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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 29th January 2022

  • IASbaba
  • January 29, 2022
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Google to invest up to $1 bn in Airtel

Part of: Prelims and GS-III -Economy

Context: Google will invest up to $1 billion in Indian telecom giant Bharti Airtel, including $700 million for a 1.28% equity stake in the telecom operator.

Key takeaways 

  • Google also has 7.73% stake in Jio Platforms since 2020.
  • Bharti and Google will work together to build on Bharti’s extensive offerings via innovative affordability programmes.
  • They would continue to explore building on their existing partnerships to potentially co-create India-specific, network domain use cases for 5G and other standards.

What is 5G?

  • 5G is the fifth generation cellular technology that apart from increasing the downloading and uploading speeds (speed of 1 Gbps) over the mobile network, also reduces the latency i.e. the time taken by a network to respond. 
  • It also increases energy efficiency and offers more stable network connections. 
  • 5G is also designed to deliver signals more reliably than earlier cellular networks  
  • 5G will have a wider area in the frequency spectrum (range of frequencies) that will ensure no network congestion. 
  • In addition, it will also ensure connectivity to a full circle i.e. everything is connected to every other thing. 
  • 5G will help facilitate the ecosystem for the Internet of Things (IoT) and to incorporate Artificial Intelligence (AI) in our daily lives and  
  • To get the benefits of 5G, users will have to buy new phones, while carriers will need to install new transmission equipment to offer the faster service.

News Source: TH


Intranasal booster trials get DCGI nod

Part of: Prelims and GS-II Health

Context: The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has given vaccine manufacturer Bharat Biotech approval for conducting Phase 3 clinical trials of an intranasal booster dose for those who have received both doses of Covaxin.

  • The chimpanzee adenovirus vectored COVID-19 vaccine (BBV154) will be administered through an intranasal route, and each single dose is 0.5 ml.
  • Experts have noted that an intranasal vaccine as a booster will be easier to administer in mass vaccination drives. 
  • By reducing the need for needles and syringes, among others, such vaccines would also impact the overall cost of a vaccination drive.

Nasal vaccine

  • A nasal vaccine is a vaccine administered to a person via the nose and does not require a needle. 
  • It induces immunity through the inner surface of the nose, a surface that naturally comes in contact with many airborne microbes

About Drugs Controller General of India 

  • He is the head of department of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization of the Government of India.
    • Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation works in close collaboration with the state control administration and assist them in securing uniform enforcement of the Drug Act.
  • Responsible for approval of licences of specified categories of drugs such as blood and blood products, IV fluids, vaccines, and sera in India.
  • DCGI also sets standards for manufacturing, sales, import, and distribution of drugs in India.
  • Comes under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

News Source: TH


National Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd. (NARCL)

Part of: Prelims and GS-III Economy

Context: Banks have finalised plans to transfer by the end of this fiscal year 15 Non-Performing Asset (NPA) accounts worth Rs. 50,000 crore to the National Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd. (NARCL), or the ‘bad bank’ set up to help resolve the stress.

National Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd. (NARCL)

  • Following up the Union Budget 2021 announcement, government has incorporated “National Asset Reconstruction Company Limited” (NARCL) under the Companies Act. 
  • It will acquire stressed assets worth about Rs 2 lakh crore from various commercial banks in different phases. 
  • Another entity — India Debt Resolution Company Ltd (IDRCL), which has also been set up — will then try to sell the stressed assets in the market. 
  • The NARCL-IDRCL structure is the new bad bank. 
  • To make it work, the government has provided Rs 30,600 crore to be used as a guarantee.
  • The broad features of the arrangement are that NARCL will acquire and aggregate the identified NPA accounts from the banks, while IDRCL, under the exclusive arrangement, will handle the debt resolution process.
  • The final approval and ownership for the resolution shall lie with NARCL as the principal. 
  • This arrangement will also be in full conformity with the provisions of the SARFAESI Act as well as outsourcing guidelines of the Reserve Bank.

