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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs [Prelims + Mains Focus] – 29th June 2018

  • IASbaba
  • June 29, 2018
  • 30
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 29th June 2018

Archives


(PRELIMS+MAINS FOCUS)


Remembering Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains I – Indian History; Modern History

Key pointers:

  • 180th birth anniversary
  • He penned India’s national song “Vande Mataram”
  • Kapalkundala (1866) is Chattopadhyay’s first major publication.
  • His first novel ‘Durgesh Nandini’ proved that writing novel had reached an excellence under Bankim.
  • Another of his great works ‘Anandamath’ had a great impact on the mind of the Bengalis as well as on Indians as it inspired the people with nationalism.
  • Activists during the Indian Independence Movement

World Bank on impact of Climate Change

Part of: GS Mains III – Environment and Ecology; Climate Change

In news:

  • If the current temperature rise continues, 600mn Indians could be affected by 2050 (according to WB)
  • Indians could see a dip in living standards because of temperature rise

Key facts:

  • India’s average annual temperatures are expected to rise by 1°C to 2°C by 2050 (considering preventive measures are taken on lines of Paris climate change agreement, 2015). If no measures are taken, average temperatures in India are predicted to increase by 1.5°C to 3°C.
  • Seven of the 10 severest or most vulnerable ‘hotspots’ in India would be located in Maharashtra
  • The rest would be in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
  • States in the central, northern and northwestern parts of India emerge as the most vulnerable.
  • India could see a 1.5% decline in its GDP by 2030.

Tiger reserves in news

  • Satkosia Tiger Reserve and Sunabeda Tiger Reserve – Odisha
  • Sariska Tiger Reserve – Rajastan
  • Kanha National Park, Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh

Other tiger reserves in Madya Pradesh

  • Pench
  • Panna
  • Satpura
  • Sanjay-Dubri
  • Ratnapani

Do you know?

  • Kamlang Tiger Reserve, Arunachal Pradesh, is India’s 50th Tiger Reserve
  • Bhoramdev Sanctuary (of Chattisgarh) has been proposed to be India’s 51st Tiger Reserve

UGC to be replaced with HECI

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Government policies and schemes; Education Reforms

Fast recap:

From previous article (28th June 2018), we know that –

  • Government is set to replace UGC with HECI (HECI Bill 2018 seeks to repeal UGC Act,1951)
  • Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) to focus on improving academic standards and the quality of Higher Education.
  • Unlike UGC, HECI will not have grant functions and would focus only on academic matters. The ministry will deal with the grant functions.
  • HECI will also be backed with penal powers to order closure of institutes that violate set norms, imposition of fines where necessary and provisions for imprisonment up to three years where necessary.

In today’s article more differences have been highlighted –

Pic link: https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2018/06/29/CNI/Chennai/TH/5_13/02a39acb_ec29b1bc_101_mr.jpg


Increased MSP to Farmers

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Government policies and schemes; Social Reforms; Farmer issue

About:

  • During Budget 2018 – Government had decided to offer a minimum support price (MSP) of at least 1.5 times the expenses borne by farmers for all crops.
  • Important step towards doubling the income of our Farmers by 2022 when India celebrates its 75th year of independence.
  • Niti Aayog, in consultation with Central and State Governments, had to put in place a fool-proof mechanism so that farmers will get adequate price for their produce.

In news:

  • Issue: Farmers are still waiting for the announcement of the minimum support prices (MSP) for major crops.
  • However, now the government is considering hree NITI Aayog proposals which could shift some of the burden of enforcing MSPs to the States and even private agencies.

Do you know?

The MSP is announced by the Government of India for 25 crops currently at the beginning of each season viz. Rabi and Kharif.

However, NITI Aayog member Professor Ramesh Chand has said that Centre implementing MSP for 23 major crops.

