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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 13th August 2021

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  • August 13, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


World Elephant Day

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

  • The World Elephant Day is celebrated on 12th August every year to spread awareness for the conservation and protection of the largest mammal on land.
  • The day was launched in 2012 to bring attention to the urgent plight of Asian and African elephants.
  • Asian Elephants: There are three subspecies of Asian elephant which are the Indian, Sumatran and Sri Lankan.
    • Global Population: Estimated 20,000 to 40,000.
    • More than 60% of the world’s elephant population is in India. 
    • IUCN Red List Status: Endangered.
    • Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I.
  • African Elephants: There are two subspecies of African elephants, the Savanna (or bush) elephant and the Forest elephant.
  • Concerns:
    • Escalation of poaching.
    • Habitat loss.
    • Human-elephant conflict.
    • Mistreatment in captivity.
    • Abuse due to elephant tourism.

Steps Taken by India for Conservation

  • Gaj Yatra which is a nationwide awareness campaign to celebrate elephants and highlight the necessity of securing elephant corridors.
  • The Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme, launched in 2003, is an international collaboration that tracks trends in information related to the illegal killing of elephants from across Africa and Asia, to monitor effectiveness of field conservation efforts.
  • Project Elephant: It is a centrally sponsored scheme and was launched in February 1992 for the protection of elephants, their habitats and corridors.
    • Has enabled human-elephant coexistence in southern India
    • Acts as an early warning mechanism to alert people when elephants are nearby, minimizing negative human-elephant interactions, and increasing people’s tolerance towards elephants.
    • By Mr. Ananda Kumar

News Source: TH


GSLV-F10 Failure

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – II – International relations; Health 

In news A technical anomaly prevented the ignition of the GSLV-F10 rocket’s cryogenic upper stage and ISRO could not accomplish the mission to launch earth observation satellite EOS-03 into the intended orbit.

About EOS-03

  • EOS-03, intended to be positioned in the geostationary transfer orbit initially, was supposed to reach the final geostationary orbit.
  • It was expected to provide near real-time imaging of a large area of interest at frequent intervals, which could be used for quick monitoring of natural disasters, episodic events and any short-term events. 
  • The mission life of the satellite was 10 years.
  • GSLV-F10 was ISRO’s eighth flight with indigenous cryoengine.
  • While the first stage of the GSLV is solid fuel, the second is liquid fuel and the third the cryogenic engine.
    • Cryogenic rocket engine uses a cryogenic fuel and oxidizer, i.e. both its fuel and oxidizer are gases liquefied and stored at very low temperatures.

News Source: TH


AL – Mohed AL – Hindi: India & Saudi Arabia Naval Exercise

Part of: Prelims and GS – III – International Relations

In news Maiden bilateral naval exercise ‘AL – Mohed AL – Hindi’ between India and Saudi Arabia got under way on 12th August off the coast of Al Jubail. 

  • Indian Navy participated with its indigenously built stealth destroyer Kochi with two integral Sea King helicopters.
  • It saw the two navies undertake co-ordinated action against asymmetric threat, replenishment at sea procedures, anti-piracy and boarding operations, weapon targeting drills etc. to enhance synergy and interoperability between the two navies.

News Source: TH


Vacancies in Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- III – Dispute Redressal Mechanism

In news Recently, the Supreme Court, has expressed displeasure over delay in filling up vacancies in the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions.

  • It directed the centre and states to complete the process within eight weeks.
  • The Court also asked the Centre to submit a report on legislative impact study on Consumer Protection Act, 2019 in four weeks time.
    • Legislative Impact Study or Assessment is the study of the impact of a law (being made and enforced) on the society over a period of time.

About National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission

  • The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) is a quasi-judicial commission in India which was set up in 1988 under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986.
  • Its head office is in New Delhi.
  • The commission is headed by a sitting or retired judge of the Supreme Court of India.
  • The Consumer Protection Act of 1986 provided for a three-tier consumer dispute redressal machinery at the National (NCDRC), State and District levels.
  • The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 establishes the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) whose primary objective will be to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers.

News Source: IE


International Baccalaureate

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II –  Education

In news Recently, the Delhi Board of School Education (DBSE) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with International Baccalaureate (IB) to implement IB programmes in 30 government schools, including 20 of its new Schools of Specialised Excellence in 2021.

  • With the signing of this MoU, government school students will get access to international level of educational facilities.
  • Students of these schools will be issued joint certification by the IB and the Delhi board when they complete schooling.

