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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 16th February 2022

  • IASbaba
  • February 16, 2022
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


India-Maldives Defence Relation

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

Context: India’s Defence Secretary recently visited the Maldives, for discussions with the Maldives National Defence Force as part of the second Defence Cooperation Dialogue.

About Defence Cooperation Dialogue 

  • The Defence Cooperation Dialogue is one of India’s policy-level frameworks.
  • It aims to strengthen long-standing and mutually beneficial bilateral defence ties.
  • The first Defence Cooperation Dialogue was held in July 2016 during the presidency of Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and the second DCD was held in January 2019.
  • The location of the Maldives, at the intersection of commercial sea-lanes running through the Indian Ocean, makes it strategically important for India, particularly in the light of China’s growing aggression in the region.

India-Maldives defence relations 

  • Since 1988, defence and security have been major areas of cooperation between India and Maldives.
  • This cooperation extends to assisting the Maldives with defence training and equipment requirements. 
  • India provides the largest number of training opportunities for Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF), meeting around 70% of their defence training requirements.
  • In 2016, the two countries also signed a comprehensive action plan to consolidate defence partnership.

News Source: IE


Initial Public Offering (IPO)

Part of: Prelims and GS-III Economy 

Context: In order to replenish the public money box that has been drained out by the Covid-19 pandemic, India is planning one of the biggest initial public offering (IPO) listings ever.

  • On 13 February, the state-run Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) filed its draft red herring prospectus with capital markets regulator SEBI. 
  • According to the filing, the government, which owns 100 percent stake in the company, is offering 31.62 crore equity shares or a 5 percent stake in the IPO.

About IPO

  • An initial public offering or stock launch is a public offering in which shares of a company are sold to institutional investors and usually also retail investors. 
  • An IPO is typically underwritten by one or more investment banks, who also arrange for the shares to be listed on one or more stock exchanges

Which companies can come out with an IPO?

  • In order to protect investors, Sebi has laid down rules that require companies to meet certain criteria before they can go to the public to raise funds.
  • Among other conditions, the company must have 
    • net tangible assets of at least Rs 3 crore,
    • net worth of Rs 1 crore in each of the preceding three full years, 
    • must have a minimum average pre-tax profit of Rs 15 crore in at least three of the immediately preceding five years.

What are the advantages of listing a company?

  • It may help a company raise capital, diversify and broaden its shareholder base.
  • Listing provides an exit to existing investors of the company. 
  • A listed company can raise share capital for growth and expansion in the future through a follow-on public offering or FPO.

News Source: IE


Koalas

Part of: Prelims and GS-III Environment 

Context: Recently, Australia has classified Koalas as ‘endangered’ after widespread bushfires, drought and land clearing destroyed much of their eucalyptus-rich habitat.

About Koalas

  • A koala or koala bear is an arboreal herbivorous marsupial native to Australia. 
    • Being marsupials, koalas give birth to underdeveloped young that crawl into their mothers’ pouches, where they stay for the first six to seven months of their lives. 
  • It is easily recognisable by its stout, tailless body.
  • According to fossil records, Koala species have inhabited parts of Australia for at least 25 million years. 
    • But today, only one species remains i.e., the Phascolarctos cinereus. 
  • They were classified as “vulnerable” only in 2012.
  • They inhabit open Eucalyptus woodland, the leaves of these trees make up most of their diet.
  • Another major threat to Koala population is the spread of chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease known to cause blindness and cysts in the koalas reproductive tract.

News Source: IE


Satellite Broadband Services

Part of: Prelims and GS-III Information technology; Science and technology

Context: Digital services company Jio Platforms has formed a joint-venture with Luxembourg-based satellite-linked content connectivity solutions provider SES to deliver satellite broadband services across India.

