DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 6th January 2022

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  • January 6, 2022
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Chilika Lake

Part of: Prelims and GS-III -Conservation

Context Chilika Lake saw a million birds, including the uncommon Mongolian gull, visiting the waterbody this year.

  • Last year, the count in the Chilika was over 12 lakh.
  • The decrease is attributed to high water level and presence of water in cultivated fields in adjoining areas. Water birds love to flock to large mudflats.

Chilika Lake

  • Chilika is Asia’s largest and world’s second largest lagoon.
  • It is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian sub-continent and is home to a number of threatened species of plants and animals.
  • In 1981, Chilika Lake was designated the first Indian wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
  • Major attraction at Chilika is Irrawaddy dolphins which are often spotted off Satpada Island.
  • The large Nalabana Island (Forest of Reeds) in the lagoon area was declared a bird sanctuary in 1987.
  • Kalijai Temple – Located on an island in the Chilika Lake.
  • Chilika Lake hosts birds migrating from thousands of miles away from the Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, Aral Sea, remote parts of Russia, Mongolia, Central and Southeast Asia, Ladakh and the Himalayas.

Protection of Women from Sexual Harassment (POSH) Act

Part of: Prelims and GS-II Policies and interventions

Context A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging guidelines issued by the Bombay High Court in cases under the Protection of Women from Sexual Harassment (POSH) Act, which include a blanket bar on parties and advocates from sharing records, including orders and judgments, with the media.

The Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2013

  • The Act defines sexual harassment at the workplace and creates a mechanism for redressal of complaints. It also provides safeguards against false or malicious charges.
  • Every employer is required to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee at each office or branch with 10 or more employees.
  • The Complaints Committees have the powers of civil courts for gathering evidence.
  • The Complaints Committees are required to provide for conciliation before initiating an inquiry if requested by the complainant.
  • Penalties have been prescribed for employers. Non-compliance with the provisions of the Act shall be punishable with a fine.
  • Repeated violations may lead to higher penalties and cancellation of license or registration to conduct business.
  • The State Government will notify the District Officer in every district, who will constitute a Local Complaints Committee (LCC) so as to enable women in the unorganised sector or small establishments to work in an environment free of sexual harassment.

Free trade agreement (FTA)

Part of: Prelims and GS-II – International Relations

Context  Recently, the Union minister for Commerce & Industry has said that India is looking to have a free trade agreement (FTA) with 5 countries – UAE, UK, Australia, Canada and Israel.

What is a free trade agreement (FTA)?

  • FTA, also called Regional Trade Agreement (RTA) is a pact between two or more nations to reduce barriers to imports and exports among them.
  • Under a free trade policy, goods and services can be bought and sold across international borders with little or no government tariffs, quotas, subsidies, or prohibitions to inhibit their exchange.
  • The concept of free trade is the opposite of trade protectionism or economic isolationism.
  • FTA is implemented by means of a formal and mutual agreement of the nations involved.
  • However, a free-trade policy may simply be the absence of any trade restrictions.
  • There are two types of trade agreements – bilateral and multilateral.
    • FTA is an example of a Bilateral trade agreement.
    • Multilateral trade agreements are agreements among three or more countries, and are the most difficult to negotiate and agree.
  • FTAs determine the tariffs and duties that countries impose on imports and exports with the goal of reducing or eliminating trade barriers, thus encouraging international trade.

Nai Talim

Part of: Prelims and GS I – History

Context Recently, the Vice President of India said that the New Education Policy follows the ‘Nai Talim’ of Mahatma Gandhi by giving importance to the mother tongue as the medium of instruction at the school level.

About Nai Talim-

  • Nai-Talim, also known as Buniyadi Shikshan, means basic education.
  • It is also called Experiential Learning.
  • It had laid emphasis on making mother tongue as the medium of instruction in addition to free compulsory education and skill training to the students.
  • It is essentially a mass education approach due to its centrality of socially useful work and was expected to create a National System of Education.

Mahatma Gandhi gave his scheme of Nai Talim (New Education) in a well-formulated approach to education in 1937 in his newspaper ‘Harijan’.

(News from PIB)

Smart cities and Academia Towards Action & Research (SAAR)

Part of: Prelims

In News: The Smart Cities Mission, MoHUA has launched “Smart cities and Academia Towards Action & Research (SAAR)” program

  • A joint initiative of MoHUA, National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) and leading Indian academic institutions of the country.
  • Under the program, 15 premier architecture & planning institutes of the country will be working with Smart Cities to document landmark projects undertaken by the Smart Cities Mission.
  • The documents will capture the learnings from best practices, provide opportunities for engagement on urban development projects to students, and enable real-time information flow between urban practitioners and academia.

