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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 27th November 2021

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  • November 27, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


National Courts of Appeal

Part of: Prelims and GS-II – Polity 

Context Attorney General of India (AGI) K.K. Venugopal argued on the Constitution Day, for the revival of a 11-year-old proposal to set up National Courts of Appeal in four regions of the country.

Key Takeaways from AGI Statements

  • Intermediate appellate Courts: Attorney General said four ‘Courts of Appeal’ with 15 judges each could act as intermediate appellate courts between the State High Courts and the Supreme Court.
  • Utility of such Courts: They would absorb matrimonial disputes, rent control cases and such like which burden the Supreme Court, adding to pendency. The judgments of these courts of appeal would be final.
  • Increase in Judges Strength: These courts would also mean we are adding 60 judges who would be taking over these cases. Pendency would be cut down to a very great extent. 
  • Unburden Supreme Court: Such intermediate court of appeals would unburden the Supreme Court, which could focus on interpreting constitutional questions of law, references, death sentence cases.
  • Better Jurisprudence: Supreme Court judges could hear cases leisurely, read and write better judgments with time on their hands when their work load is decreased.
  • Chances of Rationalising SC Strength: In fact, the Supreme Court would not need 34 judges. Just 15 would be ample. These judges of the Supreme Court could sit in three Constitution Benches.
  • Enhanced Access to Justice: It is noted that cases remain pending in the Supreme Court for 10 years. It would have reached the Supreme Court after spending a decade each at the trial and high court levels.

Omicron new variant of concern

Part of: Prelims and GS-II – Health 

Context: WHO has recently classified the B.1.1.529 variant detected in South Africa as a SARS-CoV-2 “variant of concern”, saying it may spread more quickly than other forms.

Key Takeaways:

  • Preliminary evidence suggested that there is an increased risk of reinfection and there had been a detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology.
  • This variant has been detected at faster rates than previous surges in infection, suggesting that this variant may have a growth advantage.
  • WHO also noted current PCR tests continue to successfully detect the variant.
  • While medical experts warned against any overreaction before the variant was better understood, nations have raced to halt air travel, markets fell sharply and scientists held emergency meetings to weigh the exact risks

Classes of SARS-CoV-2 variants

Variant of Interest

  • A variant with specific genetic markers that have been associated with changes to receptor binding which affect its diagnosis and are expected to cause unique outbreak clusters.
  • It is known for it predicted increase in transmissibility.
  • It is classified based on factors such as genetic changes that are predicted or known to affect virus characteristics such as transmissibility, disease severity, immune escape etc.
  • It represents a lower level of concern than a variant of concern (VOC).

Variant of Concern

  • A variant for which there is evidence of an increase in transmissibility, more severe disease (e.g., increased hospitalizations or deaths).
  • It is known for its significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination, reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failures.
  • Example – Alpha, Beta and Delta variants of SARS-CoV-2.

Fourth Submarine of Project-75 ‘Ins Vela’ Commissioned

Part of: Prelims 

In News: INS Vela, the fourth submarine in the series of six submarines of Project-75, was commissioned, and would form part of the Western Naval Command’s Submarine fleet and would be another potent part of its arsenal.

  • The Scorpene submarines are extremely potent platforms, they have advanced stealth features and are also equipped with both long range guided torpedoes as well as anti-ship missiles. 
  • These submarines have a state of the art SONAR and sensor suite permitting outstanding operational capabilities. 
  • They also have an advanced Permanent Magnetic Synchronous motor (PERMASYN) as its propulsion motor.
  • The delivery of Vela is yet another affirmation of the impetus being given by the Indian Navy towards consolidating its position as a ‘Builder’s Navy’ as also indicative of MDL’s capabilities as a premier ship and submarine building yard.

News Source: PIB


Gopal Ratna Award

Part of: Main GS-III: Agriculture, Dairy 

In News: The Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Government of India, is organizing National Gopal Ratna Awards to commemorate the birth centenary of Dr. Varghese Kurien (Milk Man of India), which is celebrated as National Milk Day, on November 26, 2021.

Indigenous bovine breeds of India are robust and possess the genetic potential to play crucial role in the national economy. In the absence of a specific programme on development and conservation of indigenous breeds, their population has been declining and their performance is below the potential at present. 

