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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 21st June 2021

  • IASbaba
  • June 21, 2021
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Consumption of white foods increases manifold

Part of: GS Prelims and GS -II – Health  

In news 

  • White foods are those that are processed and refined, like refined wheat flour, white rice, white bread, white pasta, and simple sugars like white refined sugar, honey, and high fructose corn syrup.  
  • Bakery and condiment industries, which use refined wheat flour and white sugar as main ingredients, have grown exponentially. 

Harmful impacts of white foods consumption  

  • High intake of fast food, croissants, white bread and cheese was inversely associated with poor glycaemic control. 
  • Evidence has consistently linked large consumption of refined sugar, particularly in the form of sugary drinks, with obesity and abdominal fat accumulation that leads to diabetes and heart diseases. 
  • Sugars were directly associated with greater risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma, small intestine cancer and pleural cancer. 
  • Along with pink, blue, and black salts, white table salt is essential to health. But it produces negative health outcomes such as high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, and osteoporosis when consumed in excess.  

Healthy white foods 

  • Some white foods are beneficial for overall health. Few examples include – cauliflower, onion, garlic, radish, mushroom, cashews, sesame seeds.  

Suggestions to avoid white foods consumption  

  • White bread can be replaced with whole or multi grain breads, oats that contain more fiber, important micronutrients. 
  • Instead of white sugar, intake of fruits should increase.  
  • White and other salts can be replaced with herbs and spices to bring the desired flavour.  

Related article: Lifestyle Diseases Biggest Health Risk for Indians


Draft National strategy and roadmap for promoting tourism released

Part of: GS Prelims and GS -III – Infrastructure  

In news 

  • Ministry of Tourism released three Draft National strategy and roadmap for promoting tourism in India.  
  • It aims to identify, diversify, develop and promote tourism products.  
  • It will help to overcome the aspect of seasonality and will promote India as a 365 days’ destination to attract tourists  

Draft National strategy and roadmap for development of rural tourism in India  

Key provisions  

  • State assessment and tracking on rural tourism.  
  • Digital Technologies and platforms for rural Tourism.  
  • Development of clusters and marketing support  
  • Capacity building of stakeholders 

Draft National strategy and roadmap for medical and Wellness tourism  

Key provisions  

  • ‘Heal in India’ brand for promoting India as medical value travel destination.  
  • Enable digitalization by setting up online medical value travel portal. 
  • liberalised visa policy and better air connectivity. 
  •  Establishing National Medical and Wellness tourism promotion board 

Sea levels to rise around Lakshadweep Islands due to global warming 

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

In news 

  • Recently, a study has projected that sea levels will rise around Lakshadweep Islands due to the impact of global warming. 
  • This is for the first time, that climate model projections were used to assess the potential areas of inundation over the archipelago of Lakshadweep Islands in the Arabian Sea. 

Key takeaways of the study 

  • It will affect airport and residential areas that are quite close to the present coastline.  
  • The study estimated that smaller islands Chetlat and Amini are expected to have major land-loss. 
  • The larger islands Minicoy and the capital Kavaratti are also vulnerable to sea-level rise, and expected to experience land-loss along 60% of the existing shoreline.  
  • Sea-level rise effects are seen to have the least impact on Androth Island under all emission scenarios. 

Impact of Coastal inundation  

  • It could have wide socio-economic impact.  
  • Projected inundation due to sea-level rise can impact the islanders as residential areas are quite close to the present coastline.  
  • Also, the only airport in the archipelago is located at the southern tip of Agatti Island, and has a high likelihood of damage due to inundation from sea-level rise 

What needs to be done?  

  • It is necessary to have appropriate coastal protection measures and best-practices to formulate planning guidelines. 

Important value additions  

Sea Level Rise (SLR) 

  • SLR is an increase in the level of the world’s oceans due to the effects of climate change, especially global warming, induced 
  • SLR takes place by three primary factors:  
    • Thermal Expansion 
    • Melting Glaciers  
    • Loss of Greenland and Antarctica’s ice sheets. 
  • Consequences of SLR: 
    • Coastal Flooding 
    • Destruction of Coastal Biodiversity 
    • Dangerous Storm Surges 
    • Lateral and Inland Migration. 
    • Impact on Infrastructure 
    • Threat to Inland Life:  

India’s Efforts 

  • National Action Plan on Climate Change: 
    • It was launched in 2008 by the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change. 
    • It aims at creating awareness among the representatives of the public, different agencies of the government, scientists, industry and the communities on the threat posed by climate change and the steps to counter it. 

High-level committee formed for consultations on theatre commands

Part of: GS Prelims and GS -III – Defence and security 

In news 

  • Recently, a high-level committee has been formed for the consultations on the creation of integrated triservice theatre commands. 
  • The committee will examine all issues and find a way forward before a formal note on their creation is sent to the Cabinet Committee on Security. 
  • The proposed Air Defence Command plans to integrate all air assets of the armed forces while the Maritime Theatre Command plans to bring in all assets of Navy, Coast Guard as well as coastal formations of Army and Air Force under one umbrella. 
  • On land, the Army’s Northern command and Western Command would be converted into 2-5 theatre commands. 

