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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 5th January 2022

  • IASbaba
  • January 5, 2022
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Multi Agency Centre (MAC)

Part of: Prelims and GS-III -Security

Context The Union government has asked the States to share more intelligence inputs through the Multi Agency Centre (MAC).

  • It is a common counter-terrorism grid under the Intelligence Bureau that was made operational in 2001 following the Kargil War.
  • As many as 28 organisations, including the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), armed forces and State police, are part of the platform. 
  • Various security agencies share real-time intelligence inputs on the MAC.

About the Centre

  • MAC was formed in December 2001 following the Kargil intrusion and the subsequent overhaul of the Indian national security apparatus suggested by the Kargil Review Committee report and GoM report. 
  • Accordingly, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) was authorized to create a multi-agency centre (MAC) in New Delhi. 
  • Now functioning 24/7 as the nodal body for sharing intelligence inputs, MAC coordinates with representatives from numerous agencies, different ministries, both central and state.
  • As noted in a 2016 parliamentary report the major contributors of intelligence inputs to the MAC were the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW). 

OmiSure

Part of: Prelims and GS-II Health and GS-III Sci and Tech

Context The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has approved a testing kit for detecting the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2.

  • The kit is manufactured by Tata Medical and Diagnostics and is named OmiSure.
  • The kit will be used to confirm Omicron in patients with its S-Gene Target Failure (SGTF) strategy.

What is the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)

  • ICMR, New Delhi is the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination, and promotion of biomedical research. 
  • Ministry: Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. 
  • It is funded by the Government of India 
  • The Governing Body of ICMR is presided over by the Union Health Minister.

Airtel Payments Bank designated as scheduled bank

Part of: Prelims and GS-III – Banking

Context  The Reserve Bank of India (RBI)  said Airtel Payments Bank Ltd. has been included in the Second Schedule to the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934.

  • With this, the bank can now pitch for government-issued Requests for Proposals (RFP) and primary auctions and undertake both Central and State Government business.

What is a Schedule Bank?

  • Scheduled Banks in India refer to those banks which have been included in the Second Schedule of Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. 
  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in turn includes only those banks in this Schedule which satisfy the criteria laid down vide section 42(6)(a) of the said Act. 
  • Banks not under this Schedule are called Non-Scheduled Banks.
  • Every Scheduled bank enjoys two types of principal facilities: it becomes eligible for debts/loans at the bank rate from the RBI; and, it automatically acquires the membership of clearing house.

NEAT 3.0

Part of: Prelims and GS II – Education 

Context Union Education Minister and Skill Development Minister launched NEAT 3.0, a single platform to provide the best-developed ed-tech solutions and courses to students of the country.

Key takeaways 

  • NEAT will be a game-changer in bridging the digital divide, especially among the economically disadvantaged students and also in fulfilling the knowledge-based requirement of India and the world.
  • National Educational Alliance for Technology (NEAT) is an initiative to provide the use of best-developed technological solutions in the education sector to enhance the employability of the youth on a single platform for learners’ convenience.
  • These solutions use artificial intelligence for a personalised and customised learning experience for better learning outcomes and skill development in the niche areas.
  • The minister informed that 58 global and Indian start-up ed-tech companies are onboard NEAT and are offering 100 courses and e-resources for bettering learning outcomes, developing employable skills and overcoming learning loss.
  • The minister expressed his happiness that, more than 12 lakh socially and economically disadvantaged students have received free ed-tech course coupons worth over Rs 253 crore under NEAT 3.0.

Automatic Generation Control (AGC)

Part of: Prelims and GS-III Economy

Context: Union Minister of Power dedicated Automatic Generation Control (AGC) to the nation.

Key takeaways 

  • This is expected to facilitate achieving the government’s ambitious target of 500 GW non-fossil fuel-based generation capacity by 2030.
  • The AGC is being operated by Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO) through National Load Despatch Centre.
  • Through AGC, NLDC (National Load Despatch Centre) sends signals to more than 50 power plants in the country every 4 seconds to maintain the frequency and reliability of the Indian Power System. 
  • This will ensure more efficient and automatic frequency control for handling variable and intermittent renewable generation.
  • Shri R.K. Singh also released a report titled “Assessment of Inertia in Indian Power System” which has been prepared by POSOCO in collaboration with IIT Bombay.

Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO)

  • It comes under Ministry of Power as one of the Power PSUs after separating from POWERGRID as its subsidiary organization.
  • It is responsible to ensure the integrated operation of the Grid in a reliable, efficient, and secure manner.
  • It consists of 5 Regional Load Despatch Centres (RLDCs) and the National Load Despatch Centre (NLDC).

(News from PIB)


Year End Review: Legislative Department

Part of: Prelims 

The Legislative Department plays an important role in assisting the Ministries/Departments of the Government to achieve the policy objectives through legislation. Legislative Department provides assistance to State Governments in translation of Central Laws into the languages mention in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution.

Election Laws and Electoral Reforms: To amend the Representation of the People Act, 1950 and the Representation of the People Act, 1951, the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 has been passed by Parliament. The said Bill envisages the following:

  1. Linking of Electoral Roll with Aadhaar System will curb the menace of multiple enrolment of the same person in different places; Multiple qualifying dates for enrolment in the electoral roll will expand the voter base and consequently greater participation of eligible voters in the electoral process;
  2. Making the statutes gender neutral in line with the avowed policy of gender equality and inclusiveness vis-à-vis conduct of our elections; and
  3. Streamlining the process of conduct of elections with reference to requisition of staff or premises, etc.

India Code Information System (ICIS)

  • Each year number of legislations (both principal Acts and Amending Acts) are passed by the legislature and it is difficult for judiciary, lawyers as well as citizens to refer relevant and up to date Acts when required. 
  • Keeping all these aspects in view, India Code Information System (ICIS), a one stop digital repository of all the Central and State Legislation including their respective subordinate legislations has been developed with the help of NIC under the guidance of Ministry of Law and Justice (Legislative Department). 
  • It is an important step in ensuing legal empowerment of all citizens as well as the object of ONE NATION — ONE PLATFORM. 
  • Till date, Central Acts from the  years 1838 to 2021 total 823 Central Acts have been updated and uploaded (in ICIS) for general public.

Official Language Wing has published the Constitution of India. In this edition, the text of the Constitution of India has been brought up-to-date by incorporating therein all the amendments up the Constitutional (One Hundred and Fifth Amendment) Act, 2021.

News Source: PIB


Year End Review 2021: Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs

Part of: Prelims 

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban (PMAY-U)

  • To address urban housing shortage including the slum dwellers by ensuring a pucca house to eligible urban households by the year 2022
  • The technology used to build the houses at faster speed was innovative, specially the Light House projects as part of Global Housing Technology Challenge – India (GHTC -India) initiative, in six States
  • The initiative led to a new era in the construction technology in India, thus giving impetus to Make in India initiative.  
  • Bringing people and technology together, LHPs will pave the way for a new eco- system where globally proven technologies will be adopted for cost-effective, environment friendly and speedier construction. 
  • Advantages of these LHPs are many, the primary ones being durability, climate-resilient, affordability, safety and speed.

Technology Sub-Mission (TSM)

  • Set up to facilitate the adoption of innovative, sustainable, eco-friendly and disaster-resilient technologies and building materials for low-cost, speedier and quality construction of houses. 
  • Has the potential to bring a paradigm shift in the overall housing construction sector in the country.

Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC) Scheme

  • To achieve overall objective of “Housing for All” encompassing the need of affordable rental housing for urban migrants/poor. 
  • ARHCs will provide them dignified living with necessary civic amenities near their place of work.

City Innovation Exchange (CiX) platform

  • Launched under Smart Cities Mission (SCM), the platform focuses on fostering innovative practices in cities. CiX, through an ‘open innovation’ process, engages with innovators to design-test-deliver on solutions to pressing urban challenges. 

SmartCode 

  • A SmartCode is a platform was launched by MoHUA that enables all ecosystem stakeholders to contribute to a repository of open-source code for various solutions and applications for urban governance. 
  • It is designed to address the challenges that ULBs face in the development and deployment of digital applications to address urban challenges, by enabling cities to take advantage of existing codes and customising them to suit local needs, rather than having to develop new solutions from scratch. 
  • The India Urban Data Exchange has been developed 
  • A New smart cities website & Geospatial management information system GMIS for project monitoring was also developed to implement and proper scrutiny of the projects under SCM.

Transport4All

  • Aiming to bring together cities, citizen groups, and start-ups to develop solutions that improve public transport to better serve the needs of all citizens. 
  • Started the EatSmart Cities Challenge which aimed to motivate Smart Cities to develop a plan that supports a healthy, safe and sustainable food environment supported by institutional, physical, social, and economic infrastructure along with the application of ‘smart’ solutions to combat food related issues.

National Urban Digital Mission (NUDM) 

  • Will create a shared digital infrastructure for urban India, working across the three pillars of people, process, and platform to provide holistic support to cities and towns. 
  • It will institutionalise a citizen-centric and ecosystem-driven approach to urban governance and service delivery in 2022 cities by 2022, and across all cities and towns in India by 2024.

Prime Minister Street Vendor’s AtmaNibhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi) Scheme

  • Has given street food vendors online access to thousands of consumers and help these vendors grow their businesses. 
  • MoHUA launched the Mobile Application for PM SVANidhi se Samriddhi- Socio-economic profiling of PM SVANidhi beneficiaries and their families to link them to various Central Government Schemes

Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana –National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM) scheme 

  • A flagship scheme which aims towards alleviating urban poverty through building strong community institutions, providing skill training, access to affordable credit for self-employment, support for street vendors and shelters for the urban homeless.
  • Has focussed on equipping the urban poor women with adequate skills and opportunities, and to enable them to promote sustainable micro enterprises. 
  • It mobilises women from urban poor households into SHGs and their federations to create a support system for these women.

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


SOCIETY/ ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-1: Social Empowerment
  • GS-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

Recognising the Value of Housework

Context: With elections set to be held in Punjab, both the AAP and the Punjab Congress have promised various sums of money to homemakers if they are elected to power. 

  • Political parties are promising to recognise housework as a salaried profession by paying homemakers ‘hitherto unrecognized and unmonetized’ for their work at home.

What is the origin of the demand?

  • The demand for ‘wages for housework’ arose in the context of struggle and consciousness-raising associated with the Second Wave of the women’s movement in North America and Europe. 
  • Alongside other demands for social and political equality, women’s rights campaigners politicised women’s everyday experience of housework and child care in the ‘private’ realm of the household. 
  • In doing this, they challenged the assumption that a ‘natural’ affinity for housework was rooted in the essential nature of women who were performing a ‘labour of love’. 
  • For leading women’s rights activists of the 1960s and 1970s, it was important to bust the myth that women’s work at home was a personal service with no links to capitalist production. 
  • In a concrete sense, this meant linking the exploitation of the worker in the factory to women’s work at home.
  • As Mariarosa Dalla Costa and Selma James wrote in their seminal piece in 1972 , the woman working at home produced ‘the living human being — the labourer himself.’ 
  • By providing free services in the home,women made possible the survival of working-class households at subsistence-level wages, with obvious benefits for industry and capital.
  • Housework had come to define the very nature of a woman that disallowed women from seeing it as ‘real work’ or as a social contract.
  • More fundamentally, the very demand for a wage was a repudiation of housework as an expression of women’s nature. It was a revolt against the assigned social role of women. Therein lay the radical nature of the demand for wages, not in the money itself.
  • For the advocates of ‘wages for housework’, the wage that the state ought to pay women would make them autonomous of the men on whom they were dependent. 

What are some of the challenges in implementing the proposal? 

  • There was disagreement among the women ideologues of the Second Wave on what payment of a wage would actually mean for women. 
  • The sociologist, Ann Oakley, believed that ‘wages for housework’ would only imprison women further within the household, increase their social isolation and dissuade men from sharing housework. 
  • Others too argued that the goal of the women’s movement must be, to not ask for wages, but to free women from the daily routine domestic chores and enable them to participate fully in all spheres of social life, including paid employment outside the household. 
  • The debate around monetary remuneration for housework remained unresolved within the women’s movement, even as the tools to measure the value that women’s unpaid work adds to national economies have grown more sophisticated.
  • There are also inclusion & exclusion issues (full time homemaker & working woman who also handles household work) that cannot be easily resolved. It would be better to strengthen the demand for a universal basic income for income-poor households and make sure that the cash transfer to the family reaches women directly, whether or not they combine household work with paid work.

Struggle for legislation

  • However, the demand that the state recognise housework is significant and its radical core must not be missed, as the historical experience of the women’s movement shows us. 
  • In this context, it is worth mentioning that an important campaign on the question of household labour has been taking place in India. This is the ongoing struggle for national legislation for domestic workers. 
  • These are predominantly women who perform ‘women’s work’ but in other people’s homes. They are, therefore, uniquely positioned to make this work visible and demand that its conditions be regulated, minimum wages guaranteed, and the workers’ status and rights protected. 

Conclusion

If domestic workers emerge as a strong force that succeeds in asserting the dignity of housework and making it a visible and valued form of labour, this can only be a good thing for all women performing housework in the long run.

Connecting the dots:


ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment. 
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Financial Stability Report (FSR)- Jan 2022

Context: Recently, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released its latest Financial Stability Report (FSR). 

What is the significance of Financial Stability Report (FSR)?

  • FSR is published twice each year by the RBI that presents an assessment of the health of the financial system.
  • The RBI also conducts a Systemic Risk Survey (SRS), wherein it asks experts and market participants to assess the financial system on five different types of risks 
    • Global
    • Financial
    • Macroeconomic
    • Institutional
    • General
  • FSR details the current status of different financial institutions such as all the different types of banks and non-banking lending institutions. 
  • It also maps the state of credit growth and the rate at which borrowers are defaulting on paying back loans.
  • Reading the FSR tells us how robust or vulnerable our financial system — especially our banking system — is to the changes in the economy. 
  • As a corollary, it also tells us whether and to what extent will our banks and other lending institutions (such as Non-Banking Finance Companies and Housing Finances Companies) be able to support future growth.

What are the important takeaways from the recently released FSR?

Since this is a biannual publication, the default comparison is to the last FSR.

  1. Global growth has started to falter
  • Since the July 2021 issue of the FSR, the rejuvenation of the global recovery in the first half of 2021 has started losing momentum, impacted by
    • Resurgence of infections in several parts of the world
    • Supply disruptions and bottlenecks 
    • Persistent inflationary pressures 
  • The Goods Trade Barometer of the WTO shows that the World merchandise trade volumes, which had risen 22.4% year-on-year in Q2 of 2021, have been slowing in the second half of the year. 
  • The Baltic Dry Index, which is a measure of shipping charges for dry bulk commodities, crossed its highest mark in more than a decade in October 2021, but it recorded a sudden drop after that. 
  • The Global Economic Surprise Index (GESI), which compares incoming data with economists’ forecasts to capture the surprise element, went into negative territory during Q3 of 2021.
  • The slowdown in activity is occurring even in countries with relatively high vaccination rates
  1. Disconnect between real economy and India’s equity markets 
  • Lifted by the bull run in equity markets across the globe, the Indian equity market surged and strong investor interest has driven up price-earnings (P/E) ratios substantially.
  1. Bank credit growth is improving, but not fast enough
  • The banking stability indicator (BSI), which indicates the changes in underlying conditions and risk factors of India’s commercial banks, showed improvement in soundness, asset quality, liquidity and profitability parameters.
  • There is an improvement in the credit growth rate as it forms a “U-shaped” recovery but still there are some matters of concern. 
    • The growth rate is still far off the ideal level. 
    • Retail credit (less than Rs 5 crore) is growing at a decent clip but the wholesale credit (Rs 5 crore and above) growth continues to struggle. 
    • Most of the wholesale credit is being picked up by public sector undertakings while the private sector is holding back from raising fresh funding.
  1. Non Performing Assets (NPAs) may rise by September 2022
  • The latest FSR pegs the NPA of India’s Scheduled Commercial Banks (SCBs) at 6.9% at September 2021.
  • Stress tests indicate that the Gross NPA ratio of all SCBs may increase to 8.1% by September 2022 under the baseline scenario and further to 9.5% under severe stress.
  • Within the bank groups, public sector banks’ GNPA ratio of 8.8% in September 2021 may deteriorate to 10.5% by September 2022 under the baseline scenario.
  1. Banking prospects improve
  • Almost 64% of respondents expect the economy to recover fully in the next 1-2 years while 22% believe it may take up to 3 years.
  • The latest FSR’s analysis suggests that India’s banking and financial system has largely improved since the July 2021 report.
  • But with global growth faltering, monetary tightening in the developed countries as well as the rise of omicron, the risks are evenly balanced.

