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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 3rd December 2021

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  • December 4, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Dam Safety Bill (2019)

Part of: Prelims and GS-II- Governance

In News: The Rajya Sabha passed the landmark Dam Safety Bill (2019), paving the way for enactment of the Dam Safety Act in the country. 

  • The Dam Safety Bill (2019) was passed by the Lok Sabha on 2nd August 2019. 

Key Features of the bill

  • Regulation of Specific dams: The Bill provides for the surveillance, inspection, operation, and maintenance of all specified dams across the country. These are dams with height more than 15 metres, or height between 10 metres to 15 metres with certain design and structural conditions.
  • Institutional Mechanisms: It constitutes two national bodies: 
    • the National Committee on Dam Safety, whose functions include evolving policies and recommending regulations regarding dam safety standards; and
    • the National Dam Safety Authority, whose functions include implementing policies of the National Committee, providing technical assistance to State Dam Safety Organisations (SDSOs), and resolving matters between SDSOs of states or between a SDSO and any dam owner in that state.
  • State Bodies: It also constitutes two state bodies: State Committee on Dam Safety, and State Dam Safety Organisation. These bodies will be responsible for the surveillance, inspection, and monitoring the operation and maintenance of dams within their jurisdiction.
  • Penal Provisions: An offence under the Bill can lead to imprisonment of up to two years, or a fine, or both.

PAIKA REBELLION OF ODISHA

Part of: Prelims and GS-I- Modern India

In News: Government has clarified that the 1817 Paika rebellion of Odisha could not be called the first war of Independence, but can be considered it as a beginning of a popular uprising against the British and will included as a case study in the Class 8 NCERT history textbook. 

About:

  • The Culture Ministry had received a reference from the Odisha Chief Minister asking that the Paika rebellion be declared the first war of Independence.
  • The ministry said the matter was examined in consultation with the Indian Council of Historical Research, under the Union Education Ministry, and according to the comments by the Indian Council of Historical Research, the Paika rebellion could not be called the first war of Independence.
  • However, from a historical point of view, it can be said that the ‘Paika Bidroha’, which was set off in March 1817 and continued until May 1825, had set an example for the classes as well as the masses in India to follow later on.

About Paika Rebellion

  • The Paikas (pronounced “paiko”, literally ‘foot soldiers’), were a class of military retainers had been recruited since the 16th century by kings in Odisha from a variety of social groups to render martial services in return for hereditary rent-free land (nish-karjagirs) and titles.
  • The advent of the British and establishment of colonial rule brought new land revenue settlements, which led to the Paikas losing their estates mostly to Bengali absentee landlords
  • The British changed the currency system, demanding revenue payments in rupees, which increased pressure on the dispossessed, marginal tribals.
  • The British control over salt — which had pre-1803-4 origins, but was extended to coastal Orissa in 1814 — also meant increased hardship for the people in the region.
  • In 1817, some 400 Kondhs rose in revolt against the British under the leadership of Bakshi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar Mohapatra Bharamarbar Rai, the highest-ranking military general of Mukund Dev II, and erstwhile holder of the lucrative Rodanga estate.
  • Paikas fought bloody battles at several places, but the colonial army gradually crushed the revolt.
  • Bakshi Jagabandhu escaped to the jungles, and stayed out of reach of the British until 1825, when he finally surrendered under negotiated terms.

UNLAWFUL ACTIVITIES (PREVENTION) ACT 

Part of: Prelims and GS-I- Modern India

In News: Putting a person accused under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act behind bars for an unduly long time with no progress in the trial or appeal process is a violation of his or her fundamental right, the Supreme Court has held in a judgment. 

Key highlights of the judgement:

  • While deprivation of personal liberty for some period may not be avoidable, the period of deprivation pending trial/appeal cannot be unduly long.
  • At the same time, timely delivery of justice is part of human rights and denial of speedy justice is a threat to public confidence in the administration of justice.
  • Once it is known that a timely trial is not possible and the accused has already suffered a significant period of incarceration, the courts are “obligated” to enlarge an undertrial on bail.
  • The court noted that cases investigated by the National Investigation Agency should be tried on a day-to-day basis and have priority over other cases.

ZyCoV-D VACCINE

Part of: Prelims and GS-III- Science & Tech

In News: Union Government has asked seven States to identify high-priority districts where the three-dose ZyCoV-D vaccine could be launched initially.

  • Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, will identify the districts with high numbers of people who have not received the first dose, for introduction of ZyCoV-D.
  • The ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ nation-wide COVID-19 vaccination campaign has resulted in a hike of 5.9% in the first dose coverage [till November 30] and a jump of 11.7% in the second dose coverage has been registered during the campaign.

About Zycov-D

  • Zycov-D is a COVID-19 vaccine developed by the Ahmedabad based Zydus Cadilla group and is the first vaccine in India that can be administered to adults as well as those 12 and above. 
  • It’s also the only DNA-based vaccine in the world and can be administered without a needle, minimizing chances of reactions.
  • The vaccine has been developed in partnership with the Department of Biotechnology under the ‘Mission COVID Suraksha’.
  • The three-dose vaccine once administered produces the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and elicits an immune response. 
  • The plug-and-play technology on which the plasmid DNA platform is based can be easily adapted to deal with mutations in the virus, such as those already occurring.
  • This is the fifth vaccine, after Covishield, Covaxin, Sputnik V and Moderna to be approved for use in India. 

Read More: Approaches to Vaccine Making


Electricity Capacity from Non-Fossil Fuel

Part of: Prelims and GS-I- Modern India

In News: India has achieved the ambitious target of 40 per cent of installed electricity capacity from non-fossil fuel sources. 

Key Takeaways

  • The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has said that total installed non-fossil fuel-based capacity stands at 156.83 Giga Watts in the country. 
  • The Ministry said, as a part of its Nationally Determined Contributions, India had committed to achieve 40 percent of its installed electricity capacity from non-fossil energy sources by 2030.
  • The Ministry said, the country’s installed Renewable Energy capacity today stands at 150.05 Giga Watts while its nuclear energy-based installed electricity capacity stands at 6.78 Giga Watts.
  • It said, this brings the total non-fossil based installed energy capacity to 156.83 Giga Watts which is 40.1 percent of the total installed electricity capacity of over 390 Giga Watts.
  • Government said it is committed to achieve 500 Giga Watts of installed electricity capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by the year 2030 in line with the Prime Minister’s announcement at the recently concluded CoP-26.

(News from PIB)


Mahaparinirvana Divas

Part of: Prelims 

Context: Observed on the 6th of December every year to mark the death anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar.

  • Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (14 April 1891 – 6 December 1956), popularly known as Babasaheb Ambedkar, was an Indian jurist, economist, politician and social reformer who inspired the Dalit Buddhist movement and campaigned against social discrimination towards the untouchables (Dalits), while also supporting the rights of women and labour.
  • He was independent India’s first law and justice minister, the principal architect of the Constitution of India, and a founding father of the Republic of India.

Read more: Click Here

News Source: PIB


Hornbill Festival

Part of: Prelims 

  • It is annually held from 1 – 10 December. The first festival was held in 2000.
  • The festival organized by Nagaland Government is an annual tourism promotional event to showcase the state’s traditional and rich cultural heritage in all its ethnicity, diversity and grandeur.
  • The objective is to encourage inter-tribal interaction and to promote cultural heritage of Nagaland.
  • Highlights of the Hornbill Festival include witnessing the cultural performance of different tribes of Nagaland and Northeastern States, indigenous games, city tour, night carnival, art exhibition, photo-fest and many more.
  • One of the major highlights of this festival is the Hornbill International Rock Festival where local and international rock bands perform.

Hornbills: 

  • India is home to nine species of hornbills: three of them, the wreathed hornbill (Aceros undulatus), the brown hornbill (Anorrhinus austeni) and the Rufous-necked hornbill (Aceros nipalensis) great hornbill is the state bird of Arunachal Pradesh and Kerala. India also has Narcondam Hornbill, found only on the island of Narcondam. 
  • Hornbill festival celebrated in Nagaland is named after the bird – Hornbill which is the most revered and admired bird for the Nagas. 

Do you know? 

  • Hornbills used to be hunted for their casques — upper beak — and feathers for headgear despite being cultural symbols of some ethnic communities in the northeast, specifically the Nyishi of Arunachal Pradesh.  
  • But a 20 year-old conservation programme entailing the use of fibreglass beaks reduced the threat to the birds to a large extent. 

News Source: PIB


Cyclone Jawad

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS – III – Disaster and disaster management

In news: The India Meteorological Department (IMD) noted that a well-marked low-pressure area currently lies over the southeast Bay of Bengal, and it is expected to move west northwestwards and intensify into a depression during the next 12 hours. 

