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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 20th March 2021

  • IASbaba
  • March 20, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


NewSpace India Limited to operate space assets of ISRO 

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

In news

  • The NewSpace India Limited will own and operate capital intensive space assets of ISRO as part of the space reforms process. 

Key takeaways 

  • NewSpace India Limited is in advance stage of discussion with the Department of Space to take ownership of two new communication satellites for commercial purpose.
  • The transponders on these satellites will be leased to the private companies with DTH and Broadband services.

Important value additions 

  • NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) is a Public Sector Enterprise (PSE) of Government of India. 
  • It is a commercial arm of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and a subsidiary company of Department of Science.
  • Established in: 2019 
  • Administrative control: Department of Space (DoS) and the Company Act 2013. 
  • Objective: To scale up industry participation in Indian space programmes.
  • Headquarter: Bengaluru.

Related articles:


India to implement GPS-based toll collection system 

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

In news

  • According to Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, India will implement a GPS-based toll collection system and remove all toll booths within a year.

GPS-based toll collection system

  • Toll collection will happen via GPS. 
  • The money will be collected based on GPS imaging of vehicles.
  • 93% of the vehicles were paying toll using FASTag but the remaining 7% had still not adopted it despite paying double the toll.

Vehicle Scrapping Policy

  • The policy was first announced in the Union Budget for 2021-22. 
  • The automobile industry in India will see a jump in turnover to ₹10 lakh crore from ₹4.5 lakh crore.
  • The new policy provides for fitness tests after the completion of 20 years in the case of privately owned vehicles and 15 years in the case of commercial vehicles.
  • Any vehicle that fails the fitness test or does not manage renewal of its registration certificate may be declared as an End of Life Vehicle.
  • The policy will kick in for government vehicles from April 1, 2022. 
  • Mandatory fitness testing for heavy commercial vehicles will start from April 1, 2023. 
  • For all other categories of vehicles, including personal vehicles, it will start in phases from June 1, 2024.

The Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2021

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – III – FDI; Economy 

In news

  • The Rajya Sabha passed the Insurance Amendment Bill, 2021 recently. 
  • The Bill amends the Insurance Act, 1938. 
  • It increases the maximum foreign investment allowed in an insurance company from 49% to 74%.

Key takeaways 

  • The Act provides the framework for the functioning of insurance businesses and regulates the relationship between an insurer, its policyholders, its shareholders, and the regulator (the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India).
  • The Act allows foreign investors to hold up to 49% of the capital in an Indian insurance company, which must be owned and controlled by an Indian entity.
  • The Bill also removes restrictions on ownership and control.
  • Foreign investment may be subject to additional conditions as prescribed by the central government.
  • The Act requires insurers to hold a minimum investment in assets which would be sufficient to clear their insurance claim liabilities.
  • If the insurer is incorporated or domiciled outside India, such assets must be held in India in trust and vested with trustees who must be residents of India.

Hong Kong’s new amendment by NPC

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

In news

  • The National People’s Congress (NPC) of China has recently approved a decision on improving Hong Kong’s electoral system.

Key takeaways

  • This paves the way how Hong Kong shall choose its leaders.
  • It gives Beijing-appointed politicians greater power in running the HKSAR’s politics.
  • Now, the size of the Legislative Council will be expanded to 90, with the additional 20 members joining the 35 others who are nominated, thus reducing the share of directly elected representatives.
  • The amendment also bestows greater power on a newly expanded Election Committee of 1,500 nominated members, up from 1,200 previously.
  • The most controversial change is the setting up of a new “candidate qualification review committee”, which “shall be responsible for reviewing and confirming” the qualifications of candidates for Election Committee members, the Chief Executive, and Legislative Council members.

Do you know?

  • Hong Kong is the Special Administrative Region (SAR) that has been ruled under the “one country, two systems” model.

Related articles:


Volume on teachers & teacher education by Azim Premji University 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – II – Education

In news

  • Azim Premji University released the First volume on teachers & teacher education. 
  • It explores the landscape of Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs) in India, corruption in private TEIs, the support system needed for teachers and the problem of those who are on contract.

