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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS (OCTOBER 20, 2021)

ART AND CULTURE

1. BHASKARABDA TO BE ADDED TO OFFICIAL ASSAM CALENDAR

THE CONTEXT: Bhaskarabda, an era counted from the date of the ascension of a seventh-century local ruler, will be added to Saka and Gregorian eras in the official calendar of the Assam Government.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Bhaskarabda began when Bhaskaravarman was crowned ruler of the Kamrupa kingdom.
  • He was a contemporary and political ally of northern Indian ruler Harshavardhana.
  • Unlike Gregorian, where a day starts at midnight, the Assamese calendar begins and ends at sunrise over 24 hours.
  • While the Gregorian goes by the solar cycle, the Saka and Bhaskarabda eras use a lunisolar system based on both the phases of the moon and the solar year.
  • The gap between Bhaskarabda and Gregorian is 593 years

KAMARUPA KINGDOM

  • Kamarupa, also called Kamrup or Kamata, ancient Indian state corresponding roughly to what is now the state of Assam, in northeastern India.
  • The earliest mention of a kingdom comes from the 4th-century Allahabad inscription of Samudragupta that calls the kings of Kamarupa and Davaka frontier rulers (pratyantanripati).
  • The Chinese travellerXuanzang visited the kingdom in the 7th century, then ruled by Bhaskaravarman.
  • Having a unique mix of South Asian and East Asian cultures, Kamarupa was the seat of evolution for the Tantric form of Hinduism, including at the Kamakhya temple complex in Guwahati.
  • Bhaskaravarman was the last of the Varman dynasty and made political alliances with Harshavardhana of Thaneswar.
  • After his death, Salasthambha, who established the Mlechchha dynasty, acquired power in the Kamarupa Kingdom.

SOURCE:  TH

ENVIRONMENT, GEOGRAPHY AND AGRICULTURE

2. CYCLONES HAVE A POSITIVE EFFECT ON THE ABILITY OF MANGROVES TO SOAK UP CARBON DIOXIDE

THE CONTEXT: Researchers at the department of geography at the University of Georgia in the United States found that tropical storms, in the last 21 years, have had an overall positive impact on the ability of mangroves in India to fix carbon dioxide.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • They examined satellite-datasets of Gross Primary Productivity for seven mangrove sites along the east and west coasts of India, from January 2000 to July 2020, finding that there is a net increase in Gross Primary Productivity for all mangrove sites, and especially for the east coast mangroves which are more frequently hit by cyclones compared to the west coast.
  • While the researchers theorise that the cyclones may be having a net positive effect on mangrove Gross Primary Productivity by intermittent, excessive nutrient supply, cyclones could have an opposite effect by negatively affecting carbon burial rate and a declining soil organic carbon.
  • Gaps need to be plugged in the lack of long-term measurements to unravel how the carbon balance in mangrove forests is likely to change with climate change.

SOURCE:Scroll

 

INDIAN ECONOMY

3. IMF OUTLOOK AND STATUS OF JOBS

THE CONTEXT: The IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook has underlined that employment growth is likely to lag output recovery after the pandemic.

THE EXPLANATION:

The central message was that the global economic recovery momentum had weakened a tad, thanks largely to the pandemic-induced supply disruptions. But more than just the marginal headline numbers for global growth, it is the increasing inequality among nations that IMF was most concerned about.

  • As far as GDP is concerned, India’s growth rate hasn’t been tweaked for the worse. In fact, beyond the IMF, several high-frequency indicators have suggested that India’s economic recovery is gaining ground.
  • But what the IMF has projected on employment — that the recovery in unemployment is lagging the recovery in output (or GDP) — matters immensely for India.
  • According to the data available with the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), the total number of employed people in the Indian economy as of May-August 2021 was 394 million and in May-August 2016 the number of employed people was 408 million.
  • India was already facing a deep employment crisis before the Covid crisis, and it became much worse after it.
  • As such, projections of an employment recovery lagging behind output recovery could mean large swathes of the population being excluded from the GDP growth and its benefits. Lack of adequate employment levels would drag down overall demand and thus stifle India’s growth momentum.
  • The first thing to understand is that India is witnessing a K-shaped recovery. That means different sectors are recovering at significantly different rates. And this holds not just for the divergence between the organised sector and the unorganised sector, but also within the organised sector.
  • The second big reason for worry is that the bulk of India’s employment is in the informal or unorganised sectors.So, a weak recovery for the informal/unorganised sectors implies a drag on the economy’s ability to create new jobs or revive old ones.

SOURCE: IE

 

4. RAILWAYS SHUTS DOWN IRSDC

THE CONTEXT: In continuation with its efforts to rightsize the Railways, the Railway Board has issued an order to shut down the Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation (IRSDC) that was set up for the redevelopment of stations across the country.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The step is a move to accept the recommendation of the Finance Ministry, which in a report has recommended the rationalisation of government bodies either by closing them down or through merging multiple organisations under different ministries.
  • The order said the stations managed by the IRSDC will now be handed over to the respective zonal railways and the corporation will pass on all project-related documents to them for further development.
  • Among several other projects, the IRSDC, which was set up in March 2012, was involved in the bidding process for the redevelopment of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai.
  • The IRSDC recently invited bids for the setting up of “Rail Arcade” at Chandigarh and KSR Bengaluru Railway Stations. It had also announced plans to undertake facility management of 90 railway stations across South India.
  • The report prepared by Principal Economic Advisor, Sanjeev Sanyal, has also recommended the merger of the Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), which implements projects relating to the creation and augmentation of the railway infrastructure, with the Indian Railway Construction Limited (IRCON), a specialised infrastructure construction organisation.

SOURCE: TH

 

5. PREMATURE TIGHTENING MAY LEAD TO STAGFLATION: RBI REPORT

THE CONTEXT:  RBI said in its ‘State of the economy’ report that premature tightening of the monetary policy could bring about the stagflation (slow growth and high level of unemployment and inflation) that all fear, quashing growth just as the economy is recovering. Consequently, policy support for a sustained and inclusive recovery may be needed for longer.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • This is because the economy may be healing but it is still digging out of one of the deepest contractions to hit any major economy during the pandemic.
  • We were among the first hit and our recovery started late, towards October-November 2020. In the second wave, we did not impose a nationwide lockdown, but daily infections at over 400,000 were at that time the highest in the world and it clearly moderated the recovery that was underway till then.
  • Perhaps the need of the hour is not to focus so single-mindedly on normalisation but on supply-side reforms to ease the bottlenecks and disruptions, labour shortages and high commodity prices, especially of crude, it said.
  • Going forward, the focus is likely to be on the normalisation of prudential policies and the strengthening of insolvency frameworks and restructuring mechanisms, including for the overhang of public and private debt.

SOURCE:  IE

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

6. VALNEVA VACCINE

THE CONTEXT: Valneva SE, a French vaccine company, announced results from its Phase 3 trial of its inactivated Covid-19 vaccine candidate, VLA2001. They said that the vaccine was as effective as the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • VLA2001 is an inactivated, adjuvanted vaccine. This means that it delivers the whole Sars-CoV-2 virus in an inactivated form. The virus is killed using chemicals, heat, or radiation. The dead virus cannot infect us but can still trigger an immune response.
  • Polio and flu vaccines are common examples of inactivated vaccines. India’s Covaxin is also an inactivated vaccine.
  • Currently, none of the vaccines in the UK – Moderna, Oxford/AstraZeneca, – are inactivated vaccines. Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech are mRNA vaccines. They contain the code of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and once inside the body teach our body to produce the spike protein. Our immune system recognises this and initiates an immune response against Covid-19. Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine delivers the code of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein using a carrier – another virus called adenovirus.
  • The Valneva jab is stable when stored in a standard refrigerator, making it easier to distribute than the Covid vaccines, which require shipping and storage at ultra-low temperatures.
  • The results showed that two weeks after vaccination, in adults aged 30 and older, the vaccine was able to trigger high levels of neutralising antibodies compared to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. The team notes that the vaccine was able to induce broad T-cell responses.
  • The participants who received the Valneva vaccine reported lower levels of adverse effects compared to the group given the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

SOURCE: IE

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

7. INDIA, ISRAEL, UAE, U.S. DECIDE TO LAUNCH QUADRILATERAL ECONOMIC FORUM

THE CONTEXT: India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United States decided to launch a new quadrilateral economic forum.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The quadrilateral, which followed his bilateral meeting with Israeli Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister YairLapid, builds on ongoing cooperation between the U.S.-Israel-the UAE after the Abraham Accords last year that saw the UAE and Israel establish diplomatic ties, and the India-Israel-the UAE cooperation that has been launched since then.
  • In an interesting aside, Mr Jaishankar’s travel to Israel is also routed via the UAE, on flights that started as a consequence of the Abraham Accords and the opening of diplomatic missions and flights between them.
  • The four ministers discussed expanding economic and political cooperation in the Middle East and Asia, including through trade, combating climate change, energy cooperation, and increasing maritime security as well as ways to counter the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Foreign Ministers of the U.S., Israel and the UAE met in Washington on October 13 to discuss the modalities of trilateral cooperation, and set up two working groups: on religious coexistence and on water and energy.
  • Business groups in India, the UAE and Israel have also been in talks for cooperation since diplomatic ties were established, and the International Federation of Indo-Israel Chambers of Commerce (IFIIC) has predicted that the potential for agreements, backed by Israeli innovation, the UAE funding and Indian manufacturing, given India’s close ties and strategic partnership with the two other countries, could cross $100 billion by 2030.
  • In the first such venture, a UAE project for robotic solar (panel) cleaning technology was signed by Israeli company Ecoppia that has a manufacturing base in India.

SOURCE: TH

 

PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS

Q1. Recently in news, World Economic Outlook is released by?

a) World Bank

b) World economic forum

c) IMF

d) UN

ANSWER FOR OCTOBER 19, 2021 PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS

 

ANSWER: A

Explanation:

  • NITI Aayog in collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has developed a comprehensive Geographic Information System (GIS) Energy Map of India with the support of Energy Ministries of Government of India.
  • The GIS map provides a holistic picture of all energy resources of the country which enables visualisation of energy installations such as conventional power plants, oil and gas wells, petroleum refineries, coal fields and coal blocks, district-wise data on renewable energy power plants and renewable energy resource potential, etc through 27 thematic layers.



DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS (OCTOBER 19, 2021)

ENVIRONMENT, GEOGRAPHY AND AGRICULTURE

1. INTERNATIONAL SOLAR ALLIANCE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

THE CONTEXT: The fourth general assembly of The International Solar Alliance (ISA), is to be held virtually between October 18th and October 21st, 2021.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The Fourth Assembly of the ISA will deliberate on the key initiatives around the operationalisation of the OSOWOG initiative, the $1 trillion Solar Investment Roadmap for 2030, and approval of a Blended Financial Risk Mitigation Facility.
  • World leaders of ISA member countries will also discuss the strategic plan of the ISA for the next five years encompassing a Country Partnership Framework, Strategy for Private Sector Engagement, and initiatives such as Viability Gap Financing scheme to facilitate affordable finance for solar energy projects across ISA’s membership.
  • The ISA will also discuss the partnership with Global Energy Alliance (GEA) to scale up technical and financial support to LDCs and SIDS.
  • A detailed report on One Sun One World One Grid (OSOWOG) is expected to be discussed at the Assembly.
  • With India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, the World Bank and the ISA signing a tripartite agreement on OSOWOG, the initiative could be the world’s most important renewables catalyst.

ABOUT ISA

  • The International Solar Alliance (ISA) was conceived as a coalition of solar-resource-rich countries (which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn) to address their special energy needs.
  • The ISA will provide a dedicated platform for cooperation among solar-resource-rich countries, through which the global community, including governments, bilateral and multilateral organizations, corporates, industry, and other stakeholders, can contribute to help achieve the common goal of increasing the use and quality of solar energy in meeting energy needs of prospective ISA member countries in a safe, convenient, affordable, equitable and sustainable manner.
  • It was launched by the Prime Minister of India and the President of France on 30th November 2015 in Paris, France on the side-lines of the Conference of the Parties (COP-21)

SOURCE:PIB

2. PRINCE WILLIAM’S INAUGURAL EARTH SHOT PRIZE

THE CONTEXT:   An India-based entrepreneur’s technology that recycles agricultural waste to create fuel was named among the winners of Prince William’s inaugural Earth shot Prize that honours people trying to save the planet.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Dubbed as the “Eco Oscars,” the prizes have been created by the Duke of Cambridge and renowned British naturalist David Attenborough.
  • Their aim is to provide assistance to and inspire innovative local solutions amid the growing climate crisis faced globally.
  • Vidyut Mohan led Takachar’s innovation was recognised for its affordable technology to convert crop residues into sellable bio-products. The technology reduced smoke emissions by 98 per cent and calls for improving air quality.
  • Vidyut Mohan from Takachar was awarded for this technology in the “clean our air” category.
  • Other winners included a land-based coral farm in the Bahamas to restore dying coral reefs, a green hydrogen technology developed to transform how homes and buildings are powered.

SOURCE:   TH

 

3. MUMBAI LOST 40% GREEN COVER BETWEEN 1991 AND 2018

THE CONTEXT: According to a recent study, Mumbai lost 81% of its open land (barren spaces without any vegetation), 40% green cover (forests & scrublands) and approximately 30% of its water bodies (lakes, ponds, floodplains) between 1991 and 2018, while the built-up area (areas developed upon) rose by 66% in the same period.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • It concludes that the city witnessed a 2- degree Celsius average temperature rise across 27 years.
  • The extreme heat that one experiences while strolling through any urban landscape is caused by the Urban Heat Island Effect, a micro-climatic phenomenon.
  • This is due to a number of causes, the most prominent being the usage of materials such as concrete.

SOURCE:  TH

 

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

4. GEOSPATIAL ENERGY MAP OF INDIA

THE CONTEXT: NITI Aayog in collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has developed a comprehensive Geographic Information System (GIS) Energy Map of India with the support of Energy Ministries of Government of India.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The GIS map provides a holistic picture of all energy resources of the country which enables visualisation of energy installations such as conventional power plants, oil and gas wells, petroleum refineries, coal fields and coal blocks, district-wise data on renewable energy power plants and renewable energy resource potential, etc through 27 thematic layers.
  • The map attempts to identify and locate all primary and secondary sources of energy and their transportation/transmission networks to provide a comprehensive view of energy production and distribution in a country.
  • It is a unique effort aimed at integrating energy data scattered across multiple organizations and presenting it in a consolidated, visually appealing graphical manner.
  • It leverages the latest advancements in web-GIS technology and open-source software to make it interactive and user friendly.
  • The Geospatial Energy Map of India will be useful in planning and making investment decisions. It will also aid in disaster management using available energy assets.

SOURCE: PIB

INTERNAL  SECURITY

5. ARMY TRAINS OFFICERS ALONG LAC IN TIBETOLOGY

THE CONTEXT: With a view to orienting its officers and men posted along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Tibetan culture and also preparing them to better understand the information warfare, the Army has begun a course in Tibetology in a tie-up with the Central Institute of Himalayan Cultural Studies in Arunachal Pradesh.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The Army’s Training Command, ARTRAC, has identified seven institutes for Tibetology across the country, two of which are in the northeast. The other one is the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology in Sikkim.
  • Lamas who were proficient in Tibetan issues were hired from the Bomdila Monastery to teach the course.

SOURCE: TH

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

6. TRADE TALKS BETWEEN INDIA- ISRAEL

THE CONTEXT: India and Israel agreed to resume long-pending negotiations on a free trade agreement, as External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar met his Israeli counterpart YairLapid in Jerusalem.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Both also joined a virtual quadrilateral meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed.
  • The quadrilateral meeting, seen as an outcome of last year’s Abraham Accords brokered by the U.S. that saw the UAE and Israel establish diplomatic relations, also underlines India’s close relationships with both the West Asian countries and Washington.
  • The India-Israel relationship will enter its 30th year.
  • The FTA talks would begin in November and concluded by June 2022.
  • During the talks, India and Israel also agreed to mutually recognise each other’s vaccination process “in principle”, although for the moment Israel will only allow Indians vaccinated with Covishield to travel there, but not those vaccinated with Covaxin, which is still awaiting an Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) from the World Health Organisation.

SOURCE: TH

 

7. KUSHINAGAR CONNECT TO SRI LANKA

THE CONTEXT:  When the Prime Minister declares open the Kushinagar International Airport in Uttar Pradesh on October 20, a sizeable Sri Lankan contingent, led by a member of the first family, will be present.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The airport is expected to provide seamless connectivity to tourists from Sri Lanka, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and so on.
  • Kushinagar is the centre of the Buddhist circuit, which consists of pilgrimage sites at Lumbini, Sarnath and Gaya.
  • Buddhist pilgrims consider Kushinagar a sacred site where, they believe, Gautama Buddha delivered his last sermon and attained ‘Maha- parinirvana’ or salvation.
  • To mark the occasion, Sri Lanka will present to India photographs of two murals painted by renowned Sri Lankan artist SoliasMendis at the KelaniyaRajamahaVihara, a popular Buddhist temple near Colombo.
  • One of the murals depicts ‘ArahatBhikkhu’ Mahinda, son of Emperor Ashoka delivering the message of the Buddha to King Devanampiyatissa of Sri Lanka.
  • The other shows the arrival of ‘TheriBhikkhuni’ Sanghamitta, the daughter of the Emperor, in Sri Lanka, bearing a sapling of the ‘sacred Bodhi tree’ under which Siddhārtha Gautama is believed to have obtained enlightenment.

SOURCE: TH

 

PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS

Q1. Geographic Information System (GIS) Energy Map of India is developed by:

a) NITI Aayog and ISRO

b) NASA

c) Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad

d) None of the above

 

ANSWER FOR OCTOBER 16, 2021 PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS

ANSWER: B)

Explanation:

  1. YudhAbhyas – Army
  2. Cope India – Air force
  3. Malabar – Navy
  4. Tiger Triumph – Tri-service



DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS (OCTOBER 17 & 18, 2021)

INDIAN POLITY, GOVERNANCE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

1. GOVERNMENT SAYS DATA IN GLOBAL HUNGER INDEX INFLATED

THE CONTEXT: According to the government, the value of a key indicator used in the Global Hunger Index is ‘inflated’ as there are only 3.9% of Anganwadi children found to be undernourished.

THE EXPLANATION: 

  • The real-time data of beneficiaries registered on the Anganwadi platform include 7.79 crore children aged between 6 months to 6 years as per real-time Poshan Tracker data [as of 16-10-2021]. The corresponding number of undernourished children reported on Poshan Tracker is 30.27 lakh which comes to only 3.9%.
  • The GHI 2021 ranked India at 101 positions out of 116 countries. The index is based on four indicators — under-nourishment, wasting, stunting and under-five mortality. Of these, India’s performance is shown to deteriorate only for undernourishment, which is what the Government has challenged.
  • According to FAO’s data, which is used in the Index, the prevalence of undernourishment in India rose from 14% in 2017-2019 to 15.3% in 2018-2020 which the Government has called exaggerated.
  • The Government has also alleged that there has been a selective approach adopted by the publishing agencies to deliberately lower India’s rank on the GHI 2021 by relying on higher values of indicators such as stunting and wasting from different datasets available.
  • The Government also maintains that it is not possible to evaluate the extent of malnutrition for the period before 2018 as there were no growth monitoring devices available at anganwadis until they were introduced under the PoshanAbhiyaan.

SOURCE: TH

2. FOOD TECH SUMMIT 2021

THE CONTEXT: To commemorate World Food Day, the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, under the Pradhan MantriFormalisation of Micro food processing Enterprises (PMFME) Scheme, organised the Food Tech Summit on 16th October 2021.

THE EXPLANATION: 

  • The Food Tech Summit 2021 aimed at setting the stage for all food-tech stakeholders to impart, discuss and acquaint micro enterprises on the new emerging trends in food processing and technological innovation.

ABOUT THE PMFME SCHEME

  • Launched under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, the Pradhan MantriFormalisation of Micro food processing Enterprises (PMFME) Scheme is a centrally sponsored scheme that aims to enhance the competitiveness of existing individual micro-enterprises in the unorganized segment of the food processing industry and to promote formalization of the sector and provide support to Farmer Producer Organizations, Self Help Groups, and Producers Cooperatives along their entire value chain.
  • With an outlay of Rs. 10,000 crores over a period of five years from 2020-21 to 2024-25, the scheme envisions to directly assist the 2,00,000 micro food processing units for providing financial, technical, and business support for up-gradation of existing micro food processing enterprises.

SOURCE: PIB

 

3. INDIA TO ACHIEVE 100-CRORE VACCINATION MARK

THE CONTEXT:  In a couple of days or so from now, the number of Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in India will have crossed 100 crores, or 1 billion. Already, India has administered more vaccine doses than any other country in the world apart from China.

THE EXPLANATION: 

  • Still, for a country that faced huge supply bottlenecks, and a fair amount of vaccine hesitancy, at least in the initial period, reaching the 100-crore milestone is no small achievement. Transportation, distribution and storage of vaccines at specific low temperatures posed huge additional hurdles in a country lacking in an elaborate cold-chain network.
  • The 100-crore milestone is being achieved in about 275 days — the first vaccine doses were administered on January 16 — which means that, on average, 27 lakh doses have been given every day through this ten-month period.
  • There have, of course, been wide variations in the daily number of doses administered. On six days, more than 1 crore doses were administered, with a record of 2.18 crore being achieved on September 17.
  • On the other hand, in the initial few days in January and a couple of days in February, less than 50,000 doses were administered.
  • States with smaller populations have much better coverage of coverage of Covid-19 vaccination. But some of the larger states, with much larger populations, such as Gujarat, Kerala, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand have also managed to vaccinate over 90% of their adult population with at least one dose.
  • On the other hand, some low-population northeastern states — Manipur, Meghalaya and Nagaland – and also Puducherry are lagging behind, with less than 60% of their people having been vaccinated with even a single dose.

SOURCE:  IE

 

ENVIRONMENT, GEOGRAPHY AND AGRICULTURE

4. COP26 CLIMATE CONFERENCE

THE CONTEXT: The UK will host the COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference from October 31 to November 12. The event will see leaders from more than 190 countries, thousands of negotiators, researchers and citizens coming together to strengthen a global response to the threat of climate change. It is a pivotal movement for the world to come together and accelerate the climate action plan. This year marks the 26th Conference of Parties and will be held in the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow.

FORMATION OF COP

  • The Conference of Parties comes under the United Nations Climate Change Framework Convention (UNFCCC) which was formed in 1994. The UNFCCC was established to work towards the stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.
  • It laid out a list of responsibilities for the member states which included:
  • Formulating measures to mitigate climate change
  • Cooperating in preparing for adaptation to the impact of climate change
  • Promoting education, training and public awareness related to climate change

COP1 to COP25

  • COP members have been meeting every year since 1995. The UNFCCC has 198 parties including India, China and the USA.
  • The first conference (COP1) was held in 1995 in Berlin. At COP3 held in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997, the famous Kyoto Protocol was adopted. It commits the member states to pursue limitation or reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. It entered into force on 16 February 2005 and there are 192 Parties in the Kyoto Protocol.
  • India hosted the eighth COP from October 23 to November 1, 2002, in New Delhi. The conference laid out seven measures.
  • One of the most important conferences, COP21 2015, in Paris, France. Member countries agreed to work together to ‘limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.’

COP26 GOALS

  • According to the UNFCCC, COP26 will work towards four goals:
    1. Secure global net-zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach
    2. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats
    3. Mobilise finance
    4. Work together to deliver

SOURCE:IE

 

5. GREEN CRACKERS

THE CONTEXT: In view of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) related situation and concerns surrounding the rising level of pollution due to firecrackers during the festive season, several states have imposed certain rules on fireworks this year. These vary from either a complete or a partial ban on firecracker sales in these respective states to permitting the sale of ‘green crackers’ instead.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • In July 2021, the Supreme Court dismissed a plea challenging the National Green Tribunal’s order for the imposition of a complete ban on the sale and use of all firecrackers during the Covid-19 pandemic in cities and said that no further clarification or deliberation was required.
  • The apex court said that the authorities may permit the sale and use of firecrackers as per the category of AQI in the cities.
  • The bench said that manufacturing or production of firecrackers was allowed and those who wanted to use firecrackers could do so with permission depending upon the category of AQI.
  • It clarified that the ban is in places where air quality is poor and there is no ban on the manufacture.
  • Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin has urged his Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana, and Odisha counterparts to seriously consider the sale of green crackers in their respective territories.

WHAT ARE GREEN CRACKERS?

