Daily Current Affairs [IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam] – 13th December 2018
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Centre State Relations; Inter-State Relations; Inter-state river dispute
- Tamil Nadu has expressed its concern over the unilateral approval granted by the Central Water Commission (CWC) to Karnataka to proceed with the preparation of Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the Mekedatu project.
- TN alleges that the approval is in violation of the decisions of the tribunal and apex court for equitable apportionment of Cauvery water. (therefore, contempt of court)
- According to TN, the proposed construction of any new dam by Karnataka would result in impounding the flows in the intermediate catchment below KRS and Kabini reservoirs and Billigundulu, which is located in the common border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
India gets submarine rescue system
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Defence; Security; Defence partnership
- Indian Navy joined a select group of naval forces in the world when it inducted its first non-tethered Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) system at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai.
- In March 2016, the Indian Navy had signed a ₹2,000 crore contract with the U.K.-based James Fisher Defence (JFD) for two submarine rescue systems as well as maintenance for 25 years.
- This project is yet another milestone in the defence partnership between India and the United Kingdom.
Do you know?
- The DSRV is used to rescue crew members from submarines stranded under water in the high seas.
- The DSRV can be operated at a depth of 650 metres and can rescue 14 people at a time.
- The DSRV can also be transported by air, enabling it to conduct rescue operations across the globe.
- The Indian Navy currently operates five different classes of submarines.
‘NSG must have its own air wing’
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Defence; Security
- A Parliamentary panel has recommended that the Centre urgently take steps to ensure that the National Security Guard (NSG) is equipped with its own dedicated air wing.
- Currently, the two Mi-17 helicopters procured by the NSG in 1988-99, were grounded and unavailable.
- Ministry of Home Affairs should make urgent and sincere efforts to commission a dedicated Air Wing of NSG and provide requisite types and number of air assets to strengthen the aviation capability of the force.
About National Security Guard (NSG)
- National Security Guard (NSG) — is the country’s premier counter-terrorist and contingency force.
- The NSG was raised in 1986 following the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Operation Blue Star.
- The force, which is trained to operate as an elite urban anti-terrorist and anti-hijack force, doesn’t have a cadre of its own or direct recruitment and is instead dependent on personnel sent on deputation from the army and the central armed police forces.
- We live in ‘Age of the Chicken’?
Do you know?
- There are about 23 billion chickens on Earth at any given time, at least 10 times more than any other bird.
- The combined mass of those 23 billion chickens is greater than that of all the other birds on Earth.
- Chickens seem to have been domesticated about 8,000 years ago, and gradually bred to be larger and meatier than their jungle fowl ancestors. But it was not until production of broilers ramped up in the 1950s and farming practices changed that the bird was transformed.
Some facts about broiler chicken
- The modern broiler chicken has a genetic mutation that makes it eat insatiably so that it gains weight rapidly.
- It has five times the mass of its ancestor.
- It is subject to numerous bone ailments because it has been bred to grow so quickly. And because of its diet — heavy on grains and low on backyard seeds and bugs — its bones have a distinct chemical signature.
- Japan picks ‘disaster’ as symbol for 2018
- Japan selected the Chinese character for ‘disaster’ as its ‘defining symbol’ for 2018.
- 2018 saw the country hit by deadly floods, earthquakes and storms. It faced a series of natural calamities.
TOPIC:General studies 3
- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
Questions being raised about the new GDP back series
- Three years after the shift to the new base year of 2011-12, the CSO and NITI Aayog, in a join press conference, released the back series detailing growth numbers for 2005-06 to 2011-12.
- In its new GDP back series data, average growth during UPA regime is down from previous estimates while growth during NDA is pegged higher than during UPA.
Do you know?
- Mundle expert panel, which was constituted to prepare the back series under the revised methodology, had not come up with the counter-intuitive estimates that have just been released.
- They estimated the average GDP growth at market prices at 8.37% (2004-05 to 2008-09), and then 7.69% (2009-10 to 2013-014).
Three changes occurred in the revision that was first announced in 2015:
- Base Year
- Methodology from GDP at factor cost to GDP at market price (this is the international norm and the basis of the current government’s claim that this is what CSO has followed)
- Method of estimating company output/revenue – which has been done in a much more detailed manner using new data collected by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA 21).
Questions are being raised from experts
- If most important indicators (provided below) of the Indian economy were better in 2004-2014, how is the GDP growth rate higher in estimates just released (7.4% per annum since 2014 and only 6.7% per annum in 2005-2014)?
Questions arise over the new GDP series for the following substantive reasons:
- Agricultural growth rates at constant prices were much higher from 2004-05 to 2013-14 than since then.
- Two back-to-back drought years (2014 and 2015) notwithstanding, policies have not been exactly supportive. (Also farmers agitation year after year has increased)
- The Index of Agricultural Production, with a base of 100 for the triennium ending 2007-08, had risen to 129.8 in 2013-14. But after falling, it barely recovered to 130 in 2017-18.
- Agriculture, like the non-agricultural informal sector, collapsed first after demonetisation and then after a poorly implemented Goods and Services Tax. Both measures affected output as well as jobs, especially in the unorganised sector which constitutes nearly half of GDP and half of all exports.
- Exports have performed much worse in the last four years than over the preceding 10 years. Exports were only $50 billion in 2002-03, but had risen to $250 billion in 2010-11, and reached $315 billion in 2013-14. They have not recovered to that level even in 2017-18.
