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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 31st December 2021

  • IASbaba
  • December 31, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Indian pangolin

Part of: Prelims and GS-III -Conservation 

Context The Odisha Forest and Environment Department has completed its first-ever radio-tagging of the Indian pangolin in an attempt to standardise the rehabilitation protocol for the animal in the State.

Key takeaways 

  • Aa radio-tagged Indian pangolin was released into the wild in Nandankanan Wildlife Sanctuary following soft release protocols and provision for post-release monitoring
  • After Madhya Pradesh, Odisha is the second State in the country to release a radio-tagged Indian pangolin into the wild

Indian Pangolin

  • Has thick scaly skin  
  • Hunted for meat and used in traditional Chinese medicine.  
  • Pangolins are among the most trafficked wildlife species in the world.  
  • Indian pangolin is the largest among eight pangolin species. 
  • Out of the eight species of pangolin, the Indian and the Chinese pangolins are found in India.  
  • Both these species are listed under Schedule I Part I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. 
  • The nocturnal animal lives in burrows and feed on ants and termites.

IUCN Red List 

  • Indian Pangolin: Endangered 
  • Chinese Pangolin: Critically Endangered

Sahitya Akademi

Part of: Prelims and GS-I Culture

Context The Sahitya Akademi announced its awards for 2021 for literary works in 20 languages

Key takeaways 

  • Literary critic D.S. Nagabhushan has been awarded the Kendra Sahitya Akademi award for 2021 for his work Gandhi Kathana, biography of Mahatma Gandhi
  • Award is presented to the most outstanding books of literary merit published in any of the twenty-four major Indian languages recognized by the Akademi (including English).
  • Sahitya Akademi award is the second highest literary honour by the Government of India, after Jananpith award.
  • The Award in the form of an engraved copper-plaque, and cash prize of Rs. 1,00,000/- 
  • The author must be of Indian Nationality.
  • Indian film-maker Satyajit Ray is the designer of the plaque awarded by the Sahitya Akademi

Iran’s new space launch

Part of: Prelims and GS-II International Relations and GS-III- Space

Context  Iran announced that it has carried out a new space launch.

  • The Simorgh (Phoenix) satellite launcher carried three research cargoes into space
  • UN Security Council Resolution 2231 of 2015, endorsing the nuclear deal, imposed no blanket ban on Iranian rocket or missile launches.

India-Australia interim FTA

Part of: Prelims and GS II – International Relations

Context India and Australia are expected to complete negotiations for an interim free trade agreement (FTA) soon.

Key takeaways 

  • The agreement is aimed at boosting economic ties between the two countries.
  • The final agreement, officially known as the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.
  • The pact covers areas such as goods, services, investment, rules of origin, customs facilitation, legal and institutional issues.
  • A similar agreement with the UAE is likely to be signed in March 2022.
  • This new strategic economic agreement is expected to increase bilateral trade in goods to $100 billion within five years of the signed agreement and increase trade in services to $15 billion.

(News from PIB)


Year End Review: Department of Justice

Part of: Prelims 

  • 120 Judges and 63 Additional judges appointed in high courts
  • Tele-Law Services, to promote increased access to pre- litigation advice for rightfully claiming their entitlements and timely redressal of their difficulties, is available at 75,000 CSCs/Gram Panchayats in 699 Districts; 12,70,135 total cases registered, of which advice has been enabled to 12,50,911 beneficiaries
  • The e-Court Integrated Mission Mode Project was launched with the objective of improving access to justice using technology. Using Video Conferencing, the District and High Court have heard nearly 1.65 Crore cases and the Supreme Court had nearly 1.5 lakh hearings making it the world leader
  • Citizen Centric Services are provided through 7 platforms or service delivery channels for providing real time information on cases status, cause lists, judgements etc. to lawyers/litigants
  • 683 Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs) including 383 exclusive POCSO (e-POCSO) Courts have disposed of 68120 cases in 2021 – to provide speedy justice to the victims of rape and POCSO Act through expeditious disposal of related cases.
  • Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) for Development of Infrastructure Facilities for Judiciary extended till 2025-26
  • National Legal Services Authority (NALSA): Launched a Legal Services Mobile Application, wherein all the services provided by Legal Services Authorities can be availed through the said mobile application. 
  • A Gram Nyayalaya online portal has also been created, wherein the states/High courts upload data relating to Gram Nyayalayas, including case disposal, on monthly basis.
  • National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms focuses on improvement of administration of justice and justice delivery and legal reforms in the entire country and to address the diverse needs of all sections of stakeholders. Its objectives are two-fold:
    • Increasing access by reducing delays and arrears in the system, and
    • Enhancing accountability through structural changes and by setting performance standards and capacities
  • The Rule of Law Index is developed and published by World Justice Project (WJP). ROLI 2021 covers 139 countries and ranks them based on the country-specific data collected across 8 factors and 44 sub-factors. As per the latest report, India’s current rank in ROLI is 79 out of 139 countries assessed by the WJP.  