  • ‘Green crackers’ are low-emission fireworks permitted by the Supreme Court for celebrations to a moderate degree during festivals, relaxing the ‘complete ban on fireworks previously imposed in 2017.
  • These green crackers, researched and developed by experts at the CSIR-NEERI (Council of Scientific & Industrial Research – National Environmental Engineering Research Institute).
  • These green crackers are produced with less harmful raw materials, in accordance with instructions issued by the Supreme court, and are made in a way that suppresses the dust when they are burnt – thus reducing emissions.
  • They also do not contain harmful chemicals such as lithium, arsenic, barium, and lead and instead release water vapour that does not allow the dust to rise.
  • Although still impactful on the climate to an extent, these green crackers are believed to cause 30 per cent less particulate matter pollution than traditional crackers and are thus considered generally less harmful than their conventional alternatives.

SOURCE:  HT

 

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

6. EX YUDH ABHYAS 21

THE CONTEXT: The 17th Edition of Indo – US joint training exercise “EX YUDH ABHYAS 21” commenced at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson, Alaska (USA) on 15 October 2021.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The joint exercise will facilitate both Armies to know each other better, share their wide experiences and enhance their situational awareness through information exchange.
  • This will help them in undertaking joint operations at the Battalion level in mountainous terrain with cold climatic conditions under the ambit of the United Nations.

SOURCE: PIB

 

7. NEW DELHI TO HOST NSAS ON AFGHANISTAN ISSUE

THE CONTEXT:  New Delhi is planning to engage regional powers on the future of Afghanistan. It is sending an official team to attend the Moscow process of talks on October 20 that will include the Taliban government’s, Deputy Prime Minister. New Delhi has also invited regional National Security Advisers to Delhi for a meeting in November.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • New Delhi has reached out to countries that participated in the Iran-plus six-nation “Regional Security Dialogue” in Tehran- Iran, Russia, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan for the meeting to be chaired by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
  • A Pakistani official confirmed receiving the invitation but said a decision on participation was yet to be taken.
  • Although no foreign government has recognised the Taliban as the official government, several, including India are in talks with them, mainly through their political office in Doha, while at least six nations, including Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey and Qatar maintain embassies in Kabul.

SOURCE: TH

 

PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS

Q1. Consider the following pairs of armed forces exercises between India and the U.S.

  1. YudhAbhyas – Army
  2. Cope India – Tri-service
  3. Malabar – Navy
  4. Tiger Triumph – Air force

Which of the pairs given above are correctly matched?

a) 1 and 2 only

b) 1 and 3 only

c0 1, 2 and 3 only

d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

 

ANSWER FOR OCTOBER 16, 2021 PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS

ANSWER: D

Explanation:

  • Statement 1 is correct: Convertibility refers to the ability to convert domestic currency into foreign ones and vice versa to make payments for the balance of payments transactions.
  • Statement 2 is correct: Current account convertibility is the ability or freedom to convert domestic currency for current account transactions
  • Statement 3 is correct: Capital account convertibility is the ability or freedom to convert domestic currency for capital account transactions.



DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS (OCTOBER 16, 2021)

INDIAN POLITY, GOVERNANCE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

1. TUBERCULOSIS DEATHS UP IN PANDEMIC

THE CONTEXT: India is on the list of countries that contributed most to the global reduction in TB notifications between 2019 and 2020.

THE EXPLANATION: 

  • According to the 2021 Global TB report released recently by the World Health Organization (WHO), the COVID-19 pandemic has reversed years of global progress in tackling tuberculosis and for the first time in over a decade, TB deaths have increased.
  • Worse, India (41%) was on the list of countries that topped those that contributed most to the global reduction in TB notifications between 2019 and 2020. India along with Indonesia (14%), the Philippines (12%), China (8%) and 12 other countries accounted for 93% of the total global drop in notifications.
  • The WHO estimated that some 4.1 million people currently suffer from TB but had not been diagnosed with the disease or had not officially reported to national authorities. This figure is up from 2.9 million in 2019.
  • The organisation added that there was also a reduction in the provision of TB preventive treatment.

SOURCE:TH

 

2. COMPASSION CANNOT BE FOREVER: SC

THE CONTEXT: Compassion cannot continue in perpetuity, the Supreme Court said in an order holding that Kashmiri migrants who retired as government officers cannot stay in official accommodation indefinitely.

THE EXPLANATION: 

  • The order was passed by a Bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and A.S. Bopanna in applications filed by retired officers occupying government accommodation in Delhi and Gurgaon. Some of these officers had been victims of terrorism and served in critical intelligence offices.
  • Applicants are occupying the government accommodation at the cost of other government servants who are waiting in queue for the allotment of a government accommodation to discharge their official duties. The compassion shown to Kashmiri migrants has to be balanced with the expectations of the serving officers to discharge their duties effectively.
  • The court struck down as arbitrary an office memorandum allowing government accommodation to retired employees who were Kashmiri migrants.

SOURCE: TH

 

ENVIRONMENT, GEOGRAPHY AND AGRICULTURE

3. TIGER MDT23 CAPTURED AFTER 22-DAY-LONG SEARCH

THE CONTEXT: After a 22-day-long operation, a tiger — nicknamed MDT23 — believed to have been responsible for the death of two herders in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and Gudalur, was tranquillised by the Forest Department.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Mudumalai Tiger Reserve is located in the Nilgiri district, Tamil Nadu.
  • It was declared a tiger reserve in 2007.
  • The Nilgiri sub-cluster (UNESCO World Heritage Site) includes the Mudumalai, Mukurthi, Nagarhole, Bandipur and Silent Valley national parks, as well as the Aralam, Wayanad and Sathyamangalam wildlife sanctuaries.

SOURCE:IE

 

4. FALL IN STUBBLE BURNING INCIDENTS IN PUNJAB AND HARYANA

THE CONTEXT: According to a report by the Commission for Air Quality Management, there is a 70% reduction so far in instances of stubble burning in Punjab and 18% in Haryana from last year.

ABOUT NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR AIR QUALITY MANAGEMENT

  • It is a statutory body established through the recently enacted The Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Act 2021.
  • Composition: (i) a Chairperson, (ii) an officer of the rank of a Joint Secretary as the member-secretary and Chief Coordinating Officer, (iii) a serving or former Joint Secretary from the central government, (iii) three independent technical members with expertise in air pollution, and (iv) three members from non-government organisations.
  • Tenure: The Chairperson and members of the Commission will have a tenure of three years or till the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier.
  • Ex-office members: (i) from the central government and concerned state governments, and (ii) technical members from Central Pollution Control Board, Indian Space Research Organisation, and NITI Aayog. It may also appoint representatives of certain ministries.
  • Selection of Commission: The central government will constitute a selection committee to recommend appointments of members of the Commission. The Committee will be headed by the Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. Members of the Committee will include the Cabinet Secretary and the Minister of (i) Commerce and Industry, (ii) Road Transport and Highways, and (iii) Science and Technology.
  • Functions of the Commission: (i) co-ordinating actions by concerned state governments (Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh), (ii) planning and executing plans to prevent and control air pollution in NCR, (iii) providing a framework for identifying air pollutants, (iv) conducting research and development through networking with technical institutions, (v) training and creating a special workforce to deal with issues related to air pollution, and (vi) preparing action plans such as increasing plantation and addressing stubble burning.
  • Powers of the Commission: Powers of the Commission include: (i) restricting activities influencing air quality, (ii) investigating and conducting research related to environmental pollution impacting air quality, (iii) preparing codes and guidelines to prevent and control air pollution, and (iv) issuing directions on matters including inspections, or regulation which will be binding on the concerned person or authority.
  • The Commission will be the sole authority with jurisdiction over matters defined in the Bill (such as air quality management). In case of conflicts, the directions of the Commission will prevail over the orders of the respective state governments, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), state PCBs, and state-level statutory bodies.
  • Sub-Committees: The Commission is required to form sub-committees on (i) monitoring and identification, (ii) safeguarding and enforcement, and (iii) research and development.
  • The commission may collect environmental compensation from farmers causing pollution by stubble burning. This compensation will be prescribed by the central government.
  • Appeals against the Commission’s orders will lie with the National Green Tribunal.

SOURCE:  TH

 

INDIAN ECONOMY

5. CAPITAL ACCOUNT CONVERTIBILITY

THE CONTEXT: Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Deputy Governor T Rabi Sankar said market participants, particularly banks, will have to prepare themselves to manage the business process changes and the global risks associated with capital convertibility.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • India has come a long way in achieving increasing levels of convertibility on the capital account.
  • It has broadly achieved the desired outcome for the policy choices it has made, in terms of achieving a stable composition of foreign capital inflow.
  • At the same time, India is on the cusp of some fundamental shifts in this space with increased market integration in the offing and freer non-resident access to debt on the table.
  • The rate of change in capital convertibility will only increase with each of these and similar measures. With that comes the responsibility to ensure that such flows are managed effectively with the right combination of capital flow measures, macro-prudential measures and market intervention.
  • Convertibility refers to the ability to convert domestic currency into foreign ones and vice versa to make payments for the balance of payments transactions.
  • Current account convertibility is the ability or freedom to convert domestic currency for current account transactions while capital account convertibility is the ability or freedom to convert domestic currency for capital account transactions.

SOURCE: IE

 

INTERNAL  SECURITY

6. ENHANCED POWERS OF BORDER SECURITY FORCE

THE CONTEXT: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), through a notification in the Gazette of India on October 11, enhanced the “arrest, search and seize” powers of the Border Security Force (BSF) up to 50 km from the international boundary within Assam, West Bengal and Punjab. In Gujarat, the limit was reduced from the existing 80 km to 50 km. In Rajasthan, the 50-km limit remains unchanged.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The notification replaces a 2014 order under the BSF Act, 1968, which also empowers the force to conduct counter-insurgency operations in Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya.
  • Though Jammu and Kashmir were not mentioned in the 2014 order, notification specifically mentions the two newly created Union Territories-J&K and Ladakh.
  • According to a background note submitted by the MHA to a parliamentary standing committee in 2011, Under Rule 15 of the BSF Rules, 1969, the BSF has been assigned three primary tasks while deployed along the borders: promote a sense of security among the people living in the border area, prevent trans-border crimes/unauthorised entry into or exit from the territory of India and prevent smuggling and any other illegal activity.
  • The violations against which the BSF carries out search and seizure include smuggling of narcotics, prohibited items, illegal entry of foreigners and offences punishable under any other Central Act.
  • The MHA has given powers to the BSF personnel in border areas under the Customs Act, the Passport Act, the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939, the Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944, the Foreigners Act, 1946, and the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947.
  • The BSF does not have police powers; after apprehending a suspect it can only conduct “preliminary questioning” and has to hand over a seized consignment or the suspect to the local police within 24 hours. It does not have the power to prosecute crime suspects. Police is a State subject under the Constitution.
  • The amendment establishes uniformity in defining the area within which the BSF can operate and also to improve its operational effectiveness in curbing trans-border crimes. The operational writ of the BSF was different in different Border States and the fresh notification ends this anomaly.
  • The two States- Punjab and West Bengal, have termed the MHA’s move an attack on federalism.

ABOUT BSF

  • The BSF is a central armed police force (CAPF) that functions under the Union government. It was raised in 1965 in the aftermath of the India-Pakistan war.
  • The BSF Act was passed by Parliament in 1968 and the rules governing the Act were framed in 1969.
  • The MHA issues all orders pertaining to the BSF and other CAPFs such as the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), SashastraSeema Bal (SSB), Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), National Security Guard (NSG) and Assam Rifles.
  • India is a Union of States and under the One Border One Force policy, the BSF is deployed along the Pakistan and Bangladesh borders.
  • It is also deployed in areas affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE) and is routinely deployed for election and other law and order duties on the request of State governments.

SOURCE:TH

 

PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS

Q1. Consider the following statements with respect to the concept of Convertibility in the Indian economy.

  1. Convertibility refers to the ability to convert domestic currency into foreign ones and vice versa to make payments for the balance of payments transactions.
  2. Current account convertibility is the ability or freedom to convert domestic currency for current account transactions
  3. Capital account convertibility is the ability or freedom to convert domestic currency for capital account transactions.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

a) 1 only

b) 1 and 2 only

c) 2 and 3 only

d) 1,2 and 3

 

ANSWER FOR OCTOBER 15, 2021 PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS

ANSWER: C

Explanation:

  • Statement 1 is correct: One Health is a collaborative, multisectoral, and transdisciplinary approach— working at the local, regional, national, and global levels — with the goal of achieving optimal health outcomes recognizing the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment.
  • Statement 2 is correct: This concept is used by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). In India, it is a component under the National Mission on Biodiversity and Human Well Being.



DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS (OCTOBER 15, 2021)

INDIAN POLITY, GOVERNANCE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

1. ONE HEALTH CONSORTIUM

THE CONTEXT: Country’s first ‘One Health’ consortium launched by the Department of Biotechnology.

THE EXPLANATION: 

  • The consortium, consisting of 27 organisations led by DBT-National Institute of Animal Biotechnology, Hyderabad, is one of the biggest health programs launched by the Govt of India in post-COVID times. The One health consortium consists of AIIMS, Delhi, AIIMS Jodhpur, IVRI, Bareily, GADVASU, Ludhiana, TANUVAS, Chennai, MAFSU, Nagpur, Assam agricultural and veterinary university and many more ICAR, ICMR centres and wildlife agencies.
  • COVID-19 pandemic showed the relevance of ‘One Health’ principles in the governance of infectious diseases, especially efforts to prevent and contain zoonotic diseases throughout the world.
  • The risk of infectious agents capable of jumping the barriers of species is increasing, mainly because of the potential of novel infectious agents to spread rapidly around the globe due to increased travel, food habits and trade across borders.
  • Such diseases have devastating impacts on animals, humans, health systems, and economies, requiring years of social and economic recovery.

ABOUT ONE HEALTH CONCEPT

  • One Health is a collaborative, multisectoral, and transdisciplinary approach— working at the local, regional, national, and global levels — with the goal of achieving optimal health outcomes recognizing the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment.
  • This concept is used by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). In India, it is a component under the National Mission on Biodiversity and Human Well Being.

SOURCE: PIB

 

2. GLOBAL HUNGER INDEX 2021

THE CONTEXT:  India has slipped to the 101st position among 116 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021 from its 2020 ranking (94), to be placed behind Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

THE EXPLANATION: 

  • With this, only 15 countries, like Papua New Guinea (102), Afghanistan (103), Nigeria (103), Congo (105), fared worse than India this year.
  • A total of 18 countries, including China, Kuwait and Brazil, shared the top rank with a GHI score of less than five.
  • The report, prepared jointly by Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German organisation Welt Hunger Hilfe, mentioned the level of hunger in India as “alarming” with its GHI score decelerating from 38.8 in 2000 to the range of 28.8 – 27.5 between 2012 and 2021.
  • The GHI score is calculated on four indicators — undernourishment; child wasting (the share of children under the age of five who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition); child stunting (children under the age of five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition); child mortality (the mortality rate of children under the age of five).
  • According to the report, the share of wasting among children in India rose from 17.1 per cent between 1998-2002 to 17.3 per cent between 2016-2020.
  • However, India has shown improvement in indicators like the under-5 mortality rate, the prevalence of stunting among children and prevalence of undernourishment owing to inadequate food.

SOURCE: IE

 

3. NEW RULES ALLOWING ABORTION

THE CONTEXT:  As per the government’s new rules, the gestational limit for termination of a pregnancy in India has been increased from 20 to 24 weeks for some categories of women.

THE EXPLANATION: 

  • Under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Rules, 2021, the women for whom the limit has been increased include survivors of sexual assault, rape or incest, minors, those whose marital status changes during pregnancy (widowhood and divorce) and those with physical disabilities.
  • The new rules also include mentally ill women, cases of foetal malformation in which there is a substantial risk of physical or mental abnormalities and women in disasters or emergency situations as declared by the government.
  • These new rules fall under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021, which was passed by Parliament in March this year.
  • Earlier, an abortion required the opinion of one doctor if carried out within twelve weeks of conception and two doctors if done between twelve and twenty weeks.
  • As per the new rules, state-level medical boards will be set up to decide if pregnancy may be terminated after 24 weeks in cases of foetal malformation where there is a substantial risk of incompatibility with life, physical or mental abnormalities or handicaps.
  • The medical boards are to examine the woman and her reports and then either accept or reject the proposal for medical termination of pregnancy within three days of receiving the request.
  • The boards also have to ensure that the abortion procedure, when advised by them, is carried out with all precautions along with counselling. The procedure has to be done with five days of the board receiving the request for the same.
  • Experts say that given the advancements in scientific and medical technology the world has witnessed over the years, the extended 24-week gestation period should be for all women and not just ‘special categories of women. The creation of state medical boards could potentially create impediments for women’s access to abortion services as many women discover they are pregnant at a later stage.

SOURCE: INDIA TODAY

 

4. GLOBAL COVID-19 EDUCATION RECOVERY TRACKER

THE CONTEXT: A global Covid-19 education recovery tracker has revealed that nearly half the countries across the world are still taking classes in the online and hybrid (both online and offline) mode while some are on an extended break due to the pandemic.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Created by the Johns Hopkins University in the US, Unicef and World Bank, the tracker captures information from 208 countries worldwide and was launched in March.
  • While schools have restarted in several countries over the past few months, the latest data on the tracker, till the month of September, shows that classes are yet to go fully in-person in almost half the nations.
  • A large number of countries are either teaching children online or through the hybrid mode, which means juggling online and in-person lessons.
  • in India, education is currently being imparted in the hybrid mode. At the school level, students in the senior classes have started attending school in person in most states while junior classes continue online.
  • The tracker also shows that schools in some countries are on an extended break due to Covid-19.

Source: THEPRINT

 

ENVIRONMENT, GEOGRAPHY AND AGRICULTURE

5. THE DECLINING MONSOON RAINFALL IN PUNJAB OVER THE LAST TWO DECADES

THE CONTEXT: The state has seen a declining trend in rainfall during monsoon in the past two decades. The only silver lining was that the rainfall pattern was good this year, which was witnessed after a long gap.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • There are several factors and they are not Punjab-specific but a global phenomenon due to which erratic weather changes are occurring, for which a collective approach is required to minimise the effect of global warming to control extreme weather variables.
  • Experts said deforestation in the state is also one of the causes of the decreasing rainfall trend.

SOURCE:IE

 

6. THE LARGE SCALE BESS FOR 1000 MW HOUR PROJECT

THE CONTEXT: Government has given go-ahead for inviting the expression of interest for the installation of a 1000 MWh Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) as a pilot project.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • This is the joint effort of both Ministry of New and renewable energy and the Ministry of Power who have been working on this to provide a road map for the installation of the energy storage system in the country.
  • In order to support the ambitious goal of achieving the 450 GW renewable energy target of the Ministry of New and renewable energy by 2030, it is important that it gets duly supported with the installation of energy storage systems (battery energy storage system, hydro pump storage plants etc.).
  • Going forward, India plans to use an energy storage system under the following business cases:–
  • Renewable energy along with the energy storage system
  • The energy storage system as grid element to maximize the use of transmission system and strengthening grid stability and also to save investment in the augmentation of transmission infrastructure.
  • Storage as an asset for balancing services and flexible operation. The system operator i.e. load dispatchers (RLDCs and SLDCs) may use storage system for frequency control and balancing services to manage the inherent uncertainty/variations in the load due to un-generation.
  • Storage for distribution system i.e. it may be placed at the load centre to manage its peak load and other obligations.
  • As a merchant capacity by the energy storage system developer and sell in the power market
  • Any other future business models as a combination of the above.

SOURCE:   PIB

 

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

7. INDIA-U.S. FINANCIAL DIALOGUE

THE CONTEXT: Finance Minister and her American counterpart, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, met for the eight Ministerial meetings of the U.S.-India Economic and Financial partnership. The Ministerial held a session dedicated to climate finance for the first time.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • In the run-up to the UN Climate Change Conference ( “COP26”)in Glasgow at the end of the month, India has been pushing for rich countries to meet their Paris Accord climate finance commitment of $100 billion per year.
  • The two sides “reaffirmed the collective developed country goal to mobilise $100 billion annually for developing countries from public and private sources, in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation,” the statement said. Holding such a session, the statement said, reflected the “critical” role climate finance has to play in achieving global climate goals and the two sides’ commitments to drive “urgent progress” in combatting climate change.
  • On international taxation, the two sides welcomed the OECD (Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development, a group of wealthy countries) tax agreement and committed to working with others to implement the agreement’s two pillars by 2023. Pillar One involves the allocation of taxing rights (tax on multinationals) between jurisdictions, and Pillar Two, a global minimum tax of 15% on certain companies

SOURCE: TH

 

8. INDIA GETS RE-ELECTED TO U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

THE CONTEXT:  India was re-elected to the U.N. Human Rights Council for the 2022-24 term on Thursday with an overwhelming majority in the General Assembly, with New Delhi’s envoy describing the election as a “robust endorsement” of the country’s strong roots in democracy, pluralism and fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The 76th UN General Assembly held elections on Thursday for 18 new members of the U.N. Human Rights Council who will serve for a period of three years, starting in January 2022.
  • India got 184 votes in the 193-member assembly, while the required majority was 97.
  • India’s current term was set to end on December 31 2021. For election for the term 2022-2024, there were five vacant seats in the Asia-Pacific States category – India, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

SOURCE: TH

 

PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTION

Q1. Consider the following statements with respect to “One Health Concept”

  1. The goal of one health is achieving optimal health outcomes recognizing the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment.
  2. It is a component under the National Mission on Biodiversity and Human Well Being.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

ANSWER FOR OCTOBER 14, 2021 PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS

ANSWER: A

Explanation:

Prime Minister launched the Gati Shakti – National Master Plan for Multi-modal Connectivity.   Gati Shakti — a digital platform — will bring 16 Ministries including Railways and Roadways together for integrated planning and coordinated implementation of infrastructure connectivity projects.




DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS (OCTOBER 14, 2021)

INDIAN POLITY, GOVERNANCE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

1. TRIFED IS WORKING TO GET GI TAG FOR TRIBAL PRODUCTS

THE CONTEXT: The GI initiative taken up by TRIFED aims at protecting and reviving the traditional mastery that the Indian tribal folks possess, in producing some of the most exotic products.

THE EXPLANATION: 

  • TRIFED, through marketing GI, tagged products of tribal origin or source, is working extensively towards realizing the importance of protecting and promoting agricultural, natural or manufactured goods with specific geographical characteristics thereby contributing in the preservation ofinvaluable treasures of Incredible India.
  • The ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ corner in the High Commissions is being set up as part of a global initiative, in collaboration with TRIFED, to promote products that tribal groups across India have been creating for centuries.
  • TRIFED’s GI intervention and setting up of Atmanirbhar corner in Indian Missions abroad aims at:
  • To safeguard the interests of the original producers as well as that of the product and ensure that the producer avails optimum cost for their premium goods even in the highly competitive market scenario.
  • To ensure recognition of indigenous products both in India and the global market.
  • To revive diminishing art and craft from a Tribal specific geographical location.
  • At present, TRIFED markets 56 GI tagged products, owing to their tribal origin/involvement, from among the 300+ registered Indian GIs through its well-established network of 141 Tribes India retail outlets and various E-Commerce platforms.
  • It has facilitated authorized user-ship for 94 artisans to date and is persevering to increase the authorized user base to 500 in the near future.
  • In addition to marketing 56 GI products, TRIFED is also working to get GI tag for the 177 potential products that have been identified from the states under operational areas of our Regional Offices across the country namely North-East(88), Uttarakhand(14), Jharkhand(11), Madhya Pradesh(11), Maharashtra(10) Odisha(6), West Bengal(9), Gujarat(7), Chhattisgarh(7), Andhra Pradesh(4), Rajasthan(4), South(3) and North(3).
  • Also, GI registration of 21 potential products from the states of Gujarat, Assam, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand has already been initiated under the mentorship of Padma Shree Dr. RajnikantDwivedi. This will increase the number of GI products marketed by TRIFED to 77 GI products which it sources from empanelled Tribal suppliers.

SOURCE: PIB

 

ENVIRONMENT, GEOGRAPHY AND AGRICULTURE

2. GOVERNMENT PROPOSES TO REDEFINE FORESTS

THE CONTEXT: The Ministry for Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) published proposed amendments to the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, easing diversion of forests and exempting certain categories of development from the need to take clearance from the Ministry.

WHAT ARE THE PROPOSED AMENDMENTS?

