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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 11th September 2021

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  • September 11, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Rainfall recorded in August lowest in 12 years: IMD

Part of: Prelims and GS – I – Geography and GS III – Climate change 

Context According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD),

Rainfall in August, which recorded 24% deficiency, was lowest in 12 years.

  • The Southwest Monsoon season officially commences from June 1 and lasts till September 30.

What are the possible reasons for large deficient rainfall?

  • The formation of less number of low pressure systems (LPS) and their lesser number of days compared to climatology.
  • Absence of longer westward movements of LPS during the month of August 2021. 
  • Negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) over tropical Indian Ocean, unfavourable for Indian monsoon prevailed throughout the month of August. 

What is the Indian Ocean Dipole? 

  • The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), also known as the Indian Niño, is an irregular oscillation of sea surface temperatures in which the western Indian Ocean becomes alternately warmer (positive phase) and then colder (negative phase) than the eastern part of the ocean.
  • A negative IOD is associated with the heating of waters of the Indian Ocean.
  • A positive IOD is associated with droughts in Southeast Asia and Australia.
  • It is expected that the Western Indian ocean will warm at accelerated rates due to climate change leading to an increasing occurrence of positive IODs.
  • This is likely to result in the increasing intensity of rainfall during the short rain period over East Africa.

Revamped U.S.-India Strategic Clean Energy Partnership (SCEP) launched

Part of: Prelims and GS – II – International Relations  and GS III – Environment 

Context Indian Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas co-chaired a virtual Ministerial meeting with the U.S. Secretary of Energy to launch the revamped U.S.-India Strategic Clean Energy Partnership (SCEP). 

  • The SCEP was launched in accordance with the U.S.-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership announced by the Indian Prime Minister and USA’s President at the Leaders’ Summit on Climate held in April 2021.

Key takeaways from the meeting 

  • The revitalized SCEP emphasises on electrification and decarbonization of processes and end uses, scaling up and accelerating deployment of emerging clean energy technologies, and finding solutions for hard-to-decarbonize sectors.
  • Under the SCEP, both countries agreed to collaborate across five pillars — Power and Energy Efficiency; Renewable Energy; Responsible Oil and Gas; Sustainable Growth; and Emerging Fuels.
    • Emerging fuels were newly added to the list of areas of cooperation
  • Climate Action and Finance Mobilization Dialogue under the Agenda 2030 Partnership will also be launched on September 13 that builds upon the U.S. and India’s bilateral energy dialogue that accelerated energy security and innovation.
  • The two countries agreed to continue cutting edge research and development through the longstanding U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy-Research (PACE-R), prioritizing research on emerging clean energy technologies.
  • They will also continue to advance innovation in civil nuclear power as a net-zero solution through different collaborative programmes, including the Civil Nuclear Energy Working Group.
  • The private sector and other stakeholders across the technical areas shall be engaged to help deploy clean technologies. 
  • India-U.S. Task Force on Biofuels was also announced to build cooperation in the biofuels sector.
  • The electric grid in India shall be strengthened to support large-scale integration of renewables.
  • Gas Task Force shall be rechristened to India-U.S. Low Emissions Gas Task Force, which would continue to forge collaboration between the U.S. and Indian companies on innovative projects to support India’s vision of a gas-based economy.

What are Emerging Fuels?

  • Emerging fuels are alternative fuels that are under development or already in use.  
  • Benefits: These fuels can increase energy security, reduce emissions, improve vehicle performance, and stimulate the economy.  
  • Examples include Biobutanol (Butyl Alcohol), Biofuels, Methanol, etc.

UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) award

Part of: Prelims and GS – II – International Relations and GS III – Tourism; Economy 

Context Ladhpura Khas, a village in Madhya Pradesh’s Niwari district, has been nominated by The Union Ministry of Tourism in the ‘Best Tourism Village’ category for the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Award.

  • Ladhpura Khas village is located near tourist town Orchha.

About the ‘Rural Tourism Project’ 

  • The ‘Rural Tourism Project’ has been started in villages across Madhya Pradesh, including in Ladhpura Khas.
  • Objective: Giving shape to the concept of village tourism by adding new dimensions.
  • In the next five years, 100 villages will be developed from the point of view of rural tourism. 
  • Among these, suitable sites will be selected and developed around tourist places, including Orchha, Khajuraho, Mandu, Sanchi, Pachmarhi, Tamia, Panna National Park, Bandhavgarh National Park, Sanjay Dubri National Park, Pench and Kanha National Park.
  • MP Tourism Board is also providing training to develop tourism-related products with community participation
  • Significance: Rural tourism shall provide an opportunity to local people to learn about the interests and needs of tourists while maintaining the importance of local culture and tradition.
    • The local community will directly benefit from the development of tourism in their area through job creation.

