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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 23rd September 2021

  • IASbaba
  • September 23, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


WHO tightens global air quality norms

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Climate change 

Context The World Health Organisation (WHO), in its first-ever update since 2005, has tightened global air pollution standards because it has been recognised in the past decade that the impact of air pollution on health is much more serious than earlier envisaged.

  • Every year, exposure to air pollution is estimated to cause 7 million premature deaths and result in the loss of millions more healthy years of life.

New norms

  • The upper limit of annual PM2.5 as per the 2005 standards is 10 microgram per cubic metre. That has now been revised to five microgram per cubic metre.
  • The upper limit of PM10 is 20 microgram and has now been revised to 15.
  • The 24-hour value has been revised from 50 to 45 microgram.

Impact on India

  • The move does not have an immediate effect in India as the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) do not meet the WHO’s existing standards. 
  • The government has a dedicated National Clean Air Programme that aims for a 20% to 30% reduction in particulate matter concentrations by 2024 in 122 cities, keeping 2017 as the base year 

What is National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)?

  • National Ambient Air Quality Standards are the standards for ambient air quality set by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)
  • The CPCB has been conferred this power by the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
  • Ambient Air Quality Standards contains 12 pollutants

What is National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)?

  • It was launched by the MoEFCC in January 2019.
  • It is the first-ever effort in the country to frame a national framework for air quality management with a time-bound reduction target.
  • It seeks to cut the concentration of coarse (PM10) and fine particles (PM2.5) by at least 20% in the next five years, with 2017 as the base year for comparison.
  • The plan includes 102 non-attainment cities, across 23 states and Union territories, which were identified by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the basis of their ambient air quality data between 2011 and 2015.
    • Non-attainment cities: These are those that have fallen short of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for over five years.


National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)

Part of: Prelims and GS-III- Disasters management 

Context The Ministry of Home Affairs informed the Supreme Court that the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has recommended the payment of ₹50,000 each as ex gratia assistance to the next of kin of those who died of COVID-19, including those who succumbed to the virus while involved in relief operations and preparedness activities.

What is The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)? 

  • NDMA is the apex statutory body for disaster management in India.
  • The NDMA was formally constituted on 27th September 2006, in accordance with the Disaster Management Act, 2005
  • Composition: Prime Minister as its Chairperson and nine other members, and one such member to be designated as Vice-Chairperson.
  • Mandate: Its primary purpose is to coordinate response to natural or man-made disasters and for capacity-building in disaster resiliency and crisis response. 
  • It is also the apex body to lay down policies, plans and guidelines for Disaster Management to ensure timely and effective response to disasters.
  • Vision: To build a safer and disaster resilient India by a holistic, proactive, technology driven and sustainable development strategy that involves all stakeholders and fosters a culture of prevention, preparedness and mitigation.

SPIN scheme

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Economy 

Context Recently, Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) launched a unique Scheme called SPIN (Strengthening the Potential of India).

About  SPIN scheme

  • The SPIN scheme  aims at infusing self-sustainability in the Indian pottery sector.
  • The Scheme enables the registered potters to get a direct loan from the banks under Pradhan Mantri Shishu Mudra Yojana. 
  • Under this Scheme, KVIC is acting as a facilitator for financial aid to potters through RBL bank and also providing training to the artisans, opting for this scheme. 
  • There will be no financial burden on the exchequer and the loan will be repaid by the potter in easy installments. 
  • It is a no-subsidy program.
  • Under the scheme,  780 potters from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Jharkhand have registered for financial assistance from the bank to begin their own business.

What is Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana? 

  • The scheme launched in April, 2015 to provide formal access of financial facilities to the Non Corporate Small Business Sector. 
  • Objective: To promote & ensure bank finance to unfunded segments of the Indian economy.
  • These loans are classified as MUDRA loans under PMMY. 
  • These loans are given by Commercial Banks, RRBs, Small Finance Banks, MFIs and NBFCs. 
  • Types of loans: Loans are given as per the stage of growth and funding needs of the beneficiary micro unit. 
    • Shishu: covering loans up to Rs. 50,000
    • Kishore: covering loans above Rs. 50,000 and up to Rs.5 lakh.
    • Tarun: covering loans above Rs. 5  lakh and up to Rs.10 lakh.

Aroma Mission

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

Context Recently, the Union Minister of State Science & Technology has proposed Integrated Aroma Dairy Entrepreneurship for Jammu & Kashmir to augment the income of farmers.

  • The Aroma Mission, also popularly referred as “Lavender or Purple Revolution”, has started from J&K and transformed the lives of farmers who are able to grow lavender, make lucrative profit and improve their lives.
  • Earlier, the floriculture mission was launched in 21 States and Union Territories.

What is Aroma Mission? 

  • The CSIR Aroma Mission is envisaged to bring transformative change in the aroma sector through desired interventions in the areas of agriculture, processing and product development
  • Objectives: To promote the cultivation of aromatic crops for essential oils.
    • To enable Indian farmers and the aroma industry to become global leaders.
    • To provide benefits to the farmers in achieving higher profits, utilization of waste lands and protection of their crops from wild and grazing animals.
  • Nodal Agencies: CSIR-Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CSIR-CIMAP), Lucknow.
  • Coverage: The project assured benefits to the growers of Vidarbha, Bundelkhand, Gujarat, Marathwada, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and other states where farmers are exposed to frequent episodes of weather extremes and account for maximum suicides.
  • Aromatic Plants include lavender, damask rose, mushk bala, etc.
  • Launch of Second Phase: CSIR-IIIM-Jammu announced Aroma Mission phase-II in February, 2021 after the success of the first phase.

World Rhino Day

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Conservation 

Context World Rhino Day is observed on 22th September to spread awareness for all five species of rhino and work being done to save them.

  • It was first announced by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) – South Africa in 2010. 
  • The species of rhinoceros are on the verge of extinction due to persistent poaching and habitat loss over several decades.
  • Theme 2021: Keep the five Alive.
  • Objectives: Strengthening protection, Expanding the distribution range, Research and monitoring, Adequate and sustained funding.

About the species of Rhino

  • There are five species of rhino – white and black rhinos in Africa, and the greater one-horned, Javan and Sumatran rhino species in Asia.
  • IUCN Red List Status:
    • White Rhino: Near Threatened.
    • Black Rhino: Critically endangered.
    • Greater One Horned: Vulnerable.
    • Javan: Critically Endangered
    • Sumatran Rhino: Critically Endangered

Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros

  • Also known as Indian rhino, it is the largest of the rhino species. 
  • India is home to the largest number of Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros in the world. At present, there are about 2,600 Indian rhinos in India, with more than 90% of the population concentrated in Assam’s Kaziranga National Park.
  • Habitat: The species is restricted to small habitats in Indo-Nepal terai and northern West Bengal and Assam.
    • In India, rhinos are mainly found in Kaziranga NP, Pobitora WLS, Orang NP, Manas NP in Assam, Jaldapara NP and Gorumara NP in West Bengal and Dudhwa TR in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Threats:
    • Poaching for the horns
    • Habitat loss
    • Population density
    • Decreasing Genetic diversity
  • Protection Status:
    • IUCN Red List: Vulnerable.
    • CITES: Appendix-I
    • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I.

Conservation Efforts by India:

  • New Delhi Declaration on Asian Rhinos: India, Bhutan, Nepal, Indonesia and Malaysia have signed a declaration for the conservation and protection of the species.
  • DNA profiles of all rhinos: It will help in curbing poaching and gathering evidence in wildlife crimes involving rhinos.
  • National Rhino Conservation Strategy: It was launched in 2019 to conserve the greater one-horned rhinoceros.
  • Indian Rhino Vision 2020: To attain a wild population of at least 3,000 greater one-horned rhinos spread over seven protected areas in the Indian state of Assam by 2020.


(News from PIB)


Sign Language Day

Part of: GS-Prelims 

  • Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC), an autonomous body within the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, will be celebrating ‘Sign Language Day’ on 23rd September.
  • United Nations declared 23rd September as the International Sign Language Day, the ISLRTC has celebrated it every year – To sensitize the general public about the importance of Indian sign languages, and the information and communication accessibility for persons with hearing disabilities. 
  • Sign language not only plays an important role in educating people, but also is vital in creating employment and vocational training for persons with hearing disabilities.

News Source: PIB


National Single Window System for Investors and Businesses

Part of: GS-Prelims 

In News: National Single Window System for Investors and Businesses launched. The system is envisioned to address information asymmetry, duplication of information submitted across platforms and authorities and inefficient tracking of approvals and registration faced by investors.  

  • Will usher in Azadi from legacy of running to Govt. offices for approvals and registrations – A single interface between businesses & Govt at national level
  • To have solutions for all at one click of the mouse through ‘End to End’ facilitation
  • To bring transparency, accountability & responsiveness in the ecosystem and all information will be available on a single dashboard.
  • 18 Central Departments, 9 States already boarded. 14 Central depts. & 5 states will be added
  • Set up an Investment Clearance Cell (ICC) that will provide “end to end” facilitation and support to investors, including pre-investment advisory, provide information related to land banks and facilitate clearances at Centre and State level.

Current Status: Extensive testing by Ministries/States is ongoing, and will continue for next three months to stabilize & optimize the platform.

Must Read: TLP-Governance

News Source: PIB


India – UAE CEPA

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II: India and its neighbourhood- relations

In News: Negotiations have been formally launched on the India-United Arab Emirates Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

  • Aimed at improving bilateral economic relations, including expanding the existing trade and investment relationship
  • Will create new jobs, raise living standards, and provide wider social and economic opportunities in both nations. 
  • A new strategic economic agreement is expected to increase bilateral trade in goods to USD 100 billion within five years of the signed agreement and increase trade in services to USD 15 billion.
  • To strengthen the rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open, and inclusive multilateral trading system embodied by the World Trade Organization. 
  • Also agreed to work towards a balanced and inclusive outcome at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Relations between UAE & India

  • India’s third-largest trading partner with bilateral trade in 2019/2020 valued at USD 59 billion
  • India’s second-largest export destination after the US, with exports valued at approximately USD 29 billion in 2019-2020. 
  • Eighth-largest investor in India, having invested USD 11 billion between April 2000 and March 2021, while investment by Indian companies in the UAE is estimated to be over USD 85 billion.
  • India was the UAE’s second-largest trading partner in 2019, with bilateral non-oil trade valued at USD 41 billion. 
  • India’s major exports to the UAE include petroleum products, precious metals, stones, gems and jewellery, minerals, food items such as cereals, sugar, fruits and vegetables, tea, meat, and seafood, textiles, engineering and machinery products, and chemicals. 
  • India’s top imports from the UAE include petroleum and petroleum products, precious metals, stones, gems and jewellery, minerals, chemicals and wood and wood products. India imported USD 10.9 billion of crude oil from the UAE in 2019-2020.

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


ENVIRONMENT/ GOVERNANCE

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

Land Challenge for Green Power

Context: As India switches from fossil fuel to clean energy, it will trigger a race to establish mega green power plants.

  • This in turn would necessitate the need for substantial land to establish large spreads of solar panels. 

Issues/ Concerns 

  • Huge Land Requirement: If India wants to go ahead with its plan to implement its net-zero target by 2050, solar could occupy anything between 50,000 and 75,000 square kilometres of land, while wind could occupy an additional 15,000 to 20,000 sq km
    • The amount of land that could be needed for solar is equivalent to 1.7-2.5 per cent of the country’s total landmass, or 2.2-3.3 per cent of its non-forested land. 
  • Disproportionate impact on small farmers: Push for green power (solar & wind power) could lead into land acquisition spree by private players, which could eat away the lands of farmers on the margins of cities and urban clusters.
  • Environmental Imbalances: Environmental concerns may be brushed aside in the name of green power to accommodate huge stretches of solar panels. In long run, this could create imbalances in the ecosystem impacting the biodiversity of the region.
  • Food Security: Green projects even eat into agricultural or forested land. Such projects may generate clean energy from sunlight but cannot produce food.
  • Vulnerability of the Poor: Unless regulated, it could be the repeat of 1970s Mumbai when dishonest realtors forced simple folk to give up their properties at throwaway prices and converted farmlands into housing jungles.
  • Alternative in Wastelands is not without concern: Earlier it was suggested that wastelands’ or ‘zero impact areas’ be used to set up renewable energy parks. However, environmentalists have pointed out that areas designated as ‘wastelands’ could “actually be fragile and home to unique ecosystems”. 
    • These ‘Open Natural Ecosystems’ are also the source of essential fodder to feed our 500 million livestock. 

Way Ahead

  • Balancing Environment & Developmental needs: Recently, the Supreme Court asked for transmission lines evacuating solar energy in Rajasthan to be laid underground to reduce the threat to the already threatened bird species, the Great Indian Bustard. 
  • Policy Intervention: Developing clear environmental and social criteria for rating potential sites.
  • Regionally Balanced development: Limiting undue regional concentration and supporting widely distributed renewable generation.
  • Promoting Innovations that reduces need for land: 
    • Solar can continue to use more and more rooftops, even those belonging to large public and private institutions. 
    • Some designs that need minimum land use such as solar trees and solar canopies could generate large amounts of energy. 
    • Also, one can tap into artificial water bodies where floating solar projects are a possibility. 
    • Wind energy can innovate to use rooftops (options are already available) and experiment with offshore wind projects
  • Nurturing the ‘agrivoltaics’ sector: This means helping farmlands that make up the country’s 60.4 per cent total surface host both wind and solar projects. Wind turbines can be easily set up in farms and so can a host of solar trees.
    • In the right conditions, they are seen to maintain yields, and reduce soil moisture loss. 
    • However, extended research needs to be done on this method to establish optimal conditions for different geographies and crops. 

Connecting the dots:

News Source: Business Line


INTERNATIONAL/ ECONOMY

  • GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests 

Judicial Selection Needs More Than a Tweak

Context: Recently, new judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court and long overdue vacancies have been filled up.

  • SC Collegium has also made proposals to alter the existing composition of various High Courts. When these recommendations are notified new Chief Justices will be appointed to as many as eight different courts, five existing Chief Justices will swap positions with others.

Concerns

  • Collegium system finds no mention in the actual text of the Constitution.
  • Long-standing criticism about the collegium’s operation remain unaddressed i.e its opacity and a lack of independent scrutiny of its decisions.
    • There is lack of transparency as to why five Chief Justices are now being transferred to different courts. 
    • For nearly two years, despite vacancies on the Bench, the collegium made no recommendations for appointments to the Supreme Court. 
  • Our constitutional scheme envisages no power of administrative superintendence in the Supreme Court over the High Courts. But when transfers are made routine, when the process of appointing Chief Justices to High Courts is shrouded in secrecy, a de facto system of oversight on High Courts is put in place.
  • The procedure to be followed by the collegium system is contained in a “Memorandum of Procedure” (MoP). However, there is no actual guidance on how judges are to be selected.
  • Supreme Court struck down National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), created by 99th Constitutional Amendment Act.  This was done on the grounds that judicial primacy in making appointments and transfers was an essential feature of the Constitution.
    • NJAC would have been responsible for the recruitment, appointment and transfer of Judges of Higher Judiciary.
    • JNAC was to be comprised of members from the judiciary, the executive, and the lay-public.
  • But when the Court struck down the NJAC in 2015, it also promised to reform the existing system. Six years down the line those promises have been all but forgotten.
    • A new MoP, for instance, has not moved forward. 
    • The considerations that must go into the procedure for selecting judges is left unexplained. 
    • The words “merit” and “diversity” are mentioned without any corresponding debates on what they mean.

Conclusion

At some point India must take seriously the task of reforming the existing Collegium scheme, because the status quo is ultimately corrosive of the very institutions that it seeks to protect.

Connecting the dots:

News Source: The Hindu


(AIR- Spotlight News Analysis)


Sep 20: Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat – https://youtu.be/mh0z1UsM1vI 

GOVERNANCE/SOCIETY

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

‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’

The ‘Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat’ scheme was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Ekta Diwas i.e., 31st October 2015, on the occasion of 140th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, drawing inspiration from the life of India’s freedom fighter

  • Through this innovative measure, the knowledge of the culture, traditions and practices of different states & UTs will lead to an enhanced understanding and bonding between the states, thereby strengthening the unity and integrity of India. 
  • Implemented under the overall guidance of Ministry of Education.

It aims to enhance interaction & promote mutual understanding between people of different states/UTs through the concept of state/UT pairing. 

  • Under it rich culture, heritage, customs and traditions of paired states will be showcased in each other’s states
  • This cultural exchange amongst states enables people to learn about the culture of different states and regions, promoting the spirit of national integration.
  • The idea is to create a learning ecosystem between the various stakeholders of the partnering states so that they benefit from the best practices of one another by establishing a state-to-state connection.

Initiatives taken up under the Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat 

  • Award-winning books and poetry, popular folk songs have been translated from one language to the language of the partner state
  • Culinary events have been organised to learn culinary practices of partner states
  • Homestay for visitors coming from partner states
  • Rajya Darshan for Tourists
  • Accepting the traditional attire of other states and Union Territories
  • Exchange of information like traditional agricultural practices with partner states

Conclusion:

Article 1 of the Constitution of India describes India as a Union of States. This means that the Union is indestructible. This unique Union is a diverse combination of religions, cultures, tribes, languages, cuisines and therefore its people. The immense sacrifices rendered by our forefathers to protect and preserve the diversity of our country is beyond imagination. Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat aims to do justice to one such towering figure who went about the huge task of integrating the 565 odd princely states to the Union of India seamlessly.

Value Addition

National Mission on Cultural Mapping of India

Ministry of Culture launched it in the year of commemoration of the birth centenary of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay. The Cultural Mapping of India portal will serve as a repository/consolidated database of information about cultural assets and resources i.e. a cultural inventory at one place for essential planning, sustainable economic development and for preserving the scattered and near extinct art forms.

Aim:

  • Converting the vast and widespread cultural canvas of India into an objective cultural map
  • Designing a mechanism to fulfil the aspirations of the whole artist community of the nation
  • Preserving the rich cultural heritage of this country in the form of a cultural repository of artists and art forms
  • The Mission also seeks to open a direct channel of communication of artists with the Government and peer to peer communication among artists for talent honing and handholding of each other.

(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 What is the maximum loan limit under the Shishu product of MUDRA Yojana?

  1. Rs 5 lakh
  2. Rs 1 lakh
  3. Rs 50,000
  4. Rs 10 lakh

Q.2 Which of the following industries plays a major role in polluting air and increasing air pollution?

  1. Brick manufacturing industries
  2. Manufacture of gases industries
  3. Electrical appliances and electrical goods industries
  4. All of the above

Q.3 Consider the following Statements About national disaster management authority

  1. It is a statutory body.
  2. The Prime Minister is its chairperson. 

Select the correct answer from the codes given below:

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

ANSWERS FOR 22nd Sept 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 B
3 A

Must Read

On Sea Level Rise:

The Hindu

On QUAD:

Indian Express

On CPTPP:

Financial Times

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