About International Baccalaureate (IB)

  • It is a worldwide, non-profit education program founded to give to students aged 3 to 19 the opportunity to receive an education fit for a globalizing world. 
  • Its Foundation Office is in Geneva (Switzerland).
  • It emphasizes personal student development as one of its main achievements.
  • There are four IB education programs, all of which are intended to develop students’ intellectual, emotional, personal and social skills.
  • It has around 5,000 schools globally. There are currently 193 IB schools in India, all of which are top-end elite private schools.

News Source: IE


(News from PIB)


Installed Renewable Energy Capacity

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II –  Education

  • The total installed renewable energy capacity in India, excluding large hydro, has crossed the mile-stone of 100 GW. If large hydro is included the installed RE capacity increases to 146 GW.
    • Another 50 GW is under installation and 27 GW is under tendering
  • Currently, India stands at 4th position in the world in terms of installed RE capacity, 5th in solar and 4th in wind in terms of installed capacity.
  • India has also enhanced its ambition to install 450 GW of renewable energy  capacity by 2030.

India’s Paris Climate Goals

In 2015, ahead of the UN significant climate conference in Paris, India announced three major voluntary commitments called the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC):

  • Improving the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33–35% by 2030 over 2005 levels
  • Increasing the share of non-fossil fuels-based electricity to 40% by 2030.
  • Enhancing its forest cover, thereby absorbing 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide

Source: PIB


Common Survey to Count Elephants and Tigers

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

In news From December, India will move to a system that will count tigers and elephants as part of a common survey. 

  • The announcement was made on 12th August which is celebrated as World Elephant Day.
  • The tiger survey is usually held once in four years and elephants are counted once in five years.

How are the Tiger and elephant numbers estimated till now?

  • Since 2006, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, which is affiliated to the Environment Ministry, has a standardised protocol in place which is used by States to estimate tiger numbers. 
  • Based on sightings in camera traps and indirect estimation methods, tiger numbers are computed.
  • Elephant numbers largely rely on States directly counting the number of elephants
  • In recent years, techniques such as analysing dung samples have also been deployed to estimate birth rates and population trends in elephants.
  • There were 2,997 tigers (2018-19 survey) and 29,964 elephants (2017 survey) in India. 

Need for common survey

  • Given that 90% of the area occupied by elephants and tigers is common, and once estimation methods are standardised, having a common survey can significantly save costs. 

Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


GOVERNANCE/ ECONOMY

  • GS-3: Awareness in the fields of IT
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 

E-RUPI & Governance

In news: Recently launched by the PM Modi, e-RUPI is a digital prepaid, purpose- and person-specific payment utility. 

How will e-RUPI work?

  • e-RUPI is basically a digital voucher which a beneficiary gets on his phone in the form of an SMS or QR code. 
  • It is a pre-paid voucher, which he/she can go and redeem it at any centre that accepts its.
  • For example, if the Government wants to cover a particular treatment of an employee in a specified hospital, it can issue an e-RUPI voucher for the determined amount through a partner bank.  The employee will receive an SMS or a QR Code on his feature phone / smart phone.  He/she can go to the specified hospital, avail of the services and pay through the e-RUPI voucher received on his phone. 
  • e-RUPI will connect the sponsors of the services (govt) with the beneficiaries (BPL Card holder) and service providers (hospitals) in a digital manner without any physical interface.
  • Thus e-RUPI is a one-time contactless, cashless voucher-based mode of payment that helps users redeem the voucher without a card, digital payments app, or internet banking access.
  • The system has been built by National Payments Corporation of India on its UPI platform, and has onboarded banks that will be the issuing entities. 

e-RUPI’s Application in Vaccination 

  • Its immediate and first-use case can be to facilitate cashless service at paid Covid vaccination centres (CVCs). 
  • For instance, corporates and philanthropies can buy services in bulk to vaccinate employees and those in need. 
  • The intended beneficiaries will receive an SMS or QR code on their feature/smartphone, redeemable for cashless vaccination at participating centres. 

e-RUPI’s Application in PDS

  • The inefficiency of the programme is rooted in high overhead costs, leakages, exclusion and inefficiencies. 
  • A food-specific e-RUPI voucher will allow beneficiaries to buy rations from an outlet of their choice. 
  • e-RUPI could make the PDS programme more efficient. 
  • One Nation, One Ration Card has the potential to make the redemption of the voucher at market price by merchants within and outside the PDS network.

e-RUPI’s Application in Fertilizer Subsidy

  • e-RUPI will enable farmers to buy fertiliser at nominal prices with direct credit of the subsidy amount into the account of the authorised dealers.

e-RUPI’s Application in Education

  • Identified students receive vouchers to pay school fees and expenses at empanelled institutions of their choice, public and private, which compete to get full fee-paying students. 
  • The resultant option and competition benefits students and schools while enhancing transparency and accountability.

e-RUPI’s Application in Ayushman Bharat healthcare initiative.

