IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 18th August 2018
Part of: GS Mains II – International Relations; India and the World
- We earlier read about article dealing with cultural diplomacy – Britain Police returning 12th century bronze Buddha statue to India, which was stolen from Nalanda museum.
- ‘Durga Puja diplomacy’ – Chinese artists to put up cultural performances in Kolkata, West Bengal Durga Puja.
- It is significant because it will draw the attention of the Chinese people and promote cultural ties between eastern India and China.
- During the celebrations, a structure representing a Chinese bottle gourd will be built. In Chinese, the gourd is called ‘Hulu,’ which signifies happiness and prosperity and is very popular in China, especially in the Yunnan province.
- Chinese artists to perform Chinese songs, lion dance, acrobatics and martial arts.
18th Asian Games: Indonesia
Part of: GS Prelims – Sport Personalities
- Indonesia is hosting the Games for the second time.
- Neeraj Chopra – 20 year old Javelin thrower
- Manu Bhaker – 16 yr old 10m air pistol (shooter)
City-level GDP data soon
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian Economy; Urbanization
- Centre hopes to bring out city-level GDP data
- Urban India is responsible for an increasingly large share of the national GDP
- This could help both cities and investors make wise decisions
- It helps municipal bodies raise funds for their own infrastructure needs
Do you know?
- By 1951 – urban sector only accounted for 29% of the national GDP.
- By 1981, it was 45%, and by 2011, it had crossed the 60% mark.
- The urban sector is likely to account for three-fourths or 75% of India’s GDP by 2020.
Definition of GDP
- Gross domestic product is the best way to measure a country’s economy.
- GDP is the total value of everything produced by all the people and companies in the country.
- It doesn’t matter if they are citizens or foreign-owned companies. If they are located within the country’s boundaries, the government counts their production as GDP.
Impact of proposed water aerodrome on Chilika’s biodiversity
Part of : GS Mains III – Environment and Biodiversity
- The Airports Authority of India’s move to set up a water aerodrome in Odisha’s Chilika Lake has stirred a controversy.
- Green activists and fishermen in Chilika have all opposed the proposal to set up an aerodrome in one of Asia’s largest brackish water lagoons, asserting that it would impact the lake’s biodiversity.
- Prafulla Samantara, winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize, has accused the Centre and the State governments of tinkering with the biodiversity of the lagoon, which is designated a Ramsar site – wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
- The endangered Irrawaddy dolphins found in Chilika are sensitive to sound pollution.
- Migratory birds in Chilika lake may also be affected.
Status of MSME sector in India
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian Economy and issues related to it.
- The flow of bank credit to MSME sector which took a hit in the aftermath of demonetization has now picked up.
- GST implementation also adversely impacted MSME exports.
- The sector faces operational problems due to its size and nature of business, and is, therefore, relatively more susceptible to various shocks to the economy.
- MSMEs largely operate in the informal sector and comprise a large number of micro enterprises and daily wage earners.
Significance of MSME sector:
- The MSME sector comprises more than 63 million units and employs about 111 million people.
- The share of MSMEs in GDP is about 30%, with the sector accounting for about 45% of manufacturing output and about 40% of India’s total exports.
NPCI launches UPI 2.0
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian Economy; Cyber Security issues
- National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) launched Unified Payments Interface (UPI) 2.0 with overdraft facility.
- UPI 2.0 will allow linking of overdraft accounts; blocking payment through one time mandate; and sending invoices with payments.
- The expected feature would help the credit industry to pull amounts due and made payments more seamless.
(Just for information)
Over draft account
UPI 1.0 allowed users to link only saving accounts. The upgrade will allow the users (i.e., the merchants) to link their overdraft (OD) accounts to UPI, enabling them to continue withdrawing money even if the account doesn’t have sufficient funds. This will allow merchants to take credit through these OD accounts.
A new addition to UPI is the one-time mandate essentially allowing users to block a certain amount in the customer’s account balance. The transaction will go through after the goods and services are delivered.
