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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 30th August 2021

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  • August 30, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY)

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-II- Government Schemes

In News: The Scheme completes seven years of successful implementation

Background

  • Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) is National Mission for Financial Inclusion to ensure access to financial services, namely, Banking/ Savings & Deposit Accounts, Remittance, Credit, Insurance, Pension in an affordable manner.
  • Objectives:
    • Ensure access of financial products & services at an affordable cost
    • Use of technology to lower cost & widen reach
  • Basic tenets of the scheme
    • Banking the unbanked – Opening of basic savings bank deposit (BSBD) account with minimal paperwork, relaxed KYC, e-KYC, account opening in camp mode, zero balance & zero charges
    • Securing the unsecured – Issuance of Indigenous Debit cards for cash withdrawals & payments at merchant locations, with free accident insurance coverage of Rs. 2 lakh
    • Funding the unfunded – Other financial products like micro-insurance, overdraft for consumption, micro-pension & micro-credit
  • The scheme was launched based upon the following 6 pillars:
    • Universal access to banking services – Branch and BC
    • Basic savings bank accounts with overdraft facility of Rs. 10,000/- to every eligible adult
    • Financial Literacy Program– Promoting savings, use of ATMs, getting ready for credit, availing insurance and pensions, using basic mobile phones for banking 
    • Creation of Credit Guarantee Fund – To provide banks some guarantee against defaults
    • Insurance – Accident cover up to Rs. 1,00,000 and life cover of   Rs. 30,000 on account opened between 15 Aug 2014 to 31 January 2015
    • Pension scheme for Unorganized sector
  • Important approach adopted in PMJDY based on past experience:
    • Accounts opened are online accounts in core banking system of banks, in place of earlier method of offline accounts opening with technology lock-in with the vendor
    • Inter-operability through RuPay debit card or Aadhaar enabled Payment System (AePS)
    • Fixed-point Business Correspondents
    • Simplified KYC / e-KYC in place of cumbersome KYC formalities
  • Extension of PMJDY with New features – The Government decided to extend the comprehensive PMJDY program beyond 28.8.2018 with some modifications
    • Focus shift from ‘Every Household’ to Every Unbanked Adult’ 
    • RuPay Card Insurance – Free accidental insurance cover on RuPay cards increased from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 2 lakh for PMJDY accounts opened after 28.8.2018.
    • Enhancement in overdraft facilities – OD limit doubled from Rs 5,000/- to Rs 10,000/-;  OD upto Rs 2,000/- (without conditions).
    • Increase in upper age limit for OD from 60 to 65 years
  • Impact of PMJDY
    • More than 43.04 crore beneficiaries banked under PMJDY since inception, amounting to Rs. 146,231 crore
    • PMJDY Accounts have grown three-fold from 14.72 Crore in Mar’15 to 43.04 Crore as on 18-08-2021
    • 55% Jan-Dhan account holders are women and 67% Jan Dhan accounts are in rural and semi-urban areas
    • Out of total 43.04 crore PMJDY accounts, 36.86 crore (86%) are operative
    • Total RuPay cards issued to PMJDY accountholders: 31.23 Crore
    • Under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, a total of Rs. 30,945 crore have been credited in accounts of women PMJDY account holders during Covid lockdown
    • About 5.1 crore PMJDY accountholders receive direct benefit transfer (DBT) from the Government under various schemes.

Jallianwala Bagh Smarak

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-I- Modern History

In News: Prime Minister Modi dedicated the renovated complex of Jallianwala Bagh Smarak to the nation.

  • Elaborate heritage restoration works have been carried out in sync with the local architectural style of Punjab. The Shaheedi well has been repaired and restored with a redefined super structure

About Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

  • Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, also called Massacre of Amritsar was an incident on April 13, 1919, in which British troops fired on a large crowd of unarmed Indians in an open space known as the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar in Punjab.
  • A large but peaceful crowd had gathered at the Jallianwala Bagh to protest against the arrest of pro-Indian independence leaders Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlu and Dr. Satya Pal
    • Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlu and Dr. Satya Pal opposed the passing of Rowlat Act in early 1919, which essentially extended the repressive wartime measures. 
  • In response to the public gathering at Bagh, the British Brigadier-General R. E. H. Dyer surrounded the Bagh with his soldiers. After blocking the exit with his troops, he ordered them to shoot at the crowd, continuing to fire even as protestors tried to flee.
    • The Jallianwala Bagh could only be exited on one side, as its other three sides were enclosed by buildings.
  • At least 1000 people were killed and over 1,200 other people were injured
  • The ineffective inquiry by Disorders Inquiry Committee (also known as Hunters Commission) together with the initial praise for Dyer, fuelled great widespread anger against the British among the Indian populace, leading to the Non-cooperation movement of 1920–22.
  • This incident shocked Rabindranath Tagore (the first Indian and Asian Nobel laureate) to such an extent that he renounced his knighthood.
  • Britain never formally apologised for the massacre but expressed “regret” in 2019.

