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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 12th June 2021

  • IASbaba
  • June 12, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Species in news: Gharials

Part of: GS Prelims and  GS -III – Environment; Conservation 

In news

  • Recently, Odisha announced a cash award of Rs. 1,000 to conserve gharials in Mahanadi River Basin.

About Gharials

  • Gharials (or gavials) are a type of Asian crocodilian distinguished by their long, thin snouts.
    • Crocodilians are a group of reptiles that includes crocodiles, alligators, caimans, and more.
  • India has three species of Crocodilians namely:
    • Gharial: IUCN Red List- Critically Endangered
    • Mugger crocodile: IUCN- Vulnerable.
    • Saltwater crocodile: IUCN- Least Concern.
  • All the three are listed on Appendix I of CITES and Schedule I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
    • However, Saltwater Crocodile populations of Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea are included in Appendix II of CITES.
  • Habitats include: Fresh waters of the northern India – Chambal river, Ghagra, Gandak river and the Sone river (Bihar).
  • Population of Gharials is a good indicator of clean river water.
  • Conservation Efforts:
    • Breeding Centres of Kukrail Gharial Rehabilitation Centre in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, National Chambal Sanctuary (Gharial Eco Park, Madhya Pradesh).

Largest collection of Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) catalogue

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

In news

  • Researchers from the Pune-based Tata Institute for Fundamental Research (TIFR) and the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA), have assembled the largest collection of Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) catalogue.
  • The data is from Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME).
  • In 2020, NASA spotted FRB for the first time in the Milky Way.
  • The new catalogue expands the current library of known FRBs, and is already helping in understanding their properties.

About Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs)

  • FRBs are bright bursts of radio waves whose durations lie in the millisecond-scale, because of which it is difficult to detect them and determine their position in the sky.
    • It was first discovered in 2007.
  • Their origins are unknown and their appearance is highly unpredictable.

About CHIME:

  • It is a novel radio telescope that has no moving parts. 
  • It is optimized to have a high mapping speed.
  • It is located at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory, Canada.

Significance of Studying FRBs

  • These phenomena can be used to answer some long-standing questions about the universe.
  • It can be used to understand the three–dimensional structure of matter in the universe 

India’s Roadmap to Ethanol 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS -III – Economy 

In news

  • The central government has released an expert committee report on the Roadmap for Ethanol Blending in India by 2025.
  • The roadmap proposes a gradual rollout of ethanol-blended fuel to achieve E10 fuel supply by April 2022 and phased rollout of E20 from April 2023 to April 2025.
  • The Government of India has advanced the target for 20% ethanol blending in petrol (also called E20) to 2025 from 2030.

What is Ethanol

  • It is one of the principal Biofuels
    • It is naturally produced by the fermentation of sugars by yeasts or via petrochemical processes such as ethylene hydration.

Recommendations of the Roadmap:

  • Notify Ethanol Blending Roadmap
  • Better Infrastructure for Oil Marketing Companies
  • Speed up regulatory clearances
  • Incentivise Ethanol Blended Vehicle
  • Lower pricing of ethanol blended Gasoline

Release of AISHE-2020 report

Part of: GS Prelims and GS -II – Education 

In news

  • Recently, the Union Education Minister announced the release of the report of All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2019-20.
  • The Report provides key performance indicators on the current status of Higher education in India.
  • It is released annually by the Department of Higher Education.

Key findings of the report

  • In the last five years from 2015-16 to 2019-20, there has been a growth of 11.4% in student enrolment.
    • Uttar Pradesh has highest student enrolment in India (49.1% male and 50.9% female) followed by Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra
  • Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) increased by a minuscule 0.8% in 2019-20.
    • GER is the number of students enrolled in a given level of education, regardless of age, 
  • There has been overall increase of over 18% in female enrolment. 
  • However, share of girl students is lowest in institutes of national importance while female participation in professional courses is lower as compared to to academic courses.
  • Humanities, Science, Commerce, Engineering & Technology, Medical Science and IT & Computer were six major fields chosen by students. 

