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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 11th December 2021

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  • December 11, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Summit for Democracy

Part of: Prelims and GS-II – International relations; Democracy

Context Summit for Democracy was recently convened by the U.S. President Joe Biden.

Key highlights

  • India emphasised that the world must also jointly shape global norms for emerging technologies like social media and cryptocurrencies.
  • USA president announced the establishment of the Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal.
    • Under this, the administration plans to provide $424.4 million to support free media, fight corruption, strengthen democratic reforms, for the use of technology.

Right to climate justice

Part of: Prelims and GS-III -Climate change 

Context India’s President has expressed concern that time was running out for preserving nature for future generations and called for a debate on the right to climate justice.

What is Climate justice?

  • Climate justice is a term used for framing global warming as an ethical and political issue, rather than one that is purely environmental or physical in nature.

Relevance of Climate Justice in present times

  • Development vs. environment degradation: Measures taken for development largely have negative impact on the environment. IPCC reports have given strict warning about the devastating impacts of rising global temperature beyond 1.5 degree Celsius.
  • Prioritising investment: Developing countries particularly lack funds for investment for implementing climate change actions. Climate justice helps to prioritise investment around the vulnerabilities of the communities worst affected by climate change.
  • Lobbying by businesses and industrial groups: Big industrialists in fossil fuel based businesses pressurize governments not to take decisions for quick transition to renewable based solutions. Climate justice shifts the focus of policy planning  to the suffering communities.
  • Resistance shown by developed countries: Climate justice focuses on inequitable nature of impact of climate change and brings into the picture accountability for actions done by some countries over the other countries.

Stubble as biofuel

Part of: Prelims and GS-III – Environment 

Context The Union Government is working on a plan to use stubble as a biofuel and manure as part of an effort to deal with stubble burning that was often cited as a source of pollution in northern India

What is Stubble Burning?

  • Stubble burning is the act of setting fire to crop residue to remove them from the field to sow the next crop
  • It is a traditional practice in Punjab and Haryana to clean off the rice chaff to prepare the fields for winter sowing
  • It begins around October and peaks in November, coinciding with the withdrawal of southwest monsoon.
  • On December 10, 2015, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had banned crop residue burning in the states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab

What are biofuels?

  • Biofuels are liquid or gaseous fuels primarily produced from biomass.
  • Can be used to replace or can be used in addition to diesel, petrol or other fossil fuels for transport, stationary, portable and other applications. 

‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao ’ (BBBP) scheme

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

Context The Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women has noted in its report that The Government spent 80% of the funds under the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao ’ (BBBP) scheme on media campaigns.

  • It has recommended that it must now revisit this strategy and invest in measurable outcomes in health and education for girls.
  • The total utilisation under the scheme was also poor.
  • Advocacy and media campaigns include television publicity, outdoor and print media, SMS campaigns, radio spots and community engagement through exhibition vans.

What is ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao ’ (BBBP) scheme

  • The scheme was launched by Indian Prime Minister in January 2015 
  • Aim: To address sex-selective abortion and the declining child sex ratio, which was at 918 girls for every 1,000 boys in 2011. 
  • The programme is being implemented across 405 districts.
  • There is a clearly laid down formula for utilisation of funds. Rs. 50 lakh a year is earmarked a district for utilisation under six different components. 
    • Of this, 16% is for inter-sectoral consultation or capacity-building
    • 50% for innovation or awareness generation activities
    • 6% for monitoring and evaluation
    • 10% for sectoral interventions in health
    • 10% for sectoral interventions in education 
    • 8% as flexi funds

(News from PIB)


10th December: Human Rights Day

  • Theme: ‘Equality’
  • Article 1 of the Universal Declaration states, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights spells out a series of rights and freedoms every single human being is entitled to. These are inalienable rights, dependent solely on the fact that each person belongs to humanity, irrespective of ethnicity, gender, nationality, religion, language and other divisions. With the Declaration, the global community made a formal recognition of basic human dignity though it has been part of our spiritual traditions for millennia.