  • The depression will then moves northwestwards and turn into a cyclonic storm over the central parts of Bay of Bengal in the subsequent 24 hours. 
  • This cyclonic storm – known as cyclone Jawad — is expected to reach the coast of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha on December 4 mornings.

Cyclones:

  • Tropical cyclones are violent storms that originate over oceans, in tropical areas and move over to coastal areas bringing about large scale destruction caused by violent winds very heavy rainfall and storm surges.
  • A cyclone consists of a low-pressure area with high pressure all around.
  • Tropical cyclones are generated in regions of near zero horizontal temperature gradient. Tropical cyclones require very low values of tropospheric vertical shear in order to form and grow.
  • They have large diameters.

How are cyclones forecast?

  • Over the years, India’s ability to track the formation of cyclones has improved significantly. 
  • Radar Network: There is a network of 21 doppler weather radars (DWR) in the country (12 along the coast). Depending on where a storm is forming, these radars send pulses of radio waves to gauge the size as well as the speed at which water droplets are moving. 
  • Real time feedback: The earlier generation of radars was unable to track such progress in real time, but with DWRs, now the base standard of weather radars, it is usually possible to detect a potential storm at least four-five days in advance. 
  • International Collaborations:  The IMD also collaborates with similar international networks, such as the Japan Meteorological Agency, the U.S. National Hurricane Center, and the U.S. Central Pacific Hurricane Center, and these bodies constantly send warnings and forecasts about changes in the ocean weather.
  • Technologies that supplement radars: The near ubiquity of ocean-buoys that track changes in ocean sea surface temperatures as well as dedicated meteorological satellites improve the odds of early detection

News Source: PIB


Krishi UDAN 2.0

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS – II – Government policies and interventions

Context: Krishi UDAN 2.0 primarily focuses on transporting perishable food products from the hilly areas, northeastern states and tribal areas. The scheme aims to ensure seamless, cost-effective, time-bound air transportation and associated logistics for all Agri-produce originating especially from Northeast, hilly and tribal regions of the country. 

The objectives are 

  • To increase the share of air in the modal mix for transportation of Agri-produce, which includes horticulture, fishery, livestock & processed products
  • To achieve better convergence on various components catering to the development of sustainable and resilient Agri-produce value chains across various schemes of the Central and State Governments and their associated agencies as well as the resources committed by the private sector to improvesupply chain competitiveness by
    • Providing more air connectivity (national and international) between origin-destination airports aimed at bringing in improved logistics efficiency.
    • Improving infrastructure and performance in processing of air cargo by all stakeholders, including Agri-produce, horticulture, fisheries, livestock products at airports and off-airport facilities, by regulatory participating governmental agencies (PGAs).
    • Imparting special focus to air freight of organic and natural produce of NER, Tribal and Hilly Districts.
    • Achieving better and timely mapping of Agri-produce production/ supply centres with domestic demand clusters and international markets in sync with the marketing strategies.
    • Promoting adoption of plant and animal quarantine and other regulatory requirements (at airport) in the export supply chains end-to-end.
    • Enabling paperless and contactless interface with all stakeholders through digitization and digitalization via integration with existing e-platforms and their creation as required.

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

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

Market Balancing Act by Domestic Institutions

Context: Domestic institutional investors (DIIs) have emerged as a bulwark against foreign investors, which comes as a reassurance for retail investors in India. 

  • When global markets witnessed a sell-off last week and foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) pulled out a net of Rs 30,255 crore ($4 billion) over eight trading sessions, DIIs counter-balanced this by emerging as net investors. 
  • The lesson: long-term retail investors should follow domestic institutions and continue with their investments.

What led to recent volatility?

  • Omicron Variant: Last week, amid panic over the emergence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, equity markets witnessed a global sell-off. 
  • Fed Tapering: The markets were already under pressure because of the continued surge of infections in Europe, and their fall was also driven by anxiety that the US central bank may wind up its stimulus programme and raise interest rates sooner than earlier expected.
  • Domestic Purchases Counter FII sell-offs: As top-line companies came under intense selling pressure, the benchmark Sensex at BSE crashed by 2,529 points, or 4.24%, to of 57,107.15 on Friday last week. But it recovered some lost ground this week and closed at 58,461.29 this week, as domestic institutions countered the FIIs’ sell-off with purchases.
    • Over eight trading sessions, the FPIs pulled out a net of over Rs 30,000 crore, and they were net sellers on each of these days. 
    • The DIIs —mainly banks, insurance companies and mutual funds —were net positive on each of these sessions, pumping in a net of Rs 24,363 crore.

What does DII inflow indicate when FPIs are selling?

  • Continued investment by DIIs indicates that funds of retail investors are flowing into mutual funds and other market-related instruments.
  • However, a lot of the investment by mutual funds in the markets is on account of rebalancing and investment in asset allocation funds or hybrid funds, as fund managers enhance the equity allocation following a decline in markets. 
  • It also indicates the confidence of retail investors in the economy and growth, especially with an additional boost coming from the festival season and pent-up demand.
  • Also, over the last seven years, mutual funds have emerged as a strong domestic investment category and have often played a counterbalancing role when FPIs have been selling. 
    • Reports show that Mutual Fund holdings in companies listed on NSE, which stood at 3.13% as of September 2014, have more than doubled to 7.36% in the quarter ended September 2021.

How should retail investors view this?

  • A sharp expansion in the manufacturing purchasing manufacturers; index (PMI) for November, strong GDP growth data for the second quarter, and high GST collections over the last 3-4 months indicate that the economy’s fundamentals are on a strong footing. 
  • While concerns over Covid remains, experts feel the current dips can be utilised to invest. 
  • Oil prices have now come down and central banks are likely to delay the liquidity tightening due to the latest variant of Covid – Omicron.
  • There is a notable improvement in the economy. When the market falls on global factors, which is the case now, it is a great opportunity to invest. 

What’s the source of DIIs’ funds?

  • DIIs now act as a strong defence against the sell-offs by foreign players. Earlier, when the funds arsenal of DIIs was small, markets used to find it difficult to counter the actions of FPIs.
  • Funds invested by DIIs are mostly from retail investors who contribute to various schemes of insurance companies and mutual funds. 
  • Investors have pumped around Rs 3.90 lakh crore into equity schemes of mutual funds since January this year. 
  • As a result, the assets under management (AUM) of equity schemes touched Rs 12.96 lakh crore as October 2021. 
  • The participation of retail investors in securities markets has risen significantly especially in the last two years, which is evident from the increase in number of demat accounts, mutual fund folios and number of SIPs. 
  • In 2019-20, on an average, 4 lakh new demat accounts were opened every month which increased to over 26 lakh per month in the current financial year. 
  • If we look at number of mutual fund folios, in the beginning of FY 2019-20, total number of folios were 8.25 crore, which increased to 11.44 crore as on October 31, 2021.
  • Insurance companies are also major investors in the market; they invest on a long-term basis of 10-15 years. LIC alone normally invests around Rs 50,000 crore every year.

Connecting the dots:

  • US Fed Tapering
  • Domestic Systemically Important Banks (D-SIBs)

(ORF: Expert Speak)


Dec 2: What Putins visit means for India-Russia ties – https://www.orfonline.org/research/what-putins-visit-means-for-india-russia-ties/ 

TOPIC:

  • GS-2: India and Russia

Putins visit & India-Russia ties

Context: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is arriving in India on December 6 for the traditional annual summit between leaders of India and Russia. This visit is a year overdue, postponed last year because of the Covid pandemic. 

  • The visit comes at a time of increased speculation about the future of India-Russia ties and hopefully will provide some answers to that vexing question.
  • After meeting USA, Putin is stepping out only to meet India – indicating that his visit is not about just maintaining the “special, privileged strategic partnership” with India but deepening bilateral ties.
  • The summit will be preceded by the recently instituted 2+2 dialogue between the defence and foreign minister of the two countries. 
  • The economic Joint Commission is also set to meet before Modi and Putin sit down for their talks. 
  • There is also a rich panoply of defence and economic agreements lined up.

India and Russia recently

The relationship in the past couple of years has seen many symbolic gestures from both sides. 

  • Putin in 2019 bestowed the Order of St Andrew on Modi, who is the only foreign dignitary to receive this highest Russian decoration.
  • Moscow also shed its ‘neutrality” between India and China to support New Delhi at the UN in the aftermath of the decision to abrogate Article 370 as well as expedite weapons to India during the border tensions with China in the Himalayas in 2020.
  • India has reciprocated in the United Nations, most recently, by supporting Russia on Crimea and co-sponsoring a resolution on fighting against glorification of Nazism. 
  • Additionally, the Russians value India’s resolve to buy the S-400 Air Defence system, despite the threat of US sanctions. 
  • In the past two years Russia has reclaimed the top spot as India’s arms supplier, while actively seeking to engage with the ‘Make in India’ programme, energy cooperation is growing rapidly, new areas of pharmaceuticals, ceramics, chemicals, high-tech industry, cyber, digital finance, are being explored to boost economic ties. 
  • India has promised to contribute to the development of Russia’s Far East – highlighting this commitment with the first-ever one-billion-dollar credit line to promote Indian business in the region.

However, despite substantial progress in the past couple of years, it is self-evident that the bilateral relationship cannot be insulated from the strategic and economic churn taking place in international affairs.

Few areas of differences

  • Indo-Pacific concept: First, a differing understanding of the Indo-Pacific concept and the re-emergence of the Quad — comprising Australia, Japan, the US, and India — should not be allowed to grow into a major obstacle. Russia has been sceptical about the concept of the Indo-Pacific, which is being seen as a US strategy to contain China, and maybe even Russia. 
    • However, there is a growing debate among Russia’s elites about the Indo-Pacific concept and a growing appreciation that there are several versions of the idea and that India’s vision of the Indo-Pacific differs from the one enunciated by the United States. 
    • Russia’s elites were already discussing the need for Russia to increase its engagement in the Indian Ocean region, where they believe India plays an important role. Russian strategists believe that signing the Reciprocal Exchange of Logistics Agreement (RELOS) during Putin’s visit and greater diplomatic contact in the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) will strengthen this process.
  • Afghanistan and Pakistan: The second area of divergence, till recently, was Afghanistan. But the messy US withdrawal and Taliban coming to power in Kabul, have brought India and Russia closer, even though some nuances may remain. Linked to this is the growing Russian involvement with Pakistan that disturbs India. 
  • Lack of trust involving their respective strategic partners: India with the US and Russia with China. However, there is an overarching shared goal that should help India and Russia overcome all issues of trust. New Delhi and Moscow abhor the idea of the emergence of a hegemon or a dominant power in Asia or Europe. It is this common understanding that should motivate a vibrant India-Russia partnership to ensure a multipolar Asia and Europe.
  • Economic Relationship: Despite the promise it holds, trade is abysmally low when compared to India’s trade with the US or Russia’s trade with China. Efforts are being made by India to increase its engagement with the Russian economy. This is reciprocated by Russia’s eagerness to participate in the Make in India programme. There is a rich history of successful joint ventures from Bhilai to Brahmos. Economic ties are primarily government to government.

The Way Forward

  • Both Russia and India are cosying up to different partners involved in the geo-political rivalry between US and China – the first is a primary adversary of Russia and the second India’s main opponent. In this context, it is important that close dialogue be maintained between New Delhi and Moscow to maximise convergences and minimise divergences.
  • Without private sector involvement, Indo-Russian economic ties will find it difficult to grow beyond a point. The business elites of the two countries are remarkably ill-informed about each other. There is an urgent need to set up bilateral networks to overcome the dependence on Western media for information about one another.

Can you answer the following questions?

  1. India and Russia should be able to write themselves into each other’s national development stories to guarantee a warm and long friendship. 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) Paika Rebellion is associated with which of the following states of India?

  1. Odisha
  2. Andhra Pradesh
  3. Kerala
  4. Maharashtra

Q.2) Consider the following statements about ZyCOV-D

  1. It’s also the only DNA-based vaccine in the world and can be administered without a needle, minimizing chances of reactions.
  2. The vaccine has been developed in partnership with the Department of Biotechnology under the ‘Mission COVID Suraksha’.

Which is the above statement(s) is/are correct?

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

Q.3) Consider the following statements about Krishi UDAN 2.0 Scheme

  1. The scheme aims to ensure seamless, cost-effective, time-bound air transportation and associated logistics for all Agri-produce originating especially from Northeast, hilly and tribal regions of the country
  2. The scheme enables paperless and contactless interface with all stakeholders through digitization and digitalization via integration with existing e-platforms and their creation as required.

Which is the above statement(s) is/are correct?

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

ANSWERS FOR 30th Nov 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 2 only
3 C

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