IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


26th June, 2020

DNA 26TH June




-The government approved the creation of Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) to ensure greater private participation in India’s space activities.

-This decision is described as historic being part of an important set of reforms to open up the space sector and make space-based applications and services more widely accessible to everyone.

What is IN-SPACe?

-IN-SPACe is supposed to be a facilitator and also a regulator.

-It will act as an interface between ISRO and private parties and assess how best to utilise India’s space resources and increase space-based activities.

-IN-SPACe is the second space organisation created by the government in the last two years.


-In the 2019 Budget, the government had announced the setting up of a New Space India Limited (NSIL), a public sector company that would serve as a marketing arm of ISRO.

-NSIL’s main purpose is to market the technologies developed by ISRO and bring it more clients that need space-based services.

-That role, incidentally, was already being performed by Antrix Corporation, another PSU working under the Department of Space and which still exists.

It is still not very clear why there was a need for another organisation with overlapping function.

-The government now had clarified the role of NSIL that it would have a demand-driven approach rather than the current supply-driven strategy.

-Essentially, what that means is that instead of just marketing what ISRO has to offer, NSIL would listen to the needs of the clients and ask ISRO to fulfil those.

Need of IN-SPACe

(1)Limited resources of ISRO

-It is not that there is no private industry involvement in India’s space sector.

-In fact, a large part of the manufacturing and fabrication of rockets and satellites now happens in the private sector. There is increasing participation of research institutions as well.

-Indian industry, however, is unable to compete, because till now its role has been mainly that of suppliers of components and sub-systems.

-Indian industries do not have the resources or the technology to undertake independent space projects of the kind that US companies such as SpaceX have been doing or provide space-based services.

(2) India and the global space economy

-Indian industry had a barely three per cent share in a rapidly growing global space economy which was already worth at least $360 billion.

-Only two per cent of this market was for rocket and satellite launch services, which require fairly large infrastructure and heavy investment.

-The remaining 95 per cent related to satellite-based services, and ground-based systems.

(3) Catering to domestic demands

-The demand for space-based applications and services is growing even within India, and ISRO is unable to cater to this.

-The need for satellite data, imageries and space technology now cuts across sectors, from weather to agriculture to transport to urban development and more.

-If ISRO is to provide everything, it would have to be expanded 10 times the current level to meet all the demand that is arising.

(4) Promoting other private players

-Right now, all launches from India happen on ISRO rockets, the different versions of PSLV and GSLV.

-There were a few companies that were in the process of developing their own launch vehicles, the rockets like ISRO’s PSLV that carry the satellites and other payloads into space.

-Now ISRO could provide all its facilities to private players whose projects had been approved by IN-SPACe.

Gains to ISRO:

-There are two main reasons why enhanced private involvement in the space sector seems important.

-One is commercial, and the other strategic. And ISRO seems unable to satisfy this need on its own.

-Of course, there is a need for greater dissemination of space technologies, better utilization of space resources, and increased requirement of space-based services.

-The private industry will also free up ISRO to concentrate on science, research and development, interplanetary exploration and strategic launches.

-Right now too much of ISRO’s resources are consumed by routine activities that delay its more strategic objectives.

A win-win situation:

-There are a number of ambitious space missions lined up in the coming years, including a mission to observe the Sun, a mission to the Moon, a human spaceflight, and then, possibly, a human landing on the Moon.

-And it is not that private players will wean away from the revenues that ISRO gets through commercial launches.

-The space-based economy is expected to “explode” in the next few years, even in India, and there would be more than enough for all.

-In addition, ISRO can earn some money by making its facilities and data available to private players.

Source: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/in-space-india-space-missions-private-participation-isro-6476532/




In a bid to revive the Independence-era spirit of the ‘Lal-Bal-Pal’, named after nationalists Lala Lajpat Rai, ‘Lokmanya’ Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal, and to mark the death centenary of Tilak, Pune-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) ‘Sarhad’ will launch a series of literary and cultural programmes to strengthen connections between Maharashtra and West Bengal.

Why the event?

-Punjab, Bengal and Maharashtra have played significant roles during the struggle for Indian Independence.

-His historical association and cultural bonds among the three States was solidified in the modern era by the trinity of ‘Lal-Bal-Pal’.