  • The Ministry has proposed that all land acquired by the Railways and Roads Ministries prior to 1980 be exempted from the Act. It says these lands had been acquired for expansion, but subsequently, forests have grown in these areas, and the government is no longer able to use the land for expansion. If the amendment is brought in, these Ministries will no longer need clearance for their projects, nor pay compensatory levies to build there.
  • For individuals whose lands fall within a state-specific Private Forests Act or come within the dictionary meaning of forest as specified in the 1996 Supreme Court order, the government proposes to allow “construction of structures for bona fide purposes’’ including residential units up to 250 sq m as a one-time relaxation.
  • Defence projects near international borders will be exempted from forest clearance.
  • Oil and natural gas extraction from forested lands will be permitted, but only if technologies such as Extended Reach Drilling are used.
  • The Ministry has proposed doing away with levies for non-forestry purposes during the renewal of a lease, saying the double levy at the time of awarding of the lease and the renewal is “not rational”.
  • Strip plantations alongside roads that would fall under the Act will be exempted.

WHAT ARE THE CONCERNS?

  • Activists and opposition leaders say the relaxation of forest rules will facilitate corporate ownership and the disappearance of large tracts of forests.
  • About the exemption of forests on private land, even former forest officials said many forests will disappear. For instance, 4% of land in Uttarakhand falls under private forests.
  • the amendments do not address the issue of tribals and forest-dwelling communities
  • Environmentalists say exemption for Roads and Railways on forest land acquired prior to 1980 will be detrimental to forests as well as wildlife – especially elephants, tigers and leopards.
  • Environmentalists say a one-time exemption for private residences on the private forests will lead to fragmentation of forests and open areas such as the Aravalli Mountains to real estate.

 

DO ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS NOTE ANY POSITIVES?

  • They have welcomed the fact that the consultation paper has been public, and the decision to make changes through an amendment using the parliamentary process. Environmental groups have also acknowledged that:
  • The MoEFCC has pointed out where the pressure for forest land diversion has been coming from — Ministries such as Rail and Roads — and allowed a public debate on it.
  • It has proposed making forest laws more stringent for notified forests, making offences non-bailable with increased penalties including imprisonment of up to one year.
  • It has disallowed any kind of diversion in certain forests.
  • It has attempt to define and identify forests once and for all — something that has been often ambiguous.

SOURCE: IE

INDIAN ECONOMY

3. GATI SHAKTI

THE CONTEXT:Prime Minister launched the Gati Shakti – National Master Plan for Multi-modal Connectivity.   Gati Shakti — a digital platform — will bring 16 Ministries including Railways and Roadways together for integrated planning and coordinated implementation of infrastructure connectivity projects.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • It will incorporate the infrastructure schemes of various Ministries and State Governments like Bharatmala, Sagarmala, inland waterways, dry/land ports, UDAN etc. Economic Zones like textile clusters, pharmaceutical clusters, defence corridors, electronic parks, industrial corridors, fishing clusters, Agri zones will be covered to improve connectivity & make Indian businesses more competitive.
  • It will also leverage technology extensively including spatial planning tools with ISRO imagery developed by BiSAG-N (Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space Applications and Geoinformatics).
  • The multi-modal connectivity will provide integrated and seamless connectivity for the movement of people, goods and services from one mode of transport to another. It will facilitate the last mile connectivity of infrastructure and also reduce travel time for people.

SOURCE: PIB

 

4. INDIA’S TRADE WITH CHINA SET TO CROSS $100 BILLION IN 2021

THE CONTEXT: India’s trade with China is set to cross the $100 billion mark for the first time in 2021.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Figures released by China’s General Administration of Customs (GAC) showed that two-way trade after nine months reached $90.37 billion, up 49.3% year-on-year. India’s imports from China reached $68.4 billion, up 51.7% year-on-year, while India’s exports amounted to $21. 9 billion, up 42.5%.
  • Two-way trade was substantially higher than pre-pandemic levels, with bilateral trade up 29.7% compared to the same period in 2019, with India’s imports up 21.5% and exports to China up 64.5%.
  • India’s biggest exports to China annually are iron ore, cotton, and other raw material-based commodities. India imports mechanical and electrical machinery in large quantities from China, while imports of medical supplies have soared in the past two years.
  • Chinese trade officials attributed China’s overall trade performance after three quarters to the country’s economic recovery as well stronger global demand.
  • Figures with India were among the fastest-growing for China’s major trading partners. China’s total trade was up 22.7% year-on-year, while bilateral figures with the three biggest trading partners, ASEAN, the EU and the U.S., were up 21.1%, 20.5%, and 24.9% respectively.
  • The GAC said Chinese exports of mechanical and electrical products, as well as medicine and medicinal materials, grew particularly robustly. Medicine and medicinal material exports were up 108%.

SOURCE: TH

 

5. GOVERNMENT SCRAPS BASIC CUSTOM DUTY AND CUTS AGRICULTURE CESS

THE CONTEXT: The government scrapped basic customs duty as well as slashed Agri cess on crude varieties of palm, soya bean and sunflower oil till March 2022, a move that will help cool prices and increase domestic availability in the festive season.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Crude palm oil will now attract Agri infrastructure development cess (AIDC) of 7.5 per cent, while the rate will be 5 per cent for crude soyabean oil and crude sunflower oil.
  • Post reduction, the effective customs duty on crude varieties of palm, soya bean and sunflower oil will be 8.25 per cent, 5.5 per cent and 5.5 per cent respectively.
  • Besides, the basic customs duty on refined varieties of sunflower, soybean, palmolein and palm oil has been slashed to 17.5 per cent each from 32.5 per cent at present.

SOURCE: THEPRINT

 

6. INVESTMENT ACTIVITY REBOUNDED

THE CONTEXT: As per Projects Today’s latest survey on fresh investments, investment activity rebounded sharply between July and September after a dip in the COVID-hit first quarter of the year, lifting fresh investment commitments in the first half of 2021-22 by 13.5% over pre-pandemic levels.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Investments had declined sequentially by 18% between April and June as the second COVID wave triggered lockdown across States, but the lifting of restrictions as the wave ebbed has enabled the resumption of Capex activities across the country.
  • While investment plans recovered, two critical indicators of actual capital spending — project tendering and project contracts — registered impressive growth in Q2, rising by 52.7% and 19.33%, respectively, over the previous quarter.
  • Manufacturing leads the charge, but irrigation and infra are still a concern

SOURCE: TH

 

7. RBI BANNED CHARTERED ACCOUNTANT FIRM

THE CONTEXT: In an unprecedented move, the Reserve Bank of India on Tuesday banned one of the country’s top chartered accountant firms Haribhakti& Co LLP from undertaking any type of audit assignments for regulated entities for a period of two years starting April 1, 2022.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Haribhakti& Co LLP was the auditor of Srei Infrastructure Finance Limited (SIFL), whose board was superseded by the RBI and insolvency proceedings were initiated last week.
  • The banking sector regulator has taken this action against the firm for failure to comply with a specific direction issued by the RBI with respect to its statutory audit of a Systemically Important Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC).
  • This is the first time that the RBI has taken such action against an auditor of any systemically important NBFC.

SOURCE: THEPRINT

 

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

8. INDIA, IRAN DISCUSS WAYS TO FIGHT DRUG TRAFFICKING FROM AFGHANISTAN

THE CONTEXT: Indian and Iranian officials held a virtual meeting following the largest seizure of heroin (3000kg) at the Mundra port in Gujarat on September 15.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Initial reports had indicated that the containers carrying the substance originated from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.
  • The drug haul also impacted Iran’s trade as the Adani Group declared that containers from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan will not be handled at the port from November 15.
  • Both discussed and examined ways and means of mutual cooperation in fighting drug trafficking which accordingly resulted in some positive outcomes.
  • It is for many decades that narcotic drugs production and organised drug trafficking from Afghanistan has posed a major threat to Iran, our region and to the world.

SOURCE: TH

 

 

PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS

Q1.  Recently launched the Gati Shakti is National Master plan for?

a) Multi-Modal connectivity

b) Defence Equipments

c) Vaccine for children

d) Tribal Development

ANSWER FOR OCTOBER 13, 2021 PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS

Answer: c)

Explanation:

  • Statement1 is correct: Kunming biodiversity fund was announced by China during the UN conservation summit.
  • Statement 2 is incorrect: It is an independent fund and not part of the United Nations’ Global Environment Facility.
  • Statement 3 is correct: It will be used to protect biodiversity in developing countries.



DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS (OCTOBER 13, 2021)

INDIAN POLITY, GOVERNANCE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

1. COVAXIN FOR CHILDREN

THE CONTEXT: Health ministry sources said that the subject expert committee on Covid-19 vaccines has recommended the national drug regulator to grant an emergency use authorisation to Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for the age group of 2 to 18 years.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The development is significant as India is just one step away from a Covid-19 vaccine being formally approved for children above the age of 2 years.
  • The recommendation of the SEC regarding Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin is based on the pediatric study that is evaluating the safety, reactogenicity, and immunogenicity of Covaxin. It is being conducted at six sites across the country in healthy volunteers above the age of 2 years.
  • India’s drug regulator has already approved Zydus Cadila’s DNA Covid-19 vaccine for children aged above 12.
  • The third vaccine that is being tested in children in India is the Covavax that will be manufactured by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India.
  • The trials of Novavax’s recombinant nanoparticle protein-based COVID-19 vaccine – NVX-CoV2373 – in India is being branded as Covavax by SII. The trials will be conducted across 23 sites across the country.
  • The fourth vaccine that is being tested in children in India is the Hyderabad-based Biological E’s Corbevax. The trials are expected to take place across ten sites across the country.

SOURCE: IE

2. THE CONTINUATION OF SBM U

THE CONTEXT:  The Union Cabinet approved the continuation of Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) till 2025-26, with a focus on sustainability of Open Defecation Free (ODF) outcomes, achieving scientific processing of Solid Waste in all cities, and managing Wastewater in cities with less than 1 lakh population in Census 2011 [cities not covered under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT)].

THE EXPLANATION: 

  • The financial outlay of ₹1,41,600 crores for SBM-U 2.0, 2.5 times more than the first phase of the mission.
  • SBM-U 2.0 targets complete elimination of Open Defecation, including faecal sludge management in all cities with less than 1 lakh population.
  • Eradication of hazardous entry into sewers and septic tanks
  • No untreated wastewater to pollute water bodies
  • All cities to achieve at least 3-star Garbage Free certification

SWACHH BHARAT MISSION-URBAN 2.0: KEY FEATURES

  • Over the next 5 years, the focus of SBM-U 2.0, launched on 1st October 2021 by Hon’ble Prime Minister, will be on sustaining the sanitation and solid waste management outcomes achieved and accelerating the momentum generated, thus achieving the Mission’s vision of a “Garbage Free” Urban India.
  • The implementation of the Mission components will be done in a structured and time-bound manner, with a thorough gap analysis of required infrastructure, detailed 5-year action plans, and annual action plans with timelines.
  • The Mission will be completely paperless, digital, leveraging digital technology for complete transparency and accountability through GIS-mapped waste management infrastructure, robust user interface, online grievance redressal system, end-to-end online monitoring of projects starting from project creation to fund release, and project progress monitoring on integrated GIS-based platform.
  • Enablers such as outcome-based fund release, greater funding support for smaller ULBs and convergence with 15thFC grants for added funding support, a structured implementation plan for each component, robust capacity building, communication and advocacy for sustainable behaviour change, intensified thrust on private sector participation, and extensive industry collaboration will help in achieving the Mission’s objectives within the scheduled timelines

SOURCE: PIB

3. CABINET APPROVED– AMRUT 2.0 TILL 2025-26

THE CONTEXT:  The Union Cabinet approved the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation 2.0 (AMRUT 2.0) till 2025-26, as a step towards AatmaNirbhar Bharat and with aim of making the cities ‘water secure’ and ‘self-sustainable through circular economy of water.

THE EXPLANATION: 

  • Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), the first focused national water Mission was launched in June 2015 to facilitate ease of living to citizens in 500 cities by providing tap connections and sewer connections.
  • So far, 1.1 crore household tap connections and 85 lakh sewer/ septage connections have been provided. 6,000 MLD sewage treatment capacity is being developed, of which 1,210 MLD capacity is already created, with provision for reuse of 907 MLD treated sewage. 1,820 parks with an area of 3,600 acres have been developed, while another 1,800 acres of area is under greening. So far, 1,700 flooding points have been eliminated.
  • Taking forward the remarkable strides made under AMRUT, AMRUT 2.0, targets universal coverage of water supply by providing household tap connections in all 4,378 statutory towns.
  • 100% coverage of household sewerage/ septage management in 500 AMRUT cities is another objective. Mission targets to provide 2.68 crore tap connections and 2.64 crore sewer/ septage connections to achieve the intended outcomes.
  • The total indicative outlay for AMRUT 2.0 is ₹ 2,77,000 crore including the central share of ₹76,760 crores for five years from FY 2021-22 to FY 2025-26.
  • The mission will be monitored on a robust technology-based portal. The projects will be geo-tagged. There will be an endeavour to make it a paperless Mission. Cities will assess their water sources, consumption, future requirement and water losses through a city water balance plan.
  • Based on this, city water action plans will be prepared which will be summed up as State Water Action Plan and will be approved by the Ministry of Housing and Urban affairs. The funds for the projects will be shared by the Centre, State and ULBs. Central funds will be released to the States in three tranches based on allocation to the State as per State Water Action Plan.
  • Other key features of AMRUT 2.0 (U) include Pey Jal Survekshan which will encourage competition among cities for benchmarking urban water services. Mission will also encourage the mobilization of market finance by mandating the implementation of 10% of the worth of projects in cities with populations above ten lakh through Public-Private Participation.
  • Mission will also bring in the leading technologies in the water sector in the world through technology sub-Mission. Entrepreneurs/ start-ups will be encouraged in the water ecosystem. Information Education and Communication (IEC) campaign will be undertaken to spread awareness among the masses about water conservation.
  • Mission has a reform agenda focussed on the financial health and water security of ULBs. Meeting 20% of water demand through recycled water, reducing non-revenue water to less than 20% and rejuvenation of water bodies are major water-related reforms. Reforms on property tax, user charges and enhancing creditworthiness of ULBs are other important reforms. ULBs will be rewarded with incentives for accomplishing the reforms.

SOURCE: PIB

 ENVIRONMENT, GEOGRAPHY AND AGRICULTURE

4. NORTHEAST SAW THE LARGEST SHARE OF THE COUNTRY’S TREE COVER LOSS

THE CONTEXT:  According to an analysis by Down To Earth, the northeastern region of India lost 79 per cent of its tree cover in 2020, recording the biggest dip in the country.

 THE EXPLANATION: 

  • Over 110,000 hectares of tree cover vanished from the region last year, according to the University of Maryland’s forest change data.
  • Researchers from the University of Maryland processed and analysed over a million satellite images to demonstrate the loss. Tree cover loss is ‘complete removal of tree cover canopy’, the scientists wrote.
  • They used algorithms to identify individual pixel values for every tree canopy lost, to calculate even the smallest changes in the forest area.
  • India lost close to 143,000 hectares of forest cover in 2020 when the overall forest area was 4.6 per cent lower than in 2001. But the loss has been uneven.
  • The ‘seven sisters’ Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland individually were responsible for 5-14 per cent of the country’s loss in forest area from 2001 through 2020.
  • Assam, the largest of the seven states, contributed the most (14.1 per cent) to the national tree cover loss during the period.
  • Nagaland saw its forest cover shrink the fastest since 2001, suffering a 17 per cent drop in the two decades. It was followed by Tripura, where the area under forest cover decreased by 15 per cent in the years studied.
  • Outside the North East, Odisha lost the largest area of land under tree cover (125,004 hectares) from 2001-2020 — 6.5 per cent of India’s total. It was followed by Kerala that contributed 4 per cent of the forest area lost.
  • Tree cover loss can be triggered by various reasons, ranging from anthropogenic factors such as deforestation or timber harvesting to natural causes like forest fires or storms.

SOURCE:  TH

5. CHINA LAUNCHES BIODIVERSITY FUND

THE CONTEXT:   China pledged to inject $233 million into a new fund to protect biodiversity in developing countries during a key UN conservation summit, despite disagreements among major donors on the initiative.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Its pledge came as delegates from about 195 countries gathered in the southern Chinese city of Kunming for the first of a two-part summit on safeguarding plants, animals and ecosystems.
  • The summit aims to establish a new accord setting out targets for 2030 and 2050.
  • A key proposal being debated at the conference is the “30 by 30” agenda that would afford 30% of the Earth’s land and oceans protected status by 2030.
  • But some rich country donors say a new fund for conservation is unnecessary because the United Nations’ Global Environment Facility already helps developing nations finance green projects.

SOURCE: TH

INDIAN ECONOMY

6. INDIA’S GROWTH PROJECTIONS BY IMF

THE CONTEXT: according to the latest projections released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) India’s economy is expected to grow by 9.5 per cent in 2021 and 8.5 per cent in 2022.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • India’s growth projection released by the latest World Economic Outlook (WEO) remains unchanged from its previous WEO update of July this summer but is a three-percentage point in 2021 and a 1.6 percentage point drop from its April projections.
  • According to the latest WEO update, released ahead of the annual meeting of the IMF and the World Bank, the world is expected to grow at 5.9 per cent in 2021 and 4.9 per cent in 2022.
  • The United States is projected to grow at six per cent this year and 5.2 per cent the next year.
  • China is projected to grow at 8 per cent in 2021 and 5.6 per cent in 2022.

SOURCE:  IE

7. MAHARATNA STATUS TO PFC

THE CONTEXT: The government of India accorded ‘Maharatna’ status to the state-owned Power Finance Corporation Ltd (PFC), thus giving PFC greater operational and financial autonomy. 

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Incorporated in 1986, PFC is the largest Infrastructure Finance Company today, exclusively dedicated to Power Sector under the administrative control of the Ministry of Power.
  • This new recognition will enable PFC to offer competitive financing for the power sector, which will go a long way in making available affordable & reliable ‘Power for All 24×7’.
  • The enhanced powers that come with Maharatna Status will also help PFC in pushing the Government’s agenda of funding under the National Infrastructure Pipeline, the national commitment of 40% green energy by 2030 and effective monitoring and implementation of the New Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme with an outlay of more than Rs.3 Lakh crore.

SOURCE: PIB

 8. RETAIL INFLATION FALLS TO 4.35%

THE CONTEXT:  India’s retail inflation cooled off to a five-month low of 4.35% in September, thanks to a sharp dip in food price inflation, while industrial output growth accelerated to 11.9% in August.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Economists cautioned against reading too much into these encouraging official data prints yet, with adverse headwinds lurking on both fronts.

  • Food inflation based on the Consumer Food Price Index (CFPI) fell to just 0.68% in September after having declined to a seven-month low of 3.1% in August.
  • While vegetables recorded negative inflation of 22.5%, price rise in oils and fats remained sticky at 34.2% and in the range of 7% to 8.75% for key protein sources such as pulses, eggs and meat.
  • However, core inflation which doesn’t include food and fuel price trends remained elevated at 5.8% for the third month in a row, and economists said the moderation in the inflation rate could be transient, with rising energy, metals and logistics costs being key risk factors.

SOURCE: TH

9. CENTRE ANNOUNCES PLASTIC WASTE RECYCLING TARGETS

THE CONTEXT:   The Environment Ministry has issued draft rules that mandate producers of plastic packaging material to collect all of their produce by 2024 and ensure that a minimum percentage of it be recycled as well as used in subsequent supply.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Companies would have to collect at least 35% of the target in 2021-22, 70% by 2022- 23 and 100% by 2024.
  • Non- compliance would not invite a traditional fine.
  • It has also specified a system whereby makers and users of plastic packaging could collect certificates — called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) certificates — and trade in them.
  • Only a fraction of plastic that cannot be recycled — such as multi-layered multi-material plastics — would be eligible to be sent for end-of-life disposal such as road construction, waste to energy, and waste to oil and cement kilns.
  • Only methods prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) would be permitted for their disposal.

SOURCE: TH

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

10. PM MODI AT G20 SUMMIT

THE CONTEXT: Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi participated virtually in the G20 Extraordinary Summit on Afghanistan.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The Meeting was convened by Italy, which currently holds the G20 Presidency, and chaired by Italian Prime Minister Mr Mario Draghi.
  • Issues under consideration at the meeting related to the humanitarian situation; concerns relating to terrorism; and human rights in Afghanistan.
  • In his remarks, the Prime Minister welcomed the initiative of the Italian G20 Presidency in convening the meeting to take stock of the current situation in Afghanistan.
  • He emphasized the centuries-old people-to-people ties between India and Afghanistan. The Prime Minister mentioned that over the last two decades, India has contributed to promoting socio-economic development and capacity building of youth and women in Afghanistan. He recalled that over 500 development projects have been implemented by India in Afghanistan.
  • The Prime Minister noted that the Afghan people have a great feeling of friendship with India. He conveyed that every Indian feels the pain of Afghan people facing hunger and malnutrition. He emphasized the need for the international community to ensure that Afghanistan has immediate and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance.
  • The Prime Minister also underlined the need to ensure that Afghan territory does not become a source of radicalization and terrorism, regionally or globally. He emphasized the need to enhance our joint fight against the nexus of radicalization, terrorism and the smuggling of drugs and arms in the region.
  • In order to preserve the socio-economic gains of the last 20 years and to restrict the spread of radical ideology, the Prime Minister called for an inclusive administration in Afghanistan, which includes women and minorities.
  • He conveyed support for the important role of the United Nations in Afghanistan and called for renewed support of the G20 for the message contained in UN Security Council Resolution 2593 on Afghanistan.
  • The Prime Minister called on the international community to forge a unified international response without which it would be difficult to bring about the desired change in Afghanistan’s situation.

SOURCE: PIB

PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS FOR THE DAY

Q1. Consider the following statement about the Kunming biodiversity fund:

  1. It was announced by China during the UN conservation summit.
  2. It is part of the United Nations’ Global Environment Facility.
  3. It will be used to protect biodiversity in developing countries.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

           a) 1 only                              b) 2 and 3 only

c) 1 and 3 only                   d) 1, 2 and 3

ANSWER FOR OCTOBER 12, 2021 PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS

Answer: a)

Explanation:

  • Statement 1 is incorrect: NHRC consists of a Chairman and five members.
  • Statement 2 is correct: The chairman and members hold office for a term of three years or until they attain the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.
  • Statement 3 is correct: The salaries, allowances and other conditions of service of the chairman or a member are determined by the Central government.



DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS (OCTOBER 12, 2021)

INDIAN POLITY, GOVERNANCE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

1. DRY RUN OF FIRST E-VOTING SYSTEM IN INDIA

THE CONTEXT: Future elections in Telangana could witness a major change in the voting process, with the state government gearing up for a dry run of the first-ever smartphone-based e-voting system in the country.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The system allows voters to cast their ballots through their mobile phones by downloading an application.
  • A dummy election will be held to test this application on 20 October in the Khammam district. All eligible voters from the district can participate by applying on the app from 8 to 18 October.
  • The initiative for the e-voting system was taken by the Telangana State Election Commission (TSEC) and implemented with support from the Emerging Technologies Wing of the state’s IT Electronics and Communications Department, with technical development by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC).
  • The technical development was also guided by an expert committee comprising Prof. RajatMoona, director of IIT Bhilai and technical advisor to the Election Commission of India, and professors from IIT Bombay and IIT Delhi.
  • The mobile application will carry out a three-factor authentication of valid voters using artificial intelligence. This includes matching voters’ names to their Aadhaar cards, live detection of individuals and matching their image with the EPIC (electoral photo identity cards) database with records dating back to 15 to 20 years.
  • The dry run will be carried out using the ‘TSEC eVote’ Android application, which is a “security hardened” app to prevent tampering. It also binds the device ID and phone number to a specific citizen during registration to ensure the same device is used for voting to enhance security.
  • The entire process will be monitored and controlled by the admin using a web portal, wherein the generation and access of results is further protected with the requirement of a physical security token-based decryption.
  • Experts such as former chief election commissioner S.Y. Quraishi have raised concerns over the perils of online voting and how easily it can be manipulated. Voting on the internet can be manipulated, which is why ECI has not considered it.
  • Srinivas Kodali, an independent researcher working on data and governance, also said if implemented, app-based voting poses a risk to the idea of a “secret ballot” and that the “source code” of the app cannot ensure secrecy. Kodali also pointed how Kenya’s electronic voting system in the 2017 Presidential Election created challenges.

SOURCE: THE PRINT

 

2. KILLING OF MINORITIES A THREAT TO DEMOCRATIC FABRIC OF INDIA: NHRC

THE CONTEXT:  The National Human Rights Commission has issued notices to the Jammu and Kashmir government and police over the recent spate of targeted killings of civilians from minority communities. They are an attempt to keep non-Muslims out of the Valley.