Launch of Atmanirbhar Hastshilpkar Scheme

Part of: Prelims, Mains GS-II: Government schemes and policies

By: North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Ltd. (NEDFi), a premier financial institution in the North-Eastern Region

Objective: To develop the petty artisans of the North Eastern Region by providing financial assistance in the form of term loan for income generating activities for setting up / expansion / modernization / working capital requirement and other activities related to the sector

News Source: PIB


India co-chairs Global Methane Initiative

Part of: Prelims

Context: Global Methane Initiative (GMI) is a voluntary Government and an informal international partnership having members from 45 countriesincluding the United States and Canada. 

  • The forum has been created to achieve global reduction in anthropogenic methane emission through partnership among developed and developing countries having economies in transition.
  • The forum was created in 2004 and India is one of the members since its inception and has taken up Vice-Chairmanship for the first time in the Steering Leadership along with USA. The Chairperson of the Steering Leadership is from Canada.

Emission of methane is a big concern as it is a greenhouse gas having 25-28 times harmful effect than carbon dioxide

About Methane

  • Methane is a greenhouse gas.
  • It is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in terms of its global warming capacity. 
  • Approximately 40% of methane emitted is from natural sources and about 60% comes from human-influenced sources, including livestock farming, rice agriculture, biomass burning and so forth.

News Source: PIB


New Food Processing Policy

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-III – Science and Technology

Context: The Food Processing Sector has emerged as an important segment of the Indian economy and it constitutes as much as 9.9 percent and 11.4 percent share of GVA in Manufacturing and Agriculture sector respectively in 2019-20 at 2011-12 prices. 

Key challenges facing the sector are- 

  • Supply chain infrastructure gaps
  • Institutional gaps
  • Relatively low level of processing
  • Technological gaps
  • Lack of seamless Linkage between Agri-Production and Processing
  • Credit availability gaps

The draft National Food Processing Policy lays down strategy for unhindered growth of the sector by addressing these challenges through 

  • Promotion of clusters
  • Convergence of services provided by different Ministries / Departments
  • Focused interventions for improving competitiveness
  • Promotion of India’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
  • Strengthening unorganized food processing units
  • Increased access to institutional credit at affordable cost

Some of the key objectives of the draft policy are-

  • Attaining a higher growth trajectory through significant increase in investment for strengthening supply chain infrastructure and expansion of processing capacity particularly in perishables;
  • Improving Competitiveness through technology upgradation, Research &Development, Branding and strengthening India’s USP in food sector;
  • Attaining long term sustainability in growth of the sector through efficient use of water, energy, adoption eco-friendly technology in processing, storage, packaging and use of waste from FPI industry

News Source: PIB 


Women Farmers in the Country

Part of: Prelims 

In News: As per the information collected in Agriculture Census 2015-16, about 11.72% of the total operated area in the country was operated by female operational holders.

  • The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) under the Ministry of Home Affairs compiles and disseminates information on suicides in its publication titled ‘Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India’. 
  • As per the publication, the term ‘Farmer’ is defined as “the Person whose profession is farming and includes those who cultivate on their own land as well as those who cultivate on leased land/other’s land with or without the assistance of agricultural labourers”.

News Source: PIB 


C.Rajagopalachari (1878-1972)

Part of: Prelims 

C. Rajagopalachari (1878-1972) was a freedom fighter, politician, an associate of Gandhi and the final governor general of India. Rajagopalachari parted ways with the Congress in 1957 after being disillusioned by the path it was taking. He founded the Swatantra Party in 1959, which favoured classical liberal principles and free enterprise.


(Mains Focus)


INTERNATIONAL/ SECURITY

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

Diplomatic Boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

Context: The United States recently announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February 2022, a move that was quickly followed by Australia, Britain and Canada.

What is a diplomatic boycott?

  • Those who remember the 1980s may think of an Olympic boycott as countries staying home, athletes and all. But the US diplomatic boycott will prevent only government officials from attending. 
  • Typically, high-ranking officials from many countries attend the Games, which are among the biggest international gatherings outside of UN and major summits.

What reason did the US give for the boycott?

  • US has cited “genocide and crimes against humanity” in Xinjiang, in western China as the reason for the boycott. 
    • The Chinese government has cracked down harshly on Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in that region, including mass detentions and forced use of contraception and sterilizations.
    • The Australian government, which has had diplomatic fallout with China over this issue, too cited the same reason.
  • The recent case of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, who accused a former top government official of sexually assaulting her, also contributed to this decision. Moments after Peng Shuai made her allegations, on Chinese social media, the posts were taken down and she disappeared from public view for days. 
  • The International Olympic Committee said it called her twice, but questions were raised about how freely she was speaking.
  • Domestically there is a bipartisan support in the USA regarding this move. If anything, the criticism has come from Republicans who say the decision does not go far enough. 

Does it mean anything for US athletes at the Olympics?

  • Although the hostility between the nations may make for some uncomfortable moments for the American delegation in Beijing, there are not expected to be any significant effects. 
  • American athletes are to travel to China and compete in their events as scheduled.
  • Some American Olympic athletes are speaking out about China & about human rights violations. However, the International Olympic Committee has always asserted that the Games are nonpolitical. As such, it has strict rules about athletes protesting while at the Games.
  • Nevertheless, even those top athletes who have condemned human rights abuses say they plan to compete at the Games.

Is there a precedent for a diplomatic boycott of the Olympics?

  • The first major boycott of an Olympics came in 1976 when about 30 mostly African nations sat out the Montreal Games. They contended that because a New Zealand rugby team had toured apartheid South Africa, New Zealand should be barred from the Games.
  • The most prominent boycott came in 1980, when more than 60 countries, led by the United States, boycotted the Summer Games in Moscow because of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan the previous year. 
  • In 1984, the Soviet Union led more than a dozen countries in a boycott of the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. Although the cited reason was security concerns, there is little doubt the move was essentially a tit-for-tat measure for the 1980 boycott.
  • In 2014, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Michelle Obama, the first lady, all skipped the Sochi Olympics in Russia. 
  • France and Germany also did not send top-ranking officials. 
  • Although it was not a full-fledged diplomatic boycott, the move was seen as a disapproval of Russia’s crackdown on gay rights.
  • The 2014 Sochi Olympics boycott was also possibly motivated by Russia’s giving political asylum to Edward Snowden, who leaked classified documents about American spying.

Have boycotts been effective?

  • The boycott of the Moscow Games did not appear to have any effect on Soviet foreign policy; troops from the country remained in Afghanistan until 1989.
  • One of the key differences between then and now is money. The Olympics now are a billion-dollar enterprise and a boycott could cost teams and a sport a fortune, especially the US since American broadcaster NBC pays billions of dollars to the International Olympic Committee to show the Games
  • An international consensus seems to have emerged that sweeping boycotts that include athletes are ineffective and serve only to penalize sportsmen and women. 
  • While boycotts may not change policy, they do run the risk of reprisals, as was seen in 1984. Sure enough, section in China has called for boycott the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in 2028.

How has China reacted to this?

  • China has said it is “not bothered at all” by the boycotts. 
  • Global Times, China’s state-run newspaper, dismissed Australia’s decision as “immature, arrogant and stupid” while the government said the boycotting countries will “pay a price”.
  • Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson stated “The United States, Britain and Australia have used the Olympics platform for political manipulation and they will have to pay the price for their mistaken acts.”

Connecting the dots:


ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

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

World Inequality Report: The Rich-Poor Gap in India

In News: According to the World Inequality Report 2022, India stands out as a “poor and very unequal country, with an affluent elite”, where the top 10% holds 57% of the total national income, including 22% held by the top 1%, while the bottom 50% holds just 13% in 2021.

Key findings for India

  • Poor Middle Class Wealth: It says India’s middle class is relatively poor with an average wealth of Rs 7,23,930, or 29.5% of the total national income, compared with the top 10% who own 65% (Rs 63,54,070) and top 1%  who own 33% (Rs 3,24,49,360) of total national income.
  • Disparity in Average Income: The average annual national income of the Indian adult population is Rs 2,04,200 in 2021. The bottom 50% earned Rs 53,610, while the top 10% earned over 20 times more (Rs 11,66,520)
  • Disparity in Average Household Wealth: The average household wealth is Rs 9,83,010, of which the bottom 50% owns Rs 66,280, a mere 6%.
  • Multidimensional Poverty: As per the recent Multi-dimensional Poverty Index prepared by Niti Aayog, one in every four people in India was multi-dimensionally poor. Bihar has the highest such proportion (51.91%), followed by Jharkhand (42.16%) and Uttar Pradesh (37.79%).
  • Poor Data from government sources: The quality of inequality data released by the government has seriously deteriorated, making it particularly difficult to assess recent inequality changes, the report says.

