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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 20th MAY 2020

  • IASbaba
  • May 20, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 20th May 2020

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Initiatives to boost Education Sector announced 

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

In News:

  • Recently, we had discussed reforms in the education sector
  • Several other initiatives to boost the education sector were also announced by the Union Finance Minister. 

Key takeaways:

  • Manodarpan initiative: It would provide psychosocial support to students, teachers and families for mental health and emotional wellbeing through a website, a toll-free helpline. 
  • A new National Curriculum and Pedagogical Framework for school education, teacher education and early childhood stage shall be prepared to prepare students and future teachers as per global benchmarks
  • A National Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Mission will be launched. This will ensure that every child in the country necessarily attains literacy and numeracy of foundation level. 
  • The learning needs of nearly 4 crore children will be covered through this mission in the age group of 3 to 11 years. 

Scientists conserve the germplasm of Pinanga Andamanensis 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Environment

In News:

  • The scientists at Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI), Thiruvananthapuram, 2019 are conserving the germplasm (genetic material of germ cells) of  Pinanga Andamanensis. 
  • This would ensure its continued survival of its original home gets wiped out by a natural calamity.

Important value additions 

Pinanga Andamanensis

  • It is a critically endangered species. 
  • It is one of the least known among the endemic palms of the Andaman Islands.
  • Its entire population consists of some 600 specimens only. 
  • It naturally occurs only in a tiny, evergreen forest pocket in South Andaman’s Mount Harriet National Park.
  • This elegant palm can be used as an avenue tree for gardens, pavements and homesteads.

IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 20th May 2020

Image source: The Hindu 


J&K Grant of Domicile Certificate Procedure Rules, 2020 notified

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Polity

In News:

  • The J&K administration has recently notified the J&K Grant of Domicile Certificate Procedure Rules, 2020
  • It also set a fast-track process in motion to issue the certificates within a stipulated time of 15 days.

Key takeaways:

  • Eligible non-locals can also apply for the certificate.
  • Domicile certificates were also made a basic eligibility condition for appointment to any post under the Union Territory of J&K. 
  • Any officer not able to issue the certificate would be penalised ₹50,000. The amount would be recovered from his salary.
  • Kashmiri migrants living in or outside J&K can get domicile certificates by producing their Permanent Residence Certificate (PRC), ration card copy, voter card or any other valid document.
  • Bonafide migrants can apply with the Relief and Rehabilitation department by providing documents like electoral rolls of 1988, proof of registration as a migrant in any State in the country or any other valid document. 

Less Invasive Surfactant Administration (LISA)

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Health

In News:

  • Less invasive surfactant administration (LISA) is a recent medical technique which started at J.K. Lon Government Children’s Hospital in Jaipur. 
  • This technique is used for treatment of lung disease or respiratory distress syndrome among premature babies.

Key takeaways:

  • It is developed as a lung protective strategy for respiratory management and ventilation. 
  • It has been observed that mechanical ventilation causes damage to the preterm lungs of newborns.
  • Infants who are showing evidence of increasing respiratory distress and rising oxygen requirement are provided with LISA. 
  • The procedure has yielded encouraging results when it was started initially for newborn children with the birth weight of less than 1,500 grams.
  • The regular application of LISA would help save the lives of premature babies. 

Miscellaneous 

SwasthVayu

  • CSIR-National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), Bengaluru, has developed a BiPAP Non Invasive Ventilator “SwasthVayu” for COVID -19.
  • CSIR-NAL is a constituent of lab of CSIR.
  • The ventilator is a microcontroller-based precise closed-loop adaptive control system with a built-in biocompatible 3D printed manifold & coupler with HEPA filter (Highly Efficient Particulate Air Filter).
  • The portable ventilator was developed in a record 36 days. 

Mission Sagar 

  • Indian Naval Ship Kesari recently departed for Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar and Comoros, to provide food items, COVID related Medicines as part of the Government of India outreach programme. 
  • This deployment, being called as ‘Mission Sagar’, is in line with the Prime Minister’s vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region ‘SAGAR.’

Defence Research Ultraviolet Sanitiser (DRUVS)

  • It is an automated contactless UVC sanitisation cabinet developed by Hyderabad based Research Centre Imarat (RCI), a DRDO lab. 
  • It can be used to sanitise mobile phones, iPads, laptops, currency notes, passbooks, envelopes, etc.
  • It provides 360 degree exposure of UVC to the objects placed inside the cabinet. 
  • The RCI has also developed an automated UVC currency sanitising device, called NOTESCLEAN.

Anakkampoyil-Kalladi-Meppadi Road Tunnel 

  • The government has cleared the construction of a ₹658 crore two-lane tunnel road in the Anakkampoyil-Kalladi-Meppadi corridor that would run parallel to the landslip-prone Thamarassery pass that links Kozhikode to Wayanad.

(MAINS FOCUS)


ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE/ ENVIRONMENT

Topic: General Studies 2 &3:

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources 
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors

Reviving the automobile sector

Context: In the post-Covid world, electric vehicles will be key not only to breathing new life into the automotive sector but also to decarbonising it

Did You Know?

  • By 2050, every second car produced globally would be electrically powered. 
  • Research by Deloitte Global Automotive shows that over 50% of the consumers are still unclear about the safety of the battery and the availability of adequate charging stations leading to slower adoption of E-vehicles

Problems of Indian Automobile Sector 

  1. In pre-COVID times
    • Declining consumer demand
    • Difficulty in transitioning into BS-VI technology
    • Extinguishing inventories of left-over BS-IV vehicles
    • Credit crunch in the NBFC sector
  2. In Post-COVID times
    • Challenges of dealing with a completely new environment – rising protectionism and decline in international trade
    • Decreased purchasing power of consumers
    • Disruption in manufacturing capabilities
    • Issues with inventory management and labour shortages
    • Need for emergency response mechanisms in the backdrop of disrupted global supply chain

India and E-Vehicles

  • Strong growth: The EV industry in India managed to post a decent 20% increase in sales in FY20 compared to FY19
  • Policy Push by government for e-vehicles: The GST council reduced the rates from 12% to 5% for vehicles, and from 18% to 5% for vehicle chargers. 
  • Push by State governments to adopt e-vehicles For ex: Kerala government has instructed all its departments to purchase only e-vehicles from the next financial year.
  • Dedicated schemes like FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles) have incentivised local manufacturing and the growth of domestic technology.

Electric Vehicles – Prospects in Post-COVID times

  • Personal mobility is going to pick up again post-Covid, as people would avoid mass transport thus giving boost to e-vehicles
  • Driver of growth: In Post-COVID times, fastest growth for automotive sector would come from the e-rickshaws segment that plugs last-mile connectivity.
  • India’s Demographic advantage: Surveys point that younger consumers, particularly females, are more willing to invest in EVs than older generation. 
  • Environmental friendly: Increased environmental awareness among public, especially after COVID crisis, could lead to increased adoption for e-vehicles

Way Ahead

  • There should be a further policy push for a visible shift towards increased EV adoption
  • Banks should devise innovative credit schemes to push for such a shift.
  • The government should focus on augmenting the charging infrastructure 
  • Governments should also have in place a scrappage policy that drives new-vehicle sale.
  • Existing automobile companies should make e-vehicles more affordable and maintenance easier, with quick availability of parts (no dependence on import)

Conclusion

  • EVs are the only way to decarbonise the transport sector and achieve India’s ambitious target of complete green mobility by 2030.