THE EXPLANATION: 

  • The Commission takes suomotucognisance of the incident and directs the issuance of notices to the Chief Secretary, Jammu & Kashmir and the DGP, Jammu & Kashmir, calling for a detailed report in the matter, including the present status of the investigation being conducted and steps be taken or proposed to be taken by the authorities to safeguard innocent citizens’ lives from being killed in a targeted manner.

ABOUT NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION (NHRC)

  • It is a statutory body (Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993).
  • Composition: A multi-member body consisting of a chairman and five members
  • Qualification: The chairman should be retired chief justice of India or judge of Supreme Court, and members should be serving or retired judges of the Supreme Court, a serving or retired chief justice of a high court and three persons (out of which at least one should be a woman) having knowledge or practical experience with respect to human rights. In addition, the Commission also has seven ex-officio members.
  • Appointment: Appointed by the president on recommendations of a six-member committee.
  • Term: The chairman and members hold office for a term of three years or until they attain the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.
  • Removal: The president can remove the chairman or any member from the office.
  • The salaries, allowances and other conditions of service of the chairman or a member are determined by the Central government.
  • It has all the powers of a civil court, and its proceedings have a judicial character.
  • The Commission is not empowered to inquire into any matter after the expiry of one year from the date on which the act constituting a violation of human rights is alleged to have been committed.
  • The Commission is mainly recommendatory in nature. It has no power to punish the violators of human rights nor to award any relief, including monetary relief, to the victim. But, it should be informed about the action taken on its recommendations within one month.
  • The Commission submits its annual or special reports to the Central government and to the state government concerned.

SOURCE: TH

 

ENVIRONMENT, GEOGRAPHY AND AGRICULTURE

3. PUNJAB GOVERNMENT PROPOSAL TO USE PADDY STRAW AS CATTLE FEED

THE CONTEXT:  Producing over 20 million tonnes of paddy straw every year, most of which is burnt in fields by farmers, leading to widespread air pollution, Punjab has now proposed to use the paddy crop residue as fodder for animals.

THE EXPLANATION: 

  • A research report prepared by the state’s only vet varsity — Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU), Ludhiana — was submitted to the government under the project ‘Preparation for the control of stubble burning during Kharif season 2021’, which has recommended usage of paddy straw as animal feed
  • High silica and lignin content reduce its digestive properties. Higher selenium content in paddy straw also limits its use as fodder in animals compared to wheat straw. However, if given in moderate quantities (up to 5 kg per animal per day), selenium poses no health hazard to the animal.
  • Paddy straw also contains oxalates (2-2.5%), leading to calcium deficiency, so the mineral mixture should always be fed along with the straw.
  • There are two methods that have been recommended in the report submitted by GADVASU: Urea-only treatment and urea plus molasses treatment for paddy straw before using it as cattle fodder.

SOURCE:TH

 

4. CONSERVING INDIA’S DHOLE POPULATION

THE CONTEXT:   A recent study has identified 114 priority talukas/tehsils where habitats can be consolidated to enhance population connectivity for the dhole or Asiatic Wild Dog (Cuonalpinus), a Schedule II species under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The scientists combined animal movement models and spatial conservation prioritisation methods to map connectivity hotspots for dholes across the entire country. This information was further used to demarcate ‘dhole conservation landscapes’ and assess the relative importance of different protected areas.
  • Efforts should especially be focussed on vulnerable dhole populations in the Western and Eastern Ghats and central India.
  • Particular focus should be on habitat patches and talukas that facilitate movement between the Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats.
  • The dhole or Asiatic Wild Dog (Cuonalpinus) is found in three clusters across India, namely the Western and Eastern Ghats, central Indian landscape and North East India.
  • The Western and Eastern Ghats is a stronghold region for dholes. It harbours a large number of source populations with a large proportion of land under protection.
  • Central India appeared to be weak in terms of connectivity, and there was a lot less forest cover and more isolated protected areas.
  • The North East had the largest proportion of forested land. Therefore the patterns of connectivity were diffused.
  • It was also used to identify the talukas where targeting conservation efforts would help maintain or improve connectivity for dholes.

SOURCE: DTE

 

INDIAN ECONOMY

5. INDIA GETS THIRD SET OF SWISS BANK DETAILS

THE CONTEXT: India has received the third set of Swiss bank account details of its nationals under automatic exchange of information pact with Switzerland, as part of an annual exercise under which the European nation has shared particulars of nearly 33 lakh financial accounts with 96 countries.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The Federal Tax Administration (FTA) said that this year’s exchange of information involved 10 more countries— Antigua and Barbuda, Azerbaijan, Dominica, Ghana, Lebanon, Macau, Pakistan, Qatar, Samoa and Vauatu.
  • While the exchange of information was reciprocal with 70 countries, Switzerland received information but did not provide any in the case of 26 countries — either because those countries do not yet meet the international requirements on confidentiality and data security (14) or because they chose not to receive data (12).
  • The exchange took place last month, and Switzerland will share the next information set in September 2022.
  • India had received the first set of details from Switzerland under AEOI (Automatic Exchange of Information) in September 2019, and it was among 75 countries to get such information that year.

SOURCE: TH

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

6. INDIAN SPACE ASSOCIATION

THE CONTEXT:  The Indian Space Association (ISA) was formally launched by Prime Minister as an industry body representing the various stakeholders in the Indian space domain with members comprising the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Bharti Airtel, OneWeb, Tata Group’s Nelco, L&T, MapMyIndia among others.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • While India has made progress in the space sector over the years, ISRO has primarily been at the centre of this progress. Along the lines of the US, now several private sector companies, both global and domestic, have taken an interest in India’s space domain, with space-based communication networks coming to the fore.
  • Several Indian and international companies have bet on satellite communications as the next frontier to provide internet connectivity at the retail level. This includes SpaceX’sStarLink, Sunil Bharti Mittal’s OneWeb, Amazon’s Project Kuiper, US satellite maker Hughes Communications, etc.
  • OneWeb, for example, is building its initial constellation of 648 low-earth orbit satellites and has already put 322 satellites into orbit. Its services are expected to begin this year in the Arctic region, including Alaska, Canada, and the UK.
  • By late 2022, OneWeb will offer its high-speed, low latency connectivity services in India and the rest of the world. In addition, StarLink and Amazon are also in discussions with the Indian government for a licence to offer satellite-based internet services.
  • SpaceX has a plan to create a network of 12,000 satellites, of which over 1,300 are already sky-borne.
  • Industry experts suggest that satellite internet will be essential for broadband inclusion in remote areas and sparsely populated locations where terrestrial networks have not reached.
  • However, satellite communications remain limited to use by corporates and institutions that use it for emergency use, critical trans-continental communications, and for connecting to remote areas with no connectivity.
  • As of August this year, India had only 3 lakh satellite communications customers, compared with 45 lakh in the US and 21 lakh in the European Union.

SOURCE: IE

 

MISCELLANEOUS

7. NOBEL PRIZE 2021 IN ECONOMICS

THE CONTEXT: Three US-based economists won the 2021 Nobel Prize for economics for pioneering research on the labour market impacts of minimum wage, immigration and education, and for creating the scientific framework to draw conclusions from such studies that can’t use traditional methodology.

SOURCE: PIB

 

 

PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS FOR THE DAY

Q1. Consider the following statements about NHRC:

  1. It consists of a Chairman and four members.
  2. The chairman and members hold office for a term of three years or until they attain the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.
  3. The salaries, allowances and other conditions of service of the chairman or a member are determined by the Central government.

Which of the statements given above is/are incorrect?

a) 1 only

b) 1 and 2

c) 2 and 3

d) 1 and 3

 

ANSWER FOR OCTOBER 11, 2021 PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS

Answer: d)

Explanation:

  • Bioremediation uses microorganisms to degrade organic contaminants in soil, groundwater, sludge and solids. The microorganisms break down contaminants by using them as an energy source or cometabolizing them with an energy source.
  • Phytoremediation technologies use living plants to clean up soil, air, and water contaminated with hazardous contaminants.
  • Phytoremediation is defined as the “use of algae to treat wastes or wastewaters”. The algae comprise both the microalgae as well as the marine macroalgae, more commonly known as the seaweeds.
  • The island was formed by Himalayan silt in 2006. It spans 40 square kilometres.
  • Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are being relocated on the island.



DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS (OCTOBER 11, 2021)

INDIAN POLITY, GOVERNANCE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

1. GOAL PROGRAM

THE CONTEXT: Dr Teejan Bai, Padma Vibhushan awardee, addressed the Mentees and Mentors of the GOAL program on 9th October 2021 as part of the Inspiration Masterclass on GOAL Program. The GOAL Program organizes Fortnightly Inspiration Masterclasses through which inspiring personalities who can share their experiences on this platform and enable learnings for the program’s mentees are invited.

ABOUT GOAL PROGRAM

  • Going Online as Leaders (GOAL) Program by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) and Facebook India aims to provide skilling for tribal youth with a focus on enabling digital presence in addition to strengthening core skills to drive their professional-economical upliftment.
  • The program intends to upskill and empower 5,000 tribal youths over the course of the next five years to harness the full potential of digital platforms and tools to learn new ways of doing business, explore and connect with domestic and international markets.
  • It is designed to provide mentorship to tribal youth through digital mode and envisages to act as a catalyst to explore hidden talents of the tribal youth, which will help in their personal development as well as contribute to the all-around upliftment of their society.
  • As part of the program, in addition to the core classes, fortnightly expert sessions are organized wherein distinguished leaders and experts from various fields are invited to interact with the mentees of the GOAL Program and guide their development through personal and professional experiences.

SOURCE: PIB

 

ENVIRONMENT, GEOGRAPHY AND AGRICULTURE

2. MEGHALAYA RIVER BACK FROM DEAD

THE CONTEXT: Acid mine drainage, run-off from coal mines led to contamination of Lukha river

A detoxing pilot project has brought a river back from the dead, the Meghalaya government has claimed.

THE EXPLANATION: 

  • The Lukha — “reservoir of fish” in the local Pnar language — was considered toxic beyond redemption a decade ago.
  • The Meghalaya Pollution Control Board had in its 2012 investigative report blamed the contamination on acid mine drainage and run-off from the coal mines.
  • The Lukha river is in the East Jaintia Hills district, where most of Meghalaya’s rat-hole coal mines are located.
  • The pilot project to rejuvenate the Lukha by using algae to remove toxic contents from the water has become a success. The detoxification process is called phytoremediation.

ABUT ENVIRONMENTAL REMEDIATION

  • Environmental remediation deals with the removal of pollution or contaminants from environmental media such as soil, groundwater, sediment, or surface water.
  • Bioremediation uses microorganisms to degrade organic contaminants in soil, groundwater, sludge and solids. The microorganisms break down contaminants by using them as an energy source or cometabolizing them with an energy source.
  • Phytoremediation technologies use living plants to clean up soil, air, and water contaminated with hazardous contaminants.
  • Phytoremediation is defined as the “use of algae to treat wastes or wastewaters”. The algae comprise both the microalgae as well as the marine macroalgae, more commonly known as the seaweeds.

SOURCE:TH

 

INDIAN ECONOMY

3. COAL AVAILABILITY IS SUFFICIENT TO MEET POWER PLANT DEMANDS

THE CONTEXT:   The Ministry of Coal reassures that ample coal is available in the country to meet the demand of power plants. Any fear of disruption in the power supply is entirely misplaced.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The coal stock at the power plant end is about 72 Lakh tonnes, sufficient for 4 days requirement, and that the Coal India Limited (CIL) end is more than 400 Lakh tonnes, which is being supplied to the power plants.
  • The domestic coal-based power generation has grown by nearly 24% in this year (till September 2021) based on a robust supply from the coal companies. The daily average coal requirement at the power plants is about 18.5 Lakh tonnes of coal per day whereas the daily coal supply has been around 17.5 lakh tonnes per day. Due to extended monsoons, the despatches were constrained.
  • The coal available at the power plants is a rolling stock that gets replenished by the supplies from the coal companies daily. Therefore, any fear of coal stocks depleting at the power plant end is erroneous.
  • Despite heavy rains in the coalfield areas, CIL had supplied more than 255 MT coal to the power sector this year, which is the highest ever H-1 supply from CIL to the power sector.
  • Domestic coal supplies have supported power generation in a significant way despite heavy monsoons, low coal imports and a steep hike in power demand due to economic recovery. It is expected that coal supplies are set to be at a record high in the current financial year.
  • It may be noted that the comfortable coal position in the country is reflected by the fact that the CIL has been supplying more than 2.5 lakh tonnes (approx.) daily to meet the demand of non-power industries like Aluminum, Cement, Steel etc. along with a supply of coal to thermal plants of the country.

SOURCE: PIB

 

4. LONG HAUL FREIGHT TRAINS

THE CONTEXT: Indian Railways has successfully operated two long haul freight trains, “Trishul” and “Garuda” for the first time over South Central Railway (SCR).

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Long haul trains, which are twice or multiple times longer than the normal composition of freight trains, provide a very effective solution to the problem of capacity constraints in critical sections.
  • Trishul is SCR’s first long haul comprising of three freight trains, i.e., 177 wagons. This train was started on 07.10.2021 from Kondapalli station of Vijayawada division to Khurda division of East Coast Railway.
  • SCR followed it up with the running of yet another similar one named Garudaon 08.10.2021 from Raichur of Guntakal division to Manuguru of Secunderabad division.
  • In both cases, the long haul trains comprised empty open wagons for coal loading meant for predominantly thermal power stations.
  • SCR is one of the five major freight loading railways on IR. The bulk of SCR’s freight traffic moves in certain arterial routes such as Visakhapatnam-Vijayawada-Gudur-Renigunta, Ballarshah-Kazipet-Vijayawada, Kazipet-Secunderabad-Wadi, Vijayawada-Guntur-Guntakal sections.
  • As a bulk of its freight traffic has to pass through these major routes, SCR needs to maximize the throughput available across these critical sections.
  • Saving of path across congested routes, quicker transit time, maximizing the throughput of critical sections, saving in crews are the major operational benefits of running long haul trains, which help IR serve its freight customers better.

SOURCE: PIB

 

5. THE INVESCO-ZEE DISPUTE

THE CONTEXT:   India’s Zee Entertainment is locked in a legal battle with one of its biggest foreign investors, Invesco after it called for the ouster of the TV network’s CEO citing concerns around corporate governance. Zee has said it has tightened its governance processes. But the dispute comes at a fraught time for one of India’s biggest news and entertainment TV groups as it recently started merger talks with the local unit of Japan’s Sony Group Corp.

WHAT ARE INVESCO’S DEMANDS?

  • Invesco’s legal filings show it wants changes at Zee in light of corporate governance and financial irregularities that have plagued the company and have even been flagged by India’s market regulator.
  • Invesco’s Developing Markets Fund and it’s OFI Global China Fund LLC own a near 18% stake in Zee. They have suggested six new independent board members be appointed and remove Zee’s current CEO, Punit Goenka.

HOW DOES ZEE VIEW INVESCO’S DEMANDS?

  • Zee on October 1 rejected Invesco’s request to revamp the board, saying that the move had legal infirmities.
  • Invesco then took the battle to India’s companies tribunal, where it is trying to force Zee to call the meeting, saying Zee’s behaviour is “oppressive”. Zee has two weeks to respond, as per a tribunal order on October 8.
  • Zee says that it has implemented corrective plans to address concerns raised by the market regulator and that it follows the “highest standards of governance”.
  • It remains unclear which way the shareholders will vote if a meeting is called, but Zee’s founder Subhash Chandra, father of CEO Mr Goenka, has accused Invesco of plotting a hostile takeover.

IS THE ZEE-SONY DEAL AT RISK?

  • While Invesco was pushing for a Zee shareholder meeting, the Indian giant announced its merger talks with Sony. The deal terms say Mr Goenka plans to continue to be the CEO of the merged entity, which will be majority-owned by Sony.
  • Invesco has in Indian tribunal hearings said it’s not against the Zee-Sony plan, but its filing does criticize how the two entered into talks.
  • The Sony deal would allow Mr Chandra’s family to raise their shareholding to up to 20%, from 4% now. Invesco added that it was “plainly an attempt to distract the general public” and stall the convening of a shareholder meeting.

SOURCE:TH

 

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

6. STATE VISIT OF PRIME MINISTER OF DENMARK TO INDIA

THE CONTEXT:  Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of the Republic of India, hosted Her Excellency Ms Mette Frederiksen, Prime Minister of Denmark, during a State visit to India from 9-11 October 2021.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • They agreed that India and Denmark are natural and close partners and agreed to enhance efforts for reforming and strengthening multilateralism and a rules-based international order, including freedom of navigation.
  • The two Prime Ministers reconfirmed their commitment to an aspiring and results-oriented Green Strategic Partnership.
  • The two Prime Ministers noted the immense potential of developing renewable energy in India and, in this context, welcomed the new manufacturing and technology investments from Danish companies in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.
  • The two Prime Ministers noted the active global collaboration on new green energy technologies, including under EU Horizon Programs and Mission Innovation, and emphasized the Indian-Danish collaboration for low emissions as well as in the planned joint call for research and development projects in the area of green fuels, including green hydrogen.
  • As India and Denmark are Members of LeadIT, both Prime Ministers also agreed to pursue cooperation on hard-to-abate sectors in relation to the Leadership Group on Industry Transition.
  • The two Prime Ministers confirmed the collaboration on initiatives to combat the global challenge of climate change, in accordance with goals set out by the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • The Prime Ministers also agreed that global collaboration is essential for ensuring a sustainable post-pandemic economic recovery. The Prime Ministers discussed the upcoming COP26 in Glasgow and agreed on the need for concrete and ambitious results from COP26 and work closely together in this regard.
  • The Prime Ministers expressed a shared ambition to expand the commercial cooperation within the energy to include e-mobility, offshore wind, and fuel technologies, including green hydrogen and green methanol.
  • The two Prime Ministers noted that the UNLEASH initiative will be launched in Bengaluru, India, in 2022. This will support the role of the youth in fostering entrepreneurship necessary for reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • The Prime Ministers noted that the two countries shall establish collaborations between science agencies on the Indian side and the Novo Nordisk Foundation on the Danish side through matched contributions for research and development in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
  • The two Prime Ministers decided to explore mutual recognition of vaccination certificates to ease travel between the two countries.
  • MoU between Council of Scientific & Industrial Research- National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad, India, Aarhus University, Denmark and Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland on mapping of groundwater resources and aquifers.
  • MoU between Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru and Danfoss Industries Private Limited to establish a Centre of Excellence towards natural refrigerants for tropical climates with potential applications.
  • The Prime Ministers reiterated the importance of strengthened multilateral cooperation to effectively tackle COVID-19, including the need to reform and reinforce the WHO and international emergency preparedness and build back better and greener.
  • The two Prime Ministers shared perspectives on developments in their respective regions, including the problematic situation in Afghanistan and agreed on the importance of 1) Avoiding further regional destabilization; 2) strengthening regional engagement including regional trade and connectivity, and taking firm steps to counter radicalization; and 3) maintaining progress on fundamental rights.
  • They committed to continuing support to the Afghan people, while underlining the need for inclusivity in Afghanistan, counter-terrorism guarantees and respect for human rights, particularly women’s rights, according to UNSC Resolution 2593 (2021).

SOURCE:PIB

 

7. 3RDINDIA – UK ENERGY FOR GROWTH PARTNERSHIP – MINISTERIAL ENERGY DIALOGUE

THE CONTEXT:  The 3rd India – UK Energy for Growth Partnership – Union Minister co-chaired ministerial Energy Dialogue for Power and New &Renewable Energy and Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) from the UK side.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Energy Transition was a major area of discussion in the dialogue and the Energy Ministers spoke in detail on the ongoing Energy Transition activities in their respective countries with a focus on renewables, including solar, offshore wind, storage, EVs, alternative fuels, etc
  • The UK side presented a detailed summary of the significant ongoing work and the past work done in the last two years under the umbrella of bilateral cooperation which was appreciated and endorsed by both sides.
  • The dignitaries welcomed the Roadmap 2030 for India-UK future relations launched by both the Prime Ministers during India-UK Virtual Summit on 4thMay 2021 and identified various future areas of collaboration in line with the Roadmap 2030.
  • The sides deliberated and agreed on a Forward Action Plan on Power and Clean Transport, Renewables, Green Finance and Clean Energy Research as part of the roadmap 2030, covering a range of topics including smart grids, energy storage, green hydrogen, charging infrastructure, battery storage and need of mobilizing investments in renewable energy along with other proposals under the multilateral collaboration.
  • The dialogue concluded with both sides underlining the importance of international cooperation in securing affordable and sustainable energy for the world while setting concrete action plans for driving the clean energy transition in the Power Sector.

SOURCE: PIB

 

PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS

Which of the following pairs about environmental remediation techniques is/are correctly matched?

  1. Bioremediation – Use of bacteria
  2. Phytoremediation – Use of algae
  3. Phytoremediation – Use of living plants

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

a) 1 only

b) 1 and 2 only

c) 2 and 3 only

d) 1, 2 and 3

 

ANSWER FOR OCTOBER 09, 2021 PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS

Answer: c)

Explanation:

  • Bhashan Char, also known as Char Piya, is an island in Hatiya Upazila, Bangladesh.
  • It is located in the Bay of Bengal, about 6 kilometres from Sandwip Island and 60 km from the mainland.
  • The island was formed by Himalayan silt in 2006. It spans 40 square kilometres.
  •  Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are being relocated on the island.



DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS (OCTOBER 09, 2021)

ENVIRONMENT, GEOGRAPHY AND AGRICULTURE

1. INDIA JOINS HIGH AMBITION COALITION FOR NATURE AND PEOPLE

THE CONTEXT: India officially joined the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, a group of more than 70 countries encouraging the adoption of the global goal to protect at least 30 per cent of the world’s land and ocean by 2030.

THE EXPLANATION: 

  • India is the first of the BRICS bloc of major emerging economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) to join the HAC.
  • India’s announcement comes in the lead up to a high-level biodiversity meeting in China from October 11 to 15

SOURCE:NIE

 

INDIAN ECONOMY

2. GOVERNMENT APPROVES AIR INDIA DISINVESTMENT

THE CONTEXT: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) – empowered Air India Specific Alternative Mechanism (AISAM) approved the highest price bid of M/s Talace Pvt Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of M/s Tata Sons Pvt. Ltd for sale of 100% equity shareholding of Government of India in Air India along with equity shareholding of Air India in AIXL and AISATS.

SOURCE: PIB

 

3. RBI KEEPS KEY INTEREST RATES UNCHANGED

THE CONTEXT:  The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) kept the key interest rates unchanged and reduced the inflation target for the year 2021-22.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Interest rates in the banking system are expected to remain steady as the Repo Rate remains unchanged at four per cent, the Reverse Repo rate at 3.35 per cent and the Marginal Standing Facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 4.25 per cent.
  • The MPC also decided to continue with the accommodative stance as long as necessary to revive and sustain growth on a durable basis and continue to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on the economy.
  • The RBI has slashed the inflation forecast for 2021-22 to 5.3 per cent from the 5.7 per cent estimated earlier.
  • Going forward, the inflation trajectory is set to edge down during Q3 of 2021-22, and several evolving factors provide comfort on the food price front. Its momentum is expected to remain muted in the near term, it said.
  • The RBI has retained the projection for real GDP growth at 9.5 per cent in 2021- 22 consisting of 7.9 per cent in Q2 of the current year.

SOURCE: IE

 

4. GLOBAL MINIMUM CORPORATE TAX RATE

THE CONTEXT:  OECD says deal reached on the global minimum corporate tax rate.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • A global deal to ensure big companies pay a minimum tax rate of 15% and make it harder for them to avoid taxation has been agreed after Ireland, Estonia and Hungary agreed to sign up to the elusive landmark accord.
  • The agreement aims to end a four-decade-long “race to the bottom” by governments that have sought to attract investment and jobs by taxing multinational companies only lightly and allowing them to shop around for low tax rates.
  • Negotiations have been going on for four years, moving online during the pandemic, with support for a deal from U.S. President Joe Biden and the costs of COVID-19 giving additional impetus in recent months.
  • Out of the 140 countries involved, 136 supported the deal with developing countries Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan and Sri Lanka abstaining for now.
  • The OECD said that the deal would cover 90% of the global economy.
  • The OECD said that the minimum rate would see countries collect around $150 billion in new revenues annually while taxing rights on more than $125 billion of profit would be shifted to countries where big multinationals earn their income.
  • The deal aims to prevent big groups from booking profits in low-tax countries like Ireland regardless of where their clients are, an issue that has become ever more pressing with the rise of tech giants that easily do business across borders.
  • The OECD said that the deal would next go to the Group of 20 economic powers to formally endorse at a finance ministers’ meeting in Washington and then on to a G20 leaders summit at the end of the month in Rome for final approval.
  • However, there remains some question about the U.S. position which depends in part on tough domestic tax reform negotiations going on in Congress.
  • Countries that back the deal are supposed to bring it onto their law books next year so that it can take effect from 2023, which many officials close to the talks describe as extremely tight.

