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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 27th April 2021

  • IASbaba
  • April 27, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Groundwater depletion may reduce winter cropping intensity

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – III – Environment 

In news

Key takeaways 

  • India is the second-largest producer of wheat in the world, with over 30 million hectares in India dedicated to producing this crop. 
  • Some of the important winter crops (Rabi crops): wheat, barley, mustard and peas.
  • But with severe groundwater depletion, the cropping intensity or the amount of land planted in the winter season may decrease by up to 20% by 2025
  • The international team studied India’s three main irrigation types on winter cropped areas: dug wells, tube wells, canals, and also analysed the groundwater data from the Central Ground Water Board. 
  • They found that 13% of the villages in which farmers plant a winter crop are located in critically water-depleted regions.
  • These villages may lose 68% of their cropped area in future if access to all groundwater irrigation is lost. 
  • The results suggest that these losses will largely occur in northwest and central India.

Disaster Management Act invoked for liquid oxygen 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Disaster management 

In news

  • Invoking the Disaster Management Act, the Centre ordered States that all liquid oxygen, including the existing stock with private plants, should be made available to the government and will be used for medical purposes only.

Important value additions 

  • Liquid oxygen is abbreviated LOx, LOX or Lox in the aerospace, submarine and gas industries
  • It is the liquid form of molecular oxygen
  • It has a pale blue color
  • It is strongly paramagnetic- it can be suspended between the poles of a powerful horseshoe magnet.
  • Because of its cryogenic nature, it can cause the materials it touches to become extremely brittle.
  • Liquid oxygen is also a very powerful oxidizing agent: organic materials will burn rapidly and energetically in liquid oxygen. 
  • It was used as the oxidizer in the first liquid-fueled rocket invented in 1926 by Robert H. Goddard, an application which has continued to the present.
  • In commerce, it is classified as an industrial gas and is widely used for industrial and medical purposes.
  • It is obtained from the oxygen found naturally in air by fractional distillation in a cryogenic air separation plant.
  • It is the most common cryogenic liquid oxidizer propellant for spacecraft rocket applications, usually in combination with liquid hydrogen, kerosene or methane.

Cyber Crime Volunteer

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – III – Cyber security 

In news

  • The Union Home Ministry has said it does not maintain a centralised list of volunteers enrolled under the cybercrime volunteer programme since the police is a “State subject” under the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.

Key takeaways 

  • The Ministry, through its cybercrime grievance portal, aims to raise a group of “cybercrime volunteers” to flag “unlawful content” on the Internet.
  • A digital rights group, the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), has said the programme enables a culture of surveillance and could create potential social distrust by encouraging civilians to report the online activities of other citizens
  • The programme was expected to include 500 volunteers, 200 “cyber awareness promoters” and 50 “cyber experts”.
  • Cybercrime Volunteers Programme is a constituent of The National Cybercrime Ecosystem Management Unit. 
  • The unit is part of the Indian Cybercrime Coordination Centre (I4C) scheme launched by Union Home Minister in January 2020.

India’s Deep Submergence Rescue Vessel (DSRV) dispatched to Indonesia 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – II – International Relations & GS-III – Defence and security 

In news

  • The Indian Navy dispatched its deep submergence rescue vessel (DSRV) from Visakhapatnam to support the Indonesian Navy in the search and rescue efforts for its submarine KRI Nanggala that went missing with 53 personnel aboard.

Key takeaways 

  • KRI Nanggala (402) is a diesel-electric attack submarine of the Indonesian Navy, one of two Cakra-class submarines (Type 209 design).
  • The boat is named after the Nanggala, a divine and powerful short spear that was owned by Prabu Baladewa (the elder brother of Kresna), a recurring character in wayang puppet theatre.

Important value additions 

Deep submergence rescue vessel (DSRV)

  • India is amongst the few countries in the world capable of undertaking search and rescue of a disabled submarine through a DSRV.
  • Indian Navy’s DSRV system can locate a submarine up to 1,000-metre depth utilising its state-of-the-art side scan sonar and remotely operated vehicle.
  • After the submarine is successfully located, another sub module of DSRV — the submarine rescue vehicle (SRV) — links with the submarine to rescue the trapped personnel.
  • The SRV can also be used to provide emergency supplies to the submarine.

Miscellaneous

Marib 

  • Yemen’s Houthi rebels have taken full control of the northwest Kassara battlefield, advancing close to the centre of Marib city despite heavy casualties.
  • Marib is the capital city of Marib Governorate, Yemen
  • It was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Sabaʾ which some scholars believe to be the ancient Sheba of biblical fame. 
  • It is located in the region of the Sarawat Mountains.
  • Marib and its surrounding oil fields make up the last significant pocket of government-held territory in the north, the rest of which is under rebel control.


