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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 13th November 2021

  • IASbaba
  • November 13, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


COP 26 concluded

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Climate change

Context COP26 could not achieve a final agreement while being concluded recently. 

Key takeaways 

  • The countries shall sign the text agreement, drafted by the team of COP president Alok Sharma, which is a synthesis of all the discussions since November 1 when the COP26 began.
  • The COP26 will not unveil a treaty as in 2015 when the Paris Agreement came into being. 
  • However, it is expected to guide implementation of the Paris Agreement, which urged countries to take steps to keep temperatures from rising beyond 2 degrees Celsius by the turn of the century and “pursue efforts to keep it” to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  • Besides, Developing countries such as India and China are pushing for formal acknowledgement from the West that they have not delivered on past promises of providing $100 billion annually until 2020.

New national sample survey by ICRIER and LIRNEAsia

Part of: Prelims and GS-II – Education 

Context Only 20% of school-age children in India had access to remote education during the COVID-19 pandemic, of whom only half participated in live online lessons, according to a new national sample survey by ICRIER and LIRNEAsia, a think tank focused on digital policy.

Key Findings 

  • Drop-outs: 38% of households said at least one child had dropped out of school due to COVID-19.
  • Poor accessibility: The survey found that although digital connectivity shot up 40% during the pandemic, low access to devices, poor signal and high costs prevented most children from reaping the benefits.
  • No educational services to the enrolled: Among children aged 5-18, it found that 80% of those who were enrolled in schools prior to the pandemic did not receive any educational services at all during school closure.
  • Lower socio-economic classes affected: The situation was significantly worse among those from lower socio-economic classes, where the head of the household had lower education levels, and among rural households.
  • Among the 20% who received education, only 55% had access to live online classes, while 68% had access to recorded audio or video lessons.
  • Smartphone usage: Three-fourths of the students had work sent to them over a smartphone, usually via WhatsApp, and 61% via text messages.
  • Teachers’ availability: Almost 70% had contact with their teachers via phone calls.


Cybercrime

Part of: Prelims and GS-III – Cybersecurity 

Context The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat, has stressed the need for a national framework to thwart cyberattacks that have been on the rise in India.

Key takeaways 

  • While a national cybersecurity strategy is being planned, the country is also in urgent need of a data protection law, with cybercriminals increasingly weaponising data as a tool against national security in the post-pandemic era.
  • Increased cybercrimes: Cyber crimes have gone up by almost 500% in India during the global pandemic. 
  • New threats: India needs to consider the emerging threats from new technologies such as drones, ransomware, Internet of Things (IoT) devices and also the role of nation states in such cyber attacks.
  • Technology dependency: The lockdown, which witnessed a deeper adoption of interconnected devices and hybrid work environment, has increased our dependence on technology. This renders us digitally more vulnerable than ever before.
  • Besides, Information Technology Act, 2000, that dealt with cybersecurity and cybercrimes is not equipped to consider new-age changes in the mode of functioning of businesses and modus operandi of crimes in cyberspace.


First National Achievement Survey (NAS)

Part of: Prelims and GS-II – Education 

Context The first National Achievement Survey (NAS) in four years was conducted recently.

  • Objective: To assess the competencies of children in Class 3, 5 and 8. 
  • Implication: This will help to assess the learning interruptions and new learnings during the COVID pandemic and help to take remedial measures.

Key takeaways 

  • Since, schools across the country were closed for 18 months from March 2020, and the vast majority of students did not have any access to remote education, the NAS is expected to reveal the level of learning losses caused by the shutdown.
  • The survey test was conducted in language, mathematics and environmental studies in Classes 3 and 5 and language, mathematics, science, and social science in Class 8.
  • The test was developed by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), which will also analyse the results, while the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) conducted the test.

Kashi Corridor project

Part of: Prelims and GS-I – Culture 

Context Indian Prime Minister will inaugurate the Kashi Vishwanath Temple Corridor project on December 13 in Varanasi, alongside families of those displaced by the project.

About the project

  • At least 400 families were asked to vacate the area and many of the encroachments around the historic temple cleared to make way for the project.
  • The project connects the temple with the ghats, with a paved walkway.
  • It will have a museum, a library, a pilgrim facilitation centre and a salvation house. 
  • The inauguration would see the presence of the main archakas of the 12 Jyotirlingas, with water from all major rivers of the country being brought in for the abhishek of the main deity Baba Vishwanath (Lord Shiva).

About Kashi Vishwanath Temple

  • Vishwanath Temple is one of the most famous Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. 
  • It is located in Vishwanath Gali of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh in India. 
  • The Temple stands on the western bank of the holy river Ganga, and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest of Shiva Temples.
  • The temple that encapsulates the vision of the Holkar queen of Indore, Ahalya Bai Holkar, who created a series of temples and vistas leading up to the Ganga ghat. 

Permanent Commission for Women Army Officers

Part of: Prelims and GS-III – Internal security 

Context The Union Government agreed to grant permanent commission (PC) to 11 women Army officers who met the eligibility criteria after the Supreme Court threatened to initiate contempt proceedings.

