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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 5th August 2021

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  • August 5, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Dams safety and resilience

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- II – International relations

In news The Government of India, the Central Water Commission, government representatives from 10 participating states and the World Bank recently signed a $250 million project for long-term dam safety program and improving the safety and performance of existing dams across various states of India.

What are the features of DRIP- 2?

  • DRIP-2 will strengthen dam safety by building dam safety guidelines, bring in global experience, and introduce innovative technologies. 
  • Another major innovation envisaged under the project is the introduction of a risk-based approach to dam asset management that will help to effectively allocate financial resources towards priority dam safety needs.
  • The project will be implemented in approximately 120 dams across the states of Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Odisha, Rajasthan, and Tamil Nadu, and at the national level through the Central Water Commission (CWC). 
  • Other states or agencies may be added to the project during project implementation.
  • DRIP-2 will also support: 
    • flood forecasting systems and integrated reservoir operations that will contribute to building climate resilience; 
    • the preparation and implementation of Emergency Action Plans to enable vulnerable downstream communities to prepare for and enhance resilience against the possible negative impacts and risks of climate change; 
    • the piloting of supplemental revenue generation schemes such as floating solar panels.

News Source: PIB


Indigenous Aircraft Carrier ‘Vikrant’

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

In news  Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways has recently praised the launching of sea trials of indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) ‘Vikrant’. 

  • Vikrant is India’s most complex warship to have been indigenously built by Cochin Shipyard for the Indian Navy. 
  • Cochin Shipyard Limited is the largest public sector shipyard and the only shipyard under the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways. 

About Vikrant

  • The launching of the IAC in Aug 2013 had catapulted the nation into the elite League of Nations capable of designing and building an Aircraft Carrier.
  •  It is the first time in the country that a ship of the size of an Aircraft Carrier is completely modeled in 3D and production drawings extracted from the 3D model.
  • The IAC is the largest warship built in the country having a displacement of about 40,000 tonnes.
  • The Aircraft Carrier is a mini floating city, with a flight deck area covering the size of two football fields.
  • INS Vikrant, is likely to be commissioned in 2022. 
  • At present, India has only one aircraft carrier, the Russian-origin INS Vikramaditya.
  • The vessel is named Vikrant after the decommissioned maiden carrier of the Navy.
  • It will have an air component of 30 aircraft, comprising MiG-29K fighter jets, Kamov-31 airborne early warning helicopters and the soon-to-be-inducted MH-60R multi-role helicopter, besides the indigenous Advanced Light Helicopters.
  • The shipborne weapons include Barak LR SAM and AK-630, while it has MFSTAR and RAN-40L 3D radars as sensors. 
  • It has a pair of runways and a ‘short take off but arrested recovery’ system to control aircraft operations.

Significance

  • The combat capability, reach and versatility of the aircraft carrier will add formidable capabilities in the defence and help secure India’s interests in the maritime domain.
  • It would offer an incomparable military instrument with its ability to project air power over long distances.

News Source: PIB


50% funds allotted for ongoing MPLADS projects lapse

Part of: Prelims and GS -II- Welfare Schemes

In news Virtually half of the belated Rs. 2,200 crore allotted for completing the ongoing MPLADS projects in 2020-21 simply lapsed as the Finance Ministry granted only a week to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) to release the funds.

  • The resultant funding crunch would have hit several local area development projects under implementation across the country,
  • Spending under the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) had already halved before the government suspended the scheme for two years in April 2020 and diverted the funds for managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • From Rs. 5,012 crore spent during 2018-19, in 2019-29 expenditure of just Rs. 2,491.45 crore was taken up.

Background:

  • After the scheme’s suspension, several MPs and parliamentary committees, including the Standing Committee on Finance (SCF), had asked the government to release MPLADS funds which were due from previous years for projects that were already sanctioned.
  • On March 16 2021, an SCF report pointed out that many MPLADS projects that began earlier were left unfinished midway due to the suspension. of the scheme. 
  • The panel had sought the release of funds for these projects so that MPs could fulfil their promises to the public.
  • Now, the FInance Ministry has given only a week’s time to MoSPI to release these funds. It is, thus, feared that major funds would lapse due to time constraint.

What is MPLADS (Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme) Scheme or Sansad Nidhi Yojana?

