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

  • IASbaba
  • October 29, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


GST Compensation

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Cybersecurity 

Context The Ministry of Finance has released ₹44,000 crore to the States and UTs with Legislature under the back-to-back loan facility in lieu of GST Compensation.

Key takeaways 

  • After taking into account earlier release of ₹1,15,000 crore, total amount released in the current financial year as back-to-back loan in-lieu of GST compensation is ₹1,59,000 crore.
  • This release is in addition to normal GST compensation being released every 2 months out of actual cess collection.

Background 

  • Subsequent to the 43rd GST Council Meeting held on 28th May 2021, it was decided that the Central Government would borrow ₹1.59 lakh crore and release it to States and UTs with Legislature on a back-to-back basis to meet the resource gap due to the short release of Compensation.

About GST Compensation

  • Before GST, States had the power to levy some indirect taxes on economic activity. Therefore, after GST regime was introduced (in 2017), the Centre promised guaranteed compensation to the States for the first five years, for the revenues they lost after the shift from the earlier system. 
  • The compensation is calculated at a growth rate of 14% keeping 2015-16 as the base year and by levying a Compensation Cess on Sin and luxury goods.

China to build military base in Tajikistan

Part of: Prelims and GS II – International Relations 

Context China will take full control of a military base in Tajikistan near the Afghan border that it has been quietly operating and will also build a new base for the Tajik Government.

Key takeaways 

  • Tajikistan granted approval for the construction of a new base, following an agreement between Tajikistan and China. 
  • The agreement was signed by the China’s Public Security Ministry, and not the Chinese military which suggests a focus on counterterrorism amid rising concerns over instability in neighbouring Afghanistan. 
  • The new base would be owned by Tajikistan’s Rapid Reaction Group and financed by China for a cost of $10 million. 
  • It will be located in the eastern Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous province near the Pamir mountains, and Chinese troops will not be stationed there.
  • Tajikistan Government has also agreed to transfer full control a former Soviet base near the China-Tajikistan-Afghanistan tri-junction and the Wakhan Corridor, where China shares a less than 100 km border with Afghanistan.
  • The base, once full control has been transferred, will become only the second known overseas Chinese security facility, after Djibouti near the Horn of Africa .

Do you know?

  • Russia and India are among countries that already have a military presence in bases in Tajikistan. 

China submits new climate plan to UN

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Cliamte change

Context China, by far the world’s largest polluter, has renewed its emissions cutting plan with a promise to peak carbon pollution before 2030.

Key takeaways 

  • China’s new submission to the UN also confirmed its goal to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060 and slash its emissions intensity by more than 65%. 
  • China is responsible for more than a quarter of all man-made emissions. It had previously promised, under a process set in motion by the 2015 Paris climate deal, to reach net-zero by 2060.
  • China had been reluctant in renewing its plans to curb emissions, and it was hoped its new submission could build momentum ahead of the delayed COP26 summit in Glasgow, which begins on Sunday.

China’s renewed Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)

  • According to its renewed NDC, it will increase its share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to 25%, up from the 20% previously pledged. 
  • It also plans to increase its forest stock by six billion cubic metres compared with 2005 levels.
  • Bring its total installed capacity of wind and solar power to over 1.2 billion kilowatts by 2030. 

Amendments to the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969

Part of: Prelims and GS II – Government policies and related issues

Context The Centre has proposed amendments to the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 that will enable it to “maintain the database of registered birth and deaths at the national level”.

  • As of now, the registration of births and deaths is done by the local registrar appointed by States.

Key takeaways 

  • The database may be used to update the Population Register and the electoral register, and Aadhaar, ration card, passport and driving licence databases.

Proposed amendments by the Centre

  • It is proposed that the Chief Registrar (appointed by the States) would maintain a unified database at the State level and integrate it with the data at the “national level,” maintained by the Registrar General of India (RGI). The amendments will imply that the Centre will be a parallel repository of data.
  • “Special Sub-Registrars” shall be appointed, in the event of disaster, with any or all of his powers and duties for on the spot registration of deaths and issuance of extract thereof, as may be prescribed.”

Converting CO2 to Methane

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Environment

Context Recently, Indian Scientists have designed a photochemical method (Photocatalyst) to convert Carbon Dioxide (CO2) to Methane (CH4).

  • A photochemical method is a chemical reaction initiated by the absorption of energy in the form of light.

Key Points

  • A polymer has been designed to absorb visible light and catalyse the reaction which reduces CO2. 
  • Most catalysts contain toxic and expensive metal counterparts. Therefore, scientists designed a metal-free porous organic polymer to overcome this drawback.
  • The method uses solar light as a renewable source of energy.
  • Significance:
    • Methane can be one of the value-added products with significant uses as the cleanest burning fossil fuel and can directly be used in fuel cells as a hydrogen carrier.
    • It is also the main component of natural gas and has the potential to replace coal for electricity generation and furnishing flexible supply to reinforce intermittent renewable generators.

What is Methane?

  • Methane is gas that is found in small quantities in Earth’s atmosphere.
  • It is the simplest hydrocarbon, consisting of one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms (CH4).
  • Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. It is flammable, and is used as a fuel worldwide.
  • Methane is produced by the breakdown or decay of organic material and can be introduced into the atmosphere by either natural processes (decay of plant material in wetlands, the seepage of gas from underground deposits or the digestion of food by cattle) or human activities (oil and gas production, rice farming or waste management).
  • Methane is called marsh gas because it is found at the surface of marshy places

(News from PIB)


18th India-ASEAN Summit

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-II: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

Context: Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi participated in the 18th India-ASEAN Summit at the invitation of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, the current Chair of ASEAN.

India –

  • Underlined the centrality of ASEAN in India’s Act East Policy and in India’s Vision for the wider Indo-Pacific Vision. 
  • On COVID-19, highlighted India’s efforts in the fight against the pandemic in the region and also reiterated support for ASEAN’s initiatives in this regard. India has contributed medical supplies worth USD 200,000 to ASEAN’s humanitarian initiative for Myanmar and USD 1 million for ASEAN’s Covid-19 Response Fund.
  • To further strengthen India-ASEAN cultural connectivity: India will support establishing the ASEAN Cultural Heritage List. 
  • On trade and investment, underlined the importance of diversification and resilience of supply chains for post-COVID economic recovery and in this regard, the need to revamp the India-ASEAN FTA.

India and ASEAN

  • Highlighting the milestone of 30th anniversary of India-ASEAN Partnership, the leaders announced the Year 2022 as India-ASEAN Friendship Year.
  • Building upon the synergies between the ASEAN Outlook for the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI), PM and ASEAN leaders welcomed the adoption of the India-ASEAN Joint Statement on cooperation for peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
  • Exchanged views on enhancing India-ASEAN connectivity in broadest terms including physical, digital and people to people. 
  • Appreciated India’s role as a trusted partner in the region especially during the current Covid-19 Pandemic with its supply of vaccine. 
  • Welcomed India’s support to ASEAN centrality in the Indo-Pacific and looked forward to greater India-ASEAN cooperation in the region through the Joint Statement.

Other discussion points

  • Covered regional and international issues of common interest and concern, including South China Sea and terrorism. 
  • Noted the importance of promoting a rules-based order in the region including through upholding adherence to international law, especially the UNCLOS. 
  • Affirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, stability, safety and security in the South China Sea, and ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight.

News Source: PIB


India, ADB sign $251 million loan

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-I: Urbanisation

In News: The Government of India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have signed a $251 million loan for climate-resilient, integrated urban flood protection and management in the Chennai-Kosasthalaiyar basin to strengthen resilience of Chennai city to floods.

  • Will help reduce the vulnerability of Chennai–Kosasthalaiyar basin residents to frequent floods, which have in recent years destroyed property and livelihoods
  • Building disaster-resilient infrastructure would help communities cope with intensifying rainfall, a higher sea level rise, and a storm surge caused by cyclones and protect lives, economy and the environment.
  • The innovative designs and interventions for climate-resilient flood management promoted by the project along with integrated urban planning and enhanced municipal resource mobilization can be widely replicated for other Indian cities that are vulnerable to climate and disaster risks.
  • Aims to enhance stakeholders’ involvement, including proactive participation of women, in flood preparedness by raising community knowledge and awareness of flood risks and impacts and its relationship with solid waste management, sewerage, and protection of water bodies.

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


POLITY / GOVERNANCE

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

Freebie Culture

Context: The line between welfarism and populism has blurred.

Welfare initiatives include a targeted Public Distribution System, providing social security for labourers, quality education, fair employment, affordable healthcare, decent housing, and protection from exploitation and violence. 

Freebies, on the other hand, are provided to attract voters to cast their vote in a particular election. They create limited private benefit for the receiver and do not contribute towards strengthening public goods/facilities.

How did the freebie culture originate?

  • The culture of freebies in Tamil Nadu was started during the 1967 Assembly elections. The then DMK chief C.N. Annadurai offered three measures of rice for ₹1. 
  • The practice of providing freebies was followed by subsequent Chief Ministers who promised free TV sets, free laptops to students, free rides for women in buses, free gas cylinders and stoves, a goat and a cow for poor farmers, and so on. 
  • Political leaders have justified freebies citing social justice as it aids those at the bottom of the pyramid.

What are the criticisms of Freebie Culture?

  • Creates Private Benefits: Freebies violate the constitutional mandate of extending benefits for public purpose and instead create private benefits. The main beneficiaries of the freebies provided by government were the ruling party’s core supporters and swing voters who could be influenced easily. 
  • Depoliticises Poor: Freebies will not only depoliticise the poor and marginalised communities but also indirectly deny them their due share of state resources. 
  • Erases Rational Thinking: Freebie encourage personality cults in a democratic polity. Populism encourages mediocre political critics and erases critical and rational thinking, which are important to raise questions to people in power.
  • Patron-Client Syndrome: Unsolicited freebies cultivate a patron-client syndrome. Providing freebies is to treat people like subjects, whereas citizens are entitled to constitutional guarantees.
    • Clientelism is a political or social system based on the relation of client to patron with the client giving political support to a patron (as in the form of votes) in exchange for some special privilege or benefit (freebies).
  • Against Welfare Politics: Welfare initiatives are an embodiment of civil rights, whereas unsolicited freebies show benevolence at best and apathy at worst towards the poor by the ruling parties.
  • Doesn’t enhance Productivity: It was observed that distributing free laptops does not serve the purpose of increasing the quality of education. Also, free electricity, free water, farm loan waivers, etc. have not contributed to increased productivity.
  • Fiscal Burden: Freebies imposes burden on the state’s financial status contributing to huge fiscal debt.
  • Vulnerable to Corruption: Freebies culture paves way to corrupt practice because of the involvement of middle man.
  • Not Sustainable in Long Run: The social, political and economic consequences of freebies are very short-lived in nature. Also, they cannot be provided free forever, at some point these goods have to be rationalised.

What was the judicary’s view on the freebie culture?

  • The Supreme Court gave a ruling in favour of offering of freebies stating that freebies are not corrupt practice as it is mentioned in election manifesto.
  • In S. Subramaniam Balaji v. Govt. of Tamil Nadu (2013), the court said that “Although, promises in the election manifesto cannot be construed as ‘corrupt practice’ under Section 123 of Representation of People Act, the distribution of freebies influences the people shaking the root of free and fair elections.”
  • In 2021, The Madras High Court expressed its strong displeasure over the way in which political parties were competing with each other to garner votes by offering freebies.

Connecting the dots:

  • Electoral Reforms
  • Representation of People’s Act, 1951

SECURITY/ GOVERNANCE

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

Pegasus Case

Context: A batch of 12 petitions were filed in SC that sought an independent probe into the alleged illegal use of the Israeli NSO Group spyware Pegasus

Recently, Supreme Court ordered a “thorough inquiry” into allegations of unauthorised surveillance using the Pegasus spyware.

The inquiry will be conducted by a three-member technical committee comprising 

  • Dr Naveen Kumar Chaudhary, Dean of National Forensic Sciences University in Gandhinagar; 
  • Dr Prabaharan P, Professor at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham in Kerala; and 
  • Dr Ashwin Anil Gumaste of IIT Bombay.

The functioning of the committee will be overseen by Justice R V Raveendran, a retired judge of the Supreme Court, who will be assisted by two other experts.

Observations by Supreme Court

  • The Court acknowledged that it is “a settled position of law that in matters pertaining to national security, the scope of judicial review is limited”. At the same time, SC also noted this does not mean that the State gets a free pass every time the spectre of ‘national security’ is raised. 
  • SC observed that “The mere invocation of national security by the State does not render the Court a mute spectator”.
  • In a democratic country governed by the rule of law, indiscriminate spying on individuals cannot be allowed except with sufficient statutory safeguards, by following the procedure established by law under the Constitution.
  • SC said that surveillance and the knowledge that one is under the threat of being spied, might result in self-censorship.

SC listed the compelling circumstances that made it to pass an order constituting an inquiry committee.

  • Right to privacy and freedom of speech are alleged to be impacted, which needs to be examined.
  • The entire citizenry is affected by such allegations due to the potential chilling effect.
  • No clear stand taken by the Union of India regarding actions taken by it.
  • Possibility that some foreign authority, agency or private entity is involved in placing citizens of this country under surveillance.
  • Allegations that the Union or State Governments are party to the rights’ deprivations of the citizens.

The terms of reference of the committee include:

  • Whether the Pegasus suite of spyware was used on phones or other devices of the citizens of India to access stored data, eavesdrop on conversations, intercept information?
  • The details of the victims and/or persons affected by such a spyware attack.
  • Whether any Pegasus suite of spyware was acquired by Union of India, or any State Government, or any central or state agency for use against the citizens of India?
  • If any governmental agency has used the Pegasus suite of spyware on the citizens of this country, under what law, rule, guideline, protocol or lawful procedure was such deployment made?

Connecting the dots:


(Sansad: Perspective)


Oct 27: East Asia Summit – https://youtu.be/nRC1dpdzhDg

TOPIC:

  • GS-II: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

East Asia Summit

Context: At the 16th East Asia Summit, leaders discussed matters of regional and international interest and concern including Indo-Pacific, South China Sea, UNCLOS, terrorism, and the situation in Korean Peninsula and Myanmar. 

India –

  • Reaffirmed India’s focus on a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific and support for ASEAN’s centrality in the region.
  • India remains committed to strengthening respect for shared values of multilateralism, rules-based international order, international law and sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations.
  • Spoke about ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ campaign for post-pandemic recovery and in ensuring resilient global value chains. 
  • Emphasised on establishment of a better balance between economy and ecology and climate sustainable lifestyle.
  • Reaffirmed “ASEAN centrality” in the Indo-Pacific and highlighted the synergies between ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI).
  • Raised the idea of developing global standards on cyber security.

EAS leaders adopted three statements on mental health, economic recovery through tourism and sustainable recovery, which have been co-sponsored by India.

About East Asia Summit

The East Asia Summit is the Indo-Pacific’s premier forum for strategic dialogue at which all key partners meet to discuss political, security and economic challenges facing the Indo-Pacific. This forum has an important role to play in advancing closer regional cooperation. 

  • The East Asia Summit (EAS) is a regional forum held annually by leaders of, initially, 16 countries in the East Asian, Southeast Asian, and South Asian regions, based on the ASEAN plus Six mechanism.
  • There are 18 members including the ten ASEAN countries along with Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States. 
  • In 2020 EAS members represented 54 per cent of the world’s population and accounted for 62 per cent of global GDP worth an estimated US$52.3 trillion. 
  • India participated, as a founding member, in the inaugural East Asia Summit held in Kuala Lumpur on 14 December 2005. Since then this forum has played a significant role in the strategic and geopolitical evolution of East Asia. 
  • It is also an important platform for furthering practical cooperation in the Indo-Pacific by building upon the convergence between ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific and Indo-Pacific Ocean’s Initiative. 
  • Aim: To further the objectives of regional peace, security and prosperity; has evolved as a forum for strategic dialogue and cooperation on political, security and economic issues of common regional concern and plays an important role in the regional architecture.
  • Six priority areas of regional cooperation within the framework of the EAS–
    • Environment and Energy
    • Education
    • Finance
    • Global Health Issues and Pandemic Diseases
    • Natural Disaster Management
    • ASEAN Connectivity

(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 One of the Following Is Not a Greenhouse Gas?

  1. Methane
  2. Hydrogen
  3. Nitrous oxide
  4. Ozone

Q.2 Which of the following is incorrect regarding Wakhan corridor:

  1. It is a narrow strip of territory in Afghanistan.
  2. It separates Tajikistan from China
  3. The corridor was formed by an 1893 agreement between the British Empire (British India) and Afghanistan, creating the Durand Line.

Select the correct code? 

  1. 1 and 2 only 
  2. 2 only 
  3. 2 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and l3

Q.3 As Per provisions of Paris agreement the intended nationally determined contributions are to be reviewed every 

  1. 15 years 
  2. 10 years 
  3. 5 years 
  4. 3years 

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

1 A
2 B
3 A

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