News Source: TH


Philippines inks $375 mn BrahMos missile deal

Part of: Prelims and GS-II International Relations and GS-III Defence and security

Context: The Philippines signed a $374.96-million deal with BrahMos Aerospace Private Ltd. for the supply of shore-based anti-ship variant of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile

  • This is the first export order for the missile, a joint product of India and Russia

About BrahMos Supersonic Cruise Missile 

  • BrahMos, deployed by the Navy on its warships first in 2005, has the capability to hit sea-based targets beyond radar horizon.
  • Capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against surface- and sea-based targets
  • The missiles, fired at a speed of 2.8 Mach or nearly three times the speed of sound, significantly increase the capability of the ships in engaging long-range targets.
  • The name BrahMos is a portmanteau formed from the names of two rivers, the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia.
  • It is the world’s fastest anti-ship cruise missile currently in operation.

News Source: TH


(News from PIB)


Launch of Enhancement of Capital Goods Sector Phase II

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-III: Indian economy

Objective: To expand and enlarge the impact created by Phase I pilot scheme, thereby providing greater impetus through creation of a strong and globally competitive capital goods sector that contributes at least 25% to the manufacturing sector.

Components: 

  1. Identification of Technologies through Technology Innovation Portals
  2. Setting up of four New Advanced Centres of Excellence and augmentation of Existing Centres of Excellence
  3. Promotion of skilling in Capital Goods Sector–creation of Qualification packages for skill levels 6 and above
  4. Setting up of four Common Engineering Facility Centres (CEFCs) and augmentation of existing CEFCs
  5. Augmentation of Existing Testing and Certification Centres
  6. Setting up of ten Industry Accelerators for Technology Development

News Source: PIB


Lala Lajpat Rai

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-I: India’s Freedom movement

In news: Lala Lajpat Rai’s birth anniversary is celebrated on 28th January every year.

  • A stalwart of the freedom struggle, Lala Lajpat Rai ranks among India’s most outstanding leaders
  • Born on 28th January 1865 at a small village of Dhudike in district Ferozepur, Punjab, he was a contemporary of great stalwarts including Mahatma Gandhi
  • Popularly known as ‘Punjab Kesari’ or ‘The Lion of Punjab’
  • Supported the Non-cooperation movement at the Nagpur session of the Congress in 1920 and protested against the Rowlatt Act and the Jallianwala Bagh massacre that followed.
  • In 1928, he moved a resolution in the assembly refusing cooperation with the Simon Commission since the Commission had no Indian members.
  • Also an Extremist, and along with Bipin Chandra Pal and Bal Gangadhar Tilak, he formed the Lal-Bal-Pal trio of extremist leaders.

Led

  • Presiding over the first session of the All India Trade Union Congress in 1920, advocated for organized labour as the antidote of capitalism and imperialism.
  • Co-founded the Punjab National Bank in 1894
  • Was the Founder-Editor of the Arya Gazette
  • Founded several institutions and organizations such as Hisar Bar Council, Hisar Arya Samaj, Hisar Congress, National DAV Managing Committee.

Death

  • After sustaining severe injuries during a baton charge by police when he led a peaceful protest march against the all-British Simon Commission, a commission constituted by the United Kingdom for Indian constitutional reform.

Notable Quotes

  • Defeat and failure are sometimes necessary steps of victory.
  • The attempt to fulfill the objective by peaceful means with full devotion and honesty is called non-violence.
  • If I had the power to influence Indian journals, I would have the following headlines printed in bold letters on the first page: Milk for the Infants, Food for the Adults, and Education for All.
  • What we aim at is not the merging or the absorption of the one into the other, but the integration of all into one whole, without in any way injuring or lessening each group individually

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


POLITY/ GOVERNANCE

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

Governance 4.0

Context: In the post-COVID world, there will be new challenges- failure of climate action, re-emergence of infectious diseases, debt crises and inadequate tech regulation, erosion of social cohesion – which requires different governance model.

