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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 18th March 2021

  • IASbaba
  • March 18, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


All India Tourist Vehicles Authorization and Permit Rules, 2021

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

In news

  • All India Tourist Vehicles Authorization and Permit Rules, 2021 were released recently. 
  • Under it, any tourist vehicle operator may apply for an “All India Tourist Authorization/Permit” through online mode.
  • Ministry: Ministry of Road Transport and Highways 

Key takeaways 

  • It will be issued, after relevant documents are submitted and fees deposited, within 30 days of submission.
  • It will be applicable from 01 April 2021.
  • The new rules shall promote tourism across the States and grow their revenues. 

OTPRMS Certificates to be linked with DigiLocker

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Education; Policies and interventions & GS-III – Sci & Tech

In news

  • The Ministry of Education has decided to link the Online Teacher Pupil Registration Management System (OTPRMS) Certificates with DigiLocker.
  • Objective: To ensure hassle free access to verified OTPRMS Certificates 

Key takeaways 

  • The issued certificates will automatically be transferred to DigiLocker. 
  • The same may be traced at National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) website.
  • The registration fee for obtaining Certificates has been waived off. 
  • This will enable all stakeholders across India to be digitally empowered facilitating ease of doing business. 

Important value additions 

DigiLocker 

  • DigiLocker is a flagship initiative of Ministry of Electronics & IT (MeitY) under Digital India Corporation (DIC). 
  • Aim: ‘Digital Empowerment’ of citizens by providing access to authentic digital documents to citizen’s digital document wallet.
  • The issued documents in DigiLocker system are deemed to be at par with original physical documents as per Rule 9A of the Information Technology Rules, 2016

Place in news: Comoros

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – III – International Relations 

In news

  • Indian Navy Ship Jalashwa arrived at port of Anjouan in Comoros with 1,000 metric tonnes of rice. 
  • This highlights the ties between India and Comoros within the framework of PM Modi’s vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for all in the Indian Ocean Region).

Important value additions 

  • The Comoros is an island country in the Indian Ocean.
  • 3 major islands in the Comoros Archipelago: Ngazidja (Grande Comore), Mwali (Mohéli) and Ndzuani (Anjouan)
  • It is situated in the Mozambique Channel, between the African coast (nearest to Mozambique and Tanzania) and Madagascar, with no land borders. 
  • It is a member of the Arab League. 
  • It is the only country in the Arab world which is entirely in the Southern Hemisphere. 
  • It is also a member state of the African Union, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and the Indian Ocean Commission.

IQ Air’s Global air pollution Report

Part of: GS Prelims and  GS – III –  Environment; Pollution

In news

  • A report on Global air pollution was released from IQ Air. 
  • It is a Swiss air quality technology company specialising in protection against airborne pollutants, and developing air quality monitoring and air cleaning products.

Key takeaways 

  • Delhi remained the most polluted capital city in the world. 
  • India, on the whole, had improved its average annual PM2.5 (particulate matter) levels in 2020 than in 2019. 
  • India is the third most polluted country in 2020. 
  • Bangladesh and Pakistan have worse average PM2.5 levels than India.
  • China ranked 11th in the latest report, a deterioration from the 14th in the previous edition of the report.
  • Amongst cities, Hotan in China was the most polluted, followed by Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Of the 15 most polluted cities, 13 were in India.
  • The pollution levels are weighted averages, meaning that the population of a country influences the pollution values reported.

84% of all monitored countries observed air quality improvements. 

  • However, of the 106 monitored countries, only 24 met the WHO’s annual guidelines for PM 2.5.

(Mains Focus)


ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic:

  • GS-3: Awareness in the fields of IT
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 

Responsible Artificial Intelligence 

Context: AI can leapfrog us toward eradicating hunger, poverty and disease — opening up new and hitherto unimaginable pathways for climate change mitigation, education and scientific discovery.

Benefits and Potential

  • Multi-sectoral applications: Already, AI has helped increase crop yields, raised business productivity, improved access to credit and made cancer detection faster and more precise.
  • Boosts Economic Growth: It could contribute more than $15 trillion to the world economy by 2030, adding 14% to global GDP. Google has identified over 2,600 use cases of “AI for good” worldwide.
  • Enabler for SGDs: A study published in Nature reviewing the impact of AI on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) finds that AI may act as an enabler on 134 — or 79% — of all SDG targets.

