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Daily Current Affairs [IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam] – 4th January 2019

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  • January 4, 2019
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Daily Current Affairs [IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam] – 4th January 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Trump’s remarks on India and India’s response (with regard to role in Afghanistan)

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – India and the World; International Relations

In news:

  • At a recently held cabinet meeting, U.S. President Donald Trump said countries which are near to Afghanistan (India, Russia and Pakistan) should be fighting the Taliban instead of U.S.
  • Trump particularly took aim at India and mocked at PM Modi for funding a “library” in Afghanistan, saying it is of no use in the war-torn country as he criticised India and others for not doing enough for the nation’s security.

India’s response

  • India rejected Trump’s remark, said that developmental assistance can play a major role in transforming the war-ravaged country.
  • India has been implementing a range of mega infrastructure projects (such as 218 km road from Zaranj to Delaram, the Salma Dam and the new Afghan Parliament building) as well as carrying out community development programmes in Afghanistan as per requirement of its people. Such assistance would go a long way in making the country economically empowered and stable.
  • India has also been supplying military equipment to Afghanistan besides providing training to hundreds of Afghan security personnel.
  • India plays a significant role in the country as its development partner and that the partnership is built on the specific needs and requirements worked out with the Afghan government.
  • India seeks to build capacities and capabilities of Afghan nationals and its institutions for governance and delivery of public service, develop socio-economic infrastructure, secure lives and promote livelihood.
  • Besides mega infrastructure projects, India is implementing 116 new ‘High Impact Community Development Projects’ in 31 provinces of Afghanistan, including in the areas of education, health, agriculture, irrigation, drinking water, renewable energy, flood control, micro-hydropower, sports infrastructure, administrative infrastructure.
  • India does not send its armed forces abroad except under the specific mandate of UN Peacekeeping Operations.

Chang’e-4 lunar probe

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – International affairs; Science and Technology; Space Missions

In news:

  • China’s Chang-e’4 lunar probe lander-rover touched down on the lunar far side.
  • The probe, which has a lander and a rover, touched down at a targeted area near the moon’s south pole in the Von Karman Crater.
  • The tasks of the Chang’e-4 include astronomical observation, surveying the moon’s terrain, land form and mineral make-up, and measuring the neutron radiation and neutral atoms to study the environment of its far side.

Do you know?

  • Chandrayaan-1 was India’s first lunar probe. It was launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation in October 2008, and operated until August 2009. The mission included a lunar orbiter and an impactor. (Status: Partial success)
  • Chandrayaan-2 will be India’s second moon mission. Chandrayaan-2 is scheduled to be launched in Feb/March 2019.

(MAINS FOCUS)


ECONOMY

TOPIC:General studies 3

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
  • Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
  • Government Budgeting.

For achieving sustained high growth

Context:

  • 2018 has been a mixed bag, both globally and domestically.
  • Globally, the growth rate in 2018 was high, particularly in the United States. But strong signs of a trade war emerged, dimming hopes of faster international trade. Britain is passing through the pangs of separation from the European Union.
  • Domestically, the first quarter growth rate was high. But signs are not good for the balance of the year. (Fall in rupee, crude oil prices rose, agrarian distress accentuated)

Indian context

India’s growth rate in 2018-19 is forecast at 7.4% by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). However, it looks like a touch-and-go situation. More likely, it will be slightly lower.  

Reasons:

  • Even though the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has stabilised, much will depend on the pickup in the investment rate and the productivity of capital or its inverse incremental capital-output ratio.
  • The international environment is not that conducive for growth in our foreign trade; this will have an impact on our exports and, therefore, growth.
  • High oil prices, emerging market stress as the era of easy money draws to a close, and policy paralysis ahead of elections.
  • The impact of higher global oil prices compounded by sharp rupee depreciation raises the cost of households’ consumption basket, and will weigh on households’ capacity for other expenditures.
  • Borrowing costs have already risen because of tightening monetary policy.
  • Sluggish demand, possible state spending cut pose risk to growth.