News Source: PIB


Year End Review: Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment

Part of: Prelims

Nasha Mukt Bharat Abhiyaan (NMBA)

  • Annual anti-drug action plan (2020-21) would focus on 272 most affected districts and launch a three-pronged attack combining efforts of Narcotics Bureau, Outreach/Awareness by Social Justice and Treatment through the Health Dept.
  • It will focus on institutional support and also on community outreach programmes in the districts identified by Narcotics Control Bureau.
  • Change in the strategy against drugs – from institutional level to level of society. It will launch campaigns in schools and colleges to prevent drug abuse among youth.
  • Till now through the various activities undertaken for the Abhiyaan, 1.4+ Crore people have been reached out so far in the identified districts

SMILE-Support for Marginalized Individuals for Livlihood and Enterprise

  • The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has formulated an umbrella scheme SMILE, which includes two sub-schemes – ‘Central Sector Scheme for Comprehensive Rehabilitation for Welfare of Transgender Persons’ and ‘Central Sector Scheme for Comprehensive Rehabilitation of persons engaged in the act of Begging’. 
  • This umbrella scheme covers several comprehensive measures including welfare measures for both transgender persons and persons who are engaged in the act of begging with focus extensively on rehabilitation, provision of medical facilities, counselling, education, skill development, economic linkages etc with the support of State Governments/UTs/Local Urban Bodies, Voluntary Organizations, Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and institutions and others. 

Swachhta Udyami Yojna (SUY)

  • Launched on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on 2nd October 2014 with twin objectives of cleanliness and providing livelihood to Safai Karamcharis and liberated Manual Scavengers and their dependents. 
  • NSKFDC provides financial assistance to its target group for procurement of operation of mechanised sanitation related equipments and vehicles.

Pradhan Mantri Dakshta Aur Kushalta Sampann Hitgrahi (PM-DAKSH) Yojana

  • In 2020-21, Department modified the existing Scheme of Assistance to skilling for OBCs/EBCs/DNTs with inclusion of SCs and Safai Karamcharis including Waste Pickers and  renamed it as PM DAKSH Yojana,  a Central Sector Scheme. 
  • The objective is to provide high quality skills through good quality institutions and reputed Training institutes/partners (TIs/TPs) so as to ensure higher employability for the target group. 
  • Apart from this, rural artisans who have become marginalized owing to newer technologies in market, would be trained so as to adopt newer processes and increase their incomes. 
  • With a target to skill around 2,71,000 SCs/OBCs/EBCs/DNT/Safai Karamcharis including Waste Pickers during next five years (2021-22 to 2025-26) 

For the Elderly

  • Elderline – 14567 – The Helpline provides a platform to the senior citizens for grievance redressal. The Helpline also contributes in the field of awareness generation in respect of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (MWPSC) Act, 2007, and the Schemes of the Central Government meant for welfare of senior citizens.
  • Senior Able Citizens for Re-Employment in Dignity (SACRED)- launched to provide employment to willing senior citizens by virtually matching their preferences with preferences of companies ready to engage such senior citizens.
  • SAGE portal: A scheme for promoting Silver Economy in the country was launched under Atal Vayo Abhuday Yojana, which aims at assisting start-ups in the field of elderly welfare (silver economy) by the Government of India. These start-ups are to be assisted by way of equity participation of GOI subject to a maximum of 49% equity, and subject to a maximum Rs. 1 crore, per start up. 

