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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 25th October 2021

  • IASbaba
  • October 25, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


National Fund to Control Drug Abuse

Part of: Prelims and GS II – Policies and interventions 

Context The Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry has recently recommended that the National Fund to Control Drug Abuse be used to carry out de-addiction programmes, rather than just policing activities.

Key takeaways 

  • The fund was created in accordance with a provision of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, and had a nominal corpus of Rs. 23 crore.
  • The Fund shall be applied by the Central Government to meet the expenditure incurred in connection with the measures taken for combating illicit traffic in, or controlling abuse of, narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for all or any of the purposes specified in sub-section (1) of section 71.

About The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985

  • It is also known as the NDPS Act.
  • It prohibits any individual from engaging in any activity consisting of production, cultivation, sale, purchase, transport, storage, and/or consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.

About psychotropics and Narcotics 

  • From a medical point of view, psychotropics designate chemical substances that act upon the mind, that is on the conscious or unconscious mental life of an individual.
  • Narcotics include substances that cause stupor (unconscious), muscular relaxation and a reduction or elimination of sensitivity.

Amended Technology Up-gradation Fund Scheme (ATUFS)

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Economy  

Context Union Minister of Textiles reviewed the Amended Technology Up-gradation Fund Scheme (ATUFS) to boost the Indian textile industry by enabling the ease of doing business, bolstering exports and fuelling employment.

Key takeaways 

  • The Ministry of Textiles had introduced Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS) in 1999 as a credit linked subsidy scheme.
  • Objective: 
    • modernization and technology up-gradation of the Indian textile industry, 
    • promoting ease of doing business, 
    • generating employment and promoting exports.
  • Since then, the scheme has been implemented in different versions.
  • The ongoing ATUFS has been approved in 2016 and implemented through the web based iTUFS platform. 
  • Capital Investment Subsidy is provided to benchmarked machinery installed by the industry after physical verification.
  • ATUFS was approved for a period from 2015-16 to 2021-22 with an allocation of Rs. 17,822 crore 
  • The scheme is administered with a two stage monitoring mechanism by Technical Advisory-cum-Monitoring Committee (TAMC) and Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee (IMSC). 
  • In 2019, IMSC decided to introduce physical verification of machinery and computation of subsidy before releasing committed liability under previous versions of the schem

Di-Ammonium Phosphate (DAP)

Part of: Prelims and GS-III – Economy 

Context An acute shortage of di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) in Haryana has seen desperate farmers pelting stones at the police, blocking roads in protest.

Why is DAP important for farmers?

  • Diammonium phosphate (DAP) is the world’s most widely used phosphorus fertilizer.
  • DAP fertilizer is an excellent source of Phosphorus and nitrogen (N) for plant nutrition. 
  • It’s highly soluble and thus dissolves quickly in soil to release plant-available phosphate and ammonium. 
  • A notable property of DAP is the alkaline pH that develops around the dissolving granule.
  • Being a basic nutrient for Rabi crops, the DAP fertiliser has to be sprinkled at the time of sowing crops like mustard and wheat. 
  • Any delay in its supply could adversely impact the sowing of crops. 

Non-agricultural uses

  • DAP also acts as a fire retardant. For example, a mixture of DAP and other ingredients can be spread in advance of a fire to prevent a forest from burning. It then becomes a nutrient source after the danger of fire has passed.
  • DAP is used in various industrial processes, too, such as metal finishing. 
  • It’s commonly added to wine to sustain yeast fermentation and to milk to produce cheese cultures.

Melioidosis

Part of: Prelims and GS-II – Health 

Context A made-in-India aromatherapy spray is being pulled off Walmart’s shelves in the United States after a medical investigation linked it to melioidosis.

  • According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The spray was reported to contain a bacterium, Burkholderia pseudomallei, that causes a rare but deadly disease called melioidosis.

What is Melioidosis?

  • Melioidosis, also called Whitmore’s disease, is an infectious disease that can infect humans or animals. 
  • The disease is caused by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei.
  • It is predominately a disease of tropical climates, especially in Southeast Asia and northern Australia where it is widespread. 
  • The bacteria causing melioidosis are found in contaminated water and soil. 
  • It is spread to humans and animals through direct contact with the contaminated source.
  • Most people infected with B. pseudomallei experience no symptoms, but those who do experience symptoms have signs and symptoms that range from mild, such as fever, skin changes, pneumonia, and abscesses, to severe with inflammation of the brain, inflammation of the joints, and dangerously low blood pressure that causes death.

