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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 24th November 2021

  • IASbaba
  • November 24, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act

Part of: Prelims and GS II – Polity 

Context The Andhra Pradesh government passed a Bill to repeal (cancel) the Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act, and the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) Repeal Act of 2020.

Key takeaways 

  • More comprehensive legislation will be brought in now.
  • No timeframe has been laid out for the exercise.
  • The repeal was intended to undertake further study and consultations to impart more clarity to the policy of decentralisation.

Three- capitals

  • Andhra Pradesh had notified the AP Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act, 2020, and the AP Capital Region Development Authority (Repeal) Act, 2020 in July.
  • This law paves the way for three capitals for the state.
    • Amaravati– legislative capital.
    • Visakhapatnam– executive capital.
    • Kurnool– judicial capital.

AK-203 deal approved

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

Context The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has approved the long-pending deal for the manufacture of 6.71 lakh AK-203 Russian assault rifles in India.

Key takeaways 

  • The two countries had signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) in 2019. 
  • A joint venture was later set up at Korwa in Uttar Pradesh for manufacturing the rifles.
  • Igla-S Very Short Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) systems may receive clearance soon.
  • A proposal for the procurement of the GSAT-7C communication satellite for the Indian Air Force (IAF) has also been approved.
    • Advantage: Induction of the GSAT-7C satellite and ground hubs for Software Defined Radios (SDRs) will enhance the ability of the armed forces to communicate beyond Line of Sight (LoS).

What is the Defence Acquisition Council? 

  • It is the highest decision-making body in the Defence Ministry.
  • It decides new policies and capital acquisitions for the three services (Army, Navy and Air Force) and the Indian Coast Guard.
  • Chairman: Minister of Defence 
  • It was formed, after the Group of Ministers recommendations on ‘Reforming the National Security System’, in 2001, post Kargil War (1999).

Sudden Change of Glacier course

Part of: Prelims and GS-III – Climate change 

Context Scientists have recently found that Nearly 20,000 years ago, a large Himalayan glacier “abruptly” changed course and over time fused into an adjacent glacier in present-day Pittoragarh, Uttarakhand.

  • This finding has been recorded in the Himalayas for the first time.
  • Cause of the change: Change in climate and tectonic movement.
    • Its accumulated debris caused it to turn from a north-eastern direction to a south-eastern course.
  • Methods used for the study: Remote sensing and an old survey map
  • The unnamed glacier lies in an extremely inaccessible region.

Young Himalayan region

  • Himalayan region is among the youngest mountain ranges in the world due to which the supporting underlying tectonic plates are not stable and frequently trigger earthquakes and landslides.

New Crypto Bill

Part of: Prelims and GS-III – Awareness in the fields of IT

Context The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021 will introduce in the winter session of Parliament

Key Provisions

  • Regulate cryptocurrency and ostensibly ban all private cryptocurrencies.
  • Create a facilitative framework for creation of the official digital currency to be issued by the RBI.
  • So far, no public consultations have been held.

What is the Present status?

  • An inter-ministerial panel on cryptocurrency recommended that all private cryptocurrencies, except any virtual currencies issued by state, will be prohibited in India.
  • RBI has raised concerns about the cryptocurrencies.

What are Cryptocurrencies?

  • Digital currencies in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency.
  • Examples: Bitcoin, Ethereum etc.

National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development (NaBFID)

Part of: Prelims and GS-III – GS-III- Infrastructure 

Context The National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development (NaBFID) is likely to begin lending operations with loans to about 190-200 projects in the railways, roads and energy sector.

  • Aim is to catalyse investment in the fund-starved India’s infrastructure sector.

What is National bank of financing infrastructure and development or NaBFID?

  • It is a development financial institution for funding infrastructure projects in India. 
  • It is answerable to the parliament and submits audited accounts every year. 
  • It is outside the purview of CBI, CVC and CAG to enable faster decision-making. 

