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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 30th March 2020

  • IASbaba
  • March 30, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 30th March 2020

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


MPLADS Funds

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Polity

In News: 

  • The Vice President of India appealed to all Members of Parliament to contribute at least Rs. 1 crore initially from their MPLADS funds
  • The funds shall supplement the Government’s efforts in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic. 

Key takeaways:

  • The contribution will facilitate Members of Parliament to recommend funds for purchase of the equipments for Government Hospitals / Dispensaries. 
  • The Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation has suitably amended the relevant guidelines to allow one-time dispensation under MPLADS for managing COVID-19.

Important value additions:

MPLADS funds

  • It is a scheme formulated by the Government of India that enables the members of parliaments (MP) to recommend developmental work in their constituencies. 
  • The emphasis is on creating durable community assets based on locally felt needs.
  • The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) looks into its working.
  • The funds released under the scheme are non-lapsable.
  • The MPs have a recommendatory role under the scheme. 
  • The MPLADS is fully funded by the Government of India. 
  • The annual MPLADS fund entitlement per MP constituency is Rs. 5 crore

PM-CARES Fund

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Governance

In News: 

  • ‘Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund’ (PM CARES Fund) has been set up as a national fund to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Key takeaways:

  • The primary objective is to deal with any kind of emergency or distress situation, like posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • The fund will also help in providing relief to the affected
  • This fund will enable micro-donations as a result of which a large number of people will be able to contribute with the smallest of denominations.
  • Contribution by corporates to PM-CARES Fund will be considered as CSR expenditure under the companies law, as per Corporate Affairs Ministry’s memorandum. 

Important value additions:

PM CARES Fund

  • The Prime Minister is the Chairman of the fund. 
  • Other Members include Defence Minister, Home Minister and Finance Minister.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) 

  • Under section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013, every company having net worth of at least Rs 500 crore, turnover of Rs 1,000 crore or more, or a minimum net profit of Rs 5 crore during the immediate preceding financial year has to make CSR expenditure.
  • The CSR initiatives of companies thrust on creating value in the lives of the communities around its areas of business and manufacturing operations. 

PM National Relief Funds (PMNRF) 

  • These are the other funds under the Prime Minister. 
  • He is the chairman of the fund.
  • The PMNRF is used to support people affected by natural and man-made disasters. 
  • This includes acid attacks, accidents and riots
  • It is also allotted to people for kidney transplantation treatments, heat, surgeries, etc. 

CoNTeC

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Health; Governance

In News: 

  • The Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare launched the National Teleconsultation Centre (CoNTeC) recently. 

Key takeaways:

  • The project is conceptualised by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
  • It will be implemented by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. 
  • The doctors across the country will be able to connect to AIIMS in real time for treatment of the COVID-19 patients. 
  • This facility shall be available 24X7. 
  • The goal of the facility is to at least connect the doctors in the country together to discuss amongst themselves the protocols undertaken and provide the best treatment accordingly.
  • Small states will be able to make use of the vast experience of the doctors at AIIMS

Important value additions:

National Teleconsultation Centre (CoNTeC)

  • It is a Telemedicine Hub. 
  • Expert doctors from various clinical domains shall answer the multifaceted questions from specialists from all over the country. 
  • It is a multi-modal telecommunications hub
  • 2 way audio-video and text communications can be undertaken from any part of the country as well as the world at large. 
  • The modes of communication will include simple mobile telephony and two way video communications through WhatsApp, Skype and Google Duo. 

Force Majeure

Part of: GS Prelims 

In News: 

  • The Ministry of Railways has decided that the period from 22.03.2020 to 14.04.2020 shall be treated under force majeure

Key takeaways:

  • The Ministry of Railways clarified that spread of coronavirus should be considered as a natural calamity and Force Majeure clause may be invoked. 
  • Charges like demurrage, wharfage won’t be applicable during this period. 

Important value additions:

Force Majeure

  • Force majeure (FM) means extraordinary events or circumstances beyond human control such as an event described as an Act of God (like a natural calamity). 
  • DemurrageA charge payable to the owner of a chartered ship on failure to load or discharge the ship within the time agreed.
  • Wharfage – Accommodation provided at a wharf for the loading, unloading, or storage of goods.