Georissa mawsmaiensis

Part of: Prelims and GS-III – Environment  

Context Recently, researchers have discovered a micro snail species named Georissa mawsmaiensis in Mawsmai Cave in Meghalaya

About the new snail species

  • These snails are so small in size that an adult measures less than 2 millimetres in length.
  • It has been discovered after 170 years.
  • It was in 1851 that Georissa saritta, a member of the same genus as the latest find, was collected and described from the Musmai (Mawsmai today) valley near Cherrapunjee.
  • The members of the Georissa genus are widely distributed across and reported from Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. 
  • However, they are confined to microhabitats consisting of limestone caves or karst landscapes formed by the dissolution of limestone.
  • Georissa is found in soil or subterranean habitats in lowland tropical forest as well as high altitude evergreen forests or on rock surfaces rich in calcium.
  • The new species is different in its shell morphology, starting from shell size variation to the presence of four very prominent spiral striations on body whorls of the shell. 
  • Until now, five snail species have been found from the caves of Meghalaya. 

Mawsmai cave

  • It is situated in the small village of Mawsmai, around four km from Cherrapunjee (Sohra) in the East Khasi Hills, Meghalaya. 
  • The term ‘Mawsmai’ means ‘Oath Stone’ in the Khasi language. 
  • The Khasi people use the local term ‘Krem’ for the cave.
  • Mawsmai cave indirectly influenced by the streams of the Kynshi river originating from the East Khasi Hills.

Three new species of fish of genus Aborichthys

Part of: Prelims and GS-III – Environment  

Context Recently, the Department of Zoology of Dera Natung Government College of Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh has discovered three new species of fish of genus Aborichthys of family Nemachelidae.

About three new species of fish

  • The species have been named Aborichthys uniobarensis, Aborichthys barapensis and Aborichthys palinensis.
  • They are distributed in streams like Senki, Barap and Palin, which are the tributaries of Brahmaputra river system.

Genus Aborichthys

  • Aborichthys is an elongate and slender-bodied bottom dwelling freshwater stone loach that inhabits the moderate-to-fast flowing water of mountain rivers, streams and drainages of the Brahmaputra river basin. 
  • They are freshwater, benthic (bottom-dwelling) fish.
  • The species is characterised by narrow oblique bars on the body.
  • It is endemic to the eastern Himalayas. 
    • Eastern Himalaya is endemic to more than 20 per cent fauna of India, including the fish species.
  • These species are vulnerable to climate change as it leads to their habitat alteration.

(News from PIB)


PM Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-II: Government schemes related to Health

In News: PM Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission will be one of the largest pan-India schemes for strengthening healthcare infrastructure across the country. It will be in addition to the National Health Mission.

  • Objective of PM Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission: To fill critical gaps in public health infrastructure, especially in critical care facilities and primary care in both the urban and rural areas.  
  • Targets to build an IT enabled disease surveillance system by developing a network of surveillance laboratories at block, district, regional and national levels, in Metropolitan areas. Integrated Health Information Portal will be expanded to all States/UTs to connect all public health labs.
  • Work towards building up trained frontline health workforce to respond to any public health emergency.
  • It will provide support for 17,788 rural Health and Wellness Centres in 10 High Focus States. Further, 11,024 urban Health and Wellness Centres will be established in all the States.

News Source: PIB


India’s First Banni Buffalo IVF Calf Born

Part of: Prelims

In News: With the birth of first IVF calf of a Buffalo breed namely Banni in the country, India’s OPU – IVF work has reached to next level. 

  • This first IVF Banni calf is born out of 6 Banni IVF pregnancies established at the doorsteps of a farmer. Banni buffalo is known for its resilience and higher milk producing capacity in an arid environment.
  • The process was carried out to enhance the number of genetically superior buffaloes to increase milk production
  • Both the government and the scientist fraternity see a great potential in the field of IVF of buffaloes and are striving hard to improve cattle wealth in the country.
  • India has more than 109 million buffaloes that are 56 per cent of the world’s buffalo population.

News Source: PIB


Indian Telegraph Right of Way (Amendment) Rules, 2021 

Part of: Prelims

In News: The Central Government has notified the Indian Telegraph Right of Way (Amendment) Rules, 2021.

Aim: To incorporate the provisions related to nominal one-time compensation and uniform procedure for establishment of Overground Telegraph Line in the Indian Telegraph Right of Way Rules, 2016. 

  • Ease Right of Way related permission procedures for establishment and augmentation of Digital Communications Infrastructure across the country. 
  • With a robust pan India digital infrastructure, the digital divide between rural-urban and rich-poor will be bridged; e-governance and financial inclusion will be strengthened; doing business will be easy; information and communication needs of citizens and enterprises will be fulfilled; and ultimately the dream of India’s transition to a digitally empowered economy and society will be translated into reality.

News Source: PIB


Anniversary of the formation of Azad Hind Government

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-I: The Freedom Struggle

In News: As part of Amrit Mahotsav celebrations, events have been organized in the run up to and on 21st October in India and South East Asia to commemorate the Anniversary of the formation of Azad Hind Government by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

  • The existence of the Azad Hind Government gave a greater legitimacy to the independence struggle against the British. Pertinently, the role of Azad Hind Fauj or the Indian National Army (INA) had been crucial in bequeathing a much needed impetus to India’s struggle for Independence.
  • Founded on: 21st October, 1943
  • Constituted in: The Provisional Government of Free India, or, more simply, Free India (Azad Hind), was an Indian provisional government established in occupied Singapore in 1943 and supported by the Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and their allies.
  • Known as Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind, it was supported by the Axis powers of Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, the Italian Social Republic, and their allies.

Events leading to the formation of the Fauj:

An important development in the struggle for freedom during the Second World War was the formation and activities of the Azad Hind Fauj, also known as the Indian National Army, or INA.

  • Rash Behari Bose (supreme advisor), an Indian revolutionary who had escaped from India and had been living in Japan for many years, set up the Indian independence league with the support of Indians living in the countries of south-east Asia.
  • When Japan defeated the British armies and occupied almost all the countries of south-East Asia, the league formed the Indian National Army from among the Indian prisoners of war with the aim of liberating India from the British rule.
  • This first INA collapsed and was disbanded in December that year after differences between the INA leadership (Mohan Singh) and the Japanese military over its role in Japan’s war in Asia. It was revived under the leadership of Subhash Chandra Bose after his arrival in Southeast Asia in 1943.

News Source: PIB


Miscellaneous

  • RK Laxman: 100th Birth Anniversary – an Indian cartoonist, illustrator, and humorist. He is best known for his creation The Common Man and for his daily cartoon strip, You Said It in The Times of India, which started in 1951.
  • Gorias
    • Indigenous Muslims in northern Assam’s Darrang district are now facing the threat of being evicted from the banks of the Brahmaputra.
    • Goria is ethnic group of Assam.
    • Apart from the religious aspect, no Muslim in India and the world has any  cultural, linguistic and traditional similarities with the Goria.

(Mains Focus)


INTERNATIONAL/ SECURITY

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

India’s Central Asian outreach

Context: External Affairs Minister (EAM) S. Jaishankar was on three-nation Eurasian tour – Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Armenia with an aim to further expand bilateral ties in the backdrop of Taliban taking over Afghanistan after US withdrawal.

Do You Know?

Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Armenia are all members of Russia-led Eurasian security alliance CSTO that has held numerous drills in recent months to deter any spillover of terrorism from Afghanistan. 

Key Takeaways from the visit

  • In Kyrgyzstan, India extended a credit line of $200 million for the support of development projects and signed an memorandum of understanding (MoU) on High-Impact Community Development Projects (HICDP). 
  • In Kazakhstan, India’s EAM attended the 6th Foreign Ministers’ Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA).
    • At CICA, India targeted China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). India said while greater connectivity was essential for the promotion of regional stability, it must not be pursued for parochial interests. 
    • India also confronted Pakistan for its support towards cross-border terrorism.
    • The CICA meet among other issues discussed the possibilities of providing humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan. 
  • Mr. Jaishankar has become the first Indian External Affairs Minister to visit Armenia
    • India and Armenia agreed to enhance trade and cultural exchanges to boost bilateral relations. 
    • During the visit, Mr. Jaishankar also supported efforts for a peaceful solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia under the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk group. 

India’s Evolution of Relationship with Central Asia

  • After the breakup of the Soviet Union and the formation of the independent republics in Central Asia, India reset its ties with the strategically critical region. 
  • India provided financial aid to the region and established diplomatic relations. 
  • India signed the Strategic Partnership Agreements (SPA) with Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to stimulate defence cooperation and deepen trade relations. 
  • In 2012, India’s ‘Connect Central Asia’ policy aimed at furthering India’s political, economic, historical and cultural connections with the region. 
  • However, India’s efforts were stonewalled by Pakistan’s lack of willingness to allow India passage through its territory. China took advantage of the situation and unveiled the much-hyped BRI in Kazakhstan.

China, India and Central Asia

  • The growing geostrategic and security concerns regarding the BRI’s China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and its violation of India’s sovereignty forced India to step up its game in the region.
    • Soon after assuming office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited all the Central Asian countries in July 2015. 
  • Eventually, Central Asia became the link that placed Eurasia in India’s zone of interest. 
  • India signed MoUs with Iran in 2015 to develop the Chabahar port that was in plans from 2003. Most of the Central Asian leaders view India’s Chabahar port as an opportunity to diversify their export markets and control China’s ambitions.
  • China’s ill-treatment of their Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province of China has created social discontent among Central Asian Leaders (Muslim majority countries)
  • Central Asian countries have been keen to have India as a partner as they have sought to diversify their strategic ties. 
  • They have admitted New Delhi into the Ashgabat Agreement, allowing India access to connectivity networks to facilitate trade and commercial interactions with both Central Asia and Eurasia, and also access the natural resources of the region. 

Conclusion

Rising anti-Chinese sentiments within the region and security threats from the Taliban allow India and Central Asia to reimagine their engagement. India should not lose any time to recalibrate its engagement with Central Asia.

Connecting the dots:


ECONOMY/ INTERNATIONAL

  • GS-2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  • GS-3: Economy, Taxation etc.

Global Minimum Corporate Tax

Context: As many as 136 countries entered into an agreement earlier this month to redistribute taxing rights and impose a global minimum corporate tax on large multinational corporations.

Why do governments want a global minimum corporate tax rate?

  • Large multinational corporations have traditionally been taxed based on where they declare their profits rather than where they actually do business. 
  • This allowed several large companies to avoid paying high taxes in countries where they do most of their business by shifting their profits to low-tax jurisdictions. 
  • So, an American company like Apple, for instance, can avoid paying high taxes in the United States by declaring its profits as belonging to a subsidiary company in Ireland, where tax rates are lower. 
  • This practice of profit shifting has affected the tax revenues of governments and forced them to act.

Why now?

  • Governments have actually been deliberating on the idea of a global minimum corporate tax for a while. 
  • Global corporate tax rates have steadily declined since the 1980s when the then U.S. President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher enacted significant tax cuts to boost their economies.
  • The average global corporate tax rate was over 40% in the early 1980s and dropped to well below 25% in 2020 as governments competed against each other to lower their tax rates in order to attract businesses. 
  • This “race to the bottom” has forced losing governments to wake up. 
  • The most immediate trigger for the current tax agreement may be the COVID-19 pandemic, which has severely impacted economies and affected the tax revenues of governments. 

What does the new agreement say?

  • The new global tax agreement consists of two pillars, of which the second is about Global Minimum Corporate Tax rate.
  • Countries will legislate a global minimum corporate tax rate of at least 15%. If companies have earning that go untaxed or lightly taxed in one of the world’s tax havens, their home country will impose a top-up tax that will bring the rate up to 15%.
  • So, if an American company pays only 5% taxes on profits that it declares as that of its subsidiary in Ireland, the U.S. government will now be able to impose a 10% additional tax on these profits. 
  • It is expected to add about $150 billion in additional annual revenues to the budgets of governments.
  • The first pillar of the agreement has to do with the basis on which taxes should be collected. Traditionally, companies have been taxed based on where they declare their profits rather than based on where they do business. 
  • Today, with many large technology companies carrying out a huge share of their business in foreign countries, many countries have begun to demand a share of their profits.
  • So, pillar one of the new agreement ensures that 25% of residual profits, which is defined as profits in excess of 10% of revenue, is allocated to the relevant foreign country to tax. 
  • This is expected to help shift the right to tax profits worth over $125 billion to countries where MNCs actually earn their profits.

Will it help the global economy?

  • Helps stop the “race to the bottom” where countries compete against each other to cut taxes to attract businesses. 
  • It will increase tax revenues and help governments invest in social development. 
  • Others, however, have not been impressed. Non-profit organisation Oxfam International has criticised the deal, arguing that the minimum corporate tax rate of 15% is in fact too low. 
  • It has also argued that most of the tax collected under the new setup will go to rich countries and widen inequality between countries.
  • Other critics believe that the global minimum corporate tax may kill the various economic benefits that come with tax competition among countries. 

