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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 1st January 2022

  • IASbaba
  • January 1, 2022
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


GST Council

Part of: Prelims and GS-III -Economy 

  • Context The GST Council has decided to temporarily roll back the increase in tax rate for the textiles sector 
  • The move follows demands from several States, including Gujarat, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.
  • A similar demand for footwear was not considered and the sector will attract GST of 12% from January

About GST Council

  • The GST Council is a constitutional body established under Article 279A of Indian Constitution
  • It makes recommendations to the Union and State Government on issues related to Goods and Service Tax (GST).
  • The GST Council is chaired by the Union Finance Minister.
  • Its other members are the Union State Minister of Revenue or Finance and Ministers in-charge of Finance or Taxation of all the States.

National Centres for Disease Control (NCDC)

Part of: Prelims and GS-II Health

Context The Delhi-based National Centres for Disease Control (NCDC), a Union Health Ministry laboratory and a key lab in India’s genome sequencing network, has asked States to pause sending COVID-19 positive samples to it.

About The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)

  • It was formerly the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD).
  • NICD was transformed into the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) with a larger mandate of controlling emerging and re-emerging diseases in 2009.
  • It is a national level institute for training specialized manpower for public health, laboratory sciences and entomological services and is involved in various applied research activities.
  • Major Functions
    • Undertakes investigations of disease outbreaks all over the country.
    • Provides referral diagnostic services to individuals, community, medical colleges, research institutions and state health directorates.
    • Engaged in generation and dissemination of knowledge in various areas like Epidemiology, Surveillance, and Laboratories etc.
    • Applied integrated research in various aspects of communicable as well as some aspects of non-communicable diseases has been one of the prime functions of the Institute.
  • The Institute is under administrative control of the Director General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • The Institute has its headquarters in Delhi.

FCRA licences of NGOs extended by three months

Part of: Prelims and GS-II and III –  Polity, law, fundamental rights, NGOs; Economy

Context  The Union Home Ministry has extended by another three months the validity of the licences of FCRA-registered NGOs which were not renewed by December 31.

What is FCRA?

  • It is a law enacted by Parliament to regulate foreign contribution (especially monetary donation) provided by certain individuals or associations to NGOs and others within India.
  • FCRA Act was originally passed in 1976 and majorly modified in 2010.
  • The government has used the act over the years to freeze bank accounts of certain NGOs who it found were affecting India’s national interest for wrong purposes.
  • Ministry: Ministry of Home Affairs

Do you know?

  • A registration under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) is mandatory for any NGO or association to receive foreign funds and it is renewed every five years.
  • According to terms stipulated in the FCRA, an organisation cannot receive foreign funding unless it is registered under the 2010 Act, except when it gets government approval for a specific project.
  • Under the FCRA Act, registered NGOs can receive foreign contribution for five purposes — social, educational, religious, economic and cultural.

Potency drugs not under NDPS Act: SC

Part of: Prelims and GS II – Laws and policies

Context Sexual enhancement drugs containing herbs and medicines are not covered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, the Supreme Court has observed in a recent order.

About The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985

  • It is also known as the NDPS Act.
  • It prohibits any individual from engaging in any activity consisting of production, cultivation, sale, purchase, transport, storage, and/or consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.

About psychotropics and Narcotics

  • From a medical point of view, psychotropics designate chemical substances that act upon the mind, that is on the conscious or unconscious mental life of an individual.
  • Narcotics include substances that cause stupor (unconscious), muscular relaxation and a reduction or elimination of sensitivity.

(News from PIB)


One Nation One Grid One Frequency

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-III: Energy

Grid management in the country, on a regional basis started in the sixties. At the beginning, state grids were interconnected to form a regional grid and India was demarcated into 5 regions namely Northern, Eastern, Western, North Eastern and Southern regions. 

  • With time each grid was connected to the other, to allow greater availability and transfer of power. 
  • It all came together when the Southern Region was connected to the Central Grid, with commissioning of 765 kV Raichur-Solapur Transmission Line, thereby achieving ‘ONE NATION-ONE GRID-ONE FREQUENCY’. 
  • The Srinagar Leh Transmission System was connected to the National Grid, and was dedicated to the nation in 2019.

