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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 12th November 2021

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  • November 12, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Climate financing

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Climate change

Context India has demanded a trillion dollars over the next decade from developed countries to adapt to, and mitigate, the challenges arising from global warming. 

  • India has kept this as a condition for delivering on climate commitments made by the Prime Minister recently. 

What is Climate financing? 

  • Climate finance refers to local, national or transnational financing—drawn from public, private and alternative sources of financing.
  • It seeks to support mitigation and adaptation actions that will address climate change.
  • Delivering on climate finance is among the stickiest points of contention between developed and developing countries because developed countries, as a group, have failed to provide $100 billion annually by 2020, as promised from a decade ago.

What is India’s aim? 

What does net zero mean? 

  • Net zero is when a country’s carbon emissions are offset by taking out equivalent carbon from the atmosphere, so that emissions in balance are zero.
  • However, achieving net zero by a specific date means specifying a year, also called a peaking year, following which emissions will begin to fall.

India’s conditional NDCs (Nationally Determined Contribution) 

  • India’s NDCs (Nationally Determined Contribution) are conditional, that is, subjected to the availability of $1 trillion amount in climate finance.
  • NDCs are voluntary targets that countries set for themselves, which describe the quantum and kind of emission cuts they will undertake over a fixed period to contribute to preventing runaway global warming.
  • India’s last NDC was submitted following the Paris Agreement of 2015.

China, U.S. to increase climate cooperation

Part of: Prelims and GS-III – Climate change

Context The world’s top carbon polluters, China and the United States, have agreed to increase their cooperation and speed up action to rein in climate-damaging emissions, signalling a mutual effort on global warming.

Key takeaways 

  • The two countries would work together to accelerate the emissions reductions required to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.
  • China also agreed for the first time to crack down on methane leaks. 
  • Both countries have agreed to share technology to reduce emissions. 
  • During Paris Agreement also Governments had agreed to jointly cut greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep the global temperature rise “well below” 2 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times, with a more stringent target of trying to keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius preferred.

UAE and Bahrain hold naval exercise with Israel

Part of: Prelims and GS-II – International Relations and GS-III – Defence and security

Context The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are holding their first joint naval exercise with Israel.

  • The five-day manoeuvres in the Red Sea, which is linked to the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal, are intended to “enhance interoperability between participating forces.
  • The exercise aims to safeguard freedom of navigation and the free flow of trade, which are essential to regional security and stability.

About Red Sea

  • The Red Sea is a semi-enclosed tropical basin, bounded by northeastern Africa, to the west, and the Arabian peninsula, to the east.
  • The basin extends between the Mediterranean Sea, to the north-west, and the Indian Ocean, to the south-east.
  • At the northern end, it separates into the Gulf of Aqaba and the Gulf of Suez, which is connected to the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal.
  • At the southern end, it is connected to the Gulf of Aden, and the outer Indian Ocean, via the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb.
  • It is one of the youngest oceanic zones on Earth.
  • The unique habitats of the Red sea support a wide range of marine life, including sea turtles, dugongs, dolphins and many endemic fish species.
  • Coral reefs mainly extend along the northern and central coasts

No fresh virus variants of concern in India: INSACOG

Part of: Prelims and GS-II – Health

Context Despite an increase in new cases this week, the India SARS- CoV-2 Genome Consortium (INSACOG) has said there are no new virus variants of concern on the horizon in India.

  • The bulk of cases in India were the Delta variant and its related sub-variants

Key takeaways 

  • According to the latest update from the World Health Organisation (WHO), Delta has outcompeted other variants in most countries and there was now “declining prevalence” of other variants among SARS-CoV-2 sequences
  • Public Health England stated that AY4.2, a Delta variant sublineage, was responsible for a “slowly increasing” proportion of cases in the U.K. 
  • It is also present in multiple other countries and is seen in travellers to the U.K. from a large number of countries. 
  • The INSACOG, however, said the presence of the lineage was “very infrequent” in India.

What is Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG)?

  • Coordinated by: Department of Biotechnology (DBT) along with MoH&FW, ICMR, and CSIR
  • The consortium will ascertain the status of a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the country. 
  • INSACOG will have a high level Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee. 
  • It will have a Scientific Advisory Group for scientific and technical guidance.
  • Aim: To monitor the genomic variations in the SARS-CoV-2 on a regular basis through a multi-laboratory network.
  • This vital research consortium will also assist in developing potential vaccines in the future. 
  • The consortium will also establish a sentinel surveillance for early detection of genomic variants with public health implication, and determine the genomic variants in the unusual events/trends (super-spreader events, high mortality/morbidity trend areas etc.)

Do you know? 

  • AY.x refers to a family of sublineages that can range from 1-25. 
  • They have a common set of core mutations but large variation in others.

Global Resilience Index Initiative (GRII)

Part of: Prelims and GS-III – Environment 

Context Recently, ten global organisations with partial funding and in-kind contributions from the insurance sector and partner institutions have launched a Global Resilience Index Initiative (GRII) at COP26.

About GRI initiative 

  • It will provide a globally consistent model for the assessment of resilience across all sectors and geographies. 
  • It will use cross-sector risk modelling experience, including public-private partnerships between governments, academia, insurance and engineering.
  • Mission: To address the data emergency that is contributing to the climate crisis by helping sectors build climate resilience .
  • The coalition wants to achieve two immediate goals:
    • Provide global open reference risk data developed using insurance risk modelling principles.  
    • Provide shared standards and facilities applicable to a wide range of uses
  • GRI will be a curated, open-source resource with many potential applications in risk management.
  • It can play an important role by creating a shared understanding of mounting physical climate risks. 

GRII partners and supporters are:

  • Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment (CCRI).
  • Fathom.
  • Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).
  • GEM Foundation.
  • Insurance Development Forum (IDF)
  • Oasis Loss Modelling Framework.
  • UK Centre for Greening Finance and Investment (CGFI).
  • United Nations office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR).
  • University of Oxford.
  • Willis Towers Watson.

Miscellaneous

Warrior woman Onake Obavva

  • From this year, the Karnataka government has decided to celebrate ‘Onake Obavva Jayanti’ on November 11 throughout the state.

  • Onake Obavva is a woman warrior who fought the forces of Hyder Ali single-handedly with a pestle (‘onake’ in Kannada) in Chitradurga in the 18th century.
  • She died protecting the Chitradurga Fort, which was ruled by Madakari Nayaka in the 18th century.

(News from PIB)


Solar Ironing Cart

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-III: Climate Change

In News: A 15-year-old girl from Tamil Nadu, who was recognized Earth Day Network Rising Star 2021 (USA) for her idea of ‘Solar Ironing Cart’, has exhorted the world to move towards clean energy during the recently concluded COP 26.

  • A mobile ironing cart, which uses solar panels to power a steam iron box
  • It eliminates the need for coal for ironing bringing about a welcome shift towards clean energy. End users can move around and offer services at doorstep for increasing their daily earning. 
  • The ironing cart can also be fitted with a coin-operated GSM PCO, USB charging points and mobile recharging which can fetch extra income. 
  • It is an ingenious solar-powered alternative for the millions of charcoal burning ironing carts for pressing clothes and can benefit the workers and their families. 
  • The device can also be powered by pre-charged batteries, electricity or diesel-powered generator in the absence of sunlight.

I am not here to speak about the future, I am the future,” she said encouraging the world to move towards renewable energy and accelerating the journey which started with the innovation in 2019.

News Source: PIB


Acharya Kripalani

Part of: Mains GS-I: India’s freedom struggle and its fighters

  • An Indian politician, noted particularly for holding the presidency of the Indian National Congress during the transfer of power in 1947
  • Was long a Gandhian socialist, before joining the economically right wing Swatantra Party later in life
  • He grew close to Gandhi and at one point, he was one of Gandhi’s most ardent disciples. He had served as the General Secretary of the INC for almost a decade, and was involved in the organisation of the Salt Satyagraha and the Quit India Movement.
  • In 1972-3, he agitated against the increasingly authoritarian rule of Nehru’s daughter Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India. Kripalani and Jayaprakash Narayan felt that Gandhi’s rule had become dictatorial and anti-democratic.
  • When the Emergency was declared as a result of the vocal dissent he helped stir up, the octogenarian Kripalani was among the first of the Opposition leaders to be arrested on the night of 26 June 1975. He lived long enough to survive the Emergency and see the first non-Congress government since Independence following the Janata Party victory in the 1977 polls.

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

Part of: Mains GS-I: India’s freedom struggle and its fighters

  • An Indian scholar and the senior Muslim leader of the Indian National Congress during the Indian independence movement.
  • Following India’s independence, he became the first Minister of Education in the Indian government.
  • His contribution to establishing the education foundation in India is recognised by celebrating his birthday as “National Education Day” across India.
  • Leader of the Khilafat Movement; at an age of 35, he became the youngest person to serve as the President of the Indian National Congress.
  • He is also credited with the establishment of the Indian Institutes of Technology and the foundation of the University Grants Commission, an important institution to supervise and advance higher education throughout the country.
  • He also worked for Hindu-Muslim unity through the Al-Hilal newspaper
  • He started the Indian National Union (1926) and the All India Nationalist Muslim Party  (1929) 
  • Autobiographies like ‘Tazhiran’, ‘Ghubir-i-khatir’, ‘Kahani’ and ‘India wins Freedom’  belongs to him 

(Mains Focus)


ECONOMY/ FEDERALISM/ GOVERNANCE

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

Taxation and Federalism

Context: Union Government reduced excise duty on petrol and diesel on the eve of Deepavali. While the reduction for petrol was ₹5, duty on diesel came down by ₹10.

Issues with Centre levying cess on Petrol & Diesel

  • The Centre has been levying around ₹31 and ₹33 as additional cess on petrol and diesel, respectively, till the beginning of November. 
  • The Constitution does permit the Centre to levy cess and surcharges beyond the basic taxes and duties in extraordinary situations. But making it manifold higher than the basic taxes is nothing but a misuse of such provisions of the Constitution. 
  • These additional taxes do not go to a divisible pool and such a high burden of taxes is an attack on the people and the federal rights of States.

Revenue Data 

  • The basic excise duty is ₹1.40 and the rest of the tax is made up of special additional excise duty and cess which would not go to divisible pool and to the States.
  • The Union government has collected around ₹3.72-lakh crore in 2020-21 as revenue from petroleum products as per the data published by the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell.
  • Of this, only around ₹18,000 crore is collected as Basic Excise Duty which is around 4.8% of the total revenue from petroleum products. The divisible pool is only 41% of this ₹18,000 crore
  • Around ₹2.3-lakh crore is collected as cess and the rest ₹1.2-lakh crore is collected as special additional excise duty. 
  • 95% of the total revenue from petroleum, which are not to be shared with the States at all. This is a classic example of undermining federalism prevailing in the country.

Impact on Federalism

  • After the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST), States have the right to decide the taxes on just three goods — petrol, diesel and liquor.
  • By unilaterally taking away the bulk of the tax revenues on petrol and diesel, the Centre has done injustice to the States. This is obtuse use of fiscal federalism. All States must oppose this in a united manner.
  • The promise was that the revenue neutral rate (RNR) will be implemented, which means States would get revenues similar to what they were getting before the implementation of GST. 
  • The average taxes on goods was 16% during the initial GST period. The average rate of taxes in goods at present is 11.3%. The consumer, however, hasn’t benefited from it instead inflation has also been rising. 
  • On an average, the country collects ₹1-lakh crore a month as GST — ₹12-lakh crore in a year; ₹6-lakh crore each for the States and the Centre. Had RNR been maintained, the total amount would have been ₹18-lakh crore at the rate of 16%. States would have received at least ₹3-lakh crore additionally.
  • A detailed analysis must be done on why States are losing revenue. GST has to be streamlined to ensure RNR, but without hurting the common people.

Conclusion

There has to be detailed deliberations by states & centre to help address the emerging issues within fiscal federalism.

Connecting the dots:


ENVIRONMENT/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation

Right to burn fossil fuels

Context: There has been quite a lot of debate on India’s dependence on coal against the backdrop of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) meeting.

Justification for continuing the dependence on coal

  • The crux of the theoretical argument is that India needs to develop, and development requires energy. 
  • However, since India has neither historically emitted nor currently emits carbon anywhere close to what the global North has, it has no reason to commit to reduce dependence on coal at least in future.
  • The argument is that it should ask for a higher and fairer share in the global carbon budget.
  • Such justification for burning coal is transcending into right to burn coal.