BCG vaccine: 100 years and counting

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-3: Science 

Context: The centenary celebrations of the first use of BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin), the vaccine against tuberculosis (TB) in humans.

About TB

  • TB is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis, belonging to the Mycobacteriaceae family consisting of about 200 members. 
  • In humans, TB most commonly affects the lungs (pulmonary TB), but it can also affect other organs (extra-pulmonary TB).
  • Despite being avery ancient diseases (existed in Egypt in 3000BC), it has not been eradicated or controlled to a large extent.
  • According to the WHO’s Global TB Report, 10 million people developed TB in 2019 with 1.4 million deaths. India accounts for 27% of these cases.

About BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin)

  • BCG was developed by two Frenchmen, Albert Calmette and Camille Guerin.
  • They modified a strain of Mycobacterium bovis (that causes TB in cattle) till it lost its capacity to cause disease while retaining its property to stimulate the immune system. It was first used in humans in 1921.
  • In addition to its primary use as a vaccine against TB, BCG also protects against respiratory and bacterial infections of the newborns, and other mycobacterial diseases like leprosy and Buruli’s ulcer. 
  • In India, BCG was first introduced in a limited scale in 1948 and became a part of the National TB Control Programme in 1962.
  • One intriguing fact about BCG is that it works well in some geographic locations and not so well in others. Generally, the farther a country is from the equator, the higher is the efficacy. 
    • It has a high efficacy in the UK, Norway, Sweden and Denmark; and little or no efficacy in countries on or near the equator like India, Kenya and Malawi, where the burden of TB is higher.
  • Currently, BCG is the only licensed vaccine available for the prevention of TB. 
  • Over the last ten years 14 new vaccines have been developed for TB and are in clinical trials.

Also Read


Militancy in Assam’s Dima Hasao

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-2: Governance

Context: A suspected militant attack left five truckers dead in Assam’s Dima Hasao hill district. Intelligence inputs suggest that an outfit called the Dimasa National Liberation Army (DNLA) was behind the attack.

What is the history of militancy in Dima Hasao?

  • The hill districts of Assam — Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao (earlier North Cachar Hills) — have had a long history of insurgency by Karbi and Dimasa groups which peaked in the mid-1990s, and was rooted in a core demand of statehood.
  • Both districts are now protected under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, and allows for greater political autonomy and decentralised governance in certain tribal areas of the Northeast.
  • They are run by the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council and the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council respectively.
  • In Dima Hasao, the demand for statehood began in the 1960s, along with other tribal sections of undivided Assam. A demand for a full-fledged state, ‘Dimaraji’, gathered steam, and led to the start of militancy through formation of armed groups.

Who are the Dimasas?

  • The Dimasas (or Dimasa-Kacharis) are the earliest known rulers and settlers of Assam, and now live in Dima Hasao, Karbi Anglong, Cachar, Hojai and Nagaon districts of central and southern Assam, as well as parts of Nagaland.
  • Prior to Ahom rule, the Dimasa kings — believed to be the descendants of the rulers of the ancient Kamarupa kingdom — ruled large parts of Assam along the south bank of the Brahmaputra between the 13th and 16th centuries. 
  • Their earliest historically known capital was Dimapur (now in Nagaland), and later Maibang in North Cachar Hills.

Related Articles


(News from PIB)


POSHAN Maah

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-II- Health & Governance

In News:   Thematic POSHAN Maah will be Celebrated Across the Nation Throughout the Month of September as Part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.

