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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 8th JUNE 2020

  • IASbaba
  • June 8, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 8th June 2020

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


7.75% savings (taxable) bonds discontinued 

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Economy

In News:

  • The Government of India has discontinued 7.75% savings (taxable) bonds, 2018 recently. 

Key takeaways 

  • Recently, repo rate (by RBI) deposit rates (by banks) and small savings rate (by the government) were also decreased.
  • Investors were looking for safer investment rather than high returns. 
  • This led to the high demand for such bonds due to which the government decided to discontinue this option. 
  • Only fresh issuance of such bonds is discontinued.

Important value additions 

7.75% RBI Savings Bonds, 2018

  • These were issued in 2018. 
  • These were available for subscription to resident citizens/Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) to invest in a taxable bond.
  • These bonds were first introduced in 2003 as 8% GOI Savings (Taxable) Bonds.
  • The interest rate was brought down to 7.75% in January 2018.
  • One bond was of Rs 1,000 each. 
  • The bonds had no maximum limit for investment.
  • The bonds had a 7-year lock-in period from the date of issue. 
  • Premature encashment was permitted to individuals who were 60 years and above.
  • Interest on these bonds is taxable under the Income-tax Act, 1961.

Great knots & Indian skimmers: Dredging activity halted at Kakinada coast due to possible threat to the species

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

In News:

  • The Forest Department has directed GMR Energy Limited to stop dredging activity in the Kumbabhishekham mudflat with immediate effect. 
  • It has also ordered the removal of the bund around the mangrove cover on the Kakinada coast, Andhra Pradesh. 
  • The decision was taken after taking into account the threats to the mudflat and the mangrove cover and destruction of the prime habitat of birds — endangered Great knots (Calidris tenuirostris) and vulnerable Indian skimmers (Rynchops albiocollis).

Important value additions 

Great knots

  • The great knot (Calidris tenuirostris) is a small wader. 
  • It is the largest of the calidrid species
  • These birds forage (search for food) on mudflats and beaches, probing or picking up food by sight. 
  • They mainly eat molluscs and insects.
  • It is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.
  • Their breeding habitat is tundra in northeast Siberia
  • They are strongly migratory wintering on coasts in southern Asia through to Australia. 
  • IUCN status: Endangered 

Image source: Click here 

Indian skimmers

  • It (Rynchops albicollis) is one of the three species that belong to the skimmer genus Rynchops in the family Laridae. 
  • It is found in southern Asia, where it is patchily distributed and declining in numbers. 
  • They are mainly found in rivers or estuaries
  • They are very brightly marked in black, white and orange, making them difficult to miss. 
  • IUCN status: Vulnerable 

Image source: Click here 

Dredging 

  • It means clearing the bed of (a harbour, river, or other area of water) by scooping out mud, weeds, and rubbish with a dredge.
  • It can create disturbance to aquatic ecosystems, often with adverse impacts. 
  • Dredge spoils may contain toxic chemicals that may have an adverse effect on the disposal area. 
  • It often dislodges chemicals residing in benthic substrates and injects them into the water column. 

Image source: Click here 

Mudflats 

  • They are coastal wetlands that form in intertidal areas where sediments have been deposited by tides or rivers. 
  • A recent global analysis suggested they are as extensive globally as mangroves.
  • They are found in sheltered areas such as bays, bayous, lagoons, and estuaries.

Image source: Click here 


New National Numbering Plan recommended by TRAI 

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – Statutory Bodies & GS-III – Telecommunications

In News:

  • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended a new National Numbering Plan to be issued so that a uniquely identifiable number can be provided to every subscriber in India.

