(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Part of: Prelims and GS-II -Health
Context: The National Regulator, Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), has given nod to market authorization of two COVID19 vaccines, Covaxin and Covishield for use in adults subject to certain conditions.
- The market authorization of two COVID19 vaccines, Covaxin and Covishield, in the country by DCGI is subject to the following conditions:
- Firm shall submit data of overseas ongoing clinical trials of the product with due analysis on six monthly basis or as and when available, whichever is earlier.
- The vaccine shall be supplied for programmatic setting and all vaccinations done within the country to be recorded on CoWIN platform and Adverse Event Following Immunization [AEFI], Adverse Event of Special Interest [AESI] shall continue to be monitored.
What is Conditional Market Authorization?
- Conditional Market Authorization” is a new category of market authorization that has emerged during the current global pandemic of COVID19.
- The approval pathways through this route are fast-tracked with certain conditions to enhance the access to certain pharmaceuticals for meeting the emerging needs of drugs or vaccines.
News Source: TH
Part of: Prelims and GS-III Biodiversity
Context: A nematode infestation has led to mass mortality of spot-billed pelicans (Pelicanus philippensis) at Telineelapuram Important Bird Area (IBA) in Naupada swamp, Srikakulam district, Andhra Pradesh.
- Over 150 spot-billed pelicans have succumbed to the infestation since December.
- The infestation has affected Only the adult birds.
- The Telineelapuram IBA is the prime winter sojourn for the spot-billed pelican for breeding.
- The same IBA is also a breeding habitat for the painted stork (Mycteria leucocephala).
- The spot-billed pelican (Pelecanus philippensis) or grey pelican is a member of the pelican family.
- It breeds in southern Asia from southern Iran across India east to Indonesia.
- It is a bird of large inland and coastal waters, especially large lakes
- The species is found to breed only in peninsular India, Sri Lanka and in Cambodia
- The main habitat is in shallow lowland freshwaters.
- IUCN status: Near Threatened
News Source: TH
Part of: Prelims and GS-III Internal security
Context: Almost 250 members of two extremist organisations in Assam laid down their arms recently.
- The organisations are the Tiwa Liberation Army (TLA) and the United Gorkha People’s Organisation (UGPO).
- TLA was Formed in 2014 to cater to the aspirations of the Tiwa community.
- Tiwa (Lalung) is an ethnic group mainly inhabiting the states of Assam and Meghalaya in north-eastern India.
- They are also found in some areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland.
- They are recognized as a Scheduled tribe within the State of Assam.
- They were known as Lalungs in the Assamese Buranjis and in Colonial literature and in the Constitution of India, though members of the group prefer to call themselves Tiwa (meaning “the people who were lifted from below”).
News Source: TH
(News from PIB)
Mizoram’s First ODF Plus Village
International Customs Day: 27th January; Theme: Scaling up Customs Digital Transformation by Embracing a Data Culture and Building a Data Ecosystem
Tamarind maniac: Shri Abdul Khader Nadakattin
- A serial grassroots innovator from Dharwad, Karnataka, is amongst the 107 Padma Shri awardees announced for the year 2022
- His prominent innovations include a device to separate tamarind seeds, ploughing blade manufacturing machine, Seed cum fertilizer drill, Water-heating boiler, an Automatic sugarcane sowing driller, and a wheel tiller. All his innovations demonstrate principles of sustainability, cost-effectiveness, eco-friendliness, and most importantly a, social acceptance.
Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-I: Modern India, India’s Freedom movement
In news: A pictorial book on India’s 75 Women Unsung Heroes of Freedom Struggle as part of Azadi ka Mahotsav has been released in partnership with Amar Chitra Katha.
- Rani Abakka, the Queen of Ullal, Karnataka fought and defeated the mighty Portuguese in the 16th century.
- Velu Nachiyar, the queen of Sivaganga was the first Indian queen to wage war against the British East India Company.
- Jhalkari Bai, was a woman soldier who grew to become one of the key advisors to the Rani of Jhansi and a prominent figure in the First War of Indian Independence, 1857.
- Matangini Hazra was a brave freedom fighter from Bengal, who laid down her life while agitating against the British.
- Gulab Kaur was a freedom fighter who abandoned her own hopes and dreams of a life abroad to fight for and mobilise the Indian people against the British Raj.
- Chakali Ilamma was a revolutionary woman who fought against the injustice of zamindars during the Telangana rebellion in the mid-1940s.
- Padmaja Naidu, the daughter of Sarojini Naidu and a freedom fighter in her own right, who would later become Governor of West Bengal and a humanitarian after Independence.
- Bishni Devi Shah, a woman who inspired large number of people in Uttarakhand to join the freedom movement.
- Subhadra Kumari Chauhan was one of the greatest Hindi poets, who was also a prominent figure in the freedom movement.