SOURCE: TH

 

5. MYPORTAPP

THE CONTEXT:  Shipping Minister launched ‘MyPortApp’ for digital monitoring of port operations

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The App includes all port details digitally and monitors operations virtually. Targeted towards Port Users for availing various Port services, the App is aimed to promote transparency and easy access of port-related information.
  • The app also has various information like Vessel Berthing, Rake & Indent, Rake Receipt, Container Status, Tariff, Bills, Port Holidays, etc. and can be accessed anywhere 24×7 and reach out directly to the port.

SOURCE: PIB

 

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

6. INDIA, CHINA PATROLS FACE OFF IN TAWANG

THE CONTEXT:  Some Chinese soldiers of a large patrol team were detained for few hours by the Indian Army after such teams of the sides were engaged in a minor face-off and clashed near Yangtse in Tawang Sector of Arunachal Pradesh.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Face-offs occurred due to different areas of perception due to the demarcated boundary and as both sides undertook patrolling activities up to their line of perception.
  • Defence sources said that whenever patrols of both sides physically met, the situation was managed according to established protocols and mechanisms agreed upon by both sides.
  • Peace and tranquillity in these areas of differing perceptions had been possible due to adherence to the existing agreements and protocols between the two countries.

SOURCE:TH

 

7. BHASHAN CHAR ISLAND 

THE CONTEXT:  Bangladesh wants to send more than 80,000 Rohingya refugees to a remote island in the Bay of Bengal after sealing an agreement for the United Nations to provide help.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Some 19,000 of Muslim refugees have already relocated to Bhashan Char Island.
  • On top of the inhospitable weather, the island is 60 kilometres from the mainland and some Rohingya groups say people were forced to go there.

ABOUT BHASHAN CHAR ISLAND

  • Bhashan Char, also known as Char Piya, is an island in Hatiya Upazila, Bangladesh.
  • It is located in the Bay of Bengal, about 6 kilometres from Sandwip Island and 60 km from the mainland.
  • The island was formed by Himalayan silt in 2006. It spans 40 square kilometres.

SOURCE: TH

 

MISCELLANEOUS

8. NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

THE CONTEXT: The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021 to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Ms Ressa and Mr Muratov are receiving the Peace Prize for their courageous fight for freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia. At the same time, they are representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions.
  • Maria Ressa uses freedom of expression to expose abuse of power, use of violence and growing authoritarianism in her native country, the Philippines.
  • Dmitry Andreyevich Muratov has for decades defended freedom of speech in Russia under increasingly challenging conditions.

SOURCE: IE

 

PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS

Q1. Bhashan Char island, sometimes seen in the news, is part of which of the following countries?

a) Myanmar

b) India

c) Bangladesh

d) Pakistan

 

ANSWER FOR OCTOBER 08, 2021 PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS

ANSWER: A)

Explanation:

  • Exercise Indradhanush – Air forces
  • Exercise Ajeya Warrior – Army
  • Exercise Konkan – Navy



DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS (OCTOBER 08, 2021)

INDIAN POLITY, GOVERNANCE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

1. GUIDELINES FOR PM CARES FOR CHILDREN SCHEME

THE CONTEXT: The Ministry of Women and Child Development has issued the detailed guidelines for the PM CARES for Children Scheme.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Prime Minister on 29th May 2021 had announced comprehensive support for children who have lost both their parents due to COVID 19 pandemic.
  • The objective of the scheme is to ensure comprehensive care and protection of children who have lost their parent(s) to COVID pandemic in a sustained manner, enable their wellbeing through health insurance, empower them through education and equip them for self-sufficient existence with financial support on reaching 23 years of age.
  • The eligibility criterion for the scheme will cover all children who have lost i) Both parents or ii) Surviving parent or iii) legal guardian/adoptive parents/single adoptive parent due to COVID 19 pandemic, starting from 11.03.2020, the date on which WHO has declared and characterized COVID-19 as pandemic till 31.12.2021, shall be entitled to benefits under this scheme. iv) Child should not have completed 18 years of age on the date of death of parents

 SOURCE: PIB

 

2. 40% OF SCHOOL CHILDREN DON’T HAVE ACCESS TO DIGITAL DEVICES

THE CONTEXT: The report, Initiatives by the School Education Sector in 2020-21, shows that the digital divide has hit some states disproportionately hard, while a few may have coped well due to adequate availability of smartphones and television sets.

THE EXPLANATION: 

  • 40% and 70% of school-going children in seven large states – Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand – do not have access to digital devices,.
  • A report prepared by the Union Ministry of Education documents the response to challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The report has been prepared based on 22 of 28 states’ data and seven out of eight Union Territories.
  • The state-wise interventions to bridge the divide also reflect the same disparity – with some like Tamil Nadu claiming to have distributed 5.15 lakh laptops among students, as against 42 mobile phones by the Bihar government.
  • In absolute numbers, prepared based on surveys of various sample sizes by the states and UTs in 2020 and 2021, 29 crore students, including 14.33 crore in Bihar, were found without access to digital devices.
  • The ‘new normal’ may also have a huge impact on the learning levels for almost all children; learning loss may be a reality for many children.
  • Among the states to have responded, those having a very high share of students without digital access include Madhya Pradesh (70%), Bihar (58.09%), Andhra Pradesh (57%), Assam (44.24%), Jharkhand (43.42%), Uttarakhand (41.17%) and Gujarat (40%). Among the better-placed states and UTs are Delhi, with around 4% students without access, Kerala 1.63%, Tamil Nadu 14.51%.

SOURCE: IE

 

ENVIRONMENT, GEOGRAPHY AND AGRICULTURE

3. INDIA RECORDED THE HIGHEST LOSS IN TERRESTRIAL WATER STORAGE

THE CONTEXT: For the past 20 years, India has experienced terrestrial water storage (TWS) loss of at least 3 cm per year. In some regions, the loss has been over 4 cm per year too.

THE EXPLANATION: 

  • According to a new report, 2021 State of Climate Services released by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Terrestrial water storage (TWS) dropped at a rate of 1 cm per year in 20 years (2002-2021).
  • The biggest losses have occurred in Antarctica and Greenland. But many highly populated, lower latitude locations have also experienced TWS losses, according to the report.
  • This includes India, where the TWS has been lost at a rate of at least 3 cm per year. In some regions, the loss has been over 4 cm per year too. India has recorded the highest loss in terrestrial water storage if the loss of water storage in Antarctica and Greenland is excluded.
  • India is, therefore, the ‘topmost hotspot of TWS loss’, according to the WMO analysis. The northern part of India has experienced the maximum loss within the country.
  • TWS is the sum of all water on the land surface and in the subsurface, ie surface water, soil moisture, snow and ice and groundwater.

SOURCE:DTE

 

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

4. LASER-BASED CLAD COATING TECHNOLOGY

THE CONTEXT:  Indian Scientists have developed a unique laser-based clad coating technology (LCCT) that provides improved protection to the boiler parts in thermal power plants.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Laser cladding is a technique for fusing a coating material on a substrate. It allows materials to be deposited accurately, selectively, and with minimal heat input into the underlying substrate.
  • This process allows for property improvements of the surface of a part, including better wear resistance, thus allowing for the repair of damaged or worn surfaces.
  • It can enhance the life of boiler parts by 2- 3 times compared to use surfacing technologies currently.
  • It has been found that this technology is suitable, not only for boiler parts of thermal power plants but also for any engineering application involving high temperature erosive and corrosive environment.
  • The LCCT has been developed with a meticulous fusing of a Nickel-based soft matrix with hard metallic carbide particles of (tungsten, chromium, or vanadium) on steel parts by employing a high-power laser integrated into a multi-axis robot with process monitoring and control.
  • The control of the microstructure of the coating with manipulation of laser-heat for precise melting of hard carbide particles in the evenly distributed soft matrix under controlled dilution enabled this unique LCCT suitable for boiler parts of the thermal power plant as well as engineering applications involving high temperature erosive and corrosive environment.

SOURCE:PIB

 

5. HAL DELIVERS HEAVIEST SEMI-CRYOGENIC PROPELLANT TANK TO ISRO

THE CONTEXT: The heaviest semi-cryogenic propellant tank (SC120- LOX) ever fabricated by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has been delivered to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The first developmental welded hardware, the semi cryo-liquid oxygen (LOX) tank, is a part of the SC120 stage intended for payload enhancement by replacing the L110 set in the existing Mk-III launch vehicle.
  • HAL has delivered critical structures, tankages, satellite structures for the PSLV, GSLV-Mk II and GSLV-Mk III launch vehicles.

SOURCE:  INDIATODAY

 

6. ASTROSAT CATCHES NUCLEAR REACTIONS SPREADING ACROSS A NEUTRON STAR

THE CONTEXT:  Physicists have had a tough time making full sense of Neutron stars because of a gap in observations. Now, a new study indicates that India’s first and only space telescope, AstroSat, could bridge this gap and lend a hand in resolving a cosmic mystery.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Occasionally, the radiation emitted by neutron stars in binary increases by about 10x within a few seconds and decays sharply to the average intensity within a couple of minutes.
  • Scientists from IISER Mohali have shed important new light on the astrophysics of these thermonuclear bursts, using data collected by India’s AstroSat space telescope.
  • AstroSat’sspeciality is being able to use its five instruments to observe radiation emitted by the same astronomical source in multiple frequencies

SOURCE: THE WIRE

 

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

7. EXERCISE AJEYA WARRIOR

THE CONTEXT:  The 6th Edition of India – UK Joint Company Level Military Training EXERCISE AJEYA WARRIOR has commenced at Chaubatia, Uttarakhand and will culminate on 20 Oct 2021.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The exercise is part of an initiative to develop interoperability and sharing expertise with friendly foreign nations.
  • During this exercise, an Infantry Company from Indian Army and an equivalent strength from UK Army would share their experiences gained during various military operations in their respective countries and overseas engagements. Together, both armies stand to benefit from their varied experiences.
  • This joint military training will go a long way in improving bilateral relations and also will be a major step towards further strengthening the traditional bond of friendship between the two Nations.

SOURCE: PIB

 

8. INDIA, NEPAL TO CONDUCT JOINT PATROLS FOR CONTROLLING TRANS-BORDER CRIME

THE CONTEXT: The border guarding forces of India and Nepal will conduct regular joint patrolling along the border to control trans-border crimes, smuggling of arms, human trafficking and other areas of concern, a statement by the SashastraSeema Bal (SSB)

THE EXPLANATION:

  • SSB, a central armed police force, secures the Nepal and Bhutan borders.
  • Meeting held between heads of SashastraSeema Bal and Nepal’s Armed Police Force.
  • The help desk established by both the APF and the SSB at transit points of the border would continue to facilitate the movement of citizens.

SOURCE: TH

 

MISCELLANEOUS

9. LITERATURE NOBEL GOES TO NOVELIST ABDUL RAZAK GURNAH

THE CONTEXT: Tanzanian-born novelist AbdulrazakGurnah, whose work focuses on colonialism and the trauma of the refugee experience, won the Nobel Literature Prize

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Based in Britain, Mr Gurnah is the first African writer to win the award since the Zimbabwean Doris Lessing in 2007, and only the second writer of colour from sub-Saharan Africa, after Nigeria’s Wole Soyinka, who won in 1986.
  • In his 10 novels, he has consistently, and with great compassion, penetrated the effects of colonialism in East Africa and its impact on the lives of uprooted and migrating individuals.
  • His novels include Paradise, which is set in colonial East Africa during the First World War and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction, and Desertion.

SOURCE:TH

 

PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS

Q1. Which of the following pairs about armed forces exercises between India and U.K. is/are correct?

  1. Exercise Indradhanush – Air forces
  2. Exercise Ajeya Warrior – Navy
  3. Exercise Konkan – Army

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

a) 1 only

b) 1 and 2 only

c) 2 and 3 only

d) 3 only

 

ANSWER FOR OCTOBER 07, 2021 PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS

ANSWER: B)

Explanation

According to Tiger Conservation Plan, the State Government shall notify an area as a tiger reserve on the recommendation of the Tiger Conservation Authority.




DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS (OCTOBER 07, 2021)

INDIAN POLITY, GOVERNANCE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

1. PRODUCTIVITY LINKED BONUS TO RAILWAY EMPLOYEES

THE CONTEXT: The Union Cabinet approved the Productivity Linked Bonus (PLB) equivalent to 78 days’ wages for the financial year 2020-21 for all eligible non-gazetted Railway employees (excluding RPF/RPSF personnel).

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The financial implication of payment of 78 days’ PLB to railway employees has been estimated to be Rs.1984.73 crore.
  • The wage calculation ceiling prescribed for payment of PLB to the eligible non-gazetted railway employees is Rs.7000/- p.m. The maximum amount payable per eligible railway employee is Rs. 17,951 for 78 days.
  • About 11.56 lakh non-gazetted Railway employees are likely to benefit from the decision.
  • Payment of PLB to eligible railway employees is made each year before the Dusshera/ Puja holidays. The decision of the Cabinet shall be implemented before the holidays for this year as background.
  • Railways were the first departmental undertaking of the Government of India wherein the concept of PLB was introduced in the year 1979-80.
  • The main consideration at that time was the important role of the Railways as an infrastructural support in the economy’s performance as a whole. In the overall context of Railway working, it was considered desirable to introduce the concept of PLB as against the concept of Bonus on the lines of ‘The Payment of Bonus Act -1965’.
  • Even though the Payment of Bonus Act does not apply to the Railways, yet the broad principles contained in that Act were kept in view for the purpose of determining the “Wage/Pay Ceiling”, definition of ‘Salary’/’Wage’, etc.
  • The PLB Scheme for the Railways came into force from the year 1979-80 and was evolved in consultation with the two recognized Federations, namely, All India Railwaymen’s Federation and National Federation of Indian Railwaymen and with the approval of the Cabinet. The scheme envisages a review every three years.

SOURCE: PIB

 

2. PM MITRA PARKS

THE CONTEXT:   The Government has approved the setting up of 7 PM MITRA parks as announced in the Union Budget for 2021-22.

THE EXPLANATION: 

  • PM MITRA is inspired by the 5F vision of the Hon’ble Prime Minister. The ‘5F’ Formula encompasses – Farm to fibre, fibre to the factory, factory to fashion, fashion to foreign.
  • This integrated vision will help to further the growth of the textile sector in the economy. No competing nation has a complete textile ecosystem like ours, and India is strong in all five Fs.
  • The 7 Mega Integrated Textile Region and Apparel Parks (PM MITRA) will be set up at Greenfield / Brownfield sites located in different willing States.
  • The PM MITRA parks will have the following:
  • Core Infrastructure: Incubation Centre & Plug & Play facility, Developed Factory Sites, Roads, Power, Water and Waste Water system, Common Processing House & CETP and other related facilities, e.g. Design Centre, Testing Centres etc.
  • Support Infrastructure: Workers’ hostels & housing, logistics park, warehousing, medical, training & skill development facilities
  • PM MITRA will develop 50% Area for pure Manufacturing Activity, 20%area for utilities, and 10% of the area for commercial development. A schematic representation of the PM MITRA is illustrated below:

SOURCE: PIB

 

ENVIRONMENT, GEOGRAPHY AND AGRICULTURE

3. INDIA’S NEWEST TIGER RESERVE

THE CONTEXT: The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) approved the Chhattisgarh government’s proposal to declare the combined areas of the Guru Ghasidas National Park and Tamor Pingla Wildlife Sanctuary as a Tiger Reserve.

THE EXPLANATION: 

  • The new Reserve is located in the northern part of the state, bordering Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand. This will be the fourth Tiger Reserve in Chhattisgarh, after the Udanti-Sitanadi, Achanakmar, and Indravati Reserves.
  • The proposal was considered by the 11th Technical Committee of the NTCA on September 1, and approval was granted a month later under Section 38V (1) of The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. (“Tiger Conservation Plan: The State Government shall, on the recommendation of the Tiger Conservation Authority, notify an area as a tiger reserve.”)
  • The Tamor Pingla Wildlife Sanctuary was identified as part of the Sarguja Jashpur Elephant Reserve in 2011.
  • The Guru Ghasidas National Park used to be part of the Sanjay National Park in undivided Madhya Pradesh. Both were identified as reserve forests and had been in line to be notified as Tiger Reserve since 2011.
  • Guru Ghasidas National Park was the last known habitat of the Asiatic cheetah in the country.
  • Originally part of the Sanjay Dubri National Park, Guru Ghasidas Park was created as a separate entity in Chhattisgarh’s Sarguja region after the formation of the state in 2001.
  • Wildlife experts and activists believe that turning Guru Ghasidas into a Tiger Reserve is essential because it connects Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh and provides a corridor for tigers to move between the Bandhavgarh and Palamau Tiger Reserves.
  • Bhoramdeo, on the other hand, connects the Indravati Tiger Reserve in Chhattisgarh with the Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh and, experts say, the decision to create a Tiger Reserve at Guru Ghasidas National Park should not affect attempts to notify Bhoramdeo as a Tiger Reserve too.

SOURCE: IE

 

INDIAN ECONOMY

4. COAL SHORTAGE 

THE CONTEXT: India’s thermal power plants face a severe coal shortage, with coal stocks coming down to an average of four days of fuel across an increasing number of thermal stations. Union Power Minister has said that while the supply crunch has not yet led to any power cuts in the country, the coal supply situation is likely to be “uncomfortable” for up to six months.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The average level of coal stocks at an increasing number of India’s thermal power plants have come down to four days’ worth of stock compared to the government recommendation that thermal power plants hold 14 days’ worth of coal stock.
  • India’s coal-fired thermal power plants account for 208.8 GW, or 54 per cent of India’s 388 GW installed generation capacity.
  • As the economy recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic coupled with supply issues, a sharp uptick in power demand has led to the current coal shortage.
  • Coal-fired thermal power plants have also supplied a higher proportion of the increase in demand leading to the share of thermal power in India’s power mix increasing to 66.4% from 61.9% in 2019.
  • The government has connected an additional 28.2 million households, and these households are buying lights, fans and television sets, leading to an increase in power demand.
  • The trend for higher daily demand continues with total demand for power in the country hitting 174 GW on October 4, up 15 GW from the same day in 2020.
  • Other key reasons for the supply crunch include lower than normal stock accumulation by thermal power plants in the April-June period and continuous rainfall in coal-bearing areas in August and September, leading to lower production and fewer despatches of coal from coal mines.
  • A consistent move to lower imports coupled with high international prices of coal has also led to plants cutting imports.
  • An inter-ministerial team, including representatives of the Power and Railway Ministries, Coal India Ltd, the Central Electricity Authority and Power System Operation Corporation, monitors the supply of coal to thermal power plants.
  • The government is pressing thermal plants with captive coal mines to boost their coal output to meet more of their demand. It is also prioritizing coal supplies for thermal power plants with low stock levels.
  • The Power Ministry is also trying to increase the coal supply by expediting the start of production from several mines that already have all requisite clearances in place.

SOURCE: IE

 

5. MOODY UPGRADED INDIA’S SOVEREIGN RATING OUTLOOK

THE CONTEXT:  Asserting that India’s downside risks from negative feedback between the real economy and financial system are receding, rating agency Moody’s changed India’s sovereign rating outlook from ‘negative’ to ‘stable’, while affirming the country’s foreign-currency and local-currency long-term issuer ratings at Baa3.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Last year, Moody’s downgraded India’s sovereign rating from ‘Baa2’ to ‘Baa3’, the lowest investment grade, saying there will be challenges in implementing policies to mitigate risks of a sustained period of low growth and deteriorating fiscal position. The outlook on the rating was kept negative.

WHAT LED TO AN UPGRADE IN THE RATING AGENCY’S OUTLOOK?

  • Banks and non-bank financial institutions pose a much lesser risk to the sovereign with higher capital cushions and greater liquidity than Moody’s previously anticipated.
  • While risks stemming from a high debt burden and weak debt affordability remain, Moody’s expects that the economic environment will allow for a gradual reduction of the general government fiscal deficit over the next few years, preventing further deterioration of the sovereign credit profile.

WHAT IS MOODY’S ASSESSMENT OF GROWTH?

  • Following a profound contraction of 7.3 per cent in the fiscal year ending March 2021, India’s real GDP is expected to surpass 2019 levels this fiscal year, rebounding to a growth rate of 9.3 per cent, followed by 7.9 per cent in fiscal 2022.
  • Looking ahead, Moody’s expects real GDP growth to average around 6 per cent over the medium term.
  • Some analysts argued that Moody’s had underestimated India’s potential of natural GDP expansion in the medium term, as there are enough levers for higher growth.

WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF THE UPGRADE?

  • Since overseas borrowing costs are tied to a country’s rating and the agencies’ outlook on the nation, an upgrade usually helps lower borrowing costs for the government and the corporate sector.
  • With chances of default receding and improvement in overall debt serviceability, foreign investors take comfort in subscribing to government and corporate bonds at lower rates.

SOURCE: IE

 

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

6. DEEP BRAIN STIMULATION

THE CONTEXT:  Physicians at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) have successfully treated a patient with severe depression by recognizing and tapping into the brain circuits linked with depressive brain patterns.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The work, which represents a landmark in the use of neuroscience to treat psychiatric disorders, has been published in the journal Nature Medicine.
  • The doctors used an existing technique called deep brain stimulation (DBS), customizing it for this patient’s case. DBS is a surgical procedure in which electrodes are implanted into certain brain areas.
  • These electrodes, or leads, generate electrical impulses that control abnormal brain activity.
  • Conditions that are traditionally treated using DBS include dystonia, epilepsy, essential tumour, obsessive-compulsive disorder and Parkinson’s disease. In treating depression, however, previous clinical trials with DBS have shown limited success because most devices can only deliver constant electrical stimulation to one area of the brain, UCSF noted in a press release.
  • During this treatment, UCSF physicians customized a new DBS device, stimulating the brain whenever it recognized the depressive pattern.
  • Additionally, the team of physicians had also found a neural biomarker that indicated the onset of symptoms. Using the customized DBS device, they stimulated a different area of the brain, which in turn created immediate therapy for the brain.

SOURCE: IE

7. NOBEL PRIZE 2021 IN CHEMISTRY

THE CONTEXT: German Benjamin List and Scottish-born David MacMillan won the 2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to develop asymmetric organocatalysis, a “new and ingenious tool for molecule building”.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Organic catalysts can be used to drive multitudes of chemical reactions. Researchers can now more efficiently construct anything from new pharmaceuticals to molecules that can capture light in solar cells using these reactions.
  • These catalysts were both environmentally friendly and cheap to produce.

SOURCE: IE

 

8. WHO RECOMMENDS THE FIRST ANTI-MALARIAL VACCINE

THE CONTEXT:  In a historic move, the World Health Organization (WHO) endorsed the first anti-malarial vaccine, as mankind enters a key turning point in a battle waged relentlessly over decades between man and mosquito, the vector.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • It was recommending the widespread use of the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine among children in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions with moderate to high P. falciparum malaria transmission
  • It is based on results from an ongoing pilot programme in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi.
  • The development comes when the WHO and its partners have reported stagnation in progress against the disease that kills more than 2,60,000 African children under the age of five annually.
  • Malaria remains a primary cause of childhood illness and death in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the WHO.

SOURCE: TH

 

MISCELLANEOUS

9. HENLEY PASSPORT INDEX

THE CONTEXT: India’s rank has slipped by six places from last year to 90 on the Henley Passport Index, which lists the world’s most travel-friendly passports.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Prepared by Henley and Partners, a London-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm, the Henley Passport Index claims to be the “original ranking of all the world’s passports”. The index covers 227 destinations and 199 passports.
  • The Henley Passport Index comes when countries are easing travel rules for international visitors after almost two years since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The index ranks countries’ passports according to the number of destinations their holders can visit without a prior visa. The rankings are based on the analysis of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) data.
  • Japan and Singapore stood at the top of this year’s list, with their passports holders allowed to travel visa-free to 192 countries, while South Korea and Germany share the second position. For the third consecutive year, Japan has secured the top position. Meanwhile, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and Yemen are among the least powerful.
  • India, which held the 84th rank last year, fell to the 90th position, with its passport holders allowed to travel visa-free to 58 countries. India shares the rank with Tajikistan and Burkina Faso.

