Current Affairs Analysis

10th June 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Challenger Deep; Krishna river dispute; Krishna river; Godavari river; Post COVID recovery of Economy; India’s rising forex reserves; Saturn's moon Titan; Beenu Asteroid; Thermal fracturing; OSIRIS-REx Mission; Rhine River; International Yoga Day; India's first online waste exchange; Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act; Article 217(1); Saffron and Heeng; R3dr0x; Cova App; COVA BEEP etc.
By IASToppers
June 10, 2020

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Centre to take stock of Krishna and Godavari water utilization

Economy

  • Post COVID recovery of Economy
  • India’s rising forex reserves amid COVID-19

Science and Technology

  • Saturn’s moon Titan drifts away faster
  • Sunlight can crack rocks on asteroids

Also in News

  • Challenger Deep
  • Rhine River

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Curtain raiser event of International Yoga Day
  • India’s first online waste exchange
  • Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act
  • Article 217(1)
  • Saffron and Heeng
  • R3dr0x
  • Cova App
  • COVA BEEP

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Polity & Governance

Centre to take stock of Krishna and Godavari water utilization

The Union government is going to take stock of water utilization from the Krishna and Godavari rivers following Telangana and Andhra Pradesh filing complaints against each other.

What is the issue?

  • The Secretary, Department of Water Resources, Union Ministry of Jal Sakthi has asked the Chairpersons of the Krishna and Godavari River Management Boards to procure the details of the irrigation projects in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra and Karnataka and submit them to the Centre in a month.
  • The main objective of the exercise appears to be to assess whether surplus water will be available for the new projects in the light of the river water sharing disputes.
  • Telangana and Andhra Pradesh share stretches of the Krishna and the Godavari and own their tributaries.
  • They have embarked on several new projects without getting clearance from the river boards, the Central Water Commission and the apex council comprising the Union Water Resources Minister and the Chief Ministers, as mandated by the Andhra Pradesh reorganization Act, 2014.
  • While the Godavari discharges over 3,000 TMC ft into the sea, the Krishna has almost dried up, with Maharashtra and Karnataka taking up large projects.
  • Telangana has also taken up several projects on the Krishna and the Godavari.

Krishna Water Dispute:

  • The Krishna is an east-flowing river that originates at Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra and merges with the Bay of Bengal, flowing through Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
  • A dispute over the sharing of Krishna waters has been ongoing for many decades, beginning with the 1892 agreement between the Mysore Princely State and the Madras Presidency and the 1933 agreement between the Hyderabad and the Madras.
  • Ever after Independence the dispute continued between the successors Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal:

  • In 1969, the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT) was set up under the Inter-State River Water Dispute Act, 1956.
  • KWDT divided the Krishna water at 75 per cent dependability into three parts: among Maharashtra (560 TMC), Karnataka (700 TMC) and Andhra Pradesh (800 TMC).

KWDT II:

  • The second KWDT was constituted by the Government of India following requests by all three states in April 2004.
  • After the reorganization of Andhra Pradesh, a case was filed by AP and Telangana to redistribute water among the four states.
  • Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in their petition had sought fresh allocation of Krishna River water among all four riparian states.
  • They had urged that Section 89 in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014 meant redistribution of Krishna water among all the four riparian States.

KWDT-II verdict:

  • The tribunal said that Section 89 the Andhra Pradesh reorganization Act, 2014 was not applicable to all four riparian states but is meant only for Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
  • There was no need to re-allocate of Krishna River water among all four riparian states.
  • The river water should be re-allocated between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, from the share of undivided Andhra Pradesh. (800 TMC)

River Krishna:

  • Krishna river is third longest river in India after Ganges and Godavari rivers.
  • It starts in Maharashtra and joins in Bay of Bengal at Hamasaladeevi, Andhra Pradesh.
  • The principal tributaries joining Krishna are the Ghataprabha, the Malaprabha, the Bhima, the Tungabhadra and the Musi. The largest tributary is Tungabhadra River.
  • The delta of the river is one of the productive regions in India.
  • The area also housed the prehistoric Ikshvaku and Satavahana sun reign of kings.
  • Wai is the oldest city on the riverbanks of Krishna in the Satara District of Maharashtra.

River Godavari:

  • Godavari is the largest of the peninsular rivers of India.
  • It ranks as the second longest river in the country and known as ‘Dakshin Ganga’.
  • The river originates near Trimbak in Nashik District of Maharashtra.
  • After that the river runs towards the east, traversing the Deccan Plateau and empties into the Bay of Bengal at Narasapuram in West Godavari district, Andhra Pradesh.
  • Major tributaries of the river are as follows: Manjira River, Indravati, Sabari River and Bindusara River
  • The drainage basin of the river is present in six states of India: Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, and Orissa.
[Ref: Indian Express, The Hindu]

Economy

Post COVID recovery of Economy

The factors that determine the shape of recovery include the overall duration of the pandemic, the effect on jobs and household incomes, the extent of fiscal stimulus provided by the government etc.

Possible scenarios of recovery:

1. Z-shaped recovery:

  • If the economic disruption was just for a small period where the ability to spend was restricted, rather than income, it is possible to imagine a “Z”-shaped recovery.
  • Ex: Salons, Cinema halls etc. were shut.
  • The GDP here means absolute GDP and not the GDP’s growth rate.

2. V-shaped recovery:

  • But if the economic disruption lasts longer resulting in several activities being abstained instead of being suspended temporarily.
  • Ex: Tourist places losing out one season of tourism completely this year.
  • In such a scenario, and assuming incomes and jobs are not permanently lost, the economic growth recovers sharply and returns to the path it was following before the disruption.
  • This is called a “V”-shaped recovery.

3. U-shaped recovery:

  • But if this recovery is slower and takes more time because the economic disruption resulted in several jobs being lost and people losing incomes, drawing down on their savings etc.
  • Then the economy will follow a “U”-shaped path.
  • In such a scenario, after the initial fall, the recovery is gradual before regaining its momentum.
  • If this process is more-long drawn than it throws up the “elongated U” shape.

4. W-shaped recovery:

  • W shape allows for the possibility of a V-shaped recovery, which is pegged back by a second wave of infections until of course, the economy recovers for the second time.
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5. L-shaped recovery:

  • The L-shaped recovery scenario is the most dreadful.
  • Here the economy fails to regain the level of GDP even after years go by.
  • As the shape shows, there is a permanent loss to the economy’s ability to produce.

Indian Scenario:

  • Most economists are unanimous that India’s economy will contract in the current financial year.
  • The difference of opinion is only about the extent of this contraction.
  • The range varies between minus 4% to minus 14%.
  • Many economists are of the opinion that after hitting rock bottom this year, the economy will start its recovery in the next financial year (2021-22).
  • According to Pronab Sen, former Chief Statistician of India India’s economy will contract not just this year but also in 2021-22.
  • It is expected that India is likely to end up with an “elongated U-shape” recovery.
[Ref: Indian Express]

India’s rising forex reserves amid Covid-19

As per RBI, India’s foreign exchange reserves surged USD 3.43 billion to a fresh all-time high of USD 493.48 billion for the week ended May 29.

What is the issue?

  • India’s foreign exchange reserves are slated to hit the $500 billion mark soon.
  • In the month of May, forex reserves jumped by $12.4 billion to an all-time high of $493.48 billion (around Rs 37.30 lakh crore) for the week ended May 29.
  • The level of foreign exchange reserves has steadily increased by 8,400 per cent from $5.8 billion as of March 1991 to the current level.

What are forex reserves?

  • Forex reserves are external assets in the form gold, SDRs (special drawing rights of the IMF) and foreign currency assets (capital inflows to the capital markets, FDI and external commercial borrowings) accumulated by India and controlled by the Reserve Bank of India.
  • Foreign exchange reserves are held in support of a range of objectives like supporting and maintaining confidence in the policies for monetary and exchange rate management including the capacity to intervene in support of the national or union currency.
  • It will also limit external vulnerability by maintaining foreign currency liquidity to absorb shocks during times of crisis or when access to borrowing is curtailed.

Why are forex reserves rising despite the slowdown?

  • The major reason for the rise in forex reserves is the rise in investment in foreign portfolio investors in Indian stocks and foreign direct investments (FDIs).
  • Foreign investors had acquired stakes in several Indian companies in the last two months.
  • FPIs have returned to the Indian markets and bought stocks worth over $2.75 billion in the first week of June.
  • The fall in crude oil prices has brought down the oil import bill, saving the precious foreign exchange.
  • Similarly, overseas remittances and foreign travels have fallen steeply – down 61 per cent in April from $12.87 billion.
  • The months of May and June are expected to show further decline in dollar outflows.

What’s the significance of rising forex reserves?

  • The rising forex reserves comforts in managing India’s external and internal financial issues at a time when the economic growth is set to contract by 1.5 per cent in 2020-21.
  • It’s a big cushion in the event of any crisis on the economic front and enough to cover the import bill of the country for a year.
  • The rising reserves have also helped the rupee to strengthen against the dollar.
  • Reserves will provide a level of confidence to markets that a country can meet its external obligations and demonstrate the backing of domestic currency by external assets.
  • It assists the government in meeting its foreign exchange needs and external debt obligations and maintain a reserve for national disasters or emergencies.

What does the RBI do with the forex reserves?

  • The Reserve Bank functions as the custodian and manager of forex reserves, and operates within the overall policy framework agreed upon with the government.
  • The RBI sells the dollar when the rupee weakens and buys the dollar when the rupee strengthens.
  • Of late, the RBI has been buying dollars from the market to shore up the forex reserves.
  • When the RBI mops up dollars, it releases an equal amount in the rupees.
  • This excess liquidity is sterilized through issue of bonds and securities and LAF operations.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Science and Technology

Saturn’s moon Titan drifts away faster

A new research led by scientists at NASA and the Italian Space Agency has found that Titan is receding away from Saturn at a faster pace than previously thought.

Major Highlights:

  • Titan, a moon of Saturnis currently 759,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) from Saturn.
  • The scientists using data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft found Titan drifting a hundred times faster than previously understood — about 4 inches (11 centimeters) per year.

Drifting of Moon:

  • The Moons of the host planets float away (move away) from them a tiny bit more each year.
  • As a moon orbits, its gravity pulls on the planet, causing a temporary bulge in the planet as it passes.
  • Over time, the energy created by bulging and subsiding transfers from the planet to the moon and nudge it farther and farther out.
  • Our Moon drifts 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) from Earth each year.

Significance of study:

  • The revised rate of its drift suggests that the moon started out much closer to Saturn, which would mean the whole system expanded more quickly than previously believed.
  • The findings on Titan’s rate of drift also provide important confirmation of a new theory that explains and predicts how planets affect their moons’ orbits.
  • The theoretical astrophysicist Jim Fuller predicted that outer moons can migrate outward at a similar rate to inner moons because they become locked in a different kind of orbit pattern that links to the particular wobble of a planet and slings them outward.
  • The experimental results that are in full agreement with Jim Fuller’s theory, which predicted a much faster migration of Titan.
[Ref: TOI]

Sunlight can crack rocks on asteroids

The images captured by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft have discovered that rocks on asteroid Bennu could crack as sunlight heats them up during the day and the rocks cool down at night.

Major Highlights:

  • For the first time evidence for this process called thermal fracturing has been definitively observed on an object without an atmosphere.
  • The scientists involved in the study found features consistent with thermal fracturing using the spacecraft’s OSIRIS-REx Camera Suite, which can see features smaller than one centimeter.
  • It can help in understanding what the surface used to be like and what it will be after millions of years from now. 

Thermal Fracturing:

  • Like any weathering process, thermal fracturing causes the evolution of boulders and planetary surfaces over time.
  • This ranges from changing the shape and size of individual boulders to producing pebbles or fine-grained regolith, to breaking down crater walls.
  • It is to be noted that rocks expand during daytime when sunlight heats them and they contract at night, causing stress that forms cracks, which grow slowly over time.
  • Thermal fracturing could be an important weathering process on asteroids, which are airless objects.
  • For example: The daytime temperature on Bennu can touch as high as 127 degrees Celsius, and nighttime lows plummet to about minus 73 degrees Celsius.

OSIRIS-Rex Mission:

  • The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS REx) is a planned NASA asteroid study and sample return mission.

Aim:

  • To study asteroid 101955 Bennu, a carbonaceous asteroid and return to Earth a sample for detailed analysis in 2023.

Why was Bennu chosen?

  • Bennu was chosen as target asteroid for the mission as it was fit in the three criteria: accessibility, size and composition.
  • Scientists at NASA need an asteroid that they can easily travel to, retrieve a sample from and return to Earth, all within a few years’ time.
  • The closest asteroids are called near-Earth objects and they travel within 1.3 Astronomical Units (AU) of the sun.
  • For a mission like OSIRIS-REx, the most accessible asteroids are somewhere between 0.08 – 1.6 AU.
  • Further Bennu had similar orbit to Earth.

