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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 2nd November 2020

  • IASbaba
  • November 2, 2020
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Mansar Lake Development Plan inaugurated 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-I – Geogrpahy & GS-II – Policies and interventions

In news

  • In a move to increase tourism, the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, inaugurated the Mansar Lake Development Plan in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The project is eyed to attract almost 20 lakh tourists every year. 
  • It shall increase employment opportunities also. 

Important value additions 

  • Mansar Lake is situated 62 km from Jammu. 
  • It is a lake having a natural border of forest-covered hills. 
  • Surinsar-Mansar Lakes were designated as Ramsar Convention in November 2005.
  • Mansar is of immense importance from Pilgrimage as well Heritage point of view 

Discrepancies pointed out in Central Vista Redevelopment Project

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Parliament

In news

Important value additions 

The Central Vista 

  • It is a 3 km stretch in the heart of New Delhi that runs from the Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate. 
  • It is flanked by large green spaces and significant structures such as Parliament, the Secretariat buildings and the National Archives.
  • The Central government is redeveloping the three-km-long Central Vista and Parliament. 
  • A common Central secretariat will be constructed for all ministries that are currently spread over many buildings across Delhi.
  • The new Parliament has to be ready by March 2022. 
  • The revamped Central Vista, complete with public amenities and parking, has to be ready by November 2021 and the new common Central secretariat by March 2024.
  • The Parliament House and North and South Blocks will not be demolished, but their usage may change. 
  • The rest of the buildings that came up post-1947, including Shastri Bhavan and Krishi Bhavan, are likely to be demolished.

Haryana’s RERA puts cap on Commission in a first of its kind 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Economy

In news

  • In a first of its kind order, Haryana’s RERA has put a cap on the commission being charged by the brokers while facilitating a land deal. 
  • Now, no real estate agent in Haryana can charge more than 0.5% commission each from the buyer and the seller per deal.

Important value additions 

Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act 

  • It took effect in May 2016 to regulate and promote the real estate sector.
  • Objective: It aims to bring about transparency and efficiency in an opaque Industry. 
  • It has a mandate to protect consumer interest, including establishing a speedy redressal system.
  • The Act is applicable all over India, except J&K. 
  • It applies to all under-construction projects with a plot size above 500 sq. m or projects with 8 apartments or more. 
  • Each state has to set up its own regulator, keeping the central law as the framework. 
  • Real estate agents must be registered with the authority before executing any transaction. 
  • Developers cannot advertise, market, book, sell or invite persons to purchase a plot, apartment or building without registering the project with the regulator. 
  • The project can be cancelled if rules are not regularly followed. 
  • Developers are accountable for after-sale services. 
  • The developer is liable to rectify structural damages for five years.
  • After implementation of RERA, the number of new launches has come down because there is greater pressure on developers to be transparent about the use of money.

Asteroid 16 Psyche

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Space

In news

  • A recent study has found that asteroid 16 Psyche, which orbits between Mars and Jupiter, could be made entirely of metal. 
  • It is worth an estimated $10,000 quadrillion — more than the entire economy of Earth.

Key takeaways 

  • New images from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope offer a closer view of the asteroid 16 Psyche, whose surface may mostly comprise iron and nickel, similar to the Earth’s core.
  • Scientists believe that the asteroid may be the leftover core of an earlier planet that lost its crust and mantle after multiple collisions during the creation of our solar system.
  • The exact composition and origins of the asteroid will be uncovered in 2022, when NASA sends an unmanned spacecraft to study it up close.

Do you know? 

  • It is located around 370 million km away from Earth. 
  • It is one of the most massive objects in the asteroid belt in our solar system.
  • The somewhat potato-shaped asteroid has a diameter of around 140 miles, 
  • It was first discovered on March 17, 1853, by the Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis and was named after the ancient Greek goddess of the soul, Psyche.

