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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th January 2022

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  • January 17, 2022
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Guidelines for Charging Infrastructure for Electric Vehicles

Part of: Prelims and GS-III -Economy

Context: Centre has promulgated revised consolidated Guidelines and Standards for Charging Infrastructure for Electric Vehicles.

Key takeaways 

  • These guidelines include provisions for individual owners of Electric Vehicles as well as Public Charging Stations.
  • Owners may charge their Electric Vehicles at their residence and offices using their existing electricity connections.
  • Any individual or entity is free to set up public charging stations without the requirement of a license.
  • These can be set up provided that such stations meet the technical, safety and performance standards and protocols laid down by Ministry of Power, Bureau of Energy Efficiency and Central Electricity Authority from time to time.
  • The guidelines provide not only the prevailing international charging standards available in the market but also the new Indian charging standards.
  • In order to make charging stations financially viable, a revenue sharing model has been put in place for land used.

FAME scheme

  • It was launched in 2015 
  • It forms a part of National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020. 
  • It aims to promote manufacturing of electric and hybrid vehicle technology and to ensure sustainable growth of the same 

News Source: AIR


Global Risks Report 2022

Part of: Prelims and GS-III Environment 

Context: The 17th edition of Global Risks Report was released by the World Economic Forum recently.

About the Global Risks Report

  • The report tracks global risk perceptions among risk experts and world leaders in business, government, and civil society. 
  • It examines risks across five categories: economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal, and technological.

Key takeaways from the current report

  • The world enters the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis remains the biggest long-term threat facing humanity.
  • It has ranked ‘climate action failure’ as the number one risk, with potentially the most severe impact over the next decade.
  • Developing economies (except China) will have fallen 5.5% below their pre-pandemic expected GDP growth by 2024, while advanced economies will have surpassed it by 0.9%.
  • It is likely that any transition that achieves the net-zero goal by 2050 will be disorderly due to the insufficient nature of current commitments.
  • Digital inequality and cybersecurity failure also feature among the critical short- and medium-term threats.

Do you know?

  • Following are the reports released by WEF:
    • Global Risks Report
    • Fostering Effective Energy Transition
    • Global Social Mobility Report 
    • The Global Gender Gap Report 

News Source: WEF


Baricitinib and Sotrovimab drugs recommended by WHO

Part of: Prelims and GS-II Health and GS-III Sci and tech

Context The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended two drugs, baricitinib and sotrovimab, for treatment of Covid-19.

About Baricitinib

  • Baricitinib is also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
  • It is an oral drug
  • It has now been “strongly recommended” for patients with severe or critical Covid-19 in combination with corticosteroids.
  • It is part of a class of drugs called Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors that suppress the overstimulation of the immune system.

About Sotrovimab

  • It is an investigational monoclonal antibody for use in treating conditions caused by coronavirus.
  • The WHO has conditionally recommended its use for treating mild or moderate Covid-19 in patients who are at high risk of hospitalisation.

News Source: IE


Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai volcano

Part of: Prelims and GS-I Geography 

Context The Pacific country of Tonga experienced a large volcanic eruption recently followed by a tsunami that flooded parts of the capital, Nuku’alofa.

  • There is no information on property damage or casualties till yet.
  • The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai volcano sent shockwaves across the South Pacific.

About volcanoes

  • A volcano is an opening in the earth’s crust through which gases, molten rocks materials (lava), ash, steam etc. are emitted outward in the course of an eruption. 
  • Volcanic activity is an example of endogenic process.
  • Depending upon the explosive nature of the volcano, different landforms can be formed such as a plateau or a mountain.

News Source: AIR


(News from PIB)


Thiruvalluvar Day: 15th January

  • Thiruvalluvar, commonly known as Valluvar, was a celebrated Tamil poet and philosopher. 
  • Best known as the author of the Tirukkuṟaḷ, a collection of couplets on ethics, political and economical matters, and love. 
  • Statue at Kanyakumari

10th century stone idol of Goat Head Yogini 

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-1: Indian Culture

In News: A 10th century stone idol of Goat Head Yogini that had been illegally removed from a temple in Lokhari village in Banda district of Uttar Pradesh is being returned to India from UK.

  • The sculpture is of a goat headed Yogini that originally belonged to a group of stone deities in sandstone and installed in Lokhari temple
  • A similar sculpture of the buffalo-headed Vrishanana Yogini, apparently stolen from the same temple at Lokhari village had been recovered and repatriated by Embassy of India, Paris in 2013.
  • Yoginis are a group of powerful females divinities associated with the Tantrik mode of worship.
  • They are worshipped as a group, often 64 and are believed to possess infinite powers.

News Source: PIB


Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) Battery Storage

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-3: Indian Economy

In News: The scheme received an encouraging response from local as well as global investors as bids received is 2.6 times the manufacturing capacity to be awarded i.e. 50 Gwh – a total of 10 bids with capacity ~ 130 Gwh.