Concerns and Challenges

  • Big Carbon Footprint: AI requires massive computational capacity, which means more power-hungry data centres — and a big carbon footprint.
  • Loss of low income jobs: Robotics and AI companies are building intelligent machines that perform tasks typically carried out by low-income workers: self-service kiosks to replace cashiers, fruit-picking robots to replace field workers, etc. Many desk jobs will also be edged out by AI, such as accountants, financial traders and middle managers.
  • Widens Inequalities: AI could compound digital exclusion. Without clear policies on reskilling workers, the promise of new opportunities will in fact create serious new inequalities. 
  • Strengthen the Divide between North & South: Investment is likely to shift to countries where AI-related work is already established, widening gaps among and within countries.
  • Can reinforce existing prejudices: AI-enhanced recruitment engine, based on existing workforce profiles, taught itself that male candidates were preferable to female. AI facial recognition and surveillance technology discriminating against people of colour and minorities.
  • Privacy Concerns: AI also presents serious data privacy concerns. Cambridge Analytica —algorithms and big data were used to alter voting decisions.

Way Ahead

  • Only a “whole of society” approach to AI governance will enable us to develop broad-based ethical principles, cultures and codes of conduct.
  • Given the global reach of AI, such a “whole of society” approach must rest on a “whole of world” approach.
  • Need for multi-stakeholder efforts on global cooperation so AI is used in a manner that is “trustworthy, human rights-based, safe and sustainable, and promotes peace”.
  • Digital future cannot be optimised for good without multi-stakeholder governance structures that ensure the dividends are fair, inclusive, and just.

Connecting the dots:


ENVIRONMENT/ GOVERNANCE

Topic:

  • GS-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Hidden Pandemic of Single Use Plastic

Context: Plastics have been deployed in great quantities as a shield against COVID. But little attention has been paid to where the increased plastic waste will end up

COVID-19 and Single Use Plastic

  • Ambitious Goal before COVID-19 Pandemic: In 2019, Union Government committed to completely phase out single-use plastics by 2022. The commitment called for better arrangements to collect, store, and recycle single-use plastic. The pandemic halted and, in some cases, reversed much of this progress.
  • Plastic became ubiquitous in wake of COVID-19: Masks, sanitiser bottles, personal protective equipment, food packaging, water bottles- all used plastic.
  • Concern over Microplastics: In time, this plastic will disintegrate into tiny particles of less than five millimetres — known as microplastics — and move through water bodies and farm soil to enter the food we eat and the air we breathe. 
  • Very Low Recycling: only 9 per cent of all plastic ever produced has been recycled, while 79 per cent of all plastic produced can be found in the world’s landfills and in our air, water, soil, and other natural systems. 
  • Indispensability: Plastic is still important. Its central role in durable goods, medicine and food safety means that it is not practical to get rid of entirely. Instead, we must be more thoughtful about where, when and how we use it. 

Way Ahead

There are several steps we can take right now, even during the struggle against COVID-19, keeping in mind that above all we should avoid single-use plastics as much as possible.

  • Increased Collection: We should ensure that waste collection operates at the same pace as waste generation. 
  • Segregation at early stage: we must be able to segregate waste and used plastic early in the waste-to-value cycle so that the plastic remains suitable for treatment and recycling. Some source segregation efforts became more normalised during the pandemic and this trend should continue. It will make recycling much easier and more economically viable.
  • Encourage Environment Friendly alternatives: Government should promote alternatives to single-use plastics where they exist and develop alternatives where they do not exist. Business models that avoid plastic waste through alternative product delivery systems, promote circularity, and use plastic waste should be encouraged.
  • Coordination amongst stakeholders: Considering that plastic pollution is a truly society-wide problem, it is important for government, businesses, and civil society to coordinate to find solutions.
  • Policy Framework: Union government should come up with National Action Plan for Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution in Rivers for effective decision-making processes and actions at the national, regional and local level.

Connecting the dots:


(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 DigiLocker:

  1. It is a flagship initiative of Ministry of Science and Technology. 
  2. The issued documents in DigiLocker system are deemed to be at par with original physical documents. 

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 Comoros archipelago is situated in which of the following Ocean? 

  1. Indian Ocean 
  2. Atlantic Ocean
  3. Pacific Ocean
  4. Arctic Ocean  

Q.3 According to IQ Air’s Global air pollution Report, which of the following country has the most polluted cities in the top 15? 

  1. China
  2. India
  3. Bangladesh 
  4. Pakistan

ANSWERS FOR 17th March 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 D
2 A
3 B

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