  • The objective of the programme is genetic up-gradation of Cattle and Buffaloes. To achieve this, Artificial Insemination (A.I.) service needs to be robust. 
  • There are 302 million bovines in the country as per 20th Livestock census. 
  • The average productivity is 5 kg per day per animal at present. 
  • AI technicians have a crucial role in transforming the bovine population from the state of low productivity to optimal productivity. 
  • Hence, after the Farmers who rear the animals, there is a need to identify the best AI technician striving hard towards 100% AI coverage so as to achieve the country’s flagship programme objective of doubling of farmers’ income.
  • Similarly, 1.9 lakh Dairy cooperative societies and Milk producer Companies at village level are growth drivers as it involves about 2 cr dairy farmer as members and act as a rural institution to provide the farmers market access for their produce and help in earning remunerative price.

About Gopal Ratna Award 2021

One of the highest National Awardsin the field of livestock and dairy sector, with an objective to encourage all individuals and Dairy cooperative societies / Milk Producer Company / Dairy farmers Producers Organizations working in this sector, are conferred in three categories, namely,

  • Best Dairy Farmer Rearing Indigenous Cattle/buffalo Breeds,
  • Best Artificial Insemination Technician (AIT) and
  • Best Dairy Cooperative/ Milk Producer Company/ Dairy Farmer Producer Organization).

News Source: PIB


Launch of River Cities Alliance (RCA)

Part of: Main GS-III: Climate Change and Conservation

What: A dedicated platform for river cities in India to ideate, discuss and exchange information for sustainable management of urban rivers, here today. 

  • This first of its kind Alliance in the world symbolizes the successful partnership of the two Ministries i.e., Ministry of Jal Shakti and Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. 
  • The Alliance will focus on three broad themes- Networking, Capacity Building and Technical Support.

The primary objective of RCA is to 

  • Provide the member cities with a platform to discuss and exchange information on aspects that are vital for sustainable management of urban rivers such as minimizing their water footprint, reducing impacts on river and water bodies, capitalizing on natural, intangible, architectural heritage and associated services and develop self-sufficient, self-sustainable water resources through recycle, reuse strategy. 
  • The Alliance cities will work towards adopting and localizing national policies and instruments with key river-related directions, prepare their Urban River Management Plans and develop city-specific sectoral strategies that are required for sustainable urban river management. 
  • The Alliance gives opportunities to these cities to strengthen governance aspects for river cities and improves their liveability to attract external economic investments, access state of the art knowledge and frameworks as well as an opportunity to serve as the site for unique demonstration projects which will be implemented by NIUA and NMCG.

News Source: PIB


Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for the Pharmaceutical Sector

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- III – Economy; Manufacturing sector 

In News: The PLI Scheme for Pharmaceuticals is based on the strategy of “Atmanirbhar Bharat- Strategies for enhancing India’s manufacturing capabilities and enhancing exports in ten sectors”, which had been approved by the Union Cabinet.

Objectives 

  • To enhance India’s manufacturing capabilities by increasing investment and production in the sector and contributing to product diversification to high value goods in the pharmaceutical sector. 
  • To create global champions out of India who have the potential to grow in size and scale using cutting edge technology and thereby penetrate the global value chains.

About the Scheme

The Scheme is expected to bring in investment of Rs.15,000 crore in the pharmaceutical sector.

  • It will be part of the umbrella scheme for the Development of the Pharmaceutical Industry.
  • Objective: (1) To enhance India’s manufacturing capabilities by increasing investment; (2) Product diversification to include high-value goods. 
  • Target Groups: The manufacturers who are registered in India will be grouped based on their Global Manufacturing Revenue (GMR) to ensure wider applicability of the scheme
  • Quantum of Incentive: 15,000 crores.
  • Category of Goods covered:
    1. Category 1: Biopharmaceuticals; Complex generic drugs; Patented drugs or drugs nearing patent expiry; Cell-based or gene therapy drugs; Orphan drugs; Other drugs as approved.
    2. Category 2: Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients, Key Starting Materials, Drug Intermediates.
    3. Category 3: Drugs not covered under Category 1 and 2.

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-3: Indian Economy & its challenges
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Learning from Dairy Revolution

Context: November 26, 2021 was Verghese Kurien’s 100th birth anniversary. Kurien’s deep understanding of Indian farming and the trust he earned from the farming community could have helped to find a possible solution to the current crisis over farm laws. 

