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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 22nd October 2021

  • IASbaba
  • October 22, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


NGOs and their right to foreign funds

Part of: Prelims and GS II – Polity, law, fundamental rights, NGOs 

Context The Centre has told the Supreme Court that NGOs have no fundamental right to receive uncontrolled foreign contributions without regulations.

  • The Centre said the amendments were meant to ensure that foreign funds were not used to impinge upon the functioning of parliamentary institutions, political associations and other organisations in India.
  • It was responding to petitions challenging amendments made in the Foreign Contributions Regulations law in 2020. 

The background 

  • The petitions had argued that the amendments severely restricted the use of foreign funds by the NGOs for their activities. 
  • They found it cumbersome that the new law expected 23,000 NGOs to open accounts in the main branch of the State Bank of India (SBI) in the capital to receive their foreign funds.

What is Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA)?

  • Foreign funding of persons in India is regulated under FCRA Act and is implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The Act ensures that the recipients of foreign contributions adhere to the stated purpose for which such contribution has been obtained.
  • Registered NGOs can receive foreign contributions for five purposes — social, educational, religious, economic and cultural.

Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2020

  • Prohibition to accept foreign contribution: The Act bars public servants from receiving foreign contributions.
  • Transfer of foreign contribution: The Act prohibits the transfer of foreign contribution to any other person not registered to accept foreign contributions.
  • Aadhaar for registration: The Act makes Aadhaar number mandatory for all office bearers, directors or key functionaries of a person receiving foreign contribution, as an identification document.
  • FCRA account: Foreign contribution must be received only in an account designated by the bank as FCRA account in such branches of the State Bank of India, New Delhi.
  • Reduction in use of foreign contribution for administrative purposes: Not more than 20% of the total foreign funds received could be defrayed for administrative expenses. In FCRA 2010 the limit was 50%.
  • Surrender of certificate: The Act allows the central government to permit a person to surrender their registration certificate.

Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee

Part of: Prelims and GS-III – Economy; Biotechnology

Context The Central government is yet to decide on a research proposal from Scientists at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) which would allow plants to be genetically modified without the need for conventional transgenic technology.

The better quality rice variety 

  • Scientists at the IARI are in the process of developing resilient and high-yield rice varieties using gene editing techniques, which have already been approved by many countries.
  • They hope to have such rice varieties in the hands of the Indian farmers by 2024. 
  • This technique is equivalent to conventional breeding methods, since it does not involve inserting any foreign DNA.
  • The proposal, however, has been pending with the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee for almost two years.
  • Benefits: 
    • They aim to bring precision and efficiency into the breeding process using gene editing tools such as CRISPR.
    • It is much faster and far more precise than natural mutation or conventional breeding methods which involve trial and error and multiple breeding cycles.

What is Genetic engineering appraisal committee?

  • Regulatory Framework for approval of GM crops is covered under  the Environment protection Act 1986  
  • Genetic engineering appraisal committee under Ministry of Environment, forest and climate change is Apex body that allows for commercial release of GM crops in India 
  • Cartagena protocol on biosafety provides well-defined mechanism of regulation of GM crops including biosafety evaluation and environmental release.

Do you know?

  • The IARI has previously worked on golden rice, a traditional GM variety which inserted genes from other organisms into the rice plant, but ended trials over five years ago due to agronomic issues.

India crosses 100 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses

Part of: Prelims and GS II – Health 

Context India completed 100 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines on Thursday, in about nine months since the drive began.

  • It has fully vaccinated about 30% (291 million) of the eligible population and 707 million have had the first dose.
  • India aims to fully vaccinate about a billion people by the end of 2021 but experts say the drive needs to pick up pace further to meet the target.
  • This milestone makes India the second country to reach the one billion mark – China crossed it in June.problems.

Initial challenges to the vaccination drive in india 

  • Logistical problems
  • supply bottlenecks
  • vaccine hesitancy 
  • a devastating second wave of Covid-19 

Which vaccines is India using?

  • India is using three vaccines – the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, known locally as Covishield; Covaxin by Indian firm Bharat Biotech; and Russian-made Sputnik V.
  • India has also approved its first vaccine for those under 18. The three-dose ZyCoV-D vaccine is the world’s first DNA vaccine against Covid-19. It is expected to roll out in few weeks. ZyCov-D has been developed with the support of Department of Biotechnology and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
  • The government has also authorised Indian pharma company Cipla to import Moderna’s vaccine, which has shown nearly 95% efficacy against Covid-19. But it’s not clear yet how many doses will be made available to India.
  • Several more vaccines are in various stages of approval.

100 monuments illuminated

  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) also illuminated 100 monuments in the tricolour to celebrate the milestone of 100 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses.
  • These monuments include:
  • Delhi: Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb and Qutub Minar 
  • Uttar Pradesh: Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri 
  • Tamil Nadu: Konark Temple in Odisha and Mamallapuram Rath temples 

Pakistan retained on FATF’s ‘greylist’ again

Part of: Prelims and GS-II – International Relations  

Context  The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Thursday retained Pakistan in the ‘greylist’ yet again.

  • FATF observed that Pakistan needed to further demonstrate that investigations and prosecutions were being pursued against the senior leadership of UN-designated terror groups, which include the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

What is Financial Action Task Force (FATF)?

  • The FATF is an inter-governmental body set up in 1989. 
  • Objective: To combat money laundering, terror financing and other related threats to the international financial system.
  • Currently, it has 39 members.
  • Pakistan has been on the grey list since June 2018.

Web Based Project Monitoring Portal (WBPMP) of MES

Part of: Prelims and GS-II – Governance

Context Recently, the Defence Minister launched the Web Based Project Monitoring Portal (WBPMP) for Military Engineer Services (MES). 

About the portal

  • The portal was conceptualized in accordance with the Digital India Mission of the Union Government.
  • It has been developed by Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space Applications and Geo-informatics (BISAG-G).
  • The newly launched unified portal is the first project management e-Governance to be implemented by the MES. 
  • It will enable real time monitoring of projects from its inception to completion. 
  • All stakeholders not only from MES but also Armed Forces users can gain access to the project information. 

Mastitis disease

Part of: Prelims and GS-III – Agriculture 

Context Utilising indigenous knowledge systems shared by a farmer from Gujarat, a poly-herbal and cost-effective medicine has been developed to treat Mastitis disease.

Mastirak Gel

  • National Innovation Foundation (NIF) has identified unique herbal composition shared by a farmer from Gujarat for control of mastitis among farm animals. 
  • A gel preparation has been developed for topical application over the affected udder surface, and a patent has been filed for this composition 
  • It was found that the medication improve the udder health. 
  • It reduced inflammation which is detrimental to the udder.
  • Dairy owners in eight states of the country — Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Chhattisgarh – have benefited by adopting Masirak-anti mastitis herbal medication. 
  • It has reduced the use of antibiotics and helped in the cost-effective management of the disease.

About Mastitis disease

  • It is an infectious disease of dairy cattle.
  • Bovine mastitis is a condition typified by the persistent and inflammatory reaction of the udder tissue due to either physical trauma or infections caused by microorganisms. 
  • The most obvious symptoms of clinical mastitis are abnormalities in: The udder such as swelling, heat, hardness, redness, or pain.
  • The milk has a watery appearance, flakes, clots, or pus.

(News from PIB)


India achieves the major milestone of ‘one billion’ vaccinations

  • Recovery Rate currently at 98.15%; Highest since March 2020
  • 18,454 new cases reported in the last 24 hours
  • India’s active caseload stands at 1,78,831
  • Weekly positivity rate (1.34%) less than 3% for last 118 days

News Source: PIB


Model Code of Conduct (MCC)

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-II- Governance, Elections 

In News: In case the constituency is comprised in State Capital/Metropolitan Cities/Municipal Corporations, then MCC instructions would be applicable in the area of concerned Constituency only.

Model Code of Conduct (MCC)

  • A set of guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India for conduct of political parties and candidates during elections mainly with respect to speeches, polling day, polling booths, portfolios, election manifestos, processions and general conduct. This is in keeping with Article 324 of the Constitution, which gives the Election Commission the power to supervise elections to the Parliament and state legislatures.
  • Philosophy: Parties and candidates should show respect for their opponents, criticise their policies and programmes constructively, and not resort to mudslinging and personal attacks. The MCC is intended to help the poll campaign maintain high standards of public morality and provide a level playing field for all parties and candidates.
  • Comes into force immediately on announcement of the election schedule by the commission for the need of ensuring free and fair elections. At the time of the Lok Sabha elections, both the Union and state governments are covered under the MCC.
  • The MCC is not enforceable by law. 

News Source: PIB


Atal Innovation Mission Digi-Book Innovations for You 

Part of: Prelims

In News: NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) has launched – “Innovations for You” an attempt to showcase the success stories of Atal Innovation Mission’s Startups in different domains.

  • These startups have worked to create new, disruptive and innovative products, services, and solutions that can pave a path for a sustainable future. 
  • The first edition of this book is focused on innovations in Health Care – are leveraging frontier technologies such as AI, IoT, ICT and others to provide socially relevant solutions to problems likeAnemia, Malaria, dental care, mental health, neonatal and child care and monitoring human vitals, among others.

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


ENVIRONMENT/ INTERNATIONAL

  • GS-3: Science and Technology 

India’s race to secure Lithium

Context: First traces of Lithium in India were discovered in Karnataka’s Mandya district recently. 

  • The discovery is being given importance at the highest levels of government. This also shows the amount of effort and investment that lithium is likely to garner in the years ahead.

Why is Lithium so significant for India?

  • Climate change mitigation: Technologies such as lithium-ion batteries are slated to play a key role in India’s plan to reduce its carbon footprint by 33-35% from its 2005 levels by 2030.
  • Energy Transition: The transition from an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle to an electric vehicle involves the battery, which accounts for at least 30% of the vehicle’s cost. 
  • Electric mobility: By 2030, nearly three-fourth of Indian two-wheelers and all new cars are expected to be EVs and a bulk of them will be powered by lithium-based (battery packs) in the near term.
  • Energy security: According to the Central Electricity Authority, the country will need 27 GW of grid-scale battery energy storage systems by 2030. This will require massive amounts of lithium.

What are the issues and challenges faced by India with respect  to Lithium?

  • Negligible lithium resource base In India: Chile, Australia, Argentina, Bolivia and China have almost all the lithium reserves which have been explored so far globally. 
  • India’s high import dependence: Almost all EVs in the country run on imported batteries, mostly from China. Between 2016 and 2019, the amount of foreign exchange spent on importing lithium batteries tripled, according to the Union science and technology ministry. 
  • Geo-political rivalry with China: China is known to house large lithium reserves and has also secured many lithium mines across multiple countries in order to ensure steady sources of supply for both lithium and cobalt. Hence, India’s quest for energy security could be easily derailed by a hostile neighbour.

What steps have been taken by govt to secure Lithium?

  • India had recently unveiled its strategy for developing a battery storage ecosystem. It involves setting up at least 50-gigawatt hour manufacturing capacity for advanced chemistry cell batteries.
  • ₹18,100-crore Production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme to manufacture lithium-ion cells within the country has been introduced. With the government’s PLI scheme, demand for lithium is bound to increase and it opens new opportunities for domestic exploration.
  • Government formed Khanij Bidesh India Ltd (KABIL)— a joint venture comprising National Aluminium Co. Ltd, Hindustan Copper Ltd and Mineral Exploration Co. Ltd. it is looking to acquire cobalt and lithium mines overseas. KABIL is also exploring the direct purchase of cobalt and lithium.
  • The government is also trying to secure government-to-government (G2G) deals. For instance, India’s bilateral agreement with Argentina for securing strategic minerals. 
  • Lithium exploration: The Geological Survey of India has taken up seven other lithium exploration projects in Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Rajasthan.
  • Role of the private sector: Several automobile majors are planning to jointly develop a manufacturing facility in Gujarat, which could eventually morph into a global export hub for lithium-ion cells.
  • India is working on the world’s largest grid-scale battery storage programme, which includes a 13 gigawatt-hour (GWh) facility in Ladakh and a 14 GWh system in Kutch. 

Way forward 

  • Concentrate on other advanced battery technologies: As China dominates the space of lithium-ion cell manufacturing, India has to take alternative steps to avoid a repeat of how things played out with solar equipment manufacturing. 
    • A section of experts and policymakers believe that one way to avoid a lithium conundrum and a possible Chinese trap is to concentrate on other advanced battery technologies.
    • Aluminium-based battery technology: Aluminium-based battery technology holds great promise. India has huge bauxite reserves, which gives it access to aluminium at a cheap price. This technology, as and when it matures commercially, will insulate India from dependence on global import.
  • Early adoption of other battery technologies: Further, India should strive to be an early adopter of other battery technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells and solid-state batteries as well. 
    • Solid-state batteries are being explored using metals such as aluminium. India holds an upper hand with respect to the availability of different materials. Thus, the country may witness faster adoption of these alternate technologies as compared to lithium.
  • India should also try to intensify exploration within as well and exploit the opportunity to repurpose and recycle used lithium-ion batteries.

(All India Radio – Spotlight)


Oct 18: Global Solar Grid – https://youtu.be/25xFKFJH4GE 

TOPIC:

  • GS-II – Global Groupings
  • GS-III – Energy

The Fourth Assembly of the ISA will deliberate on

  • The key initiatives around the operationalisation of the OSOWOG initiative
  • The $1 trillion Solar Investment Roadmap for 2030
  • Approval of a Blended Financial Risk Mitigation Facility
  • Discuss the strategic plan of the ISA for the next five years encompassing a Country Partnership Framework, Strategy for Private Sector Engagement
  • Discuss initiatives such as Viability Gap Financing scheme to facilitate affordable finance for solar energy projects across ISA’s membership. 
  • Discuss the partnership with Global Energy Alliance (GEA) to scale up technical and financial support to LDCs and SIDS.

‘One Sun One World One Grid’ (OSOWOG) initiative 

Proposed by India to set up a framework for facilitating global cooperation which aims at building a global ecosystem of interconnected renewable energy resources that can be easily shared

  • Envisions building and scaling inter-regional energy grids to share solar energy across the globe, leveraging the differences of time zones, seasons, resources, and prices between countries and regions
  • Help decarbonise energy production, which is today the largest source of global greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • With India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, the World Bank and the ISA signing a tripartite agreement on OSOWOG, the initiative could be the world’s most important renewables catalyst. It can unlock unprecedented economies of scale in energy generation and transmission. 
  • Rigorous assessments and modelling have confirmed the initiative’s technical and economic viability, building a strong business case. 
  • Its commercial feasibility has been further augmented by multilateral development banks such as World Bank, which are helping create markets by driving down costs of solar power.

Phase I: The first phase deals with the Middle East—South Asia—-South East Asia (MESASEA) interconnection for sharing green energy sources such as solar for meeting electricity needs including peak demand.

  • Fostering cross-border energy trade is an important part of Modi’s South Asia-focused neighbourhood-first policy. 
  • India has been supplying power to Bangladesh and Nepal and has been championing a South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) electricity grid minus Pakistan to meet electricity demand in the region.
  • The initial plans also involve setting up an under-sea link to connect with Oman in the West.

Phase II: MESASEA grid getting interconnected with the African power pools

Phase III: Global interconnection

Benefits

  • Creation of regional and international interconnected green grids can enable sharing of renewable energy across international borders and also balancing. Such grids should work in tandem with the existing grids and will not require parallel grid infrastructure, thus requiring only incremental investment.
  • An interconnected grid would help all the participating entities in attracting investments in renewable energy sources as well as utilizing skills, technology and finances. 
  • Resulting economic benefits would positively impact poverty alleviation and support in mitigating water, sanitation, food and other socioeconomic challenges.
  • The proposed integration would lead to reduced project costs, higher efficiencies and increased asset utilization for all the participating entities

International Solar Alliance

  • First international treaty-based organisation that enables co-operation among sun-rich countries lying fully or partially between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, as this is the region worldwide with a surplus of bright sunlight for most of the year, who are seeking to ramp up solar energy, thereby helping to bend the global greenhouse emissions curve whilst providing clean and cheap energy.
  • Jointly announced by PM of India and President of France following the Paris Declaration at the UN Climate Change Conference on November 30, 2015.

Vision: Promotion of solar energy for making solar energy a valuable source of affordable and reliable green and clean energy in member countries

ISA Headquarter and interim Secretariat: Gurugram, India

Goals and Focus Areas: The ISA has set a target of 1 TW of solar energy by 2030, which would require $1 trillion to achieve. India has set an ambitious target of 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022, which includes 100 GW of solar and 60 GW of wind energy.

The key focus areas of the alliance are

  • Promoting solar technologies, new business models and investment in the solar sector,
  • Formulate projects and programmes to promote solar applications
  • Develop innovative financial mechanisms to reduce cost of capital build
  • A common knowledge e-Portal to facilitate capacity building for promotion and absorption of solar technologies
  • R&D among member countries

ISA presents numerous opportunities to India like:

1) Energy security: It reduces our dependence on fossil fuels, especially imports. It also helps provide electricity to remotest parts of the country and thereby helps in improving standard of living of the inhabitants of these areas.

2) Environmental security: It reduces pollution due to burning of fossil fuels and therefore decreases both health and ecological costs.

3) Economic opportunities: India can transform itself as a Global Manufacturing hub of photo voltaic cells. Apart from earning valuable FOREX through exports, it can also boost employment and livelihood opportunities in India. Therefore, helping us to harness our valuable demographic dividend.

4) Diplomatic opportunities: It helps in solidifying India’s position as a global leader in renewable energy production; it furthers global North-South and South-South cooperation (like training SOLAR MAMAS of Nigeria) and portrays India as a climate sensitive nation.

Can you answer the following question?

  1. The International solar alliance presents multiple opportunities for India. Analyse.
  2. With favourable tropical geography, huge domestic demand, and high export potential, India can be a world leader in the field of tapping and utilising solar energy. Do you agree? What are the challenges? Discuss.

(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 Foreign funding of persons in India is regulated by Which of the following Ministries?

  1. Ministry of Finance 
  2. Ministry of External affairs 
  3. Ministry of Home Affairs
  4. None of the above 

Q.2 The world’s first DNA vaccine against Covid-19 is developed by?

  1. USA
  2. China 
  3. Italy
  4. India

Q.3 Mastitis disease affects Which of the following? 

  1. Poultry 
  2. Dairy cattle
  3. Bengal Tiger
  4. Great Indian Bustard

ANSWERS FOR 21st Oct 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 A
3 D

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