Taiwan Strait

Part of: Prelims and GS-I- Geography 

Context Recently, USA’s Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Milius passed through the Taiwan Strait.

About Taiwan strait

  • A strait is a narrow piece of sea that joins two larger seas
  • It separates mainland China from the island of Taiwan.
  • Also known as the Formosa Strait or the Tai-hai.
  • It forms part of the South China Sea. Its northern portion is linked to the East China Sea

(News from PIB)


Constitution Day: 26th November; also known as ‘Samvidhan Divas’ is celebrated to commemorate the adoption of the Constitution of India

India & World Bank sign loan agreement

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-II: India and International Forums

In News: The Government of India, Government of Andhra Pradesh and the World Bank signed the legal agreements for $250 million for a project which aims to improve quality of learning for over 50 lakh students in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

The beneficiaries are about 40 lakh students (between the age of six and fourteen) in over 45,000 government schools, and over 10 lakh children (between the age of three and six) enrolled in Anganwadis (Integrated Child Development Centers), and about 1,90,000 teachers, and more than 50,000 Anganwadi workers.

The Supporting Andhra’s Learning Transformation Project will 

  • Encourage professional development of teachers; 
  • Provide remedial learning courses for children impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Pay special attention to students from marginalized groups, including children with special needs, scheduled tribes, and girls.

Focus Areas

  • Developing physical learning kits and content for television and radio broadcasts to reduce the learning losses that children are likely to face due to school closures 
  • Short-term in-service training courses for Anganwadi workers and early grade (Grade 1 and 2) teachers and the supply of pedagogically appropriate Teaching Learning Material (TLM) across these centres and schools
  • The new competency-based teaching-learning approach will improve teaching practices through classroom-based mentorships, need-based teacher training for teachers of all grades and subjects, Personalized Adaptive Learning (PAL) methods, and other forms of remedial education linked to standardized school-based assessments.

News Source: PIB


Mysuru Declaration on Service Delivery by Panchayats signed

Part of: Mains GS-II: Government Policies

In News: Participants from 16 States signed the Mysuru Declaration and resolved to roll out the Common Minimum Service delivery by Panchayats across the country from April 1, 2022.

The declaration is aimed at recognising Citizen Centric Services as the “Heart of Governance” –

  • Increase the availability of Citizen Services at the grassroots levels in a timely and efficient manner, commencing with offering of the following basic, statutory and/ or essential services at the Gram Panchayat level from 1st April, 2022
  • Implement the highest standards of professional integrity and accountability towards timely delivery of Public Services

News Source: PIB


Launch of the inaugural SDG Urban Index & Dashboard (2021-22)

Part of: Mains GS-II: Government Policies

In News: In its journey towards localizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and instituting robust SDG progress monitoring systems at the national, State/UT, and local levels, NITI Aayog has launched SDG Urban Index & Dashboard (2021-22). 

Shimla tops the Index followed by Coimbatore and Chandigarh.

  • The index and dashboard are a result of the NITI Aayog-GIZ and BMZ collaboration focused on driving SDG localization in our cities, under the umbrella of Indo-German Development Cooperation.
  • Ranks 56 urban areason 77 SDG indicators across 46 targets of the SDG framework
  • The index and dashboard will further strengthen SDG localization and institute robust SDG monitoring at the city level. It highlights the strengths and gaps of ULB-level data, monitoring, and reporting systems. 
  • Tools such as this index and dashboard will contribute to the creation of an ecosystem in which all stakeholders will be equipped to adopt and implement data-driven decision making. This transformative change is quite essential, given the increasing prominence of our cities and urban areas in charting the future of development in India.
  • The statistical methodology for the SDG Urban Index is drawn from the globally accepted methodology developed by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).

NITI Aayog seeks to empower local administrations to adopt a measurement-based approach to decision making. Only if the SDG agenda is adopted by the last mile stakeholders can we hope to achieve the global 2030 Agenda. The SDG Urban Index is one more step towards localising the SDGs further.

