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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th November 2021

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  • November 17, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Duare Ration scheme

Part of: Prelims and GS II – Policies and interventions

Context West Bengal Chief Minister recently launched an ambitious “Duare Ration” scheme for providing foodgrains under the public distribution system at the doorstep for the entire population.

Features of the scheme 

  • The scheme will help 10 crore people of the State. 
  • The commission for ration dealers from Rs 75 to Rs 150 per quintal of food grains.
  • The government would provide around 21,000 ration dealers with financial assistance of Rs 1 lakh each to purchase vehicles for delivering ration to people
  • A WhatsApp chatbot was inaugurated for the Food and Supplies Department of the state government and a mobile application, “Khadya Sathi: Amar Ration Mobile App” to help people apply for ration cards and get information about how to do it.
  • A programme was also inaugurated for portability of ration cards using which people would be able to get ration from any shop anywhere in the state.

Vanniyar quota

Part of: Prelims and GS-II – Policies and interventions

Context The Tamil Nadu Government has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court, challenging the Madras High Court’s November 1 order. 

  • The order had declared ultra vires (beyond one’s legal power or authority) a law of TN government which provided 10.5% internal reservation for Vanniyars within the overall 20% quota for the Most Backward Classes (MBCs) in government jobs and higher education.
  • The recommendation for 10.5% reservation to the Vanniyakula Kshatriya was made in commensurate with their population as enumerated in a survey held in 1983 by the Tamil Nadu Second Backward Classes Commission.

What is Vanniyar Movement? 

  • Vanniyars are one of the largest and most consolidated backward communities in Tamil Nadu.
  • They had raised massive protests in the mid-1980s demanding 20% reservation in the state, and 2% in central services.
  • During agitation from September 17 to 23, 1987, many protesters were killed. 
  • Split of OBC quota: In 1989, the OBC quota was split into two: Backward Castes and Most Backward Castes. 
    • Vanniyars were categorised among the MBCs with 107 other communities, with 20% reservation.
  • Three decades later, the state government passed a Bill, and the current government has implemented it with a Government Order ensuring 10.5% reservation for Vanniyars within the 20% MBC quota.

Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara Corridor 

Part of: Prelims and GS-I – Culture

Context The Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara Corridor will be reopened on Wednesday. 

  • The announcement comes ahead of the birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak on 19th November.

The Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara Corridor

  • The corridor, inaugurated in 2019, links two important shrines — Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district of Punjab and Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan
  • The pilgrims can travel visa-free to the shrine.
  • The corridor was built to commemorate 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev.
  • The operations at the corridor were suspended due to the pandemic.

Who is Guru Nanak? 

  1. Guru Nanak Dev is known as the founder of Sikh religion (1469-1539).
  2. He advocated the ‘Nirguna’ form of bhakti. 
  3. He rejected sacrifices, ritual baths, image worship, austerities and the scriptures of both Hindus and Muslims.
  4. The fifth preceptor, Guru Arjan, compiled Baba Guru Nanak’s hymns in the Adi Granth Sahib.
  5. Kartarpur gurudwara is the revered shrine about 4km across the border where Guru Nanak Dev spent the last 18 years of his life.

Navy’s plan for a 170-ship force

Part of: Prelims and GS-III – Defence and security

Context The Navy’s plan for a 170 ship force is under way, and some changes in timelines are also being finalised.

Key takeaways 

  • The Navy shall include a second indigenous aircraft carrier in its Maritime Capability Perspective Plan (MCPP).
  • The Navy will commission the first Project-15B class stealth-guided missile destroyer Visakhapatnam on November 21, and the fourth Scorpene class submarine Vela on November 25.
  • Current status: The Navy currently has 130 ships and had earlier planned to achieve securing 200, which was revised to 170 ships by 2027.
  • Revised timeline: The timeline is now being revised as the Navy is revising its MCPP for the next 15 years, which is expected to be ready by 2022. 
    • It will be in line with the 10-year Integrated Capability Development Plan (ICDP) being formulated by the Department of Military Affairs to bring in service integration

Navy’s Maritime Capability Perspective Plan (MCPP)

  • The Navy’s Maritime Capability Perspective Plan (MCPP)’ emphasises on capability building rather than numbers.
  • The MCPP lays down the plans for force development and modernisation over three plan periods from 2005-22. 
  • Aim: To build a three-dimensional force that is able to meet all future challenges

Community kitchens

Part of: Prelims and GS-II – Policies and interventions

Context The Supreme Court recently questioned the Union Government’s commitment to run community kitchens across the country to reduce hunger. 

  • It said that the first job of a welfare state was to ensure that people did not starve to death.

Key takeaways 

  • The court observed that the Government’s progress was slow in framing a national policy to run community kitchens in consultation with the State Governments.
  • The SC has given the Government three weeks as a last opportunity to hold a meeting and frame a policy.

