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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 19th January 2022

  • IASbaba
  • January 19, 2022
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2022

Part of: Prelims and GS-III -Cybersecurity 

Context: The World Economic Forum’s ‘Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2022’ was released during its online Davos Agenda summit.

Key takeaways from the report

  • The accelerating pace of digitalisation, fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic, has led to a record-breaking year for cybercrime with ransomware attacks rising 151% in 2021, and an average of 270 cyberattacks per organisation being faced.
  • Each successful cyber breach cost a company $3.6 million (almost Rs. 27 crore) last year.
  • The global digital economy had surged during COVID-19 pandemic, but cybercrime also increased.

News Source: TH


India extends $500-mn credit to Sri Lanka

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

Context: India has extended a $500-million Line of Credit (LOC) to Sri Lanka for urgent fuel imports, just days after providing $900 million relief to Sri Lanka, which is facing one of its worst economic downturns.

What is Line of Credit?

  • It is a credit facility extended by a bank or any other financial institution to a government, business or an individual customer, that enables the customer to draw the maximum loan amount.
  • The borrower can access funds from the line of credit at any time as long as they do not exceed the maximum amount (or credit limit) set in the agreement and meet any other requirements such as making timely minimum payments.

News Source: TH


Indonesia relocates capital due to rising sea levels

Part of: Prelims and GS-II International Relations and GS-III Climate change

Context Indonesia’s parliament has passed a law approving the relocation of its capital from slowly sinking Jakarta to a site 2,000 km away on the jungle-clad Borneo island that will be named “Nusantara”.

  • The law was passed due to rising sea levels and severe congestion on densely populated Java island.

About Sea Level Rise (SLR)

  • SLR is an increase in the level of the world’s oceans due to the effects of climate change, especially global warming,
  • It is induced by three primary factors: Thermal Expansion, Melting Glaciers and Loss of Greenland and Antarctica’s ice sheets.
  • Sea level is primarily measured using tide stations and satellite laser altimeters.
  • Global sea level has been rising over the past century, and the rate has accelerated in recent decades.

Image courtesy: Polgeonow

News Source: TH


INS Ranvir

Part of: Prelims and GS-II International Relations

Context: Three Navy personnel were killed and 11 injured in an explosion aboard the destroyer INS Ranvir at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai

  • INS Ranvir is the fourth of the five Rajput-class destroyers built for the Indian Navy. Ranvir was commissioned on 28 October 1986.

News Source: TH


(News from PIB)


North-East Cane and Bamboo Development Council (NECBDC)

Part of: Prelims and GS-III Economy

Context: NECBDC sponsored a training programme on “Bamboo Shoot Processing and Preservation” which was conducted by the NECBDC.

Key takeaways 

  • North East Cane and Bamboo Development Council (NECBDC) is under the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, Govt. of India.
  • Formerly known as Cane and Bamboo Development Council (CBDC), NECBDC was incorporated with the objective of organizing the hitherto untapped bamboo sector of NE India.
  • It is located in Byrnihat, Assam.

About Bamboo shoots

  • Bamboo shoots or bamboo sprouts are the edible shoots (new bamboo culms that come out of the ground) of many bamboo species including Bambusa vulgaris and Phyllostachys edulis. 
  • They are used as vegetables in numerous Asian dishes and broths.

News Source: PIB


National Centre for Good Governance (NCGG)

Part of: Prelims and GS-II Polity and Governance

Context: In order to promote inclusive good governance, strengthening of local institutions and effective implementation of government programmes, the National Centre for Good Governance (NCGG), Government of India and National Institute of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj (NIRD & PR), Hyderabad signed MoU on 17th January 2022.

Key takeaways 

  • The main purpose: To focus on different collaborative activities by drawing upon the strengths of these two national institutions for bringing better good governance mechanisms into practice across all programmes and schemes.
  • NCGG is an autonomous institute under the aegis of Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Government of India. 
  • Its head office is at New Delhi and branch office at Mussoorie.
  • NCGG traces its origin to the National Institute of Administrative Research (NIAR). 
    • NIAR was set up in 1995 by the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), the Government of India’s apex training Institute for higher civil services.

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-3: Indian Economy & challenges
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 

Budget & Economic Recovery

Context: The last two quarters have seen a substantive recovery in the Indian economy.

  • Corporate profitability of our largest firms has hit a new record this year.
  • GST collections now has an average monthly collection of Rs 1.2 trillion in the second and third quarters. 
  • The budget deficit is expected to be well under what we forecasted last year.

What are the major concerns in reviving growth?

  • The informal economy was particularly badly hit by Covid and its associated lockdowns. 
  • Small enterprises, retail, hospitality, and construction were all adversely impacted
  • Agricultural employment has risen in the last year-and-a-half, while manufacturing and services employment has fallen — this is the opposite of development.
  • Both earnings and employment fell for those at the bottom of the urban employment pyramid

What can the upcoming budget do to aid economic recovery process?