Five issues that need to be addressed comprehensively if India is to achieve sustained high growth:

  1. Raising the investment ratio
  2. Putting the banking system back on the rails
  3. Employment generation through better growth
  4. Enhancing export growth to contain the CAD; and
  5. Removing agrarian distress by increasing productivity and consolidation of small landholdings.
  1. Raising the investment ratio
  • The growth rate depends on the investment rate and the productivity of capital or its inverse incremental capital-output ratio.
  • Productivity and ICOR depends upon a multiple number of factors such as quality of labour (education and skill development levels) and technology, which is constantly changing.
  1. Putting the banking system back on the rails
  • An important factor affecting economic growth is the condition of our banking system.
  • Non-performing assets (NPAs) and stressed assets should be taken care.
  • As many as 11 public sector banks are under Prompt Corrective Action (PCA), which will restrict the lending abilities of these banks.
  • Added to this, the non banking financial company (NBFC) system is also under stress.
  • Recapitalisation of public sector banks will partly solve the problem.
  • Their inability to lend affects the availability of working capital as well as capital expenditures.
  • The growth rate in the industrial sector will depend on how quickly the banking system comes back to normalcy.
  1. Employment generation
  • Employment in the informal sector is much larger.
  • Jobless growth – Even though growth is around 7%, there is no corresponding growth in employment.
  • It is growth which is led by new investment that leads to a significant increase in employment.
  • Increase in employment seen in the period between 2004-05 and 2009-10 was because of the rapid growth of the information technology (IT) and financial sectors. The IT sector has slowed down. The financial sector is under stress.
  • Thus, even from the point of view of employment, the key factor is the pickup in investment.
  1. Enhancing export growth
  • India’s external sector has grown and is well integrated with the rest of the world.
  • India’s trade in goods and services as a percentage of GDP has grown to 42% of GDP. Therefore, what happens in the rest of the world affects India’s growth very much.
  • India’s balance of payment situation has been comfortable since liberalisation. However, there are some vulnerabilities seen in September-October 2018, when the value of the rupee suddenly plummeted when crude oil prices rose. This also led to capital outflows.
  • RBI intervention and the subsequent fall in crude prices have restored the value of the rupee. Thus, India’s exports of goods grew by 11.6%.
  • Strong growth in exports is a must if we have to keep the current account deficit (CAD) at a manageable level.
  • The forecast for world trade and output is not encouraging. There are too many uncertainties – such as intensification in the trade war, protectionism etc.  
  1. Removing agrarian distress
  • The future growth also depends on the performance of agriculture.
  • Effective government procurement, improving financial capacity of the government to procure, adequate physical arrangements to procure and store will help.
  • Increasing productivity and enabling farmers to achieve increased output and better prices should be the end goal. Loan waivers are at best short-term solutions.
  • Consolidation of landholdings by small farmers, combined attack to increase productivity and improving marketing is needed to assure farmers of better income.

Connecting the dots:

  • Can the Indian economy really achieve double digit growth? Discuss what measures are needed if India has to achieve sustained high growth.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

TOPIC:General studies 3

  • Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life
  • Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

Science for Society: ‘ease of living’ through ‘ease of doing science’

Context:

At the 102nd Indian Science Congress held in Mumbai in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said –

  • The arms of science, technology and innovation must reach the poorest, the remotest and the most vulnerable person.
  • There should be pragmatic use of science and technology to aid growth and development in India.
  • Promote ‘ease of living’ through ‘ease of doing science’.

The key address by PM was an attempt at motivating scientists and researchers to direct their focus towards resolving the issues that disrupt the life of the common man.

Outcome:

The transformation in the last four-and-half years has been remarkable.

