22nd February Current Affairs
February 22, 2022
24th February Current Affairs
February 24, 2022
Show all

23rd February Current Affairs

Academic Bank of Credit

(GS-II: Issues related to Education)

In News:

The Academic Bank of Credits (ABC) is expected to be implemented from this academic year.

However, this scheme has many pros and cons and there are issues which still need to be addressed before it gets implemented.

Concerns and challenges associated:

ABC will affect organised, systematic learning: Students may find it difficult to change colleges from different universities.

The university or the college a student studies in also makes a difference in terms of the name and quality of education provided.

Impact on remote institutions: Only the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) graded institutions can join the Academic Bank of Credit. It may push the already remote institutions to become more marginalized.

There can be conflict of interests between different states governed by different political parties in restructuring their policies to enable ABC.

Providing additional seats to students under ABC in premier institutes which already have high demand would incur additional costs for institutions.

What is the Academic Bank of Credit (ABC)?

Academic Bank of Credit (ABC), proposed under the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, was unveiled in July 2021.

Set-up by the University Grants Commission (UGC).

Under the ABC, students will be given multiple entry and exit options.

This enables students to leave a degree or course and get a corresponding certification and rejoin studies after a certain time and be able to start from where they had left.

It will also provide students with the flexibility to move between institutes while pursuing one degree or leave a course.

How does it work?

ABC will keep records of the academic credits of a student. It will not accept any credit course document directly from the students for any course they might be pursuing, but only from higher education institutes, who will have to make deposits in students’ accounts.

Benefits:

ABC will help in credit verification, credit accumulation, credit transfer and redemption of students, and promotion of the students.

In simple terms:

Under the ABC, a student can earn a degree from any HEI, with multiple entry and exit options. Instead of spending three years in one college, a student can seamlessly switch over from one college to another one. In order to earn a degree, a student will now require to hold a certain number of credits under his or her account.

For example, if a BCom student studies in one college, he or she can change college after one year. He or she can join the same course after a break.

Until then, the credits the student earned in that one year will be maintained in their ABC account and it can be used when the student rejoins the same course in any other college.

Dark energy and Dark matter

(GS-III: Awareness in space)

In News:

Astronomical observations suggest that a significant part of the universe is made up of dark matter which interacts with the rest of the universe only through the gravitational pull.

Details:

Many large lab experiments have tried to detect elementary particles that could be candidates for dark matter. However, such dark matter particles have not been detected until now.

Assessing dark matter:

The researchers use the non-observation of the lensing signatures to assess what fraction of the dark matter could be made of black holes. Gravitational lensing is useful to cosmologists because it is directly sensitive to the amount and distribution of dark matter.

What is gravitational lensing? How does it work?

Gravitational lensing is an effect of Einstein’s theory of general relativity – simply put, mass bends light.

The gravitational field of a massive object will extend far into space, and cause light rays passing close to that object (and thus through its gravitational field) to be bent and refocused somewhere else.

The more massive the object, the stronger its gravitational field and hence the greater the bending of light rays – just like using denser materials to make optical lenses results in a greater amount of refraction.

What is Dark Energy?

More is unknown than is known. We know how much dark energy there is because we know how it affects the universe’s expansion. Other than that, it is a complete mystery. But it is an important mystery. It makes up about 68% of the universe.

Dark Energy is a hypothetical form of energy that exerts a negative, repulsive pressure, behaving like the opposite of gravity.

It is causing the rate of expansion of our universe to accelerate over time, rather than to slow down. That’s contrary to what one might expect from a universe that began in a Big Bang.

How is dark energy different from dark matter?

Everything we see – the planets, moons, massive galaxies – makes up less than 5% of the universe. About 27% is dark matter and 68% is dark energy.

While dark matter attracts and holds galaxies together, dark energy repels and causes the expansion of our universe.

The existence of dark matter was suggested as early as the 1920s, while dark energy wasn’t discovered until 1998.

Did you know about the XENON1T experiment?

It is the world’s most sensitive dark matter experiment and was operated deep underground at the INFN Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso in Italy.

It uses the dual-phase (liquid/gas) xenon technique and is located underground at the Laboratory Nazionali del Gran Sasso of INFN, Italy.

The theory of general relativity:

The leading theory, however, considers dark energy a property of space. Albert Einstein was the first to understand that space was not simply empty. He also understood that more space could continue to come into existence. In his theory of general relativity, Einstein included a cosmological constant to account for the stationary universe scientists thought existed.

After Hubble announced the expanding universe, Einstein called his constant his “biggest blunder.”

But Einstein’s blunder may be the best fit for dark energy. Predicting that empty space can have its own energy, the constant indicates that as more space emerges, more energy would be added to the universe, increasing its expansion.

Krishna River water dispute

(GS-II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

In News:

The Karnataka government has moved the Supreme Court seeking setting up of a bench to hear a plea relating to the dispute over the allocation of water of Krishna river, flowing in states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court had asked if the parties can settle the dispute through

What’s the issue?

A bench comprising Justice D Y Chandrachud, hailing from Maharashtra, and Justice A S Bopanna, who belongs to Karnataka, had on January 10 recused from the case, arising out of the water tribunal’s decision, saying “We do not want to be the target of invectives”.

The judges, who recused themselves, were upset with the tone and tenor of mails and letters against them for being part of the bench to decide the water dispute.

Dispute in the court:

Karnataka had sought the vacation of a November 16, 2011, order of the Supreme Court that stopped the Centre from publishing in the Official Gazette (under Section 6(1) of the Inter-State Water Disputes Act of 1956) the final order of the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal II (KWDT) pronounced in December 2010, allocating the river water to Karnataka, erstwhile Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

The publication of the tribunal order is a necessary pre-condition for its implementation.

Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT) award:

The dispute began with the erstwhile Hyderabad and Mysore states, and later continuing between successors Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

In 1969, the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT) was set up under the Inter-State River Water Dispute Act, 1956, and presented its report in 1973.

The report, which was published in 1976, divided the 2060 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) of Krishna water at 75 per cent dependability into three parts:

  • 560 TMC for Maharashtra.
  • 700 TMC for Karnataka.
  • 800 TMC for Andhra Pradesh.

Revised order:

As new grievances arose between the states, the second KWDT was instituted in 2004.

It delivered its report in 2010, which made allocations of the Krishna water at 65 per cent dependability and for surplus flows as follows:

81 TMC for Maharashtra, 177 TMC for Karnataka, and 190 TMC for Andhra Pradesh.

The KWDT had further modified its final order and report on November 29, 2013, to allot surplus water to Karnataka, Maharashtra, and the erstwhile State of Andhra Pradesh while preserving the allocation of 2,130 TMC already made among them.

Why hasn’t the order been published yet?

After the creation of Telangana as a separate state in 2014, Andhra Pradesh is asking to include Telangana as a separate party at the KWDT and that the allocation of Krishna waters be reworked among four states, instead of three.

Permanent Indus Commission

(GS-II: India and neighbourhood relations)

In News:

A 10-member Indian delegation will visit Pakistan for the annual meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission from March 1-3.

Details:

Under the Indus Water Treaty, it is mandatory to hold a meeting at least once every year ending March 31.

Significance:

In a first since the signing of the Indus Water Treaty between the two countries, three female officers will also be part of the Indian delegation, which will be advising the Indian Commissioner on various issues during the meeting.

Focus areas:

Pakistan’s objections on Indian hydroelectric projects namely Pakal Dul (1,000 MW), Lower Kalnai (48 MW) and Kiru (624 MW) in Chenab basin in Jammu and Kashmir and few small hydroelectric projects in Ladakh are likely to be on the agenda for discussion.

About the Indus Water Treaty:

It is a Water-Distribution Treaty, signed in Karachi on 1960, between India (Pm Jawaharlal Nehru) and Pakistan (President Ayub Khan), brokered by the World Bank.

How is the Indus water share between India and Pakistan?

Under the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty, signed between India and Pakistan in 1960, all the waters of the eastern rivers — the Sutlej, Beas, and Ravi — amounting to around 33 MAF (million acre-feet) annually is allocated to India for unrestricted use.

The waters of western rivers — Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab — amounting to around 135 MAF annually are largely for Pakistan.

The right to generate hydroelectricity:

Under the Treaty, India has been given the right to generate hydroelectricity through a run of the river projects on the western rivers subject to specific criteria for design and operation.

It also gives the right to Pakistan to raise concerns on the design of Indian hydroelectric projects on western rivers.

Permanent Indus Commission:

The Permanent Indus Commission is a bilateral commission of officials from India and Pakistan, created to implement and manage goals of the Indus Waters Treaty, 1960.

The Commission according to the treaty must meet regularly at least once a year, alternately in India and Pakistan.

The functions of the Commission are:

  • to study and report to the two Governments on any problem relating to the development on the waters of the rivers.
  • to solve disputes arising over water sharing.
  • to arrange technical visits to projects’ sites and critical river head works.
  • to undertake, once in every five years, a general tour of inspection of the Rivers for ascertaining the facts.
  • to take necessary steps for the implementation of the provisions of the treaty.