Key takeaways 

  • The joint venture will use multi-orbit space networks that is a combination of GEO (geostationary equatorial orbit) and MEO (medium earth orbit) satellite constellations 
  • The joint venture will be the vehicle for providing SES’s satellite data and connectivity services in India, except for certain international aeronautical and maritime customers who may be served by SES.
  • It will have availability of up to 100 Gbps capacity from SES.

How is Jio’s proposed satellite broadband service different from Starlink or OneWeb services?

  • SES primarily has satellites in the GEO and the MEO, while those of Elon Musk-led Starlink and Bharti Group’s OneWeb are in low earth orbit (LEO).
  • The altitude of the satellite is directly proportional to the area of earth that it covers. 
  • Therefore, the higher a satellite is positioned, the larger an area it covers.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of GEO, MEO and LEO?

  • GEO and LEO satellites are considered to be the two extremes in satellite communications. 
  • While GEO satellites provide a larger coverage and therefore only three satellites can cover the whole earth, hundreds of LEO satellites are needed to provide coverage to a larger area. 
  • LEO satellites are smaller and are cheaper to launch than GEOs or MEOs.
  • For MEO satellites, while a simple equatorial orbit covers 96% of the global population, it shares some disadvantages of GEO satellites such as the need for a high inclined antenna for locations away from the equator.

News source: IE


(News from PIB)


Guru Ravidas

Part of: Prelims 

  • Ravidas, also called Raidas, of the 15th or 16th century, was a mystic, poet, saint of North Indian Bhakti movement
  • He founded the Ravidassia religion and compiled a new holy book, Amritbani Guru Ravidass Ji.
  • He was born in Varanasi into untouchable leather-working Chamar caste.
  • He valued the worship of a formless God.
  • Along with Kabir, he was one of the most noted disciples of Bhagat Ramanand.
  • 41 verses of Bhakt Ravidas are incorporated into Sikh’s religious book, Adi Granth.
  • He was vocal against the varna (caste) system 
  • He imagined an egalitarian society called Begumpura, means “land without sorrow” 
  • His disciples came to be known as Ravidas-panthis and followers came to be known as Ravidassias.
  • He also mentioned ‘Sahaj’, a mystical state where there is a union of the truths of the many and the one.

News Source: PIB


Scheme for Economic Empowerment of DNTs (SEED)

Part of: Prelims 

By: The Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment

For: Welfare of De-notified, Nomadic and Semi Nomadic Communities

National Commission for De-Notified, Nomadic and Semi Nomadic Tribes in 2014: under the Chairmanship of Shri Bhiku Ramji Idate

Background

The De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes are the most neglected, marginalized and economically and socially deprived communities. Most of them have been living a life of destitution for generations and still continue to do so with an uncertain and gloomy future. 

  • Escaped the attention of our developmental framework and thus are deprived of the support unlike Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  • Historically, these communities never had access to private land or home ownership. 
  • These tribes used forests and grazing lands for their livelihood and residential use and had “strong ecological connections. 
  • Many of them are dependent upon various types of natural resources and carve out intricate ecological niches for their survival. 
  • The changes in ecology and environment seriously affect their livelihood options.

Four components of the Scheme

  1. To provide coaching of good quality for DNT/NT/SNT candidates to enable them to appear in competitive examinations.
  2. To provide health insurance to DNT/NT/SNT Communities.
  3. To facilitate livelihoods initiative at community level to build and strengthen small clusters of DNT/NT/SNT Communities institutions.
  4. To provide financial assistance for construction of houses to members of the DNT/NT/SNT Communities.

News Source: PIB


4th India – Australia Energy Dialogue

Part of: Prelims and GS-III- Energy

Discussion Points: 

  • The ongoing Energy Transition activities in their respective countries with focus on renewables, energy efficiency, storage, EVs, critical minerals, mining etc. 
  • Need of Climate Finance was also highlighted by India for meeting the Energy Transition goals of developing countries.

A Letter of Intent between India and Australia on New and Renewable Energy Technology was signed during the Dialogue. 

