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

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


Negev Light Machine Guns (LMGs)

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

In news

  • The Indian Army will induct the first lot of new Light Machine Guns (LMG) from Israel. 

Key takeaways 

  • The contracted Negev 7.62X51 mm LMG is a combat proven weapon. 
  • It is currently used by several countries around the globe.
  • This LMG will greatly enhance the lethality and range of a soldier 

QS World University Rankings 2021

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – II – International Relations; Education 

In news

  • QS World University Rankings were announced recently. 
  • As many as 25 courses by Indian universities have figured in the top 100 globally,

Key takeaways 

  • Three IITs have entered the top 100 engineering institutes. 
  • Engineering and technology category: IIT-Bombay – 49th position; IIT Delhi (54) and IIT Madras (94). 
  • MIT, USA has retained its top position.
  • Natural Sciences: Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore – 92nd; IIT Bombay (114), IIT Madras (187), and IIT Delhi (210).
  • Petroleum engineering programme: IIT-Madras – 30th;
  • Mineral and mining engineering: IIT-Bombay – 41st; IIT-Kharagpur – 44th 
  • Life sciences and medicine:  AIIMS – 248th.
  • Arts and humanities: JNU – 159th, Delhi University- 252nd
  • social sciences and management category: Delhi University – 208th 

Do you know? 

  • QS Rankings by subject calculate performance based on four parameters — academic reputation, employer reputation, research impact and the productivity of an institution’s research faculty.
  • These rankings offer independent data on the performance of 253 programmes at 52 Indian higher education institutions, across 51 academic disciplines.

Municipal Performance Index (MPI) 2020

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – II – Policies and interventions; Governance 

In news

Key takeaways 

  • Million+ category: Indore (1st) followed by Surat and Bhopal.
  • Less than Million: New Delhi Municipal Council followed by Tirupati and Gandhinagar.
  • The MPI examined the sectoral performance of 111 municipalities across five verticals. 
  • The five verticals are: Services, Finance, Policy, Technology and Governance.

Ease of Living Index (EoLI) 2020

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – II – Policies and interventions; Governance 

In news

Key takeaways 

  • Aim of EoLI: To measure the well-being of Indian citizens in 111 cities, across the pillars of Quality of Life, Economic-ability, and Sustainability
  • The EoLI 2020 has also added Citizen Perception Survey in the index, having a weightage of 30%.
  • The rankings were announced for cities with a population of more than a million, and cities with less than a million people.
  • Top performer in the Million+ category: Bengaluru 
  • Top performer in Less than Million category: Shimla 

CSIR Floriculture Mission

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – III – Sci & tech; Agriculture 

In news

  • Recently, CSIR Floriculture Mission has been approved. 
  • It will be implemented in 21 States/UTs. 

Key takeaways 

  • Available knowledge base in CSIR Institutes will be utilized and leveraged to help Indian farmers and industry re-position itself to meet the import requirements.
  • Floriculture, or flower farming, is a discipline of horticulture concerned with the cultivation of flowering and ornamental plants for gardens and for floristry. 
  • Implemented by: CSIR in collaboration with Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)-Directorate of Floriculture; KVIC; APEDA, TRIFED; Fragrance and Flavour Development Centre (FFDC), Kannauj, Ministry of MSME and Universities.
  • Despite the fact that India has diverse agro-climatic and edaphic conditions, and rich plant diversity, it shares only 0.6% of global floriculture market.
  • At least 1200 million USD worth of floriculture products are being imported by India.

(Mains Focus)


INTERNATIONAL/ ECONOMY

Topic:

  • GS-2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests 

India-EU

India’s Export Potential to EU

  • India has an untapped export potential of $39.9 billion in the EU and Western Europe. 
  • The top products with export potential include apparel, gems and jewellery, chemicals, machinery, automobile, pharmaceuticals and plastic. India benefits from tariff preferences under the EU’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) for several of these products. 
  • India is among the major beneficiaries of the EU’s GSP, with exports under the GSP valued at nearly $19.4 billion in 2019, accounting for nearly 37% of India’s merchandise exports to the EU.