  • Create good jobs for the unskilled: The way it can do so directly is through accelerating spending on infrastructure. A credible time-bound implementation plan is what is required in the budget.
  • Promote labour-intensive manufacturing which can employ millions of the unskilled and less-educated youth. 
    • Foxconn’s largest factory in China, making iPhones among other products, reportedly employs 4,00,000 people.
    • Samsung employs 1,00,000 people in its largest phone assembly plant in Vietnam.
  • Enhance Female Labour Force participation: A large garment factory in Bangladesh employs 30,000-50,000 people — 10 times what we find in India. As 80 per cent of those employed in garment factories are women, Bangladesh has twice the female labour force participation ratio of India. 
  • Continue with Labour Reforms: In June and September 2020, the government passed four labour laws but have been left dormant since then. The budget should announce a time frame for implementation, notification by the Union government and then by the states.
  • Investments in skilling: Under 5% of India’s workforce is formally skilled, compared to 96% in South Korea, 75% in Germany and 52% in the US. Budget must specify how National Skills Development Corporation will be empowered to function to achieve the goals of skilling.
  • Investments in Education: With schools closed for the last year-and-a-half in most states, education outcomes have fallen further. School education is a state subject, so the Union budget can at best incentivise states to do the right things for ex: linking the flow of additional funds to learning outcomes.
  • Economic inclusion: Government policies for economic inclusion must go beyond social inclusion. These include measures like reducing tariffs to benefit millions of consumers instead of thousands of firms. Industrial policies that help all firms such as the ease of doing business, instead of incentivising a selected few.

Connecting the dots:


INTERNATIONAL/ ECONOMY

  • GS-2: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate. 
  • GS-3: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices

India Challenges WTO verdict on sugar

Context: India has filed an appeal with the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) disputing a verdict by the WTO’s dispute settlement panel on sugar subsidies. 

  • The WTO’s dispute settlement panel had ruled that India, by subsidising sugar producers, was breaking rules framed under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) which govern international trade.
  • India is the second-largest sugar producer in the world after Brazil and it is estimated that more than 5 crore people depend on the cultivation of sugarcane alone for their livelihood.

What is the dispute?

  • In 2019, Australia, Brazil, and Guatemala complained against India at the WTO arguing that subsidies offered by the Indian government to sugar producers were against the rules governing international trade. 
  • They argued that these subsidies, which include both domestic subsidies as well as export subsidies, exceed the limits imposed by WTO trade rules. 
  • According to WTO rules, subsidies cannot exceed 10% of the total value of sugar production. 
  • These countries believe that subsidies offered by India have led to increased production of sugar and caused the price of sugar to drop significantly in the global market. 
  • After two years, the WTO ruled in December that India’s sugar policy was favouring domestic producers through subsidies to the detriment of foreign producers. 
  • The panel recommended that India withdraws its alleged prohibited subsidies under the Production Assistance, the Buffer Stock, and the Marketing and Transportation Schemes within 120 days from the adoption of this report. 

What is India’s stand?

  • India has stated that the WTO’s dispute panel ruling has made certain “erroneous” findings about domestic schemes to support sugarcane producers and exports and the findings of the panel are completely “unacceptable” to it.
  • India has argued at the WTO that it does not offer direct subsidies to sugarcane farmers and thus doesn’t break any international trade rule. 
  • This argument, however, has not convinced other countries who point out that, among other things, the Centre and the State governments in India mandate the minimum price (the Fair and Remunerative Price, or FRP) at which sugar mills can buy sugarcane from farmers. 
  • The high procurement price (High FRP) for sugarcane set by the Government is believed to have led to increased supply that in turn has caused sugar prices to drop. 
  • To help the sugar sector, the Centre has even mandated the compulsory blending of ethanol derived from sugarcane with fuels such as petrol and diesel. 
  • Further, the Centre also regularly sanctions funds to encourage sugar mills to export sugar depending on sugar prices in the global market. In the budget last year, the Centre allocated a total of ₹3,500 crore to fund the export of 6 million tonnes of sugar.

What lies ahead?

  • The WTO Appellate Body’s decision will be considered final on the dispute. 
  • In case India refuses to comply with the decision, it might have to face retaliatory action from other countries. This could be in the form of additional tariffs on Indian exports and other stringent measures. 
  • Such retaliatory measures may benefit producers in these countries but affect consumers who have enjoyed lower sugar prices due to subsidies offered by India. 
  • It should be noted that the WTO was founded to prevent exactly such tit-for-tat tariffs that shrink international trade.
  • Incidentally, the appellate body of the WTO is not functioning because of differences among member countries to appoint members, and disputes are already pending with it. The U.S. had blocked the appointment of members.