  • Pave the way for working towards reducing the cost of new and renewable energy technologies
  • Scaling up deployment in order to accelerate global emissions reduction. 
  • Focus of this LoI: Scaling up manufacture and deployment of ultra-low-cost solar and clean hydrogen.

Other areas of cooperation:

  • There is an urgent need to focus on advancing technology and clean energy transition. Energy efficiency technologies
    • Grid management
    • R&D collaboration on flue gas desulphurisation, biomass or hydrogen co-firing
    • Water cycle optimization
    • enewables integration
    • Batteries
    • Electric mobility
  • Apart from the power sector, there are many desirable areas of cooperation agreed under 
    • Reducing costs of Green Hydrogen
    • Cooperation in sphere of coal-based energy security and resource deployment
    • Investment opportunities in the minerals sector
    • Exploring potential for an LNG Partnership

News Source: PIB


MISCELLANEOUS

A. India will hold the Presidency of the G20 from 1 December 2022 to 30 November 2023, culminating with the G20 Summit in India in 2023. G20 is the premier forum for international economic cooperation that plays an important role in global economic governance.

B. Reimagining Museums in India-2 Day Summit: India’s 1000+ museums are instrumental in not just showcasing and preserving the cultural heritage, but also educating future generations’.

  • Outcome of the Summit: Creation of a blueprint for development of new museums, nurture a renewal framework, and reinvigorate existing museums in India.
  • Since 2014 the Ministry of Culture has funded 110 museums across the country and in order to promote scientific temper, 18 science museums are also being developed. 
  • Apart from this, the Archaeological Survey of India which functions under the Ministry runs 52 museums across the country
  • The Ministry of Culture is working on an inclusive model that involves artists, museum professionals and educators and places them at the core of the museums in the country. Our museums need to reinvent themselves to be relevant for the 21st century in the new digital age. We need to ensure that our museums are more accessible so that our citizens can own them like their own parks and playground.

(Mains Focus)


GOVERNANCE / POLITY

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • GS-2: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections.

Importance of Caste Data

Context: Recently, Supreme Court upheld the 27% quota for Other Backward Classes (OBC) in the All-India Quota seats for the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test.

Key Highlights of the judgement regarding merit & reservation

  • It reiterated that reservations for backward classes were not an exception but an extension of the principle of equality under Article 15(1) of the Constitution.
  • The judgment highlighted how open competitive exams give the illusion of providing equal opportunity ignoring the inequalities and societal prejudices.
  • The court pointed out the social effects of inherited cultural capital (communication skills, books, accent, academic accomplishments, social networks, etc.), which ensures the unconscious training of upper-caste children for high-grade performance. 
  • The Constituent Assembly held a similar philosophy while introducing constitutional provisions which enable the government to make special provisions for the uplift of the “lower castes”. 

Does caste based reservation perpetuate caste identities?

  • However, despite the underlying good intentions, positive discrimination has been a controversial topic. It is believed that such provisions only perpetuate caste differences and therefore call for a “casteless society”.
  • As Justice D.Y. Chandrachud pointed out, “castelessness” is a privilege that only the upper caste can afford because their caste privilege has already translated into social, political and economic capital. 
  • On the other hand, individuals who belong to the lower castes must retain their caste identity in order to claim the benefits of measures such as reservation, which recognise historic harm.

What are the big challenges which our country is facing with regard to reservations?

