Current Affairs Analysis

1st September 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Group of Monuments at Hampi; COVID-19 disrupted key health services; India’s GDP growth contracts 23.9%; GDP contraction; Shetrunji dam; Bhadar dam; Pangong lake; Finger region Pangong Tso; Pangong’s south bank; Hampi; Virupaksha Temple; Rare inscription unearthed in Andhra Pradesh; Renati Cholas; Karnataka’s first RO-RO train; World’s Largest Solar Tree; Quantum Enabled Science and Technology (QuEST) programme; Coal gasification; What is Hangenberg Crisis; Telugu Language Day; etc.
By IASToppers
September 01, 2020

Contents

Issues related to Health & Education

  • COVID-19 disrupted key health services

Economy

  • India’s GDP growth contracts 23.9%

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Shetrunji and Bhadar dams overflow

Defence & Security Issues

  • Importance of Pangong’s south bank

Art & Culture

  • Webinar on Hampi under Dekho Apna Desh Series
  • Rare inscription unearthed in Andhra Pradesh

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Karnataka’s first RO-RO train
  • World’s Largest Solar Tree
  • Quantum Enabled Science and Technology (QuEST) programme
  • Coal gasification
  • What is Hangenberg Crisis?
  • Telugu Language Day

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Issues related to Health & Education

COVID-19 disrupted key health services

As per a survey by World Health Organization, the countries experienced disruptions in at least half the 25 kinds of health services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Major Highlights:

  • Immunisation-outreach services were most hit (70%), while non-communicable diseases (NCD) diagnosis and treatment was the second-most impacted (69%).
  • They were followed by family planning and contraception (68%), treatment for mental health disorders and facility-based services (61%) and cancer diagnosis and treatment (55%).

Reasons for disruption:

  • The reasons were from both, the demand and supply factors.
  • On the demand side, patients did not present themselves for outpatient care due to lockdown restriction and financial difficulties.
  • Supply side factors include cancellation of elective care, workforce-related difficulties and unavailability of services like closure of disease-specific outpatient consultation clinics, etc.
[Ref: Down To Earth]

Economy

India’s GDP growth contracts 23.9%

As per the data of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation the GDP contracted by 24% per cent in first quarter (April, May, June) of the FY20-21.

  • The total value of goods and services (G&S) produced in India in April, May and June this year is 24% less than total value of G&S produced in India in same three months last year.

Percentage change in key indicators:

What is biggest implication?

  • The worst affected were construction (–50%), trade, hotels and other services (–47%), manufacturing (–39%), and mining (–23%).
  • It would lead to more people either losing jobs (decline in employment) or failing to get one (rise in unemployment).

What causes GDP contraction?

  • The total demand for goods and services — that is the GDP — is generated from one of the four engines of growth.
    1. The biggest engine is consumption demand (C) from private individuals. This accounted for 56.4% of all GDP before this quarter.
    2. The second biggest engine is demand generated by private sector businesses (I). This accounted for 32% of all GDP in India.
    3. The third engine is demand for goods and services generated by the government (G). This accounted for 11% of India’s GDP.
    4. The last engine is the net demand on GDP (NX) after we subtract imports from India’s exports. Since India typically imports more than it exports, its effect is negative on the GDP.
  • Total GDP = C + I + G + NX.
  • GDP is contracted because Private consumption (C) & investments by businesses (I) which account for over 88% of Indian total GDP, saw a massive contraction.

Way Ahead:

  • When incomes fall sharply, private individuals cut back consumption and so, businesses stop investing.
  • As both of these are voluntary decisions, there is no way to force people to spend more and/or coerce businesses to invest more in the current scenario.
  • So, only government (G) can boost GDP and that is by spending more — either by building roads and bridges and paying salaries or by directly handing out money.
  • This can revive the economy in the short to medium term.

 [Ref: Indian Express]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Shetrunji and Bhadar dams overflow

Following heavy rains, irrigation department discharged water in large volumes from Shetrunji and Bhadar dams, Gujarat.

  • The two are the largest reservoirs in the water-starved Saurashtra region.

Shetrunji dam:

  • Located at Rajasthali village in Bhavnagar district, Gujarat.
  • Gross storage capacity of 308.68 million cubic metre.
  • Dam across Shetrunji river.

Bhadar dam:

  • Located at Lilakha village of Rajkot district, Gujarat.
  • Gross storage capacity of 188.14 mcm.
  • Dam across Bhadar river.

