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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th SEPTEMBER 2020

  • IASbaba
  • September 17, 2020
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th SEPTEMBER 2020
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


India elected as the member of the Commission on Status of Women

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-I – Society; Women Empowerment & GS-II – International Relations

In news

  • India has been elected as the member of the Commission on Status of Women (CSW), a body of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
  • India will be a member for four years (2021 to 2025).

Important value additions

Commission on Status of Women (CSW)

  • The CSW is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.
  • It is a functional commission of the ECOSOC.
  • It was established by ECOSOC resolution 11(II) of 21 June 1946.
  • It promotes women’s rights, highlights the reality of women’s lives throughout the world and helps in shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women.
  • 45 member states of the United Nations serve as members of the Commission at any one time.

Petroleum projects in Bihar inaugurated

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Infrastructure – Energy

In news

  • The Indian Prime Minister recently inaugurated three key projects related to the Petroleum sector in Bihar.
  • Ministry: Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas
  • Commissioned by: IndianOil and HPCL

Key takeaways

  • The projects include the Durgapur-Banka section (about 200 km) of the Paradip-Haldia-Durgapur Pipeline Augmentation Project and two LPG Bottling Plants in Banka and Champaran.
  • The line from Paradip – Haldia will now be further extended to Patna, Muzaffarpur and the pipeline coming from Kandla which has reached Gorakhpur will also be connected to it.
  • These LPG plants will meet the LPG requirements of Godda, Deoghar, Dumka, Sahibganj, Pakur districts and some areas of Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand.

Proposed Amendment to Railways Act 1989

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Policies and interventions & GS-III – Infrastructure – Railways

In news

  • Recently, the Ministry of Railways has proposed to decriminalise begging on trains or railway premises. 
  • It has also proposed to compound the offence of smoking by levying spot fine.

Key takeaways

  • These changes are part of an exercise to decriminalise/rationalise penalties under the provisions of the Railway Act, 1989.
  • Section 144 (2) of the Act: If any person begs in any railway carriage or upon a railway station, s/he shall be liable for punishment of either imprisonment for a term that may extend to one year, or with a fine that may extend to Rs. 2,000, or with both.
  • Proposed Amendment: No person shall be permitted to beg in any railway carriage or upon any part of the Railway.
  • Section 167 of the Act: No person in any compartment of a train shall, if objected to by any other passenger, smoke therein. Irrespective of any objections raised, the railway administration may prohibit smoking in any train or part of a train. Whosoever contravenes these provisions shall be punishable with a fine that may extend to Rs.100.
  • Proposed Amendment: If the person liable to pay the fine is willing to pay it immediately, the officer authorised may compound the offence by charging the maximum fine which will be paid to the railway administration. Provided that, the offender shall be discharged and no further proceeding shall be taken against him/her in respect of such offence.

Important bridges and road improvement projects inaugurated in Gadchiroli

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Infrastructure – Roadways

In news

  • Three important bridges and two road improvement projects were inaugurated in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra. 
  • Foundation stones for four other major bridge projects across the rivers Wainganga, Bandiya, Perikota and Perimili were also laid down.
  • Ministry: Ministry for Road Transport & Highways

Important value additions

Wainganga Bridge Project

  • Wainganga river, which divides Gadchiroli & Chandrapur Districts is one of the important rivers in the State of Maharashtra.
  • To eliminate hardships of the people, Union Minister proposed construction of an ambitious project to construct bridge on Wainganga River, along National Highway 353 B, at a total cost of Rs. 99 Crore, to be completed by NHAI and PWD.

Alternatives for paddy stubble utilisation

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Agriculture-related issues; Pollution and its mitigation

In news

  • The Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) in association with the Government of Punjab is creating alternatives for paddy stubble utilisation.

Alternatives for paddy stubble utilisation

  • Biomass power plants: In these plants, 8.80 lakh metric tonnes of paddy stubble is used annually to generate power 
  • Producing Bio CNG: These will need around 3-lakh metric tonnes of paddy stubble annually.
  • Bioethanol Project: This will require 2 lakh metric tonnes of paddy stubble annually.

Advantages of these Projects

  • After commissioning of all these projects, Punjab will be able to utilise 1.5 million tonnes (7% of the total) paddy stubble.
  • Farmers can benefit hugely if they can sell paddy stubble to the industry instead of burning it.
  • It will reduce the pollution caused by stubble burning.
  • The fertility of the soil will also be preserved.
  • The youth can start such projects under the ‘start-up’ concept, which will create entrepreneurship among them.
  • Educated unemployed youth in rural Punjab can get big job opportunities.

