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

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


Development Projects In Kutch Region

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

In news

  • Indian Prime Minister laid foundation stones for several development projects in Gujarat recently.

Key takeaways

Hybrid Renewable Energy Park

  • Hybrid Renewable Energy Park is world’s biggest Renewable Energy Park, being set up close to Indo Pak border, near Khavda village in Kutch district.
  • It will produce 30 Giga watt solar and wind energy on a vast expanse of waste land.

Desalination plant

  • A desalination plant shall also be coming up in Kutch district. 
  • This plant aims to convert sea water for potable purposes for a population 8 lakh of 300 villages.
  • It assumes great importance for Kutch peninsula which is perennial rain-deficit area with no other source of water.

Fully automated milk processing of Sarhad dairy

  • 130 crore rupees worth milk processing plant of Sarhad dairy, an apex dairy cooperative entity was also inaugurated virtually.
  • This massive 2 lakh litre per day milk processing and packaging facility will come up under Rashtriya Kisan Vikas Yojna.

2020 State Of The Education Report For India: Vocational Education First

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Health

In news

  • The ‘State of the Education Report for India 2020: Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), was launched virtually by UNESCO New Delhi recently. 

Key takeaways

  • The second edition of the State of Education Report focuses on technical and vocational education and training (TVET).
  • India has made considerable progress towards its goal of creating a skilled workforce of 110 million people by 2022, as stated in the National Policy of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (NPSDE), released in 2015. 
  • It is presently training 10 million youth annually.
  • The Report outlines a set of ten recommendations that should be adopted to help achieve the stated vision for TVET in the country.

The ten recommendations:

  • Place learners and their aspirations at the centre of vocational education and training programmes
  • Create an appropriate ecosystem for teachers, trainers and assessors
  • Focus on upskilling, re-skilling and lifelong learning
  • Ensure inclusive access to TVET for women, differently abled and disadvantaged learners
  • Massively expand the digitalization of vocational education and training
  • Support local communities to generate livelihoods by engaging in the preservation of tangible and intangible cultural heritage
  • Align better with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
  • Deploy innovative models of financing TVET
  • Expand evidence-based research for better planning and monitoring
  • Establish a robust coordinating mechanism for inter-ministerial cooperation

12th GRIHA (Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment) Summit

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Environment

In news

  • The Vice President of India recently inaugurated the 12th GRIHA (Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment) Summit.
  • Organised by: GRIHA Council from Hyderabad.
  • Theme: Rejuvenating Resilient Habitats.
  • Purpose: To serve as a platform to deliberate on innovative technologies and solutions which shall help in creating robust mechanisms for developing sustainable and resilient solutions for the benefit of the entire community.
  • The Vice President also launched the SHASHWAT magazine and the book ’30 Stories Beyond Buildings’ during the event

Key takeaways

  • According to the World Green Building Council data, buildings and construction account for 39% of energy-related CO2 emissions in the world.
  • India called for accelerating the process of total de-carbonization of the built environment.
  • It was also opined that roof cooling should be an area of priority for all.
  • In India, over 60% of roofs are made from metal, asbestos, and concrete – thus trapping heat inside buildings and contributing to heat island effect in urban areas.
  • Cool roofs can lower indoor temperatures by 2 to 4 degrees Celsius as compared to traditional roofs.
  • It was also observed that the implementation of Bureau of Energy Efficiency’s Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) has not been uniform across India.
  • The states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh were appreciated for taking a lead in this regard.

Important value additions

Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA)

  • It is the national rating system of India for any completed building construction.
  • GRIHA is recognised as India’s own green building rating system in India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
  • Created By: It was conceived by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and developed jointly with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
  • GRIHA Council has developed the Building Fitness Indicator (BFI) tool – a free-to-use self-assessment tool that allows organizations to measure the preparedness of workplaces to prevent exposure to COVID-19.

Recognition Scheme for Hygiene Rating Audit Agencies

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Health

In news

  • Quality Council of India (QCI) at the behest of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has come out with a Scheme for approval of Hygiene Rating Audit Agencies to scale up Hygiene Rating by increasing the number of recognised Hygiene Rating Audit Agencies in the country.

Key takeaways

  • FSSAI’s initiative of ‘Food Hygiene Rating Scheme’ is a certification system for food businesses supplying food directly to consumers, either on or off premise.
  • The food establishments are rated based on food hygiene and safety conditions observed at the time of audit.
  • The hygiene rating will be in the form of smileys (1 up to 5) and the certificate should be displayed prominently in the consumer facing area.
  • Aim: To allow consumers to make informed choices pertaining to the food outlets where they eat by encouraging food businesses to improve their hygiene and safety standards.
  • The recognised Hygiene Rating Audit Agency will verify the compliance with food hygiene and safety procedures laid by FSSAI.