  • Identified beneficiaries will receive e-RUPI vouchers of designated value tenable at empanelled healthcare facilities, providing them portability and facility choice. 
  • The service provider will benefit from the immediate payment.

Significance of e-RUPI

  • Benefits to Consumers: e-RUPI does not require the beneficiary to have a bank account, a major distinguishing feature as compared to other digital payment forms.  It ensures an easy, contactless two-step redemption process that does not require sharing of personal details either.
  • Another advantage is that e-RUPI is operable on basic phones also, and hence it can be used by persons who do not own smart-phones or in places that lack internet connection.
  • Benefits to Sponsors: e-RUPI is expected to play a major role in strengthening Direct-Benefit Transfer and making it more transparent.  Since, there is no need for physical issuance of vouchers, it will also lead to some cost savings as well.
  • Benefits to Service Provider: Being a prepaid voucher, e-RUPI would assure real time payments to the service provider.
  • Huge Potential: Built on the UPI platform, e-RUPI is easy to scale by the issuer. In the days to come the user base of e-RUPI is expected to widen, with even private sector using it to disburse non-cash benefits to employees and support focussed CSR programmes. MSMEs can adopt it for Business to Business (B2B) transactions. Later, individuals could use it for gifting.
  • Enhances efficiency of Governance Delivery: It can bring ease and simplicity of UPI to government welfare measures. As a one-to-many payments facilitator, it will help the government sharpen targeted welfare programmes. 

Way Ahead

  • The adoption of e-RUPI in various government programmes will enhance business efficiency, simplicity, transparency, and accountability in these programmes.
  • Making the distribution and acceptance of e-RUPI incentive-compatible is recommended, as demonstrated by the popularisation of Aadhar for multiple governance initiatives.
  • Light regulation and the opening of e-RUPI to competition will spur innovation and adoption. All banks, small and big, NBFCs, non-bank PPI issuers, and telcos may be allowed to issue it later

Connecting the dots:


RIGHTS/ JUDICIARY

  • GS-2: Fundamental Rights
  • GS-2: Judiciary & its role.

Public Interest & Restriction on Free Speech 

In news: In a recent decision, a division bench in the Bombay high court introduced an additional restriction to the fundamental right to free speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a).

What is the background of the case?

  • The matter involved nine petitions that challenged Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) regulations in broadcasting.
  • The thrust of the petitioners’ argument was that TRAI’s economic regulations restrict the circulation of broadcaster programming, violating the broadcaster’s right to disseminate and consumer’s right to receive information, both of which are core components of the right to free speech.
  • The Bombay high court upheld TRAI’s economic regulations and held that “public interest” serves as an additional ground on which the State may issue diktats to restrict free speech. 

The Bombay High Court Judgement is being criticised on three counts.

  1. Judicial Overreach
  • Additional restriction on Free Speech is supposed to have been introduced by Parliament through Constitutional Amendment to Article 19(2)
  • Through this judgement, the high court overstepped its jurisdiction and stepped onto turf reserved for democratically elected legislators. A primary duty of the judiciary is to interpret laws, not create them.
  1. Encourages more interference by State 
  • Public interest is a fluid construct in Indian legal parlance, it is not defined, and it finds mention across a host of statutes, often justifying the more non-transparent elements of governance. 
  •  By reading in a vague notion such as public interest as a valid restriction on free speech in broadcasting, the court paved the way for greater State interference in television content, particularly news
  • It is alleged that High Court failed to uphold the rights of citizens and operate as a check against abuses of State power.
  1. Against Judicial Precedence set by Supreme Court 
  • The Bombay high court did not adhere to the judicial precedent on the matter of reading public interest as an implicit restriction on free speech. 
  • The Supreme Court has remained mindful of the political dimensions of public interest and what might result if it allowed the State to restrict free speech on this ground. 
  • While the right to free speech in India is not absolute and comes with certain restrictions listed under Article 19(2) of the Constitution, public interest never operated as a legitimate restriction on it. Also, courts do not permit its entry as an implicit restriction on Article 19(1)(a).

Do You Know?

In Indian Express Newspapers vs. Union of India, SC observed that the framers of the Constitution purposefully omitted public interest from 19(2) to ensure that the State did not hold the right to free speech ransom when it wished to impose excessive burdens on the press.

Conclusion

The Bombay high court, with due respect, usurped the jurisdiction of the legislature, failed to uphold press freedom on television, and disregarded for the precedent set down by higher courts. The order merits wider discussion and a review.