  1. Increased demand for reservations
  • More and more communities, especially those which are considered as forward castes, are demanding reservation benefits.
  • Recently, Supreme Court struck down the reservation for the Maratha community in Maharashtra in excess of 50%, which was the limit set in the Indra Sawhney case
  • Supreme court observed that “when more people aspire for backwardness instead of forwardness, the country itself stagnates which situation is not in accord with constitutional objectives”.
  1. Lack of objective data & revision of list
  • In the Indra Sawhney case, the Supreme Court held that the States must conclude the “backwardness” of a particular class of people only after proper assessment and objective evaluation. 
  • Even though data concerning the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have been included in the Census, there is no similar data on OBCs
  • The Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) conducted in 2011 has been called “faulty” and “unreliable”.
  • Even the Mandal Commission’s recommendations were criticised as being based merely on the “personal knowledge” of the members of the commission and sample surveys.
  • The National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993, provides under Section 11 that the Central government may every 10 years revise lists with a view to exclude those classes which have ceased to be backward and include new backward classes. This exercise has not been done to date. 

What is required now?

  • Faith of our citizens cannot be restored until credible exercises of data collection are undertaken regarding caste.
  • Caste data will enable independent research not only into the question of who does and does not need affirmative action but also into the effectiveness of this measure.
  • A caste census, which will generate exhaustive data will allow policymakers to develop better policies, implementation strategies, and will also enable a more rational debate on sensitive issues
  • The Justice Rohini committee was appointed in 2017 to look into the sub-categorisation of the OBC communities; however, in the absence of data, there can be no data-bank or any proper sub-categorisation. 
  • All commissions have had to rely on data from the last caste census (1931). There has been substantive demographic changes since then and therefore, the data has to be updated.
  • India needs to be bold and decisive in tackling caste questions through data and statistics in the way US does to tackle race issues, by collecting data around race, class, language, inter-race marriages, among other metrics.
  • Impartial data and subsequent research might save the bona fide attempts of the uplift of the most backward classes from the shadow of caste and class politics.

Conclusion

It is not reservation that creates the current divide in our society but the misuse or the perceived misuse of reservation.

Connecting the dots:


GOVERNANCE/ SECURITY

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
  • GS-3: Indian Economy

Ban on Chinese Apps

Context: The Union government on February 14, 2022 banned another set of Chinese apps (more than 50) over concerns related to privacy and national security. 

The vaccum created by the ban of these apps should enable the Indian IT sector to create more hyper-regional and hyper-local applications and websites. 

China’s Censorship barriers

  • Chinese put up blinding shields on their own Internet territory more than a decade ago. The Chinese government began erecting censorship barriers (Great Internet Wall) and banned several popular Western websites and applications years ago.
  • In January 2010, Google announced that it was no longer willing to censor searches in China and would pull out of the country completely. 
  • Meanwhile, in the intervening years since Google and others were forced out, the Chinese Internet market exploded, and has grown to over 900 million users, most of them on mobile (paradoxically via Google’s Android) from just over 300 million in early 2010. 

China’s lead

  • In hindsight, China’s censors look like superb long-range economic planners and technology strategists. The Great Internet Wall insulated Chinese entrepreneurs from Big Tech in Silicon Valley. 
  • Chinese home-grown firms such as WeChat and Alibaba had a field day building apps that were at first faithful reproductions of Silicon Valley, but soon morphed into distinctly Chinese applications tailored chinese market.
  • Baidu has replaced Google in China. Youku Tudou is YouTube, and Xiaohongshu is a version of Instagram from which users can shop for goods directly.
  • WeChat began as a simple messaging app, but is now many things for the Chinese (social media, news, messaging, payments, and digital commerce).
  • According to the 2016 White House report, the Chinese have leapfrogged even the U.S. in AI research, especially in the components of “neural networks” and “deep learning”. 
  • In this case, the intellectual property being produced actually belongs to China and is not a faithful duplicate of someone else’s product or technology. This has far-reaching implications. 

Chinese need for Indian Market 

  • With the rise of Jio, and the response from its competitors, the widening reach of Internet connection across the country will provide hundreds of millions of non-urban Indians with fluid access to the Internet. 
  • India now has the lowest Internet data costs in the world. 
  • China’s Internet ecosystem is entirely self-created, self-run, and self-serviced, yet it exports the newly banned apps such as Tik Tok and PUBG worldwide.
  • In its attempt to dominate the rest of the world, the Chinese Internet industry needs India’s 500-plus million netizens to continue to act as a training ground for the AI algorithms they put together. 

Benefits of banning of Chinese Apps by India

  • India’s focus remains on exporting IT services while paying little attention to servicing our own nation’s tech market, even when Chinese and US companies are fighting for Indian market.
  • The decision to ban such apps in India is not only a geopolitical move but also a strategic trade manoeuvre that can have significant economic impact. 
  • Banning these Chinese websites and applications to the Indian public effectively allows our home-grown IT talent to focus on the newly arrived Internet user. 
  • After the removal of more than 118 Chinese apps, Indian techies have started trying to fill the holes with copycat replacement websites and applications. But faithful copies are not enough for us to make full use of China’s exit.

Need for hyper-local, hyper-regional

  • The fundamental focus of the new digital products that plan to emerge in the growing market should be to provide for hyper-regional necessities and preferences. With this in mind, there are several commercial opportunities available.
  • For example, apps and services that provide specific market prices, local train and bus routes, allow for non-traditional banking and lending, education, health, online sales, classified advertising and so on.
  • With the rise in migrant work and labour all over the country, a news or banking app with, say, an Odiya interface should work everywhere that Odiya-speaking people migrate to. 
  • Accessibility is also crucial. 
  • However, national accessibility on its own will not make an app a game changer. Indians are savvy enough to know what a world class app is.
  • We can export our “India stack” to other countries in the “south”, such as those in Africa and Latin America. We have successfully done this before with our outstanding railway technology. There is no reason we cannot pull off the same achievement with our home-grown Internet power.

Connecting the dots:


(Down To Earth: Science & Technology)


Feb 11: Understanding oceans: Why UNESCO wants to map 80% of the world‘s seabed – https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/science-technology/understanding-oceans-why-unesco-wants-to-map-80-of-the-world-s-seabed-81525  

TOPIC:

  • GS-3: Science & Technology
  • GS-3: Climate Change & Conservation

Understanding oceans: Why UNESCO wants to map 80% of the world‘s seabed

Context: Around 80 per cent of the world’s ocean floors will be mapped by 2030, pledged the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) February 10, 2022. 

  • At present, only 20 per cent seabed has been mapped and studied.
  • The UN agency called for mobilisation of the 150 member states of its Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and the private sector to carry out this exercise.
  • Joined hands with Japan’s Nippon Foundation in 2017, a non-profit that works on marine resource development among other projects, to launch the Seabed 2030 programme.
  • A total funding of $5 billion (over Rs 37,600 crore) will be required for the project. This amounts to an average of $625 million per year by 2030.

Gathering of Data

Oceans cover 70 percent of Earth’s surface, host a vast variety of geological processes responsible for the formation and concentration of mineral resources, and are the ultimate repository of many materials eroded or dissolved from the land surface. Hence, oceans contain vast quantities of materials that presently serve as major resources for humans.

The repository of knowledge will be gained through studying the topology and depth of seafloors to identify the following: 

  • Location of ocean faults
  • Workings of ocean currents and tides 
  • Transport of sediments

…to understand

  • Seismic and tsunami risks
  • Sustainable fisheries resources
  • Ways to deal with oil spills, air crashes and shipwrecks
  • Potential for offshore infrastructure

Ocean’s as a great resource base for the future

  • Findings made through ocean exploration are fundamental to reducing unknowns in deep-ocean areas and providing high-value environmental intelligence needed to address both current and emerging science and management needs.
  • Exploration helps to ensure that ocean resources are not just managed, but managed well, so those resources are around for future generations to enjoy.
  • Through ocean exploration, we can establish the baseline information needed to better understand environmental change, filling gaps in the unknown to deliver reliable and authoritative science that is foundational to providing foresight about future conditions and informing the decisions we confront every day on this dynamic planet.
  • This same knowledge is often the only source for basic information needed to respond appropriately in the face of deep-sea disasters.
  • Information from ocean exploration is important to everyone. Unlocking the mysteries of deep-sea ecosystems can reveal new sources for medical drugs, food, energy resources, and other products.
  • Information from deep-ocean exploration can help predict earthquakes and tsunamis and help us understand how we are affecting and being affected by changes in Earth’s environment.