News Source: PIB

Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) 

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-III: Energy

In News: UJALA completes 7 years of energy-efficient and affordable LED distribution. In a short span, the programme has evolved to be world’s largest zero subsidy domestic lighting programme that addresses concerns like high electrification cost and high emissions that result from inefficient lighting.

  • 78 crore LEDs distributed across the country under UJALA
  • Saved 47,778 Million kWh energy per annum
  • 3,86 crore tonnes of reduction in CO2 emissions made possible
  • Gave impetus to the domestic lighting industry
  • Provided economies of scale to manufacturers through regular bulk procurement
  • Readily adopted by all the states, UJALA helped in reducing annual household electricity bills
  • Garnered attention from top management schools of India; now a part of Leadership case study in Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad. Furthermore, it is also under consideration for being included in the curriculum of Harvard Business School

News Source: PIB

Code of Practice for securing consumer Internet of Things (IoT)

Part of: Prelims

In News: In order to secure Consumer Internet of Things (IoT) devices, Telecommunication Engineering Centre (TEC), under Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications, has released a report “Code of Practice for Securing Consumer Internet of Things (IoT)” as a baseline requirement aligned with global standards and best practices.

  • Help in securing consumer IoT devices & ecosystem as well as managing vulnerabilities.
  • Intended for use by IoT device manufacturers, Service providers/ system integrators and application developers etc.

Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the fastest emerging technology across the globe, providing enormous beneficial opportunities for society, industry, and consumers. It is being used to create smart infrastructure in various verticals such as Power, Automotive, Safety & Surveillance, Remote Health Management, Agriculture, Smart Homes and Smart Cities etc, using connected devices. IoT is benefitted by recent advances in several technologies such as sensors, communication technologies (Cellular and non-cellular), AI/ ML, Cloud / Edge computing etc.

  • It is expected that around 60% of 5 billion i.e. 3 billion connected devices may exist in India by 2022.
  • In view of the anticipated growth of IoT devices, it is important to ensure that the IoT end points comply to the safety and security standards and guidelines in order to protect the users and the networks that connect these IoT devices.
  • The hacking of the devices/networks being used in daily life would harm companies, organisations, nations and more importantly people, therefore securing the IoT eco-system end-to-end i.e. from devices to the applications is very important.

News Source: PIB

(Mains Focus)


  • GS-2: India and its neighbourhood

China’s bridge over Pangong Tso

Context: China is building a bridge across the Pangong Tso within its territory connecting the North and South Banks which will significantly reduce the time for moving troops and equipment between the two sides.

  • This is part of the overall infrastructure build up by China on its side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to address deficiencies it noticed since the standoff began in May 2020.

What is the status on the ground in Eastern Ladakh?

  • The two countries are working out details for the 14th round of Corps Commander talks to take forward the disengagement that has stalled after two phases of disengagement.
  • The 13th round of Corps Commander talks remained inconclusive with the two sides releasing sharp statements on the outcome.
  • At the same time, the two Armies had prepared to keep over 1 lakh soldiers on both sides deployed through the extreme winter in the high altitude region.
  • Since May 2020, the two sides have been holding regular military to military talks on the ground and also diplomatic level talks in addition to the 13 rounds of Corps Commander level talks to resolve the standoff.
  • The two sides have so far undertaken two phases of disengagement, from both banks of Pangong Tso last February and from Gogra in August in addition to Galwan after the violent clash. Other friction areas yet to be resolved are Hot Springs, Demchok and Depsang.
  • The two sides had also agreed on a moratorium on patrolling in the disengaged areas and set up buffer zones until a resumption is discussed by both sides through diplomatic and military talks.
  • India has insisted on comprehensive de-escalation of the situation in Eastern Ladakh which includes disengagement from all friction points, de-escalation and working out of new protocols.

What is the importance of the bridge over Pangong Tso?

  • The bridge over Pangong Tso is located around 25 kms ahead of the LAC in Chinese territory and will significantly reduce the time for movement of Chinese on the North Bank and the South Bank, a distance of around 200 kms.
  • The initial tensions as the standoff began in May 2020 were on the North Bank of Pangong Tso with PLA troops moving upto Finger 4 and building permanent structures.
  • However, tensions had flared up on the South Bank in August 2020. The Indian Army gained tactical advantage over the PLA on the south bank in end August by occupying several peaks lying vacant since 1962 gaining a dominating view of the Spanggur gap and Moldo area.
  • During this, the two sides had also deployed tanks at heights of over 15,000 feet and shots were fired in the air on the LAC for the first time in decades.
  • This has prompted China to build deep alternate roads behind the friction points away from the line of sight, officials said.
  • There has been massive construction of accommodation for housing of troops closer to the LAC and also road infrastructure for movement of troops and mechanised forces, officials say.
  • Earlier, PLA had to take a round about between the two sides of the Pangong lake which takes around 12 hours but the new bridge, around 500m long, would cut down the time to 3-4 hours.
  • India holds one third of the 135 km long boomerang shaped lake located at an altitude of over 14,000 feet.