Connecting the dots:


(ORF: India Matters)


Jan 6: Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: An overview – https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/uniform-civil-code-ucc-in-india-an-overview/  

TOPIC:

  • GS-1: Indian Society (Communalism, Secularism, Regionalism)
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: An overview

Context: As per the recent Allahabad High Court judgement that states that the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a necessity and mandatorily required, there is a need to understand the phenomenon of the UCC in India. 

  • Article 44 of the Constitution declares that the state shall endeavour to secure the citizens a uniform civil code. This article finds a place under Part IV of the Constitution that deals with Directive Principles of State Policy, which are not enforceable in any court, but the principles therein laid down are nevertheless fundamental in the governance of the country and it shall be the duty of the State to apply these principles in law-making. 
  • The significance attached to the directive principles was recognised in the Minerva Mills versus Union of India case, where the Supreme Court held that the fundamental rights must be harmonised with the directive principles and such harmony is one of the basic features of the Constitution.

The idea of Uniform Civil Code

  • Historically, the idea of UCC was influenced by similar codes drafted in European countries during the 19th century and early 20th century, and in particular the French code of 1804 that had eradicated all forms of customary or statutory laws prevailing at that time and replaced it with a uniform code. 
  • However, the First War of Indian Independence in 1857 sent a strong signal to the British to not alter the social fabric of India and respect the personal codes governing aspects of marriage, divorce, maintenance, adoption, and succession.
  • Post-Independence, against the backdrop of Partition, which resulted in communal disharmony and resistance to remove personal laws resulted in accommodating the UCC as a directive principle as discussed above. 
  • Although, the writers of the Constitution attempted to bring a Hindu Code Bill in the Parliament that included progressive measures like women’s equal rights of inheritance, unfortunately, it could not see the light of the day. 
  • It was only on 5th September 2005, when the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 received assent from the President of India that the discriminatory provisions regarding property rights in the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 were removed.

Is UCC – the need of the hour?

The Supreme Court has emphasised the importance of having a UCC in several cases – starting from the Shah Bano Begum case to the recent Shayara Bano versus Union of India case that questioned the legitimacy of the practice of talaq-e-bidat (triple talaq) and declared it unconstitutional.

  • Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum and others case: The Supreme Court dealt with the issue of maintenance under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure after Shah Bano’s husband pronounced talaq against her. While ruling on the case, Chief Justice YV Chandrachud observed that the Parliament should outline the contours of a common civil code as it is an instrument that facilitates national harmony and equality before law. Despite this, the government did not address the issue and brought forth the Muslim Women’s Protection of Rights on Divorce Act in 1986.
  • Silence until…
  • The case of Sarla Mudgal, President, Kalyani, and others versus Union of India and others, where the Supreme Court urged the government to secure a Uniform Civil Code based on the model of the Hindu code to protect the abused and achieving national solidarity. 
  • In a similar vein, the cases of Lily Thomas versus Union of India and ABC v. The State (NCT of Delhi) was dealt with. While in the former, the Supreme Court emphasised the significance of UCC in terms of succession, and in the latter, it held that a single mother of the Christian religion was eligible to apply for sole guardianship of her child without the assent of the natural father under the Guardian and Wards Act, 1890 that had not recognised the right of Christian single mothers. In this context, the court pointed out the inconvenience caused in absence of a uniform civil code.

Conclusion

  • While different minorities have been opposing UCC to uphold their individual rights and upholding their right to religion; the majority wants it to maintain homogeneity. The solution lies in debate, deliberation, taking different stakeholders into consideration, it should be completely depoliticized process-keeping the national interest at the core, it should be more of bottom-up than a top-down approach. 
  • As the current government brings measures like  increasing the age of girl child to 21 for marriage which is a laudable step to ensure gender equality, it needs to think how to ensure the overall development of the society including women by bringing in a UCC and how to balance the aims of Article 51 A (f) and Article 51 A(e) of the Constitution that deals with the aspects of valuing and preserving the rich heritage of composite culture and renouncing practices that are derogatory to the dignity of women respectively.

Can you answer the following questions?

  1. How did the concept of UCC come into being? What were the steps taken in the post-Independence period to bring the UCC about? 
  2. What lies behind the current government’s failure to implement it, and what is the possible way forward?

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

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

  1. It is a credit facility extended by a bank or any other financial institution to a government, business or an individual customer, that enables the customer to draw the maximum loan amount.
  2. The borrower can access funds from the line of credit at any time as long as they do not exceed the credit limit set in the agreement 

Select the correct answer:

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

Q.2 Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2022 is released by which of the following?

  1. International Monetary Fund 
  2. World Bank
  3. World Economic Forum 
  4. World Trade Organisation 

Q.3 Which of the following is/are the primary factors for Sea Levels Rise?

  1. Thermal Expansion
  2. Melting Glaciers 
  3. Loss of Greenland and Antarctica’s ice sheets
  4. All of the above

ANSWERS FOR 19th Jan 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 C
3 D

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