What is the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)? 

  • United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations specialized agency entrusted with the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, having 
  • Its  headquarters is in Madrid, Spain.
  • It encourages the implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism to maximize the contribution of tourism to socio-economic development, while minimizing its possible negative impacts.

Swachh Survekshan Grameen 2021

Part of: Prelims and GS – I – Population and its dimensions and GS -II – Policies and interventions 

Context Swachh Survekshan Grameen, 2021 was launched recently under the Swachh Bharat Mission Phase- 2.

  • It aims to support acceleration of ODF plus interventions and results in the country.

About Swachh Survekshan Grameen (SSG), 2021 

  • An expert agency has been hired to conduct the Survekshan 2021.
  • As part of the Survekshan, Villages, Districts and States would be ranked using key parameters.
  • 17,475 villages in 698 Districts across the country will be covered where schools, anganwadis, public health centres, haat/bazaars/religious places will be visited for survey.
  • Also, citizens will be mobilised to provide feedback on sanitation related issues online using an application developed for the purpose.

What is the Background of SSG?

  • It was Commissioned by the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS) under the Ministry of Jal Shakti.
  • It has been a vehicle for creating a Janandolan (people’s movement).
  • Districts are ranked based on their performance on key quality and quantitative parameters.
  • The weights to different elements of the SSG 2021 are as below:
    • Direct Observation of sanitation at public places – 30%
    • Citizen’s Feedback – 35%
    • Service Level Progress on sanitation related parameters – 35%

What is Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) Phase-II?

  • SBM (G) Phase-II was approved in February 2020 by the Ministry of Jal Shakti and will be implemented from 2020-21 to 2024-25 with total outlay of Rs. 1,40,881 crores.
  • It emphasizes the sustainability of achievements under phase I and to provide adequate facilities for Solid/Liquid & plastic Waste Management (SLWM) in rural India.
  • The fund sharing pattern between Centre and States will be 90:10 for North-Eastern States and Himalayan States and UT of J&K; 60:40 for other States; and 100% for other Union Territories.

About Open Defecation Free (ODF), ODF+, ODF++ Status (for Town and Cities)

  • ODF: At any point of the day, not even a single person is found defecating in the open.
  • ODF+: At any point of the day, not a single person is found defecating and/or urinating in the open, and all community and public toilets are functional and well maintained.
  • ODF++: If the area is already ODF+ and the faecal sludge/septage and sewage are safely managed and treated

Pollen calendar

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- III –  Environment

Context Recently, Chandigarh got its first Pollen calendar, arguably the first for any city in India.

What is a Pollen Calendar?

  • Pollen calendars represent the time dynamics of airborne pollen present in a particular geographical area. 
  • They yield readily accessible visual details about various airborne pollen present throughout the year in a single picture.
  • Pollen calendars are location-specific, with concentrations closely related to locally distributed flora.
  • Europe, UK and the US are using regional pollen calendars in a big way to prevent and diagnose allergic rhinitis/hay fever and predict the timing and severity of the pollen season.

Significance of a pollen calendar?

  • A pollen calendar provides a clear understanding for clinicians, as well as people with allergies to identify the potential allergy triggers and help to limit their exposure during high pollen load season.
  • The early advisories can be prepared and disseminated through media channels to the citizens 

About Chandigarh’s Pollen calendar

  • The pollen calendar for Chandigarh was prepared by studying airborne pollen and its seasonal variations for about two years.
  • The study highlights the variability of crucial pollen types in different seasons. Spring and autumn are two seasons when airborne pollen dominate. 

Pollen & its impact on Human health-

  • Pollen grains are male biological structures with the primary role of fertilisation, but when inhaled by humans, they may strain the respiratory system and cause allergies. 
  • Pollen found suspended in air can cause widespread upper respiratory tract and nasobronchial allergy with manifestations like asthma, seasonal rhinitis, and bronchial irritation.
  • About 20-30% of the population suffers from allergic rhinitis/hay fever in India, and approximately 15% develop asthma. 
  • Pollen is considered a major outdoor airborne allergen responsible for allergic rhinitis, asthma, and atopic dermatitis in humans.
  • Trees such as palms, nettle, safeda, white mulberry (shahtoot), congress grass, pine, have a high incidence of pollen.

