Ojaank IAS Academy




22 December 2022 – Current Affairs

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Formation of Fog


Context:Difficult fog has recently engulfed northern India, encompassing Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, sections of Uttar Pradesh, and parts of Rajasthan.
  • The fog outbreaks are expected to reoccur across the Indo Gangetic Plain for the following three days.
  • It will reduce visibility in the hours before and following sunrise.
  • Fog arises when water vapour condenses, just like clouds.
  • As the ground surface cools at night, the air near the surface cools as well.
  • Because cooler air cannot store as much moisture as warm air, water vapour condenses in the air to generate fog.
  • Fog forms in the early morning hours, when the temperature is at its lowest.
Favorable Conditions:
  • The presence of moisture and a drop in temperature are important elements in the creation of fog.
  • Fog has “great geographic variability,” and its intensity is affected by elements such as humidity, wind, and temperature.
  • Because of the greater humidity, areas near bodies of water, for example, may experience heavier fog.
  • The Indo Gangetic Plain is the most prone to fog, with severe, weeks-long episodes of intense fog occurring in December and January.
Types of Fog:
Radiation fog (or ground fog):
  • These fog episodes endure a few mornings due to calm winds and western disturbances, resulting in localised fog development.
  • The fog disappears as the temperature rises during the day.
Advection Fog:
  • Advection fog is greater in terms of area covered and duration.
  • When warm, wet air flows over a chilly surface, water vapour condenses and produces a fog.
  • Advection fog occurs most frequently when warm, tropical air meets chilly ocean water.
  • Sea fog may be carried across coastal land regions if the wind blows in the appropriate direction.
Valley Fog:
  • It is caused by mountains that prevent thick air from exiting.
  • The fog is confined in the valley bowl and can remain for many days.
Freezing Fog:
  • Freezing fog is common on cloud-covered mountaintops.
  • These do not apply to the Indo-Gangetic Plain.
Conditions Favouring Fog over Northwestern India:
  • Temperatures in northeastern India have begun to fall.
  • Recently, Delhi recorded the season’s lowest minimum temperature – 6 degrees Celsius.
  • Cold wave conditions have lately been observed over Punjab, Haryana, and portions of Rajasthan, with the lowest temperature being much lower than typical.
  • The drop in temperature, along with precipitation and weak breezes, has resulted in dense fog across the Indo Gangetic Plain.
  • Western disturbances have an impact on northwest India because they bring moisture-bearing winds from the Mediterranean Sea.
  • As a result, moisture levels in the region may rise.
  • In the absence of western disturbances, local moisture sources like water vapor from rivers and soil moisture can also cause fog.
Characteristics of the fog over Delhi:
  • Temperatures in northeastern India have begun to fall.
  • Recently, Delhi recorded the season’s lowest minimum temperature – 6 degrees Celsius.
  • Cold wave conditions have lately been observed over Punjab, Haryana, and portions of Rajasthan, with the lowest temperature being much lower than typical.
  • The drop in temperature, along with precipitation and weak breezes, has resulted in dense fog across the Indo Gangetic Plain.
  • Western disturbances have an impact on northwest India because they bring moisture-bearing winds from the Mediterranean Sea.
  • As a result, moisture levels in the region may rise.
Link between Pollution Levels and Fog:
  • According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Delhi has more fog days than other cities due to pollution.
  • As the temperature drops, so does the local wind speed. The inversion layer descends, and vertical mixing decreases.
  • This causes fog to develop, and particulate matter to accumulate on the boundary layer, raising pollution levels.
  • Recently, Delhi experienced an increase in pollution levels, with an AQI in the’severe’ category.
  • Advection fog occurrences remain longer, causing additional particle production and a fast accumulation of contaminants.

Source: Indian Express

Karnataka Reservation Bill


Context:The Karnataka administration has introduced legislation in the Legislative Assembly to extend reservations for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the state.

