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

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


Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple (BRT) Tiger Reserve

Part of: Prelims and GS-III -Environment 

Context There are plans to uproot lantana spread over 70,000 hectares of forests in BRT Tiger Reserve and Bandipur during the course of next five years. 

  • But there are concerns that uprooting it on such a scale will entail disturbance to the forest.

What is Lantana?

  • Lantana is a genus of about 150 species of perennial flowering plants. 
  • They are native to tropical regions of the Americas and Africa.
  • They exist as an introduced species in numerous areas, especially in the Australian-Pacific region, South and Northeastern part of India. 

Why is lantana a problem?

  • It is a serious economic pest to the citrus industry. 
  • In many frost-free regions it has become an invasive nuisance, crowding out grazing lands and agricultural areas. 
  • Lantana is toxic for most livestock to graze 

About BRT Tiger Reserve 

  • Situated between the Western and Eastern Ghats the Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple (BRT) Tiger Reserve is based in south eastern Karnataka, at the border of Tamil Nadu. 
  • It has been named after the Rangaswamy temple that is embellished with a whitish rock at the helms of the sanctuary.
  • It was declared as a protected reserve in the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
  • This unique sanctuary exhibits scrub, dry deciduous, moist deciduous, evergreen, semi evergreen and shola forests. 
  • It is widely known for its many endemic species of plants including valuable medicinal ones.

Olive Ridley

Part of: Prelims and GS-III – Conservation

Context Scientists have resumed tagging of Olive Ridley turtles at Rushikulya rookery along the Odisha coast 

Key takeaways 

  • Researchers of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) are carrying out tagging of the Olive Ridleys at three mass nesting sites — Gahirmatha, Devi River mouth and Rushikulya.
  • The tagging would help them identify the migration path and places visited by the marine reptiles after congregation and nesting.
  • The study would also reveal the inter-rookery movement of turtles in Odisha. 
  • The metal tags affixed to turtles are non-corrosive and they do not harm their body. 
  • The tags are uniquely numbered containing details such as the name of the organisation, country-code and email address.

About Olive Ridley

  • The Olive Ridley sea turtle is the most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world.
  • It is found in warm and tropical waters, primarily in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
  • It is best known for their unique mass nesting called arribada, where thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs.
  • IUCN status: Vulnerable.

Karnataka Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021

Part of: Prelims and GS-I- Society

Context The Karnataka legislative Assembly passed The Karnataka Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021, commonly referred to as the anti-conversion Bill.

  • The Bill will now go to the Karnataka Legislative Council.

Key features of the bill

  • It prohibits conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, fraud, allurement or marriage.
  • It, however, provides an exemption in the case of a person who “reconverts to his immediate previous religion” as “the same shall not be deemed to be a conversion under this Act”.
  • Complaints regarding conversions can be filed by family members or any other person who is related to the individual who is getting converted.
  • A jail term of three to five years and a fine of Rs 25,000 has been proposed for those violating the law in the case of people from general categories.
  • A jail term of three to 10 years and a fine of Rs 50,000 has been mooted for those converting minors, women or persons from SC/ST communities.
  • The Bill also envisages payment of a compensation of Rs 5 lakh (on court orders) to victims of conversion by the persons attempting the conversion, and double punishment for repeat offences.

ASIGMA

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Sci and tech

Context Indian Army launched a contemporary messaging application named ASIGMA.

Key takeaways 

  • ASIGMA stands for Army Secure IndiGeneous Messaging Application.
  • It is a new generation, state-of-the-art, web based application developed entirely in-house by team of officers of the Corps of Signals of the Army.
  • The application is being deployed on the Army’s internal network as a replacement of Army Wide Area Network messaging application which has been in service for the past 15 years.
  • The application has been fielded on Army owned hardware. 
  • It has a variety of contemporary features including multi-level security, message prioritisation and tracking.
  • This future ready messaging application will meet real time data transfer and messaging requirements of the Army.

(News from PIB)


Siddha system of medicine

Part of: Prelims

  • One of the oldest codified traditions of healthcare originated in the Indian sub-continent with many intricate, novel therapeutic interventions and treatment modalities. 
  • The fundamentals and principles largely rely upon Panchabootham, taste and three humours. 
  • It enjoys state patronage as part of the officially recognized Ayush systems and caters to considerable proportion of population through public and private health care facilities
  • Ministry of Ayush observes Siddha Day on eve of Agathiyar’s birthday every year, which falls during the Ayilyam star of Margazhi Month.

News Source: PIB


Magnetar

Part of: Prelims 

In News: Scientists have found the first clues to understand violent short duration flares from a compact star of rare category called magnetar located thirteen million light years away. 

  • These compact stars with the most intense magnetic field known, of which only thirty have been spotted so far in our galaxy, suffer violent eruptions that are still little known due to their unexpected nature and their short duration. 
  • Scientists have long been intrigued by such short and intence bursts — transient X-ray pulses of energies several times that of the Sun and length ranging from a fraction of a few millisecond to a few microseconds.
  • When massive stars like supergiant stars with a total mass of between 10 and 25 solar masses collapse they might form neutron stars. 
  • Among neutron stars, stands out a small group with the most intense magnetic field known: magnetars.
  • It is believed that eruptions in magnetars may be due to instabilities in their magnetosphere or to a kind of “earthquakes” (”starquakes”) produced in their crust, a rigid and elastic layer about a kilometer thick. 
  • “Regardless of the trigger, in the magnetosphere of the star a type of waves will be created. These  waves which are well known in the Sun, are called Alfvén waves and  while bouncing back and forth between the points at the base of its lines of magnetic field, they interact with each other dissipating energy

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

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

Tokenisation and RBI guidelines

Context: The Reserve Bank of India has extended the implementation date of card-on-file (CoF) tokenisation norms by six months to June 30, 2022.

  • While most of the leading banks including SBI, HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank are ready for the switchover, other stakeholders — mostly merchants — argue that the systems at their backend are not yet ready to adopt the new regime and had sought further time in putting new norms into effect.
  • While extending the guideline, the RBI said that in addition to tokenisation the “industry stakeholders may devise alternate mechanism(s) to handle any use case (including recurring e-mandates, EMI option, etc.) or post-transaction activity (including chargeback handling, dispute resolution, reward/ loyalty programme, etc.) that currently involves/requires storage of CoF data by entities other than card issuers and card networks.

What is tokenisation and why has RBI issued new guidelines?

  • In September 2021, the RBI prohibited merchants from storing customer card details on their servers with effect from January 01, 2022, and mandated the adoption of card-on-file (CoF) tokenisation as an alternative to card storage. It applies to domestic, online purchases.
  • Tokenisation refers to replacement of actual credit and debit card details with an alternate code called the “token”, which will be unique for a combination of card, token requestor and device. 
  • A tokenised card transaction is considered safer as the actual card details are not shared with the merchant during transaction processing. 
  • Customers who do not have the tokenisation facility will have to key in their name, 16-digit card number, expiry date and CVV each time they order something online. This could be cumbersome exercise and may impact transaction value, especially when done through stored cards. 
  • In case of multiple cards, each will have to be tokenised.

What is the size of the industry and the impact of new guidelines?

  • India has an estimated 100 crore debit and credit cards, which are used for about 1.5 crore daily transactions worth Rs 4000 crore. 
  • The value of the Indian digital payments industry in 2020-21, as per RBI’s annual report, was Rs 14,14,85,173 crore.
  • Digital payments have triggered and sustained economic growth, especially through the trying times of the pandemic. While RBI’s intent is to protect consumer interest, the challenge on ground pertains to implementation.
  • Online merchants can lose up to 20-40% of their revenues post 31 December due to tokenisation norms, and for many of them, especially smaller ones, this would sound the death knell, causing them to shut shop.

What’s the consumer impact?

  • An estimated 5 million customers, who have stored their card details for online transactions on various platforms, could be impacted if the online players and merchants are not able to implement the changes at their backend. 
  • E-commerce platforms, online service providers and small merchants could be especially hit. 
  • Equated monthly instalments and subscription-based transactions that are paid through stored cards will also have to adhere to new rules. 
  • Now, with the latest extension, the RBI expects the systems to be ready for seamless launch in six months.
  • While 90 per cent of banks are ready for tokens on the Visa platform, Mastercard is yet to catch up. The RBI had banned Mastercard from issuing any new cards on July 14 this year for not complying with data localisation requirements. 
  • Even as CoF conversion to a tokenised number is being done, the system is not geared up for processing the tokens as merchants are not ready at their end.

Why did the stakeholders want an extension?

  • Digital payment firms and merchant bodies had sought urgent intervention of the RBI to extend the deadline for implementation of the new credit and debit card data storage norms, or card-on-file tokenisation (CoF). 
  • They wrote to the central bank that if implemented in the present state of readiness, the new mandate could cause major disruptions and loss of revenue, especially for merchants. 
  • Industry sources argue that all stakeholders – banks, card schemes, aggregators, gateways, processors, merchants, consumers and the regulator – in effect have to come together for successful implementation of the norms, which requires time and preparation. 
  • Specifically, the RBI policy change affects three major players: banks, intermediary payment systems and merchants. Stakeholders sought a phased implementation of the new mandate, a minimum time frame of six months for merchants to comply post readiness of banks, card networks, and payment aggregators/payment gateways.

What is the preparedness of the banks?

