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Daily Current Affairs [IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam] – 28th December 2018

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  • January 1, 2019
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Daily Current Affairs [IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam] – 28th December 2018

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Animal in news: Ganges River Dolphins

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment and Biodiversity; Animal Conservation

In news:

  • In India, the Ganges River Dolphin is threatened by river water pollution and siltation, rise in salinity in the water system, accidental entanglement in fishing nets, and poaching for their oil.
  • In addition, alterations to the rivers in the form of barrages and dams are separating populations.
  • Various organizations, including the WWF-India in Uttar Pradesh, have initiated programs for conservation and re-introduction of the River Dolphin.

Important Value Additions:

  • Ganges River Dolphins are considered as National aquatic animal
  • IUCN status: Endangered

Aspirational Districts Programme

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Social/Developmental issue; Government schemes and programmes; Inclusive growth

In news:

  • NITI Aayog released Second Delta Ranking under the Aspirational Districts Programme.
  • The ranking will measure the incremental progress made by districts between June 1, 2018 and October 31, 2018.
  • The districts have been ranked in a transparent basis on parameters across Health & Nutrition, Education, Agriculture & Water Resources, Financial Inclusion & Skill Development, and Basic Infrastructure through key performance indicators.
  • The first Delta ranking for the Aspirational Districts was released in June 2018. It ranked the Aspirational Districts on improved performance across five developmental areas of Health and Nutrition, Education, Agriculture and Water Resources, Financial Inclusion and Skill Development, and Basic Infrastructure, over the months of April and May 2018, on the basis of self-reported data.

Highlights:

  • N. district Virudhunagar shows most improvement among country’s 111 underdeveloped areas.
  • Jharkhand’s Pakur reflected the least improvement.
  • Virudhunagar is followed by Nuapada in Odisha, Siddharthnagar in Uttar Pradesh, Aurangabad in Bihar and Koraput in Odisha.
  • Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara topped the list for ‘fast movers’ for showing initiative and displaying a qualitative jump in scores between June and October 2018. In the first delta ranking, Kupwara had topped the list for ‘least improved aspirational districts’.

Pic: https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2018/12/28/DEL/Delhi/TH/5_07/615b9700_2623835_101_mr.jpg

About Aspirational Districts Programme

  • It was launched by PM Modi in January
  • The ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ programme aims to quickly and effectively transform most-underdeveloped districts.
  • In line with government’s commitment to raising the living standards of its citizens and ensuring inclusive growth for all – “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas”.

“Adopt a Heritage” programme

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains I and II – Conservation of India’s Heritage and Culture; Government schemes and programmes

About the Adopt a Heritage programme:

  • The scheme is a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), and State/UTs
  • It was launched in September 2017 on World Tourism Day by President Ram Nath Kovind.
  • The Project aims to develop synergy among all partners to effectively promote “responsible tourism”.
  • It aims to involve public sector companies, private sector companies and corporate citizens/individuals to take up the responsibility for making our heritage and tourism more sustainable through development, operation and maintenance of world-class tourist infrastructure and amenities at ASI/ State heritage sites and other important tourist sites in India.

In news:

  • Soon, tourists visiting Amer Fort (Rajasthan), Kaziranga (Assam), Colva Beach (Goa), Kumarakom (Kerala) and Mahabodhi temple (Bihar) will be able to avail themselves of an audio guide through a mobile application.
  • Ministry of Culture signed an agreement with a private entity for the initiative (under “Adopt a Heritage” programme).
  • The Ministry also awarded a Letter of Intent to seven agencies under its “Adopt a Heritage” programme which allows public and private sector companies to operate, maintain and develop amenities at heritage sites.
  • These iconic tourist attractions include monuments of Khajuraho (Madhya Pradesh) and Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu), awarded to Dalmia Bharat Private Limited, as well as Bhimbetka rock shelters (Madhya Pradesh) and Aalampur Temple (Telangana), among others.
  • Earlier this year, the Dalmia group was awarded an agreement to develop and maintain Red Fort in Delhi for a period of five years.

(MAINS FOCUS)


NATIONAL/SECURITY

TOPIC:General studies 1 and 3

  • Secularism, Communalism and its impacts
  • Freedom versus Security
  • Security issues

India needs ‘individual acts of bravery’: Growing Vigilantism on Communal Lines

Context:

  • Events over the past few years have prompted many to revisit the idea of individual freedom.
  • Indeed, not just in India, but elsewhere too, the idea of individual freedom is under intense scrutiny.
  • There are instances where governments across the world increasingly posing a threat to liberty.