Significance:

  • Material returned is expected to enable scientists to learn more about the time before the formation and evolution of the Solar System, initial stages of planet formation, and the source of organic compounds which led to the formation of life.

Key Fact:

  • One Astronomical Unit is approximately equal to the distance between the Sun and the Earth: i.e. approximately 93 million miles.
[Ref: The Hindu, Zee news]

Also in News

Challenger Deep

Kathy Sullivan has become the first woman in the history to dive to the Challenger Deep, the deepest known spot in the ocean.

Why in news?

  • On June 7, astronaut and oceanographer Kathy Sullivan, who was the first American woman to walk in space in 1984, became the first woman and the fifth person in history to descend to the Challenger Deep.
  • Challenger Deep is the deepest known spot in the world’s ocean in the Mariana Trench, which is seven miles below the surface of the Pacific Ocean.
  • She made her descent in the two-person submersible (vehicles that can be operated underwater).
  • The expedition aims to observe volcanic vents, identify new species and conduct the extensive mapping of the US Exclusive Economic Zone at the request of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

What is Challenger Deep?

  • According to NOAA, the average depth of the ocean is about 12,100 feet and the deepest part is called the Challenger Deep, which is located below the surface of the western Pacific Ocean.
  • It is approximately 36,200 feet deep.
  • The British Ship HMS Challenger discovered Challenger Deep between 1872-1876.
  • The first dive at Challenger Deep was made in 1960 by Lieutenant Don Walsh and Swiss scientist Jacques Piccard on a submersible.

Why are scientists interested in deep ocean areas?

  • As per NOAA, most of the existing knowledge of the oceans comes from shallower waters, while deeper waters remain relatively unexplored.
  • Ocean exploration is disciplined and organized and includes rigorous observations and documentation of biological, chemical, physical, geological, and archaeological aspects of the ocean.
  • Finding out more about the deep ocean areas can potentially reveal new sources for medical drugs, food, energy resources and other products.
  • Significantly, information from the deep oceans can also help to predict earthquakes and tsunamis, and help us understand how we are affecting and getting affected by the Earth’s environment.

Key Fact:

  • It is difficult for most private citizens or recreational divers to travel more than 100 feet below the surface of the ocean.
  • This is due to the amount of air needed to keep lungs pressurized at depth and because of nitrogen narcosis, an intoxication by nitrogen that starts to set in around that depth.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Rhine river

Rhine River is entering dry summer months with water levels at their lowest in two decades, prompting fears of shipping disruption on Europe’s most important inland waterway.

About the river:

  • The Rhine is one of the longest and most important rivers in Europe.
  • It runs for over 1,232 km from its source-the Swiss Alps (in Switzerland).
  • The Rhine flows through six countries -Switzerland, Principality of Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, France and the Netherlands.
  • It carries cargo barges through some of Europe’s most important industrial zones before emptying into the North Sea at Rotterdam (the Netherlands).
  • It is the second-longest river in Central and Western Europe after the Danube.
Rhine River Cruise | Bike Tour Rhine River | Backroads

Concerns:

  • Forecasters have warned that Europe faces a tinder-dry summer, conditions that would spark a repeat of an October 2018 impasse that was severe enough to dent German economic growth.
  • A disruption was seen in 2018 when waters fell so low the river became impassable to industrial ships, severing downriver factories from North Sea ports.
  • Rhine waters have dropped 40% since the start of April, after central Europe experienced an exceptionally dry spring, with rainfall below its usual levels.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Key Facts for Prelims:

Curtain raiser event of International Yoga Day

The AYUSH Ministry in association with Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga will host a television event as curtain raiser of the International Day of Yoga 2020.

Major Highlights:

  • The curtain raiser would mark 10-day official countdown to International Day of Yoga 2020.
  • In the light of COVID-19, this year the International Yoga Day is set to go digital.
  • People are encouraged to practice Yoga at their homes.
  • PM Modi has also announced an International video blogging contest My life, My Yoga for the general public.

International Day of Yoga 2020:

  • The International Day of Yoga is celebrated annually on June 21 to raise global awareness about the benefits of the ancient Indian practice of Yoga.
  • In December, 2014, the United Nations General Assembly declared June 21 as ‘International Day of Yoga’ through a resolution which saw the highest number of nations joining as co-sponsors ever for any General Assembly resolution.
  • Adopted under the agenda of ‘Global Health and Foreign Policy,’ resolution recognized that Yoga provides a holistic approach to health and well-being.
  • The first Yoga day was celebrated by the United Nations on June 21, 2015.

