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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 16th JUNE 2020

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  • June 16, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 16th June 2020

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO) Road 

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III- Security; GS-I- Geography

In News:

  • In the reporting on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) stand-off, the Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO) road has often appeared. 
  • The Chinese build-up along the Galwan River valley region poses a direct threat to the DSDBO road.
  • It is the 255-km long all-weather road built by India’s Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in eastern Ladakh.
  • It runs almost parallel to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at Aksai Chin. 
  • In October 2019, Defence Minister inaugurated a 500-m-long Bailey Bridge on the road. 
  • The bridge is named after Colonel Chewang Rinchen, an Indian Army hero from Ladakh. 
  • Located at 14,650 ft, it is believed to be the world’s highest such bridge.
  • DSDBO connects Leh to Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO), the northernmost corner of Indian territory in Ladakh. 
  • DBO has the world’s highest airstrip.

IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 16th June 2020

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Mass sowing of GM seeds to be undertaken during kharif season

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Agriculture; Biotechnology

In News:

  • In the current kharif season, farmers would undertake mass sowing of Genetically modified (GM) seeds for maize, soyabean, mustard brinjal and herbicide tolerant (Ht) cotton. 
  • Cultivating GM seeds is not approved in India.

Important value additions 

  • Conventional plant breeding involves crossing species of the same genus to provide the offspring with the desired traits of both parents.
  • Genetic engineering aims to go beyond conventional breeding by introducing an alien gene in the seeds to get the desired effects. 
  • The alien gene could be from a plant, an animal or even a soil bacterium.
  • Bt cotton, the only GM crop that is allowed in India, has two alien genes from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that allows the crop to develop a protein toxic to the common pest pink bollworm.
  • In Bt brinjal, a gene allows the plant to resist attacks of fruit and shoot borer.
  • In DMH-11 mustard, genetic modification allows cross-pollination in a crop that self-pollinates in nature. 

Legal position of GM crops in India

  • In India, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is the apex body that allows for commercial release of GM crops.
  • In 2002, the GEAC had allowed the commercial release of Bt cotton. 
  • Use of the unapproved GM variant can attract a jail term of 5 years and fine of Rs 1 lakh under the Environmental Protection Act ,1989

Kharif season 

  • The Kharif season varies by crop and region, starting at the earliest in May and ending at the latest in January. 
  • In India, the season is popularly considered to start in June and to end in October.
  • Kharif crops are usually sown with the beginning of the first rains during the advent of the south-west monsoon season, and they are harvested at the end of monsoon season (October-November). 

The National Tiger Conservation Authority asked to intervene with regard to tigress Sundari.

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

In News:

  • National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has been asked to intervene in the ongoing tension between Odisha and Madhya Pradesh forest departments with regard to tigress Sundari. 

Background information:

  • The Odisha forest department had asked Madhya Pradesh to take back the translocated tigress ‘Sundari’, after she killed two people in the Satkosia Tiger Reserve (STR).
  • Sundari was shifted from MP’s Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve (BTR) to Satkosia Tiger Reserve (STR) in Odisha’s Angul district in 2018.
  • She had been moved to Odisha a week after translocation of MB2 – a male tiger from Kanha
  • This pair was part of the country’s first Interstate tiger translocation project.
  • MB2 was later killed by poachers in late 2018.

Important value additions 

Inter-state tiger translocation project

  • The Rs 19 crore ambitious tiger relocation exercise was conceived by the Union ministry of environment and forests, National Tiger Conservation Authority and Wildlife Institute of India. 
  • It was started in June 2018 under which six tigers (three pairs) from different reserves of Madhya Pradesh were to be sent to Odisha.
  • NTCA had initially okayed the translocation of six tigers from MP to Odisha, but only two were shifted. 
  • The project which was shared between Centre and state governments has now been suspended following furious protests by Odisha villagers. 