Exercise Varuna – 2021

  • The 19th edition of the Indian and French Navy bilateral exercise ‘VARUNA-2021’ is being held in the Arabian Sea from 25th to 27th April 2021.
  • From the Indian Navy’s side, guided missile stealth destroyer INS Kolkata, guided missile frigates INS Tarkash and INS Talwar, Fleet Support Ship INS Deepak, with Seaking 42B and Chetak integral helicopters, a Kalvari class submarine and P8I Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft, will participate in the exercise.
  • VARUNA-21 highlights growing bonhomie and showcases increased levels of synergy, coordination and inter-operability between the two countries 

(Mains Focus)


ENVIRONMENT/ INTERNATIONAL

Topic:

  • GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests 
  • GS-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation 

India-U.S. Climate Partnership

Context: Recently, the Leaders’ Summit on Climate was convened by the US President virtually. 40 world leaders, including the Prime Minister of India, were invited to the event to underscore the urgency of stronger climate action.

At the Summit US and India launched a new high-level partnership, the “U.S.-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership”

Key Features of the Partnership are:

  • It envisages bilateral cooperation on strong actions in the current decade to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement
  • The Partnership will proceed along two main tracks: 
    • The Strategic Clean Energy Partnership, co-chaired by Secretary of Energy Granholm, 
    • The Climate Action and Finance Mobilization Dialogue, co-chaired by Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.
  • The partnership will work together in achieving ambitious climate targets of both countries
    • USA has set an economy-wide target of reducing its net greenhouse gas emissions by 50–52 percent below 2005 levels in 2030 (announced in this summit)
    • India has set a target of installing 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030 
  • The Partnership will aim to
    • Mobilize finance and speed clean energy deployment; 
    • Demonstrate and scale innovative clean technologies needed to decarbonize sectors including industry, transportation, power, and buildings; 
    • Build capacity to measure, manage, and adapt to the risks of climate-related impacts.
  • The partnership could also create templates of sustainable development for other developing countries.
  • US has also announced in this summit to double its public climate financing to developing countries and triple public financing for climate adaptation in developing countries by 2024.

India’s Position w.r.t Climate Change

  • Although China, the U.S. and India are the top three emitters of CO2 in absolute terms, the U.S. has a much greater per capita emission statistic than China and India. 
  • India’s per capita carbon footprint is 60% lower than the global average. It is because our lifestyle is still rooted in sustainable traditional practices,
  • India is among the few countries whose NDCs or Nationally Defined Contributions are 2-degree-Celsius compatible
  • India is targeting a 2030 GDP emissions intensity (i.e., volume of emissions per unit of GDP) that is 33%-35% below 2005 levels. It also seeks to have 40% of power generated from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.

Conclusion

  • Through this collaboration, US and India aim to demonstrate how the world can align swift climate action with inclusive and resilient economic development, taking into account national circumstances and sustainable development priorities.

Connecting the dots:


INTERNATIONAL/ GOVERNANCE

Topic:

  • GS-2: Foreign Policy
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

What went wrong with India’s vaccine diplomacy?

Context: In the Second Wave, India’s growing coronavirus deaths have taken the sheen of the government’s diplomacy during the COVID-era. With more than three lakh new cases a day, India is the country with the biggest surge at present

India’s COVID Diplomacy

  • Lifted restrictions on HCQ Drug: India lifted its ban on exports of the drug HCQ, when there was demand for it across the world.
  • Medical Assistance: India sent medical teams to countries in the neighbourhood to assist the government to tackle the rising cases of COVID-19
  • Vaccine Supply: Under its massive Vaccine Maitri programme, India exported more than 66 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 95 countries worldwide. Of these about 10 million were grants from the government, 20 million were sent as part of the global COVAX facility, and the rest 36 million were commercial export
  • Forefront of multilateral diplomacy efforts: The Quad plan aims for production of one billion vaccines to be offered to South East Asian countries
  • Fight at WTO: India-South Africa are putting efforts at the WTO to have all vaccine patents (TRIPs) waived for the coronavirus pandemic duration 

What were actions by other countries?

  • China has exported 80 million doses to about 60 countries, but only after it managed its own internal COVID-19 crisis. 
  • The European Union (EU) has exported 113.5 million doses to 43 countries, but the EU is made up of 27 countries. 
  • The worst affected United States, which through the use of executive orders and its Defense Production Act, made domestic production and use of COVID-19 vaccines and pharma supplies its priority, refusing exports at present.

So why is the government now facing criticism for its diplomacy? 