What is the Pandemic impact?

  • Drop in Income: The impact of the pandemic was reflected in a drop in global income, which was impacted significantly due to India. 
  • Wealth in Private Hands: Also, even as countries have become richer over the last 40 years, their governments have become significantly poorer, a trend magnified due to the pandemic. The share of wealth held by public actors is close to zero or negative in rich countries, meaning that the totality of wealth is in private hands. 
  • Increased Government Borrowing: The trend of concentration of wealth in private sector has been magnified by the Covid crisis, during which governments borrowed the equivalent of 10-20 per cent of GDP, essentially from the private sector.
  • Global Inequality in Wealth Distribution: The rise in private wealth has also been unequal within countries and at world levels. Since the mid-1990s, the top 1% globally took 38% of all additional wealth accumulated, whereas the bottom 50 per cent captured just 2%. 
  • The wealth of the richest individuals on earth has grown at 6 to 9% per year since 1995, whereas average wealth has grown at 3.2% per year. This increase was exacerbated during the COVID pandemic.

Global, regional trends 

  • The poorest half of the global population “barely owns any wealth” at just 2% of the total, whereas the richest 10% owns 76%, the report says. The richest 10% currently takes 52% of global income, and the poorest earns just 8%.
  • The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are the most unequal regions in the world, whereas Europe has the lowest inequality levels, the report says. In Europe, the top 10%’s income share is around 36%, and in MENA, it is 58%; in East Asia, it is 43%, and in Latin America, 55%.
  • Global wealth was equal to around 510 trillion euros in 2020, or about 600% of national income. The ratio of total wealth to total income rose from around 450% in the early 1990s to about 600% today. 
  • In high-income countries, in 1970, private wealth–national income ratios ranged between 200-400%. By 2008, when the global financial crisis began, these ratios averaged 550%.
  • Large emerging economies such as China and India experienced faster increases than wealthy countries after they transitioned away from communism (in China and Russia) or from a highly regulated economic system (in India). In India, private wealth increased from 290% in 1980 to 560% in 2020.
  • Wealth inequalities are also tightly connected to ecological inequalities. The top 10% of emitters is responsible for close to 50% of all emissions, while the bottom 50% contributes 12%.
  • Global inequalities seem to be about as great today as they were at the peak of Western imperialism in the early 20th century, the report said.

If the rich were taxed?

  • The report has suggested levying a modest progressive wealth tax on multimillionaires.
  • In 2021, there were 62.2 million people owning more than $1 million (measured at market exchange rates). Their average wealth was $2.8 million, a total of $174 trillion. 
  • More than 1.8 million individuals (top 0.04%) own over $10 million, 76,500 (0.001%) own over $100 million, and 2,750 (0.00005%) own more than a billion dollars. The billionaires own more than $13 trillion, or 3.5% of global wealth.
  • A global effective wealth tax rate of 1.2% for wealth over $1 million could generate revenues of 2.1% of global income. 

Connecting the dots:


(Down to Earth: Health)


Dec 10 – Worms thriving in brains- https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/health/worms-thriving-in-brains-assam-s-tea-garden-workers-lose-lives-livelihoods-80630 

TOPIC:

  • GS-2 – Health

Worms thriving in brains

In News: Workers from Assam have been afflicted with neurocysticercosis (NCC), a preventable disease that wreaks havoc among Assam’s pig-rearing communities among others. 

How the disease spreads

The life cycle of a pork tapeworm (taenia solium) takes it from pigs to humans and vice-versa.

  • Tapeworm eggs are spread through food, water, or surfaces contaminated with faeces.  Humans swallow the eggs when they eat contaminated food or put contaminated fingers in their mouth. 
  • When people consume infected, undercooked pork, they are infected with taenia metacestodes (the larval stage of tapeworm) that develop into adult tapeworm in their intestines (taeniasis). 
  • The eggs of the tapeworm invade the muscles of the human body to make cysts. 
  • Sometimes these cysts get into people’s brains, triggering epileptic seizures, headaches, difficulty with balance and excess fluid around the brain
  • Adult tapeworms produce eggs that are released in the person’s stool. During open defecation, the eggs can get lodged in nails and end up in humans. Those hands can contaminate food that others eat. A person who has never eaten pork in his life can get infected this way.
  • Humans are the only definitive host for the parasite to complete its life cycle. This spillover from pigs to humans and vice-versa makes NCC a zoonotic disease. 
  • However most recent cases of NCC have been from urban areas in Assam where people eat raw salads

