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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 23rd December 2019

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  • December 23, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 23rd December 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


School Categorisation by Arunachal Pradesh

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- Governance

In News

  • In Arunachal Pradesh State where teacher absenteeism has been a major issue in the public education system, schools will be marked ‘hard’, ‘soft’ and ‘medium’-— based on topography, accessibility and degrees of difficulty in staying at the place of posting
  • Geography, lack of infrastructure and reluctance of teachers to work beyond their comfort zones are the reasons for this categorisation
  • According to new teachers posting policy: All new recruits will be given a hard posting for a mandatory three years, inclusive of their probation period. 
  • The next five years will be in schools with levels of medium difficulty, followed by posting in soft schools
  • This ensures need-based distribution of teachers to protect the academic interest of students and optimise job satisfaction among the teachers in a free and transparent manner

Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI): Annual Report for 2018-19 released

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains III- Economy

In News

  • Some of the highlights of the released report are:
  • Life insurance penetration for 2018 was 2.74%, slightly lower than the 2.76% of 2017. Insurance penetration is measured as the ratio of premium (in US$) to GDP (in US$).
  •  Life insurance penetration increased from 2.15% in 2001 to 4.60% in 2009, and has thereafter showed a generally decreasing trend.
  • The insurance density of the life insurance sector in 2018 was $55 (same as previous year). Insurance density is measured as the ratio of premium (in US dollars) to the total population

Do You Know?

  • The IRDAI is an autonomous, statutory body established under Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999
  • It is tasked with regulating and promoting the insurance and re-insurance industries in India.
  • Its headquarters is in Hyderabad, Telangana and is a 10-member body including the chairman, five full-time and four part-time members appointed by the government of India.

National Mathematics Day: Tribute to S. Ramanujan

Part of: GS Prelims

In News

  • December 22, the birth anniversary of India’s famed mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, is celebrated as National Mathematics Day.
  • Ramanujan was born in 1887 in Erode, Tamil Nadu (then Madras Presidency) in an Iyengar Brahmin family. 
  • At age 12, despite lacking a formal education, he had excelled at trigonometry and developed many theorems by himself. 
  • Living in dire poverty, Ramanujan then pursued independent research in mathematics.
  • In 1914, Ramanujan arrived in Britain who worked with GH Hardy and in 1917, Ramanujan was elected to be a member of the London Mathematical Society. 
  • His work in the number theory is especially regarded. He was recognised for his mastery of continued fractions, and had worked out the Riemann series, elliptic integrals, hypergeometric series, and the functional equations of the zeta function
  • Ramanujan could not get accustomed to the England’s diet, and returned to India in 1919. Ramanujan’s health continued to deteriorate, and he died in 1920 at the age of 32.
  • The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015) was a biopic on the mathematician.

Core Catcher: Device to contain nuclear accidents

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains III- Energy, Infrastructure, Science & Technology

In News

  • Moscow-based Rosatom State Corporation installed a core melt localisation device (CMLD) or “core catcher” at Unit 3 of Tamil Nadu’s Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP).
  • The device is designed to localise and cool the molten core material in case of a meltdown accident.
  • Such an accident occurs when the nuclear fission reaction taking place inside a reactor is not sufficiently cooled, and the buildup of heat causes fuel rods to melt down
  • In 2011, the device was first installed at the Tianwan nuclear power plant in China, which is of Russian design
  • In 2018, a 200-tonne core catcher is being installed Rooppur 1 Nuclear Power Plant in Bangladesh (India-Russia collaboration which goes into operation in 2023)

Winter Solstice: Dec 22

Part of: GS Prelims

In News

  • December 22, is Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere
  • It is the day when the North Pole is most tilted away from the Sun.
  • In the Southern Hemisphere, conversely, today is Summer Solstice — in places like Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa, December 22 is the year’s longest day.
  • This situation will be reversed six months after— on June 21/22, the Northern Hemisphere will see the Summer Solstice when the day will be the year’s longest.
  • The Earth’s axis of rotation is tilted at an angle of 23.5 degrees away from the perpendicular. 
  • This tilt — combined with factors such as Earth’s spin and orbit — leads to variations in the duration of Sunlight that any location on the planet receives on different days of the year.

Indian Pharmacopoeia (IP)

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- Health

In News

  • Afghanistan has become the first country to formally recognize Indian Pharmacopoeia (IP).
  • As per the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, IP is designated as the official book of standards for drugs imported and/or manufactured for sale, stock or exhibition for sale or distribution in India.
  • The IP specifies the standards of drugs manufactured and marketed in India in terms of their identity, purity and strength.

About Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission (IPC) 

  • It is an autonomous institution of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare which sets standards (in form of IP) for all drugs that are manufactured, sold and consumed in India. 
  • The IP Commission’s mission is to promote public and animal health in India by bringing out authoritative and officially accepted standards for quality of drugs including active pharmaceutical ingredients, excipients and dosage forms, used by health professionals, patients and consumers
  • The Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, is the Chairperson and the Chairman-Scientific Body is the Co-Chairman of the Commission

Hunar Haats: Initiative by Minority Affairs Ministry

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Economy

In News

  • Hunar Haat is an exhibition of handicrafts and traditional products made by artisans from the Minority communities. It is organized by Ministry of Minority Affairs.
  • Hunar Haat is organized under USTTADscheme(Upgrading the Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development).
  • The artisans who participate in the event will get national and international markets for their indigenous handmade products through “Hunar Haat”.
  • It has proved to be Empowerment & Employment Exchange for master artisans and craftsmen
  • The theme of the events to be organized between 2019 and 2020 is Ek Bharat Shresht Bharat
  • Government has decided to organise about 100 “Hunar Haat” in the next five years across the country to provide market and employment opportunities

(MAINS FOCUS)


POLITY

TOPIC:General Studies 2:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana  (UDAY): sharp spike in discom losses 

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 23rd December 2019

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 23rd December 2019

SRC: Panorama

Context:

  • Discom losses, which had progressively reduced in the first couple of years since the scheme’s rollout in November 2015, have rebounded in FY ’19 to nearly double the losses recorded the previous year.
  • Book losses of discoms, which had reduced from Rs 51,562 crore in FY ’16 to Rs 15,132 crore in FY ’18, have nearly doubled this financial year to Rs 28,036 crore,
  • Discoms have also missed the FY ’19 UDAY target to bring down their aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses to 15 per cent.
Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 23rd December 2019

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 23rd December 2019

SRC: IE

Reason for failure:

  • The primary reason for failure, as is being recognised in policy circles, is the failure of discoms to collect the full cost that they pay for power — the same issue that had led to the floundering of the previous two schemes.

Solutions: 

  • Franchise or PPP models. 
  • The Centre is also likely to back up the new scheme by providing some grant support, which it did not do in UDAY.

Problems with the Sector:

The massive transmission and distribution losses can be attributed to the following reasons:

  • Inadequate Tariff increases
  • Poor Power purchase planning
  • Sale of power at prices lower than the discom’s procurement costs
  • Political Willingness
  • Lack of timely Subsidy Payments
  • Inefficiencies in metering and billing
  • Illegal Connections
  • Reckless funding by banks to loss-making Discoms

Why UDAY?

  • The UDAY Scheme (not compulsory) will pave way for the takeover of the 75 per cent of Discom liabilities by state governments over a two-to-five year period
  • Financing of the Debt: Via bonds with a maturity period of 10-15 years
  • Effects: 
    • It will help relieve debt-ridden discoms
    • It will lead to the acceptance of debts in the balance sheet of the discom while encouraging them to align tariffs to costs and ensuring the sustainable working of the same

The utility of UDAY:

  • Unsustainable borrowings should be curbed to put a stop on ever-increasing loss. Under Uday, the future losses can be permitted to finance only when a discom bond is guaranteed by the State Government, thus ensuring that the discom applies a profitable discretion
  • With elements like the guided intervention of the State governments and the graded manner in which it needs to be taken up, the scheme assumes an all-season ongoing approach and not a one-time settlement effort.
  • Certain conditions put across by Uday involves: 
    • Loss reduction needs to be aided by circle-wise targets, feeder and DT Metering as well as upgrading and replacement of transformers
    • Regions with sustained loss reduction should be incentivised (rewarded) by increased hours of supply
  • Other initiatives that can be taken to reduce discom inefficiencies: 
    • Laying down a specific performance-monitoring & compliance mechanism (can be incentivised by additional funding and other inputs)
    • Monitoring of lending by banks to ensure reliable supply of investment
    • Ensure regular tariff setting
    • Energy auditing of feeders
    • Metering of distribution transformers (DT)
    • Elimination of revenue gaps
    • Allow fuel-cost adjustments in final tariffs
    • Reduction in short-term power purchase
    • Liquidation of Regulatory Assets
    • Ensuring advance payments of subsidies

Attractive to States:

  • The additional liability will not be considered for assessing fiscal responsibility limits of States
  • The 3 to 4 percentage point reduction in interest rates will serve as a relief

Issues with Uday

  • State Subject: Electricity is not a Central subject and thus, the scheme cannot be made a compulsory one- which leaves the door open for unequal working of the Discom per State.
  • No monetary assistance is being provided by the State though states willing to become a part of the scheme will be granted with subsidised funding in the government’s schemes and priority in the supply of coal
  • The conversion of discom debt into bonds is not as difficult as is finding a suitable buyer for those bonds, not enjoying SLR Status additionally

IASbaba’s Views:

  • Political unwillingness needs to be fixed and mechanisms need to be strictly followed to plug the loopholes to address the debt-ridden discoms and fix the losses.
  • This restructuring package needs to be designed in a way that it can deal with both; an unexpected tariff shock or an increased burden on the State Government, taking into due consideration the certain measures that needs to be effectively worked out (enumerated above)

Connecting the Dots:

  • Do surplus and shortages go together? Analyse
  • In the light of the grave situation of power loss, can State prove to be a beacon of light, leading the path away from the crisis? Discuss

POLITY

TOPIC: General Studies 2:

  • Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

NRC + CAA:  Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) & National Register of Citizens (NRC)

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 23rd December 2019

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 23rd December 2019

SRC:REDIFF

Context:

  • Widespread protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), especially in combination with the proposed all-India National Register of Citizens (NRC).
  • Home Minister Amit Shah recently  told Parliament that a nationwide NRC is on the cards, he distinguished it from the new citizenship law and said the NRC will have no religious filter. It is unclear if the government will bring in a fresh law to mandate a nationwide NRC

How does one prove citizenship?

  • In Assam, one of the basic criteria was that the names of applicant’s family members should either be in the first NRC prepared in 1951 or in the electoral rolls up to March 24, 1971. 
  • Other than that, applicants also had the option to present documents such as refugee registration certificate, birth certificate, LIC policy, land and tenancy records, citizenship certificate, passport, government issued licence or certificate, bank/post office accounts, permanent residential certificate, government employment certificate, educational certificate and court records.

Why is it called an “updated” NRC?

  • Witness to decades of migration from Bangladesh — formerly East Bengal and then East Pakistan — Assam already has an NRC, which was published in 1951 on the basis of that year’s Census. The only state with such a document, Assam is currently updating it to identify its citizens.
  • The update, mandated and monitored by the Supreme Court, is a fallout of the Assam Accord of 1985, which sets March 24, 1971 as the cut-off date for citizenship. Those who entered Assam before that date are recognised as citizens.

Why is Assam different?

  • NRC update was mandated by the Supreme Court in 2013. Assam has a history that is shaped by migration, and the protests there are against only CAA, not against NRC. 
  • The Assam Accord, signed by the governments of Assam and India, and the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and the All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad in 1985, after a six-year mass movement, essentially declared that a resident of Assam is an Indian citizen if she could prove her presence, or an ancestor’s presence, in Assam before March 25, 1971. 
  • That is the cutoff date for NRC, which CAA extends to December 31, 2014 to non-Muslim migrants from three countries.

To prove their or their ancestors’ presence before 1971, applicants in Assam had to produce any one of 14 possible documents:

  • 1951 NRC; or
  • Electoral roll(s) up to March 24, 1971; or
  • Anyone of 12 other kinds of papers, such as land & tenancy records; citizenship papers; passport; Board/University certificate.

Cutoff date for a nationwide NRC:

  • According to the Citizenship Act, 1955, amended in 1986, anyone born in India up to July 1, 1987 is an Indian citizen by birth. For those born on or after July 1, 1987, the law set out a fresh condition: one of the parents must be an Indian citizen. By a 2003 amendment, for any individual born on or after December 3, 2004 to be considered an Indian citizen, one parent must be an Indian citizen while the other must not be an illegal immigrant.
  • This does not apply to Assam, due to the cutoff of 1971. For the rest of the country, those born outside the country after January 26, 1950, and residing in India without proper documents is an illegal immigrant.

Connecting the Dots:

  • Do you think NRC + CAA are detrimental for the secular nature of the country?
  • What do you think will be the way forward ?

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Note: 

  • Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers. 
  • Comments Up-voted by IASbaba are also the “correct answers”.

Q.1) Consider the following statements

  1. Insurance penetration is measured as the ratio of premium (in US dollars) to the total population 
  2. Insurance density is measured as the ratio of premium (in US$) to GDP (in US$)

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

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

Q.2) Consider the following statements

  1. Winter Solstice is usually on December 22nd which is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere
  2. During Winter Solstice in Norther Hemisphere the North Pole is most tilted away from the Sun.

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

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

Q.3) Consider the following statements about Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission

  1. It is an autonomous institution of the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers 
  2. Its mission is to promote public and animal health in India by bringing out authoritative and officially accepted standards for quality of drugs.

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

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

Q.4) Hunar Haat is an initiative by which body/ministry?

  1. NITI Aayog
  2. Union Ministry of Labour
  3. Union Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship
  4. Union Ministry of Minority Affairs

 Q.5) A recent movie titled The Man Who Knew Infinity is based on the biography of ________ (UPSC CSE  2016)

  1. S. Ramanuja
  2. S. Chandrasekhar
  3. S. N. Bose
  4. C. V. Raman

ANSWERS FOR 21 DEC 2019 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 B
3 D
4 C

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