Important value additions  

Integrated Theatre Command 

  • An integrated theatre command envisages a unified command of the three Services, under a single commander, for geographical theatres (areas) that are of strategic and security concern. 
  • The commander of such a force will be able to bear all resources at his disposal — from the Army, the Indian Air Force, and the Navy — with seamless efficacy. 
  • The integrated theatre commander will not be answerable to individual Services. 
  • Integration and jointness of the three forces will avoid duplication of resources. The resources available under each service will be available to other services too. 
  • The Shekatkar committee (in 2015) had recommended the creation of 3 integrated theatre commands — northern for the China border, western for the Pakistan border, and southern for the maritime role. 

Recent Developments 

  • The appointment of the CDS (Chief of Defence Staff) and the creation of the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) are momentous steps towards the integration and advancement of defence forces. 
    • CDS: It is the single-point military adviser to the government as suggested by the Kargil Review Committee in 1999. 
    • Department of Military Affairs: Work exclusively pertaining to military matters will fall within the purview of the DMA. Earlier, these functions were the mandate of the Department of Defence (DoD). 

Sale of illegal HTBt cotton seeds doubles

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

In news  

  • The illegal cultivation of herbicide tolerant (HT) Bt cotton has seen a huge jump this year, 
  • Sale of illegal seed packets has more than doubled from 30 lakh last year to 75 lakh this year. 
  • BT Cotton is a genetically modified crops that produces an insecticide to combat the Cotton bollworm, a common pest.  
  • GM crop has a gene artificially inserted from another species to provide some desired properties like pest resistance herbicide tolerance drought resistance 
  • However, concerns are raised over its negative impact on Environment human health and crop diversity  
  • Currently BT Cotton is the only GM crop allowed for commercial cultivation in India but herbicide tolerant BT Cotton has not been approved by regulators. T 
  • They are available in the black market along with BT brinjal and HT Soya seeds.  
  • HTbt Cotton variant makes the plant resistant to the Herbicide glyphosate  
  • Glyphosate has carcinogenic effect and can also result in spread of herbicide resistance to near by plants through pollination  

DO you know? 

  • Regulatory Framework for approval of GM crops is covered under  the Environment protection Act 1986  
  • Genetic engineering appraisal committee under Ministry of Environment, forest and climate change is Apex body that allows for commercial release of GM crops in India 
  • Cartagena protocol on biosafety provides well-defined mechanism of regulation of GM crops including biosafety evaluation and environmental release 

Miscellaneous

Sickle Cell Anaemia 

  • The Minister of Tribal Affairs inaugurated the Second National Sickle Cell Conclave on ‘Sickle Cell Disease’.  
  • The Conclave is being held to mark the World Sickle Cell Day observed on 19thJune 2021 every year. 
  • The disease is characterized by a modification in the shape of the red blood cell from a smooth, donut-shape into a crescent or half-moon shape. 
  • These cells lack plasticity and can block small blood vessels, impairing blood flow. This condition leads to shortened red blood cell survival, and subsequent anaemia, often called sickle-cell anaemia. 
  • This leads to chronic acute pain syndromes, severe bacterial infections, and necrosis (tissue death). Anaemia is a medical condition in which the red blood cell count or haemoglobin is less than normal.  
  • Symptoms: Fatigue, Shortness of breath, Hair loss etc. 
  • Treatment: It can be managed by simple procedures including: 
    • High fluid intake 
    • Healthy diet 
    • Folic acid/Iron supplementation 
    • Pain medication 
    • Vaccination and antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of infections 
    • A number of other therapeutic measures. 
  • Sickle cell disease (SCD), which is the most prevalent inherited blood disorder, is widespread amongst many tribal population groups in India 
  • The disease in India is prevalent predominantly in Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, western Odisha, eastern Gujarat and in pockets of the Nilgiri Hills in north Tamil Nadu and Kerala. 

(Mains Focus)


ECONOMY/ INTERNATIONAL

Topic:

  • GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
  • GS-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment. 

Federal Reserve signals and Indian markets

Context: US Federal Reserve indicated that there could be two rate hikes by 2023. 

After this announcement, in India, the benchmark Sensex fell marginally and the rupee lost over 1% against the dollar

What did the Federal Reserve say?

  • US Federal Reserve maintained that they would continue with an accommodative monetary policy and bond buying programme to support the economy, generate employment and achieve inflation of around 2%.
  • At the same time, they discussed the rate hike and an eventual reduction, or tapering, of the central bank’s bond buying programme. This was a deviation from its March announcement. 
    • In March 2021, the Fed signalled that they would hold the rates near zero through 2023.
  • Some members were also in favour of raising rates at least once in 2022. 
  • The Federal Reserve noted that the progress on vaccinations has reduced the spread of Covid-19 in USA and with strong policy support the fundamentals of the economy has strengthened necessitating rate hike.

How did the markets react?