Invoice in inbox
The new UPI mandate will allow individuals or merchants to send an invoice along with a payment request in the Inbox. This helps create transparency. This helps customers to check the invoice sent by merchant prior to making payment.
Signed intent and QR
Apart from a pre-payment invoice, users can now also verify the merchants through the QR codes.
Do you know?
- NPCI is an umbrella organization for all retail payments in India.
- It was set up with the guidance and support of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks Association (IBA).
General Studies 2
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources
- Issues relating to poverty and hunger
General Studies 3
- Inclusive growth and issues arising from it
- Public Distribution System and Food security
Health and Nutrition: No child left behind
The urgency to address poor nutrition in India, especially among children, adolescent girls and women is compelling, and re-confirmed in virtually every survey, from NFHS-4 in 2015-16 to the Global Nutrition Report 2016 and the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2017.
- GHI ranks India at 100 out of 119 countries, with a low overall score of 31.4.
- Among children less than 5 years, wasting (low weight for height), continues to be 21% in the 2017 index, it was 20% in 1992.
- There has been a reduction in stunting (height for age) – from 61.9% in 1992 to 38.4% in 2017, reported in the GHI 2017.
- Mortality among children less than 5 years old has declined to around 5% from 11% during the same period, according to both the GHI and the NFHS.
- 25% of India’s children less than 5 years old are still malnourished.
- 190.7 million People in India sleep hungry every night.
- Over half of adolescent girls and women are anaemic.
- Despite a 7% compound annual growth rate over the last decade and the various programmes to improve nutrition, levels of under-nutrition are unacceptably high.
Governments’ steps toward health and nutrition:
- Grim reality has rightly lead to a renewed emphasis to address the various forms of poor nutrition – stunted, wasted, anaemic and underweight children; anaemic girls and women, especially in the 15-49 age groups.
- The special attention to nutrition was highlighted in 2008 when the Prime Minister’s National Council on India’s Nutrition Challenges was constituted.
- A detailed report, “Addressing India’s Nutrition Challenges”, was submitted in 2010 by the Planning Commission, for the convergence of an extensive and multi-sector consultation.
- Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) with its network of 1.4 million Anganwadi Centres, reaching almost 100 million beneficiaries who include pregnant and nursing mothers and children up to 6 years
- Mid-day meals (MDM) that reach almost 120 million children in schools;
- Public Distribution System (PDS) that reaches over 800 million people under the National Food Security Act.
- The recently announced flagship program of the Ministry of Women and Child Development will be anchored through the National Nutrition Mission (NNM), or Poshan Abhiyaan, with its own specific budget of Rs. 9,046 crore and a proposed World Bank loan of $200 million, to ensure convergence among the various programmes of the government.
- NITI Aayog has worked on a National Nutrition Strategy (NNS), isolated the 100 most backward districts for stunting and prioritised those for interventions.
- The National Nutrition Strategy (NNS) has set very ambitious targets for 2022 and the Poshan Abhiyaan has also specified three-year targets to reduce stunting, under-nutrition and low birth weight by 2% each year, and to reduce anaemia by 3% each year.
- The National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau (NNMB), established in 1972, was dissolved in 2015.
- Both the NNS and the NNM have recognised the criticality of working collaboratively across Ministries; yet both are silent on the constructive role that the private sector, development agencies and civil society can and must play in realising these ambitious goals.
What more can be done?
- Exploring new models to address the structural and systemic issues on a priority basis, learning from what has worked or not, and single-minded focus on implementation will be critical to delivering better nutritional outcomes and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, to which India is a signatory.
- Initiatives like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, will contribute positively to nutrition outcomes, and well-structured public-private partnerships could be the catalyst.
- For purposeful action, it is imperative to have common goals and metrics for improving nutrition, which can then be disaggregated by year, State, district, etc., into a nutrition dashboard, with metrics that are clear and measurable and a real-time tracking mechanism, much like we track economic data.
