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

  • IASbaba
  • August 21, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana: Smart health card for Odisha’s poor

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – III – Space; Sci and Tech

In news Odisha Chief Minister launched the distribution of a smart health card.

  • The scheme is known as Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana.
  • The card will help poor families receive treatment up to Rs. 5 lakh per annum.
  • About 3.5 crore poor people will benefit from the State-funded health debit card system.
  • Under the Yojana, women members of the family can receive treatment up to Rs. 10 lakh in a year.
  • People can also avail themselves of quality healthcare service in about 200 hospital chains in the country, including those in the State.

News source: TH


Quota benefit of Bihar & Jharkhand

Part of: Prelims and GS – II – Judiciary 

  • The Supreme Court has ruled that a person belonging to a reserved category is entitled to claim the benefit of reservation in either of the successor States of Bihar or Jharkhand, but cannot claim benefit of the quota simultaneously in both the successor States upon their reorganisation in November, 2000.
  • The SC also held that members of the reserved category, who are residents of the successor State of Bihar, while participating in open selection in Jharkhand, shall be treated to be migrants, and they can participate in the general category without claiming the benefit of reservation and vice versa.

Read more:

News source: TH 


China Formally passes Three-Child Policy into law

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- II – Government policies and interventions

In news China’s legislature has formally amended the country’s family planning rules to allow couples to have three children.

It also announced a number of policy measures aimed at boosting declining birth rates.

  • The amended law calls on the authorities to take supportive measures, including those in finances, taxes, insurance, education, housing and employment, to reduce families’ burdens as well as the cost of raising and educating children.
  • China’s regulators in recent weeks have taken drastic measures to reduce education costs – cited in many surveys as a main reason why many couples prefer to have only one child – including by improving the booming private education industry, which may be ordered to go non-profit according to reports.
  • The changes come in the wake of China’s once-in-ten year population census that recorded rapidly declining birth rates over the past decade. 
    • According to The National Bureau of Statistics 12 million babies were born last year, the lowest number since 1961.
    • In 2016 also a “two-child policy” was introduced that largely failed to boost birth rates.
    • Ageing crisis “might be the biggest challenge the Chinese nation faces in the next century.”

News source: TH 


Dye-Sensitised Solar Cells using Kamala Fruit

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

In news Research team at Central University of Jharkhand has used the dye extract of the kamala fruit to create a low-cost and non-toxic sensitiser for dye-sensitised solar cells. 

  • But there is still a lot to be done to finalise the efficacy

What is Dye-sensitized solar cell?

  • Dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) is a low-cost solar cell belonging to the group of thin film solar cells (converting solar energy into electricity)
  • It is based on a semiconductor formed between a photo-sensitized anode and an electrolyte, a photoelectrochemical system. 
  • The modern version of a dye solar cell, also known as the Grätzel cell
  • Attractive features: It is simple to make using conventional roll-printing techniques, is semi-flexible and semi-transparent which offers a variety of uses not applicable to glass-based systems, and most of the materials used are low-cost.

Key Takeaways 

  • Popularly known as senduri, rohini or rori among Jharkhand tribal communities, the red kamala tree is a semi-evergreen woody spurge plant that bears fruit only in spring.
  • This is the first time this dye has been used for solar cell application.
  • Natural dye was extracted from the pericarp of the kamala fruit.
  • The extracted dye was used to make an inexpensive, non-toxic sensitiser for DSSCs or Grätzel cells, which directly convert solar energy into electricity. 
  • Significance: Natural dye can be easily extracted from an inedible source, like the kamala fruit in its untreated form, using a very low-cost technique and therefore it can provide the best alternative to that of toxic and expensive synthetic dye used for solar cells.
  • For the past few years, natural extracts from produce such as jamun, pomegranate, spinach, beetroot, hibiscus, green algae and black carrot have been utilised as solar cell dye and found favour for both scalable and sustainable benefits.

News source: TH


(News from PIB)


 ‘ZyCov-D’ vaccine

Part of: GS Prelims 

In news: The Drug Controller General has granted emergency approval to the Zycov-D, a COVID-19 vaccine.

