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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 12th February 2021

  • IASbaba
  • February 12, 2021
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Modifications in Pre And Post Matric Scholarship Schemes

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – II – Education; Welfare schemes

In news

  • Lok Sabha was informed about the Modifications in Pre and Post Matric Scholarship Schemes for SCs and OBCs.
  • Ministry: Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment

Important changes introduced in the scheme 

  • Pre-Matric Scholarship for SC students:
    • The funding pattern – fixed sharing pattern of 60:40 between Centre and the States (90:10 in case of North Eastern States) or Notional Allocation whichever is lower.
    • The Annual Family Income limit increased from Rs. 2 lakh to Rs 2.5 lakh. 
    • Rates of maintenance allowances were also increased.
  • Post-Matric Scholarship for SC students
    • It shall continue from 2020-21 to 2025-26
    • Funding pattern – sharing ratio of 60:40 between the Centre and the States (90:10 in case of NE States)
  • Pre-Matric Scholarship for OBCs and Post Matric Scholarship for OBCs
    • Pre-Matric Scholarship increased from Rs.1 lakh to Rs. 2.5 lakh per annum.
    • Post Matric Scholarship increased from Rs.1.5 lakh to Rs.2.5 lakh per annum.

Effects of Excessive Use Of Fertilizer

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- II – Policies and Interventions & GS – III – Environment

In news

  • Investigations carried out over five decades have indicated that continuous use of nitrogenous fertilizer alone had harmful effects on soil health and crop productivity. 
  • Micronutrients were also becoming deficient. 

Key takeaways 

Steps taken by the government

  • National Mission on Soil Health Card launched to promote soil test based balanced and judicious fertilizer application
  • Parampragat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) promotes organic farming. 
  • Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North East Region (MOVCD-NER) also promotes organic farming. 
  • Farmers being educated on all these aspects through Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), and agricultural universities. 

Related articles: 


National Action Plan for Migrant Workers

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

In news

  • NITI Aayog has constituted a sub-group to prepare a National Action Plan for Migrant Workers.

Key takeaways 

  • Composition: Members from various Ministries, subject experts, NGOs, and civil society organisations. 
  • Objective: To prepare a tangible action plan to address issues related to migrant workers.

Important value additions 

OSH Code

  • Inter-state Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 was subsumed in the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 (OSH Code) 
  • The Code was notified in September 2020 
  • Provision of OSH Code: Decent working conditions, minimum wages, grievances redressal mechanisms, protection from abuse and exploitation, enhancement of skills, and social security.
  • Target: All categories of organised and unorganised workers including Migrant workers.
  • Applicability: Every establishment in which 10 or more inter-state migrant workers are employed or were employed on any day of the preceding 12 months.

World Unani Day

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- II – Health 

In news

  • World Unani Day was celebrated on February 11, 2021.
  • Objective: To spread awareness about health care delivery through the Unani system of medicine through its preventive and curative philosophy.

Important value additions 

  • World Unani Day is celebrated every year to mark the birth anniversary of Hakim Ajmal Khan.
  • Principles of Unani System: It postulates the presence of four humor in the body: dam (blood), balgham (phlegm), safra (yellow bile) and sauda (black bile).
  • The quality and quantity of four humor affect the state of health and disease in the body.
  • Origin: Greece. 
  • In India, it was introduced by Arabs and Persians sometime around the 11th century.

India’s First CNG Tractor to be launched

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- III – Environment; Infrastructure; Agriculture

In news

  • India’s first-ever diesel Tractor, converted to CNG, will be formally launched on February 12, 2021.
  • Ministry: Ministry for Road Transport and Highways

Key takeaways

  • The conversion will help farmers increase their income, by lowering costs, and help to create job opportunities in rural India.
  • It is also reported that the retrofitted tractor produces more power/equal in comparison to Diesel-run engine.
  • Overall emissions are reduced by 70% as compared to Diesel.
  • It will help farmers to save up to 50% on the fuel cost.

Miscellaneous

International Day Of Women & Young Girls In Science

  • International Day of Women & Young Girls in Science was recently celebrated by launching an online campaign.

  • Ministry: Ministry of Women & Child Development in association with Ministry of Education and Ministry of Electronics and Information technology 
  • Objective: (1) To celebrate women who have carved a niche for themselves in the field of STEM; (2) To encourage young girls who aspire to excel in STEM and contribute towards nation building; (3) To promote full and equal access to participation in science for women and girls
  • It is observed after the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly on 22 December 2015.
  • The day recognises the critical role women and girls play in science and technology.

(Mains Focus)


ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic:

  • GS-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment; Infrastructure: Ports
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020

Context: Parliament has passed landmark Major Port Authorities Bill,2020 

The Bill seeks to provide for regulation, operation and planning of major ports in India and provide greater autonomy to these ports.  It seeks to replace the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963.  

Key features of the Bill include:

  • Application of Act: The Bill will apply to 12 major ports — Deendayal (erstwhile Kandla), Mumbai, JNPT, Marmugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Kamarajar (earlier Ennore), V O Chidambarnar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia). These together had handled 705 million tonnes (MT) of cargo in 2019-20.
  • Major Port Authorities Board: The Bill provides for the creation of a Board of Major Port Authority for each major port.  These Boards will replace the existing Port Trusts.
  • Composition of Board: It will comprise of a Chairperson and a deputy Chairperson, both of whom will be appointed by the central government on the recommendation of a selection committee. Board will include one member each from state government, Railway & Defence Ministry and Customs department. Additionally, 2-4 independent members and two members representing interest of employees of Port authority will be part of Board.
  • Powers of the Port Board: The Bill allows the Board to use its property, assets and funds as deemed fit for the development of the major port. To meet its capital and working expenditure requirements, the Board may raise loans from banks, financial institutions and from abroad.
  • Autonomy to Board: They have been delegated full powers to enter into contracts, planning and development, fixing of tariff except in national interest, security and emergency arising out of inaction and default. In the present MPT Act, 1963 prior approval of the Central Government was required in 22 instances.
  • Push to Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects:  The Bill defines PPP projects as projects taken up through a concession contract by the Board.  For such projects, the Board may fix the tariff for the initial bidding purposes but the appointed concessionaire will be free to fix the actual tariffs based on market conditions
  • Corporate Social Responsibility: The Bill provides that the Board may use its funds for providing social benefits. This includes development of infrastructure in areas such as education, health, housing, and skill development.   
  • Adjudicatory Board: The Bill provides for the constitution of an Adjudicatory Board by the central government.  This Board will replace the existing Tariff Authority for Major Ports(TAMP) constituted under the 1963 Act. This Board look into disputes between ports and PPP concessionaires and also reviews stressed PPP projects

Significance of the Bill

  • Similar to Global Institutional Structure: It modernises the institutional structure of these ports. The bill reorients the governance model in central ports to landlord port model in line with the successful global practice
  • Decentralisation: The bill aims at decentralizing decision making and to infuse professionalism in governance of major ports. 
  • Transparency: It imparts faster and transparent decision making benefiting the stakeholders and better project execution capability. 
  • Compact Board: A simplified composition of the Board of Port Authority will comprise of 11 to 13 Members representing various interests (earlier 17 to 19 Members). A compact Board with professional independent Members will strengthen decision making and strategic planning.
  • Boost to Port Sector: This will empower the Major Ports to perform with greater efficiency on account of full autonomy in decision making which in turn promotes the expansion of port infrastructure and facilitate trade and commerce. It ensures optimum utilisation of the coastal line in the country through competitive ports.
  • Not Privatisation: The new Act is not intended to privatise major ports but aimed at boosting their decision-making powers in order to compete with private ports. It is seen as the first step in the corporatisation of Ports and then enabling them to list on stock exchange

Connecting the dots:

  • Corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board

ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic:

  • GS-3: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

On cryptocurrencies and regulation

Context: Government has proposed bringing in a law on cryptocurrencies so as to put an end to the existing ambiguity over the legality of these currencies in India. 

What is cryptocurrency?

  • A cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that is secured by cryptography, which makes it nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend. 
  • Many cryptocurrencies are decentralized networks based on blockchain technology—a distributed ledger enforced by a disparate network of computers

Regulation of Cryptocurrencies

  • The government has, from time to time, suggested that it does not consider cryptocurrencies to be legal tender. 
  • The disapproval of cryptocurrencies by government is due to fact that such currencies are highly volatile, used for illicit Internet transactions, and wholly outside the ambit of the state.
  • In 2018, the RBI did send a circular to banks directing them not to provide services for those trading in cryptocurrencies. 
  • Those challenging the RBI Circular in Supreme Court had argued that these were commodities and not currencies. Therefore, RBI did not have the jurisdiction.
  • The circular was set aside by SC, which found it to be “disproportionate”.
  • Regulatory bodies like RBI and Sebi etc also don’t have a legal framework to directly regulate cryptocurrencies as they are neither currencies nor assets or securities or commodities issued by an identifiable user

Challenges

  • This legal ambivalence has not, however, been able to prevent cryptocurrencies from having a growing user base in India. 
  • Their attraction may only grow now, given that the most well-known of them as also the most valuable, Bitcoin, has hit new peaks in price and is gaining influential followers such as Tesla founder Elon Musk. 
  • Cryptocurrency exchanges, which have sprung up, are reportedly lobbying with the government to make sure these currencies are regulated rather than banned outright.

Way Forward

  • Smart regulation is preferable, as a ban on something that is based on a technology of distributed ledger cannot be implemented for all practical purposes.
  • Even in China, where cryptocurrencies have been banned and the Internet is controlled, trading in cryptocurrencies has been low but not non-existent,.
  • The government must resist the idea of a ban and push for smart regulation.

Connecting the dots:

  • Blockchain and Voting: Click Here

(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 Pre And Post Matric Scholarship Schemes for SC and OBC students come under which of the following Ministry? 

  1. Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment
  2. Ministry of Education 
  3. Ministry of Minority affairs 
  4. Ministry of Women and Child development

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 (OSH Code):

  1. The Code caters to all  categories of organised workers only. 
  2. It applies to every establishment in which 10 or more inter-state migrant workers are employed. 

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 Which of the following scheme/schemes promote organic farming? 

  1. National Mission on Soil Health Card
  2. Parampragat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY)
  3. PM-Fasal Bima Yojana
  4. Both (a) and (b) 

ANSWERS FOR 11th February 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 B
3 B
4 D

Must Read

On India’s digital services tax:

The Hindu

On disengagement at the LAC:

The Hindu

About how India’s farm crisis is of middle peasant and not of chhota Kisan:

The Indian Express

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