Why is Yoga day celebrated on 21st June?

  • 21st June is the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere (shortest in the southern hemisphere), having special significance in many parts of the world.
  • From the perspective of yoga, the summer solstice marks the transition to Dakshinayana.
  • The second full moon after summer solstice is known as Guru Poornima.
  • Shiva, the first yogi (Adi Yogi), is said to have begun imparting the knowledge of yoga to the rest of mankind on this day, and became the first guru (Adi Guru).
  • Dakshinayana is also considered a time when there is natural support for those pursuing spiritual practices.

Key Facts:

  • The word ‘yoga’ derives from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolizing the union of body and consciousness.
[Ref: AIR, Scroll]

India’s first online waste exchange

  • Andhra Pradesh has recently launched the country’s first online waste exchange for safe disposal of toxic wastes and promoting recycling and reuse.
  • The platform is to be managed by the Andhra Pradesh Environment Management Corporation (APEMC) and aims to facilitate 100 per cent safe disposal of toxic wastes.
  • APEMC will track the waste till it is disposed off safely while working with industries to implement the 6 Rs– Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refurbish, Redesign and Remanufacture.
  • Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board will make necessary provisions for industries and organisations to hand over the waste generated by their units which cannot be treated within their premises to APEMC for management of waste, in accordance with Environmental Rules & Regulations.

Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act

  • The Supreme Court said that States/Union Territories should withdraw prosecution/complaints under Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act and other related offences lodged against migrant labourers who are alleged to have violated lockdown measures by moving on roads.
  • Section 51 is related with the Punishment for, without reasonable cause, obstructing any officer or refuses to comply with any direction given by the Government.
  • A migrant worker who walked home would have faced a year in prison or been fined or suffered both if found guilty of obstructing the law under Section 51 of the Act.

Article 217(1)

  • In exercise of the power conferred by clause (1) of Article 217 of the Constitution of India, the President appointed Javed Iqbal Wani as a judge of Jammu and Kashmir High Court.
  • The appointment has been done in lines with other High Courts of India.
  • The Chief Justice and Judges of the High Courts are to be appointed by the President under clause (1) of Article 217 of the Constitution.
  • Before the removal of Article 370, the Judges of the Jammu & Kashmir High Court were appointed by the President under section 95 of the Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir.

Saffron and Heeng

  • To increase the production of these Saffron and Heeng in India, the Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (CSIR-IHBT) and the Department of Agriculture, Government of Himachal Pradesh, have forged strategic partnership.
  • Saffron and Heeng (Asafoetida) are the most valuable spices of the world and widely used in Indian cuisine since time immemorial.
  • In India, the annual demand for Saffron spice is 100 tons per year but its average production is about 6-7 tons per year. Hence a large amount of Saffron is being imported.
  • Similarly, there is no production of heeng in India and currently about 1200 tons of raw heeng worth Rs 600 crore is being imported from Afghanistan, Iran, and Uzbekistan.

R3dr0x

  • US-based cybersecurity research firm said that internal documents of Defence PSU, BEML (Bharat Earth Movers Limited) have been leaked on marketplaces in the dark web.
  • The firm suspects that a hacktivist or a Pakistan-based threat actor called ‘R3dr0x’ has targeted the website and leaked sensitive data files and email accounts and password of seven employees.

Cova App

  • To rein in truant suspected coronavirus cases put under home quarantine, who violate guidelines and venture outside, the Punjab government is ready with a plan to put lockable Global Positioning System (GPS) bands on their wrists.
  • The move has been necessitated after a large number of persons who were home quarantined did not install on their phones the Cova app – the application by the state government on coronavirus pandemic.

COVID BEEP

  • COVID BEEP is the country’s first indigenous wireless physiological parameters monitoring system for the affected patients.
  • It is developed by Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) medical college, Hyderabad in collaboration with Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad and the Department of Atomic Energy.
  • COVID BEEP stands for Continuous Oxygenation & Vital Information Detection Biomed ECIL ESIC Pod.
  • The latest version has incorporated NIBP (non-invasive blood pressure) monitoring, ECG (electrocardiogram) monitoring and respiratory rate.
  • It will greatly reduce the transmission risk as well as help save resources like personal protective equipment (PPEs).
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