How is India responding to developments on the ground?

  • The bridge is well within Chinese territory, officials say while stating the implications of this new bridge will have to be factored in the Indian Army’s operational planning for the future.
  • On its part, over the last few years India has been focusing on infrastructure development in forward areas and improving connectivity to the forward areas. Large scale construction of roads, bridges and tunnels is underway all along the LAC.
  • Ahead of the winter, the Army had completed advanced winter stocking for the troops in forward areas, including rations, specialised fuel and ammunition among others as well as repair and upgrade of habitat and infrastructure.
  • While the process of disengagement and de-escalation stretches on, the two armies are geared to remain in the high altitude areas.


  • 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

Digital Banks

Context: NITI Aayog, in a recent discussion paper titled Digital Banks: A Proposal for Licensing & Regulatory Regime for India, floated the idea of setting up full-stack digital banks.

 What are digital banks?

  • Digital banks or DBs are defined in the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.
  • These entities will issue deposits, make loans and offer the full suite of services that the Banking Regulation Act empowers them to.
  • They will principally rely not on physical branches but on the internet and other proximate channels to offer their services.
  • Digital Banks helps in following ways
    • Helps overcome financial inclusion challenges in the country
    • Helps reduce cost of transactions
    • Useful for utilisation of the JAM trinity
    • Helps reduce banking-inequality
    • Helps make India as the global leader in Fintech

 What is the status of banking sector in India?

  • Over the past few decades, banking-licence categories have grown in number.
  • Today, the banking sector includes
    • Public sector banks
    • Private sector banks (21)
    • Small finance banks (12)
    • Payments banks (6)
    • Regional rural banks (43)
    • Foreign banks (44)
    • Local area banks (3)
    • Financial institutions (4)
    • Urban cooperative banks (1,531)
    • Multi-state cooperative societies & banks (1,130)

 What is the suggestion of Niti Aayog?

  • The paper also suggests a two-stage approach:
    1. Granting of a digital business bank license
    2. Granting of a digital (universal) bank licence after gaining experience as the former
  • Even with the Digital Business Bank license, it recommends a carefully calibrated approach comprising of issue of a restricted digital business bank license (in terms of volume/ value of customers serviced and the like).
  • It recommends the enlistment of the licensee in a regulatory sandbox framework enacted by the RBI.
  • It also suggests the issuance of a “full-stack” Digital Business Bank license based upon the satisfactory performance of the licensee in the regulatory sandbox.
  • It further suggested that minimum paid-up capital for a restricted digital business bank operating in a regulatory sandbox may be proportionate to its status as restricted.
  • As per the illustration, upon progression from the sandbox into the final stage, a full-stack digital business bank will be required to bring in Rs. 200 crore (equivalent to that required of the Small Finance bank).

 What are the challenges?

  • RBI’s experience with private sector banks licensing over the past isn’t all rosy given that RBI had to step in to contain damage in the case of private sector banks like Yes Bank and LVB.
  • While RBI has a “bank under repair” sign-board in its PCA framework, it has not said anything about the efficacy of the various other banking categories such as payments banks or SFBs.
  • Some of the banking categories as well as the older licence categories seem to have no visibility of viability and have not been able to showcase their significance in terms of the intended objective.
  • Until legislation catches up, regulation has to adapt to ensure that the financial system absorbs digital innovation in a non-disruptive manner.
  • RBI like other central bankers of world also has concerns over the ownership of banks. Global regulators have worries about the ultimate ownership of banks preferring resident in their jurisdiction which could be a challenge for many aspirants of digital-only bank licences.
  • The challenge for digital banks will be to show that they can raise a liability pool, instead of just using large equity capital as a debt-funding source.
  • In terms of consumer protection, everything related to cyber security or digital data security or privacy rights is a concern.
  • Even stable NBFCs with large capital bases are not allowed to use the word “bank” in describing themselves in any consumer communication, whereas many new-age fintech platform has named itself a neo bank.

