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Current Affairs – 4 September 2021

Footprints of 3 Dinosaur Species

The Hindu

GS 1: Indian History

Context:

  • In a major discovery, footprints of three species of dinosaurs have been found in the Thar desert in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer district. Footprints were 200 million years old.

About:

  • This proves the presence of the giant reptiles in the western part of the State, which formed the seashore to the Tethys Ocean during the Mesozoic era.
  • The footprints, made in the sediment or silt of the seashore, later become permanently stone-like.
  • They belong to three species of dinosaurs — Eubrontes cf. giganteus, Eubrontes glenrosensis and Grallator tenuis.
  • While the giganteus and glenrosensis species have 35 cm footprints, the footprint of the third species was found to be 5.5 cm.
  • The dinosaur species are considered to be of the theropod type, with the distinguishing features of hollow bones and feet with three digits.
  • All the three species, belonging to the early Jurassic period, were carnivorous.
  • Eubrontes could have been 12 to 15 metres long and weighed between 500 kg and 700 kg, while the height of the Grallator is estimated to have been two metres, as much as a human, with a length of up to three metres.

Analysis:

  • Careful geological observations enabled the scientists to interpret ancient environments in which the rocks of the footprints, which were once soft sediments, were deposited.
  • Geochemical analyses and calculation of weathering indices showed that the hinterland climate was seasonal to semi-arid during the deposition of the footprints.
  • Fieldwork in the Kutch and Jaisalmer basins has suggested that after the main transgression during the early Jurassic period, the sea level changed several times.
  • Spatial and temporal distribution of sediments and traces of fossils and post-depositional structures provided an indication to this phenomenon.

 

Appointment of SC Judges

Indian Express

GS 2: Indian Polity

Context:

  • Recently, nine judges of the Supreme Court (SC) took oath, which is the biggest ever number at one go. A third of the new judges are women, another first, even though the 33-strong Bench still has only four women.

Who appoints SC judges?

  • Articles 124(2) and 217 governs the appointment of judges to the SC and High Courts respectively.
  • Under both provisions, the President has the power to make the appointments “after consultation with such of the Judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Courts in the States as the President may deem necessary”.
  • Over the years, the word “consultation” has been at the centre of debate on the executive’s power to appoint judges.
  • In practice, the executive held this power since Independence, and a convention of seniority was evolved for appointing the Chief Justice of India.
  • This changed, however, in the ’80s in a series of SC cases, in which the judiciary essentially impounded the power of appointment to itself.

No. of judges in SC:

  • Currently, the SC has 34 judges including the CJI.
  • In 1950, when it was established, it had 8 judges including the CJI.
  • Parliament, which has the power to increase the number of judges, has gradually done so by amending the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act — from 8 in 1950 to 11 in 1956, 14 in 1960, 18 in 1978, 26 in 1986, 31 in 2009, and 34 in 2019.
  • Even with recent’s record nine appointments, the court continues to have one vacancy, and eight more judges are due to retire next year.

Women judges:

  • Lack of representation in terms of caste and gender has been an issue in the higher judiciary.
  • Before this recent’s appointments, Justice Indira Banerjee was the only woman judge in the SC.
  • Justice B V Nagarathna is in line to become India’s first woman CJI —80 years after Independence.
  • In 1989, justice Fathima Beevi became the first judge to be appointed to the SC. Since then, however, the SC has had only 11 women judges, inducing the three women appointed recently.
  • A 2018 study by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy noted that while representation of women in the lower judiciary is higher at 27%, they hit a glass ceiling in higher appointments — as district judges and subsequently at the high court level.

 

IPCC Report Warning

Down to Earth

GS 3: Environment and Conservation

Context:

  • According to the recently released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, Mumbai is set to experience the highest increase in total annual rainfall among Indian metropolitan cities in the 21st century.

About:

  • The report observed that while total rainfall would gradually increase throughout the current century, the maximum single-day rainfall is likely to increase substantially in the city.
  • It noted that the city is likely to suffer from high mean temperature and sea-level rise towards the end of the century.
  • Mumbai’s total precipitation is set to increase consistently over the coming years under various greenhouse gas emission scenarios.
  • Mumbai’s total rainfall rise is the highest in the country, followed by Delhi with about 50 per cent among metro cities.