Water Aerodrome and Sea-Plane service inaugurated 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Infrastructure

In news

  • The Indian Prime Minister inaugurated Water Aerodrome at Kevadia and the Sea-plane Service connecting Statue of Unity in Kevadia with Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad.
  • He also inaugurated Water Aerodrome in Sabarmati Riverfront and the SeaPlane Service from Sabarmati Riverfront to Kevadia.
  • These are part of a series of Water Aerodromes being planned to bring the last mile connectivity.

Do you know? 

  • Seaplanes have the ability to land and take-off from water thus offering access to areas that do not have landing strips or runways.
  • Thus it can help in connecting the geographies/regions that have challenges owing to its topography and bring the remotest parts of India into the mainstream aviation network without the high cost of building airports and runways.
  • These smaller fixed wing airplanes can land on water bodies like lakes, backwaters and dams, gravel and grass, thus offering easy access to numerous tourist spots as well.

Tectonically Active Zone of Himalayas

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Infrastructure

In news

  • Recently, a group of scientists from the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG), Dehradun have found that the Indus-Tsangpo Suture Zone (ITSZ) of Himalaya is tectonically active.
  • The suture zone of Himalaya was conventionally thought to be locked.

Key takeaways 

  • Sedimentary beds were found to be tilted and thrust broken.
  • Rivers were associated with uplifted terraces.
  • Bedrock shows brittle deformation at much shallower depths.
  • These deformed geological features were dated using the technique of Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL). 
  • Data of seismicity and denudation rate was also reviewed.
  • The region of the ITSZ has been neo-tectonically active since the last 78000-58000 years.
  • The finding will have major implications in terms of earthquake study, prediction, understanding the seismic structure of the mountain chains well as its evolution.

Important value additions 

  • Tectonics is the scientific study of the deformation of the rocks that make up the Earth’s crust and the forces that produce such deformation.
  • It deals with the folding and faulting of mountain building, gradual upward and downward movements of the crust. 
  • The ITSZ is a suture zone in the Ladakh region. 
  • It marks the limit of the Indian plate where it collides with the Eurasian plate and is subducted below the latter.

Do you know? 

  • Optically-Stimulated Luminescence: It is a late quaternary (geological time period that encompasses the most recent 2.6 million years) dating technique used to date the last time quartz sediment was exposed to light.
  • Seismicity: It refers to the measure of the frequency of earthquakes in a region.
  • Denudation: It is a long term process in which the wearing and tearing of the surface of the Earth take place. 

Single Male Parent eligible for child care leave 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Policies and interventions

In news

  • Male Government employees who are single parents will now be eligible for child care leave.

Key takeaways 

  • Single male parents, includes unmarried employees, widowers and divorcees, who may be expected to take up the responsibility of caring for a child single-handedly.
  • Child care leave can be granted at 100% of leave salary for the first 365 days and 80% of leave salary for the next 365 days.
  • In case of a disabled child, the condition of availing child care leave up to the age of 22 years of the child has been removed. 
  • Now, child care leave can be availed by a government servant for a disabled child of any age.

Do you know? 

  • Child Care Leave is treated as earned leave. 
  • It is generally granted to women employees.
  • Women employees having minor children (children upto 18 years of age) may be granted child care leave for a maximum period of two years (i.e. 730 days) during their entire service for taking care of upto two minor children
  • The child care leave is granted either for rearing children or to look after any of the needs of children like examination, sickness etc.

Miscellaneous

Super Typhoon Goni

  • Recently, Super Typhoon Goni hit the Philippines with authorities warning of “catastrophic” conditions in the region expected to receive the hardest hit. 

  • Nearly a million people have been evacuated.

  • The strongest typhoon of the year so far made landfall on Catanduanes Island. 
  • A week before, Typhoon Molave had hit the same region. 

Super Typhoon

  • Since 2009 the Hong Kong Observatory has divided typhoons into three different classifications: typhoon, severe typhoon and super typhoon.
  • A typhoon has wind speed of 64–79 knots (73–91 mph; 118–149 km/h), a severe typhoon has winds of at least 80 knots (92 mph; 150 km/h), and a super typhoon has winds of at least 100 knots (120 mph; 190 km/h).

