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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 5th March 2020

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  • March 5, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 5th March 2020

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


National Lalit Kala Akademi awards

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- Governance; GS-I-Society

In News:

  • The President of India conferred the 61st annual Lalit Kala Akademi Awards on 15 meritorious artists in New Delhi
  • Lalit Kala Akademi also called National Academy of Art was set up by the Government of India in New Delhi as an autonomous body, in 1954.
  • The Akademi was given statutory authority in 1957, under the Societies Registration Act 1860. 
  • It is funded by the Ministry of Culture.

Mac-binding

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- Governance; GS-III- Awareness in IT

In News:

  • Use of Social media was allowed in Jammu & Kashmir but Internet connectivity is made available “with mac-binding”.
  • Every device has a Media Access Control (MAC) address, a hardware identification number that is unique to it.
  • While accessing the Internet, every device is assigned an IP address.
  • Mac-binding essentially means binding together the MAC and IP addresses, so that all requests from that IP address are served only by the computer having that particular MAC address
  • In effect, it means that if the IP address or the MAC address changes, the device can no longer access the Internet
  • Also, monitoring authorities can trace the specific system from which a particular online activity was carried out

Virtual Currency: SC lifts Ban on its trading

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Awareness in IT; GS-II- Governance

In News:

  • The ban on trading in Virtual Currencies was imposed by RBI
  • There is no globally accepted definition of what exactly is virtual currency. 
  • Basically, virtual currency is the larger umbrella term for all forms of non-fiat currency being traded online.
  • Virtual Currencies are mostly created, distributed and accepted in local virtual networks.
  • Virtual currency also includes Cryptocurrencies that have an extra layer of security, in the form of encryption algorithms
  • Most cryptocurrencies now operate on the blockchain or distributed ledger technology, which allows everyone on the network to keep track of the transactions occurring globally.

Key Highlights of the Judgement

  • The court found the ban did not pass the “proportionality” test. 
  • The test of proportionality of any action by the government must pass the test of Article 19(1)(g), which states that all citizens of the country will have the right to practise any profession, or carry on any occupation or trade and business.
  • Besides, RBI had not considered the availability of alternatives before issuing the order i.e. achieving the same objective by imposing a less drastic restraint.
  • Till date, the RBI has not come out with a stand that any of the entities regulated by it have suffered any loss or adverse effect directly or indirectly, on account of VC exchanges.

QS Rankings

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- Education

In News:

  • The QS World University Subject Rankings 2020 has been released from London by Quacquarelli Symonds.
  • Quacquarelli Symonds is the world’s leading provider of services, analytics, and insight to the global higher education sector.
  • QS uses four key metrics to compile the rankings including academic reputation, employer reputation, citations per paper and the h-index which measures how productive an institution’s research faculty are.
  • The highest ranking an Indian institute has got this year is the 41st rank globally. This is shared by both Delhi University’s School for Developmental Studies and IIT Bombay’s Mining and Minerals Department.
  • IIT Bombay has topped the list in the Engineering and Technology subjects with the 44th rank, followed by IIT Delhi (47), IIT Kharagpur (86) and IIT Madras (88).

Swamp Wallaby

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Environment

In News:

  • Swamp wallaby is a marsupial (young are carried in a pouch) related to the kangaroo, is pregnant throughout its adult life. 
  • It typically conceives a new embryo day before delivering the new-born from its previous pregnancy.
  • Female wallabies have two uteri and two separate ovaries. At the end of a pregnancy in one uterus, a new embryo develops in the other uterus. 
  • Wallabies regularly have an embryo in the uterus, a young joey in the pouch, and some third semi-dependent young at foot, still drinking its mother’s milk.

Third party can access judgment copy

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

In News:

  • Apex court has ruled that court documents such as copies of judgments and pleadings can be obtained only if court rules permit it, and not under the RTI Act.
  • The bench upheld Rule 151 of Gujarat High Court Rules, which allows access to certified copies of judgments, orders and pleadings to a third-party — or those not party to a case — only under the order of an officer of the court.
  • In November 2019, unanimous decision by a five-judge bench had said that “transparency does not undermine judicial independence” while bringing the CJI office under RTI.

(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

State Funding of Polls

Context: The Minister of State for Finance has informed Lok Sabha that the Election Commission of India (ECI) is not in favour of state funding of elections.

Current Scenario of Political Funding

  • Individual Persons: Section 29B of RPA allows political parties to receive donations from individual persons.
  • Indirect State Funding: It includes methods except direct funding, like free access to media, free access to public places for rallies, free or subsidized transport facilities. It is allowed in India in a regulated manner.
  • Electoral Trusts: A non-profit company created in India for orderly receipt of voluntary contributions from any person like an individual or a domestic company
  • Corporate Funding-  Earlier corporates to donate up to 7.5 percent of the net average profits earned in the preceding three years. However, this limitation was the done away with 2017 Finance Act
  • Changes were made in the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 2010 via the 2018 Finance Bill to allow foreign companies registered in India to make political donations.
  • Electoral Bonds: It is like a promissory note that can be bought by any Indian citizen or company incorporated in India from select branches of SBI. They can then donate the same to any eligible political party of his/her choice

Issues with Political Funding

  • Use of Shell/Fake companies to route Black Money
  • Limits imposed on Individual expenditure during elections but no such caps on expenditure by Political Parties
  • Corporate donations cover more than the two-third of total funds collected by the political parties thus engendering an unholy Corporate-Politician nexus
  • 75% of the donors to a political party are anonymous. The source of money could be crime, drug or ill-intentioned foreign money, which cannot be tracked.
  • The money that is received in cash is not audited properly and therefore becomes a source of malfeasance.

A few government reports have looked at state funding of elections in the past are:

  1. Indrajit Gupta Committee on State Funding of Elections (1998)
  • It endorsed state funding of elections, seeing “full justification constitutional, legal as well as on ground of public  interest” in order to establish a fair playing field for parties with less money. 
  • The Committee recommended two limitations to state funding. 
  • Firstly, that state funds should be given only to national and state parties allotted a symbol and not to independent candidates. 
  • Secondly, that in the short-term state funding should only be given in kind, in the form of certain facilities to the recognised political parties and their candidates.
  • The Committee noted that at the time of the report the economic situation of the country only suited partial and not full state funding of elections
  1. Law Commission Report on Reform of the Electoral Laws (1999)
  • It concluded that total state funding of elections is “desirable” so long as political parties are prohibited from taking funds from other sources.
  • Additionally, it strongly recommended that the appropriate regulatory framework be put in place with regard to political parties (provisions ensuring internal democracy, internal structures and maintenance of accounts, their auditing and submission to Election Commission) before state funding of elections is attempted
  1. National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (2001)
  • It did not endorse state funding of elections but concurred with the 1999 Law Commission report that the appropriate framework for regulation of political parties would need to be implemented before state funding is considered
  1. Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2008)
  • Ethics in Governance”, a report of the Second ARC also recommended partial state funding of elections for the purpose of reducing “illegitimate and unnecessary funding” of elections expenses. 

Merits of State Funding of Elections

  • It will become possible for new and cleaner candidates from outside the mainstream parties to join politics;
  • It will ease the pressure on parties themselves to give tickets to criminals and other rogues primarily because they can manage their own funding
  • Parties themselves will become more internally democratic, as candidates will not be over-dependent on party bosses for cash.

Issues of public funding of elections

  • This will encourage spawning of new parties every now and then.
  • Further, it will burden the exchequer.

ECI’s View on State Funding of Election

  • It would not be able to prohibit or check candidates’ expenditure or expenditure by others over and above that which is provided for by the state.
  • Instead it has suggested for reforms in funding of Political Parties- Proper receipt of funds, auditing of the expenditure of Political Parties and more transparency in funding process.

Alternatives Suggested:

  • Former election commission chairman S.Y. Qureshi has suggested state funding of the political parties instead of state funding of elections.
  • A National Election Fund can be created where people can donate anonymously. And at the end of the five years, the collected amount can be given to respective political parties based on performance. 70% of the European countries have this system.

Connecting the dots

  • RTI of Political Parties
  • Criminalisation of Politics and relation to Electoral funding

International Affairs

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests 

Coronavirus and its impact on Global Economy

Context: The Coronavirus, which began as an epidemic across China, has affected more than 92,000 people out of which 80,000 confirmed cases are in mainland China alone, with the death toll reaching 3,130 people.

The situation is a public health emergency and also an increasing fear that the pandemic will spread across other regions. 

Chinese Slowdown due to Coronavirus

  • China is the second-biggest economy in the world. 
  • China is not only the world’s factory but also a huge marke
  • The Slowdown in China would impact world growth through trade routes and the shock to the global value chain i.e.
  • China’s share in world trade is around 12.5 per cent — 
    • Its imports are $2.1 trillion (11.7% of global imports) and 
    • Its exports $2.4 trillion (13.4% of global exports)
  • Almost 45% of China’s exports comprise of electrical machinery and equipment, including computers.
  • Any slip in its growth — the conservative estimate is 0.5 per cent as of now — would affect the global economy. The OECD has forecast growth of just 2.4% in 2020, down from 2.9% in November 2019

Australia, Singapore and South East Asian countries

  • These will be the worst affected, given the economic and market exposure to China. 
  • Australia and Singapore could face not just disruptions in the flow of goods and services but also a loss in reveneue from tourists and students from China.

Oil Producing Countries: Due to falling demand from China and also from across the globe due to ripple effect caused by Chinese slowdown, crude oil prices is down by 15 per cent

Commodity driven countries like Peru, Chile and Indonesia – are also going to face slowdown China is the biggest consumer of these products like Copper, Aluminium etc

Impact on India

  • China is India’s largest trading partner, accounting for 5% of the country’s exports and 14 % of imports. 
  • India is dependent on Chinese imports in 
    • Healthcare and pharmaceuticals (active pharma ingredients)
    • Smartphones and accessories 
    • Solar cells modules – India’s solar power plants import about 80 per cent of components from China
  • A supply crunch in components and finished products from China will increase the cost of production and general price level. 
  • This comes at a time when the Indian economy is sluggish.
  • Indian exports to China will also be hit significantly in organic chemicals (17%), yarn (21%), metal ores (68%), building material (31%).
  • India accounts for nearly 16% of China’s cotton imports and 13% of its construction material imports.

Critical Analysis of India’s Situation

  • There is a belief that this episode provides an opportunity for India to replace Chinese exports, similar to the argument that India would benefit from the tariff war between the US and China
  • However, it’s not easy to improve export competitiveness and manufacturing in a short time
  • Many small businesses in India have been impacted due to their dependence on Chinese imports and also because they export components to Chinese factories
  • At present, the Indian economy, which is grappling with high inflation, would get an immediate respite from the falling crude prices.

Conclusion

  • India has been grappling with demand-side problems and corona is a supply-side shock

Connecting the dots

  • Comparison of Corona Virus outbreak to SARS epidemic in 2003 – Changes in China’s overall economic significance in Global Economy

(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 Swamp Wallaby

  1. It is a marsupial related to Kangaroo
  2. The swamp wallaby is likely the only mammal pregnant and lactating all life long

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 Lalit Kala Academy

  1. The Akademi was given statutory authority in 1957, under the Societies Registration Act 1860
  2. It is located in Kolkata

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. Mac-Binding recently in news is related to which area/field?

  1. Biodegradation process
  2. Air purification technology
  3. Cyber Monitoring
  4. None of the above

Q 4. Consider the following statements about QS Rankings

  1. It is released by World Bank in collaboration with UNICEF
  2. It is an international ranking of Universities

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 04 March 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 D
3 D
4 C

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