Welcome to TARUN IAS – Your Daily News Analysis for UPSC/IAS Exam Preparation!
Stay informed with relevant current affairs from trusted sources like The Hindu, Indian Express, PIB, and more. Our daily news analysis includes Prelims Facts and Important Editorials presented in a concise and bulletised format. Get free daily updates at 12 noon (except Sundays). Don’t miss the Daily Revision Quiz to reinforce your knowledge. Good luck!
Here are the topics covered for 26 July 2023: Geological era: What is it?, Age of Consent and Consensual Sex: Recent High Court Judgments in India, Rajasthan Gig Workers Act 2023: Pioneering Fair Work and Social Security, PM-WANI: Bridging the Digital Divide with Affordable Internet Access in India, India’s G-20 Presidency: Embracing Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy for Sustainable Development, Achieving the 1.5°C Warming Target: Climate Projections, India’s Ethanol Blending for Sustainable Energy, Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary: Tiger Reserve Status Directive.
Table of Contents
GS Paper 1:
- Geological era: What is it?
GS Paper 2:
- Age of Consent and Consensual Sex: Recent High Court Judgments in India
- Rajasthan Gig Workers Act 2023: Pioneering Fair Work and Social Security
GS Paper 3:
- PM-WANI: Bridging the Digital Divide with Affordable Internet Access in India
- India’s G-20 Presidency: Embracing Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy for Sustainable Development
- Achieving the 1.5°C Warming Target: Climate Projections
- India’s Ethanol Blending for Sustainable Energy
Prelims Related Facts
- Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary: Tiger Reserve Status Directive
Geological era: What is it?
A team of scientists is recommending the start of a new geological epoch defined by how humans have impacted the Earth should be marked at the pristine Crawford Lake outside Toronto in Canada.
- Geological Timescale:
- Earth’s history divided into aeons, eras, periods, and epochs.
- Four geological eras: Precambrian, Palaeozoic, Mesozoic, Cenozoic.
- Precambrian Era:
- Began 4.6 billion years ago.
- Formation of the Earth’s crust and emergence of first life forms.
- Palaeozoic Era:
- Lasted from 541 million to 252 million years ago.
- Evolution of complex life: fish, plants, insects, amphibians.
- Mesozoic Era:
- Lasted from 252 million to 66 million years ago.
- Age of dinosaurs, first birds, and flowering plants.
- Cenozoic Era:
- Began 66 million years ago and continues to the present.
- Distinguished by the rise of modern animals.
- Precambrian Era:
Age of Consent and Consensual Sex: Recent High Court Judgments in India
Recent judgments by various High Courts in India have sparked debates on consensual sex involving minors and its implications under the POCSO Act, 2012. Multiple High Courts have released or acquitted accused persons based on claims of consensual sex with underage victims, raising concerns about child protection.
POCSO Act, 2012:
- Aims to protect children from sexual offenses in India.
- Defines a child as anyone below eighteen years.
- Identifies various forms of sexual abuse and imposes severe punishment for sexual crimes against children.
- Delhi, Bombay, Madras, and Madhya Pradesh High Courts involved in cases with accused released on grounds of consensual sex with minors.
- Courts didn’t consider the age difference or legal presumption in favor of prosecutions.
- Raises concerns about setting a clear age of consent and the POCSO Act’s objective.
Drawbacks of the POCSO Act:
- Considers any sexual activity with a person below 18 as rape, regardless of consent.
- Instances of misuse, leading to unjust outcomes.
Misuse of the Act:
- Cases where young couples elope face charges of rape under POCSO due to opposition from families.
Addressing the Gap and Ensuring Child Protection:
- Review harsh imprisonment terms under POCSO to improve conviction rates.
- Educate adolescents about the provisions of the POCSO Act and the IPC.
- Consider law reform to reassess the age of consent and prevent unjust criminalization.
- Supreme Court should address the disparity in interpretations by High Courts.
- Drawing a clear line on acts not falling under stringent laws is necessary, leading to a defined age of consent.
Rajasthan Gig Workers Act 2023: Pioneering Fair Work and Social Security
- Rajasthan’s new Act is a breakthrough for gig workers’ rights in the evolving gig economy.
- Gig workers face challenges in fair wages, working conditions, and social security.
Who are Gig Workers?:
- Non-standard work outside traditional employer-employee relationships.