  • The Karnataka Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions and Appointments or Posts in State Services) Bill, 2022 was introduced by Karnataka’s Chief Minister.
  • It aims to supersede the ordinance of the same name.
  • Increasing Reservations for Scheduled Castes from 15% to 17% and Scheduled Tribes from 3% to 7%.
  • While the SCs make up 16% of the state’s population, the STs make up 6.9%.
Stand of Karnataka Government:
  • According to the administration, while the number of Scheduled Castes in the state has expanded as additional groups have been added to it, and the population of both communities has grown by leaps and bounds, the quota has stayed the same.
  • The existing quota of 15% and 3% was set when the old Mysore state, from which the state of Karnataka was founded, was formed.
  • Later, in 1948, Mysore joined the Union of India, and the President added certain castes and tribes in the ‘Scheduled’ category under Articles 341 and 342 of the Constitution.
  • Members of the SC-ST groups have consistently advocated for an increase in the reservation proportion, both in employment and in educational institutions.
Opposition’s Concerns:
  • The opposition expressed reservations about the validity of the Bill’s provisions, claiming that it violates the 50 percent quota ceiling, and requested a discussion on it.
  • The ruling party is targeting the SC/ST vote.
  • The measure would face legal challenges since it would have to be incorporated in the Constitution’s 9th Schedule.
Observations of Various Committees:
Justice Nagmohandas Committee Report:
  • In 2015, the Nayaka Students Welfare Federation petitioned the Karnataka High Court for an increase in the SC-ST quota.
  • On July 22, 2019, the state administration constituted a committee chaired by former High Court judge Justice HN Nagamohandas in accordance with the HC’s directions.
  • According to the committee, there was evidence of social and educational backwardness in the villages.
  • Such backwardness was far more pronounced in communities living in remote sections of the Western Ghats and in the state’s drier regions, where people were unable to benefit from reservation.
  • There was evidence of inadequate representation of SCs and STs in educational institutions and government positions as compared to their population.
  • According to the findings, a special case was made for increasing reservations for SCs to 17 percent and STs to 7 percent.
Justice SubhashAdi Report:
  • In March 2021, the governing government formed a new committee to explore the subject, led by former high court judge Justice Subhash B Adi.
  • According to a survey conducted by the National Law School of India University in Bengaluru, 74% of tribal people have remained invisible, with literacy rates of less than 3%.
  • According to the research, if the number of castes covered under the SCs and STs in Karnataka is compared to other states, it can be noted that while other governments have announced a lesser number of castes, their percentage of reservation is higher.
  • As instances, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh were offered.
Way Forward:
  • Reservation should not be turned into a vested interest.
  • The real remedy, however, comes in addressing the underlying reasons of the community’s social, educational, and economic backwardness.
  • The rising number of reservations is getting unmanageable.
  • Discussing proper and proportionate representation will not address the unemployment crisis.
  • Rather than quotas, the Union Government and states should focus on employment development.

Source: Indian Express

Rupee Trade Settlement Mechanism


Context:Sri Lanka recently decided to adopt the Indian rupee (INR) for foreign commerce.The Indian government stated that it is looking into methods to get countries that are particularly low on dollars into the Indian rupee trade settlement process.

