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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 24th August 2019

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  • August 24, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 24th August 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Composite Water Management Index 2.0

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains III –Environmental Conservation 

In News

  • NITI Aayog has released the second Round of Composite Water Management Index 
  • Gujarat hold on to its rank one in the reference year (2017-18), followed by Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
  • 80% of states assessed on the Index over the last three years have shown improvement in water management scores, with an average improvement of +5.2 points.
  • In North Eastern and Himalayan States, Himachal Pradesh has been adjudged number 1 in 2017-18 followed by Uttarakhand, Tripura and Assam.
  • The Union Territories have first time submitted their data and Puducherry has been declared as the top ranker.

Do You Know?

  • Nearly 600 million Indians faced high to extreme water stress and about 2,00,000 people died every year due to inadequate access to safe water. 
  • NITI Aayog first launched and conceptualized the Composite Water Management Index in 2018 as a tool to instill the sense of cooperative and competitive federalism among the states.
  • The ‘index’ aims at capturing how well States have done on groundwater and surface water restoration, implementing major and medium irrigation projects, watershed development, participatory irrigation management, on-farm water use, rural and urban water supply, and policy and governance.
  • The 16 low-performing States collectively account for 48% of the population, 40% of agricultural produce, and 35% of economic output for India.

World Youth Conference on Kindness

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-IV – Ethics

In News

  • The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, inaugurated the first World Youth Conference on Kindness in New Delhi on August 23, 2019.
  • The conference is organised by UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) and MHRD
  • The aim of the conference is to impart critical competencies (i.e. empathy, compassion, mindfulness and critical inquiry) in global youth to inspire, empower and enable them to transform themselves and build long-lasting peace in their communities. 
  • Youth leaders, representing over 27 countries, are participating in this Conference

Do You Know

  • The MGIEP is UNESCO’s category 1 Research Institute that focuses on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4.7 towards education for building peaceful and sustainable societies across the world. 
  • Vision: ‘Transforming Education for Humanity’ – to mainstream Social and Emotional Learning in education systems, innovate digital pedagogies and to put youth as global citizens at the centre of the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development.

Financial Action Task Force (FATF)

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains II – International issues

In News

  • Terror funding watchdog FATF Asia-Pacific Group ‘blacklists’ Pakistan
  • Pakistan has been placed on the lowest rung, or “Enhanced Expedited Follow Up List (Blacklist) of the Financial Action Task Force’s Asia Pacific Group (APG) 
  • The APG is one of nine regional affiliates of the FATF
  • APG has found Pakistan non-compliant on 32 of the 40 compliance parameters of terror financing and money laundering
  • While the placing does not bring any new punitive measures on Pakistan, it will mean quarterly reporting to the group on improvement in its financial safeguards.
  • In June, the FATF had warned Pakistan that its failure to complete its action plan on terror financing could possibly lead to the country getting blacklisted
  • The Paris plenary of FATF in October will decide whether to remove Pakistan from the greylist, continue the listing, or downgrade it to a blacklist of non-cooperative countries
  • Officials said the downgrade might not occur, given that any three countries in the FATF can veto it, and Pakistan is likely to secure the backing of China, Turkey and Malaysia. 
  • Nevertheless, the APG decision on Friday would make it difficult for Pakistan to extricate itself from the greylist. 

Do You Know?

  • FATF is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering. 
  • In 2001 its mandate expanded to include terrorism financing.

OCEAN ENERGY

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains III – Energy Security

In News

  • Minister of New and Renewable Energy has approved a proposal to declare ocean energy as Renewable Energy.
  • Government has clarified to all stakeholders that energy produced using various forms of ocean energy such as tidal, wave and ocean thermal energy conversion will be considered as Renewable Energy.
  • It will be eligible for meeting the non-solar Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO).
  • The decision will give a boost to ocean energy in the country. 
  • Total identified potential of Tidal Energy is about 12455 MW, with potential locations identified at Khambat & Kutch regions, and large backwaters, where barrage technology could be used

Do You Know?

  • Tidal Energy: The tidal cycle occurs every 12 hours due to the gravitational force of the moon. The difference in water height from low tide and high tide is potential energy
  • Current Energy: Marine current is ocean water moving in one direction. This ocean current is known as the Gulf Stream. Tides also create currents that flow in two directions. Kinetic energy can be captured from the Gulf Stream and other tidal currents with submerged turbines
  • Wave Energy: Wave energy is generated by the movement of a device either floating on the surface of the ocean or moored to the ocean floor.
  • Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC): It uses ocean temperature differences from the surface to depths lower than 1,000 meters, to extract energy. A temperature difference of only 20°C can yield usable energy.

(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.