- In 2003-04, India’s savings rate had risen from 9.5% of GDP in 1950-51, and stood at 25.9%. It rose sharply thereafter to peak at 36.8% — precisely because of a rise in per capita income growth — to a level unprecedented in India’s economic history, and not achieved since.
- This rising savings rate contributed to an unprecedented increase in the investment to GDP ratio. Then the investment to GDP fell in the wake of the global economic crisis. It is investment that mainly drives growth. (Investment to GDP rise peaked at 36.8% in 2007-08 → 31.3% in 2013-14 → 30.4% in 2014-15 → 29.3% in 2015-16 → 26.4% in 2017-18)
- Index of Industrial Production (IIP, which consists of manufacturing, mining, electricity) also rose sharply during 2004-05 to 2013-14.
In crux, the entire exercise casts doubt on the credibility of India’s growth numbers.
Connecting the dots:
- “A double digit growth for Indian economy in near future is difficult.” Do you agree? Give reasons for your answer.
TOPIC:General studies 3
- Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country
- Science and Technology – Role of GM technology, Various research related to GM crops
Don’t believe the anti-GMO campaign?
We recently read about few highlights on GM crops (Fast Recap)
According to a research paper – “Modern technologies for sustainable food and nutrition security” – co-authored by geneticist P.C. Kesavan and leading agriculture scientist M.S. Swaminathan:
- GM crops are considered to be a failure.
- GM crops such as Bt cotton, the stalled Bt brinjal as well as DMH-11, a transgenic mustard hybrid – has failed as a sustainable agriculture technology
- It has also failed to provide livelihood security for cotton farmers who are mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers.
- It raised questions on the genetic engineering technology itself on the grounds that it raises the cost of sowing.
Swaminathan emphasised that genetic engineering technology is supplementary and must be needbased. Only in very rare circumstance (less than 1%) may there arise a need for the use of this technology.
However, the research paper was criticised by India’s Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA), K. VijayRaghavan as ‘deeply flawed’. According to him, it has the potential to mislead the public and the political system.
Proponents of GMO argue that –
- Anti-GMO campaign is scientifically baseless and potentially harmful to poor people in the developing world.
- Genetic modification is the technology of choice for solving abiotic problems like drought flood, salinity, etc.
- Genetic modification allows different parents to be combined easily, helping yields go up substantially.
- Major science academies of the world such as the U.S.’s National Academy of Sciences, the African Academy of Sciences and the Indian National Science Academy have supported GM technology.
- Data from a large number of peer-reviewed publications have shown that, on average, GM technology adoption has reduced pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yield by 22%, and increased farmer profits by 68%.
- Data from a billion animals fed on GM corn have not indicated any health hazards.
- Yield and profit gains are higher in developing countries than in developed countries.
- Those in the Americas and elsewhere consuming Bt corn or soybean for over 15 years have not reported any health issues.
- Reports on the probable carcinogenic potential of the herbicide have not been accepted by major science academies.
Bt cotton – Not a failure in India
- Bt cotton is not a failure in India
- The yields hovering around 300 kg/ha at the time of introduction of Bt cotton (2002) have increased to an average of over 500 kg/ha, converting India from a cotton-importing country to the largest exporter of raw cotton
- India has one of the strongest regulatory protocols for field trials of GM crops.
- It is unfortunate that farmer distress is being wrongly attributed to Bt cotton failure. Farmers continue to grow Bt cotton.
On Bt brinjal
- Bt brinjal trials were scuttled in India
- The moratorium on Bt brinjal is the most unfortunate step taken by the government in 2010 and has crippled the entire field of research and development with transgenic crops.
- Bangladesh has used India’s data to successfully cultivate Bt brinjal, despite all the negative propaganda.
- Reports indicate that as many as 6,000 Bangladeshi farmers cultivated Bt brinjal in 2017.
- Proponents raised the question – How long will it take for Bt brinjal to enter India from Bangladesh?
According to proponents of GM crops,
- The paper by Dr. Kesavan and Dr. Swaminathan seems to have got most things wrong.
- GM technology is not a magic bullet. It needs to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
- There is definitely scope for improvement in terms of technology and regulatory protocols
- It is time to deregulate the Bt gene and lift the embargo on Bt brinjal.
- A negative review from opinion-makers can only mislead the country. In the end, it is India that will be the loser.
Connecting the dots:
- Genetic engineering technology is supplementary and must be need-based. Only in very rare circumstance (less than 1%) may there arise a need for the use of this technology. Do you agree? Critically analyze the benefits and risks associated with GM foods.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
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Q.1) Mekedatu project is often in news. It has become a bone of contention between –
- Kerala and Tamil Nadu
- Karnataka and Tamil Nadu
- Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
- Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu
Q.2) Which among the following is considered as queen of the Arabian Sea?
- Panambur Port
Q.3) India has achieved the milestone of induction of its first non-tethered Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) system, with the help of –
- Defence partnership with Russia
- Defence partnership with US
- Defence partnership with UK
- Defence partnership with France
Q.4) Consider the following statements about National Security Guard (NSG)
- It is a branch of the Indian Army under the authority of the Indian Ministry of Defence.
- It is a counter-insurgency force made up of soldiers deputed from other parts of the Indian Army and is currently deployed in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Select the correct statements
- 1 Only
- 2 Only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.5) Consider the following regarding National Security Guard (NSG)
- It is one of the security forces under Central Armed Police Force (CAPF)
- It is a Federal Contingency Deployment Force under Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)
Which of the given statement/s is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
Engaging with climate change
Upside Of Scaling Down
When terror came to the House
Energy efficiency and climate change
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