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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 13th January 2021

  • IASbaba
  • January 13, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Khadi Prakritik Paint launched

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

In news 

  • Union Minister for MSME launched an innovative new paint developed by Khadi and Village Industries Commission recently.

Key takeaways 

  • The eco-friendly, non-toxic paint is called Khadi Prakritik Paint. 
  • It is a first-of-its-kind product, with anti-fungal, anti-bacterial properties.
  • The paint has been certified by Bureau of Indian Standards. 
  • Khadi Prakritik Paint is available in two forms – distemper paint and plastic emulsion paint.
  • Based on cow dung as its main ingredient, the paint is cost-effective and odorless.
  • The paint is free from heavy metals like lead, mercury, chromium, arsenic, cadmium and others.

Do you know? 

  • It will be a boost to local manufacturing and will create sustainable local employment through technology transfer.
  • This technology will increase consumption of cow dung as a raw material for eco-friendly products and will generate additional revenue to farmers and gaushalas. 
  • This is estimated to generate additional income of Rs 30,000 (approx.) per annum per animal to farmers/ gaushalas.
  • Utilization of cow dung will also clean the environment and prevent clogging of drains.

Important value additions 

The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) 

  • It is a statutory body formed in April 1957 (as per an RTI) by the Government of India, under the Act of Parliament, ‘Khadi and Village Industries Commission Act of 1956’. 
  • It is an apex organisation under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. 
  • Vision – To plan, promote, facilitate, organise and assist in the establishment and development of khadi and village industries in the rural areas in coordination with other agencies engaged in rural development wherever necessary.
  • In April 1957, it took over the work of former All India Khadi and Village Industries Board.
  • Head office: Mumbai
  • Six zonal offices: Delhi, Bhopal, Bangalore, Kolkata, Mumbai and Guwahati. 

Related articles:

  • 1000-yrs Old Monpa Handmade Paper Industry brought alive in AP: Click here
  • Migrant workers engaged in Honey Mission: Click here

Parler suspended by Apple, Amazon and Google

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

In news 

  • Apple, Amazon and Google have suspended the social network called Parler as the platform has not taken enough measures to make sure that content inciting violence remains in check.

Key takeaways 

  • Parler is an American alt-tech microblogging and social networking service.
  • It markets itself as a free speech and unbiased alternative to mainstream social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. 
  • Parler also has a significant user base of Donald Trump supporters, conservatives, conspiracy theorists, and right-wing extremists.
  • The suspension came following the events of January 6 when an armed mob of Trump supporters stormed Capitol Hill and clashed with the police as Congress convened to validate Joe Biden’s presidential win.
  • The platform is favoured by right-leaning users and as per media reports was actively used by supporters of US President Donald Trump, including several of those who participated in the Capitol Hill siege.

30th National Energy Conservation Awards (NECA) function organised

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Energy Resources; Conservation

In news 

  • Ministry of Power, in association with Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), organised the 30th National Energy Conservation Awards (NECA) function.

Key takeaways 

  • During the event, the Standards and Labelling Programme for Air Compressors and Ultra High Definition (UHD) TV was launched on a voluntary basis. 
  • The energy consumption standards will be effective from 01st January 2021.
  • This initiative is expected to save around 8.41 Billion Units of electricity for Air Compressors and 9.75 Billion Units for UHD TV till 2030.
  • SAATHEE (State-wise Actions on Annual Targets and Headways on Energy Efficiency) – A portal for State Designated Agency for state level activities was also launched.
  • BEE has developed this portal. 
  • It will facilitate real-time monitoring of the progress of implementation of various Energy Conservation endeavours at State level.

Important value additions 

Bureau of Energy Efficiency

  • It is a statutory body under the Ministry of Power, Government of India.
  • It assists in developing policies and strategies. 
  • Objective: Reducing the energy intensity of the Indian economy.

Related articles:

  • (DISCOMs) to be covered under the Energy Conservation (EC) Act, 2001: Click here 

Management Effectiveness Evaluation Of Indian Zoos (MEE-ZOO) Framework launched

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

In news 

  • The Union Environment Minister launched the Management Effectiveness Evaluation of Indian Zoos (MEE-ZOO) framework.

Key takeaways 

  • The framework proposes guidelines, criteria and indicators for evaluation of zoos of India in a manner which is discrete, holistic and independent.
  • The assessment criteria and indicators look beyond the traditional concepts and include issues of animal welfare, husbandry and sustainability of resources and finance.
  • The MEE-ZOO exercise is moving towards developing highest standards in Zoos across India. 
  • It will help in adhering to core values of accountability, transparency, innovation, use of technology, collaboration and integrity to achieve the mandate of conservation of endangered species.

North East Venture Fund (NEVF) gains popularity

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Economy

In news 

  • The North East Venture Fund (NEVF) is gaining popularity among Start-Ups and young entrepreneurs.

Important value additions 

  • The Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) had joined with North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Ltd (NEDFi) to set up the North East Venture Fund.
  • It the first and the only Venture Fund for Northeast with an initial corpus of Rs. 100 crores.
  • The fund targets to invest in Start-Ups and unique business opportunities to provide resources for new entrepreneurships.
  • The main focus of NEVF is for mostly the enterprises involved in Food Processing, Healthcare, Tourism, segregation of services, IT, etc.
  • The investment size with the Venture Fund Scheme ranges between Rs.25 lakhs and Rs. 10 crores with a long term horizon of five to ten years.

BSNL and MTNL turn EBITDA positive

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

In news 

  • The State-owned undertakings Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. (MTNL) have turned EBITDA positive in first 6 months of this financial year.

Key takeaways 

  • EBITDA stands for Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization.
  • EBITDA is a measure of profits.
  • It is a metric used to evaluate a company’s overall financial performance. 
  • EBITDA is now commonly used to compare the financial health of companies and to evaluate firms with different tax rates and depreciation policies.
  • However, EBITDA is not a substitute for analysing a company’s cash flow and can make a company look like it has more money to make interest payments than it really does.
  • It also ignores the quality of a company’s earnings and can make it look cheaper than it really is.

Single Window Clearance Portal launched for coal mining

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Energy resources; Economy

In news 

  • Ministry of Coal launched Single Window Clearance Portal. 
  • It is a unified platform that facilitates grant of clearances and approvals required for starting a coal mine in India.

Key takeaways 

  • Single Window Clearance Portal is in the spirit of Minimum Government and Maximum Governance. 
  • It would be a milestone for Ease of Doing Business in the Indian Coal Sector. 
  • Presently, about 19 major approval or clearances are required to be obtained before starting a coal mine in the country.
  • The Portal will map only the relevant application formats and also process flow for grant of approval or clearances.

Do you know? 

  • The portal was launched in an event organized in New Delhi to execute agreements with successful bidders of India’s first ever commercial coal mine auctions.
  • Recently, 19 successful bidders were allotted mines under the country’s first commercial coal mining auction. 
  • This will give the states estimated revenue of about Rs 6,500 crore per year and will also create more than 70,000 jobs.

Miscellaneous

Sea Vigil 21

  • The second edition of the biennial pan-India coastal defence exercise ‘Sea Vigil-21’ will be conducted on 12-13 January 2021.

  • The exercise will be undertaken along the entire 7516 km coastline and Exclusive Economic Zone of India. 
  • It will involve all the 13 coastal States and Union Territories along with other maritime stakeholders, including the fishing and coastal communities.
  • The exercise is being coordinated by the Indian Navy.
  • The exercise is a build up towards the major Theatre level exercise TROPEX [Theatre-level Readiness Operational Exercise] which Indian Navy conducts every two years.
  • SEA VIGIL and TROPEX together will cover the entire spectrum of maritime security challenges, including transition from peace to conflict.

(Mains Focus)


FEDERALISM/ POLITY

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States
  • Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure

Power tussle in Puducherry: Between Lt. Governor and Chief Minister

Context: The recent three-day-long protest, led by Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy, under the banner of the Secular Democratic Progressive Alliance, against Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi.

Why is CM of Puducherry protesting against Lt. Governor?

  • Interference in Day-to-day affairs: The ruling alliance has accused the lieutenant governor of interfering in the day-to-day affairs of the government and impeding its development plans.
  • Appointment to State Election Commission: They have been at loggerheads over many matters, most recently on the appointment of the State Election Commissioner, an office critical to holding elections to local bodies in the Union Territory. 
  • Implementation Mode of Welfare Scheme: The council of Ministers headed by CM prefers to distribute rice, clothes and other freebies to the beneficiaries through fair price shops and other government agencies. While Lt. Governor Bedi insists on the DBT mode for implementing government welfare schemes.
  • Democratic Participation: The police asked the director of higher and technical education to issue an advisory to all students to refrain from participating in the protest against the lieutenant governor. Earlier police allegedly used force to disperse students taking part in a protest organised by the Congress, demanding that the Centre sanction 10% reservation for government school students in MBBS course.
  • Demand of the Agitation: The agitation was meant to highlight the demand of the Congress and its allies for the recall of the Lt Governor. The elected government accuse Lt. Governor Ms. Kiran Bedi of “functioning in an autocratic manner” and adopting an “obstructionist attitude” in ensuring the progress and welfare of people.