(Down to Earth: Governance)

Jan 5: How India‘s flagship health insurance scheme failed its poorest during a pandemic – https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/governance/myth-of-coverage-how-india-s-flagship-health-insurance-scheme-failed-its-poorest-during-pandemic-80988


  • GS-2- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors
  • GS-2- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health

 How India‘s flagship health insurance scheme failed its poorest during pandemic

Context: Two research institutes, Public Health Foundation of India and Duke Global Health Institute, United States have revealed that India’s flagship health insurance scheme, dubbed the world’s largest fully government-subsidised scheme, has  failed to deliver when it was needed the most.

  • Released in July this year, the report showed that the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY), launched in 2018 with a promise to provide an annual insurance coverage of Rs 5 lakh per family to the poorest 40 per cent of the population, provided cushion to only 14.25 per cent of people hospitalised for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), between April 2020 and June 2021.
  • Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Mansukh Mandaviya in a reply to the Lok Sabha also acknowledged that PM-JAY paid for only 0.52 million COVID-19 hospitalisations across the country.
  • Though no official data is available on total COVID-19 hospitalisations in the country, the share is negligible keeping in mind that the scheme claims to cover 165 million beneficiaries across the country.

Observations that support the report

When DTE team visited nine states where hospitalisation rates were high during the pandemic, they found that while the government insurance schemes did not cover all the target groups and eligible individuals, even those enrolled under insurance schemes were forced to fight the pandemic on their own and cough up large amounts of money to avail treatment.

  • Hospitals demand cash during admission
  • Hospitals insist on a signed declaration that PM-JAY would not be used for ICU
  • Private hospital says PM-JAY covers surgeries, not hospitalisation; expenses never get reimbursed. Officials have even rejected some applications without giving them a clear reason
  • Finding an empanelled hospital is a futile exercise in areas where hospitals are few and far between. This has remained a major problem, particularly in smaller towns and villages, where hospitals are few and far between.
  • Many have been left out of the insurance scheme’s ambit despite being eligible.
  • PM-JAY, which aims to provide insurance coverage to the poorest 40 per cent of the population, has not only left out individuals, but also certain communities.
    • Thousands of sex workers in Pune’s Budhwar Peth zone, for example, fought a solitary battle against the pandemic.
    • Several ragpickers interacted with in Pune’s Shivajinagar area also said they were not enrolled under the scheme. This is despite the PM-JAY manual stating that ragpickers are covered under the scheme, along with people who survive on alms and other similar categories.
  • The cost of ICU hospitalisation of a COVID-19 patient on an average is equivalent to what a casual worker (someone who is employed from time to time according to exigencies of work) earns in almost 1.5 years.

 The Way Forward

  • Raise the percentage of GDP allocated to health
  • Government hospitals need infrastructure and machinery up-gradation, which can be done by the earnings of public hospitals under PMJAY.
  • A larger share of India’s public health expenditure to be allocated to preventive care.
  • The prime objective of PM-JAY is to reduce catastrophic out-of-pocket health expenditure by improving access to quality health care for its underprivileged population. More work needs to be put to deal with this.
  • The scheme directs that complaints of denial of treatment by an empanelled hospital need to be resolved within six hours. This will also require major intervention.
  • Ensuring adaptive price setting, third-party monitoring, strict regulation, and quality improvements in public sector hospitals.
  • PMJAY will need a gamut of skilled manpower as facilitators and administrative staffs at various levels.
  • Ensuring adaptive price setting, third-party monitoring, strict regulation, and quality improvements in public sector hospitals.
  • PMJAY will need a gamut of skilled manpower as facilitators and administrative staffs at various levels.

 Can you answer the following questions?

  1. The novel coronavirus has not only turned the world upside down, it has also served as a lens through which we are able to see ourselves, our planet and even our policies with a new and shocking clarity. Discuss.
  2. What is your assessment of the Pradhan Mantri jan Arogya Yojana? Has it been able to bring in positive transposition in people’s lives? Comment.


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

Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding Chilika Lake:

1. Chilika is the world’s largest lagoon.

2. In 1981, Chilika Lake was designated the first Indian wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

Which of the above is/are correct?

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding Free Trade Agreement:

1. FTA is a pact between two or more nations to reduce barriers to imports and exports among them.

2. The concept of free trade gives rise to trade protectionism or economic isolationism.

Which of the above is/are correct?

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

Q.3 Philosophy of ‘Nai Talim’ was given by Which of the following Historian?

a) Raja Rammohan Roy

b) Abul Kalam Azad

c) Mahatma Gandhi

d) Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan



1 B
2 A
3 C

Must Read

On national law universities:  

The Hindu


On India-Nepal relations:

The Hindu

On SC hate speech:

Indian Express

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