National Tiger Conservation Authority

  • It was established in December 2005 following a recommendation of the Tiger Task Force which was constituted by the Prime Minister of India for reorganised management of Project Tiger and the many Tiger Reserves in India.
  • The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 was amended in 2006 to provide for its constitution. 
  • It is responsible for implementation of the Project Tiger to protect endangered tigers. 
  • It is set up under the Chairmanship of the Minister for Environment and Forests
  • Composition:
    • The Inspector General of Forest will be ex-officio Member Secretary
    • 8 experts having qualifications and experience in wildlife conservation and welfare of people including tribals
    • 3 Members of Parliament (2 from Lok sabha and 1 from Rajya Sabha)  
  • Functions:
    • Lay down normative standards, guidelines for tiger conservation in the Tiger Reserves, National Parks and Sanctuaries. 
    • Provide information on protection measures. 
    • Facilitate and support tiger reserve management in the States through eco-development and people’s participation 

Efforts to enhance cultivation of Heeng and Saffron initiated

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Science and Technology; Agriculture 

In News:

  • To increase the production of Heeng and Saffron in India, the Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (CSIR-IHBT) and the Department of Agriculture, Government of Himachal Pradesh (HP), have forged strategic and implementation partnership based on their mutual strengths. 

Key takeaways 

  • This partnership is expected to provide immense benefits to HP by way of:
    • increased farm income
    • livelihood promotion
    • rural development. 
  • A number of steps will be undertaken:
    • Transfer of innovations by means of capacity building 
    • Skill development
    • Other extension activities.
  • Introduction of these crops will reduce the import. 
  • CSIR-IHBT will: 
    • provide technical know-how to the farmers
    • impart training to state agriculture department officers and farmers. 
    • set up corm and seed production centres of Saffron and heeng, respectively. 
  • IHBT has developed the production technology for Saffron and introduced its cultivation in non-traditional areas of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
  • It has also developed tissue-culture protocol for the production of disease-free saffron.
  • It has introduced six accessions of heeng from Iran through the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), New Delhi, and standardized its production protocols under Indian conditions. 
  • Technical supervision of Saffron production areas shall also be undertaken. 
  • Exposure visits of farmers will also be done. 
  • A total of 750 acres of land will be covered under these crops in the state in the next five years. 
  • A state-of-the-art tissue-culture lab will be established for large-scale production of quality planting material of these crops.

Important value additions 

  • Saffron and Heeng (asafoetida) are the most valuable spices of the world and widely used in Indian cuisine since time immemorial. 
  • In India, the annual demand for Saffron spice is 100 tons per year but its average production is about 6-7 tons per year. 
  • Hence, a large amount of Saffron is being imported. 
  • Similarly, there is no production of heeng in India and currently about 1200 tons of raw heeng worth Rs 600 crore is being imported from Afghanistan, Iran, and Uzbekistan. 

Heeng

  • It is a perennial plant and it produces oleo-gum resin from the roots after five years of plantation. 
  • It can be grown in unutilized sloppy land of cold desert regions.

Saffron

  • It is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the “saffron crocus”. 
  • The vivid crimson stigma and styles, called threads, are collected and dried for use mainly as a seasoning and colouring agent in food. 
  • It has long been the world’s most costly spice by weight. 

Railway stations to be classified on waste water output 

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Infrastructure (Railways); Environment; Climate change 

In News:

  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will classify railway stations under the red, orange and green categories based on the quantity of waste water generated and the disposal of untreated water into the municipal drain systems.

Key takeaways 

  • Railway stations generating waste water equal to or more than 100 Kilo Litres per Day (KLD) would be categorised as Red.
  • Railway stations generating waste water greater than 10 KLD but less than 100 KLD would come under the Orange category.
  • Railway stations with less than 10 KLD waste water generation would be branded Green.

Integrated Flood Warning System (IFLOWS-Mumbai) inaugurated 

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-I – Geography; GS-III – Science and technology 

In News:

  • Integrated Flood Warning System – IFLOWS was inaugurated in Mumbai by Union Minister for Earth Sciences and Maharashtra Chief Minister.

Key takeaways 

  • It is developed by the Union Ministry for Earth Sciences on the request of Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM).
  • It is a state-of-art system for Mumbai  and is expected to enhance Mumbai’s resilience by providing early warning for flooding specially during high rainfall events and cyclones.
  • It comprises seven modules: 
    • Data Assimilation
    • Flood
    • Inundation
    • Vulnerability
    • Risk
    • Dissemination Module 
    • Decision Support System.
  • The system has provisions to capture the urban drainage within the city and predict the areas of flooding, which will be incorporated in the final system.

Discussion Paper on ‘Governance in Commercial Banks in India’ released by RBI

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Economy; Banking system

In News:

  • The RBI released a Discussion Paper on ‘Governance in Commercial Banks in India’ for public comments.

Key takeaways 

  • The objective of the discussion paper is to align the current regulatory framework with global best practices while being mindful of the context of the domestic financial system.
  • Based on the feedback, fresh guidelines will be issued. 
  • The new norms will come into effect within six months after being placed on the RBI’s website or April 1, 2021, whichever is later.
  • The norms will be applicable to private, foreign and public sector banks.
  • Some of the major highlights of the paper are as follows:
    • Board members should not be a member of any other bank’s board or the RBI. 
    • They should not be either a Member of Parliament or State Legislature or Municipality or other local bodies.
    • Board of directors of a bank should not be less than six and not more than 15, with a majority being independent directors.
    • The board shall meet at least six times a year and at least once every 60 days.
    • A director on the board of an entity other than a bank may be considered for appointment as director on a bank’s board, if the person is not an owner of an NBFC or a full-time employee and that the NBFC does not enjoy a financial accommodation from the bank.
    • Appointment, re-appointment and termination of wholetime directors (WTDs) and chief executive officers (CEOs) should be with the previous approval of RBI.
    • The upper age limit for CEO and WTDs of banks is suggested at 70 years. 
    • Banks will be free to set a lower age for such appointments.

Advisory for import of exotic species issued

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – Health & GS-III – Biodiversity

In News:

  • Union Ministry of Environment has issued an advisory for import of exotic species
  • The move comes as the outbreak of COVID-19 has raised global concern about illegal wildlife trade and zoonotic diseases.

Key takeaways 

  • The advisory defines ‘Exotic Live Species’ as animal or plant species moved from their original range (location) to a new one.
  • ‘Exotic live species’ shall be interpreted to mean only “the animals named under the Appendices I, II and III of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Fauna and Flora”.
  • Species covered by the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 cannot be traded.
  • People importing such species will have to make a voluntary disclosure.
  • For new ‘Exotic Live Species’, the importer should obtain a no-objection certificate from the Chief Wildlife Warden (CWLW) of the State. 
  • It will create a process where all imports will be screened
  • As of now, the imports are being made through the Director General of Foreign Trade. State Forest departments were not kept in the loop. 

Miscellaneous 

Challenger Deep 

  • On June 7, 2020, astronaut and oceanographer, Kathy Sullivan became the first woman and the fifth person in history to descend to the Challenger Deep
  • She is now the only human who has walked in space and reached the deepest point in the ocean.
  • The Challenger Deep is the deepest known point in the Earth’s oceans with a depth of 10,902 to 10,929 metres.
  • It is located in the Western Pacific Ocean, at the southern end of the Mariana Trench near the Mariana Islands group. 
  • This location is in the ocean territory of the Federated States of Micronesia.
  • The depression is named after the British ship HMS Challenger, whose expedition of 1872–1876 made the first recordings of its depth. 

DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 16th JUNE 2020

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(MAINS FOCUS)


INTERNATIONAL/ SECURITY

Topic: General Studies 2,3:

  • India and its neighborhood- relations. 
  • Security challenges and their management in border areas

Remaining non-aligned is good advice

Context: The India-China stand-off and the both countries agreeing to step back marginally from positions adopted at the beginning of May.

What exactly happened?

  • During May 2020, Chinese forces came in sizeable numbers and crossed the undemarcated LAC at quite a few points in the Ladakh and Sikkim sectors.
  • These were in the vicinity of Pangong Tso (Lake), the Galwan Valley, the Hot Springs-Gogra area (all in Ladakh), and at Naku La in the Sikkim sector
  • This led to physical engagement with Indian soldiers who opposed Chinese activities
  • Chinese action is primarily to oppose India’s efforts to bridge the infrastructural gap at the border areas i.e. at Line of Actual Control (LAC)
  • China has sizeable military presence along the LAC, comprising armoured vehicles, artillery units and infantry combat vehicles in far larger numbers than that of India
  • China also insists that India stop road construction in the border area on the ground that it is taking place in Chinese territory, which India contests, insisting that it is taking place within Indian territory.
  • Due to diplomatic efforts, both sides agreed for partial disengagement and to handle the situation in line with the agreement that had been reached.