SOURCE: IE

 

PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTION

Which of the following can notify an area as a tiger reserve?

a) Local Authority

b) State Government

c) National Board for Wild Life

d) National Tiger Conservation Authority

 

ANSWER FOR OCTOBER 6, 2021 PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS (REFER  TO RELEVANT ARTICLE)

ANSWER: C)

Explanation

  1. Senkaku islands – East China Sea
  2. Paracel islands – South China Sea
  3. Diego Garcia – Indian Ocean



DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS (OCTOBER 06, 2021)

INDIAN POLITY, GOVERNANCE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

1. SVAMITVA SCHEME

THE CONTEXT: PM will interact with the beneficiaries of the SVAMITVA scheme in Madhya Pradesh. Prime Minister will also distribute e-property cards to 1,71,000 beneficiaries under the scheme on the occasion.

ABOUT SVAMITVA SCHEME

  • SVAMITVA is a Central Sector Scheme of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj that aims to provide property rights to the residents of rural inhabited areas.
  • The scheme will pave the way for using the property as a financial asset by villagers for taking loans and other financial benefits, like in urban areas.
  • It aims to demarcate inhabited lands in rural areas through the latest surveying drone technology. The scheme has also provided a boost to the ecosystem of drone manufacturing in the country.

SOURCE: PIB

 

2. BUDDHIST TOURISM

THE CONTEXT: To tap the potential of Buddhist tourism, the Ministry of Tourism has organised a Buddhist Circuit Train FAM Tour and Conference scheduled to be held from 04th October – 08th October 2021. 

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The FAM tour will cover the visit of prominent Buddhist sites and conferences at Bodhgaya and Varanasi. The event is likely to be attended by around 125 delegates including tour operators, hoteliers, media and officials of the Ministry of Tourism & State Governments.
  • Ministry has taken a four-fold development strategy that focuses on improving the connectivity via air, rail, and roads, enhancing the tourism infrastructure and dependent services, streamlining branding and promotion and showcasing the culture and heritage.
  • Under Swadesh Darshan Scheme, 5 projects worth Rs325.53 crore have been sanctioned for Buddhist circuit development in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh and those sanctioned projects are under different stages of implementation.
  • While works of Rs 44.19 crore on three projects have been sanctioned under PRASHAD Scheme; in Varanasi, two projects including a sound and light show at Dhamek Stupa and a Buddha Theme Park, Sarnath, are worth costing Rs 9.5 crores for the development of Buddhist structures have been completed.
  • India Tourism Offices in overseas markets regularly participate in a number of travel and tourism fairs as well as exhibitions wherein India’s Buddhist Sites are promoted.
  • Ministry of Tourism organises Buddhist Conclave every alternate year with the objective of promoting India as a Buddhist Destination and major markets around the globe. The upcoming International Buddhist Conclave is scheduled from 17th to 21st November 2021.
  • Ministry has undertaken multiple projects under branding and promotion that is currently in the pipeline including a live virtual exhibition at the national museum, web portal, annual events calendar, social media marketing, campaigns in key source markets like Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Sri Lanka, etc.
  • The Ministry has also worked on projects for capacity building that include Linguistic Tourist Facilitator training in Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Chinese languages. 525 people have been trained in these languages between 2018 to 2020, and 600 more will be trained between 2020 and 2023.

INDIA AS ‘THE LAND OF BUDDHA’

  • Buddhism originated in ancient India more than 2500 years ago and spread through much of Asia.
  • With close to 500 million followers, Buddhists represent 7% of the world’s total population.
  • The holy sites follow Buddha’s life cycle with the most important ones being Buddha’s birthplace Lumbini (Nepal), Bodh Gaya where he attained enlightenment, Sarnath where Buddha gave his first sermon after enlightenment also known as Dharmachakrapravartana, Kushinagar which Buddha chose for his final departure or Mahaparinirvana, Nalanda which was one of the world’s first residential universities and an epicentre for learning, Rajgir where Buddha spent several months meditating and preaching at Gridhra Kuta (Hill of the Vultures), Sravasti where he taught many of his Suttas (sermons), and Vaishali where Buddha delivered his last sermon, to name a few.
  • In the State of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, Ministry plans to cover and further develop the following Buddhist sites, namely, Bodh Gaya, Nalanda, Rajgir, Vaishali, Sarnath, Shravasti, Kushinagar, Kaushambi, Sankisa, and Kapilavastu.
  • These sites currently receive approximately 6% of nationwide foreign tourist arrivals with Sarnath and Bodh Gaya leading the pack.

SOURCE: PIB

 

3. HEALTH BENEFIT PACKAGE UNDER AYUSHMAN BHARAT REVISED

THE CONTEXT:   The National Health Authority (NHA), the apex body for implementing Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY), has revised the Health Benefits Package (HBP) Master under the scheme.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • In the revised version of the Health Benefits Package (HBP 2.2), rates of some packages have been increased by 20% to 400% under the PM-JAY. Rates of around 400 procedures have been revised and one new additional medical management package related to black fungus has also been added.
  • The HBP 2.2 is expected to be rolled out from November this year.
  • HBP 2.2 would enable the empanelled hospitals to provide better services to the beneficiaries under Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY.

AYUSHMAN BHARAT

  • Ayushman Bharat, a flagship scheme of Government of India, was launched as recommended by the National Health Policy 2017, to achieve the vision of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
  • This initiative has been designed to meet Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and its underlining commitment, which is to “leave no one behind.”
  • Ayushman Bharat is an attempt to move from a sectoral and segmented approach of health service delivery to a comprehensive need-based health care service.
  • Ayushman Bharat adopts a continuum of care approach, comprising of two inter-related components:
  1. Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs): Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs): In February 2018, the Government of India announced the creation of 1,50,000 Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) by transforming the existing Sub Centres and Primary Health Centres.
  2. Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY):
    • PM-JAY is the world’s largest health insurance/ assurance scheme fully financed by the government.
    • It provides a cover of Rs. 5 lakhs per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization across public and private empanelled hospitals in India.
    • Over 10.74 crore poor and vulnerable entitled families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) are eligible for these benefits.
    • PM-JAY provides cashless access to health care services for the beneficiary at the point of service, (hospital).
    • PM-JAY envisions to help mitigate catastrophic expenditure on medical treatment which pushes nearly 6crore Indians into poverty each year.
    • It covers up to 3 days of pre-hospitalization and 15 days of post-hospitalization expenses such as diagnostics and medicines.
    • There is no restriction on the family size, age or gender.
    • All pre-existing conditions are covered from day one.
    • Benefits of the scheme are portable across the country e. a beneficiary can visit any empanelled public or private hospital in India to avail cashless treatment.
    • Services include approximately 1,393 procedures covering all the costs related to treatment, including but not limited to drugs, supplies, diagnostic services, physician’s fees, room charges, surgeon charges, OT and ICU charges etc.
    • Public hospitals are reimbursed for the healthcare services at par with the private hospitals.

SOURCE: TH

 

ENVIRONMENT, GEOGRAPHY AND AGRICULTURE

4. NOBEL PHYSICS PRIZE GOES TO 3 FOR CLIMATE DISCOVERIES

THE CONTEXT: The Nobel Prize for physics has been awarded to scientists from Japan, Germany and Italy.

SOURCE: TH

 

INDIAN ECONOMY

5. RBI GRANTS LICENCE TO NARCL UNDER SARFAESI ACT

THE CONTEXT: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has granted the National Asset Reconstruction Company (NARCL), which is seeking to turn around bad loans worth Rs 2 trillion, the licence to register as an asset reconstruction company (ARC).

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The approval to the entity has been accorded under Section 3 of the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act 2002.
  • Section 3 of the SARFAESI Act states that an entity cannot start the business of securitisation or asset reconstruction without obtaining a certificate of registration, and should have funds of at least Rs 2 crore or an amount not exceeding 15 per cent of the total financial assets acquired or to be acquired by the ARC.
  • State-owned lenders State Bank of India (SBI), Union Bank of India, Punjab National Bank (PNB) and Indian Bank have picked up over 12 per cent stake each in NARCL. SBI, Union Bank of India and Indian Bank have picked up 13.27 per cent stake each in NARCL, while PNB has bought 12.06 per cent.
  • The NARCL has been incorporated under the Companies Act, and public sector banks will hold 51 per cent in the bad bank. The remaining will be held by private banks and financial institutions.
  • About 16 public and private sector banks have put in Rs 5,000-6,000 crore in the bad bank. That will be utilised by it to pay 15 per cent cash to the lenders while purchasing their bad loans. The remaining 85 per cent will be paid through security receipts guaranteed by the government.
  • The newly formed NARCL expects to recover between Rs 50,000 crore and Rs 64,000 crore through the resolution of bad loans worth Rs 2 trillion.

SOURCE: BS

 

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

6. FACEBOOK, WHATSAPP AND INSTAGRAM OUTAGE

THE CONTEXT:  Facebook Inc.’s services suffered a massive outage on Monday for as long as six hours. It kept several users from accessing the company’s core platforms like WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger apps. It also disrupted businesses around the world that rely on the social network’s tools and services.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Networking experts are pointing to an update to Border-Gateway Protocol (BGP) as a possible cause for the outage.
  • To understand why this happened, one needs to know that the Internet is simply a network of networks. And all of these networks are bound together by Border-Gateway Protocol (BGP).
  • BGP lets one network know it is available to the others. Facebook is one such network, and it advertises its presence to other networks. This enables Internet service providers across the world to route web traffic to different networks via the BGP process.
  • In the case of Facebook, an update to the BGP removed its online properties from being available to the world’s computers. This means the social network’s Domain Name System (DNS) was not accessible to other networks, and the Internet.
  • Web infrastructure firm Cloudflare keeps track of BGP updates and announcements on a global scale. They have an overall view of how the Internet is connected and where the web traffic flows from. And any time a change is made to a network’s BGP, be it an announcement or withdrawal, a message is sent to a router informing the update.
  • They noticed that the routes were withdrawn, sending Facebook’s DNS servers offline. And the withdrawals meant Facebook and its websites were effectively out of sight from world’s computers.
  • This happened because DNS is like a translation service for IP addresses. And when a DNS resolver fails to translate a domain name into an IP address, people won’t be able to access that specific website. As a direct consequence, the webpage won’t load.
  • As a work-around in such cases, a DNS resolver usually checks whether it has something in its cache and uses it to establish contact. And if that doesn’t work, it tries to get a connection with the domain nameservers, one hosted by the network itself (Facebook in this case).
  • Both these mechanisms failed in Facebook’s case as the social network stopped announcing its routes through BGP, making it impossible for everyone’s DNS resolvers to connect to Facebook’s nameservers.

SOURCE: TH

 

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

7. JIMEX

THE CONTEXT: The fifth edition of India – Japan Maritime Bilateral Exercise, JIMEX, between the Indian Navy (IN) and the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF), will be held in the Arabian Sea from 06 to 08 October 2021.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • JIMEX series of exercises commenced in January 2012 with a special focus on maritime security cooperation. The last edition of JIMEX was conducted in September 2020.
  • JIMEX-21 aims to develop a common understanding of operational procedures and enhance inter-operability through the conduct of a multitude of advanced exercises, across the entire spectrum of maritime operations.
  • Multi-faceted tactical exercises involving weapon firings, cross-deck helicopter operations and complex surface, anti-submarine and air warfare drills will consolidate coordination developed by the two navies.
  • Naval cooperation between India and Japan has increased in scope and complexity over years. JIMEX-21 will further enhance the cooperation and mutual confidence between the two navies and fortify the long-standing bond of friendship between the two countries

SOURCE:  PIB

 

8. MITRA SHAKTI

THE CONTEXT: The 8th edition of India-Sri Lanka bilateral joint exercise Mitra Shakti commenced today at the Combat Training School, Ampara in Sri Lanka.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The two-week-long exercise is being conducted from 04 to 15 October 2021.
  • The Indian Army contingent comprising of 120 personnel of Infantry Battalion Group and a similar strength from a Battalion of the Sri Lankan Army is participating in the bilateral exercise. Over the next few days, troops will train, share and rehearse tactical drills to undertake joint counter-terrorism operations in a semi-urban/rural environment under United Nations mandate.
  • Senior military observers and dignitaries of the Indian and the Sri Lankan Armies will be witnessing the validation phase of the exercise. The exercise provides an ideal platform for both contingents to share their operational experience and expertise while also being instrumental in broadening the inter-operability and cooperation between the Armies of India and Sri Lanka.

SOURCE:  PIB

 

9. BIDEN PROMISED TO DEFEND DISPUTED ISLANDS: KISHIDA

THE CONTEXT: New Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that he received a “strong” message from President Joe Biden about the United States’ commitment to defending the disputed East China Sea islets, known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan.

 

SOURCE: TH

 

PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS

Q1. Which of the following pairs is/are correctly matched?

  1. Senkaku islands – South China Sea
  2. Paracel islands – East China Sea
  3. Diego Garcia – Indian Ocean

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

a) 1 and 2 only

b) 2 and 3 only

c) 3 only

d) 1, 2 and 3

 

ANSWER FOR OCTOBER 1, 2021 PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS (REFER TO  RELEVANT ARTICLE)

1. ANSWER: A

Explanation:

  • The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2021 was awarded jointly to David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian “for their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch.”



DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS (OCTOBER 05, 2021)

INDIAN POLITY, GOVERNANCE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

1. 78% RAJYA SABHA MPS ON AN AVERAGE ATTEND SITTINGS

THE CONTEXT:The first ever quantitative analysis of the attendance of Rajya Sabha (RS) MPs has revealed that, on an average, 78% of the members were always present in the House.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The analysis was done on the directions of RS Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu.
  • Attendance details of members over the last seven sessions held during 2019 and till the last Monsoon session of 2021, a total of 138 sittings, were analysed.
  • AIADMK MP S.R. Balasubramaniam has attended all the 138 sittings that were studied by the RS team from 2019 to 2021.
  • BJP MP from Andhra Pradesh T.G. Venkatesh and TDP MP from Andhra Pradesh K. Ravindrakumar also had high attendance records.
  • The data also revealed that there were less than 2% of members who had never attended the proceedings in the 138 sittings due to illness and other reasons for which leave has been granted. The highest daily attendance of 82.57% was reported during the monsoon session.
  • The analysis also found that the COVID-19 pandemic did not drastically impact the attendance. Nearly 100 MPs attended the first session after the pandemic hit.
  • They had to observe COVID-19 protocols that imposed several restrictions, including on seating arrangements, in both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha chambers.

SOURCE : PIB

 

ENVIRONMENT, GEOGRAPHY AND AGRICULTURE

2.GOVERNMENT MOOTS EASIER CLEARANCE FOR FOREST LAND USE

THE CONTEXT:The government has proposed absolving agencies involved in national security projects and border infrastructure projects from obtaining prior forest clearance from the Centre as part of amendments to the existing Forest Conservation Act (FCA). The FCA that first came in 1980 and was amended in 1988, requires such permission.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The proposed amendment is part of a larger rationalising of existing forest laws, the government has said. The document is open to public discussion for 15 days after which it could be readied for Cabinet and Parliamentary approval.
  • There is also a plan to exempt land acquired before 1980 — before the FCA came into effect — by public sector bodies such as the Railways.
  • As of today a landholding agency (Rail, NHAI, PWD, etc) is required to take approval under the Act as well as pay stipulated compensatory levies such as Net Present Value (NPV), Compensatory Afforestation (CA), etc. for use of such land which was originally been acquired for non-forest purposes.
  • The Environment Ministry also proposes adding a clause to make punishments under the modified Act punishable with simple imprisonment for a period which may extend to one year and make it cognisable and non-bailable.
  • They also propose provisions for penal compensation to make good for the damages already done to trees in forest land.
  • The document also proposes removing zoos, safaris, Forest Training infrastructures from the definition of “non-forestry” activities.
  • The current definition restricts the way money collected as part of compensatory cess can be spent towards forest conservation purposes.

SOURCE:TH

 

3.THE PROTOCOL ON ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION TO THE ANTARCTIC TREATY

THE CONTEXT: The Madrid Protocol, which confirms its commitment to preserve Antarctic environmental and dependent ecosystems, has now been signed and implemented for 30 years.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • India is committed to the comprehensive protection of the Antarctic environment and dependent and associated ecosystems, and the designation of Antarctica as a natural reserve devoted to peace and science. India also reaffirms its commitment to the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty and at this moment claims to:
    1. Implement all Decisions, Resolutions and Measures adopted at ATCM in the Indian Antarctic programme effectively.
    2. Use green alternate energy system in both the Indian Antarctic research stations; Maitri and Bharati like solar panels and wind energy generators so compromising use of fossil fuel gradually and make station efficient with alternate green energy.
    3. Reduce carbon footprints by using vehicles and machinery only when required at the most.
    4. Use shared supply ship to deliver human resources, materials and machines to Antarctica.
    5. Control the introduction of non-native species into Antarctica by any means or through vector transfer.

ABOUT THE ANTARCTIC TREATY

  • India signed the Antarctic Treaty on 19th August 1983 and soon thereafter received consultative status on 12th September 1983.
  • The Madrid Protocol was signed by India which came into force on 14th January, 1998. India is one of the 29 Consultative Parties to the Antarctic Treaty.
  • India is also a member of Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programme (COMNAP) and Scientific Committee of Antarctica Research (SCAR).
  • India has two active research stations; Maitri (commissioned in 1989) at Schirmacher Hills, and Bharati (commissioned in 2012) at Larsemann Hills in Antarctica. India has successfully launched 40 annual scientific expeditions to Antarctica till date. With Himadri station in Ny-Alesund, Svalbard, Arctic, India now belongs to the elite group of nations that have multiple research stations within the Polar Regions.
  • The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty was signed in Madrid on October 4, 1991 and entered into force in 1998.
  • It designates Antarctica as a “natural reserve, devoted to peace and science”.

SOURCE: PIB

 

INDIAN ECONOMY

4.SWING PRICING

THE CONTEXT: SEBI introduced a new swing pricing framework for debt mutual funds to protect retail investors in times of massive redemptions.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Under swing pricing, an AMC adjusts or ‘swings’ by a certain percentage the net asset value (NAV) of any MF scheme facing redemption pressure.
  • Once swing pricing is enforced, all investors exiting or entering the scheme can transact only at the adjusted NAV — which is lower than the usual NAV.
  • The purpose of swing pricing is to pass on the cost of redemptions — in the form of a lower NAV — to those selling their scheme units. Incoming investors who are countering the outflow, benefit from a lower entry NAV.
  • Open-end mutual funds, which promise to allow investors to cash out their units on demand usually have systems in place to ensure they can smoothly handle small and phased-out redemptions.
  • In normal times, an AMC can meet redemption requests. However, when there are bunched-up redemptions and the fund too is unable to liquidate its holdings to meet them, then the fund may be forced to resort to distress sales of its holdings.
  • The most obvious costs — trading costs, the price impact of executing large trades and cost of borrowing to meet redemptions — all eat into scheme returns.
  • Better quality and more liquid securities tend to get sold first, leaving investors who have stayed with the scheme with lower returns and a poorer quality portfolio. Swing pricing attempts to resolve this inequity.

SOURCE:TH

5.CASES PERTAINING TO ‘PANDORA PAPERS’ TO BE INVESTIGATED

THE CONTEXT:  The Government has directed that, investigations in cases of Pandora Papers leaks appearing in the media will be monitored through the Multi Agency Group, headed by the Chairman, CBDT, having representatives from CBDT, ED, RBI & FIU.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • On 3rd October, 2021, the International Consortium of International Journalists (ICIJ) has come out with what is claimed to be a 2.94 terabyte data trove that exposes the offshore secrets of wealthy elites from more than 200 countries and territories.
  • The investigation is based on a leak of confidential records of 14 offshore service providers that give professional services to wealthy individuals and corporations seeking to incorporate shell companies, trusts, foundations and other entities in low or no-tax jurisdictions.
  • The Government has taken note of these developments. The relevant investigative agencies would undertake investigation in these cases and appropriate action would be taken in such cases as per law.
  • With a view to ensure effective investigation in these cases, the Government will also proactively engage with foreign jurisdictions for obtaining information in respect of relevant taxpayers/entities.
  • The Government of India is also part of an Inter-Governmental Group that ensures collaboration and experience sharing to effectively address tax risks associated with such leaks.
  • It may be noted that following earlier similar such leaks in the form of ICIJ, HSBC, Panama Papers and Paradise Papers, the Government has already enacted the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015 with an aim to curb black money, or undisclosed foreign assets and income by imposing suitable tax and penalty on such income. Undisclosed credits of Rs. 20,352 crore approximately (status as on 15.09.2021) have been detected in the investigations carried out in the Panama and Paradise Papers.
  • Names of only a few Indians (legal entities as well as individuals) have appeared so far in the media. Even the ICIJ website (icij.org) has not yet released the names and other particulars of all the entities.
  • The website of ICIJ suggests that information will be released in phases and structured data connected to the Pandora Papers investigation will be released only in the days to come on its Offshore Leaks Database.

SOURCE:PIB

 

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

6. THE NOBEL PRIZE FOR PHYSIOLOGY

THE CONTEXT:  David Julius, ArdemPatapoutian share the Nobel Prize for physiology.David Julius and ArdemPatapoutian focused their work on the field of somatosensation that is the ability of specialised organs such as eyes, ears and skin to see, hear and feel.

THE EXPLANATION:

SOURCE: TH

 

7. DRONE-BASED VACCINE DELIVERY

THE CONTEXT:   Health Minister launched the ICMR’s drone response and outreach in the north-east (iDrone).

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The delivery model is aimed at ensuring that life-saving vaccines reach everyone.
  • This is for the first time that a ‘Make in India’ drone has been used in South Asia to transport COVID vaccine over an aerial distance of 15 km in 12-15 minutes from the Bishnupur district hospital to Loktak lake, Karang island in Manipur for administration at the primary health centre.
  • Launching initiative which would facilitate vaccine delivery to tough and hard-to-reach terrains, Health Minister said incorporating such technologies into national programmes would help deliver other vaccines and medical supplies too as quickly as possible.

SOURCE: TH

 

8. ELECTRICITY FROM COW DUNG

THE CONTEXT:After the implementation of the scheme to purchase cow dung at Rs 2 per kg, Chhattisgarh is now moving towards generating electricity from cow dung. Chief Minister launched the power generation project on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti.

THE EXPLANATION:              

  • In every village of Chhattisgarh, a unit to generate electricity from cow dung will be installed in Gauthan (place where cattle are kept).
  • The cow dung procured from the farmers under the GodhanNyayYojana would be used to generate electricity. This will not only benefit the environment but will also benefit the women of self-help groups doing dung procurement work.
  • In the first phase of the project, units of power generation from cow dung have been installed at Rakhi in Bemetara district, Sikola in Durg and Bancharoda in Raipur district.
  • Bio gas plants, scrubbers and gensets have been set up in Gauthans to generate electricity from cow dung.
  • Biogas will be produced by adding cow dung and water in the biogas tank, due to which methane gas will be available in 50 per cent quantity, from which electricity will be generated by running the genset

SOURCE : IE

 

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

9. JAPAN’S NEW PRIME MINISTER AND THE LONG SHADOW OF ABENOMICS

THE CONTEXT: Fumio Kishida’s task now is to prove he is the right choice to guide the Japanese economy out of the short-term Covid-19 crisis and to prepare it for the longer-term challenges ahead.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • Unsurprisingly, Japan’s economy has been hit hard by the pandemic. Japan finally ended a COVID-19 state of emergency that had been in place since April, allowing various businesses to fully reopen again.
  • The bigger question for Kishida relates to fiscal stimulus in the longer term and specifically, his attitude to so-called Abenomics, the brand of policy associated with the former Prime Minister Abe.
  • Kishida made it clear during the leadership contest that he would stick to the three main planks of Abenomics, namely: an aggressive monetary policy; a flexible fiscal policy; and a growth strategy which includes structural reforms.
  • Japan’s policy of massive fiscal stimulus over the past decade does appear to have largely worked. The country has added around 5 million jobs since Abe took over in December 2012 while growth has become much healthier, following almost 20 years of moribund GDP figures. Corporate profits and share prices have also surged.
  • Kishida has stressed the importance of fiscal discipline though. Back in 2018, he said that the Bank of Japan’s monetary easing policy “cannot last forever.”
  • He has also distanced himself from some elements of Abenomics, in particular the idea that booming corporate profits will eventually benefit ordinary households. He has spoken disparagingly of “neoliberalism” and has talked up a new style of Japanese capitalism.
  • Kishida has plenty of other longer-term economic challenges which will require immediate attention.
  • Despite the country’s reputation as a leader in digital infrastructure, Japan has struggled to bring government services away from paperwork and offices and onto the online world. According to a recent OECD survey, Japan ranks last in terms of providing digital services. The shortcomings were shown up during the pandemic, when aid was slow to reach the needy due to bureaucracy.
  • Kishida must also grapple with other major socioeconomic questions. Japan has the world’s oldest population, putting huge pressure on the country’s taxpayers. It also has a serious gender inequality problem. The World Economic Forum says Japan’s gender gap is “the largest among advanced economies.”
  • Then there is climate change and the green transition. Kishida’s predecessor, Suga, announced in his first address to parliament in September 2020 that Japan would achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. He also later declared that Japan would cut emissions in 2030 by 46% from 2013 levels.
  • That in itself was a departure from Abe, who did not focus much on climate change. Kishida has spoken of Japan’s need to back nuclear power as a clean energy source, and to invest in renewables. Whether or not he will maintain Suga’s targets, though, remains to be seen.

