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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 29th September 2021

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  • September 29, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


SEBI clears norms for gold exchanges

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Economy 

Context The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) approved the framework for a gold exchange as well as for vault managers, facilitating trading in securities tied to the gold.

Key takeaways 

  • Gold exchanges will be set up for trading in ‘Electronic Gold Receipts’ (EGRs) like in the case of other securities.
  • Existing stock exchanges will be allowed to provide the platform for trading of EGRs.
  • The denomination for trading the EGRs and conversion of EGRs into gold would be decided by the exchanges with the approval of SEBI.
  • EGR holders, at their discretion, could withdraw the underlying gold from the vaults after surrendering the EGRs. 
  • SEBI-accredited vault managers would be responsible for the storage and safekeeping of gold deposits, creation of EGRs, withdrawal of gold, grievance redressal and periodic reconciliation of physical gold with the records of depository. 
  • The vault manager would have to have a net worth of at least Rs. 50 crore.
  • Significance: The exchanges would enable transparent price discovery, investment liquidity and assurance in the quality of gold.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) 

  • It is the regulator of the securities and commodity market in India owned by the Government of India. 
  • It was established in 1988 and given statutory status through the SEBI Act, 1992. 
  • SEBI is responsible to the needs of three groups:
    • Issuers of securities
    • Investors
    • Market intermediaries
  • Functions
    • Quasi-legislative – drafts regulations 
    • Quasi-judicial – passes rulings and orders 
    • Quasi-executive – conducts investigation and enforcement action 
  • Powers:
    • To approve by−laws of Securities exchanges.
    • To require the Securities exchange to amend their by−laws.
    • Inspect the books of accounts and call for periodical returns from recognised Securities exchanges.
    • Inspect the books of accounts of financial intermediaries.
    • Compel certain companies to list their shares in one or more Securities exchanges.
    • Registration of Brokers and sub-brokers

Dissolution of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB)

Part of: Prelims and GS-III – Defence and security

Context The Defence Ministry has issued an order for the dissolution of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) with effect from October 1 2021 upon which its assets, employees and management would be transferred to seven newly constituted defence public sector undertakings (DPSUs).

Key takeaways 

  • Once implemented, the OFB will cease to exist.
  • There will be no change in service conditions  of the employees.
  • On June 16, the Union Cabinet had approved a long-awaited reform plan to corporatise the OFB, which has 41 factories, into seven fully government-owned corporate entities on the lines of DPSUs.
  • Benefits 
    • Make the country self-sufficient in defence manufacturing
    • Transform the ordnance factories into productive and profitable assets,
    • Deepened specialisation in the product range
    • Enhanced competitiveness
    • Improved quality 
    • Help in overcoming various existing shortcomings    like eliminating inefficient supply chains

About Ordnance Factory Board

  • Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), consisted of the Indian Ordnance Factories.
  • It was an organisation, under the control of department of defence production (DDP), Ministry of Defence (MoD), Government of India. 
  • It was engaged in research, development, production, testing, marketing and logistics of a product range in the areas of air, land and sea systems.
  • OFB was the world’s largest government-operated production organisation, and the oldest organisation in India.

Deadline for promotion quotas for the disabled

Part of: Prelims and GS II – Policies and interventions 

Context The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to issue instructions “at the earliest and not later than four months” for giving reservation in promotions to persons with disabilities (PwDs).

  • In a January 14, 2020 judgment of the apex court confirming that PwDs have a right to reservation in promotions. The judgement is famously known as Siddaraju v/s State of Karnataka.
  • It said instructions should be issued in accordance with Section 34 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
    • It provides that “every appropriate government shall appoint in every government establishment not less than 4% of the total number of vacancies in the cadre strength in each group of posts meant to be filled with persons with benchmark disabilities.

About Siddaraju v/s State of Karnataka case

  • In  the case of Siddaraju v/s State of Karnataka, the Supreme Court affirmed the Reservation of Persons with Disability (PWDs) under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. In the given case, the decision given under Indra Sawhney’s Case was reconsidered.
  • The Court was of the view that the basis for providing reservation for PWD is a physical disability and not any of the criteria forbidden under article 16(1).
  • Further, the reservation of persons with disability has nothing to do with 50% ceiling. Therefore, the rule of no reservation promotions as laid down in Indra Sawhney has clearly and normatively no application to persons with disability.

Other landmark judgements with regard to Reservation in promotion

  • In the Indira Sawhney case (1992), SC held that the reservation policy cannot be extended to promotions. 
  • However, the 77th Constitutional Amendment inserted clause 4A in article 16 and restored provision of reservations in promotions.
  • In Nagaraj judgement (2006), Court laid down three controlling conditions that the state must meet prior to granting SC/ST a reservation in promotion: 
    • state must show that backwardness of the class 
    • class is inadequately represented in position or service 
    • reservations are in the interest of Administrative efficiency 
  • In Jarnail Singh case (2018), it struck down the demonstration of backwardness provision from Nagaraj judgement.

Pantanal wetland

Part of: Prelims and GS I – Geography 

Context A long-standing drought followed by devastating wildfires have posed a threat to Pantanal jaguars.

About Pantanal wetland

  • The Pantanal is located at the geographical centre of the South American continent. 
  • It is a natural region encompassing the world’s largest tropical wetland area, and the world’s largest flooded grasslands. 
  • It is located mostly within the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, but it extends into Mato Grosso and portions of Bolivia and Paraguay. 
  • It constitutes an enormous internal river delta, in which several rivers flowing from the surrounding plateau merge, depositing their sediments and erosion residues.
  • The vegetation of the Pantanal, often referred to as the “Pantanal complex”, is a mixture of plant communities– moist tropical Amazonian rainforest plants, semiarid woodland plants, Brazilian cerrado savanna plants and plants of the Chaco savannas of Bolivia and Paraguay.
  • The apple snail is a keystone species in Pantanal’s ecosystem. 
  • The Pantanal is home to one of the largest and healthiest jaguar (Panthera onca) populations on Earth.
  • Among the rarest animals to inhabit the wetland of the Pantanal are the marsh deer, the giant river otter, hyacinth macaw, the crowned solitary eagle, the maned wolf, the South American tapir and the giant anteater.


Herbicide-Tolerant Rice Varieties

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Cropping patterns

Context Recently, the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) has developed the country’s first-ever non-GM (genetically modified) herbicide-tolerant rice varieties (Pusa Basmati 1979 and Pusa Basmati 1985).

  • These varieties can be directly seeded and significantly save water and labour compared to conventional transplanting.
  • ICAR-IARI is a deemed university.

About the New Varieties of Rice:

  • The new varieties contain a mutated AcetoLactate Synthase (ALS) gene making it possible for farmers to spray Imazethapyr, a broad-spectrum herbicide, to control weeds.
    • Imazethapyr, effective against a range of broadleaf, grassy and sedge weeds, can’t be used on normal paddy, as the chemical does not distinguish between the crop and the invasive plants.
  • The plants can now “tolerate” application of the herbicide, and hence it kills only the weeds.
  • It is important to note that, as there is no foreign gene involved in the process, the herbicide-tolerance is through mutation breeding. Thus, it is not a Genetically modified organism.

Zojila tunnel work

Part of: Prelims and GS – I – Geography

Context Minister for Road Transport and Highways recently reviewed the construction work at the Zojila tunnel which is likely to be ready by September 2026.

About the Zojila tunnel

  • The tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar valley and Leh on NH-1 and will bring about an all-round economic and socio-cultural integration of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • It takes 3.5 hours to travel between Srinagar and Ladakh. The tunnel will reduce the travel time to 15 minutes
  • The 14.15-km tunnel will be Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel


(News from PIB)


Elder Line

Part of: GS-Prelims 

In News: Country’s first pan-India helpline for senior citizens: Elder Line (Toll Free No- 14567) is functional

  • One platform that will provide free information and guidance on pension issues, legal issues, extends emotional support, and even intervenes on field in cases of abuse, and rescues homeless elderly.

Rabies

Part of: GS-Prelims 

In News: The National Action Plan for dog Mediated Rabies Elimination by 2030 (NAPRE) was unveiled on the occasion of World Rabies Day (28th September).

Rabies is 100% fatal but 100% vaccine preventable. 33% of global rabies deaths are recorded in India.

  • Senior officials to use the more familiar term ‘Hadakwa’ in popularizing the activities to be taken up under the Plan.
  • To undertake extensive IEC to make people aware of the difference between vaccine and medicine with regard to Rabies; many people are confused and mistake the vaccine, a precautionary step with medicine, a curative solution after the onset of the disease. Although each Rabies death is preventable by vaccine, there are no medicines once the disease develops in a human.
  • Echoing the consensus of greater focus on One Health approach, the institutionalization of an umbrella body for better co-ordination between inter-ministerial bodies and other stakeholders should be made.
  • Environmental factors like rainfall, heat-wave can also contribute to the trajectory of the pathogen and the disease which calls for more research and greater awareness in this area.

News Source: PIB


Shaheed Bhagat Singh

Part of: GS-Prelims GS-I – Personalities in Indian national movements 

In News: PM pays tributes to Shaheed Bhagat Singh on his Jayanti

Contributions

  1. Member of Hindustan Socialist Republican Association
  2. Defined nation and nationalism: At a young age, Bhagat Singh defined nation and nationalism for us.
  3. On Universal Brotherhood: At age 17, he published his first article (in 1924) in Matwala, a Hindi magazine from Calcutta. The subject was ‘Universal Brotherhood’.
  • He imagined a world where “all of us being one and none is the other. It will really be a comforting time when the world will have no strangers.”
  • He emphatically exclaimed that “as long as words like black and white, civilized and uncivilized, ruler and the ruled, rich and poor, touchable and untouchable, etc., are in vogue there was no scope for universal brotherhood”.
  • He went on to say, “We will have to campaign for equality and equity. Will have to punish those who oppose the creation of such a world.”

(Today, when many are busy “othering” and creating strangers out of their own fellow citizens need to grapple with Bhagat Singh’s views, instead of merely glorifying him as a martyr.)

Strongest critique of untouchability and communalism:

  • He wrote series of articles on ‘Anarchism’ and was fiercely frank and bold enough to critically comment on the politics of senior leaders such as Lala Lajpat Rai and express his differences.
  • He was also conscious of the international revolutionary struggles and ideologies.
  • He was aghast that we claimed to be a spiritual country, yet discriminated against fellow human beings while the materialist West had done away with such inhuman obscenities long ago.

(Even today, untouchability and communalism continue to torment us as a nation.)

On inclusiveness:

  • Bhagat Singh steadfastly remained committed to the idea of a plural and inclusive India.
  • He founded the Naujawan Bharat Sabha in Lahore in 1926, whose manifesto said, “Religious superstitions and bigotry are a great hindrance in our progress. They have proved an obstacle in our way and we must do away with them. ‘The thing that cannot bear free thought must perish’.”
  • In 1928, Bhagat Singh was acutely conscious of the divisiveness of mixing religion with politics.
  • He wrote – “If religion is separated from politics, then all of us can jointly initiate political activities, even though in matters of religion we might have many differences with each other. We feel that the true well-wishers of India would follow these principles and save India from the suicidal path it is on at present.”
  • He even had authored masterly essay, ‘Why I am an Atheist’. Bhagat Singh observed: “Our retrogressive thinking is destroying us. We keep ourselves entangled in futile discussions about God and heaven, and remain busy in talking about the soul and God. We are quick to dub Europe as capitalist and don’t think about their great ideas or pay any attention to them. We love divinity and remain aloof from the world.”

(Even today, many continue to peddle religion to promote political prospects.)

Thus we can see here the evolution of his ideas on politics, society, religion and even faith in god.

  • The lessons from the lives of these revolutionaries remain as relevant today as they were during the independence movement.
  • Their lives are proof that one is never too young to be politically aware, to educate oneself about the truth of the world at large, and to actively play a role in shaping the society one wants to live in.
  • In these rancorous times, Bhagat Singh’s intellectual bequest should be a beacon to build a new India

News Source: PIB

Trivia

  • First Indian woman fencer to qualify for Olympics: Bhavani Devi
  • 28th September: 44th World Maritime Day + World Rabies Day

(Mains Focus)


ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-3: Indian Economy & Challenges
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Tourism and Inclusive Growth

Context: The Statue of Unity and the cluster of projects around it are directly benefiting local communities in a 100 square-kilometre radius, and are providing inclusive sustainable growth in the region.

Potential for Tourism

  • India has 41 UNESCO World Heritage inscriptions, many iconic destinations, 10 eco-friendly blue flag beaches, immense natural beauty, many wildlife sanctuaries, and intangible cultural heritage through festivals and performing arts.
  • There is an opportunity to build tourism clusters around these so that local communities can benefit from them. 
  • Some of these areas are inhabited by marginalised communities such as tribals and forest-dwellers. Tourism is a tool to deliver prosperity to these people as that it brings jobs and development opportunities.
  • In the wake of Covid-19, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has designated this year’s World Tourism Day on September 27 to focus on inclusive growth.
  • The reason for the tourism sector’s ability to create inclusive growth is also because of the relatively low investment that is required to create sustainable jobs and generate employment

Way Ahead

  • Government has to empower local communities by skilling them and integrating them into the tourism supply-chain so that they can run their own homestays, operate logistics, act as guides and tour operators. 
  • While international tourism could take longer to open up, as international air travel is still constrained, government has a tremendous opportunity to promote domestic tourism as a large percentage of the population will be fully vaccinated by year end.

Connecting the dots:

  • Sustainable Tourism
  • Impact of COVID-19 on Tourism

SOCIETY/ GOVERNANCE

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

Digital Health ID

Context: Recently PM launched the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) that involves the creation of not just a unique health ID for every citizen, but also a digital healthcare professionals and facilities registry.

What is the unique health ID, and how does one get it?

  • If a person wants to be part of the ABDM, she must create a health ID, which is a randomly generated 14-digit number. 
  • The ID will be broadly used for three purposes: 
    • Unique identification
    • Authentication
    • Threading of the beneficiary’s health records, only with their informed consent, across multiple systems and stakeholders.
  • One can get a health ID by self-registration on the portal or by downloading the ABMD Health Records app on one’s mobile. 
  • Additionally, one can also request the creation of a health ID at a participating health facility, which may include government or private hospitals, community health centres, and wellness centres of the government across India.
  • The beneficiary will also have to set up a Personal Health Records (PHR) address for consent management, and for future sharing of health records.
  • Aadhar is not mandatory for createion of Health ID. One can use one’s mobile number for registration, without Aadhaar.

What is a PHR address?

  • It is a simple self-declared username, which the beneficiary is required to sign into a Health Information Exchange and Consent Manager (HIE-CM). 
  • Each health ID will require linkage to a consent manager to enable sharing of health records data.
  • An HIE-CM is an application that enables sharing and linking of personal health records for a user
  • At present, one can use the health ID to sign up on the HIE-CM; the National Health Authority (NHA), however, says multiple consent managers are likely to be available for patients to choose from in the near future.

What is the security of data?

  • The National Health Authority (NHA) says ABDM does not store any of the beneficiary health records. 
  • The records are stored with healthcare information providers as per their “retention policies”, and are “shared” over the ABDM network “with encryption mechanisms” only after the beneficiary express consent.

Can a person delete his health ID and exit the platform?

Yes, the NHA says ABDM, supports such a feature. Two options are available: a user can permanently delete or temporarily deactivate her health ID.

  • On deletion, the unique health ID will be permanently deleted, along with all demographic details. The beneficiary will not be able to retrieve any information tagged to that health ID in the future, and will never be able to access ABDM applications or any health records over the ABDM network with the deleted ID.
  • On deactivation, the beneficiary will lose access to all ABDM applications only for the period of deactivation. Until she reactivates her health ID, she will not be able to share the ID at any health facility or share health records over the ABDM network.

What facilities are available to beneficiaries?

  • One can access digital health records right from admission through treatment and discharge. Second, one can access and link your personal health records with your health ID to create a longitudinal health history.
  • Upcoming new features will enable access to verified doctors across the country.
  • Other features include
    • The beneficiary can create a health ID for her child, and digital health records right from birth.
    • There will be much inclusive access, with the health ID available to people who don’t have phones, using assisted methods.

How do private players get associated with a government digital ID?

  • The NHA has launched the NDHM Sandbox: a digital architecture that allows helps private players to be part of the National Digital Health Ecosystem as health information providers or health information users.
  • The private player sends a request to NHA to test its system with the Sandbox environment. 
  • The NHA then gives the private player a key to access the Sandbox environment and the health ID application programming interface (API). 
  • The private player then has to create a Sandbox health ID, integrate its software with the API; and register the software to test link records and process health data consent requests. 
  • Once the system is tested, the system will ask for a demo to the NHA to move forward. After a successful demo, the NHA certifies and empanels the private hospital.

Why is this initiative significant?

  • The initiative has the potential to “increase the ease of living” along with “simplifying the procedures in hospitals”.
  • At present, the use of digital health ID in hospitals is currently limited to only one hospital or to a single group, and mostly concentrated in large private chains. The new initiative will bring the entire ecosystem on a single platform.
  • The system also makes it easier to find doctors and specialists nearest to you. Currently, many patients rely on recommendations from family and friends for medical consultation, but now the new platform will tell the patient who to reach out to, and who is the nearest. 
  • Also, labs and drug stores will be easily identified for better tests using the new platform.

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 The currently under construction 14.15 km long Zojila Tunnel will connect which two places?

  1. Srinagar to Leh
  2. Ladakh to Leh
  3. Sikkim to Darjeeling
  4. Spiti to Kullu

Q.2 Which of the following is/are true regarding The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill – 2016?

  1. Reservation in vacancies in government establishments has been increased from 3% to 5% for certain persons or class of persons with benchmark disability.
  2. The Constitution and the functions of District level committees would be prescribed by the Union Government.

Select the correct statements:

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

Q.3 The primary objectives of SEBI include :

  1. To protect interest of investors in securities 
  2. to regulate securities market 
  3. to promote the development of securities market 
  4. all of the above

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

1 D
2 C
3 B

Must Read

On Maoist Insurgency:

The Hindu

On pendency of cases:

The Hindu

On CBDC:

Financial Express

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