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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 29th February 2020

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  • March 2, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 29th February 2020

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Red Snow

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Environment

In news:

  • Red snow has been noticed around Ukraine’s Vernadsky Research Base, off the coast of Antarctica’s northernmost peninsula.
  • Reason: It is the algae that give the snow its red tinge
  • This alga species, Chlamydomonas Chlamydomonas nivalis, exists in snow in the polar and glacial regions, and carries a red pigment to keep itself warm.
  • Impact: These algae change the snow’s albedo. Darker the tinge, the more the heat absorbed by the snow. Therefore, the red snow causes the surrounding ice to melt faster
  • Cause of Concern: While the melt is good for the microbes that need the liquid water to survive and thrive, it’s bad for glaciers that are already melting from a myriad of other causes

“Second Moon”

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-I- Geography

In news:

  • Astronomers have observed a small object orbiting Earth- named 2020 CD3 – which they have dubbed a “mini-moon” or the planet’s “second moon”.
  • However, it is actually an asteroid, about the size of a car with diameter about 1.9-3.5 m. Such an asteroid is called a Temporarily Captured Object (TCO)
  • Unlike Earth’s permanent Moon, the mini-moon is temporary which will eventually break free of Earth’s orbit and go off on its own way.
  • Explanation: When an asteroid’s orbit crosses Earth’s orbit, it can sometimes be captured into the latter orbit. This is what happened with 2020 CD3. The orbits of such objects is unstable
  • Did You know? The previously discovered 2006 RH120 orbited Earth for some time in 2006 before it escaped in 2007
  • Once caught in Earth’s orbit, such objects usually remain for a few years before they break free and go into independent orbit around the Sun.

IMD: Summer to be hotter than usual

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Environment

In news:

  • The forecast from IMD indicates that the MAM (March-May) season averaged temperatures are likely to be at least half a degree hotter than normal

About Indian Meteorological Department (IMD)

  • IMD was established in 1875.
  • It is an agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Government of India.
  • It is the principal agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology

NIA makes first arrest in Pulwama case

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Security

In news:

  • Pulwama case: Forty CRPF jawans travelling in convoy were killed by a vehicle-borne suicide attack on February 14, 2019 in Pulwana City of Jammu & Kashmir

Prelims Value Addition

  • NIA was created after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks with the enactment of the National Investigation Agency Act 2008.
  • NIA is the Central Counter Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency of India and it works under overall guidance of Ministry of Home Affairs

Census 2021

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- Governance, Federalism

In news:

  • Maharashtra and Bihar assembly have passed resolution seeking caste-based census for the enumeration of the OBCs in Census 2021
  • As of now, Registrar General & Census Commissioner of India has not accepted the request, based on following reasons:
    • The collection of data of OBCs, SEBCs, other castes etc. will adversely affect integrity of census exercise and therefore the enumeration of OBCs, SEBCs, other castes has not been taken up in 2021 Census
    • No Standardisation: In case, a question on OBCs is canvassed, it will return names of thousands of castes, sub-castes as the people use their clan/gotra, sub-caste, caste interchangeably thus making the caste enumeration exercise practically difficult
    • Unlike SC & ST, there is no such constitutional mandate to provide census numbers of OBCs.
  • The 2011 caste data, collected as part of the Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC), is yet to be released by the Centre.
  • The last caste-based census was conducted by the British in 1931.

Prelims Value addition about Census

  • The census provides information on size, distribution and socio-economic, demographic and other characteristics of the country’s population.
  •  The first synchronous census in India was held in 1881. Since then, censuses have been undertaken uninterruptedly once every ten years.
  • The Census 2021 will be conducted in 18 languages out of the 22 scheduled languages (under 8th schedule) and English, while Census 2011 was in 16 of the 22 scheduled languages declared at that time.
  • For the first time in the 140 year history of census in India, data is proposed to be collected through a mobile app by enumerators
  • The Census data would be available by the year 2024-25 as the entire process would be conducted digitally and data crunching would be quicker.

33 Turkish soldiers killed in Syria strikes

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- International Affairs

In news:

  • Syrian Civil War: Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air power, have launched an assault to capture the northwest Syria, the last remaining territory held by Syrian rebels backed by Turkey
  • As a result, UN Security Council called an emergency meeting to avert open conflict between Russia and NATO member Turkey

Prelims Value Addition

  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a military alliance established by the Washington Treaty of April 4, 1949, by US, Canada, and several Western European nations to provide collective security against then USSR
  • A key provision of the treaty, the so-called Article 5, states that if one member of the alliance is attacked then it is to be considered an attack on all members. 
  • NATO effectively put Western Europe under the “nuclear umbrella” of the US.
  • As of 2019, there are 29 member states, with Montenegro becoming the latest member to join the alliance in 2017
Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 29th February 2020

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 29th February 2020


(MAINS FOCUS)


International Affairs

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests. 

India’s Need for Regional bonding

Context

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s participation in The Hindu’s Huddle Conclave, where he discussed on the India’s foreign policy & the need for greater regional integration.

India’s recent steps

  • India has more or less shut down all conversations on SAARC (Summit not being held since 2014)
  • India has walked away from the ASEAN-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
  • Failure of BIMSTEC and SAARC to engender more intra-regional trade in comparison to other groupings such as ASEAN & EU.
  • Indian government has taken a protectionist attitude on multilateral trade pacts and is relying more on direct bilateral deals with countries rather than overarching ones that might expose Indian markets to flooding by Chinese goods

About South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)

  • It was established on 8 December 1985.
  • Its member countries are—Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan (2005)
  • The Headquarters and Secretariat of the Association are at Kathmandu, Nepal.
  • SAARC comprises 3% of the world’s area, 21% of the world’s population and 3.8% (2018) of the global economy.

About Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC)

  • Established in 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration
  • Its member countries are – Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal & Bhutan
  • With Pakistan not being a member of organisation it was envisaged as a platform for India to speed up its regional integration process.
  • It acts as a bridge between South and South East Asia 
  • Important Connectivity Projects are:
    • Kaladan Multimodal Project – links India and Myanmar.
    • Asian Trilateral Highway – connecting India and Thailand through Myanmar.
    • Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement – for seamless flow of passenger and cargo traffic.

Significance of SAARC and BIMSTEC

  • Neighbourhood first: Primacy to the country’s immediate neighbours.
  • Geostrategic significance: Can counter China (OBOR initiative) through engaging our neighbours in development process and economic cooperation.
  • Regional stability: These regional organisations can help in creation of mutual trust and ensure that regional interest over ride bilateral disputes
  • Global leadership role: It offers India a platform to showcase its leadership in the region by taking up extra responsibilities.
  • Game changer for India’s Act East Policy: Linking of South Asian economies with South East Asian region will bring further economic integration and prosperity to India particularly in its under-developed Eastern region
  • Potential for India’s export: With closer economic integration of economies in the region, India’s domestic companies will get access to much bigger market thus boosting their revenues

Challenges for SAARC & BIMSTEC

  • Broad area of cooperation leads to diversion of energy and resources.
  • Inadequate Political Will: India’s inclination towards Big powers which leads to neglecting its relationship with its neighbours
  • Bilateral tensions, especially between India and Pakistan, spilling over into SAARC meetings.
  • Perception of India being a Big Brother vis-à-vis its neighbours whereby India enforces its own agenda on small neighbouring countries through these groupings
  • Slow implementation of the projects announced by India – declines India’s credibility to deliver on its promises thus pushing Nations to seek help from China or West.
  • Rising China in the region with its overarching Belt & Road initiative (Cheque book Diplomacy of China)

Suggestion made by Mr. Wickremesinghe at the conclave

  • An even smaller sub-grouping of four countries with complementary economies: India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Thailand, to begin the process of reducing tariffs and demolishing non-tariff barrier regimes
  • Proactive India’s leadership and more integrated South Asian region would enable India & others to negotiate for better terms with RCEP so as not to be cut out of the “productivity network” in Asia
  • Also there is need to come up with concrete Economic Integration Road Map to speed up the process of greater cooperation & integration in regional arena

Conclusion

For any regional sub-grouping in South Asia to flourish, it is India that will have to make the most concessions given the vast trade deficits India’s neighbours have at present, which it may not wish to do. India needs to be more accommodative for the realisation of its ambitions.

Connecting the dots

  • ASEAN and EU – difference in structure & functioning of these regional organisation

Economy

Topic: General Studies 3:

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

India’s Economic Slowdown

Context

The economy grew at 4.7 per cent in the October-December quarter, down from the revised estimate of 5.1 per cent in the second quarter

However, the situation is much worse than what the headline numbers suggest. 

  • At the aggregate level, gross value added grew by 4.5% in the third quarter, down from 4.8% in the previous quarter.
  • But excluding public administration, defence and other services, which largely connote government spending, value added by the rest of the economy grew by a mere 3.7% in the third quarter, down from 5.2% in the same quarter last year
  • Growth thus continues to be propped up by higher government spending.
  • Manufacturing sector has seen contraction (negative growth) for two consecutive quarters
  • For the full year, manufacturing sector is expected to grow barely at 1%, down from 5.7% in the last year.
  • Construction activity also slowed down reflecting the continued dismal performance of the real estate sector.
  • Gross fixed capital formation, which represents investment in the economy, has now contracted for two straight quarters
  • NSO now expects investments to contract by 0.6% in 2019-20, after growing by 9.8 per cent in the previous year, 

Future Bright Prospects

  • Gross value added is expected to pick up to 5 per cent in the fourth quarter, up from 4.5 per cent in the third quarte
  • Data of the eight core sectors have grown for two consecutive months.
  • National statistics office thus believes that the economy has bottomed out and an upward trend is likely in coming quarters
  • Capital investments announced by government (National Infrastructure Pipeline) will kickstart private sector and start yielding results in medium to long term
  • The structural changes brought in economy through Insolvency & Bankruptcy code, GST and JAM trinity (Financial Inclusion) will enable formalisation of the economy in the long run. 

Downside risks

  • The Centre’s revenues may well fall short of the revised estimates. This may impinge on its ability to maintain its spending at current levels in the fourth quarter.
  • The full impact of the coronavirus is yet to play out. Economic activity in February and March is likely to be impacted directly and indirectly, depending on the duration and intensity of its spread.
  • Disruptions in supply chains and lower external demand due to trade tensions of USA with China & others, may further add to domestic issues.

Conclusion

One of the reasons for current slowdown has been the weak demand in the country especially from rural sector. Thus, government should try to increase disposable incomes (through schemes like MGNREGA) in the hands of people which will revive the growth in economy.

Connecting the dots

  • Impact of Coronavirus on world markets
  • Multilateral trade deals during weak domestic economic situation – prospects & dangers

(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 National Investigation Agency (NIA)

  1. It is a statutory body which functions as the Central Counter Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency of India  
  2. it works under overall guidance of Ministry of Defence

Which of the above statements 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 Red Snow

  1. The presence of algae that carries red pigment gives the red colour to snow.
  2. The algae changes the albedo of the snow, which makes the melting of ice slower.

Which of the above statements 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 2020 CD3

  1. It has been dubbed by the astronomers as Earth’s “Mini Moon” or “Second Moon”
  2. Unlike Earth’s permanent Moon, 2020 CD3 is temporary that will eventually break free of Earth’s orbit and go off on its own way.

Which of the above statements 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 Indian Meteorological Department (IMD)

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

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

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

ANSWERS FOR 28 FEB 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 B
3 A
4 D

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