Concerns

  • There are several products where India has export potential in the EU, but these have “graduated” or are at the brink of “graduation” under EU GSP. 
  • Product graduation applies when average imports of a product from a beneficiary country exceed 17.5% of EU-GSP imports of the same product from all beneficiary countries over three years. 
  • India’s exports of products such as textiles, inorganic and organic chemicals, gems and jewellery, iron, steel and their articles, base metals and automotives are already out of the ambit of EU-GSP benefits.
  • There is also a likelihood of losing EU-GSP benefits in other categories such as apparel, rubber, electronic items, sports goods and toys due to product graduation.
  • India’s competitors in apparel exports such as Bangladesh would continue to receive tariff benefits in the EU under Everything but Arms Initiative. 
  • Another competitor, Vietnam, concluded a free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU in 2019.
  • India’s negotiation for a Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement is yet to materialise due to lack of concurrence in areas like automotives and dairy and marine products.

Way Ahead

  • In light of the declining preferential access and the plausible erosion of competitiveness in the EU market, there is clearly a need to deepen trade and investment ties with the region.
  • A thorough assessment of the benefits from FTA for domestic producers is warranted, with due consideration to the impact on sensitive sectors, and possibility of inclusion of safeguards such as sunset clause on concessions for some items.
  • There should also be provisions for aspects such as investment and non-tariff measures (NTMs).
  • India also needs to negotiate on investment-related aspects with the EU to enhance bilateral investments and foster stronger value chains, especially in technology-intensive sectors in which the EU has a comparative advantage.

Conclusion

  • Post-Brexit EU finds itself in the midst of a growing need for recalibrating ties with its partner countries. 
  • Forging stronger ties with the region through a mutually beneficial agreement could help strengthen Indian manufacturing and revitalise the flailing exports.

ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic:

  • GS-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment. 

Privatization

At independence, India adopted a mixed economy model. In this context, the Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs) were established on a socialistic pattern of development.

However, due to the poor performance of several PSEs and the consequent huge fiscal deficits, the issue of privatisation has come to the forefront.

In India, privatisation is sought to be achieved through two measures:

  • The disinvestment of the government’s equity in public sector undertakings (selling off PSUs to Private Sector)
  • The opening up of hitherto closed areas to private participation.

Merits of Privatizations & Disinvestment

  • Improves the efficiency of PSUs
  • Attracts Foreign Investment
  • Improve financial discipline of PSUs
  • Facilitate modernization of PSUs
  • Reduces fiscal burden on govt in maintaining PSU
  • Signals to the market that govt is promoting free-market principle

Criticism

Social Justice

  • Privatisation policy betrays social justice. 
  • PSUs have historically played an active role in developing backward regions. 
  • Importantly, through reservations, PSUs have ensured high-quality jobs for Dalits, Adivasis and Other Backward Classes. 
  • Once PSUs are privatised or disinvested to below 50% government ownership, reservations for these historically marginalised sections will become history.
  • Disregard to how PSU employees will cope with the lay-offs that will inevitably follow.

Banks

  • India’s experience with Yes Bank and other private sector banks hardly suggests that privatisation will eliminate greed and corruption in banking.
  • It was the resilience of nationalised banks that helped save us from the worst effects of the global recession in 2008-09. 
  • Public sector banks have also been central to expanding financial inclusion to the unbanked in India over the last five decades
  • Rural branches that serve a public purpose more than generating profits will possibly be shut down by the corporates.

Conclusion

Government should make sure that its welfare agenda is not ignored while tweaking its privatization policies.


(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 Horticulture is concerned with the cultivation of which of the following? 

  1. Bees
  2. Silk worms
  3. Flowering and ornamental plants only
  4. Fruits, vegetables, Flowering and ornamental plants

Q.2 Ease of Living Index 2020 is released by which of the following? 

  1. Ministry of Environment 
  2. Ministry of Finance 
  3. Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs 
  4. Ministry of MEMSs

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

1 D
2 C
3 A
4
5 B

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