Temperature, sea level set to rise:

  • Under the worst possible emission scenario, Mumbai may have 4.6°C rise in mean temperature rise during end of current century compared to pre-industrial period; with close to 90 per cent of the rise likely to happen from 2015 to 2100.

Arabian Sea temperature playing duet with urban heat island factor:

  • Extreme rainfall has increased in Mumbai and is likely to increase even more. The prediction is in sync with the observed trend as well as the studies that we have been carrying out regarding the future pattern of rainfall.
  • High warming rate in Arabian Sea caters to extremely high rainfall bouts in Mumbai region, Western Ghats as well as the entire central India.
  • Urbanisation has led to the development of urban heat island effect in Mumbai that often plays a duet and catapult huge amount of rainfall, often within short period, on the city and surrounding areas.
  • Urban heat island and related weather factors often lead to huge regional variability in rainfall pattern over Mumbai.

 

AYUSH AAPKE DWAR Campaign

News on Air

Prelims: Current events of national and international importance

Context:

  • Ayush Ministry has launched the campaign AYUSH AAPKE DWAR from more than 45 locations across the country.

About:

  • The campaign aims to distribute medicinal plant saplings to 75 lakh households in one year.
  • The medicinal plants include Tejpatta, Stevia, Ashoka, Giloy, Ashwagandha, Lemongrass, Tulsi, Sarpagandha and Amla.
  • The National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) and Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Science (CCRA), Ministry of Ayush distributed medicinal saplings and Ayurvedic medicines to the public during the event.

 

Schemes for Development of Agriculture & Horticulture

News on Air

Prelims: Current events of national and international importance

Context:

  • Arunachal Pradesh government has launched two ambitious schemes, one in agriculture sector called ‘AtmaNirbhar Krishi Yojna’ and the other for horticulture named ‘AtmaNirbhar Bagwani Yojna’.

About:

  • The schemes are part of the AtmaNirbhar program announced during the Budget session held in February this year.
  • A total amount of 120 crores rupees – 60 crore rupees for each scheme – has been allocated to the two concerned departments of Agriculture and Horticulture.
  • The schemes will immensely benefit farmers and Self-Help Groups (SHGs) across the state.
  • These two schemes are unique as these are both based on front-ended subsidies. Credit link will be provided to the beneficiaries by SBI, Arunachal Pradesh Rural Bank and Arunachal Pradesh Cooperative Apex Bank.
  • The components of the schemes will be 45% govt subsidy, 45% bank loan and only 10% will have to be borne by the farmer.

 

World Social Protection Report 2020-22

The Hindu

GS 2: United Nations, its Bodies & Agencies

Context:

  • RecentlyInternational Labour Organisation (ILO)released World Social Protection Report 2020-22.

Findings:

  • Coverage: Currently, only 47 per cent of the global population are effectively covered by at least one social protection benefit, while 4.1 billion people (53 per cent) obtain no income security at all from their national social protection system.
    • Over half of all people in the world have no social protections, even after the pandemic spurred countries to offer more services to their populations.
  • Impact of COVID-19:  The COVID-19 has revealed and exacerbated the social protection gap between countries with high and low-income levels.
    • The pandemic response was uneven and insufficient, deepening the gap between countries with high and low-income levels and failing to afford the much-needed social protection that all human beings deserve.
  • Regional inequalities: 
    • Europe and Central Asia have the highest rates of coverage, with 84 per cent of people being covered by at least one benefit.
    • The Americas are also above the global average, with 64.3 per cent. Asia and the Pacific (44 per cent), the Arab States (40 per cent) and Africa (17.4 per cent) have marked coverage gaps.
  • Government spending: On average, countries spend 12.8 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on social protection (excluding health), however, high-income countries spend 16.4 per cent and low-income countries only 1.1 per cent of their GDP on social protection.

Suggestions :

  • The world community must recognize that effective and comprehensive social protection is not just essential for social justice and decent work but for creating a sustainable and resilient future too.
  • This is a pivotal moment to harness the pandemic response to build a new generation of rights-based social protection systems.
    • These can cushion people from future crises and give workers and businesses the security to tackle the multiple transitions ahead with confidence and with hope.
  • To guarantee at least basic social protection coverage, low-income countries would need to invest an additional US$77.9 billion per year, lower-middle-income countries an additional US$362.9 billion per year and upper-middle-income countries a further US$750.8 billion per year.
    • That’s equivalent to 15.9, 5.1 and 3.1 per cent of their GDP, respectively.
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