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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 7th June 2021

  • IASbaba
  • June 7, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Black Carbon Report by World Bank

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

In news

  • The report titled “Glaciers of the Himalayas: Climate Change, Black Carbon and Regional Resilience” has reported that the glaciers are melting faster than the global average ice mass. 
  • A strong policy on black carbon can sharply cut glacier melt.
  • Report released by: World Bank 
  • The Himalayas, Karakoram, and Hindu Kush (HKHK) mountain ranges were covered in the report.

Key takeaways from the report

  • Black Carbon (BC) is a short-lived pollutant 
    • It is the second-largest contributor to cause Global warming after carbon dioxide (CO2).
    • Unlike other greenhouse gas emissions, BC is quickly washed out and can be eliminated from the atmosphere if emissions stop.
    • Industry (primarily brick kilns) and residential burning of solid fuel together account for 45-66% of regional man-made BC deposition, followed by on-road diesel fuels and open burning in the region.
    • It acts in two ways hastening the pace of glacier melt:
      • By decreasing surface reflectance of sunlight.
      • By raising the air temperature
    • Full implementation of current policies to mitigate BC can achieve a 23% reduction but enacting new policies and regional cooperation among countries can achieve enhanced benefits.
      • National Mission on Sustaining Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE) is one such policy adopted in India. 
      • It is one of the eight missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).
  • Steps that can be taken in the Himalayas
    • Reduce black carbon emissions from – (1) cookstoves; (2) Diesel engines; (3) Open burning. It could significantly reduce radiative forcing
  • Steps to be Taken by Regional Governments:
    • Review the policies on water management
    • Careful planning and use of hydropower to reflect changes in water flows and availability.
    • Increasing the efficiency of brick kilns through proven technologies.
    • Greater knowledge sharing in the region.

Important value additions 

  • There are almost 55,000 glaciers in the HKHK mountains which store more freshwater than any other region outside the North and South Poles. 
  • Glacier melt produces 
    • Flash floods
    • Landslips
    • Soil erosion 
  • Radiative forcing is a measure of the change in energy balance as a result of a change in a forcing agent (e.g., greenhouse gases, aerosol, cloud, and surface albedo) to affect the global energy balance and contribute to climate change.

Model Panchayat Citizens Charter

Part of: GS Prelims and GS -II – Panchayati Raj

In news

  • A Model Panchayat Citizens Charter was recently released .
  • Ministry: Ministry of Panchayati Raj 
  • Prepared by: Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR) in collaboration with National Institute of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR)

About the Model Panchayat Citizens Charter

  • What is its aim?
    • To Provide Services to the People in a Time Bound Manner
    • Redressing Their Grievances 
    • Improving Their Lives.
  • The Panchayats will utilise this framework to draw up a Citizens Charter and adopt it through a resolution of the Gram Sabha by 15th August, 2021.
  • Panchayats are responsible for delivery of basic services as enshrined under article 243G of the Constitution of India, specifically in the areas of Health & Sanitation, Education, Nutrition, Drinking Water. 

Important value additions 

National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRD&PR)

  • It is an autonomous organisation under the Union Ministry of Rural Development.
  • It is a premier national centre of excellence in rural development and Panchayati Raj. 
  • It builds capacities of rural development functionaries, elected representatives of PRIs, bankers, NGOs and other stakeholders.
  • It is recognized internationally as one of the UN-ESCAP Centres of Excellence.
  • The Institute is located in Hyderabad, Telangana.
  • It also has North-Eastern Regional Centre (NERC) at Guwahati, Assam to meet the NE-regional needs.

Construction of Conventional Submarines under Project P 75 (I) approved

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

In news

  • The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has approved the issuance of a Request For Proposal (RFP) for construction of six Conventional Submarines under Project P 75 (I) under the Strategic Partnership (SP) Model.

What is this Project about?

  • This Project envisions indigenous construction of six conventional submarines equipped with the state-of-the-art Air Independent Propulsion system at an estimated cost of Rs 43,000 crore.
  • This is the first case processed under the SP model. 
  • The SP model of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) aims to promote the role of Indian industry in manufacturing and build a domestic defence industrial ecosystem.
  • This would be one of the largest ‘Make in India’ projects.

