fbpx

DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 4th January 2022

  • IASbaba
  • January 4, 2022
  • 0
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Archives


(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Pangong Tso (lake)

Part of: Prelims and GS-II -International relations

Context China is constructing a bridge in eastern Ladakh connecting the north and south banks of Pangong Tso (lake), which will significantly bring down the time for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to move troops and equipment between the two sectors.

  • The bridge is in China’s territory and the Indian Army would have to factor this in its operational plans.

About the lake

  • Pangong Tso or Pangong Lake is an endorheic lake spanning eastern Ladakh and West Tibet. 
  • It is divided into five sublakes, called Pangong Tso, Tso Nyak, Rum Tso (twin lakes) and Nyak Tso. 
  • Approximately 50% of the length of the overall lake lies within Tibet China, 40% in Ladakh India and the rest is disputed and is a de-facto buffer zone between India and China. 
  • During winter the lake freezes completely, despite being saline water. 
  • It has a land-locked basin separated from the Indus River basin by a small elevated ridge, but is believed to have been part of the latter in prehistoric times.

Small-Value Digital Payments in Offline Mode 

Part of: Prelims and GS-III Economy 

Context The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has come out with the framework for facilitating small-value digital payments in offline mode, a move that would promote digital payments in semi-urban and rural areas.

Key takeaways 

  • The framework incorporates feedback received from the pilot experiments on offline transactions conducted in different parts of the country between September 2020 and June 2021.
  • An offline digital payment does not require Internet or telecom connectivity.
  • Under this new framework, such payments can be carried out face-to-face (proximity mode) using any channel or instrument like cards, wallets and mobile devices.
  • Such transactions would not require an Additional Factor of Authentication. 
  • Since the transactions are offline, alerts (by way of SMS and / or e-mail) will be received by the customer after a time lag.
  • There is a limit of ₹200 per transaction and an overall limit of ₹2,000 until the balance in the account is replenished. The RBI said the framework took effect ‘immediately’.

Nuclear Weapons

Part of: Prelims and GS-II – International Relations

Context  Five global nuclear powers pledged to prevent atomic weapons spreading and to avoid nuclear conflict, in a rare joint statement ahead of a review of a key nuclear treaty later this year.

Key takeaways 

  • The permanent UN Security Council members – China, France, Russia, the U.K. and U.S have said that they strongly believed that the further spread of such weapons must be prevented.
  • The statement was issued after the latest review of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) which first came into force in 1970. 
  • The statement comes as tensions between Russia and the United States have reached heights rarely seen since the Cold War over a troop build-up by Moscow close to the Ukrainian border.
  • That has raised fears that Russia is planning a new attack on its pro-Western neighbour.
  • The rise of China meanwhile has also raised concerns that tensions with USA could lead to conflict, notably over the island of Taiwan. 

Fimbristylis Sunilii; Neanotis Prabhuii 

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Biodiversity 

Context Researchers have reported two new plant species from the biodiversity-rich Western Ghats regions in Thiruvananthapuram and Wayanad districts of Kerala.

  • They have been named Fimbristylis sunilii and Neanotis prabhuii.

Fimbristylis sunilii:

  • Collected from the grasslands of Ponmudi hills, Thiruvananthapuram, Fimbristylis sunilii has been named after plant taxonomist C.N. Sunil, retired professor and research guide of Botany, SNM College.
  • A perennial plant of the Cyperaceae family, it stands 20-59 cm tall and was collected from an elevation of 1,100 metres.
  • Fimbristylis sunilii has been provisionally assessed as data deficient (DD) under the IUCN Red List categories.

Neanotis prabhuii:

  • Neanotis prabhuii is a prostrate perennial herb named after K.M. Prabhukumar, Senior Scientist at CSIR-NBRI, Lucknow, in recognition of his research on flowering plants of the Western Ghats.
  • Discovered in the Chembra Peak grasslands of Wayanad, it hails from the family Rubiaceae and grows on high-altitude grasslands.
  • Neanotis prabhuii grows up to 70 cm in length and is many-flowered with the petals pale pink in colour.

GitHub

Part of: Prelims 

Context: The open-source software repository service GitHub is in the news after it was used to create and share an offensively named app that sexually harassed Muslim women in India.

What is GitHub?