  • This is the fifth vaccine, after Covishield, Covaxin, Sputnik V and Moderna to be approved for use in India. 

About Zycov-D

  • Zycov-D is a COVID-19 vaccine developed by the Ahmedabad based Zydus Cadilla group and is the first vaccine in India that can be administered to adults as well as those 12 and above. 
  • It’s also the only DNA-based vaccine in the world and can be administered without a needle, purportedly minimizing chances of reactions.
  • The vaccine has been developed in partnership with the Department of Biotechnology under the ‘Mission COVID Suraksha’.
  • The three-dose vaccine once administered produces the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and elicits an immune response. 
  • The plug-and-play technology on which the plasmid DNA platform is based can be easily adapted to deal with mutations in the virus, such as those already occurring.

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


INTERNATIONAL/ ECONOMY

  • GS-2: Policies and politics of developed and developing countries 

China’s new data privacy laws and its impact 

Context: China has recently passed a data protection law setting out tougher rules on how companies collect and handle their users’ information. 

  • The Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL) lays out for the first time a comprehensive set of rules around data collection, processing and protection, that were previously governed by piecemeal legislation.
  • The law will take effect on November 1, 2021. The full text of the final version hasn’t yet been released.

Recent actions by Chinese on tech companies

  • China’s market regulator had also slapped fines on  Internet-based platform company Tencent and asked its affiliated companies to relinquish exclusive rights to music labels. 
  • Beijing’s cyber security agency had launched a probe into ride-hailing group Didi Chuxing days after it raised more than $4 billion in a New York initial public offering in June 2021.
    • The Cyberspace Administration of China had asked Didi to stop accepting new user registrations saying that the app “has serious violations of laws and regulations pertaining to the collection of personal information”. 
    • Tens of thousands of consumers had complained about having to pay more for hailing a taxi using an iPhone than a cheaper mobile phone model or for tickets if they are profiled as a business traveller

What is China’s new data protection law (PIPL) all about?

  • Under the new rules passed by China’s top legislative body, state and private entities handling personal information will be required to reduce data collection and obtain user consent.
  • The Chinese state security apparatus will maintain access to swathes of personal data, however. 
  • The law also aims to protect those who feel strongly about personal data being used for user profiling or the use of big data in setting [unfair] prices.
  • It will also prevent companies from setting different prices for the same service based on clients’ shopping history.
    • China Consumers Association had stated that the consumers are being squeezed by data algorithms and becoming the targets of technical bullying.
  • More so, the law stipulates that the personal data of Chinese nationals cannot be transferred to countries with lower standards of data security than China — rules which may present problems for foreign businesses. 
    • Companies that fail to comply can face fines to the tune of up to 50 million yuan (around Rs 57 crore) or five per cent of their annual turnover.
  • The law says sensitive personal data includes information which if leaked can lead to “discrimination… or seriously threaten the safety of individuals” including race, ethnicity, religion, biometric data or a person’s whereabouts.

Impact of new law on the tech industry

  • Experts believe that the policy is unlikely to limit the state’s widespread use of surveillance. Beijing has long been accused of harnessing big tech to accelerate repression in the northwestern Xinjiang province and elsewhere.
  • The new rules add to Beijing’s tightening of regulation, particularly around data, which could impact the way China’s technology giants operate.
  • Tencent, the owner of the popular WeChat messaging app, has warned that further regulations could be coming for the technology industry.
  • The greatest fallout of China notifying the law was that the stocks of the big tech companies of the country suffered a major slump, prompting renewed concerns among investors.
  • The national privacy law closely resembles Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation. However, unlike in Europe, where governments face more public pressure over data collection, Beijing is expected to maintain broad access to data.

Connecting the dots:


INTERNATIONAL/ SOCIETY

  • GS-2: India and its neighborhood- relations. 
  • GS-2: Policies and politics of developed and developing countries

The fall of Kabul, the future of regional geopolitics

In news: The fall of Kabul in the wake of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan will prove to be a defining moment for the region and the future shape of its geopolitics.

Regional Geopolitics after the fall of Kabul

  1. Power Vacuum leading to rise of anti-America axis
  • An axis of regional powers such as China, Pakistan, Russia, and the Taliban have started filling the power vacuum, created by the haphazard manner of US withdrawal. 
  • Iran might also jump on this opportunistic bandwagon under the Chinese leadership.
  • This axis of powers has anti-US feeling in various degrees which might further shrink American influence in Eurasian Heartland. India’s interest may be impacted as it has moved closer to US than ever before. 
  • As a result, US may explore new ways of working with them to stabilise region that might result in softening of US rhetoric on China.

Impact on India: While a healthy conversation among the great powers — the U.S., China and Russia — on global and regional challenges is a good sign, India is neither a great power nor present at the table. 

  1. China milking the opportunity to its advantage
  • The post-American power vacuum in the region will be used by Beijing to further strengthen its efforts to bring every country in the region, except India, on the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative thereby altering the geopolitical and geoeconomic foundations of the region
  • Beijing is likely to become less accommodative towards India including on the Line of Actual Control. 
  • Even in trade, given the sorry state of the post-COVID-19 Indian economy, India needs trade with China more than the other way round.
  • Unless India can find ways of ensuring a rapprochement with China, it must expect China to challenge India on occasion, and be prepared for it.
  1. Extremism will the real problem for India
  • The real worry is the inspiration that disgruntled elements in the region will draw from the Taliban’s victory against the world’s sole superpower.
  • It is unlikely that the Taliban will proactively export terror to other countries unless of course for tactical purposes by, say for instance, Pakistan against India. 
  • While other neighbouring countries are worried about terrorism emanating from Afghanistan, the reality is that they are busy making their own private deals with the Taliban to not host terror organisations targeting them
  • The bigger challenge for India, therefore, would be a near-certain increase in terrorism and extremism in the region.
  1. Impact on regional interests
  • The return of the Taliban to Kabul has effectively laid India’s ‘mission Central Asia’ to rest. 
  • If India could not find its way to Central Asia with encouraging partners such as Iran and the Hamid Karzai/Ashraf Ghani governments, the possibility of India doing so now will be very low.
  • Had India, cultivated deeper relations (does not mean recognition) with the Taliban, Indian interests would have been more secure in a post-American Afghanistan. 

The fall of Kabul and the consequent knock-on effects in the region will have several potential implications for India’s foreign policy 

  • For one, given the little physical access India has to its north-western landmass, its focus is bound to shift more to the Indo-Pacific
  • Second, New Delhi might also seek to shed the arrogance it displayed towards its smaller neighbours during Modi 1.0 and cultivate friendly relations with them. Ex: Myanmar.
  • Third, the developments in Afghanistan could nudge New Delhi to seek stability, if not peace, with Pakistan. 

Conclusion

The lesson for India in the wake of these developments is clear: It will have to fight its own battles. So it must make enemies wisely, choose friends carefully, rekindle flickering friendships, and make peace while it can.

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.

Q.1 Consider the following statements:

  1. Semi-evergreen forests are found in the Western Ghats, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and the Eastern Himalayas.
  2. Such forests have a mixture of the wet evergreen trees and the moist deciduous trees. 

Which of the above is or are correct? 

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

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana:

  1. The scheme was launched by the State government of Jharkhand.
  2. Under the Yojana, women members of the family can receive treatment up to Rs. 10 lakh in a year.
  3. People can also avail themselves of quality healthcare service in about 200 hospital chains in the country, including those in the State.

Which of the above is or are correct? 

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

Q.3 Which committee recommended the 27% reservation of the OBCs in government jobs in 1991?

  1. Mandal commission 
  2. Khosla commission 
  3. Sarkaria commission 
  4. Mukherjee commission

ANSWERS FOR 20th August 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 C
3 A

Must Read

On India-US Trade ties:

The Hindu

On issues of Gig Workers:

Hindustan Times

On Success & concerns of 1991 economic reforms:

Deccan Herald

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