Daily Current Affairs for 05th July 2022

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Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA)

GS Paper 2: Government Agencies,
Important for:
Prelims exam level: CCPA and its function
Mains Exam level: Consumer protection and welfare

Why in news

The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has issued guidelines for preventing unfair trade practices and violation of consumer rights with regard to levying of service charge in hotels and restaurants.
About new guidelines
The guidelines issued by CCPA stipulate that:
● Hotels or restaurants shall not add service charge automatically or by default in the food bill.
● No collection of service charge shall be done by any other name.
● No hotel or restaurant shall force a consumer to pay service charge and shall clearly inform the consumer that service charge is voluntary, optional and at consumer’s discretion.
● No restriction on entry or provision of services based on collection of service charge shall be imposed on consumers.
● Service charge shall not be collected by adding it along with the food bill and levying GST on the total amount.
What can a consumer do in case of a violation of these guidelines?
The consumer has four options at different levels of escalation in case the consumer spots the levy of service charge in her bill.
● First, the consumer can make a request to the hotel or restaurant to remove the service charge from her bill.
● Second, the consumer can lodge a complaint on the National Consumer Helpline (NCH), which works as an alternative dispute redressal mechanism at the pre-litigation level. The complaint can be lodged by making a call on the number 1915, or on the NCH mobile app.
● Third, the consumer can complain to the Consumer Commission, or through the e-daakhil portal.
● Fourth, the consumer can submit a complaint to the District Collector of the concerned district for investigation and subsequent proceedings by the CCPA. A consumer can complain directly to the CCPA by sending an e-mail.
Under which law have these guidelines been issued?
● The CCPA has issued guidelines under Section 18(2)(I) of The Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
● The guidelines are in addition to the Centre’s 2017 guidelines which prohibit the levy of service charge on consumers by hotels and restaurants, and terms the charging for anything other than “the prices displayed on the menu card along with the applicable taxes” without “express consent” of the customer as “unfair trade practices”.

Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA)

The CCPA was established in July 2020 under The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, to promote, protect, and enforce the rights of consumers as a class, and to investigate, prosecute, and punish violators.

The need for space sustainability
GS Paper 3: Science & Tech
Important for:
Prelims exam level: In-SPACe, Project NETRA
Mains exam Level: Space Sustainability
On June 23, the U.K. hosted the fourth summit for Space Sustainability in London in collaboration with the Secure World Foundation.

What does sustainability in outer space mean?

• The earth’s orbital environment has more than tripled in the past decade.
• As the cost of missions reduce and the number of players increase, the complexity of missions and slot allotment issues also increase.
• With the emergence of large constellations and complex satellites, there is a risk of collisions and interference with radio frequencies.
• As the outer space is considered a shared natural resource, the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) in 2019 adopted a set of 21 voluntary, non-binding guidelines to ensure the long-term sustainability of outer space activities.
Issue related to Space Sustainability
• One of the hot issues when it comes to space sustainability is orbital crowding.
o It poses a direct threat to the operations and safety of a mission and is likely to cause legal and insurance-related conflicts.
• Space debris is another prominent issue. After the completion of a mission, an ‘end-of-life protocol’ requires space objects to be moved to the graveyard orbit or to a low altitude.
• Neither of the options is sustainable in the long run.
• Other causes of concern are solar and magnetic storms which potentially damage communication systems.
The U.K. Plan
• Such space weather threats need to be addressed along with the efforts to identify the terrestrial carbon footprint of outer space missions.
• Long-term sustainability looks toward space research and development of technology to ensure the reuse and recycling of satellites at every stage.
• The U.K. plan proposes active debris removal and in-orbit servicing.
What does the U.K. plan for space sustainability entail?
• The U.K. calls for an “Astro Carta” for space sustainability, based on the Artemis Accords model for sustainable space exploration.
• The U.K. Space Sustainability plan mentions four primary elements:
o To review the regulatory framework of the U.K.’s orbital activity;
o To work with organisations such as the G-7 and the UN to emphasise international engagement on space sustainability;
o To try and develop safety and quality-related metrics that quantify the sustainability of activities;
o To induce additional funding of $6.1 million on active debris removal.
Where does India stand on space sustainability?
• The headquarters of the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (In-SPACe) was formally inaugurated last month.
• One can expect an increased role of the private sector in India’s space activities.
• India hosts promising start-ups like Agnikul and Skyroot, which are developing launch vehicles for small payloads and Dhruva Space, which works on high-tech solar panels for satellites and satellite deployers.
• India is well on its way to create a subsystem that addresses global sustainability questions.
• The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has initiated ‘Project NETRA’ to monitor space debris.
• The domestic surveillance system would provide first-hand information on the status of debris, which would aid further planning on protecting space assets.
• In April 2022, India and the U.S. signed a new pact for monitoring space objects at the 2+2 dialogue.
• The controlled anti-satellite weapons (ASAT) tests and the risk of collisions must be collectively addressed.
• To provide in-orbit servicing, ISRO is developing a docking experiment called ‘SPADEX’.
o It looks at docking a satellite on an existing satellite, offering support in re-fuelling and other in-orbit services while enhancing the capability of a satellite.