  • A hike in interest rates in the US has a bearing on the debt and equity markets, not just in the US but also in emerging economies.
    • India had witnessed record foreign portfolio investments (FPI) over the last one year due to easy monetary policy of US Federal Reserve. Investors could get easy loans & pump it into emerging markets for quick returns.
  • After the Fed’s signalling, the Dow Jones Industrial fell 265 points and the treasury yield rose from 1.498% to 1.569%. 
  • In India, the benchmark Sensex fell 461 points or 0.87% and the rupee lost 75 paisa or 1% against the dollar.

What could be the impact of an early hike in interest rates?

  • News of a hike in interest rate in the US leads not only to an outflow of funds from equities into US treasury bonds, but also to an outflow of funds from emerging economies to the US.
  • The rupee is also expected to come under pressure as the dollar strengthens.
  • After June witnessed FPI inflows of Rs 14,500 crore into Indian capital markets, it remains to be seen if there is a slowdown in the pace of inflow over the coming weeks and months

What are domestic concerns for India?

  • Wholesale inflation has been rising for five months, and is expected to rise further as the impact of high crude prices and surging commodity prices feed in due to weakened rupee.
  • In India, an ebbing of the second wave of the pandemic and increasing vaccination numbers have led to expectations of a recovery in demand, and higher raw material prices. This would cause retail inflation to rise as well.
  • Both wholesale & retain inflation puts the RBI on a tightrope walk in balancing the growth-inflation dynamics.
  • Meanwhile, as there is no further scope for a rate cut by RBI, all eyes are on the government for fiscal policy action to spur growth.

Connecting the dots:


ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic:

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

Demand for New Fiscal Stimulus

Context: Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has urged the government should spend an additional Rs 3 lakh crore as fresh fiscal stimulus to boost demand in the economy. 

It has also suggested where this money should be spent:

  • Provide direct cash transfers to families with Jan Dhan bank accounts,
  • To increase MGNREGA allocation and provide more job guarantees in rural India,
  • To cut the Goods and Services Tax rates, and thus boosting demand,
  • To extend the Atmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana, under which the government subsidises the provident fund contributions by employees as well as employers for two years

Why the repeated calls for fresh stimulus?

  • The economic recovery is on the cards but in the absence of a fresh stimulus from the government the recovery could be quite slow.
  • In the wake of second wave, firms reported infections among staff or their family leading to disruption in their business cycles.
  • There is also concern about people losing jobs in the aftermath of the second Covid wave and how this loss of livelihood and income could be bringing down the overall demand.
  • In sum, both production (or supply) and consumption (or demand) of goods and services are likely to be depressed in the coming period unless the government transfers money, one way or another, into the hands of the people.

Where will the additional Rs 3 lakh crore come from?

  • The government’s finances are already quite stretched. Fiscal deficit is already more than twice the norms set by FRBM Act.
  • CII suggested that the government should ask the RBI to “expand its balance-sheet in order to accommodate the increased stimulus”. In other words, it wants RBI to print Rs 3 lakh crore worth of new cash and give it to the government to spend.
  • This printing of additional money is requested so that lending costs remain contained. 
    • If government borrows money from market to fund the stimulus, then the resulting competition for money will rise the interest rates in the market, which is not preferred by Private sector looking for economic rebound.

Concerns with printing money

  • Printing money can lead to inflation. India already has high inflation and, as such, this suggestion is problematic. 
  • Also, inflation hits the poor the hardest.
  • Printing money can push governments to spend irresponsibly leading to poor fiscal situation & inefficient usage of money.

Are there any alternatives to printing more money?

There are several alternatives.

  1. Compressing “pay ratios” in the corporate world
  • The pay ratio of a firm (Ex: 5) is the ratio of the salary of the top-paid manager (Rs 25 lakhs) in the firm to the median salary (Rs 5 Lakhs) in the firm.
  • Compressing Pay-ratio will put more money in the hands of workers thus increasing their purchasing powers & boosting demand.
  • However, this measure is for the companies to decide and the government cannot do anything.
  1. Wealth tax
  • The total net worth of private individuals in India in 2018 was Rs 570 lakh crore
  • Of this amount, the top 1% owns 58% or around Rs 330 lakh crore. 
  • A 2% tax on the wealth of just the top 1% would fetch Rs 6.6 lakh crore.
  1. Inheritance Tax
  • If we assume that every year 5% of the total wealth of this top startup gets transferred to their children, or other legatees, as inheritance, then even a modest taxation of one-third of such inheritance would fetch Rs 5.5 lakh crore

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 Sickle cell Anaemia:

  1. The disease is characterized by a modification in the shape of the red blood cell from a smooth, donut-shape into a crescent or half-moon shape. 
  2. Sickle cell disease (SCD), which is the most prevalent inherited blood disorder, is widespread amongst many tribal population groups in India 

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: 

  1. Regulatory Framework for approval of GM crops is covered under  the Environment protection Act 1986  
  2. Genetic engineering appraisal committee under Ministry of Environment, forest and climate change is Apex body that allows for commercial release of GM crops in India 

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 June 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 B

Must Read

On Russia, China and India :

The Hindu

On India’s agri-exports:

Indian Express

On lessons to be learnt from 1991 economic reforms:

Hindustan Times

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