  • From engaging with Nobel laureates to brainstorming with India’s scientific community, from interacting with young minds engaged in Hackathons to posing questions for innovators and startup founders, the PM has made science the fulcrum of New India.
  • In the last four years, the government has tried to enhance collaboration between various scientific streams to enhance the productivity of our research and development.
  • Government procedures and approvals for scientists and researchers have been placed online and made transparent, thereby assuring “Ease of Doing Science”.
  • Various schemes have been introduced to improve the quality of research institutes, for the promotion of technology business incubators (Atal Incubation Centres) and research parks that promote innovative ideas until they become commercial ventures.
  • This has opened up new opportunities for tech start-ups, propelling India to become the world’s third-largest technology start-up hub with the incorporation of 1,000 new companies in 2017.
  • The popularisation of science has been given a strong impetus. Platforms like “Innovate India” promote and recognise innovations happening across the nation by enabling citizens to share their innovation.  
  • Atal Tinkering Labs ensure that dedicated workspaces are created for students to innovate and develop ideas that will go on to transform India.
  • Scholarship schemes have been revamped and new schemes introduced to inspire young researchers and students to become active members of India’s growth story.
  • The current government used international visits to explore collaborations in various fields like clean energy, agriculture, fintech, biotechnology, medicine, healthcare and futuristic technologies, such as AI and Blockchain.
  • India’s partnership with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippines was strengthened further with IRRI opening a regional centre in Varanasi.
  • India’s collaboration with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) in the US improved with our scientists participating in LIGO experiments.
  • India’s quest for clean energy was cemented with our instrumental role in forging the International Solar Alliance.
  • The quantum leap of 21 places in the Global Innovation Index in two years, has also been noticed by the international community.
  • The Fourth Industrial Revolution, comprising of artificial intelligence, machine learning and smart robotics will create multiple opportunities for Indian scientists to create new tools that are relevant to India and are environmentally sustainable.

Do you know?

The key achievements of Indian science this year (2018) were:

  • the production of aviation grade biofuel;
  • Divya Nayan — a reading machine for the visually impaired;
  • devices for the diagnosis of cervical cancer, TB and dengue; and
  • a real-time landslide warning system in the Sikkim-Darjeeling region.

Conclusion:

Science is a continuous journey.  Ease of Doing Science will indeed be the cornerstone of Ease of Living. As more bright youngsters take to science, they shall endeavour to find solutions in areas such as nutrition, agriculture, clean energy and the environment. The results shall certainly augur well for India.

Connecting the dots:

  • Discuss how India can become a global science & technology leader. Also examine why Ease of Doing Science is as vital as Ease of Doing Business.

(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) Route 606, also known as Delaram-Zaranj Highway connects which of the following countries?

  1. India and Myanmar
  2. India and Bhutan
  3. Iran and Afghanistan
  4. China and Pakistan

Q.2) Salma Dam is a landmark infrastructure project undertaken by Government of India  on river Hari Rud, in Herat province of –

  1. Bangladesh
  2. Bhutan
  3. Afghanistan
  4. Nepal

Q.3) Which of the following statement is incorrect regarding the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM)?

  1. Atal Innovation Scheme (AIM) is working to establish 500 ATLs in Central Universities across India.
  2. The AICs under Atal Innovation Scheme will help start-ups to expand quicker and enable innovation-entrepreneurship, in core sectors of the economy such as manufacturing, energy, transport, education, agriculture, water and sanitation, etc.
  3. Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) will provide financial support of Rs.10 crore and capacity building for setting up of each AIC.
  4. Atal Innovation Scheme (AIM) is working to establish 500 ATLs in schools across India.

Q.4) Consider the following statements about ‘Online Labs’

  1. It hosts experiments in Physical, Chemical and Biological sciences for the students from classes 9 to 12 with content aligned to NCERT /CBSE and State Board Syllabus
  2. It is funded by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology
  3. It will be established at Atal Tinkering Labs established across the country as a part of the Atal Innovation Mission

Select the correct statements

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

Q.5) Consider the following statements about Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATLs):

  1. It is part of Atal Innovation Mission (AIM)
  2. Mentor India Campaign will engage leaders who can guide and mentor students at Atal Tinkering Labs
  3. ATLs can be established in schools (Grade VI – XII) managed by Government, local body or private trusts/society.

Select the correct statements

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

Q.6) Which of the following is under the aegis of NITI Aayog?

  1. Atal Pension Yojana
  2. Atal Tinkering Lab
  3. Atal Innovation Mission

Select the correct code:

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

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