- Durgawati Devi was the brave woman who provided safe passage to Bhagat Singh after the killing of John Saunders and much more during her revolutionary days.
- Sucheta Kripalani, a prominent freedom fighter, became independent India’s first woman Chief Minister of UP Government.
- Accamma Cherian, an inspirational leader of the freedom movement in Travancore, Kerala, she was given the name ‘Jhansi Rani of Tranvancore’ by Mahatma Gandhi.
- Aruna Asaf Ali was an inspirational freedom fighter who is perhaps best remembered for hoisting the Indian National flag in Mumbai during the Quit India Movement in 1942.
- Durgabai Deshmukh, a tireless worker for the emancipation of women in Andhra Pradesh, she was also an eminent freedom fighter and member of the Constituent Assembly.
- Rani Gaidinliu, the Naga spiritual and political leader, led an armed uprising against the British in Manipur, Nagaland and Assam.
- Usha Mehta was a freedom fighter from a very young age, who is remembered for organizing an underground radio station during the Quit India Movement of 1942.
- Parbati Giri, one of Odisha’s most prominent women freedom fighters, was called the Mother Teresa of Western Odisha for her work in the upliftment of her people.
- Tarkeshwari Sinha, a prominent freedom fighter during the Quit India Movement, she went on to become an eminent politician in the early decades of independent India.
- Snehlata Varma, a freedom fighter and tireless worker for the education and upliftment of women in Mewar, Rajasthan.
- Tileshwari Baruah, one of India’s youngest martyrs, she was shot at the age of 12 by the British, during the Quit India Movement, when she and some freedom fighters tried to unfurl the Tricolour atop a police station.
News Source: PIB
- 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.
Context: Despite witnessing rapid economic growth over the last two decades, 90% of workers in India have remained informally employed, producing about half of GDP.
- Formal jobs, as per India’s official definition, are those providing at least one social security benefit — such as EPF.
- Official PLFS data shows that 75% of informal workers are self-employed and casual wage workers with average earnings lower than regular salaried workers.
- About half of informal workers are engaged in non-agriculture sectors which spread across urban and rural areas.
Evolution of Informal Sector in India
- Early on, in an attempt to promote employment, India protected small enterprises engaged in labour intensive manufacturing by providing them with fiscal concessions and regulating large-scale industry by licensing.
- Due to inefficiency, such measures led to many labour-intensive industries getting diffused into the informal/unorganised sectors.
- Further, they led to the formation of dense output and labour market inter-linkages between the informal and formal sectors via sub-contracting and outsourcing arrangements.
- In the textile industry, the rise of the power looms at the expense of composite mills in the organised sector and handlooms in the unorganised sector best illustrates the policy outcome.
- While such policy initiatives may have encouraged employment, bringing the enterprises into the tax net has been a challenge.
- Industries thriving without paying taxes are only the tip of the informal sector’s iceberg. What remains hidden is large number of low productivity informal establishments working as household and self-employment units which represent “petty production”.
- Survival is perhaps the biggest challenge for most informal workers (and their enterprises), and precarity defines their existence.
Since 2016, the Government has made several efforts to formalise the economy, some of which are:
- Currency demonetisation
- Introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST)
- Digitalisation of financial transactions
- Enrolment of informal sector workers on numerous government portals
Why the impetus for formalisation?
- The formal sector is more productive than the informal sector
- Also, it is established that formal workers have access to social security benefits.
- Pandemic has reversed the progress made in formalisation, hence there is a need to speed up the formalisation process.
- Research by the SBI recently reported the economy formalised rapidly during the pandemic year of 2020-21, with the informal sector’s GDP share shrinking to less than 20%, from about 50% a few years ago — close to the figure for developed countries.
What factors have led to continuation of informal activities?
- Excessive state regulation of enterprises and labour.
- High Taxation
- Informality is also an outcome of structural and historical factors of economic backwardness.
- Studies show that informality decreases with economic growth, albeit slowly.
- In many parts of the developing world, including India, informality has reduced at a very slow pace, manifesting itself most visibly in urban slums, poverty and (open and disguised) unemployment.
What steps needs to be taken to enhance formalisation?
- Simplifying registration processes, easing rules for business conduct and lowering the standards of protection of formal sector workers will bring informal enterprises and their workers into the fold of formality.
- Also, the economy will get formalised when informal enterprises (especially those involved in petty production) become more productive through greater capital investment and increased education and skills are imparted to its workers.
- A mere registration under numerous official portals will not ensure access to social security, unless there is robust implementation of labour laws.
Connecting the dots:
- 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.
Context: With the economy still hurting from the pandemic, the Budget on February 1 is likely to address concerns around growth, inflation and spending.
What are the major components of the Budget?
- There are three major components —
- Deficit indicators.
- Based on their impact on assets and liabilities, total expenditure can be divided into capital and revenue expenditure.
- Capital expenditure is incurred with the purpose of increasing assets of a durable nature or of reducing recurring liabilities. Ex: constructing new schools or new hospitals.
- Revenue expenditure involves any expenditure that does not add to assets or reduce liabilities. Ex: payment of wages and salaries, subsidies or interest payments.
- Depending on the manner in which it affects different sectors, expenditure is also classified into
- (i) general services
- (ii) economic services include expenditure on transport, communication, rural development, agricultural and allied sectors.
- (iii) social services include expenditure on the social sector including education or health
- (iv) grants-in-aid and contribution.
- The sum of expenditure on economic and social services together form the development expenditure. Again, depending on its effect on asset creation or liability reduction, development expenditure can be further classified as revenue and capital expenditure.
- The receipts of the Government have three components —
- Revenue receipts involve receipts that are not associated with increase in liabilities and comprise revenue from taxes and non-tax sources.
- Non-debt receipts are part of capital receipts that do not generate additional liabilities. Ex: Recovery of loans and proceeds from disinvestments.
- Debt-creating capital receipts are ones that involve higher liabilities and future payment commitments of the Government.
- Fiscal deficit by definition is the difference between total expenditure and the sum of revenue receipts and non-debt receipts. Therefore, fiscal deficit indicates total borrowings of the government.
- Primary deficit is the difference between fiscal deficit and interest payments.
- Revenue deficit is derived by deducting capital expenditure from fiscal deficits.
What are the implications of the Budget on the economy?
- The Budget has an implication for aggregate demand of an economy.
- All Government expenditure generates aggregate demand in the economy since it involves purchase of private goods and services by the Government sector.
- All tax and non-tax revenue reduces net income of the private sector and thereby leads to reduction in private and aggregate demand.
- Reduction in expenditure GDP ratio or increase in revenue receipt-GDP ratio indicates the Government’s policy to reduce aggregate demand and vice-versa.
- For similar reasons, reduction in fiscal deficit-GDP ratio and primary deficit-GDP ratios indicate Government policy of reducing demand and vice versa.
- Since different components of expenditure and revenue can have different effects on income of different classes and social groups, the Budget also has implications for income distribution.
- For example, revenue expenditure such as employment guarantee schemes or food subsidies can directly boost the income of the poor.
- Concession in corporate tax may directly and positively affect corporate incomes.
- Though both a rise in expenditure for employment guarantee schemes or reduction in the corporate tax would widen the fiscal deficit, its implications for income distribution would be different.
What are fiscal rules and how do they affect policy?
- Fiscal rules provide specific policy targets on the basis of which fiscal policy is formed. Policy targets can be met by using different policy instruments.
- In India’s case, its present fiscal rule is guided by the recommendations of the N.K. Singh Committee Report.
- Allowing for some deviations under exceptional times, it has three policy targets —
- Maintaining a specific level of debt-GDP ratio (stock target)
- Fiscal deficit-GDP ratio (flow target)
- Revenue deficit-GDP ratio (composition target).
- Though both expenditure and revenue receipts can potentially act as policy instruments to meet a specific set of fiscal rules, tax rates within the existing policy framework happen to be determined independent of the expenditure requirement of the economy.
- Accordingly, in the present institutional framework in India, it is primarily the expenditure which is adjusted to meet the fiscal rules at given tax-ratios. Such an adjustment mechanism has at least two related, but analytically distinct, implications for fiscal policy.
- First, existing fiscal rules provide a cap on expenditure by imposing the three policy targets.
- Second, under any situation when the debt-ratio or deficit ratio is greater than the targeted level, expenditure is adjusted in order to meet the policy targets.
- By implication, independent of the state of the economy and the need for expansionary fiscal policy, existing policy targets may lead the Government to reduce expenditure.
In the midst of the inadequacies of fiscal policy to address the contemporary challenges of unemployment and low output growth rate, the nature and objective of fiscal rules in India would have to be re-examined.
Connecting the dots:
(Sansad TV: Perspective)
Jan 26: Keeping Drones in Check- https://youtu.be/t-hKNBkPOUs
- GS-3: Science and Technology
Context: The potential use of drones in a terrorist incident or attack against a critical infrastructure and soft targets is a growing concern for law enforcement agencies worldwide as the availability of drone technology becomes more widespread globally.
- Days after three people including two Indians were killed in Abu Dhabi in a drone attack claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, the UAE government has ordered to stop all flying operations of private drones and light sports aircraft in the Gulf country for a month.
- In the past few years there have been several cases of drones being used by terrorists for planned and attempted attacks in various parts of the world.
- India has also witnessed increased rogue drone activity along its Western border with Pakistan in the recent years with drones dropping weapons, ammunition and drugs.
What are drones?
