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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 6th January 2021

  • IASbaba
  • January 6, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Swasth Vayu may be used on Covid-19 patients 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Health & GS-III – Sci & Tech

In news 

  • The expert committee constituted by Director General of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, has concluded that SwasthVayu may be used on Covid-19 patients who require oxygen supplementation up to 35%.

Key takeaways 

  • Indigenously designed and developed by: Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) – National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) 
  • Objective: To address the shortages of ventilators in the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic
  • It is the non-invasive bi-level positive airway pressure ventilator. 
  • It is a microcontroller based precise closed-loop adaptive control system with a built-in biocompatible “3D printed manifold and coupler” with HEPA filter (Highly Efficient Particulate Air Filter).
  • It has features like CPAP, Bi-Timed, Spontaneous / AUTO modes with provision to connect Oxygen concentrator or Enrichment unit externally.
  • CSIR-NAL has commercialized this technology with six private companies.

Sagarmala Seaplane Services (SSPS)

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Policies an interventiions & GS-III – Infrastructure

In news 

  • Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways is initiating the ambitious Project of Sagarmala Seaplane Services (SSPS) with potential airline operators.

Key takeaways 

  • Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways is initiating the process of commencing operations of the Seaplane services, on the select routes, under a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) framework through prospective airline operators.
  • The project execution and implementation would be through Sagarmala Development Company Ltd (SDCL), which is under the administrative control of the Ministry.
  • Several destinations are envisaged for seaplane operations. 
  • The proposed Origin-Destination pairs under Hub and Spoke model include various islands of Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep, Guwahati Riverfront & Umranso Reservoir in Assam, Yamuna Riverfront / Delhi (as Hub) to Ayodhaya etc.
  • One such Seaplane Service is already in operation between Kevadia and Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister on 31st October 2020.
  • To run more such services in the coastal areas or proximity to water bodies, SDCL is keen to associate with the interested scheduled / non-scheduled airline operators.

Vietnam Imports Rice from India for the first time 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – International relations; GS-III – Trade

In news 

  • Vietnam has started buying rice from India for the first time in decades after its local prices jumped to their highest in nine years amid limited domestic supplies.

Key takeaways 

  • The purchases underscore tightening supplies in Asia, which could lift rice prices in 2021. 
  • It could even force traditional buyers of rice from Thailand and Vietnam to switch to India which is the world’s biggest exporter of the Rice.
  • Dwindling supplies and continued Philippine buying have lifted Vietnamese rice export prices to a fresh nine-year high. 
  • The reducing supplies will increase concerns about food insecurity with sub-Saharan Africa among the areas where import demand has been increasing partly due to population growth.
  • global pandemic has also prompted Vietnam and other countries to stockpile rice

Do you know? 

  • In 2020 India exported a record 14 million tonnes of rice. 
  • In December, the world’s biggest rice importer China started buying Indian rice for the first time in at least three decades due to tightening supplies from Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam and an offer of sharply discounted prices.
  • Vietnam is the world’s third biggest exporter of rice. 

2020 Was 8th Warmest Year Since 1901

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Climate

In news 

  • A statement on Climate of India during 2020 was recently released by India Meteorological Department (IMD). 
  • According to it, the year 2020 was the eighth warmest since 1901 but it was substantially lower than the highest warming observed in 2016. 

Key takeaways 

  • The past two decades – 2001-2010 and 2011-2020 – were also the warmest decades on record with anomalies of 0.23 degree Celsius and 0.34 degree Celsius respectively, indicating the overall rising temperature.
  • 12 out of the 15 warmest years since 1901 were during the past 15 years itself – between 2006 and 2020.
  • India’s average annual mean temperature during 1901-2020 showed an increasing trend of 0.62 degree Celsius per 100 years. 
  • It also showed significant increasing trend in maximum temperature (0.99 degree C/100 years) and relatively lower increasing trend (0.24 degree C/100 years) in minimum temperature.
  • During 2020, annual mean land surface air temperature averaged was 0.29 degree Celsius above normal (based on the data of 1981-2010).
  • The five warmest years on record in order were: 2016, 2009, 2017, 2010, and 2015.
  • The 2020 Northeast monsoon season (October-December) rainfall over the country as a whole was normal (101% of LPA).