  • Prematurely declaring Victory: Government did not anticipate the current second wave crisis and sent out the wrong message internationally when on January 29th, during his speech at the Davos forum, PM Modi said that the country had won the war on COVID-19.
    • At the time, India was seeing about 11,000 new cases a day nationwide and 1.5 lakh active cases. Today that number has grown to 3 lakh new cases and 24 lakh active cases on an upward trend.  
  • Poor Preparedness on domestic & Trade front: India did not leverage its strengths over the past few weeks to ramp up hospital bed strength, pharma supplies and oxygen production through imports and for not halting those exports like pharmaceuticals and oxygen, that were needed the most.
  • Wrong time to launch Vaccine Maitri Programme: Indian launched Vaccine Maitri programme at exactly the same time as the domestic vaccination programme began, without properly estimating the need or the urgency of vaccinating the whole population of India.
    • In all, 66 million vaccine doses were exported, while India’s entire vaccine programme over three months from mid-January to mid-April has given 130 million doses. This means that at the very least, India exported what could have been used for a month of vaccinations domestically.
  • Vaccine Exporter to Vaccine Importer: As the government has declared vaccines for all over 18 years to be opened up from May 1, India has gone from being a vaccine exporter, to needing vaccine imports, including the Russian Sputnik vaccine, U.S. developed Johnson and Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer and others.  
  • Cancelled Diplomatic Meeting: Lack of awareness of the problem was most obvious in the international visits that were planned during this period — visits to India by Rwanda President Kagame, Danish PM Frederiksen, UK PM Johnson, Japanese PM Suga, all of which have had to be cancelled.

What is the government’s defence?

  • The government’s defence, expressed by EAM S. Jaishankar is — India cannot ask the world for help, for vaccine supplies if it is not willing to export its own product to help others. 

Counter Arguments

  • India is the world’s second most populous country, and after the U.S., has the highest number of cases, active cases and deaths. If it helps its own citizens, it will take a large load off the global pandemic worry. 
  • U.S. response on why it wasn’t exporting excess vaccines, was that it is “not only in US interest to see Americans vaccinated, it’s in the interests of the rest of the world to see Americans vaccinated.” The same should be true for India and Indians.

Connecting the dots:


ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic:

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

Capital expenditure: Necessity & Challenges

Context: The recent budgetary allocation towards capital expenditure at Rs 5,54,236 crore in FY2021-22(BE) is a rise of 34.5% over FY2020-21.

Necessity

  • To recover from Slowdown: This move is significant against the backdrop of the economic slowdown caused due to the Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with a decline in employment ratio.
  • Value Creation: The creation of capital assets generates future cash flows for the economy and adds to value creation.
  • Multiplier Effect: Capital expenditure is expected to achieve this through a multiplier effect (a change in rupee value of output with respect to a change in rupee value of expenditure). Multiplier effect works through expansion of ancillary industries and services.
  • Employment generation: Increased Capital expenditure through multiplier effect leads to job creation and also facilitates labour productivity. 
  • Macroeconomic Stabilizer: Thus, capital expenditure is an effective tool for countercyclical fiscal policy and acts as a macroeconomic stabilizer.

Concerns/Challenges

  • Time Lag to have effect: This multiplier effect of increased capital expenditure will not take into account the time-lag to kick in, capacity availability in the industry, and undisposed inventory and work in progress before the pandemic-induced lockdowns.
  • Inadequate Spendings by people: The multiplier effect loses value if people hold idle cash out of fear of unforeseen expenses and survival paramountcy during possible future lockdowns.
  • Inflation: Inflation-induced price rise, particularly in food and health, could also affect the multiplier impact as households would tend to give them priority over other consumption items.
  • Bureaucratic Procedural Hurdles: Project implementation costs and time taken is higher in India, which further impacts the multiplier effect of increased capital expenditure
  • Quality Issues: Poor quality necessitates recurring maintenance costs attached to a project after its completion.

Way Ahead

  • Timely Implementation: Emphasis on timely implementation of projects within the earmarked outlay by strengthening monitoring, redressal mechanisms and processes for controlling project delays.
  • Easing Process: Optimising project management processes of all the key stakeholders, including implementation agencies, state governments, vendors and others will ensure efficiency during project implementation.
  • Ensuring quality control, which, in turn, will result in capital assets providing benefits over a longer term following the multiplier effect. 
  • Managing Revenue Expenditure: The maintenance, repair and operation (MRO) expenditure, which is part of revenue expenditure, will have to be monitored during project implementation. One also needs to cut down on inefficient revenue expenditure and focus on creating a balanced and stable virtuous cycle, which can have positive knock-on effects over the long term.

(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 Which of the following is/are Rabi crops? 

  1. Wheat
  2. Barley
  3. Mustard
  4. Rice 

Select the correct code 

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

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding liquid oxygen:

  1. It is strongly paramagnetic
  2. Organic materials burn very slowly in liquid oxygen.

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 Exercise varuna is held between India and which of the following country?

  1. France
  2. UK
  3. Russia
  4. USA 

ANSWERS FOR 26th April 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 D
2 C
3 A

Must Read

On the idea of minimum global corporate tax:

The Hindu

On complexities of herd immunity:

The Hindu

On RBI’s dilemma between targeting growth vs inflation:

Indian Express

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