Limitations 

  • Current usage of stubble in these plants is very small compared to the generation of stubble. 

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Net Present Value of Forests

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Forests

In news

  • The Ministry of Mines has requested the Forest Advisory Committee to exempt digging exploratory boreholes from Net Present Value (NPV).

Important value additions

Net Present Value

  • It is a mandatory one-time payment that a user has to make for diverting forestland for non-forest use, under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.
  • This is calculated on the basis of the services and ecological value of the forests.
  • It depends on the location and nature of the forest and the type of industrial enterprise that will replace a particular parcel of forest.
  • These payments go to the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) and are used for afforestation and reforestation.
  • Decided by: The Forest Advisory Committee.
  • The Committee is constituted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and decides on whether forests can be diverted for projects and the NPV to be charged.
  • It is a statutory body constituted by the Forest (Conservation) Act 1980.

Exemptions 

  • Some projects have been provided exemption from paying NPV like construction of Schools, Hospitals, village tanks, laying down of optical fibre etc. 
  • Projects like underground mining and wind energy plants have been given a 50% exemption from NPV.

Do you know?

  • In the N. Godavarman Thirumulpad v. Union of India case, 2008, the Supreme Court mandated the payment of NPV.
  • The Kanchan Gupta Committee developed the concept of NPV after this case.
  • Exploratory Boreholes: It is drilled for the purpose of identifying the characteristics, location, quantity and quality of a resource (coal, metal or petroleum). It is a part of prospecting a site for future use for mining and extraction activities.

Contraction in July Factory Output: IIP

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

In news

Important value additions

Index of Industrial Production (IIP)

  • It is an indicator that measures the changes in the volume of production of industrial products during a given period.
  • It is compiled and published monthly by the National Statistical Office (NSO).
  • Ministry: Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
  • Base Year for IIP is 2011-2012.
  • Core Sector Industries comprise 40.27% of the weight of items included in IIP.
  • The eight core Industries in decreasing order of their weightage: (1) Refinery Products; (2) Electricity; (3) Steel; (4) Coal; (5) Crude Oil; (6) Natural Gas; (7) Cement; (8) Fertilisers.

Do you know?

  • Significance of IIP: (1) It is used by government agencies for policy-making purposes; (2) It is extremely relevant for the calculation of the quarterly and advance GDP estimates.

Miscellaneous

K.N. Dikshit Committee constituted

  • An expert committee has been set up for conducting holistic study of origin and evolution of Indian culture 
  • Ministry: Ministry of Culture.
  • The committee is chaired by K.N. Dikshit (Chairman of Indian Archaeological Society, New Delhi and former Joint Director General, Archaeological Survey of India).

(MAIN FOCUS)


INTERNATIONAL

TOPIC:  General Studies 2

  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.

The Abraham Accords: “The new dawn of a new Middle East”?

The Abraham Accords:

  • Has been signed recently by the UAE, Bahrain and Israel, under U.S. President Donald Trump’s mediation.
  • It marks a new beginning in the relations between the Sunni-ruled Gulf kingdoms and the Jewish state. 
  • Under the agreement, the UAE and Bahrain would normalise ties with Israel, leading to better economic, political and security engagement. 
  •  The agreements have the backing of Saudi Arabia, arguably the most influential Arab power and a close ally of the UAE and Bahrain. More Arab countries are expected to follow suit.
  • This is the first agreement between Israel and Arab countries since the 1994 Jordan-Israel peace treaty.

Concerns:

Though of historical and geopolitical significance, it is too early to say whether the accords will have any meaningful impact on West Asia’s myriad conflicts. 

  • The Palestinian question remains largely unaddressed:
    With Arab countries signing diplomatic agreements with Israel bilaterally, the Arab collective support for the Palestinian movement for nationhood, which has been the basis of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, is collapsing. 
  • Shia-Sunni conflict: 

A union of Israel, UAE, and Bahrain, alongside the US could be a move to contain Iran.
With this deal, Israel has joined hands with the Gulf’s Sunni Arab monarchies. Iran, on the other hand, is dominated by Shiites.

For decades, one of the main sources of instability in West Asia has been the cold war between Saudi Arabia (Sunni) and Iran (Shia). This accord may make the rift wider and more violent.

Indian context:

India should use this opportunity to give itself a bigger role in a region which is its strategic backyard. 

