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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 20th November 2021

  • IASbaba
  • November 20, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Odisha’s project ‘Samhati’ for tribal languages

Part of: Prelims and GS II – Education 

Context The new National Education Policy lays emphasis on imparting teaching in mother tongue in primary classes. 

  • Thus, Odisha has launched Samhati project for imparting its various tribal languages. 
  • The project will help save endangered tribal languages.

About Odisha’s Samhati project

  • According to the Odisha School Education Programme Authority (OSEPA), more than 302 textbooks and 2,500 supplementary reading materials including story books and pictures charts in 21 tribal languages have been developed.
  • Under Samhati, all teachers of primary level would be provided functional knowledge of tribal languages. 
  • Implemented by: The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Research and Training Institute (SCSTRTI) and the Academy of Tribal Language and Culture (ATLC), Bhubaneswar 
  • Of the 21 languages, Santhali — the only language which has been included in eighth schedule of Constitution — is taught in its own ol chiki script while rest of tribal languages have Odia scripts.

Do you know? 

  • Odisha is home to 62 different tribal communities including 13 particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs), making it the State with the most diverse indigenous communities in the country.
  • Of Odisha’s 21 tribal languages, Santhali — the only language which has been included in eighth schedule of Constitution — is taught in its own ol chiki script while rest of tribal languages have Odia scripts.

NCRA astronomers discover rare radio stars

Part of: Prelims and GS-III – Space 

Context A team of astronomers from the Pune-based National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA-TIFR) have used the upgraded Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (uGMRT) to discover eight stars belonging to a rare category called ‘Main-sequence Radio Pulse’ emitters or MRPs.

Implications 

  • The discovery will aid in the understanding of “exotic” radio stars and stellar magnetospheres. 
  • The current notion of MRPs as rare objects may not be correct. Rather, they are probably more common but are difficult to detect. 
    • The reason for the difficult detection of MRPs was that the radio pulses are visible only at certain times and the phenomenon is mostly observable at low radio frequencies.

What are MRPs? 

  • The MRPs are stars hotter than the Sun with unusually strong magnetic fields, and are much stronger than stellar winds (a continuous flow of gas from a star’s upper atmosphere).

Farm laws repealed

Part of: Prelims and GS-III – Economy Context India Prime Minister recently announced that the three contentious farm laws passed last year would be repealed. 

  • The process of repealing the laws — which are currently stayed by the Supreme Court — will take place in the upcoming Winter Session of Parliament.

Key takeaways 

  • Repealing a law is one of the ways to nullify a law. 
  • A law is reversed when Parliament thinks there is no longer a need for the law to exist. 
  • Legislation can also have a “sunset” clause, a particular date after which they cease to exist.
    • For example, the anti-terror legislation Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act 1987, commonly known as TADA, had a sunset clause, and was allowed to lapse in 1995.
  • For laws that do not have a sunset clause, Parliament has to pass another legislation to repeal the law.
  • Article 245: Parliament has the power to make laws for the whole or any part of India, and state legislatures the power to make laws for the state. 
  • A law can be repealed either in its entirety, in part, or even just to the extent that it is in contravention of other laws
  • Laws can be repealed in two ways — either through an ordinance, or through legislation.

CCI Market Study on Pharma Sector

Part of: Prelims and GS-II – Health 

Context The Competition Commission of India (CC) in a recent report has recommended the creation of a National Digital Drugs Databank and strict enforcement of drug quality standards to boost price competition among generic drugs in India.

Key takeaways of the report 

  • The market for generic drugs is driven by brand competition instead of price competition despite such drugs being functionally and chemically identical.
  • Pharmaceuticals including generic drugs account for about 43.2% of out of pocket healthcare expenditure in India and about 62.7% of the total health spending in India.
  • The share of online pharmacies stood at 2.8% in 2018, the online pharmacy sector’s reach has expanded during the pandemic to 8.8 million households from 3.5 million households prior to the pandemic.

About Competition Commission of India (CCI) 

  • It is a statutory body established in 2003 and became fully functional in 2009. 
  • It is responsible for enforcing The Competition Act, 2002 throughout India.
    • The Act prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises. 
    • The Act regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and Merger and acquisition), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India. 
  • CCI consists of a Chairperson and 6 Members appointed by the Central Government. 
    • Eligibility: Person should be qualified to be a judge of a High Court, or, has special knowledge of, and professional experience of not less than fifteen years in international trade, economics, commerce, law, finance. 
  • It is the duty of the Commission to:
    • eliminate practices having adverse effect on competition
    • promote and sustain competition.
    • protect the interests of consumers.
    • ensure freedom of trade in the markets of India.  