- Gig economy relies on temporary positions filled by freelancers and independent contractors.
Plight of Gig Workers:
- Gig economy allows employers to profit while avoiding responsibilities.
- Gig workers lack fair wages, working conditions, and social security.
Breakthrough Law: Rajasthan Act:
- Inspired by historical labor movements and worker demands.
- Establishes a board for gig workers’ registration and welfare.
- Offers collective bargaining and negotiation platform.
Hamal Model: Blueprint for Workers’ Rights:
- Inspired by the effective Hamal Panchayat union.
- Rajasthan Act borrows from the Hamal model to secure workers’ rights.
Rajasthan Campaign: Adopting the Hamal Model:
- Successful campaign for gig workers’ social security.
- Implements a board and social security fund financed through transaction fees.
Implications of the Act:
- Sets a model for other states and countries.
- Provides a platform for collective bargaining and dispute resolution.
- Focuses on social security to address gig workers’ vulnerabilities.
- Rajasthan Act paves the way for fair work and social security.
- Empowers gig workers in the gig economy and sets an example for others.
- Prioritizes human-centric work and democratic principles.
PM-WANI: Bridging the Digital Divide with Affordable Internet Access in India
The Digital India programme aims to enhance digital connectivity, software, and empower citizens. The PM-WANI initiative is a transformative step towards providing accessible internet access for all. It proposes the establishment of interoperable public wi-fi hotspots, known as Public Data Offices (PDOs), offering affordable sachet-sized internet packages.
Accelerating Digital Connectivity:
- PM-WANI focuses on digital connectivity, a crucial aspect in today’s digital world.
- Factors like mobile telephony boom, 4G coverage, reduced tariffs, and increased smartphone penetration have revolutionized the connectivity landscape.
- India’s per capita data consumption is a significant 19.5 GB per month, with a vast data volume transported by mobile networks.
The Need for Affordable Internet Access:
- Despite advancements, there is a gap between demand and affordable supply, particularly for rural and low-income households.
- A child today may require five to six gigabytes of data for online education, making accessible internet a necessity.
The PM-WANI Proposal:
- The Telecom Regulator of India (TRAI) proposed creating interoperable wi-fi hotspots (PDOs) in 2017.
- PDOs would distribute broadband in sachet-sized packages of Rs 5 to 10, promoting community content without using excessive bandwidth.
- The idea evolved into the PM-WANI framework and was approved by the Union Cabinet in December 2020.
Progress and Challenges:
- Over 1.5 lakh wi-fi hotspots have been installed in the last year, offering unlimited Internet for Rs 5 to 10 per day.
- The PM-WANI framework fosters a truly open and scalable approach, resembling the transformative effect of UPI in the financial space.
- However, there was initial opposition and work disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Empowering Nano Entrepreneurs:
- Local entrepreneurs (PDOs) play a crucial role in establishing wi-fi hotspots and providing affordable internet access.
- PDOAs (Public Data Office Aggregators) authorize and account for the services, ensuring a seamless user experience.
Opportunity for Growth and Development:
- India’s home broadband penetration remains low at around 10%, presenting a significant opportunity for PM-WANI.
- The framework offers cost-effective and reliable solutions, making it a beacon of hope for underserved areas.
- ISPs and Telcos can benefit by selling more bandwidth through end customers who become retailers.
Call for Stakeholder Support:
- PM-WANI’s success depends on support from the government, civil society, and startups.
- The uniquely Indian approach to interoperability, openness, and scalability holds great promise for accelerated growth, similar to UPI and other successful DPIs.
India’s G-20 Presidency: Embracing Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy for Sustainable Development
India’s G-20 presidency emphasizes resource efficiency and circular economy for sustainable development and achieving the SDGs. Promotes ‘reduce-reuse-recycle’ over the ‘take-make-dispose’ paradigm for a sustainable and resilient future.
Circular Economy Priorities:
- Circularity in the Steel Sector: Collaborate for eco-friendly steel production to reduce resource consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
- Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR): Share best practices for circular economy principles throughout the value chain to promote sustainable resource management.
- Circular Bioeconomy: Minimize extraction of biological resources and find innovative waste disposal solutions to preserve biodiversity.
- Industry-led Coalition: Engage industries to foster technological collaboration, enhance capabilities, and drive sustainable practices in industrial processes.