Important value additions

Quality Council of India (QCI)

  • Set up: 1997 
  • Established jointly by: The Government of India and the Indian Industry represented by the three premier industry associations i.e. Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI)
  • Ministry: The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
  • Objective: To establish and operate national accreditation structure and promote quality through National Quality Campaign. 

USA imposes sanctions on Turkey over S-400 Air Defence Missile System

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – International Relations & GS-III – Defence and Security

In news

  • The United States has imposed sanctions on Turkey on Monday over its acquisition of Russian S-400 air defence systems.

Key takeaways

  • The S-400 Triumf is a mobile, surface-to-air missile system (SAM) designed by Russia.
  • It is the most dangerous operationally deployed modern long-range SAM (MLR SAM) in the world, considered much ahead of the US-developed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD).
  • The system can engage all types of aerial targets including aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles – UAV, ballistic and cruise missiles – within the range of 400km, at an altitude of up to 30km. 
  • The system can track 100 airborne targets and engage six of them simultaneously.
  • The defence system integrates multifunction radar, autonomous detection and targeting systems, anti-aircraft missile systems, launchers, and command and control centre.
  •  It is capable of firing three types of missiles to create a layered defence.


India ranks 131 in 2020 UN Human Development Index 

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

In news

  • Human Development Index was released recently.
  • Released by: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
  • India dropped to 131st spot among 189 countries 
  • India’s HDI value for 2019 is 0.645 which put it in the medium human development category.
  • India had ranked 130 in 2018 in the index.

Key takeaways

  • Life expectancy of Indians at birth in 2019 was 69.7 years.
  • Bangladesh has a life expectancy of 72.6 years and Pakistan 67.3 years.
  • India, Bhutan (129), Bangladesh (133), Nepal (142), and Pakistan (154) were ranked among countries with medium human development.
  • Top countries: Norway (1), Ireland (2), Switzerland (3), Hong Kong (4) and Iceland (5)
  • According to the report, India’s gross national income per capita fell to $6,681 in 2019 from $6,829 in 2018 on purchasing power parity (PPP) basis.
  • Indigenous children in Cambodia, India and Thailand show more malnutrition-related issues such as stunting and wasting.

Do you know?

  • Human Development Index is the measure of a nation’s health, education, and standards of living
  • Purchasing power parity or PPP is a measurement of prices in different countries that uses the prices of specific goods to compare the absolute purchasing power of the countries’ currencies.

Miscellaneous

Himgiri

  • ‘Himgiri’ is the first of the three Project 17A ships being built at M/s Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited (GRSE), Kolkata.
  • It was launched on 14 December 2020.
  • Under the Project 17A program, a total of seven ships are being built with enhanced stealth features, advanced indigenous weapon and sensor fit along with several other improvements.
  • P17A ships are the first gas turbine propulsion and largest combat platforms ever built at GRSE.

Vijay Diwas

  • India celebrated Vijay Diwas recently (December 16) to mark victory of 1971 Bangladesh liberation war.
  • In December 1971, the Indian Armed Forces secured a decisive and historic Victory over Pakistan Army, which led to creation of a Nation- Bangladesh and also resulted in the largest Military Surrender after the World War-II.

(Mains Focus)


INTERNATIONAL/ ECONOMY / GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

The many challenges for new WTO D-G

Context:  For the first time in its 25-year history, the World Trade Organization (WTO) will be led by a woman, as both the contending candidates for the Director-General (D-G) post are women, from Nigeria and South Korea respectively. 

Challenges for the next DG of WTO are:

  • Competing Interests of Nations: Her job requires balancing the diverse and varied interests of the 164 member countries.
  • Rising Nationalism: She has tough job on reconciling competing multilateral and national visions, for the organisation to work efficiently. 
  • COVID-19 Impact: The next D-G will have to grapple with the global economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and take needed measures to revive falling global economy
  • Reforms: She has to work towards carrying out reforms of the multilateral trading system to maintain the credibility of the institution. 
  • Divide Between north and south: At the core of the divide within the WTO is the Doha Development Agenda(DDA) that is favourable for developing nations. The developed countries are working to jettison DDA in favour of a new agenda that includes, amongst others, e-commerce, investment facilitation, MSMEs and gender. 
  • Restoring the WTO dispute settlement mechanism, especially the revival of its Appellate body, is also crucial for the organisation’s efficient functioning.
  • Restoring Faith of common man: WTO has to demonstrate that it is on the side of the underdog i.e. it’s mission is to enhance the conditions of poor people and not further the agenda of corporates
  • Need for Collaboration in Post COVID world: The COVID-19 crisis has revealed the urgent and enduring need for international cooperation and collaboration, as no country can fight the pandemic alone. 
  • Ensuring Supply Chains are robust: The D-G can help mitigate the effects of the pandemic by giving clear directions on ensuring that supply chains remain free and open, recommending a standard harmonised system with classification for vaccines, and by the removal of import/export restrictions.
  • Removal for IPR barriers for Vaccine distribution: PM Modi’s reiteration that India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity will help the whole of humanity will require the D-G to play a responsible role in removing barriers to intellectual property and securing a legal framework within the WTO TRIPS Agreement

Conclusion

Most imminently, the next D-G will need to build trust among its members that the WTO needs greater engagement by all countries, to stitch fair rules in the larger interest of all nations and thwart unfair trade practices of a few.


INTERNATIONAL / SECURITY

Topic: General Studies 2,3:

  • India and its neighbourhood

India – Bangladesh

Context: The Bangladesh marks its liberation war victory day on December 16, it is a good time to look at India-Bangladesh ties.

  • Bangladesh is India’s largest trading partner in South Asia. 
  • Between 2009-10 and 2015-16, the trade deficit grew in India’s favour at a staggering 164.4%. 
  • FDI from India to Bangladesh is $3.11 billion, including Reliance’s $642-million 745 MW gas-fired project and Adani’s $400 million in Mirsarai Economic Zone.
  • Today, India and Bangladesh are better connected and goods are transported by road, rail and river routes using Bangladeshi vessels, trucks and railway. 
  • Recent agreements allow India to ship goods through Mongla port road, rail, and water routes.

Issues

  • The border remains sensitive. 294 Bangladeshis were killed on the Indo-Bangla border.
  • Water remains another difficult issue. Bangladeshis have observed the tug-of-war on the Teesta water-sharing issue between the Centre and state.
  • India’s controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) have created a negative impression in Bangladesh of India’s intent.
  • Bangladesh is China’s second-largest arms export destination. Chinese firms have been outbidding their Indian counterparts in infrastructure projects.

Conclusion

  • If Indo-Bangla relations are to move to “newer heights”, then unresolved issues have to be dealt with soon.

ECONOMY / GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2,3:

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development.
  • Tax Administration

Advance pricing agreements (APAs)

An APA is an agreement between a tax payer and tax authority determining the transfer pricing methodology for pricing the tax payer’s international transactions for future years. 

An APA can be unilateral, bilateral, or multilateral. They can be entered into for prospective periods and also cover historical years. 

Benefits of APA are as follows

  • Proactive Tax payer: APAs involve discussing inter-company transactions with the tax administration on a proactive basis to agree on pricing terms and eliminate any subsequent controversy. 
  • Reduces Compliance Costs: For taxpayers, they carry the benefits of freedom from onerous documentation and tax authority audits, mitigating double tax in some cases and certainty for the business.
  • Reduces Government Expenditure: The government stands to gain through reduced disputes, redirection of scarce administration resources and collecting their fair share of tax 
  • Attracts Foreign investors: APAs boosts country’s attractiveness to investors by providing a definite and predictable policy regime.
  • Good Precedence: India’s APA programme introduced in 2012 has been successful and appreciated by taxpayers and tax administrations globally. The APA annual report for 2018-19 released by the CBDT in November 2019 said 271 agreements yielding Rs 10,000 crore had been signed in six years of filings.
  • Non-adversarial Tax regime: The last 12 months have seen additional APAs being signed. This has reinforced the government’s commitment to a non-adversarial tax regime.
  • Helps businesses tide Economic Uncertainties: For taxpayers, APAs are even more relevant in these times because business-driven restructurings and changing transfer pricing policies can be a compelling reason to pursue APAs. 
  • Helps avoid litigation: With limited resources, companies can choose to invest in getting certainty through APAs as a cost-effective alternative to uncertain and long drawn litigation.
  • Indicates Collaborative Approach of government: APAs are a credible example of how Indian tax authorities and taxpayers have collaborated to find solutions to vexing transfer pricing problems.

(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 recently released Human Development Index, 2020:

  1. Life expectancy of Indians is much lower than Bangladesh and Pakistan.
  2. India’s gross national income per capita increased in 2019 as compared to 2018.

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 Human Development Index, 2020 is released by which of the following?

  1. UNESCO
  2. UNDP
  3. WHO
  4. UNFCC

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

1 B
2 D
3 B

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