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 

  • GS-2: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate. 
  • GS-2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  • GS-2: International Relations 

India-USA Trade Policy Forum (TPF) 

Context: India – USA have reaffirmed their commitment to take economic relationship between the two countries to the next high level – to integrate the economies across sectors and relaunched the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum (TPF) that was convened four years ago.

  • Instead of progress, there were setbacks, including raised import tariffs and the withdrawal of benefits to Indian exporters under the U.S.’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) which triggered retaliatory trade barbs.

Bilateral trade matters

  • Frequent Meetings: TPF Working Groups on agriculture, non-agriculture goods, services, investment, and intellectual property to be activated to meet frequently 
  • Robust growth in Trade: Both India and USA expressed satisfaction over the robust rebound in bilateral merchandise trade this year 2021 (January – September 2021), which showed almost 50% growth; bilateral merchandise trade in the current year poised to surpass US$ 100 billion mark.
  • Economic reforms rolled out by India including liberalization of FDI in the insurance sector, elimination of a retrospective provision in income tax, and launching of the “Single Window System” for facilitating investment helped relaunch TPF.
  • Multilateral Collaboration: Emphasis on Collaboration and constructive engagement in various multilateral trade bodies including the WTO, the G20 etc for achieving a shared vision of a transparent, rules-based global trading system among market economies and democracies will be part of cooperation in TPF.
  • Collaborating on Global Value Chain: Significance of creating resilient and secure supply chains and in this regards India and the United States may work with like-minded partners in developing secure supply chains in critical sectors of trade and technology.
  • Health Cooperation: India highlighted the importance of cooperation in health sector, and expressed interest in partnering with the U.S. and allies in developing a secure pharmaceutical manufacturing base for augmenting global supply chains. 
  • Business Cooperation: Emphasis on participation and collaboration of the private sector in both countries in building stronger linkages in critical sectors (including cyberspace, semiconductors, AI, 5G, 6G and future generation telecommunications technology), and supporting resilient and secure global supply chains.
  • IPR Protection: Significance of IP protection and enforcement for promotion of innovation as well as bilateral trade and investment in IP-intensive industries noted.
  • Agricultural Cooperation: Emphasis on tangible benefits to farmers and businesses of both countries by resolving outstanding market access issues through continuous engagement. 
    • Agreement on market access facilitation for mangoes and pomegranates, pomegranate arils from India, and cherries and alfalfa hay for animal feed from the United States. 
    • Agreed to work to resolve market access for grapes from India and pork/ pork products from USA.
    • Both sides to continue engagement on exploring enhanced market access for products including Distillers’ Dried Grains with Solubles from the US and market access for water buffalo meat and wild caught shrimp from India.

Future Work

  • Restoring GSP: India highlighted the significance of restoration of GSP (Generalized System of Preferences) benefits as it would help industries from both sides in integrating their supply chain efficiently.  United States noted it for suitable consideration.  
  • Service Sector:  Services including digital services has significant potential for increasing bilateral services trade and investment. India underlined the importance of movement of professional and skilled workers, students, investors and business travelers between both countries, as it contributes immensely to enhancing bilateral economic and technological partnership.
  • Social Security: Agreed on the significance of negotiating a Social Security Totalization Agreement in the interest of workers from both sides, and further engagement on pursuing such an agreement welcomed.

Conclusion

India & US finally emphasized that the TPF should deliver continually concrete outcomes to generate mutual confidence.

Connecting the dots:


POLITY/ GOVERNANCE

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

Road to data protection law

Context: On Monday, the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPP) on the Personal Data Protection Bill of 2019 is said to have adopted the final draft. The Bill is slated to be tabled in the Winter Session.

Why does India need a data protection law?

  • Amid the proliferation of computers and the Internet, consumers have been generating a lot of data, which has allowed companies to show them personalised advertisements based on their browsing patterns and other online behaviour. 
  • Companies began to store a lot of these datasets without taking the consent of the users, and did not take responsibility when the data leaked. 
  • To hold such companies accountable, the government in 2019 tabled the Personal Data Protection Bill for the first time.

