(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Part of: Prelims and GS-III -Defence and security
Context: Swedish defence major Saab’s AT4 anti-armour weapon had been selected by the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force through a competitive programme for a single-shot weapon.
- This order includes the AT4CS AST, which can be fired from confined spaces such as from inside buildings, bunkers and other urban environments.
- It weighs around 9 kg and has an effective range of 200 m.
- The AT4 systems are combat-proven across the world.
- They are lightweight, single-shot, fully disposable and truly characterised by its ease of use and handling.
- Operated by a single soldier, this single-shot system had proven efficacy against structures, landing craft, helicopters, armoured vehicles and personnel.
News Source: TH
Part of: Prelims and GS-II Health
Context: According to the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), Omicron is now in community transmission in India and has become dominant in multiple metros, where new cases have been rising exponentially.
- Coordinated by: Department of Biotechnology (DBT) along with MoH&FW, ICMR, and CSIR
- The consortium ascertains the status of a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the country.
- INSACOG has a high level Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee.
- It has a Scientific Advisory Group for scientific and technical guidance.
- Aim: To monitor the genomic variations in the SARS-CoV-2 on a regular basis through a multi-laboratory network.
- This vital research consortium also assists in developing potential vaccines in the future.
- The consortium will also establish a sentinel surveillance for early detection of genomic variants with public health implication, and determine the genomic variants in the unusual events/trends.
News Source: TH
Part of: Prelims
Context: The Kerala Bird Atlas (KBA), the first-of-its-kind State-level bird atlas in India, has created solid baseline data about the distribution and abundance of bird species across all major habitats.
- It is Conducted as a citizen science-driven exercise.
- The KBA has been prepared based on systematic surveys held twice over 60 days a year during the wet (July to September) and dry (January to March) seasons between 2015 and 2020.
- It accounts for nearly three lakh records of 361 species.
- It is arguably Asia’s largest bird atlas in terms of geographical extent.
- It was found that the species count was higher during the dry season than in the wet seasons.
- Species richness and evenness were higher in the northern and central districts than in the southern districts.
- Most of the endemics were concentrated in the Western Ghats while the threatened species were mostly along the coast.
- The survey ignored the short duration passage of migrant species.
News Source: TH
Part of: Prelims
Context: Researchers from Kerala have identified two new species of fungi from the genus Ganoderma that are associated with coconut stem rot.
- The two fungi species are Ganoderma keralense and G. pseudoapplanatum.
- The DNA barcodes have been made publicly available in DNA sequence repositories so that future studies can use it for early detection of the pathogen.
- The butt rot or basal stem rot of coconut is known by several names in different parts of India.
- Such as: Ganoderma wilt (Andhra Pradesh), Anaberoga (Karnataka) and Thanjavur wilt (Tamil Nadu), to mention a few.
- The infection begins at the roots, but symptoms include discolouration and rotting of stem and leaves.
- In the later stages, flowering and nut set decreases and finally the coconut palm dies.
News Source: TH
(News from PIB)
Located in the West Kameng District of Arunachal Pradesh
- Once completed, it will be a lifeline as it will provide all weather connectivity to Tawang.
- One of the longest tunnels to have been constructed above altitude of 13,000 feet
- Achieved by Border Roads Organisation (BRO) amidst inclement weather and heavy snowfall.
Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-III: Agriculture
In News: In a major boost to promote precision farming in India, guidelines of “Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization” (SMAM) have been amended which envisages granting upto 100% of the cost of agriculture drone or Rs. 10 lakhs, whichever is less, as grant for purchase of drones.
Some of the information that drones can help us with:
- Plant counting: plant size, plot statistics, stand number, compromised plots, planter skips),
- Plant height: crop height and density
- Vegetation indices: leaf area, anomaly detection, treatment efficacy, infestations, phenology
- Water needs: damage/drown out
Drones ensure a permanent monitoring of the crop in the field from planting to harvest.