  • When the institutions are well governed, little attention is paid to them. They are invisible supports for the economy and social order. 

Governance 1.0

  • In the Governance 1.0 period after World War II, both public and corporate governance were marked by the rule of a “strong leader”.
  •  This type of leadership worked well in a society where 
    • The cost of information was high
    • Hierarchical management functioned relatively smoothly
    • Tech and economic advances benefited almost everyone.

Governance 2.0

  • The Governance 2.0 model, which emerged at the end of the 1960s, affirmed the primacy of material wealth.
  • It coincided with the rise of “shareholder capitalism” and progressive global financialization. 
  • Managers accountable only to shareholders reigned supreme and had global reach. 
  • While the 2008 crisis dealt this model a blow, its narrow vision persisted.

Governance 3.0

  • The covid shock ushered in Governance 3.0. 
  • Crisis management dominates decision-making, with leaders focusing on operational issues and showing a relative disregard for possible unintended consequences. 
  • This trial-and-error approach has led to haphazard management of the pandemic and its fallout.
  • Once the pandemic ends, we will need a new governance model (4.0 version)

Need for a New Governance Model: 

  • Global governance has an unresolved problem: both the institutions and the leaders are no longer fit for their purpose.
  • As the Fourth Industrial Revolution and climate change continue to disrupt the current lives, public and corporate governance needs to change.
  • Technologies such as blockchain are replacing centralized organizations with decentralized entities, while social, economic and digital inequities are increasing.
  • For now, many leaders remain stuck in the shareholder capitalism mentality of Governance 2.0, while some societies still favour the strongman leadership and structure of Governance 1.0. However, these are inadequate to deal with post-COVID world.

What should be the approaches in Governance 4.0?

  • Long term Strategic Thinking
    • Governance 4.0 must replace today’s short-term management with long-term strategic thinking. 
    • A focus on problems such as the pandemic, socioeconomic crises and people’s mental health must be complemented with action to tackle climate change, reverse biodiversity loss and environment damage.
  • Replace the tunnel Vision & Top-down approach
    • As we live in a complex and interconnected world full of discontinuities, the roles of each stakeholder in society must change. 
    • Business can no longer ignore its social and ecological impact, while governments can’t act as if they alone have all the answers.
  • Primacy on Society
    • The emphasis on a narrow conception of economics and short-term financial interests must cease. Instead, the primacy of society and nature must be at the core of any new governance system.
    • Finance and business are vitally important. But they must serve society and nature, not the other way around.
  • New Crop of Leader
    • Leaders embrace and consent to stakeholder responsibility over shareholder responsibility. 

Connecting the dots:


INTERNATIONAL/ SECURITY

  • GS-2: India and its neighbourhood

India-Central Asia summit

Context: First India-Central Asia Summit hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the Presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

  • The India-Central Asia summit, that marked 30 years of diplomatic relations, came two days after a similar China-Central Asia Conference was held where Chinese President Xi Jinping offered $500 million in assistance and pledged to ramp up trade to $70 billion (presently $40 billion) 

What are the key challenges in India-Central Asia relation?

  • Low levels of Trade: A paltry $2 billion, spent mostly on Kazakhstan’s energy exports to India. In comparison, China’s trade figures with the region have exceeded $41 billion — they could double by 2030 — apart from the billions of dollars invested in the Belt and Road Initiative. 
  • Lack of overland connectivity: India doesn’t have a direct transit route with landlocked Central Asian Republics, hence it has to depend on third party for the trade connectivity with the region.
    • Obstacles by Pakistan: With Pakistan denying India transit trade through its land, it is difficult for India to connect with five Central Asian Republics (CAR).
    • Challenges with Iran: New Delhi’s other option to smoothen the route to Central Asia is through Iran’s Chabahar port. However, this will involve greater investment in rail and road routes to Iran’s northern boundaries with the CARs, something India is hesitant to do in the face of U.S. sanctions.
    • Challenges with Russia: Another option option is to use the Russia-Iran International North-South Transport Corridor via Bandar Abbas port, but this is not fully operational and at least two CARs (Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan) are not members.
    • TAPI still a dream: India too, has dragged its feet over TAPI gas pipeline plans (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India), due to supply guarantees, given the tensions with Pakistan. 
  • Afghanistan Conundrum: Afghanistan is the tenuous link between Central Asia and South Asia. After the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, there is no official government, a humanitarian crisis is building, and there are worries of terrorism and radicalism spilling over its boundaries. 
  • Increased Competition in the region: While Russia is the most strategic player, China is now the biggest development and infrastructure partner to the countries. Pakistan has also increased its outreach to the CARs, signing transit trade agreements, offering trade access to the Indian Ocean at Gwadar and Karachi. 

Key Takeaways from the first Summit of India with CAR

  • PM Modi reiterated that ties between India and the region have been historically close, with “civilisational, cultural, trade and people-to-people linkages”.
  • A number of high-level exchanges between the two sides, including bi-annual summits, and annual meetings of the Foreign, Trade and Cultural Ministers and Secretaries of Security (National Security Advisors) is accepted that will enhance the diplomatic relationship.
  • A plan to build a “Central Asia Centre” in New Delhi.
  • Announced two “Joint Working Groups” (JWGs) on Afghanistan and the Chabahar port project.
  • The Leaders emphasised that connectivity projects deserve priority attention and could be a force-multiplier for trade and economic cooperation and contacts between countries and people

Conclusion

India will need to move nimbly to ensure it stays in step with the changes, and to make certain the future of ties more closely resembles the deep ties of the distant past.

Connecting the dots:


(Down to Earth: Climate Change)


Jan 28: Climate and food price rise: Extreme weather events triggering unprecedented food inflation – https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/climate-change/climate-and-food-price-rise-extreme-weather-events-triggering-unprecedented-food-inflation-81300 

TOPIC:

  • GS-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Climate and food price rise: Extreme weather events triggering unprecedented food inflation

Context: At 14.23 per cent, India’s wholesale inflation rate in November 2021 was the highest in three decades. It did reduce marginally to 13.56 per cent in December. 

What is the concern?

  • Wholesale price index (WPI) inflation is always a cause of concern as it can raise retail inflation. 
  • The price rise has been continuous — December 2021 was the ninth straight month of double-digit percentage increases in the WPI. Experts predict the situation to remain the same through the end of this financial year (March 30, 2022).
  • High December inflation was unexpected: The government had reduced taxes on fuels.

Why does inflation remain high?

  • Food inflation — particularly the rise in prices of vegetables and a few grains — has been a driver of this episode of overall inflation. India’s wholesale price inflation peaked in November 2021 due to a surge in primary food inflation that hit a 13-month high.
  • Prices of seasonal vegetables jumped unprecedentedly in many states due to extreme weather events.
  • This trend is not limited to India. On January 7, 2022, the Food and Agricultural Organization’s (FAO’s) Food Price Index showed that food prices were at a decade-high, with an average rise of 28 per cent over the previous year. Adjusting for inflation, the average food prices in the first 11 months of 2021 were at the highest in 46 years.

History of Food Inflation in India

  • Between 1956 and 2010, there were nine double-digit inflation episodes. Of these, seven were caused by drought conditions, according to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). 
  • In the past six decades, there have been three major episodes of significantly high food prices globally: 1970s, 2007-08 and 2010-14. All these were triggered by weather shocks followed by factors such as increase in oil prices, trade policy interventions and biofuel consumption. 

The current episode seems to be entirely driven by weather anomalies.