Recent Initiatives in Education 

  • Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC): It aims at improving the research ecosystem by research collaborations between Indian institutions and the best institutions in the world.
  • Rashtriya Ucchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA): It aims at providing strategic funding to higher educational institutions.

Indigenously developed ‘anti-hail guns’

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-I – Geography and GS II – Policies and interventions 

In news

  • To help out horticulturists who face crop damage due to hailstorms, the Himachal Pradesh government will be testing the use of indigenously developed ‘anti-hail guns’
    • The indigenous guns have been developed by IIT Bombay along with Dr Y S Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry at Nauni (Solan).

About the anti-hail gun

  • An anti-hail gun is a machine which generates shock waves to disrupt the growth of hailstones in clouds.
  • It comprises a tall, fixed structure somewhat resembling an inverted tower, several metres high, with a long and narrow cone opening towards the sky.
  • The gun is “fired” by feeding an explosive mixture of acetylene gas and air into its lower chamber, which releases a shock wave 
    • Shock waves travel faster than the speed of sound, such as those produced by supersonic aircraft).
  • These shock waves supposedly stop water droplets in clouds from turning into hailstones, so that they fall simply as raindrops. 

Important value additions 

Hail

  • Hail is solid precipitation made of balls or irregular lumps of ice, each of which is called a hailstone. 
  • Hailstones consist mostly of water ice and measure between 5 mm and 15 cm in diameter.
  • Any thunderstorm, which produces hail that reaches the ground, is termed a hailstorm.
  • Maharashtra is India’s most hailstorm-prone state, according to an IMD analysis of hailstorms across the country between 1981 and 2015.

Miscellaneous

Heritage Trees

  • The Maharashtra Cabinet has passed an action plan to protect and preserve trees older than 50 years in urban areas by terming them heritage trees
  • Few important criteria for considering a tree as a “heritage tree” are: size, shape, rarity, aesthetical/historical values, association with historic person, place or even myths.
  • A certain species need not be native to an area for this tag.

(Mains Focus)


AGRICULTURE/ GOVERNANCE

Topic:

  • GS-3: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices and food security

Are ‘remunerative’ MSPs boosting rural demand?

Context: On June 9, the union cabinet approved Minimum Support Prices (MSP) for the 2021-22 kharif marketing season. 

  • MSP for paddy will be ₹1940 per quintal, compared to ₹1868 last year. 
  • Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) says that the latest MSP offers a 50% mark-up over the projected cost of cultivation in 2021-22.

The cost measures used in calculating MSP

A2 All the types of cash expenditure to generate the crop like seeds, manure, chemicals, labour costs, fuel costs and irrigation costs.
A2+FL

(Used by government)

 It includes A2 plus an imputed value of unpaid family labour.
C2

(demanded by farmers)

This includes A2+FK and the imputed rental value of owned land and interest on value of owned fixed capital, thereby including the opportunity cost of practising agriculture.

Issues

  1. Nominal growth in MSPs has been low in recent years
  • Although the government claims that latest MSP announcements fulfil the 50% mark-up over A2+FL criteria, the increase in nominal terms is not much. 
  • Paddy and wheat MSPs for the 2021-22 kharif and rabi marketing seasons have increased by 3.9% and 2.6% respectively.

