Daily Analysis: 1st September 2020

The Hindu, PIB, IE and Others

Index  

A) Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

1. US beef market is why the Pantanal is burning (DTE)

2. Environment Performance Index 2020 (DTE)

3. Hangenberg Crisis (DTE)

4. Govt considering land acquisition under CBA Act (IE)

B) Indices/Committees/Reports/Organisations

5. Consumer Price Index for Industrial Workers (PIB)

C) Science and Technology

6. Coal Gasification and Coal-bed Methane (PIB)

D) Polity/Bills/Acts/Judgments

7. What is State Mourning (PIB)

E) Art, Culture and History

8. Hampi featured under Deko Apna Desh (PIB)

E) Miscellaneous

9. Hydrophobic Surfaces (PIB)

10. The Great Reset Initiative (IE)

11. Pinaka missile system for the Army (PIB)

A) Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

1. US beef market is why the Pantanal is burning (DTE)

Context: Devastating wildfires that burned out of control in late 2019 and early 2020 in Brazil’s Pantanal wetland are back, the Bloomberg report said.

Analysis

  • The report blamed the market abroad (beef import by countries like U.S.) that drives more clearance of natural ecosystems like the Pantanal.
  • The report also blamed commercial farmers for the fires since they lit them to clear vegetation during the annual dry season to graze cattle and grow crops for export.
  • Things have been complicated as this year as South America has been hit by a bad drought.
  • The unique way in which fires burn in the Pantanal also poses a challenge.

2. Environment Performance Index 2020 (DTE)

  • The Environmental Performance Index has been developed by two U.S. universities (Yale and Columbia) in collaboration with the World Economic Forum and European Commission and available ranking shows India at 118 in 2006, 123 in 2010, 155 in 2014 and 177 in 2018.

Analysis

  • The EPI report ranks 180 countries on 32 performance indicators across 11 issue categories covering environmental health and ecosystem vitality, giving a snapshot of the 10-year trends in environmental performance at the national and global levels.
  • In the 2020 EPI – a biennial scorecard of national results on a range of sustainability issues – Denmark has ranked first in the world, followed by Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, France, Austria, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Germany in the top 10 countries.
  • The 2020 EPI features new metrics that gauge waste management, carbon dioxide emissions from land cover change, and emissions of fluorinated gases; all important drivers of climate change.
  • This index becomes a vital tool for assessing countries’ progress with regards to Sustainable Development Goals, and would help policymakers formulate and implement environmental policies efficiently.

Poor performance South Asian region

  • The 11 countries lagging behind India were — Burundi, Haiti, Chad, Soloman Islands, Madagascar, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoir, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Liberia.
  • All South Asian countries, except Afghanistan, were ahead of India in the ranking. 
  • Leading the region is Bhutan (107th, followed Sri Lanka, Maldives, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh), with relatively high scores in biodiversity & habitat protection.
  • India scored below the regional average score on all five key parameters on environmental health, including air quality, sanitation and drinking water, heavy metals and waste management.  

It has also scored below the regional average on parameters related to biodiversity and ecosystem services too.

3. Hangenberg Crisis (DTE)

  • 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.
  • According to researchers, one or more supernovae explosions, at a distance of 65 light years away from the Earth, may have caused a prolonged loss of ozone.
  • Extensive volcanism and global warming can rupture the ozone layer but shreds of evidence for these are indefinite as far as the time period is concerned. 

4. Govt considering land acquisition under CBA Act (IE)

  • The central government is considering a proposal to acquire land under the Coal Bearing Areas (CBA) Act, 1957 and then lease it to private players to expedite the development of coal blocks allocated for commercial mining.
  • Currently, the CBA Act is used for acquisition of land for use by state-owned coal mining companies, such as Coal India Ltd (CIL).
  • The Centre had, in June, liberalised the bidding norms for coal blocks, announcing an auction of 41 blocks allowing for commercial mining for the first time.

B) Indices/Committees/Reports/Organisations

5. Consumer Price Index for Industrial Workers (PIB)

  • TheLabour Bureau, an attached office of the M/o Labour & Employment, has been compiling Consumer Price Index for Industrial Workers every month on the basis of the retail prices of selected items collected from 289 markets spread over 78 industrially important centres in the country.
  • The index is compiled for 78 centres and All-India and is released on the last working day of succeeding month.

Consumer Price Index (CPI)

  • Two Ministries – Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) and Ministry of Labour and Employment (MOLE) are engaged in the construction of different CPIs for different groups/sectors.
  • CPI inflation is also called as ‘retail inflation’ as the prices are quoted from retailers.
  • CPI is based on retail prices and this index is used to calculate the Dearness Allowance (DA) for government employees.