Connecting the dots:


(Sansad TV: Perspective)


Jan 1: 160 years of Indian Penal Code-  https://youtu.be/UG6hU18noVM 

TOPIC:

  • GS-2- Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features
  • GS-2- Parliament and State legislatures— functioning 
  • GS-2- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors

160 years of Indian Penal Code

Context: Formed in 1862, the Indian Penal Code completes 160 years of its existence. The Indian Penal Code, the legislation that an ordinary citizen arguably interacts with the most, and which governs his relationship with the state, is still rooted in colonial ideas. 

  • Although some changes have been made through amendments and judicial pronouncements, the laws do not reflect the aspirations of a Constitution that gives primacy to liberty and equality.
  • Case in point – it took 158 years for the courts to decriminalise homosexuality and adultery 

Why there is a need to reform Criminal Laws?

  • Long Pending: The Indian Penal Code and its corollary laws, the Indian Evidence Act and the Code of Criminal Procedure, were all first enacted in the late 19th-century that have not undergone comprehensive revision
  • Colonial Hangover: IPC & CrPC were largely formalised to aid the colonial government in India, over 150 years ago. They are still rooted in colonial ideas despite amendments & judgements.
  • Lacks adequate recognition of Individual agency: IPC do not reflect the aspirations of a Constitution that gives primacy to liberty and equality. 
  • Still represent Victorian Morality: While it took 158 years for the courts to decriminalise homosexuality (section 377 of IPC) and adultery, there exist many provisions in the IPC that still echoes Victorian morality, which is especially true for women.
  • Ignorant of modern-age crimes: New crimes need to be defined and addressed in IPC, especially concerning technology and sexual offences. Ex: digital technology facilitating gambling and betting

The Way Ahead

  • The government must cover a large and diverse landscape of ‘offences’ and criminal procedure to craft a criminal law system that is truly in tune with the times. Ex: Contempt of Court, marital rape, acid attacks, hate crimes etc
  • Government should not give in to populist demands and run the risk of excessive policing and over-criminalising 
  • Death Penalty needs a legislative approach and not just passing the buck to the judiciary.
  • On procedural aspects of criminal law, there is a need to harmonise the statute books with court rulings
  • Victim who are often on the margins of the justice process should not be burdened with institutional delays
  • Accountability, above all, must guide the balance between the rights of the citizen and imperatives of state.

Conclusion

Macaulay had himself favoured regular revision of the code whenever gaps or ambiguities were found or experienced. The IPC’s original architect cannot be blamed for the current dismal state. 

  • Even though the IPC has been haphazardly amended more than 75 times, no comprehensive revision has been undertaken.
  • As a result, largely the courts have had to undertake this task, with unsatisfactory outcomes at times. 
  • Most amendments have been ad hoc and reactive, in response to immediate circumstances like the 2013 amendment after the Delhi gangrape case.

There is thus, a need to weed out outdated provisions, and update IPC to include modern day/hitherto excluded offences.

Note

  • Charter Act of 1833 that established First law commission in 1834 under the Chairmanship of Lord Macaulay – recommendations led to drafting of IPC

Can you answer the following questions?

  1. Has IPC served Indian society according to its needs? Or does it still have a colonial hangover? Examine.
  2. Has IPC been able to keep pace with the changing face of crime? Discuss.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding Automatic Generation Control (AGC):

  1. This is expected to facilitate achieving the government’s ambitious target of 500 GW non-fossil fuel-based generation capacity by 2030.
  2. Through AGC, NLDC (National Load Despatch Centre) sends signals to more than 50 power plants that will ensure more efficient and automatic frequency control for handling variable and intermittent renewable generation.

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:

  1. Scheduled Banks in India refer to those banks which have been included in the Second Schedule of Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. 
  2. Recently, Airtel Payments Bank Ltd. was designated as a Schedule Bank

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 NEAT 3.0 was recently launched by Which of the following Ministry?

  1. Ministry of Environment 
  2. Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs 
  3. Ministry of Finance 
  4. Ministry of Education

ANSWERS FOR 5th Jan 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 C
3 D

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