What is the Strategic Partnership (SP) Model?

  • The SP model shall identify few Indian private companies as Strategic Partners who would tie up with a few shortlisted foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to manufacture defence equipment.
  • The selection of SPs and their foreign OEM partners would be based on a competitive process to be undertaken simultaneously. 
  • The Ministry of Defence (MoD) would also identify a list of Indian companies in each segment based on certain technical, financial and infrastructure-related parameters. 

Important value additions 

Defence Acquisition Council (DAC)

  • It is the highest decision-making body in the Defence Ministry 
  • It decides on new policies and capital acquisitions for the three services (Army, Navy and Air Force) and the Indian Coast Guard
  • The Minister of Defence is the Chairman of the Council.

Devika River Project: J&K

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

In news

  • Recently, the Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region has asked for suggestions for the Devika River project in Udhampur, J&K.
    • This project is compared with the Namami Gange Project.

About Devika River project 

  • This is a Rs. 190 crore Project.
  • The work on the project was started in March 2019 under the National River Conservation Plan (NRCP).
  • Under the project, 
    • Bathing “ghats” (places) on the banks of the Devika River will be developed,
    • Encroachments will be removed
    • Natural water bodies will be restored 
    • Catchment areas will be developed along with cremation ground
    • Small hydropower plants and three solar power plants shall also be developed.
  • The project will lead to reduction in pollution and improvement in water quality.

About Devika River

  • Devika river originates from the hilly Suddha Mahadev temple in Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • It flows down towards western Punjab (now in Pakistan) where it merges with the Ravi river.
  • The river holds religious significance as it is revered by Hindus as the sister of river Ganga.
  • In June 2020, Devika Bridge was inaugurated in Udhampur. 

About National River Conservation Plan (NRCP)

  • It is a centrally funded scheme 
  • Launched in 1995 
  • Aim: Preventing the pollution of rivers.
  • Programs for river conservation are being implemented under National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) and NGRBA (National Ganga River Basin Authority).
  • Activities under NRCP:
    • Interception and Diversion works to capture the raw sewage flowing into the river through open drains and divert them for treatment.
    • Low Cost Sanitation works to prevent open defecation on riverbanks.
    • Electric Crematoria and Improved Wood Crematoria to conserve the use of wood 
    • River Front Development works such as improvement of bathing ghats.
    • Public awareness and public participation.

Launch of SAGE (Seniorcare Ageing Growth Engine) Initiative 

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

In news

  • SAGE (Seniorcare Aging Growth Engine) initiative and SAGE portal were launched recently.
  • Ministry: Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, 
  • Objective: To support India’s elderly persons 

About the initiative:

  • The SAGE portal will be a “one-stop access” of elderly care products and services by credible start-ups.
  • The start-ups selected under SAGE will be those which will provide new innovative products and services to elderly persons in various areas like health, travel, finance, legal ,housing, food among others.
  • The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment will act as a facilitator for this scheme.
  • A fund of upto Rs.1 crore as one-time equity will be granted to each selected start-up.
  • An amount of Rs 100 crore has been assigned for the promotion of the silver economy.

Important value additions 

  • Silver economy is the system of production, distribution and consumption of goods and services aimed at using the purchasing potential of older and ageing people and satisfying their consumption, living and health needs.
  • As per surveys, the share of elders, as a percentage of the total population in the country, is expected to increase from around 7.5% in 2001 to almost 12.5% by 2026, and surpass 19.5% by 2050.
  • Earlier a Senior Citizen Welfare Fund was started in 2016.

Miscellaneous

World Environment Day

  • The World Environment Day was observed on 5th June, 2021.
  • Objective of the day: Encouraging worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment.
  • Theme for 2021: “REIMAGINE. RECREATE. RESTORE” with focus on ecosystem restoration (to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and in every ocean).
  • Every World Environment Day has a different host country, where the official celebrations take place. 
  • Host for 2021 is Pakistan
  • The Prime Minister of India released the “Report of the Expert Committee on Road Map for ethanol blending in India 2020-2025“. 
    • Government has resolved to meet the target of 20% ethanol blending in petrol by 2025
    • He also launched the ambitious E-100 pilot project in Pune for the production and distribution of ethanol across the country. 

