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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 9th December 2019

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  • December 9, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 9th December 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


The seas have less oxygen now

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

In News

  • According to the study released by IUCN at Madrid Climate conference, the levels of oxygen in oceans fell by around 2 per cent from 1960 to 2010. Also, the water in some parts of the tropics had experienced a 40 per cent to 50 per cent reduction in oxygen.
  • The deoxygenation of the oceans occurred due to climate change and other human activities (such as the nutrient runoff from farm fertilizers into waterways)
  • The loss of oxygen in the oceans can affect the planetary cycling of elements such as nitrogen and phosphorous which are essential for life on Earth
  • As oceans lose oxygen, they become more acidic, a phenomenon that has resulted in some places in shellfish having their shells degraded or dissolved — the so called “osteoporosis of the sea”.
  • In many parts of the world,fish have been dying en masse — a clear illustration of the ways in which deoxygenation is choking the oceans.
  • Apart from their declining oxygen content, oceans have, since the middle of the 20th century, absorbed 93 per cent of the heat associated with human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, leading to mass bleaching of coral reefs.

Paika Memorial

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains I – Modern History

In News

  • President Ram NathKovind laid the foundation stone for the Paika Memorial which will come up in a 10-acre plot at the bottom of Barunei Hill in Odisha.
  • The event marks 200 years of the Paika Rebellion of 1817, an uprising against colonial rule that predates the rebellion of the sepoys in 1857, and is sometimes described as the first war of independence.
  • The Paikas (pronounced “paiko”, literally ‘foot soldiers’), were a class of military retainers had been recruited since the 16th century by kings in Odisha from a variety of social groups to render martial services in return for hereditary rent-free land (nish-karjagirs) and titles.
  • The advent of the British and establishment of colonial rule brought new land revenue settlements, which led to the Paikas losing their estatesmostly to Bengali absentee landlords
  • The British changed the currency system, demanding revenue payments in rupees, which increased pressure on the dispossessed, marginal tribals.
  • The British control over salt — which had pre-1803-4 origins, but was extended to coastal Orissa in 1814 — also meant increased hardship for the people in the region.
  • In 1817, some 400 Kondhsrose in revolt against the British under the leadership ofBakshiJagabandhuBidyadharMohapatraBharamarbar Rai, the highest-ranking military generalof Mukund Dev II, and erstwhile holder of the lucrative Rodanga estate
  • Paikas fought bloody battles at several places, but the colonial army gradually crushed the revolt.
  • BakshiJagabandhu escaped to the jungles, and stayed out of reach of the British until 1825, when he finally surrendered under negotiated terms.

France protests

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains III – International Affairs

In News

  • Since December first week,hundreds of thousands of protesters including railway workers, teachers, and hospital staff, have been staging one of the biggest strikes in France in decades against the government’s pension reform project.
  • The French government spending on pensions is among the highest in the world, at 14 percent of their economic output
  • Through the pension reforms, Macron aims to merge the pension system which currently has 42 sector-specific pension schemes, with different levels of contributions and rewards, into one central points-based system.
  • Each day that a worker works will earn them a point for future pension benefits. Macron maintains that a points-based single pension scheme will be fairer and less complicated
  • At the moment, pension benefits in France are based on a worker’s 25 highest earning years in the private sector, and the last six months in the public sector.
  • The protestors argue that new pension rules will force them to make a choice between working for long hours and receiving lower payments.
  • The protests are the second during Macron’s presidency, after last year’s “Yellow Vest” or “gilets jaunes” protests that were triggered by general discontent, especially high fuel prices and cost of living.

Mapathon Keralam

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Governance

In News

  • As many as 10,130 government offices have already been mapped as part of the ₹4.24-crore-Mapathon Keralam project which is part of the Rebuild Kerala Initiative.
  • The project aims at creating micro-level maps of the entire state for identifying all the natural and physical assets
  • Mapswill be useful for planning and implementing flood control and rehabilitation activities. 
  • A crowdsourcing mapping initiative:The maps are to be created online with public participation, and anyone with a computer/mobile phone and an internet connection can participate in the initiative.

About Rebuild Kerala Initiative.

  • After damage caused by floods in the state during August 2018, Keral government launched Rebuild Kerala Initiativewith the objective of building resilience and mitigating risk, adopting the concept of ‘building back better’. 
  • The aim of RKI is to catalyse rebuilding of Kerala in a way that addresses key drivers of floods, natural disasters & climate change risks and strengthens the State’s preparedness against future disasters.
  • It is the government’s vision of converting the crisis into an opportunity by more explicitly embedding the idea of building a green and resilient Kerala.