Place in news: IIM Sambalpur

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Education 

In news 

  • Indian Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of the permanent campus of IIM Sambalpur recently. 

Important value additions 

 Sambalpur

  • Sambalpur is a city in Odisha, located on the banks of river Mahanadi.
  • Sambalpur is one of the ancient places of India, with recorded settlements in the prehistoric age.
  • It is known for Sambalpuri Saree which is  known for their incorporation of traditional motifs like shankha (shell), chakra (wheel), phula (flower). It is made from fabric woven on a hand-loom.
  • Hirakud Dam, the longest earthen dam in the world and the largest artificial lake of Asia, is at Sambalpur.
  • Sambalpur derives its name from the Goddess Samalei who is regarded as the reigning deity of the region.

Cabinet approves signing of Memorandum of Cooperation between India and Japan on Partnership in “Specified Skilled Worker”

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – International relations

In news 

  • Cabinet recently approved signing of Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) between India and Japan on Partnership in “Specified Skilled Worker”. 

Key takeaways 

  • The present MoC would set an institutional mechanism for partnership and cooperation between India and Japan on sending and accepting skilled Indian workers, who have qualified the required skill and Japanese language test, to work in fourteen specified sectors in Japan. 
  • These Indian workers would be granted a new status of residence of “Specified Skilled Worker” by the Government of Japan.
  • Under this MOC, a Joint Working Group will be set up to follow up its implementation. 
  •  MOC would enhance people-to -people contacts, foster mobility of workers and skilled professionals from India to Japan.
  • Some of these 14 sectors are: Nursing care; Building cleaning; Material Processing industry; Industrial machinery manufacturing industry; Shipbuilding and ship-related industry; Automobile maintenance; Aviation; Agriculture; Fisheries; Food and beverages manufacturing industry and Food service industry  

Status of Avian Influenza in the country

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Health

In news 

  • After confirmation of positive samples from ICAR-NIHSAD, Avian Influenza has been reported from the following States (at 12 epicentre): (1) Rajasthan(crow); (2) Madhya Pradesh(crow); (3) Himachal Pradesh (migratory birds); (4) Kerala (poultry-duck) 
  • Measures suggested: (1) Strengthening the biosecurity of poultry farms; (2) disinfection of affected areas; (3) proper disposal of dead birds/carcasses; (4) timely collection and submission of samples for confirmation and further surveillance, etc. 
  • Coordination with forest department for reporting any unusual mortality of birds was also suggested to the States.
  • The other states are requested to keep a vigil on any unusual mortality amongst birds and to report immediately to take necessary measures.

Important value additions 

Avian Influenza (AI)

  • Caused by: Avian (bird) influenza (flu) Type A viruses. 
  • These viruses occur naturally among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species. 
  • Avian flu viruses do not normally infect humans. 
  • Avian Influenza (AI) viruses have been circulating worldwide for centuries with four known major outbreaks recorded in the last century. 
  • India notified the first outbreak of avian influenza in 2006.  
  • Infection in humans is not yet reported in India though the disease is zoonotic.
  • There is no direct evidence that AI viruses can be transmitted to humans via the consumption of contaminated poultry products. 
  • Implementing management practices that incorporate bio security principles, personal hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection protocols are effective means of controlling the spread of the AI viruses.
  • In India, the disease spreads mainly by migratory birds coming into India during winter months i.e. from September – October to February – March. 
  • The secondary spread by human handling (through fomites) may also be possible. 

(Mains Focus)


SOCIETY/ ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 1,2,3:

  • Social Empowerment
  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

Wages for Housework

Context: In the context of the forthcoming State Assembly election in Tamil Nadu, Political Party led by veteran actor Kamal Haasan, has made an eye-catching election promise  to recognise housework as a salaried profession and assured payment to homemakers for their work.

The promise bears close examination as it flags off an important issue and one that has had an interesting, if chequered significance in the history of women’s movements.

Origin of the demand for Wages for housework

  • A report by International Labour Organization in 2018 shows that, globally, women perform 76.2% of total hours of unpaid care work, more than three times as much as men. In Asia and the Pacific, this figure rises to 80%.
  • The demand for ‘wages for housework’ arose in the context of struggle and consciousness-raising associated with the Second Wave of the women’s movement in North America and Europe (During 1970s)
  • The International Wages for Housework Campaign started in Italy in 1972 under Selma James. It was based on the premise that housework was the basis of industrial work and should be duly paid for. The movement further spread to Britain and America.
  • Alongside other demands for social and political equality, women’s rights campaigners made visible and also politicised women’s everyday experience of housework and child care in the ‘private’ realm of the household. 
  • For leading women’s rights activists of the 1960s and 1970s, it was important to bust the myth that women’s work at home was a personal service with no links to capitalist production. 

What are the in favour of Wages for Housework?

  • More Accurate National Income Accounting: Regardless of the hours of the day women put in to this domestic labour, the work is often dismissed as a set of daily chores (doesn’t generate products and services for the market). As a result, it is not accounted for in either the GDP or the employment metrics. Neglecting to include it would thus mean underestimating GDP of the economy.
  • Makes Woman Autonomous: Housework had come to define the very nature of a woman which disallowed woman from seeing it as ‘real work’ or as a social contract.  For the advocates of ‘wages for housework’, the wage that the state ought to pay women would make them autonomous of the men on whom they were dependent. 
  • Housework has Capitalistic Production Link: The woman working at home produced ‘the living human being — the labourer himself.’ By providing free services in the home, women made possible the survival of working-class households at subsistence-level wages, with obvious benefits for industry and capital
  • Redefines the role of Women: More fundamentally, the very demand for a wage was a repudiation of housework as an expression of women’s nature. It was a revolt against the assigned social role of women. Therein lay the radical nature of the demand for wages, not in the money itself.
  • Welfare of large Segment of Population: According to the Census in 2011, people engaged in household duties have been treated as non-workers, even when 159.9 million women stated that “household work” was their main occupation.
  • Recognition as first step to Equality: Recognition is one of the most central processes in empowerment. It gives them a claim to equality within the patriarchal Indian household that only recognises the work done by men.
  • It moves us towards a more holistic understanding of labour: Labour isn’t purely tied to the exchange value of a service on the market, and recognises an extremely intimate form of labour that has proved essential to keeping the unit of the family intact and functional
  • Gender Justice: Once recognised as work, this arena of unpaid domestic labour that is dominated almost entirely by women can become one where women can demand some degree of parity in terms of the time and energy expended on it.
  • Helps Control Domestic Violence: In 2014, Giulia Bongiorno, an Italian lawyer and ex-parliamentarian, proposed that homemakers should be paid a salary as a way of addressing the debate on domestic violence. She argued that most women continue in an abusive relationship because they don’t have a way out, as they are financially dependent on their partner.

Challenges

  • Ghettoise Women: It is argued by some that wages for housework would only imprison women further within the household, increase their social isolation and dissuade men from sharing housework.
  • Misled Goal of Feminist Movement: Others argue that the goal of the women’s movement must be, to not ask for wages, but to free women from the daily drudgery of routine domestic chores and enable them to participate fully in all spheres of social life, including paid employment outside the household.
  • Puts additional stress on the economy: There is still debates on who would pay for the housework done by women, if it is to be done by State then this will put additional fiscal burden on government finances.

Conclusion

Needless to say, women constitute almost half the population and their needs and issues have to be addressed. A homemaker doesn’t need any favours. She is already contributing to the economy. A salary for her work at home would be a tool towards her empowerment, give her a life of dignity.


JUDICIARY / GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2,3:

  • Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions 
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Supreme Court on Central Vista Project

Context: The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave its nod to the Central Vista redevelopment project in a 2:1 verdict.

A Brief Background

  • The project aims to renovate and redevelop 86 acres of land in Lutyens’s Delhi, in which the landmark structures of the Indian government, including Parliament House, Rashtrapati Bhavan, India Gate, North Block and South Block, etc. stand.
  • A batch of petitions had challenged the plan for demolition of old structures and new construction, including a brand new Parliament, on approximately 86 acres of land in the national capital.

What was under challenge, and what has the court held?

  • Procedures Adopted: Broadly, the change in land use and the manner and procedure adopted for making the changes in the Central Vista precincts were challenged. 
  • Clearances given: The petitioners argued that there were irregularities in the process that involved approval of design, clearance on monetary allocations and the tendering processes, and other regulatory clearances on environment and from local municipal bodies.
  • Heritage Approval: The petitioners had argued that the government failed to consult Heritage Conservation Committee, which is an expert body in matters involving heritage structures and ought to have been consulted from the stage of conception of the project, even before the design is agreed upon
  • Hasty Decision: The petitioners highlighted that the whole process involving multiple local bodies was completed in just three months — between December 2019 and March 2020 — during which public consultation was held, objections were invited, considered and overruled.

How was the Master Plan modified?

  • The central government and the Delhi Development Authority are given the power to modify the Master Plan of Delhi that was notified in 2007 to guide the direction of development of the National Capital Territory until 2021. 
  • This was modified in March 2020 to include the Central Vista project. Sections of land are assigned for specific purposes such as recreation, government, public and semi-public, which were modified to accommodate the Central Vista project.

How has the court ruled on this?

  • In its 2:1 verdict, the court has held that there are no infirmities in the approvals granted. 
  • Justices A M Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari held that the central government’s change of land use for the project in the Master Plan of Delhi 2021 is also a lawful exercise of its powers.
  • The court said the change is a “a case of minor modification” and “it is incomprehensible as to how the proposed changes could be termed as substantial enough to alter the basic identity of the plan
  • The court’s view is based on the understanding that the changes will have to be looked at keeping in mind the whole plan and not just the zones in which the changes will be effected. 
  • For example, the proposed new Parliament is set to come up in Plot Number 2 of the Central Vista precincts which is currently a park. The land use for the plot was changed from recreation to government use.
  • However, the court took the view that since the park has anyway been closed to the public for security reasons, the change in land use will not have any actual reduction of area available for public use. 
  • The ruling also noted that to compensate this change, the proposed change in land use provides for recreational space at three different locations in the neighbourhood.
  • The court held that “taking legitimate steps/actions swiftly and as per the timelines because of the nature of the proposal cannot be termed as having been done in haste”.

What does the dissenting opinion say?

  • Justice Sanjeev Khanna, the third judge on the Bench, penned a note of dissent. His disagreement from the majority verdict primarily relates to the issue of change in land use in the Master Plan of Delhi.
  • Justice Khanna was of the view that the change in land use must be struck down on both procedural and substantial grounds
  • On procedure, the judge noted that it was initiated without a consultation process. 
  • He held that the central government did not give adequate thought to the concerns of the public and not enough time for those who raised objections to make their case. He said that the permissions given by the Central Vista Committee appear pre-determined.
  • Justice Khanna also disagreed with the majority view that the modification was substantial and not a “minor change”.

Critical Analysis

  • Court limited to Legality of case: The Supreme Court’s approval has cleared the decks for the Union government’s ambitious Central Vista project. The court has been sober and circumspect in limiting itself to the legality of the case.
  • Sanctity of participative processes: Quoting the Supreme Court’s 2019 verdict in Hanuman Laxman Aroskar v Union of India, Dissenting Judge Justice Khanna notes, “Public consultation is not a mere formality… Decisions which affect lives of people must factor in their concerns”
  • Transparency in public institutions: “The primary grievance of the petitioners,” the dissenting note points out, is “the lack of information and details”. Unless complete and relevant information is placed in public domain, the public would be ill-equipped to engage with the Government in a meaningful manner

(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 Avian Influenza:

  1. It is caused by Avian influenza Type A viruses.
  2. AI viruses can be transmitted to humans via the consumption of contaminated poultry products. 

Which of the above is or are correct? 

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

Q.2 Which among the following region is called as rust belt of Japan?

  1. Shikoku 
  2. Honsh
  3. Kyushu
  4. Chubu

Q.3 Hirakud Dam, the longest earthen dam in the world, is located at which of the following? 

  1. Puri
  2. Sambalpur 
  3. Kangra
  4. Nagpur

Q.4 Recently, a statement on Climate of India during 2020 was recently released by India Meteorological Department (IMD). Consider the following statements regarding the same:

  1. The 2020 Northeast monsoon season rainfall over India as a whole was less than normal. 
  2. 2020 was the warmest year since 1901.

Which of the above is or are correct? 

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

ANSWERS FOR 5th January 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 D
3 B
4 D

Must Read

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