Initial Scepticism over V. Kurien

  • There was a time when Kurien seemed to be an improbable architect of a rural revolution that would eventually transform the lives of millions of farmers in Gujarat. 
  • There were many who saw him as an outsider to that world. 
  • He hailed from distant Kerala, belonged to an upper middle-class Christian family, and was educated in a western university in a subject like metallurgy which is far removed from agriculture.

Key Role Played by V. Kurien – Started White Revolution

  • Despite the initial scepticism, Kurien quietly and with self-confidence, Kurien won the farmers over with his professional integrity and his vision of a central role for farmers in India’s journey of development. 
  • It is on that foundation that Kurien went on to design his idea of Amul as a co-operative, turned it over the years into a global brand, and later launched the White Revolution that would make India the largest milk producing nation in the world. 
  • Central to Kurien’s vision was the co-operative model of business development. 
  • He decided that Amul would grow and establish its identity neither as a public sector undertaking nor as a private corporate entity. 

Why did he choose Cooperative model for dairy sector?

  • The co-operative model, he felt, was in the best interests of Gujarat’s milk producers.
  • He had reservations about the social objectives of the private sector. Much of the corporate sector, he felt, was led more by a profit motive than by public good
  • Kurien had a deep distrust over Public Sector model and Indian bureaucracy. He saw it as a leftover of the colonial mindset and the product of a western lifestyle.
  • Kurien’s fascination for the co-operative model was also influenced by Gandhian thinking on poverty alleviation and social transformation. 
  • He viewed co-operatives as the closest embodiment of Mahatma Gandhi’s powerful insight that “what the world needs is not mass production, but production by the masses”.

Did he completely reject Corporate model?

  • Notwithstanding his reservations, he did borrow from the ideas and the practices of the corporate world.
  • In areas such as innovations in marketing and management, branding and technology, the private sector excels and sets benchmarks for businesses across the world to follow and adopt.
  • At the same time, Amul was steadily emerging as a laboratory (priority to innovation), developing significant innovations and evolving technologies of its own, and these have strengthened its competitive power against multinational corporations.
  • Its biggest success came when under the leadership of H.M. Dalaya, a distinguished dairy engineer, Amul achieved a breakthrough in converting buffalo milk into skim milk powder and condensed milk. It was one single innovation that gave Amul a distinct competitive advantage and profoundly changed the lives of milk producers in Gujarat and beyond.

Two questions are central to evaluating Verghese Kurien’s legacy and his contributions to India’s growth story.

One, how has Amul performed in the years after its iconic founder left the world in 2012?

  • Amul has grown steadily on the strong foundation laid by its visionary leader, diversifying its product range and adding new ones. 
  • Amul continues to remain one of India’s best-known food brands.
  • It is an inspiration to other dairy cooperatives such as Nandini in Karnataka, Aavin in Tamil Nadu and Verka in Punjab.

Second, how far has the cooperative movement in general met its professed objective of an economic transformation at the grass-roots level.

  • Sadly, Amul’s success has not been the catalyst for similar movements across other agricultural commodities in India. For millions of farmers, life is still a struggle for survival.
  • India’s digital revolution has bypassed the agriculture sector. India talks about smart cities, not smart villages, nor even liveable villages. 
  • The cooperative movement in India has suffered due to lack of professional management, adequate finance and poor adoption of technology.

Conclusion

This is truly a moment to reflect on Verghese Kurien’s remarkable legacy and the unfinished task he has left behind.

Connecting the dots:

  • Ministry of Cooperation
  • Green Revolution 2.0

SCIENCE & TECH/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • GS-3: Science & Technology in every da lives

The hunt for coronavirus variants

In News: Since early in the COVID pandemic, the Network for Genomics Surveillance in South Africa has been monitoring changes in SARS-CoV-2. This was a valuable tool to understand better how the virus spread. In late 2020, the network detected a new virus lineage, 501Y.V2, which later became known as the beta variant. Now a new SARS-CoV-2 variant has been identified, known as B.1.1.529.