Following are the 25 crops covered by MSP:

Kharif Crops Rabi Crops Other Crops
  1. Paddy
15. Wheat 22. Copra
     2. Jowar 16. Barley 23. De-husked coconut
    3. Bajra 17. Gram 24. Raw Jute
    4. Maize 18. Masur (Lentil) 25. Sugar Cane (Fair and remunerative price)
    5. Ragi 19. Rapeseed/Mustard
    6. Arhar (Tur) 20. Safflower
    7. Moong 21. Toria
    8. Urad
    9. Cotton
    10. Groundnut in shell
     11. Sunflower seed
     12. Soyabeen
     13. Sesamum
     14. Nigerseed

Indian money in Swiss banks surges

Part of: GS Mains III – Indian Economy; Corruption and Black Money

In news:

  • Money parked by Indians in Swiss banks rose more than 50% to 1.01 billion Swiss francs (₹7,000 crore) in 2017, reversing a three-year downward trend amid India’s clampdown on suspected black money stashed there.

Animal in news: Orange crocodiles

In news:

  • Orange crocodiles found in West African state of Gabon
  • The reptile may have changed colour due to proximity to orange bats, according to scientists
  • Orange crocodiles live in caves and in the total darkness, the animals survive on a diet of bats and crickets, unlike above-ground crocodiles of the same species which feed on fish and crustaceans.
  • A comparison of cave-dwelling and above-ground crocodiles confirms that they have not become separate species. However, the subterranean creatures — whether orange or normal colour — have developed a specific “genetic signature.”

In this photograph taken on August 12, 2010, a researcher holds a cave crocodile captured in caves in Abanda in the Ogooue-Maritime, in the south-west of Gabon.
Scientists have discovered orange crocodiles living in Gabon’s caves. / AFP PHOTO / Olivier TESTA / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – MANDATORY CREDIT “AFP PHOTO / OLIVIER TESTA” – NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS – DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS — NO ARCHIVE AFTER MAY 26, 2019

Pic link: https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2018/06/29/DEL/Delhi/TH/5_18/f3663548_2207555_1_mr.jpg


Blockchain technology

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains – Indian Economy; Science and Technology; Innovation

In news:

  • Centre has proposed to set up a Centre of Excellence for blockchain technology in Hyderabad to drive innovation.

About  Blockchain technology

Blockchain can be thought of as a public account ledger, an immutable, transparent and permanent one. Each transaction is recorded and stored in the ledger that is out on a public bulletin board. Every transaction adds a block to the chain of transactions and each one is evaluated by every user based on algorithms they’ve agreed upon. Rather than being kept in single location, a copy of the blockchain is stored on every user’s server so that a user cannot alter it without other users finding out. Even though blockchain was conceived for financial transactions, its characteristics make it an apt solution that can support voting systems.

Due to its unique attributes of trust, transparency and immutability, such a system is expected to mitigate issues like vote manipulation in political processes.

Blockchain is the backbone technology on which bitcoins run. Simply put, it is a digital public ledger that records every transaction. Once a transaction is entered in the blockchain, it cannot be erased or modified. Blockchain removes the need for using a trusted third party such as a bank to make a transaction by directly connecting the customers and suppliers.

Each transaction is recorded to the ledger after verification by the network participants, mainly a chain of computers, called nodes. While the origin of the technology is not clear, it is widely believed that a person or group of people by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, who invented bitcoins, released the technology to support cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin is just one of the applications for the technology, whose use is being tested across industries. It is witnessing a lot of traction within India, in sectors such as banking and insurance. In most of these industries, players are coming together to form a consortium to realise the benefits of blockchain at an industry level.

For example, in India, there is a consortium ‘BankChain’ which has about 27 banks from India (including State Bank of India or SBI and ICICI) and the Middle East as its members. The consortium is exploring using usage of Blockchain technology to make business safer, faster and cheaper.

The Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT), an arm of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), is developing a model platform for blockchain technology.

Blockchain is expected to improve the efficiency of a transaction by eliminating the middlemen, while also reducing the cost of all transactions. It is also likely to increase transparency and bring down fraud as every transaction would be recorded and distributed on a public ledger.


(MAINS FOCUS)


GOVERNMENT POLICY/SCHEME

TOPIC: General Studies 2:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Reforming education system

Introduction

  • The recent statistics on higher education in India are sobering.
  • The government spends a third of its budget on education, and a further third of that on higher education. (Poor GDP expenditure on Education)

Concerns with the present education system

  • Primary and secondary educationare yet to be expanded for the common women.
  • The children of the poorest of the poor, the ones most discriminated against on the basis of caste or religion, did not receive basic quality education, so they could not proceed to higher education.
  • The ones who went did not receive quality education in the poor staffed government schools and therefore were not able to compete with the rich kids when it came to college.