So is the issue resolved?

  • No, the statements may actually conceals many a truth. 
  • This time, it would appear, the Chinese are here to stay in places such as the Galwan Valley. 
  • It is also unclear, as of now, whether the Chinese would withdraw from Pangong Tso, any time soon. 
  • Restoration of the status quo ante which existed in mid-April is thus nowhere on the horizon

More Weightier reasons for China’s actions

  • To say that India’s decision to strengthen its border infrastructure was the main trigger for the recent show of strength by China, would be simplistic.
  • Leadership factor: Chinese President Xi Jinping disdains Deng Xiaoping’s policy “to keep your head low and bide your time”
  • Geopolitical Factors: India’s increasing shift towards US and emergence of Quad (the U.S., Japan, Australia and India) has a definite anti-china stance. China thus views India as being in opposite camps in the wider geopolitical game
  • Bilateral Relationship: Despite public bonhomie at the level of Mr. Xi and PM Modi, relations between the two countries have been steadily deteriorating. India opposes China’s Belt & Road Initiative. China views India’s assertions regarding Gilgit-Baltistan, as an implicit attack on the CPEC
  • China’s internal dynamics: Internal criticism of China’s handling of COVID-19 pandemic, growing opposition within party ranks to some of Xi’s policies and Chinese economic miracle losing steam has put pressure on Mr. Xi to deflect attention & showcase the strongman image (through border clashes with India)

Lesson from History

  • There were similar circumstances that led to the India-China war of 1962
  • Faced with the disaster of the Great Leap Forward (internal pressure), and increasing isolation globally (even from USSR), China under Mao chose to strike at India rather than confront Russia or the West.
  • Therefore, a single misstep by India could lead to a wider conflagration, which both sides must avoid

Way Ahead

  • This is not the time for India to be seen as the front end of a hostile coalition of forces seeking to put China in its place
  • India has consistently followed a different policy in the past, and it is advisable that it remains truly non-aligned and not become part of any coalition that would not be in India’s long-term interest.

Connecting the dots:

  • India-China war of 1962 – reasons and critical analysis
  • Similarities & differences between NATO and QUAD

AGRICULTURE/ GOVERNANCE/ FEDERALISM

Topic: General Studies 2,3:

  • Marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints 
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 
  • Challenges pertaining to the federal structure

New agri-markets: A game-changer

Context: The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (promotion and facilitation) Ordinance 2020 was promulgated on June 5th 2020.

The virtual monopoly of Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs) is expected to end sooner rather than later. 

Key Provisions of Ordinance

  • Trade of farmers’ produce: It seeks to provide for barrier-free trade (both intra-state & inter-state) of farmers’ produce outside the markets notified under the various state agricultural produce market laws (state APMC Acts).  
  • The Ordinance will prevail over state APMC Acts.
  • Electronic trading: The Ordinance permits the electronic trading of farmers’ produce in the specified trade area.  New electronic trading platforms are also allowed to be set up in these areas by private individuals, FPOs and co-ops.
  • Payment to farmers: A person transacting with a farmer will be required to make payments to the farmer on the same day, or within three working days in certain conditions, for any transaction of scheduled farmers’ produce. 
  • No fees to be levied by states: The Ordinance prohibits state governments from levying any market fee, cess or levy on farmers, traders, and electronic trading platforms for any trade under the Ordinance. 
  • Dispute resolution mechanism: The parties involved in a trade-related dispute may apply to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate for relief through conciliation.  The Magistrate will appoint a Conciliation Board and refer the dispute to the Board.
  • Centralised System of Information dissemination: Mandi prices are the biggest sources of localised price information for the farmer. The ordinance tries to address this by providing for a central government organisation, which will develop a price information and market intelligence system, and produce a framework for disseminating such information

A brief history of Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs)

  • The pre-APMCs days were dominated by misinformation and price arbitrage. Traders with better communications between themselves got a sense of prevailing prices and used this information to their advantage. 
  • APMCs were thought to be the answer to these problems. 
  • APMCs were institution created for price discovery through a competitive auction process, proper weighing, payment on time, quality grading, etc
  • Institutional and physical infrastructure were set up to ensure that all farm produce was brought to the designated markets, traders with licences were allowed to participate in auctions of graded produce and timely payments were made. 
  • Market yards and market committees were set up at the district and sub-district levels to cater to farmers in every part of country.
  • These changed the market dynamics (at least, partially) in favour of the farmers in the early day

What went wrong with APMCs?

