Maine, US, a former military base, becoming the first commercial space launch powered by biofuel.
  • About:STARDUST 1.0
  • Stardust 1.0 is a launch vehicle suited for student and budget payloads.
  • The rocket is 20 feet tall and has a mass of roughly 250 kg.
  • The rocket can carry a maximum payload mass of 8 kg and during its first launch carried three payloads.
  • The payloads included a
  • Cubesat prototype built by highschool students, a metal alloy designed to lessen vibrations, which is developed by Kellogg’s Research Labs and a cubesat from software company Rocket Insights.

International Relations:

World’s first Carbon Neutral oil received by Reliance from USA – What is Carbon Neutral oil?

  • Context: Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd has sourced, The world’s first consignment of ‘carbon-neutral oil’ from the US as it looks to become a net zero-carbon company by 2035
  • About:Reliance, which operates the world’s largest single location oil refining complex at Jamnagar in Gujarat with capacity of 68.2 million tonnes a year,got 2 million barrels of consignment Permian basin,the US supplier said in a statement.Oxy Low Carbon Ventures (OLCV), a division of US oil major Occidental, delivered carbon-neutral oil to Reliance
  • How carbon neutral oil?
  • This transaction, which was arranged in conjunction with Macquarie Group’s Commodities and Global Markets group (Macquarie),
  • Is the energy industry’s first major petroleum shipment for which greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the entire crude lifecycle,Well head through combustion of end products,have been offset,”
  • Oxy Low Carbon Ventures and Macquarie will offset carbon dioxide equivalent to that associated with, the production, delivery and refining of the crude oil and the use of the resulting product through the retirement of carbon offset credits.
  • This will make the oil ‘carbon-neutral
  • Vlcc Sea Pearl
  • The Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) Sea Pearl containing the carbon-neutral oil unloaded the cargo at Jamnagar on January 28.
  • “This transaction is a first step in the creation of a new market for climate-differentiated crude oil.
  • Permian Basin
  • OLCV said the oil was produced in the US Permian Basin by Occidental and delivered to Reliance in India.
  • Macquarie arranged and structured the bundled offset supply and retirement.
  • The offsets were sourced from a variety of projects verified under the Verra Verified Carbon Standard meeting eligibility criteria for the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

UN Human Rights on Indian Farmers’ Protest – Govt should exercise maximum restraint

  • Context:The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights urged both the Indian government and the protesting farmers to exercise maximum restraint.
  • About:A day earlier, the United States had requested the Indian government to resolve its differences with the farmers through dialogue.
  • The US had said that peaceful protests are a “hallmark of any thriving democracy”.
  • Farmers in India have been protesting for months, against the three new farm laws. On Republic Day, a ‘Tractor Rally’ turned violent, and terrible scenes followed at the Red Fort.
  • What is the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights?
  • It is a department of the Secretariat of the United Nations.Works to promote and protect the human rights that are guaranteed under international law and stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.
  • The office was established by the UN General Assembly on 20th December 1993, as a result of the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights.
  • Headquarters at Geneva(Switzerland) and New York (USA).
  • It is an ex officio member of the Committee of the UN Sustainable Development Group.

East Container Terminal at Colombo Port – Sri Lanka makes a U Turn, says no role of India in ECT

  • Context: Sri Lanka decides no Indian role in developing ECT in Colombo
  • About:Sri Lanka, Japan and India signed an agreement to jointly develop the East Container Terminal at the Colombo Port.
  • The joint initiative is estimated to cost between $500 million and $700 million, a senior official of the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Southern Development
  • Rajapaksa’s retreat came on the heels of a visit earlier this month by Indian External Affairs Minister SubrahmanyamJaishankar to India’s smaller southern neighbor, where he laid down unequivocal terms for Indian-backed development of a container jetty in the port.
  • President GotabayaRajapaksa told agitating Port worker unions that the Adani Group would invest in the terminal, and that the Terminal would not be “sold or leased” to any foreign entity.
  • The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) was to hold 51 % stake in the operations, while India and Japan together would hold 49 %, as per the MOC.
  • FEB 2021
  • Sri Lanka has decided to develop the strategic East Container Terminal (ECT) at the Colombo Port on its own.
  • The Sri Lankan government would instead offer the West Container Terminal to India for possible investments.
  • Why did srilanka renege?
  • It comes amid mounting pressure from Port union workers against any foreign role or investment in the ECT project, where nearly 70% of the transshipment business is linked to India.

Security:

Tata Group becomes first in India to build Military Grade Aircrafts

  • Context:Tata group, India’s largest conglomerate, is gearing to build a military aircraft in a boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mission of supporting local defense capabilities and reducing dependence on costly imports
  • About:Closely-held Tata Advanced Systems Ltd. will “showcase its capabilities in high-altitude twin engine aircraft” for military use in a defense expo in Bengaluru.
  • The Tata Group will develop and manufacture a military aircraft in India, having acquired intellectual property rights for a German-origin platform.
  • The plan is to integrate indigenous sensors and payloads to convert it into an intelligence gathering asset.
  • The high-altitude, twin-engine aircraft, capable of playing multiple roles from signal intelligence tocross-border surveillance, is currently in the final stages of testing in Germany.
  • It is likely to arrive in India in the next three months for further integration
  • HAL Monopoly
  • This would be the first time that an Indian private entity is looking at making a full military-grade aircraft, which until now has been the domain of the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics.
  • About the Aircraft
  • Though the company has not shared details of the design, the aircraft is likely to be based on the Grob G 180 SPn –A German-made jet that never reached serial production due to financial strains.
  • The company sources said the aircraft it is developing is designed for flying at 41,000 feet altitude with a maximum altitude of 45,000 feet.
  • It can be used for intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) purposes.
  • It is designed to land on grass and gravel.

Miscellaneous:

Democracy Index 2020 by EIU – India falls to 53rd rank

  • Context:India slipped two places to 53rd position in the 2020 Democracy Index’s global ranking
  • About:India is the world’s largest democracy but its 1.38 billion citizens do not seem to be enjoying many freedoms
  • According to the latest report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, the South Asian giant fell another two spots to 53rd position in the Democracy Index 2020.
  • The primary reason for the fall was the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that came into being in January 2020.
  • India Vs. South Asia
  • While being categorized as a ‘flawed democracy’,at first glance,India fares better than its neighboring countries.
  • However, while India has been falling in the ranks, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Pakistan have improved marginally in 2020.
  • Even those countries which saw a fall in scores, none were as massive as India’s drop.