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

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


‘Per Drop More Crop’

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

In news 

  • The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW) is implementing a Centrally Sponsored Scheme of ‘Per Drop More Crop’ component of ‘Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY-PDMC)’ from 2015-16 in all the States of the country.

Key takeaways

  • It focuses on enhancing water use efficiency at farm level through Micro Irrigation viz. Drip and Sprinkler irrigation systems.
  • Besides promoting Micro Irrigation, this component also supports micro level water storage or water conservation/management activities to supplement source creation for Micro Irrigation.
  • Efforts are being made to converge ‘Per Drop More Crop’ Scheme with Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY), Namami Gange Districts, Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Surakshaevem Utthan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM), Water Harvesting Structures through Watershed Development component of PMKSY to propagate micro irrigation intensively
  • With a view to provide impetus to the Micro Irrigation in the country, the Micro Irrigation Fund (MIF) with a corpus of Rs. 5000 Crore was created with NABARD during 2018-19. 
  • The Government provides 3% interest subvention on loans extended to State Govt. under MIF.

Important value additions 

Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) 

  • PMKSY is a centrally sponsored scheme
  • Launched in: 2015 
  • Motto: Har Khet Ko Paani
  • Objectives: (1) To expand cultivated areas with assured irrigation, reduce wastage of water and improve water use efficiency; (2) To create protective irrigation by harnessing rainwater at micro level; (3) To enhance recharge of aquifers 

Related articles:

  • Mobile Application for Geo Tagging launched by Ministry of Jal Shakti: Click here

The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) Defence Ministers’ Conclave

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- III – Defence and Security

In news 

  • The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) Defence Ministers’ Conclave began with a keynote address from the Union Defence minister on 4th February on the sidelines of Aero India 2021 in Bengaluru.

Key takeaways 

  • As the largest nation in the IOR region with a vast coastline of 7500 Kms, India has an active role to play for peaceful and prosperous co-existence of all countries.
  • SAGAR – Security and Growth for All in the Region is the theme of Indian Ocean Policy as outlined by Indian Prime Minister in 2015.
  • India’s approach and vision to tackle global challenges was highlighted by Prime Minister’s dynamic five ‘S’ vision – Samman (Respect), Samvaad (Dialogue), Sahyog (Cooperation), Shanti (Peace) and Samriddhi (Prosperity).

Related articles:


Andhra Pradesh becomes second State to undertake power sector reforms

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- III – Infrastructure

In news 

  • Andhra Pradesh has become the second State to undertake the power sector reforms stipulated by the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance.

Key takeaways 

  • As part of the reforms, the State has started Direct Benefit transfer (DBT) of electricity subsidy to farmers with effect from September, 2020.
  • Thus, the State has successfully implemented one out of the three stipulated reforms in the power sector.
  • Besides Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh has also undertaken reforms in the power sector.

Important value additions 

  • As per the guidelines issued by the Department of Expenditure, the States undertaking reforms in power sector are granted permission to raise additional financial resources of up to 0.25 percent of the GSDP.
  • This is linked to a set of 3 reforms in the sector:
    1. 0.05 % of GSDP for reduction in Aggregate Technical & Commercial losses in the State as per prescribed targets.
    2. Another 0.05 % of GSDP is allowed for reduction in the gap between Average Cost of Supply and Average Revenue Realisation (ACS-ARR gap) in the State as per prescribed targets.
    3. Finally, 0.15 % of GSDP of the State on introduction of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) to all farmers in the State in lieu of free/ subsidised electricity. For this, the State government has to frame a scheme for transfer of cash and implement the scheme in at least one district by 31st December, 2020.

Ropeways And Alternate Mobility Solutions

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- III – Infrastructure

In news 

  • The Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways will, from now on, also look after the development of Ropeways and Alternate Mobility Solutions.

Key takeaways 

  • The Ministry will also look after the construction, research, and policy in this area. 
  • Formulation of institutional, financial, and regulatory framework for the technology will also fall under the ambit of this move.
  • The move is expected to give a boost to the sector, by setting up a regulatory regime, and facilitating research and new technology to come into this sector.
  • An amendment to the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 has been notified, to enable this step.