Miscellaneous

Place in news: Qeqertaq Avannarleq

  • It is a tiny, uninhabited and previously unknown island discovered recently off the coast of Greenland.
  • Measuring 60×30 metres and with a peak of three metres above sea level, it has now become the new northernmost piece of land on Earth.
  • Before this, Oodaaq was marked as the Earth’s northernmost terrain.
  • The discovery comes as a battle is looming among Arctic nations, the US, Russia, Canada, Denmark and Norway for the control of the North Pole and of the surrounding seabed, fishing rights and shipping routes exposed by melting ice due to climate change.


(News from PIB)


Transport and Marketing Assistance (TMA) scheme

Part of:  GS Prelims and GS-II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

In News: Centre Revises “Transport and Marketing Assistance” (TMA) scheme for Specified Agriculture Products’

Background: In February 2019, the Department of Commerce had introduced ‘Transport and Marketing Assistance (TMA) for Specified Agriculture Products Scheme’ to provide assistance for the international component of freight, to mitigate disadvantage of higher freight costs faced by the Indian exporters of agriculture products. 

Following major changes have been made in the revised scheme:

  • Dairy products, which were not covered under the earlier scheme, will be eligible for assistance under the revised scheme.
  • Rates of assistance have been increased, by 50% for exports by sea and by 100% for exports by air.

Advantage: Enhanced assistance under the revised scheme is expected to help Indian exporters of agricultural products to meet rising freight and logistics costs.

News Source: PIB


Rice Fortification: A complementary approach to address Nutritional Anaemia

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

In News: To mark the ongoing 4th Rashtriya Poshan Maah, a webinar on rice fortication was organised.

Background: Prime Minister in his address on the 75th Independence Day (15th August, 2021) had made an announcement that fortified rice will be provided through all Government of India schemes by 2024. 

India and Malnutrition

India has been taking promising steps to ensure food security and improving the nutrition outcomes of its population, it is, therefore, about time that fortification is integrated into the larger response to address malnutrition in the country with the understanding that it will reinforce, complement and support ongoing nutrition improvement programmes such as supplementation & dietary diversification.

  • Malnutrition especially child malnutrition is a major threat to the growth and development of children.
    • According to a National Family Health Survey report, India has the largest burden of iron-deficiency and anaemia worldwide.
    • About 59% of children and 50% of pregnant women are anaemic in India.
    • Child and maternal malnutrition accounts for 15% of India’s total disease burden.
    • The country reportedly loses around 1 per cent of GDP (Rs 1.35 lakh crore) every year due to iron-deficiency anaemia.
  • Micronutrient deficiencies or ‘hidden hunger’ also continue to pose significant public health problems in Indian populations.
  • Therefore, the decision to fortify rice was taken to address the malnutrition and lack of essential nutrients especially among poor women and poor children.
  • This announcement is significant because, government distributes more than 300 lakh tonnes of rice to 81 crore people under schemes covered under National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013.

About Fortified Rice

  • According to the WHO, fortification is the process of increasing the content of an essential micronutrient, such as vitamins or minerals, in a food item to improve its nutritional value and provide public health benefits at minimal cost.
  • It has minimal effects on taste and cooking properties while at the same time adding multiple nutrients to cure multiple deficiencies.
  • It also has minimal behaviour change, unlike supplements.
  • For example, milk is often fortified with vitamin D, and calcium may be added to fruit juices.
  • Rice is the fifth item to get the government’s fortification push after salt, edible oil, milk and wheat.
  • Fortified rice is the most sustainable solution to the health issues.
  • There is absolutely no difference between rice and fortified rice.
  • Process of Fortification of rice
    • According to the norms of the Food and Safety Standards Authority of India, 1 kg of fortified rice must contain iron (28mg-42.5mg), folic acid (75-125 mg) and vitamin B-12 (0.75-1.25mg).
    • Usual milled rice is low in micronutrient content because its nutrient-rich superficial layer is removed during rice milling and polishing operations. This makes the grain taste better and visually appealing but less nutritious.
    • Rice can be fortified by adding a micronutrient powder containing iron, folic acid and other B-complex vitamins, vitamin A and zinc, which then sticks to the grains.

Way Forward: There is a need to amplify efforts to spread awareness about fortified rice and its benefits so that demand is created and acceptability for nutrient-enriched rice is better. All stakeholders must come together to create awareness campaigns using local languages.

News Source: PIB


All India Debt & Investment Survey NSS 77th round

Part of:  GS Prelims 

In News: The National Statistical Office (NSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has conducted the latest survey on All India Debt & Investment Survey during the period January – December, 2019 as a part of 77th round of National Sample Survey (NSS).

Objective: To collect basic quantitative information on the assets and liabilities of the households, as well as on the amount of capital expenditure incurred by the households under different heads, like residential buildings, farm business and non-farm business.