What is the argument by Lt. Governor?

On her part, Ms. Bedi has advised CM to refrain from misleading the public about the Centre and her office. She has even attributed his “anguish and disappointment” possibly to the “diligent and sustained care” exercised by the Lt Governor’s secretariat “in ensuring just, fair and accessible administration following the laws and rules of business scrupulously”.

Previous instances of Power Tussle between CM and Lt. Governor 

  • Nominated Members in Legislative Assembly: In July 2017, members of the Congress protested against the induction of three nominated members of the BJP into the Assembly by the Centre without the approval of the chief minister.
  • Governance & Policy Making: In 2018, Lt. Governor Bedi announced that the government’s free rice distribution scheme to villagers would be made conditional to the certification that the village is free from open defecation, garbage and plastic. The CM claimed Bedi’s move was against the NFSA, 2013 and that the lieutenant governor cannot issue an order and implement it without his consultation
  • Public Sector Undertakings: In 2019, a similar protest was staged by the CM demanding reopening of closed industrial units and public sector undertakings. 
  • New Year Celebration amidst Pandemic: On December 31, 2020, Bedi objected to the government’s move to allow New Year celebrations in view of the pandemic and urged the government to ban it. However, CM was firm on his decision and said no one had the power or authority to ban New Year celebrations, adding that the UT is linked intrinsically with French culture and has a separate identity.

Critical Analysis of the ongoing protest

  • Political reasons: With the Assembly election likely in April or May, CM leading the protest against the Lt Governor can be an act of political mobilisation and seems to be his strategy to ward off any criticism against his government’s “non-functioning” by laying the blame at the doorstep of the Lt Governor.
  • LG can be Accommodative: The Centre itself did not see any great virtue in the DBT mode when it decided to give additional food grains (rice or wheat) free of cost at five kg per person a month to ration cardholders during April-November 2020 as a relief measure during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Common Man Impacted: The power tussle between LG and CM slows down the daily administrative activities whereby the public will have to bear the cost of not getting proper services which he is entitled to.
  • Need for Centre’s Intervention: With the near breakdown of communication between the Lt Governor and the Chief Minister, the Centre should step in, in the interest of smooth administration.

What are the powers of LG of Puducherry?

  • Government of Union Territories Act, 1963 provides for a Legislative Assembly of Pondicherry, with a Council of Ministers to govern the “Union Territory of Pondicherry”. It states that the UT will be administered by the President of India through an Administrator (LG). It also has following provisions.
  • Extent of legislative power – MLAs “may make laws for the whole or any part of the Union Territory with respect to any of the matters enumerated in the State List or the Concurrent List”.
  • Council of Ministers – The Council of Ministers headed by a Chief Minister will “aid and advise the Administrator in the exercise of his functions in relation to matters with respect to which the Legislative Assembly of the Union Territory has power to make laws”.
  • Discretion of LG: Section 44 of the Union Territories Act, 1963, allows the LG to “act in his discretion” in the matter of law-making, even though the Council of Ministers has the task of aiding and advising him.
  • In case of a difference of opinion between the LG and his Ministers on any matter, the Administrator is bound to refer it to the President for a decision and act according to the decision given by the President. 
  • However, the Administrator can also claim that the matter is urgent, and take immediate action as he deems necessary.
  • Relation with CoM: The manner in which the LG functions vis-à-vis the elected government (Council of Ministers) is also spelt out in the Rules of Business of the Government of Pondicherry, 1963, issued on June 22, 1963.
  • The Administrator exercises powers regulating the conditions of service of persons serving in the UT government, in consultation with the Chief Minister.
  • In case the LG has a difference of opinion with the Chief Minister, he can refer the matter to the central government for the decision of the President.

Value Addition

  • Both Delhi and Puducherry has an elected legislature and government but the powers of the LG of Puducherry are different from the ones of the LG of Delhi.
  • The LG of Delhi has “Executive Functions” that allow him to exercise his powers in matters connected to public order, police and land “in consultation with the Chief Minister, if it is so provided under any order issued by the President under Article 239 of the Constitution”.
  • While the LG of Delhi is also guided by the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991, and the Transaction of Business of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Rules, 1993, the LG of Puducherry is guided mostly by the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963.
  • Articles 239 and 239AA of the Constitution, as well as the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991, clearly underline that Delhi is a UT, where the Centre, whose eyes and ears are the LG, has a much more prominent role than in Puducherry.
  • Under the constitutional scheme, the Delhi Assembly has the power to legislate on all subjects except law and order and land.
  • However, the Puducherry Assembly can legislate on any issue under the Concurrent and State Lists. If the law is in conflict with a law passed by Parliament, the law passed by Parliament prevails.
  • Simply put, the LG of Delhi enjoys greater powers than the LG of Puducherry.

INTERNATIONAL/ SECURITY

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate. 
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

Reclaiming SAARC from the ashes of 2020

Context: Thirty-six years after it first began, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), appears to be all but dead in the water. 

  • Suspended in action: The year 2020 marked the sixth year since the leaders of the eight nations that make up SAARC were able to meet. 
  • Impact of weakening SAARC: India-Pakistan issues have impacted other meetings of SAARC as well, making it easier for member countries, as well as international agencies to deal with South Asia as a fragmented group rather than a collective
  • India’s Stand on not attending SAARC: PM Modi on the SAARC charter day on December 8, made it clear that India’s position on cross-border terrorism from Pakistan that led India to refuse to attend the SAARC summit in 2016 in Islamabad, is still in place.

Why India needs to rethink its position on SAARC?

  • Pakistan’s undue influence: India’s problems with Pakistan on terrorism, territorial claims and on its role in blocking SAARC initiatives on connectivity and trade are well known. Even so, India’s refusal to allow Pakistan to host the SAARC summit because of those problems is akin to giving Pakistan a ‘veto’ over the entire SAARC process. 
  • Contradictory actions by India: PM Modi and cabinet ministers continued to attend Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meetings along with their Pakistani counterparts, including the SCO Heads of Government meeting in November where New Delhi even invited Pakistan PM Imran Khan (he deputed another official).
  • India’s dealing with other neighbours: While China’s incursions in Ladakh and the Galwan killings constituted the larger concern in the year, India did not decline to attend meetings with the Chinese leadership at the SCO, RIC trilateral, the G-20 and others. No concerns over territorial claims stopped the Indian government from engaging with Nepal either, despite Mr. K.P. Sharma Oli’s decision to change Nepal’s map and Constitution to include Indian territories.
  • Pandemic induced challenges: Reviving SAARC is crucial to countering the common challenges brought about by the pandemic. South Asia’s unique experience with Pandemic, Vaccine distribution challenges, economic recovery especially tourism sector revival are some challenges that can be dealt effectively by close coordination by member countries
  • Suitable time for regional approach: While it will be impossible for countries to cut themselves off from the global market entirely, regional initiatives will become the “Goldilocks option” (not too hot and not too cold), or the happy medium between globalisation and hyper-nationalism. 
  • Countermeasure to China: In dealing with the challenge from China too, both at India’s borders and in its neighbourhood, a unified South Asian platform remains India’s most potent countermeasure. Experts suggest that it is only a matter of time before Beijing holds a meeting of all SAARC countries (minus India and Bhutan), for they are all part of the BRI, and even that they will be invited to join RCEP, which India declined.
  • Original logic of SAARC still holds true: Despite the despondency, the rationale for SAARC existence remains intact: while history and political grievances may be perceived differently, geography is reality. 

Conclusion

New Delhi must find its own prism with which to view its South Asian neighbourhood as it should be: a unit that has a common future, and as a force-multiplier for India’s ambitions on the global stage.


(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 the Khadi and Village Industries Commission: 

  1. It is an autonomous body. 
  2. It functions under the ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.

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 regarding North East Venture Fund: 

  1. It is the only venture fund of the northeast. 
  2. The initial Corpus is of Rs. 1000 crores.

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 Sea-vigil 2021 will be conducted between which of the following countries? 

  1. India and Japan 
  2. India and Russia 
  3. India and Afghanistan 
  4. None of the above

Q.4 Bureau of Energy Efficiency is a statutory body under which of the following Ministry? 

  1. Ministry of Power 
  2. Ministry of Trade and Commerce 
  3. Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate change 
  4. Ministry of Finance

ANSWERS FOR 12th January 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 B
3 A

Must Read

About criticism of vaccine trial:

The Hindu

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The Hindu

About criticism of Supreme Court’s dealing of farmers protest:

The Indian Express

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