Nirmala Sitharaman’s measures to revive economic growth

Context:

The announcements come at a time when the perception that the slowdown has been aggravating in recent weeks and spreading across sectors.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Friday announced a partial rollback of the enhanced surcharge on foreign portfolio investors (FPI) levied in the Budget and indicated a review of the surcharge levy for high net worth individuals as well.

 Announcements made by finance minister:

  • Surcharge on long and short term capital gains arising from transfer of equity shares has been withdrawn
  • The CSR violation would be treated as a civil offence, and not a criminal offence. 
  • Apart from these two measures, the FM announced a slew of measures aimed at boosting a flagging domestic economy. 
  • This includes an assertion that ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles will coexist with EVs (electric vehicles) and that there is no phasing out of ICE vehicles, a fear expressed in certain quarters of the auto industry.
  • Banks would also be asked to pass on the full impact of the interest rate cuts to consumers
  • Repo rate-linked loans
  • The Finance Minister did not restrict her efforts to boost the economy to just the private sector. In what should be welcomed by borrowers across the board, including those looking for home and auto loans, she announced that public sector banks have decided to increase their repo rate-linked loan offerings.
  • A major complaint among end-consumers has been that the Reserve Bank of India’s repo rate cuts have not been transmitted onwards by the banks. Repo rate-linked loan products will effectively take the banks out of the rate-setting process.
  • What should also cheer prospective homeowners is that the government has announced an additional ₹20,000 crore of liquidity to the housing finance companies, over and above the ₹10,000 crore earlier announced.

What is the surcharge that’s been withdrawn?

  • The surcharge of 3 per cent and 7 per cent on those earning between Rs 2 crore and Rs 5 crore, and over Rs 5 crore respectively had been announced by Sitharaman as part of her Budget proposals. 
  • This had led to different taxation outcomes for FPIs registered as Association of Persons or trusts and companies, even as those registered as companies were spared of this surcharge.
  • Ever since the budget announcement, markets have been seeing a selloff on most trading days, largely in light of the FPI impact.
  • Today’s announcement reverses the levy imposed in the budget. However, tax experts said the surcharge would continue to be levied on business income of the FPIs and unlisted shares.

Why was the CSR announcement controversial?

  • The amendment to the Companies Act, passed earlier this month, introduced harsh penalties including jail term for non-compliance on CSR (corporate social responsibility) by listed companies. 
  • This had been slammed by industry as a regressive move, especially given the fact that in the last five years, the total CSR spend of companies has progressively jumped from 70% to over 90% now, according to data sourced from Prime Database.

Why have these decisions been taken now?

  • Over the last few weeks, the Finance Minister had chaired a series of meeting with the industry leaders, bank representatives, ministry officials and PSU chiefs to discuss the issues impacting the economy.
  • Last week, she had also held a review meeting with the Prime Minister on the state of the economy.
  • The announcements come at a time when the perception that the slowdown has been aggravating in recent weeks and spreading across sectors. 
  • The ongoing slowdown is not specific to India and is a global issue, Sitharaman said at the media interaction.

Conclusion:

  • For an economy that is downbeat in growth and in sentiment, the comprehensive package of measures announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday may just be the right boost. They address growth slowdown concerns; free up funds for investment and spending by banks, housing finance companies and MSMEs; and importantly, undo some controversial proposals, in the budget and outside it, which were affecting sentiment in the markets and the corporate sector. And, importantly, these have all been done without any significant financial burden on the government. Some of the measures promote the ease of doing business and even the ease of living for ordinary citizens.

Connecting the dots:

  • Critically examine the reasons for slowdown in the Indian economy

CULTURE

TOPIC: General studies 1 General studies 2

  • The salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
  • Diversity of India
  • India and its neighborhood- relations.
    Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

Letting the pearl on the Silk Road shine brighter

Context:

  • The Dunhuang city has been witness to multiple interactions and mutual learning between China and India
  • Recently, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang city of China to inspect cultural relics protection and research work.

About Dunhuang:

  • Dunhuang is a land that has gone through vicissitudes of history with ancient legacies and magic beauty. 
  • Around 2,000 years ago, a Chinese geographer of the Eastern Han dynasty Ying Shao said: “Dun, means grand; Huang, means splendid.”Therefore Dunhuang means the land of grand splendour.
  • Historical changes over the millennium shaped the magnificent landscape of this frontier region west of China’s Gansu province and left colourful and gorgeous cultural treasures.
  • The Mogao Grottoes, located in a desert oasis surrounded by water and mountain, have stood quietly for over 1,650 years and become the most abundant and exquisite Buddhist art relics in China and beyond. 
  • Mogao Grottoes are a treasure house of art, architecture, sculpture and painting with 735 grottoes, over 45,000 square meters of murals and 2,000 painted sculptures. 
  • These works of art are exquisitely crafted, with unique craftsmanship, vivid charm, and combination of form and spirit. Like an amazing and colourful movement, they tell a beautiful and touching legend of magic charm lasting thousand years.
  • Dunhuang is a witness to interactions and mutual learning between China and India, two ancient civilisations. The Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang remind me of Ajanta Caves and Elora Caves in India.
  • All being world-famous, the murals and Buddha figures in these caves tell the historical and cultural ties between Chinese and Indian civilisations, and witness the light of inter-civilisational exchanges and mutual learning.
  • Indian-style sculptures can be seen in the Mogao Grottoes built during the 4th to 6th centuries. 
  • The moves of the most commonly seen Apsara figure in Dunhuang murals are similar to those in Indian classical dances. Dunhuang also keeps many ancient Buddhist sutras written in Sanskrit and Pattra-Leaf Scripture, a wealth of information for China-India cultural exchanges

Convergence of cultures

  • Dunhuang is a classical example of convergence of Oriental and Western civilisations.
  • Dunhuang is an important hub where Oriental culture met the Western culture in history, and different cultures met and mingled here, shaping the unique charm of Dunhuang culture.
  • The rich and colourful painted sculptures and murals in the Mogao Grottoes absorb the strength of ancient Eastern and Western art.
  • The splendid Dunhuang culture is a fusion of the best of cultures of various nations.
  • Ji Xianlin, a master scholar on culture in China, said that there are only four cultural systems in the world with long history, vast territory, self-contained system and far-reaching influence
    • Chinese
    • Indian
    • Greek and 
    • Islamic

Dunhuang as an important hub city:

  • Dunhuang is known as the “Pearl on the Silk Road”. 
  • For thousands of years, envoys and officials, merchants and caravans, monks and scholars, capital and technology, integrated and communicated through this silk road, nourishing the development and prosperity of countries along the route
  • China and India have also developed close economic, trade and cultural exchanges along the ancient Silk Road of both land and sea. 
  • China’s paper making, silk, porcelain and tea were introduced to India, while Indian singing and dancing, astronomy, architecture and spices were introduced to China, which became the historical witness of the mutual exchanges between the two sides. 
  • Zhang Qian was sent on a diplomatic mission to the Western Regions. Zheng He sailed to the Western Ocean seven times and visited India six times. 
  • Xuan Zang, Kumarajiva, Bodhidharma and other great monks made the expeditions by crossing over mountains and sailing the deep sea

Road of friendship-India and China

  • The Silk Road is not only a road of trade, but also a road of friendship and mutual learning among civilisations. 
  • It will certainly further promote the deep inter-connectivity and cultural exchanges between countries along the route. 
  • The Silk Road spirit is about openness, exchanges and inclusiveness. It reveals the truth that there will be no progress without openness, no development without exchanges and no strength without inclusiveness. 

People-to-People (P2P)  meeting:

  • The mechanism was set up under the joint initiative of President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar co-chaired the second meeting of China-India High Level People-to-People (P2P) and Cultural Exchanges Mechanism in Beijing
  • Since the first meeting, bilateral people-to-people and cultural exchanges and cooperation have seen a fresh boom.
  • At this meeting, China and India agree to host more colourful P2P and cultural events, work for new progress in P2P and cultural exchanges and consolidate the popular support for the sound development of China-India relations.

Conclusion:

  • In the long course of history, China and India, two ancient oriental civilisations, have engaged in exchanges and mutual learning, created two vigorous and charming civilisations, and made great contributions to the development of human civilisation. In the new era, China and India should also adhere to inclusiveness and resolve differences through building common ground. We should transcend civilisation barriers through exchanges, rise above “civilisation conflicts” by mutual learning, and overcome the sense of superiority by promoting coexistence of civilisations

Connecting the dots:

  • Discuss Indo-China cultural relations.

(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 statements with regard to Composite Water Management Index 2.0

  1. It is conceptualised and prepared by Ministry of Jal Shakti
  2. Karnataka had topped the Index
  3. 80% of states assessed on the Index over the last three years have shown improvement in water management scores

Which of the statements given above are incorrect?

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

Q.2) Consider the following statements about World Youth Conference

  1. The third edition of the conference was recently inaugurated by President Ram Nath Kovind in New Delhi
  2. The conference is organised by UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development and MHRD
  3. The aim of the conference is to impart critical competencies like empathy, compassion, mindfulness and critical inquiry in global youth

Which of the above statement(s) given above is/are correct?

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

Q.3) Consider the following statements with regard to Financial Action Task Force

  1. FATF is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering 
  2. India is a member of FATF since 2010

Which of the above statement(s) given above is/are correct?

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

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