Connecting the dots:


 (RSTV Debate)


RSTV 30 July, 2021: The Big Picture: Quota for OBC & EWS reservation in medical education 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2Y1e1Ux3us

EDUCATION/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human Resources 
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Quota for OBC & EWS reservation in medical education

The Union Health Ministry has announced 27% reservation for the OBCs (Other Backward Classes) and 10% quota for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in the all-India quota (AIQ) scheme for undergraduate and postgraduate medical and dental courses from 2021-22.

What is NEET?

  • The National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) is the entrance examination for entry to all undergraduate (NEET-UG) and postgraduate (NEET-PG) medical and dental courses in the country.

What is the All-India Quota Scheme (AIQ)

  • The All-India Quota (AIQ) Scheme was introduced in 1986 under the directions of the Supreme Court to provide for domicile-free merit-based opportunities to students from any State to aspire to study in a good medical college located in another State.
  • A student domiciled in Uttar Pradesh, for example, may be eligible for admission to a seat in a state government medical college in West Bengal, provided she scores high enough in the national merit list. If her score is not high enough for AIQ, she may still hope for admission under the state quota in her home state.
  • AIQ consists of 15 per cent of total available UG seats and 50 per cent of total available PG seats in State medical and dental colleges.

Significance of the move:

  • The above decision is the reflection of the Government’s commitment to provide due reservation for backward and EWS category students.
  • This would benefit nearly 1,500 OBC students in MBBS and 2,500 OBC students in postgraduate courses, and also around 550 EWS students in MBBS and around 1,000 EWS students in postgraduation.
  • This will immensely help thousands of our youth every year get better opportunities and create a new paradigm of social justice in our country.

The Reservation Policy followed so far and the change now 

  • Until 2007, no reservation was implemented within the All-India Quota for medical admission. 
  • On January 31, 2007, in Abhay Nath v University of Delhi and Others, the Supreme Court directed that reservation of 15% for Scheduled Castes and 7.5% for Scheduled Tribes be introduced in the AIQ.
  • The same year, the government passed the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2007 providing for 27% reservation to OBC students in central government institutions such as AMU, BHU, etc. but it wasn’t extended to all India quota seats of state medical and dental colleges.
  • The 10% EWS quota under the Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act, 2019, too, has been implemented in central educational Institutions, but not in the NEET AIQ for state institutions.
  • In order to provide benefit to students belonging to EWS category in admission to higher educational Institutions, a Constitutional amendment was made in 2019 which enabled the provision of 10% reservation for EWS category. 
  • Accordingly, seats in medical / dental colleges were increased over two years in 2019-20 and 2020-21 to accommodate this additional 10% EWS reservation so that the total number of seats available for unreserved category do not reduce. In the AIQ seats, however, this benefit had not been extended so far.

The Government initiatives in improving the health system of India:

  • This particular pandemic has taught us many issues with the health system of our country. It has highlighted that good infrastructure is as important as the good institution so that we do have a trained manpower when we are talking of the health sector. 
  • The Steps taken by the government to ensure good infrastructure and quality medical education is imparted to the talent includes:
  • Entry should be standardized: Government introduced NEET (single standardized exam) to deal with this problem. This will ensure entry of quality medical students.
  • Second step that the government is proposing is that the national medical commission to start with NEXT exam that is the exit exam. This is most likely to start from 2023 that will ensure that every student should pass common exit exam before getting the license. This will ensure good quality of talent passing out of college.

Can you answer this question now?

  • Discuss the reforms in medical education. Also illustrate the government’s efforts in improving the health system of India.

(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.

Q.1 Which of the following is not correct? 

  1. The World Elephant day was launched in 2012 to bring attention to the urgent plight of Asian elephants only.
  2. The Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme, launched in 2003, is an international collaboration that tracks trends in information related to the illegal killing of elephants. 
  3. Project Elephant is a centrally sponsored scheme. 
  4. More than 60% of the world’s elephant population is in India

Q.2 Consider the following statements:

  1. While the first stage of the GSLV is solid fuel, the second is liquid fuel and the third the cryogenic engine.
  2. Cryogenic fuels are fuels that require storage at extremely low temperatures in order to maintain them in a liquid state.

Select the correct statements:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only 
  3. Both 1 and 2 
  4. Neither 1 nor 2 

Q.3 Maiden bilateral naval exercise ‘AL – Mohed AL – Hindi’ is being held between which of the following countries? 

  1. India and Oman
  2. India and Bangladesh 
  3. India and UAE
  4. India and Saudi Arabia 

ANSWERS FOR 12th August 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 D
3 C

Must Read

On various shades of Intolerance:

The Hindu

On decline of Parliament:

Indian Express

On Criminalisation of Politics:

Indian Express

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