  • GitHub is the world’s largest open-source developer community platform where users upload their projects and code for others to view, edit, and tweak.
  • The idea of GitHub: any developer can upload whatever software code or app code or software idea they have on the platform, and have others collaborate with them to help improve it, find errors, and fix problems.
  • The platform uses the software Git, which was created in 2005 by Linus Trovalds, the developer of the open-source operating system Linux, to track changes in a set of files and for coordination in software development

(News from PIB)


Birth Anniversary of Rani Velu Nachiyar

Part of: Prelims 

  • The first queen to fight against the British colonial power in India
  • Known by Tamils as Veeramangai
  • The princess of Ramanathapuram and the only child of Raja Chellamuthu vijayaragunatha Sethupathy and Rani Sakandhimuthal of the Ramnad kingdom.
  • Trained in war match weapons usage, martial arts like Valari, Silambam (fighting using stick), horse riding and archery
  • A scholar in many languages and she had proficiency with languages like French, English and Urdu
  • Married the king of Sivagangai, with whom she had a daughter. When her husband, Muthuvaduganathaperiya Udaiyathevar, was killed by British soldiers and the son of the Nawab of Arcot, she was drawn into battle. She escaped with her daughter and lived under the protection of Palayakaarar Kopaala Naayakkar at Virupachi near Dindigul for eight years.
  • Frustrated by the joining of forces against him, the Nawab ordered that Velu Nachiar and Marudhu Brothers were permitted to return to Sivaganga and rule the country subject to payment of Kist to the Nawab. 
  • Abiding by this Order, Rani Velu Nachiar accompanied by Marudu brothers and Vellachi Nachiar entered Sivaganga.
  • An agreement was reached where by Rani Velu Nachiar was permitted to govern the Sivaganga Country and Chinna Marudu, the younger was appointed her minister and the elder Vellai Marudu as the Commander-in-chief. Thus the widow Queen Velu Nachiar succeeded her husband in 1780.
  • Rani Velu Nachiyar was the first queen to fight for the freedom from the British in India. She granted powers to the Marudu brothers to administer the country in 1780. 

News Source: PIB


Efforts to Attain Self –reliance in Critical & Strategic Mineral Requirements 

Part of: Prelims 

In News: In order to ensure mineral security of the nation and to attain self-reliance in the area of critical & strategic minerals, the Ministry of Mines has created a Joint Venture company namely Khanij Bidesh India Ltd (KABIL) with participating interest of National Aluminium Company Ltd (NALCO), Hindustan Copper Ltd (HCL) and Mineral Exploration Corporation Ltd (MECL). 

  • Mandated to identify and acquire overseas mineral assets of critical and strategic nature such as Lithium, Cobalt etc. 
  • Aims at giving further fillip to Atma Nirbhar Bharat that will cater to the requirements of crucial sectors such as e-mobility, renewable energy, medicine, aerospace, aviation etc.
  • Engagement of KABIL is under way with source countries like Australia, Argentina, Bolivia and Chile which are endowed with cited critical and strategic minerals. 

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


POLITY/ ECONOMY

  • GS-2: Federalism and its challenges
  • GS-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

Extending the GST compensation

Context: Just a day ahead of the 46th meeting of the GST Council on December 31, the Finance Ministers of several States had a pre-Budget interaction with the Union Finance Minister and demanded that the GST compensation scheme be extended beyond June 2022, when it is set to expire

What is the GST compensation?

  • The Constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act, 2016, was the law which created the mechanism for levying a common nationwide Goods and Services Tax (GST). 
  • The adoption of GST was made possible by States ceding almost all their powers to impose local-level indirect taxes and agreeing to let the prevailing multiplicity of imposts be subsumed into the GST. 
  • While States would receive the SGST (State GST) component of the GST, and a share of the IGST (integrated GST), it was agreed that revenue shortfalls arising from the transition to the new indirect taxes regime would be made good from a pooled GST Compensation Fund for a period of five years from 2017. 
  • This corpus in turn is funded through a compensation cess that is levied on so-called ‘demerit’ goods. 
  • The computation of the shortfall is done annually by projecting a revenue assumption based on 14% compounded growth from the base year’s (2015-2016) revenue and calculating the difference between that figure and the actual GST collections in that year.
  • However, over the last five years, there had been a widening gap between the actual revenues realised and the protected revenues guaranteed. While the trend had been visible even before the pandemic, the gap had widened ever since.

What is the shortfall for the current fiscal year ending on March 31?

  • After taking into account earlier releases amounting to ₹1,15,000 crore, the total amount released in the current financial year as back-to-back loan in-lieu of GST compensation was ₹1,59,000 crore, it added at the time. 
  • The Centre clarified that this sum was in addition to normal GST compensation “being released every 2 months out of actual cess collections” that is estimated to exceed ₹1 lakh crore.
  • The sum total of ₹2.59 lakh crore is expected to exceed the amount of GST compensation accruing in FY 2021-22, the Union Ministry of Finance said at the time.
  • It also explained that the decision for the Union government to borrow the ₹1.59 lakh crore and release it to the States and UTs, which had been taken in the 43rd GST Council Meeting held on May 25, 2021, was aimed at bridging the resource gap.

Can the deadline be extended? If so, how?

  • The deadline for GST compensation was set in the original legislation and so in order to extend it, the GST Council must first recommend it and the Union government must then move an amendment to the GST law allowing for a new date beyond the June 2022 deadline at which the GST compensation scheme will come to a close.
  • Interestingly, even now the compensation cess will continue to be levied well beyond the current fiscal year since the borrowings made in lieu of the shortfalls in the compensation fund would need to be met. 
  • In September, the GST Council decided to extend the compensation cess period till March 2026 “purely to repay the back-to-back loans taken between 2020-21 and 2021-22”.

Connecting the dots:


SOCIETY/ GOVERNANCE/ ETHICS

  • GS-1: Society; Women Empowerment

Female Leadership

Context: The lack of representation of women in a parliamentary panel examining a bill to increase the legal age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 years has come under scrutiny following the comments of Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi. 

  • This shows how prejudices about the efficacy of women in key political roles need to be systemically eradicated.

What do Germany, Taiwan and New Zealand have in common? 

  • These are all countries that have women heading their governments. 
  • And although they are located in three different continents, the three countries seem to have managed the pandemic much better than their neighbours. 
  • Much along the same lines, a detailed recent study by researchers in the United States reports that States which have female governors had fewer COVID-19 related deaths, perhaps partly because female governors acted more decisively by issuing earlier stay-at-home orders. 
  • However, there were criticisms by pointing out deficiencies in the data — admittedly somewhat limited — or the econometric rigour of the analysis. Many will also point out that it is dangerous to make sweeping generalisations based on one study.

What is the important takeaway from such studies? 

  • The point about the danger of making sweeping generalisations is valid. Of course, studies such as these do not establish the superiority of all female leaders over their male counterparts. 
  • All female leaders are not necessarily efficient, and there are many men who have proved to be most effective and charismatic leaders.
  • The important takeaway from the recent experience and such studies is the necessity of getting rid of inherent biases and perceptions about female effectiveness in leadership roles.

What is the experience with India’s gram panchayats?

  • Importantly, female leaders also bring something quite different to the table. In particular, they perform significantly better than men in implementing policies that promote the interests of women. 
  • This was demonstrated in another study conducted by Nobel Laureate Esther Duflo and co-author Raghabendra Chattopadhyay, who used the system of mandated reservations of pradhans in gram panchayats to test the effectiveness of female leadership.
  • Their study was made possible by the 1993 amendment of the Indian Constitution, which mandated that all States had to reserve one-third of all positions of pradhan for women. 
  • Chattopadhyay and Duflo concluded that pradhans invested more in rural infrastructure that served better the needs of their own gender. For instance, women pradhans were more likely to invest in providing easy access to drinking water since the collection of drinking water is primarily, if not solely, the responsibility of women.
  • In addition to the instrumental importance of promoting more space for women in public policy, this is also an important goal from the perspective of gender equality

What is the situation with suffrage and participation?

  • The right to vote is arguably the most important dimension of participation in public life. There are others.
  • Independent India can rightly be proud of its achievement in so far as women’s suffrage is concerned. Women were allowed to vote from 1950 onwards and so could participate on an equal footing with men from the first general election of 1951-52. This is in striking contrast to the experience in the so-called “mature democracies” of western Europe and the United States. 
    • In the U.S., it took several decades of struggle before women were allowed to vote in 1920. 
    • Most countries in Europe also achieved universal suffrage during the inter-war period. 
  • Since most able- bodied men went away to the battlefields during the First World War, increasing numbers of women had the opportunity to show that they were adequate substitutes in activities that were earlier the sole preserve of men. This, it is suggested, mitigated the anti-female bias and earned women the right to vote in European countries.
  • The female representation in the current National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre is probably not very far from the typical gender composition in Indian central and State governments. Female members make up only about 10% of the total ministerial strength. 
    • The underrepresentation of female Ministers in India is also reflected in the fact that Ms. Mamata Banerjee is currently the only female Chief Minister.
  • The underrepresentation of women in Indian legislatures is even more striking. For instance, the 2019 election sent the largest number of women to the Lok Sabha. Despite this, women constitute just over 14% of the total strength of the Lok Sabha
    • Tiny Rwanda comes out on top with a staggering 60% of seats in its lower house occupied by women.
  • Attempts have also been made to extend quotas for women in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies through a Women’s Reservation Bill. 
    • The Bill was first presented to the Lok Sabha by the H.D. Deve Gowda government in 1996. Male members from several parties opposed the Bill on various pretexts. 
    • Subsequently, both the NDA and UPA governments have reintroduced the Bill in successive Parliaments, but without any success. 
  • Although the Rajya Sabha did pass the bill in 2010, the Lok Sabha and the State legislatures are yet to give their approval — despite the 24 years that have passed since it was first presented in the Lok Sabha.