Himalayan Ibex

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Environment; Conservation

In News: 

  • A recent study by scientists of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has proved that Himalayan Ibex is a distinct species from the Siberian Ibex. 

Key takeaways:

  • The scientists assumed that the ‘montane systems’ which are formed due to climatic oscillations and temporal topographic metamorphosis might have broken up the adjoining distribution of widespread species. 
  • This might have also led to the accelerated allopatric speciation (speciation because of geographic and reproductive isolation).
  • Study will help in the global understanding of the Ibex distribution and evolution.

Important value additions:

Ibex

  • Siberian Ibex is a species of wild goat. 
  • It is distributed in diverse habitats, ranging from cold deserts, rocky outcrops, steep terrain, high-land flats and mountain ridges to low mountains and foothills.
  • Himalayan Ibex is distributed in the trans-Himalayan ranges of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh. 
  • IUCN status of Ibex – Least concern. 
Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 30th March 2020

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 30th March 2020

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Zoological Survey of India

  • It was founded by the Government of India, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, as the premier Indian organisation in zoological research and studies to promote the survey, exploration and research of the fauna in the country.
  • ZSI (zoology) as well as ASI (archaeology), BSI (botany), FSI (forests), FiSI (fisheries), GSI (geology), IIEE (ecology), NIO (oceanography), RGCCI (Census of India) and SI (cartography) are key national survey organisations of India.

(MAINS FOCUS)


ECONOMY

Topic: General Studies 3:

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

FRBM Act

In order to deal with crisis created by COVID-19 pandemic, Kerala government announced a package of ₹20,000 crores and urged the centre to provide flexibility under the FRBM Act.

What is Fiscal responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act?

  • It was enacted by Parliament in 2003.
  • Background: Reckless borrowing by government to finance its programmes had led to high Fiscal Deficit, high Revenue Deficit, and high Debt-to-GDP ratio.
  • The objectives of the act are
    • To ensure fiscal discipline in government finances
    • Inter-generational equity in fiscal management 
    • Long-term macro-economic stability.
  • Following documents were supposed to be placed in the Parliament annually along with the Budget, to ensure transparency & accountability in fiscal operations:
    • Macroeconomic Framework Statement
    • Fiscal Policy Strategy Statement
    • Medium Term Fiscal Policy Statement 
    • Medium Term Expenditure Framework Statement
  • Among other targets, the act mandated the reduction of the fiscal deficit to 3% of GDP – Initial goal was March 31, 2009 but it has been postponed since 2008 to the most recent target of 3.1% for March 2023.

FRBM Act and State government

  • To ensure that the States too are financially prudent, the 12th Finance Commission’s recommendations in 2004 linked debt relief to States with their enactment of similar laws. 
  • The States have since enacted their own respective Financial Responsibility Legislation, which sets the same 3% of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) cap on their annual budget deficits.

Why is Kerala seeking flexibility under the FRBM?

  • Kerala’s current fiscal position means that it can borrow about ₹25,000 crores during the financial year 2020-21.
  • As per its COVID relief package, it plans to borrow ₹12,000 crore in April 2020 itself.
  • FRBM limitations means constraints on its borrowing and spending ability over the remaining 11 months of the fiscal year.
  • Thus, it has asked for relaxation of the FRBM act

How does a relaxation of the FRBM work?

  • The law does contain an ‘escape clause’ (section 4(2) of act) whereby the Centre can exceed the annual fiscal deficit target citing grounds that include national security, war, national calamity, structural reforms, decline in real output etc.
  • The ongoing pandemic could be considered as a national calamity which is apt for suspending both the Centre’s and States’ fiscal deficit targets.
  • This would allow both the Union government and States including Kerala to undertake the much-needed increases in expenditure to fight COVID pandemic.

When have the FRBM norms been relaxed in the past?