Connection between Assam workers and neurocysticercosis (NCC)

  • Assam is the world’s largest tea growing region, with over 800 estates producing half of India’s tea. An estimated 1 million plantation workers workers pick tea on these estates for Rs 205 a day. 
  • A 2019 study by non-profit Oxfam revealed that Assam’s tea workers are one of the state’s most marginalised with unsafe working conditions. They lack basic amenities earn low incomes, at high risk of human rights violations.   
  • To supplement their meager income, many plantation workers — both permanent and temporary — rear pigs. It requires little investment and labor.
  • Pork is a staple protein in North East India. It accounts for about 68.75 per cent of pork consumed in India. Nagaland tops the list, followed by Assam and Meghalaya.
  • In Assam, pigs are mostly reared in dirty backyards and fed waste. Only 1-2 per cent farmers are keen on hygiene. Commercial pig farmers buy pig feed from and follow a de-worming schedule, he claimed.
  • Families of those suffering from NCC have a history of backyard pig farming and open-defecation (due to the lack of proper toilets). Chances of contracting this little-known zoonotic disease are higher in such conditions.

A. Reporting seizures cost jobs

  • Many tea garden workers in the region reported losing their jobs due to recurrent epileptic fits.
  • In case of such emergencies, tea workers are eligible to seek advances (deductible from future wages). 
  • The workers want to keep a lid on the real numbers for fear of reprisal.
  • Many villagers in this region said they prefer traditional herbal medicines over prescribed synthetic drugs as they are more affordable and within their reach. 

B. Extent of medical treatment

  • Treatment for NCC can be costly, given the Rs 205 a day wage of a tea worker. The minimum requirement to detect the disease during the onset of an epileptic fit is a CT scan, which costs Rs 1,000 even at government hospitals. A contrast show, to highlight the areas of the body examined, for another Rs 1,500-Rs 2,000 is also needed. 
  • CT scans are free for those below the poverty line, which should ideally cover tea workers. But the penetration of health welfare schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana and Atal Amrit Abhiyan is low among them. Producing proofs of income becomes a hassle too. So they end up bearing exorbitant costs.
  • The patients should be given medicines such as anthelmintics, antiepileptics, steroids while surgeries should also be available. But a more holistic, One Health approach was needed. The One Health approach addresses human health in conjunction with animal health and surrounding environment. As part of it, public health practitioners would need to prevent tapeworms from getting into human brains in the first place, by employing cost-effective and simple tools for detection of carriers of taenia solium — such as stool examination for humans and checking for shaky tongues in pigs in the rearing areas. Improving pig-farming practices, like using de-worming medicines, can go a long way. But perhaps the most important is to improve sanitation practices and health education through on-ground interventions with communities at risk. 
  • Very few of those afflicted with NCC in the region have functional toilets at their houses. 

Conclusion

Until the conditions of Assam’s vulnerable tea workers improve, an eminently treatable disease will remain a threat to their livelihoods and lives. 

Can you answer the following question?

  1. Workers from Assam have been afflicted with neurocysticercosis (NCC), a preventable disease that wreaks havoc among Assam’s pig-rearing communities among others. Discuss the way forward for the government to deal with the issue effectively.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Q.1 Bitcoin is an example of which of the following?

  1. Plastic money
  2. Fiat currency
  3. Non-fiat cryptocurrency
  4. fiat cryptocurrency

Q.2 Which is a nodal ministry for Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) scheme?

answer choices

  1. Ministry of home affairs
  2. Ministry of Women and Child Development
  3. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
  4. Niti Aayog

Q.3 Consider the following statements regarding the Stubble burning: 

  1. Stubble burning is the act of setting fire to crop residue to remove them from the field to sow the next crop
  2. It is a traditional practice in Southern Inida to clean off the rice chaff to prepare the fields for winter sowing

Which of the above is or are correct? 

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

ANSWERS FOR 11th Dec 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 B
3 A

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