What next?

• Outer space in the 2020s can no longer be considered a ‘space race’ because of the cost, when compared to the beginning of this century.
• Today, any entity (government or private) with the necessary access to resources and technology can invest in outer space.
• Sustainable practices in outer space would directly help reduce orbital crowding and collision risk while nurturing future technologies.
• As the natural course of evolution, the Plan for Space Sustainability, which includes private industries, is a timely move. This would serve as a model for other space programmes.
• While most National Space Programs set sustainability standards, a collective effort by all space players, with the active role of the UN COPUOS or the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), is needed to set equitable standards for the ease of activities.
• The UK’s Astro Carta idea throws light on the need for addressing the principles and rules that guide the activities of entities in outer space.
o More clarity is required to know the exact framework and guiding principles of the Astro Carta to determine the path it intends to take.
India has always emphasised cost-effective and efficient missions with problem-solving applications. Its debris footprint is minuscule; it has 114 debris among the 25,182 pieces, of sizes larger than 10 cm, in the lower earth orbits. The emerging private sector could be encouraged with a set of sustainability guidelines to ensure optimum utilisation of resources and increase the safety and productivity of missions.
Enforcing the single-use plastic ban
GS Paper 3: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.
Important for:

Prelims exam level: Plastic waste Management rules

Mains exam Level: Measures taken to fight Plastic Pollution
Why in News
A ban on the use of single-use plastics that was notified by the Union Environment Ministry on August 2021 came into effect on July 1 this year.
The Rules
• The notification said national and State-level control rooms would be set up to check illegal manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of banned single use plastic items.
• The Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021, will also prohibit manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of plastic carry bags having thickness less than 120 microns with effect from December 31, 2022.
What is single-use plastic?
• The Centre defines it as an object made of plastic that is intended to be used “only once” before being disposed off or recycled.
• For the purposes of the ban, there is a list of 21 items that come under the definition of single-use plastic including ear buds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, thermocol for decoration, plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straw, trays, wrapping or packing films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, and cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 microns, stirrers.
• These objects were listed by the Environment Ministry in August when it notified the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021.
• Single-use plastic items such as these had “low utility and high littering potential”.
Issue with the Ban
• Plastic packaging waste, a major contributor to the much larger problem of plastic waste pollution, isn’t yet covered under the phase-out of single-use plastic items.
• Mineral water bottles or plastic bottles of aerated drinks are unaffected by the ban, though, in popular imagination, they are representative of ‘plastic pollution.’
How will the ban be implemented?
• So far 32 States/UTs have reportedly constituted a dedicated Task Force to eliminate the use of single-use plastics.
• Of these 14 states/UTs and 12 Central Ministries, as of March, had developed action plans describing how they would be enforcing this.
• A few States, for example Maharashtra, already have legislation banning the manufacture and storage of such plastic.
• But implementing it wasn’t always successful as there was regular supply from States where such bans were not in force.
• An all-India ban, it’s hoped, would make enforcement more effective.
• According to the Environment Protection (EP) Act, violating the ban could invite “punitive action”.
• Manufacturers and distributors of single-use plastic goods were directed to have zero inventory.
• The EP Act says that violating the ban could invite a five-year imprisonment and a fine of upto ₹1 lakh, or both. If the violations are repeated, it could mean additional fines up to ₹5000 for each day.
• There are different penalties for companies, organisations, and government departments under the EP Act.
What is the history of the single use plastic ban in India?
• The Environment Ministry told the Rajya Sabha last July of its plan to phase out some categories of single use plastic by 2022.
• A draft outlining the manner in which the ban was to be implemented was issued in March and involved amending the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.
• Before the amendments came into force, the Plastic Waste Management Rules only prohibited the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of carry bags and plastic sheets less than 50 microns in thickness in the country.
• There is a ban on sachets using plastic material used for storing, packing or selling gutkha, tobacco and pan masala.
• Since October 2021, there is a ban on the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of carry bags made of virgin or recycled plastic less than 75 microns as opposed to 50 microns under the earlier version of the rules.
What is the environmental damage from single-use plastic?
• Unlike thicker and denser plastic material, single-use plastic objects being light and flexible are less amenable to being recycled.
• While 99% of plastic is recycled, they constitute heavier plastics that are likely to be collected by ragpickers and plastic waste recyclers.
• Single use plastics do not provide an incentive enough for the effort needed to collect them and hence they lie around, leach their toxins into the soil and cause environmental damage in both land and sea.

The Large Hadron Collider
GS Paper 3: Science & Technology
Important for:

Prelims exam level: LHC, God Particle

Mains exam Level: Not Much
Why in News
The world’s most powerful particle collider, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), will begin smashing protons into each other at unprecedented levels of energy beginning July 5.
• The Large Hadron Collider is a giant, complex machine built to study particles that are the smallest known building blocks of all things.
• Structurally, it is a 27-km-long track-loop buried 100 metres underground on the Swiss-French border.
• In its operational state, it fires two beams of protons almost at the speed of light in opposite directions inside a ring of superconducting electromagnets.

How does it work?
• The magnetic field created by the superconducting electromagnets keeps the protons in a tight beam and guides them along the way as they travel through beam pipes and finally collide.
• Just prior to collision, another type of magnet is used to ‘squeeze’ the particles closer together to increase the chances of collisions.
• The particles are so tiny that the task of making them collide is akin to firing two needles 10 km apart with such precision that they meet halfway.
Latest upgrade
• Three years after it shut down for maintenance and upgrades, the collider was switched back on this April.
• This is the LHC’s third run, and it will operate round-the-clock for four years at unprecedented energy levels of 13 tera electron volts.
• This time, the proton beams will be narrowed to less than 10 microns — a human hair is around 70 microns thick — to increase the collision rate.
• ATLAS is the largest general purpose particle detector experiment at the LHC;
• The Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment is one of the largest international scientific collaborations in history, with the same goals as ATLAS, but which uses a different magnet-system design.
The discovery of God Particle (Higgs Boson)
• Ten years ago, on July 4, 2012, scientists at CERN had announced to the world the discovery of the Higgs boson or the ‘God Particle’ during the LHC’s first run.
• The discovery concluded the decades-long quest for the ‘force-carrying’ subatomic particle, and proved the existence of the Higgs mechanism, a theory put forth in the mid-sixties.
• This led to Peter Higgs and his collaborator François Englert being awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 2013.
• The Higgs boson and its related energy field are believed to have played a vital role in the creation of the universe.
‘New Physics’
• After the discovery of the Higgs boson, scientists have started using the data collected as a tool to look beyond the Standard Model, which is currently the best theory of the most elementary building blocks of the universe and their interactions.
The Hope
Scientists say they don’t know what Run 3 will reveal; the hope is to use the collisions to further the understanding of so-called “dark matter”.
This hard-to-detect, hoped-for particle is believed to make up most of the universe, but is completely invisible as it does not absorb, reflect, or emit light.

Species in news: Chenkurinji

GS Paper 3: Environment
Important for:
Prelims exam level: Chenkurinji, Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary, Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve
Mains exam Level: Not Much
Why in News
The tree was once abundant in the hills on the southern parts of Aryankavu Pass but its presence has been fast receding from the area over the years.
• Chenkurinji (Gluta travancorica) is a species endemic to the Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve.
• Belonging to the Anacardiaceae family, the tree was once abundant in the hills on the southern parts of the Aryankavu Pass in Kerala’s Kollam district.
• The Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary derives its name Chenkurinji (Gluta travancorica), a species endemic to the Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve.
Why in news?
• It is very susceptible to climate change and the present condition of the species is quite bad with low regeneration performance.
• Though there is seemingly enough number of the tree, most are not productive, generating a negative trend in its population.
• The majority of the trees is old with poor flowering and fruiting rates.
• Though the flowering usually happens in January, of late, the species has reported a tendency to extend the process due to climate change.
Significance of Chenkurinji
It is reported to have medicinal properties and is used to lower blood pressure and treat arthritis.
Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary
• Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area in the Western Ghats, India, located in Kollam district of Kerala and comes under the control of Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve.
• Tropical evergreen and semi-evergreen forest cover a major area of the sanctuary.
• It has a presence of lion-tailed macaque, a highly endangered species.
• A brood of the highly elusive nocturnal forest bird, the Great Eared Nightjar was spotted for the first time at Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary in Kollam, Kerala.
• The first eco-tourism project in India, Thenmala Eco-tourism Project has been formulated in and around Shenduruney Wildlife Sanctuary.
• The sanctuary has an artificial lake of nearly 18.69Sq.km size and also surrounded by the reservoir of Thenmala Dam.

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