Key takeaways 

  • Aim: To achieve a manufacturing capacity of 50 GigaWatt Hour of ACC and five Giga Watt Hour of Niche ACC with an outlay of 18,100 crore.
  • ACCs are the new generation of advanced storage technologies that can store electric energy either as electrochemical or as chemical energy and convert it back to electric energy as and when required. 
  • Envisages an investment which will boost domestic manufacturing & also facilitate battery storage demand creation for both electric vehicles and stationary storage along with development of a complete domestic supply chain & Foreign Direct Investment in the country
  • It will also give a big push to electric mobility, benefiting three-wheelers, four-wheelers and heavy vehicles.
  • Expected to result in saving to the nation on account of reduction in import of crude-oil to a significant extent and increase the share of renewable energy at the national grid level.
  • India is currently importing Battery Storage Equipment

The scheme will be helpful in making the country self-reliant (Atmanirbhar), enabling India to leapfrog from traditional fossil fuel-based automobile transportation system to environmentally cleaner, sustainable, advanced and more efficient Electric Vehicles (EV) based system.

News Source: PIB


Purple Revolution or Aroma Mission in India

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-2: Government policies and intervention

In News: The Aroma Mission, also popularly referred as “Lavender or Purple Revolution”, has started from J&K and transformed the lives of farmers who are able to grow lavender, make lucrative profit and improve their lives.

Aroma Mission

  • The Aroma Mission is envisaged to bring transformative change in the aroma sector through desired interventions in the areas of agriculture, processing and product development for fuelling the growth of aroma industry and rural employment.
  • Objectives: 
    • To promote the cultivation of aromatic crops for essential oils.
    • To enable Indian farmers and the aroma industry to become global leaders.
    • To provide benefits to the farmers in achieving higher profits, utilization of waste lands and protection of their crops from wild and grazing animals.
    • Provided employment to women farmers
  • Nodal Agencies: CSIR-Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CSIR-CIMAP), Lucknow.
  • Aromatic Plants include 
    • Lavender
    • Damask rose
    • Mushk bala, etc.
  • Projects include
    • Lavender oil which sells for at least Rs. 10,000 per litre
    • Lavender water, which separates from lavender oil, is used to make incense sticks.
    • Hydrosol, which is formed after distillation from the flowers, is used to make soaps and room fresheners.
    • Coverage: The project assured benefits to the growers of Vidarbha, Bundelkhand, Gujarat, Marathwada, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and other states where farmers are exposed to frequent episodes of weather extremes and account for maximum suicides.
  • Outcomes:
    • Bring about 5500 ha of additional area under captive cultivation aromatic cash crops particularly targeting rain-fed /degraded land across the country
    • Provide technical and infrastructural support for distillation and values-addition to farmers/growers all over the country
    • Enabling effective buy-back mechanisms to assure remunerative prices to the farmers/growers
    • Value-addition to essential oils and aroma ingredients for their integration in global trade and economy’

Update: 

  • During Phase-I CSIR helped cultivation on 6000 hectares of land and covered 46 Aspirational districts across the country. More than 44,000 persons have been trained and several crores of farmers’ revenue generated. 
  • In the second Phase of Aroma Mission, it is proposed to engage over 45,000 skilled human resources with the aim of benefitting more than 75,000 farming families across the country.

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 
  • GS-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment. 

Predatory Pricing by New Age Companies

Context: Recently, people in the small town of Talode in Nandurbar district in Maharashtra could not buy Colgate toothpaste from their only local store. 

  • It was because distributors in Nandurbar district had decided to boycott Colgate’s products and not supply them to the kirana stores in Talode.

Why did distributors decided to boycott Colgate’s products?

  • Nearly half-a-million of India’s distributors pick up goods from consumer companies such as Colgate and deliver them to 13 million small local stores located in 7,00,000 villages and towns across the country through a web of millions of traders and other intermediaries.
  • A vast majority of these distributors and traders are small family businesses that have developed relationships with their local stores over many decades.
  • All consumer goods distributors in Maharashtra were protesting against Colgate’s alleged unfair treatment of traditional distributors vis-à-vis B2B technology companies such as Reliance’s JioMart, Udaan and others.

How are B2B technology companies causing disruption?

  • The kirana store generally sells a 100g tube of Colgate toothpaste to the consumer for ₹55, the maximum retail price (MRP). The distributor sells Colgate toothpaste to the kirana store for ₹45 and the manufacturer, Colgate, sells it to the distributor for ₹40. 
  • New age technology B2B companies have developed technologies to connect directly to the kirana stores through a mobile phone app, bypassing the intermediaries.
  • These B2B companies supply Colgate toothpaste to the local store for ₹35, lower than the ₹45 charged by the distributor.
  • These technology companies bear a 15%-20% loss on every Colgate toothpaste they sell to the local store. 
  • They deliberately offer their product at a price lower than what it costs them (Predatory Pricing), to lure local stores away from the traditional distributors. 
  • Further, these technology companies offer extensive credit terms and working capital to the local stores. 
  • In other words, these technology companies rely not just on their mobile phone app innovation but also steep price discounting and cheaper financing to win customers.
  • Udaan has suffered total losses of more than ₹5,000 crore in just five years and JioMart reports even greater losses. 

How is that these technology companies are able to absorb losses?

  • Indian companies are able to absorb such heavy losses because they have access to copious amounts of money. 
  • These companies are flush with funds from foreign venture capital firms, which in turn are largely funded by American pension funds and university endowments. 
  • Evidently, these companies use the money to not only build new technologies but also to undercut competitors and steal market share. 
  • They are able to sustain huge losses for several years until they destroy incumbents and gain dominant market share. After which, they will presumably raise their prices to turn profitable. 
    • It is similar to what India experienced in the telecom sector with Jio.
  • The flip side is that India’s millions of distributors and intermediaries have no access to such finance. 

What are the challenges due to such predatory pricing?

  • The issue is about illegal predatory pricing and abuse of pricing power by startups and big corporates through preferential access to easy foreign money.
  • While consumers may benefit from lower prices, should the livelihoods of millions of distributors, traders and their families suffer because they do not have equal access to easy money as these technology companies.
    • By some estimates, there are more than 20 million families (100 million people) in India whose livelihoods depend on intermediary roles in the consumer goods supply chain.
  • The distributor, trader and the kirana store owner generally belong to the same local community. Surely, there will be social ramifications within that community for some of these families lose their livelihood.
  • The conventional economic notion that lower prices, regardless of the means adopted, are a sole and worthy pursuit is under severe challenge.
  • Social media companies such as Facebook give away their products for free and e-commerce companies such as Amazon sell at lower prices, benefiting consumers enormously, but also causing immense social strife and disharmony.
  • Even erstwhile champions of free capital flows are now cautious about their social implications. The new Chairperson of the Federal Trade Commission in America, is seeking to frame new rules to check such anti-competitive behaviour.

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

Desh ke Mentor programme & NCPCR 

Context: A controversy recently broke out after the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) recommended that the Delhi government suspend its flagship ‘Desh ke Mentor’ programme till “the time when all the loopholes pertaining to the safety of the children are overhauled”.

What is the Desh ke Mentor programme?

  • The programme was launched in October 2021 and is aimed at connecting students in classes IX to XII with voluntary mentors. 
  • People between the ages of 18 and 35 can sign up to be mentors through an app created by a team at the Delhi Technological University and will be connected with students based on mutual interests. 
  • The mentorship entails regular phone calls for a minimum of two months, which can optionally be carried on for another four months. 
  • The idea is for the young mentors to guide students through higher education and career options, preparation for higher education entrance exams, and dealing with the pressure of it all. 
  • According to Delhi government, 44,000 people have signed up as mentors so far and have been working with 1.76 lakh children.

How is a person selected to be a mentor?

  • The registration process takes place on the Desh ke Mentor app
  • The volunteer has to fill in information about themselves such as their date of birth, education qualification, profession, organisation they work with and so on.
  • However, it is optional for them to upload any proof of identity. 
  • On the app, the candidate has to accept an undertaking which states, that they have never been charged for (or involved in) any activities relating to the violation of the rights of children.
  • Following this, they have to complete a brief ‘psychometry test’ which involves candidates having to rate how much they agree or disagree to certain statements.
  • Once the registration is complete, the mentor is connected to a set of children of the same gender as themselves whose interests align with theirs. 
  • Students have to take parental consent before becoming a part of the programme.

What are the concerns raised by the NCPCR regarding this process?

There are five primary points on which the NCPCR has raised concerns with regard to the programme:

  • It has stated that assigning children to a mentor of the same gender as them does not necessarily assure their safety from abuse.
  • It has also expressed concern over the lack of police verification of the mentors.
  • On the psychometric test it has asked if the test is analyzed/checked/scrutinized by professional practising experts. It has also questioned whether the Psychometric Test can identify paedophiles or potential paedophiles.
  • It has also stated that limiting interactions to phone calls also does not ensure the safety of children since child related crime can be initiated through phone calls as well.
  • It has stated that while taking the consent of parents is an essential pre-requisite, the responsibility and accountability of preventing children from such situation lies with the Department. The consent of parents cannot be used as a cushion in case of any untoward incident.

What is NCPCR?

  • National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) was set up in March 2007 under the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005.
  • It works under the administrative control of the Ministry of Women & Child Development.
  • The Commission’s Mandate is to ensure that all Laws, Policies, Programmes, and Administrative Mechanisms are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
    • The Child is defined as a person in the 0 to 18 years age group.
  • Composition:
  • This commission has a chairperson and six members of which at least two should be women.
  • All of them are appointed by Central Government for three years.
  • The maximum age to serve in commission is 65 years for Chairman and 60 years for members.

Under the RTE Act, 2009, the NCPCR can:

  • Inquire into complaints about violation of the law.
  • Summon an individual and demand evidence.
  • Seek a magisterial enquiry.
  • File a writ petition in the High Court or Supreme Court.
  • Approach the government concerned for prosecution of the offender.
  • Recommend interim relief to those affected.

Conclusion


(ORF: India Matters)


Jan 4: Trickle-down Wage: Analysing Indian inequality from a gender lens

 – https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/trickle-down-wage-analysing-indian-inequality-from-a-gender-lens/ 

TOPIC:

  • GS-1: Society (Women’s Issues)
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Trickle-down Wage: Analysing Indian inequality from a gender lens 

In News: The pandemic has exposed and fed off the profound socio-economic inequalities of the existing world. Gender-based discrimination, being an important dimension of socio-economic inequality has had adverse economic outcomes for women in these unprecedented times. 

  • Women are 10 percent more likely to be living in extreme poverty in India by 2021 in comparison to men cites the UN Women Report of 2020. 
  • The pandemic has disrupted an already skewed ratio in educational opportunities, access to finance, wage disparities, and other social constraints for them demographically.

Gender inequalities and shares in labour income

Gender inequality is one of the oldest and most pervasive forms of inequality in the world and as a result, social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been far from gender neutral.

  • India’s numbers here stand at a grim 18 percent and are amongst the lowest in Asia’s average at 27 percent, ahead of only Pakistan and Afghanistan, both of which fall under 10 percent. 
  • World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report of 2021 places India amongst countries with the largest Gender Gaps in Economic participation and opportunity due to an observed declining trend from 27 percent in 2010 to 22 percent in 2020 in Female Labour Force Participation. 
  • Azim Premji’s State of Working India Report 2021-
    • During the lockdown and months after, while 61 percent of men remained employed and only 7 percent lost employment, only 19 percent women remained employed and a vast 47 percent suffered a permanent job loss.
    • The imposition of lockdowns, has affected the feminised sectors, such as the care economy and the gig economy, much more severely than the sectors in which men are over represented. 
  • The Global Gender Gap Report 2021 describes the concept of ‘Labour Market scarring’ in which temporary limitation of in-person work has caused permanent and long-lasting effects on women’s chances at decent employment in future.
  • According to the Inequality Report 2022, 
    • While women represent about 50 percent of the population, they earn only about one-third of the labour income for it. 
    • Those who do step into the workforce are often offered work in the informal sector, which categorically provides no protection of labour laws, or social benefits like pension, paid sick leave, maternity leave. 
    • Informal sector rarely provides any resilience against market fluctuations; this makes them more vulnerable and keeps them in poverty and altogether wary of potentially entering the workforce. 
    • While men moved to the informal workforce during lack of better opportunities, women quit the workforce altogether due to increased burden of the household and an acute lack of safety nets.

Gaps and the road to recovery 

  • Through various practices, be it discriminatory policies and social structures, lack of access to lucrative jobs and labour market or the double bind of performing both paid and unpaid labour, women have only been earning a third of the labour they have promise for. 
  • Without adequate focus on policy change, India faces a threat of leaving behind a half of its population in this road to recovery, not to mention bear the brunt of inequalities even further. 
  • We need to revisit the labour distribution in our country and rethink formal and informal structures at a policy level. 
  • There is a need to enhance the social security mechanisms for informal workers with a special focus on women. 
  • Upskilling women for ‘hard professions’ and adopting a ‘care lens’ is hence essential for defeminising care work and would contribute to redistributing it equally amongst family members irrespective of their gender. 
  • It is also important to create gender sensitive fiscal policies and educate the masses about the criticality of rising inequalities and formulate a framework of labour laws to sustain in the neoliberal world.

Can you answer the following questions?

  1. As women bear the brunt of the rising income inequality, the need for a positive policy change has become even more pronounced. Discuss.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

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

  1. He was a celebrated Malayalam poet and philosopher.
  2. He is best known as the author of the Tirukkuṟaḷ, a collection of couplets on ethics, political and economical matters, and love.

Select the correct answer:

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

Q.2 Global Risks Report is released by which of the following?

  1. World Health Organisation
  2. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
  3. World Economic Forum 
  4. World Trade Organisation 

Q.3 The FAME scheme is related to which of the following?

  1. Student Scholarships and Fellowships
  2. Electric Vehicles
  3. Encouragement to traditional Indian sports
  4. Health Sector

ANSWERS FOR 17th Jan 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 C
3 B

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