(MAINS FOCUS)


INTERNATIONAL/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Indian Foreign Policy

The shifting trajectory of India’s foreign policy

Context: The Third India-U.S. 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue between the Foreign and Defence Ministers of India and the U.S. Secretaries of State and Defence took place in Delhi on October 26-27.

Key Outcome of the meeting

  • The signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for Geo-Spatial Cooperation
  • The two-day meeting also discussed steps to take existing bilateral cooperation, including ‘military to military cooperation, secure communication systems and information sharing, defence trade and industrial issues’, to a new level.
  • With the signing of BECA, India is now a signatory to all U.S.-related foundational military agreements (LEMOA signed in 2016 and COMCASA signed in 2018)
  • Welded together, the foundational military pacts effectively tie India to the wider U.S. strategic architecture in the region. 

Critical Analysis of the military pacts

  • Apprehensions about India’s Military Independence: Previous attempts to sign these agreements were resisted on the ground that it would compromise India’s security and independence in military matters.
  • Strategic Autonomy will henceforth sound hollow: Built into the agreements are provisions for a two-way exchange of information that is not aligned with India’s stance on maintaining strategic autonomy.
  • Pulled into wider Anti-China Coalition: The U.S. makes little secret of the fact that the primary push for getting India to sign the foundational agreements was the threat posed by China, and by appending its signature India has signed on to becoming part of the wider anti-China ‘coalition of the willing’.
  • Non-neutrality in Power Politics: India has effectively jettisoned its previous policy of neutrality, and of maintaining its equi-distance from power blocs (US and China).
  • Impacts IndoRussia Relationship: The impact of India signing on to U.S.-related foundational military agreements, cannot but impact India-Russia relations, which has been a staple of India’s foreign policy for more than half a century. A

Arguments in favour of signing these pacts and deepening India-US ties

  • It is argued that there are enough India-specific safeguards built into the pacts, and there is no reason for concern.
  • It may be argued that the new policy is essentially a pragmatic one, in keeping with the current state of global disorder. 
  • It could even be argued that an ideologically agnostic attitude is better suited to the prevailing circumstances of today.

Impact on China – Maintaining Peace a tougher challenge

  • China-India relations have never been easy. Since 1988, India has pursued a policy which put a premium on an avoidance of conflicts with China.
  • Even after Doklam in 2017, India saw virtue in the Wuhan and Mamallapuram discourses, to maintain better relations. This will now become increasingly problematic as India gravitates towards the U.S. sphere of influence. 
  • India’s willingness to sign foundational military agreements with the U.S., to obtain high grade intelligence and other sensitive information, would suggest that India has made its choice, which can only exacerbate already deteriorating China-India relations.
  • Several of India’s neighbours (Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh), normally perceived to be within India’s sphere of influence, currently seem to be out of step with India’s approach on many issues.
  • At the same time, both China and the U.S. separately, seem to be making inroads and enlarging their influence here. 
  • The Maldives, for instance, has chosen to enter into a military pact with the U.S. to counter Chinese expansionism in the Indian Ocean region. 

Way Ahead

  • West Asia: India needs to ensure, through deft diplomatic handling, that the latest UAE-Israel linkage does not adversely impact India’s interests in the region. India also needs to devote greater attention to try and restore India-Iran ties which have definitely frayed in recent years.
  • Afghanistan: India must decide how a shift in policy at this time would serve India’s objectives in Afghanistan, considering the tremendous investment it has made in recent decades to shore up democracy in that country.
  • Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO): India, again, will need to try and square the circle when it comes to its membership of the SCO, considering its new relationship with the U.S.
  • Non-Aligned Movement (NAM): Likewise, even though India currently has a detached outlook, vis-à-vis the NAM, and has increasingly distanced itself from the African and Latin American group in terms of policy prescriptions, matters could get aggravated, following India’s new alliance patterns
  • Russia: India can hardly hope to count on Russia as a strategic ally at a time, when Russia-China relations have vastly expanded and a strategic congruence exists between the two countries. India will need to handle with skill and dexterity its relationship with Russia.

