Current Affairs Jul 16

World Youth Skills Day

  • The World Youth Skills Day, an event organised by the United Nations (UN), celebrates the strategic importance of equipping the youth with skills for employment, entrepreneurship and work.
  • It is observed on July 15 every year.


  • The United Nations General Assembly declared July 15 as World Youth Skills Day in 2014.
  • The day was marked to achieve the Incheon Declaration: Education 2030, which is a part of Sustainable Development Goal 4 that urges to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”


  • The theme for 2021 is ‘Reimagining Youth Skills Post-Pandemic’, which will pay a tribute to the resilience and creativity of the youth.


  • The Education 2030 mission devotes a major part of its attention to technical and vocational skills development, specifically regarding access to affordable quality Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
  • Through this initiative, the United Nations urges its member countries to provide technical and vocational skills to young people for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship.
  • The World Youth Skills Day also promotes the elimination of gender inequality and ensured access of resources to the vulnerable.




Draft Drone Rules, 2021

Why in News?

  • Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has released the updated – The Drone Rules, 2021 for public consultation.
  • Built on a premise of trust, self-certification, and non-intrusive monitoring, The Drone Rules, 2021 will replace the UAS Rules 2021 (released on 12 March 2021).

Key takeaways from the Draft Drone Rules, 2021 include:

  1. Approvals abolished: unique authorisation number, unique prototype identification number, certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance, import clearance, acceptance of existing drones, operator permit, authorisation of R&D organisation, student remote pilot licence, remote pilot instructor authorisation, drone port authorisation etc.
  2. Number of forms reduced from 25 to 6.
  3. Fee reduced to nominal levels. No linkage with the size of the drone.
  4. Safety features like ‘No permission – no take-off’ (NPNT), real-time tracking beacon, geo-fencing etc. to be notified in future. A six-month lead time will be provided for compliance.
  5. Digital sky platform shall be developed as a business-friendly single-window online system.
  6. There will be minimal human interface on the digital sky platform and most permissions will be self-generated.
  7. Interactive airspace map with green, yellow, and red zones will be displayed on the digital sky platform.
  8. Yellow zone reduced from 45 km to 12 km from the airport perimeter.
  9. No flight permission required upto 400 feet in green zones and upto 200 feet in the area between 8 and 12 km from the airport perimeter.
  10. No pilot licence required for micro drones (for non-commercial use), nano drone and for R&D organisations.
  11. No restriction on drone operations by foreign-owned companies registered in India.
  12. Import of drones and drone components to be regulated by DGFT.
  13. No security clearance required before any registration or licence issuance.
  14. No requirement of certificate of airworthiness, unique identification number, prior permission and remote pilot licence for R&D entities.
  15. Coverage of drones under Drone Rules, 2021 increased from 300 kg to 500 kg. This will cover drone taxis also.
  16. All drone training and testing to be carried out by an authorised drone school. DGCA shall prescribe training requirements, oversee drone schools and provide pilot licences online.
  17. Issuance of Certificate of Airworthiness delegated to Quality Council of India and certification entities authorised by it.
  18. Manufacturer may generate their drone’s unique identification number on the digital sky platform through the self-certification route.
  19. Easier process prescribed for transfer and deregistration of drones.
  20. Standard operating procedures (SOP) and training procedure manuals (TPM) will be prescribed by DGCA on the digital sky platform for self-monitoring by users. No approvals required unless there is a significant departure from the prescribed procedures.
  21. Maximum penalty under Drone Rules, 2021 reduced to INR 1 lakh. This shall, however, not apply to penalties in respect of violation of other laws.
  22. Drone corridors will be developed for cargo deliveries.
  23. Drone promotion council to be set up to facilitate a business-friendly regulatory regime.




Artificial Intelligence powered grievance management application

Why in News?

  • Raksha Mantri launched an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered grievance management application, developed by Ministry of Defence with the help of IIT-Kanpur.
  • This is the first AI based system developed to improve grievance redressal in the Government.
  • The AI tool developed as part of the initiative has capability to understand the content of the complaint based on the contents therein.
  • As a result, it can identify repeat complaints or spam automatically.
  • Given that lakhs of complaints are received on CPGRAMS portal of DARPG, this application will have great use in understanding the nature of complaints, geographies from where they emanate and policy changes which can be introduced to create systemic improvements to address these grievances.




PRASHAD projects

Why in News?

  • Prime Minister, inaugurated various development projects in Varanasi which includes Tourist Facilitation Centre under the Project “Development of Varanasi Under PRASHAD Scheme – Phase II” and operation of Cruise Boat from Assi Ghat to RajGhat under the Project “Development of River Cruise in Varanasi under PRASHAD Scheme”.


  • The ‘National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive’ (PRASHAD) is a Central Sector Scheme fully financed by the Government of India launched by the Ministry of Tourism in the year 2014-15 with the objective of integrated development of identified pilgrimage and heritage destinations.
  • The scheme aimed at infrastructure development such as entry points (Road, Rail and Water Transport), last mile connectivity, basic tourism facilities like Information/ Interpretation Centers, ATM/ Money exchange, eco-friendly modes of transport, area Lighting and illumination with renewable sources of energy, parking, drinking water, toilets, cloak room, waiting rooms, first aid centers, craft bazars /haats/ souvenir shops/ cafeteria, rain shelters, Telecom facilities, internet connectivity etc.
  • The project “Development of Varanasi Under PRASHAD Scheme – Phase II” was approved by the Ministry of Tourism in Feb. 2018.
  • The components viz. ‘Panchkoshi Path’, ‘Pilgrim Facilitation Center’, ‘Rameshwar’, ‘Road Development’ and ‘Signages’ have been successfully completed and dedicated to the nation.
  • The project “Development of River Cruise in Varanasi under PRASHAD Scheme” was approved by the Ministry of Tourism in Feb. 2018.
  • The components viz. ‘Passenger Cum Cruise Vehicle’, ‘Modular Jetty’, ‘Audio Visual Interventions’, and ‘CCTV Surveillane’ have been successfully completed and dedicated to the nation.




 Sedition law

Why in News?

  • Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana’s remarks in open court sends a strong message to the government that the Supreme Court is prima facie convinced that sedition is being misused by the authorities to trample upon citizens’ fundamental rights of free speech and liberty.
  • The Chief Justice has sent a clear signal that Section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code may have passed its time.
  • The CJI has made it clear that the court is sensitive to the public demand to judicially review the manner in which law enforcement authorities are using the sedition law to control free speech and send journalists, activists and dissenters to jail, and keep them there.
  • The court has questioned the need for the continuance of Section 124A — a colonial provision which was used to jail the Mahatma — in the law books of a modern democracy.
  • This is a step away from the court’s own Kedar Nath judgment of 1962 which had upheld Section 124A but read it down to mean any subversion of an elected government by violent means.
  • The court will have to re-examine whether this 59-year-old judgment holds in the modern context when the State is itself using a punitive law to impose serious burdens on free speech.

What is sedition?

  • The Indian Penal Code defines sedition (Section 124A) as an offence committed when “any person by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government established by law in India”.
  • Disaffection includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity. However, comments without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, will not constitute an offence under this section.

Punishment for the offence of sedition

  • Sedition is a non-bailable offence. Punishment under the Section 124A ranges from imprisonment up to three years to a life term, to which fine may be added.
  • A person charged under this law is barred from a government job. They have to live without their passport and must produce themselves in the court at all times as and when required.

Origin of sedition law in modern India

  • The law was originally drafted in 1837 by Thomas Macaulay, the British historian-politician, but was inexplicably omitted when the IPC was enacted in 1860.
  • Section 124A was inserted in 1870 by an amendment introduced by Sir James Stephen when it felt the need for a specific section to deal with the offence. It was one of the many draconian laws enacted to stifle any voices of dissent at that time.

Arguments in support of Section 124A:

  • Section 124A of the IPC has its utility in combating anti-national, secessionist and terrorist elements.
  • It protects the elected government from attempts to overthrow the government with violence and illegal means. The continued existence of the government established by law is an essential condition of the stability of the State.
  • If contempt of court invites penal action, contempt of government should also attract punishment.
  • Many districts in different states face a Maoist insurgency and rebel groups virtually run a parallel administration. These groups openly advocate the overthrow of the state government by revolution
  • Against this backdrop, the abolition of Section 124A would be ill-advised merely because it has been wrongly invoked in some highly publicized cases.

Arguments against Section 124A:

  • Section 124A is a relic of colonial legacy and unsuited in a democracy. It is a constraint on the legitimate exercise of constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and expression.
  • Dissent and criticism of the government are essential ingredients of robust public debate in a vibrant democracy. They should not be constructed as sedition. Right to question, criticize and change rulers is very fundamental to the idea of democracy.
  • The British, who introduced sedition to oppress Indians, have themselves abolished the law in their country. There is no reason, why should not India abolish this section.
  • The terms used under Section 124A like ‘disaffection’ are vague and subject to different interpretation to the whims and fancies of the investigating officers.
  • IPC and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act have provisions that penalize “disrupting the public order” or “overthrowing the government with violence and illegal means”. These are sufficient for protecting the national integrity. There is no need for Section 124A.




Vikas engine for Gaganyaan

Why in News?

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully conducted the third long-duration hot test of the liquid propellant Vikas engine for the Gaganyaan programme, the country’s first manned mission to space.
  • The test was done for the core L110 liquid stage of the human rated GSLV MkIII vehicle, as part of the engine qualification requirements for the Gaganyaan programme.
  • The objective of the Gaganyaan programme is to demonstrate the capability to send humans to low earth orbit onboard an Indian launch vehicle and bring them back to earth.
  • The first unmanned mission is planned in December 2021 and the second unmanned one in 2022-23 followed by the human space flight demonstration.
  • Four Indian astronaut-candidates have already undergone generic space flight training in Russia as part of the Gaganyaan programme.
  • ISRO’s heavy-lift launcher GSLV Mk III has been identified for the mission.
  • ISRO is also taking the help of French, Russian and US space agencies in some of the crucial activities and supply of components.





Science curriculum

Why in News?

  • A survey by the Oxford University Press (OUP) of science teachers in 22 countries on their respective national science curricula found that fewer than half of the respondents (46%) believe that the science curriculum in their country prepared children for the future.
  • Only 31% of teachers surveyed said science education was fit for the future. In India however, 80% of respondents agreed that the curriculum enabled students to become scientifically literate and active citizens, as opposed to 59% in the U.K. and 67% in Hong Kong.
  • The research was undertaken alongside OUP’s active involvement in developing the science framework for the Programme for International Assessment (PISA) 2025, a global evaluation exercise to compare learning assessment of school-going children.
  • Teachers were asked to recommend ways in which science curricula could evolve to remain relevant.

Their recommendations included:

  • Ensuring that science education prioritise practical skills through experimentation in the classroom, updating content regularly, increasing the connection between the science that was being taught in the classroom and what is happening in the world outside.
  • Teachers also requested a “rebalancing of exams” — away from the current focus on knowledge, towards assessing the application of science.




Paediatric asthma

Why in News?

  • Covid-19 lockdown measures have seen a huge drop in the difficult to control cases of asthma attacks, not just globally but in India as well.
  • It has taken a pandemic to understand the importance of school-related respiratory viral infections as one of the major factors of asthma exacerbation in children, and how wearing a mask can be a protective measure against this disease.

Schools being shut, lockdown restrictions important factors

  • Lockdown restrictions, schools being shut for in-person classes and social distancing have had important implications for movement and play behaviours, limiting children’s physical activity and reducing exposure to environmental triggers.

Asthma growing problem in country

  • Asthma is the most common chronic disease among children and according to WHO, it affected an estimated 262 million people in 2019 and caused 4.61 lakh deaths.
  • Inflammation and narrowing of the small airways in the lungs cause asthma symptoms which can be a combination of cough, wheeze, shortness of breath and chest tightness. Symptoms of asthma are intermittent and are often worse at night or during exercise.
  • According to the latest Global Burden of Disease (GBD) report, there are an estimated 3.4 crore asthmatics in India, of which around 25% are children.
  • Although India has 11% of global asthma cases, the country accounts for a shocking 42% of all global asthma deaths.




Doppler radars

Why in News?

  • The India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) only Doppler radar in Mumbai, which surveys weather patterns and forecast, recently stopped working.
  • Doppler radars are crucial for gauging the intensity of rainfall and impact area in real-time.
  • In the absence of the radar located at IMD’s Colaba observatory – which can carry out weather surveillance up to a radius of 450-500 km – satellite pictures and wind profiles are used for forecast.

How does a Doppler radar work?

  • In radars, a beam of energy– called radio waves– is emitted from an antenna. When this beam strikes an object in the atmosphere, the energy scatters in all directions, with some reflecting directly back to the radar.
  • The larger the object deflecting the beam, the greater is the amount of energy that the radar receives in return.
  • Observing the time required for the beam to be transmitted and returned to the radar allows weather forecasting departments to “see” raindrops in the atmosphere, and measure their distance from the radar.
  • What makes a Doppler radar special is that it can provide information on both the position of targets as well as their movement.
  • It does this by tracking the ‘phase’ of transmitted radio wave pulses; phase meaning the shape, position, and form of those pulses.
  • As computers measure the shift in phase between the original pulse and the received echo, the movement of raindrops can be calculated, and it is possible to tell whether the precipitation is moving toward or away from the radar.
  • In India, Doppler radars of varying frequencies — S-band, C-band and X-band — are commonly used by the IMD to track the movement of weather systems and cloud bands, and gauge rainfall over its coverage area of about 500 km.
  • An X-band radar is used to detect thunderstorms and lightning whereas C-band guides in cyclone tracking.

Why are they called ‘Doppler’ radars?

  • The phase shift in these radars works on the same lines as the “Doppler effect” observed in sound waves– in which the sound pitch of an object approaching the observer is higher due to compression of sound waves (a change in their phase).
  • As this object moves away from the observer, the sound waves stretch, resulting in lower frequency.
  • This effect explains why an approaching train’s whistle sounds louder than the whistle when the train moves away. The discovery of the phenomenon is attributed to Christian Doppler, a 19th-century Austrian physicist.

Doppler radars on India’s coastline

  • India’s east coast, which is frequently affected by cyclones formed in the Bay of Bengal, has radars operational at eight locations — Kolkata, Paradip, Gopalpur, Visakhapatnam, Machilipatanam, Sriharikota, Karaikal and Chennai.
  • Along the west coast, there are radars at Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Goa and Mumbai. Other radars are operating from Srinagar, Patiala, Kufri, Delhi, Mukteshwar, Jaipur, Bhuj, Lucknow, Patna, Mohanbar, Agartala, Sohra, Bhopal, Hyderabad and Nagpur.




Europe’s ambitious new climate agenda

  • Cars with internal combustion engines will disappear from European showrooms by 2035. Steel producers and cement makers will pay for every ton of carbon dioxide their factories emit.
  • Cargo ships may not be able to dock in ports like Rotterdam, Netherlands, or Hamburg, Germany, unless they run on cleaner fuels.
  • Commercial airliners will be required to fill up with synthetic fuel produced with green energy.
  • The European Union’s plan to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by more than half by the end of the decade will touch almost every industry in the trade bloc, with profound consequences for jobs and the bloc’s economy.
  • The European Commission’s plan, “Fit for 55,” calls for its 27 member states to cut their output of greenhouse gases by 55% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels.
  • The European Union’s target is more aggressive than that of the United States, which committed to reduce emissions by 40% to 43% over the same period, but behind Britain, which pledged a 68% reduction. China, the world’s largest emitter, has only said it aims for emissions to peak by 2030.




Global urban GHG emissions

  • Just 25 cities worldwide are responsible for 52 per cent of urban greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to a recent study.
  • Megacities in Asia such as Tokyo in Japan and Shanghai in China are among the biggest emitters.
  • Cities in the developed world, such as those in Europe, Australia and the United States had significantly higher per capita emissions than cities in developing countries.
  • China was included among developing countries. However, most cities in China tended to have emissions similar to the developed world.
  • Road transport caused more than 30 per cent of emissions in a third of the cities. Other, less important emission sources were railways, waterways and aviation. These produced less than 15 per cent of the total emissions.
  • The researchers also found that pollution levels had declined over time in 30 out of 42 cities between 2005 and 2016. These included Oslo, Houston, Seattle and Bogotá, which saw the steepest declines.
  • On the other hand, emissions grew in the remaining 12 cities. Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg and Venice saw the biggest increases according to the study.
  • Today, more than 50 per cent of the global population resides in cities.
  • They are reported to be responsible for more than 70 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions and they share a big responsibility for the decarbonisation of the global economy.