For example, recent incidents in India –

  • Killing of Police inspector Subodh Kumar over cow slaughter protest,
  • Killing of Journalist like Gauri Lankesh,
  • Protest over individual Freedom like Naeeruddin Shah, Carnatic Musical Vocalist T M Krishna

– highlight that we are at a juncture where fundamental notions of Modern India are under existential threat.

Secularism:

  • Western Model of Secularism– western notion of secularism is complete separation of church/religion from state. India’s secularism is not based on western notion of complete separation.
  • India’s Secularism– India is home to religious diversity; faith is so central, the constitution maker adopted the principled distanced, ethical sensitive and politically negotiated model of secularism.
  • Secularism and Personal Freedom– Personal freedom is very often associated with secularism, which, as received from the Western canon, is the separation of church from state. One particular freedom that has come under fire is the freedom of practicing one’s own religion.

Religion and Secularism:

Though secularism is complete separation of religion and state, but at its heart, true secularism would be driven by universal values of truth, compassion and equality, which are fundamental values that straddle all religions.

Because secularism is focus on freedom so as adhering of these values too, which are complementary and originated from religion.

  • Truth, not to be confused with belief, has no sole custodian. Truth is based on observation, evidence, and inference, and is accessible to all.
  • Compassion comes from an understanding of suffering: a compassionate person does not kill not because their faith tells them not to, but because they know that killing causes immense suffering.
  • And the universal value of equality comes from recognition of both truth and compassion, empowering people to never substitute “uniqueness” with “superiority”. Everyone may be unique in their own way, but they are all still equally unique — no one being more specially so than the other.

Ultimately, we cannot find truth, or learn compassion, or appreciate equality if we have no freedom to think, to question, to seek, to find these for ourselves. These freedoms are, ultimately, the most valuable.

Religion and Communalism:

Having faith on one’s religion is not bad, but feeling of superiority of one’s religion over other religions with communal colour is bad.

Reasons for Growth in Communalism

  • Religious heads for the sake of their interest created myths and enforce the religion as the prime identity over others identity. And moreover there has been emphasis on religious superiority of one over other by religious leaders.
  • Political leaders instead evolving national identity and containing religion as one of the identity, used it for mobilisation of masses and further obstruct the path of nation building as India is still a poly-communal society.

Implication of Communalism-

  • Communism curb the value of tolerance, freedom and liberal thinking.
  • And rise of communalism in extreme form can gave rise to Fascism as both communism and Fascism is based on myths and propaganda used for mobilisation of Masses.

Tenants of Fascism

  • Myths– Fascism always promises to return us to a mythic past. Similarly, fascist politicians use propaganda, for example, about portraying racial superiority of Germans and inferiority of Jews (Myth by Hitler).
  • Hyper Nationalism- Dissent, particularly in universities and public spaces, is being curbed. Sloganeering and flag raising have become tests for nationalism. Journalists, political activists and intellectuals, who are trying to reveal the myths and propagate their views were blown out of proportion, and misunderstood as an expression of disloyalty to the country.
  • Anti-intellectualism- For the “enemy of fascism is equality,” and the target of such anti-intellectual campaigns are places of learning, like universities. Only the mythical “common man” can know what is right. (Note the emphasis on “man”, which includes no women, or racial and sexual minorities.)
  • Unquestionable domination of Majority– Unlike liberal democracies, based on freedom and equality, fascist regimes posit the dominant group’s interests as the ultimate, unquestionable truth. The dominant group is also always the victim of the situation. They rely on conspiracy theories to justify calls to power. And most tellingly, fascist politicians promise a law and order regime designed not to seek out offenders, but to criminalise outliers, who are usually ethnic, religious or sexual minorities.

Way ahead:

  • India’s nearly 70-year-old liberal manifesto – The Constitution – contains all the declarations essential to a nation that preserves individual liberties. It is for us to protect it from neglect and disrepair.
  • According to B.R. Ambedkar, “The assertion by the individual of his own opinions and beliefs, his own independence and interest as over and against group standards… is the beginning of all reform.”
  • The ordinary citizen [must] stand up and loudly confront people who engage in… fascist rhetoric and not be afraid. Those millions of acts of individual bravery, if we can stitch together, will save us.
  • Thus active public participation in political sphere, practicing right to vote, in scrutinizing the policies of government, reporting the unevil incidents and stopping wherever possible is must.

