Current Affairs Analysis

15th September 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Himalaya Diwas; Sessions of parliament; Termination of Parliament; Adjournment; Adjournment sine die; Prorogation; Dissolution; The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020; Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020; Climate Migration; Hybrid warfare; Engineer’s Day; M Visvesvaraya; Graphene; K.N. Dikshit committee; The Satyamev Jayate or Truth Fund; Strategic importance of Uttarakhand; Trans-fats; Special Security Force; Central Industrial Security Force; Domestic defence manufacturing; Pesticides Management Bill, 2020; Mekedatu project; Phosphine gas on Venus; etc.
By IASToppers
September 15, 2020

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Monsoon session of parliament begins

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Bills for transformation of agriculture in Lok Sabha
  • Proposed Pesticides Management Bill, 2020

Issues related to Health & Education

  • India, south Asian neighbours must act against trans-fat now: WHO

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Climate Migration in middle income agri-dependent countries
  • Karnataka to seek nod for Mekedatu project

Defence & Security Issues

  • UP will get a new special force soon
  • Measure to help domestic defence manufacturing
  • What is Hybrid warfare?

Science & Technology

  • Scientists find ‘life harbouring’ gas on Venus

Persons in News

  • Engineer’s Day- M Visvesvaraya

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Himalaya Diwas
  • Graphene
  • N. Dikshit committee
  • The Satyamev Jayate or Truth Fund
  • Strategic importance of Uttarakhand

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Polity & Governance

Monsoon session of parliament begins

The monsoon session of Parliament, delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, began with strict safety protocols in place.

Parliament session:

  • The President from time to time summons each House of Parliament to meet.
  • The maximum gap between two sessions of Parliament cannot be more than six months.
  • There are usually three sessions in a year:
    1. Budget Session (February to May)
    2. Monsoon Session (July to September)
    3. Winter Session (November to December)
  • A session of Parliament is the period spanning between the first sitting of a House and its prorogation (or dissolution in the case of the Lok Sabha).

Termination of Parliament:

  • A session of Parliament consists of many meetings.
  • Each meeting of a day consists of two sittings, i.e. a morning sitting from 11 am to 1 pm and
    post-lunch sitting from 2 pm to 6 pm.
  • A sitting of Parliament can be terminated by adjournment or adjournment sine die or prorogation or dissolution (in the case of the Lok Sabha).

1. Adjournment:

  • An adjournment suspends the work in a sitting for a specified time, which may be hours, days or weeks.

2. Adjournment Sine Die:

  • Adjournment sine die means terminating a sitting of Parliament for an indefinite period.
  • The House is adjourned without naming a day for reassembly, it is called adjournment sine die.
  • The power of adjournment as well as adjournment sine die lies with the presiding officer of
    the House.
  • He can also call a sitting of the House before the date or time to which it has been adjourned or at any time after the House has been adjourned sine die.

3. Prorogation:

  • The presiding officer (Speaker or Chairman) declares the House adjourned sine die, when the business of a session is completed.
  • Within the next few days, the President issues a notification for prorogation of the session.
  • However, the President can also prorogue the House while in session.

4. Dissolution:

  • Rajya Sabha is a permanent House, so it is not subject to dissolution and only the Lok Sabha is subject to dissolution.
  • Unlike a prorogation, a dissolution ends the very life of the existing House, and a new House is constituted after general elections are held.

Types of Dissolutions:

The dissolution of the Lok Sabha can take place in two ways:

  1. Automatic dissolution: On the expiry of its tenure of five years or the terms as extended during a national emergency.
  2. Whenever the President decides to dissolve the House, which he is authorized to do.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Government Schemes & Policies

Bills for transformation of agriculture in Lok Sabha

Three bills aimed at transformation of agriculture and raising farmers’ income were introduced in Lok Sabha recently.

1. The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020:

  • The Bill seeks to provide for creation of an ecosystem where farmers and traders enjoy the freedom of choice relating to sale and purchase of farmers’ produce.
  • It facilitates remunerative prices through competitive alternative trading channels to promote efficient, transparent and barrier-free inter-State and intra-State trade and commerce.
  • It aims to provide a facilitative framework for electronic trading and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

2. Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020:

  • The Bill seeks to provide for a national framework on farming agreements that protects and empowers farmers.
  • It aims to engage with agri-business firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters or large retailers for farm services and sale of future farming produce at a mutually agreed remunerative price framework in a fair and transparent manner.

3. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020:

  • The Bill seeks to remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities.
  • This will remove fears of private investors of excessive regulatory interference in their business operations.
  • The freedom to produce, hold, move, distribute and supply will lead to harnessing of economies of scale and attract private sector/foreign direct investment into agriculture sector.

Need for bills:

  • Farmers in India suffered from restrictions in selling agri-produce outside the notified APMC market yards.
  • Barriers existed in free flow of agriculture produce between various States owing to the prevalence of various APMC legislations enacted by the State Governments.
  • Indian agriculture is characterized by fragmentation due to small holding sizes and has certain weaknesses such as weather dependence, production uncertainties and market unpredictability.
  • This makes agriculture risky and inefficient in respect of both input & output management.
  • While India has become surplus in most agri-commodities, farmers have been unable to get better prices due to lack of investment in cold storage, warehouses, processing and export as the entrepreneurial spirit gets dampened due to Essential Commodities Act.
  • Farmers suffer huge losses when there are bumper harvests, especially of perishable commodities.

Significance:

  • It will reduce cost of marketing and improve income of farmers.
  • Farmers will engage in direct marketing thereby eliminating intermediaries resulting in full realization of price. Farmers have been provided adequate protection.
  • Effective dispute resolution mechanism has been provided for with clear time lines for redressal.
  • The legislation will transfer the risk of market unpredictability from the farmer to the sponsor and also enable the farmer to access modern technology and better inputs.
  • The legislation will help drive up investment in cold storages and modernization of food supply chain.
[Ref: PIB]

Proposed Pesticides Management Bill, 2020

The Pesticides Management Bill (PMB), 2020 introduced in the Rajya Sabha on March 23, 2020 to replace The Insecticides Act, 1968.

  • The Insecticides Act, 1968 currently governs the registration, manufacturing, export, sale and use of pesticides in India.

About the Pesticides Management Bill (PMB), 2020

  • The bill will come up for discussion in the upcoming Monsoon Session of Parliament that starts on September 14.
  • The PMB defines pesticides as substances that destroy or control the spread of pests in agricultural commodities and animal feeds.
  • The Bill includes a provision to compensate farmers in case of losses due to the use of spurious or low-quality pesticides. The punishment for cheating farmers has also been drastically enhanced so that it will act as a deterrent to wrong-doers.
  • The Centre may also form a fund to handle compensation in cases of losses due to the application of pesticides.
  • Any person who wants to import, manufacture or export pesticides will have to register under the new Bill and provide all details regarding any claims, expected performance, efficacy, safety, usage instructions etc. The information will also include details on the pesticide’s potential effects on the environment.
  • PMB, 2020 would not allow the manufacture and export of pesticides not registered for use in India even if these are approved in other countries.
  • PMB 2020 also has strict penalties for wrongdoers, ranging from fines of Rs. 50 lacs to 5 years imprisonment.
  • Experts call for wider consultations on the bill and for it to be placed before a select committee.

Are experts satisfied with the bill?

  • Experts said PMB should allow Indian entities to manufacture and export of non – registered (in India) pesticides, which would help generate employment opportunities and earn foreign exchange.
  • PMB, 2020 does not reflect the government’s repeated emphasis on the need for doubling farmer’s income by 2022.
  • The demands presented by the Ashok Dalwai Committee, constituted in 2018 to promote domestic and indigenous industries and agricultural exports from India, are missing from PMB, 2020.
  • The present PMB, however, will increase the import of formulations and will damage the export of agro-chemicals
  • Another body, Bharat Krishak Samaj, has also said that the provisions in the bill may increase import of formulations, and will discourage export of agro chemicals, hurting the local agriculture ecosystem.
  • The Bill has been drafted without considering views of all stakeholders, including farmers, industries, NGOs and government organisations.
  • The Bill needs to be placed before an advisory committee of Parliament.

Key Facts:

  • India is the fourth-largest producer of pesticides in the world, with the market segmentation tilted mainly towards insecticides, with herbicides on the increase in the recent past.
  • It is reported that eight states consume more than 70% of the pesticides used in India.
  • Amongst the crops, paddy accounts for the maximum share of consumption (26-28%), followed by cotton (18-20%), notwithstanding all the hype around Bt technology.
  • There are 292 pesticides registered in the country, and it is estimated that there are around 104 pesticides that are continued to be produced/ used in India that have been banned in two or more countries in the world.
  • The industry has grown to be an INR 20,000 crores business in India, with the top 3 companies having a market share of 57%.
[Ref: Down To Earth, Times of India]

Issues related to Health & Education

India, south Asian neighbours must act against trans-fat now: WHO

World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan were among countries that need to act urgently against trans-fat.

  • They were among the 15 countries that account for two-thirds of the deaths linked to the industrially produced trans-fats.

Key Facts by WHO

  • The industrially produced trans-fats is responsible for around 500,000 deaths due to coronary heart disease every year across the world.
  • So far, 58 countries introduced laws to protect 3.2 billion people from the substance by the end of 2021. But more than 100 countries still needed to take action to remove trans-fat from their food supply chains.
  • Four of the 15 countries — Canada, Latvia, Slovenia, United States of America — that accounted for two-thirds of the deaths, implemented WHO-recommended best-practice policies since 2017.
  • They established mandatory limits for trans-fats to two per cent of oils and fats in all foods or by banning partially hydrogenated oils.
  • But the remaining countries — Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Iran, Mexico, Nepal, Pakistan, Republic of Korea — did not take action yet.
  • Most policy actions were only in higher-income countries and in the WHO regions of the Americas and Europe.
  • None of the low-income or lower-middle-income countries have yet implemented best-practice policies, while seven of their upper-middle-income and 33 of their high-income counterparts did so.

What are trans-fats?

  • Trans fats are a type of fat found in some foods. There are two broad types of trans fats found in foods:
  • Naturally-occurring trans fats are produced in the gut of some animals and foods made from these animals (e.g., milk and meat products) may contain small quantities of these fats.
  • Artificial trans fats (or trans fatty acids) are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid.
  • It is the most harmful type of fats which has much more adverse effects on our body than any other dietary constituent.
  • It produced artificially (largely), also occurs naturally (in small amount). Thus in our diet, these may be present as Artificial TFAs and/ or Natural TFAs.
  • The primary dietary source for trans fats in processed food is “partially hydrogenated oils.”
  • Artificial TFAs are formed when hydrogen is made to react with the oil to produce fats resembling pure ghee/butter.
  • Major sources of artificial TFAs are the partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVO)/Vanaspati/ margarine while the natural TFAs are present in meats and dairy products, though in small amounts.
  • PHVO is rather high in TFA, all food items prepared, baked or fried by using Vanaspati/Margarine contain TFA.
  • These include: Cakes and Pastries; Patty, Rusk; Fried Aloo Chaat, AlooTikki (prepared in ‘Vanaspati’), Sweets (Mithai) (prepared in ‘Vanaspati’), Cookies / biscuits, French fries, Potato chips, Bhatura, Samosa, Parantha, etc.

Adverse effects of trans-fat

  • Higher risk of heart disease than saturated fats.
  • While saturated fats raise total cholesterol levels, TFAs not only raise total cholesterol levels but also reduce the good cholesterol (HDL), which helps to protect us against heart disease.
  • Higher risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, infertility, certain types of cancers.
  • It can also lead to compromised fatal development causing harm to the yet to be born baby.
[Ref: Down To Earth]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Climate Migration in middle income agri-dependent countries

As per a new study Human migration due to changing climate happens primarily in middle income and agricultural-dependent countries.

Highlights of the study:

  • The impacts of climate change that caused migration of people were mainly changes in temperature, rainfall variability and rapid onset events like storms, cyclones and floods.
  • Environmental factors can drive migration, but the size of the effects depends on the particular economic and sociopolitical conditions in the countries.
  • In both, low and high income countries, environmental impacts on migration are weaker.
  • It is because people are either too poor to leave and therefore essentially become trapped, or in wealthy countries, they have enough financial means to absorb the consequences.
  • It is mainly in middle-income regions and those with a dependency on agriculture that we see strong effects.

High risk zones:

  • It found that the strongest relationship between migration and climate-related environmental hazards was found in countries from Latin America, the Caribbean, sub Saharan Africa, west, south and south east Asia
  • These populations are also most at risk from climate change disasters such tropical cyclones, hurricanes, typhoons, extreme rainfall and floods.
[Ref: Down To Earth]

Karnataka to seek nod for Mekedatu project

The Karnataka government is likely to take a delegation, headed by Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, to bring pressure on the Centre to approve the construction of the Mekedatu balancing reservoir that has been proposed to store water for drinking purposes.

Background

  • It was the ₹9,000 crore project, approved by the Karnataka State government in 2017.
  • It was first proposed along with Shivanasamudra hydro power project at Shimsa in 2003 with an intention to use the water for a hydro power station and supply drinking water to Bengaluru city.
  • It has received approval from the Union Water Resources Ministry for the detailed project report and is awaiting approval from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF).
  • The Tamil Nadu has approached the Supreme Court against the project.

Mekedatu project

  • Mekedatu, meaning goat’s leap, is a deep gorge situated at the confluence of the rivers Cauvery and Arkavathi.
  • Mekedatu is a Multipurpose (drinking and power) project, which involves building a balancing reservoir, near Kanakapura in Ramanagaram district.
  • Mekedatu project will be built across river Cauvery.
  • The project will be helpful in releasing water to Tamil Nadu as per the Supreme Court order and also 400 MW power can be generated.

Tamil Nadu – Karnataka dispute on Mekedatu

  • Soon after the project was announced in 2013, then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa wrote to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking him not to grant permission or environmental clearance.
  • Explaining the potential for damage to the lower riparian state of Tamil Nadu
  • She said that the project was in violation of the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal.
  • Tamil Nadu also stated that the construction of a reservoir would be against the principles of federalism.
  • Tamil Nadu and Karnataka culminated in the setting up of the Cauvery Water Management Authority. In a federal structure, no upper riparian State can unilaterally interfere with the natural flow of an inter State river without the consent and concurrence of the lower riparian State.
  • Tamil Nadu’s stand was that the project would not only impede the water available to farmers in the state but it would also go against the mandate that the total quantity of water must be for consumptive use, as prescribed by the Tribunal.
  • Also one of the key objections was the lack of a permanent monitoring mechanism.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Defence & Security Issues

UP will get a new special force soon

Additional Chief Secretary of UP directed the Director-General of Police to prepare a road map of Uttar Pradesh Special Security Force (SSF).

  • The UP state government on 26 June announced the formation of a Special Security Force (SSF).

About Uttar Pradesh Special Security Force (SSF)

  • The government aims to form the force in the next three months with 9900 personnel in the first phase. 1913 more posts will be created.
  • SSF will be responsible for security of vital government and private buildings, and industrial establishments.
  • According to the Uttar Pradesh Special Security Force (UPSSF) Act, 2020, the force will not require magistrate’s order or warrants to make an arrest or conduct searches.
  • Its powers will be governed by a set of rules made by the state government.
  • This force will be deployed at places such as metro rail, airports, industrial institutions, courts, religious places, banks and other financial institutions.
  • The headquarters will be in Lucknow, and an ADG-level officer will head the force.
  • Initially, five battalions will be formed.
  • Private firms can also hire the services of the force at a fixed cost, and the DGP can give his approval for the same.

Central Industrial Security Force

  • The CISF is a central armed police force under the aegis of Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The CISF came into existence in 1969 with a modest beginning, having three battalions, to provide integrated security cover to the Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs).
  • However, it was converted to an armed force with a larger ambit under an amendment to the Act in 1983.
  • So, CISF is no longer a PSU-centric organization. It has become a premier multi-skilled security agency of the country.
  • It is mandated to provide security to major critical infrastructure installations of the country in diverse areas.
  • CISF is currently providing security cover to nuclear installations, space establishments, airports, seaports, power plants, sensitive Government buildings and ever heritage monuments.
  • Among the important responsibilities recently entrusted to the CISF are the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, VIP Security, Disaster Management and establishment of a Formed Police Unit (FPU) of the UN at Haiti.
  • After the Mumbai terrorist attack on November 2008, the mandate of the force has been broadened to provide direct security cover to private sector also.
  • Presently, CISF is also providing security to the protected persons classified as Z Plus, Z, X, Y.
  • CISF is the only force with a customized and dedicated fire wing.
  • CISF is a compensatory cost force.
  • Currently, the CISF guards 59 civil airports across the country.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Measure to help domestic defence manufacturing

To promote ‘Make in India’ in defence sector following policy initiatives has been taken:

  • A ‘Negative list’ of 101 items for which there would be an embargo on the import beyond the timeline indicated against them.
  • This list comprises simple parts as well as some high technology weapon systems like artillery guns, assault rifles, corvettes, sonar systems, transport aircrafts, light combat helicopters (LCHs) and radars.
  • A new category of capital procurement ‘Buy {Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)}’ has been introduced in Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP)-2016.
  • The ‘Make’ Procedure of capital procurement has been simplified. There is a provision for funding of 90% of development cost by the Government to Indian industry under Make-I category. In addition, there are specific reservations for MSMEs under the ‘Make’ procedure.
  • Separate procedure for ‘Make-II’ category (industry funded) has been notified. Industry friendly provisions such as relaxation of eligibility criterion, minimal documentation, provision for considering proposals suggested by industry/individual etc. have been introduced in this procedure.
  • An innovation ecosystem for Defence titled ‘Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX)’ has been launched in April 2018.
  • In Feb 2018, Government decided to establish two defence industrial corridors to serve as an engine of economic development and growth of defence industrial base in the country.
  • An indigenization portal namely SRIJAN DEFENCE has been launched in August 2020 for DPSUs/OFB/Services with an industry interface to provide development support to MSMEs/Startups/Industry for import substitution.
  • Defence EXIM portal has been created for enhancing ease of doing business and to streamline Export authorisation procedures.
  • Government has notified the ‘Strategic Partnership (SP)’ Model in May 2017, which envisages establishment of long-term strategic partnerships with Indian entities through a transparent and competitive process, wherein they would tie up with global Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to seek technology transfers to set up domestic manufacturing infrastructure and supply chains.
  • Government has notified a ‘Policy for indigenisation of components and spares used in Defence Platforms’ in March 2019 to create an industry ecosystem to indigenize the imported components and sub-assemblies.
  • An Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) on “Mutual Cooperation in Joint Manufacturing of Spares, Components, Aggregates and other material related to Russian/Soviet Origin Arms and Defence Equipment” was signed.
  • 24 items have been notified under the latest Public Procurement Order 2017 notified, procurement of these items shall be done from local suppliers only irrespective of the purchase value.
  • FDI Policy has been revised in the year 2016 and accordingly, FDI is allowed under automatic route upto 49% and beyond 49% through Government route wherever it is likely to result in access to modern technology or for other reasons to be recorded.
  • Defence Investor Cell has been created to provide all necessary information including addressing queries related to investment opportunities, procedures and regulatory requirements for investment.    
  • Defence Products list requiring Industrial Licences has been rationalised and manufacture of most of parts or components does not require Industrial License.
  • The initial validity of the Industrial Licence granted under the IDR Act has been increased from 03 years to 15 years with a provision to further extend it by 03 years on a case-to-case basis.
[Ref: PIB]

What is Hybrid warfare?

Hybrid warfare is a seemingly complex methodology adopted by major powers and has been used interchangeably with gray zone operations and irregular warfare.

Hybrid Warfare:

  • Any range of actions from non-violent economic manipulation to low levels of violence using mercenaries.

Main tools of hybrid warfare:

1) Disinformation and misinformation operations:

  • Emphasising the importance of information, the competitors have manipulated and weaponized information to wield power, gain influence, and counter allied narratives.

2) Political and economic coercion:

  • While Russia is accused of using political coercion through the means of election interference, China has used debt trap diplomacy in countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative to shape their policies toward Chinese benefit and interests.

3) Cyber and space operations:

  • Russia, China, and Iran have been actively launching major cyberattacks against allied and partner interests over the past decade, with targets ranging from banks and businesses to academic institutions and government agencies.
  • Hybrid space operations include actions such as jamming GPS signals and transmitting fake GPS signals.

4) Proxies and state-controlled forces:

  • Purveyors of hybrid warfare have used proxy actors to conduct coercive operations below the threshold of all-out war.
  • China’s use of civilian fishing boats operating in contested waters of the South China Sea as an example of such proxy forces.

Data mining for hybrid warfare:

  • The dedicated companies target individuals and institutions in politics, government, business, technology, media, and civil society.
  • They monitor the subject’s digital footprint across social media platforms, maintains an information library, which includes content not just from news sources, forums, but also from papers, patents, bidding documents, even positions of recruitment.
  • Hence, it builds a relational database which records and describes associations between individuals, institutions, and information.
  • Collecting such massive data and weaving in public or sentiment analysis around these targets, they offer threat intelligence services.
[Ref: The Week]

Science & Technology

Scientists find ‘life harbouring’ gas on Venus

An announcement about the discovery of phosphine gas in the atmosphere of Venus triggered global excitement about the possibility of the presence of lifeforms on Venus.

About the Announcement

  • A team of scientists have reported traces of phosphine in a concentration of approximately 20 parts per billion, thousands to millions of times more than what could otherwise be expected.
  • This discovery was made in 2017, and the scientists checked and re-checked their data over the last three years before deciding to make it public.
  • Phosphine chemical is known to be produced only through biological process, and not through any naturally occurring chemical process.
  • There are some other ways in which this chemical might be produced, for example, in the underbelly of volcanoes or meteorite activity, but that would have shown in much lower concentrations.
  • In any case, scientists have ruled out all those kinds of known possibilities which could be attributed for the presence of that gas.
  • Scientists says that the presence of phosphine is “unexplained” after an exhaustive study of all the possible other sources and “production routes in Venus’s atmosphere, clouds, surface and subsurface, or from lightning, volcanic or meteorite delivery.

Why is it significant then?

  • This is the most credible evidence yet for the possibility of life away from Earth.
  • Scientists say it is more significant than the discovery of water on the Moon or Mars. Water is only circumstantially related to life. It is not produced by life.
  • The detection of phosphine had raised Venus “higher up on the ladder of interesting targets” where the possible presence of life-forms can be explored.

Can Venus support life?

  • The temperature of Venus is too high and its atmosphere is highly acidic which would make life impossible.
  • According to one expert, this phosphine could be remnants from a time when Venus was a much more hospitable place.

Venus Missions

  • Missions to Venus are not new. Spacecraft have been going near the planet since the 1960s, and some of them have even made a landing.
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is also planning a mission to Venus, tentatively called Shukrayaan, in the near future. As of now, the plan is still on the drawing board.

PLANET VENUS

  • Venus is the second planet from the Sun and the third brightest object in Earth’s sky after the Sun and Moon.
  • It is sometimes referred to as the sister planet to Earth, because their size and mass are so similar.
  • Venus is also the closest planet to Earth.
  • The surface of Venus is hidden by an opaque layer of clouds which are formed from sulphuric acid.
  • The planet is named for Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty and is the second largest terrestrial planet. Venus is the only planet in the Solar System to be named after a female figure.
  • Venus is sometimes referred to as the “morning star” and “evening star”.
  • It takes 243 Earth-days to complete one rotation.
  • Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system with an average surface temperature of 462°C (863°F).
  • Venus doesn’t tilt on its axis which means there are no seasons either
  • The atmospheric pressure of Venus is 92 times stronger than Earth’s.
  • Venus has a very weak magnetic field. One possible reason for this is that Venus has no solid inner core, or that its core is not cooling.
[Ref: The Indian Express]

Persons in News

Engineer’s Day

The birth anniversary of one of India’s greatest engineers, M Visvesvaraya is celebrated as Engineer’s Day (15th Sept).

Contribution of M Visvesvaraya:

  • He was called the Father of Modern Mysore State on account of his extensive work towards the upliftment of the state.
  • He became famous for his pioneering work in irrigation techniques and flood control.
  • He was also responsible for the construction of Mysore’s Krishna Raja Sagara Dam.
  • He was awarded the Bharat Ratna award, India’s highest civilian honour, in 1955 for the flood protection system in Hyderabad.
  • The design of the automatic weir floodgates is also attributed to Sir MV, installed for the first time at the Khadakvasla Reservoir near Pune in 1903.
  • He was also bestowed with the title of Sir for his contributions for the good of the public, he was knighted by King George V as a Knight Commander of the British Indian Empire (KCIE).
  • M Visvesvaraya served as the Diwan of Mysore, where he founded the:
    • Mysore Soap Factory,
    • Bangalore Agricultural University,
    • State Bank of Mysore and
    • Mysore Iron and Steel Works.
  • In 1917, Sir MV founded the Government Engineering College, now known as University Visvesvaraya College of Engineering.
  • M Visvesvaraya was made part of a committee constituted in 1917 to advise on the future of Indian States.
[Ref: NDTV, Hindustan Times]

Key Facts for Prelims

Himalaya Diwas

  • In 2014, the Uttarakhand government declared September 9 as Himalaya Diwas to spread the message of conservation of the Himalayan ecosystems. 
  • It is annually celebrated across India particularly in Uttarakhand.
  • Theme 2020: Himalayas and Nature.

Graphene

  • Researchers from the City University of Hong Kong have produced graphene masks with an anti-bacterial efficiency of 80 % which they say can be raised to almost 100 per cent with exposure to sunlight for 10 minutes.
  • Graphene is known for anti-bacterial properties.
  • Graphene is an allotrope of carbon, a single layer of carbon atoms, tightly bound in a hexagonal honeycomb lattice.

K.N. Dikshit committee

  • An expert committee, chaired by K.N. Dikshit, has been set up for conducting holistic study of origin and evolution of Indian culture to since 12000 years before present and its interface with other cultures of the world.

The Satyamev Jayate or Truth Fund

  • With hundreds of people wanting to support advocate Prashant Bhushan by symbolically contributing ₹1 or more towards his fine in the contempt of court case, a fund has been set up to use the money to help others fighting for free speech.
  • The Satyamev Jayate or Truth Fund will be used to provide legal support and amplify the voices of those facing criminal charges for standing by their conscience and speaking truth.

Strategic importance of Uttarakhand

  • In the context of ongoing tensions and territory issues with China and Nepal, the Uttarakhand government, along with the defence forces, has taken measures to strengthen infrastructure along its international border.
  • Uttarakhand shares a 350-km border with China and a 275-km boundary with Nepal. Five of the state’s 13 districts are border districts.
  • Chamoli and Uttarkashi share boundaries with China, whereas Udham Singh Nagar and Champawat have boundaries with Nepal.
  • Pithoragarh is strategically very sensitive as it has boundaries with both China and Nepal.
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