What is said to be in the final draft?

  • One of the major changes that the final draft of the PDP Bill is believed to have pushed for is to include non-personal data within its ambit, which changes the nature of the Bill from personal data protection to just data protection.
  • The final draft is also said to have sought additional compliance for companies that deal exclusively with children’s data, by asking them to register with the Data Protection Authority — a regulatory body that will have powers to decide on implementing the law’s various provisions.
  • A third key aspect that the committee is said to have pushed for is to consider all social media companies as publishers, and to hold them accountable for the content on their platform if they are not acting as intermediaries. 
  • It is said to have recommended that no social media company be allowed to operate in India unless the parent company handling the technology sets up an office in India.
  • Other aspects such as setting up of an indigenous architecture, which can be an alternative to the internationally accepted SWIFT payment system, are also said to have been suggested.
  • A key suggestion said to be made by the JCP, which also received the most dissent from members, is wide-ranging powers for the government such as exempting any agency from application of the law.
  • From the private sector, executives from Visa, MasterCard India, Google India, PayTM, Facebook India, Twitter India, Amazon Web Services as well as Amazon India, among others, have made submissions to the panel.

What were their submissions?

  • In their meeting with the JPC, Google’s representatives had said India should avoid making data localisation a requirement, which had upset the members of the committee. 
  • Paytm, on the other hand, had said data generated in India should be parked in the country. 
  • Cab aggregators such as Ola and Uber, whose representatives appeared before the JPC earlier this month, have supported data localisation norms.
  • Companies, tech policy groups and even JCP members had also called for reconsideration of the one-size-fits-all approach based on binary age threshold for children, given the vast geographic and cultural diversity of children across the country and their varying maturity levels and needs.
  • Companies and policy groups had also expressed apprehensions about the possible inclusion of certain clauses related to non-personal data and had told the JCP that it carried a very high risk of re-identification and may lead to legal complications for stakeholders.
  • Policy groups had repeatedly objected to the blanket exemptions to the central and state governments along with allied agencies.
  • The functional and structural independence of India’s first data regulator is a key aspect considering the crucial role it plays as the mediator between all vested stakeholders that is citizens, businesses and the government themselves

(Sansad TV: Perspective)


Nov 22: Belarus Migrant Crisis – https://youtu.be/wsyARb9X65U 

TOPIC:

  • GS-2: International Relations

Context: The situation at Europe’s eastern border with Belarus has been in focus for quite some time now. Thousands of migrants, mostly from the Middle East have flocked to Belarus to try to enter Europe through neighboring EU member states Poland, Latvia or Lithuania. 

  • The European Commission has accused Belarus of luring migrants to Minsk with the false promise of easy entry to the EU. 
  • Belarus, which denies fomenting the crisis, cleared a migrant camp near the border and started to repatriate some people to Iraq. 
  • Both Poland and Lithuania have said that they have found evidence on migrants they intercepted which shows how Belarusian authorities helped them arrange their journeys to the border. 

What are the reasons behind this migrant crisis and how can it is diffused?

Belarus was rocked by months of massive protests following the August 2020 election that gave authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko a sixth term in office. The opposition and the West rejected the result as a sham.

  • Belarusian authorities responded to the demonstrations with a fierce crackdown that saw more than 35,000 people arrested and thousands beaten by police.
  • The European Union and the US reacted by imposing sanctions on Lukashenko’s government.
  • Those restrictions were toughened after an incident in May when a passenger jet flying from Greece to Lithuania was diverted by Belarus to Minsk, where authorities arrested dissident journalist Raman Pratasevich. 
  • The EU called it air piracy and barred Belarusian carriers from its skies and cut imports of the country’s top commodities, including petroleum products and potash, an ingredient in fertilizer.
  • A furious Lukashenko shot back by saying he would no longer abide by an agreement to stem illegal migration, arguing that the EU sanctions deprived his government of funds needed to contain flows of migrants. 
  • Planes carrying migrants from Iraq, Syria and other countries began arriving in Belarus, and they soon headed for the borders with Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.
  • Pavel Latushka, a member of the Belarusian opposition, charged that state-controlled tourist agencies were involved in offering visa support to migrants and helping them drive to the border.
  • The EU accused Lukashenko of using the migrants as pawns in a “hybrid attack” against the 27-nation bloc in retaliation for the sanctions. Lukashenko denies encouraging the flow of migrants and said the EU is violating migrants’ rights by denying them safe passage.