Pyrolysis

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Science & Technology, Environment Conservation

In News

  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has pulled up 270 tyre pyrolysis units in 19 States for employing technology that is polluting and harmful to the health of the workers employed.
  • The CPCB has reported that there were 637 units in 19 States of which 251 units were compliant, 270 non-compliant and 116 were closed.
  • Tyre pyrolysis refers to a technique of breaking down used tyresin the absence of oxygenat temperatures between 250o C and 500o C. Shredded tyres produce liquid oil and gases.
  • While this is considered a safer technique than burning tyres, pyrolysis leaves fine carbon matter, pyro-gas and oil as residue and the inadequate management of these by-products poses health risks

Do You Know?

  • India is also a recipient of used tyres from Australia and the U.K., which are sent for recycling and disposal.
  • As of 2016-17, official estimates indicate 127.34 million tyres were produced in India, which was seen to be a 12% increase from the previous year. 
  • The National Green Tribunal in 2014 prohibited used tyres from being burnt in the open or being used as fuel in brick kilns, because of the toxic emissions. However, it allowed for pyrolysis technique to be employed for used tyre disposal.

Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains II – Governance

In News

  • Almost six years after the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, was signed into law, several key provisions needed for the anti-corruption ombudsman to function have still not been operationalised.
  • The process of constituting the Lokpal’s inquiry and prosecution wings has not yet begun.
  • Section 60 of the Act empowers the Lokpal to make regulations on the manner and procedure of conducting preliminary inquiry. Till now, no such regulations have been made. 
  • While it approved a logo and motto for itself, the Lokpal has not yet notified a format for filing complaints. 
  • The process of setting up of a special wing to prosecute public servants for corruption, as mandated by the Act, has also not moved further
  • The rules for the disclosure of assets and liabilities by public servants have not been notified either
  • The term Lokpal was coined in 1963 but it was not until January 2014 that the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act came into force. It was more than five years later, in March 2019, that the first chairperson and members of the Lokpal were appointed.

About The Act

  • The Lokpal Act, which envisages establishment of the anti-graft body Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states to look into cases of corruption against certain categories of public servants, was passed in 2013.
  • The Lokpal selection committee is headed by the Prime Minister and consists of the Lok Sabha Speaker, leader of the opposition in the lower house, the Chief Justice of India or a judge of the apex court nominated by him, and an eminent jurist who could be nominated by the President or any other member.

Composition of Lokpal

  • There is a provision for a chairperson and a maximum of eight members in the Lokpal. Of these, four need to be judicial members.
  • Not less than 50 per cent of the members of the Lokpal shall be from amongst the persons belonging to the SCs, the STs, OBCs, minorities and women.

Terms of Office

  • Upon selection, the chairperson and members shall hold office for a term of fiveyears or till they attain 70 years of age.
  • The salary and allowances of the chairman of the Lokpal will be same as that of the Chief Justice of India, and that of members will be same as that of a judge of Supreme Court.
  • The chief and members of the Lokpal are not eligible for reappointments.
  • They will also not be eligible for any diplomatic assignment, appointment as administrator of a Union territory and for further employment to any other office of profit under the government of India.

(MAINS FOCUS)


INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

TOPIC: General Studies 2:

  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora..

FRANCE PROTESTS

Context:

  • Since December 5, hundreds of thousands of protesters including railway workers, teachers, and hospital staff, have been staging one of the biggest strikes in France in decades against the government’s pension reform project.
  • The strike is expected to continue for at least the next few days, and 
  • It will affect intercity commutes as well.

Background:

  • The protesters argue that President Emmanuel Macron’s proposed pension reforms will force them to make a choice between working for long hours and receiving lower payments.
  • The protests are the second during Macron’s presidency, after last year’s “Yellow Vest” or “gilets jaunes” protests.

Yellow Vest Protests

  • Yellow vest protests were triggered by general discontent, especially high fuel prices and cost of living.
  • The movement was a populist, grassroots political movement for economic justice that began in France in October 2018. 
  • The movement was initially motivated by rising fuel prices and a high cost of living; 
  • It claims that a disproportionate burden of the government’s tax reforms were falling on the working and middle classes, especially in rural and peri-urban areas. 
  • The protesters called for lower fuel taxes, a reintroduction of the solidarity tax on wealth, a minimum-wage increase, the implementation of Citizens’ initiative referendums, among other things.
  • Rising fuel prices initially sparked the demonstrations. 
  • Yellow high-visibility vests, which French law required all drivers to have in their vehicles and to wear during emergencies, were chosen as “a unifying thread and call to arms” because of their convenience, visibility, ubiquity, and association with working-class industries. 

Pension Reforms:

  • Through the pension reforms, Macron aims to merge the pension system — one of his core election promises — which currently has 42 sector-specific pension schemes, with different levels of contributions and rewards, into one central points-based system.
  • The French government spending on pensions is among the highest in the world, at 14 percent of their economic output.
  • As per the reformed pension schemes, each day that a worker works will earn them a point for future pension benefits. 
  • Macron maintains that a points-based single pension scheme will be fairer and less complicated.
  • At the moment, pension benefits in France are based on a worker’s 25 highest earning years in the private sector, and the last six months in the public sector.
  • Additionally, the retirement age in France is 62, one of the lowest among the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.
  • While Macron has not indicated that the retirement age will be pushed back, he has, indeed, said that workers in France will be required to work for longer.
  • This is not the first time that French people are protesting against a change in the pension scheme.
  • In 2007, rail and public transport workers staged a similar strike against then President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plans for pension reforms.