Sustainable Urban Services Program for Chennai Metropolitan Area (CMA)

Part of: Prelims and GS-III – Economy Context The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has approved USD150 million loan to India for implementation of the Sustainable Urban services program for Chennai metropolitan area (CMA).

India and AIIB

  • India is the largest beneficiary of AIIB and the bank has so far approved 29 projects for India worth 6.8 billion USD. 
  • The energy and transport sectors have received the highest amount of AIIB’s financing.

About Chennai Metropolitan Area project 

  • The Chennai Metropolitan Area (CMA) is home to around 11 million people and one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in Asia with its growing economic significance in India.
  • Aim: Strengthening institutions and financing for improving the quality and sustainability of selected urban services in the CMA.
  • Services being covered: Core urban services, including water resource management, water supply and sewerage, solid waste management. 
  • Funds: The total project cost is 701 million USD out of which AIIB and World Bank each will provide 150 million USD each. Rest of the cost will be borne by the Govt. of Tamil Nadu.

(News from PIB)


Geographical Information System (GIS) plans for Gram Panchayats

Part of: GS Prelims 

In News: Ministry of Rural Development reaches an important milestone with the completion of GIS plans for 2 lakh Gram Panchayats (GPs) out of 2.69 lakh GPs under Mahatma Gandhi NREGA. 

GIS-based planning under Mahatma Gandhi NREGS is an initiative of the Ministry of Rural Development which helps the Gram Panchayat to ensure a scientific & holistic approach for planning at the Gram Panchayat level. It is an important tool to ensure participatory planning at the implementation level.

  • Contributions of Mahatma Gandhi NREGS have enhanced significantly by using the GIS-Based Planning approach and impacts of which are visible at ground level
  • CRISP-M tool will further enable the local communities to understand the impact of changing climate and make smart decisions on them
  • Yuktdhara Geospatial Planning portal helps the other Ministries to see the geographical location of planned assets on a map, which integrates planning for works, optimises convergence plans and facilitates effective monitoring.
  • The planning of works under Mahatma Gandhi NREGS are now carried out using advanced technologies viz. Geographical Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS). Leveraged for this purpose is the much acclaimed ‘Bhuvan’ space technology solution from the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Geographical Information System (GIS): The GIS is a computer-based tool for mapping and analyzing the geographic terrain and offers scientific choices of development works suitable to the area. This technology integrates common database operations such as query and statistical analysis with the unique visualization and geographic analysis benefits offered by the maps.

News Source: PIB


Rani Lakshmibai – Her Jayanti

Part of: Mains GS-1: Freedom fighters 

  • Queen of the princely state of Jhansi in North India currently present in Jhansi district in Uttar Pradesh, India
  • One of the leading figures of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and became a symbol of resistance to the British Raj for Indian nationalists.
  • She was named Manikarnika and was nicknamed Manu.
  • After the death of the Maharaja in November 1853, because Damodar Rao (born Anand Rao) was an adopted son, the British East India Company, under Governor-General Lord Dalhousie, applied the Doctrine of Lapse, rejecting Damodar Rao’s claim to the throne and annexing the state to its territories.
  • She defended Jhansi against British troops when Sir Hugh Rose besieged Jhansi on 23 March 1858.
  • A number of patriotic songs have been written about the Rani. The most famous composition about Rani Lakshmi Bai is the Hindi poem Jhansi ki Rani written by Subhadra Kumari Chauhan.

Indira Gandhi – Birth anniversary

  • An Indian politician, stateswoman and a central figure of the Indian National Congress.
  • She was the first and, to date, the only female Prime Minister of India.
  • Indira Gandhi was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India.
  • She served as Prime Minister from January 1966 to March 1977 and again from January 1980 until her assassination in October 1984 (assassins blamed her for the action code-named Operation Blue Star), making her the second longest-serving Indian Prime Minister after her father.
  • She went to war with Pakistan in support of the independence movement and war of independence in East Pakistan, which resulted in an Indian victory and the creation of Bangladesh, as well as increasing India’s influence to the point where it became the regional hegemon of South Asia.
  • Citing fissiparous tendencies and in response to a call for revolution, Gandhi instituted a state of emergency from 1975 to 1977 where basic civil liberties were suspended and the press was censored. Widespread atrocities were carried out during the emergency. In 1980, she returned to power after free and fair elections.

(Mains Focus)


AGRICULTURE/ ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-3: Agriculture & issues.
  • GS-2: Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure 
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Farm Laws Repeal

Context: Government announced the repeal of three contentious farm laws, assuring farmer groups protesting against them for the past year that the legislative process for the repeal would be completed in the upcoming Winter Session of Parliament.

What was logic behind enacting new farms laws?

The laws sought to reorganise India’s agriculture sector more in accordance with the principles of market economy. 