Indicators generated from the survey of All India Debt & Investment:

  • Average value of Assets (AVA): The average value of all the physical and financial assets owned per household.
  • Incidence of Indebtedness (IOI): The percentage of the indebted households 
  • Average amount of Debt (AOD): The average amount of cash dues per household.
  • Average Fixed Capital Expenditure by the households

Key Findings:

A. Percentage of household owning assets as on 30.06.2018

  • About 99.4% of the households in Rural India (100% cultivator households and 98.6% non-cultivator households) reported owning any asset (physical or financial) 
  • About 98% of the households in Urban India (99.7% self-employed households and 97.3% other households) reported owning any asset (physical or financial) 
  • Average value of asset per household was Rs. 15,92,379 in Rural India (Rs. 22,07,257 for cultivator households, Rs. 7,85,063 for non-cultivator households)
  • Average value of asset per household was Rs. 27,17,081  in Urban India (Rs. 41,51,226 for self-employed households, Rs. 22,10,707 for other households)

B. Household Indebtedness

  • Incidence of Indebtedness was about 35% in Rural India (40.3% cultivator households, 28.2% non-cultivator households) compared to 22.4% in Urban India (27.5% self-employed households, 20.6% other households).
  • In Rural India,17.8% households were indebted to institutional credit agencies only (21.2% cultivator households, 13.5% non-cultivator households) against 14.5% households in Urban India (18% self-employed households, 13.3% other households)
  • About 10.2% of the households were indebted to non-institutional credit agencies only in Rural India (10.3% cultivator households, 10% non-cultivator households) compared to 4.9% households in Urban India (5.2% self-employed households, 4.8% other households)
  • About 7% of the households were indebted to both institutional credit agencies & non-institutional credit agencies in Rural India (8.8% cultivator households, 4.7% non-cultivator households) against 3% households in Urban India (4.3% self-employed households, 2.5% other households)
  • In Rural India, the share of outstanding cash debt from institutional credit agencies was 66% against 34% from noninstitutional credit agencies. In Urban India, the share of outstanding cash debt from institutional credit agencies was 87% compared to 13% from noninstitutional credit agencies.

C. Capital Expenditure

  • About 35% of the rural households reported incurring expenditure towards formation of fixed capital (45.1% cultivator households, 21.5% non-cultivator households)
  • About 15% of the urban households reported incurring expenditure towards formation of fixed capital (25.3% self-employed households, 11% other households)
  • The average fixed capital expenditure incurred per household was Rs. 8,966 in Rural India (Rs. 10,689 for cultivator households, Rs. 6,712 for non-cultivator households)
  • The average fixed capital expenditure incurred per household was Rs. 10,863 in Urban India (Rs. 15,899 for self-employed households, Rs. 9,070 for other households)

D. Deposit accounts in Bank

  • About 84.4 % of the population of age 18 years and above had deposit account in Banks in Rural India (88.1% male and 80.7% female) .
  • About 85.2 % of the population of age 18 years and above had deposit account in Banks in Urban India (89.0% male and 81.3% female).

Read the Full Report here: All India Debt & Investment Survey – 2019

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


INTERNATIONAL/ SECURITY

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

Two decades of 9/11

The events of 9/11 marked both an end of old as well as an inception of new geo-strategic currents.

Implications

  • On Terrorism: India was facing Pakistan-sponsored terrorist insurgency in Kashmir since 1989. The Islamic terror wave wasn’t treated with seriousness at international level as the West underplayed the issue. But 9/11 forced the end to this weak response and exposed the ideological extremism that was the driving these terror forces.
  • Misuse to curb Civil Liberties:  9/11 became the pretext to start two wars (Afghanistan & Iraq), put in motion the perpetual war machine by USA in West Asia region, legitimise unaccountable exercise of executive power, institute the surveillance state that adversely impacted Civil Liberties of citizens. This weakened the US’s geopolitical credibility and authority.
  • On US-Pak relations: Pakistan remained an important (& untrustworthy) US ally for the war on terror that commenced in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. 
    • In 2011, Osama bin Laden was eliminated by US forces on Pakistani soil, not far from the Pakistan Army’s officer training academy. 
  • On US-India relations: 9/11 was an important catalyst in bringing India and the US closer, as there was common problem of terrorism emanating from India’s western neighbourhood. Later, on the rise of China has brought India & USA much closer
  • Unipolar to Bipolar: The two decades since 9/11 have seen the world shift from unipolarity, with China emerging as the new pole challenging the US-led world order. The pandemic-induced economic and health crisis only accelerated those trends.

How has India’s tackling of terrorism changed over the years?

  • Even in the aftermath of the heinous 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks in 2008, India chose to exercise “strategic restraint”. This was because the government was concerned that escalating it to a war level can derail the economic growth without yielding much tangible benefits. 
    • Instead, it adopted a strategy to put international pressure on Pakistan to take action against terror groups
  • However, in the recent years there has been a change in approach with single party coming to power that has ensured Political stability & given the democratic heft needed to take strong actions.
  • Also, India’s economy has achieved high growth and acquired heft. This has made India to expand its military and diplomatic options in the fight against cross-border terrorism, which the rest of the world has also recognised as a grave issue. 
    • For example, after the 2016 Uri attack and 2019 Pulwama attack, India proceeded with conviction and confidence to assert itself and stand up for its interests, taking military actions that have reset the strategic calculus.
  • Today, economic growth is attracting countries who want to invest in and trade with India, adding arrows to democratic India’s diplomatic basket.
  • Liberalisation and Economic reforms that boost growth isn’t necessary only for poverty alleviation and achieving prosperity, but arguably it is now the principal strategy for national security.

Conclusion

The victory of the Taliban on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 will likely create new unknown problems. However, the world should be cautious enough to make sure that terrorism doesn’t rise its ugly head again.

Connecting the dots:


ECONOMY/ 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

NIPUN Bharath

NIPUN stands for National Initiative for Proficiency in reading with Understanding and Numeracy.

NIPUN Bharat Policy is aimed at ensuring that children in the age group of 3-9 years are provided adequate support to acquire age appropriate reading and numerical skills.

Key Features of the Policy

The policy has been organised into three broad goals. 

  • The first one is ‘Maintenance of Good Health and Wellbeing of Children’; 
  • The second one is ‘Children Becoming Effective Communicators’; and 
  • The third one is ‘Children Becoming Involved Learners’. 

The achievement of all these goals has been further divided into six stages, one each for the six years between the ages of three and nine. For all these six stages, the policy document provides for a set of learning outcomes to be achieved 

Two stages of assessment have been provided for in the policy

  • The first stage is ‘School Based Assessment’ – subjective assessment where the child is evaluated on the basis of observations being made by teachers, parents, and peers.  It is meant to understand the specific inclinations of the child, and to make tweaks to learning processes accordingly.
  • The second stage is ‘Large Scale Standardised Assessment’. This will be an MCQ based assessment which will be conducted by the NCERT to gauge the achievements of the education system by evaluating students using nationally developed standards.

What are the issues with NIPUN Bharat?

Concerns over Inclusiveness

  • While the policy does recognise the need for creating an inclusive learning environment, the learning outcomes highlighted in the policy are uniform, with no specific provisioning for children with disabilities.
  • Another point on inclusion emerges where children are supposed to learn to describe themselves and others. There is no mention as to whether the children will be introduced to the idea of gender fluidity at this stage or not.

Concerns over Assessments

  • The effectiveness of school based assessment will depend a lot on the kind of investment being made in teacher training, development, and sensitisation, which requires funding.
  • However, the policy doesn’t talk about any extra resource allocations being made for this purpose.
  • The policy itself does not elaborate on the operating procedure for the NCERT while creating the standardized assessment.
  • In ‘Standardised Assessment’, it may be challenging for NCERT to test proficiency in regional languages by taking inputs from regional actors.

Concerns over Accountability

  • Overall, the policy goals are to be achieved by the year 2026-27 with intermittent checks and sub-goals set as milestones. 
  • It has to be noted here that since this is just a policy, there isn’t an elaborate mechanism to seek accountability, the only recourse being writ petitions, primarily mandamus, under article 226 and article 32 of the Constitution

Conclusion

The policy has taken on a task crucial for the upliftment of millions of children across the country. The only issue in the formulation of the policy is its dependence on political will and sincerity for its implementation.

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 Where is Bandhavgarh National Park located? 

  1. Gujarat 
  2. Tamil Nadu 
  3. Madhya Pradesh 
  4. West Bengal

Q.2 Consider the following Statements regarding Pollen grains: 

  1. Pollen grains are female biological structures with the primary role of fertilisation.
  2. Pollen found suspended in air can cause widespread upper respiratory tract and nasobronchial allergy with manifestations like asthma, seasonal rhinitis, and bronchial irritation.

Select the correct statements:

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

Q.3 Qeqertaq Avannarleq Recently seen in news is associated with which of the following

  1. Southernmost crater on the moon 
  2. Northernmost island in the world 
  3. Deepest volcanic zone under the Pacific ocean 
  4. An unknown tribal group living in the Amazon forest

ANSWERS FOR 10th Sept 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 D
3 C

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