Advantages of using drone in farming –
- Optimize inputs: Seeds, fertilizers, water
- React faster to threats: Weeds, pests, fungi
- Save time crop scouting: Treatments & actions
- Improve Variable Rates Application: Real time mapping
- Estimate yield: Precisely calculate field characteristics
News Source: PIB
- GS-2: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
Context: The National Statistical Office (NSO) released the first advance national accounts estimates for 2021-22 on January 7, 2022. India’s real GDP growth in 2021-22 is estimated at 9.2%
- It is 30 basis points lower than the projection by the RBI and IMF projection of 9.5%.
Challenges to the 2021-22 growth forecast
- Due to the three waves of COVID-19 that India has experienced, two years of real growth in economic activities have been wiped out. The economy has to now start on a clean slate.
- The adverse effect of the third wave of COVID-19, which is mainly affecting the last quarter of 2021-22, may call for a further downward adjustment in the growth rate to about 9%
- The main sectors that have held back a more robust recovery are trade, transport, etc. on the output side and private final consumption expenditure (PFCE) on the demand side (low growth of 6.9%), whose estimated 2021-22 figures remain below the corresponding levels in 2019-20.
- Growth in 2022-23 would also continue to be constrained by supply-side bottlenecks and high prices of global crude and primary products.
Growth prospects of 2022-23
- IMF and OECD forecasts have indicated growth rates at 8.5% and 8.1%, respectively.
- Growth in 2022-23 would depend on the basic determinants such as the saving and investment rates in the economy.
- The gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) relative to GDP at current prices stands at 29.6% in 2021-22.
- The implicit price deflator (IPD)-based inflation which was as high as 7.7% in 2021-22, may come down to about 5%-6%.
- Thus, we may expect a nominal GDP growth of about 12%-13% in 2022-23. It is the nominal magnitude which is crucial as far as the Budget is concerned.
- With good buoyant tax revenues, the Government may be able to limit the 2021-22 fiscal deficit to its budgeted level of 6.8% of GDP although a marginal slippage may be possible.
- Tax buoyancy is an indicator to measure efficiency and responsiveness of revenue mobilization in response to growth in the Gross domestic product or National income.
- A tax is said to be buoyant if the tax revenues increase more than proportionately in response to a rise in national income or output.
What measures government need to take to support growth in next fiscal?
- The major corporate income tax (CIT) reform undertaken in 2019-20 had provided a concessional rate of 15% for fresh investment in manufacturing by domestic companies provided their production took off on or before March 31, 2023.
- As nearly two years have been lost due to COVID-19, the Government may consider extending the time limit for availing this benefit of CIT reform.
- The GST compensation provision would also come to an end in June 2022, which may impact the revenues of certain big states. Hence, GST Council may consider extending the compensation time period to tide over the setbacks caused by COVID-19 pandemic.
- With respect to non-tax receipts, the scope of the National Monetization Pipeline (NMP) may be extended to cover monetisation of government-owned land assets. Disinvestment initiatives may have to be accelerated.
- Expenditure prioritisation in 2022-23 should focus on reviving both consumption and investment demand.
- Some fiscal support in the form of an urban counterpart to MGNREGA may be considered to support some of the sectors which are directly impacted by COVID-19.
- The Fifteenth Finance Commission had suggested a fiscal consolidation path where the Centre’s fiscal deficit was benchmarked at 5.5% (6% in worse scenario) of GDP for 2022-23. At this point, while supporting growth is critical, signalling a return to fiscal consolidation is also important
Connecting the dots:
- GS-2: Role of civil services in a democracy.
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Context: The Supreme Court has asked the Government if it will create an Indian Environmental Service (IES) as recommended by a committee headed by former Cabinet secretary T.S.R Subramanian in 2014.
What is the T.S.R Subramanian committee report on environment?
- The Subramanian committee was set up in August 2014 to review the country’s green laws and the procedures followed by the Environment Ministry.
- It suggested several amendments to align with the Government’s economic development agenda.
- The report submitted to then Union environment minister, had suggested amendments to almost all green laws, including those relating to environment, forest, wildlife and coastal zone clearances.
- However, a Parliamentary Standing Committee which scrutinised the report rejected it on the grounds that it ended up diluting key aspects of environmental legislation designed to protect the environment.
- Parliamentary committee suggested that another committee, with more expertise and time, be constituted to review the environmental laws.
What did the T.S.R report recommend?
- Dedicated Legislation: The report proposed an ‘Environmental Laws (Management) Act’ (ELMA), that envisioned full-time expert bodies—National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) and State Environmental Management Authority (SEMA).
- Also, the Air Act and the Water Act is to be subsumed within the Environment Protection Act.
- The existing Central Pollution Control Board and the State Pollution Control Boards are proposed to be integrated into NEMA and SEMA once the new bodies come into existence.
- Accelerate environmental decision-making process: NEMA and SEMA would evaluate project clearance (using technology and expertise), in a time bound manner, providing for single-window clearance.
- To accelerate the environmental decision-making process, they suggested a “fast track” procedure for “linear” projects (roads, railways and transmission lines), power and mining projects and for “projects of national importance.”
- Appellate Mechanism: It also suggested an appellate mechanism against the decisions of NEMA/SEMA or MoEF&CC, in respect of project clearance, prescribing a three-month deadline to dispose appeals.
- Environmental Cost: The report also recommends that an “environmental reconstruction cost” should be assessed for each project on the basis of the damage caused by it to the environment and this should be added into the cost of the project. This cost has to be recovered as a cess or duty from the project proponent
- Research Institute: The report also proposed a National Environment Research institute “on the lines of the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education” to bring in the application of high-end technology in environment governance
- Dedicated Civil Service: Finally, the report recommended an Indian Environment Service to recruit qualified and skilled human resource in the environment sector.
Has the report been accepted by the Government?
- The Centre never formally accepted this report and neither constituted a new committee as recommended by the Parliamentary Standing Committee.
- However, many of these recommendations are implicitly making their way into the process of environmental regulation.
- The Government has proposed rewrites to the Forest Conservation laws, set timelines to the pace at which expert committees that appraise the suitability of infrastructure projects must proceed.
How did the subject of the IES come to the fore?
- The Supreme Court was responding to a petition filed by a lawyer Samar Vijay Singh, whose counsel pointed out that matters of environment required special expertise.
- Currently matters of environmental regulation rests on scientists of the Ministry of Environment and Forests as well as bureaucrats from the Indian Administrative Services.
- The apex court expressed reluctance at getting into administrative matters of the Government but nevertheless asked the Centre if it expects to go about constituting such a mechanism.
Connecting the dots:
TOPIC: General Studies 1
- Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present significant events, personalities, issues
- The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors or contributions from different parts of the country.
Context: Bengal, as West Bengal is popularly known, enjoys eminence for its immense contribution to Indian Independence Movement. In the early 20th-century, Bengal emerged as a hotbed of the Indian independence movement, as well as the epicenter of the Bengali Renaissance. Revolutionary nationalism emerged as a potent political force in Bengal in the wake of the Swadeshi Movement in the first decade of the 20th century The Swadeshi Movement was the expression of the outrage triggered in Bengal by the partition of the province of Bengal in 1905.
Contributions of Bengal in India’s freedom struggle:
- From 1763 to 1800 we witnessed the Sanyasi rebellion in Bengal. It was basically a peasant rebellion starting from Dhaka (now the capital of Bangladesh), and spread up to Bihar the number of the rebels reached up to fifty thousand.
- The Indigo revolt was largely non-violent and it acted as a precursor to Gandhiji’s non-violent Satyagraha in later years. The revolt was made immensely popular by its portrayal in the play Nil Darpan and also in many other works of prose and poetry. This led to the revolt taking centre stage in the political consciousness of Bengal and impacted many later movements in Indian freedom struggle.
- Bankim Chandra Chatterjee raised nationalism to the level of religion by identifying the Motherland with the Mother-Goddess. It was in Anandamath, he wrote the poem ‘Vande Mataram’.
- Bengal Renaissance created many journal houses and associated with many newspapers, journalistic publications like Tattwabadhini Patrika, Samprakash, Sarbashubhankarr Patrika and Hindu patriot to bring social and educational reforms with regards to the women. This gave the larger social base to Indian national movement.
- Bengal rose into national consciousness on the back of Swadeshi movement and also further became the hub of leftist, socialist elements predominantly the Bengal Intelligentsia (The Bhadralok).
- The leftists under MN Roy also influenced the development of Democratic, civic libertarian polity with socialist policy that the Indian state finally developed itself into.
- Farmers also became the key stake holders in the freedom struggle as the National Movement took upon itself the ideology of Radical Agrarian Reform as one of its core principles which was also influenced by the Communist struggles in Bengal.
- Movements in support of Bengal’s unity and the swadeshi and boycott agitation were organised in many parts of the country. Tilak, who played a leading role in the spread of the movement outside Bengal, saw in this the ushering in of a new chapter in the history of the national movement. He realised that here was a challenge and an opportunity to organise popular mass struggle against the British rule to unite the country in a bond of common sympathy.
- Bengal School of Art promoted a distinctly Indian modernism which blossomed throughout India during the British Raj of the early 20th century. By synthesizing folk art, Indian painting traditions, Hindu imagery, indigenous materials and depictions of contemporary rural life, artists of the Bengal School of Art celebrate humanism and bring a dynamic voice to Indian identity, freedom, and liberation.
- The Anushilan Samiti and Jugantar would serve as the two main organisations that would mark what was termed as the “Agni Yug” (the era of fire). Underground cells sprung up to train Indians in weapons and bomb-making. Assassinations of anti-Swadeshi officials, who brutally crushed protests, became commonplace. Such tactics and their success would subsequently inspire revolutionaries all across the nation from Bhagat Singh in Punjab to Surya Sen in Chittagong and, of course, later Subhas Chandra Bose.
- The revolutionary activity emerged as the most substantial legacy of swadeshi Bengal which had an impact on educated youth for a generation or more. Moreover, it encouraged quixotic heroism. No involvement of the masses was envisaged, which, coupled with the narrow upper caste social base of the movement in Bengal, severely limited the scope of the revolutionary activity.
- However, Lord Curzon had perfected his divide and rule policy by providing a substantial sum of money to Nawab Salim Ullah, one of the founders of the Muslim League, not to participate in the boycott. The rise of separatism and discontent among Muslims would later be promoted through separate electorates and often Muslim League leaders would not cooperate with the Indian National Congress as seen during the Quit India Movement of 1942.
It can be fairly concluded that the events of 1905 contained the seeds that shaped the future of the subcontinent for years to come in terms of nationalism, economic policy and educational reforms. Unfortunately, it also sowed the seeds of division, which culminated in the Partition of the country in 1947.
Bengal’s contribution to the freedom movement has been immense starting from Battle of Plassey in 1757, up to the strike of 700000 workers in Calcutta in solidarity with the revolt of Indian navy in February 1946. India’s struggle for freedom against British Imperialism is incomplete without mentioning the pivotal role of Bengal.
News Source: PIB
Can you answer the following questions?
- Examine the contribution of Bengal in India’s freedom struggle.
- The partition of Bengal is a watershed in India’s freedom struggle. Do you agree? Substantiate your views.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
Q.1 Which of the following is/are true regarding Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG)?
- It is Coordinated by Department of Biotechnology (DBT) only
- The consortium ascertains the status of a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the country.
Select the correct answer:
- Only 1
- Only 2
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.2 Coconut stem rot is caused by which of the following type of microorganism?
Q.3 The first-of-its-kind State-level bird atlas in India was recently released by which of following state of India?
- Himachal Pradesh
ANSWERS FOR 24th Jan 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)
On merit versus reservation:
On hasty assessment of environmental costs:
On Secularism in India: