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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 6th October 2021

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  • October 6, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Ayushman Bharat Revised

Part of: Prelims and GS II – Health 

Context The National Health Authority (NHA) has revised the Health Benefit Package (HBP) Master under the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY) scheme.

Health Benefit Package (HBP 2.2)

  • Rates of some packages have been increased by 20% to 400%. 
  • Rates of around 400 procedures have been revised 
  • Oone new additional medical management package related to black fungus has also been added.
  • The revised packages for oncology will enhance cancer care for the beneficiaries in the country.
  • Benefit: The rationalised HBP will further improve the uptake of schemes in private hospitals leading to reduced out-of-pocket expenditure.

What is National Health Authority (NHA)?

  • NHA has been set-up to implement PM-JAY. 
  • Ministry: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare 
  • It has full functional autonomy.
  • NHA is governed by a Governing Board chaired by the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare. 
  • It is headed by a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), an officer of the rank of Secretary to the Government of India, who manages its affairs. 
  • The CEO is the Ex-Office Member Secretary of the Governing Board.

About Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY) 

  • This scheme is a Centrally sponsored scheme with some Central sector components.
  • PMJAY offers a sum insured of 5 lakh per family for secondary care (which doesn’t involve a super specialist) as well as tertiary care.  For the beneficiaries, this is a free scheme.
  • It is an entitlement-based scheme that targets the beneficiaries as identified by latest Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) data
  • The insurance cost is shared by the centre and the state mostly in the ratio of 60:40.


Interpol launches online Cybersecurity campaign

Part of: Prelims and GS – III – Cybersecurity 

Context The Interpol has launched an online campaign to inform people of major cyberthreats to help them protect their computer systems, networks and personal information from cybercriminals. 

  • The three-week campaign, from October 4 to 22, would be run primarily through social media.

What is Interpol?

  • INTERPOL Notices are international requests for cooperation or alerts allowing police in member countries to share critical crime-related information.
  • The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) is an intergovernmental organization that helps coordinate the police force of 194 member countries.
  • Each of the member countries hosts an INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB).
  • The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is designated as the National Central Bureau of India.
  • It is headquartered in Lyon, France


Sovereign Credit Rating

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Economy

Context Rating agency Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded India’s sovereign rating outlook to ‘stable’ from ‘negative’, citing an decrease of risks from COVID-19.

  • It retained India’s rating at Baa3, reflecting the lowest investment grade rating.
    • Moody’s considers a Baa3 or higher rating to be of investment grade, and a rating of Ba1 and below is speculative.
  • It expects 2021-22 to record 9.3% growth in GDP, followed by 7.9% next year.
  • The growth projections take into account structural challenges, including weak infrastructure, rigidities in labour, land and product markets that continue to constrain private investment and contribute to post-pandemic economic scarring.

Sovereign Credit Rating:

  • A sovereign credit rating is an independent assessment of the creditworthiness of a country or sovereign entity.
  • It can give investors insights into the level of risk associated with investing in the debt of a particular country, including any political risk. Another common motivation for countries to obtain a sovereign credit rating is to attract foreign direct investment (FDI).
  • The Economic Survey 2020-21 has called for sovereign credit ratings methodology to be made more transparent, less subjective and better attuned to reflect an economy’s fundamentals.
  • In India, there are six credit rating agencies registered under Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) namely, CRISIL, ICRA, CARE, SMERA, Fitch India and Brickwork Ratings.

India’s present scenario

  • India has a higher debt burden and weaker debt affordability.
  • However, India’s narrower current account deficits and historically high foreign exchange reserves have reduced the country’s vulnerabilities to external shocks.

Physics Nobel Prize 2021

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Sci and Tech

Context U.S.-Japanese scientist Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann of Germany, and Giorgio Parisi of Italy won the Nobel Physics Prize for climate models and the understanding of physical systems.

Commendable work of the scientists

  • Working in the 1960s, Dr. Manabe showed how levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere corresponded to increased earth surface temperatures. 
    • He was influential in developing the physical models of earth’s climate and worked on how exactly the heat energy received by earth from the sun radiates back into the atmosphere.
  • Dr. Hasselmann was credited for working out how climate models can remain reliable despite sometimes chaotic variation in weather trends. 
    • The Committee praised his identification of climate “fingerprints” caused by both natural and human activities and how much climate change can be attributed solely to man-made emissions.
  • Dr. Parisi was honoured for his work in the 1980s that was said by the committee to be “among the most important contributions” to the theory of complex systems. 
    • His work made it possible for physicists to understand apparently entirely random materials, with wide-ranging applications including mathematics, biology, and machine learning.

The Draft Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Amendment Rules, 2021

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Infrastructure 

Context The Draft Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Amendment Rules, 2021 were recently published.

Overview of the new rules

  • Distribution licensees should ensure 24×7 uninterrupted power supply to all consumers so that there is no requirement of running Diesel Generating (DG) sets.
  • The electricity regulatory commission could consider a separate reliability charge for the distribution company, if it required funds for investment in infrastructure.
  • The state electricity regulatory commission should also make a provision of penalty in case the standards laid down are not met by the distribution company.

Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020

  • These rules serve to “empower” consumers with rights that would allow them to access continuous supply of quality, reliable electricity.
  • The areas covered under the rules include metering arrangement; billing and payment; reliability of supply, etc.

Key Provisions

  • States will have to implement these rules and discoms will be held more accountable for issues like delays in providing and renewing connections of electricity.
  • They are also obligated to provide round-the-clock electricity to consumers, as per the Ministry of Power.
  • To ensure compliance, the government will apply penalties that will be credited to the consumer’s account.
  • There are certain exceptions to these rules, especially where use for agricultural purposes is concerned.

Do you know?

  • Electricity is a Concurrent List (Seventh Schedule) subject and the central government has the authority and the power to make laws on it.

(News from PIB)


Mihidana

Part of: GS-Prelims

In News: In an effort to promote indigenous & Geographical Identification (GI) tagged products, first consignment of GI tagged sweet dish Mihidana sourced from Bardhaman, West Bengal has been exported to the Kingdom of Bahrain.

  • Jaynagarer Moa: A century old sweet delicacy & GI certified – Jaynagarer Moa, prepared from popped-rice ball & fresh date-palm jaggery, in found in Jaynagar, West Bengal too.
  • West Bengal’s Bardhaman got the GI tag for the century-old sweetmeats in 2017.

What is GI tag? 

  • A GI tag is a sign denoting a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. 
  • GI, a form of intellectual property right (IPR), is distinct from other forms of IPR, as it ascribes the exclusivity to the community in a defined geography, rather than to an individual, as is in the case of trademarks and patents.
  • A GI tag can be issued for agricultural, natural or manufactured goods that have a unique quality, reputation or other characteristics attributable to its geographical origin. 
  • Darjeeling tea, Basmati rice, Kanchipuram Silk, Mysore Silk, Hyderabadi haleem, Nagaland chilli products, etc, sold with the GI tag have premium pricing.

News Source: PIB


Giloy

Part of: GS-Prelims

In News: Ministry of Ayush has confirmed that Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia) is safe to use.

  • Guduchi is a popularly known herb, familiar as Giloy and is being used in therapeutics since long in AYUSH systems. 
  • It has proper pharmacopoeia standards in place of established safety of hepato-protective properties.

News Source: PIB


State of the World’s Children Report: UNICEF

Part of: GS-Prelims

Context: The UNICEF report ‘The State of the World’s Children 2021; On My Mind: promoting, protecting and caring for children’s mental health’ details the significant impact of COVID-19 pandemic on children’s mental health.

  • Around 14 percent of 15 to 24-year-olds in India, or 1 in 7, reported often feeling depressed or having little interest in doing things. 
  • Almost 46,000 adolescents die from suicide each year, among the top five causes of death for their age group. 
  • More than 1.6 billion children have suffered some loss of education.
  • Meanwhile, wide gaps persist between mental health needs and mental health funding. The report finds that about 2 per cent of government health budgets are allocated to mental health spending globally.

Way Forward: It calls for commitment, communication and action as part of a comprehensive approach to promote good mental health for every child, protect vulnerable children and care for children facing the greatest challenges.

  • Urgent investment in child and adolescent mental health across sectors, not just in health, to support a whole-of-society approach to prevention, promotion and care.
  • Integrating and scaling up evidence-based interventions across health, education and social protection sectors – including parenting programmes that promote responsive, nurturing caregiving and support parent and caregiver mental health; and ensuring schools support mental health through quality services and positive relationships.
  • Breaking the silence surrounding mental illness, through addressing stigma and promoting better understanding of mental health and taking seriously the experiences of children and young people.

News Source: PIB


Industrial Park Rating System Report 2.0

Part of: GS-Prelims and Mains GS-III: Economy

In News: 41 Industrial Parks have been assessed as “Leaders” in the Industrial Park Ratings System Report released by DPIIT. 

  • 90 Industrial Parks have been rated as under Challenger category while 185 have been rated as under “Aspirers”. 
  • These ratings are assigned on the basis of key existing parameters and infrastructure facilities etc. About 98% of these parks are from western (Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat) and northern (Uttarakhand) regions.
  • With this system (GIS-enabled database), the investors can even remotely refer to this report to identify the suitable investable land area, as per the various parameters of infrastructure, connectivity, business support services and environment and safety standards and make informed investment decisions.
  • The GIS-enabled IILB acts as a one-stop source of information on Industrial Infrastructure.

The IPRS pilot exercise was launched in 2018, with an objective of enhancing industrial infrastructure competitiveness and supporting policy development for enabling industrialization across the country as the Government pushes ahead a high-growth trajectory with an aim to scale the $5 trillion mark for the Indian economy by 2025.

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


ENVIRONMENT/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-3: Environmental Conservation
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

First Nobel for Climate Science

Context: Syukuro Manabe and Richard Wetherald way back in 1967, for the first time, in their published papers had described the impact of carbon dioxide and water vapour on global warming.

  • Manabe, now 90, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics. He shared one half of the prize with Klaus Hasselmann, another climate scientist, while the other half went to Georgio Parisi for his contributions in advancing the understanding of complex systems . 

First recognition

  • This is the first time climate scientists have been awarded the Physics Nobel. 
  • The IPCC had won the Peace Nobel in 2007, an acknowledgement of its efforts in creating awareness for the fight against climate change, while a Chemistry Nobel to Paul Crutzen in 1995, for his work on the ozone layer, is considered the only other time someone from atmospheric sciences has won this honour.
  • The recognition of Manabe and Hasselmann, therefore, is being seen as an acknowledgment of the importance that climate science holds in today’s world.

Manabe’s Work

  • The sophisticated climate models that we run today, which are so crucial to climate science, trace their ancestry to that model created by Manabe.
  • Manabe was also instrumental in developing the first coupled model, in which ocean and atmospheric interactions are modelled together, in the 1970s. 

Hasselmann’s Work

  • Hasselmann, a German, who is now 90, is an oceanographer who ventured into climate science. He is best known for his work on identifying specific signatures in the climate phenomena that enabled scientists to ascertain whether these were caused by natural processes or human activities.
  • In the 1990s, and even in the early 2000s, there was a lot of debate over the cause of global warming – whether these were being driven by human activities, or were part of natural variability. 
  • Hasselmann’s work on identifying these fingerprints has all but closed that debate now. IPCC’s sixth assessment report which came out in 2021 is unequivocal in saying that climate change is occurring because of human activities.
  • Manabe and Hasselmann too have been authors of previous IPCC reports. Both of them contributed to the first and third assessment reports, while Hasselmann was an author in the second assessment report as well.

Significance of this Nobel Prize 

  • Several scientists said that the delayed recognition to climate science couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time.
  • This Nobel Prize will, hopefully, also help in more people believing in climate science
  • Until very recently, climate science was not considered important even in scientific circles. Perhaps that was because the weather forecasts were not very accurate. Not everyone appreciated the fact that this science itself was uncertain and chaotic. 
  • But that perception is changing now. Weather forecasts have become far more accurate, the evidence on climate change have been compelling, due to the works of various scientists like Manabe and Hasselmann.
  • This Nobel Prize would probably help in further mainstreaming of climate science.

Connecting the dots:

  • Sixth IPCC Report
  • Nobel Prize for Medicine

ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

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

Coal Crisis

Context: India’s thermal power plants are facing a severe coal shortage, with coal stocks having come down to an average of four days of fuel across an increasing number of thermal stations.

  • On October 4, 16 thermal power plants with a power generation capacity of 17,475 MW (mega watts) had zero days of coal stock. 
  • An additional 45 thermal power plants with a power generation capacity of 59,790 MW had coal stock only sufficient for up to two days of generation.
  • In total, plants with a power generation capacity of 132 Gigawatts (1GW is 1,000 MW) of the 165 GW of capacity monitored daily, had critical or super critical levels of coal stock.
  • The shortage of coal is more acute in non-pithead plants or plants which are not located close to coal mines with such plants accounting for 98 of the 108 plants seen to have critical levels of stock i.e under eight days. 
  • India’s coal fired thermal power plants account for 208.8 GW or 54 per cent of India’s 388 GW installed generation capacity.
  • Government has said that while the supply crunch has not yet led to any power cuts in the country, the coal supply situation is likely to be “uncomfortable” for up to six months.

What is the reason behind India’s coal shortage?

  • A sharp uptick in power demand as the economy recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic coupled with supply issues have led to the current coal shortage. 
    • India consumed 124 billion units of power in August 2021 compared to 106 billion units of power in August 2019 which was not impacted by the pandemic.
  • Coal fired thermal power plants have also supplied a higher proportion of the increase in demand leading the share of thermal power in India’s power mix increasing to 66.4% from 61.9% in 2019.
  • The government has connected an additional 28.2 million households and these households are buying lights, fans and television sets leading to an increase in power demand.
  • Other key reasons for the supply crunch include continuous rainfall in coal bearing areas in August and September led to lower production and fewer despatches of coal from coal mines. 
  • A consistent move to lower imports coupled with high international prices of coal have also led to plants cutting imports.

What measures is the government taking to address the situation?

  • An inter-ministerial team, including representatives of the Power and Railway Ministries, Coal India Ltd, the Central Electricity Authority and Power System Operation Corporation, is monitoring the supply of coal to thermal power plants.
  • The government is pressing thermal plants with captive coal mines to boost their coal output so that they can meet more of their own demand 
  • Government is also prioritising coal supplies for thermal power plants with low levels of stock. 
  • The Power Ministry is also trying to increase the supply of coal by expediting the start of production from a number of mines that already have all requisite clearances in place.
  • The government has also boosted the number of rakes of coal being transported to thermal power plants daily with 263 rakes of coal dispatched from coal mines up from 248 rakes. 

Connecting the dots:


(AIR – Spotlight News Analysis)


Oct 2 – Reimagining Disaster Management – https://youtu.be/m9_ex-aiMBY 

TOPIC: GOVERNANCE:

  • GS-I: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, cyclone 
  • GS-II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors 
  • GS-III: Disaster and disaster management.

Reimagining Disaster Management

Introduction

“It is not the disaster, but the lack of preparedness to disaster that kills”.

Former President of United States of America Mr. Barak Obama had said, “When disaster strikes, it tears the curtain away from the festering problems that we have beneath them.” The quote seems to be true when we see various pitiable scenes in the aftermath of disasters in India.

Animals getting washed away in floods, trees and electric poles getting uprooted by cyclonic winds, houses crashing down like the pack of cards in wake of earthquakes, etc, have become a second nature in India. All these harrowing state of affairs in India after such disasters only indicate that, lack of preparedness is the main culprit behind the huge loss of life and property here. And India’s obsolete strategy of disaster management, which is concerned with the post disaster awakening doesn’t seem to be suitable in the 21st century; where people are even competing with the nature to unleash severe disasters.

What do we mean by Disaster Preparedness?

Disaster preparedness refers to measures taken to prepare for and reduce the effects of disasters. India is one of the most disaster-prone country as per the latest UNISDR report. Disaster preparedness is vital in this context to minimise the vulnerability and effective response.

Components of disaster preparedness:

  • Disaster mapping: Listing potential emergencies and ranking them in regards to importance and likelihood is essential to knowing what to do and what resources to invest. E.g. map of earthquake based on intensity would help plan building earthquake resilient buildings like in Japan.
  • Clear communication: Between the different stakeholders inside and outside the organization. Communication infrastructure should be built in a way to withhold the disaster impact. E.g. DISNIC project with communication network between various stakeholders like NDMA, district administration, home ministry etc.,
  • Comprehensive training: for the staff to handle disaster as well as to include community explaining the preparedness, mitigation measures as well as response. This also include building a team with dedicated roles. 
  • Knowledge of assets: specially the healthcare and communication infrastructure to make the disaster response resilient to disaster impact. 
  • Technology fail-safes and protocol: maintaining the physical space, access to files and software systems. For e.g. maintenance of health records in cloud.
  • Emergency plan and beforehand communication to the community and the relevant stakeholders. Also, the critical information and plans should be effectively communicated in time to avert disaster loss. E.g. clear communication and evacuation in time saved the lives during Odisha cyclone few years back.
  • Testing the plan: Lectures and response session, mock drills will help in proper implementation of procedures designed.
  • Humanitarian agencies connection: humanitarian agencies are often called upon to deal with immediate response and recovery. To be able to respond effectively, these agencies must have experienced leaders, trained personnel, adequate transport and logistic support, appropriate communications, and guidelines for working in emergencies. E.g.  Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief, Doctors Without Borders etc.,

The Way Forward

  • “Information is power” and it is a catalyst to sustainable development. The role of information and communication in emergency situations and can play important role at different levels based on different needs. More solutions need to be developed to help organizations create and manage response resources and infrastructure between disasters. Further, India should, sensitize the common people about the disaster risks present around their locality, educate them about the steps that have to be taken to save the lives and properties, and motivate them to help the community in relief and rehabilitation programs. This can relieve the army and police forces from disaster relief works to a large extent. Ex: Establishment of Disaster Management Units in every locality, conducting drills, awareness campaigns, and Nukkad Nataks on disaster mitigation, etc.
  • Mitigating Public Health Disasters: It is important for implementing the SDGs, including the pathway to Universal Health Coverage and target 3d to “strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks.
  • J C Pant committee on disaster management highlighted on setting up an institution that deals with the disaster mitigation strategies. Hence, the National Institute of Disaster Management was set up. However, lack of funds and faculties has made NIDM a toothless tiger. So, enough funds and functionaries have to be provided to the institute; and it has to be encouraged to come up with robust vulnerability maps and the Disaster risk atlas of India.
  • Further, the prediction mechanism of disaster has to be strengthened by instilling state of the art seismic prediction and weather forecasting paraphernalia. So that, the pre-disaster golden time can be extended for carrying out better evacuation works. Ex: VSAT technology for disaster warning dissemination systems, Area Cyclone Warning Centres embedded with the Artificial intelligence to forecast cyclones, Flood Forecasting Networks with satellite based sensors, etc. Case Studies: Some of the latest innovations that have been implemented in India include Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (RIMES), “SATARK” (System for Assessing, Tracking and Alerting Disaster Risk Information based on Dynamic Risk Knowledge), etc.
  • Long-term measures: Along with this, India should take up some of the long term preventive measures, so that the infrastructure, economy, and the people of India develop resistance and resilience towards the oncoming disasters. Ex:  Earthquake resilient constructions, Cyclone resistant shelters, Disaster proof schooling programme, fool proof underground electricity infrastructure, etc.
  • Disaster Resilience Challenges can be held periodically, to crowd source the disaster resilience inventions and discoveries.

The goal of emergency preparedness programs is to achieve a satisfactory level of readiness to respond to any emergency situation through programs that strengthen the technical and managerial capacity of governments, organizations, and communities. 

As said by Ian Davis “Disaster mitigation… increases the self-reliance of people who are at risk – in other words, it is empowering.” Thus, the prevention and mitigation strategy for disaster not only saves lives and properties to a great extent; but also empowers the people from the grass roots to develop the confidence and courage to fight the risks on their own, rather than relying on the government like passive beneficiaries.

Thus, disaster preparedness is one of the most vital component in disaster management.

Must Read: 


(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 What does the red notice of Interpol denote?

  1. Missing persons
  2. Wanted persons
  3. Imminent threat
  4. Groups and individuals subject to UNSC sanctions

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding National Health Authority (NHA)?

  1. It has full functional autonomy.
  2. NHA is governed by a Governing Board chaired by the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare.

Which of the above is or are correct? 

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

Q.3 This year Nobel Prize Physics 2021 is awarded for which of the following?

  1. discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of the Milky Way Galaxy
  2. theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter
  3. contributions to the field of optics
  4. climate models and the understanding of physical systems.

ANSWERS FOR 5th Oct 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 C
3 A

Must Read

On Microfinance:

The Hindu

On Refugee Law:

Indian Express

On Digital Health ID:

Indian Express

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