SOURCE :  IE

 

PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS

Q.1) 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine Awarded for?

a) Discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch

b) Discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation

c) Discovery of hepatitis c virus

d) Work on how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability

 

ANSWER FOR OCTOBER 1, 2021 PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS (REFER  TO RELEVANT ARTICLE)

Q1. ANSWER: D

Explanation:

  • Jal Jeevan Mission is being implemented as a decentralized, demand-driven and community-managed programme with Gram Panchayats and/ or its sub-committees, i.e. Village Water & Sanitation Committees (VWSC)/ PaniSamitis playing a key role in planning, implementation, management, operation and maintenance of in-village water supply systems, thereby providing clean tap water to every household on regular and long-term basis.
  • Statement 1 is correct: The PaniSamitis/ VWSCs function as a legal entity as envisaged in the 73rd Amendment to the Constitution.
  • Statement 2 is correct: It consists of 10-15 members with at least 50% women members and proportionate representation from weaker sections.
  • Statement 3 is correct: VWSC prepared a one-time Village Action Plan (VAP), co-terminus with 15th Finance Commission period by dovetailing different resources at village level, which is to be approved in a Gram Sabha. VAP comprises of 4 key components of drinking water source augmentation, drinking water supply system, grey water treatment and its reuse, and regular operation and maintenance of in-village water supply system.

 

Q2. Answer: C

Explanation:

  • Statement 1 is correct: Nano Urea (Liquid) contains nanoscale nitrogen particles which have more surface area (10,000 times over 1 mm Urea prill) and number of particles (55,000 nitrogen particles over 1 mm Urea prill).which makes it more impactful. In comparison to Urea the uptake efficiency of Nano Urea is more than 80 %.
  • Statement 2 is correct: India has become the first country in the world to start commercial production of Nano Urea.  Not only has Nano Urea been produced on a large scale today, but farmers are adopting it on a large scale since the very beginning.



DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS (OCTOBER 2, 3 & 4, 2021)

INDIAN POLITY, GOVERNANCE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

1. AMRUT 2.0 AND SBM-U 2.0

THE CONTEXT: Prime Minister launched Schemes for transforming Urban Areas- AMRUT 2.0 and Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0.

SBM-U 2.0

  • The Mission will focus on ensuring complete access to sanitation facilities to serve additional populations migrating from rural to urban areas in search of employment and better opportunities over the next 5 years. This will be done through the construction of over 3.5 lakhs individual, community and public toilets.
  • Complete liquid waste management in cities in less than 1 lakh population – a new component introduced under SBM-Urban 2.0 will ensure that all wastewater is safely contained, collected, transported and treated so that no wastewater pollutes our water bodies.
  • Under Sustainable Solid Waste Management, greater emphasis will be on source segregation. Material Recovery Facilities, and waste processing facilities will be set up, with a focus on phasing out single-use plastic. Construction & demolition waste processing facilities will be set up and mechanical sweepers deployed in National Clean Air Programme cities and in cities with more than 5 lakh populations.
  • Remediation of all legacy dumpsites will be another key component of the Mission.
  • It is expected that under Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0, all statutory towns will become at least ODF+; and all cities with <1 lakh population ODF++.
  • Systems and processes will be in place so that all wastewater is safely treated and optimally reused and no untreated wastewater pollutes water bodies.
  • Regarding Solid Waste Management, it is expected that all cities will achieve at least 3-star Garbage Free certification under SBM-U 2.0.
  • Special focus will be put on the well-being of sanitation and informal waste workers, through the provision of personal protective equipment and safety kits, linkages with government welfare schemes along with their capacity building.
  • A financial outlay of ₹1,41,600 crores has been finalized for SBM-U 2.0, including the central share of Rs 36,465 for the period 2021-22 to 2025-26which is over 2.5 times the financial outlay of Rs 62,009 crores in the last phase of the Mission.

AMRUT2.0

  • 0aims to make around 4,700 towns/cities‘ water secure’. It will build upon the progress of AMRUT to address water needs, rejuvenate water bodies, better manage aquifers, reuse treated wastewater, thereby promoting a circular economy of water.
  • The total outlay of AMRUT 2.0 is RS 2,97,000 crores, including the central share of Rs 76,760 crores.  This includes Rs 10,000 crores Central share and another Rs 10,000 crores states’ share for continuing financial support to AMRUT Mission up to March 2023.
  • The Objective of AMRUT 2.0 is to provide100% coverage of water supply to all households in around 4,700 ULBs, by providing 2.68 crore urban household tap connections, thereby benefitting around 10.7 crores people.
  • It will provide 100% coverage of sewerage and septage in 500 AMRUT cities, by providing 2.64 crore sewer connections/ septage connections, thereby benefitting around 10.6 crores people. Rejuvenation of water bodies and urban aquifer management will be undertaken to augment sustainable fresh water supply.
  • Recycle and reuse of treated wastewater is expected to cater to 20% of the total water needs of the cities and 40% of industrial demand. Under the Mission, fresh water bodies will be protected from getting polluted to make natural resources sustainable.
  • There will be upscaling from 500 cities covered under AMRUT with 1 lakh+ population to all 4,372 cities, covering 100% urban India. It will promote the circular economy of water through the formulation of the City Water Balance Plan for each city, focusing on recycle/reuse of treated sewage, rejuvenation of water bodies and water conservation. The digital economy will be promoted through being a Paperless Mission.
  • Pey Jal Survekshanwill is conducted in cities to ascertain the equitable distribution of water, reuse of wastewater and mapping of water bodies w.r.t. quantity and quality of water through a challenging process. Technology Sub-Mission for water will leverage the latest global technologies in the field of water.
  • The Mission seeks to promote AatmaNirbhar Bharatthrough encouraging Startups and Entrepreneurs.  It will lead to the promotion of the GIG economy and on-boarding of youth & women.
  • Urban Water Information System through NRSC will be developed, leading toAquifer Management system. Information, Education and Communication campaign will spread awareness among masses about conservation of water. A target-based capacity building program will be conducted for all stakeholders including contractors, plumbers, plant operators, students, women and other stakeholders.
  • The AMRUT-2.0 Mission will promote Public-Private partnerships (PPP). It has been mandated for cities having million plus population to take up PPP projects worth a minimum of 10 per cent of their total project fund allocationwhich could be on the Annuity/ Hybrid Annuity / BOT Model.
  • 4798 ULBs have already signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Central Government, outlining the role and commitments of all the stakeholders in both the Missions.

SOURCE: PIB

 

2. OVER 5 CRORE TAP WATER CONNECTIONS UNDER JAL JEEVAN MISSION

THE CONTEXT:  Since the announcement of the Jal Jeevan Mission in August 2019, in just about 25 months, over 5 Crore families have been provided with tap water connections in their homes.

ANALYSIS:

  • Jal Jeevan Mission was announced by Prime Minister on 15th August 2019 to provide Functional Household Tap Connection (FHTC) to every home by 2024. In 2019, out of about 18.93 Crore households in rural areas, only 3.23 Crore (17%) had tap water connections. Thus, 15.70 Crore households are to be provided with tap water by 2024.
  • In addition, the functionality of all existing water supply systems and tap connections is also to be ensured. The programme directly benefits more than 19 Crore rural families, bridging the rural-urban divide and improving public health. As of date, about 8.26 Crore (43%) rural households have a tap water supply in their homes.
  • The motto of Jal Jeevan Mission is that ‘no one is left out.’ Every rural household in 78 districts and 1.16 lakh villages is getting a tap water supply.
  • With a focus on the health and well-being of children, last year on Gandhi Jayanti, a campaign was launched to provide tap water connections to all schools, Anganwadi centres and ashram shalas (tribal residential schools) for drinking, cooking mid-day meals, hand washing and use in toilets. As of date, tap water supply has been provided in 7.72 lakh (76%) schools and 7.48 lakh (67.5%) Anganwadi centres.
  • Following a bottom-up approach, JJM is being implemented as a decentralized, demand-driven and community-managed programme with Gram Panchayats and/ or its sub-committees, i.e. Village Water & Sanitation Committees (VWSC)/ Pani Samitis playing a key role in planning, implementation, management, operation and maintenance of in-village water supply systems, thereby providing clean tap water to every household on a regular and long-term basis.
  • The Pani Samitis/ VWSCs function as a legal entity as envisaged in the 73rd Amendment to the Constitution. It consists of 10-15 members with at least 50% women members and proportionate representation from weaker sections.
  • VWSC prepared a one-time Village Action Plan (VAP), co-terminus with the 15th Finance Commission period by dovetailing different resources at the village level, which is to be approved in a Gram Sabha. VAP comprises 4 key components of drinking water source augmentation, drinking water supply system, greywater treatment and its reuse, and regular operation and maintenance of in-village water supply system.
  • Further, a cadre of 30-40 members in every village is being trained and skilled to build their capacities to manage their in-village water supply systems. 5 women from every village, viz. ASHA, Anganwadi teachers, SHG leaders, etc. are being trained to test water quality using Field Test Kits (FTKs).

SOURCE: PIB

 

3. VAYO NAMAN PROGRAMME

THE CONTEXT: Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment organises VAYO NAMAN Programme on the occasion of International Day of Elder Persons.

ANALYSIS:

  • The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment celebrates International Day of Older Persons every year on 1st October for the cause of elderly persons.
  • Apart from dedicating an Elderly Line 14567 to the Nation, Shri M. Venkaiah also launched two portals – SAGE (Seniorcare Aging Growth Engine) and SACRED (Senior Able Citizens for Re-Employment in Dignity) on this occasion.
  • While the SAGE portal, designed by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, aims to encourage entrepreneurs in the area of elderly care, the SACRED portal will connect senior citizens with job providers in the private sector.

SOURCE: PIB

 

4. KAMDHENU DEEPAWALI 2021 CAMPAIGN

THE CONTEXT: Kamdhenu Deepawali 2021 campaign was launched to manufacture and market more than 100 Crore Cow dung based Deepak lamps and Laxmi-Ganesh Idols.

ANALYSIS:

  • Kamdhenu Deepawali is to make Cows be economically useful by proper economic use of Cow Dung and Cow Urine too along with its Milk, Curd, Ghee. More than 300 items are getting made now byPanchgavya from Cow.
  • This includes Deepawali items too like – Deepak, Lamps, Candles, Sambrani cup, Havansamagri, Dhoopbatti, incense sticks, Hardboard, wall piece, Laxmi-Ganesh idols etc made up of Cow dung.
  • The Gomaya lamps made by Cow Entrepreneurs and Cow owners will save the environment by providing eco-friendly alternatives to chemical-based Chinese lights.

SOURCE: PIB

 

5. NCRB REPORT: A STATUS CHECK ON CRIMES IN THE COUNTRY

THE CONTEXT: The Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown resulted in a drop in traditional crimes like theft, robbery, and assault on women and children in 2020, but there was a drastic jump in disobedience to government orders, primarily arising due to violations of COVID-19 norms.

ANALYSIS:

  • According to the latest report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) on ‘Crime in India – 2020’, a total of 66,01,285 cognizable crimes comprising 42,54,356 Indian Penal Code (IPC) crimes and 23,46,929 Special and Local Laws (SLL) crimes were registered in 2020.
  • India reported an average of 80 murders daily in 2020, totalling 29,193 fatalities over the year, with Uttar Pradesh topping the chart among states. This was an increase of one per cent over the total 28,915 murders in 2019, with a daily average of 79 killings during the year.
  • Delhi accounted for nearly 40 per cent of all rape cases and almost 25 per cent murder cases among 19 metropolitan cities in India in 2020.

SOURCE: TH

 

ENVIRONMENT, GEOGRAPHY AND AGRICULTURE

6. NANO UREA

THE CONTEXT: Successful field trial of Drone spraying of Nano Urea undertaken.

ANALYSIS:

  • A practical field trial of Drone Spraying of Nano Liquid Urea was conducted in Bhavnagar, Gujarat. The trial was attended by a large number of farmers.
  • This demonstration of spraying liquid nano urea by drone was undertaken by IFFCO, a company involved in developing nano urea.
  • India has become the first country in the world to start commercial production of Nano Urea.
  • Not only has Nano Urea been produced on a large scale today, but farmers are adopting it on a large scale since the very beginning.
  • It started production in June and till now we have produced more than 5 million bottles of Nano Urea. More than one lakh bottles of nano urea are being produced every day.

ABOUT NANO UREA

  • Nano Urea (Liquid) contains nanoscale nitrogen particles which have more surface area (10,000 times over 1 mm Urea prill) and a number of particles (55,000 nitrogen particles over 1 mm Urea prill).which makes it more impactful. In comparison to Urea, the uptake efficiency of Nano Urea is more than 80 %.
  • It is thus, required in lesser measure compared to the conventional urea fertiliser to fulfil the plant’s nitrogen requirement.
  • Nano Urea (liquid) has been tested for biosafety and toxicity as per the guidelines of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India and OECD international guidelines.
  • Nano Urea (liquid) is completely safe for humans, animals, birds, rhizosphere organisms and the environment at the recommended levels of application.
  • Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, DAC & FW, Government of India, has notified IFFCO Nano Urea (Liquid) as a nano fertilizer under the Fertilizer Control Order (FCO).

SOURCE:  PIB

 

7. A PROJECT TO SECURE INDIA’S ELEPHANT CORRIDORS

THE CONTEXT: As instances of human-elephant conflict rise, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has embarked on a massive project to identify and secure elephant corridors in the country.

ANALYSIS:

  • The corridors could also be notified in order to give legal protection to the movement of elephants.
  • According to Environment Minister, the Ministry has recently initiated the verification exercise of elephant corridors and is also working on mapping land use and land cover of elephant reserves in the country using GIS technology which will also aid conservation.
  • Experts said elephant corridors have been changing over the years. Eighty-eight corridors were identified jointly by the Ministry and Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and published in 2005.
  • In 2015, the second round of identification took place — and when published two years later, the number of corridors had gone up to 101.
  • Ministry data on human-elephant conflict released last year showed 1,025 elephant deaths and 4,642 human deaths from 2009 until September 2019. The most human deaths were in West Bengal (821; 18%).
  • The largest number of elephant deaths were caused by electrocution (640; 62% of the total in 10 years), followed by train accidents (170; 17%), poaching (153; 15%), and poisoning (62; 6%).

SOURCE: IE

 

8. CSIR-NGRI PROPOSES A LANDSLIP AND FLOOD WARNING SYSTEM

THE CONTEXT: The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research – National Geophysical Research Institute (CSIR-NGRI) has launched an ‘Environmental Seismology’ group to develop a ‘Landslide and Flood Early Warning System’ for the Himalayan region based on real-time monitoring with dense seismological networks, coupled with satellite data, numerical modelling and geomorphic analysis.

ANALYSIS:

  • The need for such an early warning system was necessitated following February’s rockslide flood disaster in Chamoli (Uttarakhand), where a steep glacier on the Nandadevi peak in Garhwal Himalaya got detached, causing a major avalanche and inducing flash floods in the Rishi Ganga and Alaknanda rivers.
  • It killed several persons downstream and caused damage to two power plants.

SOURCE: UNI

 

INDIAN ECONOMY

9. LABOUR MINISTRY’S QUARTERLY SURVEY OF EMPLOYMENT DATA

THE CONTEXT: The Ministry of Labour has recently released a survey of firm employment data for nine non-farm sectors. The survey will be conducted quarterly and will provide much-needed high-frequency employment data for the economy. The data will be collected from firms, and over time, will become a critical input for macroeconomic policymaking in the country.

ANALYSIS:

  • The labour ministry report of the Quarterly Employment Survey for April-June 2021 presents the status of employment in nine non-farm sectors — Manufacturing, Construction, Trade, Transport, Education, Health, Accommodation and Restaurant, IT/ BPO, and Financial Services — employing 10 or more workers.
  • The survey gives a picture of the state of employment in the organised sector. The government plans to conduct a similar survey for the unorganised sector as well. The two surveys taken together would give a holistic picture of the state of employment in the economy.
  • Most mature economies have official monthly statistics on employment. India had to rely on low-frequency official surveys which, at best, give an outdated picture of employment.
  • High-frequency data on the labour market bridges a critical gap in the Indian statistical framework. It would enable timely monitoring of the labour market, which is essential for devising policies for employment creation and skill development in the country.
  • Such a survey would also give insights into the relative contribution of different sectors in employment generation over time.
  • The employment surveys such as the PLFS by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation is household-based surveys and provides an assessment of employment from the supply side. The Quarterly Employment Survey released by the Ministry of Labour is an establishment-based survey and provides a picture of employment from the demand side.

SOURCE:TH PRINT

10. DIGITAL ECONOMY REPORT 2021

THE CONTEXT:  The Digital Economy Report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development examines the implications of growing cross-border data flows, especially for developing countries. It proposes to reframe and broaden the international policy debate with a view to building multilateral consensus.

ANALYSIS:

  • The Philippines is one of six countries that allow unfettered cross-border data transmission.
  • Canada, Australia, Mexico, Singapore, and the United States are the other five countries that allow unrestricted data movement across borders.
  • Countries with strong regulatory environments and sufficient regulatory resources to check compliance with domestic laws choose a light-touch approach.
  • According to the report, the Philippines’ employment of a light-touch strategy is due to the country’s “reliance” on the outsourcing industry, which is one of the country’s primary economic development drivers.
  • The “restrictive” or “guarded” approach for cross-border data flows is followed by countries like India, China, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Rwanda, Russian Federation, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.
  • According to UNCTAD proposals, facilitate global data sharing, develop global digital public goods, increase trust, and reduce uncertainty in the digital economy.
  • According to UNCTAD, a lack of a worldwide framework would add to the difficulty of preserving private sector and government data privacy. As a result, a new regulatory framework is needed that considers both economic and non-economic considerations.

SOURCE:UNITED

 

11. PANDORA PAPERS

THE CONTEXT:  According to an investigation published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) media consortium, more than a dozen heads of state and government, including the King of Jordan and the Czech Prime Minister, have hidden millions in offshore tax-havens.

ANALYSIS:

  • The “Pandora Papers” investigation — involving some 600 journalists from media, including The Washington Post, the BBC and The Guardian — is based on the leak of some 11.9 million documents from 14 financial services companies around the world.
  • Some 35 current and former leaders are featured in the documents analyzed by the ICIJ — facing allegations ranging from corruption to money laundering and global tax avoidance.
  • The “Pandora Papers” are the latest in a series of mass ICIJ leaks of financial documents that started with LuxLeaks in 2014 and were followed by the Panama Papers, the Paradise Papers and FinCen.
  • The documents behind the latest investigation are drawn from financial services companies in countries including the British Virgin Islands, Panama, Belize, Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Switzerland.

SOURCE:TH

 

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

12. GAMING DISORDER INCREASES DURING PANDEMIC

THE CONTEXT:  Gaming addiction, a disorder, is quickly growing as the pandemic spurred increased use of Internet devices.

ANALYSIS:

  • Behaviour changes in teenagers — insomnia, withdrawal from social contacts, academic failure, and extreme anger and irritability.
  • A 2019 survey by the U.S. based Limelight Networks found that India had the second largest number of gamers after South Korea.
  • The World Health Organization categorized gaming disorder as a mental health condition in 2018.
  • In August 2021, China limited gamers under 18 years to just three hours of online games per week, during specified times, and made the industry responsible for enforcing the restriction.
  • In India, the legal focus has been on recent laws in the southern states seeking to ban online games such as rummy, poker or even fantasy sports which offer prize money or financial stakes.
  • In September 2021, the Kerala High Court quashed such a law in the State, accepting the industry’s stance that, as games of skill rather than chance, they should not trigger bans on gambling.
  • However, worried parents, psychiatrists and mental health advocates warn that the dangers go well beyond monetary motivations.

SOURCE: TH

 

PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS

Consider the following statements related to Pani Samitis:

  1. The Pani Samitis function as a legal entity as envisaged in the 73rd Amendment to the Constitution.
  2. It consists of at least 50% women members
  3. It prepares Village Action Plan (VAP).

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

a) 1 and 2 only

b) 2 and 3 only

c) 1 and 3 only

d) 1, 2 and 3

 

Q2) Consider the following statements about Nano Urea

  1. In comparison to Urea, the uptake efficiency of Nano Urea is more than 80 %.
  2. India has become the first country in the world to start commercial production of Nano Urea.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

ANSWER FOR OCTOBER 1, 2021 PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS (REFER TO RELEVANT ARTICLE)

1. Answer: D)

Explanation:

  • Senior Able Citizens for Re-Employment in Dignity (SACRED) Portal is an IT portal to be developed to bring the employment seeker senior citizens and employment providers on one platform.
  • The aim is to devise ways to ensure Senior Citizens live healthy, happy, empowered, dignified and self-reliant life.
  • Rs. 10 Cr would be provided for funding for the platform development along with a maintenance grant of Rs. 2 Cr per year for 5 years



DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS (OCTOBER 01, 2021)

INDIAN POLITY, GOVERNANCE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

DIGISAKSHAM

THE CONTEXT: Minister for Labour and Employment launched DigiSaksham – a digital skills programme to enhance the employability of youth by imparting digital skills that are required in an increasingly technology-driven era.

ABOUT DIGISAKSHAM INITIATIVE

  • This joint initiative with Microsoft India is an extension of the Government’s ongoing programs to support the youth from rural and semi-urban areas.
  • Through the DigiSaksham initiative, free of cost training in digital skills including basic skills as well as advanced computing will be provided to more than 3 lakh youths in the first year.
  • The Jobseekers can access the training through National Career Service (NCS) Portal (ncs.gov.in).  The initiative gives priority to the job-seekers of semi-urban areas belonging to disadvantaged communities, including those who have lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

SOURCE: PIB

2. SAGE PROJECT

THE CONTEXT:  ‘Senior care Ageing Growth Engine’ (SAGE) project to support India’s elderly.

BACKGROUND:

  • Govt of India has created the Senior Citizen Welfare Fund in 2016 to fund activities that would bring significant change in the lives of the elderly in India.
  • The Fund is expected to use Rs. 9,000 Cr of unclaimed deposits in the EPF and other public funds. The Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana is funded through this.
  • In order to utilise this fund, Govt has constituted (7) Eminent Expert groups addressing the areas of livelihood, employment, health, nutrition, silver economy, capacity building and research. The Expert Group on the silver economy has recommended bringing out a scheme to promote private enterprises that bring out innovation in products and processes for the benefit of the elders. Based on their recommendations, the Senior Aging Growth Engine (SAGE) has been designed.

ABOUT SAGE

  • SAGE to select, support and create a ‘one-stop access’ of elderly care products and services
  • SAGE is aimed at promoting private enterprises to bring out innovation in products to benefit elders

SOURCE: PIB

3. SACRED PORTAL

THE CONTEXT: Senior Able Citizens for Re-Employment in Dignity (SACRED) Portal is an IT portal to be developed to bring the employment seeker senior citizens and employment providers on one platform.

ABOUT SACRED PORTAL

  • The aim is to devise ways to ensure Senior Citizens live healthy, happy, empowered, dignified and self-reliant life.
  • 10 Cr would be provided for funding for the platform development along with a maintenance grant of Rs. 2 Cr per year for 5 years.

SOURCE: PIB

4. NEW EXPERIENCE STUDIO

THE CONTEXT: The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog), the Government of India’s national policy think tank, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Intel have come together to establish a new experience studio at the NITI Aayog Frontier Technologies Cloud Innovation Center (CIC).