The important benefits of this step could be:

  • Last mile connectivity for remote locations
  • Reducing congestion on mainstream roads
  • Chance to develop world-class ropeway infrastructure
  • Setting up of an organised and dedicated rope-way and alternative mobility solutions industry
  • New technology, like CPT – Cable Propelled Transit coming to the sector
  • Setting safety norms for unregulated ropeways

Startup India Seed Fund Scheme

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- III – Start-ups, Innovation 

In news 

  • Startup India Seed Fund Scheme (SISFS) has been approved for the period of next four years starting from 2021-22. 

Key takeaways 

  • It will be implemented with ar effect from 1st April 2021. 
  • Aim: To provide financial assistance to startups for proof of concept, prototype development, product trials, market entry and commercialization. 
  • Rs. 945 Crore corpus will be divided over the next 4 years for providing seed funding to eligible startups through eligible incubators across India. 
  • The scheme is expected to support about 3600 startups.

Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) Project

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

In news 

  • A global collaboration for the world’s largest radio telescope took formal shape with the constitution of an Intergovernmental Council recently.

Key takeaways 

  • The Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) project spans two continents and involves the participation of 20 countries. 
  • The SKA is not a single telescope but will be an array of antennas strategically designed and set up in South Africa and Australia.
  • It is expected to be ready for carrying out observations towards the end of this decade.
  • Goals: Studying the universe and its evolution, the origin and evolution of cosmic magnetism, and dark energy and evolution of galaxies.
  • It is proposed to be built in two phases, with an estimated 1.8 billion euros required for phase-I, planned over the next ten years.

Do you know? 

  • Headquarter: United Kingdom 
  •  The telescope in South Africa will have 197 dishes and will be located in the Karoo region.
  • The telescope in Australia will have 1,31,072 antennas, and will be installed on the campus of the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory. 
  • India is also participating in SKAO through the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

Denmark’s Artificial Energy Island Project

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- III – Environment

In news 

  • The Danish government approved a plan to build an artificial island in the North Sea as part of its effort to switch to green energy.

Key takeaways 

  • The project is being called the largest construction project to be undertaken in Denmark’s history with an estimated cost of DKK 210 billion.
  • An energy island is based on a platform that serves as a hub for electricity generation from surrounding offshore wind farms.
  • The artificial island will be located about 80 km into the North Sea and the majority of it will be owned by the Danish government. 
  • Its primary purpose is to provide large-scale offshore wind power.
  • The idea is to connect and distribute power between Denmark and neighbouring countries.
  • The move has come after the EU announced its plans to transform its electricity system to rely mostly on renewables within a decade and to increase its offshore wind energy capacity by over 25-fold by the year 2050.

(Mains Focus)


INTERNATIONAL/ GOVERNANCE

Topic:

  • GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countrieson India’s interests, Indian diaspora
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Vaccine Diplomacy

While the leading and advanced countries have been mindlessly selfish in hoarding approved vaccines, it is the Global South countries, India and China, which have provided a ray of hope to most countries.

Vaccine Nationalism

  • The development of vaccines is a classic story of global cooperation between the North and the South. 
  • Unfortunately, the increasing nationalist tendencies of the democratic World during the pandemic have challenged the positive narrative on global cooperation.
  • When a country manages to secure doses of vaccines for its own citizens or residents and prioritises its own domestic markets before they are made available in other countries it is known as ‘vaccine nationalism’
  • The reason countries are going for pre-purchase agreements is because of the longer duration for companies to manufacture such vaccines. It is predicted that worldwide supply may not reach 1 billion doses until the first quarter of 2022

Is Vaccine Nationalism New?

  • A similar situation happened in 2009 during the H1N1 flu pandemic. 
  • Australia, the first country to come up with a vaccine, blocked exports while some of the wealthiest countries entered into pre-purchase agreements with several pharmaceutical companies. 
  • The US alone obtained the right to buy 600,000 doses.
  • It was only when the H1N1 pandemic began to recede that developed countries offered to donate vaccine doses to poorer economies. 
  • However, it must be noted that H1N1 was a milder disease and its impact was far lesser than Covid-19

Advance Purchase Contracts

  • Advance purchase contracts made by some advanced countries for potential vaccines would vaccinate their population many times.
  • The expectation that an early vaccination will bring back normalcy and a required push to economic growth fuelled many advanced countries to engage in vaccine battles.
  • Advanced countries have turned their back on the need of poor countries to access COVID-19 vaccines.