  • Most significant one was in 2008-09 – during the global financial crisis, when the Centre resorted to fiscal stimulus – lead to fiscal deficit climbing to 6.2% of GDP, from a budgeted goal of 2.7%.
  • Simultaneously, the deficit goals for the States too were relaxed to 3.5% of GSDP for 2008-09 and 4% of GSDP for fiscal 2009-10.
  • In the recent Union Budget for 2020-21 – Reductions in corporate tax was considered as structural reforms so as to trigger the escape clause – fiscal deficit target for 2019-20 was recalibrated to 3.8%, from the earlier 3.3%

Connecting the dots:


GOVERNANCE/ CIVIL SOCIETY

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Development processes and the development industry —the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders. 

COVID-19: Rope in civil society to ease supply of food

Context: The COVID-19 pandemic & the ensuing lockdown has disrupted all major sectors of the economy. However, if unattended the crisis can have most devastating impact on the agricultural sector on which nearly 60% of India’s population is dependent.

During the relief package announced by government it stated that the beneficiaries of the PDS can avail three months’ ration at one go along with front loading money for farmers under PM-KISAN yojana. However, more needs to be done

Do You Know?

  • In 1918, the Spanish Flu infected 500 million people globally, when the world’s population was just 1.8 billion. 
  • The pandemic claimed the lives of 50 million people — 14 million to 18 million of them in India.   

What are the challenges with food during this times of crisis?

  • Implementation Difficulties with relief package: Challenge for fair price shops to deliver the provisions in an orderly manner with intact supply chain
  • Reduced Farmer income: Shortage of labour during this harvest season may lead to wastage of food produce especially perishable products like fruits & vegetables
  • High Prices: Disruption in food chain can lead to high prices for consumers
  • Chaos & Anarchy: If adequate food is not provided in a timely manner to people, it may lead to social unrest and political instability that further derails corrective measures.

Alternatives available

  • Suspend the APMC Act and encourage NGOs, civil society and corporate houses to directly procure from farmers.
  • Suspension of weekly markets where social distancing is seldom practiced
  • Rope in civil society NGOs, resident welfare associations & religious organisations – for orderly and safe distribution of food — both pre-cooked and fresh
  • Home (street) delivery of food provisions to avoid crowding
    • In Metro Cities like Bengaluru & Delhi, collaboration with food deliver companies like Zomato & Swiggy can help overcome supply chain constraints imposed due to lockdown
    • Local authorities can be given this task in semi-urban and rural areas

Challenges

  • Labour for harvesting the produce
  • Safety of delivery personnel
  • Perishability of fruits & vegetables
  • Poultry industry affected – due to reduction in intake of chicken & eggs – has spill over effect on Maize (that is used as feed in Poultry sector)

Way Ahead

  • The Procurement agencies (FCI) and delivery agencies need to be trained about safety measures and supplied with safety gear
  • Compensating poultry and maize farmers
  • Announcing Rs 50/quintal per month to farmers as an incentive to stagger bringing farm produce to the market — say after May 10
  • Unloading of excessive buffer stock which is about 77 million metric tonnes (MMT) on March 1, against the norm of 21.4 MMT.
  • Use of data analytics to optimize the quantity and delivery of goods
  • Retail distribution lines need to be seamlessly linked to wholesale supply lines.

Connecting the dots:

  • Doubling of Farmers income – Ashok Dalwai Committee
  • Food Riots that has happened in the past across the world (Think French Revolution)

(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 regarding MPLADS funds:

  1. The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) looks into its working. 
  2. The MPs have a recommendatory role under the scheme.

Which of the 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 regarding PM CARES Fund:

  1. The President is the chairman of the fund. 
  2. Contributions made by the corporates to this fund will be considered as CSR expenditure.

Which of the above is/are correct?

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

Q 3. The National Teleconsultation Centre project shall be implemented by which of the following? 

  1. Ministry of Health and Welfare 
  2. All India Institute of Medical Sciences
  3. National Disaster Management Authority
  4. Ministry of Home Affairs

Q 4. Invocation of Force Majeure was being considered by which of the following Ministry? 

  1. Ministry of Railways 
  2. Ministry of Defence 
  3. Ministry of Civil Aviation
  4. Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.

ANSWERS FOR 28th March 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 C
3 B
4 C

Must Read

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