Scheme for Economic Empowerment of De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Communities (SEED)

  • To provide coaching of good quality for DNT candidates to enable them to appear in  competitive examinations
  • To provide Health Insurance to them
  • To facilitate livelihood initiative at community level
  • To provide financial assistance for construction of houses for members of these communities

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


GOVERNANCE/ ECONOMY

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors
  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources

Year End Review: Ministry of Commerce and Industry

  1. Export Target of US$ 400 billion for Merchandise in 2021-22
  2. Export Performance
    1. India’s exports have been performing extremely well in last 8 months with exports exceeding USD 30 billion for the 8th consecutive month in the current financial year.
    2. The cumulative value of exports during April-November 2021 has been estimated at USD 263.57 Billion compared to USD 174.16 Billion during April-November 2020, which is a positive growth of 51.34 percent. 
    3. India’s services exports remained relatively resilient to the pandemic which impacted world trade in commercial services in 2020. India’s share in world commercial services exports has increased from 3.5% in 2019 to 4.1% in 2020, leading to improvement of India’s rank in leading exporters of commercial services from 8th to 7th in 2020.
  3. Ease of Doing Business
    1. In order to provide policy stability during the pandemic period, Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) 2015-20 was extended for the year 2021-22 i.e. up to 31st March 2022.
    2. Exemption from Integrated Goods & Service Tax and Compensation Cess under Advance Authorizations (AA)/ EPCG, EOU scheme extended up to 31st March 2022.
    3. IT systems of DGFT revamped with API based message exchange with community partners on export promotion schemes.
    4. The common eCoO portal has been extended for issuing non-preferential certificates of origin also.
  4. Implementation of RoDTEP Scheme
    1. The Scheme creates a mechanism for reimbursement of taxes/ duties/ levies, which are currently not being refunded under any other mechanism, at the central, state and local level, but which are incurred in the process of manufacture and distribution of exported products. 
    2. Major component of such taxes is electricity duty and VAT on fuels used in transportation / distribution.
    3. The RoDTEP Scheme operates with an end to end digitization and no separate application is required to be filed to claim RoDTEP benefits.
  5. Service Exports from India Scheme (SEIS) launched: Aims to promote export of services from India by providing duty scrip credit for eligible exports. Under the scheme, service providers, located in India, would be rewarded under the SEIS scheme, for all eligible export of services from India.
  6. India and Mauritius signed the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA)
    1. First trade Agreement signed by India with a country in Africa. 
    2. The Agreement is a limited agreement, which will cover Trade in Goods, Rules of Origin, Trade in Services, Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, Dispute Settlement, Movement of Natural Persons, Telecom, Financial services, Customs Procedures and Cooperation in other Areas.
    3. Provides for an institutional mechanism to encourage and improve trade between the two countries. 
    4. Covers 310 export items for India. 
    5. As regards trade in services, Indian service providers will have access to around 115 sub-sectors from the 11 broad service sectors.
  7. India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) Negotiations
    1. Both sides reiterated the importance of the India-UAE CEPA and its potential to not only expand economic and investment opportunities, but mark a new phase of cooperation and collaboration 
    2. This new strategic economic agreement is expected to increase bilateral trade in goods to US$ 100 billion within five years of the signed agreement and increase trade in services to US$ 15 billion.
  8. India-Australia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) Negotiations: The key negotiating subjects are Trade in Goods, Services, Investment, Rules of Origin, Customs Facilitation, Legal and Institutional issues etc.
  9. BRICS Trade Fair 2021 during 16th to 18th August 2021 (Virtual): BRICS Trade Fair, an initiative of the Department of Commerce, witnessed the participation of over 5000 delegates, and the event had over 2500 pre-fixed B2B meetings. The Trade Fair also saw over 8000 Virtual booth visits by the business delegates, which attributed to over 2000 business interactions.
  10. India Pavilion at World Expo 2020 at Dubai
    1. This is the first expo that was held in MEASA (Middle East, Africa and South Asia) region. 
    2. The main theme of World Expo 2020 is “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”. The main theme is further branched into three sub themes of the Expo viz. – Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability. 
    3. World Expo, Dubai is expected to herald the revival of global economy post the COVID-19 pandemic with participation of more than 190 countries and 25 million expected visitors.
