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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 14th January 2022

  • IASbaba
  • January 14, 2022
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Bhimbetka cave

Part of: Prelims and GS-I History and Culture

Context The depiction of two-horned Sumatran rhino was recently discovered in the Bhimbetka rock shelters of Madhya Pradesh (MP)

  • It was drawn with a red pigment in Urden, one of the caves in the Bhimbetka complex.
  • It suggests early human migration in the subcontinent.

About Bhimbetka cave

  • The Bhimbetka rock shelters are an archaeological site in MP that spans the prehistoric Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods.
  • It exhibits the earliest traces of human life in India and evidence of Stone Age starting at the site in Acheulian times.
  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Discovery: The Bhimbetka rock shelters were found by V S Wakankar in1957.
  • It is popular for its prehistoric cave paintings done in red and white.

Sumatran Rhino

  • It is the smallest of all rhino species.
  • Very few of them are left mainly in Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia.

Do you know?

  • Other species of Rhino: Black Rhino, White Rhino, Greater One-Horned Rhino, Javan Rhino
  • IUCN Red List Status:
    • White Rhino: Near Threatened.
    • Greater One Horned: Vulnerable.
    • Black Rhino: Critically endangered.
    • Javan: Critically Endangered
    • Sumatran Rhino: Critically Endangered

News Source: The Hindu


Katrol Hill Fault (KHF)

Part of: Prelims and GS-I -Geography

Context: According to a recent study, major earthquake events in the last 30,000 years have resulted in spectacular changes in landscape of the Katrol Hill Fault (KHF) in the Kachchh region, Gujarat.

Key takeaways 

  • Real-time monitoring of earthquakes since 2001 Bhuj earthquake indicate that most of the faults in the region are seismically active.
  • Studies have estimated the length of surface rupture produced by three large magnitude earthquakes during the last ~30,000 years as nearly 21 km.
  • It also shows that the KHF is a credible seismic source capable of generating surface rupture hazard in the Kachchh Basin.

About earthquake

  • An earthquake is a natural event of shaking of the earth.
  • It is caused due to release of energy, which generates waves that travel in all directions.
  • The location below the earth’s surface where the earthquake starts is called the hypocenter, and the location directly above it on the surface of the earth is called the epicenter.

Do you know?

  • Seismicity in the Kachchh region is highly complex as it is characterized by multiple seismic sources in the form of several East-West trending fault lines.
  • These fault lines release continuously accumulating tectonic stresses at intervals resulting in earthquakes.

News Source: Devdiscourse


(News from PIB)


India and UK – Free Trade Agreement Negotiations

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-2: India and its relations with UK.

In News: India and UK Launch Free Trade Agreement Negotiations

  • Proposed FTA expected to help double bilateral trade by 2030
  • FTA to give major fillip to Indian exports in labor intensive sectors like Leather, Textile, Jewellery and processed Agri-products
  • Will give a big boost to employment generation
  • India is also expected to register a quantum jump in the export of Marine Products through the recognition of 56 marine units of India.
  • There is also great potential for increasing exports in service sectors like IT/ITES, Nursing, education, healthcare, including AYUSH and audio-visual services. 
  • India would also be seeking special arrangements for movement of its people
  • The Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) on Pharma could provide additional market access.

FTA with UK will provide certainty, predictability and transparency, creating a more liberal, facilitative and competitive services regime. The India-UK FTA will also contribute in integrating value chains and help augment our mutual efforts to strengthen the resilience of supply chains.

India and UK

Both India and UK are vibrant democracies, with a partnership built on our shared history and rich culture. 

  • The diverse Indian diaspora in UK, who act as a “Living Bridge”, adds further dynamism to the relations between the two countries.
  • ‘Enhanced Trade Partnership’ (ETP) 
    • It sets an ambitious target of more than doubling bilateral trade by 2030. 
    • As part of the ETP, India and the UK agreed on a roadmap to negotiate a comprehensive and balanced FTA, including consideration of an Interim Trade Agreement for delivering early gains.
  • India-UK ‘Global Innovation Partnership’: It aims to support the transfer of inclusive Indian innovations to select developing countries, starting with Africa
  • A comprehensive partnership on migration and mobility: It will facilitate greater opportunities for the mobility of students and professionals between the two countries.

Irritants in India-UK relationship

  • Colonial History: If the anti-colonial resentment against Britain is always seething barely below the surface among the Indian political and bureaucratic classes, London has found it difficult to shed its own prejudices about India
  • Divergence on Pakistan: The bitter legacies of the Partition and Britain’s perceived tilt to Pakistan have long complicated the engagement between Delhi and London.
  • Growing anti-Indian sentiments: Delhi’s problems have been accentuated by the British Labour Party’s growing political negativity towards India & Indian migrants in UK. 

 Why India and Britain need each other?

  • Need for Economic Partnerships: Britain has walked out of EU and India has refused to join RCEP. Although both will continue to trade with their regional partners, they are eager to build new global economic partnerships.
  • Changing Geopolitics: The centre of international politics has shifted from Atlantic to Indo-Pacific. India is a natural ally for Britain in Indo-Pacific. India which is witnessing rise of China in Indo-Pacific, needs as wide a coalition as possible to restore a semblance of regional balance.
  • Climate Change: Both sides are committed to finding common ground on climate change.
  • Health Cooperation: The issues of immediate relief supplies of oxygen & other medical equipment, resilient medical supply chains have potential for bilateral strategic cooperation in the health sector and contributions to the global war on the virus.

News Source: PIB


Lok Adalat

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-2: Dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

Context: Emergence of Lok Adalat has proved to be the most efficacious tool of Alternative Dispute Resolution.

  • Access to justice for the poor is a constitutional mandate to ensure fair treatment under our legal system. Hence, Lok Adalats (literally, ‘People’s Court’) were established to make justice accessible and affordable to all. 
  • The Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976, inserted Article 39A to ensure “equal justice and free legal aid”. 
  • To this end, the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, was enacted by Parliament and it came into force in 1995 “to provide free and competent legal services to weaker sections of the society” and to “organise Lok Adalats to secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity”.

A total number of 1,27,87,329 cases were disposed off in 2021.

The Process

  • Organization of prior consultative and review meetings with all the State Legal Services Authorities to guide them towards the maximum disposal during such Lok Adalats. 
  • Before the organization of each National Lok Adalat, multiple interactions were organised with the Executive Chairpersons of all the State Legal Services Authorities, wherein one-to-one interactions were made to take a stock of the preparations as well as to boost the morale of the stakeholders tasked to organize the Lok Adalats.
  • A cumulative effect of all the preparatory and mobilization measures resulted in extraordinary disposal figures during the year 2021. 

Through these activities NALSA disposed off a large number of cases, giving relief to the common citizens by ending or preventing long lasting legal battles.

What are the factors behind the success of Lok Adalats?

A. Technology

  • In June 2020, the Legal Services Authorities integrated technology with the conventional modes of dispute settlement and introduced virtual Lok Adalats also called as ‘E-Lok Adalats’. Since then, all the Lok Adalats including National Lok Adalats are organized through virtual and hybrid modes. 
  • To provide an unhindered experience during the proceedings, the Legal Services Authorities across the country are continuously upgrading their digital infrastructure.
  • Provided effective ways of supervision and monitoring of Lok Adalats.

B. Formulation of decisive strategies at the National level

  • Under these strategies, the State Legal Services Authorities were instructed to conduct meetings with various stakeholder across every level with an objective to ensure their full cooperation and coordination. 
  • The authorities were guided to follow a litigant friendly approach as well as to persuade such litigants to settle the cases involving settled propositions of law.
  • Moreover, certain areas of law having greater possibilities of settlement such as NI Act cases, Bank recovery cases along other financial matters were highlighted and authorities were instructed to explore all the possibilities of compromise in such cases. 
  • The authorities were advised to proactively monitor the issuance and completion of processes in such financial matters as well as to conduct pre-Lok Adalat sittings to take a matter to a settlement.

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


SOCIETY/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-1: Population and associated issues
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Reaping Demographic Dividend

Context: With falling fertility (currently 2.0), rising median age (from 24 years in 2011, 29 years now and expected to be 36 years by 2036), a falling dependency ratio (expected to decrease from 65% to 54% in the coming decade taking 15-59 years as the working age population), India is in the middle of a demographic transition.

  • This provides a window of opportunity towards faster economic growth. 
  • In India, the benefit to the GDP from demographic transition has been lower than its peers in Asia and is already tapering. Hence, there is an urgency to take appropriate policy measures.

What are the challenges of demographic transition?

  • Without proper policies, the increase in the working-age population may lead to rising unemployment, fueling economic and social risks. 
  • This calls for forward-looking policies incorporating 
    • Population dynamics
    • Education and skills 
    • Healthcare
    • Gender sensitivity
    • Providing rights and choices to the younger generation.

What measures are required to reap the best of Demographic Dividend?

  • Update National Transfer Accounts (NTA) Assessment: India’s per capita consumption pattern is way lower than that of other Asian countries. A child in India consumes around 60% of the consumption by an adult aged between 20 and 64 (In China it is 85%). The NTA data for India (State-Specific) needs to be updated to capture the progress made on such investments since 2011-12.
  • Invest more in children and adolescents: Given that India’s workforce starts at a younger age, a greater focus needs to be on transitioning from secondary education to universal skiling and entrepreneurship, as done in South Korea.
  • Make health investments: The public spending on health has remained flat at around 1% of GDP. Evidence suggests that better health facilitates improved economic production.
  • Rights-based approach to make reproductive healthcare services accessible: The unmet need for family planning in India at 9.4% as per the latest National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-21) is high as compared to 3.3% in China and 6.6% in South Korea, which needs to be bridged.
  • Bridge Gender Inequality in Education: In India, boys are more likely to be enrolled in secondary and tertiary school than girls. In the Philippines, China and Thailand, it is the reverse. In Japan, South Korea, and Indonesia, the gender differences are rather minimal. This needs to be reversed.
  • Address the diversity between States: While India is a young country, the status and pace of population ageing vary among States. Southern States already have a higher percentage of older people whereas north-central region can act as the reservoir of India’s workforce.
  • Federal approach to governance reforms: A new framework need to be put in place for policy coordination between States on various emerging population issues such as migration, ageing, skiling, female workforce participation and urbanisation.
  • Increase female workforce participation: As of 2019, 20.3% of women were working or looking for work, down from 34.1% in 2003-04. New skills and opportunities for women and girls befitting their participation in economy is urgently needed. 

Why is increasing female workforce participation important?

  • Finding work will likely delay her age of marriage and make her participate in the economy more productively, as also exercise her rights and choices.
  • South Korea’s female workforce participation rate of 50% has been built on 
    • legally compulsory gender budgeting to analyse gender disaggregated data and its impact on policies
    • increasing childcare benefits
    • boosting tax incentives for part-time work.
  • It is predicted that if all women engaged in domestic duties in India who are willing to work had a job, female labour force participation would increase by about 20%.

Connecting the dots:


EDUCATION/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human Resources 
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Edtech sector’s self-regulation bid

Context: India’s rapidly growing edtech sector recently took a step towards self-regulation, with a clutch of leading companies adopting a set of guidelines to conduct their businesses.

  • The companies have formed a collective — India EdTech Consortium — under the aegis of the industry body Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).
  • The collective has been formed after the government announced that it was working on a policy to regulate the sector.

What exactly is ‘edtech’?

  • Edtech is essentially a combination of ‘education’ and ‘technology’.
  • Before the pandemic hit, edtech was mostly about using technological tools to improve learning outcomes and enhancing access. It was a sector that was already growing fairly steadily.
  • A major push came as Covid-19 shut down schools, colleges, and universities. From being a ‘modern’ choice, remote learning suddenly became the only alternative as institutions, students, guardians, and authorities switched to the digital mode.
  • Four out of the six Indian edtech startups with valuations of $1 billion and above have come up in recent years, which captures the way the industry has grown of late.

What was the need for the edtech companies to roll out self-regulation?

  • The move to self-regulate stems from growing concerns, which echoed in Parliament, that many edtech firms were indulging in various forms of business malpractices to attract consumers.
  • The government stepped in issuing an advisory of do’s and don’ts for students and guardians looking to sign up for online courses offered by these companies.
  • The advisory also cautioned the companies against violations.
    • In its advisory, the government had cautioned people against enrolling for courses without careful evaluation, because many courses billed as free in advertisements were found to be paid.
    • Also, many customers had unknowingly signed up for loans arranged by these companies.
  • Education Minister had also announced that the government was working on a policy to regulate the edtech ecosystem. Such remarks had drawn mixed reactions from the industry that has traditionally been wary of state interventions.

So how does the collective plan to set things right?

  • The India EdTech Consortium has adopted a three-page code of conduct for their businesses. 
  • The code is an attempt to address the concerns raised by the government; most of the clauses allude to red flags that have been raised in the recent past.
  • The companies — BYJU’S, Careers 360, Harappa, TimesEdutech & Events Ltd, Scalar, Simplilearn, Toppr, upGrad, Vedantu, and WhiteHat Jr among others — have claimed to have adopted the mantra, “what is told is what is sold”.

What else does the code of conduct contain?

  • Apart from stressing on transparency and warning against misleading ads, the code of conduct says the companies are expected to use legal terms of qualifications such as MBA, BBA, and others in ads only when it is compliant with guidelines issued by the UGC and AICTE.
  • On the practice of edu-tech firms using examples of students achieving success by using their products, the code says such claims must be “authentic with validated proof of performance”.
  • Every advertisement of successful candidates must substantiate the product or service they used to give credibility to the claim of success.
  • Industry players have been advised to adopt the code for self-regulation issued by the Advertising Standards Council of India.
  • Also, Policies should be displayed regarding the refund and cancellation prominently on the user interface platform in a manner that cannot be missed. 
  • Loans and other financing FAQs should be clearly mentioned on the platform, the code of conduct says.

Connecting the dots:


(Down to Earth: Forests)


Jan 13: Forest Survey Report 2021 https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/forests/forest-survey-report-2021-11-states-have-lost-forest-cover-21-have-lost-good-forests-81107 

TOPIC:

  • GS-3: Environment, Conservation

Forest Survey Report 2021

Definition of Forest Cover

  • The Forest Survey of India defines ‘forest cover’ as all lands of a hectare or more with tree patches with canopy density of more than 10 per cent.
  • This covers all lands, irrespective of legal ownership and land use. 
  • ‘Recorded forest area’ includes only those areas recorded as forests in government records and includes pristine forests.

Categories of Forest

  • Very Dense Forest (with tree canopy density of 70 per cent or above)
  • Moderately Dense Forest (tree canopy density of 40 per cent or above but less than 70 per cent)
  • Open Forest (tree canopy density of 10 per cent or above but less than 40 per cent)
  • Scrub (tree canopy density less than 10 per cent)

Open forests currently have the biggest share in the country’s forest cover, with 9.34 per cent of the total forest cover (307,120 sq km). Very dense forests (the pristine natural forests) account for just 3.04 per cent (99,779 sq km) of the total forest cover.

Key Findings

  • Increase of 2,261 sq km in the total forest and tree cover of the country in last two years.
  • Area-wise Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover in the country. 
  • States in North East India have the highest percentage of forest cover.    
  • Maximum increase in forest cover witnessed in Andhra Pradesh (647 sq km) followed by Telangana (632 sq km) and Odisha (537 sq km).
  • 17 states/UT’s have above 33 percent of the geographical area under forest cover.
  • Total carbon stock in country’s forest is estimated to be 7,204 million tonnes, an increase of 79.4 million
  • Total mangrove cover in the country is 4,992 sq km, an increase of 17 sq Km observed

Forests in India’s mountainous states

  • There has been an increase in forest loss in India’s mountainous states along its Himalayan frontier, which are already in the throes of climate change
    • Jammu and Kashmir has lost very dense forests but gained open forests. The increase in open forests is led by commercial plantations.
  • The report has attributed the loss of forest cover in the Himalayas and North East to an increase in developmental activities as well as agriculture.

Forest cover across India’s 52 tiger reserves 

There has been an overall decadal decline in forest cover across India’s 52 tiger reserves.

  • 20 of the 52 tiger reserves have shown an increasing trend
  • But the 32 remaining reserves have shown sharp declining trend
  • The Sundarbans Tiger Reserve has the largest area under wetlands at 2,549.44 sq km. This means 96.76 per cent of its area is wetland. But the world’s largest mangrove delta and home to the Royal Bengal Tiger, is gradually losing its very dense mangrove cover. 
    • The rising salinity level in the delta is taking a toll on several mangrove species such as Sonneratia apetala, Nypa fruticans and Bruguiera gymnorhiza, among others. Due to reduced sweet water flow and intrusion of salt water from the sea, these trees are either dying or suffering from stunted growth.
    • Increasing number of cyclones especially Cyclone Amphan
  • The Kanha Tiger Reserve has the highest number of wetlands at 461, most of which are less than 2.25 hectares (ha) in size.
  • The Kanha to Navegaon-Nagzira-Tadoba-Indravati tiger corridor that passes through Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra has the largest forest cover at 2,012.86 sq km.

Forest cover at its sole Lion Conservation Area (LCA) at Gir in Gujarat

  • The LCA has seen a decrease of 33.43 sq km in its forest cover during the last decade
  • It attributed the decrease to ‘habitat improvement measures’ taken in the last decade.
  • This includes the removal of Prosopis juliflora, an invasive species from grassland areas and canopy manipulation for creating openings in the Very Dense Forest and Moderately Dense Forest areas.
  • Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary have 31 wetlands

About India State of the Forest Report (ISFR)

  • ISFR is a biennial publication of Forest Survey of India (FSI), an organization under the Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change.
  • The ISFR assesses the forest and tree cover, bamboo resources, carbon stock and forest fires.

Did you know: As per UNESCO’s assessment on World Heritage forests, India’s Sundarbans National Park is among five sites that have the highest blue carbon stocks globally.

Connecting the Dots:


(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Q.1 Which of the following is/are true regarding Bhimbetka cave?

  1. It is situated in Maharashtra.
  2. The Bhimbetka rock shelters were found by V S Wakankar in1957.

Select the correct answer:

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

Q.2 Consider the following statements:

  1. Only the Great one-horned rhino is found in India.
  2. Sumatran Rhino is the smallest of all rhino species.

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.3 Which of the following feature is borrowed from British constitution? 

  1. Fundamental duties
  2. Concept of Concurrent list
  3. Single citizenship
  4. Directive Principles of State Policy

ANSWERS FOR 14th Jan 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 C
3 C

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