Table: Different Price Indices in India

IndexAgencyBase Year
WPIOffice of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Commerce and Industries2011-12
CPI All India, CPI -Urban and RuralCSO, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation2012
CPI-AL  Labour Bureau, Ministry of Labour and Employment1986-87

Does RBI use WPI or CPI Inflation to manage monetary policy?

  • While earlier the Reserve Bank of India used WPI inflation to manage monetary policy expectations, it is now the CPI inflation which is largely taken into account. 

Do you know?

  • Headline inflation is the raw inflation figure reported through the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
  • Core inflation removes the CPI components that can exhibit large amounts of volatility from month to month, which can cause unwanted distortion to the headline figure.
  • The most commonly removed factors are those relating to the cost of food and energy.
  • Inflation deliberately undertaken to relieve a depression- Reflation
  • Rise in prices with little change in output- Stagflation. Stagflation is when economic growth is stagnant but there still is price inflation.
  • Price rise at full employment- Continuous inflation
  • The term ‘benign inflation’ implies a mild rate of inflation.

Office of the Economic Adviser (OEA)

  • It is an attached office of the Ministry of Commerce & Industry. 

The main statistical functions of the Office of Economic Adviser include, inter alia the following:

  • Compiling and releasing monthly Wholesale Price Indices
  • Compiling and releasing monthly Index of Core Industries Production
  • Developing other Indices on experimental basis, e.g. select business service price indices
  • Supervising as a ‘source agency’
  • Monthly Statistical compilation of macro indicators

C) Science and Technology

6. Coal Gasification and Coal-bed Methane (PIB)

Context: India aims for 100 million tonnes (MT) coal gasification by 2030.

  • The Government of India’s big plan to push coal gasification to replace natural gas in the fertiliser sector would help square energy and food security objectives.
  • However, ammonia produced from coal gasification has a carbon footprint that is 1.8 times higher than that produced from the conventional process using natural gas.

Analysis

Coal gasification

  • Coal gasification is a thermo-chemical process in which the gasifier’s heat and pressure break down coal into its chemical constituents.
  • The resulting “syngas” or synthetic natural gas (SNG) is comprised primarily of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, and occasionally other gaseous compounds.
  • Proponents of coal gasification say that syngas can be used for electricity production, used in energy-efficient fuel cell technology, or as chemical “building blocks” for industrial purposes.
  • The hydrogen can also be extracted for use in fueling a hydrogen economy.
  • Coal gas can also be converted into a transportation fuel as a substitute for gasoline in vehicles, but it is far less efficient than the current production and burning of petroleum-based gasoline.
  • Coal gasification is said to have greater efficiency than conventional coal-burning because it can effectively use the gases twice: the coal gases are first cleansed of impurities and fired in a turbine to generate electricity.
  • Then, the exhaust heat from the gas turbine can be captured and used to generate steam for a steam turbine-generator.
  • This is called a combined cycle, and a coal gasification plant using this dual process can potentially achieve an efficiency of 50 percent or more, compared with a conventional coal power plant, which is often just above 30 percent.
  • Transporting gas is a lot cheaper than transporting coal.
  • Coal gasification can also help address local pollution problems.
  • Coal gasification and liquefaction facilitate the removal of Sulphur and ash and produce valuable chemical by-products.

But there are two big problems.

  • First, coal gasification actually produces more CO2 than a traditional coal plant.
  • Synthetic natural gas emits seven times more greenhouse gases than natural gas, and almost twice as much carbon as a coal plant.
  • The second problem is water use. Coal gasification is one of the more water-intensive forms of energy production.

Coal-bed methane

  • Other countries are looking at different ways to get gas from coal. One method, particularly popular in Australia, is coal-bed methane, a process allowing access to coal deposits that are too deep to mine.
  • Water is sucked out of the seam and the methane attached to the surface of the coal is freed and then collected.
  • Very little CO2 is emitted, but the process is not without controversy. Opponents highlight concerns about water contamination, land subsidence and disposing of waste water safely, while the water intensive process sometimes involves fracking.
  • Coalbed Methane (CBM) is an unconventional source of natural gas.
  • India has the fifth largest proven coal reserves in the world and thus holds significant prospects for exploration and exploitation of CBM.
  • The Gondwana sediments of eastern India host the bulk of India’s coal reserves and all the current CBM producing blocks.