ANALYSIS:

  • Located in NITI Aayog’s New Delhi premises, the studio will be a hub for collaboration and experimentation to enable problem-solving and innovation between government stakeholders, startups, enterprises, and industry domain experts.
  • The studio will help showcase the potential of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/ VR), blockchain, and robotics to accelerate their application in public sector use cases.
  • The studio will encourage open innovation and serve as a hub for government, healthcare, education, and nonprofit startups from India to showcase their solutions. It will also provide startups with an option to access the necessary support to enhance and scale their solutions.
  • NITI Aayog will also leverage the studio to demonstrate the application of geospatial, AR/VR, drone, and IoT solutions in verticals such as healthcare, agriculture, and smart infrastructure.
  • Major homegrown industry leaders in respective fields of technology and research – like MapMyIndia in geospatial solutions, Raphe mPhibr Pvt. Ltd. in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and the Centre for Advanced Research in Imaging, Neuroscience and Genomics (CARING), which delivers AI in healthcare – and global leaders like DassaultSystemesare demonstrating their solutions at the studio.
  • Start-ups like Vizara Technologies and Agatsa Software Private Ltd will be showcasing their innovative products. Startups will also be encouraged to participate actively in the studio through hackathons, grand challenges, and other capacity-building initiatives, in collaboration with the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and Atal Incubation Centres (AIC).

SOURCE: PIB

INDIAN ECONOMY

5. INDIA’S CORE SECTOR GROWS 11.6 PER CENT IN AUGUST

THE CONTEXT: According to the data released by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, India’s Index of Eight Core Industries saw an 11.6 per cent rise to 133.5 in the month of August.

ANALYSIS:

  • The overall core sector growth during August last year was at -6.9 per cent.
  • Coal production during the month of August increased by 20.6 per cent year-on-year, while petroleum refinery production rose 9.1 per cent and electricity generation climbed 15.3 per cent on-year, the commerce ministry data showed.
  • This apart, steel production increased by 5.1 per cent in August, while cement production rose 36.3 per cent.

SOURCE: IE

6. ORDNANCE FACTORY BOARD DISMANTLED

THE CONTEXT:  The 220-year-old Ordnance Factory Board will be dissolved on October 1, and its units will be corporatised under seven PSUs.

ANALYSIS:

  • The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) comprising the Indian Ordnance Factories, is an organization under the Department of Defence Production, Ministry of Defence.
  • Headquartered in Kolkata, it is a conglomerate of 41 factories, 9 training institutes, 4 regional controllers of safety, and 3 regional marketing centres.
  • The OFB manufactures supplies, ammunition, and weapons that are used by the armed forces, police forces, and paramilitary forces. The products include military-grade and civilian arms and ammunition, chemicals for missile systems, explosives, propellants, armoured vehicles, parachutes, optical and electronic devices, troop clothing, support equipment, and general store items for the armed forces.
  • In May 2020, the Centre decided on the corporatization of OFB and dismantle the conglomerate into smaller companies for better autonomy, efficiency, and accountability in ordnance supplies.
  • In the process of the corporatization of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) will be restructured into 7 Defence Public Sector Units (DPSUs).
  • Approximately 70,000 employees, assets, and operations of the conglomerate will be transferred to these 7 DPSUs. These 7 DPSUs will be 100 per cent state-owned. Currently, the OFB has a turnover of approximately Rs 19,000 crores.

SOURCE: IE

7. INDIA HAS THE HIGHEST FINTECH ADOPTION RATE IN THE WORLD

THE CONTEXT:  The Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs & Food & Public Distribution and Textiles has said India is poised to become one of the largest digital markets in the world. Addressing the 2nd Global Fintech Fest-2021. At 87%, India has the highest FinTech adoption rate in the world against the global average of 64%.

ANALYSIS:

  • India is poised to become one of the largest digital markets in the world.
  • UPI banking interface recorded the highest ever, over 3.6 Bn transactions, last month.
  • More than 2 trillion transactions were processed using Aadhar last year.
  • India’s fintech industry came to the rescue of people during the lockdown and 2nd wave of Covid, promoting contactless banking.

SOURCE: PIB

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

8. NASA’S LUCY MISSION TO PROBE TROJAN ASTEROIDS

THE CONTEXT: NASA is poised to send its first spacecraft to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids to glean new insights into the solar system’s formation 4.5 billion years ago.

ANALYSIS:

  • The probe, called Lucy after an ancient fossil that provided insights into the evolution of human species, will launch on October 16 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
  • Its mission is to investigate the group of rocky bodies circling the Sun in two swarms, one preceding Jupiter in its orbital path and the other trailing behind it.
  • After receiving boosts from Earth’s gravity, Lucy will embark on a 12-year journey to eight different asteroids — one in the Main Belt between Mars and Jupiter and then seven Trojans.
  • The researchers who discovered Lucy the fossil in Ethiopia in 1974 named her after the Beatles’ song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” which they were playing loudly at the expedition camp.

SOURCE: TH 

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

THE 17TH INDIA-AUSTRALIA JOINT MINISTERIAL COMMISSION

THE CONTEXT:  India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs and Food, and Public Distribution and Textiles, and Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Government of Australia, have formally launched the resumption of negotiations on the India-Australia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).

ANALYSIS:

  • Both Ministers discussed a range of issues during the 17th India-Australia Joint Ministerial Commission.
  • Key issues included the expeditious negotiation of a bilateral CECA, resolution of tax-related issues faced by Indian software firms in Australia, ensuring increased two-way trade and the 12th Ministerial Conference of the WTO scheduled to be held at the end of this year.
  • Both India and Australia reaffirmed commitment to conclude a CECA, including to reach an interim agreement by December 2021 to liberalise and deepen bilateral trade in goods and services, and to conclude the negotiations on a full CECA by the end of 2022.

SOURCE: PIB

PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS

Q. Recently in news, the SAGE project is related to?

a) Women

b) Tourism

c) Education

d) Old age

ANSWER FOR SEPTEMBER 30, 2021 PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS (REFER TO RELEVANT ARTICLE)

Answer: B

Explanation:

  • Statement 1 is incorrect: Two options are available: a user can permanently delete or temporarily deactivate her health ID. On deletion, the unique health ID will be permanently deleted, along with all demographic details. On deactivation, the beneficiary will lose access to all ABDM applications only for the period of deactivation. Until she reactivates her health ID, she will not be able to share the ID at any health facility or share health records over the ABDM network.
  • Statement 1 is correct: Currently, ABDM supports health ID creation via mobile or Aadhaar. For health ID creation through mobile or Aadhaar, the beneficiary will be asked to share details on name, year of birth, gender, address, mobile number/Aadhaar. Is Aadhaar is not mandatory. One can use one’s mobile number for registration, without Aadhaar.

 

 




DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS (SEPTEMBER 30, 2021)

INDIAN POLITY, GOVERNANCE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

1. DIGITAL HEALTH ID

THE CONTEXT: The newly launched Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission will involve a unique health ID for every citizen.

WHAT IS THE UNIQUE HEALTH ID?

  • If a person wants to be part of the ABDM, she must create a health ID, which is a randomly generated 14-digit number. The ID will be broadly used for three purposes: unique identification, authentication, and threading of the beneficiary’s health records, only with their informed consent, across multiple systems and stakeholders.
  • One can get a health ID by self-registration on the portal or by downloading the ABMD Health Records app on one’s mobile. Additionally, one can also request the creation of a health ID at a participating health facility.
  • The beneficiary will also have to set up a Personal Health Records (PHR) address for consent management, and for future sharing of health records.

WHAT IS A PHR ADDRESS?

  • It is a simple self-declared username, which the beneficiary is required to sign into a Health Information Exchange and Consent Manager (HIE-CM).
  • Each health ID will require linkage to a consent manager to enable sharing of health records data.

WHAT DOES ONE NEED TO REGISTER FOR A HEALTH ID?

  • Currently, ABDM supports health ID creation via mobile or Aadhaar.
  • For health ID creation through mobile or Aadhaar, the beneficiary will be asked to share details on name, year of birth, gender, address, mobile number/Aadhaar.
  • Is Aadhaar is not mandatory. One can use one’s mobile number for registration, without Aadhaar.

ARE PERSONAL HEALTH RECORDS SECURE?

  • The records are stored with healthcare information providers as per their retention policies and are shared over the ABDM network with encryption mechanism” only after the beneficiary express consent.

CAN I DELETE MY HEALTH ID AND EXIT THE PLATFORM?

  • Yes, the NHA says ABDM, supports such a feature. Two options are available: a user can permanently delete or temporarily deactivate her health ID.
  • On deletion, the unique health ID will be permanently deleted, along with all demographic details.
  • On deactivation, the beneficiary will lose access to all ABDM applications only for the period of deactivation. Until she reactivates her health ID, she will not be able to share the ID at any health facility or share health records over the ABDM network.

WHAT FACILITIES ARE AVAILABLE TO BENEFICIARIES?

  • You can access your digital health records right from admission through treatment and discharge. Second, you can access and link your personal health records with your health ID to create a longitudinal health history.

HOW DO PRIVATE PLAYERS GET ASSOCIATED WITH A GOVERNMENT DIGITAL ID?

  • The NHA has launched the NDHM Sandbox: a digital architecture that allows helps private players to be part of the National Digital Health Ecosystem as health information providers or health information users.
  • The private player sends a request to NHA to test its system with the Sandbox environment. The NHA certifies and empanels the private hospital.

WHY IS THIS INITIATIVE SIGNIFICANT?

  • At present, the use of digital health ID in hospitals is currently limited to only one hospital or to a single group, and is mostly concentrated in large private chains. The new initiative will bring the entire ecosystem on a single platform.
  • For instance, if a patient is getting treated at AIIMS, Delhi, and wants to move to another hospital in a different city, and if that hospital is also on the centralised ecosystem, the patient does not have to carry physical health records or files of several years of treatment, as the medical history is readily available.
  • The system also makes it easier to find doctors and specialists nearest to you. Currently, many patients rely on recommendations from family and friends for medical consultation, but now the new platform will tell the patient who to reach out to, and who is the nearest. Also, labs and drug stores will be easily identified for better tests using the new platform.

SOURCE: IE

2. CONTINUATION OF PM POSHAN IN SCHOOLS

THE CONTEXT:  The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved the continuation of ‘National Scheme for PM POSHAN in Schools’ for the five-year period 2021-22 to 2025-26 with the financial outlay of 54061.73 crores rupees from the Central Government and 31,733.17 crore rupees from State Governments & UT administrations.

ANALYSIS:

  • Highlights of the decision that would improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the scheme are as below:
  • The scheme is proposed to be extended to students studying in pre-primary or Bal Vatikas of Government and Government-aided primary schools in addition to all the 11.80 crore children from elementary classes.
  • The concept of TithiBhojan will be encouraged extensively. TithiBhojan is a community participation programme in which people provide special food to children on special occasions/festivals.
  • The government is promoting the development of School Nutrition Gardens in schools to give children first-hand experience with nature and gardening. The harvest of these gardens is used in the scheme providing additional micronutrients. School Nutrition Gardens have already been developed in more than 3 lakh schools.
  • Social Audit of the scheme is made mandatory in all the districts.
  • Special provision is made for providing supplementary nutrition items to children in aspirational districts and districts with a high prevalence of Anemia.
  • Cooking competitions will be encouraged at all levels right from village level to national level to promote ethnic cuisine and innovative menus based on locally available ingredients and vegetables.
  • Vocal for Local for Atmanirbhar Bharat: Involvement of Farmers Producer Organizations (FPO) and Women Self Help Groups in the implementation of the scheme will be encouraged. Use of locally grown traditional food items for a fillip to local economic growth will be encouraged.
  • Field visits for progress monitoring and inspections will be facilitated for students of eminent Universities/Institutions and also trainee teachers of Regional Institutes of Educations (RIE) and District Institutes of Education and Training (DIET).

SOURCE: PIB

3. THE GOVERNMENT’S OBJECTIONS TO A CASTE CENSUS

THE CONTEXT: In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court on September 23, the Union government has categorically ruled out conducting a Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC), stating that a caste census (except that for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes done traditionally) was unfeasible from an administrative point of view.

BACKGROUND

  • The government’s affidavit was in response to a writ petition by the Maharashtra government seeking directions to the Central government to collect data on the Backward Class of Citizens (BCC) of rural India during the enumeration of the 2021 census. The petition also wanted the Centre to disclose the raw caste data on other backward classes (OBCs) collected during SECC-2011.
  • The government’s affidavit covers three different aspects of the caste census issue, as reflected in the writ petition.
  • It first explains why it cannot make public the caste data collected under the SECC-2011 census.
  • Then it argues that the judiciary cannot direct the government to conduct a caste census because it is a “policy decision” not to do so, and
  • The judiciary cannot interfere with government policy. And finally, it elaborates on why it is neither practical nor administratively feasible to attempt a caste census.
  • In its affidavit, the government acknowledges that the SECC-2011’s caste data of 130 crore Indians have been with the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for five years. Due to flaws in the data, it was decided to form an Expert Committee headed by the then Vice-Chairman of the NITI Aayog Arvind Panagariya. But since other members of the Committee were not named, the Committee never met, and as a result, no action was taken on the raw data to collate it into publishable findings. Therefore, government do not want to make the raw data of the 2011 caste census public.

WHAT REASONS HAS THE GOVERNMENT CITED FOR NOT COUNTING CASTES ALONG WITH THE REGULAR 2021 CENSUS?

  • The government has cited numerous administrative, operational and logistical reasons to argue that collecting caste data during 2021
  • Census is unfeasible and attempting it could endanger the census exercise itself. It begins by pointing to the difference in caste categories according to different lists. While the Central list contained 2,479 OBC castes, there were 3,150 OBC castes as per the lists of all the States and Union Territories taken together.
  • If a caste-related question is included, it would “return thousands of castes as the people use their clan/gotra, sub-caste and caste names interchangeably”. Since enumerators are part-timers with 6-7 days of training and “not an investigator or verifier”, the affidavit states, “it would be difficult to meaningfully tabulate and classify caste returns”.
  • Secondly, the preparatory work for a census starts three to four years earlier. As for the 2021 census, the questionnaires have already been finalised and field-tested. It is, therefore, not feasible to add additional questions about caste at this late stage.
  • Third, unlike in the case of SCs/STs, there is no Constitutional mandate for the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India to provide the census figures of OBCs/BCCs.
  • It has cited the 2014 Supreme Court judgment setting aside two orders of the Madras High Court directing the Centre to conduct a caste census. As per this SC judgment, what information to collect in a census is a policy decision of the government, and while the court may find a certain policy untenable, it was “legally impermissible” for the court to dictate to the government what policy it ought to follow.

SOURCE: TH

4. TOXIC MATERIAL IN FIRECRACKERS

THE CONTEXT: The Supreme Court said a preliminary enquiry by the CBI into the firecracker industry, including in Tamil Nadu, revealed rampant violation of its ban on the use of toxic ingredients like Barium and its salts. The CBI was directed to examine the allegations of violation of the court ban in 2018.

SOURCE: TH

5. HIGH LEVELS OF MATERNAL AND CHILD UNDERNUTRITION

THE CONTEXT:  According to Arjan De Wagt, Head, Nutrition, UNICEF India, COVID-19 is interacting with undernutrition and exacerbating nutritional insecurities.

ANALYSIS:

  • Overall, India has made impressive gains in economic and human development in recent decades. It has transitioned from being a food-deficit nation to a self-sufficient food-producing country in the last 30 years.
  • However, high levels of maternal and child undernutrition continue to plague the country. Large-scale surveys like the Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS) and National Family Health Survey-4 (NFHS) show that about one-third of children under five years of age in India are stunted, a third of them are underweight and almost two out of ten children are nutritionally wasted; many of these children suffer from multiple anthropometric deficits.
  • The CNNS also highlight the emerging problems of overweight, obesity and micro-nutrient deficiencies.
  • Global research in 2020 on the effect of COVID-19 estimated about a 14.3% increase in wasting globally. No specific data are available yet on the impact of COVID-19 on the nutritional status of the Indian population. However, from global and Indian experience, it is increasingly evident how COVID-19 is interacting with undernutrition and exacerbating nutritional insecurities.
  • Firstly, the COVID-19 infection negatively affects the nutritional status of a child, and those with poor nutritional status are more likely to have a higher risk of morbidity and mortality.
  • Secondly, disruption to food systems due to reduced food availability and broken supply chains, as well as dried income sources and depleted family savings is likely to have decreased financial and physical access to healthy food.
  • Third, health and social services such as Anganwadi centres, nutrition rehabilitation centres, and village health sanitation and nutrition days (VHSND) were disrupted.
  • Fourth, COVID-19 related priorities could threaten the delivery and financing of nutrition and nutrition security responses, which we had seen in recent times, especially since the launch of the Poshan Abhiyaan.
  • Six areas need immediate attention.
  • First and foremost, strong leadership at all levels — from national to the district — is essential to bring back focus to address food, income and nutritional security.
  • Second, uninterrupted, universal, timely and high-quality coverage of essential evidence-based nutritional services must be ensured, with a special focus on children below two years of age, pregnant women and adolescent girls, which are the critical growth and development periods of life.
  • Thirdly, the pandemic calls for strategies adapting to COVID-19 guidelines and innovations in the service delivery mechanism. Urgent attention is needed to address food security, dietary diversity, micronutrient supplementation, social protection, economic support, gender, and financial inclusion. Keeping girls in school and delaying the age of marriage should be emphasised. The mid-day meal programme benefits should continue uninterrupted even when school services are disrupted.
  • Fourthly, adequate financing is needed to ensure the delivery of high impact interventions, and additional financing will be required for ensuring food and nutritional security, especially for the vulnerable population groups. Accelerating fund release to States and decentralised decision making are required to improve fund utilisation. The main causes of underutilisation of funds potentially available for nutrition responses must be identified and addressed.
  • Multisectoral interventions that directly or indirectly impact nutrition, like health, nutrition and social protection schemes need to be delivered effectively to the same household, same woman, same child. Migrant labourers and urban poor need special focus.
  • Finally, nutrition needs to be retained as a key indicator for development. Regular reviews aided by robust data systems are essential to help identify areas where urgent actions are needed. Data quality needs to improve for better policy and programme decisions.

SOURCE: TH

ENVIRONMENT, GEOGRAPHY AND AGRICULTURE

6. REVAMPED REC MECHANISM

THE CONTEXT: Union Minister of Power and New & Renewable Energy has given his assent to amendments in the existing Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) mechanism. The intent behind this decision is to align the ‘mechanism’ with the emerging changes in the power scenario and also to promote new renewable technologies.

THE SALIENT FEATURES OF CHANGES PROPOSED IN REVAMPED REC MECHANISM

  • Validity of REC would be perpetual i.e., till it is sold.
  • Floor and forbearance prices are not required to be specified.
  • CERC to have monitoring and the surveillance mechanism to ensure that there is no hoarding of RECs.
  • The RE generator who are eligible for REC will be eligible for issuance of RECs for the period of PPA as per the prevailing guidelines.  The existing RE projects that are eligible for REC would continue to get RECs for 25 years.
  • A technology multiplier can be introduced for the promotion of new and high priced RE technologies, which can be allocated in various baskets specific to technologies depending on maturity.
  • RECs can be issued to obligated entities (including DISCOMs and open access consumers) which purchase RE Power beyond their RPO compliance notified by the Central Government.
  • No REC to be issued to the beneficiary of subsidies/concessions or waiver of any other charges. The FOR to define concessional charges uniformly for denying the RECs.
  • Allowing traders and bilateral transactions in the REC mechanism.

SOURCE:  PIB

INDIAN ECONOMY

7. INDIA EXPORT INITIATIVE AND INDIAXPORTS 2021 PORTAL

THE CONTEXT: MSME Minister launched India Export Initiative and IndiaXports 2021 Portal.

ANALYSIS:

  • IndiaXports aims to orient MSMEs free of cost, with the objective of focussing on the untapped export potential in existing tariff lines and supporting MSMEs in order to grow the number of exporting MSMEs and increase MSME exports by 50% in 2022 and contributing to the PM’s dream of the US $5 Trillion Economy.
  • This initiative features an Info Portal which serves as a knowledge base for exports by Indian MSMEs with the required information related to export potential for all the 456 tariff lines along with the potential markets as well as trends in exports, export procedures and lots more.
  • Apart from an export help desk, Instructor-led orientation will also be provided to MSMEs through a series of sessions for specific sectors highlighting the opportunities in specific products in international markets.
  • The initiative targets 1 lakh+ MSME desirous of knowing more about exports and hand-holding 30,000+ MSMEs to start exporting, doubling the base of active exporters.

SOURCE: PIB

8. TWO RAILWAY LINE DOUBLING PROJECTS

THE CONTEXT:  The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the doubling of the Nimach-Ratlam (Madhya Pradesh) railway line as well as of the Rajkot-Kanalus (Gujarat) railway line, with an estimated project cost of over ₹1,000 crores each.

ANALYSIS:

  • The total length of doubling of the line for the Nimach-Ratlam line is 132.92 km, with an estimated project cost of Rs. 1,095.88 crores and the estimated length for the Rajkot-Kanalus railway line is 111.20 km, with an estimated cost of Rs. 1,080.58 crores. Both projects are targeted for completion by 2024-25.
  • While the Nimach-Ratlam project is expected to generate direct employment during construction for about 31.90 lakh man-days, the Rajkot-Kanalus project will generate direct employment for about 26.68 lakh man-days.
  • The main inward freight traffic carried is coal for captive power plants of cement companies, it said, adding that traffic on the section will further increase on account of new cement industries coming up due to the availability of huge deposits of cement grade limestone in the Nimach-Chittorgarh area.

SOURCE: TH

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

9. COST-EFFECTIVE PRODUCTION OF HYDROGEN

THE CONTEXT: A team of scientists have, for the first time, developed a large-scale reactor that produces a substantial amount of hydrogen using sustainable sources like sunlight and water, which is a cost-effective and sustainable process.

ANALYSIS:

  • Scientists from the Institute of Nano Science and Technology (INST), Mohali, an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Govt. of India have developed a prototype reactor that operates under natural sunlight to produce hydrogen at a larger scale (around 6.1 L in 8 hours). They have used an earth-abundant chemical called carbon nitrides as a catalyst for the purpose.
  • The INST team employed the low-cost organic semiconductor in carbon nitrides which can be prepared using cheaper precursors like urea and melamine at ease in a kilogram scale. When the sunlight falls on this semiconductor, electrons, and holes are generated.
  • The electrons reduced the protons to produce hydrogen, and holes are consumed by some chemical agents called sacrificial agents. If the holes are not consumed, then they will recombine with the electrons.
  • This work is supported by the DST Nano Mission NATDP project, and the related article has been published in the ‘Journal of Cleaner Production’ recently, and the team is in the process of obtaining a patent for the technology.
  • The team is in the process of optimising the hydrogen production with effective sunlight hours in addition to the purity of the hydrogen, moisture traps, and gas separation membranes so as to hyphenate with the fuel cells.
  • Hydrogen generated in this manner can be used in many forms like electricity generation through fuel cells in remote tribal areas, hydrogen stoves, and powering small gadgets, to mention a few. Eventually, they can power the transformers and e-vehicles, which are long-term research goals under progress.

SOURCE: PIB

INTERNAL SECURITY

10. DAC APPROVES PROCUREMENT WORTH RS 13,165 CRORE

THE CONTEXT: The Defence Acquisition Council Wednesday approved the purchase of helicopters, surface-to-air missiles and artillery ammunition worth Rs 13,165 crore.

ANALYSIS:

  • One of the key purchase approvals is for 25 advanced light Mark III helicopters from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. The twin-engine, multi-role helicopters, which will cost Rs 3,850 crore, are expected to help the Army strengthen its operational preparedness in remote areas. These will be made indigenously.
  • Of the total amount for which the ‘Acceptance of Necessity was accorded, procurement worth Rs 11,486 crore will be from domestic sources.
  • The DAC also approved a few amendments to the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020 as a part of Business Process Re-engineering to ensure further ease of doing business for the industry as well as measures to enhance procurement efficiency and reducing timelines.

SOURCE: IE

 

PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS

Consider the following statements related to unique health ID under Cushman Bharat Digital Mission:

  1. A user cannot permanently delete or temporarily deactivate her health ID.
  1. Aadhaar is not mandatory for the creation of a health ID.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

ANSWER FOR SEPTEMBER 28, 2021 PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS (REFER TO RELEVANT ARTICLE)

Answer: C

Explanation:

  1. Nathu La – Sikkim
  2. Lipulekh pass – Uttarakhand
  3. Jelep La – SikkimRegistries (HFR) will act as a repository of all healthcare providers across both modern and traditional systems of medicine.