About POSHAN (Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition) Abhiyaan:

  • Launched by Ministry of Women & Child Development (MoW&CD) on the occasion of International Women’s Day on 8 March, 2018 from Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan, POSHAN Abhiyaan is Government of India’s flagship programmed to improve nutritional outcomes for children, adolescent Girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers. 
  • The Abhiyaan targets to reduce 
    • Stunting by 2% per annum
    • Undernutrition by 2% per annum
    • Anemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls) by 3% per annum
    • Reduce low birth weight by 2% per annum 
  • It is an inclusive Jan Andolan or “People’s Movement” that involves participation of public representatives of local bodies, government departments of the States/UTs, social organizations and the public and private sector at large.
  • Focusing on the aims of POSHAN Abhiyaan, Mission Poshan 2.0 (Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0) has been announced in the Budget 2021-2022 as an integrated nutrition support programme, to strengthen nutritional content, delivery, outreach and outcomes with focus on developing practices that nurture health, wellness and immunity to disease and malnutrition.
  • In order to ensure community mobilization and bolster people’s participation, every year, the month of September is celebrated as POSHAN Maah across the country. 
  • This year, the entire month of September has been subdivided into weekly themes for focused and assimilated approach towards improving Holistic Nutrition. 
Details
Theme 1

(1-7 September)

Plantation Activity as “PoshanVatika”

Plantation activity will focus on planting of saplings of nutritious fruit trees, local vegetables and medicinal plants and herbs.

Theme 2

(8-15 September)

Yoga and AYUSH for Nutrition
Theme 3

(16-23 September)

Distribution of ‘Regional Nutrition Kit’ to Anganwadi beneficiaries of High Burdened Districts
Theme 4

(24-30 September)

Identification of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) children and distribution of nutritious food

News Source: PIB


FDI Inflow

Part of: GS Prelims 

In news: Measures taken by the Government on the fronts of FDI policy reforms, investment facilitation and ease of doing business have resulted in increased FDI inflows into the country.

About the trends in India’s Foreign Direct Investment:

  • India has attracted total FDI inflow of US$ 22.53 billion during first three months of 2021-22, i.e., April, 2021 to June, 2021 which is 90% higher as compared to first three months of 2020-21 (US$ 11.84 billion).
  • FDI equity inflow grew by 168% in the first three months of F.Y. 2021-22 (US$ 17.57 billion) compared to the year ago period (US$ 6.56 billion).
  •  Automobile Industry emerges as the top sector during the first three months of F.Y. 2021-22 with 27% share of the total FDI Equity inflow followed by Computer Software & Hardware (17%) and Services Sector (11%) respectively.
  • Karnataka is the top recipient state during the F.Y. 2021-22 (upto June, 2021) with 48% share of the total FDI Equity inflows followed by Maharashtra (23%) and Delhi (11%).

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
  • GS-3: Infrastructure; Developmental Challenges

Hydropower Projects in the Himalayas

Context:  The Environment Ministry, in an affidavit placed in the Supreme Court recently, has disclosed that it has permitted seven hydroelectric power projects, which are reportedly in advanced stages of construction, to go ahead. 

  • Feb 2021 Uttarakhand floods washed away at least two hydroelectric power projects — the13.2 MW Rishiganga hydroelectric power project and the Tapovan project on the Dhauliganga river, a tributary of the Alakananda. This was due to the break in the Raunthi glacier that triggered floods in the Rishiganga river.

What’s the history of hydropower projects in the Himalayas?

  • In the aftermath of the Kedarnath floods of 2013 that killed at least 5,000 people, the Supreme Court had halted the development of hydroelectric projects in Uttarakhand pending a review by the Environment Ministry on the role such projects had played in amplifying the disaster. 
  • A 17-member expert committee, led by environmentalist Ravi Chopra, was set up by the Ministry to examine the role of 24 such proposed hydroelectric projects in the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi basin, which contains the Ganga and several tributaries. 
  • The Chopra committee concluded that 23 projects would have an “irreversible impact” on the ecology of the region.
  • Following this, six private project developers, whose projects were among those recommended to be stopped, said that they should be allowed to continue since their projects had already been cleared for construction before the Kedarnath tragedy.
  • The SC directed a new committee to be set up to examine their case. This committee led by Vinod Tare of IIT Kanpur, concluded that these projects could have a significant environmental impact. 
  • The Environment Ministry in 2015 set up yet another committee led by B.P. Das, that recommended all six projects with design modifications to some, and this gives way to the Environment Ministry’s current stance (permitting these projects)w. The Power Ministry seconded the Environment Ministry’s stance.

What are the challenges such projects face?

