Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Current Affairs News Analysis | Prelims & Mains 2020-21 is an initiative to dilute major articles from leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Hence we choose articles on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC PRELIMS 2021.

“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” – Joshua J. Marine

HIGHLIGHT INFO:

ORANGE COLOUR: Important for Prelims.

RED COLOUR: Important for Mains.

BLACK COLOUR: Must Read !

BLUE COLOUR : Important Links/Survey.

PINK COLOUR: Reports/Themes/Summits.

Current Affairs News Analysis for UPSC | 16th Dec 2020

 

Meghdoot Award Function 2020

      HEADLINES:

Postal Department confers Meghdoot awards to Postal Employees for their achievements in 2019-20

      WHY IN NEWS:

The department signs MOU with CSC SPV to provide a one-stop solution for all e-Governance services on assisted model through its “Common Service Centres(PO-CSCs)” in Post Offices

MINISTRY? :- Ministry of Communications
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 1 : Awards

      ISSUE: 

DakPay logo was launched by India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) of India Post as part of its ongoing efforts to provide Digital Financial inclusion at the last mile

MEGHDOOT AWARD FUNCTION 2020

OVERVIEW

  • The Meghdoot award is given every year for excellence in postal service.
  • The meghdoot award 2019-20 was given in eight categories.

OBJECTIVE

The focus is to provide various G2C (Government to Citizen) and B2C (Business to Citizens) services to citizens in rural and remote areas of the country .

  • Thus enabling the Government’s mandate of a socially, financially and digitally inclusive society.
  •  The B2C (Business to Citizens) Services offered includes Bharat Bill Payment System Bills (Electric, Gas, Water bills etc.).
  • The services offered also included Third Party Services such as EMI (Equal Monthly Instalment) collections and submission of online application forms for loans.
  • Travel services such as Ticket booking service would be available for Flight, Train and Bus Tickets.

ORGANISERS

  • Department of Posts conducted Meghdoot Award Function 2020 on December 15, 2020 .

In a major step towards providing the citizen centric services, a memorandum of Understanding was signed by Department of Posts with CSC e-Governance Services India Limited.

SIGNIFICANCE

  • This will give a flip to setting a common service centres in more than 10000 Post Offices across the country.

Through this agreement, Department of Posts intends to provide a one-stop solution for all e-Governance services.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • The whole model will be assisted through its “Common Service Centres(PO-CSCs)” in Post Offices.
  •  These “PO-CSCs” will also contribute to ease of living and ease of business to the nearby digitally deprived rural and semi-urban population by leveraging the strengths of its network.
SUGGESTED READING : DAKPAY 
     SOURCES:  PIB  | Current Affairs News Analysis for UPSC | 16th Dec 2020

Red List Assessment of Indian grasshoppers

      HEADLINES:

Red List Assessment of Indian grasshoppers to kickstart

      WHY IN NEWS:

The assessment will include a recently-discovered grasshopper in Eravikulam National Park in Kerala

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Conservation of Biodiversity : IUCN

      ISSUE: 

The Grasshopper Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is initiating the Red List Assessment of grasshoppers in India .

GRASSHOPPER SPECIALIST GROUP FOR IUCN

Current Affairs News Analysis for UPSC | 16th Dec 2020

Tettilobus trishula‘ or ‘Shiva’s Pygmy Trishula‘, the new species of grasshopper discovered by scientists.
  • It is for the first time by the end of this year.
  • The assessment will include a new species of grasshopper discovered recently in the Eravikulam National Park in Kerala’s Idukki district.
  • So far, none of the Indian grasshopper species have been listed in the Red Data Book.

 The Red List of Threatened Species, founded in 1964, is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species.

  • Most of the 1,033 known Indian grasshopper species were described by foreign researchers.
  • The insects remain a neglected group.

FUNDING

  • The financial support will be from the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund and ground support from Chennai-based Care Earth Trust.

Current Affairs News Analysis for UPSC | 16th Dec 2020

The ‘Euscelimena harpago‘, an Indian grasshopper commonly called ‘Pygmy Grasshopper’.