Perils of starvation 

  • Starvation deaths continue to impinge upon the right to life and dignity of the social fabric. 
  • A “radical” new measure like community kitchens needed to be set up across the country to feed the poor and the hungry.

No statistics for starvation 

  • While there are statistics available for malnutrition deaths in children and adults in the country, there is no official data available for death of persons owing to starvation. 
  • Food and Agriculture Report 2018 stated that India houses 195.9 million of the 821 million undernourished people in the world which accounts for approximately 24% of the world’s hungry. 
  • Prevalence of undernourishment in India is 14.8%, higher than both the global and Asian average. 

Community kitchens in various states

  • Tamil Nadu’s Amma Unavagam was a huge success by involving peers in self-help groups and employing the poor to serve hygienic food to eradicate the gnawing problem of hunger on the streets. 
  • Other examples include – 
    • Rajasthan’s Annapurna Rasoi
    • Indira Canteen in Karnataka 
    • Aam Aadmi Canteen in Delhi
    • Anna Canteen of Andhra Pradesh
    • Jharkhand Mukhyamantri Dal Bhat in Jharkhand
    • Ahaar Centre in Odisha  

(News from PIB)


BRO feat recognised by Guinness World Records

Part of: GS Prelims 

In News: BRO feat recognised by Guinness World Records for constructing and black topping the world’s highest motorable road at 19,024 feet at Umlingla Pass in Ladakh.

  • The 52-kilometre long Chisumle to Demchok tarmac road passes through the 19,024 feet high Umlingla Pass and betters the previous record of a road in Bolivia, which connects volcano Uturuncu at 18,953 feet. 
  • The Umlingla Pass road is another landmark in resurgent India’s achievement as it has been constructed at an altitude higher than the North and South Base Camps of Mount Everest.
  • The BRO provided a black topped road to the important village of Demchok in Eastern Ladakh that will be a boon to the local population of the region as it will enhance the socio-economic conditions and promote tourism in Ladakh. 
  • The strategically important road, which is approximately 15 kilometres long, highlights the focus of the Government in developing road infrastructure in border areas.

News Source: PIB


Mission 500 GW by 2030

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

In News: India takes one more step to reduce carbon emission and reduce the cost of power to consumers. 

Ministry of Power and New & Renewable Energy have issued revised guidelines providing for thermal generation companies to set up renewable energy generation capacity either by themselves through developers by open bids and supplying it to the consumers under the existing PPAs. This will enable the replacement of fossil fuel based energy by renewable energy under the existing PPAs. 

  • As the cost of renewable energy is less than the cost of Thermal energy, the gains from the bundling of renewable energy with thermal will be shared between the generator and Distribution companies/other procurers on a 50:50 basis. 
  • As the renewable energy will be balanced with thermal energy, therefore, the DISCOMs will now not need to acquire any separate capacity for balancing of renewable energy. This is a very significant step towards achieving the goal of 500 GW of non-fossil fuel capacity by 2030. 
  • The distribution companies will be able to count the renewable energy supplied under the scheme towards their renewable purchase obligation and this will be without the financial burden of separate PPA. This step by the Central Government will lead to a faster energy transition and will be beneficial for both the Generators and the Distribution Companies.

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


EDUCATION/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Digital Gap and Learning Losses

Context: Schools are reopening for physical classes after 18 months of closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • Although a variety of efforts were taken by many schools and governments to reach them through remote education, surveys are now showing that only a minority of students was able to access lessons of any sort during the lockdown and that widespread learning losses are likely.

What happened to India’s schoolchildren when schools were shut down?

  • Almost 26 crore children were affected when 15 lakh schools across the country were shut down in mid-March 2020 as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. 
  • At the time, most students were at the end of the academic year, in the middle of year-end examinations. 
  • During the summer, the government took steps to provide dry grain in lieu of the mid-day meals that 11 crore children would normally get at school, and to find a way to assess Class 10 and 12 students whose board examinations had been interrupted. 
  • As the new academic year got underway in June and July, schools were forced to begin remote education with some schools adopting digital technology for providing education services. 
  • The Centre promoted its digital education platform DIKSHA, adding content for a variety of age groups and languages, and the NCERT prepared calendars to help teachers and parents cope with the new reality of education from home. 
    • An Education Ministry report in mid-July said that DIKSHA had then scored 200 crore page hits and 60 lakh course completions since the lockdown. 
    • It added that in 25 States and UTs, non-interactive teaching methods such as TV and radio lessons were prevalent. Only a small minority of children, mostly in affluent private schools, benefitted from live, synchronous online classes.
  • Given that education is a State subject, there was no national road map for remote education. 

Were children able to access remote education?

  • The Centre is yet to carry out any comprehensive assessment of the digital divide or its impact on remote education across the country. 
  • In August 2020, an initial survey of older students in Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodaya Vidyalayas and a sample of CBSE-affiliated schools found that 80-90% of students depended on mobile phones, while the rest used laptops. Half the students did not even have access to textbooks. 
  • After a year without physical schooling, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education asked the Centre to compile a similar assessment of State government-run schools, but no report was made public. 
  • In August 2021, the Centre told the Lok Sabha that over three crore children across the country did not have any access to digital devices for education, although the data was incomplete with reporting only from 24 States and Union Territories.
  • Over the last few months, independent surveys have shown that the ground situation is significantly worse. 
  • In September, a survey of almost 1,400 households in 15 States found that only 8% of students in rural India were able to access online education, while at least 37% have completely dropped out. 
  • Among Dalit and Adivasi children, only 5% had access to online classes.

What learning losses have been caused by this lack of access to remote education?

  • With 22 States and UTs having completely opened their schools, and partial reopening in 12 other States, teachers and students are now grappling with the new ground reality of learning gaps. 
  • Local surveys such as the National Coalition on the Education Emergency’s survey in Karnataka show that more than three-fourths of teachers say their students are not at grade level.
  • Reports from test centres suggest that many Class 3 students were incapable of completing the test without support from teachers.
  • The Annual State of Education Report, conducted by Pratham, is also due to release the results of its own nationwide survey of rural education.

Connecting the dots:


INTERNATIONAL/ SECURITY

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

Biden-Xi summit and Impact on India

Context: President Joe Biden of the United States and Chinese President Xi Jinping met for three and a half hours on Nov 16th, the first virtual bilateral meeting of the two leaders since Biden assumed office in January, 2021

The US President took the initiative for the summit, in sync with America’s concern that it should try to prevent military engagement with China.

What happened at the meeting?

Statements issued afterward showed clear divergences in the positions taken by the two sides.

USA’s Position

  • Biden spoke about violations of human rights by China, and Beijing’s trade policy. 
  • Joe Biden was clear about the need to protect American workers and industries from the China’s unfair trade and economic practices.
  • Biden also discussed the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific, and communicated the continued determination of the US to uphold its commitments in the region. He reiterated the importance of freedom of navigation and safe overflight to the region’s prosperity.
  • On Taiwan, Biden underscored that the “United States remains committed to the ‘one China’ policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances”, and it strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

China’s Position

  • President Xi on his part raised the issue of US support to Taiwan, and of alliances and groupings that created “divisions” in the world. This was a reference to the Quad grouping, which includes India, and the AUKUS deal among Australia, UK and US to deliver nuclear-powered submarines to Canberra.
  • Chinese President said that China will have to take resolute measures if the Taiwan independence’ separatist forces provoke, compel or even cross the red line.
  • “It is playing with fire, and if you play with fire, you will get burned,” the Chinese readout quoted Xi as having warned.

So, was the meeting a forum for two of the world’s most powerful men to vent their anger against each other?

  • Although there was no agreement or joint communique, the meeting was an opportunity to keep communication lines open.
  • Biden stated that the competition between China and the United States should not veer into conflict, whether intended or unintended. Just simple, straightforward competition.
  • US stated that there is a need to establish some commonsense guardrails, to be clear and honest where they disagree, and work together where China’s & USA’s interests intersect, especially on vital global issues like climate change.
  • President Xi in turn said: “China and the United States should respect each other, coexist in peace, and pursue win-win cooperation. 
  • The first face-to-face meeting between American and Chinese officials in Alaska in March had witnessed a public exchange of accusations. From that point, the recent meeting did mark an effort at dialling down rhetoric.

How is India looking at the Biden-Xi meeting?

A US-China talks process is something that India watches very closely.

  • India and China have been locked in a border standoff for more than a year and half now, India is part of the Quad, and its strategic alignment with the US has been very clear and categorical.
  • US administrations under both Presidents Trump and Biden have viewed China as a strategic rival.

Connecting the dots:


(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:

  1. Anna Canteen of Andhra Pradesh
  2. Jharkhand Mukhyamantri Dal Bhat in Jharkhand
  3. Ahaar Centre of Odisha

These are examples of which of the following? 

  1. Ration shops for SCs and STs
  2. Community kitchens for poor people
  3. Centers for Public distribution system
  4. Centers for cooking Food under Mid day meal schemes 

Q.2 Guru Granth Sahib was compiled by Which of the following Sikh gurus?

  1. Guru Gobind Singh
  2. Guru Arjan
  3. Guru Nanak 
  4. Guru Hargobind

Q.3 Consider the following statements regarding Navy’s Maritime Capability Perspective Plan (MCPP):

  1. The Navy’s Maritime Capability Perspective Plan (MCPP)’ emphasises on capability building rather than numbers.
  2. The MCPP lays down the plans for force development and modernisation over three plan periods from 2005-22. 

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 16th Nov 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 D
3 D

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