The science behind the search

  • Hunting for variants requires a concerted effort. South Africa and the UK were the first big countries to implement nationwide genomic surveillance efforts for SARS-CoV-2 as early as April 2020.
  • Variant hunting, as exciting as that sounds, is performed through whole genome sequencing of samples that have tested positive for the virus. This process involves checking every sequence obtained for differences compared to what we know is circulating in South Africa and the world. When they see multiple differences, this immediately raises a red flag and they investigate further to confirm what they’ve noticed.
  • The beta variant spread much more efficiently between people compared to the “wild type” or “ancestral” SARS-CoV-2 and caused South Africa’s second pandemic wave. It was therefore classified as a variant of concern. During 2021, yet another variant of concern called delta spread over much of the world, including South Africa, where it caused a third pandemic wave.
  • Very recently, routine sequencing by Network for Genomics Surveillance member laboratories detected a new virus lineage, called B.1.1.529, in South Africa. Seventy-seven samples collected in mid-November 2021 in Gauteng province had this virus. It has also been reported in small numbers from neighbouring Botswana and Hong Kong. The Hong Kong case is reportedly a traveller from South Africa.

Whether B.1.1.529 will be classified as a variant of interest or of concern, like beta and delta, has not been decided by the World Health Organization yet.

Why is this variant worrying?

We still do not know but B.1.1.529 carries certain mutations that are concerning. 

  • They have not been observed in this combination before and the spike protein alone has over 30 mutations. This is important, because the spike protein is what makes up most of the vaccines.
  • B.1.1.529 has a genetic profile very different from other circulating variants of interest and concern. It does not seem to be a “daughter of delta” or “grandson of beta” but rather represents a new lineage of SARS-CoV-2.
  • Some of its genetic changes are known from other variants and we know they can affect transmissibility or allow immune evasion, but many are new and have not been studied as yet. While we can make some predictions, we are still studying how far the mutations will influence its behaviour.

Do early indications point to this variant causing different symptoms or more severe disease?

  • There is no evidence for any clinical differences yet. What is known is that cases of B.1.1.529 infection have increased rapidly in Gauteng, where the country’s fourth pandemic wave seems to be commencing. This suggests easy transmissibility, albeit on a background of much relaxed non-pharmaceutical interventions and low number of cases. 
  • COVID-19 is more likely to manifest as severe, often life-threatening disease in the elderly and chronically ill individuals. But the population groups often most exposed first to a new virus are younger, mobile and usually healthy people. If B.1.1.529 spreads further, it will take a while before its effects, in terms of disease severity, can be assessed.
  • Fortunately, it seems that all diagnostic tests that have been checked so far are able to identify the new virus. Even better, it appears that some widely used commercial assays show a specific pattern
  • Two of the three target genome sequences are positive but the third one is not. It’s like the new variant consistently ticks two out of three boxes in the existing test. 
  • This may serve as a marker for B.1.1.529, meaning we can quickly estimate the proportion of positive cases due to B.1.1.529 infection per day and per area. This is very useful for monitoring the virus’s spread almost in real time.

Are current vaccines likely to protect against the new variant?

  • We do not know. The known cases include individuals who had been vaccinated. However we have learnt that the immune protection provided by vaccination wanes over time and does not protect as much against infection but rather against severe disease and death.
  • Ultimately, everything known about B.1.1.529 so far highlights that universal vaccination is still our best bet against severe COVID-19 and, together with non-pharmaceutical interventions, will go a long way towards helping the healthcare system cope during the coming wave.

(Sansad TV: Perspective)


Nov 19: Aatmanirbhar in Defence– https://youtu.be/mDtVEoAFIcE 

TOPIC:

  • GS-3: Security

Aatmanirbhar in Defence

In News: To give a thrust to Aatmanirbhar Bharat in the defence sector, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, formally handed over indigenously designed and developed equipment to the Armed forces Service Chiefs. 

Some Recent developments –

  • HAL- designed and developed Light Combat Helicopter were handed over to the Chief of the Air Staff
  • Drones and UAVs designed and developed by Indian startups were given to the Chief of the Army Staff
  • DRDO designed and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) manufactured Advanced Electronic Warfare suite for naval ships were handed over to the Chief of Naval Staff 
  • Besides, the Prime Minister also laid the foundation stone of the Rs 400 crore project at Jhansi node of the UP Defence Industrial Corridor. 
  • In addition to Jhansi, the corridor has nodes at Agra, Aligarh, Chitrakoot, Lucknow and Kanpur. 
  • For the Jhansi Node, the state government has made nearly 1,034 hectares of land available. The facility will involve an investment of Rs 400 crore. 