  1. Impact on Cleanliness of Ganga
  • The Water Ministry has maintained that the cleanliness of the river was premised on minimum levels of water flow in all seasons and the proposed projects could hinder this
  1. Climate Change increases the risk of such projects
  • Glacier melt and permafrost thaw are projected to decrease the stability of mountain slopes and increase the number and area of glacier lakes. This increases the chances of Glacial Lake Outburst Floods.
  • Environmental experts have attributed the glacial melt to global warming.
  • The thermal profile of ice is increasing, which means that the temperature of ice that used to range from -6 to -20oC, was now -2oC, making it more susceptible to melting. 
  • It was these changing phenomena that made infrastructure projects in the Himalayan regions risky.
  • Moreover, with increased instances of cloudbursts, and intense spells of rainfall and avalanches, residents of the region were also placed at increased risk of loss of lives and livelihood.

What are the conflicts/dilemmas involved with hydropower projects in Himalayas?

  • Developmental Obligations: The Uttarakhand government has said that it’s paying over ₹1,000 crores annually to purchase electricity and therefore, the more such projects are cancelled, the harder for them to meet their development obligations. 
  • Disproportionate risk borne by residents: Several environmentalists, residents of the region, say that the proposed projects being built by private companies allot only a limited percentage of their produced power for the State of Uttarakhand itself. Thus the State, on its own, takes on massive environmental risk without being adequately compensated for it.
  • Renewable Source of Energy: The Centre is committed to hydropower projects because it’s a renewable source of power and helps achieve the target set forth in Paris Climate Accords. Several environmental activists say that the government push to such projects often ignores the heavy environmental & ecological cost associated with it

Way Forward

  • Government should adhere to the recommendation made by the expert committees that there should be no hydropower development beyond an elevation of 2,200 metre in the Himalayan region. 
  • The ecological damage of hydropower projects in Himalayan region (especially in Uttarakhand) combined with the reduced cost of solar power means that government should not favour any further greenfield hydropower projects in the region.

Connecting the dots:


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

What’s new in Higher Education

Context: The new National Education Policy is in the news again with Delhi University (DU) approving the introduction of the four-year undergraduate programme from 2022, amid opposition from teachers.

The NEP proposes several reforms for higher education. A look at how, if implemented in letter and spirit, the NEP can change the classroom experience:

  1. Multidisciplinarity
  • Higher education in India is focused on producing disciplinary experts. But the new NEP proposes to break disciplinary boundaries. 
  • What this means is that B Tech students, for example, would no longer limit themselves to their engineering branch. Instead, their programmes will have a more significant component of arts and humanities. 
  • “Students of arts and humanities will aim to learn more science, and all will make an effort to incorporate more vocational subjects and soft skills,” the policy states.
  • IIT-Bombay’s new Liberal Arts, Sciences, and Engineering (LASE) Programme is one example of how the NEP’s vision translates on ground
    • It gives students the option to graduate with a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in five fields or “concentrations” — engineering sciences, natural sciences, social sciences, art and design.
    • The fifth option permits the student to design her own concentration. 
  1. Four-year undergrad programme
  • Undergraduate programmes in India, except professional degrees such as B Tech and MBBS, usually last three years. 
  • While the NEP doesn’t call for scrapping of the three-year format, it states that the four-year multidisciplinary Bachelor’s programme “shall be the preferred option”.
  • The new policy proposes to increase the length of degree programmes to allow students to experience the full range of holistic and multidisciplinary education.
  • While students pursuing undergraduate education will be studying an extra year, they will also have the option to exit early with the “appropriate certification”. Quitting after the 
    • First year will earn – a certificate
    • Second year -a diploma
    • Third Year – a Bachelor’s degree. 
    • Completing the entire programme would lead to a bachelor’s degree “with Research” if the student completes “a rigorous research project” in her major area(s) of study.
  • Delhi University is the first to implement this NEP suggestion. Starting 2022, DU students can opt for either a three-year honours programme, or a four-year honours programme, or a four-year honours programme with research. They can also exit with appropriate certification.
  1. Academic Bank of Credit
  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) had introduced a choice-based credit system (CBCS) before the NEP. Under this system, you earn credits for each course you take during your degree studies. 
  • The Academic Bank of Credit (ABC) proposed by the NEP is where higher education institutions will digitally deposit credits earned by students for courses they studied.
  • Under the ABC, students will be given multiple entry and exit options.
  • This enables students to leave a degree or course and get a corresponding certification and rejoin studies after a certain time and be able to start from where they had left.
  • It will also provide students with the flexibility to move between institutes while pursuing one degree or leave a course.
  • Designating credits to each course would also mean that courses or projects in areas such as community service, environmental education, sciences, art, sports and value-based education would carry weight. This would go a long way in “attainment of a holistic and multidisciplinary education”.
  1. Regional languages
  • The new education policy lays emphasis on promoting Indian languages, arts and culture through education. One of the ways it proposes to do so is by getting higher education institutions to adopt regional languages or the local tongue as the medium of instruction in the classroom. 
  • To begin with, the government has allowed 14 engineering colleges to teach selected engineering programmes in five languages: Marathi, Tamil, Bengali, Telugu and Hindi. 
  • This will help increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education as students who are not proficient in English will be encouraged to pursue further studies in regional languages.
  1. National Entrance Test
  • Another proposal is a single university entrance exam conducted by the National Testing Agency. If this is implemented, students will not have to appear for multiple entrance tests. 
  • Rather than having hundreds of universities each devising their own entrance exams, Universities can make use of this common entrance exam which drastically reduces the burden on students and the entire education system. 

Connecting the dots:


(AIR Spotlight)


Spotlight 23 (Aug): Discussion on National Monetisation Pipeline

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hg5a3QRVwL0

ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • GS-3: Investment Model; Indian Economy & its challenges

Discussion on National Monetisation Pipeline

Context: Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman launched the National Monetization Pipeline (NMP).

About National Monetization Pipeline (NMP):

  • NMP comprises a four-year pipeline of the Central Government’s brownfield infrastructure assets with an aim to monetize core assets under the Central Government to the tune of Rs 6.0 lakh crores over a period of four years, from FY22 to FY25.
  • Besides providing visibility to investors, NMP will also serve as a medium-term roadmap for the Asset Monetisation initiative of the Government.
  • NMP does not include monetization plans through disinvestment or through programmes linked to non-core assets, as presently it only includes assets of central government line ministries and CPSEs in infrastructure sectors.
  • Coordination and collation of asset pipelines from states are ongoing. It is expected to be included in due course.

Aims and objectives:

  • The aim of the NMP scheme is to develop a system and a transparent mechanism towards asset monetization and monitor the performance of the initiative as well as help investors plan future activities.
  • The objectives include providing access to quality and affordable infrastructure for citizens by luring private sector investment for better infrastructure creation.
  • It will Create employment opportunities and fuel economic growth along with integration of the rural and semi-urban areas for better public welfare.

How the assets will be monetized?

  • An empowered committee has been constituted to implement and monitor the Asset Monetization programme. 
  • The Core Group of Secretaries on Asset Monetization (CGAM) will be headed by the Cabinet Secretary.
  • The sectors in which assets are being identified to monetize include roads, ports, airports, railways, power generation and transmission, telecom, warehousing, gas & product pipeline, mining, stadium, hospitality and housing.

Significance of the National Monetization Pipeline (NMP):

  • Identified as the key means for sustainable infrastructure financing, the scheme prepares a monetization pipeline of potential brownfield infrastructure assets including roads, railways, aviation, power, oil and gas, and warehousing. 
  • Brownfield stands for projects which aim at improving or operation infrastructures that are already build and are leased or purchased by an entity 
  • The government has planned a 6-trillion rupees pipeline of assets that can be monetised, which will include a range of assets put on the block for private sector participation.
  • Policy think tank NITI Aayog has finalised the NMP of potential brownfield infrastructure assets that has been created for a four-year period from the financial year 2021-22 to 2024-25.

Can you answer this question now?

Discuss the role of National Monetization Pipeline in monetizing the core assets under the Central Government to the tune of Rs 6.0 lakh crores over a period of four years.


(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) Dimasas, often seen in news, are related to which State of India?

  1. Himachal Pradesh
  2. Gujarat
  3. Assam
  4. Odisha

Q.2) Consider the following statement about BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin) Vaccine

  1. BCG is the only licensed vaccine available for the prevention of TB. 
  2. In India, BCG became a part of the National TB Control Programme in 2016.
  3. BCG also protects against respiratory and bacterial infections of the newborns, and other mycobacterial diseases like leprosy and Buruli’s ulcer. 

Which of the above statement is/are correct?

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

Q.3) Disorders Inquiry Committee during India’s freedom struggle is related to which of the following?

  1. Rowlatt Act
  2. Central Legislative Bombing
  3. Jallianwala Bagh Massacre
  4. None of the above

ANSWERS FOR 28th August 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 C
3 A

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