  • It is a central sector scheme for MPs to recommend works of developmental nature in their constituencies
  • It was launched in December, 1993
  • The emphasis is on creating durable community assets based on locally felt needs.
  • Parent Body: Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) 
  • The funds – Rs. 5 crore/annum/MP – under the scheme are non-lapsable.
  • Funds are released in the form of grants in-aid directly to the district authorities.
  • MPs have only recommendatory role and the district authority is empowered to examine the eligibility of works, select the implementing agencies and monitor it.

News Source: TH


RTE entitlements to be paid through cash transfers

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – II –  Policies and interventions; Education

In news The Centre plans to pay students their Right to Education (RTE) entitlements in the form of cash transfers as part of a revamp and extension of its flagship school education scheme.

  • In order to enhance the direct outreach of the scheme, all child-centric interventions will be provided directly to the students through DBT [or direct benefit transfer] mode on an IT-based platform over a period of time 
  • The Samagra Shiksha scheme, which has been extended till March 2026, will have a financial outlay of Rs. 2.94 lakh crore, including a Central share of Rs. 1.85 lakh crore, and several new initiatives on early childhood education, foundational literacy, and numeracy and language education.
    • Samagra Shiksha is an integrated scheme for 11.6 lakh government and aided schools with over 15 crore students and 57 lakh teachers. 
    • It involves a 60:40 split in funding between the Centre and most States.

What is Right to Education?

  • Right to Education Act (RTE) provides free and compulsory education to children in and was enforced as a fundamental right under Article 21-A in 2009.
  • The RTE Act aims to provide primary education to all children aged 6 to 14 years.
  • The act mandates 25% reservation for disadvantaged sections of the society in Private schools
  • It had a clause for “No Detention Policy” which has been removed under The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Act, 2019.

 

News Source: TH


EC proposal to link electoral roll with Aadhaar under study

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II –  E-governance

In news The proposal of the Election Commission of India to link the electoral roll with the Aadhaar ecosystem is under consideration of the government.

  • The Law Commission had extensively dealt with the subject. in its 244th and 255th reports 
  • The Election Commission of India has proposed to link the electoral roll with the Aadhaar ecosystem with a view to curbing the menace of multiple enrolment of the same person at different places. 

News Source: TH


CJI recuses himself from Andhra-Telangana case

Part of: GS Prelims and GS -II – State relations

In news The Chief Justice of India has recently recused himself from the Andhra-Telangana case.

What is the background of the case?

  • In July, Andhra Pradesh government had moved the top court claiming that the Telangana government refused to follow the decisions taken by the Apex Council constituted under the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014, the directions of Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) formed under this Act, and the Centre”s directives.
  • The petition said the fundamental rights including right to life of the people living in Andhra Pradesh was “seriously impaired and infringed” upon as they were being deprived of their “legitimate share of water” due to “unconstitutional, illegal and unjust” acts of the Telangana government and its officials.

What is Apex Council?

  • It has been constituted by the Central Government under the provisions of Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act (APRA), 2014.
  • It supervises the functioning of the Godavari River Management Board and Krishna River Management Board
  • It comprises the Union Jal Shakti Minister and the Chief Ministers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

What is Krishna River Management Board (KRMB)? 

  • Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) is an autonomous body established as per Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014 under the administrative control of Ministry of Jal Shakti 
  • Objective: To manage and regulate the waters in Krishna Basin in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. 
  • The headquarters of the KRMB shall be in Andhra Pradesh.

News Source: TH


Minervarya Pentali

Part of: GS Prelims and GS -III – Biodiversity 

In news A team of Delhi University (DU) researchers has discovered a new frog species and has named it after former DU Vice-Chancellor and plant geneticist Deepak Pental.

About the new frog species 

  • Minervarya Pentali, was discovered from the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot at multiple localities in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
  • This new species is endemic to the southern Western Ghats.
  • This species is also among the smallest known Minervarya frogs.
  • It belongs to the family Dicroglossidae. 
  • The new species was identified on the basis of multiple criteria including “external morphology, DNA and calling pattern.” 
  • The study was funded by DU, Department of Science and Technology (DoST), CSIR, Critical Ecosystem partnership Fund from the US, and Global Wildlife Conservation in the US.
  • Minervarya sahyadris is a species of frog that is also endemic to Western Ghats of India. 
  • Its IUCN status is Endangered.

News Source: IE


Skyglow- Light pollution

Part of: GS Prelims and GS -III – Pollution 

In news Increasing urbanisation and the installation of new streetlights, security floodlights and outdoor ornamental lighting have all contributed to sky glow, a type of light pollution.

What is Skyglow?

  • Skyglow is an omnipresent sheet of light across the night sky in and around cities that can block all but the very brightest stars from view.
  • It is a commonly noticed aspect of light pollution. 
  • The natural component of sky glow has five sources: 
    • Sunlight reflected off the moon and earth.
    • Faint air glows in the upper atmosphere (a permanent, low-grade aurora).
    • Sunlight reflected off interplanetary dust (zodiacal light).
    • Starlight scattered in the atmosphere and background light from faint.
    • Unresolved stars and nebulae (celestial objects or diffuse masses of interstellar dust and gas that appear as hazy smudges of light).  

What are Human-made sources of sky-glow? 

  • Electric lighting
  • Light that is either emitted directly upward by luminaires or reflected from the ground is scattered by dust and gas molecules in the atmosphere, producing a luminous background

What are the Impacts of Skyglow and Night pollution on ecosystem? 

  • Recent study findings confirm that beetles exposed to light pollution both directly through the glare of bright artificial lights and indirectly via skyglow, abandoned their sky compass and rely instead on earthbound artificial lights as beacons.
  • Like beetles, other species that can rely on other compass references also suffer from the loss of the stars due to skyglow.
  • Nocturnal ants use landmarks for outbound journeys, but need their sky compass when returning home.
  • Migratory birds have a magnetic compass, with which they check latitude and magnetic North, but use their sky compass to calibrate their magnetic compass to geographic North.
  • In the worst case, animals that need the stars to find their home or breeding site may never make it. 
  • Starless skies may cause them to gradually deviate off course, wasting energy and risking predator encounters.

News Source: DTE


 (Mains Focus)


EDUCATION/GOVERNANCE

Topic:

  • GS-2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human Resources 
  • GS-3: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

A language ladder for an education roadblock

Context: The recent decision of 14 engineering colleges across eight States to offer courses in regional languages in select branches from the new academic year marks a historic moment in the academic landscape of the country.

  • This move opens the door to a whole world of opportunities — to students of B.Tech courses, in Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Gujarati, Malayalam, Bengali, Assamese, Punjabi and Odia.

On a parallel note, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), has decided to permit B. Tech programmes in 11 native languages in tune with the New Education Policy (NEP).

Benefits of Providing Higher Education in regional languages

  • Benefits Downtrodden sections of Society: Higher education in mother tongue as the medium of instruction will instil confidence in students from poor, rural, and tribal backgrounds to pursue Higher Education.
  • Demand of the students: In a survey by the AICTE, nearly 44% students voted in favour of studying engineering in their mother tongue, underscoring a critical need in technical education.
  • Improves Learning Outcomes & builds Cognitive faculties: Multiple studies have proved that students who learn in their mother tongue perform better than those taught in an alien language. 
  • Builds Self-Esteem & Self-identity: UNESCO and other organisations have been laying emphasis on the fact that learning in the mother tongue is germane to building self-esteem and self-identity, as also the overall development of the student.
  • Democratises Education Sector: India was infamous for creating small islands of higher education (IITs, NITs) that imparted education only in English. This ended up building academic roadblocks, impeding the progress of the vast majority of our students. Offering technical & professional courses in native languages helps improve access to Higher education.
  • International Best Practice: Among the G20, most countries have state-of-the-art universities, with teaching being imparted in the dominant language of their people.
  • Promotion & Preservation of Culture: If we neglect a language, not only do we lose a priceless body of knowledge but also risk depriving future generations of their cultural roots and precious social and linguistic heritage.

Way Ahead

  • Expand the initiative: We must begin with imparting primary education (at least until Class 5) in the student’s mother tongue, gradually scaling it up. For professional courses, while the initiative of the 14 engineering colleges is commendable, we need more such efforts all across the country. 
  • Textbooks in Native Languages: In technical courses there is lack of high-quality textbooks in native languages. This creates bottleneck for more students to take higher education and therefore needs to be addressed urgently.
  • Leveraging Technology in Digital age: Content in the digital learning ecosystem is greatly skewed towards English which excludes the vast majority of our children, and this has to be corrected.
  • Non-exclusivist approach: Educational institutes should not adopt ‘Mother tongue versus English’, but a ‘Mother tongue plus English’ approach. In today’s increasingly interconnected world, proficiency in different languages opens new vistas to a wider world.

Conclusion

India is a land of immeasurable talent. We must unlock the full potential of our youth, without letting their seeming inability to speak a foreign language impede their progress. 

Connecting the dots:


ENVIRONMENT/ GOVERNANCE

Topic:

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • GS-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources.

Policy Dilemma with Fossil Fuel

Context: Recent Extreme Weather events

  • In China, 1.2 million people were displaced in the province of Henan by what was reported as a “once in a 1,000-year downpour”. 
  • In Russia, the Siberian city of Yakutsk, better known for its subzero winter temperatures faced the “worst-ever air pollution” because of smoke from 200 nearby wildfires. 
  • In Europe, flash floods killed approximately 200 people in Germany and Belgium. 
  • And in North America, city after city was scorched by unprecedentedly high temperatures.

In this background of destruction caused by climate change, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas faces a policy dilemma – how to redefine the supply-side priorities in the face of the imperatives of Atma Nirbharta when about 85% fossil fuels are still imported.

Issues plaguing the oil & Natural gas sector 

  1. Exploration and Production(EP) in India is a high-risk activity
  • Whilst India may well be sitting on substantial hydrocarbon reserves, as is claimed by our petroleum scientists, these reserves are not easy to locate and, even when located, difficult to develop and produce on a commercial basis. 
  • Bulk of the recently discovered reserves are in complex geological structures and harsh terrain (Himalayan foothills or deep waters offshore). 
  • The risk of EP is even greater today because of the longer-term structural softness of the petroleum market (i.e. falling prices in petroleum market due to rise of renewable energy)
  1. Poor Productivity 
  • The average oil recovery rate in India was around 28 per cent. That is, for every 100 molecules discovered, only 28 were monetised. 
  • This number did not compare well with the global average of around 45 per cent for fields of comparable geology.
  • This is due to factors like difficult geology, inefficient PSUs and lack of modern technologies.
  1. Vulnerable to Market Fluctations
  • Oil & Natural gas can face unexpected supply disruptions.
  • Pre-Covid, India imported approximately 4.5 million barrels of oil, of which 50 per cent or so came from the Middle East, predominantly Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran. 
  • This region faces deep political and social fault lines and there is no knowing when the supply lines might get ruptured.
  1. Presence of Multiple PSUs
  • In the upstream sector there are multiple PSUs like ONGC BPCL, IOC, HPCL, and GAIL that leads to “avoidable” costs of intra public sector competition and inefficiencies of “sub scale” operations 

Way Ahead

  • Using enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technology that offers a relatively low-risk avenue for increasing domestic production.
  • Building contingency safeguards like buffer stocks of around 35 days (presently 12 days) so as to cushion international shocks. This should be done by constructing a cavern in Jamnagar, the entrepôt that receives approximately 60% of India’s crude oil imports and is well connected through tanks and pipelines to the hinterland refineries.
  • Restructure and reorganise the public sector petroleum companies: the upstream assets should be consolidated under ONGC (the upstream assets of BPCL, IOC, HPCL, and GAIL should pass onto ONGC) and GAIL should be unbundled into a public utility gas pipeline company.Hereafter, these companies should be encouraged to look beyond hydrocarbons to build an “energy” enterprise.

Conclusion


(AIR – SPOTLIGHT)


In News: Fillip to Leather Industry

TOPIC: General Studies 3

  • Industry
  • On the occasion of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, UT Administration in collaboration with Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI) is conducting workshops in Leh and Kargil to create awareness and explore the opportunities in Leather industry in Ladakh. 
  • Ladakh, with a tradition of rearing animals like Goats, Sheep, Yaks and meat consumption, has a scope for opportunities in Leather industry and entrepreneurship development.

Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI) 

  • CSIR-Central Leather Research Institute (CSIR-CLRI), Chennai Central Leather Research Institute, India was founded on 24 April, 1948 to develop an internal strength in the country to generate, assimilate and innovate technologies for leather sector.
  • CLRI has been playing a vital role in this transformation. On one side, it has been playing advisory role to Government in framing the industry-friendly policies and on the other side helping the industry by extending all technical advice and necessary technologies and technical manpower and made growth of the industry smooth and dynamic. 
  • The Government’s policy to export more value-added products which can generate more employment and earn higher foreign exchange was well appreciated by the industry.

Highlights of Product Segments of Indian Leather and Footwear Industry

  • Annual availability of leathers in India is about 3 billion sq.ft. India accounts for 13% of world leather production of leathers. Indian leather trends/colors are continuously being selected at the MODEUROPE Congress.
  • India is Second largest footwear producer after China, with Annual Production of 2.58 billion pairs (2018). India is also the second largest consumer of footwear after China, with a consumption of 2.60 billion pairs.
  • Footwear (leather and non-leather) export accounts for about 45.62% share in Indian leather and footwear industry’s export (2020-21).
  • India is the second largest global exporter and accounts for 8.03% share of India’s total export from leather sector (2020-21).
  • India is the fifth largest global exporter of Leather Goods & Accessories and third largest exporter of Saddlery and Harness items.

Indian leather industry:

  • The Indian leather industry’s growth has been from the pre independence days. 
  • India has an abundance of raw materials with access to good number of bovine animals:  20% of world’s cattle and buffalo and 11% of the world’s goat and sheep population.
  • The country accounts for 9% of the world’s footwear production. 
  • The industry is known for its consistency in high export earnings and it is among the top ten foreign exchange earners for the country.
  • The Leather industry is an employment intensive industry providing job to more than 4 mn people, mostly from the weaker sections of the society. 
  • Women employment is predominant in Leather products industry with about 30% share. The Leather industry in India has one of the youngest workforces with 55% of the workforce below 35 years of age.

Background of leather industry:

  • During 70s the industry was mostly exporting raw hides and skins. Based on Seetharamaiah Committee recommendations, in 1973, the Government has banned the export of raw hides and skins and introduced quota on the export of semi-finished leathers and several incentives for exporting finished leathers and products. 
  • As a result, and many positive developments both within and outside the country, the structure of the industry has undergone changes in a phased manner.
  • During early 80s India’s export basket consisted of mainly finished leathers. But mid-80 onwards the share of leather products has been gradually increasing. At present more than 80% of India’s leather exports consist of finished products.
  • The Council for Leather Exports (popularly known as CLE) set up in July 1984, is an autonomous non-profit company registered under the Indian Companies Act, 1956 entrusted with export promotion activities and development of the Indian leather industry.
  • Today we don’t export any raw material but only finished leather and leather products.
  • As of today, in terms of volume, we are the second largest producer of footwear, largest producer of saddlery and the second largest producer of leather garments. 

Strength of Indian leather industry:

  • Own raw material source – About 3 billion sq ft of leather produced annually
  • Some varieties of goat / calf / sheep skins command premium position
  • Strong and eco-sustainable tanning base
  • Modernized manufacturing units
  • Trained / skilled manpower at competitive wage levels
  • World-class institutional support for Design & Product Development, HRD and R & D.
  • Presence of support industries like leather chemicals and finishing auxiliaries
  • Presence in major markets – Long Europe experience
  • Strategic location in the Asian landmass

Challenges faced by the leather industry:

  • The quality and character of leather is prone to change when the parameters of processing are altered.
  • In most developing countries tanning operations is a family business, carried out in small to medium scale semi-mechanized units, very frequently grouped tightly in clusters which used to be outside residential areas. Thus, lack of properly trained staff at different levels remains one of the crucial constraints.
  • The Leather industry suffers from economic constraints. They suffer the often inordinately high cost of capital or inflation rates. Amount of capital tied up in work in-progress has increased along with the necessity to keep higher inventories of chemicals, machinery spares, etc. B

Way forward

  • The Government of India had identified the Leather & Footwear Sector as one of the 12 Focus Sectors where India can be a Global Supplier. 
  • With the implementation of various industrial developmental programmes as well as export promotional activities; and keeping in view the past performance, and industry’s inherent strengths of skilled manpower, innovative technology, increasing industry compliance to international environmental standards, and dedicated support of the allied industries, the Indian leather industry aims to augment the production, thereby enhance export, and resultantly create additional employment opportunities.

CONNECTING THE DOTS:

  • The Leather Industry holds a prominent place in the Indian economy. Elucidate.

 (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 Right to Education is a Fundamental right under which of the following Article?

  1. Article 21A
  2. Article 19(a)
  3. Article 24
  4. Article 25

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding  Krishna River Management Board (KRMB)?

  1. It is a Statutory body established as per KRMB Act, 2014 
  2. The administrative control of the Board rests with Cabinet Secretary

Select the correct statements 

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

Q.3 Consider the following statements:

  1. Aircraft carrier ‘Vikrant’ was indigenously built in India.
  2. It is the only aircraft carrier India has ever had.

Select the correct statements 

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

ANSWERS FOR 4th August 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 A
3 A

Must Read

On GST:

The Hindu

On India’s UNSC Presidency:

Deccan Herald

On US- China relationship:

Indian Express

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