-After Independence, while the socio-cultural bonds between Maharashtra and Punjab have grown stronger, Maharashtra’s ties with Bengal have somewhat weakened, despite a rich pedigree of literary and cultural affinity in the past.


-It will be a two-year-long event and is named ‘Maharashtra-Bengal friendship chapter’.

-It is envisioned as a people’s cultural revivalist movement in these two States.

-It will commence on Tilak’s death centenary (August 1, 1920-August 1, 2020) and will go on till -August 15, 2022 to mark the 150th birth anniversary of the great philosopher, Sri Aurobindo Ghosh.

Contributions made by Lal- Bal- Pal:

-The triumvirate had played a stellar role in the second phase of the Swadeshi movement, which gathered momentum after the partition of Bengal by Lord Curzon in 1905, and which called for the boycott of all imported items and the use of Indian-made goods.

-Lal-Bal-Pal mobilized Indians across the country against the Bengal partition, and the demonstrations, strikes and boycotts of British goods that began in Bengal soon spread to other regions in a broader protest against the Raj.

-The nationalist movement gradually faded with the arrest of its main leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak and retirement of Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurobindo Ghosh from active politics.

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/to-mark-tilaks-death-centenary-pune-ngo-aims-to-revive-spirit-of-lal-bal-pal/article31909160.ece


Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report


2020 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report released by UNESCO.

In line with its mandate, the 2020 GEM Report assesses progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) on education and its ten targets, as well as other related education targets in the SDG agenda.

Key findings:

COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities in education systems across the world. About 40% of low- and lower-middle-income countries have not supported learners at risk of exclusion during this crisis, such as the poor, linguistic minorities and learners with disabilities.

Efforts to maintain learning continuity during the pandemic may have actually worsened exclusion trends. During the height of school closures in April 2020, almost 91% of students around the world were out of school.

Issues with alternatives:

-Education systems responded with distance learning solutions, all of which offered less or more imperfect substitutes for classroom instruction.

-Many poorer countries opted for radio and television lessons, 55% of low-income, 73% of lower-middle-income and 93% of upper-middle-income countries adopted for online learning platforms for primary and secondary education.

-The digital divide lays bare the limitations of this approach. Not all students and teachers have access to adequate internet connection, equipment, skills and working conditions to take advantage of available platforms.

School closures also interrupted support mechanisms from which many disadvantaged learners benefit.

-Resources for blind and deaf students may not be available outside schools.

-Children with learning disabilities or those who are on the autism spectrum may struggle with independent work in front of a computer or the disruption of daily school routines.

-For poor students who depend on school for free meals or even free sanitary napkins, closures have been a major blow.

Cancellation of examinations in many countries, including India, may result in scoring dependent on teachers’ judgements of students instead.

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/education/coronavirus-lockdown-covid-19-widened-educational-divide-unesco-report/article31907857.ece


International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 2020

Context: It is observed on 26 June.

Theme: “Better Knowledge for Better Care”.

Why June 26th?

-The date June 26 is to commemorate Lin Zexu’s dismantling of the opium trade in Humen, Guangdong, ending in June 25 1839, just before the First Opium War in China.

-On this occasion, UNODC World Drug Report 2020 was also released.


-Around 269 million people used drugs worldwide in 2018, which is 30 per cent more than in 2009.

-Over 35 million people suffer from drug use disorders.

-Rising unemployment and reduced opportunities caused by the pandemic are also likely to disproportionately affect the poorest, making them more vulnerable to drug use and also to drug trafficking and cultivation in order to earn money.

-Most used substance in 2018: Cannabis. Cannabis also remains the main drug that brings people into contact with the criminal justice system.

-Most harmful are Opioids.

Who use them?

-Adolescents and young adults account for the largest share of those using drugs, while young people are also the most vulnerable to the effects of drugs because they use the most and their brains are still developing.

-Low-income countries still suffer a critical shortage of pharmaceutical opioids for pain management and palliative care.

What are the policy and other initiatives taken by Indian Governmentto deal with drug trafficking problem?

-It constituted Narco-Coordination Centre (NCORD) in November, 2016 and revived the scheme of “Financial Assistance to States for Narcotics Control”.

-In 2017, the government approved new Reward Guidelines with increased quantum of reward for interdiction or seizure of different illicit drugs.