  • While most of the leading banks including SBI, HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank are ready for the switchover, other stakeholders — mostly merchants — argue that the systems at their backend are not yet ready to adopt the new regime and had sought further time in putting new norms into effect.
  • While extending the guideline, the RBI said that in addition to tokenisation the “industry stakeholders may devise alternate mechanism(s) to handle any use case (including recurring e-mandates, EMI option, etc.) or post-transaction activity (including chargeback handling, dispute resolution, reward/ loyalty programme, etc.) that currently involves/requires storage of CoF data by entities other than card issuers and card networks.”

Connecting the dots:


(Down to Earth: Agriculture)


Dec 17: India’s natural farming push: Obvious measures ignored, points out Standing Committee – https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/agriculture/india-s-natural-farming-push-obvious-measures-ignored-points-out-standing-committee-80736 

TOPIC:

  • GS-3: Agriculture

India’s natural farming push

Context: In a conclave, Prime Minister Narendra Modi encouraged farmers to have at least one village in every gram panchayat for natural farming methods. He highlighted the importance of ‘gaudhan’, or the use of cow dung-urine formulations to give a boost to natural farming. During a virtual meeting on natural and zero-budget farming held in Gujarat, he emphasized the importance of natural farming by suggesting that a farmer can harvest many crops in the year through this method. He also mentioned that the maximum benefit of natural farming will be for 80 percent of the small farmers who spend a lot on chemical fertilizers.

The Background

The country’s organic farming coverage remains poor despite abundant indigenous resources. The Standing Committee on Agriculture had asked the Centre to launch a scheme for procurement of cattle dung from farmers to boost organic farming and also solve the problem of stray cattle. 

  • India has the largest cattle inventory followed by Brazil and the United States of America. 
  • As per the World Cattle Inventory Ranking of Countries in 2020, roughly 65 percent of the world’s cattle are in India, Brazil, and the USA. 
  • India accounts for almost 31 percent of the total animal population, to be precise 30.70 percent.

But the government ignored such a crucial recommendation, hence, the Standing Committee released a report expressing dissatisfaction with the Centre’s “casual” reply.

The Report:

  • In March 2021, the committee asked the Centre to learn from Chhattisgarh’s cow dung procurement scheme, Godhan Nyay Yojana, and launch one such scheme for the procurement of cattle dung from farmers.
  • It recommended that procuring cattle dung directly from the farmers will not only augment their income and provide employment opportunities but also address the problem of stray cattle and promote organic farming in the country, as the country has a vast cattle population.

The Response

  • The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare argued that the government is already financially assisting farmers for the procurement of cow dung under Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) and Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region schemes
  • Farmers practicing organic farming have milch animals/cattle. However, under PKVY, cow dung is not being procured for composting by the states.
  • The government of Chhattisgarh is procuring cow dung under ‘Godhan Naya Yojona’ from 2020 at the rate of Rs 2 per kilogram from farmers for vermicomposting. Since under PKVY-certified organic farming is being done, dung from stray cattle is not allowed.

The committee on analyzing the action taken by the Government

In a report on December 14, the committee reiterated their earlier recommendations for the Government to launch the scheme for procurement of cow dung with the department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying and asked the department also to respond clearly on its recommendations. 

Findings: 

  • Out of 140.1 million hectares (ha) net sown area, only 0.409 million ha is under natural farming in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.
  •  Only 2.7 percent of the total sown area was under organic farming.

The Way Forward

  • The time has come to shift our focus from lab experiments to land. In this, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, agricultural universities, and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research can help to take natural farming to more and more farmers.
  • The government is planning to make a network of labs that will give certification for organic products and farmers’ land, which in turn will help farmers adopt organic farming to get a better market for their products.
  • The Government needs to lay down a comprehensive scheme for procurement of cow dung in the lines of the Godhan Nyay Yojana — Chhattisgarh government’s cow dung procurement scheme. As the Central government wants to double the income of farmers by 2022 besides other supplementary programs, such cow dung procurement scheme could be handy in meeting the national target.

Must Read: The push for Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) 

Can you answer the following question?

  1. Cow dung can strengthen our country’s economy. Examine.
  2. Doubling Farmer’s Income

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding Olive Ridleys:

  1. It is the smallest sea turtle.
  2. The olive ridley is mostly carnivorous.

Which of the above is or are correct?

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

Q.2 Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple (BRT) Tiger Reserve is located in Which of the following state?

  1. Tamil Nadu
  2. Andhra Pradesh 
  3. Telangana
  4. Karnataka

Q.3 ASIGMA, recently seen in news, is associated with Which of the following?

  1. Indian Army’s messaging application
  2. Newly discovered dwarf planet
  3. Indigenous drones for agricultural productivity
  4. None of the above

ANSWERS FOR 24th Dec 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 D
3 A

Must Read

On public health data architecture for India:  

The Hindu

On clean cooking fuel plan:

The Hindu

On India-Myanmar relationship:

Indian Express

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