In Detail:
  • The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) stated that it is awaiting RBI (Reserve Bank of India) clearance to designate the Indian rupee as Sri Lanka’s foreign currency.
  • According to reports, Sri Lankan banks have launched a unique rupee trading account called Special Vostro rupee accounts, or SVRA, for trading in INR.
  • Russia is anticipated to be one of the first countries to employ the Indian rupee trade settlement system.
Other countries in the league:
  • Not just Russia and Sri Lanka Other nations are showing interest in India’s rupee trade settlement system, including Tajikistan, Cuba, Luxembourg, and Sudan.
  • India is negotiating with the UAE and Saudi Arabia to allow commerce to be settled in Indian rupees.
  • In addition, the neighbouring island nation has asked the RBI to facilitate and encourage commerce and tourism in the SAARC area.
Benefits for Sri Lanka:
Liquidity support:
  • For over a year, Sri Lanka has been suffering from a severe economic crisis and a currency crunch.
  • The legalisation of the Indian rupee will give the island country with much-needed cash help.
Holding more amount in physical form:
  • People in Sri Lanka can now store USD 10,000 (Rs 8,26,823) in real form thanks to the creation of Vostro accounts.
Substituting Dollar:
  • Also, Sri Lankans and Indians can use Indian rupees instead of US dollars for international transactions between each other.
Significance of Indian rupee trade settlement mechanism for India:
  • All exports and imports will be denominated and invoiced in Indian rupee under the method.
  • The market will determine the exchange rate between trading partners.
  • Notably, the rupee being an international currency has the potential to minimise India’s trade deficit and boost its position in the global market.
  • Because of the interruption caused by the Russia-Ukraine war, nations are searching for other ways of payment, and the rupee trade settlement mechanism is the most effective way out for India.
India’s trade with Russia:
  • This technique is significant in light of Russia and India’s growing trade deficit.
  • While Russia has quickly surpassed India as the country’s leading oil supplier, Indian shipments to the sanctions-hit country are dropping as exporters are apprehensive about western sanctions and the lack of a reliable payment process.
UAE & Saudi Arabia:
  • Because the UAE is a significant market for Indian traders, this decision would undoubtedly help them.
  • Likewise, Saudi Arabia is an important commercial partner for India.
  • However, because we are a net importer from both of these nations, excess rupee management may become a concern.
Way Forward:
  • Other countries are looking into the business. As a result, cost, competition, and other considerations will be important.
  • The market for Indian exporters is diverse.
  • A vostro account is a record of money held by a bank or owing by a third party to a bank (an individual, company or bank).
  • The nostro account allows the bank to keep track of how much of its money is kept by the other bank.

Source: Livemint

India’s G20 Presidency: Healthcare should be a central agenda


Context:The G20 2023 agenda must prioritise health. It has been a priority subject for G20 discussions since 2017, when the German presidency hosted the first meeting of G20 health ministers. The G20 currently includes a financial stream for health financing and a Sherpa stream for health system development.

  • An annual G20 conference of health ministers and a combined health and finance task group underscore the subject’s growing importance.
  • The G20 health ministers’ Berlin Declaration 2017 outlined a comprehensive strategy to pandemic preparation, health system strengthening, and antibiotic resistance.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic heightened the need of pandemic preparedness, and the Indonesian president in 2022 made it a top priority. These objectives must be advanced by the Indian presidency.
Global community engagement to strengthen Health systems:
  • By universalizing health insurance coverage, the concept of UHC was developed in the 2000s to prevent catastrophic medical expenditures owing to secondary and tertiary level hospital treatments.
  • Since 2010, the UHC has been the major worldwide method for improving health systems. It was also accepted in 2015 as the plan for SDG-3 on guaranteeing healthcare for all at all ages.
  • However, the limited impact of this restricted method became clear quickly, with outside service expenses becoming catastrophic for impoverished households and restricting access to vital healthcare and medications, while numerous unnecessary/irrational medical operations were carried out.
What are the new approaches developed to strengthen healthcare system?
  • The Astana Conference, co-hosted by WHO and UNICEF, issued a resolution in 2018 declaring that primary healthcare (PHC) is critical to achieving the UHC goals.
  • The combined UHC-PHC strategy was endorsed as a political statement by the United Nations General Assembly in 2019.
  • The World Bank issued a paper titled “Walking the Talk: Reimagining Primary Health Care After COVID-19” in 2021. As shown during and after the 2008 crisis, the dominant hospital-centered medical system is becoming costly even for high-income countries.
What is PHC-with-UHC approach?
  • It entails strengthening primary level care and linking it to non-medical preventive action (food security and safety, safe water and air, healthy workplaces, and so on).
  • It works through whole-of-society and whole-of-government approaches, and extending the “PHC principles” to secondary and tertiary care services.

What is to be strengthened, what initiatives can be applied and how?

  • Health in all policies, one health (connecting animal and human health to combat antibiotic resistance and zoonotic illnesses), planetary health, and pandemic preparation are all examples of one health.
  • Creating PHC-with-UHC for a variety of settings. Conceptualised as a continuum of care ranging from self-care in the home through community services, primary level para-medical services, and initial contact with a doctor, with services given as near to the home as feasible, at an inexpensive and readily deliverable price.
  • By logically increasing health technology assessment, healthcare ethics, equal access to pharmaceutical items and vaccinations, and integrative health systems employing multiple knowledge systems.
  • Gendered health care demands, Health care of indigenous peoples internationally, occupational health, mental health and wellness, healthy ageing.
  • Decolonization and democratisation of health knowledge, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), preventive, and patient-centered treatment.
India’s G20 Presidency: An opportunity to contribute and make inclusive healthcare system
  • Lessons from the National Health Mission for improving public health delivery; the HIV-control program’s effective inclusion of impacted individuals/communities; and a complex, well-managed service organisation.
  • Pluralism in health knowledge systems, each sustained separately within the national health system.
  • Health personnel such as ASHAs, mid-level health providers and wellness centres, traditional community healthcare providers with voluntary quality certification; research designed to validate traditional systems; pharmaceutical and vaccine production capacity; developments in digital health; social insurance schemes and people’s hospital models by civil society.
  • What is necessary is the development of PHC-with-UHC (a PHC 2.0) with wide global support and commitment to a more sustainable and people-empowering health system. Following such an agenda will need extensive consultation among nations, regions, and worldwide. India should use its presidency to develop a model primary healthcare policy that commits to a universal, affordable, inclusive, and just healthcare system.

Source: The Hindu

Rule 267 becomes the bone of contention in Rajya Sabha


Context:Rule 267 of the Rajya Sabha rulebook, which provides for the suspension of the day’s activity in order to discuss a topic proposed by a Member, has been a source of conflict in the Upper House.

What is Rule 267 of Rajya Sabha?
  • The Rule empowers a Rajya Sabha member to suspend the House’s pre-determined agenda with the Chairman’s consent.
  • The Rajya Sabha Rule Book says, “Any member, may, with the consent of the Chairman, move that any rule may be suspended in its application to a motion related to the business listed before the Council of that day.
  • If the motion is carried, the rule in question shall be suspended for the time being: provided further that this rule shall not apply where specific provision already exists for suspension of a rule under a particular chapter of the Rules”.
Why this rule has become important?
  • Opposition MPs in the Upper House have consistently demanded a discussion on the India-China border crisis.
  • In the last eight years, Members have issued hundreds of notifications to invoke Rule 267.
  • Following the last fight between the two sides in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang, members of the Opposition have grown more vociferous in their demand.
  • On a daily basis, opposition leaders urge that the Chair pause all other business and enable a discussion on the new situation on the India-China border under Rule 267.
Is Rule 267 the only way to raise important issues in the House?
  • In Parliament, a member has a number of ways to flag issues and seek the government’s reply.
  • Question Hour: An MP can ask questions related to any issue during the Question Hour in which the concerned minister has to provide oral or written answers.
  • Zero Hour: An MP can raise the issue during Zero Hour. Every day, 15 MPs are allowed to raise issues of their choice in the Zero Hour.
  • Special Mention: An MP can even raise it during Special Mention. A Chairman can allow up to 7 Special Mentions daily.
  • Debate over president’s address: An MP can try to bring the issue to the government’s notice during other discussions such as the debate on the President’s speech.
  • Budget speech: Opposition leaders have also used the Budget debate to attack the government politically.
Why the Opposition is insisting on Rule 267?
  • Any discussion under Rule 267 takes on considerable importance in Parliament simply because all other business is placed on hold to discuss a matter of national concern. No other type of debate necessitates the suspension of other business.
  • If an issue is allowed under Rule 267, it indicates that it is the most significant national problem of the day; moreover, the government will be required to respond to the topic by responding during the Rule 267 deliberations.
What is the current controversy over Rule 267?
  • Opposition lawmakers have said that the Rajya Sabha chairman has persistently refused to allow any discussion under Rule 267 for a long period.
  • While Dhankhar has not accepted any case under Rule 267, his predecessor M Venkaiah Naidu also did not grant any admission under Rule 267 throughout his whole five-year tenure.
Has the Rule been ever used?
  • The regulation has been applied several times.
  • In the past, the Chair decided to postpone business to consider pressing national concerns.
  • It was last used in November 2016, when the Upper House invoked Rule 267 to debate demonetization.

Source: The Hindu

3 more sites added to UNESCO’s tentative list of World Heritage Sites


Context:The provisional list of UNCESO World Heritage Sites now includes Gujarat’s Vadnagar town, the renowned Sun Temple at Modhera, and the rock cut sculptures at Unakoti in Tripura.

What is the UNESCO preliminary list?
  • The UNESCO tentative list is an inventory of the assets that each State Party plans to evaluate for nomination.
  • With the addition of these three sites, India now has 52 sites on the UNESCO Tentative List.
About the sites:
Sun Temple, Modhera:
  • The Modhera Sun Temple is situated on the left bank of the river Pushpavati, a tributary of the river Rupan, in the Becharaji taluka of Mehsana district. According to the temple description, it is built in the Maru-gurjaraarchitectural style and includes of the main temple shrine (garbhagriha), a hall (gadhamandapa), an outlying hall or assembly hall (Sabhamandapa or rangamandapa), and a sacred pool (Kunda), which is today known as Ramakunda.
  • This temple faces east and is made of brilliant yellow sandstone. It is the first of such temples to set architectural and ornamental trends, exemplifying the Solanki style at its best.
  • Vadnagar is a multi-layered historic town with a history dating back to approximately the eighth century BCE. It has evolved with time and has an early historic fortified settlement, hinterland port, centre for industries of shells and beads, late mediaeval town, religious centre/temple town, a significant junction on trade routes, and mercantile town.
  • Unakoti, in Tripura’s northeastern area, is recognised as an old sacred spot linked with Shaiva worship. It is renowned as the ‘Angkor Wat of the North-East.’ The structures of the rock-cut sculptures are massive, with distinguishing mongoloid characteristics and virtually the same magical enchantment as the captivating figures in Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites:
  • A World Heritage Site is a site or region that has been designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having cultural, historical, scientific, or other types of value and is legally protected by international treaties.
  • The locations are deemed vital for humanity’s collective and preservation interests.
  • A WHS must be an already-classified landmark that is distinct in some way as a geographically and historically identifiable site with outstanding cultural or physical importance (such as an ancient ruin or historical structure, building, city, complex, desert, forest, island, lake, monument, mountain, or wilderness area).
  • It may represent a tremendous human achievement and serve as proof of our intellectual history on the planet.
  • The places are designed for practical conservation for future generations, since they would otherwise be vulnerable to human or animal trespassing, unmonitored/uncontrolled/unrestricted access, or threat from local administrative carelessness.
  • The worldwide World Heritage Program is governed by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, which is made up of 21 “states parties” elected by their General Assembly.
UNESCO World Heritage Committee:
  • The World Heritage Committee selects sites to be listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger.
  • It monitors the state of conservation of World Heritage properties, defines the use of the World Heritage Fund, and allocates financial assistance upon requests from States Parties. This Committee does not include India.

Source: Indian Express

Facts for Prelims

  • The Ministry of AYUSH administers the AYURSWASTHYA Yojana.
AyurswasthyaYojana Information:
  • The AyurswasthyaYojana is an umbrella initiative designed to implement real traditional Ayush interventions to promote community health care.
  • It consists of two parts: AYUSH and Public Health (PHI), as well as a Centre of Excellence.
  • The Centre of Excellence plan provides financial help to qualifying individual organizations/institutions for developing and improving their functions and facilities, as well as for research and development activities in AYUSH.
  • The maximum eligible financial support under the Centre of Excellence component to an organization/institute is 10.00 crores during a three-year period.
The objectives of the Centre of Excellence component of the AYURSWASTHYA Yojana are as under:
  • To assist in the construction of advanced/specialized AYUSH medical health units in reputable AYUSH and Allopathic institutions in both the public and private sectors.
  • To support creative and innovative proposals for the establishment and enhancement of functions and facilities of reputable institutions in order to strengthen the competencies of AYUSH professionals in education technology, research and innovation, and other fields required for the promotion of AYUSH at the national and international levels.
  • To encourage unique and original ideas for prominent institutions with well-established facilities and infrastructure that want to work towards AYUSH systems at the Centre of Excellence level.

Platinum Icon in Digital India Awards 2022

  • The Smart Cities Mission, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, received the Platinum Icon award at the Digital India Awards 2022 for their programme “DataSmart Cities: Empowering Cities with Data” in the category “Data Sharing and Use for Socio-Economic Development.”
  • The Digital India Awards (DIA) is a prominent national competition that encourages and recognises creative digital solutions used by government bodies in order to realise the Digital India goal.
DataSmart Cities Initiative – Empowering cities through Data:
  • Part of the Smart Cities Mission; aims to use data to address challenging urban concerns in smart cities.
  • Based on a ‘People, Platform, Process’ strategy, this programme is bringing together the Ministry’s activities in performance management, community empowerment, and research, co-creation, and open innovation.
  • Enable cross-city peer learning on data-driven governance.
  • Social Progress Index (SPI) for States and Districts
  • The Institute for Competitiveness and Social Progress Imperative presented the Social Progress Index (SPI): States and Districts of India to the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council.
About Social Progress Index:
  • Rates states and districts on 12 factors spanning three essential aspects of social progress: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Well-Being, and Opportunity. States and districts have been classified into six stages of social advancement based on their SPI ratings.
  • Tier 1 represents Very High Social Progress, Tier 2 represents High Social Progress, Tier 3 represents Upper Middle Social Progress, Tier 4 represents Lower Middle Social Progress, Tier 5 represents Low Social Progress, and Tier 6 represents Very Low Social Progress.
  • The study also discusses India’s performance in terms of Global SPI. India is placed 110th out of 169 countries in the September 2022 report.

Report findings:

  • Puducherry has the highest SPI score in the country, at 65.99, because to outstanding performance in components such as Personal Freedom and Choice, Shelter, and Water and Sanitation.
  • Lakshadweep and Goa come in second and third, with ratings of 65.89 and 65.53, respectively. Jharkhand and Bihar had the lowest scores, with 43.95 and 44.47, respectively.
  • The top three best performing districts are Aizwal (Mizoram), Solan (HP), and Shimla (HP).
  • Purse Seine Fishing
  • Certain coastal states (such as Tamil Nadu, Odisha, and Kerala) have prohibited purse seine fishing. However, the central government has opposed the action, calling it unreasonable.
  • A purse seine is a long wall of netting framed by floating and leadline and with purse rings hanging from the bottom edge of the gear, through which goes a purse line composed of steel wire or rope, allowing the net to be pursed.
  • Purse-seine Fishing on open water is often regarded as an efficient method of fishing.
  • It has no touch with the seafloor and can have minimal bycatch levels (accidental catch of unwanted species)
  • Purse seines can also be used to collect fish that have gathered around fish aggregating devices.
  • Expert panel observation: This form of fishing has not resulted in any severe resource loss so far, given the existing facts”.
  • Purse-seine fishing has been linked to the extinction of endangered species. Because this kind of fishing employs a large net to capture not just targeted fish but also at-risk species such as turtles.

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