- Altering the fundamentals of poor nutrition requires multiple and sustained interventions over a period of time.
- The approach, commitment and resources therefore have to be inter-generational, multi-sector, multi-dimensional and multi-year.
Success in this domain will be driven by coordinated action on multiple fronts, but there are at least three urgent priorities.
- One, to adequately re-engineer and overhaul the capacity and capability in the ICDS, MDM and PDS for greater effectiveness.
- This is an ideal initiative for public-private partnerships as the strength of good private sector companies is in creating and designing frameworks, structures, processes and metrics for action, implementation and tracking.
- For example, involving the best nutritionists to work with local communities on calorie and nutrition dense supplementary foods, using easily available local ingredients that are within the ICDS and MDM budget guidelines, and produced by self-help groups, could easily be anchored by the relevant private sector and development agencies, working with State governments, and considered a corporate social responsibility initiative.
- The key advantages of this disaggregated supply model are that it engages local communities, generates employment and ensures minimal leakage as it works with and inside the community.
- This will also ensure that space and other constraints of lack of hygiene at Anganwadi Centres do not become impediments in the supply of nutritious food.
Two, to mandate and scale staple food fortification comprising edible oil, wheat, rice and dairy products, in addition to salt.
- There is persuasive evidence from several countries of the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of large-scale staple food fortification to address “hidden hunger” or micro-nutrient deficiencies.
- The effectiveness of iodised salt in significantly reducing iodine deficiency is well-established in India empirically.
- Fortified rice and wheat should be made available through the PDS; it has been piloted in several States for edible oil and wheat flour and can easily be replicated.
- Example; the mandate to use fortified oil, salt and wheat flour in the ICDS and MDM.
- In the absence of coordination with industry to create an effective supply chain, this proposed intervention will be another missed opportunity.
- In this way, these universally consumed staple foods become the carriers of vitamins and minerals that people need but do not get in sufficient quantity from the food they consume.
Three, awareness and education;
- Multiple campaigns designed to inform, communicate and educate on nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive behaviours like breast feeding, diet diversity, hand-washing, de-worming, safe drinking water, hygiene and sanitation.
- Nutrition has to be “marketed” and made interesting, engaging, simple and personally relevant — this is an expertise where the private sector can meaningfully contribute.
- Nutrition is complex, and therefore its delivery must be simplified through greater awareness and actions.
- The delivery models must be collaborative across domains, enabled by technology and a significant investment in strengthening people competencies.
- Unless economic growth improves social and human development, it cannot be sustained. Equally, economic growth itself is impeded by low levels of productivity in an under-nourished and malnourished population.
Connecting the dots:
- Since a diversified diet that meets all nutritional requirements is difficult to provide, fortification of food is relied upon by many countries to prevent malnutrition. Elucidate and give suggestions to solve the problem of malnutrition in India.
TOPIC: General Studies 3
- Disaster and Disaster management
Kerala’s Trauma: A test for India’s Disaster management
The unprecedented severe floods in Kerala unleashed by heavy rain, overflowing rivers, brimming dams and massive landslips has overwhelmed the State government and rescue agencies, as they struggle to make a complete assessment of the devastation.
Disaster and response to it
- More than 160 people have died and several are missing. A large number of people moved to relief camps.
- The State government faces the challenging task of rescuing people who are trapped in far-flung houses in several districts and providing them food and water until the teams gets to them.
- Tourism has been badly affected. In Munnar, the blooming of the Neelakurinji flower, which occurs every 12 years, was expected to draw in the crowds.
- The town remains cut off now, with the spill from the Madupetty dam destroying livelihoods.
- Relief efforts are going on using a combination of boats and aircraft from the Air Force, the Navy and the Coast Guard and legions of rescue personnel, to get all the stranded people to safety.
- The State government has acted quickly to make online contributions to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund possible through a dedicated portal.
- Support groups from neighbouring States such as Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have begun sending relief material, although the disruption to road connectivity has left a lot of it stranded at the inter-State borders.