Key takeaways 

  • There are 9 million teachers in around 1.5 million schools in India.
  • It is equally important to impart good quality of education to aspiring teachers.
  • Of the 17,503 TEIs in India, more than 90% are privately owned, stand-alone institutions, offering single programmes localised in certain geographies.
  • Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, account for 54% of all TEIs in India. 
  • Only 12 States/UTs have at least one TEI in each district.
  • There are many substandard, dysfunctional TEIs functioning as ‘commercial shops’.
  • TEIs deliberately neglected basic curricular requirements. 
  • Classes are neither conducted seriously nor taken seriously by students. 
  • Almost all private TEIs allowed students with a shortage of attendance to appear for examinations.
  • There is an increasing prevalence of contract teachers, who are recruited for short periods on inadequate salaries with little or no benefits. 
  • This has caused long-term damage to not just the teaching profession but has also affected student learning.

(Mains Focus)


GEOGRAPHY/ ENVIRONMENT

Topic:

  • GS-1: Indian Physiography

Himalayan River System

Importance

  • The Himalayas-Hindu Kush region (known as the Third Pole because of the amount of water stored as ice) is home to 10 major river systems.
  • More than half of India’s water resources are supplied by the tributaries of these river systems. 
  • The melting glaciers supply year-round water and the average economic productivity of the Himalayan rivers is nearly twice that of peninsular river systems. 
  • Beyond the large rivers are three million springs, which feed 64% of the irrigated land in the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR). 
  • These springs are the lifeline of mountain communities (50 million people across 12 Himalayan states), even as the larger rivers support the livelihoods of more than 500 million in the Indo-Gangetic plains.

These rivers are facing multiple stresses

Reduced water flow 

  • The Himalayan glaciers have been receding at alarming rates.
  • Low rainfall and absent snowfall impact the springs, rivulets and rivers that moderate the hydrogeology of the region.
  • NITI Aayog reported that nearly half the springs in IHR were drying up.

Pollution 

  • More than six billion litres of sewage is dumped into the Ganga daily, but the capacity to treat it is just a fifth of that quantity.
  • Water pollution is affecting the upper reaches of the Himalayan rivers.

Construction and deforestation

  • The construction of large dams, canal diversions and hydropower projects has direct and indirect impacts. 
  • Obstruction of the river flow, even for run-of-the-river projects, increases siltation, reduces the efficacy of hydropower projects over time, while reducing farm productivity downstream.
  • For non-glacial rivers (such as Gomti, Panar, Kosi), deforestation is the main threat, thanks to ill-planned construction.
  • As a result, water infiltration into the ground reduces. So, even when erratic rains arrive, mountain springs do not get recharged nor do non-glacial rivers get their water supply.

Climate Crisis

  • Decadal rise in temperatures in the Himalayan region is 0.4°C higher than the global average.
  • Himalayan glaciers would retreat 45% by 2100 if surface temperatures rose by 1.8°C. Basically, even if the goals of the Paris Agreement were met, IHR is likely to face severe impacts.
  • Pollution concentrations would also increase during droughts; warmer water temperatures and reduced dissolved oxygen reduce the self-purifying capacity of Himalayan rivers.

Way Ahead

  • IHR needs alternative development pathways, the absence of which makes the construction industry the default option. 
  • More sustainable models — high-valued-added agriculture, less water-intensive natural farming, food processing, ecotourism, investments in non-hydropower forms of renewable energy, or monetising the preservation of natural capital — cannot be restricted to pockets or pilots. 
  • Alternatives must be designed and deployed at scale to get buy-in from communities and policymakers.
  • Decentralised water governance, especially of springs, is imperative. 
  • Then communities can understand the conditions of their spring waters, determine appropriate use, and protect or increase forest cover, because their livelihoods depend on replenished water resources.

(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 recently passed the insurance Amendment Bill 2021:

  1. It increases the maximum foreign investment allowed in an insurance company from 49 % to 100%.
  2. The act allows for investors to hold up to 49% of the capital in an insurance company that must be owned and controlled by an Indian entity

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 vehicle scrapping policy: 

  1. It provides for fitness test after the completion of 20 years in the case of commercial vehicles and 15 years in the case of private vehicles 
  2. Any vehicle that fails the fitness test may be declared as an end of life vehicle 

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 Consider the following statements regarding NewSpace India Limited:

  1.  It aims to scale up industry participation in Indian space programmes.
  2. It comes under administrative control of ISRO.

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 19th March 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 D
2 B
3 B

Must Read

On Inflation Targeting:

Indian Express

On US-China relations:

The Hindu

On allowing Taliban to share power in Afghanistan:

The Hindu

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