Impact of such actions

  • Inequitable Access: Such advance agreements will make the initial vaccines unaffordable and inaccessible to majority of world population apart from those living in the rich countries
  • Slows Economic Recovery: If countries with a large number of cases lag in obtaining the vaccine, the disease will continue to disrupt domestic economy and thus its ability to recover from Pandemic induced shock.
  • Deepens the Inequality: The gap between the Global North and the Global South is going to further deepen as productivity of human resources are further eroded in Global South due to their inaccessibility of vaccines & continuance of suffering from Pandemic.

India and Vaccine Diplomacy

  • India has displayed empathy to poor countries’ needs.
  • India has taken a position that a significant percentage of the approved doses will be permitted for exports. 
  • While its exports to neighbouring counties will be under grant mode, initial shipment of vaccines to least developed countries will be free of cost.
  • India is in its first phase of vaccination to cover health-care workers, exports from India are helping other countries also in initiating phase one of their vaccination programme.
  • India’s approach only reinforces the need of having coordinated global efforts in bringing COVID-19 under control.
  • This has consolidated India’s name as the world’s pharmacy.
  • It has further enhanced the Soft Power of India and generated goodwill among these developing & least developed countries.
  • This helps dispel the perception amongst neighbourhood that India is hegemonic and a “Big Brother”. Instead it shows that India is a “Responsible Power”

China and Vaccine Diplomacy

  • With the coronavirus largely stamped out at home, China could sell more of its vaccines abroad. 
  • Vaccines “will be made a global public good,” Xi promised the World Health Assembly in May 2020.
  • “vaccine diplomacy” has become a tool to assuage some of the anger over China’s missteps, helping shore up its global standing at a time when it has been under pressure from the United States and others.
  • China’s efficiency at home has not translated into an easy triumph abroad. Chinese vaccines have lower efficacy rates. 
  • Officials in Brazil and Turkey have complained about delays. Still, many countries who have signed up for them have acknowledged that they could not afford to wait months for those made by the Americans or Europeans

COVAX 

  • The COVAX project is a global risk-sharing mechanism for pooled procurement and fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, an ambitious programme based on funding from high and middle-income countries.
  • COVAX is a unique case of global cooperation and a strategic shift to enhance global development outcomes.

ETHICS CASE STUDY

Topic:

  • GS-4: Ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; Corporate Governance

You are appointed as senior sales executive of a ABC consultancy firm. The firm is one of the biggest player in the sector and has high handed connections with the Politicians of the country. In your previous firm you were known for taking up challenging issues and resolving them amidst opposition from various quarters. It was this attitude that made ABC company to recruit you into their firm with hefty pay check. After few months in new firm, you are summoned by the top management and given a challenging project of turbocharging drug sales of a Pharma Company. 

After initial study of the project, you realize that the drug which is used as a pain killer can also cause addiction and is being diverted for illegal activities. There is also debate raging amongst scientific community and regulatory authorities about the addictive nature of such class of drugs and the need to strictly regulate them. 

You have innovative ideas about boosting sales of drug by aggressive emotional marketing and collaborating with doctors. However, you also know that it borders on unethical behaviour. What would you do at this juncture? Analyse the ethical issues involved in this case study.

Interesting Fact: Mc Kinsey was fined $600 million for its role in exacerbating the opioid crisis in the USA by working with Purdue Pharma to boost sales of an addictive pain killer drug.


(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 ‘Per Drop More Crop’:

  1. It is a component of ‘Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana.
  2. It focuses on enhancing water use efficiency at farm level through Micro Irrigation 

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 Consider the following statements regarding Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) project 

  1. An array of antennas strategically designed and set up in South Africa and Greenland.
  2. It is headquartered in the United Kingdom. 

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.3 North Sea borders which of the following countries? 

  1. Denmark
  2. Norway 
  3. Germany
  4. France

Select the correct code:

  1. 1,2 and 3 only
  2. 2 and 3 only 
  3. 1, 2, 3 and 4
  4. 4 only

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

1 C
2 A
3 A
4 C

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