Criticism of above arguments

  • There is no doubt that economic development requires energy but that does not translate into energy by burning coal. 
  • Normally the argument in favour of coal is on account of its cost, reliability and domestic availability. 
  • However, recent data show that the levelised cost of electricity from renewable energy sources like solar (photovoltaic), hydro and onshore has been declining and is already less than fossil fuel-based electricity generation.
  • As for the easy domestic availability of coal, it is a myth. According to the Ministry of Coal, India’s net coal import went up from ₹782.6 billion in 2011-12 to ₹1,155.0 billion in 2020-21.
  • Global South should not be following the North in choosing the development model. The abundance of renewable natural resources in the tropical climate can give India a head start in this competitive world of technology. South-South collaborations can help India adopt a developmental path alternative to that laid down by West.
  • High-employment trajectory that the green path entails vis-à-vis the fossil fuel sector may help address the issue of rising youth population and surplus labour problem in developing countries like India.
  • Climate Justice argument narrowly focusing on the framework of nation-states. Injustice between the rich and the poor within nations and between humans and non-human species also needs to be taken into account.
  • Chalking out an independent, greener path to development may create conditions for such negotiations and give the South the moral high ground to force the North to pay for the energy transition in the South.

Connecting the dots:


(ORF: Health)


Nov 11: Zika virus explained: Should India be worried? – https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/health/zika-virus-explained-should-india-be-worried–80155 

TOPIC:

  • GS-2: Health

Zika virus: Should India be worried?

In News: The number of Zika virus cases in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, has breached the 100 mark since the infection was first detected on October 23, as of November 11, 2021.

About Zika Virus

  • Zika was first isolated from the rhesus monkey in Uganda’s Zika forest in 1947 and in humans in 1952. Over the next five decades, only 15 cases were reported from Africa and Southeast Asia. 
  • There was a massive spread of this zoonotic disease (infections that emerge in animals and jump to humans) in Yap, an island group in the Western Pacific, in 2007. The virus then spread to other Pacific Islands before reaching Brazil. It then spread rapidly to other parts of South America, central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. 
  • On February 1, 2016, the huge number of cases forced the World Health Organization to declare it a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
  • The virus usually causes mild fever, aches, rashes and conjunctivitis. But in 2016, it was linked with microcephaly (a condition of underdeveloped heads and brain defects) in children born to women who suffered from the infection during pregnancy. The virus also seems to have a link with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a progressive neurological disease that causes paralysis. 
  • In Brazil, a total of 2,639 cases of microcephaly were reported during the epidemic in 2015-2017. The different strain was circulating in Brazil and was the reason microcephaly was being reported only from this country. 
  • Prevalence studies on the Zika virus carried out as early as in 1952-53 by the National Institute of Virology, Pune, showed presence of antibodies in humans in several parts of central and western India.
  • A nationwide vector surveillance published in 2021 carried out by the Indian Council of Medical Research showed that mosquitoes in 3 of the 6,492 pools assessed were positive for Zika virus. Aedes aegypti sampled during the 2018 Zika outbreak in Jaipur, Rajasthan, showed the presence of Asian lineage of the virus and not the American lineage that is linked to the pandemic.

Transmission: 

  • The Zika virus is spread by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. 
  • It can also be transmitted through blood transfusions, sexual contact and via exposure to urine.
  • From mother to fetus during pregnancy and organ transplantation.

Symptoms:

  • Fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. 
  • Most people with Zika virus infection do not develop symptoms.
  • Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause infants to be born with microcephaly (smaller than normal head size) and other congenital malformations, known as congenital Zika syndrome.

Treatment:

  • There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika. 
  • The focus is on relieving symptoms and includes rest, rehydration and acetaminophen for fever and pain.

Can you answer the following questions?

  1. The world might have forgotten Zika virus, but the virus has not forgotten us. 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 Global Resilience Index Initiative (GRII) was recently launched by which of the following?

  1. China and USA
  2. World Health Organization 
  3. ASEAN
  4. None of the above 

Q.2 How does the greenhouse effect work? 

  1. Greenhouse gases reflect the sun’s energy, causing it to warm the Earth.
  2. Greenhouse gases absorb the sun’s energy, slowing or preventing heat from escaping into space.
  3. Greenhouse gases directly warm oceans and cause dramatic weather.
  4. Oceans absorb greenhouse gases, which cause the Earth’s temperature to rise

Q.3 The coastline of the Gulf of Aqaba does not border which of the following countries? 

  1. Jordan 
  2. Saudi Arabia 
  3. Israel
  4. Lebanon

ANSWERS FOR 11th Nov 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 D
3 C

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