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Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Mar 15, 2021

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Power Minister Launches “Energy Efficiency Enterprise(E3) Certifications Scheme”

What is the news?

Minister for Power launches the “Energy Efficiency Enterprise(E3) Certifications Programme” for the Brick manufacturing Sector.

About Energy Efficiency Enterprise(E3) Certification Programme:

  • Energy Efficiency Enterprise(E3) is a certification scheme. It aims to recognise burnt clay brick manufacturers for adopting energy-efficient manufacturing. Furthermore, it encourages customers to source bricks from such E3 certified manufacturing units.
  • Nodal Agency: Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) will provide certification.

How will the E3 certification be awarded?

  • Brick Manufacturing Enterprises need to meet the minimum Specific Energy Consumption performance criteria.
  • The criteria can be met by Brick Manufacturing Enterprises by adopting a combination of measures, such as:
    • improving energy efficiency in manufacturing
    • producing bricks having lower (bulk) densities e.g. porous, perforated and hollow bricks.

Significance of this programme:

  • The programme will help the brick industry shift towards more efficient technologies. Such energy-efficient bricks will be useful in complying with the requirements of Energy Conservation Buildings Code (ECBC).
    • ECBC: launched in 2007 by the Ministry of Power, it sets minimum energy standards for new commercial buildings.
  • The adoption of the E3 certification programme may save energy of about 7 Million Tonnes of oil equivalent(MTOE) per year. The savings will be about 25 Million Tonnes by 2030.

Contribution of Bricks Sector in India:

  • India is the world’s second largest producer of bricks. This demand is expected to multiply three to four times over the next 20 years.
  • Bricks Sector Contributes nearly 0.7% to the country’s GDP. Furthermore, it offers seasonal employment generation to over 1 crore workers and is important for sectors such as transportation and construction.
  • Brick manufacturing industry consumes about 45-50 million tonnes of coal equivalent annually. It amounts to 5-15% of the total energy consumption in the country.
    • However, the brick sector has the second-largest potential for energy efficiency amongst the Indian industrial sector after steel and more than cement.

Source: PIB


Plea Challenges “Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act,1991” in SC

What is the news?

The Supreme Court asked the Centre to respond to a plea challenging the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991.

About Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991:

  • The Act was passed in 1991. It seeks to maintain the “religious character” of places of worship as it was in 1947. The Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute was exempted from the Act.

Key Provisions of the Act:

  1. Sections 3: It says that no person shall convert any place of worship of any religious denomination into one of a different denomination or section.
  2. Section 4(2): All cases for converting the character of a place of worship that were pending on August 15, 1947, will stand abated with the enforcement of this act. No fresh proceedings can be filed after that.
    • However, legal proceedings can be initiated if the change of status of religious character of worship place, took place after the cut-off date of August 15, 1947.
  3. Section 6: It prescribes three-year imprisonment and a fine for breach of the provisions of the act.

Exemptions:

  • Section 5: It says that the Act shall not be applied to Ram Janma Bhumi Babri Masjid dispute. Other than that, the Act also exempts:
    • Any place of worship, that is an ancient and historical monument or an archaeological site. It must be covered by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958;
    • a suit that has been finally settled or disposed of;
    • any dispute that has been settled by the parties or conversion of any place that took place by acquiescence before the Act commenced.

Supreme Court on the Act:

  • In the 2019 Ayodhya verdict, the Constitution Bench led by former Chief Justice of India has referred to the law and said it manifests the secular values of the Constitution and strictly prohibits retrogression.

What are the key objections to the act by the petitioner? The petitioner has challenged the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act,1991 on the following grounds:

  • The act violates secularism. It prohibits Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs from reclaiming their places of worship which were invaded and encroached upon by fundamentalist barbaric invaders.
  • The Centre has no power to legislate on “pilgrimages” or “burial grounds” which is under the state list.
    • However, the government had said it could make use of its residuary power under Entry 97 of the Union List to enact this law. Entry 97 confers residuary powers to the Centre to legislate on subjects that are not enumerated in any of the three lists.
  • The cut-off date of the act is the date of Independence. It means that the status quo determined by a colonial power is considered final.

Source: Indian Express


India rated as an “electoral autocracy” by V-Dem Institute

What is the News?

Sweden-based Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute released a report titled “Autocratisation Goes Viral”. The report has downgraded India from being an “electoral democracy” to an “electoral autocracy”.

Note: This report comes after US watchdog Freedom House has downgraded India’s status to “partly free” in its ‘Freedom in the World’ report.

 About the Autocratisation Goes Viral Report:

  • Released by: V-Dem (Varieties of Democracy) Institute. It is an independent research organization founded in 2014 by Swedish political scientist Staffan Lindberg.
  • Objective: The report summarizes the state of democracies of the world against the backdrop of developments, over the past decade.
  • Data: The report gathered its data using surveys from country experts and then analysed using a statistical model.

Key Findings Related to India:

  • India is rated as autocratic along with Pakistan. It is a worse rating than both its neighbors Bangladesh and Nepal.
  • India is also among 25 “autocratizing nations” along with Brazil, Turkey, and other countries.

Reasons for the downgrading of India:

  • Frequent use of defamation(Section 499) and Sedition(Section 124-A) to silence journalists and critics.
  • Use of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act(UAPA) to place constraints on civil society.
  • The passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 to grant citizenship based on religious lines.
  • Increase use of Foreign Contributions Regulation Act(FCRA) to restrict the entry, exit, and functioning of Civil Society Organisations(CSO).