  • The Red List Assessment of the grasshoppers will start from the the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (NBR) on the border between Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka.
  • The Red List assessment of endemic grasshoppers of NBR would update their conservation status and kick off India’s grasshopper conservation activities.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • The NBR is the official name for a set of nature reserves under the management of three forest departments of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka.

Thirty endemic species of the NBR will be listed.

  • There will be a pioneering survey. Conservation status will be assigned to each species in the coming year.
     SOURCES:   PIB  | Current Affairs News Analysis for UPSC | 16th Dec 2020

Fungal scab attack

      HEADLINES:

Fungal scab attack can spell doom for Kashmir’s apple growers this year

      WHY IN NEWS:

  • Early, intense snowfall in November 2019 & a wet monsoon produced conditions for outbreak; lockdown abated it; farmers blame spurious fungicides too
  • Farmers have blamed the pandemic for the infection, apart from substandard fungicides for the breakout of the infection.
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Agriculture

      ISSUE: 

Kashmir’s apple output may be hit by scab disease this season as a fallout of climatic factors.

KASHMIRI APPLE : SCAB INFECTION

Kashmiri apple disease

The apple scab disease returned in Jammu and Kashmir after 35 years. SOURCES : DOWNTOEARTH
  • While the fruits would remain edible, the fungal infection would leave marks, making it tough for farmers to get a good price.

Apple orchard owners across the valley are reporting the fungus (Venturia inaequalis).

  • His yield has dropped to 30 boxes this season, way below the normal 150-250.

BLAME IT ON CLIMATE CHANGE

  • Early, intense snowfall in November 2019 —which usually hampers yield — was followed by an extremely wet monsoon, which aids fungal growth.

Farmers may have missed applying fungicides due to heavy rains in March-April.

  • A section of the farmers have alleged that the meteorological department went astray with its predictions.
  • Scab spray must be scheduled religiously beginning February till the harvest season.
  • Farmers usually also spray small doses of pesticides from February until the November harvest.
  • Many failed to sanitise their orchards due to untimely snow.

The changing climate in the Valley and continuous rainfall as a major reason for the infection.

  • Use of spurious pesticides may have hampered disease prevention as well.
  • The Jammu and Kashmir horticulture department failed to monitor pesticide quality, leading to spurious stocks.

HOW IT WORKS

  • Leaves and fruits are highly susceptible to apple scab when they are young and growing.
  • Mature leaves and fruits gain resistance as they age.
  • During the main growth period in early spring, there is more susceptible tissue available for infection and therefore, greater risk of disease.
  • It noted that apple scab generally did not kill trees, but can cause defoliation, that weakens the tree and influences its survival during winter conditions.

It observed that early infections could lead to abnormal growth (fruit deformation) and fruit drop.
 

  • The impact on the fruits are similar to those on the leaves, but as they age, they produce cracks.

OUTBREAK NOT ALONE

  • The absence of crop insurance will likely hit the farmers even more.
  • Apple is a perishable item and the chances of losses are quite high.
  • The apple industry provides livelihood to over 47 per cent of the population of Kashmir.

The region has more area under apple cultivation than the United States, the world’s second-largest producer.

  • Some 2 million tonnes are exported annually for about Rs 8,000 crore.
  • Nearly half of India’s total land under apple cultivation and high yield has meant 70 per cent of the country’s apples come from the Union territory.

NET YEILD
1,940,236 tonnes of apples in 2017-18; 2,093,386 tonnes in 2018-19 and 1,950,600 tonnes in 2019-20.

  • Farmers couldn’t buy fertilisers due to the lockdown to curb the pandemic.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

SOLUTIONS

  • Successful apple scab disease management requires an integrated approach, depending on the grower’s goals.
  • Such approach combines resistant cultivars, cultural practices, biological agents and use of fungicides.