    4. India Pavilion at the Dubai Expo has turned out to be a huge draw, registering another landmark by receiving more than six lakh visitors in just 83 days of its opening.
  11. Government e-Marketplace (GeM): Open and Transparent Procurement
    1. A total 31.8 Lakh vendors have been onboarded on GeM, out of which 7.39 Lakh are MSMEs, which constitute about 23% of the vendor base and contribute over 57% of the cumulative Gross Merchandise Value on GeM.
    2. GeM has drastically brought down waiting time and prices for buyers and ensured timely payments to the sellers. It has enabled various modes of procurement as prescribed in GFR and has made available various analytical tools to facilitate buyers to make informed decision while making procurement.
    3. GeM has created a Unified Procurement System for the country in line with the vision of the Government, will consolidate the scattered vendor bases on publishing portals onto GeM leading to advantages of economies of scale, better price discovery and dissemination of best practices in procurement.
  12. National Logistics Policy
    1. National Logistics Policy has been developed on the supply and demand side and takes a comprehensive view of the sector defining specific action points with the key objective of matching and improving upon global standards in logistics efficiency and to integrate with Global supply chains.
    2. A 75-point National Logistics Reform Action Plan has also been prepared with specific actionable items on the policy.
    3. The Policy targets to reduce the cost of logistics by about 5% over the next 5 years, achieving a ranking in top 25 of major global logistics-related performance indices, and encourage environmentally sustainable, inclusive and future ready logistics.
  13. PM Gati Shakti NMP: PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan for multi-modal infrastructure connectivity to Economic Zones which is an Integrated Plan depicting Economic zones and Multi-modal Connectivity Infrastructure on a GIS Platform was launched to holistically integrate individual interventions of various Ministries/Departments with a national perspective and provide coordinated IT enabled Map based approach to planning, operations and monitoring of projects.
  14. The Logistics Performance Index (LPI) released every two years by the World Bank is one of the most widely referred reports used to assess logistics performance of countries. On the index, India was ranked 44 out of 160 countries in 2018 vis-à-vis rank of 54 in 2014 (most recent study conducted till date is in 2018).
  15. Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES): Launched with the objective to enhance export competitiveness by supporting development of export linked infrastructure that can be utilized by multiple exporters. 
  16. Agri Export Policy (AEP)
    1. Five States and one UT have finalized the State specific Action Plan viz. Mizoram, 
    2. APEDA signed an MoU with NAFED for strengthening the export linkage of Farmer Cooperatives.
    3. In pursuance to the series of interactions held with Amazon Web Services (AWS) team, the approval was accorded for executing two pilot projects for the proposals submitted on Blockchain traceability for GI Mangoes (Alphonso) and Digital assaying at APEDA packhouses.
    4. Blockchain Technology in GrapeNet: APEDA implemented Blockchain solution as part of its GrapeNet traceability system. The Blockchain technology helped tracking all the activities and steps involved in the grape lifecycle, right from farm allocation to the delivery of grapes.
  17. Rubber Census: Rubber Board is conducting nationwide census on rubber by using digitalized mobile application, ‘RUBAC’, developed in association with Digital University, Kerala, with a view to ascertain the area under rubber, new-planted area, re-planted area, the age profile of trees, discarded area over the years, level of adoption of new clones, size of holdings and details of tappers etc. 
  18. Collaborative Project for rubber plantation development in NE region:
    1. A project for supporting development of new rubber plantations in North East and improving quality of processed forms of rubber with a contribution of Rs.1,100 crore from major tyre companies, represented by Automotive Tyre Manufacturers Association (ATMA)
    2. The plan is to develop 2,00,000 ha of rubber plantations in North East in five years. 

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding Sahitya Akademi award:

  1. Award is presented to the most outstanding books of literary merit published in any of the twenty-four major Indian languages recognized by the Akademi.
  2. Sahitya Akademi award is the highest literary honour by the Government of India.

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 What is the IUCN status of Indian Pangolin?

  1. Endangered
  2. Critically endangered 
  3. Threatened
  4. Extinct

ANSWERS FOR 31st Dec 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 A

Must Read

On NHFS report:  

The Hindu

On making vaccination mandatory:

The Hindu

On J&K delimitation exercise:

Indian Express

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