Warming world, hotter prices

  • Extreme weather events had damaged crops, leading to a collapse of the supply of vegetables at a time of the year when they usually flood the markets.
  • The current global food inflation is driven predominantly by wheat, which reported price rise due to drought and high temperature in major producing countries.
  • Real global food prices were higher than in 2011, when food riots contributed to the overthrow of governments in Libya and Egypt.
  • Droughts are expected to be more frequent in some areas, especially in north-western India, Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh. Crop yields are expected to fall significantly because of extreme heat by the 2040s.
  • Groundwater: More than 60% of India’s agriculture is rain-fed, making the country highly dependent on groundwater. Even without climate change, 15% of India’s groundwater resources are overexploited.  

The fact is by changing the rain and its distribution, climate change is altering the very axis of agriculture.

Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) to the rescue

Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is an integrated approach to managing landscapes—cropland, livestock, forests and fisheries–that address the interlinked challenges of food security and climate change. It broadly works on three parameters-

  • Increased productivity: Sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and farmers’ incomes from crops, livestock and fish, without having a negative impact on the environment. This, in turn, will raise food and nutritional security.
  • Enhanced resilience: Adapting to climate change by reducing the exposure of farmers to short-term risks, while also strengthening their resilience by building their capacity to adapt and prosper in the face of shocks and longer-term stresses. Practices such as inter-cropping, multiple cropping and crop rotation are some of the practices farmers are using to fight climate change.
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), wherever possible. Avoiding deforestation from agriculture, managing soils and trees in ways that maximizes their potential to acts as carbon sinks etc.

The Way Forward

  • Concepts such as Low External Input Sustainable Agriculture (LEISA), which seek to optimise the use of locally available resources replacing external inputs is receiving increased attention as a sustainable alternative to chemical farming.
  • The Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) concept is a low-input, climate-resilient type of farming that encourages farmers to use low-cost locally sourced inputs. It eliminates the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides.
  • Farmers should make the shift to a package of practices that lower the use of water (through in-situ soil moisture conservation and other demand management measures), promote the use of bio-fertilisers and bio-pesticides as a means to reduce the cost of cultivation and lower the environmental footprint of cotton cultivation.
  • A combination of tools and techniques covering capacity building, field demonstration, extension and outreach will enable faster adoption. A robust extension and knowledge sharing system in partnerships with the agriculture department, institutions and universities to scale the adoption of sustainable farm practices. 
  • Provide better market linkages so that farmers are able to get assured and higher returns for their produce.

Conclusion

From the powerful economies to the less-developed countries; from countries in Europe and Americas to island nations in the Pacific, the impacts of climate change are real and here to stay. Our efforts to combat climate change will have to focus on mitigation and adaption efforts across all sectors. For agrarian countries, the task will be to ensure increased production without increasing the environmental footprint of agriculture by enhancing the knowledge and skills of our farmers.

Can you answer the following questions?

  1. Climate change is already having profound impact on the lives of rural poor in India. Unless a mitigation strategy is inbuilt in the farming and related activities, food and livelihood security of the rural poor can’t be ensured. Analyse

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Q.1 Which of the following is /are correct regarding 5G:

  1. 5G is the fifth generation cellular technology that increases the downloading and uploading speeds (speed of 1 Gbps) over the mobile network.
  2. It also increases energy efficiency and offers more stable network connections. 

Select the correct answer:

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

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding new bad bank, NARCL-IDRCL:

  1. NARCL will acquire and aggregate the identified NPA accounts from the banks, while IDRCL, under the exclusive arrangement, will handle the debt resolution process.
  2. The final approval and ownership for the resolution shall lie with NARCL as the principal. 

Select the correct answer:

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

Q.3 Which of the following is the world’s fastest anti-ship cruise missile currently in operation?

  1. Zarb 
  2. BrahMos 
  3. Barak 8
  4. F-98 Falcon

ANSWERS FOR 29th Jan 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 C
3 B

Must Read

On corruption & Judiciary:

The Hindu

On Formalisation of Economy:

The Hindu

On Anganwadis:

Indian Express

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