Aatmanirbharta in Defence

A strong and well-equipped military provides a country the immunity to resist attack and thwart unprovoked aggression from external sources and deal with any kind of internal disturbance. It works as a defence mechanism and reflects the country’s military capability and capacity to defend itself against the hostile countries. 

Equipping the military with the latest technology and modernising the existing inventory of weapons and surveillance systems is therefore crucial for any country. India too needs to build a strong military force armed with all types of technologically advanced defence equipment to strengthen its security and intelligence and to secure its territorial integrity.

To maintain its regional autonomy: 

  • India needs to assert its presence and sovereignty over the border regions and for that, it needs to have modernised defence products and strategic autonomy over such defence products. 
  • This strategic autonomy can be achieved by having a self-reliant defence industry which would ultimately strengthen the Indian economy as well. 
  • It is the need of the hour to increase the indigenous defence production to meet the requirements of the armed forces along with putting lesser burden on the exchequer. 

To create a robust security framework: 

  • India requires an overhaul of its defence products to meet the current requisites of modern warfare. 
  • India needs to strengthen its surveillance system which requires inducting of modernised radars and drones so that suspicious activities and trespassing at the border areas could be detected at the earliest. 
  • India also needs to understand that it cannot always depend on the emergency purchases of defence equipment during the times of crises, which has been seen during the recent border clashes with Chinese troops and the rising tension along the northern borders. 
  • This has forced accelerated domestic and foreign purchase of weapons,2 however relying on the imports for emergency purchases leads to excessive spending.

Promoting investments in R&D and production in the defence sector

  • Will prove to be significant in enhancing the manufacturing of defence products and in creating employment opportunities. 
  • Will reduce dependency on imports which will lead to a reduction in the foreign exchange expenditure and enhance the level of operational preparedness considerably. 
  • Domestic manufacturing will promote the growth of many ancillary industries within the country and at the same time, it will generate a lot of revenue by exporting defence products to other countries. 
  • Restructuring of approximately 200-year-old Ordnance Factory Board into seven State-owned corporate entities in line with the vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat would not only increase competitiveness, but will also improve quality, cost-efficiency while ensuring self-reliance in the defence sector. This will help in reducing the trade deficit as well. 
  • Defence Acquisition Procedure, DAP-2020 has aimed to bring into line and support the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan by focusing on self-reliance by boosting domestic manufacturing and encouraging private sector involvement.

The Way Forward

  1. A time-bound defence procurement process through
    1. Overhauling trial and testing procedures to speed up the procurement process 
    2. Establishing a professional project management unit
  2. Corporatisation of the Ordnance Factory Board. 
    1. OFBs structure, work culture and product range now need to be responsive to technology and quality demands of modern armed forces. 
    2. Corporatisation, including public listing of some units, ensures a more efficient interface of the manufacturer with the designer and end user
  3. Self-reliance should not be taken to extremes: Thrust for indigenous R&D should coexist with the import of cutting-edge military technologies to safeguard defence vulnerabilities
  4. Domestic Procurement: When we import weapon systems, we should plan for the ammunitions and spares for them to be eventually manufactured in India
  5. A long-term integrated perspective plan of the requirements of the armed forces is needed to give industry a clear picture of future requirements. 
  6. The definition of indigenisation itself needs to privilege technology over value or volume
  7. Export Promotion: Investment, Indian or foreign, will be viable only if the door to defence exports is opened, with a transparent policy. 
  8. Promoting indigenous research and development through tax incentives
  9. To give private industry a level playing field for developing defence technologies, conflicts of interest, created by the role of DRDO as the government’s sole adviser, developer and evaluator of technologies have to be addressed.

Can you answer the following questions?

  1. How significant will the UP Defence Industrial Corridor defence corridor be as we strive to achieve strategic independence? Examine.
  2. How has the journey of becoming self-realint in the defence sector been so far? 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 Gopal Ratna Award is provided for achievements in which sector?

  1. Agriculture
  2. Marine Fisheries
  3. Dairy
  4. Space Technology

Q.2 Project-75 often seen in news is associated with which of the following?

  1. Missiles
  2. Radars
  3. Gram Panchayat Empowerment
  4. Submarines 

Q.3 Consider the following statements regarding National Courts of Appeal

  1. These are courts established not by Constitution but by Parliamentary Legislations 
  2. It helps unburden the Supreme Court

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 26th Nov 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 D
2 C
3 C

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