Connecting the dots:

  • France Protests are effective on all sides of the political spectrum. Critically comment.

ECONOMY

TOPIC: General Studies 3:

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

The International Financial Services Centres Authority Bill

Context:

  • The International Financial Services Centres Authority Bill, 2019 is likely to be taken up by Parliament for discussion.
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman introduced the Bill in LokSabha recently. 
  • The Bill provides for the establishment of an Authority to develop and regulate the financial services market in the International Financial Services Centres in India.

Who is covered?

  • The Bill will be applicable to all International Financial Services Centres (IFSCs) set up under the Special Economic Zones Act, 2005.
  • The first IFSC in India has been set up at the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City) in Gandhinagar.
  • According to a release issued by the government when the Bill was first cleared by the Union Cabinet, “An IFSC enables bringing back the financial services and transactions that are currently carried out in offshore financial centres by Indian corporate entities and overseas branches/subsidiaries of financial institutions (FIs) to India by offering business and regulatory environment that is comparable to other leading international financial centres in the world like London and Singapore”.
  • IFSCs are intended to provide Indian corporates with easier access to global financial markets, and to complement and promote further development of financial markets in India, the release said.

Authority to be set up:

  • The International Financial Services Centres Authority will consist of nine members, appointed by the central government.
  • They will include the chairperson of the authority, a member each from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), and the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA); and two members from the Ministry of Finance. In addition, two other members will be appointed on the recommendation of a Search Committee.
  • All members of the IFSC Authority will have a term of three years, subject to reappointment.

Functions of Authority:

  • The Authority will regulate financial products such as securities, deposits or contracts of insurance, financial services, and financial institutions which have been previously approved by any appropriate regulator such as RBI or SEBI, in an IFSC.
  • It will follow all processes which are applicable to such financial products, financial services, and financial institutions under their respective laws.
  • The appropriate regulators have been listed in a Schedule to the Bill, and includes the RBI, SEBI, IRDAI, and PFRDA. 
  • The central government may amend this schedule through a notification.
  • Among the other functions of the Authorityare the regulation of any other financial products, financial services, or financial institutions in an IFSC, which may be notified by the central government.
  • Another function is to recommend to the central government any other financial products, financial services, or financial institutions, which may be permitted in an IFSC.

Need for such an Authority:

  • The release issued by the government explained that currently, the banking, capital markets and insurance sectors in IFSC are regulated by multiple regulators, i.e. RBI, SEBI and IRDAI.
  • It requires regular clarifications and frequent amendments in the existing regulations governing financial activities in IFSCs. 
  • The development of financial services and products in IFSCs would require focussed and dedicated regulatory interventions.
  • Hence, a need is felt for having a unified financial regulator for IFSCs in India to provide world class regulatory environment to financial market participants. 
  • This would also be essential from an ease of doing business perspective. 
  • The unified authority would also provide the much needed impetus to further development of IFSC in India in sync with the global best practices.

Connecting the dots:

  • The dynamic nature of business in the IFSCs necessitates a high degree of inter-regulatory coordination. Comment.

(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. The levels of oxygen in oceans fell by around 2 per cent from 1960 to 2010
  2. As oceans lose oxygen, they become more acidic that has resulted in shellfish having their shells degraded or dissolved

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.2) Consider the following statements about Paika rebellion

  1. The rebellion took place around present day Maharashtra State in 1817 and is sometimes considered as first war of independence.
  2. It was led by BakshiJagabandhu who fought the battle against British primarily for its land revenue & land settlement policies which disrupted Tribal way of life.

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 Yellow Vest movement that was recently in news

  1. The protestswere triggered by general discontent, especially high fuel prices and cost of living.
  2. It took place in Iran during early 2019 against the ruling government.

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) Consider the following statements about Pyrolysis of Tyres

  1. It refers to a technique of breaking down used tyres at high temperatures (between250o C and 500o C) in the presence of abundance of oxygen
  2. It leaves fine carbon matter, pyro-gas and oil as residue and the inadequate management of these by-products poses health risks

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

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

Q.5) Consider the following statements about Composition of Lokpal

  1. It consists a chairperson and a maximum of eight members of which four need to be judicial members.
  2. Not less than 50 per cent of the members of the Lokpal shall be from amongst the persons belonging to the SCs, the STs, OBCs, minorities and women.

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

ANSWERS FOR 07 DEC 2019 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 B
3 B
4 A
5 B

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