-Narcotics Control Bureau has been provided funds for developing a new software i.e. Seizure Information Management System (SIMS), which will create a complete online database of drug offences and offenders.

-The government has constituted a fund called “National Fund for Control of Drug Abuse” to meet the expenditure incurred in connection with combating illicit traffic in Narcotic Drugs; rehabilitating addicts, and educating public against drug abuse, etc.

-The government is also conducting National Drug Abuse Survey to measure trends of drug abuse in India through Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment with the help of National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre of AIIMS.

Source: https://epaper.thehindu.com/Home/ShareArticle?OrgId=GE07HHV89.1&imageview=0

Ozone pollution spiked in several cities during lockdown


According to an analysis by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), while particulate matter and nitrous oxide levels fell during the lockdown, ozone — also a harmful pollutant — increased in several cities.

What is Ozone?

-Ozone (O3) is a colourless, reactive oxidant gas that is a major constituent of atmospheric smog.

Factors responsible for tropospheric ozone pollution:

-Ozone is primarily a sunny weather problem in India that otherwise remains highly variable during the year.

-The surge is because of few characteristics of summer pollution. These include: high winds, intermittent rains and thunderstorms, and high temperature and heat waves.

How ground level ozone is formed?

-It is formed by photochemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and gases in the air under the influence of sunlight and heat.

-This happens when pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, industrial boilers, refineries, chemical plants, and other sources chemically react in the presence of sunlight.

What are the concerns?

-Ozone at ground level is a harmful air pollutant, because of its effects on people and the environment, and it is the main ingredient in “smog.”

-Elevated ground-level ozone exposures affect agricultural crops and trees, especially slow growing crops and long-lived trees.

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/ozone-pollution-spiked-in-several-cities-during-lockdown-cse/article31917957.ece


Global report on the illegal wildlife trade


-First global report on the illegal wildlife trade was recently released by FATF called the “Money Laundering and the Illegal Wildlife Trade” report.

-Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has described illegal wildlife trade as a “global threat”, which also has links with other organised crimes like modern slavery, drug trafficking and arms trade.

Key findings:

-The illegal trade is estimated to generate revenues of up to $23 billion a year.

-Criminals are frequently misusing the legitimate wildlife trade, as well as other import-export type businesses, as a front to move and hide illegal proceeds from wildlife crimes.

-Criminals also rely regularly on corruption, complex fraud and tax evasion.

-There is a growing role of online marketplaces and mobile and social media-based payments to facilitate movement of proceeds warranting a coordinated response from government bodies, the private sector and the civil society.

-According to the 2016 UN World Wildlife Crime report, criminals are illegally trading products derived from over 7,000 species of wild animals and plants across the world.

What are the challenges?

-Jurisdictions often do not have the required knowledge, legislative basis and resources to assess and combat the threat posed by the funds generated through the illegal trade.

-Criminal syndicates are misusing formal financial sector to launder the proceeds.

-Funds are laundered through cash deposits, under the guise of loans or payments, e-banking platforms, licensed money value transfer systems, and third-party wire transfers via banks.

-Accounts of innocent victims are also used and high-value payments avoided to evade detection.

-Front companies, often linked to import-export industries, and shell firms are used for the movement of goods and trans-border money transfers.

What steps are needed to be taken?

-The report says financial probe is key to dismantling the syndicates involved, which can in turn significantly impact the associated criminal activities.

-Jurisdictions should consider implementing the good practices. They include providing all relevant agencies with the necessary mandate and tools; and cooperating with other jurisdictions, international bodies and the private sector.

-Legislative changes are necessary to increase the applicability of anti-money laundering laws to the illegal wildlife trade-linked offences.

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/illegal-wildlife-trade-a-global-threat-fatf-report/article31918041.ece


Navigating the New Normal

-It is a campaign launched by NITI Aayog, in partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Centre for Social and Behavioural Change (CSBC), Ashoka University, and the Ministries of Health and WCD.

-It focusses on COVID-safe behaviours, especially wearing masks, during the ‘Unlock’ phase of the ongoing pandemic.

Nation’s top wheat contributor

-Madhya Pradesh (MP) this year surpassed Punjab to become the number one contributor of wheat.

-Punjab, however, is still a way ahead from MP as far as per hectare productivity of wheat is concerned, which is around 52 per cent more (per hectare) than MP.