Resource Efficiency in the Steel Sector:
- Collaboration among G-20 nations for net-zero steel production, reducing environmental impact.
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and Recycling:
- Implement effective EPR frameworks to enhance recycling and resource recovery.
Circular Bioeconomy and Biofuels:
- Adopt circular bioeconomy approach to reduce environmental footprint and promote biofuels.
Industry-led Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy Coalition:
- Engage private sector to drive resource efficiency and sustainable practices.
Conclusion: India’s G-20 presidency prioritizes circular economy strategies to minimize environmental impact and promote sustainable development globally. Sharing knowledge and best practices will collectively address global challenges for a better future.
Achieving the 1.5°C Warming Target: Climate Projections
Understanding the Significance of 1.5 Degrees Celsius Warming Goal:
- Paris Agreement aspires to cap global temperature rise at 2 degrees Celsius by the century’s end, but emphasis on the 1.5 degrees threshold intensifies.
- Originally proposed by economist William Nordhaus, the 1.5°C target gains traction with climate experts.
- IPCC warns of crossing the 1.5°C mark by 2030-2052, projecting severe consequences.
Impact of Climate Change-induced Warming on India:
- Agriculture: Unpredictable monsoons, droughts, and heatwaves pose risks to agricultural productivity and food security.
- Public Health: Escalation of diseases like malaria and dengue, along with heightened heat-related illnesses and mortality.
- Ecosystems and Biodiversity: Disruptions in habitats and the loss of biodiversity.
- Coastal Vulnerability: Rising sea levels threaten coastal areas and communities.
- Migration and Social Disruptions: Climate-induced migration may lead to societal tensions.
- National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).
- National Adaptation Fund on Climate Change (NAFCC).
- India Cooling Action Plan.
- LiFE Initiative.
- National Assessment and Data: Conduct a comprehensive and ongoing national assessment to inform decision-making.
- Green Infrastructure and Urban Planning: Embrace sustainable urban practices to mitigate the urban heat effect.
- Carbon Pricing: Introduce mechanisms to internalize the environmental costs of emissions.
- Promoting Circular Economy: Foster the adoption of a circular economy model to minimize waste and reduce the carbon footprint.
- International Cooperation: Collaborate on joint climate initiatives and share best practices globally.
India’s Ethanol Blending for Sustainable Energy
In a recent announcement at the G20 Energy Ministers’ meeting, the Indian Prime Minister revealed that India has successfully introduced 20% ethanol-blended petrol in 2023 and has set a target to implement it nationwide by 2025.
What is Ethanol?:
- Biofuel produced from sugarcane, corn, rice, wheat, and biomass.
- Blended with petrol to create a cleaner fuel alternative.
- Byproducts include Distillers’ Dried Grain with Solubles and Potash.
Applications of Ethanol as Fuel:
- Used as a renewable biofuel alternative to gasoline.
- Blended with petrol to reduce dependence on crude oil and cut emissions.
- Reduces greenhouse gases and air pollutants, promoting cleaner air.
Feedstock Diversification in India:
- India moved from ‘C-heavy‘ molasses to various feedstocks like rice, maize, etc.
- Diversification minimizes supply fluctuations and creates new demand for grains.
- Incentives and differential pricing policy supported the use of alternative feedstocks.
Challenges and Benefits:
- Grains require longer processing for ethanol production.
- Quality variability of feedstocks affects production.
- Benefits include stable supply, price control, and new demand for grains.
- National Policy on Biofuels 2018.
- E100 Pilot project.
- Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN Yojana 2019.
- Repurpose Used Cooking Oil (RUCO) initiative.
Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary: Tiger Reserve Status Directive
- Goa High Court directs the notification of Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary as a tiger reserve under Wildlife Protection Act.
Key Facts about Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary:
- Location: Northern part of Goa, Sanguem taluka, near Valpoi town.
- Landscape: Picturesque waterfalls, nesting grounds of critically endangered Long-billed vultures, diverse forests, and sacred groves.
- Flora and Fauna: Rich biodiversity with Indian gaur, Tigers, various deer species, herpetological interest, and hosting bird species.
- Unique Geographical Features: Home to Goa’s three highest peaks and the origin of Mhadei River.
- Significant for tiger conservation efforts in Goa.
- Protection of wildlife and habitat for forest dwellers in the region.