Connecting the dots:

  • EV Batteries – dependence on China for supply of Lithium
  • Challenges with regard to air transport in Post-COVID times

ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2,3:

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources 
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors 

Financing the Stimulus: Privatization

Context: As the government announced COVID relief & stimuli package equivalent to nearly 10% of India’s GDP, there are questions regarding the means to finance it

Overall Stimulus provided by Atmanirbhar Bharat Package is as follows:

Sectors (Rs. Cr.)
Part 1  Support for MSME, EPF, Liquidity scheme for NBFC/HFC/MFI, DISCOMs 5,94,550
Part 2 Foodgrain for Migrants, Interest subvention for MUDRA loans, Support to Street Vendors, NABARD, KCC 3,10,000
Part 3 Food Micro Enterprises, PM Matsya Sampada Yojana, Agri Infrastructure fund, Animal Husbandry etc. 1,50,000
Part 4 and 5 Viability Gap funding, MGNREGA funding 48,100
Sub-Total 11,02,650
Earlier Measures incl PMGKY 1,92,800
RBI Measures (Actual)  8,01,603
GRAND TOTAL 20,97,053

Can government find the money through increase in fuel tax?

  • Government has already increased the excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs 3 per litre in March, hence the space for further increase is less
  • Also, such a move would contradict the very idea of a relief and stimulus package. This is because an increase in the fuel price would affect purchasing power especially that of poor

Can government fund the package through borrowings?

  • The rupee is at its lowest level compared to the US dollar and any borrowings will make it harder for the government to pay back its debt
  • Since external borrowings must be paid back in borrowed currency, exports and foreign reserves are generally the only two reliable options to pay back debt.
  • However, with inevitable global slowdown there will be consequent drop in exports which impacts India’s debt repaying ability
  • More overseas borrowing, combined with the industry’s high debt status, could lead to rating agencies downgrading India’s investment ratings
  • On the positive side, India’s foreign reserves stand at an all-time high which could be strategically used to finance its needs

Privatization as a route to finance the relief package

  • Governments across the world are resorting to privatisation to fill budgetary gaps
  • According to India’s new Public Sector Enterprises Policy (PSEP), a list of strategic sectors will be notified where there will be no more than four PSUs
  • Before the COVID-19 crisis, the government needed the privatisation money partly because its revenue (from GST among other things) was declining
  • Today, the government needs this money to fund the relief package without excessively crossing the fiscal limits
  • Government is planning the privatization of BPCL, Shipping Corporation of India, Container Corporation of India, THDC, NEEPCO and Air India among other PSUs

Challenges with regard to Privatization

  • Revenue from privatisation is a one-off benefit 
  • Generally, only profit-making PSUs are sold at a good price.
  • Successful privatisation requires a prospective buyer. In the present slowdown times, Industrialists are facing problems running their own business
  • Excessive political interference with the private sector makes owning an ex-government entity even riskier thus discouraging participation in privatization process
  • A handful of Indian capitalists who are capable of buying big PSUs leads to sectors of economy coming under the influence of quasi-monopolies
  • Buying of PSUs by few Capitalists could also foster crony capitalism and may even result in the making of oligarchs.

Conclusion

Funding has to come from privatisation, taxation, loans and international aid.

Connecting the dots:

  • 1991 LPG reforms – Critical Analysis
  • Investment Models 

(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 With regard to the initiatives recently announced by the Union Finance Minister, consider the following statements:

  1. Manodarpan initiative would provide psychosocial support to students, teachers and families. 
  2. National Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Mission will benefit students in the age group of 3 to 11 years.

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 Pinanga Andamanensis: 

  1. It is a vulnerable species. 
  2. It is found in a remote area of Nicobar Islands.

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 Less Invasive Surfactant Administration (LISA) is a recent medical technique, used for which of the following? 

  1. Infants who are showing evidence of increasing respiratory distress
  2. COVID-19 patients
  3. Pregnant HIV women
  4. Young diabetic patients

ANSWERS FOR 20th May 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 A
3 A
4 C
5 B
6 D

Must Read

About changing nature of Chinese Diplomacy:

The Hindu

About need for social emphasis in medical education curricula:

The Hindu

About agricultural reforms:

The Indian Express

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