(Mains Focus)


GOVERNANCE/ ECONOMY

Topic:

  • GS-2: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate. 
  • GS-2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

BRICS | The coming together of the powerful five

Origin of BRICS

  • BRICS was not invented by any of its members. In 2001, Goldman Sachs’ Jim O’Neill authored a paper called “Building Better Global Economic BRICs”, pointing out that future GDP growth in the world would come from China, India, Russia and Brazil.
  • Significantly, the paper didn’t recommend a separate grouping for them, but made the case that the G-7 should include them
  • The paper further that BRIC economies combined would outstrip the western dominated world order before 2039.
  • In 2006, leaders of the BRIC countries met on the margins of a G-8 (now called G-7) summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, and BRIC was formalised that year. 
  • The global financial crisis of 2007-08 reinforced the idea as BRIC countries had been relatively unscathed in the market collapse. 
  • Common ground for the members was built by ensuring that no bilateral issues were brought up in the forum.

Issues with BRICS

  • Lacks Focus: Despite being formed in 2006, the group still mystifies all and lacks focus.
  • Little in Common: Started as an alternate grouping of emerging economies that could challenge the post-War world order, it has been criticised as a rag-tag band of disparate countries across four continents with little in common
  • Russia-China Axis: Ties between countries such as Russia and China are growing at a much strong pace than the group’s own cohesion
  • Tensions: Also, the groups utility is being question in the light of growing tension between India and China
  • Bridge or Bulwark against West: India, Brazil and South Africa have equal, if not stronger, strategic ties with western powers today, prompting scholars to ask whether BRICS is a bridge between the east and west or whether it is being positioned as a bulwark against them.
  • Poor Performance:  The biggest blow to the BRICS firmament was dealt by the very company that laid its foundations. In 2015, Goldman Sachs wound up its BRIC fund, which had reportedly lost 88% of its asset value since 2010, and merged it with a larger emerging markets fund.
  • Long Term Investor Sentiment is dim for the group due to following reasons
    • China’s decision to launch the trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative in 2017 was opposed by India, and even Russia did not join
    • South Africa’s debt-laden economy and negative current account has led some to predict an economic collapse in the next decade. 
    • Brazil’s poor handling during the Covid-19 crisis has ranked it amongst the world’s worst-affected countries and its recovery is expected to be delayed. 
    • India’s economic slowdown was a concern even before Covid-19 hit, and government policies like “Aatmanirbhar” were seen as a plan to turn inward.
    • There are concerns about aggressions from China in the South China Sea, the border with India and internally in Hongkong and Xinjiang.

Achievements of BRICS

  • Regular Summits: All the contradictions and criticism notwithstanding, BRICS is an idea that has endured two decades, an idea its members remain committed to, and not one has skipped the annual summits held since 2009.
  • Alternative to World Bank: BRICS has created the New Development Bank (NDB) set up with an initial capital of $100 billion
  • BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement fund to deal with global liquidity crunches.
  • BRICS payment system proposing to be an alternative to the SWIFT payment system.
  • Stand on Geopolitical Events: While its foundation was economic, BRICS statements have always been deeply political, calling for more inclusion in the multilateral world order, decrying U.S.-Europe backed military interventions, and expressing an independent line on several world events from Afghanistan to West Asia.
  • BRICS countries move ahead on a “BRICS Vaccine Centre”, proposed to be based in Johannesburg, given that at least three members — Russia India and China — have manufactured a substantial chunk of all globally authorised vaccines.
  • BRICS has repeatedly called for reforming multilateral institutions, including the UN and the UNSC, International Monetary Fund and World Bank and the World Trade Organization.
  • BRICS supported negotiations at the WTO for the waiver of trade-related intellectual property rights (TRIPs) for vaccines and medicines to tackle the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Conclusion

It is still possible that the BRIC grouping could become as large as the G7 within the next generation. If international trade, investment, and financial flows between the BRIC countries and the rest of the world continue, this level of growth would be good for everyone.