Key takeaways 

  • TRAI has recommended:
    • Switching to a 11-digit mobile number.
    • Reallocation of mobile numbering resources surrendered by operators who have shut shops. 
    • Prefixing zero for all mobile calls made from fixed lines.
    • Shifting of SIM-based M2M (machine to machine) connections to the 13-digit numbering series allocated by DoT at the earliest.
    • The government should enlist all newly allocated numbering resources for fixed line as well as mobile services every year. 
    • Automated allocation of numbering resources using number management system software to speed up the process of allocation in an efficient and transparent manner. 
    • The mobile number should be changed from 10 to 11 digits only if all the efforts to continue with the 10-digit numbering are exhausted.
  • Presently, adequate availability of numbering resources is threatened because of an increase in the range of services and number of connections, especially in the mobile segment. 
  • Adequate availability of resources is necessary for sustainable growth of the telecommunication services. 
  • Challenges involved in migrating to 11 digits:
    • Widespread modifications in the configuration of switches involving cost. 
    • Inconvenience to the customers in the form of dialing extra digits and updating phone memory. 
    • More dialing errors
    • Unnecessary traffic
    • Loss of revenue to service providers.
    • Changes will be required in the databases of all services which require telephone numbers for identity like financial banking services, e-commerce, government welfare schemes, etc.
  • The Department of Telecommunications administers the numbers for fixed and the mobile networks based on the International Telecommunication Union’s Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) Recommendations. 
  • The management of numbering resources is governed by the National Numbering Plan.

Important value additions 

National Numbering Plan (NNP), 2003

  • NNP (2003) provides a set of rules and guidelines for the use and assignment of numbers to telephone services delivered over the public networks.
  • It also describes the assignment of numbers to international services, trunk service, emergency service, etc. 
  • The management of numbering resources is governed by the NNP.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India

  • It was established by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997 to regulate telecom services, including fixation/revision of tariffs for telecom services.
  • It provides a fair and transparent policy environment which promotes a level playing field and facilitates fair competition.
  • The TRAI Act was amended to establish a Telecommunications Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) to take over the adjudicatory and disputes functions from TRAI.

International Telecommunication Union

  • It is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies – ICTs. 
  • It is the oldest among all the 15 specialized agencies of UN.
  • It is based in Geneva, Switzerland. 
  • It is an intergovernmental public-private partnership organization. 

State of India’s Environment report , 2020 released

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

In News:

  • The State of India’s Environment report, 2020 was released by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a research and advocacy organisation. 

Key takeaways 

  • 19 major extreme weather events claimed thousands of lives last year.
  • Internal displacement:
    • More than 50 lakh internal displacements were reported in India in 2019 which is the highest in the world. 
    • Floods, Cyclones – Fani, Vayu and Bulbul, droughts were major factors. 
  • Migrants
    • The report also broke down 2011 census data on migrant populations.
    • There were over 45 crore migrants in the country at the time, with the vast majority migrating within their own State.
    • In 2011, new migrants had moved for employment purposes, mostly from rural to urban areas. 

“Healthy and Energy Efficient Buildings” initiative launched 

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Energy; Environment; Climate change

In News:

  • On occasion of World Environment Day, Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) MAITREE program, launched the “Healthy and Energy Efficient Buildings” initiative to make workplaces healthier and greener
  • It will address the challenges of retrofitting existing buildings and air conditioning systems so that they are both healthy and energy efficient.

Important value additions 

Market Integration and Transformation Program for Energy Efficiency (MAITREE)

  • It is a part of the US-India bilateral Partnership between the Ministry of Power and USAID. 
  • It is aimed at accelerating the adoption of cost-effective energy efficiency as a standard practice within buildings, and specifically focuses on cooling.

Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL)

  • It is a joint venture of PSUs under the administration of Ministry of Power. 
  • It works towards mainstreaming energy efficiency and is implementing the world’s largest energy efficiency portfolio in the country.

Miscellaneous 

National Career Service Project

  • The Ministry of Labour and Employment has started offering free online career skills training through its National Career Service (NCS) project for job-seekers registered with it.
  • The training will assist the learners in enhancing personality development
  • The training module is available in Hindi and English on the NCS portal.
  • National Career Service (NCS) project is a Five Year Mission Mode Project launched by the Prime Minister in 2015.
  • It provides a wide array of employment and career related services to the citizens of India.
  • It is implemented by Directorate General of Employment, Ministry of Labour & Employment.
  • No fees are charged for the registration. 
  • About 1 crore job seekers and 54,000 employers are registered on the portal. 