Connecting the dots:


NATIONAL

TOPIC:General studies 2

  • Social/Welfare Issue
  • Government Schemes and Policies 
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes
  • Social Problems in India – Poverty; Inequality 

The safety net of the future

Introduction:

  • Social inequality is the most acutely felt social problem in India, insecurity, more than poverty, is the most acutely felt economic problem.
  • While most measures suggest that only one-fifth of the population today is under the official poverty line, large sections of those even much above that line are subject to brutal economic insecurities of various kinds (due to weather or health risks, market fluctuations, job losses).

Background of the loan waivers

  • A bad idea plays havoc with the banking culture (just as that of loan waivers for corporate defaulters does), but most of it goes to help the middle and large farmers (more than two-thirds of our farmers are marginal farmers with less than 1 hectare of land, who take only 20 per cent of institutional loans, and owe the rest to private lenders, which the waiver programme will not touch).
  • So some politicians are now paying attention to the politically successful Rythu Bandhu example of income support to Telangana farmers (at about Rs 10,000 per hectare).
  • All this distress arises directly or indirectly from India’s singular failure in creating enough secure jobs.
  • The farm distress is ultimately because of low productivity (due to lack of enough irrigation, cold storage and extension services, apart from the effects of climate change), and the low-earning farmers themselves want to move to non-farm jobs.
  • This has been a failure of all political parties over many decades.
  • The absence of secure jobs is also behind agitations on job reservations even by dominant castes (Marathas, Patidars, Jats, Kapus) and various incidents of hateful violence and minority lynchings.
  • Task of creating a sufficient number of secure jobs a long-term project.
  • One idea is that of a Universal Basic Income Supplement (UBIS), which avoids some of the problems for loan waivers and farm income support per hectare, and also some of the administrative and perverse incentive problems of most insurance schemes.

What about the fiscal cost of the UBIS?

  • We know that the highly defective loan waiver programme, if applied to all states in India, will easily cost more than Rs 4 trillion.
  • The feasibility of UBIS, depends on the political will to increase the tax-GDP ratio, and (assuming that none of the existing major anti-poverty programmes will be significantly scaled down) to cut down on various subsidies largely enjoyed by the better-off sections of the population.

Way forward

  • It has been estimated that the latter subsidies (for the central and state governments together) currently come to about 6 per cent of GDP; another 6 per cent of GDP is in the form of “revenues foregone” in the central budget.
  • All this adds to about 10 per cent of GDP.
  • But at least a quarter of these resources can pay for a decent UBIS for everybody to start with, give it only to women, which will halve the cost.
  • The potential is there to tax (and reduce the subsidies for) the better-off and address India’s staggering problem of economic insecurity.

Connecting the dots:

  • Will a universal basic income work in India? Discuss the pros and cons, and challenges of implementing universal basic income (UBI) in India.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Note:

  • Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
  • IASbaba App users – Team IASbaba will provide correct answers in comment section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.

Q.1) Consider the following pairs and select the correct pair/s from the code given below:

Heritage Site : : Associated State

  1. Mahabalipuram : : Tamil Nadu
  2. Aalampur Temple : : Andhra Pradesh
  3. Bhimbetka rock shelters : : Madhya Pradesh
  4. Khajuraho : : Maharashtra

Code:

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

Q.2) Consider the following with regard to “Adopt a Heritage” programme:

  1. The scheme is a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), and State/UTs
  2. It aims to involve public sector companies, private sector companies and corporate citizens/individuals to adopt the sites.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.3) Other than poaching, what are the possible reasons for the decline in the population of Ganges River Dolphins?

  1. Construction of dams and barrages on rivers
  2. Getting trapped in fishing nets accidentally
  3. Use of synthetic fertilizers and other agricultural chemicals in crop-fields in the vicinity of rivers

Select the correct answer using the code given below

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

Q.4) Which of the following statements are correct regarding recently launched ‘Adopt a Heritage scheme’?

  1. The scheme has been launched by Ministry of Tourism.
  2. Indian tourists visiting a heritage site are promoted to adopt that site and contribute for the development and maintenance of the site.
  3. Tourists adopting one site will have to keep the picture of that site as their social media display picture in order to promote tourism in the region.

Select the code from following:

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

Q.5) ‘Monument Mitras’ refers to:

  1. An NGO which works closely with Archaeological Survey Of India for the protection of Historical Monuments.
  2. Public or private or Individual who adopts the heritage sites / monuments via bidding.
  3. A battalion of territorial army raised for protection of heritage sites / monuments.
  4. Government appointed tourist guides in heritage sites.

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