  1. Nominal MSPs are not enough to access the demand impact
  • MSPs, directly or indirectly (in terms of creating a price floor), affect the prices received by farmers, and hence their nominal incomes. 
  • Demand, on the other hand, is a function of purchasing power, which is determined by relative prices.
  • Terms of trade index captures the ratio of index of prices received by farmers and prices paid by farmers for purchase of goods (consumption, intermediate and capital goods). A value less than 100 signifies a worsening of terms of trade
  • The statistics show that terms of trade were improving for farmers from 2004-05 to 2010-11, stagnated at unfavourable levels till 2016-17, and started declining after that.
  • Deteriorating Terms of trade for farmers have been leading to a squeeze on their purchasing power. Of course, the situation would be worse if MSPs did not exist.
  • Wages account for more than 60% and almost one-third of A2+FL cost of cultivation for paddy and wheat. Rural wages, which were rising at a fast pace until 2014-15, have stagnated in the recent past
  • If agricultural labour and farmers experience a squeeze on income (rural wages and imputed value of wages), this will put a pressure on purchasing power and therefore rural component of aggregate demand, including that for farmers.

  1. Headwinds in future
  • Two factors might further worsen the terms of trade for farmers going forward. 
  • The profit-led nature of recovery and poor labour market conditions in the post-pandemic phase will further squeeze mass incomes and hence demand for food items, putting downward pressure on prices. 
  • A rise in the cost of items such as diesel and some fertilisers (the government has announced a hike in subsidies for urea) could lead to the actual cost of cultivation being higher than the projected costs used for calculating the latest MSPs.
  • Farm sector is the shock absorber in terms of the labour market and the longer it takes for the non-farm labour market to recover, the more difficult the farm sector will find to cushion incomes

What should government do going forward? 

  • It is unrealistic to think that the farm economy will keep delivering even though the non-farm part is in crisis
  • This is why it is important that the government provides a fiscal stimulus to both the labour-intensive component of both farm and non-farm sectors.

Connecting the dots:


ENVIRONMENT/ GOVERNANCE

Topic:

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • GS-3: Environmental Conservation

National Mission on Biodiversity and Human Well-Being (NMBHWB)

Context: Preserving biodiversity is directly relevant to the social, economic, and environmental well-being of our people

  • Estimates suggest our forests alone may yield services worth more than a trillion rupees per year. Imagine how much greater this value will be with grasslands, wetlands, freshwater, and marine added.
  • Repairing our dysfunctional relationship with nature is one of the ways to mitigate climate change and curtail future outbreaks of infectious diseases.
  • Our biodiversity also serves as a perpetual source of spiritual enrichment, intimately linked to our physical and mental well-being.

In 2018, the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC) in consultation with the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change and other Ministries approved NMBHWB

Key features of National Mission on Biodiversity and Human Well-Being (NMBHWB)

  • Sustainable Utilization: The Mission will strengthen the science of restoring, conserving, and sustainably utilising India’s natural heritage 
  • Integration in Development: The mission will embed biodiversity as a key consideration in all developmental programmes, particularly in agriculture, ecosystem services, health, bio-economy, and climate change mitigation; 
  • Database: It will establish a citizen and policy-oriented biodiversity information system
  • International Commitments: The mission aims to enhance capacity across all sectors for the realisation of India’s national biodiversity targets, UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and its commitments under the new framework for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
  • Leadership role: The Mission will allow India to emerge as a leader in demonstrating linkage between conservation of natural assets and societal well-being.
  • Solutions to create resilience: Mission programmes will offer nature-based solutions to numerous environmental challenges, including degradation of rivers, forests, and soils, and ongoing threats from climate change, with the goal of creating climate-resilient communities. 
  • Mission’s “One Health” programme, integrating human health with animal, plant, soil and environmental health, has both the preventive potential to curtail future pandemics along with the interventional capability for unexpected public health challenges.

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 Which of the following state has passed an action plan to protect and preserve trees older than 50 years in urban areas by terming them heritage trees? 

  1. Manipur
  2. Maharashtra 
  3. Madhya Pradesh 
  4. Meghalaya  

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2019-20 report:

  1. There has been overall increase of over 18% in female enrolment. 
  2. Share of girl students is lowest in institutes of national importance

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 11th June 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 B
3 C

Must Read

On vaccination:

The Hindu

On G7 summit:

Indian Express

On Indian Judiciary:

The Print

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