Recent Efforts by UNESCO

  • Multiple-beam sonars to measure water height at different points and directions simultaneously is one such innovation that will help scan seabeds in a shorter period. 
  • Deploying a fleet of 50 dedicated mapping vessels, intensifying the use of sonar on autonomous vessels, transmission of cartographic data archived by governments and corporations are other tools suggested by IOC experts. 
  • UNESCO also launched a repository of educational content for policymakers and curriculum developers for a holistic approach towards strengthening ocean research. 
  • It also advocated the use of traditional knowledge along with modern science to  achieve this goal.

India and Oceans

India has a unique maritime position. Its 7517 km long coastline is home to nine coastal states and 1382 islands. The Government of India’s Vision of New India by 2030 enunciated in February 2019 highlighted the Blue Economy as one of the ten core dimensions of growth.

  • For India, with 7,517 km long coastline, nice coastal states with 30 percent of the country’s population and three sides surrounded by the oceans, the ocean is a major economic factor supporting fisheries and aquaculture, tourism, livelihoods and blue trade. 
  • The oceans are also storehouse of food, energy, minerals, medicines.
  • They are also modulator of weather and climate system of earth. Thus, oceanic health is important for Indian nonsoons.
  • Oceans also provide ecosystem services like carbon sequestration, coastal protection, waste disposal and the existence of biodiversity.

Significance of blue water economy, in case of India:

  • India has been part of various ad hoc committees of UN based on law of seas especially related to Indian Ocean to keep its strategic and political interest at the bay .With discovery of various mineral resources such as manganese and cobalt crust on ocean floor bed the potential of maritime mining has led to countries such as India, China and Japan.
  • With growing relation between Asia and Africa the Indian Ocean is key to India’s strategic dominance. And also Asia-Pacific growing trade links, it is necessary to maintain security in these regions.
  • With initiative Such as Ro- Ro ferry services between Ghogha in Saurashtra, and Dahej in South Gujarat will unlock the India’s true economic potential in environmental friendly and will reduce the vehicle movement in lands and hence will add to economic interest too.
  • India has large coastline and with new technologies in deep fishing the fisheries will provide a large number of employment and will also help in boosting exports and reduce trade deficit problem.

Conclusion:

Blue Economy is an area which has huge untapped potential. If utilized in proper way, it can provide a huge boost to our economic growth and development. As the saying goes, one who controls the ocean controls the world. But if not explored sustainably, then it might create huge trouble for future generation. 

Can you answer the following questions?

  1. Why does UNESCO want to map 80% of the world‘s seabed? Examine.
  2. Ocean beds are huge repositories of critical resources. Can you explain the distribution of such resources?

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding differences between GEO (geostationary equatorial orbit), MEO (medium earth orbit) and low earth orbit (LEO) satellites

  1. LEO satellites provide a larger coverage and only three satellites can cover the whole earth. Hundreds of GEO satellites are needed to provide coverage to a larger area. 
  2. LEO satellites are smaller and are cheaper to launch than GEOs or MEOs.

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 Scheme for Economic Empowerment of DNTs (SEED):

  1. It is being carried out by The Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment
  2. Education and health insurance shall be provided to De-Notified, Nomadic and Semi Nomadic Tribes (DNT/NT/SNT) candidates and communities.

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 Which of the following is not a marsupial?

  1. Kangaroo
  2. Dingo
  3. Wallaby
  4. Koala

ANSWERS FOR 16th Feb 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 C
3 B

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