Connecting the dots:


ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic:

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • GS-3: Economy & Issues arising out of it.

Indemnity and Vaccine Pricing

Context: Pfizer, which supplies the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine, is said to have requested that the government indemnify it from any claim that may arise from vaccine users in the future based on any adverse effects after getting the jab. 

What is indemnity and why is it sought?

  • Indemnity is a form of contract. 
  • Section 124 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872, defines a contract of indemnity as one by which one party promises to save the other from any loss caused to the latter. 
  • Once the government of India grants such indemnity to the vaccine manufacturer or importer, it would mean that if a particular vaccine is perceived to have caused death or any lasting damage to a recipient, any claim of compensation arising from it will have to be met by the government, and not by the company
  • In the event of a court ordering payment, the company will be in a position to recover the amount from the government.
  • The law on drugs in India does not have a provision for indemnity related to the grant of approval for any new drug or vaccine in the country.
  • If at all any indemnity is to be granted to any company for a particular drug or vaccine, it can only be in the form of an indemnity bond executed on behalf of the government of India, or a clause or set of clauses in any contract that the government may sign with the supplier. 
  • There appears to be no precedent for any company getting such indemnity in India for any drug.

Is the demand for or grant of indemnity a standard practice?

  • Indemnity is essentially a contractual matter between the supplier and recipient, and therefore, a good deal of confidentiality is attached to such agreements. 
  • Pfizer is believed to have obtained such indemnity from several countries, including the United Kingdom, from which it has received supply orders. However, it has declined to discuss the issue in public.
  • Normally, it is the company applying for approval of a new drug or vaccine that submits itself to various conditions and regulations. Approvals in most countries come with stringent conditions regarding quality standards, safety assessments and requirements regarding various phases of clinical trials.
  •  However, given the peculiar global situation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the severe shortage of vaccines faced by countries such as India, which urgently needs to inoculate hundreds of millions of people, some vaccine suppliers may be in a position to set conditions.

What have the overseas companies got so far?

  • The Drugs Controller-General of India has already taken a big step towards fast-tracking the import of vaccines by dispensing with the need for local trials. 
  • Earlier, the Centre had decided that foreign-produced vaccines that had been granted emergency approval for restricted use by regulators in the U.S., the U.K., the European Union and Japan, or those included in the WHO’s Emergency Use Listing, would be granted Emergency Use Authorisation in India
  • The New Drugs and Clinical Trial Rules, 2019 provide for payment of compensation by the sponsor of the trial or its representative to any participant who dies or suffers disability as a result of such trials. Exemption from these trials has reduced the risk to overseas manufacturers. 
  • However, companies probably fear that they would still be liable under the ordinary law of tort, arising from future claims by anyone adversely affected after receiving the shot.

What are the implications of giving indemnity?

  • Lower Prices: In the absence of indemnity, overseas manufacturers may load the risk onto the price of the vaccines, making each dose more expensive. By indemnifying the companies in respect of these vaccines, the government of India may be able to negotiate lower prices and higher volumes. 
  • Faster Vaccination: Reduced prices and faster production may help accelerate India’s national vaccination drive. 
  • Demand for Level Playing Field: The demand from indemnity from Pfizer has already given rise to a similar demand from domestic vaccine-maker Serum Institute of India (SII), which says all players should be treated the same way.
  • Government needs to bear entire risk: Providing indemnity to all by government to ensure level playing field is inviting upon itself the entire risk associated with more than a billion vaccine shots.

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 National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRD&PR):

  1. It is an autonomous organisation under the Union Ministry of Rural Development.
  2. It is a premier national centre of excellence in rural development and Panchayati Raj. 

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 Devika River originates in which of the following State/Union territory of India?

  1. Nashik
  2. Kochi
  3. Uttarakhand
  4. Jammu and kashmir

Q.3 Consider the following statements: 

  1. Indian Government has resolved to meet the target of 20% ethanol blending in petrol by 2025. 
  2. E-100 pilot project in Delhi was recently launched for the production and distribution of ethanol across 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 7th June 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

C
D

Must Read

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