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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 13th March 2020

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  • March 13, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 13th March 2020

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Crime Multi Agency Centre (Cri-MAC)

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Security

In News:

  • A Crime Multi Agency Centre (Cri-MAC) aims to share information between various police forces on heinous crimes.
  • The Cri-MAC is meant to share information on heinous crimes and other issues related to inter-state coordination

R-naught

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- Health

In News:

  • The R-naught, or R0, is a virus’s basic reproductive number — an epidemiologic metric used to describe the contagiousness of infectious agents.
  • At its simplest, the basic reproductive number can show us how worried we should be about infection 
  • If the R0 is above one, each case is expected to infect at least one other person on average, and the virus is likely to keep spreading. 
  • If it’s less than one, a group of infected people are less likely to spread the infection.

Dollar Swap Window

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Economy

In News:

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has opened a six-month dollar sell-buy swap window to pump liquidity in the foreign exchange market
  • Financial markets worldwide are facing intense selling pressures on extreme risk aversion due to the spread of COVID-19 infections, compounded by the slump in international crude prices.
  • Investors dump assets in their flight to safety and thus the demand for the US dollar has been surging across the word resulting in USD shortage.
  • As a result, several emerging market currencies including INR experiencing downside pressures.
  • The central bank is set to auction $2 billion where banks can deposit Indian rupees to get US dollar for a price. These funds would be available for six months

Did You Know? 

  • The Indian rupee has fallen 4.07% this year as foreign investors sell domestic securities aggregating Rs. Rs. 23,237 crores. It has aggravated in the past two weeks as the pandemic panic spread.
  • The current account is expected to move to surplus in the March quarter due to a plunge in crude oil prices

NPR- No Doubtful Category

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- Governance

In News:

  • Home Minister assured Parliament that no participant in the process will be marked ‘doubtful’ in case he or she is unable to provide the information sought.
  • The Home minister also stated that “No document is being asked. All information is voluntary. Whatever information a participant wants to share will be recorded”
  •  NPR is a register of usual residents of the country. It includes both Indian citizens as well as a foreign citizen.
  • According to the Citizenship Rules, 2003, a usual resident is a person who has resided (or intends to reside) in a local area for the past 6 months 

Committee recommends monetising weather data

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- Governance

In News:

  • Parliamentary committee on science, technology and environment recommended that the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) should explore monetisation of the weather data.
  • The panel suggested that MoES could charge private users such as insurance companies that rely on data and information put out by the Ministry
  • The India Meteorological Department, an organisation under the MoES, is tasked with gathering, analysing and disseminating meteorological data.

Did You Know?

  • The MoES had been allotted ₹2070 crore for financial year 2020-21 up from ₹1901 crore last year.
  • MoES didn’t have funds to acquire a Polar Research Vessel, as well as kickstart the Deep Ocean Mission. The mission proposes to explore the deep ocean similar to the space exploration started by ISRO about 35 years ago.
  • India has been allotted a site of 75,000 sq. km. in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) by the UN International Sea Bed Authority for exploitation of polymetallic nodules (PMN).
  • PMN are rocks scattered on the seabed containing iron, manganese, nickel and cobalt.
  • It has been estimated that 380 million metric tonnes of polymetallic nodules are available at the bottom of the seas in the Central Indian Ocean

NIDHI COMPANY

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Economy

In News:

  • The government has given up to one-year time for Nidhi companies to update their details as per the updated rules.
  • A Nidhi company is a type of company in the Indian non-banking finance sector, recognized under section 406 of the Companies Act, 2013
  • Their core business is borrowing and lending money between their members.
  • They are regulated by Ministry of Corporate Affairs
  • They have to comply with two set of norms, one of Public limited company as per Companies Act, 2013 and another is for Nidhi rules, 2014. 

90 yrs of salt movement

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-I- Modern History

In News:

  • The salt movement led by Gandhi started on March 12 in 1930, from Sabarmati Ashram to the coastal village of Dandi (240 miles)
  • The Salt March is also known as the Dandi March and the Dandi Satyagraha.
  • Objective: 
    • To produce salt from the seawater in the coastal village of Dandi, as was the practice of the local populace until British officials introduced taxation on salt production and deemed their sea-salt reclamation activities illegal.
    • It was a direct-action campaign of tax resistance and nonviolent protest against the British salt monopoly under the 1882 British Salt Act. 
  • The march directly followed the Poorna Swaraj declaration of sovereignty and self-rule by the Indian National Congress on 26 January 1930. 
  • The then Viceroy, Lord Irwin was hardly perturbed by the threat of a salt protest and the government did nothing to prevent the salt march from taking place.
  • The salt tax accounted for 8.2% of the British Raj revenue from tax 
  • When Gandhi broke the salt laws on 6 April 1930, it sparked large scale acts of civil disobedience against the British Raj salt laws by millions of Indians. 
  • As per the Gandhi-Irwin Pact Indians were allowed to make salt for domestic use

(MAINS FOCUS)


Governance

Topic: General Studies 2:

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

MSP & Direct benefit transfer  – Punjab Case Study

Context: Government plans to implement direct benefit transfer (DBT) in MSP payments in Punjab starting with the wheat crop that will arrive in the mandis from April.

The current system

  • Minimum Support Prices (MSP) are announced by Central Government on recommendation of Commission on Agricultural costs and Prices (CACP)
  • The Food Corporation of India and state agencies undertake grain procurement through commission agents in APMC mandis
  • The payment is made into the agent’s account, who then makes a payment to farmer who sells the produce to him.

Situation in Punjab State

  • Punjab has some 48,000 of these mandi intermediaries, of which 28,000-odd are active and each dealing with anywhere from 20 to 200 farmers.
  • In 2018-19 alone, 169.16 lakh tonnes (lt) of paddy and 129.12 lt of wheat got procured from Punjab. 
  • These, at their respective MSPs of Rs 1,770 and Rs 1,840 per quintal, would have been worth almost Rs 53,700 crore
  • At 2.5%, the commission payments over and above this to the commission agents would have been around Rs 1,342.5 crore.
  • Also, landless tenants represented an estimated 30-35% of Punjab’s farmers who cultivate land belonging to others that include government employees, NRIs and permanent urban residents within and outside the state.

Concerns of Landless tenants

  • Not being either the owner or a registered tenant farmer means that they cannot access any crop credit from the local primary agricultural cooperative society, 
  • They even cannot benefit from the government’s loan waiver 
  • Not eligible for the Centre’s Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) income support schemes
  • Under PM-Kisan, there are 22.40 lakh farmers in Punjab receiving annual income support of Rs 6,000 each which includes only landowning farmers
  • Even at the time of sale at the agriculture produce market committee (APMC) mandi the documents (‘J form’) which gives details of the crop, quantity and price, mentions only the name of the landowner.

DBT for MSP

  • The Punjab government, at the nudging of the Centre, has made it compulsory for agents to provide bank and Aadhaar numbers of all their farmers. 
  • This data is to be linked to the Centre’s Public Financial Management System (PFMS) network, which will enable direct payment of MSP monies into the accounts of farmers rather than that of the agents
  • For collecting the details of landless farmers, the government is, therefore, relying on the agents. 

Challenges/Opposition to DBT

  • Tenants: 30-35% of Punjab’s farmers are unregistered landless tenant farmers. As a result, even though they are the actual cultivators, they would not be eligible (lack of necessary documents) to receive MSP money into their accounts
  • If MSP payment is transferred directly into bank accounts, only the landowners will benefit.
  • Commission Agents: They, of course, are least inclined to support the scheme as they stand to loose their 2.5% commission fee on MSP procurement. Also, their power and role in the entire supply chains gets diminished
  • It was commission agents in APMC mandis who used to provide loans to landless tenants to raise their crops. Hence, if the government reduces the role of agent it will inturn impact their ability to provide loans to tenants. This affects the working capital availability for these tenants

Way forward

  • Conducting a single census on landless farmers in the state
  • Ensuring the regularisation of the tenancy. This means flexibility in State tenancy laws. Adoption of Model Tenancy Act of Centre would be a step in the right direction.

Connecting the dots

  • DBT in fertilizers
  • Food Coupons Vs Subsidised food provision
  • Price deficiency Payment Scheme

(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 about India Meteorological Department

  1. It is an agency of the Ministry of Science & Technology of the Government of India.
  2. It is the principal agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology

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 Nidhi Companies

  1. Their core business is borrowing and lending money between their members.
  2. They are regulated by Ministry of Corporate Affairs. 

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 National Population Register (NPR)

  1. It is applicable only for citizens and not for foreigners
  2. NPR exercise will be conducted by office of the Registrar General of India (RGI) under the Union Home Ministry.

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. R-naught often seen in news is related to which area?

  1. Earthquake measurement
  2. Contagiousness of infectious agents.
  3. Marine pollution metric by ships
  4. None of the above

ANSWERS FOR 12 March 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 B
3 A
4 C

Must Read

About banking Stress: 

The Hindu

About COVID-19: 

The Hindu

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