Other key Global Findings:

  • The liberal democracies have reduced over the past decade from 41 countries to 32 countries.
  • The global decline during the past decade is increasing especially in the Asia-Pacific region, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.

Source: The Hindu


Centre reconstitutes “Committee on Saraswati river”

What is the news?

The Central Government reconstitutes an advisory committee for studying the mythical Saraswati river for the next two years. The earlier panel’s term ended in 2019.

About the Advisory Committee on Saraswati River:

  1. The Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) had first set up the Advisory Committee for the Study of the River Saraswati in 2017 for two years. The committee has now been reconstituted.
  2. Purpose: To study the mythical Saraswati river and draw up a plan to identify its basin and define its path.
  3. Chaired by: The committee is chaired by the Culture Minister.
  4. Members: It includes officials from
    • The Ministry of Culture, Tourism, Water Resources, Environment and Forest, Housing and Urban Affairs;
    • Representatives of ISRO;
    • Governments officials of Gujarat, Haryana, and Rajasthan and
    • An ASI official.

About Saraswati River:

  • Sarasvati River is a mystical river mentioned in the Rig Veda and later Vedic and post-Vedic texts. The river played an important role in the Vedic religion appearing in all but the fourth book of the Rigveda.

About Archaeological Survey of India(ASI):

  • ASI is the premier organization for the archaeological research, scientific analysis, excavation of archaeological sites, conservation, and preservation of protected monuments.
  • Nodal Ministry: It is an attached office under the Department of Culture, Ministry of Culture.
  • Founded in: It was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham. He was the first Director-General of ASI.

Source: The Hindu


“Martian blueberries” find a parallel in India

What is the News?

According to Researchers from Planetary Sciences Division of Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad the Blueberries in India and “Martian Blueberries” share similar characteristics.

What are Martian Blueberries?

  • Martian blueberries are small spherical haematites.  The Mars rover “Opportunity” discovered them in 2004 on the planet Mars.

What are these Martian blueberries made up of?

  • As per the study of the mineralogy of the Martian Blueberries they were made of iron oxide compounds called haematites.
  • These haematites are known to form in oxidising environments through precipitation from aqueous fluids (water like fluid). Hence, the presence of haematites suggests that water was present on Mars.
  • Further, the Haematites on Mars not just show the presence of water. It also indicates that the planet had an atmosphere with oxygen as haematites need oxygen to stabilise.
  • However, the age of the ‘blueberries’ on Mars is not known yet. Therefore, studies from the newly landed Perseverance rover of NASA may help find new clues and signs of life to get a detailed picture of the history of Mars.

Are there any similar Haematite concentrations places on Earth?

  • Researchers from India have been studying the Jhuran formation in Kutch, Gujarat. The formation is between 145 and 201 million years old.
  • The detailed investigations of the haematite concretions in this area revealed that they resemble the Martian Blueberries. They have similar morphology – spherical and similar mineralogy – a mixture of haematite and goethite.
  • Further, it has been also argued that the transformation of Mars from the wet and humid to dry and arid environment is mimicked by the history of Kutch in Gujarat.
  • Hence, the Kutch area could also be a potential testing site for carrying out future Mars exploration studies on Earth.

Source: The Hindu


Update on “National Population Register(NPR)”

What is the news?

The Central Government may allow the residents to fill the National Population Register(NPR) form on their own, through the online mode.

About National Population Register(NPR) 2021 Process:

  • During NPR 2021, the Centre may allow residents to fill NPR forms on their own through the online mode. This will be conducted a month before the start of door-to-door enumeration by Census officials.
  • After filling the form online, residents will get a reference code. Residents will give this code to the field enumerator at the time of her or his visit.
  • The details of the respondent will be displayed on a mobile application developed for conducting the Census exercise. These details will then be stored in the system.

About National Population Register(NPR):

  • National Population Register(NPR) is a register of usual residents of the country.
  • Objective: To create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country.
    • Usual Resident: A usual resident for NPR, is defined as a person who is residing in a local area for the past 6 months or more. Or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next 6 months or more.
  • The NPR was first collected in the year 2010 along with the house listing phase of Census 2011. It was again updated in 2015.
  • Conducted by: The process of updating NPR will be carried out under the aegis of the Registrar General and ex-Officio Census Commissioner, India.

Legal Provisions:

  • NPR is being prepared at the local, sub-District, District, State and National level.
  • It is conducted under the provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
  • It is mandatory for every usual resident of India to register in the NPR.

Source: The Hindu


What is “Adenovirus”?

What is the News?

AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, produced from harmless adenovirus have low efficacy. On the other hand, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines which are produced from mRNAs have higher efficacy.

About Adenovirus:

  • Adenoviruses are common viruses that cause a range of illnesses. They can cause cold-like symptoms, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhoea and pink eye(conjunctivitis).

When was adenovirus discovered?

  • Adenoviruses are non-enveloped, double-stranded DNA viruses. They were first discovered in the human adenoid tissue in 1953 by Rowe and his colleagues.

How are Adenoviruses Transmitted? Adenoviruses are usually spread from an infected person to others in the following ways.

  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Air transmission through coughing and sneezing
  • Touching an object or surface with adenoviruses on it, then touching mouth, nose or eyes before washing hands.

How is adenovirus infection treated?

  • There is no specific treatment for people with adenovirus infection. Most adenovirus infections are mild. So these infections may require only to relieve symptoms, such as over-the-counter pain medicines or fever reducers.

Source: The Hindu

9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – March 15, 2021

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