Saurashtra region:

  • Saurashtra is a peninsular region of Gujarat located on the Arabian Sea coast.
  • It covers about a third of Gujarat state.
  • The peninsula is bound on the south and south-west by the Arabian sea, on the north-west by the Gulf of Kutch and on the east by the Gulf of Khambhat.
  • The region has very high concentration of salt extraction industries which thrive due to hot semi-arid condition and concentration of sea brine, lake brine, sub-soil brine, rock salt deposits.

 [Ref: Indian Express]

Defence & Security Issues

Importance of Pangong’s south bank

Indian Army prevented an attempt by China to change the status quo near the LAC by deploying its troops to a previously un-deployed area on the southern bank of the Pangong Tso Lake in eastern Ladakh.

Pangong Lake:

  • Pangong Tso is an endorheic brackish water lake (landlocked) partly in India’s Ladakh region and partly in Tibet.
  • Situated at an elevation of about 4,270 m, it is a nearly 135-km long, narrow lake with total area over 600 sq. km.
  • The Karakoram Mountain range (which crosses Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and India) with heights of over 6,000 metres including K2 (world’s second highest peak) ends at north bank of Pangong Tso.
  • The Line of Actual Control (LAC) –that separates Indian and Chinese troops since 1962– generally runs along the land and through the waters of Pangong Tso.

Who controls Pangong Tso?

  • Nearly two-thirds of the lake is controlled by China, with just about 45 km under Indian control.
  • The LAC runs north-south and cuts the western part of the lake, aligned east-west.
  • But India and China have unsettled borders, and the perception of the LAC differs in multiple sectors, including on Pangong Tso.
  • On the north bank are spurs (extensions) identified as fingers.
  • India says the LAC passes through Finger 8; China claims it is farther west.
  • These differing perceptions of the LAC isone of the main causes of face-offs.

Current status of Pangong Tso:

  • The June 15 clash in Galwan Valley, India lost 20 soldiers and an undeclared number of Chinese troops were also killed.
  • Since then China changed the status quo and its troops had occupied the region between Finger 8 and Finger 4, which was patrolled by both but occupied by neither side earlier.
  • Chinese troops continue to occupy the Finger 4 ridgeline, though they have stepped back from the base of Finger 4 to the base of Finger 5.
  • But China has fortified its positions in the area.

South bank:

  • India has traditionally had a stronger presence in the southern bank compared to the north bank, because of its proximity to areas like Chushul and Rezang La.
  • The region south of the lake is also strategically important for both countries.
  • The area known as Chushul approach, is one of the few sectors that can be used as launch pads for an offensive, because of the plains.

 [Ref: Indian Express]

Art & Culture

Webinar on Hampi under Dekho Apna Desh Series

The Ministry of Tourism webinar on Hampi on 29th August 2020 under Dekho Apna Desh Webinar series.

  • The webinar addressed the needs of Hampi as both heritage site and tourist destination, and addresses social, economic and ecological concerns.

Hampi:

  • Hampi is located on the banks of the Tungabhadra River in central Karnataka.
  • Its name is derived from Pampa (old name of the Tungabhadra River) on whose banks the city is built.
  • It was the last capital of the last great Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar from 1343 to 1565 AD.
  • Hampi was amongst the largest and most prosperous cities of the world during its period of power and vigour.
  • It reached its prime during rule of Krishna Deva Raya, ruled between 1509 and 1529 AD.
  • Hampi was an important center of trade and Vijayanagara Empire flourished as it controlled cotton and spice trade routes of Southern India. 

Group of Monuments at Hampi:

  • The group of Monuments at Hampi were built between 1336-1570 A.D., from the times of Harihara-I to Sadasiva Raya.
  • It is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Group of Monuments at Hampi).
  • Colin Mackenzie, in 1800 discovered the remains of Hampi and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has been conducting excavation works in the site.
  • The site used to be multi-religious and multi-ethnic; it included Hindu and Jain monuments next to each other.
  • With the death of Krishnadevaraya, the combined armies of the five Muslim kingdoms– Bidar, Golconda, Ahmednagar and Berar destroyed this mighty empire and Hampi city in 1565.

Architecture:

  • Primarily Dravidian style and architecture dating to Aihole-Pattadakal styles.
  • Combinations of Cholas, Pandya’s & Chalukya Style.
  • Built mainly from local granite along with lime, mortar etc.
  • Noted for their large dimensions, ornamentation, high towers, pillars and magnificent pavilions.
  • There are more than 500 monuments and the notable Structures at Hampi are Vittala temple, Virupaksha temple, Hampi Bazaar, Achyuta Raya’s Temple, Hazara Rama Temple etc.