  • Moving beyond APMC mandis: It was argued that if India needs to diversify its cropping pattern into export-oriented and high-value crops, mandis need to give way to private markets, futures markets and contract farming. 
  • Incentivising Private entry: The APMC Acts discriminated against farmers by not allowing them to interact directly with the big corporate buyers and exporters. So, the APMC Acts must be amended so that any private market or rural collection centre can freely emerge anywhere without approval of the local mandi or the payment of a mandi tax, and so that contract farming can be popularised. 
  • Improving Storage infrastructure: Similarly, the advocacy for the amendment to the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 rested on the view that private corporate investment can be incentivised into storage and warehousing if stock limits are relaxed for traders.
  • Marketing Freedom to Farmers: The Centre’s farm laws were an attempt to ensure that farmers get the right price for produce, and have the freedom to sell where they want to. 

Is privatisation the panacea for agricultural sector?

Entry of Private players into agriculture sector has its own set of problems.

  • Bihar’s example showed that private investment was unlikely to flow into agricultural markets even if APMC Acts were annulled. In fact, the exploitation of farmers by unscrupulous traders intensified in Bihar after 2006. 
  • Maharashtra delisted fruits and vegetables from the ambit of APMCs in 2016. Still, the inflow of private investment into agricultural markets was only marginal. 
  • Possibility of Fragmentation of market: Thus, what was likely was that a formal and regulated market (through APMC) might fragment itself into an informal and unregulated market if the APMC Acts were weakened.

What were the  major sore points with new farm laws?

  • Fear of Corporate Capture: There fears that the producers and consumers would be adversely affected, to the benefit of big companies. 
  • Impact on Rural Infrastructure: Mandi taxes were used to invest in rural infrastructure in States such as Punjab. If mandis are weakened, there are uncertainty on the substitute for such investments that further impact rural infrastructure development.
  • Structural Problems will remain unaddressed: Even if private markets emerged, the structural problem of poor farm-gate aggregation of the produce of small and marginal farmers will remain unaddressed. There is criticism that one middleman will be simply substituted by another.
  • Criticism of Grievance Redress Mechanisms: Eradicating the power of civil courts and their substitution with a weak mechanism led by the sub-divisional magistrate threatened to be a serious impediment to a just redress of complaints. It was feared that this may benefit corporate sponsors more than the contracting farmers.
  • Undemocratic manner of passing laws: Such fears were aggravated by the undemocratic manner in which these laws were brought about, through ordinances, and passed in Parliament without deliberations, or consultations with the States.
  • Mishandling of Farmer protests: Efforts were made to break, divide, buy out, demean, denigrate, demonise and shame the protesters, who were conveniently branded as terrorists and Khalistanis. 
  • Violation of Federal principles: The Union government invoked Entry 33 of the Concurrent List to intervene into matters in Entry 14, Entry 26 and Entry 27 of the State List. Thus, to begin with, the farm laws were reasonably and justifiably argued to be unconstitutional.
  • Criticism on the Direction of Farm reforms: The overall thrust of the farm laws appeared to encourage the participation of larger corporate players in agricultural markets rather than farmer-friendly organisations, such as cooperatives or Farmer Producer Companies (FPC)

What is the implication of withdrawal of Farm Laws?

  • Democratic Victory: Marks a historic victory for the farmer’s movement in India. For more than a year, thousands of farmers had barricaded Delhi, and their protests were gradually evolving into a pan-Indian movement of resistance. Repealing of farm laws has helped put an end to the protests.
  • End of Confrontation: The repeal of the farm laws has, at least temporarily, put an end to confrontation between the Union government and the farmers. 
  • Positive Politicisation: The agitation has led to a positive politicisation of several agrarian demands, including the need for stable markets and remunerative prices.
  • Set a precedence: A confidence has grown that committed struggles matter and even aggressive governments can be made to kneel. New rural mobilisations around demands to address the larger and persistent agrarian crisis are likely to emerge and grow.
  • Trust is important for legitimacy of laws: Government has done well to acknowledge that laws are not as good as their enforcement by state machinery, but only as good as their capacity to win people’s trust

Connecting the dots:


(Sansad TV: Perspective)


Nov 17: The ‘Organic’ Growth – https://youtu.be/w7W2czSRhPA 

TOPIC:

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

The ‘Organic’ Growth

Context: Organic Farming is poised to become 75000 cr rupee market by 2025. The Indian organic market is expected to grow at an annual rate of more than 20%. However India’s share in the global organic market is just 1%. 

In organic food production synthetic inputs (such as fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, feed additives etc.) are avoided and it relies upon crop rotation, crop residues, animal manures, off-farm organic waste, mineral grade rock additives and biological system of nutrient mobilization and plant protection. 

Organic food sector primarily aims at cultivating the land and raising crops in such a way that it keeps the soil alive and in good health by use of organic wastes (crop, animal and farm wastes, aquatic wastes) and other biological materials along with beneficial microbes (bio fertilizers) to release nutrients to crops for increased sustainable production in an eco-friendly and pollution-free environment.

Strength & Potential of Organic food sector:

  • It relies on traditional techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost and biological. It is accomplished by using farm agronomic, biological and mechanical methods in exclusion of all synthetic off farm inputs.
  • It protects the long term fertility of soils by maintaining organic Matter levels and encouraging soil biological activity. It often involves vermiculture and vermi-composting too.
  • The biological processes, driven by mycorrhiza, allow the natural production of nutrients in soil throughout growing season.
  • Crop Rotation supports a wider range of beneficial insects, soil micro-organisms, and hence, protects species from going extinct.
  • It improves soil health and fertility. It requires careful use of water resources hence lead to conservation of water.
  • Sustainable and environmentally friendly production method, which has particular advantages for small-scale farmers.
  • It helps in conserving bio-diversity and nature resources on the farm and in the surrounding area. 
  • Farmers in India’s poorest region are recording record rice yields, organic banana yields, etc.
  • India has the 9th largest World’s Organic Agricultural Land and the largest number of producers Sikkim has become India’s first fully organic state by converting around 75,000 hectares of agricultural land into sustainable cultivation.

However, the emerging threats such as climate change induced global warming; flooding, relative market demand etc. pose serious challenge for the growth & development of organic food sector.

  • The cost of cultivation increases as it takes more time and energy to produce than its synthetic input intensive counterpart.
  • Specialised farmer training costs, higher processing and inventory holding costs, and increased packaging, logistics and distribution costs add to the price of end products.
  • There is low awareness at the producer level on the difference between conventional farming and organic farming.
  • At the consumer side there is confusion between natural and organic products and limited understanding of the health benefits of organic food products.
  • Growing demand and low supply has further created an inflationary pressure on organic food products; it leads to customer opting for non-organic cheap products.

Hence, it becomes imperative to incentivise farmers for input procurement, value addition including post-harvest infrastructure creation, packaging, branding, publicity, transportation, organic fairs, etc. 

Some government initiatives and local level innovations can help achieve these objective in following ways:

  • Organic farming schemes such as the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) that promotes “location specific” farming systems, it helps make agriculture sustainable.
  • Also, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) that promotes various organic farming models through adoption of organic village by cluster approach and PGS certification.
  • It is critical for companies involved in the organic food business to increase awareness among consumers in non-metro cities.
  • Creating community-supported agricultural farms or with “grow your own food” programmes.
  • Mission  Organic  Value  Chain  Development  for  North  East  Region  (MOVCD-NER)  is  a Central Sector Scheme, a sub-mission under National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA), aims for development of certified organic production in a value chain mode to link growers with consumers and to support the development of entire value chain starting from inputs, seeds, certification, to the creation of facilities for collection, aggregation, processing, marketing and brand building initiative.
  • Ministry of Food Processing and Ministry of Women and Child Development jointly initiated the National Organic Food Festival aimed at strengthening organic food produce in the country. It also aimed at encouraging women entrepreneurs in manufacturing organic produce

Conclusion:

Organic food production because of its innovative nature, less harm to environment, and cost effectiveness holds immense potential in the time of rising environmental and global market chain challenges. Hence, organic food sector can be promoted as brand for “local to global” programme besides it will also help to give boost to rural economy and increase farmers income.

Can you answer the following question:

  1. No one farming system alone will safely feed the planet. Rather, a blend of organic and other innovative farming systems, will be needed for future global food and ecosystem security. Discuss.
  2. Sikkim is the first ‘Organic State ‘in India. What are the ecological and economical benefits of Organic State?

 (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 In which amendment to the constitution were the Bodo, Dogri, Santhali and Maithli added to the list of recognised languages?

  1. 73rd Constitution Amendment Act of 2003
  2. 92nd Constitution Amendment Act of 2003
  3. 103rd Constitution Amendment Act, 2018
  4. 101st Constitution Amendment Act, 2016

Q.2 Where is Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank headquartered? 

  1. Beijing
  2. Shanghai
  3. Tokyo
  4. Gurugram

Q.3 Consider the following statements regarding Competition Commission of India (CCI) 

  1. It is a statutory body established in 2003. 
  2. CCI consists of a Chairperson and 6 Members appointed by the President of India.

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 19th Nov 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 D
2 D
3 C

Must Read

On interpreting POCSO Act:

The Hindu

On taxation changes:

Indian Express

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