Underground coal gasification

  • A very different way to produce gas from coal is known as underground coal gasification (UCG), a process that has been around since the 19th Century but which has yet to become commercially viable on a grand scale.
  • The process involves pumping oxygen and steam through a small borehole into the coal seam to produce a small and controlled combustion.
  • Unlike coal-bed methane, therefore, the actual coal is converted from a solid state into gas.
  • The hydrogen, methane, carbon monoxide and CO2 are then siphoned off through a second borehole.
  • Coal Gasification in India
  • Coal is the most abundant fuel resource in India with a cumulative total reserve of nearly 307 Billion tonnes, estimated up to the maximum depth of 1200m.
  • In view of the limited reserves of petroleum and natural gas in the country, coal has the potential to be the major energy, ammonia/urea and organic chemicals resource.
  • However, the following factors restrict its use for alternate energy over imported crude oil and LNG:
  • the low calorific value (GCV about 3600);
  • high levels of inorganic impurities (35-45%) of the Indian coal;
  • unavailability of suitable technology to process high ash coal
  • At present the 60% of available coal is consumed by the power production units, while steel and cement industry consume around 4% and 7% respectively. Other 29% is used as feedstock for producing various chemicals.
  • The high ash content in the Indian coal still remains a major hindrance towards developing an appropriate technology which can be run on commercial basis.
  • The three units of FCIL at Ramagundam, Sindri and Talcher which were setup during 1970-80 using coal gasification technology failed to achieve commercial success due to high ash content of coal feed.
  • It is understood the technology available so far restricts the use of coal with ash content above 30%.
  • Recently, contract for coal gasification plant for urea project at the erstwhile Talcher in Odisha was awarded.

D) Polity/Bills/Acts/Judgments

7. What is State Mourning (PIB)

Context: Seven day State Mourning to be observed in memory of former President Shri Pranab Mukherjee.

Analysis

  • Observing or declaring a national mourning day is a symbolic gesture to pay tribute and express grief for a national tragedy.
  • Such days include those marking the death or funeral of a renowned individual or individuals from that country or elsewhere, or the anniversary of such a death or deaths.
  • It is designated by the national government.
  • State government also can declare state mourning day/s in their respective state.
  • After Mourning is declared by Ministry of Home Affairs following restrictions are observed in all central Institutions/organaisations/offices.
  • National flag: On the day of mourning in India, the National Flag will be flown at half-mast throughout the country and in Indian missions abroad.
  • Restriction on ceremonies and official entertainment: No ceremonial functions will be organised and there shall be no official entertainment during the period of state mourning. Memorial activities are often organised by people.
  • State funeral is accorded with due respect to the dignitary.
  • Half day holiday in Central government and its institution: A 1997 Central government notification that restricts declaration of public holiday only in the event of death of the sitting Prime Minister or President.

E) Art, Culture and History

8. Hampi featured under Deko Apna Desh (PIB)

Context: Ministry of Tourism organised webinar on Hampi under Dekho Apna Desh Webinar series.

Analysis

All about Hampi

  • Its name is derived from Pampa which is the old name of the Tungabhadra River on whose banks the city is built.
  • In 1336 CE, the Vijayanagara Empire arose from the ruins of the Kampili kingdom. It grew into one of the famed Hindu empires of South India that ruled for over 200 years.
  • The history of Hampi dates back to the 2nd and also the 3rd century BCE that is the Neolithihc and Chalcolithic era.
  • This fact has been established from the ceramic potteries that have been found here from those centuries.
  • With the decline of power of the Chola dynasty in the
  • thirteenth century, the Vijayanagara Dynasty captured and brought under its control the region from Hampi to Trichy with Hampi serving as its capital near the river Tungabhadra.
  • Hampi remained in central importance in the medieval times as the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire.
  • Vijayanagara or “city of victory” was the name of both a city and an empire.
  • The empire was founded in the fourteenth century by two brothers, Harihara and Bukka.
  • In its heyday it stretched from the river Krishna in the north to the extreme south of the peninsula.
  • In 1565 Rama Raya, the chief minister of Vijayanagara, led the army into battle at Rakshasi-Tangadi (also known as Talikota), where his forces were routed by the combined armies of Bijapur, Ahmadnagar and Golconda.
  • At the time of the Battle of Talikota, the Mughal Empire was expanding under its famous Emperor Jalal ud-din Muhammad Akbar.
  • The ruins at Hampi were brought to light in 1800 by an engineer and antiquarian named Colonel Colin Mackenzie.
  • At present, it has been listed under the UNESCO World Heritage Site as the Group of monuments at Hampi.
  • The site used to be multi-religious and multi-ethnic; it included Hindu and Jain monuments next to each other.
  • The buildings predominantly followed South Indian Hindu arts and architecture dating to the Aihole-Pattadakal styles, but the Hampi builders also used elements of Indo-Islamic architecture in the Lotus Mahal, the public bath and the elephant stables.
  • The Vijayanagara rulers fostered developments in intellectual pursuits and the arts, maintained a strong military and fought many wars with sultanates to its north and east.
  • They invested in roads, waterworks, agriculture, religious buildings and public infrastructure. 

Important temples located at Hampi

Virupaksha Temple

  • It is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and was constructed during the reign of Vijayanagara ruler Krishna Deva Raya II.
  • For the Vijayanagar kings, Virupaksha was the family God and their crest was the Boar or Varaha.
  • It remains an important center of pilgrimage in the site of Hampi and is also popular for its yearly chariot festival.
  • Virupaksha Temple is an important example of Vijayanagara style of architecture.  
  • Among all temples this is the only one which the Mughals never attacked because of the insignia or the emblem of a pig on the door of the temple.

Vittala Temple

  • The temple is dedicated to Vaishnava deity Lord Vitthala.
  • Vittala Temple in Hampi is known for its exquisite craftsmanship and extraordinary architecture in the Dravidian Style.
  • Its peculiarity is the huge and decorative stone chariot, though not a monolithic structure.
  • These are different hallways that adore this temple.

Hazara Rama Temple

  • Hazara Rama comes from the word Hazarumu which in Telegu means Entrance Hall.
  • This place has one of the most beautiful and intricate carvings lot of them describing what happened back in Ramayana and some of them depicting various Vishnu avatars.
  • It was also a private temple of the royal family.

Jain Temples

  • Jainism remained an important religion even during the Vijayanagara Empire due to their highly tolerant attitude for all religions.
  • Jainism contributed a lot in terms of trade, and hence it started flourishing in many other states including Karnataka.
  • Some of the Jain temples are Parashvanatha Temple, Hemkut Temple, and Gangatti Temple.

Vijayanagara Paintings: Important Characteristics

  • The faces of the figures are shown in profile (a representation of something in outline especially a human head or face represented or seen in a side view), with large frontal eyes.
  • The figures have narrow waists.
  • Figures and objects were generally shown two-dimensionally.
  • Lines become still but fluid, compositions appear in rectilinear compartments.
  • These stylistic conventions of the preceding centuries were adopted by artists in various centres in South India as can be seen in the paintings of the Nayaka

Period

  • Nayaka paintings were more or less an extension of the Vijayanagara style with minor regional modifications and incorporations.
  • The figures, mostly in profile, are set against a flat background.
  • Male figures are shown slim-waisted but with less heavy abdomen as compared to those in Vijayanagara.

Monolithic sculpture of Lord Narasimha

  • According to Hindu mythology, Narasimha is the fourth incarnation of Vishnu and appeared on earth in the form of half human (nara) and half lion (simha).
  • It is the largest monolith (one peice) statue in Hampi, located on the southern side of the Hemakuta group of temples that stand on the Hemakuta Hill.

History of Lakshmi Narasimha Statue, Hampi

  • The Lakshmi Narasimha statue and the temple housing the statue were built in the year 1528 A.D.
  • It was constructed during the rule of Krishnadevaraya, one of the greatest rulers of the Vijayanagara Empire.
  • The temple is dedicated to Lord Narasimha, one of the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu, and Goddess Lakshmi. As such, the temple is known as the Lakshmi Narasimha Temple.
  • The original sculpture had a small figure of Goddess Lakshmi, consort of Narasimha, sitting on his lap.
  • The gigantic statue was vandalized and mutilated in 1565 A.D. during the raid by the Mughals that led to the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire.
  • Narasimha is adorned with a beautiful headgear and is seen seated in a cross-legged position.
  • The sculpture portrays Narasimha sitting on the coils of Adishesha, the king of all snakes, which rises behind him with its seven hoods.
  • These hoods have been beautifully designed to serve as a canopy over Narasimha’s head. The sculpture is set within a Makara torana or arch. There is a lion-mask set above the hoods of Adishesha. All these features make the statue an interesting piece of architecture.

E) Miscellaneous

9. Hydrophobic Surfaces (PIB)

  • Eco-friendly self-cleaning surfaces that can protect biomedical and other applications from rusting and bacterial growth may soon be a reality with an ultrafast laser-based process that scientists have developed for fabrication of surfaces without use of coatings or additional surface treatment.
  • The following are among the methods used to create hydrophobic surfaces on materials:
  • Laser
  • Specialty Chemicals
  • Nano particles coating

 10. The Great Reset Initiative (IE)

  • There is an urgent need for global stakeholders to cooperate in simultaneously managing the direct consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. To improve the state of the world, the World Economic Forum is starting The Great Reset initiative.
  • The World Economic Forum’s Great Reset initiative seeks new ideas in order to use this unique moment in history provided by the disruption to economics, politics and our everyday life to catalyze a new approach to how our societies are run.

11. Pinaka missile system for the Army (PIB)

  • It is an all-weather, indirect fire, free flight artillery rocket system.
  • The Pinaka missile systems would help to raise additional regiments over and above those inducted by the Army.
  • The Pinaka Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) has been indigenously designed and developed by DRDO.
  • This is a flagship project showcasing public private partnership under the aegis of Government of India (DRDO & MoD) enabling “Aatmnirbharta” in cutting edge Defence technologies.

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