What can be the steps to reduce prejudice?

  • Of course, there is a simple fix to the problem. 
  • The major party constituents of the NDA and UPA alliances can sidestep the logjam in Parliament by reserving say a third of party nominations for women
  • This will surely result in increasing numbers of women in legislatures and subsequently in cabinets. 
  • There is substantial evidence showing that increased female representation in policy making goes a long way in improving perceptions about female effectiveness in leadership roles. 
  • This decreases the bias among voters against women candidates, and results in a subsequent increase in the percentage of female politicians contesting and winning elections. 
  • So, such quotas have both a short-term and long-term impact. 
  • Indeed, voter perceptions about the efficacy of female leadership may change so drastically in the long run that quotas may no longer be necessary!

Connecting the dots:


(Sansad TV: Perspective)


Dec 27: Fighting Epidemics – https://youtu.be/eEcH4yNdVL0 

TOPIC:

  • GS-2- Health
  • GS 3 – Economy; Disaster Management

Fighting Epidemics

Context: 27th December marked the second International Day of Epidemic Preparedness – aims to promote international awareness and action on the prevention of, preparedness for and partnership against epidemics. 

  • This year would mark the second year that this day is observed, after the first International Day of Epidemic Preparedness was marked in 2020 based on a call for it made by the United Nations General Assembly. 
  • It is important for us to stay aware of the fact how infectious diseases can sweep across the world, push health systems to the brink and devastate lives and families. 
  • The havoc caused by Covid-19 reflects that the world learnt no lessons from outbreaks like Ebola, Zika, SARS and others. 

Major Epidemics  

A glimpse through major pandemics of the world which caused huge loss to life:

The Plague of Justinian
    • It killed between 30 million and 50 million people.
  • The cause of the Plague of Justinian was infectious fever caused by Yersinia pestis.
Black death
  • Between 1347 and 1351, it spread throughout Europe, killing approximately 25 million people
  • It is believed to have been the result of plague – an infectious fever caused by bacterium Yersinia pestis
  • It was likely transmitted from rodents to humans by the bite of infected fleas.
Smallpox (15th – 17th centuries)
  • Smallpox claimed the lives of approximately 20 million people, close to 90% of the population, in the Americas. 
  • The pandemic helped Europeans colonize and develop the newly vacated areas.
  • Smallpox is caused by infection with the variola virus transmitted through various ways.
Cholera (1817 – 1823)
  • The first cholera pandemic began in Jessore, India.
  • It was the first of 7 major cholera pandemics that have killed millions of people. 
  • The World Health Organization has called cholera “the forgotten pandemic”.
  • Its seventh outbreak, which began in 1961, continues to this day.
  • It is caused by eating food or drinking water contaminated with a bacterium called Vibrio cholera.
Spanish Flu or H1N1 (1918 – 1919)
  • It is caused due to H1N1 virus.
  • It infected around 500 million people, or a third of the world’s population, of that time. 
  • The pandemic was responsible for killing over 50 million people globally.
Hong Kong Flu or H3N2 (1968 – 1970)
  • Global fatalities were around one million.
  • It was caused by an H3N2 strain of the influenza A virus.
  • It is believed that the virus responsible for the Asian flu evolved and re-emerged 10 years later into this so-called “Hong Kong flu”.
  • H3N2 was exceptionally contagious.
HIV/AIDS (1981 – present)
  • Since 1981, 75 million people have had the HIV virus and approximately 32 million have died as a result.
  • HIV/AIDS is a persistent epidemic that continues to impact millions of people every year. 
  • The HIV infection is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
  • The virus can be transmitted through contact with infected blood, semen or vaginal fluids.
SARS (2002 – 2003)
  • SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, is an illness caused by one of the 7 coronaviruses that can infect humans. 
  • In 2003, an outbreak that originated in the Guangdong province of China became a global pandemic.
  • It infected around 8,000 people and killing 774 of them.
  • The consequences of the 2003 SARS pandemic were largely limited due to an intense public health response by global authorities.
Swine Flu or H1N1 (2009 – 2010)
  • It was a new form of the influenza virus which emerged in 2009.
  • It infected approximately millions of people with global deaths in the range of 151,700 to 575,400
  • It is called the “swine flu” because it appeared to cross over from pigs to humans in transmission.
  • 80% of the virus-related deaths occured in people younger than 65.
Ebola (2014 – 2016)
  • It began in a small village in Guinea in 2014 and spread to a handful of neighbouring countries in West Africa.
  • It is caused by infection with a virus of the Filoviridae family, genus Ebolavirus.
  • The virus killed 11,325 of the 28,600 infected people, with most cases occurring in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
Coronavirus, or COVID-19 (2019 – present)
  • Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.
  • Worldwide cases have surpassed 500,000 with more than 24,000 deaths globally. 
  • It is believed to be transmitted from animals to humans.
  • The vast majority of cases are reported from USA now. 
  • On March 11, the WHO characterized the outbreak as a pandemic.
  • Estimates indicate that Coronavirus could eventually infect 40% to 70% of the global population.
  • Practicing social distancing is recommended.
  • The damage to the world economy threaten the worst recession since the Great Depression or the “panics” of the 1800s, depending on the scale of government responses.

 

Prevention of, preparedness for and partnership against epidemics

A lack of international attention on this need would result in future pandemics surpassing previous outbreaks in terms of intensity and gravity. Preparedness for epidemics is important to prevent the healthcare structures across the world from collapsing under the increased burden that usually accompanies epidemics.

  • Conduct surveillance at points of entry into the country, like border crossings, ports and airports to identify people coming from affected countries and suffering from fever or any other symptom of the disease in question. Such people should be then sent to the nearest health unit.
  • The health authorities to prepare personnel and Rapid Response teams to undertake surveillance within the community and investigate any outbreak
  • ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) and its designated labs to test predetermined clinical samples of fever cases to be tested for COVID. 
  • Strengthen the infrastructure needed to develop vaccines via academia-industry interface, while also supporting skill development as well as capacity building.
  • Strengthening internal inter-ministerial co-ordination for rapid vaccine development and testing to address known and unknown infectious disease threats
  • Strengthening of development frameworks, surveillance and logistics for use of new vaccines, where appropriate.

India has been able to delay, if not entirely defy, a third wave of the pandemic with the help of a strong vaccination drive across the country, and is hoping to ensure that such quick vaccine development can be undertaken for any potential epidemic at a later stage as well, which can be a strong point in India’s epidemic preparedness.

On the other hand, the second wave of coronavirus exposed several shortcomings of the healthcare sector in the country, with beds, medicines as well as oxygen falling short of the demand. Though it is true that the magnitude of the second wave was unprecedentedly high, it is also true that healthcare systems across the country fell short by a wide margin.

As we respond to this health crisis, we need to prepare for the next one.

  • Scaling-up investments in better monitoring, early detection and rapid response plans in every country — especially the most vulnerable
  • Strengthening primary health care at the local level to prevent collapse
  • Ensuring equitable access to lifesaving interventions like vaccines for all people
  • Achieving Universal Health Coverage
  • Building global solidarity to give every country a fighting chance to stop infectious diseases in their tracks.

Conclusion

The coronavirus pandemic will not be the last one that humanity will face; therefore there is a need for immediate, coordinated action by the world to prepare for future health emergencies. 

Can you answer the following questions?

  1. Is the learning curve for India over? Is India prepared to handle the third wave? 
  2. Discuss the shortcomings that India experienced while dealing with the second wave of Covid-19.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding Pangong Tso:

  1. It lies entirely in India
  2. It has a land-locked basin separated from the Indus River basin by a small elevated ridge

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 Consider the following statements regarding small-value digital payments in offline mode: 

  1. An offline digital payment does not require Internet or telecom connectivity.
  2. Such transactions would require an Additional Factor of Authentication. 

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.3 Fimbristylis sunilii and Neanotis prabhuii are associated with Which of the following?

  1. Pesticide-resistant species of rice
  2. Invasive species of Eastern Ghats
  3. Newly discovered butterfly species in the Himalayas
  4. New plant species from the Western Ghats

ANSWERS FOR 4th Jan 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 A
3 D

Must Read

On implementation of safety protocols in fireworks industry:  

The Hindu

On 21st century challenge for democracy:

Indian Express

For a dedicated peer group, Motivation & Quick updates, Join our official telegram channel – https://t.me/IASbabaOfficialAccount

Search now.....