  • APMCs were democratic institutions managed by a board/committee of mostly elected members from among the farmers and traders. 
  • The state governments, obsessed with revenue collection, found it convenient to supersede these boards and appoint administrators for long periods of time
  • Over time, they ceased to represent farmers’ interests.
  • APMC system somehow deteriorated into a cartelised operation (licensing becoming the tool); cess collection became an obsession, and price discovery and transparency were side stepped
  • APMCs, undisputedly, created market infrastructure, and used the cess collections to improve agrarian infrastructure. However, now they had no interest in investing beyond their market yards.

Why reform of APMCs failed?

  • Multiple efforts to reform APMCs failed, primarily due to opposition from state governments who felt their cess collections will go down, and also from powerful vested interests.

Merits of Ordinance

  • Wider Choice to Farmers: The ordinance carves out a new space called ‘trade area’ which includes everything(like farm gates, silos, factory premises, etc) except the market yards operated by APMCs and private mandis. This gives the farmer three choices, APMC, private market yard or a trade area
  • Price Advantage: No market fee or cess is leviable in the trade area which is huge benefit for both farmer and trader
  • Power with Centre: The central government has retained with itself the power to give licences to traders who can operate in this new area, so as to protect the farmers.
  • Promotes Transparency: As electronic trading platforms is encouraged, there is openness in the transactions
  • Promotes Private investment: The new set up will encourage large companies, food processing firms, exporters, etc, to invest and source good-quality material from the origins, thereby, reducing the risk of mixing with lower grade produce
  • Encourages FPOs: This ordinance does open up a new and profitable avenue for Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) which can take their rightful place as aggregators and ‘reliable’ suppliers

Challenges Ahead

  • Enforcement of provisions by Central government could see the birth of a new set of inspectors.
  • Despite the provision of dispute settlement mechanism farmer would like to settle rather than litigate due to economic reasons
  • If the APMCs lose most of the business, there are doubts whether they will continue doing price discovery and reporting prices
  • For the average farmer, who sells his crop at minimum support prices (MSP), mandis may remain the preferred option unless prices in the ‘trade area’ are above MSP which is unlikely to be the case. If it stays below, the purpose of ordinance is lost.

Conclusion

This is the last chance for APMCs to reform. But, the ordinance that creates the new agri-markets replaces a decentralised structure with a highly centralised one

Connecting the dots:

  • Doubling Farmers Income- Ashok Dalwai Committee
  • e-NAM and its functioning over the years

(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 Genetically Modified crop BT cotton: 

  1. It has two alien genes from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. 
  2. The crop develops a protein which protects it from Pink bollworm.

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:

  1. The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee is the Apex body for allowing commercial release of GM crops in India. 
  2. Use of the unapproved GM variant can attract punishment under Environmental Protection Act, 1989. 

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 Where is Satkosia Tiger Reserve situated?

  1. Odisha 
  2. Chhattisgarh 
  3. Madhya Pradesh 
  4. Rajasthan 

Q.4 Interstate Tiger Translocation project was conceived by which of the following? 

  1. Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate change 
  2. National Tiger Conservation Authority 
  3. Wildlife Institute of India 
  4. All of the above 

Q.5 Consider the following statements regarding National Tiger Conservation Authority: 

  1. It was constituted in 2006 by amending the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  2. It is responsible for implementation of Project Tiger.
  3. It is set up under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister of India. 

Which of the above is/are incorrect

  1. 1 and 2 only 
  2. 1 and 3 only 
  3. 3 only 
  4. 1, 2 and 3

ANSWERS FOR 15th June 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 D
2 A
3 B
4 B

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