Virupaksha Temple:

  • Aka ‘Pampavathi Temple’ located in Hampi Bazaar.
  • Virupaksha Temple is one of the earliest monuments and principal temple of Hampi, preceding the foundation of the Vijayanagara Empire.
  • It is dedicated to patron deity of Vijayanagara rulers, Lord Virupaksha (Shiva).

Key Fact:

  • Dekho Apna Desh Webinar Series showcases India’s rich diversity under Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat programme.

 [Ref: PIB]

Rare inscription unearthed in Andhra Pradesh

A rare inscription dating back to Renati Chola era has been unearthed in a remote village of Kadapa district, Andhra Pradesh.

Major Highlights:

  • The inscription is found engraved on a dolomite slab and shale, which are part of a fragmentary pillar.
  • The inscription was written in archaic Telugu which was readable in 25 lines.
  • It was assigned to 8th Century A.D., when the region was under the rule of Chola Maharaja of Renadu.
  • The inscription throws light on the record of a gift of six Marttus (a measuring unit) of land gifted to one of the Brahmins serving the temple at Pidukula village.

Renati Cholas:

  • The Telugu Cholas of Renadu or Renati Cholas ruled over Renadu region, present day Cuddapah district, Andhra Pradesh.
  • The dynasty ruled Rayalaseema from fifth to the eleventh centuries from Cuddapa.
  • They were originally independent, later forced to the suzerainty of the Eastern Chalukyas.
  • They were the first to use Telugu language in their administration and inscriptions belonging to the 7th and 8th centuries.
  • The earliest of this family was Nandivarman (500 AD) who claimed descent from the family of Karikala and Kasyapa gotra.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Key Facts for Prelims

Karnataka’s first RO-RO train

  • Karnataka has flagged off the trial run of the first Roll-On Roll-Off (RORO) service of the South Western Railway.
  • A Ro-RO train consists of open flat wagon on which lorries and trucks with goods are loaded.
  • The driver and cleaner of the lorries sit in their vehicles.
  • They are dropped at a particular point from which they drive off.

World’s Largest Solar Tree

  • CSIR-CMERI has developed the World’s Largest Solar Tree, and installed at CSIR-CMERI Residential Colony, Durgapur, West Bengal. 
  • The installed capacity of the Solar Tree is above 11.5 kWp (kilowatts peak).
  • It has the annual capacity to generate 12,000-14,000 units of Clean and Green Power.
  • The Solar Trees have been designed in a manner to ensure minimum Shadow Area.
  • This will make them available for widespread usage in Agricultural activities such as High Capacity Pumps, e-Tractors and e-Power Tillers.
  • The solar tree has the capability to incorporate IOT based features, i.e. round-the-clock CCTV surveillance in agricultural fields, real-time humidity, wind speed, rainfall prediction and soil analytics sensors.

Quantum Enabled Science and Technology (QuEST) programme

  • India’s Department of Science & Technology had set up a program called Quantum-Enabled Science & Technology (QuEST) in 2018.
  • As a part of the program, it will invest a sum of Rs 80 crore in a span of three years to facilitate research in this field.
  • It the Phase 1 of India’s quantum computing program, the country will be laying out the basic infrastructure that is needed to promote research in this field.
  • It will help in improving the state of national security as quantum-level encrypted information becomes a common communication standard.
  • The Union Budget 2020-21 proposed to spend Rs 8000 crores ($ 1.2 billion) on the newly launched National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications (NMQTA).

Coal gasification

  • India aims for 100 million tonnes (MT) coal gasification by 2030 with investments worth over Rs. 4 lakh crores.
  • Coal gasification is the process of producing syngas, which is a mixture consisting carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen (H2), carbon dioxide (CO2), natural gas (CH4) & water vapour (H2O).
  • During gasification, coal is blown with oxygen and steam while also being heated under high pressure.
  • During the reaction, oxygen and water molecules oxidize the coal and produce syngas.

What is Hangenberg Crisis?

  • The Earth suffered an intense loss of species diversity that lasted for at least 300,000 years.
  • The event is thought to have been caused by long-lasting ozone depletion, which would have allowed much more of the Sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation to reach and harm life on Earth.
  • It was called the Hangenberg crisis.

Telugu Language Day

  • Telugu Language Day is observed on 29 August annually in Andhra Pradesh.
  • This date was chosen to coincide with birthday of Telugu poet Gidugu Venkata Ramamurthy.
  • He has immense contribution to Telugu language specifically Vyavaharika Bhasha or Vaaduka Bhasha (Colloquial language).
  • He simplified the Granthika Bhasha (Sanskrit) into Vyavaharika Bhasha (language for common man) or textbooks and literature to make it available to the people.
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