The disease can be minimised / prevented through good horticultural practices such as:

  1. Selecting sites that provide more than six hours of sunlight a day.
  2. Spacing trees adequately following proper pruning practices to open the tree canopy;
  3. Sanitising in orchards to prevent pseudothecial formation in overwintering apple leaves.
     SOURCES: DownToEarth  | Current Affairs News Analysis for UPSC | 16th Dec 2020

U.S. imposes CAATSA sanctions on Turkey

      HEADLINES:

U.S. imposes CAATSA sanctions on Turkey over S-400 purchase

      WHY IN NEWS:

  • ‘We won’t tolerate big deals with Russia’s defence sector’
  • The issue of sanctions under Section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for purchase of Russian arms is of particular interest to New Delhi.
  • New Delhi,which is also in the process of buying the S-400 from Moscow.
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: IR

      ISSUE: 

The U.S. has imposed sanctions on NATO-ally Turkey for its purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defence system

SANCTIONS ON TURKEY

  • Today’s action sends a clear signal that the United States will fully implement CAATSA Section 231 and will not tolerate significant transactions with Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors.
  • Sanctions were imposed on Turkey’s main defence procurement agency, the Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB).

It mentions;  “Turkey is knowingly engaging in a significant transaction with Rosoboronexport (ROE), Russia’s main arms export entity”.

BAN ON LOANS

These SSB sanctions comprise :

  • A ban on granting specific U.S. export licences and authorisations for any goods or technology.
  • A ban on loans or credits by U.S. financial institutions totalling more than $10 million in any 12-month period
  • A ban on U.S. Export-Import Bank assistance for exports
  • Mandated U.S. opposition to loans by international financial organisations to SSB.
  • Sanctions will include full blocking sanctions and visa restrictions on SSB president Ismail Demir and other officials.

The United States made clear to Turkey at the highest levels and on numerous occasions that its purchase of the S-400 system would endanger the security of U.S. military technology.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • This decision resulted in Turkey’s suspension and pending removal from the global F-35 Joint Strike Fighter partnership.
     SOURCES:  THE HINDU  | Current Affairs News Analysis for UPSC | 16th Dec 2020

Himalayan serow

      HEADLINES:

It’s a goat, it’s a pig, it’s a serow: Explaining an unusual sighting in the Spiti cold desert

      WHY IN NEWS:

A Himalayan serow has been sighted for the first time in the Himalayan cold desert region. Why is the sighting significant?

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: IUCN

      ISSUE: 

HIMALAYAN SEROWS

Himalayan serow

Himalayan serows

  • Taxonomically, Himalayan serows is a subspecies of the mainland serow (Capricornis sumatraensis).

DISTRIBUTIONS

  • Himalayan serows are typically found at altitudes between 2,000 metres and 4,000 metres.

There are several species of serows, and all of them are found in Asia.

  • A Himalayan serow has been sighted for the first time in the Himalayan cold desert region.

CHARACTERSTICS

  • A biologist has decribed a Himalayan serow as resembling a cross between a goat, a donkey, a cow, and a pig.
  • It’s a medium-sized mammal with a large head, thick neck, short limbs, long, mule-like ears, and a coat of dark hair.

Himalayan serows are herbivores.

  • They are known to be found in eastern, central, and western Himalayas, but not in the Trans Himalayan region.
  • The Himalayan serow, or Capricornis sumatraensis thar, is restricted to the Himalayan region.

WHERE HAS THIS SEROW BEEN SIGHTED?

  • The animal was spotted by locals and wildlife officials at a riverside rocky wall near Hurling village in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh.
  • This is the first recorded human sighting of the serow in Himachal Pradesh.
  • The animal has been spotted a few times earlier in the state, but that has always been through camera traps.

WHY IS THE SIGHTING OF THE SEROW UNUSUAL?

  • Spiti lies in the cold mountain desert region of the western Himalaya, and its valley floor has an average elevation of 4,270 metres above sea level.
  • Serows are generally not found at this altitude, and never before has a serow been seen in the Himalayan cold desert.

It is otherwise a very elusive animal, and few people have ever caught so much as a glimpse of it.

CONSERVATION STATUS

  • According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Himalayan serows have experienced significant declines in population size, range size and habitat in the last decade.

Previously assessed as ‘near threatened’, the Himalayan serow is now been categorised as ‘vulnerable’ in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

  • It is listed under Schedule I of The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, which provides absolute protection.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • Himalayan serows are solitary by nature, and even though it has been sighted twice, it is “too clever” to be caught for rescue purposes.
     SOURCES:    IE  | Current Affairs News Analysis for UPSC | 16th Dec 2020

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