Aditya: India’s first solar-powered ferry 

  • India’s first solar-powered ferry, Aditya, which runs on the Vaikom-Thavanakadavu route in Kerala, has been shortlisted for the Gustave Trouvé Award. 
  • It is the sole entrant from Asia.
  • Gussies Electric Boat Awards were instituted in memory of Gustave Trouvé, a French electrical engineer and pioneer in electric cars and boats.

(MAINS FOCUS)


GOVERNANCE/ ECONOMY/ SOCIETY

Topic: General Studies 2:

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

Pandemic and Urbanisation

Context: The pandemic has given us an opportunity to reconsider our habitation model

Did You Know?

  • Between the year 1 CE and the start of the Industrial Revolution (around the early 1800s), the decadal growth of the global population was around 0.8 per cent
  • However, in the last 180 years, the global population clocked a decadal growth rate of over 11 per cent.

Possible reasons attributed to population explosion post the industrial revolution 

  • Concentrated production centres i.e. rise of Cities. London became the first modern city to cross the one million population mark around 1800. By 1960, world had 111 such cities. By 2018, there were 548 such cities in India and China alone.
  • Improved medicine – This increased the average lifespan of humans
  • Technological progress – Electrical, Electronics and Cyber revolutions
  • The era of fossil fuels – which provided vast amount of energy at cheaper cost
  • Relative peace at global levels post WW-II due to emergence of International institutions like UN, WHO & WTO

Criticism of present-day Urbanisation

  • Concentrated: The population growth rate has been largely urban and metro-centred. 
  • Requires Heavy investment: Going by present trends, India will build a new Chicago every year to accommodate new urban dwellers. This will require about $2.5 trillion of investment until 2030
  • Energy intensive: Today, cities consume two-thirds of the global energy consumption 
  • Environmental Degradation: Cities account for more than 70% of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Increased Population densities. For Ex: The Dharavi slum in Mumbai has a mind-boggling density of 3.75 lakh persons per sq km.
  • Productivity: An average Mumbaikar daily spends 95 minutes commuting between office and home, wasting nearly 10% of his time.
  • Safety issues: Eight people die every day in Mumbai in local train-related accidents, and in Delhi, five people lose their lives in road accidents.
  • The “Domino” effect: In megacities even a minor and local failure is compounded into a catastrophe. In China in 2010, due to some broken cars and road repair work, a minor traffic problem expanded quickly into a massive jam of 120 kilometres
  • Prone to Natural and man-made disasters:  Nearly every hot-spot of the COVID-19 outbreak is a congested urban centre.
  • Unequal in its effects: Congested low-income urban spaces not only bear disproportionate disease burden, they also bear the brunt of air pollution, water contamination and crime infestation
  • Ever-dwindling space and choked infrastructure: UN projected that by 2030, 28 per cent of the world population will live in dense, congested spaces

Despite the criticism why megacities are aspired?

The advantages claimed for megacities are:

  • Economies of agglomeration 
  • Generation of jobs
  • Generation of new ideas and innovations through multi-disciplinary interactions.

However, the above advantages are no longer valid:

  • Once cities expand beyond one million, they start to experience dis-economies of scale with pressure on every urban necessity increasing exponentially 
  • More people means more vehicles, more vehicles mean need for more roads and increased pollution, which mean more hospitals, more energy and more waste
  • Also, these advantages have been largely nullified with advances in digital technologies that have made online interactions numerous, equally rich in content and covering a wider range of disciplines
  • Digitisation has apparently resulted in the loss of cities’ innovative advantage.

Way Ahead: Alternative habitation philosophies: –

  • Gandhiji’s model of gram Swaraj
  • APJ Abdul Kalam’s vision of providing urban amenities in rural areas 
  • Nanaji Deshmukh’s idea of self-reliant village development
  • The basis of all these three models is that agriculture, industry and service sectors move in sync for sustainable development, which is in harmony with nature. 

Conclusion

New technology, the carbon constraint and diseconomies of congestion and density must force us to review our urbanisation landscape.

Connecting the dots:

  • Smart Cities mission
  • Chennai Floods in 2016 – reasons

S&T/ ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2,3:

  • Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life. 
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors
  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources 

Factory Farming and alternative protein

Context: The outbreak of COVID-19 has brought attention to the dietary habits of people, especially the dependence on meat for proteins

What is factory farming?

  • Large-scale, industrial animal agriculture for meat, eggs, and dairy is called factory farming
  • It involves raising food animals that concentrates large numbers of animals into confined spaces. 
  • To prevent disease spreading and encourage growth, drug programs such as antibiotics, vitamins, hormones and other supplements are heavily administered to these animals
  • It is also known as intensive animal farming or industrial livestock production

Hazards of factory farming

  • Energy Intensive: Our need for animal protein uses vast tracts of land and quantities of water to raise those animals, to graze them, and to grow crops to feed them
  • Global Warming: It contributes more to climate change than emissions from the entire transportation sector. 
  • Environmental Degradation: Factory farming leads to imbalance in ecology causing species loss, and habitat destruction.
  • Health risk: It creates and increases planetary health risks at every scale. These animals are also the sources of viral outbreaks of swine flu and avian flu
  • Unethical: Confining animals in closed spaces usually leads to their discomfort, pain, injuries and distress. This is against welfare of animals and is protested by civil society.
  • Antibiotic resistance: Antibiotic use in livestock may create antibiotic-resistant pathogens which then infiltrate into the entire food-chain.
  • Against Small farmers: Factory farming requires heavy investment on land and machineries so as to achieve economies of scale. Thus, it is biased in favour of corporate players and affects livelihood of small & marginal players
  • Prone to market Shock: These products are dependent on global forces of demand & supply. Hence, a policy change in developed country will impact this industry in developing countries as well.

Way Ahead

  • Stimulating research and entrepreneurship in alternative proteins
  • Alternative protein involves making upgraded versions of meat, eggs, and dairy from plant or crop ingredients, or directly from animal cells.
  • These foods satisfy consumers and producers without taking away their choice, because they taste the same, are used in exactly the same way, but are vastly better for planetary health
  • Countries like Singapore and Canada are already making alternative protein a central piece of their food security story, with an emphasis on research, entrepreneurship, and self-sufficiency.

(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 Recently, the Government of India has discontinued 7.75% savings bonds, 2018. Consider the following statements regarding the same: 

  1. Each Bond was of Rs.1000 each.
  2. The maximum limit for investment was Rs.10,000. 
  3. Premature encashment was permitted to individuals who were 75 years and above.

Which of the above is/are correct? 

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

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding Great knots: 

  1. These birds are usually found in tundra region of Northeast Siberia. 
  2. They usually eat molluscus and insects.
  3. They are endangered species according to IUCN status.

Which of the above is/are correct? 

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

Q.3 Indian skimmers, recently seen in news, are accorded which of the following IUCN status:

  1. Vulnerable 
  2. Threatened 
  3. Endangered 
  4. Extinct 

Q.4 Dredging is an activity of clearing the bed of a river by scooping out mud. Which of the following is/are harmful impact(s) of the activity: 

  1. It creates disturbance to the aquatic ecosystems. 
  2. The spoils may contain toxic chemicals. 
  3. It dislodges chemicals and injects them into the water column. 

Select the correct code: 

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

Q.5 Consider the following statements regarding Telecom Regulatory Authority of India: 

  1. It is a non-statutory body regulating telecom services of India.
  2. It has recently recommended switching the mobile numbers from 10 to 11 digits.

Which of the above is/are correct? 

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

Q.6 State of India’s Environment report, 2020, was recently released by which of the following? 

  1. Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change 
  2. United Nations Environment Programme 
  3. Centre for Science and Environment 
  4. Amnesty International 

Q.7 MAITREE is a part of bilateral relationship between which of the following countries?

  1. India and Nepal 
  2. India and USA 
  3. India and South Africa 
  4. India and Brazil 

Q.8 Energy Efficiency Services Limited is a joint venture of PSUs under the administration of which of the following Ministry of India? 

  1. Ministry of Environment 
  2. Ministry of Power 
  3. Ministry of Urban Affairs 
  4. Ministry of Finance

ANSWERS FOR 6th June 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

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

Must Read

About locusts and extremism:

The Hindu

About COVID-19 tests and its pricing:

The Hindu 

An article by Vice-President of India on importance of self-reliance:

The Indian Express

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