Current Affairs 14th March, 2019

PAPER – 1

    Topics Covered

    1. Indian History

Role of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in the Dandi march of 1930

Image result for ‘When a handful of salt shook an empire’ blog

What to read?

Prelims – Dandi March

Mains – Contribution of Sardar Vallabhai Patel

On occasion of the 89th anniversary of the iconic Dandi March, PM Modi published a blog titled ‘When a handful of salt shook an empire’ paying tributes to the contributions made by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to the movement.

Dandi March

  • On March 12, 1930, Gandhi along with 80 satyagrahis started out from Sabarmati Ashram and marched over 390 km to reach the coastal village of Dandi.

  • The march, a protest against the coercive salt tax imposed by the British, was the most significant organised challenge to British authority after the Non-Cooperation Movement of the early 1920s.

  • The march sparked a series of acts of civil disobedience across India against the salt laws.

  • Over 60,000 people were arrested across the country. Soon after, the Congress planned a Satyagraha at the Dharasana Salt Works, 25 miles south of Dandi.

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  • However, the plan was shelved after Gandhi was arrested days before the beginning of the movement.

Role of Sardar Patel

  • Sardar Patel indeed play a very significant role in mobilizing people for the Dandi march.

  • However, when Gandhi proposed the idea of a salt march, the working committee of the Congress was not convinced of the impact it would have.

  • However, once the decision was taken, Patel threw his entire weight behind it and gave the movement its initial momentum.

  • It is believed Patel chose Dandi, and even planned the route Gandhi would take.

  • As Patel went about mobilizing people for the march, the district administration of Surat realized it was necessary to get him out of the way.

  • Consequently, on March 7, five days before the march was scheduled, Patel was arrested.


Paper 2

Topics Covered

  • India and its neighbourhood- relations.

  • National Knowledge Network

    Image result for NKN to bangladesh

    What to read?

    For Prelims and Mains: What is NKN? – objectives, features and significance.

     India has decided to extend its National Knowledge Network to Bangladesh.

    About NKN

    NKN is a multi-gigabit pan-India network which facilitates the development of India’s communications infrastructure, stimulates research and creates next generation applications and services.

    Aim 

    With its multi-gigabit capability, NKN aims to connect all universities, research institutions, libraries, laboratories, healthcare and agricultural institutions across the country to address such paradigm shift.

    What it does?

    Image result for NKN

     It enables collaboration among researchers from different educational networks such as TEIN4, GARUDA, CERN and Internet2. It also enables sharing of scientific databases and remote access to advanced research facilities. The leading mission oriented agencies in the fields of nuclear, space and defence research are also part of NKN.

     Role of NKN

    • Establishing a high-speed backbone connectivity which will enable knowledge and information sharing amongst NKN connected institutes.

    • Enabling collaborative research, development and innovation amongst NKN connected institutes.

    • Facilitating advanced distance education in specialized fields like engineering, science, medicine etc. 

    • Facilitating an ultra-high speed e-governance backbone.

    • Facilitating connection between different sectoral networks in the field of research


    PAPER – 2 AND PAPER – 3

        Topics Covered

        1. Governance

    Centre allows states to put enemy properties exclusively to ‘public use’

    Image result for Centre allows states to put enemy properties exclusively to ‘public use’

    What to read?

    Prelims - Meaning of enemy properties and key features of the enemy properties act.

    Mains - Significance and key features of the act.

    The Centre has allowed state governments to put to “public use” some enemy properties that were left behind by people who migrated to Pakistan since the Partition and to China after the 1962 Sino-Indian war.

    The move comes amid the central government’s efforts to sell more than 9,400 enemy properties, worth over Rs 1 trillion, and Rs 3,000 crore worth of enemy shares.

    The guidelines for disposal of the Enemy Property Order, 2018, have been amended to facilitate “usages of enemy property by the state government exclusively for public use.

    • Of the total properties left behind by those who took Pakistani citizenship, 4,991 are located in Uttar Pradesh, the highest in the country. West Bengal has 2,735 such estates and Delhi 487.

    • The highest number of properties left by Chinese nationals is in Meghalaya (57) .West Bengal has 29 such properties and Assam seven.

    Enemy Property

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    • As per the Enemy Property Act, 1968, ‘enemy property’ refers to any property that was belonging to a person who migrated from India to an enemy country when a war broke out.

    • After the war with China and Pakistan in 1962 and 1965, the government took over the properties, under the Defence of India Act, from persons who migrated to these countries.

    • The confiscated property included both movable and immovable properties such as securities, jewellery, land, and buildings.

    • Later in 1968, a law called the Enemy Property Act was enacted to regulate such properties and entrusted with the Custodian of Enemy Property (CEPI).


    PAPER – 1 and PAPER - 3

        Topics Covered

        1. Conservation of Environment

        2. Geography

    Project Varshadhare

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    What to read?

    Prelims – Project Varshadhare

    Mains – Cloud Seeding

    The Karnataka govt. has pushed a tender call for cloud seeding operations to enhance rainfall during the monsoons of 2019 and 2020.

    Project Varshadhare

    • It is a cloud seeding project flagged off by the Karnataka government to enhance the amount of precipitation from the clouds to generate more rain.

    • Special aircraft will disperse the chemical silver iodide as they fly through rain-bearing clouds that will trigger and enhance the precipitation.

    Cloud Seeding

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    • Cloud seeding is a form of weather modification, a way of changing the amount or type of precipitation that falls from clouds, by dispersing substances into the air that serve as cloud condensation or ice nuclei, which alter the microphysical processes within the cloud.

    • The usual intent is to increase precipitation (rain or snow), but hail and fog suppression are also widely practiced in airports.

    • The history of cloud seeding has experienced uncertain results because it can never be known whether a cloud that rains after seeding might have rained anyway. This is because seeding is performed on clouds that look like they have some potential for producing rain.

    Cloud Seeding Methods

    • There are three cloud seeding methods: static, dynamic and hygroscopic.

    • Static cloud seeding involves spreading a chemical like silver iodide into clouds. The silver iodide provides a crystal around which moisture can condense. The moisture is already present in the clouds, but silver iodide essentially makes rain clouds more effective at dispensing their water.

    • Dynamic cloud seeding aims to boost vertical air currents, which encourages more water to pass through the clouds, translating into more rain [source: Cotton]. Up to 100 times more ice crystals are used in dynamic cloud seeding than in the static method. The process is considered more complex than static clouding seeding because it depends on a sequence of events working properly. Dr. William R. Cotton, a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University, and other researchers break down dynamic cloud seeding into 11 separate stages. An unexpected outcome in one stage could ruin the entire process, making the technique less dependable than static cloud seeding.

    • Hygroscopic cloud seeding disperses salts through flares or explosives in the lower portions of clouds. The salts grow in size as water joins with them. In his report on cloud seeding, Cotton says that hygroscopic cloud seeding holds much promise, but requires further research.

    Pros of Cloud Seeding:

    (1) It creates rain, providing relief to drought-stricken areas

    Of course, this is the best advantage of cloud seeding as it is its main purpose after all. Offering the ability to reduce the impact of droughts by and bring stimulating rain is very powerful. It can lead to more crop yields, and the best part is, this could occur in areas that might not have supported crops in the past. This means that this technology has the potential to get rid of future water scarcity and famine for some regions.

    (2) It makes a place more hospitable

    Due to extreme heat, some parts of the world have become dry, even making them unsuitable to live in or visit. But thanks to cloud seeding, we can increase the probability of rainfall and make these typically dry areas much more hospitable. As a result, these places will be become habitable and will be able to receive more tourists, helping the overall economy. The potential effects of this technique are definitely far reaching.

    (3) It would allow for economic growth

    If farmers were able to grow and sell more crops, then a region’s overall economy would improve greatly. Aside from agriculture, we have previously mentioned that tourism would also be boosted, where previously inhospitable places would be transformed into desirable holiday spots. The boost in economy would then circulate among the local residents and improve their living conditions.

    (4) It can reduce crop damage

    The technology of cloud seeding has been effectively utilized in suppressing undesirable forms of precipitation, such as hail, which can cause damage to crops and cities. As you can see, it can alter or modify storm clouds that would produce hail and other frozen forms of precipitation otherwise.

    (5) It has the potential to help regulate the weather

    Even the best regions to grow crops are facing severe weather, which means that they are still suffering some damage to their produce. Luckily, this technology is stated to have the capability to regulate atmospheric conditions through water vapor, so this problem would also be solved.

    Cons of Cloud Seeding:

    (1) It uses chemicals that might be harmful.

    As cloud seeding basically involves the use of chemicals and putting them in the air, it does have the potential to harm plants, animals and people, or the environment as a whole. The way the chemicals are being used in this technology and would affect the organisms that will be hit by the artificial rainfall is considered its most direct concern. As of yet, scientists and researchers have been able to state the complete effect of this technique. Though silver iodine is not currently known to be hazardous to human health, this might change in the future as more and more research is being conducted and completed.

    (2) It can lead to abnormal or unpredictable weather patterns and flooding.

    Though cloud seeding is believed to regulate the weather, some people fear that it might ultimately change climatic patterns on the planet. Places that are normally receiving moisture might start experiencing drought due to the artificial process of adding chemicals to the atmosphere to stimulate rain. Remember that once the compounds used by this technology are released into the atmosphere, we will have no control over what type of weather would form afterwards. There are several possible consequences, such as excessive rain that can cause flooding, which means that regions experiencing chronic water shortage would suffer more, as they probably do not have any system designed to deal with floods and other disasters.

    (3) It is yet to be fully proven as cost-efficient and effective.

    Assessments done on the effectiveness of cloud seeding is not foolproof so far. Since it is used mostly on clouds that already show signs of potential rainfall, it is not known if the technique is actually the reason for producing rain.

    (4) It can cause cloud pollution.

    As the artificial rain falls, seeding agents like silver iodide, dry ice or salt will also fall. While research on the effects of silver iodide is still ongoing, there have been found high levels of the residual silver discovered in places near cloud-seeding projects, which are considered toxic. As for dry ice, it can also be a source of greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming, as it is basically carbon dioxide.

    (5) It is a costly process.

    The cost of cloud seeding is indeed astronomical, considering the procedures involved in it, such as delivering chemicals to the sky and releasing them into the air by flare shots or airplanes. Of course, the costs of chemicals add up to the overall amount. The expense we pay for cloud seeding can be justified if the amount of rainfall during the first attempt would thoroughly water crops and saturate the ground, otherwise the process would have to be repeated even up to several times.


    Paper 2

    Topics Covered

  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

  • World Gold Council (WGC)

    Image result for world gold council (wgc)

    What to read?

    Prelims and Mains -  WGC- composition, functions and significance, demand for gold- concerns and demands.

     World Gold Council (WGC) has released a report on gold holdings of various countries.

     Key facts

    Image result for INDIA 11TH LARGEST GOLD RESERVE

    • India, which is the world’s largest consumer of gold, has the 11th largest gold reserve, with the current holding pegged at 607 tonnes.

    • International Monetary Fund (IMF) is third on the list with total gold reserves of 2,814 tonnes.

    • Top slot is occupied by the U.S., which boasts of gold reserves of 8,133.5 tonnes, followed by Germany with 3,369.7 tonnes.

    • Among Asian countries, China and Japan have more reserves of the precious metal when compared to India.

    • Pakistan, with its gold reserves of 64.6 tonnes, occupies the 45th position.

    About World Gold Council

    • The World Gold Council is the market development organisation for the gold industry. It works across all parts of the industry, from gold mining to investment, and their aim is to stimulate and sustain demand for gold.

    • The World Gold Council is an association whose members comprise the world’s leading gold mining companies. It helps to support its members to mine in a responsible way and developed the Conflict Free Gold Standard.

    • Headquartered in the UK, they have offices in India, China, Singapore, Japan and the United States.