News Source: PIB


Year End Review: Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY)

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-III: Climate Change

  • Digital identity-Aadhaar provided to over 126 Crore people – Aadhaar is world’s largest digital identity programme that provides biometric and demographic based unique digital identity that can be authenticated anytime, anywhere and also eliminates duplicate & fake identities. It provides an identity infrastructure for delivery of various social welfare programmes.
  • Around 5.36 crore candidates have been enrolled and 4.54 crore have been trained under PMGDISHA Scheme – PMDISHA aim to provide digital literacy in rural India by covering 6 crore rural households
  • State-of-the-art VLSI Laboratories setup at 60 institutes across country
  • About 52,000 number of specialized manpower trained under Special Manpower Development Programme for Chips to System Design (SMDP-C2SD)
  • Number of digital transactions increase from 1085 Cr in FY 2016-17 to 5,554 Cr in 2020-21, at a CAGR of 50.42%
  • 45,500 persons get direct employment under BPO promotion scheme of Ministry
  • During FY 2021-22, C-DAC commissioned two systems of 650 TF (800TF Peak) each at IIT Hyderabad and C-DAC Bangalore under Phase-II of National Supercomputing Mission
  • Systems including 3PF Peak at IISc Bangalore, 1.66 PF Peak at IIT Roorkee and 833 TF Peak each at IIT Guwahati, NABI Mohali, IIT Gandhinagar, NIT Trichy and IIT Mandi to be installed by March 2022 under Supercomputing Mission
  • Virtual Courts
    • It aimed at reducing footfalls in the courts by eliminating the physical presence of violator or advocate in the court. Virtual court can be managed by virtual judge whose jurisdiction can be extended to entire state and working hours may be 24X7. Neither litigant need to visit the court nor judge will have to physically preside over the court thus saving precious judicial time.
    • Number of judges required for adjudicating traffic challans across the state can be reduced virtually to single judge. eChallans to be submitted in the court are automatically filed to the virtual court for adjudication. Virtual Judge can access the Virtual Court application from anywhere, view the cases and adjudicate the cases online.
  • e-District Mission Mode Project (MMP): e-District is a Mission Mode Project (MMP) that aims at electronic delivery of identified high volume citizen centric services at the district or sub-district level.
  • Global Indices: The E-Government Development Index (EGDI) presents the state of E-Government Development of the United Nations Member States. 
    • Along with an assessment of the website development patterns in a country, the E-Government Development index incorporates the access characteristics, such as the infrastructure and educational levels, to reflect how a country is using information technologies to promote access and inclusion of its people. 
    • Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is the nodal ministry for EGDI.
    • The EGDI is a composite measure of three important dimensions of e-government, namely: online service index, telecommunication infrastructure index and the human capital index.
  • The National Policy on Electronics 2019(NPE 2019) envisions positioning India as a global hub for Electronics System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM), by encouraging and driving capabilities in the country for developing core components, including chipsets, and creating an enabling environment for the industry to compete globally.
    • With a view to building a robust manufacturing ecosystem which will be an asset to the global economy government is looking forward to developing a strong ecosystem across the value chain and integrating it with global value chains. 
    • This is the essence of these four Schemes namely, the (i) Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI) for Large Scale Electronics Manufacturing, (ii) Scheme for Promotion of Manufacturing of Electronic Components and Semiconductors (SPECS) (iii) Modified Electronics Manufacturing Clusters (EMC 2.0) Scheme and (iv) Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI) for IT Hardware.

News Source: PIB


Year-End- Review-2021- Ministry of Road Transport and Highways

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-III: Space and Technology

  • PM Gati Shakti – National Master Plan (NMP)
    • It is a Rs. 100 lakh-crore project for developing ‘holistic infrastructure’.
    • The plan is aimed at easier interconnectivity between road, rail, air and waterways to reduce travel time, improve industrial productivity and developing synergies towards building a more harmonised infrastructure.
    • The push for infrastructure is in line with the government’s efforts to step up capital expenditure in infrastructure to promote economic growth.
  • World records: Construction of 2.5 km long 4 lane Concrete pavement at Delhi-Vadodara expressway section within 24 hours.
  • Announcement of the voluntary Vehicle Scrappage Policy, which will phase out unfit vehicles from the country- The policy will not only reduce pollution, caused by the old, unfit vehicles from the road but also lead to substantial employment generation. The policy intends to create scrapping infrastructure in the form of Automated Testing Stations and Registered Vehicle Scrapping Facilities (RVSFs) across the country.
  • Started a new registration mark for vehicles under BH series, wherein those eligible for the scheme need not change the number plate of his vehicle while shifting to another state. This was done to ease the burden of re-registration, which is a cumbersome and time-consuming process. 
  • In a significant step towards seamless movement of vehicles on the National Highways, the Ministry made it mandatory to use FASTag at all the toll plazas.
  • World records: Construction of 2.5 km long 4 lane Concrete pavement at Delhi-Vadodara expressway section within 24 hours.
  • Facilitate the issuance of International Driving Permit (IDP) for Indian citizens whose IDP has expired while they are abroad. There was no mechanism for its renewal while citizens were abroad and their IDP had expired. 
  • The Ministry has notified adoption of mass emission standards for E20 fuel.
  • Electric vehicle Charging Stations are to be provided by the developer as part of the Wayside Amenities (WSAs) being awarded by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).
  • To revolutionize the transport of goods and reduce the overall logistic costs, the Automotive Industry Standards Committee has amended its AIS-113 Standard to include the safety requirements of Road-Trains.
  • The Ministry amended the Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989, formalising the registration process of vintage motor vehicles.
  • A reward scheme was announced in 2021 for Good Samaritan who has saved life of a victim of a fatal accident involving a motor vehicle by administering immediate assistance and rushing to Hospital within the Golden Hour to provide medical treatment. The amount of award would be Rs 5,000 per incident. An individual Good Samaritan can be awarded maximum 5 times in a year.

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


GOVERNANCE/ ECONOMY

  • GS-2: Development processes and the development industry —the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders. 
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors

Foreign funds and the Missionaries of Charity

Context: Recently, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said the Missionaries of Charity’s application for renewal of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act registration was rejected on December 25 for not meeting eligibility conditions and after “some adverse inputs” were received. 

  • The registration of Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Teresa in Kolkata, under FCRA was valid up to October 31, 2021, but had been extended till December 31, 2021. 
  • MHA also said that it did not freeze any account of the Missionaries of Charity but that the State Bank of India had informed it that the organisation itself sent a request to the bank to freeze its accounts, which the Missionaries of Charity confirmed. 
  • Licences of non-governmental organisations are routinely checked and suspended if the MHA finds any irregularities regarding their working in the country. 

What is the FCRA?

  • The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 regulates foreign donations and ensures that such contributions do not adversely affect internal security.
  • First enacted in 1976, it was amended in 2010 when a slew of new measures were adopted to regulate foreign donations.
  •  The FCRA is applicable to all associations, groups and NGOs which intend to receive foreign donations. 
  • It is mandatory for all such NGOs to register under the FCRA, initially valid for five years that can be renewed subsequently if it complies with all norms. 
  • Registered associations can receive foreign contribution for social, educational, religious, economic and cultural purposes.
  • Filing of annual returns, on the lines of Income Tax, is compulsory.
  • In 2015, the MHA notified new rules, which required NGOs to give an undertaking that the acceptance of foreign funds is not likely to prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India or impact friendly relations with any foreign state and does not disrupt communal harmony. 
  • It also said all such NGOs would have to operate accounts in either nationalised or private banks which have core banking facilities to allow security agencies access on a real time basis. 

Who cannot receive foreign donations?

  • Members of legislature, political parties, government officials, judges, media persons are prohibited from receiving any foreign contribution. 
  • However, in 2017, the MHA through the Finance Bill route amended the 1976 repealed FCRA law paving the way for political parties to receive funds from the Indian subsidiary of a foreign company or a foreign company where an Indian holds 50% or more shares. 

Is there any other way to receive foreign contributions?

  • The other way to receive foreign contributions is by applying for prior permission. It is granted for receipt of a specific amount from a specific donor for carrying out specific activities or projects.
  • But the association should be registered under statutes such as the Societies Registration Act, 1860, Indian Trusts Act, 1882 or section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956 etc. 
  • A letter of commitment from the foreign donor specifying the amount and purpose is also required. 
  • In 2017, the MHA suspended the FCRA of Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), one of India’s largest public health advocacy groups, on grounds of using ‘foreign funds’ to lobby with parliamentarians on tobacco control activities. 
    • After several representations by the PHFI to the government, it was placed under the ‘prior permission’ category. 

When is a registration suspended or cancelled? 

  • The MHA on inspection of accounts and upon receiving any adverse input against the functioning of an association can suspend the FCRA registration initially for a period of 180 days. 
  • Till the time any decision is taken, the association cannot receive any fresh donation and cannot utilise more than 25% of the amount available in the designated bank account without permission of the MHA. 
  • The MHA can cancel the registration of an organisation which will not be eligible for registration or grant of ‘prior permission’ for three years from the date of cancellation. 
  • According to MHA data, since 2011 when the Act was overhauled, the registration of 20,664 associations were cancelled for violations such as misutilisation of foreign contribution, non-submission of mandatory annual returns and for diverting foreign funds for other purposes. 
    • As of December 29, there are 22,762 FCRA-registered NGOs. 

Connecting the dots:


SCIENCE & TECH/ ECONOMY

  • GS-3: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life. 
  • GS-2: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources

Flex-Fuel Vehicles

Context: The government has advised carmakers to start making Flex Fuel Strong Hybrid Electric Vehicles (FFSHEV).

About Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFV)

  • Flex fuel vehicles (FFV) are capable of running on 100% petrol or 100% bio-ethanol or a combination of both.
  • Flex Fuel Strong Hybrid Electric Vehicles (FFSHEV) essentially houses an electric motor which powers the vehicle alongside the traditional petrol engine.
  • However, such vehicles are yet to be made widely available in world markets.
  • Dual fuel vehicle means the engine uses two fuels (gas and diesel) at the same time
  • Bi Fuel means the engine could run on either fuel separately.
  • Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFV) is capable of running on either petrol or ethanol or a combination of both hence it is a synthesis of Dual fuel vehicle and Bi fuel vehicle.

How much blending is being done presently?

  • Bio-ethanol contains less energy per litre than petrol
  • However, the calorific value will become on par with petrol with use of advanced technology.
  • A litre of petrol sold in India has an average of 8% ethanol content even though oil marketing companies have clearance to do 10% (E10) blending.
  • All vehicles manufactured in India are tuned for E10. They will not be able to run on higher ethanol content beyond 10%.

Why factors are pushing government to promote Flex Fuel Vehicles?

  • Reduce Import Bill: In FY21 India’s oil import bill stood at $62.7 billion. The government is desperate to bring down the oil import bill by creating fuel substitutes like ethanol, hydrogen and electricity.
  • Savings: Even a push till the E20 level (20% blending) can result in savings of $4 billion per annum. This is possible only if flex-fuel vehicles are made available in the market.
  • Paris Climate Commitments: Also, FFVs will also help the government meet its commitments when it comes to reducing emission. By hitting E20 
    • Carbon monoxide emissions were 50% lower in two-wheelers and 30% lower in four-wheelers compared to petrol.
    • Hydrocarbons were lower by 20%.

What are the challenges with FFV?

  • Fuel Efficiency: E20 blending will result in drop in fuel efficiency by nearly 6-7% in 4 wheelers designed for E0 and calibrated to E10.
  • Requirement of Automobile Parts: Auto parts that come in contact with higher ethanol content have to be replaced with a compatible product to avoid corrosion.
  • Increased Cost: Because of changes required for vehicle components, higher blending of ethanol increases manufacturing costs of vehicles. Nevertheless, Automotive companies say that they are ready to move with E20 by 2025.

Connecting the dots:


(Down to Earth: Renewable Energy)


Dec 30: Making solar cells efficient, cheaper, recyclable

https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/renewable-energy/making-solar-cells-efficient-cheaper-recyclable-iit-guwahati-finds-a-way-80925 

TOPIC:

  • GS-3: Energy

Making solar cells efficient, cheaper, recyclable

In News: Scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, have found a way to make solar panels more efficient, cheaper and recyclable — by stabilising hybrid perovskite-based solar or photovoltaic devices to produce electricity.

Perovskite-based devices

  • Perovskite-based devices are considered heavily used semiconductor materials as they are affordable and easy to manufacture.
  • The perovskite materials are extremely unstable towards ambient (humidity and oxygen) conditions that restrict their commercialization

If we are to commercialize its use –

  • Developing large-scale perovskite solar cells requires high-quality defect-free perovskite films with improved surface coverage. 
  • One of the most convenient ways to achieve this is through the incorporation of appropriate passivation molecules in the perovskite films.
  • The most convenient way to harness the maximum potential of the perovskite active layer is to use a coating of an appropriate material so that it becomes ‘stable’ or less readily affected by the environment, in this case humidity and oxygen. 

Making Renewable Energy Economical 

  • The research results on perovskite solar cells appeared first in 2009. Though it is just over a decade old, it is challenging the efficiency and performance of inorganic solar cells, which is 6-7 decades old. Now, notable progress is being made in terms of stability of these devices.
  • Various government agencies in India, such as the Department of Science and Technology and NITI AAYOG, have initiated major research and development schemes to push research in perovskite solar cells so that renewable energy which is economical, is accessible to the masses in the near future after learning about their breakthrough.
  • The newly developed version of the perovskite solar panels is yet in a proto-type form. Cells also recyclable

Advantages of perovskite solar cells

  • Each one of them is soluble in a particular solvent and a fresh set of perovskite solar cells can be again fabricated on the recycled substrates. 
  • These devices can be manufactured at room temperature, making them cost-effective and more eco-friendly.
  • The processing cost will be at least one-tenth of the current solar panels, and with the larger production units, the cost can be further reduced
  • Recycling perovskite cells is essential as most current structures contain lead, a toxic material. Researchers have found that effective recycling can significantly reduce energy consumption in the panel production process. 
  • However, it is unlikely that a shift to perovskite cells will lead to a decrease in solar waste generation. A bulk of the panel’s weight comes from glass and the aluminium frame.

Way Forward

While solar energy is the future, WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) is a growing problem. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in a report published December 2021 estimated the global PV waste will touch 78 million tonnes by 2050, with India being one of the top five PV waste creators.

  • Recycling of any semiconductor, including the installed solar panels, is challenging. There is no definite plan to recycle this waste generated from solar panels so far. After 10-15 years, this waste will also pose a threat to the world.
  • India’s cumulative PV waste can go as high as 34,600 tonnes by 2030, according to a report prepared by the National Solar Energy Federation of India, SolarPower Europe and PVCycle, supported by EU in India and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. 

All components used in the hybrid perovskite-based solar panels can be recycled easily: hence, a better material for usage.


(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding BHarat norms: 

  1. To comply with higher level of Bharat norms, oil refineries need to produce diesel with less sulphur content
  2. The implementation of BSV and BS VI emission norms nationwide shall take place from 2020 and 2024 respectively.

Which of the above is or are correct? 

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

Q.2 The GST Council is chaired by?

  1. Union Finance Minister.
  2. RBI Governor 
  3. CEO of NITI Aayog
  4. Senior-most IRS officer

Q.3 Which of the following is not true about National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)

  1. It was formerly the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD).
  2. It is a national level institute for training specialized manpower for public health, laboratory sciences and entomological services and is involved in various applied research activities.
  3. It Undertakes investigations of disease outbreaks all over the country.
  4. It is headquartered in Mumbai.

ANSWERS FOR 1st Jan 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 A
3 D

Must Read

On criticism of Judiciary:  

The Hindu

On hate speech:

Indian Express

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