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14 July 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Juno spacecraft has entered the orbit around Jupiter without getting decimated by the planet’s intense magnetic field and radiation. The spacecraft was launched on August 5, 2011 and since then it has travelled 2.8 billion km. It precisely passed through a spot that was originally mapped out.

The diameter of the Juno is 11.5ft and is not the first spacecraft to enter into orbit around Jupiter. But unlike its predecessor, the Galileo spacecraft that explored the planet between 1995 and 2003, Juno will study in detail with the help of the array of nine scientific instruments that it carries on board. Galileo could probe in the planet’s atmosphere; however Juno is able to see below the dense cloud cover of Jupiter.

Juno can reach as close as 5,000km from the cloud tops and its camera Junocam is able to see through the clouds. Junocam can take close-up photos of the poles and other points of interest. The mission intends to unearth below-mentioned facts about the planet including:

  • To understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter
  • To uncover the source of its intense magnetic field
  • To find out if the planet, like earth, has a solid rocky core
  • To observe the auroras
  • To measure water and ammonia in deep atmosphere

By the end of the week all the nine instruments will be turned on but the first full set of observations will not take place before the end of August when the spacecraft reaches close to Jupiter on its first orbit. Juno will orbit the planet from pole-to-pole which will reduce the amount of radiation exposure, but eventually the orbit will shift owing to Jupiter’s intense gravitational field, making the spacecraft pass through intense regions of radiation.

Although the spacecraft has been shielded by a titanium vault, the radiation from Jupiter will gradually but certainly compromise the instruments by the time it winds up its mission in February 2018. But before this comes off, scientists hope to amass enough information to understand how the giant planet was formed some 4.5 billion years ago, and of the origins of the solar system.

The nature of its core and the amount of water it contains will reveal the mysteries surrounding the genesis of the planet. After orbiting the planet 37 times and returning invaluable scientific information, Juno will burn in Jupiter’s atmosphere in early 2018 as the Galileo spacecraft did.

In an endeavor to uncover the mysteries of nature, NASA has launched several spacecrafts in past as well and its relentless efforts to unveil the mysteries of nature is really praiseworthy. Mysteries of universe will continue to perplex mankind and we will continue exploring universe until we get satisfactory answers to all our quires.

14 July 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

The article analyses the ruling on South China Sea dispute by PCA and India’s role in the near future.

  • After alcohol ban, the Kerala government has proposed a 14.5% “fat tax” on junk food items like burgers and pizzas sold at branded fast-food restaurants in the state.
  • Earlier the Bihar government decided to impose a 13.5% VAT on items such as samosas, salted peanuts, sweets and branded snacks costing more than R500 per kg to make up for the revenue loss on account of the ban on liquor in the state.
  • While Kerala hopes to ramp up R10 crore a year from the tax, there is no clarity about the purpose for such a levy.
  • Tax experts feel that these measures are aimed at restoring the state’s broken finances, if one looks at other budgetary announcements, like the decision to impose a 5% tax on packaged basmati rice, coconut oil and products made of wheat.
  • State finance minister said the growth rate of the state has gone below the national average for the first time in the last two decades, due to the Gulf crisis and fall in prices of natural rubber.
  • For some Kerala policy-makers, addressing obesity-related issues is a major concern. Kerala happens to be the home to the second-largest population of obese people in India, behind Punjab, and just ahead of Delhi.
  • A study by the British Medical Journal said that a tax on unhealthy food and beverages could slow the rising rates of obesity in the same way as taxing cigarettes leads to decrease in the number of smokers.
  • Another study published in the medical journal Lancet in 2014 says that India is only behind the US and China in the global hazard list of top-ten countries with the highest number of obese people. India already has the highest mortality rate due to diabetes.
  • Close to 8% of the country’s population suffers from diabetes, the third-highest prevalence among countries after China and the US.
  • According to the WHO, this number is likely to double within 20 years. South Asians, especially Indians, are genetically-predisposed to diabetes. In India, nearly 10% of the general population is a victim of this disease and 65 million people are living with this silent killer.
  • Health experts feel that there is a strong possibility that consumption patterns will change due to the the high rate of taxation.
  • It can encourage individuals to reduce their fat consumption and eat healthier food, which can reduce lifestyle diseases like diabetes.
  • “A selective taxation mechanism that lowers the relative prices of healthier options, and is reflected on the shelf, can serve as an effective health policy tool in the efforts to control obesity,” a paper published in the US in 2014 stated.
  • But, industry experts say there is no evidence to suggest the blanket ban will actually end up making anyone healthier and change consumption patterns.
  • If Kerala is so keen to check unhealthy eating patterns, it should also target the unorganised sector, according to fast-food chains, who apprehend that this may set a precedent for other states to follow.
  • Denmark was the first country in the world to levy a tax on all food items with more than 2.3% fat (including cheese, butter, oil, milk and meat). However, the fat tax was rolled back in January 2013, within 15 months of its implementation, as the levy had no effect.
  • Some previous studies suggest that the sharp tax increase on cigarettes in 2009 has contributed to the dramatic decrease in the number of smokers in the US. And it’s hoped a “fat tax” would work the same way.
  • While a fat tax has some definite advantages on individual health and will raise revenue for state governments and help shore up budget deficits, it provides no guarantee that the consumer will still opt for healthier food items.

Question: Policies of the state should focus towards spreading awareness which result in moderation, and not deprivation. Critically analyse the statement in the light of fat tax imposed by Kerala government.
Suggested Approach

  1. Government should spread awareness about health food habit and give choice to consumers.
  2. Imposing tax is correct in larger public interest.
  3. Your opinion, whether tax should be imposed or not.


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