  • Ramping up defence and security relations with the UAE. Israel is already a very close defence partner. India should restart joint exercises with the UAE, and even Saudi Arabia.
  • India can ensure that any future deal on a regional security framework gives adequate space to Iran.
  • The deal opens up new opportunities for India to play a much larger role in the regional security and stability in the Gulf, where New Delhi enjoys special relations with both Abu Dhabi and Jerusalem.

Conclusion:

In order to bring peace in the region as they have claimed, the signatories and the US should address the more structural issues, which include the unresolved question of Palestine.

Connecting the dots:

Who are the signatories to the Abraham Accords. Will it have any meaningful impact on West Asia’s myriad conflicts? Comment.


GOVERNANCE/ ECONOMY

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Issues relating to development and management of health
  • e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential

Unleashing Digital Economy in India

Six Regulators:

Digital businesses in India are staring at the prospect of control by no less than six regulators

  • An expert committee on non-personal data (NPD) has suggested the creation of an NPD Authority. It will be a supervisory body that will enable data sharing and enforce data requests. 
  • A recently notified Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) would grant it oversight of digital businesses.
  • A regulator for personal data as well as e-commerce has been proposed. 
  • The Competition Commission of India (CCI) and The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) as a future licensor of digital applications already exist.

Fast moving technology and not-so agile governance frameworks:

Technology has catalysed fundamental changes over the last decade, resulting in new digital channels of creative expression, communication and knowledge formation. These developments have made it important to have new governance frameworks to guide transitions and respond to market failures. 

Digital businesses innovate to compete and survive, and consequently their functions and capabilities change rapidly. 

Conventional governance frameworks are not agile enough to keep up.

Confused policymaking:

India lacks a unified and cogent strategy to govern the transformational potential of digital markets, and this has resulted in confused policymaking. 

  • The proposed NPD Authority is expected to supervise data-sharing arrangements between businesses and government.
    A similar provision in the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 empowers the regulator to provide data. The e-commerce regulator proposed under the recent draft e-commerce policy also has similar powers.
  • Jurisdictional overlaps: The CCPA will oversee misleading advertisements online, as well as the disclosure of personal information to third parties. The draft of the National E-Commerce Policy proposes similar measures. 
  • Rules that demarcate supervisory boundaries of government departments also remain ambiguous.
    Example- The department for promotion of industry and internal trade is entrusted with all matters related to e-commerce.
    However, the administration of the Information Technology Act, 2000, which provides legal recognition to e-commerce, rests with the ministry of electronics and information technology.

If jurisdictional confusion persists, disputes are likely to follow. Such disputes are problematic because they erode economic value and trust in the supervisory capacity of the state. 

Way forward:

India requires a “whole of government” approach to rule-making to address institutional challenges raised by technology. 

  • The Economic Survey of 2018-19, noted that “reducing economic policy uncertainty is critical because both domestic investment and foreign investment are strongly deterred by increases in domestic economic policy uncertainty”. 
  • Increased dialogue and coherence among government bodies.
  • Multi-stakeholder consultations and the promotion of self-regulation by the industry are equally necessary for light-touch governance that incentivizes innovation. 
  • Good practices like regulatory impact assessments and international cooperation to address the cross-border dimensions of technology. 
  • India must avoid creating any constraints on private investment and chart a clear path for a trillion- dollar digital economy.
  • The accountability of new institutions is critical to improve the quality of regulation. 

Conclusion:

Improving governance around regulation of the digital economy is a stepping stone on the country’s journey to becoming a digital superpower and should be worked upon.

Connecting the dots:

  • India lacks a unified and cogent strategy to govern the transformational potential of digital markets, and this has resulted in confused policymaking. Comment.

(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 Commission on Status of Women:

  1. It is a functional commission of the ECOSOC.
  2. 45 member states of the United Nations serve as members of the Commission at any one time.

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 Which of the following are major rivers of Maharashtra? 

  1. Koyna river
  2. Wainganga river
  3. Bhima river
  4. Godavari

Choose the correct code:

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

Q.3 Consider the following statements regarding Index of Industrial Production (IIP):

  1. It is compiled by the National Statistical Office (NSO)
  2. It is published annually. 

Which of the above is/are correct?

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

Q.4 Consider the following statements:

  1. Core Sector Industries comprise 40.27% of the weight of items included in IIP.
  2. Coal has the greatest weightage among the  eight core Industries

Which of the above is/are correct?

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

ANSWERS FOR 16th September 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 D
3 C
4 D
5 C

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