(Sansad TV – Perspective)


Oct 20: Enhancing Cooperation in West Asia – https://youtu.be/zD0KEjR4oJ0 

TOPIC:

  • GS-II – Global Groupings

Enhancing Cooperation in West Asia

In News: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had a “fruitful” first quadrilateral meeting with his counterparts from the US, Israel and the UAE on ways to expand economic and political cooperation in the Middle East and Asia, including through trade, infrastructure, combating climate change, energy cooperation, and enhancing maritime security.

  • The new “Quad” meeting comes on the back of the momentum created by the Abraham Accords. And it follows a meeting in Washington between Blinken, Lapid and Sheikh Abdullah that reviewed the progress of normalization of Arab-Israeli ties.
  • India, Israel and the UAE have already established trilateral cooperation—in trade and investment—since the Abraham Accords. In May, India, Israel and the UAE had clinched their first trilateral partnership under which an Israeli company was to produce robotic solar cleaning technology in India for a project in the UAE.

Main discussion points

  • People-to-people ties in technology and science, and how to support global public health in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Shared issues of concern in the region and globally, and the importance of expanding our economic and political collaboration
  • Support for public health at the time of the covid-19 pandemic

Israel – 

  • The most important thing to look out for is synergy – synergy which will help us work together in all the areas that preoccupies us. Around this table we have a unique set of capabilities, knowledge and experiences that can be used to create a network that we all want to create
  • The key to achieving what they were aiming at was quickly moving from government-to-government to business-to-business.
  • Emphasised on the need for this quadrilateral grouping to quickly put adequate mechanisms in place to translate efforts into real businesses around the globe.

USA – 

  • Highlighted trade, climate change, energy, maritime security as the core points of debate, along with generally expanding economic and political cooperation in the region. 
  • In September last year Israel, UAE and Bahrain had signed Abraham Accords brokered by the US which has subsequently led to normalising of relations between Israel and a number of Arab Gulf countries. 
  • Continues to be the most important strategic and defence partner for Israel, UAE and India.

India 

  • New Delhi and Abu Dhabi have cultivated a deep and strategic allignment from diplomacy to military affairs. 
  • India and Israel elevated bilateral relations to a strategic partnership during the historic visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel in July 2017. Since then, the relationship between the two countries has focused on expanding knowledge-based partnership, which includes collaboration in innovation and research, including boosting the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
  • India has also welcomed the Abraham Accords.

At the end of the conversation, it was decided that each minister will appoint senior-level professionals to a joint working group that will formulate options for cooperation in the areas identified by the ministers. The intention is to hold an in-person meeting of the ministers in the coming months at Expo 2020 in Dubai.

The Way Forward for India

  • The new “Quad” gives India the flexibility to engage more freely with Israel and India’s partners in the Gulf region. Israel is a key security partner with defence trade between the two countries seen as valued at about $1 billion annually. 
  • Some of the Gulf countries with whom India has developed close are seen as key interlocutors on Afghanistan, Qatar being a case in point. The UAE has been an interlocutor for India when it comes to Pakistan.
  • Cooperation with Iran is a key element of its strategy for Afghanistan given that Tehran has ties with the Taliban and is also crucial for the implementation of the Chabahar port.
  • Increasing security congruence with the U.S. could enable growing cooperation in fields significant for India’s transformation: energy, trade, investment, education and health. 
  • Other areas in which India and the U.S. could increase cooperation are: climate change and energy, on tech solutions for renewable energy, and on digital cooperation.

Can you answer the following questions?

  1. Non-Alignment 2.0
  2. Essay: India’s Path to Power; Strategy in a World Adrift
  3. Essay: Asia, the Nuclues – Cockpit of geopolitical rivalries
  4. How can India ensure that India’s role and influence abroad continue to serve the task of transforming India? 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 Senki, Barap and Palin are tributaries of Which of the following rivers?

  1. Yamuna
  2. Barak
  3. Gumti River
  4. Myntdu River

Q.2 Melioidosis, recently seen in news, is caused by which of the following? 

  1. Bacteria 
  2. Virus
  3. Fungi
  4. Protozoa

Q.3 Which one is the largest tribal group in Meghalaya? 

  1. Garo
  2. Jaintias
  3. Karbi
  4. Khasis

ANSWERS FOR 23rd Oct 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 B
3 A

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