What more can be done?
- Volunteer efforts can be better targeted if the district authorities in Kerala put out advisories on the nature of relief needed, and the locations and the modalities of transfer.
- Many control rooms have been opened, but integrating the mechanism by merging the various phone numbers into three or four, at one per region, and allocating sufficient phone lines, will help citizens use them more easily.
- Disaster management units in other States too should assist those working on the ground to deal with Kerala’s catastrophic floods; apart from helping, they will gain valuable experience as well.
- The task of reconstruction will have to be addressed, covering public buildings, residential homes, roads and other infrastructure.
- A subsidised housing programme may be needed in the worst-hit areas, with tax breaks offered to residents.
Need for a long-term plan
- There is a dire need for a long-term comprehensive plan. A disaster management plan for dam failure should be in place.
- The Western Ghats, an eco-sensitive mountain range, is prone to degradation. Landslide-prone zones, mostly those receiving over 20 cm rainfall and at a 30-degree gradient, can be easily identified and people relocated.
- In the wake of the tragedy, there have been calls to implement the Madhav Gadgil Committee report on the Western Ghats.
- The 2011 report had recommended the zoning off of ecologically fragile areas, with no developmental activity allowed in areas classified as falling under zone 1.
- It was vigorously opposed in Kerala, with critics saying that it was impractical to do so in a densely populated State.
- In the Periyar basin, the committee against river pollution asserts that the unfolding disaster has been long due because of unchecked encroachments even on the floodplains of the river.
- There have been demands for the removal of toxic waste stockpiled in the industrial units, which were allowed to be set up along the Periyar’s banks in violation of environmental norms.
- The time has come to carry out floodplain zoning on a war-footing.
- There is a proposal of a comprehensive insurance policy — at zero premiums or for a nominal fee, for poor families living in vulnerable areas. Had the proposal been implemented, it would have eased the burden on victims during this flooding.
- The recent amendment to the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act which has eased the norms for the conversion of wetland for other land uses would also prove disastrous, as paddy fields, even when left barren, would cushion the impact of flooding.
- Equally important is a policy to preserve the remaining hills and wetlands, as they serve as water storing systems.
- Kerala flood is a lesson worth of learning for India’s disaster management system.
- India, having more than 7500 km of coastline, should have a strong disaster early warning and management system.
- Cooperation between the states can create an expert and integrated national structure, to manage any kind of natural disaster.
Connecting the dots:
- Flooding has been a regular phenomenon in coastal as well as Himalayan river basin states. What are the various types of floods? Give some suggestions to improve the efficiency of disaster management at state and national levels.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Which is called as umbrella organisation for all retail payments in India?
- Unified Payment Interface (UPI)
- Aadhaar Payments Bridge System (APBS)
- National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)
- National Financial Switch (NFS)
Q.2) Which of the following services is not offered by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)?
- Unified Payment Interface (UPI)
- Cheque Truncation System (CTS)
- Aadhar Payment Bridge System (APBS)
- National Electronic Fund Transfer (NEFT)
Q.3) Google TEZ is associated with
- Digital Payments
- Rural internet connectivity
- 3D Mapping
- Self-driving car project
Q.4) Which of the following statements are ‘NOT’ correct about ‘Gross Domestic Product’ (GDP)?
- It is the total value of final goods produced and services provided in a country during specific time.
- It depicts the inequalities present in the economy of a country.
- GDP is a measure of economic development of a country.
Select the code from following:
- 1 and 2
- 2 only
- 2 and 3
- All of the above
Q.5) With reference to Wetlands International, consider the below statements:
- It is an intergovernmental organization formed by the countries which are signatories to Ramsar Convention.
- It works at the field level to develop and mobilize knowledge, and use the practical experience to advocate for better policies.
Which of the statements given above is/are incorrect?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.6) The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. Ramsar is located in
No child left behind
Trial by water: How Kerala is coping with an extraordinary natural disaster
The human factor