Drones are “unmanned aerial vehicles” or UAV. Developed essentially as military tools to eliminate a risk without putting a pilot’s life in danger. Over the years, drones have also increasingly been used for various other objectives –
- Emergency response: Innovations in camera technology have had a significant impact on the growing use of drones. UAVs outfitted with thermal imaging cameras have provided emergency response teams with an ideal solution for identifying victims who are difficult to spot with the naked eye.
- Disaster relief: drones have proved useful during times of natural disaster. In the aftermath of hurricanes and earthquakes, Disaster management companies used UAVs to assess damage, locate victims, and deliver aid. And in certain circumstances, they are helping to prevent disasters altogether.
- Healthcare: Many rural regions around the world lack access to high quality healthcare. While medical supplies can be delivered by traditional means, certain circumstances call for quick access to drugs, blood, and medical technology, commercial organisations can fulfil these needs with the help of drones.
- Agriculture: Farmers across the world are continuously striving to reduce costs and expand yields. With the use of drones, agricultural workers are able to gather data, automate redundant processes, and improve efficiency.
- Weather forecasting: Today, most data is collected through stationary structures or captured with geospatial imaging solutions. Drones, however, offer a versatile option that can physically follow weather patterns as they develop. Moreover to that water-based unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) are changing the way data is gathered.
- Maritime: Inspecting ships is also an important part of the industry hence, few companies has designed an underwater drone used to inspect hulls from below.
- Waste Management: Innovations in waste collection are still emerging, including drones that have help to clean oceans. Few companies focus on robots used to help maintain systems for wastewater management.
- Infrastructure Development: While drones serve a useful purpose in construction planning and management, they also have the potential to be used to develop physical infrastructure.
The danger of drones and killer robots
A drone-based terror attack is quite effective: it reduces operation costs and the risk of identification for terrorists as well as can easily sneak past conventional interventions employed by security agencies. Furthermore, individuals with no affiliation to any terrorist organisations can also carry out such an attack with sufficient motivation and skills and fly under the radar.
In recent months and years, there has been increasing concern over the dangers of drones and robotics technology that can be utilized to cause harm from remote locations.
- The use of drones by terrorist organisations can be traced back to as early as 2013. According to a report by India Today, Al-Qaeda attempted a terror attack using multiple drones in 2013 in Pakistan without success.
- The drone threat was felt closer to home when an IAF base in Jammu was attacked on 27 June, 2021. Two low-intensity IEDs were allegedly dropped from two drones. According to officials, this was the first time suspected Pakistan-based terrorists used UAVs in an attack.
The defence transformation has been far-reaching: over 102 countries now run active military drone programmes. It’s replaced thousands of troops on the ground with controllers behind computers located in bases far away from the air strikes they are launching. All of this is happening without any overarching regulatory regime to protect civilians and uphold humanitarian laws, or to examine the operational and tactical ramifications of this remote-control warfare.
- The Missile Technology Control Regime, an informal political pact among 35 members, seeks to limit the proliferation of and trade in missiles and missile technology—which arguably covers attack drones. But there’s no enforcement mechanism. It’s not equipped to regulate armed and networked drones, which can take as many as 200 people to operate.
The Way Forward
Drones have opened the door to weaponized artificial intelligence, algorithmic and robotic warfare, and loosened human control over the deployment of lethal force. Today’s armed drones are tomorrow’s killer robots; the absence of a control mechanism for a new generation of weapons of mass destruction represents a significant threat.
- As the number of commercial and consumer drones increases worldwide, and as drones become more sophisticated in their abilities to carry potentially dangerous payloads as they fly virtually undetected through sensitive airspace, the need for deploying counter-drone measures against potentially hostile drones increases.
- Nations should establish a multilateral process to develop standards for the design, export and use of drones, as well as stricter controls on the transfer of military technologies.
- Sales agreements should include civilian protection and adherence to international human rights.
- Introduce counter-drone measures to deal with rogue flying objects and develop and use technologies to disable their navigation, interfere with their radio frequency, or even training eagles for countering small drones.
In India: D-4 drone system by DRDO could help the Army swiftly detect and destroy drones that pose a security threat to the country. The technology, developed in 2019, is capable of destroying micro-drones by jamming the command and control links (softkill) and further by damaging the hardware of the drones with lasers (hardkill).
Can you answer the following questions?
- Drones are not just a form of war, but a tool of unregulated intra-state political violence. Comment
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
Q.1 Conditional Market Authorization is associated with Which of the following?
- Defence weapons acquisition
- Space satellites
- Cash crops
Q.2 What is the IUCN status of Spot-Billed Pelican?
- Near threatened
- Critically endangered
- Least concern
Q.3 Tiwa (Lalung) is an ethnic group mainly inhabiting which of the following state/Union territory of India?
- Both (a) and (b)
ANSWERS FOR 28th Jan 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)
On opening the schools:
On tackling Omicron variant:
On IAS cadre rules change: