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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 24th September 2021

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  • September 24, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


CoWIN adheres to WHO specifications

Part of: Prelims and GS – III- Science & Tech; GS-II- Health

Context Chairman of the empowered group for COVID-19 vaccine administration has stated that no concern has been expressed by UK government on the certification process of CoWIN.

  • Also, Indian COVID-19 vaccination certificate conformed to the World Health Organisation (WHO) specifications.
  • Significance: It is an important step forward in to facilitate travel and fully protect the public health of the U.K. and India

What is CoWIN?

  • CoWIN (Covid Vaccine Intelligence Work) is the Indian government’s web portal to register for COVID-19 vaccination. It displays slots of COVID-19 vaccine available in the nearby areas and can be booked on the website.
  • It is a secure and trustworthy proof that helped people establish when, where and by whom they had been vaccinated.
  • In totality, CoWIN is a cloud-based IT solution for planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of Covid-19 vaccination in India. 
  • This allows the system to monitor the utilisation, wastage, coverage of Covid-19 vaccination at national, state, district and sub-district level.
  • CoWIN system tracks on a real time basis the vaccination drive in India.
  • The portal also provides vaccination certificates in digital format
  • The decision to make CoWIN platform open source and offer it as a digital public good was guided by the approach of ‘One Earth, One Health’.

Caste Census of Backward Classes difficult

Part of: Prelims and GS – II- Governance

Context: The government has made it clear in the Supreme Court that a caste census of the Backward Classes is “administratively difficult and cumbersome”.

Key Arguments by the Centre

  • The Centre reasoned that even when the census of castes were taken in the pre-Independence period, the data suffered in respect of “completeness and accuracy”. 
  • Government has also said the caste data enumerated in the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) of 2011 is “unusablefor official purposes as they are “replete with technical flaws”.
    • The Centre said the raw caste/tribe data of 2011 was unusable. For example, Mappilas in Malabar region of Kerala were spelt in 40 different ways, resulting in the listing of 40 different castes.
    • SECC caste data is stored in the Office of the Registrar General and has not been made public (Economic Data of SECC is published). 
  • The government said caste-wise enumeration in the decennial Census was given up as a matter of policy from 1951 as a policy of “official discouragement of caste”.

What is Census?

  • In Census (decennial census), data is collected on demographic and various socio-economic parameters like education, SC/ST, religion, language, marriage, fertility, disability, occupation and migration of the individuals. 
  • Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India under Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India is responsible for carrying out the census. 
  • It provides information on size, distribution and socio-economic, demographic and other characteristics of the country’s population. 
  • The first synchronous census in India was held in 1881. Since then, censuses have been undertaken uninterruptedly once every ten years.
  • As per the official Gazette, the individual data collected in Census under the Census Act, 1948, are not made public as per the provisions contained in the Act.  
    • The individual data are not used for the preparation of any other database, including the National Register of Citizens. 
  • Only the aggregated Census data at various administrative levels are released.
  • Owing to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, Census 2021 and other Census-related field activities have been postponed until further orders.

FASTER system by Supreme Court

Part of: Prelims and GS – II- Judiciary

Context: Following an order in July by a Special Bench led by CJI, the Supreme court has introduced the “Fast and Secured Transmission of Electronic Records” (FASTER) system.

  • Through this system, Supreme Court’s crucial decisions, including orders on bail and stay of arrest, can be communicated electronically to prison authorities and investigating agencies through a secure channel.
  • The Rules and Handbook on Practice and Procedure of Supreme Court enables the transmission of a certified copy of the judgment or order either in physical or electronic form.

Significance of FASTER system

  • It enables instantaneous delivery of orders passed by apex court through a secure communication channel and ensures that there are no delays in implementation of the orders passed by the Supreme Court.
  • The system is meant to ensure that undertrials are not made to wait for days on end behind bars to be released because the certified hard copies of their bail orders were late to reach the prison.
  • The system would also prevent unnecessary arrests and custody of people even after the court has already granted them its protection. 
  • It may even communicate a stay on an execution ordered by the final court on time.
  • It is a big fillip to the fundamental rights of life, dignity and personal liberty.

Also Read: SUPACE: Judiciary & AI


Pradhan Mantri Digital Health Mission

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

Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will announce the nationwide roll-out of Pradhan Mantri Digital Health Mission on September 27.

  • Under this, a unique digital health ID will be provided to the people, which will contain all the health records of the person.
    • Every time one visist a doctor or a pharmacy, everything will be logged in this card. From the doctor’s appointment to the medication, everything will be available in the health profile
  • It will not only digitise health records but also provides a registry of doctors and health facilities. 
  •  The mission is being rolled out on a pilot basis in six union territories inclusing Puducherry, Chandigarh, Ladakh, Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Daman, Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
  • Implementing agency: The National Health Authority (NHA)
  • The NDHM is part of the Centre’s National Digital Health Blueprint, which aims to enhance healthcare delivery by setting up a core e-health database of international standards and, on paper, allowing patients to have control over their health data. 
  • With its key building blocks or applications, HealthID, DigiDoctor, Health Facility Registry, Personal Health Records, Telemedicine, and e-Pharmacy, the mission will bring together disparate stakeholders and radically strengthen — and, thus change — India’s healthcare delivery landscape.

Also Read: NDHM & Data Compliance


Service Exports from India Scheme

Part of: Prelims and GS – II- Governance; GS-III- Economy

Context: Bringing some relief to services exporters, the government has notified the benefits to be given for exports undertaken in 2019-20 under the Service Exports from India Scheme (SEIS). 

  • It has capped entitlements at ₹5 crore per exporter.
  • The notification of benefits will ease the credit burden of firms, especially for players in the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors that have been hit hardest in the pandemic. 

About the Service Exports from India Scheme (SEIS)

  • Service Exports from India Scheme (SEIS) aims to promote export of services from India by providing duty scrip credit for eligible exports.
    • A Duty Credit Scrip is like a credit certificate issued by the Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) and can be used to pay various duties/taxes to the Central Govt. 
  • Service providers of eligible services shall be entitled to duty credit scrip at notified rates on the net foreign exchange earned. 
  • Duty credit scrips can be used for the payment of custom duties, excise duties, GST on procurement of services etc.
  • Further, the SEIS scheme has given relaxation to the actual user condition and duty credit scrips and goods imported using duty credit scrips are freely transferable. Duty credit scrip would be valid for a period of 18 months from the date of issue.
  • The scheme is implemented and administrated by the Government’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry, in association with the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).

Miscellaneous

Place in News: Gogra

Context: Villagers have lost access to a vast grazing area near Gogra in eastern Ladakh owing to growing Chinese presence in the area.

  • Gogra is one of the several friction points in eastern Ladakh where Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in a stand-off since April-May 2020. 
  • The troops have disengaged from the north and south banks of the Pangong Tso and Gogra sector, creating “no zones” in areas along the LAC.
  • Since April 2020, Chinese troops have blocked Indian troops from reaching at least 10 patrolling points (PPs) in eastern Ladakh — running from Depsang plains in the north to the Pangong Tso lake in the south.

(News from PIB)


Patents (Amendment) Rules, 2021

Part of: GS-Prelims 

In News: Patent Fees for Educational Institutions have been reduced by 80 percent.

At the time of applying for patents, the innovators have to apply these patents in the name of the institutions which have to pay fees for large applicants, which are very high and thus work as a disincentive. In this regard and to encourage greater participation of the educations institutions, who play a pivotal role in country’s innovation, official fees payable by them in respect of various acts under the Patents Rules, 2003, have been reduced by way of the Patents (Amendment) Rules, 2021.

  • Augmentation of manpower by recruiting new examiners
  • Making process of applying and granting patents completely online
  • Hearing of cases in Patents through Video-Conferencing for speedy and contact-less  proceedings
  • Dynamic redesigning of website and real time based hassle free dissemination of IP  information to stakeholders
  • Encouraging the digital process for applying & granting Patents
  • Scheme for Facilitating Startups Intellectual Property Protection (SIPP) has been launched  to provide facilitators to Startups for filing and processing of their applications
  • The mechanism to lodge feedback/suggestions/complaints has been set up 
  • An Expedited Examination System has been introduced wherein an application for grant of patent is being decided within one year of filing such request

News Source: PIB


Ayushman Bharat PMJAY

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health

In News: Ayushman Bharat PMJAY – the world’s largest healthcare scheme, has coompleted three years.

Aim: To make path-breaking interventions to address health holistically, in primary, secondary and tertiary care systems

Objective: Prevention + Promotion (Health & Wellness)

Two major initiatives:

  • Health and Wellness Centre: Foundation of India’s health system
    • 1.5 lakh centres will provide – comprehensive health care, including for non-communicable diseases and maternal and child health services, provide free essential drugs and diagnostic services
    • The budget has allocated Rs.1200 crore for this flagship programme
    • Contribution of the private sector through CSR and philanthropic institutions in adopting these centres is also envisaged.
  • National Health Protection Scheme:
  • Will cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries)
  • Coverage of up to ₹5 lakh a family a year will be provided for secondary- and tertiary-care hospitalization (50 crore beneficiaries)

The program is centrally sponsored under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW). It is jointly funded by both the Central government and the states.

National Health Agency has been constituted as an autonomous entity for effective implementation of PMJAY in alliance with state governments.

News Source: PIB


Ramdhari Singh Dinkar

Part of: GS-Prelims 

  • Born at Simariya in Bihar in 1908, Dinkar’s poetry was considered inspirational during the freedom struggle
  • Remerged as a poet of rebellion as a consequence of his nationalist poetry written in the days before Indian independence. 
  • His poetry exuded veer rasa, and he has been hailed as a Rashtrakavi (‘national poet’) on account of his inspiring patriotic compositions. 
  • To escape the wrath of the government, Dinkar’s poems were published under the pseudonym “Amitabh
  • Dinkar initially supported the revolutionary movement during the Indian independence struggle, but later became a Gandhian.
  • Was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1959
  • His Kurukshetra is a narrative poem based on the Santi Parva of the Mahābhārata. 
  • Krishna Ki Chaetavani is another poem composed about events that led to the Kurukshetra War in the Mahābhārata. His Samdheni is a collection of poems reflecting the poet’s social concern transcending the boundaries of the nation.
  • His Rashmirathi is considered one of the best versions of the Hindu epic Mahābhārata.

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


INTERNATIONAL/ ECONOMY

  • GS-2: GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests 
  • GS-3: Economy & its challenges.

Federal Reserve’s stance and India

Context: Recently, US central bank (Federal Reserve) has reiterated that it would maintain an ‘accommodative stance’ until inflation and employment targets had been met.

What is accommodative stance?

  • An accommodative stance means that there is room for lowering interest rates in the future to revive growth and demand in the economy.
  • Accommodative monetary policy, also known as loose credit or easy monetary policy, occurs when a central bank attempts to expand the overall money supply to boost the economy when growth is slowing (as measured by GDP).
  • The policy is implemented to allow the money supply to rise in line with national income and the demand for money.

What did the Federal Reserve say?

  • US Fed outlined the risks to economic outlook due to pandemic and said it would continue to “maintain an accommodative stance of monetary policy” until it achieves an inflation moderately above 2 per cent.
  • The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which sets US monetary policy, has decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate (equivalent to India’s Repo rate) at 0 to 0.25 per cent

What did the Fed say on the infusion of liquidity?

  • The Fed had said in earlier (July 2021) that it would moderate (slowdown) the pace of asset purchases.
    • Purchasing bonds/asset by Central Bank means infusion of money supply into the market i.e. increase in liquidity. The Fed currently purchases treasury securities of at least $80 billion, and mortgage-backed securities of at least $40 billion per month.
    • Excess liquidity in US market has been channelized worldwide into other emerging markets as well. 
    • Low interest rates & high liquidity in the US will ensure continued fund flows from foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) into Indian equities. FPI flows into Indian equities amounted to Rs 2,083 crore in August 2021.
    • Slowdown in asset purchases (also known as tapering) means slowing of liquidity infusion by US Fed.
  • In its recent meeting, US Federal Reserve indicated that the tapering (slowing down) of its bond purchase programme would be gradual and spread into the middle of 2022.

What does the Fed’s decision mean?

  • Asset purchases could decline by $15 billion per month, and an end to asset purchases by mid-2022 will strengthen the case for raising rates in 2023.
  • This is seen as a sign of strength that the US economic recovery is on the right path. 
  • Analysts say the tapering (slowdown of bond purchases) is likely to be calibrated, and non-disruptive for financial markets — which means foreign investors are unlikely to suddenly exit India. 
  • US putting stringent conditions with respect to inflation and employment for a rate increase & tapering means that there is predictability in Fed’s functioning.

What is the future outlook?

  • There is a consensus among participants that domestic markets, like that in India, will ride more on local factors going forward. 
  • There is hope that faster vaccination will result in a milder third wave of Covid if it strikes, and that the economy will witness further reopening and faster consumption-driven growth.
  • Consumption is expected to increase closer to Diwali, and credit growth will see a pick-up over the next two months

Connecting the dots:


SCIENCE & TECH/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-3: Cyber Security and its challenges
  • GS-3: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Cybersecurity & Banks

Context: With increasing emphasis being laid on digitisation for financial institutions, there has been a monumental increase in cybersecurity threats as well. 

  • Therefore, the need for stringent cybersecurity measures for digital banking is now more pressing than ever.

The threats

  • Malware: Digital transactions are generally conducted on end-to-end user devices such as mobiles, computers, etc. If devices being used for access are infected with malware, then they end up posing a serious security risk to the bank’s cybersecurity network, whenever they connect with it. 
  • Third-party services: Numerous banks employ the services of third-party vendors, to be able to serve their customers in a better manner. However, if the vendors do not take active cybersecurity measures, then the bank can end up facing the repercussions.
  • Spoofing: Cybercriminals try impersonating a bank’s URL with a website that is quite similar to the original one and has similar functions as well. Whenever a user enters his or her login to tensions into the fake website, the credentials are then stolen by the criminals.
  • Phishing: Attempting to obtain sensitive information such as credit card details, etc. for fraudulent activities, by disguising oneself as an authentic, trustworthy entity via electronic communication
  • Unencrypted data: It is imperative that whatever data that is stored on the computers, or servers of banks, needs to be encrypted fully, which ensures that even in the event of data being stolen, it cannot be used by cybercriminals.

The challenges 

  • Lack of awareness: There aren’t a lot of firms that end up investing in training and enhancing overall awareness related to cybersecurity amongst people.
  • Increased use of social media: Many a time, customers who are not well-versed with cybersecurity measures, end up putting the data for anyone to see.
  • Inadequate budget and lack of management: Cybersecurity is often neglected in budget allocations, where the firm does not realise the monumental impact that these threats can have.

The solutions

  • Integrated security: In a sector as regulated as BFSI, integrated security is the future.
  • Machine learning and big data analytics: These are essential for leveraging cyber resilience. 
  • Updated antivirus and anti-malware applications offer the best protection from attacks that can be potentially disastrous
  • Endpoint protection: Financial institutions need to invest in technologies that can enhance the endpoint protection.

Connecting the dots:


(AIR- Spotlight News Analysis)


Sep 23: Digital India – Financial Inclusion – https://youtu.be/-F88ooM-j4s 

ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

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

Digital India – Financial Inclusion

Technology has had a disruptive effect on the delivery of financial services, and adoption of digital solutions could help accelerate financial inclusion. 

Financial inclusion refers to the access to financial services like savings, insurance, credit etc. In line with SDG 1, to end global poverty, financial inclusion will be key. The 2030 Agenda seeks to guarantee human beings, especially those in vulnerable situations, the right to financial services, including microfinancing. Digital financial inclusion is defined as digital access to and the use of formal financial services by the unserved and underserved population at an affordable cost (Lauer and Lyman 2015).

Traditionally, the costumers had to visit the physical banks to perform their business with banks (transactions, withdrawal, etc.). However, after the ICT revolution, the banking services are available via IT and ITES. This new form of banking, that is use of ICT, is called digital banking. This is a step towards cashless economy too, because the money transaction happens not via physical currency but digitally. This has also reduced the burden on physical banking infrastructure.

Efforts by Government of India

The GoI has been making concerted efforts to expand its digital infrastructure and enable access to financial services through the Unique Identity-Aadhaar and the Digital India programme (to deliver public services through digital channels and to connect rural areas with high-speed internet). Another far-reaching move towards digitisation is the shift towards government-to-person (G2P) payments or direct benefit transfers (DBTs) (GPFI 2017). 

Amid the gloom of the Covid-19 pandemic, the past year has shown some pleasant surprises in the efforts to promote India’s digital journey.

  • India overtook China to register the highest number of countrywide digital payments. 
  • Real-time transactions crossed 25 billion, much higher than China’s 15 billion in 2020, as reported in the annual research report of ACI Worldwide. The report also stated that digital payments in India are set to account for 71.7 per cent of all payments by volume by the year 2025.
  • A YouGov survey showed that 67 per cent of urban Indian women responding to the survey use digital modes of payment on a general basis. (Convenience of use, which interestingly overtook cashbacks and promotional offers. This convenience has been felt even more during the Covid pandemic.)

The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana has added 42.4 crore bank accounts in the past seven years, of which 28 crore are owned by rural Indians. Over 23.5 crore women now own bank accounts across rural and urban India. While Jan Dhan was the first pillar of the ambitious JAM trinity, Aadhaar card seeding and bank account linkages to mobile numbers have empowered people in hitherto unimagined ways. The JAM trinity has helped people know their account status, receive scholarships and fellowships, get fertiliser and LPG subsidy, disability pensions and farm income support — directly into their accounts.

In the past one year alone, Rs 4.3 lakh crore was transferred, in over 477 crore transactions under 319 schemes, and an estimated saving of Rs 1.8 lakh crore under DBT was observed.

Key Recommendations of ‘Connected Commerce: Creating a Roadmap for a Digitally Inclusive Bharat’ – A report by NITI Aayog and Mastercard

  • Strengthening the payment infrastructure to promote a level playing field for NBFCs and banks.
  • Digitizing registration and compliance processes and diversifying credit sources to enable growth opportunities for MSMEs.
  • Building information sharing systems, including a ‘fraud repository’, and ensuring that online digital commerce platforms carry warnings to alert consumers to the risk of frauds.
  • Enabling agricultural NBFCs to access low-cost capital and deploy a ‘phygital’ (physical + digital) model for achieving better long-term digital outcomes. 
  • To make city transit smoothly accessible to all with minimal crowding and queues, leveraging existing smartphones and contactless cards and make it an inclusive, interoperable, and fully open system 

Conclusion

Digital Financial Inclusion is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals to which India remains committed, especially when it comes to fighting poverty, reducing gender inequalities and ushering in greater social equity, among others. India being a major economy must reap benefits of digital age for which digital literacy is inevitable.

The digital journey, however, is long and one hopes to see the positive trends sustaining given their transformative impact on the lives of Indians.

Can you answer these questions?

  1. Essay: The pursuit of financial inclusion
  2. The involvement of large tech players in the financial services segment has been specifically flagged by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Examine the reasons and provide solutions.

(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) Which of the following is responsible for carrying out the Census in India? 

  1. Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation
  2. Ministry of Home affairs 
  3. NITI Aayog 
  4. National Population Commission

Q.2) Consider the following Statements About FASTER System by Supreme Court

  1. It is an Artificial Intelligence(AI) based tool that collects relevant facts and laws and makes them available to a judge
  2. It is a big fillip to the fundamental rights of life, dignity and personal liberty.

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 

Q.3) Consider the following Statements about National Digital Health Mission (NDHM)

  1. Under this, a unique digital health ID will be provided to the people, which will contain all the health records of the person
  2. It is being implemented by Ministry of Electronics and Information technology

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 23rd Sept 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 D
3 C

Must Read

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The Hindu

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Indian Express

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