What has been the response by EU countries?

During the summer, Lithuania introduced a state of emergency to deal with small groups of migrants and strengthen its border with Belarus. It set up tent camps to accommodate the growing number of migrants.

This week, larger groups have gathered at the Polish border, and authorities in Warsaw sent riot police and other forces there to bolster the border guards. Polish authorities estimated about 3,000-4,000 were there. Some people used shovels and wire cutters to try to break through a razor-wire fence to cross. Polish authorities prevented hundreds of attempts by migrants to cross. Eight deaths have been confirmed, and temperatures have fallen below freezing at night.

The EU has made a strong show of solidarity with Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. EU officials are expected to discuss another round of sanctions against Belarus, and European Council President Charles Michel said for the first time that the bloc would consider the possibility of financing “physical infrastructure” such as barriers or fences on the border.

Lukashenko expects the EU to give in to pressure and ask Poland to let migrants cross into Germany. But the EU realizes that doing so would allow Lukashenko to emerge as the winner and encourage him to continue to take further such steps, raising the number of migrants to tens of thousands. The Belarusian opposition has urged the EU to take even tougher measures, including a trade embargo and a ban on transit of cargo via Belarus.

What is Russia’s role?

  • Belarus has received strong support from its main ally, Russia, which has helped buttress Lukashenko’s government with loans and political support.
  • Russian said the migrants flows resulted from the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Western-backed Arab Spring uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. Russia challenged the EU to offer financial assistance to Belarus to deal with the influx.
  • At the same time, the Kremlin angrily rejected Poland’s claim that Russia bears responsibility for the crisis.

Russia could step in as a mediator in the hope of improving ties with Germany and other EU nations.

What comes next?

  • Belarus is estimated to host between 5,000 and 20,000 migrants from the Middle East and Africa. Many have run out of money and grown increasingly desperate as the winter approaches. Belarusian residents are uneasy about their presence, raising pressure on the authorities to act.
  • Some observers expect Lukashenko to escalate the crisis and pressure the EU to ease sanctions. As a minimum, Lukashenko wants to take revenge against the EU, and as a maximum he aims to soften the European sanctions that have dealt a painful blow to key Belarusian industries.
  • Belarusian authorities have tried unsuccessfully to persuade the EU to engage in talks and bargaining, and migrants are just an instrument in a hybrid attack by Minsk. Lukashenko has nothing to lose,” he added. “He’s no longer worried about his reputation.

Can you answer the following questions?

  1. Border crisis is ‘greatest’ bid to destabilise Europe since Cold War. 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 Consider the following: 

  1. Ethereum
  2. Tether
  3. XRP
  4. Polkadot

These are associated with which of the following?

  1. Biodiesel fuels
  2. Arctic glaciers melting rapidly due to climate change
  3. Cryptocurrency
  4. Black matter in space 

Q.2 Which of the following strait is also known as Formosa Strait?

  1. Bab-el-Mandeb
  2. Taiwan strait
  3. Clarence Straits 
  4. Strait of Hormuz

Q.3 Consider the following statements regarding National bank of financing infrastructure and development or NaBFID?

  1. It is a development financial institution for funding infrastructure projects in India. 
  2. It is audited every year by the CAG 

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 23rd Nov 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 C
3 A

Must Read

On Char dham project in Himalayas:

The Hindu

On ASER 2021 report:

Indian Express

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