Conclusion

New Delhi’s diplomatic skills will be tested now that the country is effectively a part of the U.S.’s security architecture

Connecting the dots:

  • Future of SAARC and BIMSTEC
  • India’s Non-Alignment Policy in the times of increasing Polarisation in world

ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2, 3:

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment. 
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

The road to economic recovery

Context: The return of economic activity and declining active Covid-19 cases in India have raised hopes of recovery

Is the global resurgence of Covid-19 a threat to the stock market recovery?

  • The stock market has responded enthusiastically with large cap indices trading a little below their pre-Covid highs. 
  • Investment Flows and improving fundamentals have pulled the market to current levels. Undoubtedly, we are not out of the woods. 
  • Factors like the ongoing second wave in the US and Europe, the US election results etc will impact our markets, albeit on a temporary basis.

What factors will determine the recovery path for firms?

  • India’s economic recovery will be a function of top-down factors like fiscal and monetary stimulus as well as bottom-up entrepreneurial efforts.
  • Firms with less leverage, good governance, and the ability to raise capital, cut costs with the precision of a surgeon‘s knife, and innovate to adapt in the current situation will not only survive but also prosper.

When the pandemic continues, what factors raise hopes of recovery?

  • Active cases are coming down despite normalisation of economic activities.
  • A vaccine breakthrough seems to be on the horizon. 
  • Macroeconomic Stability: Lower oil, gold and Chinese goods imports have made India current account-surplus. Foreign exchange reserves are about to exceed foreign exchange debt. 
  • Foreign Investment: Global firms are opening up their purses for direct as well as portfolio investment. 
  • Agriculture reforms will materially benefit a large rural population. 
  • Labour reforms and postal life insurance schemes are steps in the right direction for India becoming a manufacturing hub.

Way Ahead: Areas where Policy focus is needed

  • Credit Transmission: The monetary policy is accommodative but credit transmission needs to improve further. 
  • Borrowing Costs: Policy rates are at lifetime low levels but the cost of borrowing needs to be lowered for below-AA rated borrowers. 
  • Sector Specific Stimulus: Fiscal stimulus has supported growth at the bottom of the pyramid but sectors like travel, tourism, hotel, retailing, aviation, infrastructure etc require more support. 
  • Non-Tax resources: The path of fiscal prudence is important but it needs to be achieved by raising non-tax resources like proceeds from strategic divestment and monetisation of assets, unlocking capital stuck in gold deposits etc.
  • Rule of Law: Ease of doing business has improved but rule of law needs to be improved. Our laws are being made for the lowest common denominator as crooks escape without adequate punishment. This increases the cost of compliance for the rest. Investment cannot pick up sustainably unless rule of law is experienced by investors. 
  • Inequality: Big has become bigger in these challenging times, but eventually small and medium firms need to become competitive and prosper.

(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 Where is Mansar lake situated? 

  1. Jammu and Kashmir 
  2. Orissa 
  3. Rajasthan 
  4. Himachal Pradesh

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding Real Estate Regulation and Development Act: 

  1. The act is applicable all over India. 
  2. Each state has to set up its own regulator with its own law as the framework.

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. 16 Psyche was in the news recently. It is associated with which of the following? 

  1. An asteroid orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. 
  2. Planet Jupiter’s newly discovered moon. 
  3. Manned spacecraft to be sent to Mars in 2022. 
  4. Meteorite that shall enter the Earth’s atmosphere in December

Q.4 First seaplane project is recently inaugurated in which of the following state of India? 

  1. Gujarat 
  2. Maharashtra 
  3. Kerala 
  4. Tamil Nadu

ANSWERS FOR 31st October 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 B

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