Do you know?

  • India is one of the countries in the world where the average good quality high school education costs more than five times the average good quality college education. In most civilised economies, the ratio is the opposite.
  • Government schools account for 55 per cent of all students; government colleges for approximately 45 per cent of students. 
  • A private unaided higher secondary school in urban areas [NSSO survey 71st round, 2014; non-government figures inflated by 15 per cent to yield 2018 values] charges Rs 23,000.But when a person enters college he/she has to pay comparatively lesser amount as the fee.

Proposed solution

  • Each student should pay for his/her college education the same he/she paid for high school education so that the government will also gain, at a minimum, Rs 13,000 crore a year, or nearly half the annual expenditure of the central government.
  • Extra money should allow the government to redo the Indian education system from the primary level onwards. For example by transferring student vouchers to each child from the age of 6.
  • This voucher allows each primary and secondary school student to go to a school of her choice. Government schools will be forced to perform — or perish. There will be a chain reaction to the existing defunct, feudal, and corrupt system of education in India

Arguments by the critics for the above concerns

  • Why does the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009 not guarantee equal “quality” education to all? Why does it allow private schools to put a price tag on quality education? Why does it allow only restricted access to quality government schools like the Kendriya Vidyalayas?
  • In most civilised economies the cost of high school education is less than the college education because in these countries, the state takes responsibility for school education. In Sweden, Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway and Canada, the enrolment in state-funded schools is as high as 80 per cent to 95 per cent.
  • A voucher system legitimises and reinforces the idea that, instead of being a “public good”, school education is a commodity for sale. Government schools cannot be given the option to “perform or perish”. They must be supported to perform.
  • Students from disadvantaged backgrounds face greater challenges in clearing IIT JEE and NEET because of the inability of our school curricula to meet the demands of these entrance examinations, and hence the reliance on extremely expensive coaching institutes.
  • If the government schools continue to be of poor quality, the non-elite will always find it difficult to reach higher education. Instead, public-funded higher education institutions, already being pushed to generate their own income, will be encouraged to prefer those who can pay.

Way ahead

  • It is important to remember that students from socially and economically disadvantaged sections continue to face disadvantages in higher education. The increase in suicides among students coming from these sections is alarming.
  • Poor quality government schools make higher education out of reach for non-elite. That’s the real problem, not public-funded universities
  • The educational spaces that remain equal and socially just should  be kept away from the forces of evil market

Connecting the dots:

  • Why doesn’t India have globally competitive institutions of education? Examine. What would it take to transform higher education in India? Analyse.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)

Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Q.1) Consider the following statements about ‘Anandamath’

  1. It is written by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay
  2. It was set in the background of the Santhal rebellion
  3. Vande Mataram, was first published in this novel

Select the correct statements

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 1 and 3
  4. All of the above

Q.2) In which of the following Mass movement ‘Vande Mataram’ became a call of agitation for Indians?

  1. Swadeshi movement 1905
  2. Non Cooperation Movement 1920
  3. Civil Disobedience Movement 1930
  4. Quit India Movement 1942

Q.3) With the boom of the bitcoin – a variety of cryptocurrency – the blockchain technology has come into prominence. What does this technology promise to do, even though it is still in its infancy?

  1. Help facilitate secure, online transactions in a decentralized way
  2. Keep out malware
  3. Connect servers with common reasons for existence, remotely
  4. All of the above

Q.4) Which of the following tiger reserves are located in the state of Odisha?

  1. Satkosia Tiger reserve
  2. Simlipal Tiger reserve
  3. Kawal Tiger reserve
  4. Pilibhit Tiger reserve

Choose the correct options

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1,2 and 3 only
  4. 1,2 and 4 only

Q.5) Consider the following

  1. Arecanut
  2. Barley
  3. Coffee
  4. Finger millet
  5. Groundnut
  6. Sesamum
  7. Turmeric

The cabinet committee on economic affairs has announced Minimum Support Price for which of the above?

  1. 1, 2, 3 and 7 only
  2. 2, 4, 5 and 6 only
  3. 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6  only
  4. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 only

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