Key takeaways 

  • Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers, who have not approached the court but nonetheless meet the various eligibility criteria, would be granted PC in three weeks.
  • Background: In August, over 70 women officers approached the court, challenging the Army’s decision finding them ineligible for PC. They said they were disqualified despite satisfying the 60% assessment threshold for PC as prescribed by the court.
  • The order had said PC should be given to women SSC officers who obtained 60% marks in their assessment, subject to their meeting the medical criteria prescribed by the Army’s August 1, 2020, order and receiving disciplinary and vigilance clearance.

(News from PIB)


Launch of Customer centric initiatives of RBI

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-III: Economy

The schemes will expand the scope of investment in the country and make access to capital markets easier, more secure for investors.

Retail direct scheme has given small investors in the country a simple and safe medium of investment in government securities

  • Will give strength to the inclusion of everyone in the economy as it will bring in the middle class, employees, small businessmen and senior citizens with their small savings directly and securely in government securities. 
  • As Government securities have the provision of guaranteed settlement, this gives assurance of safety to the small investor

The Reserve Bank – Integrated Ombudsman Scheme

  • One Nation, One Ombudsman System has taken shape in the banking sector with the Integrated Ombudsman Scheme
  • One of the biggest touchstones of any democracy is the strength of its grievance redressal system. The Integrated Ombudsman Scheme will go a long way in that direction.

News Source: PIB


National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI)

In News: National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) has taken a new initiative by establishing out a customer focused unit – “Customer-Care Unit,” which will facilitate the interaction of customers with all its Business units.

National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) is a not-for-profit organization (section 8 of the Companies Act 2013) working since 2003 for spreading the internet infrastructure to the citizens of India through the following activities:

  • Internet Exchanges through which the internet data is exchanged amongst ISP’s, Data Centers, and CDNs.
  • IN Registry, managing, and operation of.IN country-code domain and. भारत IDN domain for India.
  • IRINN, managing and operating Internet protocol (IPv4/IPv6).

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


ENVIRONMENT/ ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation
  • GS-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development

Chennai Floods- Climate Crisis

Context: Chennai is flooded. The north-east monsoon over Tamil Nadu has brought with it the highest volume of rainfall within 24 hours in the last five years.

It has also revived memories of the devastating Chennai floods of 2015.

Issues

  • Floods recur in major cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Dhaka, Karachi and Kathmandu, and accompany high-intensity rainfall events.
  • IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report (AR6) report noted the increasing frequency of heavy precipitation events since the 1950s and inferred that they were being driven by human-induced climate change.
  • Climate Change is only a part of story the other part is land-centrism.

Land Centrism

  • All cities in the subcontinent are waterscapes. They are threaded with rivers, speckled with wetlands and springs, and they rest on invisible aquifers. 
  • Yet, driven by a thirst for land, our cities are planned to subjugate water, not live with it. It is this land-centrism that undermines urban drainage.
  • Urban drainage has been sacrificed at the for making way to land-centric urban growth.
  • The apathy for restoring disappearing urban waterways, stands in stark contrast to the Indian government’s recent obsession with reviving ancient rivers.
  • Urban floods are also caused by the design of constructed stormwater drains. The size of their outlets should be based on the intensity of rainfall (mm/per hour) and the peak flow inside the drains. 
  • In India either design guidelines are missing, or the outlets are too small to accommodate peak flow. As a result, above-average rainfall produces flooded localities.
  • Similarly, by violating environmental laws and municipal bye-laws, open spaces, wetlands and floodplains have been mercilessly built over, making cities impermeable and hostile to rainwater.
  • Unfortunately, encroachments are always blamed on the urban poor who live precariously in low-lying drainage areas because of inadequate social housing. 
  • After the devastating Chennai floods of 2015, experts pointed out that the biggest encroacher of urban waterways and wetlands was actually the state government which had built runways, bus terminals and IT parks by paving over water bodies.
  • Ever since concretisation became pivot for urbanisation, rainfall no longer finds its way towards underground or surface water bodies.

Conclusion

  • To heal the hydrophobia that has shaped our urban experience, we need to move away from land-centric urbanisation and recognise cities as waterscapes. 
  • We need to let urban rivers breathe by returning them to their floodplains.
  • The entire urban watershed needs to heal, and for that to happen, we need less concrete and more democracy and science at the grassroots.

Connecting the dots:


(ORF: Expert Speak)


Nov 11: Perspectives on a green taxonomy for India- https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/perspectives-on-a-green-taxonomy-for-india/ 

TOPIC:

  • GS-3: Indian Economy
  • GS-3: Climate Change

Green Taxonomy

Context: If current patterns are not reversed, global temperatures will likely rise by greater than 3°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100—this will be a significant breach of the limit of 1.5°C set by the Paris Climate Agreement. The priority of the COP26 summit is to urge nations to be ambitious in updating their 2030 targets and commitments to climate action.

India is the third largest carbon emitter, the second most populated country that is projected to reach its peak population of 1.6 billion by 2048, and one of the fastest growing economies in the world. By adopting a development pathway consistent with the 1.5°C-target amidst its pursuit of becoming a US $5-trillion economy, India will be pivotal in the global calculus of climate change mitigation. It can motivate its peers to heighten their climate action and set a pioneering example of circumventing the complex trade-offs between environment and growth.

India needs to increase its efficiencies in energy and resource use. This green transformation requires massive investments in the most advanced green technologies and business models, as well as in green infrastructure. This transformation is estimated to require an annual investment of US $200 billion on green infrastructure alone (or 7–8 percent of GDP), and a climate-smart investment of US $300 billion.

Guiding Principles for a Green Taxonomy

A well-defined taxonomy will 

  • Reduce the incidence of information asymmetry, 
  • Rule out plural interpretations of green finance,
  • Minimize the risk of greenwashing
  • Provide a transparent understanding of the environmental footprint of economic activities underlying investments.
  • Provide the guidance and confidence sought by investors in making environmentally conscious investment decisions
  • Provide visibility to capital-starved green sectors, allowing them to attract requisite investments away from renewable energy, which currently accounts for 80 percent of green finance in India. 
  • It can be the touchstone for Financial Institutions (FIs) and companies in managing and monitoring the environmental quotient of their financial profile while allowing regulators like the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to oversee these entities by mandating disclosures that align with the taxonomy.  
  • It can be the reference for strengthening SEBI green bond guidelines that currently allow for multiple definitions of “green” investments. It can facilitate standardisation of data collection, reporting, and impact measurement methodology involved in the construction of ESG indices. 
  • It can also be the government’s barometer for tracking the compatibility of environmental outcomes with the vision of global net-zero, while showing the way to appropriate corrections in the case of deviations.

Principles of a Green Taxonomy

Principle 1: A green taxonomy should be developed in a way that has a multipronged impact on green finance. 

Principle 2: The taxonomy should focus on India’s most pressing environmental challenges – climate change mitigation and adaptation, pollution prevention and control, resource efficiency, conservation of natural resources, and ecosystem/biodiversity conservation. 

  • It can also be the government’s barometer for tracking the compatibility of environmental outcomes with the vision of global net-zero, while showing the way to appropriate corrections in the case of deviations.
  • The taxonomy must include the environmental objectives of climate change mitigation, reducing air and water pollution, addressing water scarcity, and arresting ecosystem/biodiversity losses.
  • These are serious challenges in sectors such as energy, manufacturing, transport, agriculture, waste, and buildings. The taxonomy may thus focus on these sectors to maximise the positive environmental outcomes expected to be generated from the taxonomy.
  • Include a pre-specified set of sustainable agricultural and livestock farming practices suitable for the Indian context, as opposed to quantitative technical screening criteria.

Principle 3: The taxonomy must be anchored in Nationally Determined Contributions, key national plans and policies for environmental action, and national norms and standards.

  • The Indian taxonomy must rely on pollution standards set by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) under the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MOEF&CC); water consumption norms set by the MOEF&CC and Ministry of Jal Shakti; and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) protocol defined by the MOEF&CC. 
  • The monetary valuation of ecosystem services may also be used for assessing ecosystem and biodiversity losses.

Principle 4: The eligibility criteria must be technology agnostic and 1.5°C-compatible.

  • India must establish its own screening criteria for determining eligibility for green finance. 
  • The Indian version must be technology agnostic. Such taxonomy provides the freedom to choose between alternative pathways to green transition and prevents it from being redundant amidst technological innovations.
  • India must use the latest climate science for its technical screening criteria relating to GHG emission thresholds. The criteria should be consistent with 1.5°C, rather than 2°C.

Principle 5: The taxonomy should be harmonised with international standards.

  • Existing Indian standards may be revised to be at par with international benchmarks within the scope provided by domestic circumstances. 

Principle 6: Alignment of tracking of green finance and disclosure norms with the taxonomy.

  • There is a need for tracking climate/green finance through transparent and well-defined disclosures and reporting.
  • Regulators such as the RBI and SEBI should mandate financial market participants to delineate the environmental goals met 
  • The Ministry of Corporate Affairs must mandate companies to enlist the environmental objectives achieved by economic activities.

Principle 7: Regular reviews and updates of the taxonomy.

  • Timely updates to incorporate changes in development levels, technology, policy, standards and environmental conditions 

The introduction of a national taxonomy will display India’s aspiration of ramping up its contribution to the global net-zero vision.

Can you answer the following questions?

  1. Discuss India’s ambitious green transition.

(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 Consider the following statements regarding Kashi Vishwanath temple

  1. It is dedicated to Lord Ram
  2. It is located in Uttar pradesh 
  3. The temple encapsulates the vision of the Holkar queen of Indore, Ahalya Bai Holkar

Which of the above is or are correct? 

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

Q.2 Which of the following is a possible cybersecurity threat?

  1. Social engineering 
  2. Ransomware
  3. Third Party software
  4. All of the above

Q.3 Consider the following statements:

  1. The transport sector is the largest contributor to Greenhouse Gas.
  2. Co2 concentration is higher than any other Greenhouse Gas..

Select the correct answer from the following codes:

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

ANSWERS FOR 12th Nov 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 D
2 B
3 D

Must Read

On India’s non-alignment:

The Hindu

On Ends and Means:

Livemint

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